The impact of the next leap remains non-obvious for too many people, and too far off in many individuals’ minds. But then, there is the alarming presence of all the obvious “whens” all around us.
When the AI gets so good that human beings can’t tell the difference between the computer program and the human being.
When the machine learning gets so good that human beings can’t navigate managing and strategizing about the flood of data coming at us faster than the machine can.
When the amount of collected data is so overwhelming that human beings are paralyzed by analysis rather than having the courage to act in spite of the implications of the data.
In a world of those “whens”—which are arriving to the present as fast as they possibly can, no longer “whens” but “nows”—the only areas remaining to categorize, atomize, and to deliver on spec at low cost to an eager consumer, will be the emotional content of individual, human-to-human interactions.
The next leap is not around AI, machine learning, the Internet, or social media applications.
The next leap is not around robotics, data analysis, electric cars, augmented reality applications or virtual reality.
The next leap won’t even be around the industrialization of outcomes to spec on price, cost, labor, and work.
The next leap will be people—individuals, corporations, businesses, churches, schools—preserving and paying for the texture that individuality brings to human interaction.
The companies that are playing the long game of digitizing everything—every human interaction, every job, every product, every process, every service, and every crumb of knowledge—understand this las concept innately.
Google’s next great leap from dominance in the digital world will be from industrialization of outcomes to spec in a digital environment, to dominance in the material world of emotional, human-to-human interactions where spec means something different from individual to individual.
Are you playing Google’s long game, or are you playing humanity’s long game?
The difference between attention and time spent paying attention is the erosion rate of a creator’s long-form content.
For example, the average video on YouTube is around 4 minutes. The average blog post is no longer than 200 words. The average podcast is around 45 minutes to an hour.
As audience attention spans wane and decline, there is less and less interest (or care on the part of audiences) in the expense to creators of the sunk costs of making long-form content. The sunk cost is the video editing suites, the cameras, the time spent editing 20 minutes of digital footage into 4 minutes of something that someone might click through.
The sunk cost is the time spent writing, the computer and writing software, and the time spent uploading the blog post for something that someone might skim through.
The sunk cost is the time spent finding a person with a perspective that is interesting, then connecting with that person, interviewing that person for an hour, and then editing, posting, and distributing the audio that someone might listen to with half an ear for around 20 minutes.
And we haven’t even gotten into the fact that repeating the processes for all three forms of long-form content (audio, video, and written) takes time as well.
But these are still sunk costs.
The erosion rate of your content matters if you are a creator of content. But it should matter to you more as a consumer of content. As a consumer of content, connecting with creators that you care about, and supporting them by writing them, contacting them, and talking about them to others, matters more for the creation of more content.
It also reduces erosion rate and brings more value to the content for you the consumer.
The times that you wait to take a risk.
The times that you wait to apply an innovation.
The times when you wait for reassurance.
The times you wait for enough external motivation.
The times you are looking for permission to act.
The times you are waiting for “everything” to be “just right.”
The times you take the risk, despite not knowing how it will turn out in the end.
The times that you apply the insight from the innovation.
The times that you don’t wait for reassurance.
The times you don’t need any more motivation.
The times when you don’t need permission. You just act.
The times when “everything” is not “just right;” in fact, “everything” is “mostly wrong.”
Those are the times that are always here.
They surround you all the time.
If you’re waiting for stability, safety, surety, and certainty, those times are rare. And they don’t come unless you act—actively—to do.
Otherwise, the times that you’re waiting on are assured to never arrive.
Many people who have the historical memory of a different communication world, intuit that the digital world is moving too fast, taking away too much of the “old” world and values that used to be held dear, and is corroding what has remained.
There is also the unstated worry, that the world of digital is moving so fast that it has passed by the wise, in favor of the ignorant, ever seeking knowledge, but failing to ever find the Truth.
The list of problems and issues these people have with modern digital communication are endless:
Lack of relevant empathy.
Increases in narcissism.
Lack of ability to listen.
Loss of critical thinking skills.
Loss of interpersonal communication skills.
Valuing speed to being first over the patience to determine whether you could be wrong.
And so on. And so on. And so on.
I have immense empathy for those who believe that the world is passing them by.
There is an incalculable need for human wisdom from all areas and perspectives to add value by leveraging new digital tools, that it would be a shame to let people other than the wise, to have all the fun in our new digital paradises.
Don’t you agree?
The model is the thing.
Not the product that gets shipped or the challenges and leaps that it makes us take.
The model is the thing.
When we are building a project (or a product) the model of how somebody else accomplished the same thing becomes a valuable tool and set of data points.
The model inspires, the model activates, the model engages us.
When we need support, encouragement, or just reassurance, the model is the thing that does it.
The model is the thing.
The problem with many (if not most) people, processes, services, and products is that they are unremarkable.
This is not to say that they are unreliable, undesirable, or unmistakable.
There are people, processes, services, and products that fill niches that are banal, boring, and seemingly unnecessary.
