RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

I spend so much time with content creators who use New Media on a day-to-day basis, that my views on the technology are distorted. And therefore, since last April, I’ve made it a point to step outside of the fishbowl to speak with “normal people.”

On Monday, I had another opportunity to do so at the Tustin Chamber of Commerce. I was invited by Tony Ventimiglio to be a guest speaker during his talk: “Sales and Marketing: Back to Basics.” The room held about twenty people, whose occupations ranged from insurance sales to a local print shop owner.

After my fifteen minute session, enthusiastic hands shot up to ask great questions. One woman said that she shared a name with a famous country singer, and therefore, “Googling” her name revealed music albums as opposed to her financial services business. I suggested that she take a play out of the David Meerman Scott handbook, by adding her middle name to all correspondence.

But the best question/comment of the morning came from a smartly dressed gentleman with white hair and a white mustache. “I’ve never used Google,” he said, matter-of-factly. “What I hear about blogs isn’t good. And podcasts,” he chuckled, “I don’t even know where to start.”

“You’ve never searched for anything using Google?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No.”

Truly blown away I blurted, “Wow! I’ve never met one of you before!”

There’s a lesson in here. Although this New/Social/Web2.0 thingy is gaining steam, millions of people still need introductions to the basics. A quick poll revealed that only one of the twenty subscribed to RSS feeds, nobody listened to podcasts, and only three used Google Alerts.

So, while the fishbowlers are pushing really cool stuff such as Friendfeed, Seesmic, UstreamTV and Twitter, we all need a reality check. There’s a huge audience out there who can benefit from using New Media technologies in their businesses. They just need a basic introduction. To the high-rollers in the fishbowl, teaching the basics may not be sexy, but I’m telling you that this crowd is thirsty for learning about this stuff.

Want proof? Yesterday the Chamber called asking if I’d be the Keynote Speaker at their next “Power Lunch.”

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Comments

Wow. Ron, I haven’t heard of someone who didn’t use Google in ages. There are so few people like that these days, that I wouldn’t know what to say…

David Meerman Scott
July 24, 2008

Wow. Ron, I haven’t heard of someone who didn’t use Google in ages. There are so few people like that these days, that I wouldn’t know what to say…

David Meerman Scott
July 24, 2008

Good post. I think part of the problem is that there are few *visible* experts who are willing to humbly help these people align the right online tool for their challenge. I’ve spoken to these people too and they really are hungry, as you point out, yet so many of the online communications “experts” make them feel ashamed for not being hip to everything. Many people just want practical online communications advice, and they don’t want to spend all day fussing with it.

Jeff
July 25, 2008

Good post. I think part of the problem is that there are few *visible* experts who are willing to humbly help these people align the right online tool for their challenge. I’ve spoken to these people too and they really are hungry, as you point out, yet so many of the online communications “experts” make them feel ashamed for not being hip to everything. Many people just want practical online communications advice, and they don’t want to spend all day fussing with it.

Jeff
July 25, 2008

Outstanding reality check. I’m right in the fishbowl with the rest of you but I have a pretty broad circle that includes low-income Hispanics, evangelical Christians, plumbers, contractors and politicians. Many of these people think AOL is a pretty neat thing. Our church just installed it’s first wireless network after 5 years of debate among the board who feared the whole concept.
What we think is ubiquitous is still a vast unexplored territory for more than half of our population.
Here’s something to think about. Recently John McCain admitted he doesn’t know how to send email and has to have his wife help him. That got a lot of catcalls from the press, but amazingly enough, it gave him a boost in the polls because of all the people who identified with his tech-ignorance.
The reason much of the tech market is flat is because we have not truly reached the mass market opportunity.

Lou Covey
July 28, 2008

Outstanding reality check. I’m right in the fishbowl with the rest of you but I have a pretty broad circle that includes low-income Hispanics, evangelical Christians, plumbers, contractors and politicians. Many of these people think AOL is a pretty neat thing. Our church just installed it’s first wireless network after 5 years of debate among the board who feared the whole concept.
What we think is ubiquitous is still a vast unexplored territory for more than half of our population.
Here’s something to think about. Recently John McCain admitted he doesn’t know how to send email and has to have his wife help him. That got a lot of catcalls from the press, but amazingly enough, it gave him a boost in the polls because of all the people who identified with his tech-ignorance.
The reason much of the tech market is flat is because we have not truly reached the mass market opportunity.

Lou Covey
July 28, 2008

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