Seth Godin is one of the present day kings of the blogosphere, and for good reason. He has the cutting insight of a “techie” but his presence and assessments bespeak someone with marketing talent.
So his latest post raises more then a few concerns for me. Is it true that we’re all up against someone with so much passion (and seemingly more then a little time to spare) that we can’t possibly hold our own ? While Seth’s post isn’t quite that negative, I have a tenancy to abstract out more then a few steps (more on that in another post), it’s really my assessment of his point that causes alarm.
In sports we’re used to the idea that someone out there is “bigger, faster, stronger”. It’s something most of us take as a given, almost a requirement, given the prevailing passion the underdog inspires as well.
Yet in sports we know “anyone can be beat on any given day” and that the contest is a singular struggle of a finite duration (even with the many days of cricket). However, the digital world has shifted those economies of scale, now one can combat many and even if they’re “beaten” on one post, the sheer volume of “playoffs” suggest they’d trounce you over time. So does this mean we’re reduced to “one [view] to rule them all” or even just a pool of enthusiasts while the rest who “can’t compete” are left to watch from the sidelines ?
I think not, although it may just be delirium and bias. Open media, and blogs in general have already proven that “everyone can compete”, so to continue the sports analogy we know there’s no coach to take you out. Yet no one wants to rage against the unresponsive ether, so we must decide if there’s value in “less enthusiastic” participation ?
Given the popularity of knock-off handbags, we know that not everyone requires “perfect spirit” to pervade a product, in fact in today’s economy people are more then likely to buy a $50 drill then one that’s $200, regardless of how long either one lasts.
But beyond shadowy discussions of “valuations”, “opportunity costs” and intellectual property disputes, which seem to imply a “parasitic value”, I contend that “less enthusiastic” people provide value that enthusiasts can not.
The nature of enthusiasts suggests determination and focus, while “generalists” may have opportunities to provide “bigger picture” views, which does not imply lower value. It is hard to overlook an enthusiasts’ myopic tenancies, leaving those less dedicated the opportunity to innovate.
Seth’s correct in implying that you must have passion to succeed, and attention to detail is important too. However, it doesn’t mean you have to harvest your own charcoal, simply build your own lightsabers.