Digging Into RBC v 2.07

(Feb 20, 2009) Last night, I got into a long conversation about the meaning of "media", how it has evolved and what it means for the HR/HCM/Recruiting Industry. It all spiraled out of a round of appreciation for Rayanne Thorn's new vehicle, "Bonus Track". The idea behind "Bonus Track" (graciously sponsored by MaxHire.net) is to provide deeper insight into the business aspects of recruiting from philosophy to time management.

The model is a conversation starter, that might include an interview, coupled with a ripping good discussion on the merits of the topic. This is a form of training that was not possible before the web. This new media, "interactive conversation as courseware" is shifting the power base all over our industry. Recent debates about the value of motivational speakers with no immediate feedback loop are part of the evolution.

It's worth looking over our shoulders for a moment.

The idea of a "medium" comes from painting. The "medium" is the liquid in which pigment is mixed by a painter." The medium carries the pigments. Pigments supply the color, the medium supplies properties of adherence and spreadability.

Every definition of medium is a metaphor based on the physical medium used in painting. Media is simply the plural of medium ie, one medium, two media.

Radio is a medium, Radio waves carry sound. Record albums are a medium. Vinyl carries sound. Television is a medium. Radio waves carry video. Cable is a medium. Paper is a very important medium. Cassettes, eight track tapes, posters, PA systems, ink, and CDs are all forms of media. Each form of media has its own characteristics.

They are so unique that Marshall McLuhan is known for saying that "the medium is the message" (Actually, he said "massage") He meant that the way that information is transmitted profoundly influences its meaning. Take tattoos on your bottom, for example. That's the evolution of today's usage of the words media and medium.

A process through which information is transmitted.

Things really changed when media became digital. Up until then, it took a great deal of capital to create content and distribute it. The media was so expensive that only the wealthiest could broadcast, publish, record, write, distribute or recycle. The ownership of media was concentrated in a few hands. In general, they were the very spoiled great grandchildren of really interesting 19th century entrepreneurs.

The personal computer changed all of that in under a generation. What was once the province of the wealthy became everyman's playground. It's easy to do things today, like publishing a blog or posting your status on twitter, that were not even possible to imagine 20 years ago. The focus on the technology, however, keeps us from seeing the real revolution. Education, news distribution, creativity, experimentation have all become personal. We each are able to do what could only be done by corporate giants 15 years ago.

It's easy, fun and profoundly better.

So when Rayanne adds another Bonus Track, she is exercising a pioneering process. She's homesteading, as we all are, in a great new world. Our forty acres and a mule are blogging tools, netbooks and wireless connections. The amount of opportunity that has been thrust upon us is staggering.

That's why it galls me to see Recruiters acting like old fashioned media owners, lazy, spoiled and stupid. The new media fosters such quick intimacy; so, sending out mass quantities of bulk email is embarrassing for our profession. Spamming (sending many copies of the same email to a large group) is an ineffective use of the new toolset. It's a way of repeating the errors that were allowed when media ownership was concentrated.

We could be setting powerful examples of how to make social media really work, we seem to prefer the thoughtless imposition of our sloth on already overburdened potential customers. It's sad.

The good news is that folks like Rayanne are setting a more positive example.


I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Friendfeed. Catch up with me.

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