I’ve been on a bit of a ClayShirkyBinge lately, but the stuff he covers is so clever I’ve gotta share it.
The latest piece of Cognitive Surplus I’ve bookmarked during my Subway reading, this section on why we’re continually surprised by the spread of online communication – even amongst seniors:
No one wants email for itself, any more than anyone wants electricity for itself; rather, we want the things electricity enables. Similarly, we want the things email enables – news from home, pictures of the kids, discussion, argument, flirtation, gossip, and all the mess of the human condition. The surprise behind those “Old people communicating with each other online!” articles came from a focus on the technical means rather than on the social opportunities of that communication.
He goes on:
Many of the stories we tell ourselves about the tools we use are really stories about human motivation. We grossly overestimated the degree to which email would always seem futuristic and hard to use, we grossly underestimated the technical talents of older people, and we simply ignored the basic truth of technology: if a tool is useful, people will use it. (Surprise.) They will use it even if the tool is different from what existed before, provided it lets them do things they want to do. The mystery isn’t why older people started emailing each other; the mystery is how we could have convinced ourselves that email use was mainly about technological novelty rather than social continuity.
I’ve been an iPhone user for three years, and like many iPhone owners I’ve cracked my screen (twice). And also like many iPhone owners I’ve had many a horrible experience with Apple and ATT’s arrogant approach to customers.
I knew that the Apple store would charge me an arm and a leg, despite the fancy decor and Genius Bars. So I typed ‘fix iPhone’ into Yelp and found Dr Brendan near me in the East Village who would fix it for $60.
I entered his small East Village apartment to find a bunch of people lining up, two friendly blokes fixing phones and a phone ringing off the hook. To my surprise they’d been featured on CNN today and a legion of similarly disaffected Apple customers had found salvation.
The bigger story here: can a brand like Apple really get away with treating its customers so badly they’ve created a black market in customer service? Dr Brendan’s service was great, but I must admit climbing four flights of steps to a small East Village apartment had me feeling like I was doing a drug deal.
So when I saw a link to this poster pop up in my Google Reader I bought it straight away, and it now has pride of place by my desk at work as a constant reminder to keep trying, keep doing, keep failing and keep on measuring.
You should attend the Word of Mouth Super Genius conference in New York on July 20. Learn from the best in the business, get hands on knowledge from people who are ‘doing’ not just talking, and best of all: support charity: water.
Register for the conference and use the code ‘paullismyhero‘ to get $101 off the registration fee… or you can donate that $101 to the events’ mycharitywater fundraising campaign. By doing so you’ll provide clean water to 5 people in the developing world for 20 years.
I’ve attended dozens of social media and word of mouth conferences over the past few years and I rarely get truly excited for them – Word of Mouth Super Genius is a rare one that bucks that trend. The sessions all focus on short, sharp ‘how to’ information, not the standard ‘social media bingo‘ highlights: ‘customer service is marketing’, ‘social CRM’, ‘United Breaks Guitars’ etc that you’ll hear at each and every conference.