Old Man and the Tweet – May 25, 2012
Old Man and the Tweet
Hemingway would have loved Twitter. As a writer who hated useless adjectives, flowery language and unecessary detail, he was focused on creating sentences with laser-like precision. Unfortunately, word processing, printers, and the internet have made it increasingly easier to overwhelm the world with words over the past 30 years. Suddenly, it’s become easier to write 1,000 words than 250. In marketing, I see every day the temptation to add more, more, and more. Which is why I’m grateful for Twitter’s 140 character limit. As Papa would say “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.”
How Big is Too Big
You’ve probably read enough about problems with the Facebook IPO already, but bear with me on this: in the long run the only thing that really matters to Wall Street is whether people still continue to spend time on Facebook. And, at some point, they won’t. Modern history is replete with examples of consumers being completely “captured” by monopolies (the phone system, the 3 TV networks, AOL, etc.). Yet all of these economic and political giants have stumbled and fallen in the face of unforeseen technological developments. I’m not saying you should sell your shares of “FB” right now. But there’s no doubt that something will replace the online social networking experience that Facebook offers, and the company is just too large now to innovate its way forward.
The Child of Necessity
Innovation isn’t dead. It just doesn’t come from $100 billion companies. It’s not that behemoth firms are blind to the importance of remaining cutting edge, but human organizational behavior is such that once you employ tens of thousands of people, it stops being possible to implement new ideas fast enough. What’s cool about social networking, however, is that it layers on top of the internet a whole new level of possibilities. As an article in Slate this week put it, social media is “jump-starting brand new services that depend on critical mass for their utility.” Like renting a summer house, where it might seem that all you need is a website, when what you really need is an edge.
A while back I railed against Faceboook’s purchase of instagram for a cool $1 billion. I still think it was a silly amount of money to pay. But I have to say that this Read Write Web article helped me better understand the point of instagram in terms of its social sharing value. So it’s not just about making taking photos and making them look cool, it’s about how you do that in a way that engages people in a conversation. I don’t love it enough to try it, yet. But I appreciate anything that’s a good conversation starter.