Links and shared knowledge can be useful. But cutting and pasting them directly to your own work isn't always successful.
by Dan Slee
There's a beacon of truth I heard at an event a few years ago that's stuck with me. Bear with me. You'll love it.
It's not tips with Facebook, comms planning or instagram.
It's something called magical thinking and the lurking danger it poses to you.
Here's a story to illustrate it.
Magical thinking and the jungle air strip
There was a remote island in the Pacific covered in lush thick jungle. It's population lived off the land. There was no electricity, no cars and no-one much from the outside world bothered them.
Then the Second World War happened.
The US military moved in and cut back the jungle with giant machines no-one on the island had seen before. A hut was built by the side and lights were lit.
Bigger machines shaped liked crosses would fall from the sky and out of them came food and useful objects.
This is magic, the islanders thought.
Then the war ended and the US military packed up and went home. The bigger machines shaped like crosses stopped falling from the sky. So the islanders had a meeting. They knew what they had to do. They hacked back the clearing wherebigger machines had landed. They rebuilt the hut and they re-lit the lights.
And they waited but nothing happened.
They were guilty of magical thinking.
the face value dangers you need to avoid
At face value, all the ingredients were there. The landing strip, the hut and the landing lights. But they had failed to understand the complex things that were needed to make it work.
Before you point and laugh at the Pacific islanders for their magical thinking just stop a second. You've been guilty of the same at times.
That successful Facebook campaign you tried to copy that didn't quite come off. That request for a Twitter you heard because they've got one over there and they've got 5,000 followers.
Quick corner cut solutions that copy theappearance of something that has worked with none of the thought.
The excellent Euan Semple who has done lots of good work with the social web once said that he hated case studies. Don't wait for one, he argued. Go and do your own. I think he's right.
the danger of links
At a time when the landscape is constantly changing and evolving it's easy to click on a link on a subject. Shared knowledge is a truly useful thing. But I'm increasingly thinking that it should be the start of a journey not the end.
Just because you've read a link on a subject doesn't make you an expert.
Beware cut and paste solutions.
Do your own work. Blaze your own trail. Use the shared knowledge of the web, absolutely. But use it for reference rather than a textbook to limit you.
Anything else is as magical thinking as cutting a landing strip in your back garden and expecting planes to magically land.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.