Category Archives: communication platforms

I think I’m Facebooked out

“All media work us over completely.” – Marshall McLuhan

I think Facebook has worked me over completely.  Not social media in general (find me on LinkedIn, @jerrycourtney, +Jerry Courtney), this is specific to Facebook.  Maybe I need talked off the ledge so to speak, but I don’t think so.

This isn’t another one of those parables about taking a break from Facebook for a little while in order to get some sort of long-lost perspective that allows me to pontificate about how things are different when not using Facebook so I have something to post about once I’m back on Facebook.

A few months back, that’s what I thought it would be.  When I went on vacation in June, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and iPad.  I wanted to be in the moment and really enjoy my time with family.  It didn’t take long for me to adjust to life without Facebook.  The compulsion to fill any down time with a scroll through status updates, post some random witticism, or check in left pretty quickly.  If someone mentioned something I should take a look at or if I wanted to see if someone had messaged me, I’d just – gasp – go online and check it.  But I haven’t even done that for quite some time.

What it’s about is coming to the realization that of the social media that I do use, I can’t seem to find a constructive, beneficial reason for using Facebook.  It’s not so much about the fact that I find it exhausting to keep up with the streams and streams and streams of stuff people I know put there.

It’s more about the fact that I’m over the form of broadcasting any part of my life through the platform fishing for “likes” and comments that don’t seem to amount to even small talk or bring about a comment that doesn’t make sense.

It just seems most of what I’d consider placing on Facebook I’d rather do on an interpersonal level through different channels.  You know, those old school ways of communicating like phone calls, emails, SMS/MMS, maybe even – wait for it – a photo or video sharing site that I only allow certain people to view.  Basically, directly to the people I’m most interested in sharing with in a way that feels more personal.

A more critical view of things tells me its an audience issue.  Whereas I have been much more purposeful in my curation of whom I follow and what I engage in via Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, Facebook somehow became a stew of family, friends, colleagues, people I’ve done business with, and assorted acquaintances that I can’t always remember what the connection to me is.  Yes, I’m aware Facebook has tools to sort this all out, but Facebook is the only entity that benefits from me spending more time on Facebook to do that sorting.

To build the audience I want, it would be easier if I simply delete my account and start over with a defined objective for my Facebook use.  God forbid people should discover I’ve unfriended them and post one of those “Well, I’ve just been unfriended.  I guess someone didn’t like my [incessant political ramblings/over indulgent selfies/cat videos or pictures/invitations to play the latest Farmville-like game/support of teams that aren’t the Chicago Cubs or Chicago Bears/etc].  Oh, well they’re loss!” posts that gets dozens of likes and “Don’t let that bother you.  You rock!  It’s their loss!  ” sorts of replies.

Some would say being in the marketing industry requires my time on Facebook.  I’m not sure I agree with that.  There’s enough industry coverage about what Facebook is doing, how Facebook is doing it, and speculation as to why they’re doing it to suffice.  Outside of a truly relevant and major overhaul of the interface or some new purpose it might serve that requires personal investigation – other than mimicking or buying something that already exists elsewhere – there’s no legit professional reason I can see to stay on Facebook.  Are they doing or trying to do interesting things with data and targeting?  Sure.  Does it require an actual engagement in the platform?  Not that I can see.  Is there exclusive content that exists on Facebook I can’t find elsewhere?  Not that I’m aware of.  I find better industry content, insight and engagement on pertinent issues via other social media platforms.

So I’m worked over by and worn out of Facebook as I’ve used it to date.  In case I may not be seeing you around on the FB anymore, here are a few things I’d like to share… I love my wife.  My son is handsome and smart.  My daughter is beautiful and smart.  My dogs are cool and fun.  I go places.  I watch stuff.  I get mad about certain things.  Some things make me happy.  I have opinions and pet peeves.  I take pictures of people and things I find interesting.  I wish you a happy birthday when it’s your birthday.  I like some of the things you post.

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Filed under communication platforms, media usage, social

My McLuhan Memes

(Decided on consonance for the title of this post vs. S**t McLuhan Said.  I applaud my own restraint.)

