@SXSW 2008: From Me to We
turbotodd 100000388Y Visits (1886)
It's Sunday, the clock has sprung forward an hour, and SXSW Interactive 2008 is in full swing, and my brain hurts.
Did I mention it's only Sunday?
Judging from the line to get into Google's opening night party at Austin's downtown Light bar last evening, the digerati, the Twitterati, the podcasterati, and the bloggerati have all converged on Texas' capitol city in full geek force.
Ain't life in the digital age grand? Of course, it didn't escape my notice that the key tchotchke that Google was giving away at the party was its updated version of a Rubik's Cube.
Will Google continue to be able to pull all the pieces of their strategy together and have it add up to something that creates a full on square?
Surely, there are too many various and sundry memes still emerging to completely narrow down on a general thematic consensus, but if I were to make even a feeble attempt at a grand summarization, it would be this: Power to the People. No, really.
The democratization effect of the digital interactive media, the crowd seems to be saying, is shifting the balance of power from institutions back to the people: We, the people, collectively, and me, the people, individually.
Whether Jeff Jarvis leading the Dell H--- mob to try and get better support and better products, or whether Harvard's Henry Jenkins observation that Hilary Clinton's hierarchical "me"-based campaign is being eclipsed by Barack Obama's "We"-based campaign -- inviting the crowd along to help drive the policies, messages, and, yes, even fundraising -- the cats are now herding themselves by leveraging the power of the new social media.
And you'd just better watch out for a herd of self-organizing felines.
For the institutions impacted by all those semi-organized marching cats, there are some rules of the road for this brave new world, according to a session about bad companies doing very bad things because they completely missed the Cluetrain.
One, don't lie to us.
Two, don't try and take our authentic voice and try to buy it.
It's not for sale, and we wouldn't sell it to you even if it were.
I can already hear the grumbling in the corporate boardrooms. How can we bottle up some of this social media stuff and sell it?
You can't. Sorry 'bout that, but you'll get over it.
What you can do is participate, contribute, enable, and empower your customers to talk amongst themselves.
Give up control.
Help them compare notes and help one another.
Put more of your energy into making better products or services.
That's what you should have been focused on all along anyhow.
And know this: If you do try to disingenuously or dishonestly stack the deck in your favor, you'll soon find yourself under attack from every direction with nowhere to hide, with the eyes of the world upon you.
Wouldn't it be better to just get a clue?