Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Speaking of the Edges

This passage from Kim Stedman's recent rant perfectly sums up something I've been dying to say:

News about important edge case solutions, is not currently being targeted to people who might have it. It is currently broadcast everywhere, all at once, in an  information dissemination  pattern similar to that used by  hormones  (which flood the whole body until the right organ hears them),  radio  (which does that same thing to the air), or TV advertising (which does it to your brain). This is the method society is currently using to distribute this information to the 3 in a thousand people for whom it actually makes a difference. This is a terrible method of communication and wastes everyone’s energy and time.* It is also and massively discrediting.

She's talking about a particular trend in health and nutrition, but the principle applies much more broadly in the marketplace. The principle that spattering a message onto 1000 listeners to find the 3 for whom it's relevant is at the core of mass communication, mostly broadcast.

When we realize that most of the noise being made around us is concerned with the narrow and the extraordinary, we can get down to the real business at hand.

The passage comes from a lengthy, but delightfully entertaining rant by writer and cultural brushfire, Kim Stedman.

It acknowledges that a means which seemed acceptable in the past because it was the only hope (messaging through broadcast,) is becoming less and less relevant or appropriate, given the emergence of more precise means of communicating.

This has implications for advertising, marketing, and even the communication a government has with its populace.

So the trick will be to discover the next appropriate and effective means of being in communication among ourselves as communities. I think that solution is emerging. Between social-graph driven messaging, services aware of location and other contextual meta-data, and the willing participation by progressive consumers ... the right approach will point to itself.


Meanwhile, there is a fascinating little cyclic vignette in @KimSted's article that depicts the arc of discovery, hysteria, and eventual residue of misunderstanding surrounding the gluten free diet craze.

One implication of the hysteria phase (in which everyone believes themselves to suffer from gluten intolerance), is that an infrastructure arises to serve that belief. The genuine sufferer from the edge case condition is thus provided for, and some alternative ways to prepare food are considered by everyone.

If the result is good (or in my opinion, delicious) then a large enough market for the produce will remain. But to misquote Samuel L. (and Jules) one more time...

"[Gluten Free Bread] may taste like punkin' pie, but I'd never know, because that s$1t gotta have a whole lot of personality before I'd eat it."

If it makes the mark by being delicious (or having personality I guess) then the food will remain and those folks who really need it will be able to find it.