Seth Godin posted one of his trademark short esoteric blog entries today, this one about the “depersonalization of mass media:”

Organizations will work tirelessly to de-personalize every communication medium they encounter.

Radio ads used to be live, personal and spoken by an individual.
TV ads used to feature actual people, demonstrating something, usually live.
Phone calls involved a live speaker, talking, with permission, to another person.
Email used to be honest interactions between consenting adults.
Facebook pages (and Wikipedia, too) were built by people, not staffs.
Twits came from real people, and so did instant messages.

One by one, the mass marketers have insisted on robocalling, spamming, jingling and lying their way into our lives. The pronoun morphs from “you” to “me” to “us” to “the corporation” …

The public works tirelessly to flee to actual interactions between real people, and our organizations work even more diligently (and with more leverage) to corporatize and anonymize the interactions.

The irony, of course, is that an organization with guts can go in the opposite direction and win.

My name is Seth Godin and I approved this message.

Here’s the thing – this is an easy post to make. It sounds very pro-consumer, and in the world of PR, marketing, advertising, and even customer service this is what’s called outside the box thinking. That’s fine, that’s good, and admittedly needed in that business.

There’s a very Luddite undertone to all this. Everything he’s listed after TV ads could also be classified as anti-automation. This is a wrong message to send.

Automation isn’t automatically bad, and without it, our lives would be a great deal more difficult.

Software and hardware technology is rapidly approaching the level where in limited interaction situations, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a human and computer. Don’t believe me? Hit “0” on your land-line phone and ask for the DSL support department. Most of the time, that system is completely automated by computers.

In other situations, computer guided interaction is far more efficient than dealing with a human for both the company involved as well as the consumer. Again, don’t believe me? Dial 1-800-GOOG-411, and get the number for the gas station on the corner. Try to do that talking to nothing but humans, and you’ll end up on hold for at least a half hour, and spend around 15 minutes while the operator for the gas station’s parent company tries to figure out exactly what state you’re calling from, let alone what neighborhood.

We have the technology to intelligently apply in ways that make our customers’ and potential customers’ lives simpler, more enjoyable, and yes – even more personalized.

Technology and automation isn’t the bad guy. It’s your friend.

All I’m sayin’ is don’t blame the robots – haven’t you seen Terminator? Not a good idea.

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