The cult of immediacy versus the unstoppable groundswell
by Josh Bernoff
When it comes to blogging, faster is often perceived to be better. GigaOm and TechCrunch are all over the trends, covering the same announcements, often within minutes of each other. I've become even more aware of this as I've spent some time with Jeremiah Owyang, our new analyst, who produces posts at a prodigious rate, not just on events, but on whatever's happening with him, complete with photos and videos. And this stuff is interesting.
It's also distracting.
Through Twitter and rapid blogging you can now have 30 or 300 perspectives on anything that happens, opinions and comments bouncing off each other like superballs in a trash compactor.
I don't know how many people have gone back to those "in the moment" posts to see just how swept away they were by the moment. Even amidst these events we are simultaneously at a time in which a broad, sweeping change is happening, and we can mark its progress by every event and announcement, like Facebook's advertising and Open Social. But the significance of these events is only visible over the long view.
I think bubble thinking is driven by the swirl of events in this frenzied cult of immediacy. It's hard to think straight when your head is buzzing with the cocaine high of whatever happened ten minutes ago. Steve Rubel, quoting Brian Reich, called it out as "Shiny Object Syndrome." Behind this bubble is a reality driving forward, an unstoppable groundswell. Stuff that builds with that trend will matter. The rest will be swept away.
Maybe it's because I just finished work on a book -- that archetype of slow-cooked slow thinking that needs to last -- and maybe it's just cause I'm a lot older than 25, but I am trying to fill a different niche. Let's face it, instant analysis isn't deep, and deep analysis isn't instantaneous.
The reason this matters -- and I'm sure I'll get strafed for saying this -- is not just the activity of people, but of companies.
You may think corporations don't get it, but they do, eventually -- they just move more slowly and carefully. I've now spoken with dozens -- they're spending real money, moving forward with projects, making mistakes, learning, and mobilizing. They have lots of money and big brands. As the mass of regular people absorbs these social phenomenon, many of those companies will be there to meet them, and laugh if you want, but they are not all clueless -- not any more.
That's a long-term business trend with money behind it, one that has staying power. And it won't be swept away with yesterday's press releases, either.
When your family asks you this Thankgiving what's really going on with this social "stuff" you're working on, try telling them that. It's not revolutionary, but it's making the future happen right now.