Digital is everything... but not everything is digital.
My primary theme for 2014.
Frankly, it has been the soapbox I have stood on since my first foray into the digital world in the early '90s. But frankly I was alone in my own little Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. No one wanted to hear it: Everything was going to be digital -- no more destination retail, restaurants, movie theaters, Broadway, West End, La Scala or Bolshoi. Print was dead. TV was dead. Radio was dead. Outdoor was dead. And if they weren't dead, they were dying -- with the advent of Facebook and Twitter -- horrible, painful deaths.
Maybe it was the Christmas season that finally woke people up -- you mean shipping isn't digital???
Or maybe it was just that we picked our collective eyes up and realized that we were frequenting restaurants and enjoying the experience; that there were still experiences to be had in stores; that seeing movies on huge screens in 3D with lots of people and popcorn is a fun experience; that nothing beats the experience of a live concert or show or ball game; speaking of which, watching with friends on a big screen with good food is still a great experience.
Bottom line: the common thread? Experience... you see the digibabble crowd would have us believe that the word "experience" is somehow linked to and created by digital. Remember, digital is everything -- there are few experiences we have today where digital doesn't play an enhancement role of some sort; but not everything is digital -- sometimes the best part of the experience is just in being there... you get the point.
So a few thoughts to begin the year with -- topics I will return to, ideas I hope you will help me develop -- new soap for my box that I invite you to help me find...
This week begins CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Watch carefully and you tell me what rises to the top this year. So far it looks like big screens -- the kind we buy to have immersive group experiences, much like our grandparents did in the dawn of the TV era. And by the way, you know what we need for those screens? Content -- real, high-production-value, engaging content: TV.
Watch Wall Street -- their nose for the next big hype is well attuned. Digital is still doing its thing for them -- but there have many disappointments and I have to believe that with the shipping failures of the holiday, the pop of Royal Mail in the UK and the privatization of Dell, they are looking for greener pastures.
Check this story out: The valuations and the sources of the business are outrageous -- but that is the formula. Could this be the next big thing?
Retail vs. eTail: A meaningless comparison, yet a continued topic of debate among the digibabblists. I call your attention to the following piece on VentureBeat and I share with you the one question I have: In the age of data, where is the actual sales info? Where is the average order size? Where is the correlation of how much we bought online and off-line and why? But to base the winning argument on Twitter is like assuming that Facebook must have the highest stock price in the world because of all its "Likes."
Check out this story on the world-famous comedian Steve Martin. It's a sad commentary on our world and on how a person of great integrity can be besmirched by our lack of digital accountability:
Clearly, bad journalism and sensationalism are not creations of the digital era. Like everything else, they existed before and we can make them scarily efficient today -- but with that efficiency must come a heightened sense of personal accountability and care. I think there will be changes and backlashes this year -- if for no other reason than the people who scream the loudest about privacy protection seem to mean for themselves and for no one else....
Bottom line: We are blessed to live in a world that has given us tools to cure, to create, to build, to enhance -- time we started using them... for the right things...
Experiences are what life is all about and digital exponential -- that is, enhancing our physical world with digital tools -- is where we have the opportunity to change the world. Listen:
"Nothing ever becomes real 'til it is experienced." John Keats
Digital is everything... but not everything is digital -- let's go for the real...
What do you think?