Poor Seth Godin. Forced to watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians” rather than making art. Prevented from making a long-term commitment because data types are obsessed with the short-term. Forced to compromise in a race to the bottom rather than shaking up the status quo.
Yes, life is hard for a multi-millionaire who helped to launch the consent economy with his 1999 book, “Permission Marketing”. At least, that is the impression he gives in a new blog post. With more than a whiff of elitism and little sense of the amazing changes being wrought by data, Seth comes across as rather out of touch (not least by equating data solely with click metrics).
So let’s take a look at a few places where art, innovation and long-term commitments are being driven by data. What’s more, examples of change and breakthrough, rather than just convergence to the average or the lowest common denominator.
Let’s start with the Kardashians whose success, according to Seth, is entirely the fault of data. Looking back to before the ratings success began 12 series ago, did the data really tell E! network it would be an international breakout hit? At best, the channel had some indicators from social networks that some of the family members were popular. (Seth doesn’t do Twitter, by the way. Despite a Klout score of 79, the account bearing his name is just an automatic feed from his blog.)
So network chiefs had to look at the available data and make a brave - let’s call it creative - programming decision to invest in the show. It paid off. It also means E! can back it’s daily news show which undoubtedly does not rate. One long-term commitment supporting another.
What about another pioneering area of art - the realm of computer games? (Please take any argument you have with the idea this is not a creative industry elsewhere.) Minecraft is a hugely-successful game which creates landscapes using open data from the UK’s Environment Agency. Players have even requested access to the data to help them build their own realistic worlds.
If you want to see how access to more data challenges the status quo, go to Burkina Faso and see how the release of open data gave that country what is widely held to be its freest and fairest election in 30 years.
Sure, there are problems, such as the ads that follow Seth around the internet as he looks for relevance and an outlet for his artistic talents. Managements do not always use the data they receive wisely and creatively, but often just optimise their ad spend using it. But often, that is what helps them generate the cash they go on to invest in connected devices, smart services, freemium products and the rest of the data-driven solutions now coming to market.
Face it, Seth, what you really need is to understand more about data, not less. Here’s hoping…
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