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Why cool can’t be bought (or faked)

Ever been to a shindig and the popular, Nickelback-lovin’ rock ‘n roller dude walks in and tries to fit in with the cool kids, only to make himself look like a fool because his fashion is about 2 years old and probably got his coach to negotiate his grades?

Yeah, that guy.

I really don’t mean to sound pretentious, but hear me out.

Southwest Airlines and Virgin aren’t cool because it bought its way there.  They didn’t pay for a report to tell them “X percent of people enjoy listening to safety rules before a flight in a lighthearted fashion.”  At least I hope they didn’t.

And, being on Twitter and Facebook doesn’t make them cool.  Even if you coached your client on how to effectively use these tools, they could still hopelessly fail.

Why?

Because you can’t buy luv (I sure am giving SWA a lot of attention here, but I’m a huge fan) nor can you pay your way to experience purple trail lights.  Who wants statistics written about what is cool? I’d rather tell my clients how to enable “cool” and then let them figure it out themselves.

Here are some of my tips:

  1. Be an owner who knows your industry and is actually passionate about it.
  2. Innovation should be your business model. Not the type that comes from reports entirely (not discounting them), but the type that comes from the experts, your employees (yes, even on the assembly line) and your customers.
  3. Intuition.  If you know that hurting the environment is bad and your product is a contributor to this problem, then fix it! It’s as simple as that.  Sure, it costs money, but “in the long run” investments are now instantaneous thanks to the tools of transparency online.
  4. Design matters.
  5. And, lastly, have some fun. Life is too damn short to worry about TPS reports.

And, no, I wasn’t beat up by jocks growing up (in case you’re wondering).

(Updated to include Virgin Airlines)

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Marketing the medium

One thing that really upsets me is the way marketers view digital media. It really does. I don’t mean to go to negative-town, but I really need to explain it to those who just don’t get it.

If Philo T. Farnsworth , the inventor of television, were alive today, he would tell you about all of the hell David Sarnoff put him through.

I’ll let you research their story, but the point is, television and radio were made to be biased against interaction or control, whether intentional or not. Television without a remote control created an atmosphere where one would almost forcefully watch through commercial after commercial after commercial.

Unless one had a child (the hacker) at the set at all times to help you change the channel if an advertisement came on (trust me, this was my childhood job), your bottom line was set to unfortunately rely on corporate entertainment.

OK, so what’s done is done.

Interaction occurs. People can now fast-forward through those ads and forget about them entirely.

And, if product placement occurs, there are surely more places to find better entertainment for free (or, for goodness sake, play outside, even an outsider can do this as he/she now has easier access to find other outsiders to go to, let’s say, a renaissance faire).

The point is, I’m upset that marketers think that digital media is for them. It wasn’t set up to be. Sarnoff isn’t alive.

They can be part of the medium.  But, marketing the medium will surely hit the path of least resistance.

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The hacker generation

In order to understand how we got here, we’ve got to understand where we’ve been.

While Generation X was the Slacker Generation, I’ve deemed ours the Hacker Generation

Below is a algebraic representation of how the controllers (the elite) beckoned new media capabilities to the masses.

Put simply, if all you could do is believe, then the controller (the God[s]), as it was dogmatically accepted, could only hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly happening below.

Once priests/monks knew how to read, then all the masses could do is listen. And so on…

Social control as a function of media

Social control as a function of media by Douglas Rushkoff

So, now we are at a point where we can (and have) become the programmers.

The Hacker Generation

With open APIs abundant in several applications, this is the new wave of business and entrepreneurship, on a highly localized level.

With a cooperative, collaborative model set to benefit applications and its community, business has changed from a top-down, scarce (closed) model to an bottom-up, open source (abundant) one. And, it benefits the whole.

This doesn’t just apply to online applications, offline hacking can occur too.

My advice to small businesses: allow all of your workers to learn every single part of your business (yes, even your janitors). But, the only way to achieve this is if there is an open incentive for them to do this (you can figure this out on your own). You want all of your employees to care about your organization.

Ideas are abundant, don’t let them be scarce.