Slip streaming through cultural ideologies is one thing. Altering belief systems is another.
For centuries, bragging rights have been the trappings of identity. Bigger was better and more was a multiple of more. Money was the measure of this social mantel. It was simple. It was tangible. I could see it when I looked at my friend’s new castle or their car in the drive way.
Make more stuff, sell it more stuff, make more money. A simple mantra of pure genius.
From the industrial revolution onward, the market was seemingly endless matched only by an insatiable appetite for more and compounded by the emergence of a mid-century middle class.
FAST FORWARD (pun intended)
In the mid 90’s while attending a Newsweek Magazine conference (how things change, but I digress) those of us in the media business were drawn to this enticing elixir. The idea of a 500 channel universe, (later recognized as) the “long tail” of content…What a concept: Something for everyone, everywhere; it was unimaginable. My remote would become an extension of my demands attached to my curiosity. It was compelling and an enterprising set of unfathomable possibilities.
The FIRST Flaw is thinking a better “sameness” would yield a meaningful difference. It didn’t.
The SECOND has nothing to do with culture, money, desire or imagination and everything to do with our wired brain. The flaw is called Decision Fatigue. “Our brains have to create organizational systems to compensate for their limitations,” says Douglas Merrill, author of Getting Organized in the Google Era. “When we’re faced with too many choices, we’ll opt for whatever is most familiar” (Ah branding but I digress, again.)
Every go to a restaurant with more than two full pages of choice and end up just asking your waiter what the specials are? Yup, that’s decision fatigue.
TThe THIRD is recall. Cognitive scientists tell us we have limits. Merrill continues, “If you try to store ten things in short term memory it will drop something.” Yikes. So, limiting choice is the answer to a complex problem of attempting to recall more.
That gets us back to choice, or for that matter even wanting one. More is not more. More is simply, incomprehensible.
This delivers us to today. Bob Dowling, the former publisher of The Hollywood Reporter, shared in my UCLAx Marketing class of lectures: “We work in an industry where there is an abundance of choice and an apathy of attention.” That’s why I believe we are witnessing a shift in the media landscape as noted in the following Los Angeles Times article.
As a brand and content marketer…we have a problem. Search and choice are not pathways to solutions, but editing them will be.