Does Over-Hyping Contribute to Overwhelm?
Many articles begin with cautions to readers about the ever-increasing volume of knowledge at our fingertips, and how that leads to overwhelm. Commentaries abound around how we might stand out from the crowd. Due to this natural need, the pace of over-hyping and over-labeling has also increased.
This trend is at its most obvious in the junk mail we recognise instantly for the loud self-agrandisement on the envelopes that we recycle, unopened. It is also obvious in the resumes and LinkedIn bios that refer to mundane tasks using important-sounding language. It will take you and most other in-the-know people perhaps 3 seconds to spot this in others, before dismissing them. I wonder how many people who are able to employ a bullshit-meter when looking at other people, hope that those they seek to woo don’t notice them doing the same thing? Newsflash! They do!
Here’s an amusing example of the above, taken from kbat.com. It reports the findings of a poll run by The Daily Mail that asked “what is the most ridiculous job title you have heard for a less glamorous job?” The top 10 best are highly amusing!
OK, these are extreme, but I’m sure you get the point. People see through this stuff. Truth is, every job, including that of CEO, has its mundane aspects. So think carefully about what claims you make on your bio.
Over-labeling will not get you noticed (for the right reasons)!
This is not where I start telling you how to be authentic – enough people have already done that! And I contend that if anyone needs to read such an article, their business problems run far deeper than any article can correct.
No, this is where I talk instead about how these over-important labels are as endemic within Software and tech, Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing, as they are in junk mail and social media and business profiles.
Hands up who knew that to some people, we’re already on the cusp of Web 5.0! I hadn’t even been aware that Semantic Web was labeled Web 3.0. But 5? Have there really been enough seismic shifts to warrant this?
Overcoming overwhelm – Sometimes, just wait and see!
In an era of content and technology overwhelm, how much of the problem is due to the volume of change, and how much is due to overblown claims of the importance of the latest technology? 2014 saw the advent of 2 new ‘must be in’ social networks. Must you be in them now? Do you even remember the names of both?
It’s true that by waiting to see how things shake out, you may not be an early authority on the latest hot item. But you need a whole lot of bandwidth in order to be at the leading edge of everything, all of the time. How much of that time will prove wasted?
Unless you seek to make a career out of being at the forefront of all developments, like Brian Fanzo, you need not jump on everything. And unless, like Shelly Kramer and Daniel Newman, a part of your job is to write for Forbes or other respected publications, so that can fully research and write about the latest advances, shouldn’t you wait to see what they and their peers say?
What if you are in the likely majority who can only grasp some of what these and other thought leaders report? Wait! There will be plenty people – call them second-level communicators if you like – writing articles breaking it down further, and in a context that relates more directly to your business.
Are we really nearing Web 5.0?
Have you ever started an article with one thought, only for a little research to completely hijack your thoughts? I started this article wanting to write about some conceptual thoughts for Web 3.0, then realised that in the minds of some, whatever comes next may be Web 6.0. I then began to question whether any labels should be applied to what is in essence, a rapidly evolving entity.
Once upon a time, web 2.0 was the hot topic. As inferred above, a little research shows that in the minds of some, (see this article by flatworldbusiness), we’re already at web 5.0. Each addition or metamorphosis, or so it seems, is being allocated a high-level release number by the academics who propose or review them – even if not by Social Media marketers.
This was my initial thought, which I still think is worth sharing:
We have all heard about content saturation, but what about App saturation? When every company has an app, and each of them requires it’s own real estate on a user’s chosen hardware, at what point do people run out of the space to put things or the bandwidth to cope with everything that apparently stands alone?
Web 3.0 – call it “The Integrated Web” – should be the assimilation of apps into the webisphere. It is a part of the cycle of growth complicating business, then rationalizing the growth, leading to simplification. I have written about this once before, in the article The Un-geeking of Data
It turns out that the Semantic Web was dubbed 3.0 by some, as is explained in this brief article (also a source for the following image):
The Web iterations, according to Flatworldusiness….
- 3.0: Semantic Web
- 4.0: Mobile Web (In fairness, the article does suggest that this is really just another iteration of 3.0
- 5.0: The Emotional Web, aka “The Next Web”
This is the interesting one, in my opinion, fully deserving its own high level designation (I contend 3.0 would be more appropriate). Take a look at this TED Talk, where Tim-Berners Lee discusses “the next web, of open, linked Data”
The comments in the article make for interesting reading. I particularly like this one from “Max”:
Web 2.0 and so on are really nice marketing strategies, but good definitions are rare and not clearly proven. For example there is the first web-based discussion system ever developed. It was created by the W3C in 1994/1995 and is called WIT WWW interactive talk. source: http://www.w3.org/WIT/ This is only one example of many. Others are eBay and Amazon’s review function (1995) which are also a kind of collaborative work and multidirectional communication. So we see that Web 2.0 is not an invention of 1999-2004 it exists from the beginning. Even if we look at the implementation of the HTTP. GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, HEAD functions exists pre Version 1.0 which is updated with 1.1 in 1996. Last but not least ask yourself, why does the W3C never ever named the “Semantic Web” Web 3.0? http://www.w3.org/standards/semanticweb/
Do we over-label?
Perhaps we need to step back a little here. Calling a web version, 5.0 instead of 2.3, if it is really a modification to the existing release rather than a truly new iteration, is a part of a broad multi-year trend. This is where things – could be anything – are made to appear grander than they really are. I will postulate that this elevation in importance by the presenters adds to the overwhelm of the broader population. When so much is made of relatively little, it gives the impression that there is more that we must learn than there actually is.
In a broad sea swell of change, it has become important to attach major significance to even minor changes. This is a natural consequence as people struggle to get their offerings and innovations noticed. But as with the mail you receive proclaiming the contents within to be of earth shattering, immediate life-changing importance to you, at which point do you simply ignore the loudest claims?
How does this relate to YOUR business?
The obvious thing is to imagine yourself as the potential customer, rather than the purveyor of goods or knowledge. Would the language you may be tempted to use, entice you to buy something, unless accompanied by firm evidence or high-level testimonials? Or could they go the way of the brashest junk mail? Do you have a trusted friend or colleague who you can run your words by before publishing them?
Do not claim expert level or great experience for yourself if your site or reputation cannot support them. And be very careful about claiming to have a breakthrough message or product, if you haven’t researched and proven that to be the case. To a point, humility is the best course you can take. Only to a point though, as under-selling will also cost you!
Will you weigh in here?
Perhaps some readers can relate some cautionary tales below?
Better yet, how would you advise people to straddle the line between over and under-selling?
Image attribution: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_creatista‘ / 123RF Stock Photo
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