When I feel a bit worn down by 140-160 characters of digital/new/social media and technology quips, purported wisdom, snarky-ness and links – my own included…

When I feel like there is one outline used by most authors for all books about and/or related to digital/new/social media and technology that tend to extrapolate the 140-160 character form to mean 140-160 pages of quips, purported wisdom, snarky-ness and links – with many illustrative case studies…

When it seems after following a week of posts and memes from Advertising Week I’ve come across a scare number of interesting, stimulating, or new concepts…

I turn to Marshall McLuhan.  Mainly because he was right.  In 1964, he was right about 2012.  Maybe more right about 2012 than most of us trying to figure out the reality of 2012 that he could only prognosticate about.  I don’t think he was completely right, actually have a few bones of contention related to what he said, but, by and large, the dude nailed it.

Which then gives me hope.  It grounds me.  Makes me feel my philosophical basis for my day to day is all good.  That I don’t need a new/social media guru to understand what’s going on around us.  Gives me a critical basis to consider new ways of thinking being proposed in 140-160 characters or pages.

So I’ve curated some of my favorite McLuhan quotes into some memes below.  So when this world is gettin’ you down, you can refer to these and get yourself reinvigorated and back into those bubbling, flowing streams of social-ness with renewed perspective and some damn good zingers to boot.  (FYI, there are quite a few Twitter accounts for McLuhan…including his zombie…)

SUITABLE FOR T-SHIRTS, PLAQUES OR POWERPOINT SLIDES WITH A STRONG VISUAL

There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.

Our time is a time for crossing barriers, for erasing old categories, for probing around.

Whoever sharpens our senses tends to be anti-social.

MEDIA AIN’T JUST A PLACE TO PUT ADS

All media are extensions of some human faculty – psychic or physical.

Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication.

Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.

Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions.  The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act – the way we perceive the world.

WE CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH OR CHANGE IS HARD

Nothing can be further from the spirit of new technology than “A place for everything and everything in its place”.

Our age of anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s jobs with yesterday’s tools, yesterday’s concepts.

When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavors, of the most recent past.

We look at the present in a rearview mirror.  We march backwards into the future.

In the name of “progress”, our official culture is striving to force the new media to do the work of the old.

DEALING WITH INFORMATION OVERLOAD

The instantaneous world of electric informational media involves all of us, all at once.  No detachment or frame is possible.

Ours is a brand-new world of allatonceness.

At the high speeds of electric communication, purely visual means of apprehending the world are no longer possible; they are just too slow to be relevant or effective.

Our electrically-configured world has forced us to move from the habit of data classification to the mode of pattern recognition.  We can no longer build serially, block-by-block, step-by-step, because instant communication insures that all factors of the environment and of experience coexist in a state of active interplay.

PROGRESS LEADS TO REGRESSION OR GETTING BACK TO BASICS

Electric circuitry is recreating in us the multi-dimensional space orientation of the “primitive”.

We have begun again to structure the primordial feeling, the tribal emotions from which a few centuries of literacy divorced us.

Under conditions of electric circuitry, all the fragmented job patterns tend to blend once more into involving and demanding roles or forms of work that more and more resemble teaching, learning, and “human” service.

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Filed under books, communication platforms, future of media, McLuhan

Stuff I’ve Said Other Places, Part 1

Inspired by the recent piece on GigaOm about information decay, and perhaps due to a bit of laziness about posting something new more consistently, I’m throwing up a few things I’ve written that have shown up other places over the years in an attempt to not let my digital info decay.  Most, if not all, of what I put up originally appeared over on the website of my good friends at iMedia.

I’m finding it interesting that though this stuff is “old” (most of it from 7 years or more ago), the topics still feel, for the most part, of the now and, for the most part, not really resolved.  Lots of progress has definitely been made for sure, don’t get me wrong.  But not having full resolution on stuff from 7 years ago I don’t necessarily think is all bad, just that sometimes (frequently) the pace of change in the industry is such that we never really get things resolved before we move on to the next thing.  Or we evolve the thing we haven’t resolved to a new place somewhat compounding the lack of resolution.

Anyway, installment one of Stuff I’ve Said Other Places was posted on iMediaConnection back on August 19, 2005 under the title “New Media to Media Pros: Don’t Label Me”.  Ironically, I arrived back at this piece after numerous, recent email and in person conversations about the evolution of “social” and what, exactly, does “social” mean.  This piece was spurred by an article in Technology Review (read it in print) called Social Machines (the link isn’t dead and seven years later this is still a good, pertinent read).

