No more 2.0
After 20 years in high tech, most of them in the software industry, I have definitely internalized the concept of versioning. It's one of the reasons I dislike the term Web 2.0. In a software release, a major release - signified by a number to the LEFT of the decimal - means new/enhanced features. While I suppose that's true of the tools and services that are being lumped into the Web 2.0 label, it also means something finished. And that isn't true of the Web.
I'm going to start using the terminology Doc Searls used in the presentation I saw at Syndicate -- Static Web and Live Web. In Doc's construct the Static Web, we consumed information from Web sites. Yes, the Web was connected, but most of us were passive users of sites developed by others for information, enjoyment and commerce. In the Live Web, we are all producers -- of blogs, podcasts, vlogs. Even Web sites. And the connections are alive, influenced by the audience as well as the original creator. There is no "audience" per se -- we all are simultaneously audience and creator. How are we building this Live Web? With social media tools like blogs and tags and wikis and photo sharing tools and podcasts and so on. But these are all just tools that facilitate the connection. The secret sauce? It's people talking to and learning from one another.
So, Hell no, no more Web 2.0 for me. I'm going with Live Web and social media.
And before I forget, the term "PR 2.0" must go too. For similar reasons. The fundamental practice of PR is still the same as it ever was -- it's all about connections and information and relationships. The tools are just how we accomplish the work. They are NOT the work.
And please don't get me wrong -- I LOVE these new tools. But I don't think they are the be-all and end-all. They are just tools. Learn how to use them, they'll make your life and work easier. Better even. But we have to get the fundamentals right first. Otherwise, it's like putting lipstick on a pig. You know -- it's still a pig. Crappy press releases will still be crappy, even if they have del.icio.us pages. Poor pitches aren't better because they use tags. Blasting a press release to a big list without bothering to verify the list or the interest of the recipients is still borderline spam.
All of this focus on tools reminds me somewhat of a phenomenon from the distant, pre-Internet past. Most of my career, I have been responsible for lead generation at the companies I worked at. One of the hardest jobs is lead tracking -- knowing where the leads came from so we can allocate marketing dollars appropriately.Why so hard? Because we rarely have the tools to capture the information we need. Way back when, the top lead source reported by reps nearly everywhere I worked was "Phone." Apparently, it was too damn hard to find out the actual impetus for the inbound call. My response? "Tell them to try and find out or we'll just spend the marketing budget on new phones and be done with it. No ads. No direct mail. No trade shows. "
Now, the new top lead source tends to be "Internet." Yup, same basic problem. Confusing the tool with the motivation.
We do the same thing when we focus on the social media tools we use in communications and forget about the fundamentals. I've had some back and forth with Todd Defren from SHIFT about his social media press release, both here and on his blog PR-Squared. I don't dislike the format, but I do think it, like the focus on the term PR 2.0, may have unintended, unfortunate consequences.
In our recent exchanges on his blog and in email, we've agreed to try and pull together some sort of panel or workshop or something (wine dinner? Parmet?) to pull together all these threads and hopefully move the conversation forward.
But it won't be called 2.0 anything. Trust me :-)
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