I came across a blog the other day entitled the Slow Media Manifesto and after an appropriate period of contemplation it left me with a warm glow.
This modest fourteen point agenda from a group of German academics, argues that after a decade of intense consumption of ever speedier and impressive new technologies, we’ve reached a point of maturity where just being ‘fast’ is no longer enough. Rather the craft involved in production and the experience of use are far more important.
“Slow Media are not about fast consumption but about choosing the ingredients mindfully and preparing them in a concentrated manner. Slow Media are welcoming and hospitable. They like to share. Behind Slow Media are real people.”
This puts the focus back on the enjoyment and indulgence rather than just the new, for new’s sake. Think ‘Slow’, as in ‘Slow Food’ and not as in ‘Slow Down’. Innovation and change are still at the heart of the digital revolution, but iterative change that gets better with time should be a more sought after goal. Always in Beta is great, but getting better over time is best.
Being slow strikes at the heart of the dilemma we face, as we attempt to move from an agenda of short-term campaigns to 365 days of continuous engagement. It’s easy to talk about being continuous as a concept, but more difficult to actually sustain this level of intensity in practice.
“Slow Media are not a contradiction to the speed and simultaneousness of Twitter, Blogs or Social Networks but are an attitude and a way of making use of them.”
The problem with being continuous is that very few brands can afford to be ‘on-air’ every day of the year. As our planning director Martin Buckley remarked the other day, “Once you’re in, you're in. You’re not taking your campaign on to Facebook, you’re taking your business.”
What I’d urge is that we become comfortable taking our time. It’s far better to try ten things and have a modest impact with each, than it is to bet everything on a one-hit wonder with a higher risk of failure. Being slow allows us to learn from and improve as we go along, better able to find out what works for us and most importantly put media money behind the stuff that works.
Different attitudes are required. Sustaining engagement over time, takes time. As we learn to better layer-up overlapping activity into deeper relationships there will always be a place for the big set-piece bursts of creativity, but in a richer context more likely to succeed.
If you’re still not convinced by any of this, just remember the sage words of Ferris Bueller; “Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
(A version of this post first appeared in Campaign Magazine.)