Your business needs social media.

First things first, please.

No.

Your business needs:

… a clearly understood problem it is solving.

… a product or service that addresses that problem in a manner that delights customers to the point of surprise.

… an amazing team that believes in it.

… a visionary(s) and leader(s).

… a personality, a brand and a conscious.

… a viable business model.

… a collaborative environment that fosters trial and error.

… a designed culture that makes all the above happen.

 

Focus on these things first and Facebook gets a whole lot easier.

One word stories

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you know that I often post one word status updates. I started doing this last year out of complete boredom. As luck would have it, something very interesting happened. I got more conversations and replies to my one word posts than many of my more descriptive updates. I began to force myself to think in only short, abbreviated updates. And so, for a period of about six months, I would only post a single word.

I’ve written previously about what you can learn by stripping things down to the bare minimum. So, as my business partner @deziner often asks, what are the learnings from this particular instance?

Whether it’s a status update or a tweet, you are essentially telling a micro-story. When you edit it all the way down to one word, it invites everyone to imagine and create the rest of the story. They must fill in the blanks. So, when I posted “Wings,” John Sprecher scribed “Buffalo or Paul McCartney and…?”

At it’s heart, this is what social media is all about—shared storytelling. A user shares an experience that friends and followers then participate in based on their own experience.

From a brand perspective, this is one of the most overlooked, misunderstood, and underutilized aspects of social media. Shared storytelling has been going on since humans gathered around a fire. Stories are retold (The Odyssey), re-imagined (Romeo & Juliet becomes West Side Story) and repurposed (Petroglyphs as done by Paul Klee).

I often wonder why so many in marketing still cling to the hope that they alone should control the story. The only reason I can see is if your brand story never held any truth in the first place.

The habit of empty pixel grazing

There’s a scene from Sam Shepard’s 1978 play Curse of the Starving Class that has stuck with me for many years. Actually, it’s not so much a scene as a recurring behavior that takes place during the performance. Characters randomly open the refrigerator door and blankly stare at the contents, only to close the door after a moment without removing anything. It’s a brilliant observation of quirky human behavior we can all relate too. We’re not really hungry—we just look to see if there’s anything in the fridge that might interest us—even if we looked just ten minutes before.

I believe there’s a entirely new digital form of this now, something which I’ll call empty pixel grazing. That is, the part of our behavior that drives us to keep checking back in with Tweetdeck, Facebook, Tumbler, Posterous, Slideshare, Klout, Mailchimp, etc. etc. etc. to see what our friends/followers are doing, or how many comments, views, RTs, likes, embeds, +K’s or opens we’ve gotten. (Not to mention refreshing personal and business email). What is your unconscious clock set at? Five minutes? Ten minutes before you have to check the “social fridge?”

For all the good digital has brought, it has also bred a constant state of distraction, if not emerging neurosis. There’s an entirely new form of attention deficit disorder. In this case, the disorder I’m talking about is the amount of attention paid to each of us. Am I getting enough comments, enough retweets, enough likes? Are people paying enough attention to my content? Are they paying enough attention to me? What will happen if I’m not part of the stream? Tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite (and now the new Facebook feed) are the Social Frigidaires of digital content, constantly refreshing so that each time you “open the door,” something new is there for you to consume.

Tweet Deck

Social Fridgidaire. (Also note the insane number of tabs I have open)

This has all helped fuel the social self-help industry (or maybe, the self-help industry has fueled the neurosis). You know the bloggers who manufacture lists on a daily basis with the 3, 5, 7, 8 or 10 reasons why you should do this, not do that, remember this, but forget about that. Sometimes they’ll go as far as “17 easy steps,” which is the equivalent of an IKEA assembly manual on how to succeed in social media.

Just as absent presence has come to define the state of paying more attention to a smartphone than the people around you at the dinner table, empty pixel grazing eats up more time each day than can be measured in mere minutes. It’s not only the time—it’s the unconscious preoccupation with our information streams and the inability to truly focus. Our consciousness becomes divided between the online and the offline.

