Have you ever wondered how on earth moving your mouse makes a little pointer move across your screen? I actually don’t know, but I do know that the mouse, and the idea of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) were both controversial and criticised whilst they were being developed. Why? They changed the way things were in the name of moving towards something better, and both helped make computers accessible to the masses. In other words, they valued innovation over tradition.

Sometimes it’s easy for us to get lost in the hype of technology, especially in an age where talking about technology is made easier by the very technology we are talking about – it creates a perfect circular, the most pertinent example today being “I’m using social media to tell you how great social media is.” But as thinkers, we need to be able to step back from the buzz and think about the bigger picture – otherwise we run the risk of becoming clones and drones.

Clones and Drones

You know what I mean by clones and drones. The countless score of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ and ‘consultants’ out there, creating more noise than a batch of early 90′s servers. I’ll be honest with you – when I started out, I was one of these. I bought the myth of the digital personal brand and was trying to ‘create product’ to ‘ship’ to those who read my blog. I was using Twitter to ‘influence’ and ‘network’ in order to get exposure and sell my product, because someone else had done it successfully and now I was buying their 10 steps to do it myself.

This copycat behaviour has created a flocking effect that has widened the gap between those who are what I call ‘digitall’ and those I call ‘digicool’ – something some aliens once noted about us. The digitall are those who use tech for ‘all’ – their iPhones and iPads are filled with apps, their blogs overflowing with widgets (well, hey, they actually have blogs), they check Twitter infinitely more than they do Facebook, and they know what Augmented Reality is. The digicool, on the other hand, are those who use technology solely based on how ‘cool’ it is – like my wife who has an iPhone because it’s cool, is on Facebook because it’s cool, but doesn’t use Twitter because, unfortunately, it isn’t cool.

At the head of the digitall are the digeratti – the princely likes of Scoble, Rubel, Gray and the rest, who akin to the developers of the mouse, are challenging us to think in new and innovative ways. In actual fact, Scoble et al are just the ones telling us about the innovations – like the early days of Techcrunch where every Web 2.0 site was listed and reviewed. These technologies have changed the way the internet works – Wikipedia, Skype, Facebook, eBay, WordPress, Google – and in doing so, they have changed tradition.

The thing is, it isn’t the digitall that helped change tradition. It was the masses of digicools – the general population, if you will – that helped Facebook spread, realised the worth of Wikiepedia, and used Google because they couldn’t remember URLs (unlike the digitalls, who did). And here lies the decision for us all: are we going to talk about innovation and tradition, or be the ones who actually help put innovation over tradition?

The former only requires us to tweet, like, comment, retweet, blog. The second requires us to think. To think how we can take the wonderful innovations that are being used by a comparative handful of digitalls, and present them in an easy to understand way the digicools.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s the gap that needs filling, and the hands that fill it will not go unrecognised.

Your Leading Thoughts

  1. First of all, confession time: which are you? Where are you? Are you talking, or innovating?
  2. How, practically, can we fill this gap?

Archived Comments

  • http://socialcomputingtechnology.com/?p=77388 Innovation Over Tradition – scottgould.me « Social Computing Technology

    […] posted here: Innovation Over Tradition – scottgould.me and-reviewed, internet, like-the-early, Web 2.0, […]

  • malcolm12boxes

    What do you call people who join #likeminds because they know they don’t understand what anybody is talking about and hope they might learn something?

  • http://twitter.com/NotFromBolton Peter Kay

    Confession time you say, well that’s a difficult one. I suppose that there is a little bit of both in me. Ultimately though, that’s not really for me to decide. ‘Digitall’ is in my eyes something to aspire to but for others to suggest. Like beauty it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

    Many get drawn into the ‘digicool’ community you discuss because of the reasons you point out. It’s a little like fashion. The power houses set the tempo and the rest follow or provide comment creating ripples as they go. Not a bad place to start though, for example I can imagine that Louis Vuitton was first a fan of fashion before creating it.

    Everybody has to begin somewhere, having an interest is as good a place as any whatever it’s roots, and as technology continues to evolve the line between the digital world and the physical world will continue to blur. Walking about with the latest tech gadget is as much about fashion these days as it is about functionality.

    In nature function equals form, just consider your example of the mouse.

  • http://blog.matthewhooper.com/ Matt Hooper

    You are 100% correct about the gap widening. There are a lot more people out there using some form of technology because everyone else is. My wife falls into the same camp as yours. I often study the ways that she uses technology in order to better understand people on the other side of the gap.

    As digitalls, I feel it is up to us to answers the “whys” and not just the “hows” and “whats”. Why would someone use Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc.? Why does someone want to use an iPad or iPhone? These are the types of questions that need to be answered for the digicools before they will see the true value in the technologies that are being presented to us by the digeratti.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Malcolm

    Apologies for the delay in responding. I call those people learners. They are keen to learn – the pressure lies on us to communicate to them in a way which really helps them learn and do.


  • / Scott Gould

    The gap is definitely widening isn’t it. A big part of Like Minds in October (wearelikeminds.com/autumn2010) is to reduce this gap.

    I agree Matt that we must answer the WHY. We often get caught up on the “how” because it does something geeky, but WHY is what drives the human race forward.

