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IBM keeps selling solutions for a smarter planet.  Watson, the computer that won Jeopardy, they say, is the way to a smarter planet. I’m not so sure. Is a kid who breaks his front teeth stumbling over a fire hydrant texting “K” a denizen of a smarter planet? Is a gardener who uses the Web to find out Dawn and vinegar gets rid of mites smarter than someone who figures it out on his/her own?

Is the massive computing power in our pockets and backpacks and on our laps and desktops making us smarter?  “Mom, how long do you boil an egg?” Are social networks forming our “likes” for us?  Is this fingertip world making our bones weak and our sinew stingy? Let’s ask Quora.

Dude, I’m not going all Ted on you. Ted K, that is.  I’m just pointing out a trend we will all be seeing a lot more of as we leap forward in Moore’s Law chunks of time. It’s called roots. Etsy.com is a good example of the roots phenomenon; people making stuff with their hands.  Gardening. Cooking. Traditional music and art. DIY home improvements. These are all examples of the roots phenomenon.  Any neurologist or physical anthropologist will tell you that the way to exercise the brain is to use it. The way to a smarter planet is not to rely on computers for everything.  That’s a way to sell more computers. Peace.

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In a TED video I watched yesterday on the state of education, Sir Ken Robinson mentioned something pretty profound. He said most people are often “good at something they don’t really like doing.”  His point being, that mom-ism, “If you do something you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”  His broader point was students today are broadcast to, not engaged, and that’s why education is in such a sorry state.

Broadcast Selling.

I was mowing the lawn last night and thinking about this as it relates to advertising and marketing.  With media exploding into more and more, always-on devices (ding-a-ling, Good Will on the phone), and those devices containing advertising, the bombardment of selling is growing exponentially.  Moreover, that selling is being done by more craft-less people, creating the advertising equivalent of fast food — poorly constructed and not good for you. (Ads by SEO kids, videos by moms.) 

How to sell.

As a young ‘un in the ad business I drafted an article for Adweek that suggested people read ads to be: educated, entertained or to see something they’ve never seen before.  I think this still applies. We are so inundated with selling messages today we shut down.  Ingest too many antibiotics and you become immune.  Hear the word “quality” too many times and you become similarly immune. 

Our Job

Our job as marketers is not to say the same things with new messaging devices, it’s to educate, entertain and present the artful unseen. (In the 70’s my dad Fred Poppe used to call this “engagement.”)  Engagement starts with getting someone to let down their message defenses. My ramble.  My peace!  Happy 4th.

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