I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently, where it is that unquantifiable & innate understanding of the web and what it’s doing to modern life & business. As in, “He really gets it. Let’s hire him”.
Rand wrote an interesting post about people who get it and how you should look to identify them and surround yourselves with them if you want to have a successful business. Which I agree with and thinks make sound sense. But, at the same time, I’ve also been wondering whether it doesn’t come with a silent sh prefixed to it, mainly due to a few websites that I’ve come across recently.
First there was the excellent web without sense which perfectly parodies so much of the crap that surrounds the web. As does Business Guys On Business Trips – anyone who works in digital marketing, or even just marketing, will recognise the Bullshit 2.0 that these cartoons lampoon. And most recently of course there was The internet is shit which should really be self explanatory.
What all of these do is puncture the groupthink and mass assumptions that often surround the web, and expecially those areas of it which relate to marketing. And, to a large degree I agree with a lot of what these sites are saying which may seem strange for someone working, as I do, for a digital marketing agency. But actually, I think it’s essential: not only do I (I hope) get it, I also realise that a lot of it is shit.
How can this be possible? How can I be drinking (and passing round) the internet Kool-Aid at the same time as spiking it? Easily. If I wasn’t I’d end up overdosing on the Kool-Aid which is very easy to do.
For example people like Robert Scoble are often lauded for getting it and, indeed,often seem to spend a lot of time highlighting others who don’t get it, something that I myself was recently accused of doing in the comments of this post. But in fact Scoble (whom I really do admire) and others like him often end up falling into a dangerous form of groupthink where new equals excellent and niche means revolutionary. Which is where people like the (excellent) Drama 2.0 come in.
He (at least I assume it’s a he) writes about the hype that surrounds the web and then gives it a massive reality slap-down. And in many ways I think that he gets it more than anyone else I regularly read on the web: because not only does he get it, he also realises that it isn’t enough on its own and that whilst hype can fill a million blogs, it’s never likely to fill a bank account.
So whilst I think that it’s essential for almost anyone working in retail, media, marketing or a hundred other sectors to have some understanding of it, and how it is changing the rules of the game, I also think it’s essential to retain a healthy dose of cynicism. Because until Twitter starts making money, Facebook works out how to monestise its audience, more people read blogs than national newspapers and TV advertising stops working, it will only be part of the picture.
Sheep picture by valentinapowers on flickr