  • / Scott Gould

    Good thoughts Peter. I plainly agree- there’s not much else to add to your thoughts!


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1341154669 Codi Dillon Spodnik

    As usual, Scott, you have posted about something that is currently on my mind. I like to think of myself as having one foot in both camps. I’m certainly not all digital (in fact, I consider myself a little bit Victorian, in that I enjoy using a pen quite often) but I like to know WHY things are useful, instead of just “cool.”

    As I am trying to recover from my 5 year hiatus as a stay-at–home-mom and jump back into the world of communications, I’d like to position myself as a bit of a “shepherd” translating all that is digital and cool into something very tangible for this very slow-adopting part of the world where I live. Of course, that means that I must be a student first. So, I’m working on that part. It’s tricky out there, trying to be a learner, but trying to avoid being a drone.

    Thanks for your constant contribution to those of us that are trying really hard to keep thinking.

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks Codi!

    Did you see this post I wrote with you in mind? There’s some good advice that is actually pertinent for this discussion: /if-you-had-to-start-again/


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1341154669 Codi Dillon Spodnik

    Wow! Thanks for addressing that. It was SO helpful and wonderful to read your post and all the responses.

    I am especially appreciating the encouragement to take risks, to not assume that one’s thoughts are unimportant and to cultivate one’s personal, genuine SELF and let the personal branding be a by-product of that. Those are all things I can support wholeheartedly.

    I look forward to digging deeper into this line of thinking. Interestingly, these are all concepts that relate closely to my parenting as well. I am finding more and more that shepherding good relationships, good business sense and good children are all just about the same thing.

  • /social-innovation-broadcast-duplication/ Social Innovation, Broadcast Duplication – scottgould.me

    […] talked yesterday about Innovation Over Tradition, but there is a danger is that in not understanding what the ‘traditions’ here are, and […]

  • http://www.sytaylor.net sytaylor

    …and that same thing is people.

    Figure out what they want, and the big themes happening & you’re in a position to benefit from being ahead of that curve. A brand is something you already are, the question is how you choose to manage it.

  • http://www.sytaylor.net sytaylor

    Malcolm, I’d call them essential. This stuff is inherently learnable. As with all things there are a lot of buzzwords, but it’s far more intimidating from a distance.

    Innovating towards what people want, feel & are is instinctual more than anything. Products, Brands & Businesses have at their core, people. Scott has plenty of guidance on how to get the best from this resource within this brave new world.

  • / Scott Gould

    Codi there certainly is another way. The people who comment here can attest that there’s no need to do the typical online affiliate thing!

  • / Scott Gould

    “Malcolm, I’d call them essential” – very good :-)

  • stepbate

    Great post – made me think

    I confess: I’m a digital media pupil – no guru – my iPhone and Mac are full of soft things and I’m designing, producing and marketing a suite of iPad apps called iglimpse – not sure where this puts me

    Thought leadership? – yes some and this involves layering what I learn about digital media onto the publishing, marketing and content management skills it has taken me 25 years to apprehend – s – if I can use what I know and what I can layer on top and help somebody achieve their goal faster then I’ll be happy – where does that put me? It doesn’t matter what I think — in this game, it’s what others think that matters

  • /i-dont-talk-down-to-you/ I Don’t Talk Down To You – scottgould.me

    […] used to write very much like this. In fact the peice on Innovation Over Tradition had the same prose feel that I think goes along with the above. Normally here, we’re talking […]

  • http://blog.matthewhooper.com/ Matt Hooper

    I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed this post and I included in my weekly roundup of articles that I found throughout the week that intrigued me. If your interested you can see this week’s “Five for Friday” here: http://bit.ly/aqGxek

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks Matt – glad it helped.

    What did you find intriguing about it the most?


  • / Scott Gould

    Stephen, thanks for adding this.

    So would you say that you use digital things because they are cool, or because they are a tool?


  • http://blog.matthewhooper.com/ Matt Hooper

    It wasn’t one particular thing that intrigued me, it was the post as a whole. The points about the widening of the gap between those in the know and those that use technology without fully understanding it.

    I also like your point about the “copycat behaviour”. This is also true with blogs. It seams that when one person write about a certain topic and it becomes popular then the following week a multitude of new posts pop up mimicking the first successful one.

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks Matt

    It is indeed the case that too many are copying each other, rather than seeking to translate from the digtialls to the digicools, in my opinion.

    Theres massive opportunity, but we get blinded by the shining lights of ego that are full of internet celebrity promise, but are actually empty words!


  • http://www.concentricdots.com/ Stephen Bateman

    Hi Scott, thanks for the response

    For me digital is a vast tool or even toolkit – with digital the possibilities seem infinite – there are more tools in digital for a content strategist and than there are hammers, screwdrivers and drills on the shelves of B&Q – for folks like me, incorrigible enthusiasts (Briggs-Myers ENFP Enneagram 7) the possibilities for self-improvement are at our finger tips – I love it – how about you Scott, cool or tool?

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks for the insight Stephens.

    Me? I’m a digi-cool. I try digital stuf because it’s cool, but then the stuff that isn’t a tool to me will slide away. It has be useful to stick for me.