Mark is speaking this week at the ARF in NYC about 'Putting humans at the centre of the process'. Great topic, great panel (wish I could be there to see it). I made a couple of comments to him on it about how I felt that a good place to start would be to think about the language we use as an industry. Too many militaristic analogies. Too little speaking human. And how whenever we think about communicating to a lot of people, we seem to move away from the most human of attributes which to me is not where we need to be. Nevermind putting humans at the centre of the process, humans should be the entire process. It reminds me of that Seth quote:
I like this because it immediately makes you think differently about what you do. As Mike Arauz says: "People's lives don't revolve around your brand, they revolve around life". When our own working lives revolve around something specific for a period of time, it's often easy to forget the context that that thing has to everyone else. I see evidence of this all the time.
Mike has also been doing a good job summarising Henry Jenkin's epic 8-part think-piece If It Doesn't Spread, It's Dead, highlighting some great truisms. Like the fact that our job is not to create communities, but to court existing ones. Like the need to recognise the active role people play in passing along ideas and content (in other words it's not accurate to call it viral), and how those ideas and content are spread based not on an individual evaluation of worth, but on a perceived social value within a community or group.
As products are increasingly "dematerializing and being re-engineered as services" (HT), these kinds of subtleties are everything. Especially now, when trust in corporates, business and advertising is at an all time low (only 13% of people trust corporate or product advertising according to the 2009 Edelman Trust monitor). In his excellent SXSW presentation on trust (below, via), Laurence Lessig makes a couple of great points about how money does not necessarily equal 'false', or 'wrong', but money can often equal 'mistrust'. And where it does, it's generally because money is in the wrong place. A timely reminder that trust is often the thin dividing line between connection and irrelevance. Perhaps a good start would be to stop calling people 'consumers'.