Information overload

Trying to get my retired schoolteacher mother to understand social media…

I compare Twitter to a constantly changing conveyor belt buffet of thoughts, ideas and stories that scrolls past you.  You see an interesting dish, reach out and sample it. If it is interesting, it might turn into a meal but otherwise it is a snack.  (Unless it is #journchat or #GNO and then it reminds me of the “I Love Lucy” chocolate factory where the conveyor belt keeps the truffles coming faster and faster.  I end up looking like Lucille Ball hiding chocolates in her cheeks like a chipmunk.)

I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner.  I love learning new stuff — it makes life interesting.  I also find that I love to mix and match knowledge — that what I learn one place builds upon what I learned elsewhere.  Some examples:

  • I recently sat nearby while one of my clients was training a new bartender.  I’ve never been much of a barfly; my drink of choice trends toward Diet Coke; so this was all new to me and very interesting.  I doubt I’ll ever work as a bartender;  I am rarely on the receiving end of bartender services, no dreams of being a bartender, so why should I care?   I was able to connect what the bartender does to overall customer service.  The training session spoke volumes about the level of service my client expects.  It was also amazingly universal — it spoke to how people feel when they are out spending their money on an evening’s entertainment — their expectations.
  • I am simultaneously reading three different marketing-related books — one of which, amusingly enough, is Maggie Jackson’s Distracted.  (I enjoy her writing and her Globe column is a weekly must-read for job hunters and careerists and her book is simply fantastic — great voice. ) It talks about how our brains deal with all the various inputs we get and how we process it all (more about how we don’t process it all well.)  I recognize myself, friends and family in the examples — I do multiple things at a time (right now there are 11 tabs open on my browser) and I worry about my kids.  I was getting a mite depressed at the stats, studies and stories Maggie described in her book (subtitled “The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age”) and worried.  I asked Maggie about the experience of writing the book, was it depressing as well as fascinating? (She got to talk to some amazing people and participate in cool experiments.  I particularly liked the image of her frantically pressing buttons while reading and listening.)   She said, “I think it was sobering, illuminating, difficult, taxing and fascinating to write – but not depressing!”  Caught up in my own “bad mommy” worries, egged on by the subtitle, at first I vowed to not be distracted when I read her book but found that I wasn’t getting enough time to just read.  So, I backed off that vow and mixed it up with Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational — a fantastic book every marketer should own.  Suddenly, insights from the two books swirled and melded, and hmm, oh, that’s good stuff.  Taken together, I derived new meaning from each.
  • Those conversations I keep having with entrepreneurs, about their amazing ideas?  I draw upon my time working in dozens of industries and specific sub-categories, reading and research I have done, and, in general, life experience.  I was able to tell one person why action adventure movies are attractive to studios; another how the book industry handles distribution and returns; how software developers organize huge development projects; how data is organized and accessed in a large company; how the automotive and tire industries handle inventory, and yet another how to think about licensing a brand to a product developer.

Not sure what to call it — Life?