Culture of participation

The ironic thing about the culture of participation brought about by our newly networked society and universal(ish) toolset, is the fact it could edge many of us into a life of non-participation – i.e. non-participation in traditional systems. Whether we like it or not, there are certain traditional systems ‘successful’ people are somewhat forced to tolerate, in order to be ‘successful’. How many rich people do you know who truly don’t care about the small things that frame the world of business, entrepreneurship, social media etc?

As Marc Lewis once said to me, you can whack the ball just outside the line and scream like hell that it’s in and you might get away with it. Or you can play it safe and play the ball within the line. But if you whack it way out of the court all together, people just laugh and you fail.

Isn’t that a real shame?

We have a very tame idea of what’s maverick in the media industry. In my post about the ‘Future of TV Advertising’ I talked a bit about the offense of being deemed maverick for pointing out some pretty basic home truths about broadcasting. Ego-wise, people learn to love this sort of self-positioning. Speakers, authors, bloggers who comment on the future of any industry in a way that’s non-traditional revel in their maverick status. But it is really maverick? What would the world be like if we reframed our judgment? I think we might just find out, given that social media tools and connectivity now allow us to survive without physical participation in the system we’re influencing (somewhat paradoxical). Real mavericks now have the exposure to influence wannabes, which makes for interesting viewing and enough inspiration to tip others over the edge.

The word ‘alternative’ could (and I hope it will) take up a whole new meaning.

Now here are a couple of true mavericks:

Now, it just so happens that they’re in the extreme sports arena, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that they’ve dedicated their lives to a particular feeling of resonance they only get when pursuing the thing they love; and the fact they risk everything, because nothing matters more.

How many industry ‘mavericks’ can we say that about?

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