It’s fun being outside of the New Media echo-chamber — apart from the people who are already convinced that New Media changes the rules forever. Because the real work of New Media can’t be done in the hallways of Gnomedex, the breakout sessions at the New Media Expo, or in the jam-packed aisles of a Podcamp. Nope. The real work must be completed in the real world, in businesses large and small, convincing people, one at a time, of the benefits of New Media.
It is in the real world that you’ll run into two types people: the “Traditionals” those who have been doing the same thing for many years and gosh darn it aren’t about to change now; and the “Adapters,” those who are willing to try new things and roll with the punches. And although the Adaptors are the most fun to work with, the Traditionals provide the best stories.
Her group had produced this three-minute video, and so she followed the tried-and-true procedure for getting a web page built. Within a very short amount of time, the web team had designed her page, uploaded the video to YouTube, and embedded that video within it.
As she had always done in the past, she went through the new page with a fine toothed comb. She read every word for accuracy and spelling. She made sure the correct messaging was there. And then, she played the video.
She summarized her change requests in a report. She explained that everything looked good, except for the end of the video — which acted strangely. Rather than ending where it should, two things popped onto the screen: a menu of unrelated videos followed by some embed code stuff.
As a Traditional, used to 100% control over her content, she delivered her ruling: “Make it go away,” she said.
I have to admit that I chuckled a little when I saw this message. I’m forced to deal with these things all of the time. And to be fair, I really shouldn’t laugh, because she just doesn’t understand. All she wants is for things to remain the same…with her having 100% control over her content — something that went away with the birth of RSS-driven technologies such as blogs, podcasts, and wikis.
I tried to help her understand. I explained that what she saw was normal. “Every YouTube video acts the same way,” I said. “People expect it. It’s good. It’s all good.”
But “good” was not the way she saw it. And so she decided to fight with me. Instead of hearing my case, she went off to disprove my “facts” by finding “other” companies that were not only using “YouTube,” but they had figured out how to eliminate the funky ending too.
Of course, none of her the examples used YouTube — they were either hosting the videos themselves (something her IT department had already prohibited), or paying a third party video hosting provider.
I tried one last time. I explained that soon, when her company had placed many videos up on YouTube, that in all likelihood, these videos would come up as suggestions, but the advice fell on deaf ears. Words like “probable,” likelihood,” and “trust,” don’t sit very well with the Traditionals, and so she responded with the best action that she could — she killed the project. I protested, calling her decision a mistake, but she’d have none of it. If she couldn’t have complete control over every aspect of the video, then she would take her ball and go home.
If you work for a company that is looking to adopt New Media, the biggest obstacles that you’ll encounter will be in the form of the Traditionals. All I can say is expect the resistance, do your best at explaining, and then, let them make their own decisions.
Every now and then you’ll find a Traditional with a willingness to try new things — an “Adaptor.” Finding an Adaptor is like finding a vein of gold which just needs to be mined. Spend as much time as you can with an Adaptor, to help them shine, because it is through their successes that you’ll uncover more Adaptors. Nothing is more convincing to a Traditional than watching a peer succeed while they are sitting on the sideline.