Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Digital Experiential Divide

I've recently joined Twitter -- but this post isn't about that. Rather, it's about what happened after I joined, and the implications for others trying to move their businesses online.

If you're not familiar with Twitter, check out this video by Common Craft. As always, they do a superb job of clearly -- and simply -- explaining the basic concept.

And that's the crux of this post -- explaining basic concepts. These days it's not too difficult for most people to understand what a website is and why a business needs one (well, perhaps with one exception). And that's because most people have had experience with websites.

But many times the usefulness of a web-based application can't adequately be explained to someone who hasn't tried. But most people (especially business decision-makers) aren't going to try something unless they know what the benefit is.

How can you convey the concept of what these things are to someone with no frame of reference? Is a blog like a newsletter? A podcast like a radio show? Well, kind of, but not really.

I'm using Twitter both as a way to expand my social network and as a way for DCD Records to reach people. But when folks ask me what's new, I can't really tell them. Even some of my fairly Internet-savvy colleagues don't understand what Twitter is and why I'm there.

I've talked before about digital subdivisions. There's the big one among people who are online and those that aren't. And there's another one between people who actively use the Internet for many things and those that use it occasionally for forward e-mail jokes and visiting a few websites.

It seems to me there's a further subdivision among the active Internet users. There's those that follow the well-trod paths (visiting websites, using email) and those that are exploring the new services the web offers. And the problem is that the benefits of these new services are only apparent to those who try them.

But if your business depends on Internet traffic in a substantial way, then it might be a good idea to experiment a little. Not all of these new services are a good match for every business, but, hey. It's where the action is.

I'd be more specific, but well, you had to be there.

- Ralph

Day 40 of the WJMA Web Watch.

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