Let’s Be Honest

I heard a short story on a local radio program this morning discussing the use of Traditional Media and Social Media. The story is not the part that caught my attention though. I got hung up on the use of the term “traditional” to define newsprint, television, radio, billboards, etc. I find it interesting (but not surprising) that the word “traditional” was used in particular by a medium that would use such an approach to market.

I’ve been intrigued by the terms we use and the meanings behind them and how that changes in different contexts ever since I read a wonderful book called Don’t Think of an Elephant by Cognitive Linguist George Lakoff.  Words conjure images and feelings and depending on the listener (or reader), “Traditional” can mean things like Old and Stodgy or it can mean Stable, Secure, and Comfortable.   Likewise “Social” can imply Frivolous and Silly but can also mean Heartfelt, Human, and Conversational.

Considering the source, I think the station was implying stable and secure but in doing so they undermined (intentionally or not) the meaning of “Social”.

These forms of media (“traditional and social”) really lend themselves to better terms or categories, ones more aligned to how they actually interface with people.  Might we be better served to steal terms from L&D where we speak of learning as being Push or Pull?  In learning we often tag events that are created, marketed, and mandated as “Push” and learning that is more open, available and self selected as “Pull”. The former is driven by others, the latter driven by oneself.

Radio, TV, Billboards, Direct Mail, etc are Pushed on us.  Interactions, conversations, and sharing Pull us in.

The terms may not be any better at placing a connotation in one’s mind but I think they are at least more honest.

The wind or the sun?

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveler coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveler. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveler wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on. – Aesop

Many workers approach collaborative tools with skepticism,  fear, or as a burden; “something else I have to check.” Others bring to the workplace their personal use bias and see them as frivolous time wasters. How are you addressing people’s cloaks of resistance? Are you slowly and gently radiating the opportunities and advantages or are you just pushing hard for rapid adoption?