Before You Head Off In Search Of Something New, Consider This

18Mar09

“FADE IN: 

TITLE OVER BLACK: A Conversation at the Blue Stem Martini Lounge

INT. BAR – NIGHT

[JOE and FRIEND enter a shadowy room. They move to the bar and both take a seat. The two order drinks from LEFKO. She wears a subtly stylish shirt and a sly smile. After carefully mixing the concoctions, she places them on the bar, ready to serve and imbibe.]”

I randomly discovered 26 year old Joe Mietus’s Yelp reviews when I was doing a quick search for Chicago restaurants and he’s managed to change my perception of the site completely.

“Generations from now will sociologists and anthropologists alike find traces of Tai’s ’til 4 and question this subculture’s inexplicable reversion to a nihilist world view? Or will they simply observe the findings and think, ‘Well, I suppose every society has its scourge.'” 

He’s using his reviews as a vehicle for storytelling and his stories make it worth spending far more time on Yelp than I’d ever normally consider.

Joe’s use of the site along with other examples like Bud Caddell telling the story of fictional Mad Men character Bud Melman via Twitter and LinkedIn and Yokoo using Flickr as a photo blog to build her brand as a a designer are prime examples of Hugh Mcloed’s now classic cartoon maxim, “It’s not what the software does, it’s what the user does.”

We chase after shiny new platforms, craving cool, thinking that heading over to new hipster hangout on the Web suddenly makes us interesting as a person or a brand. And the whole time, we’re one gimmick away from completely missing the point. These platforms help tell a story but they are not the essence of the story. A compelling story worth paying attention to can play out anywhere. I’m not saying anything super new here but I recently heard another person confuse new platform with new idea and I thought I should reiterate the point.

Instead of just searching for new, new newness all of the time, we should consider that we’re one DIY hack away from finding fresh relevance for a site others have discounted, forgotten or limited for a specific use and wouldn’t that say possibly more about our creativity in the end?

By the way, you should hire Joe if you’re looking for a writer. And while you’re at it, he has a great band you can check out here.

Images above borrowed from here, here and here.

-Amanda Mooney 

 




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