Monday, October 19, 2009

Social Singularity

Over a year ago, I made the very purposeful decision to take the twitter application off of my facebook profile (this was before "selective twitter" was up and running). I was noticing that there were things I wanted to say to my twitter followers that made sense to them and to that medium that the old friends, family, and grad school crowd wouldn't find relevant or even make sense. Though it felt odd at first, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to keep those worlds separate. That people who knew the way I was currently thinking (as a brand strategist and pseudo-cultural anthropologist) were all captured on one medium while those with whom I relate to in a different (though no less authentic way) I was connected to on another medium. Not exclusively, of course, but separate to some extent.

And for a while, this plan worked very well.

Recently, my brother started a twitter account. I was amazed, excited, and then alarmed. Last night, my wife and I talked about her entrance into the blogosphere as an aspiring novelist, and the various ways to get connected and to promote her books and build a community. And lo, the conversation included some overlap into the distinct worlds I had created for myself. Today, a friend from grad school started following my tweets. The fastest growing demographic segment on Facebook are women over 55. The norm is now that your parents are on the same platforms as you, sending you links, "liking" your status updates, commenting on your posts, and re-tweeting your insights and confessions.

We knew that this, like all trends, was inevitable. That was the whole idea behind it, right? The Influencers and their trickle-down technologies eventually must either move on to a different, less crowded space, or concede that those circles of distinction must at some point become crowded to the point where all personal networks are populated by the people from previously separated spheres of your life.

This convergence of the members of disparate real life and/or digital circles is known as Social Singularity.

The implications of this go hand-in-hand with the past decade's obsession with the notion of the "democratization of exclusivity" or "massclusivity". When we all have access, various things happen. Innovation and evolution become necessary as new platforms are born and grow. The heavily populated social spaces either lose their appeal, or evolve into hubs of active, though uncontrollable communications (see: YouTube & the gross increase of Twitter spam). And most importantly, in a very positive way, the newcomers to the digital social space make the space a more viable place to develop new means of contact and community, as there becomes less education and dispelling necessary when people jump in and experience things for themselves.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Truth in Creativity, by Maurice Sendak

For those who don't know me, I have two kids: Sadie, 6, and Charlie, almost 3. We love reading. LOVE it. I will spare you the column-that-could-be about the very best in kid lit and instead give you my thoughts on the amazing rediscovery the world is having with the 1963 Maurice Sendak classic, Where the Wild Things Are.

First off, the film looks insanely delicious. God bless Spike Jonze and any other director who chooses costumes over CGI (also a column-that-could-be). But more importantly, the release of the film has given many of us dads a chance to dust off a copy of the book and share it with our kids with a bit more care - lingering over the illustrations, considering the simplicity of the words, and asking on each page, "what do you think Max is feeling here?"

This is what I love. In a 10 sentence book, Sendak nails childhood. I mean, NAILS it. Who hasn't felt angry and wild and filled with feelings that are too big for our bodies? And yes, yes of course "let[ting] the wild rumpus start." If for nothing else than for the magic of those three words. But clearly for reminding us of what it means to feel alone and isolated and wronged and the need to rebel.

But these days I find myself intrigued by the feelings of loneliness Max experiences when the rumpus is over and he wants to be "where someone loves him best of all." The part of the book most of us don't remember or consider. The time-to-go-home part. The part that completes Max's journey. The part that brings remorse and need and closure to the experience of being a kid.

This book is a study in truth expressed creatively. Find the truth of a human experience, (and not the kind of truth we Brand Strategists like to throw on a creative brief really quickly - you know, the daypart/website pattern/general-generational characteristics, but a real essential understanding of what it's like to be human - kids have big, wild feelings and need to get them out and then need to know that they can have those feelings and still be loved best of all) and then tell that story in a surprising, tender, delightful, and daringly original way.

It's what any creative endeavor should strive for, be it a book, song, painting, classroom lesson, brainstorming session, and, yes, advertising & marketing too.

So, thanks, Maurice Sendak. From my kids to my colleagues, thanks.
the thoughts and opinions expressed below are entirely my own, and are not necessarily shared by my friends, family, or employer. (though they very well might be...)