They aren’t worth talking about, thinking about, or even spending a lot of cognitive effort in justifying.
The problem of unremarkability is compounded by the fact that the organizations developing and promoting these products, services, processes, and people, is that the solution to their unremarkability is thought to be a lack of attention and awareness.
That’s not the problem.
Not even close.
Here’s a tip, for winning the long game.
Instead of trying to figure out how to scale unremarkability with money, time, or other resources, figure out how to scale the number of activities (i.e. process, services, products, etc.) that are actually remarkable.
I thought it would take less time to hit this milestone than it has taken.
But that’s not an unusual expectation. Many people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years.
My expectations with this blog started out high minded and then crashed to earth and then became high-minded again.
And you have responded.
You have retweeted, e-mailed, reposted, commented, Facebook “liked” and “shared” posts, and have even gone as far as to reach out to me offline to give me feedback.
That’s how this blog grows.
It’s not like kudzu, where you plant a vine and then come back a year later and there’s growth without investment.
It’s more like planting corn: Some years it’s good. Other years it’s not so good. But the farmer still tills the soil, plants the seed, prays on the knees, and then brings in whatever harvest there may be.
Year after year. Bumper crops and thin ones.
What comes next? What does post 1,001 to 2,000 look like?
Well, there’s another book coming this year, a collection of my best posts about work, disrupting your workplace, and how to accomplish all of that while also disrupting your boss. And it’s about why external training and development doesn’t work for the creation of change.
Look for that in the Fall of 2018.
There will also be a shift as parts of this blog go elsewhere on the web to serve other functions.
In 2018, as I advance and grow my personal brand, the writing will separate, and my blog posts covering conflict management, self-awareness, storytelling, and other contemporary leadership and people management skills and best practices will be featured in this space more prominently
Articles about personal leadership, business development, branding, entrepreneurship, bootstrapping, risk-taking, marketing, social media, the future of human communication on the Internet, and other more personal brand based content will migrate to a new site, focused on building my personal brand with an eye towards keynotes and speaking opportunities.
Look for this split to happen gradually, and then all at once by the Fall of 2018.
But no matter how it plays out, I want to thank you for joining me on the journey so far.
I write this blog because it’s good for my mental and physical health.
I write this blog because it’s good for my writing muscle and it further establishes my own “voice” in my own head.
I write this blog, because it connects me to you, whether that connection happens now, or one, two, five, ten, or twenty years from now.
I write this blog, whether anybody will read this blog or blogs in the future that I may launch, or not.
I write this blog, because the acts of thinking, writing, and then publishing to the world, is still an amazing thing—even in a world of Internet thinness.
So, the real question is where would you and I like to go next?
There is a species of thinness at the center of most of what you are reading, absorbing, and choosing to be activated by, on the Internet.
There were many people who believed that the rise of the Internet would herald deeper, more intimate connections between people.
They believed that the mechanism of combining television, radio, computer technology, and phone and cable lines, would herald a newer, fresher, more meaningful communication experience for humanity.
They believed that the Internets’ ability to scale empathy, connection, and action, would overcome the human tendencies toward tribalism, passivity, and disconnection.
And to a certain degree, they were right.
Which typically means to sell you more stuff at a faster rate, than ever dreamed of before…
…and as the long tail has gotten even longer, and as the “get rich quick” artists have fallen away;
…and as the large communication conglomerates have dominated more and more of the center;
…and as the average person has decided that active publishing and shipping is too hard, and that passive consumption is easier;
…and as the metrics of engagement have proven to be more and more inflated;
…the thinness of the big dominating the center, has become more and more apparent.
In the face of these realities, the hard thing now is to stick to the outer edges of the Internet universe; to do the work of publishing hard, thick, crusty ideas; to be committed to the building of communities of like-minded people over years (and in some cases decades); and to do, say, show, and commit to the hard thing without hope of payoff.
Instant, or otherwise.
It will take a long time for the thinness to thicken up in most of what you read, absorb, and choose to be activated by, on the Internet.
At this rate, it may take another twenty years.
But if you choose not to ship, choose not to participate, choose only to observe, it may be impossible for you to act when you’re ready.
Start this year.
When we fetishize the act of failure more so than the lessons learned from risk-taking, shipping a product takes a back seat to preening in public.
Ok. But what is shipping?
Shipping is getting an idea out to the world.
Shipping is putting a product out on the market.
Shipping is connecting people together in a network.
Shipping is showing up and working with your whole heart.
The act of shipping—delivering a product, idea, message, or service to the world, whether the world is ready for it or not—is the most important thing.
The lessons we learn from the act of shipping matter more, in the long run, than the act of failing to get people, audiences, and the market to “buy-in.”
It wasn’t that way for the majority of humanity over the last 5,000 years, and particularly in the last 150 years. But now, at this point in human social and economic history, shipping matters more than whatever you learned after the shipping happened.
Stop fetishizing the act of failure.
Start fetishizing the act of shipping.