April 20, 2008
You can argue there is a right time for everything; you could say that the unexpected is always a jolt to your perception.
Either way, there must be a correlation between usefulness and uselessness and the sweet spot must be a time based ideology.
Now, if time has curves to it, then the act of serendipity acts like a magnet to possibilities, and possibilities are either useful or useless, depending on what you think you are looking for.
Being in a state between passive and alert, shall we say ‘open’, at what point in the cycle of interaction of stuff do we identify possibility?
Basing this upon the 4 Humble Demands, and mapping on LongTailness (Green line in the diagram above) [via Chris Anderson] and The Dip (Blue Line in the diagram, above) [via Seth Godin], with an understanding that inventions are either pushed onto audiences (Advertising) or pulled into markets (Marketing), we can see two points of attraction/repulsion that seem to occur in society debate: Criticism and Appropriation.
Godin’s point about the Dip is one of persisitance and quitting – identifying what you are expert at and disgrading the rest of your work – as ever – the persuit of the remarkable.
Andersons, well discussed, model of markets as a Long Tail, where there is more possibilities in the tail, than in the head of market releases, that is, your back catalogue is of more value (if not the same) than your new inventions.
I’ve nudged Andersons long tail model to have a bump, so to reflect the point of interest in a back catalogue. Let me expand upon this.
When a new movie comes out (normally pushed) it will pass through criticism and drop to a level of the market, after which referals to the movie will be peer or algorhythm based (Amazon/Netflicks) after which the title will fade to obscurity (either being watched lends itself to being shelved or that the referal wasn’t adequete).
Therefore the bump in interest is the secondary market moment.
Now, as with the Dip model, a market that examines your efforts (criticism) increases your desire to succeed until you find a moment of self doubt, which makes you rexamine your interest in what you are going. It’s during this Dip that you look around for something that will help you understand and refine your offering, and if you get out of the Dip, you know you’ve found something useful.
It’s the point at which The Dip and the secondary Market meet each other that is of interest to me. It’s where a connection is made that either enables the Longtail model to revive a market or an inventor to disolve an interest. It’s a point of grave decision on what to do next.
Let’s look at the time factor, between the Slow and the Fast.
Releasing an invention (book, film, lawnmower) is a done with some form of promotion: with (creative) agency engaged, the clock starts to tick because the billings have kicked in. You have stock in the warehouse and you have to shift the glorious invention. Time is money at this moment. Costs are driven by a demanding ROI.
Equally, those who invent in public (always in beta) are looking for feedback – the faster it comes, the faster the product can be refined.
In both states, adrenaline is pumping – it’s exciting to be involved with inventions. It’s a birth thing…
But the thing about enthusiasm, it wains, and even if you artificially pump the enthusiasm with buzz and PR, unless the invention finds a residency in usefulness, the interest levels drop to what a market will find acceptable. The pace of conversation around your invention will naturally succumb to banality, because there is always something else that is being invented, released and hopefully criticised.
On the other end of the spectrum of pace, is the slow time, the pace of acceptance and controllability. This the audiences control over the objects in circulation. It’s the pace at which a decision (acquisition) happens.
The 4 Humble demands (Inspiration, aspiration, insight and acquisition) are charted as volumes of time, not spped of time. I have a base line ratio of these 4 psychological phases, there are:
Inspiration – 30%
Aspiration – 20%
Insight – 40%
Acquisition – 10%
So as acquisition takes up the smallest amount of time (this is the actual transaction) it also happens with a pace of consideration. Insight on the other hand, has more energy and more depth to the action. Insight and Aspiration, although have a greater degree of excitement, the attention or dwell time is less significant.
So you get the idea.
Now, back to the point of this, finding the point at which invention becomes a useful, or why inventions don’t become useful.
There are two significant moments of in the diagram that influence the outcome of invention. First is initial criticism, which either way creates buzz for you (No PR is bad PR) and the second is the point of the invention being picked up for REUSE. Now this is likely to be of renewed interest based upon a contextualisation of circumstances, or that there is a detail in the invention that is applicable to something unrelated; regardless, the Appropriate Moment is activated when retrieval and doubt meet.
Uniting the sought and the lost which make a connection happens pace begins to slow down; the attributes of the seeker and the object are identified, connected and revived because of time resisting to be used as a catalyst.
This point in the curvature in time can make a journey become fascinating; renewed understanding of the relationship of things can not happen when an accelerated conversation is happening, nor when the audience is asking what, why, where, when or how (Aspiration phase).
The implications of this are curious – the mid paced ethos of curating has more value to society than the release of new inventions – it’s the recycling of the existing which hold the value of markets.
I think we know this deep down.
Equally, the Dip is nothing more than an opportunity to explore markets for cross-selling and product development.
Now, I could go off on a tangent to mark that commercial appropriation only really works with a Creative Commons BY-SA licence, though many IP lawyers will point out that the largest market for them is the abundance of patents their clients own make them the most money – and of course these are activated financially at the Appropriate Moment.
But I wont.
Instead, the lesson from this is that the channels of pace are widely overlooked in terms of marketing.
Instead of the heady pace of releasing the new (and The Shock of the New is worth a read to understand when an art market goes nuts the quality of production’s interestingness plummet), the area to focus on is around the Appropriate Moment, the space where the audience can gather, create and refine their interests.
It’s some time after the time where they ask questions (“Do you have these in a Blue?”) but before they make a purchase decision. Hmm, that’s a bit obvious isn’t it.
Ok, the Appropriate Moment is when the audience / prospect is beginning to considering.
You know that moment when you get cold called and the smart ass broker is yakking and yakking, you said yes to a couple of meaningless questions and then they drop the line on you and you pause to think…
That’s the moment.
It’s the moment that useful and useless collide and all you can see is possibilities.
That’s the invention of use.
Use does not come from invention but a grasping of the affordances of oppotunity.
An invention is just a configuration of what already exists because the inventor found an Appropiate Moment.