Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The past isn't dead. It isn't even past.

I've been a little slow out of the gate the last few days. I guess it's the result of being at at least arm's length from the vagaries of life in an advertising agency. The quotidian bullshit, the daily grand proclamations, the back-stabbing and credit stealing have been missing from my routine. What's more, I've been running hither and yon and haven't been exposed to much of what's on TV. No full-frontal dumbness assault has risen in my consciousness and made this space.

I guess the most seminal things as we are nearly 20 years into the "this will change everything" era, is how little has changed. I mean how little has changed even from pre-industrial times. Last night, just 24 or 48 hours removed from 80-degree temperatures in Manhattan, we got a light dusting of snow. It was, I suppose, this winter's last gasp, and it went out with a half-inch fizzle.

Of course, all over Facebook, it was the Apocalypse come to bear. My friends bemoaning the weather every bit as fervently as farmers did two centuries ago.

What's changed?

The channel is more digital than a bunch of coots congregating at the local general store. But the conversations were the same.

So much of the vaunted social media revolution is really just the binariation of conversations we used to have in bars, in barbershops, or wherever people met.

People need these conversations. They need shared space and to connect with others. I'd say Facebook does a good job making such connections easy.

What it has to do with marketing is yet to be revealed.

You can say the same thing about dozens of other technological advances. They're cool. But mostly they recreate something we already liked in the analog world. Behavior hasn't changed. Channels have.

Whenever I hear friends gush about data-fed contact lenses or the yet-to-be-articulated splendors of 3D-printing, I always respond the same way.

"That's terrific. But what does it have to do with selling stuff?"

Even apps that make online commerce easier only replace what we would have bought anyway in an analog way. They're not new mousetraps or better ones. They're only mousetraps a bit closer to the mice.

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