When we create platforms for our clients and our products, we talk in terms of how users will consume content. It is indeed consumed, meaning that both nourishing content and empty calorie content exist. No surprise then there is what I would call an emerging content obesity, that is, time spent on empty information, communication, and “content spread gratification.” The question is, what does this come at the expense of? The corporate reflex response is of course productivity, but I’m looking deeper into the individual human cost. I would argue deeper thinking and reflection suffer the most, and they are by far much more important since they are key drivers of productivity and creativity—be it personal or professional.

Today, keep track of how many times you click on your open Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, or Facebook tab and just g(r)aze, before going back to what you were working on. Sometimes you will consume content, other times you’ll just check to see if there’s any content worth consuming. Is it a good thing? A bad thing? Or just an emerging behavior to be aware of?

I tweet therefore I am

The lifeblood of social media is human interaction, thoughts and emotions. Forever trying to understand the importance of it on a need level, I like thinking in terms of how all of it fits into the realm of philosophy and human understanding.

Doesn’t every tweet come down to this: I matter. With each post, we leave behind digital proof of our existence.

Gauguin, Paul "D'où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?"

Where Do We Come From? (Facebook) What Are We? (Twitter) Where Are We Going? (Foursquare)

Digital has made posting as instantaneous as thinking. How many of us feel that if we stop tweeting, posting, or checking in we’ll in some form cease to exist? How (and most importantly Why) has digital quickly become such a big part of our consciousness?

@Descartes, what do you think?

 

Growing up with hope, growing up with digital Pt. 2

I originally wrote and published this post way back in March, before the Translator site had even launched. Subsequently, it never got tweeted or spread, because we were busy writing new stuff that got sent out into the digital ether. But this being the first day of school, I thought it would be a good time to give this story its due. The post is about my memorable experience at Milwaukee College Preparatory School as a guest speaker during career day.

It’s interesting to see what has changed in the five months since I first wrote it. The iPad isn’t new anymore, and it’s beginning to show up in schools. In fact, my alma mater Racine St. Catherine’s (yeah, St. Kate’s) is using them this fall. I’ve also seen some of the wonderful things Spreenkler and Romke de haan have done to foster community development, getting kids involved in digital projects.

Of course, the one thing that hasn’t changed is change: the constant, daily evolution and increasing pervasiveness of digital. It’s an ever-expanding, never-ending story. For all of us working in the business, that makes every day the first day of school.

Here’s a link to the original story: Growing up with hope, growing up with digital

On Death and Dying: the five stages of post digital grief

 

Could the good doctor be talking about advertising?

Sean Duffy wrote a provocative post recently on TalentZoo.com titled “Advertising Agencies: Kiss Your Creative Teams Goodbye.” He contends that to maximize the potential of digital media, traditional agencies must be willing to restructure the venerated copywriter/art director team. As you might imagine, the eye-popping title of the post led to a flurry of emotionally-charged user comments. Ah, digital. How do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

Reactions fell neatly into Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Let’s examine reactions to the post through the lens of each of these stages. When assembled, the individual responses paint a great picture of the psychological and emotional trauma the advertising industry as a whole is currently experiencing.

C’mon it’ll be fun, I promise.

Denial

So many quotes, so little time. I like this one:

The essence of a great, memorable and powerful advertising communication – that “killer line” and that awesome concept that expresses the idea – that’s still best born of the “arcane” marriage of writer and art director.

But I love this one:

First of all, what this article is actually saying is that the creative team became a creative herd. And I think we all know that too many cooks… What died is the idea, the concept. I agree that with a good concept anyone who has never written or art directed for the web would do a better job than those “experienced” in executing drek. There is so much shoved in our faces right now, it’s too bad that none of it has a concept. If it did, I’d probably remember it. I remember most of the great concepts in the One Show books before the book became one huge encyclopedia of everything out there. Quick, can anyone out there come up with a great campaign that’s currently running ON ANY MEDIUM?

