Published on: April 17, 2008Content Guy’s Note: Apologies for being late this morning …Barcelona got hit by a couple of big storms, which apparently were enough to knock out the hotel Internet service. (Right now, there is a lightning and hail storm rocking the city!) Back online now, though… and the weather report looks good for the rest of the week…
Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
The other day, I posted an email from a MorningNewsBeat user that expressed a certain exhaustion with some position I had taken on an issue. The writer didn’t actually say whether he agreed or disagreed with me – though I infer from his tone that he isn’t buying into my reasoning on whatever the subject was.
But what was really interesting was the question he asked in his email: “Do you ever feel like a broken record?” he asked.
Now, the fact is that I do sometimes feel like a broken record…though I prefer to think of myself as more akin to John the Baptist, preaching in the desert and hoping that eventually someone will pay attention and agree with me.
After I posted the email, however, I got a note from a friend who made an interesting point. Do you realize, he said, that there is an entire segment of your audience that has no idea what a broken record is or sounds like?
That’s true. And I apparently have a phonograph fixation.
Last weekend, as Mrs. Content Guy and I were scurrying around trying to get two hours of errands accomplished in about 90 minutes, I told her that I felt that I was a 78 RPM record and the rest of the world was moving like a 33. She looked at me askance, and pointed out that the number of people who would even understand that reference was getting smaller every day.
There are an awful lot of things like this, items or references that are familiar, even comfortable, to people of a certain age, but completely foreign to an entire demographic. Pay phones, for example. Manual typewriters. Hell, electric typewriters. Transistor radios. Baseball double-headers.
We just got tickets to see a Yankee game this summer, the final season during which the Yankees will be playing there before moving into a new stadium. I was telling my kids that I vividly remember the first time I went to Yankee Stadium, probably when I was 10 years old or so. My dad took me there, and as we walked out through the tunnel, I remember being amazed at how green the field was…because I’d only ever seen it on black-and-white television. My kids, needless to say, look at me like I’m from the age of the dinosaurs; they probably wonder how long it took the horse and buggy to get us to the Stadium back in the day.
I do all this reminiscing because while for many of us such memories create a cocoon of pleasure, giving a sense of time and distance, it is incredibly important in our work that we not allow ourselves to be complacent or even think that things were somehow better then. Because they were different, not better.
Cell phones are better than pay phones. Computers are better than typewriters. Satellite radio is better than transistor radios. Color high-definition wide screen televisions are better than the black-and-white variety. (I would suggest, however, that few things are better than a baseball double-header. But that’s just me.)
The columnist and radio commentator Tony Kornheiser, though he remains very much a newspaperman at heart, often will say that he thinks that the newspaper era as we know it is ending, and will be replaced by news sources that are almost entirely online. Kornheiser says that he, and people just like him, “are making buggy whips as cars roll off the assembly line.” That’s a great and illustrative phrase…and it is right on so many levels and in so many industries.
I know too many people who almost seem to take a sense of pride in the fact that they don’t know how to surf the web, don't check their own email, and have no real affinity for at least some of the tools of modern life. That strikes me as being a real mistake, because it actually makes one out of touch from the world in which we all live and play and do business. If one doesn’t embrace this world, how can one be relevant to the shoppers one is trying to attract, shoppers who may be changing their buying habits on an almost daily basis as new options become available?
I don't think you can.
There may be no more faulty declaration than any sentence that includes the phrase “the good old days.” Sure, there is a lot to be thankful for as we look to the past, but to steal a phrase from the great troubadour and philosopher James William Buffett, “There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me, and I know that I just can't go wrong.”
For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I'm Kevin Coupe.
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