The Evolution of the Revolution

This is a concept I often discuss in my presentations, but I thought I would outline it here since I believe that a) it is extremely relevant and b) we may be on the cusp of another revolution.

Revolutions have littered human history as the tired, the worn, and the downtrodden have risen up and taken back control of their lives. The American Revolution, the French Revolution, and even the Russian Revolution are prime examples of the disadvantaged masses exercising their right to self-governance. As Wikipedia defines it, “A revolution… is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.”

There have also been several non-violent revolutions that occured that have fundamentally changed the way marketing works today. These typically occur because of some technological advancement that gives the masses broader access.

The first of these is the Learning Revolution. The technological advancement:

The Gutenberg Printing Press

The Gutenberg Printing Press

Before the printing press, the collective knowledge of humanity was held by a select few. Books were created through a laborious handwritten or block printing process, therefore, there were only a few of them existed and they were well guarded. It is no coincidence that the Renaissance coincided with the invention of the Printing Press. This allowed books and knowledge to be mass produced and mass consumed, creating a revolution in the education of the masses.

The second revolution was the Information Revolution. The technological advancement:

The Television

The Television

Although the radio was the first mass communication device, the television ushered in an entirely new level of information. It’s as the old saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Now scenes from all over the world could be broadcast instantaneously into millions of homes. Ordinary citizens had access to images that, before, were seen by only the select few. Television also provided an incredible opportunity to reach mass audiences with marketing messages.

The third revolution was the Consumer Revolution. The technological advancement:

The Internet

The Internet

With the advent of the Internet, consumers had unprecedented access to information. As Richard Saul Wurman said in his book, Information Anxiety, ““A weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England.” In addition, a 1987 report estimated that “more new information has been produced within the last 30 years than in the last 5000.” Think about how much information has been produced since 1987 when that report was written and 1989 when Information Anxiety was published.

At the same time, the information overload has caused a consumer backlash. 3 of the top selling technologies of the last 5 years are the iPod, Tivo (or DVR), and Satellite Radio – all advertising avoidance technologies. Consumers now have it within their power to control when they recieve information, how much of it to receive, and when they will receive it. Consumers have taken back control of their lives and the Internet has proven to be one of the primary weapons in the fight.

I can walk into a car dealership with the exact price the dealer paid for the car – including rebates. I can compare your prices in an instant with hundreds of other retailers, both online and off. I can read hundreds of reviews of your product or service that will inform me of almost any issue that I might have during its use. I can research any media story to see if you are telling the entire truth or omitting key facts so that the story reads according to your own political leanings.We are connected globally in ways that were never thought possible (see my post about Web 2.0 bringing the world together)

This has forced marketers to fundamentally change how they connect and engage with consumers. They can no longer talk at them, but with them.

Finally, the current revolution is what I am calling the “Publishing Revolution”. My friends Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell wrote what I believe is the seminal book on the trend called Citizen Marketers. It started with blogging but quickly spread to photos, video, audio, and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Even social tagging and voting networks like Digg and Delicious allow consumers to comment on what others publish. What is fascinating is that this revolution brings us full circle back to the days of the Printing Press, except now the consumers are the publishers.

Recently, I came across a company that now combines all of these technologies into a single digital publishing platform. YUDU Media is a UK based company that offers a bureau service converting existing printed publications into digital publications for major media publishers such as Metro in the UK. They launched a product called YUDU Freedom in about April of this year that offered the ability for anyone to upload PDF files in order to self publish a digital publication. This week, they just launched their public beta of their YUDU Plus product which now combines digital publishing with social networking, tagging, reviews, comments, and multimedia.

The Testicle Cookbook on YUDU - You heard right...

I was invited to review the new site and, to say the least, I was extremely impressed. In my opinion, this could be THE tool of the publishing revolution. I can upload PDFs, Word documents, and PowerPoint presentations and then add video and audio to the publication. I can tag and pull in web pages into my library and make my publications public or private. I can even search the library to see other’s publications and YUDU even has a mechanism for selling my content should I so choose. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if this were the next evolution of the blog?

To see how YUDU works, click on my presentation on the Consumer Revolution below:

The Consumer Revolution
The Consumer Revolution

How do you see the Publishing Revolution evolving?

*Disclaimer: I actually liked the YUDU product so much, I picked them up as a client.

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