Gotta love that raw emotion. Digital, you are so good. What did we do before you?

For those still in the denial stage, take a look at R/GA’s Nike+. It is not the work of an art director/copywriter team. To put it in proper perspective, it is the digital equivalent of Doyle Dane Bernbach’s seminal Think Small ad. I would argue that it is the most important work done by any creative agency—traditional or digital—in the past ten years. Listen to what Goodby’s Director of Digital Strategy Gareth Kay has to say on the matter. In traditional advertising terms, a committee created this. In the post digital age, it’s referred to as a cross-discipline team.

I think the problem lies in the fact that the great concept traditionalists are looking for is no longer a smart headline. It’s not a visual solution. Frankly, it’s not a message at all. The great concept is now an experience. To quote Gareth Kay, it is an idea that does. We need to stop using conventions we are familiar with to place constraints (or express our denial) on the emergence of new forms of communication and engagement. Read what Faris Yakob, Chief Innovation Officer at MDC Partners has to say about our new digital reality:

The emergence of a new media system is typified by a period of transposition, where the behavioural grammar of the previous system remains dominant. The first television shows were radio shows with people talking directly into camera. The first films were stageplays that had been filmed. And the first marketing forays online took what we knew about media and branding from broadcast media and applied it to a whole new space.

But digital is different.

Digital is not a channel. It’s a suite of platforms, channels and tactics that will, ultimately subsume its parents entirely.

Amen. All the denial in the world will not change this new reality.

Anger

This assault on the 2-person creative team is really becoming annoying. Two smart, talented creatives can take a business problem and develop an idea that addresses/solves it better than any other number. Then that idea can be executed appropriately in all the media.

What a dumb, misleading headline. Any agency that devalues its creative team does so at its own peril. Who’s going to create the um…creative? AE’s and coders?

Harsh. But I get where it’s coming from. I get it better than you think. For over 10 years, I regularly logged 70 hour weeks in the pursuit of the big idea. Some of those ideas can be found in The One Show and Communication Arts Advertising and Design annuals. It’s harder than hell to do great work. It takes a combination of talent and grind. And I would never suggest that traditional advertising is a) dead  b) irrelevant or c) unnecessary.

I think a lot of the anger that traditional creatives feel is that suddenly, out of the blue, you’re supposed to think about web, and mobile, and social, and now ads for the iPad. You have smaller budgets, less time to do it, and you probably took a pay cut in the last two years. And now there’s something called crowdsourcing that everyone is enamored with.

Yes, I get it.

But the fact of the matter is, it’s not a two-person job anymore. Brands still need to create awareness. They need great TV spots. They need great print ads. It’s just that these messages should not be replicated in digital. They need to be translated (insert shameless plug here) into digital experiences and that takes a broader skill set—a.k.a. the bigger team—which is the point of Mr. Duffy’s article.

Unfortunately, when you start off with “Kiss your creative teams goodbye,” you’ll lose the very crowd you need to convert.

Bargaining

It usually goes something like this: We’ve hired some geeks and they have their own area. Ghost of Transformational Change, would you please leave us alone now?

Sure, add more people to the team. Copy and Art Creatives always benefit from more input. But don’t make the mistake of equating technical advice with true creative development.

Ummm, ouch. Another sentiment I often hear is that as long as you add a web designer and a developer, you’ve got it covered. The box has been checked. Yeah, digital, we’re down with that.

Let me straighten myself up in my chair as I type this.

Between @deziner, @adny and myself, we spend a lot of time here reading, thinking, and writing about digital. It’s difficult to keep up, because every damn day there is a new development. What does @anywhere mean? What is Facebook changing this week? Which Mashable article should I read? How are all the different platforms, properties, channels and touch points best used to create an experience?

Bargaining in the post digital age offers little value to your client. Yes, you may be able to build a site. Maybe even an app. Congratulations on assembling the modern mousetrap. Now the question is, did you just spend all your client’s money on a trap for under the kitchen sink when the mice are actually in the pantry?

