Our industry has been at a crossroads for a number of years. We are tasked with aligning evolving technologies with the humans that interact with those technologies. In my previous column, I discussed how we're constantly lured into a false sense of security with a preponderance of tools that should make our lives easier-but, in truth, either duplicate effort or perpetuate poor digital behaviors. No matter how many tools we use to wrangle content, we still have one constant that is very much a variable: people.
Today's digital landscape is not too far removed from the baseball parks of 1998. We are bombarded with articles, blogs, videos, white papers, newsletters, emails, text alerts, and listicles clamoring for our attention. For years, we've witnessed this glut of content permeate every device and screen we interact with. Five years ago, audiences universally despised digital pop-up ads; whereas today, they are universally accepted in the interest of getting to the latest celebrity tidbit or thought leadership download.
On the morning I wrote this, I used 10: email, Evernote, GitHub, Slack, Google Docs, InDesign, text messaging, Basecamp, Excel, and (gulp!) Word. I use these tools interchangeably under the guise of organization. However, if I track back to my digital production schedule 10 years ago, InDesign, Excel, Word, and email were my only writing/communication tools. Even though the technology is streamlined, I'm using twice as many tools to accomplish the same core tasks that I did 10 years ago.
My favorite part of any do-it-yourself show is the demolition. "Get all your aggression out," the bubbly host proclaims just before the token newlywed fumbles with the sledgehammer. I'm not alone because every one of these shows dedicates a segment to displaying a plume of dust. After all, you can't appreciate the shiny new kitchen if you don't show the studs and decaying wallpaper first. Why don't we extend the same logic to the new content we create on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis?
Change is a part of life--people are dynamic by nature. We evolve, for better or worse. The very idea of change often serves as the barometer for how far we've strayed from that high school self we remember, but no longer clearly identify with. No matter how far we stray from that bygone persona, we rarely leave behind many of the natural tendencies that define who we are. The pink hair you sported for your Sweet 16 has given way to a carefully manicured pixie cut, but your laugh hasn't changed. The Camaro IROC-Z may be long gone, but you still reach for your favorite leather jacket. No matter how much we distance or embrace our past, the natural character that defines us rarely departs.