The Most Important Thing In The Digital Age

 “He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!” - Maori proverb

In other news you already knew, pretty much everything is now available online.

Want to learn about quantum physics, substitute your own text into a 20th Century Fox intro sequence, or study with MIT and Stanford professors? Done, for free. Next.

Want to enjoy TV shows, movies, music, games? Find work, friends, love? Exchange short messages with movie stars? Engage in nefarious activities? Whatever your heart’s desire, the Web is there to serve.

For the content consumer, this is a pretty good time to be alive. For the content producer, it is a nightmare.

You are now competing with everyone and everything, in the world ever created. And you don’t just have to compete with other sites and blogs and service offerings, not just on price and quality either. You have to compete with noise, with the umpteen junk pages and popups that permeate the online ether.

How can you do it? Some will trot out that now old adage that content is king. What you need is original content. More content. Better content.

They are wrong.

Winning in such a world is not about content. Content is everywhere and all-consuming. We are drowning in content, and the app that promises to surface the best of it for me is just one more reason for me to feel guilty and uninformed for not paying attention to it.

Don’t you dare give me more content. Even better content is a tough sell when every day we get hundreds of emails, tweets, Facebook updates, when there’s HuffPo and The Onion and all those other quality news sources.

The way to compete, the only way to compete, is through greater understanding. The ones who get exactly who their customers are, who know how to make their lives easier and better and how to make them feel smart and informed and not hassled, guilty or overworked, these are the ones who will succeed.

Steve Jobs didn’t succeed because of his products. He succeeded because he understood us, our desire for beauty and simplicity and our desire to be in the In Crowd. He understood how to talk to us and how to make us feel like smart, cool rebels. He understood us, our glories and our flaws, better than we understood ourselves.

When terabytes of data are being produced every single day, the most important thing is not content. As Jobs understood, it is people. It is people. It is people.

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1 comment about "The Most Important Thing In The Digital Age".
  1. Pete Austin from Triggered Messaging , May 11, 2013 at 12:45 p.m.
    Correct as far as the need for greater understanding. Wrong about people, except in as far as *everything* is about people. What you need to understand is the scarcities that give you leverage. If there were a shortage of good content, you could leverage content, but there isn't. But there will always be a shortage of mainstream brands, so the big money is being made by leveraging them. Steve Jobs, like Richard Branson before him, succeeded by building a very extensible brand. If you want to be extremely rich, build such a brand. But if you're a smaller player, you'd better find a more local scarcity to build upon.