Are We Chasing Bright Shiny Objects?

July 21, 2007 Blog 9 comments

Read this brilliant post by Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion fame. The main thrust of his post is that it still all boils down to understanding good old human behaviour as opposed to simply chasing the latest, greatest and coolest out there in the planet.

Quoting from him:

“…Every day it seems there’s a hot new Web 2.0 site that captures our attention.

In 2003 it was Friendster and Linked In.

Then in 2004, thanks in part to the election, blogging began to get really big.

The year 2005 brought us photocasting (Flickr) podcasting (iTunes) and vodcasting via YouTube. By the way note the headlines “Internet craze” headlines listed here circa 2005.

In 2006 we saw a big revival in social networks with MySpace (a client) as well as the virtual world boom.

This year it’s all about micro – Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce plus little web apps everywhere, on widget platforms, Facebook, the iPhone.

All of this leads me to the photo above. The Web 2.0 construction boom is bigger now than it ever was. Techcrunch, Scobleizer and Mashable leave me all breathless. It’s like watching the cranes of Dubai rise. We’re a million monkeys running on treadmills, chasing the latest banana. Myself included! The breathing apparatus in the photo above reminds me of my Google Reader stream!”

As a media socialist and an advocate for new ways of marketing and communicating, I wonder sometimes if we are going overboard with this obsession with new media. Certainly, the web 2.0 movement (or rather social media movement as Jeremiah Owyang would call it) has led to significant changes in the way we work, live and play. We should still remember that the core of any tech-enabled channel is the value that it brings to existing patterns of human interaction and behaviour.

This brings me to an old saying that technology should support business rather than the other way around. Of course, there are examples of how technology has revolutionised behaviours like the Internet for instance. However, attempting to change people’s natural behaviours to fit a new fangled social media platform isn’t going to cut it over the long haul.

I may have a gazillion contacts on my Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter, Mybloglog etc, but I am only likely to interact frequently with a much smaller group of people.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. Great post! That’s how I feel too. Sometimes, we keep chasing after the latest tech that we tend to forget that it is the human interaction, rather than the technology itself, that is the core of greatest inventions.


  2. The key eventual objective of any media communication should still brings us to the final “key buying motive”. IMHO, it’s useless to set up such a vast network but eventually, business and products don’t move. In that way, it’s as good as white elephants.

  3. nay min thu,

    Thanks for popping by! Somehow we do get fixated with the latest, greatest and slickest tech-enabled thing-a-ma-jig. For example Singtel’s latest foray into IPTV. But the question we should ask ourselves is whether the content is there, and more importantly, whether it enhances our lifestyles with a natural fit.

  4. et,

    True indeed. Its better to have a few great friends and business associates with clout and influence, than to have a thousand associates who barely know you let alone trust you enough to want to undertake a business deal together.

  5. With all the advanced technology out there, many of our young have lost their communication skills with other people.

    And although the web may link people from all corners of the globe, most of the contacts are superficial.

  6. eastcoastlife,

    I guess its a difference in the way that they communicate, although the basic dynamics of human relationships remain the same. If you look at the technology changes in the last century or so – from the postage stamps to telegraphs to faxes to emails to chat to SMSes to MMSes and now ubiquitous computing – human interactions are still pretty similar. Kids will still think their parents are fuddy duddy and each generation will have its “good old days”… I guess this is why heritage does have some value too… 😉

  7. while i blog and i know what’s the latest fad, besides the RSS feeds, google news alert, the sorts, i don’t really ‘sign up’ for anything else. No friendster, no facebook, no linkedin, no twitter, no e-cards either zilch.

    i stick to emails, handwritten cards, letters, the ‘old’ form of communication. coz i keep my circle of intimates fairly small. and for these intimates, i bother to take the effort to put that human touch to it.

    the other acquaintances, while i value them as a person, i rarely make that extra step to add the human touch. unless something clicks.

  8. imp,

    Its a good approach to maintain strong links with a close inner circle while still penning your thoughts for a wider audience of acquaintainces. Nothing beats the personal touch of face-to-face meetings, handwritten letters and one-to-one emails although as you rightly pointed out, such time and energy consuming activities are limited to a special few.

    Oh yes, there is also a difference between how men and women maintain relationships too. For one, married ladies are far better at keeping in close touch with their circle of friends than married guys are. On the other hand, guys may have truckloads of folks that they know but few that they truly open themselves up to.

  9. Hey Walter,

    Its been a long while since I commented (and read my feeds).. but this post struck me because I realised something lately too.

    All those social networking sites, like MBL, LinkedIn… they are great tools to help people get in touch, but the keeping in touch is really up to the person with the account! Often at times, it is the quality of the relationship that is important, not the number of contacts you have.

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