Depression

Of course, some in the industry are ready to wave the white flag:

Interesting article. I agree print advertising is dying, it is pretty apparent that people are cutting costs, and investing those funds into online marketing.

Honestly, I’m not sure that anything is dying. But it’s definitely evolving. There’s less to feel down about and more to be excited about due to the endless new opportunities that lie ahead of us. How can you watch the Wired approach to storytelling on the iPad and not be inspired? Print isn’t dead. It’s about to be reborn.

The media universe is expanding, and that reality includes consumers who now expect not only to be part of the conversation, but active members of the storytelling process. As creatives, have we lost control? Or is the cavalry finally arriving?

Acceptance

A month ago, I sat in the front row as Edward Boches gave a presentation during which he described himself as an “advertising refugee.” Yesterday, he posted this superb article on assembling and cultivating the new creative team. I had started writing this article a week ago, and planned on ending it with a reference to Edward Boches, and damned if he didn’t write the perfect conclusion for me. This is just one of many gems from his article:

So what do we make if we don’t make stories? Experiences. Experiences that earn attention, invite participation, inspire co-creation, provide utility and inherently generate more content.

Bravo, sir. That’s Friday Morning Bacon material. Rather than “kissing your creative team goodbye,” it offers positive ways to embrace the challenge that lies ahead for us all.

Please, go read it. Then be open to change, don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and always be eager to grow. We’re a smart bunch of people. Together we can deal with this.

Friday morning bacon: brunch edition

Okay, so I got a late start on my weekly homage to all things bacon today, because I was putting the finishing touches on my presentation tonight for the students attending the WSPR panel discussion. Of course, I must serve them up some bacon in the form of career insight. For tonight’s event I will give an obligatory introduction, including past work, awards, etc. etc. But if you’ve hung around me enough, you know the thing I value the most in my career is the incredible people I’ve been fortunate to work with. The relationships, the friendships, the bonds. That’s bacon. My closing slide is meant to impress on them that getting your work in an annual is great, but the people you work alongside will become your lifetime achievement award.

The closing slide. Always start and finish with your best bacon.

Oh, and @adny, you didn’t make the slide because you are not on Facebook. #baconfail

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PUMA Fuseproject

Nothing screams bacon more than a suede pair of PUMAs. Now, check out their innovative Fuseproject packaging, thanks to @tsevis and @Nixondesign who obviously are always sniffing the air for the merest whiff of frying bacon.

RT @tsevis: The New PUMA Fuseproject–Packaging as Branding. +reduces material costs/shipping http://bit.ly/93w3gB! (via @Nixondesign)

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Two Person Creative Teams

If you’ve ever fried bacon (and if you haven’t, stop reading this blog immediately) you know there is inherent danger in preparing something so delicious. It is a forgone conclusion that at some point, grease will splatter and you will be burned. With that, I direct you to this searing post brought to my attention through the magic of RT by creativebeast.com’s Trish Hundhausen.

Good stuff. RT @T_Haus: Advertising Agencies: Kiss Your Creative Teams Goodbye | TalentZoo.com: http://bit.ly/cMxSxH via @addthis

Read the post. But don’t miss out on the splattering bacon grease in the comments section. Yum. It will be the subject of an entire blog post here on Just Sayin’ next week.

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The Brief in the Post Digital Age

Bacon never has to change. It is infinitely perfect. Creative briefs, on the other hand, need to work a little harder in this day and age as Goodby’s Gareth Kay astutely explains in this deck posted to Slideshare.

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An Intellectual Take on Farmville

Go ahead, rub your eyes. It’s smokey in here from the bacon we’ve been frying. But no, you did not read that wrong. Hunt Adkin’s Josh Smerick shared this cerebral piece on the importance of games and play, and why Farmville #FAILS at all criteria.

