If I have a weakness for anything it’s simplicity. Where a lot of people like to dress things up or add detail, I like to strip things down and emphasize what’s essential. Neither approach is right, really, unless of course you’re trying to figure out how something works. In that case, ignoring the noise and focusing on the mechanics is not simply a subjective choice, it’s objectively necessary.
Guy Gonzalez at LoudPoet.com seems to have that same approach, and it’s one of the reasons I keep learning something every time I visit his site. In the hive-mind world of social networks Gonzalez often sounds like an old hand, and that’s not easy to do in a medium still in its infancy.
For example, I’ve been trying to build a mental framework that encompasses everything from the invention of the printing press to the introduction of the Long Tail theory, but as Guy points out, the test is always how well a model holds up when it meets reality:
The “1,000 True Fans” theory states, effectively, that 1,000 literal fanatics each spending $100/year on your stuff is all you need for a sustainable career. It’s a model for which Trent Reznor is often used as an example, and much like the discredited “Long Tail Theory” it’s based on (Kelly and Chris Anderson are colleagues at Wired), it is overly simplistic and doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny.
It’s easy to get sucked into disagreeing or agreeing with a given theory when you’re obligated to do neither. More to the point, the idea that any theoretical model is going to scale perfectly from the macroeconomics of the publishing (or music or movie) business down to the microeconomics of a single independent artist is loony. The important stuff is the stuff that works and withstands scrutiny. Somebody can come up with a name for that stuff later, or a unified theory — or better yet, a book and speaking tour augmenting and reinforcing an online presence on all social networks. But in the meantime we need to figure out what works and use it.
Okay, sure: Guy’s giddy about the Jets and in total denial of the almost certain heartbreak that awaits him at the hands of their rookie quarterback, but that’s sports. Everybody loses their bearings when it comes to sports. It’s the whole point.
The tagline of Guy’s blog is: “Old and New Media Pragmatism with a Marketing slant”. I call it a reality check.
— Mark Barrett