New often means new to you – my new car may be used or previously owned but it is new to you. With some things like the first PC, Notebook, ipad, Kindle or Nook, new means new; it did not exist before. Technology does transform the way we do things and even the way we live. We adapt.
Take this article, for example. It is written with the same process that I learned as a child. We spell with 26 letters, form sentences and paragraphs starting from the upper left to the lower right. We read basically with the same process. We have placed our thoughts in an organized fashion that is designed to communicate with others. For decades, I had to do this on paper. I could type it, but I did not think as well with my fingers on the keyboard. I needed a legal pad and a pen or even a pencil in my hand.
I’ve adapted and with the computer and the marvel of spell checker, and I now do this process better from the keyboard. Technology has made quite a difference. Before the computer, it was laborious to create charts and tables that Excel can now churn out with relative ease.
The way we communicate and interact is undergoing a dramatic evolution. In 60 short years, we have graduated from the typewriter, the family phone, the black-and-white TV and the public library. The old has been replaced with the new or at least a newer version. It took decades for the party line to be replaced by the private line. The pen was more than something with which you occasionally signed your name. Incidentally, if we no longer teach cursive, how will we physically sign our names in the future? OK, digitally and electronically, but we will have given away another level of intimacy.
And so it is now that most of us have not had or used a library card for years. Perhaps our younger generation has never been in a public library. The library now comes to you, and you can search it and multitask in ways that were unimagined before the advent of the personal computer. The smart phone and tablet device is having similar impact on our daily lives. We can stay in touch with virtually anyone instantly. In fact, if you subscribe to all this technology, whether you like it or not, you are always in the loop. You literally have to unplug to escape. Interruption is constant for many of us, and if things quiet down for some, it can become disquieting.
The word social implied a physical gathering and personal face to face contact 60 years ago. Today the cultural connotation is the virtual group, community or interaction in which we engage. Ironically social is becoming impersonal or at least no longer requires personal and physical proximity. Your virtual community can be global.
The way we read is also changing. The process is basically the same, but more and more we turn the pages less and less. Paper volumes are archived and within a couple of decades may become recycled packaging used to ship your online purchase. Forests will be spared when the printing presses no longer deliver the news. In 4G parlance, that was so 19 seconds ago.
One thing has not changed. We still have a thirst for the story – we just want to get to it quicker. And we also, and thankfully, continue to read. With this marvelous technology we can read more on virtually any topic that interests us. I didn’t say that technology was a bad thing. It is not so much a tool now; it is more like a necessity. Who among us is likely to part with our smart phone, ipad, book reader, PC, the Internet or ATM card? It’s not going to happen. These devices and even newer technologies will have to be pried from your cold lifeless grasp.
The implications for advertising, communications, business, and government are enormous and just emerging. Your book reader provides you with a library of free reads. These range from classics to comics. I’m betting that these receive less interest than contemporary reads that are more suited to today’s lifestyles. Your Kindle may have access to these and to 50 books that you’ve purchased and placed in your personal electronic library. Most likely you do not read a book through before starting others. It is more likely that you are in the process of reading several during the same time period. The technology facilitates this.
My perspective is that if you want to reach the reader with a dedicated purpose, one way to do this is through their personal reading material. Sure you can do it with video, TV and still even with film. If you want to pique their interest, give them a new approach and a new variety of shorter reads that can be interrupted by their lifestyles without interrupting their interest. If you want to hold their interest, you have to make it easy for them to divert their attention while wanting them to return for more. Do that and you can insert your communication within the context for a more effective and less expensive delivery. Give them something to share with their global community and they will give you their attention.
Thanks, Bill Maher, for your “New Rules.” I enjoy your insight and humor, and your guests only add to the color. Things new are a constant in our culture, and I do believe that new approaches to marketing and interesting content can also put the new back into advertising.