Studying Cases
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Present Shock

Thanks to an invitation from Mr and Mrs Schiller, I got to go to a launch party for Douglas Rushkoff's new book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now [Kindle Edition] a week or two ago at Meet at the Apartment.

I've just finished it and am letting it gestate but I'm pretty sure you should read it...

right now.... [Well, it's only appropriate.]

...and that it's awesome. 

[In my preferred understanding of the word, it's original meaning, evoking awe, epic in scale, adjusting your view of reality.] 

In 2009, I wrote a piece for Fast Company about the diminishing Cultural Latency that increased speed of communication was inevitably leading to.

I suggested one way to take advantage of this diminished latency was to respond faster to events in culture - for brands this would be low latency advertising.

Speed wasn't so much the idea, as alacrity - the ability to respond fast, not simply move faster. 

This began to happen, finally coalesing as Real Time Marketing [which I think is an inaccurate and misleading term but anyway], and acheiving an apotheoisis in the SuperBowl Blackout tweet from Oreo, and fall from grace during the Oscars, because alacrity is not the same thing as planning communication alongside things you know will happen next week.

5 minutes [the time it took to get the Oreo tweet concepted, designed, approved and out] may be the latency threshold, meaning there isn't much further to push the idea, so perhaps 'Newsjacking', is now simply a part of the world of blended PR and communications.

I'm not sure anyone really wants a world of 24 hours agencies, so we can add Shift Worker Sleep Disorder to our existing list of industry neuroses.

Rushkoff's speaks to this in the book, but roams a much, much wider brief, covering the history of time, the shift to infinite games that are played not to win but to continue [think WoW], the financial collapse predicated on a financial system [central currencies and interest] built on time, and then threatened by unsustainable beliefs in endless growth, and the abstractions like derivatives tha collapse future value into a present contract you can trade.

How zombies and the singularity are expresssions of simliar concerns in the present [our media has ever shown us what we are worried about most].

It's a fascinating book, far from the "one idea, many annecdote/ case studies" model where reading the first chapter may be all you need or have time for, instead jam-packed with ideas and observations about the world as it is now, and has helped me in trying to think beyond the endless now of real time marketing, for a talk I'm writing for some upcoming speaking gigs. 

[I'm often asked to speak about the future, which, as I observed here, is usually a veiled requst to decode the weirdness of the present.]

He speaks to one of the inherent problems of social media marketing as approached by older, larger companies, one identified in abstact back in Cluetrain.

Social media, creating semi-permeable membranes between companies and their customers, screams for genuine transparency - this was the promise we made to ourselves and the industy - which inevitably leads to a refocusing on behavior and away from messaging:

As strange and naive as it may sound, this means abandonning communications as some separate task, and instead just doing all the right things that you want talked about.[Present Shock] 

[Or Be Nice IRL, as I put it in a talk once.]

This means, well, you have to be acting like the brand you want to be, not just make utterances that speak to that idea, and that storytelling that do not correspond to behavior collapses:

That is easier said than done. I regularly receive calls for help from companies and organizations looking to become more transparent.

The trouble is, many of them don't really do anything they can reveal to the public.

An American television manufacturer that "wanted to get more social" with its communcations strategy didn't realize this would be impossible now it no longer designs or makes its television sets. (It outsourced both functions). [Present Shock].

Rushkoff writes as he speaks, fast, asssociative, pulling in thoughts and ideas from all over, all at once.

It's a fun ride, with a strong point of view, and I suspect will be framing the debate of our time[s] for, well, for now at least, and I, suspect, will be considered seminal in the future, if we ever get there.