The 21st Century In 20th Century Terms

I’ve recently been a bit obsessed by the book Socialnomics (affiliate link). Lynn Terry introduced it to me last time we recorded Internet Marketing This Week and, wow, very very cool stuff. I can’t recommend it enough. I’m changing some things around here based on the simple truths contained within – and I’ll be you do the same if you pick it up. P.s., there is something very right about reading this one on your Kindle.

(BTW – @Equalman (the author) has agreed to come on a taping of the show soon and I promise to update you when he does.)

One of the big themes in the book is the fact that social media is changing “the way we live and do business.

Paul, that’s a bit extreme

If Twitter and Facebook were just some program, I’d agree. They’re not programs, they’re, for lack of a better term, operating systems, that let us do things we were never able to do before. It’s not what Twitter or Facebook does – it’s what we do with Twitter or Facebook that really matter.

Let’s look at some examples of this in history … the Web changed the very way we consumed content on the computer (it was never about the browser), email changed the way we communicated with each other (it was never about Outlook or Eudora), the cell phone changed the way people got a hold of us (it was never about the device that made it possible), and the list goes on (feel free to add some examples below) …

The last time I flew cross-country I was watching CNN on the plane for the 4 hours I was in the air. The big story of the moment was that Twitter was down. Yup, we’re at war, the economy is in some very sticky places, banks are failing and the big story of the day was … Twitter was down.

The skeptic watching the story would note that Twitter isn’t even in the top ten websites (at the time I write this, Alexa rates her at number 15).

It’s not about the site. It’s never been about the site.

Twitter “happens” via web, via sms, via desktop, via cell phone, via assistant, via email, via gaming console and more. Twitter is more than just a program. Her being down was at least as newsworthy as anything else CNN had to offer.

When I made my Facebook changes earlier this year, I never thought I’d enjoy the results the way I have been. What I thought was just a simple house-cleaning project has let me communicate better not just with my audience, but with my friends and family as well. How do I use Facebook? I Facebook via web, via sms, via desktop, via cell phone, via assistant, via email, via gaming console and more. Facebook is more than just a program – it’s a communications platform for me.

The people who “get” Twitter and Facebook are the ones who realize they are “more than just a program.”

This, of course, made me wonder if there are other examples of terms limiting the impact of the technologies we’re embracing like crazy. I came up with a few …

Podcasting is so much more than a program made by Apple – but to this day, my Mom still thinks she can’t consume Podcasts because her and Dad don’t have an Apple.

8 out of every 9 people who read www.PaulColligan.com content don’t read it at www.PaulColligan.com – yet most people think of a Blog as a really easy means to put content online – not an engine to syndicate your content to an exponentially bigger audience. I’ve got EXACTLY the platform I want in my Blog – it hasn’t never been about not having to do HTML.

Despite the reality that the iPhone is an amazing device, it has changed the cell phone and applications industry forever and that will impact the future of content delivery 100 fold compared to how it has changed the device we use to talk to Mom on.

Coming a little closer to home, I’m about ready to strangle the next person who limits our Premiumcast engine to be nothing more than “a way to charge for Podcasts” or says “video is better than audio” without examining audience and delivery.

I think this issue is a simple one: we’re trying to come to terms with the 21st century in terms we coined when gas passing a buck a gallon was “too much” and the Russians were the bad guys secretly hoping to kill us all. It’s akin to trying to describe the Star Wars films in Egyptian hieroglyphics or attempting to mime the social ramifications of Paris Hilton.

We need to start developing 21st century terms for these important issues.

Any idea how to start?

Or am I nuts?

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