Home > Service Management > A good epigram is worth a thousand words

A good epigram is worth a thousand words

I had the good fortune this week to attend a conference on the future of social media organised by some of my colleagues who run the leading trade show Internet World. There was some fascinating insight into how people think this thing may affect the world and, while we are at it, the way we do business. 

Strangely for a discussion a maturing technology there seemed to be a remarkable if straightforward consensus on the impact – it’s going to be big.  Beyond that the message seemed to be “your view is as good as mine, suck it and see”.   

Ian Pearson, a futorologist, created a horrendous vision of a surveillance state and that the Orwellian 1984 would be truly with us by 2012.  On the up side he did predict that we, the public,  wouldn’t stand for it and there’d be a user uprising in rebellion.    He also produced the first epigram of the day – I love these things as a takeaway from this sort of event where there is so much information you can’t possibly remember it all so it gets summed up in a few choice words and phrases.  Also as a former journalist I can’t deal in big concepts without a few snappy quotes to interpret them.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Pearson observed that this new world is different to the original dot com boom where good ideas sometimes failed because the users weren’t ready.  In this world “if your web site idea doesn’t thrive it’s because it’s a crap idea.”  For the next world his observation was “The next generation of customers will be computers.”

Rohit Bhargava, of Ogilvy 360, put forward eight counter intuitive truths of marketing – to me the most startling was that in web world “we are now more likely to trust the opinion of someone we don’t know than someone we do”.   To me the advice of strangers in reviews has been the equivalent of a “bloke down the pub told me”  – where a vat of salt would need to be employed in its consumption.  But he is right – I’ve found myself doing it.  So what does this mean to the  business world:  “Companies can not choose who their spokespeople are.”

The other presentation of special note was Andy Hobsbaum of Agency.com.  Here was a reassuringly traditional agency man – in the uniform of jeans, casual open necked shirt, mismatched suit jacket – who has obviously been around a bit (by that I mean he had lived in pre-internet days).  He talked convincingly and with enthusiasm about the work he’s done and his views on where social media is taking business. 

Couple of nice phrases that stuck – “Technology is a natural condition of life – like oxygen.”   “We’ve gone from the old world of ‘think, feel, do’ to ‘do, feel, think’.  That’s the nature of the social media world.” 

But there was a key admission.  “I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Nobody does.”   So, gang it seems we are all in this together.

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  1. October 30, 2008 at 7:22 pm


    This is really interesting. The idea of computers as customers made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, as I’d just seen a forum posting about some University students who’ve written a Holdem poker playing program. It’s already here…

    Imagine putting that to work on a few game boards overnight, cleaning out the competition by knowing just what to do and when to do it, spending your money for you based purely on the odds, along with a smattering of randomness to keep the image of occasional bluffing.



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