Joho the Blog » [2b2k] Chapter 4 – inappropriately concrete?

[2b2k] Chapter 4 – inappropriately concrete?

Chapter 3 left readers with a problem without resolution. If facts don’t provide as firm a bedrock as we’d thought, then are we left to believe whatever we want? Is there no hope? [Spoiler: No, we’re not free to believe whatever we want.]

Because Chapter 3 was pretty abstract, I want to be sure to address its question in some concrete ways. So, Chapter 4 opens with a brief scene-setter that says that we all love diversity, but when there’s too much, we can’t get anything done. I’m now at the beginning of a section that will give maybe four general rules for “scoping” diversity so that a group has enough internal difference to be smarter than the smartest individual, but not so much that they can’t get past bickering. I plan on following that with a more abstract section that asks whether the Net is making us more open or closed to other people’s ideas. At the moment, I like the idea of beginning with the concrete and moving to the abstract, in large part because I think the abstract question is pretty much impossible to answer.

I can’t tell yet if the chapter structure is going to work. There is so much to say about this topic. And I have a concern that the reader is not expecting the book to take this turn. But I won’t be able to tell that until I have enough distance on the prior chapters to be able to read them with some degree of freshness.

9 Responses to “[2b2k] Chapter 4 – inappropriately concrete?”

  1. […] It is a view shared, for example, by PR giant Richard Edelman. […]

  2. […] Weinberger hat live gebloggt (mehrere Beiträge, die Ãœberschriften beginnen mit […]

  3. Richard Edelman says mass is dead and the future is public engagement. But public is mass (people in general considered as a whole).

    If the future (if not the present) is about aggregated – atomized – audiences then public relations is dead, too. Richard Edelman cannot have it both ways.

    I would have thought that we all knew the meaning of the word public. Least I had supposed so.

    However, you are reporting what Richard supposedly said. So, did he say what you said he said, or have you misreported him?

    But – regardless – the concept of mass (as in experiences, consciousness, action even) is still visible in Iran, is it not? The election of Obama? The outrage over MPs’ expenses in the UK? Princess’s Diana’s funeral? September 11, 2001? The impact of this recession? Is mass dead? I think not. Evolving, but not dead.

  4. Paul, I believe I reported relatively accurately. The difference is that I don’t think (and I don’t think that RE thinks) that all publics are mass. Some are, of course, and, as you say, they remain important. But there are lots of smaller publics. In addition, you can have a one-on-one meeting or relationship in the mass public. I don’t see why a PR company can’t say that it’s going to deal with all of these different sorts of public; they may be more successful at some than others, but I don’t see it as a logical contradiction at all.

  5. I agree with the spirit of the points you make. There are also – as Richard Edelman reminds us – unique challenges that today presents that the past did not – media/digital fragmentation, culture of cynicism/contempt and decline in trust that undermines traditional authority etc.

    However, that said, the starting point for all of us at any point in history was always ourselves and our immediate family and surroundings. People experience the world first as individuals (not as public or publics); then find, discover, make and break their group (s) identity (ies) as they go through life after they have had various formative experiences.

    Hence the term public was always questionable to the extent that Prime Minister Thatcher once said “there is no such thing as society”. Richard Edelman makes the same ‘mistake’ (overstatement) when he says the mass is dead.

    Here’s a PR case study – Hilary Clinton’s messaging and campaign appealed to fragmented markets at the micro scale, while Barack Obama went for the mass market general macro appeal that united people beyond their entrenched boundaries. She lost, he won the battle and ended up as President. But he never neglected the micro level, but it was always secondary.

    The nature of the mass and the route to the mass (the public or as you rightly say publics) and what appeals to them changes all the time. Hence, I’m for “public engagement” and reject any notion that the “mass is dead”.

    Last, even on Twitter – the ultimate collective fragmented medium – it is CNN that tops the popularity charts. Discuss….

  6. Aha. I see that the problem is the exact phrase “mass is dead.” D’oh.

    I don’t remember if that was a paraphrase or a quote, but either way, I doubt RE means that as literally or as bluntly as it sounds. I suspect he agrees with what you’re saying. I know I do. In fact, one of the things I enjoy about Twitter is its ability to be both a mass communication tool (you listening, Ashton?) as well as a local comm tool … as is any Net medium that can be characterized by a power law distribution (i.e., that has a Long Tail).

  7. […] I was dismayed to hear reports quoting Richard Edelman recently saying that the mass is dead and the future is public engagement. If that is so public relations is dead […]

  8. […] traditional media, which was known as mass media (again, Richard Edelman’s concession that the mass is dead has not been helpful, not least because the word public in public relations is all about […]

  9. […] traditional media, which was known as mass media (again, Richard Edelman’s concession that the mass is dead has not been helpful, not least because the word public in public relations is all about […]

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