Monday, January 4, 2010

Participate or die

"If you don't participate and take an interest, you'll always be outcompeted by those who do."

I stole that line from Cory Doctorow's Makers. Great book. You should get it.

It may not seem that there is much insight in that phrase. After all... it seems pretty obvious. But if you'll reflect on it a moment, I think you'll find many areas that you have consciously chosen to ignore. The older we get -- OK, the older I get -- the more likely we are to fall into the trap.

When is the last time you paid attention to your Facebook account? You probably missed that the "News Feed" on your home page doesn't include all of your friends. Nope. It only includes the most active ones. The same goes for everyone else's profiles. Are you active enough to show up to them?

Google's been dropping relevant and real-time results from the social sphere in their search results pages. I've said before that social will become one of those things that business simply can't afford to ignore. Google made it a reality faster than even I thought.

It's a wake-up call to you experts, too. Sure, you've got plenty of business supporting your outdated language or platform. But for how long? Switching costs are dropping. Data will only get more portable. Are you going the way of the cobbler?

And being outcompeted isn't necessarily about real competition. It's about being informed, having experiences and not worrying that you'll wake up one day and find the world around you has changed. I'm OK with getting old. I just don't want to be outdated.

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