With each new innovation or new process introduced to our society or even slight modification of what currently exists we as individuals and as collectives find ourselves simultaneously facing both challenges and opportunities.
Many of us may be familiar with the Chinese symbol of “crisis” which by linguistics scholars has been translated to mean both “danger” and “opportunity.” If you have ever attended a management seminar, read a motivational book, or even scanned an article on marketing communication, you have probably run across this strong and memorable rhetorical device. Even the translation of the Chinese symbols to the English language itself (credited to Victor H. Mair, Professor, Chinese Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania) has been called into question.
Change can create challenge, opportunity, chaos, danger, anxiety, and optimism. It is the complex system of change in real life that will be the running theme of this blog and its core subject – emerging media.
Emerging media has created an entirely new chapter in the marketing communication lexicon. (As if the human language needs more words.) We now have the new morphemes of “e-“ and “v-“ – prefixes that can be used to preface common words to indicate “electronic” and “video” channels of communication delivery. And we have a new language within the emerging media itself. We have created text speak and interesting grammatical shortcuts when confining our dialogue to 140 characters or less.
And while we could wonder down this very interesting road of linguistics, I would offer that we need to start at where we are now…understanding and defining what we know now of emerging media.
As you can see from the word cloud above, understanding emerging media involves understanding more than merely the disruptive technology that makes it possible. We must understand how emerging media is being used, by whom, and for what purpose. We need to understand both the content that’s created and shared as well as the context within which it is received, delivered, and shared. And we need to understand how it is translated and interpreted by all that use it or are impacted by its use in our social circles, communities, and our cultures.
And while you and I may not agree on which emerging media is best suited for what purpose, one thing we can agree upon is that as individuals we will all approach emerging media differently. It’s both the challenge and the opportunity for consumers and marketers alike.
Out of great respect for a man that found opportunity to share his vision for the future in the middle of danger – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – I will close with the words of his contemporary, the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). The quote is from President Kennedy’s remarks at the Convocation of the United Negro College Fund, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 12, 1959:
“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.”