Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Are we drinking too much Kool-Aid?

Kool-Aid is a great drink. It has a great mascot - Oh Yeah! - with tons of great childhood memories, and is the subject of a great line that was not used enough during the dotcom era, is definitely not being used enough during the Web 2.0 era, and seems to be ignored during the Blog/Podcast era.

Often times, bloggers think that they are the end-all, be-all. If it's in a blog, it must be true. If a meme starts in a blog, it's the truth and should be taken at face value. If a corporation (besides Apple) gets taken to task in the blogosphere, it better damn fast bow down to the power of blogs, or there'll be hell to pay. Or, not really until the story appears in a main media source.

Often, PR bloggers answer for everything is to blog. Don't understand the blogosphere, and want to understand it? Then you have to blog. Stuck (or bankrupt) for ideas for a campaign that's strategic or sound? Launch a blog, or a bunch of 'customer' blogs, touting the product and the company.

Well, maybe we need to rethink this. Blogs are tools - I can't say that enough - but are they a tool that are understood by the mainstream public? While the new buzz is on Podcasting - and, there are a bunch of great ones along with really, really bad ones 'across the' country - are they having that big an impact with the public? Or, are we looking at blogs and Podcasts with technology blinders on?

Well, if an article from Reuters today is any indication, we need to rethink this "blog, blog, blog" and "podcast, podcast, podcast" mentality.
Proponents of the latest Web trends were warned Tuesday that the rest of the world may not have a clue what they are talking about.

A survey of British taxi drivers, pub landlords and hairdressers -- often seen as barometers of popular trends -- found that nearly 90 percent had no idea what a podcast is and more than 70 percent had never heard of blogging.

Yes, the US is different than the UK, but I wonder how different the survey would be in the US. If I can walk to the Starbucks near my office, and ask various people about blogging or podcasting and get blank looks, I know that the penetration levels are not there yet. If I get asked what that green thing is - um, my iPod - and then have to explain what an MP3 player is in the same neighborhood, well, that makes me wonder about Arizona and if the digital divide might be more than just economics, but geographical as well.

Sometimes, it's time to push back from the table and stop drinking and eating, and take off the rose-colored glasses and see what is really happening out there. It's common that people get caught up in the hype, and forget that there is a whole country out there, and that the Bay/Valley and New York might be influential, but that consumers/customers tend to live in those other states ... and they buy just as much.

Oh, the line is "drinking the Kool-Aid." A line that is probably more fitting is one an old boss used to say: "eating the dog food" or "eating the dog shit," both which are interchangeable, depending on the mood. Right now, we might be drunk on the Kool-Aid and have eaten too much dog food.

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