Our Own Private Idahos

Happy TunesDay!  For our musical subject today, let’s listen to the B52’s.  It’s OK to get up and dance – I’ll wait:

I got to thinking about that phrase and our own private Idaho‘s the other day.  On one level it’s about someone who is wrapped up in their own narrow frame of reference.  They create their own little world and exclude anything outside of its borders.  Maybe that thinking was what inspired yesterday’s post on TV and social.  I do know that it was a bit of synchronicity (not the song!) when I came across an article in the NY Times magazine about popularity that made the point about the continuing segmentation of culture very well.

The piece, entitled What It Means to Be Popular (When Everything Is Popular) sums it up well:

This refraction of the culture into ever-smaller slivers leaves us instinctively with a sense of something lost. Once we listened to the same song together, watched the same show together, argued over the same movies together. Now we’re each focused on our own screen, listening to our own playlist, we’re bowling alone, etc. A landscape that once featured a few unavoidable monoliths of popularity is now dotted with a multitude of lesser monuments, too many to keep track of, let alone celebrate.

I think this creates opportunities for those of us in business along with the obvious difficulties, the ability to scale being the largest problem.   Perhaps we need to be thinking about deep engagement in a series of micro-audiences as opposed to the mass reach everyone seems to desire?  Rather than thinking about going viral (which to me is top-down thinking), maybe we should recognize that there are too many different Idaho’s for that to occur with any regularity and focus instead in creating something for several of them which each of them can serve within their own borders (bottom-up).

When I was a kid there were three television networks and the roster of programs was pretty limited.  The lowest rated shows then would be huge hits now.  That’s not a function of their quality, it’s just that there weren’t any other choices.  Today’s choices are unlimited. “Popular” means someone – anyone – is paying attention.  We need to run our businesses around that definition of popular and build a business model that works, throwing away “old” models in the process.

You with me?

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