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Digital State: How the Internet is Changing Everything Paperback – June 28, 2013
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General readers, marketing, branding, PR and advertising professionals, marketing students
"It’s not often that you are glued to every page of a business book...Compiled and written by Simon Pont, who is clearly a fiercely intelligent and impassioned modern ‘Ad man’, he has thrown open the pages of this compendium to 13 deeply influential figures in global marketing, to give their views on how the internet is changing everything. I was blown away by each chapter, feeling humbled but excited as I read this delicatessen of insight and genuinely useful, thought provoking prose."
"Insightful, erudite and rammed with opinions, reference points and perspectives. Ours truly is a Digital State, and now we have a defining text that explains just what that means. Instructive reading for those who don’t just want to be the denizens of this digital state, but rather its trailblazers." (Craig Wills Executive Strategy Director, The Gild)
12 leading innovators from the worlds of branding, advertising and marketing give their unique views on what the future holds for consumers
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Contributions from interviews, essays and observations are written in the first person, making it easier to relate with. The opinions come from marketing, advertising, information technology, legal and media research and strategy and include veterans as well as young talents like Faris Yakob (Chief Innovation Officer at MDC Partners New York), Bettina Sherick (SVP, Digital Strategic Marketing, 20th Century Fox International) and Christian Johnsen (Communication Strategy Director, Aegis Media).
Pont decided to engage those who knew and respected, "maybe an Ocean's eleven, maybe a Dirty Dozen, maybe as many as a 15-person squad" and have them respond a few key questions: "What are we living through and looking at here, this vista before us? Just what's your view of the view? Specifically, what is the Digital State, and what is our Digital State of Mind?"
The responses are organized within this book, accompanied by Pont's contributions. He dedicates the book to the "Digital Natives," noting that the word "state" has a double meaning: "A defined and governing structure of some kind, and also a condition of [begin italics] being [end italics]; the state that we're in, whether as a collective or as individuals, each of us, all of us." This last comment reminds me of Seth Godin's concept of "tribe," a community with shared interests and objectives. one that -- paradoxically -- celebrates individual identity and integrity while demonstrating the power of great leadership to "create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate. They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow." The communication to which he refers is between and among the leader and members of a tribe who are connected by a shared interest, a common cause (i.e. "a passionate goal"), and a determination to create things that did not exist before, to achieve something that could happen but hasn't yet. Godin stresses the need for leaders with imagination. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, those who "dream things that never were and say why not."
These are among the dozens of passages of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of the book's coverage.
o Introduction, Simon Pont (Pages 1-5)
o Thesis -- Welcome to the Digital State et al, Faris Yakob (10-15)
o From Moore's Law to Thomas More, Simon Pont (34-38)
o Collaboration, Judd Labarthe (47-50)
o from "Thunk: 10 January 2000, 6:30 AM," Bettina Sherick (62-65)
o Christopher Poole and 4chan, Austen Kay (74-77)
o The Power of a Good Story, Christian Johnsen (86-89)
o "methods to dissect target groups," Hans Andersen (99-101)
o The "Near" Distant Past, and Social (Media) Elitism, Christopher Lockwood (106-108 and 110-113)
o The Future, and, Wider Issues, Tamara Quinn (129-131)
o A New Reality, A New Neverland, and, The Ghost in the Machine...Rebooted, Simon Pont (136-139 and 145-147)
o The New Normal, and, Where Next, Nicholas Pont (153-154 and 158-160)
o A "wild-eyed unquenchable thirst for digital knowledge and technical advances," Vicki Connerty (164-169)
o Five (Uncomfortable) Human Truths, Malcolm Hunter (179-181)
o The Promise of Freedom Followed by Paucity Through Hegemony, The Tyranny of Data, and The Path to Enlightenment, Greg Grimmer (190-195)
o Upload the Revolution, and, Reality Goes Open-Source, Stefan Terry (225-226 and 229-230)
o Epilogue, Simon Pont (231-233)
The value of the responses by Pont and his colleagues is best measured not in terms of definitive answers to the aforementioned questions -- there are none -- but, rather, as clarifications that raise other questions about what Simon Pont characterizes at the "cusp" of a "new age." In this context, I am reminded of the final verse of William Butler Yeats' poem, The Second Coming:
"The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future, edited by John Brockman. Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Chris Anderson, Nassim Taleb, and nearly 150 other intellectual superstars reveal how the Internet is changing our minds, culture, and future, in Brockman's latest compendium from Harper Perennial and Edge.org.