What is—and what isn’t—a game. Some scholarly thinking in this post from media commons on Farmville: http://bit.ly/bnXMOT

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A Decade of Digital

Your t-shirt sir, is pure bacon.

Somewhere, there must be a bacon hall of fame. If there isn’t we’re getting on it, pronto. And when it’s completed, the first inductee will be Faris Yakob, Chief Innovation Officer at MDC Partners. Bacon is pure genius. So is @faris. Read this. Save it. Read it again.

Great thinking on why digital demands a different approach RT @TheMarketingSoc A decade of digital: 10 things for 2010 http://bit.ly/c0VgJ5

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A Last Minute Entry

Bacon, good. Democracy, Bad.

My good friend Rob Franks (@R_Franks formerly known as @blogfoot) tweeted this huge slab o’ bacon my way while I was in the middle of writing this post. Apparently, long before there was Fathead there was Soviethead. As the body copy clearly states “Stalin and Lenin—as awful and sinister as any wild dream.” That, I must say, is hickory-smoked. It’ll take two pieces of paper toweling to soak up the grease dripping from it. Did I say I love this? I love this.

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As always, if there’s something we missed (we probably did, we were busy this week) please share it with us below. Bon Appétit.



Nestle didn't fail at social media

The Nestle fiasco that recently happened got a lot of attention from the world, and the social media community in particular. If you aren’t aware of what happened, check out this recap for the details. The headline is “Nestle fails at social media.” The reason they failed? Clamping down on logo usage, defensive and controlling behavior, inattentiveness to consumer concerns.

Yes. Agreed. Guilty as charged.

But none, and I repeat, none of that has to do with failing in social media.  In fact, I think the behavior we as a collective have witnessed is probably one of the the most perfect examples of what social media is meant to be.

But wait. There’s tons of backlash… people hate how they handled the situation. They didn’t listen! They thought of the brand before the people! How dare them?! Their response was crude, and rude, and unacceptable! How can it not be a failure in social media?!

You know why? Because they were real. The backlash is not against how Nestle “handled themselves in social media.” The real backlash is against how they think, what they believe, and how they conduct business. The fact of the matter is, they were 100% transparent in their beliefs. Which is the number #1 requirement of engagement in social media outlets. Whoever was on the other side of that facebook exchange was given freedom to represent the company’s beliefs, tolerance and guidelines. That is awesome. They didn’t mess up in conveying what they have been taught about the company in which they work. What was illuminated is the way Nestle feels about controlling their brand and it’s relationship with it’s community. That has nothing-I repeat, nothing- to do with social media. I argue that they have actually done it right. They trusted their employees to represent their beliefs. I believe they did. They are now dealing with the reaction to their beliefs, not their presence in social media. Would we rather they be inauthentic and only post/respond canned, scripted, approved responses to any and all comments or sentiments posted about them? No, you’d see right through that.

The backlash is not against how Nestle “handled themselves in social media.” The real backlash is against how they think, what they believe, and how they conduct business.

Here’s the deal. Nestles’s stance was wrong in my opinion. They need to care about the orangutans. They should be doing, or operating in ways that are earth friendly. They should be more open with their brand and engage the people who actually keep them in business with their purchases. They should be considerate. Absolutely. But, if we want brands to be honest with us, we need to allow for some room to grow and learn and evolve. The digital, or social  age has changed the world. Granted. But it has not – not yet – changed the way every one of our favorite brands operate in the world. Nestle is a perfect example of how a brand can learn and adjust beyond itself to something that is truly a product or service  for the world.

Does Nestle have lots to do and fix? Oh yes.  But here’s what I would propose: From a business and culture standpoint… get your priorities right. But from a social media standpoint… keep it up. You are doing a fantastical job, and are an example for others. Because the point is, social media exposes who you really are. If you are nice on the inside, it comes through on the outside.

Oh, and next time just be a little nicer.