In moving to a research firm, I have found the concept of The Mathematical Mind flourishes here as it does for the media strategists I was originally referencing.  Actually, I found it alive and well in my time on the client-side as well.  Maybe even more funny is that though “Web 2.0” feels so passe, when you look at how it’s defined, are we really onto whatever the next version is just yet?  Enjoy…

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The past couple of months have been an interesting time for me. I was entrenched in a couple of new business pitches, as well as in many discussions and presentations involving emerging media.

Now that I’m coming out of this intensive time spent primarily talking about the future of media delivery, media consumption and subsequent models for planning and purchasing said media, I’ve been reflecting a bit on what I’ve learned. Where I feel I’ve gained the most insight is in how our media minds need to evolve and adapt to these emerging media trends.

The Mathematical Mind

It took me awhile to put my finger on it, but I’d have to say the biggest drawback we as media people have in fully understanding and applying “emerging media” is a want, I would say a need, for specific order and categorization in our work. We may use big words and a lot of acronyms that many don’t fully understand, but in the end, we want nice, neat, simple labels applied to what we do and how we do it. Our logical, mathematical minds always want one and one to equal two.

Think about it: We do detailed analysis on target audiences so we can label them based on demographics and behaviors that will allow us to better decide the mix of media to use which are nicely separated based on how the message is delivered to the audience. Yes, from a professional standpoint, the majority of us are the dreaded “Type-A Personality,” seeking order and control in what we do.

Case in point:

As mentioned above, the current rash of hot emerging media trends has been the focal point of my professional life for the past couple months. Most of these things aren’t terribly new (especially things like mobile, blogs, podcasting, RSS, social networks, P2P networks, etc.) per se, but are emerging in terms of advertising opportunities. Most were developed on a “grass roots” basis by people reaching out to other people, not as a means to push messaging to the masses.

I was having a difficult time sitting in meetings where folks were trying to place them into unique, simple categories. My opinion was, and still is, that most of these things don’t live in a vacuum in the eyes of the consumer, and most consumers don’t see these things as “media” or media delivery mechanisms. Therefore, we shouldn’t be placing them in silos without context around how people are actually using these things: to be more connected with others.

It could’ve been I wasn’t as articulate as I needed to be in saying that. It could’ve been that I was fighting a losing battle against rooms full of Type-A Personalities. Most likely, it was a bit of both. Regardless, my point didn’t seem to resonate.

It’s about the community, stupid

Then, the August issue of Technology Review hit my desk and crystallized my point, as much as a publication from MIT can “crystallize” anything. The cover story, “Social Machines,” provides an in depth look at the phenomenon of “continuous computing” and what, exactly, that means. In essence, it means that “always on” connectivity between the slew of gadgets we now rely on has led to people’s use of technology as a means to develop communities — of family, friends, co-worker, or others they’ve never met in person but have strong ties to for one reason or the other. It talks about the phenomenon of “Web 2.0,” whereby what once was a repository of relatively static documents is now becoming “a platform for personal publishing and social software.” And the desktop and laptop computer are by no means the sole or primary devices being used to get at these platforms.

(Before I move on and tie this together, let’s keep in mind my initial pronouncement regarding media people’s need for categorically defining things. I’m about to make a couple of broad statements about mankind and a few thousand years of history that will, in short order, lead me to my ultimate point. I only insert this interruption to let you know that I do not completely stand outside of this need to have things labeled neatly, at least when it suits me. Anyway, back to our normal programming.)

I make no claims as a cultural anthropologist, nor do I claim expertise in the finer points of human interaction, but I feel like I can safely say over the course of millennia people have proven that they will use advancements in technology as a means to draw closer together as a community. Initially, that meant physically closer together. It could have been to get things to market; it could have been to simply get from Point A to Point B. Think of the wheel.

But when you think of communication innovations, such as the printing press, the telephone, or short-wave radio, it was about the community that can be built via shared likes or dislikes simply by having discourse with others regardless of location. And that is the mindset with which things like mobile, blogs, podcasting, RSS, social networks, and P2P networks, i.e. Web 2.0, have flourished.

