Platform Killers, Game Changers, and Fatal Errors: Our Sad Rush to Judgement

by Ken Mueller on June 27, 2013 · 12 comments

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Last week Instagram added video capabilities. Within hours, I was reading blog posts by some about how this was a “Vine killer,” while others lamented that it was a bad move by Instagram that would prove to be a fatal error.

We saw the same sort of thing when Facebook added support for hashtags. Well, actually it happens every time Facebook makes a move. It’s either the greatest thing since sliced bread, or the worst thing to happen to the internet.

New platforms are lauded as “game changers” or “(Insert platform name) killers.” We heard respected bloggers say this about Google Wave and Google Buzz. Whey MySpace relaunched, there were those who lauded its slick interface, saying it spelled trouble for the other platforms.

Every change on every platform, from Instagram and Pinterest to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google + is put under the microscope immediately, and before the paint is even dry, we’ve declared it as the greatest thing ever, or the worst possible move. And at times, it seems as if we communicate these things as if they are fact, and not merely our opinions. Heck, I think Instagram videos and hashtags on Facebook are smart moves. I think they are improvements and they will perform well.

But is it a Vine killer? I have no idea. I think it could hurt Vine, but I’m not about to proclaim it dead.

Then there were other articles declaring Instagram video a huge success based on how many people posted videos on the platform the first day. Really? On the first day there is a buzz and a lot of people are testing it out and sampling it. That’s like judging the success of a product based on how many people picked up your free sample at the grocery store one day. Shoot, I take free stuff that I don’t need all the time! I’ve got a basement full of stuff I picked up for free because, “it might come in handy some day.”

With real time access to social media, we tend to rush to judgement. We are all experts with opinions and it’s as if we want to shout louder to be heard. So we throw reason out the window and go to extremes. We act as if it’s an all or nothing proposition. And the beauty of the internet is, if we make a proclamation, and it proves to be correct, we can toot our own horn and tell everyone we were right.

But, if we are wrong, well, that’s OK. Sure it’s there on the internet, but people forget. We can even pretend as if we knew what was gonna happen all along. That’s the way it works online. We have to weigh in with an opinion on everything that’s new, out of fear that we aren’t relevant.

Shout louder, post faster, rush to judgement!

None of us has a crystal ball, and none of us can make well-reasoned judgments about the potential success or failure of anything right off the bat. We’ve all been wrong on any number of occasions. This is why the news media is having a hard time keeping up with the speed of the internet.

Take some time. Process the information. Test things. Do your research. Try to leave your personal biases behind. Don’t just tell me, “I don’t like it, so it won’t work.”

Just as in politics or religion, technology is an issue where we tend to gravitate toward those with whom we agree, and we read things that reinforce our own opinions. That’s not healthy, and it certainly isn’t research. And as frustrating as it can be at times, that’s why I love my Facebook newsfeed. Holy cow, that’s a diverse group of people.

And I know we are all prone to knee-jerk reactions. I sure am, but I’m trying. I try to be careful about my pronouncements. Let’s take some time to think through what it is we are saying and proclaiming. Let’s slow down in our rush to judgment. Seems like when we rush, we often have a trail of lemmings following us as we leap off of cliffs. We are so quick to divide into camps, (did I mention that my feet are firmly planted in the PC camp, as opposed to Apple?).

Isn’t there something to be said for the middle ground? Does everything have to be black or white? Grey is an option at times, right?

 

 Platform Killers, Game Changers, and Fatal Errors: Our Sad Rush to Judgement
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12 comments
JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

Spot on Ken.

Especially the point about research and testing. "Not enough data yet" is a valid & important answer on the spectrum. Plus, and this is the data/journo geek in me, when you "decide" what something means is often when you stop looking for answers to the most interesting questions. 

Like, "are the most influential Instagram users already engaging w/video elsewhere" or "is there a clear long tail" or "what does engagement look like over time?" e.g.....(8 gazillion people posted a video in the first week, but only 800 posted a video in the 8th week). On a new venture, those are questions / metrics that are going to change, and you have to keep an open mind. 


bowden2bowden
bowden2bowden

This is a perfectly stated post of something that grates on me and as I see I am not alone. Those that are quick to state the death, change, revelation, market shift upon the announcement of each new shiny object (almost daily) that flashes should head off to their Caribbean island and enjoy the good life they are entitled too. Certainly their working crystal ball is making them millions! Well done Ken and I share your angst.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

One of my biggest pet peeves is the "killer syndrome" that startups, marketers and PR spin doctors love to come up with. In the past 4 days, I've been pinged twice by the same startup, calling itself a "Hootsuite killer". Because, yes, there is something so incredibly innovative about a product that no-one else is doing at all, that will kill the competitor stone dead.

Meh.

ShellyKramer
ShellyKramer

Great post, Ken. I absolutely loathe the "I don't like it, so it won't work" mentality and try hard to keep an open mind and let things play out, test them, see what I think. Thank you for writing about it. PS Are you using a plugin that pulls related articles or do you curate those? I'd like to know what it is - I like it :)))

philgerb
philgerb

We use these words to get people's attention, not because we mean them. Or we say them because we hope something will die, because we can't keep up with all the different platforms that beckon us. All of that said, I'd love a little more rational thought and a little less bloviation as much as the next guy/gal. But how do we get there? Stop reading stark headlines? Turn off interesting stuff and start focusing on that which bores us? 

Meh - I got no answers. Only questions.

margieclayman
margieclayman

This is a fantastic post, Ken. I keep saying it over and over again - there is no room for nuance on the interwebs. If something new pops up, something has to die. Co-exist? Phew. No way. One thing has to be better than the other, and you have to guess which one it is. But like you say, no one is really held accountable for what they say (most of the time). Strange world we live in.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@bowden2bowden Thanks, Randy. It seems like the bigger the name, the more they try to do this, but also now everyone is doing it. Oy.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Danny Brown Right now I'm working on a Klout killer! Oh wait, God already invented that. It's called common sense. never mind.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@philgerb Yes, a lot of it is headlines, but we need real analysis. And that can't be done in a day, or perhaps even a week. We need time to play around and try them, and see what the general public is gonna do with them. Shoot, when the new MySpace rolled out, I saw folks saying it was gonna change things and hurt Facebook. Why? Because they hate Facebook and the new MySpace looks pretty.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@margieclayman I think there is a reason we now have a social universe with a few big players. They are all unique and work well together either in integration or in strategic placement. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram aren't competing, per se. Because they are all different and have their own place.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Danny Brown @ShellyKramer Yeah, what he said. Zemanta. Zemanta has a plug in, but this is done by a browser extension. The plug in has different features which I haven't yet explored. 

And I hate the "I don't like it, so it won't work" discussion not too long ago, and I bit my tongue for a variety of reasons. I even was gonna use a portion of that discussion in this post but deleted because of the situation. But it irked me.

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