Growing up with hope, growing up with digital

Recently I had the privilege (I do not use that term lightly) to speak to three different groups of students at Milwaukee College Preparatory school. The students ranged from third graders to eighth graders, and my talk was part of  the “Career Day” the school puts on each year. The topic of my presentation was—surprise—careers in digital. As part of it, I covered the incredible innovation we have witnessed in the last ten years. What took me a bit off guard was how pervasive digital has actually become—the sheer reality is staggering. Sure, we talk about it, tweet about it, and blog about it. But until I actually went and gave a presentation to kids who have never lived with anything else, I really didn’t understand the magnitude the things we do have on our culture.

Unbridled enthusiasm for all things digital.

The interaction with the kids was fantastic—it was unbridled, spontaneous, ebullient. But let’s be honest. It’s not like I’m Marty the insurance salesman or Frank the plumber. We were talking about cool things like Facebook, iPhone apps and Nintendo Wii. Of course they’d be into it. What I wasn’t prepared for was how many of them (virtually all) had Facebook profiles. Every single one of them had sent a text message (even third graders). And when I talked about the iPad and how it might soon replace the 30 lb. backpack they carry to school each day, they wanted one tomorrow.

But here’s the kicker. As much as every one of these kids loved digital, and used it in their daily lives, not one had ever considered it as a career. After each class, I had a couple of students, usually eighth graders, ask me “Where do I go to school for this?” “How do I make a website?” “I’ve got ideas for games, how do I build them?” Think of that. I told them about USC’s Game-Pipe Lab, and what’s going on at Boulder Digital Works. While I’m sure they thought the surgeon who attended Career Day was interesting, how far removed are they from actually performing a surgery? We could teach them enough about Flash in just a few hours to get them going on their own. Who knows if even a small push like that might lead to one of the premiere digital academies one day.

Which is more formidable? The Trojan football team, or USC’s game-pipe lab?

One of my slides read “You are living at a time of the greatest opportunity since the industrial revolution.” I didn’t feel I needed a source for that, because I believe it. Anyone in digital believes it. Read just about any Tom Friedman column and he’ll inevitably talk about how innovation is the way to job growth and the way out of our financial mess. I’d add that starting to teach digital skills to inner city kids is the way to stimulate growth, harness enthusiasm, and tap into new ideas from kids whose life experience is far different than ours. The bright young faces I saw and connected with deserve every chance to participate in this opportunity.

Near the end of my conversation, I told them while researching my presentation I had come across one of the best definitions of innovation I had ever seen. I opened my sketchpad and read this to them:

I am not awed by the challenges of reality, but believe that I can change the world and establish my legacy in it. I am self-determined, self-generated, self propelled, and self-reliant. I believe that this is my time and my place. I will find a way to achieve excellence, or I will make one.”

That is the final paragraph of Milwaukee College Prep’s “Declaration of Excellence.” Students recite this at the beginning of every single day. I only had to read the first 9 words—the students earnestly finished it for me. I concluded by talking about the Obama campaign, how it had proved that a web-enabled grass roots movement could do the unthinkable. I told them it no longer mattered where you live, whether you were a boy or a girl, black or white, what mattered most was what you had learned, how you think and how you could articulate it. It was clear what they were learning in this school each and every day would stay with them for the rest of their lives.

The best experiences are those when you are brought in to inspire, and instead, walk away being inspired. I walked on air for the following two days. Tom Webster eloquently riffed on Chris Brogan’s post We Could Do So Much More—which is exactly what I left thinking. Could we do more than a career day for inner city kids? Could we guide them through building a website, concepting and designing a game, or writing their own blog? What ideas, experiences and talent would we uncover? How would that change the world? If we believe the true power of digital is inclusion for all, then imagine what it could mean for these kids. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Footnote:
Milwaukee College Prep is an inner city charter school in its 13th year. From the first day children arrive, they are continually reminded the goal of their efforts at the school is to prepare them for college graduation. Banners line the hallways showing the future dates of their college graduating class.

