Social Media Strategy, Social CRM

We Know Faster, But Do We Know More?

We eat weird. This was the conclusion of a USA Today article last week that documented how rarely Americans eat a full meal at traditional regular breakfast, lunch, dinner time windows. In fact, just 5% of Americans eat three square meals a day.

Evidently, whether it’s food or fact, calories or content, our consumption patterns are in lock step.

20 years ago, Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” With respect, Ferris may have sang Danke Schoen, and borrowed a Ferrari, and impersonated Abe Froman (the Sausage King of Chicago), but he doesn’t know jack about fast.

20 years ago, we ingested information and calories in chunks, and at pre-ordained times that were so unassailable as to be practically Pavlovian. When going to “brunch” and starting your local newscast at 5pm are stepping out on the wild side, you know you’re living in a regimented society.

I remember quite clearly the day in 1997 when the Dallas Morning News became the very first newspaper to “scoop itself” by breaking the news on its website of Timothy McVeigh’s confession to the Oklahoma City bombings. I worked as the GM of a major TV station website at that point, so I was around breaking news constantly, and it was absolutely shocking that they didn’t hold the news for the next day’s print edition. Just 14 years later, we practically start tweeting BEFORE events happen, as our zeal to become the 140-character know-it-all, the Walter Cronkite for our personal tribe of hyper-aware oversharers is powerful indeed.

From a Lake to a River

Time windows are extinct. They no longer exist. Not for dining, nor dissemination. What was once a series of lakes has become a river.

Allegedly, we’re better informed, and certainly we get information more quickly. But there is a corresponding wane of investigative journalism (and even reporting) that has accompanied the extinction of the news cycle.

We know faster, but do we know more? Or is real-time knowledge just a bunch of empty calories?

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  1. says

    Part of me thinks that things will eventually need correcting. Anytime something is going too well too quickly, it corrects itself. Just look at the markets now. We will either speed into information oblivion or the public will start to realize that sometimes it needs to dig a bit deeper. I think we see quite often where the fast information is often wrong and often dangerous. Facts fast, if they are indeed facts. Insight takes a little longer. It will all be fun to watch.

  2. says

    Jay, I don’t know that real time knowledge is empty calories, the new knowledge in it is worthwhile. However, in our attempt to consume the real-time information stream, we tend to consume the same information repeatedly. Be it another blog post or advice article that re-spins the same old advice or a news article that was quickly published with the same bare facts every news organization received and published, so much of the information we consume isn’t new, it is just in a new place.

    We need an intelligent trigger, either an event we anticipate or a monitoring application that triggers us, that says the information IS valuable RIGHT NOW. I think this intelligence layer is what is missing in today’s real time information stream.

    — Eric

  3. markwschaefer says

    I love the analogy of the lakes and the river. Well said.

    A few months ago I wrote a blog post about the new job requirements for a social media marketing professional. We are in an era where the news moves fast, the platforms evolove rapidly and even the rules of engagement keep shifting. The successfull professional wil be somebody who can field a meaningful stream of content, asses it quickly and adapt the knowledge to the organization. Not easy. Way different.

  4. redslice says

    I absolutely think that most of the time (not all), it’s empty calories. The 24-hour news cycle leaves us with false accusations, sloppy reporting and just plain bad information much of the time. How often have I tuned into a “breaking story” on CNN or what have you, only to have talking heads vapidly filling air time until they get confirmation on the real information. It’s like watching the LeBron James decision. I say, talk to me when you have real confirmed news to report – don’t keep me hanging outside the courtroom door for 2 hours specualting about what is happening, or critiquing jurors clothing choices just to fill air time!

    Also, a side effect of the 24 hour news cycle seems to be reporters interviewing other reporters and serving that up as valid content. Sometimes, I just want to hear from the person invovled or the expert that KNOWS, not the person that covers similar stories.

    And I know life moves fast for us these days and “time” is somewhat malleable, which is a good thing – sometimes. I have to agree with Ferris, though – we do need to take the time to aprpeciate the present in our fast-moving world or our quality of life will suffer. Sometimes, as humans, we do just need to unplug and unwind for our own sanity. If we don’t set our own personal boundaries,we’ll end up as roadkill on the info superhighway!


    • says

      @redslice I agree with most of you have said. Large chunks of the information out there are empty calories. But I think, and believe this has always been true to some extent, that to really understand something I have to make the additional effort to track down the relevant information. I believe our exposure to events, people and places is greater than ever before, so our general (shallow) knowledge may be broader but it takes the additional initiative to really understand what’s going on.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      I think its not that information or knowledge is bad, it is our ability to process that information and/or our willingness to respond with our own regurgitation of information makes all that info we receive “bad” or “lacking value” @redslice

  5. Santosh Kumar Saini says

    The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!b Keep ’em coming… you all do such a great job at such Concepts… can’t tell you how much I, for one appreciate all you do!

  6. says

    I honestly think it depends on the individual on how much “informed” they are, or how much they actually understand the context and sides of a news piece. One can say that the average person nowadays will probably just get the first wave of updates, but then move to the next “hot issue.”

    • MoralOutreach says

      @San Diego Marketing I think you can take it further and say the average person will go deeper with updates of what they are immediately interested in (be it recent social media tool, political issue or Kim Kardashian fabricated drama. Everything else gets that first wave look that you mention.

  7. natmich says

    Awesome post and important question, Jay! I was just thinking about this the other day too. Given the speed and brevity with which social media moves, I feel it is getting easier and easier to just glance, accept or reject ideas you see mostly based on heuristics and then move on. At the same time, I think getting a broad range of bite-sized pieces of knowledge is great, but largely in the ability of these bits and pieces of info to inspire or intrigue you to learn and think more.

  8. says

    Hmm. You’ve got me thinking – again.  To you point, “Allegedly, we’re better informed, and certainly we get information more quickly” – I’m not so sure we are better informed. I think we are just informed at a higher rate/speed. We’re inundated with information – some true, some false, some speculative that’s being passed (and spread quickly) as fact.
    Frankly, it has me a bit concerned. I fight the constant battle to be “in the know” … to be on top of my game. To know more about email marketing then anyone (or at least most). It so many ways it’s about speed, about being first. However, too often that comes at a cost. 
    Not entirely sure where I’m going with this comment, so I’ll leave it at that. More over a beer/tequila in Knox!

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