Why Are the Most Creative People in Business Skipping Out on Web 2.0?

FastCompany was, until fairly recently, a really good monthly magazine focused on design, innovation, business accumen, and success and failure stories.  It’s important to me to keep up on both technology and business (follow the bits with one eye, and the money with the other), and that magazine really rounded out my reading.  Now they’re completely online, and a daily email gives me a small dose of the same brilliant stories and ideas.  I certainly enjoyed the magazine, but I admit I’m very short on reading time these days.

Today’s post has an article on how the most creative people (determined by them, of course) generally don’t twitter or facebook or scrob or blog (though there are notable exceptions). The author’s theory is that it’s not the time involved that prevents them from publishing, but the lack of apparent ROI for doing so.  They don’t see the value in it, and powerful busy people don’t do things that aren’t going to benefit them in some tangible way.

Louis Gray, a seasoned technology blogger, blames the “corporate” mentality. Even though it seems like everyone (read: Oprah) is talking about Twitter, he says, the service primarily caters to young people and early adopters. Ditto Flickr and Last.fm. Older, more experienced CEOs and CEO-types–many of whom populate our list–are more reluctant to play along, especially if they don’t see any significant ROI on their 140 character missives. “We saw the same thing happen with blogs,” Gray explains. “Big businesspeople aren’t just going to start sharing themselves on the Internet for no reason. They need to hear about these services from trusted third parties,” such as friends, family, analysts and PR consultants.

I, for one, think this is short-term thinking (then again, a lot of what I see in the business world is short-term thinking, especially when driven by VC money).  In many companies, especially software houses and very small companies, the leading expense after personnel is sales and marketing.  It’s also the least fun thing most small business owners have to do.  I’m not saying JJ Abrams should be twittering about what he had for breakfast this morning, free (or nearly free) opportunities to talk about upcoming books, movies, appearances, cross-promotion deals, only make good business sense.

Of course the content has to be interesting, if not actually valuable.  For instance, Howard Stern was recently told by TPTBThou Shalt Twitter” to try to increase the subscriber base.  But there really wasn’t much to write about other than what’s currently happening on the show, subscribers already have that information, and non-subscribers will likely never even know about the Twitter page.  So 90% of the tweets are exactly what gets printed on the display of the satellite radio already.  I don’t see that as being worthwhile, either.

This is why you’ll never see posts on this blog on how I woke up with a headache or what I had for dessert the other day.  It’s why I prefer LinkedIn to LiveJournal.  I truly feel sorry for anyone who cares what I had for dessert the other day (other than my Doctor).


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