Years ago, things were far more clearly defined. Bakers baked bread, students studied, journalists wrote articles for publication in newspapers and magazines, and PR practitioners squirmed, grovelled and bought enormous amounts of food and drink for them in the hope of getting a favourable piece on their client, or on their client’s product.

Then it all changed. The internet (and email PR, for in many cases, that’s about all there is to it) came and allowed us to see far more clearly and easily who was doing what to whom, instead of only seeing the results of all that frantic activity in print.

Today there are a few clearly defined “splinter groups” and they are more visible than ever before. A small group of PR practitioners are currently indulged in the theory of “PR 2.0”, a conversation which includes the usual tags like “the social mediasphere” and the like.

Now, I think that this is all very good, worthwhile stuff. The theory appears to be sound – there are some great minds at work here, but I can’t help feeling that it’s not getting anywhere. The whole thing keeps getting either sidetracked or hijacked by sideshow affairs. Many of them Microsoft related oddly enough. From the tech bloggers who were so very affronted at Edelman and Microsoft’s “long term loan” of new Vista-equipped laptops, to the fawning that goes on around the “bottle of wine as a social object”. I love Hugh’s cards, as well his take on brand and reputation management, but guys, it’s a bottle of wine with one of Hugh’s cartoons on it. A bottle of wine is a social object under pretty much any circumstances. Enough already…

Back to the point – I posted a while back on what seems to be the generally accepted poor health of the UK’s tech PR industry as a whole, on the woeful state of day to day relations between flacks and hacks, and fact that until these issues are looked at on an industry-wide scale, there’s little sign of things changing.

Like I said, the theorising and deconstruction that goes on within these conversations on the future of PR is welcome, inspiring stuff for the rest of us. Most of the time. On the other hand, there are relatively long periods where the conversation drifts into what seems a lot like one of those conversations that you can earwig for hours without quite working out what the subject of the conversation is…

Perhaps it’s time to get back on track?



The Anti-Facebook Club

July 23, 2007

Facebook is a dangerous and ugly perversion of everything that’s open and expansive about the internet. It’s closed and introspective nature offers nothing to its users except the self gratification of having amassed more “friends” than their friends have.

This is a trend-reversing, even history-reversing that era we live in. Information is more freely available to more people than ever before, it is a true democratisation. Even if that informatin is flawed or incomplete – it is still available where it previously wasn’t.

So why the need for an invitation only corner of the virtual world? Are the people posting to their Facebook pages just bloggers with greater insecurities than the rest of us? Are they lacking the confidence to openly discuss things with the wider world? In which case, is an email not good enough?

Welcome to the Anti Facebook Club – there will eventually be a poll or sign up thingy in the sidebar, for now – if you want to join, simply post a comment below this post.

Together we can end antisocial networking!

Further Reading can be found in the form of the excellent “The cost of (anti-)social networks: Identity, agency and neo-luddites” by Ryan Bigge