Friday, September 29, 2006

One thing I have learned in 15 years of working is that there aren’t many workshops that are worth investing an entire day of your life. Every now and then you run into an experience that is the exception that proves the rule. I went to a workshop yesterday that ROCKED me out of my doldrums on work stuff. It was the TargetX workshop on higher education e-marketing held at the Independence Visitor Center in Philly. Now before you get all bored and click to cnnsi.com or something, hear me out. These guys are cutting edge thinkers about how colleges should be selling themselves to students and they blend technology, marketing and just plain common sense into a package that made me sit back and say, “Why the hell didn’t I think of this?” For a while now I have been thinking that the internet in general and blogging in particular had fundamentally changed the nature of publishing and communications. For the first time in history, people don’t have to own a newspaper or a printing press to get their unedited opinion before the masses. With a few keystrokes, you can get a blog up on Myspace, or any of a dozen other sites. People can talk back to you, give you new ideas, call you a moron, whatever. It’s amazing. This has the mainstream media worried. Witness this blog entry forwarded to me by my brother, Matt. Fat Philly area sports columnists are beginning to worry that their ruminations have a lot less impact in a world where the weight of their opinion is roughly the same as mine. Or yours. Go figure. It’s sports, not cellular biology. How much more valid is megalomaniacal columnist’s viewpoint than mine? We both have college degrees. Or at least I think he has one. We both watch the games. I actually watch a game or two from the west coast in fact. Just because some idiot pays him to spew forth his stuff twice a week doesn’t make Bill Conlin god. Admittedly, most of the blogosphere is pretty bad. That being said, it’s still a revolution. Not since 1455 when Gutenberg set the Bible in hot lead has there been such a significant shift in the way that people gather information. Johan dragged us out of a storytelling, verbal tradition and into the age of the printed word. Yeah there had been scribes writing for centuries, but you had to be a Catholic priest to have access to any of that stuff. In 1517, Martin Luther helped open things up a bit more, but it really took centuries before the majority of humans could read. In just 15 years the internet has changed all that. Now RSS feeds can give you a personalized stream of stories tailored to what you want to read. Yeah it risks narrowing your focus a bit, but god, how cool would it be to actually just learn what you need to know and not worry about whether Nicole Ritchie is on heroin. Add this to podcasts, TIVO, voice over IP, iTunes and the million other technology advances that have put content into the hands of its producers, and marketers are scared. Why? They cant control the message about their products anymore. No matter what thye do to try to create an image or message, there is far more intellectual mass created in the blogoverse then they could ever counter. Remember the Chevy Tahoe blog controversy? Miss that? Don’t worry, it’s only the first in a million lessons that will be necessary for major marketers to understand that they risking irrelevancy by hanging on to a concept as 20th century as marketing. Have a great weekend! C
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