A Literacy of the Imagination

a deeper look at innovation through the lenses of media, technology, venture investment and hyperculture

The Useless War Over Mindshare #HolisticIntelligence #MediaSolidarity

The Useless War Over Mindshare #HolisticIntelligence #MediaSolidarity

It’s unsettling to think that media, as a practice, is largely consumed by the goal of owning intelligence, of owning mindshare. It’s counterintuitive to the way we’re wired, despite the fact that we are often driven by greed and the need to control behavior. We can certainly drive behavior, but changing it (in good ways) requires something that goes well beyond the foundations we’ve established for exchanging ideas. Content – if looked at within the context of circumstance or illusion - has often been mistaken for social currency.

Not quite the same thing.

There’s a war going on, with media logistics operating as the turrets. As marketers and publishers, we operate many times within closed networks and closed loops, and we expect that somehow we will inspire loyalty, or that somehow we have a right to life and practice. That is not to say that the social web and all of its respective networks aren’t evolving organically – quite the contrary – it’s just that the respect for innovation and the attention to participatory constructs tend to get lost amid the noise. Walled gardens can’t really go into full bloom.

Media, as a practice, is literally collapsing onto itself. It’s really no mystery why media models are in flux, and why various markets such as independent film, broadcast and cable television and online ad networks are struggling to create value. Don’t be surprised to see many more media companies, at least as we’ve come to know them, continue to morph, transition to other models, get swallowed up in acquisition scenarios... Or simply die off.

Value begets value. And it really is possible that we can create value independently of capital inputs or outputs. You know, social currency.

Value is co-created. Intellectual IP must be shared. Service layer bundling – the perceived calling card for media holding companies – operates in direct opposition to the wildly unpredictable tenets of inventory and demand. And by the way, this doesn’t mean that value co-creation can’t be profitable. One might argue that doing good is more profitable than not. But it requires that all parties sit at the ole’ Algonquin roundtable with open minds to figure this out. It requires cultural disruption.

Put it this way, given the state of the world, we don’t really have a choice. If you’re not in the business of doing well by doing good, then you probably shouldn’t be in business at all.

And of course, there is a silver lining to all of this.

Many people ask me why I work at an agency. The answer is simple: brands are the conduits for change. They have legacy power. They have contextual, and often times, historical, relevance. They can contribute to our formative development in profound and subtle ways. More importantly, they can support our stories and help us create new artifacts out of everyday circumstance. They can help us define or redefine our roles in this world.

From a media perspective, access to brands – especially in this climate – presents a myriad of opportunities. For one, the failures of bias around media channels or content formats are forcing us to experiment with different platforms, and new ways to curate. We can create content any way we’d like, and you don’t have to be a filmmaker or TV producer or web guru to explore a format or adopt a new type of technology. Granted, the agency model is incredibly flawed – we know this – but that is not the point. The real truth lies in the possibilities, and the willingness to be a part of something greater than ourselves. To tell stories that really matter, and incite action.

The Useless War Over Mindshare #HolisticIntelligence #MediaSolidarity
[screenshot taken from Deadspin.com]

You might be sick of hearing about the recent Tiger Woods Nike commercial, but hopefully you aren’t done talking about it because the conversation has only just begun. Nevermind the media piece itself, what it represents is so much bigger than the Nike or TW brand themselves, or what we think of Tiger as a person. The story developing around this is, arguably, a narrative about our society’s fascination with and unreasonable expectations of celebrity, as well as our abandonment of the people behind these audience-created phenomena. The narrative, at its very core, has become quite the social meme, and will likely unfold across a number of platforms and a variety of new story arcs and themes. Sure, much of the remixed content is intended to mock Tiger and the Nike brand, but I’m willing to bet that this all changes course soon enough and heads off into unexplored territory. And what may piss people off or make them empathetic is precisely the trigger point that gets us thinking about how we can collectively change behavior. This is how media makes a difference – by providing us with context and the ability to take part in a larger conversation. To expose cultural mores. To talk about the things we don’t necessarily want to address. To be human again.

If nothing else, remember that we tend to love stories of redemption. There’s always some piece of ourselves that can identify and summon hope. Even when we’re pointing our fingers.

Is it media’s role to entertain or inform? Maybe a bit of both. Regardless, we can tell stories and remix content any way we want. It’s entirely up to us.

Think about it. Then go collaborate and co-create.