I was thinking this morning that I haven’t heard about anyone being “revolutionary” in a while as it relates to a leader of a movement. That applies to technology, biology, etc… It could be that I’ve been living under a rock (not likely, but I’ll accept that as a possible explanation) or that I don’t travel/read in the right circles.
We don’t hear about the monumental characters who are so persuasive in their words, so committed to their actions, by their presence and determination, they shake the foundation of society and redefine a new water line. I wonder, has the Internet made the need for one unifying voice obsolete?
In days of Jesus Christ, Oliver Cromwell, Tomas Jefferson, Bill Buckley, Emma Goldman (fill in the name of your favorite revolution here______________), persuasiveness was reflected not only upon what they wrote (or preached) but how they implemented their vision. In the modern era, say since 1997, the tools of vision communication have become pedestrian: available to many and therefore the message must be that much more compelling to rise above the noise. The vision and voice of the individual leader has largely been replaced by the revolutionary masses (or hordes, depending on your perspective).
Where have all the revolutionaries gone?
Has technology made them obsolete? Or has technology amplified yet distributed the common voices so that coalescence now occurs at an individual level?
For the record, I’m one of them.
The news reporting the average age of a kindle user is a bit dated at this point (ancient, 2 week old), for those that missed it, on a forum site, 70% of Kindle owners reported their age and it turns out the average age reported is 40.
That doesn’t surprise me. The Kindle is dedicated to delivering long form content like books, magazines, and newspapers. Amazon is smart to keep the Kindle targeted and develop future features with this core application and usage in mind.
On a vaguely related note, earlier last week Steve Gilmore proclaimed RSS to be dead and hence blogs and longer form content not nearly as relevant than before (my words, not his); Twitter acting as the grim reaper that made the use, or rather the need, to use RSS, obsolete. Hence Twitter is a better mechanism to disseminate and propagate information than RSS.
He may be right about short format information. However, I believe Steve’s broader application to all RSS content based dissemination may miss the mark. While Twitter has proven itself as hugely valuable for updates, announcements, and offers, Twitter’s feeds an ADHD torrent of info porn. Kindle, as a proxy for longer format content on the other hand is designed for attention centric activities like reading a book or newspaper.
Twitter = jump into the info torrent.
Kindle = jump into a single info stream.
So am I right about the content attention centricity being tightly bound to platform primary usage and demographic profiles are the trailing edge? Let’s watch text book sales as a crossover usage to the Twitter generation.
My business contemplative life is lived about 1-2 weeks behind the actual calendar date. Most ideas and interesting tidbits percolate in my head. At some point, if inspiration strikes and Muse happens to be in the room, I draw interesting connections (well, they are interesting to at least me!) and that tends to take about 1-2 weeks.
So as my son was watching Tom and Jerry earlier this morning, I started to read a few emails I’ve saved for short uninterrupted moments. And while re-reading Cosmo‘s (no, not the newstand version) article on the importance of dangerous ideas, the incongruity struck me: how often does some-one’s insight training framework actually impede the possibility of game changing discovery?
Summary of the Cosmo article if you don’t feel like reading it: Darwin set off on his voyage as a 22 year old Victorian who studied theology at Cambridge and planned to be a clergyman. While on the voyage he the notion of Evolution struck.
“Evolution is a deceptively simple idea, not immediately obvious to the casual observer. But its effects are complex, and span millions of years. If geology can be summed up as pressure plus time, then evolution is basically genetics and environment plus time… It was like suddenly recognizing a language you had always heard in the background but could never understand: it was the language of life itself, whispering its secrets to anyone who took the trouble to listen carefully.”
That last sentence is the one that connected the dots.
Often we are trained either formally through education, or informally through experiences, to pattern and templatize not only how we think about the world, but how to process and categorize new concepts. It is a human intuition, one that our ancestors relied upon for survival (e.g. is that shadow lurking at the edge of the fire a hungry sabre tooth tiger or a rock?). Need further proof? Think about the proliferation of stereotypes as social patterns.
Thus the ability to re-pattern how we approach insight, new concepts, and ideas is critical. The key is not to be stuck in a linear formulaic approach to problem solving, but rather use patterns of approach that help us break out of strict dogma that often guides how businesses approach new concepts, test ideas, and think about new markets.
John Kembel gave me a copy of “The Designful Company” which I plan to read this weekend. Knowing John, the book should be rich not only in design centric thinking but also how this thinking can be widely used across multiple disciplines.
More later on The Designful Company, Darwin, and the importance of using precedence for consideration but not letting it dictate future thinking.
Just watched Merlin Mann’s (43 Folders fame) presentation from MacWorld. What struck me about his presentation (one needs to be patient with his rambling style) was the level of thinking he’s done around the idea of creativity and the reproducible nature of it based upon patterns.
Specifically about when it is appropriate to edit vs create. Based upon his reading of Twyla Tharp’s book from 2005, there is a time to create and a time to edit. While this is not what I would call net-new, the way he explained resonated with me.
By confining editing to the editing process, you are free to explore and live with the sometimes inherent and often present ambiguity of ideas, thoughts, and connections. To be free from censorship (even self) is critical at this stage as you look for new connections. Once the creative process is done, then it is time for editing; here you can allow yourself to be ruthless.