It’s almost hard to believe that there are some New Media pundits who actually say, "there is nothing new here" when reviewing their peers. It’s shocking (and a little bit sad).
Last week, there was a Blog post here titled, 10 New Business Books Worth Checking Out. As I was sorting through which books to list, it was interesting to read the reviews surrounding these titles (both on the book retail websites and on Blogs, Twitter feeds, etc…). You could tell which reviewers were regular people (the silent majority, the mass population, etc…) and which were the ones who were neck-deep into New Media (those with their own Blogs, thousands of followers on Twitter, etc…). It should come as no shock, that when it comes to Bloggers we like to eat our own. We’re quick to judge, comment and attack, but in seeing countless semi-nice reviews with lines like, "there is nothing new in this book" or "I didn’t really learn anything I didn’t already know," it wound up becoming somewhat comical.
The real experts, the ones who really are superstars don’t do this.
After spending countless years in the music industry, it was plain as day who would be a successful artist/musician and who would disappear quickly into obscurity. The real geniuses, the real experts and the real artists were the ones who knew this one golden rule: you can learn something new from anyone at any time. The trick is in leaving yourself open to this experience. The trick is in always being a student.
It’s a sure sign of inexperience when you don’t see an opportunity to learn at every turn.
At one point, I was interviewing a well-established artist. They happened to be one of the most respected guitarists in the world. I asked him who teaches him or who inspires him to learn more, to which he said, "some of the greats, some are alive and some are dead. The truth is that you can pick up something from someone who just started playing last week as much as you can pick up nothing from some of the other greats." The point was, that when it comes to creating art or something that is still a very new media, there is learning at every corner and only those with insecurity, inexperience and a bloated ego can’t see it.
Be open to everything because everything is new.
Beyond the potential to learn something new, it’s also kind of humorous to think that "there’s nothing new" in some of these books when, if you look at the space with a critical eye, everything is brand spanking new (five years or newer). Everything is so new in fact, that one person’s rules is another person’s faux-pas. In fact, if you really dive deep into some of the people who are most critical, you’ll note that they were inspired by those who they now critique. When something is new – especially New Media, Social Media and Web 2.0 – it’s easy to get up-to-speed and think you know it all.
In the end, it’s not about you… it’s about your clients and peers.
On a personal note: I didn’t write the book, Six Pixels of Separation, for those who are passionate about this Blog or follow me on Twitter. I wrote the book – like most of these other authors did – for those who don’t read Blogs. The point was (and still is) to introduce them to these new media channels using language that they are more accustomed to, and in a media channel that they are more used to (printed business books). Avinash Kaushik (author of Web Analytics – An Hour A Day, Web Analytics 2.0 and Blogger at Occam’s Razor) used to always marvel at why so many people would buy his book, when all of the content was available for free on his Blog. He soon realized that the majority of people buying his book never read his Blog, and those that had been following the Blog wanted something more tangible that they could either refer back to or pass along to clients and peers.
Yes, we need to be critical of one another and open to divergent thoughts and perspectives, but we also need to be extra careful when spouting off sentences like "there’s nothing new here" or "there’s nothing that has not been said before" simply because most people are not following a bunch of Bloggers and spending their days on Facebook. This channel is new, and most books on the subject are giving their own unique perspective and, ultimately, what’s old to you in this space, is brand spanking new to the rest of the global population.
What do you think? Or has this conversation become old too?