Earlier today, at ACT/IAC’s Management of Change conference in Norfolk, VA, lunch featured NYU adjuct professor Clay Shirky. With two of my recent posts on my personal blog — DCSpring21 — referencing his thoughts and ideas, I’ll admit a certain sense of pride knowing more about the speaker’s thoughts and leanings on “new media” than what ACT/IAC presented in his bio.
While I gave some thought to tweeting out the salient points of his remarks, I decided to scribble down his ideas and put up this post when I had a few minutes of quiet. His message — that media of all forms has become a site/source for communication, not just information — provides the backdrop for his new book: Here Comes Everybody. With the internet “natively good” at group communication, he summed up his latest work with these five words: “group action just got easier.”
Tracing the roots of our current media revolution to the advent of movable type and the printing press, he cautioned a room full of government techy-types that we all need to get used to the idea that the 21st century media landscape is one of individual-to-individual communication, with or without an organization’s involvement. He declared that the days of media, created and controlled by professionals, expired with the rise of amateur, individual, and citizen-driven blogs, wikis, tweets, groups, etc. Whereas a scarcity of messaging once locked-in a “loyal” audience, he reasoned that with so many potential sources of information now available on myriad topics and trends, people gravitate towards a quality and clarity of messaging above all else.
To this final point he issued something of a challenge: when it comes to utilizing the media — be it social or “traditional,” we need to try new things. Further, we (both as individuals and organizations) should not try to avoid failure by postponing our ideas; rather, plant as many seeds of change as possible, and constructively learn from what flourishes. Drawing a parallel to John Fitch and the first steamboat (actually his 4th design), he pushed the crowd to understand that informative failure — that is, learning from the parts that don’t work, while incorporating the parts that do — is essential for organizations to keep/engage their constituency.
[*This post also runs on today’s DCSpring21]
nice seed planted! and thx for the pictorial metaphor with the steamboat…
Thanks for the insight.
Great synopsis of excellent guidance in this transition to open, transparent communication. We’ve been planting some seeds today as well. 😉
I like the reminder of the need to failure. It always makes sense but it’s hard to implement – it would be interesting to highlight an organization that successfully got people to embrace and chase failure as the only way to succeed.
Frank, I couldn’t say it any better than you did. 100% agree with all of your points.