User Involved Content and the Taste of Brands
And The Winners Are

It's Better to do Nothing than Not to do Anything

Sunset rio[From here, because I've haven't got my camera lead]
I'm currently expending my cognitive surplus with the help of the critical technology of the industrial revolution.

[OK - it's not gin, it's cachaca, but you get the idea.]

In the essay, Clay Shirky talks answers a television producers challenge about active online media, like World of Warcraft, or Wikipedia:
"Where do people find the time?" That was her question. And I just kind of snapped. And I said, "No one who works in TV gets to ask that question. You know where the time comes from. It comes from the cognitive surplus you've been masking for 50 years."
And of course, I agree. I spend a lot of time talking to people about the shift from passive to active consumers. Active consumers are different. If they aren't involved, they are interested.

[His anecdote about the 4 year old looking for the mouse for the TV captures this perfectly.]

It's the same challenge that people tend to make when thinking about immersive brand experiences, transmedia ideas or ARGs or anything complex that requires a lot from the people we hope to influence.

And that's the point - if there aren't the gaps, if there aren't things for them to do, they aren't interested. Of course there are levels of involvement, not every rabbit hole needs to go all the way to Wonderland.

But everything should have gaps for people to fit into.

[Russell used to call this leaving room for the mouse in the mousetrap - good advertising has always asked the reader to fill something in.

Actually, let's go back - all good idea transmission requires this. Duchamp and Barthes both understood this - the act of creation is only completed inside someone's head.

But now that co-creation of meaning is externalised, the tests is literally constructed collaboratively. Death of the author - long live the authors! Death of the brand - long live the brandtags!]

So I was thinking about all this, inspired by this post by Bogdana that reminded me of Shirky's principle of participation:
And I'm willing to raise that to a general principle. It's better to do something than to do nothing. Even lolcats, even cute pictures of kittens made even cuter with the addition of cute captions, hold out an invitation to participation.
And I wondered if I was wasting my time, sitting doing nothing, staring at the sea.

But then I remembered something that my mate Ivan once told me:
It's better to do nothing, than not to do anything.