Friday, February 27, 2009

Borrowed or Shared Capital - Isn't This the Point of the Social Web?

AdAge ran an interesting story today on the new Skittles website that has "floating navigation".

Basically, all this means is that there is a tool bar of sorts that exists at the top of the screen prompting you to different social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Flickr. It's a cool concept and plays off the notion that a brand, like Skittles, can be ubiquitous on the web, and be a catalyst for conversation with those who advocate the brand. What's interesting isn't so much this particular iteration of the concept, but the fact that the article calls attention to the fact that the site is strikingly reminiscent of other sites with floating nav. My reaction was simply, "And?"

First off, let's not forget that imitation really is the highest form of flattery. But we should also look at this a bit deeper. Thought leaders in design, web development and technology - folks like Shepard Fairey, Chris Anderson and Marc Andreessen - have always talked about how platforms and other digital pieces should inspire people to adopt and improve upon them. After all, this is what the social web is really all about. Further, sourcing these development communities in a collaborative environment is how we innovate as a business culture.

Community sourcing in product development is certainly nothing new. But what irks me is why major publications like AdAge - who get plenty of ad dollars from tech companies who are at the forefront of this innovation - would run a story like this. In fact, it's not even a story. A story would be something to the effect of how the navigations differ between various user cases past and present. Or, what consumer pollsters think about the experience, and what they would suggest to improve functionality.

The point circles back to the idea that if you have an influential platform like AdAge - with the power to not only convey key information but incite meaningful conversations around these topics - you should take the time to encourage innovation, not criticize it without further basis, even if you do feel the work is a blatant imitation of something else. This mentality is the very reason why many agencies are losing and going out of business. Let's just hope that more people see the light before more jobs are lost.

No comments: