Yesterday, I attended the annual information summit of the content division of the Software Information Industry Association (SIIA) of which BurrellesLuce is a member. Mark Walsh, CEO of GeniusRocket and formerly the first chief technology officer (CTO) of the Democratic National Party used the term “human Ritalin” to describe … Well, I will get to that in just a moment -
In his presentation, Mark spoke about micro scripts. Although this may be tough on the ego, the majority of us fall in the middle of the bell curve of life and are, thus, only average. And as average folks we don’t deal well with huge amounts of written data. Enter in the sound bite – a small snippet of auditory information – which if institutionalized becomes the micro script.
To understand Mark’s point, it might be helpful to think about these phrases: “lipstick (on a pig),” “nowhere (as in bridge to),” “maverick,” and “change.” Chances are they didn’t mean much prior to the presidential campaign. But now, us average people around the water cooler can use them and sound smart.
Although sometimes in accurate, this is, of course the stuff that makes good branding. Case in point: we all know Al Gore “invented the internet.” Even though he never said this, even he references that particular “micro script” now. The very nature of the micro script transforms it into an accepted fact that needs no explanation. As such, we must find shorter and shorter ways to express core features and mimic what the customers think of themselves if we are to brand ourselves effectively.
(By the way, Mark slipped that Bill Schley who, along with Carl Nichols, brought us “Why Johnny can’t brand” has a book coming out with this theme in a couple of months.)
But as this phenom plays out, we start to miss the point about using what customers think of themselves. Instead we move to what we think they think. Than the annoying idiosyncrasies of the digital interactions start to grow into full-fledged indigestion. The conversations based on micro scripts spread in nano seconds. God help someone who wants to dialogue on a topic cause there isn’t any there, just the sound bite. This fragment is packaged and on the virtual PA system which drowns out all chance for interaction. So now us average people are left to our own interpretations mostly in a vacuum … a little scary.
So, about that Ritalin. Since Washington, DC is the ultimate “evidence free” zone, our hope, according to Mark Walsh, is our new president’s penchant for slowing down the conversation and getting scholarship and experience a seat at the table. So, President Obama is Walsh’s “human Ritalin” for the downside of the micro script culture.