Here I go … embarking on a new adventure to learn the theory, tools and strategies of the latest communication frontier – Social Media. And its high time. As a writer, professional communicator, strategist, visual and performing artist and consummate storyteller, it behooves me to gain expertise in how to traverse the ever changing landscape of this brave new digital, mobile, cyber space/time continuum.
So in my search for new and rewarding enterprise to pay my way in the climes of Greater Los Angeles (where the temperature is a smooth 52 degrees and sunny on this January day in 2013) I am embarking on an intensive training in Social Media with maven, Deltina Hay, in a graduate course offered online at Drury University. This series of blog posts are part of that endeavor — to fulfill the assignments to receive an official “Social Media Certification.” So even taking the course is an experience in new education that is virtual, online, over cyberspace – a first for me, a veteran of communication.
In my adventure, I’m striving to place myself and my kin into context. I’m now a student, or in Jungian Tarot, a Page in service of the greater good of human kind. I came across this description that seems to fit — coined in thought leader Marc Prensky’s 2001 article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants article, “Our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet. So what does that make the rest of us? … Digital Immigrants.”
These Digital Natives teethed on personal computers and electronic games growing nimble fingers and facile minds. Their reality now challenges all of us to embark upon a hero’s journey and imbibe their new world – to learn their customs, tools and linguistic anomalies – track pads, magic mice, laptops, Androids, iPads and more – as we Digital Immigrants roll out our wagons across the plains and build foundational tracks to learn how to inhabit this sometimes rugged and ever changing terrain.
We go to the ‘genius bar’ now, rather than the local pub to hear the latest. At that cyber gathering place in this brave new world, we meet masters of body graffiti sporting hot pink Mohawks, nose rings, tattoos, piercings of the lips, cheeks, tongue and eyebrow who are also the originators of streaming music technology bringing the fringes into the mainstream with mystical names of Pandora and Rhapsody, along with new ways to communicate with Blogs, Tweets, Widgets, Hash Tags, Posts, Key Terms, TwitBacks, iThis, iThat, Me This, Me That.
Not that it’s only the young who have come up with these advancements – but it is the young at heart who’ve created the unimaginable. This ingenious inventiveness has turned and twisted a communication community into a funhouse of new and up to the minute, real time expressions of “Where are you right now, this very instant? What are you thinking about, and why should I care? Where have you eaten, what have you seen? Bought? Tasted? Touched? And should I follow you on your journey?”
We have the means to text, get others choices on Yelp to help find the best arugala, yoga class, facial, organic food, mechanic, hiking trail – you name it. We have tools to get messages out there, and turn the marketing world up side down with real time authentic opinions of what people actually care about, not what advertisers push us to buy, or eat or consume. We can tell each other what we think, in droves, and influence how we are marketed to. We can leave the beaten path, and take our friends, families and followers right along with us, to the out of the way cafe, the obscure documentary, and the off beat music discoveries we find buried in the treasure troves of cyber space.
The Long Tail by Chris Anderson aptly captures this trend.
The Long Tail, in a nutshell
“The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.”
My future lies in finding ways to harness this momentum in the service of industry and communication. More to come in this series, as I learn to add widgets, videos and various and sundry bells and whistles to my repertoire. See you in the next post from Louisianadreamer!