I’m pretty sure foursquare is stupid

That’s the tweet I received from my good friend and former colleague Luke Oeth, a CD at Martin Williams in Minneapolis. His remark was in response to the recent HubSpot post on AJ Bomber’s 110 percent sales increase attributed to a foursquare swarm badge promotion at the restaurant. In Luke’s defense, he did go on to say that the article intrigued him enough to download and start using foursquare. Only time will tell whether he gets hooked like the rest of us (you all know who you are).

I know a lot of people who feel just like Luke. But it’s also a fact that a lot of people would say the following: “I think NASCAR is stupid.” “I think watching golf is stupid.” “I think anyone who runs five miles a day is stupid.” “I think Star Trek is stupid.” You get the point. Truth be told, anyone is entitled to their opinion about another individuals preoccupation and devotion to a particular interest. I thought the previews of Avatar looked stupid, and I publicly told @augieray so. Then the reviews came out and people started raving about it. (Augie, this serves as your public apology. Leave me alone already).

From the outside—and with little or no experience in an activity—a lot of things can come across as superficial or mundane. That’s just being human. I’m sure Og thought Zork was foolish for making noise by beating two femurs on a rock 50,000 years ago. Heck, just three years ago, I myself didn’t “get” Facebook. Then I tried it. Boom. That story has been repeated tens of millions of times since.

No doubt @gcostanza would’ve battled it out to be the mayor at Monk’s.

I recall this 2009 story in Time magazine covering Facebook’s impact. A few weeks later, another Time article derided the growing “narcissism” social media was responsible for. Then Twitter happened in 2009. More “triviality and shallowness.” Well guess what? Narcissism and triviality in human beings is nothing new, and digital has zero to do with its origins. Funny too, how just 15 years ago traditional big media gave us (and trumpeted) Seinfeld, the most popular show on TV back then. The plot line? A sitcom about nothing. Triviality. Narcissism. Okaaay, fast forward to 2010. Now I get to tune in and participate in my own episode of Seinfeld on Twitter everyday. It stars @deziner, @adny, @blogfoot, @suespaight and @edcetera to name a few. You have your own cast of characters. And thanks to digital tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, the series will run on in perpetuity for all of us. Funny how big media has a problem now that we all write the script.

This is a frequent topic of conversation I have with Cindi Thomas (the aforementioned @deziner). Being Translator’s own Oracle of UX, she knows it’s not digital that’s fascinating, it’s how people are using it that’s really the thing. As a culture we’ve completely embraced and absorbed all these new platforms, apps and technology in such a short amount of time. The iPhone has not even celebrated its third birthday yet. Think about that for a second. ‘Cuz I’m sure you’ve seen someone freak out if they’re separated from their iPhone for even a short amount of time. Why that happens is a question of human nature, not technology. Blackberry didn’t earn the nickname of Crackberry by accident.

You know someone who has made this into a check-in.

So why is foursquare not stupid? Not sure that I can defend that one, just like I can’t defend playing Scrabble, Connect Four or Bingo with my kids. Since those are off-line activities played with children, it’s completely acceptable. Since foursquare is a childish on-line activity engaged in by geeky adults, there’s certain to be derision. I guess I would just say it’s an activity, a simple diversion that has a little bit of competitiveness to it. I joke about Cindi Thomas having created check-ins at “water cooler” and “linen closet” just to rack up points. Silly? Yes. Human? Completely.

Luke’s tweet made me laugh. Not LOL, mind you, because that’s stupid. It put foursquare into it’s proper context, a weird little preoccupation that appeals to a certain type of people. Just like the obsessions people have developed for model railroading, crossword puzzles, or the craft of advertising. (I plead guilty to the last, for many many years). Because of its pervasiveness and our insatiable appetite for it, digital will continue to spawn more and more frivolous compulsive behavior.

But enough for now. I really need to check in here at Alterra Foundry, order my blueberry rooibos tea, and read this fascinating post from @blogfoot about the proper educational requirements needed to become a hobo.