Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 16, 2009 9:18 PM

The Legacy That You Are Building

Do we all agree that the Internet is pushing us ever-more closer to a real-time information channel?

Based on the success of Twitter and the recent acquisition of FriendFeed by Facebook, it seems that there is some kind of groundswell pushing us closer to a world where everything is at our fingertips in real time. Some of it we will actively seek out, some of it will just show up on our radars through the marvels of new media serendipity. Either way, it's making news instances flare up to the top of trending topics, but with so much happening at once in many little circles of influence, it also seems like the flames die down in a much quicker manner.

Newspapers, magazines, TV and radio did something very special that is now missing: repetition.

Songs became hits because after hearing them multiple times, we couldn't get them out of our heads. If newspaper headlines told us that our cities were filled with crime - day in and day out - it became an ongoing topic of concern and debate. When TV stations gave us Seinfeld every Thursday night, that repetition became something that we would seek out and look forward to (if the content struck a chord).

It's not just repetition. It's repetition plus consistency.

This train of thought is important as you (or your business) venture deeper into the many online social platforms. It's easy to show support for a radical cause in one instance, be grumpy and tweet out some not-so-nice things in another and then act professional in another passing moment. It is one of the most amazing aspects of these platforms - the raw and real humanity of it all.

Just remember, that this is a living and breathing... and this is your legacy... forever.

Usually when you read a sentence like that, it serves as a warning (the whole: anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion). But - for this one instance - let's look at the other side of that coin. Fast forward your life by fifty years. Think about where you'll be, how you are aging (hopefully, you are done with work and just enjoying retirement). All of this stuff - the big (an ongoing Blog or Podcast), the medium (acting as a corporate evangelist for the company you're employed with or your pictures posted on Flickr) and the small (your tweets and Facebook status updates) are - literally - a fascinating play-by-play of your life in text, images, audio and video.

No other generation before us in the history of civilization was this well documented. That is a fact.

Whether you like it or not, this is your legacy project - make it count.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Nicole Filiatrault
    Mitch Joel

    Your point about repetition is very interesting. It drives home the need to perhaps be thematic in your approach to social media - if you want to make a lasting mark, that is. On the other hand, I guess you could make a lasting mark by establishing a pattern of being completely unpredictable and "about" something different all the time... but I think that's a lot less memorable and anyway counter to the way humans really are. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    Reply
  • Posted by Minter Dial
    Mitch Joel

    I love this post. Nothing like pushing the envelope and making sure that the conversation is at the 'right' level.

    Two thoughts prevail:

    First, creating your legacy is a great starting point for any career and life... at whatever stage you choose to tackle the question. I would equate legacy with life's ambitions. The earlier you go about understanding the legacy you wish to leave behind, the more coherent and consistent that legacy will be. At a certain point, though, if you are too focused on your legacy, you can forget to experiment and take risks (woe betide he/she who says my legacy is just "I only take risks.").

    Secondly, they say that legacy and/or history is written by the victors. As such, you can never be sure of your legacy unless you yourself are writing the history. And in today's world, the writing is more than ever splintered and scattered. We may be trackable to the nth degree, but one will need a superhuman effort to be able to put back together all the pieces to write the 'right' legacy. Even if google dumps out the x number of references, each comment is in a context... Herculean stuff to think about!

    Reply
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