The distance between a "story" and its "audience", intended or unintended, is just two pixels. That is how I described the state of the web / social networking to the Online Marketing Class at the University of Virginia last week.
It was in reference to how much faster information flows, how much faster each of us can find something, how much easier it is to make connections.
Blogging to me is one manifestation of that amazing phenomenon. People that were "six degrees of separation" from you are now just two pixels away. You can reach people you otherwise might never have, you can find inspiration with a click of a mouse.
For me one such wonderful encounter was meeting Hugh MacLeod at UVA, where both of us were teaching parts of the Online Marketing Class.
Hugh is the author of the very famous blog gapingvoid, well known for his "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards".
I am a huge fan of his blog, not just for the cartoons but also for his perspectives on Marketing.
Before blogging I doubt I would have known of Hugh. Before blogging I doubt I would have met him (since I would not have been invited to teach the class at the UVA Darden MBA school!).
Blogging brings the world together. It makes it smaller. It now means there are just two pixels of separation, not six degrees (of Kevin Bacon:)).
I spent a couple of hours of chatting with Hugh, most delightful conversation on a whole bunch of things. But perhaps the most thrilling thing for me was when Hugh penned a cartoon on my business card! How awesome to get someone you admire do something so nice for you!
In his talk Hugh had spoken of term Social Object as a way of highlighting the importance of creating conversations.
Applied to just Marketing, though it is a much wider concept, it means that "new age" marketing is less about pushing / peddling our products and services, it is more about creating products and services that transcend and become social objects that create conversations. Everything else gets filtered out. The challenge the world poses to all Marketers is: What have you done recently that is worthy of a conversation?
The general philosophy of social objects (conversations / context around objects) is inspired from Bronislaw Malinowski's his observations on Kula, a ceremonial exchange system conducted in Papua New Guinea.
I was rather smitten by the idea of Kula, hence the sketch from Hugh replicating my enthusiasm (call is the Kula Kool Aid!). The cartoon above says: Social Objects, Yeah!!! :)
There was one other reason for the excitement behind getting to meet Hugh, the extra ordinary impact that this How To Be Creative manifesto had on me.
If you were to reflect back on my independent career now you'll notice that it is the near perfect execution of Hugh's Sex & Cash Theory.
Let me back up.
Six months ago I had a choice to go make lots more money in another wonderful job that would be steady. Or I could go do, what someone close to me described as, my stupid passion thing.
The answer might have seemed obvious. SPT. But money and being able to count on money is hard to let go.
As I was thinking through how to do my stupid passion thing I came across Hugh's manifesto and it was a moment of extreme clarification. While I don't draw and don't consider the creative type either (after all I am a Web Analytics Blogger), I found the guiding principles outlined in this manifesto to be inspirational and crystallizing. (#1, #3, #5, #9, #17, #25)
Most of all Hugh's Sex and Cash Theory provided the blue print of how I could do my stupid passion thing and make life work.
Regardless of your current frame of mind I highly highly recommend reading How To Be Creative.
Sure you are dying to find out what the simple yet brilliant Sex and Cash Theory is! I am positive you'll find the whole thing a joy.
Let me thank Hugh for doing a personal cartoon for me (I need a new frame!), for creating the manifesto that has been a inspiration for me, and for spending time chatting at the UVA last week.
Here's to creating Social Objects and doing the Stupid Passion Thing! Because life is too short to just worry about money!! Cheers!!!