Thoughts on moving forward

So what does that mean? It means that we need to redouble our efforts around being focused on business objectives, as well as be consumer-centric, not media-centric, in everything we do. Define the business objective, understand the audience, and then determine the channels for reaching out to that audience.

It means we’ve got some growing pains ahead of us when it comes to our want for simply defined buckets vs. actual consumer behavior. People are empowered now to NOT be easily placed into preconceived buckets of demographics, behavior and media usage. Linear usage of media is quickly becoming a thing of the past, if it hasn’t already completely evaporated.

It means we’re going to have to define the best ways to become part of these communities of communication where ideas are freely passed back and forth, not simply consumed. It could be we move from being advertisers within content to creators of content to best take advantage of some of these emerging media. That, in and of itself, is a pretty large shift in the way we think about the business our clients are in, and our jobs of planning their media and communication.

It means we’re going to have to seek units of purchase and measure that make the most sense in a new paradigm of media usage and creation. We’re going to have to question where “media” value exists — in the delivery of a large audience, in the inclusion and acceptance within, or maybe in the development of, a community, or at some other point.

Don’t be alarmed. Much of this work is already in progress, and that’s the exciting part. Right now, we’re in a time where we can say things like “a new paradigm of media usage and creation” and have it mean something. We can all participate in this new definition of what we do. It’s like we’re all one big community or something.

Then, when digi-pod-mobi-socio-blogging takes off in a few months, we won’t be trying to figure out under what line item on a media plan it should fall.

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Filed under communication platforms, media usage, social, stuff I've said other places

Letting Megadeath Replace Killer App or There’s No Emergence without Merging

Note: There will be no mention of Dave Mustaine in the following. However, I’m digging the Sufjanness of the title.

Of late, a term from The Bubble has been rolling around in my head. Not because I’ve heard people using it, but because the behavior that it implies I’m seeing – again. That term is ‘killer app.’

Why? Probably because when folks are feeling they are in desperate times, they tend to reach for something, anything, the proverbial ‘silver bullet’, that will make everything better. And though no one is saying ‘killer app’ these days, much chatter abounds about Twitter, iPhone, Facebook, Orkut, Vimeo, et al and the various cottage industries that have sprung up around them in the form of apps for these platforms or the fact that these things can be reduced to apps that live on other platforms that can also be reduced to apps and live on these things platforms, too.

I completely get the need to have first movers and early adopters pushing the bounds of what is possible and creating buzz around “emerging” media and platforms. I am fine w/ account planners, media/marketing pontificators and prognosticators, bloggers and the ilk spending the majority of their time on Twitter talking about Twitter and the social and anthropological relevance of Twitter and the various ways one can get Twitter, use Twitter, and tweet about Twitter. I’m guilty of playing that game at times myself. I actually learn a lot from these folks – and do my best to filter out what the video link above mentions in an all too honest assessment of the environments. Bitterness, arrogance, hipster inside-edness and flaming is pretty rampant, but if you wade through it – and give as well as you take – you can see wonderful examples of many and varied best practices abound.

Anyway, the magic moving forward will be, IMHO (wait, I’ve got more than 140 characters here) – in my humble opinion – is realizing if your role is one of a zealous quest for turning over the next killer app and it’s relevancy in and of itself before it “tips”, or if you’re responsible for harnessing the disparate powers of these platforms to achieve something greater than the sum of the parts.

What I mean by that is this – IP/digital is practically ubiquitous. The infrastructure is built and it is solid. What we are seeing now are not ’emerging’ media, but new business models and communication platforms in their Gutenberg printing press stages. The winners in the new new media age will be those who can develop strategy to synthesize killer apps either as they arise or as they’re relevant. The winners will be able to decipher – i.e. have enough knowledge of IP/digital platforms – what the avant-garde of the media/marketing industry are talking about and doing and applying it to the early and late majority.

In a nutshell, those who can make the whole greater than the sum of it’s parts – and, most importantly, provide benefit to a large swath of the people that matter to them most – their customers.

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Filed under communication platforms, customer relationships, future of media, the career

Letting Respect Replace Control

What marketer isn’t tired of hearing how they no longer control their brands? They’re either tired of hearing it because they’ve bought into it in some capacity. Or they’re tired of hearing it because they stubbornly hold onto the notion that the brand is theirs and only they can define what it is and isn’t based on what they chose to say primarily through advertising.

