Sunday, 25 June 2006

What’s Wrong with Most People?

I remotely participated in a couple BloggerCon IV sessions this past weekend. I’m still a little in awe of how immersive the combination of IRC and streaming audio – kudos to the Dave Winer and the other organizers for bringing in the rest of the world.

Somewhere in the Niall Kennedy-led ‘Standards for Users’ session a bit about ‘most people’ not understanding technology (specifically RSS) came up.

According to 2005 population counts, China and India have a combined total of 2.3 billion citizens.

Chances are, if you’re reading this right now, you’re not ‘most people’. That’s OK. No one has ever solved a problem for most people. Problems are solved for very small niche groups – sometimes, when we get real lucky – more people (if not ‘most’) benefit. Curb cuts in the sidewalk originated to help those in wheelchairs – baby strollers, bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and grocery carts also benefitted. OXO Good Grips were originally designed to help those with arthritis – they’ve also helped me.

Though BloggerCon is a ‘users’ conference – the distinction between users & developers is horribly blurred. Thanks to technologies like RSS – and unlike automobiles and other electronics – that simplify without obscuring the inner-workings.

It’s not that most people need to intuitively understand a technology – it’s that they can tweak it, build-upon-it, to easily make their specific situation better.

On a related note, ‘Explaining RSS in 5 Minutes’ sounds like an excellent exercise.

UPDATE: Eric Rice wins for the Most Creative explanation.

Friday, 20 January 2006

Distribution is Marketing

When we podcast the 2005 MIMA Summit – someone suggested we restrict access to the recordings. They’d be correct if the value of the conference was in the sessions. It’s not.

The value is in the hallway conversations, the handshakes, business card exchanges, and direct personal interactions. The sessions themselves are strictly the focal point, the common conversation piece, the marketing.

Every session ITConversations distributes is marketing for them, the conference, and the speaker.

Mark Cuban talks about the same phenomenon in the movies and television:

“It wasn’t that long ago that some people in the sports business thought that having games on TV would reduce attendance. After all, why go to the game when you can watch it for free on TV? Then someone decided to do some research and as it turns out, the more games you broadcast on TV, the more people who go to your games.”

This is also why the most effective use of ad dollars is in product development.

Update 21 January 2006:

“…a downloaded file is not a lost sale it’s a gained fan…” – Joichi Ito