Thursday, May 17, 2012
Traveling back from Denver (a couple of weeks ago) I was reading an article from Wired Magazine entitled The Hacker Historian. It is an interview with the writer and historian George Dyson who wrote the book called Turing’s Cathedral. The book tells the story of Alan Turing and the small group of people who built the first computer and the h-Bomb (hydrogen bomb). Sounds like a good book right? However, I'm not here to talk about the H-Bomb but about branding. While the majority of the interview is about the Turing and the h-bomb, Mr. Dyson discusses an idea surrounding the “digital organism” and it made me think about our (the digital industry) view of social data. Here is an excerpt from the article:
Digital organisms while not necessarily any more alive than a phone book, are strings of code that replicate and evolve over time. Digital codes are strings of binary digits – bits. A Pixar movie is just a very large number, replicated across hundreds of millions of computers and constantly in use. Google is a fantastically large number, so large it is almost beyond comprehension, distributed and replicated across all kinds of hosts. When you click a link, you are replicating the string of code that it links to. Replication of code sequences isn’t life, any more than replication of nucleotide sequences is, but we know that it sometimes leads to life.
This excerpt kick-started my brain. Don't you love content that makes you think? I started debating the social media ecosystem and the amount of organic code being shared over sites like Twitter and Facebook. This code… this binary code… is being replicated by the personality and willpower of millions upon millions of people from customers and friends to relatives and family. This binary code while "not anymore alive than a phone book" is being generated by individuals who are very much alive. From a business standpoint, the social media data set is at the core of your brand. It represents the thousands upon millions of conversations and social actions happening that are related to your brand story.
Isn’t branding simply the thoughts, opinions, and perceptions of people being replicated and shared over time?
We (humans) have the ability to interrupt, change, and build within the code. “When you click a link, you are replicating the string of code that it links to.” Should the goal of marketers be to try and change the code?
Probably not. However, we can learn from the data. It is important to understand tha data in order to further the personalization of content. However, we don't want to control the content. We want content to be organic and influenced by the greater group.
It is important to collaborate with this data set and build content that is so tightly interwoven into the fabric of the brand... you can't tell where the marketing message stops and the customer story begins. Millions of pieces of data joining together as we type away, sharing our thoughts and opinions over the World Wide Web.
Data is beautiful and alive.