Regardless of which end of that potential continuum one resides, I’d propose blowing up the control continuum. Instead, one should plot one’s self across a continuum of respect – as in how much respect you have for your customers.

I was toying w/ a quadrant approach vs. continuum, with control on the x and respect on the y. But thinking that through a bit further, I felt it a cop out.

I would venture to guess that the brands that reside on the most positive end of the respect continuum probably have the most loyal customers. In the final analysis – and especially in the current macro-economic environment – don’t we desire to have loyal customers? And if that is the case, if ceding control brings the ultimate result desired, plotting it is irrelevant.

Besides, we do enough over-complicating in this industry as it is. Didn’t want to muck up The Golden Rule with The Control Freak Corollary.

That said, this isn’t a pure open source advocacy to managing a brand. I do not believe UGC, crowdsourcing and their ilk replace the need for brand standards. However, I do believe the vast rabble of ‘You’, that person of the year just a couple of years ago, is continuously changing how s/he interacts w/ and what s/he expects from brands. In spite of all the philosophizing I’ve read of late about what the original intent of certain platforms were and what they should become by those in the know, and in spite of the fear of ceding control by those not in the know, that is associated w/ the increased ease of two way media (call it social if you please), people are out there using these things. Not being there is not a choice for any brand anymore. Whether we pay for it via advertising or whether we build experiences on the platforms or whether we have staff dedicated to lurk and/or engage, we’re all there. You can’t control what people talk about or where they chose to talk about it – be it in physical or digital places.

And that is OK. I can respect that.

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Filed under communication platforms, customer relationships, push vs. pull

2009, I am not afraid and I will beat your ass

The last few weeks of 2008 have given me a glass half full perspective on the media industry. I’ve had a number of discussions w/ friends in the industry who are in relatively early stages of new business models or ventures in media. The kicker is these new models or ventures make sense – a lot of sense. Solving problems that need to be solved either for the business of media, the infrastructure of media, or directly for consumers.

Not pie in the sky, IPO and out, fast buck, free food and drinks types of business models from ~10 years ago. It just feels different in a good way. Real. Pragmatic. The pervasive feeling is one of hey, we’ve been thru something like this before, maybe caused by different factors, but we’ve been in something like this nonetheless. And we know what didn’t work and have a pretty firm grasp on why it didn’t – and ~10 years of experience and wisdom in a growing digital media landscape.

This time there’s a technological foundation and established consumer behaviors in place to support the models and ventures that are being built to make these ideas a reality.

With this sort of change comes a large amount of uncertainty. Personally, I’m a bit worn out w/ the wringing of hands from the old guard and the biting sarcastic I told you so of the new guard – and the pervasive doom and gloom from both sides. There’s some good, folk advice out there that goes something like, “It takes all kinds.” Indeed it does and will continue to be that way.

I’m excited and energized by the possibilities. Whether a marketer, at an agency, in sales or in any other corner of the media industry, I’m having a hard time locating a more disruptive point in media history.

I’m choosing to embrace it – to seek to drive change and not remain complacent. I’m going to do my best to keep my sarcasm in check, but my healthy skepticism in place to drive positive change. To keep my mind open, and be pro-active, patient yet aggressive.

Necessity is the mother of invention. There will be a lot of necessity coming at us in 2009. Let’s invent!

PS: Perhaps my fave album title was used in developing the title for this post…thx, Yo La Tengo

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Filed under communication platforms, digital distribution, future of media, the career

Old media mavens and their new media ways; media poorly covering media

If you’d like to read a well thought out piece about a variety of ways the news and media industry need to evolve to adapt in a digital world, read this from Jeff Jarvis (founder of Entertainment Weekly).

If you’d like to see in action some of those techniques in reporting a pretty major story in the media industry – did/is Google laying 10,000 people off – read this from John Battelle (co-founder of Wired).

If you’d like to read a not well thought out piece about finding meaning and making connections in trends around media usage and pandering to old media and their ability to crank out fox in the henhouse analysis of their own data, read this from MediaPost – or just read MediaPost everyday and let the confusion and swirl ensue.

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Filed under bad media, communication platforms, digital distribution, future of media, media coverage, media on media, media usage