A New Reality

“The fight for Control was a fight for Distribution. The flght for Attention is a fight for Trust. The beneficiaries of Control were Monopolies. The beneficiaries of Trust are those that Collaborate.” – Gerd Leonhard, Media Futurist

You may have gotten the email from Sgt. Howard Wright, USMC, about how Starbucks has refused to support the troops by making their coffee available to them, because they don’t support the war.  Sgt. Wright’s email has been forwarded to millions of other supporters of the military asking we drop our support of Starbucks because of their poilicy.

Unfortunately, it’s not true.

You may have also heard about the person in Chicago who twittered out that a certain property management firm rented moldy apartments.  They were promptly sued by the property management company, even though this person had only 20 followers.  The people of the net immediately responded in support, and of course the Tweet about moldy apartments was forwarded to hundreds of thousands of others, doing far more damage than the original Tweet to 20 people.

Unfortunately, it’s true.

In pre-Internet days you might have sued someone infringing or defaming your station, just as the property management company did.  But today, we need to respond to digital developments with digital solutions.  If the property management company had just contacted the complainer, say by Twitter for example, they could have probably avoided a negative nightmare and instead gotten positive feedback.

It’s called the “Striesand Effect,” after Barbara, who didn’t like a picture of her beachfront home being seen in a digital book about the California coast.  Attempts to get the picture removed resulted in the picture, and accompanying story, taking flight throughout the Internet many, many more thousands of places.  420,000 to be exact.  It’s even spurred a blog about other like events.  It could wind up as popular as snopes.com.

If you haven’t had a digital injury like those above, chances are you will.  It was only a little while ago I was explaining to some very bright radio people that they didn’t want to issue a cease & desist to a person who had started up their own Facebook fan site for the station.  First off that fan site had almost as many “friends” as the official station site, and secondly, if they’d done that it would have gone through Facebook and the rest of the blogosophere like wildfire.  Instead I suggested they contact the Facebook station fan and invite him to come in and learn more about the station, and then help him stay in touch with his fan site.

Not fair! you cry.  Maybe so, but we’re not in control in the same way we used to be a few years ago, especially on the Internet.  Where you once saw copyright notices on pages, you’re now more likely to see instructions on how to distribute it yourself.  We need to learn about these things, and be ready to put our digital thinking cap on before we react.  We need to understand the End Of Control that’s a new part of our reality.  There are times when trying to do what you think is the “right thing” can result in a much larger wrong being visited on you.