Authentic 2

I recently posted that ‘Authentic’ will be a factor in the Next Big Thing. Here.

Since writing my earlier blog – even while I wrote – I was singing that brilliant Gil Scot Heron anthem, The Revolution will not be televised. (click that for the lyrics and more, but so good I pasted them below). The song came out in 1974 and has a huge rapping build-up to the final line ‘The Revolution WILL BE-EEEE LIVE!!!’

Simon Jenkins, just elected to chairman of The National Trust, uses his SundayTimes column to explore the rise and revolution of LIVE. He points to the trend for real experience. He describes this as a ‘reversal of history’ and that ‘People… will use the internet and iPod, MySpace and YouTube, but as a proxy for the real’. It’s a natty call for the man just charged with getting folk out to the stately homes of England. 

He even takes a pop at the likes of, well, the questors for the Next Big Thing (ie me): ‘Futurology seminars have long been obsessed with one question: what next after the internet?… Since the invention of the telegraph and gramophone, innovation is interested only in kit that yields profit… Futurology has a built-in distortion towards technological novelty, while ignoring the continued appeal of what has gone before.’

The point that Jenkins fails to make is that technology is a facilitator to the LIVE. You could even argue that with Gil Scott Heron. Without these new technologies, you couldn’t have the social revolutions… The pirate local stations of Radio Rebelde were used by Castro to take Cuba. Television halted Vietnam. Blogs continue to uncover the human conflicts of Iraq. And, Google’s RSS reader is allowing us to individually package up a host of thinkers’ threads as they blog to our themes.

In music, it’s the internet that is modifying the dynamics of recorded music and live. Firstly, internet provides global instant distribution. Secondly, it allows artists to capture the real value of their live performance – because gigs are now getting priced to approximate the secondary value of resell sites. Check out what they charge at the O2 these days and, if you’ve not been gigging recently, you’ll swoon. Equally, in marketing, the internet allows you to reach multi-niche audiences and keep that community informed of the next live gig, debate, workshop, training session or social. See the backers of Meet-up, if you want proof. (CEO Scott Heiferman, Esther Dyson, Andreas Stavropoulos (DFJ VC), U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, and Pierre Omidyar (Founder/Chairman of eBay – strapline: Real groups make a real difference).

It is ‘old school’ to argue that LIVE will cancel out digital. The phenomenon, though, is articulated in Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘s book The Black Swan when he discusses the difference in Big Success these days. Success happens in Extremistan, rather than Mediocristan. With the potential to replicate anything online, people crave the reinforcement of the real. But, they aren’t going back to pre-digital days… (ask Lucy Kellaway, who wittily wrote on BPC – Before Personal Computers earlier this month).

Talent is, for sure, at a continued premium in our wired world. But, it’s talent that shows real depth of soul that will win in Extremistan – and only if it can use the new tools for mass appeal.

What I think we’re seeing is that the real cut-through comes from Authentic. Authentic means Personality. Witness Boris Johnson’s election to Mayor of London. He bumbles faux-pas, he back-tracks, he speaks his mind even if it’s not to everyone’s taste. You can somehow bottle up extreme personality or superlative performance or uber-luxury or that unique live moment and people will pay so much more for that (over the internet!?) more than they’ll pay for the polished, bland, repeated stuff.

Same goes for Barack Obama, I’ve got to assume – albeit he doesn’t ‘touch me’ because his micro-casting doesn’t need my sphere of influence or my vote. The point, Mr Jenkins, is that Barack is a pro in capturing the authentic mood, but also in ‘getting it’ online.

While I’m fascinated by the internet phenomenon of Social Networking, I’m obsessed by member organisations and their power – whether the UK’s biggest member clubs the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or The Caravan Club or the Royal Horticultural Society. And, if we don’t see the National Trust really embracing digital technology to pinpoint and leverage its member power, its estates will lose us as we all go gigging to little, crumblier, muddier country piles instead.

 

 

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the 
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.
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