The world we live in is pretty rad. Just forty years after the landing on the moon, we can now zoom to the moon ourselves care of Google Earth. Yesterday, a clip from the late Walter Cronkite summed up to me how far we’ve been, and how far we’ve come. On discussing the live television coverage of the moon landing, he remarked on how he was “as much impressed with the television coverage, as with the feat of getting a man on the moon. … I decided, if we could do that, we could do anything” (From an NPR Interview).
And oh, how much further than the moon the last 40 years has taken us. As Cronkite went on to describe how the death of Kennedy was revealed by crawling news wires from the White House, bit by bit, I couldn’t help but think that today that same event would be revealed by real-time conversations on Twitter, complete with TwitPics and mobile video. Just forty years after television proved its potential by zapping live video down from the moon, that very medium is disintegrating in a thousand different ways thanks to a whole new generation of technology, a technology that will ultimately render the entire institution of CBS obselete.
We’ve talked before about the social as well as technology changes in the last 50 years and the tremendous shift in marketing from an outbound approach to an inbound one.
A generation of broadcasting has brought us from advertisers who made themselves out to be as trusted as Walter Cronkite while selling you a good that rarely met the expectations, to an environment where consumers are so jaded with that marketing that, ultimately, trust is the most precious commodity of all. After a long, bumpy road, we’re back to word of mouth advertising. Except that everyone consumer’s mouth is a blarehorn thanks to blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
I brought up that word, “Trust,” and of course the phrase that is inextricably linked to Walter Cronkite is “Most Trusted Man in America.” Several people have already talked about this phrase in context of social media, and lest I try to rehash their ideas, I encourage you to check out KD Paine’s Can Twitter replace Walter Cronkite as “the most trusted ‘MAN’ in America”? and
Walter Cronkite: the Original Trust Agent.
We’ll never again have a single source of trust that rivals Walter Cronkite during the Golden Era of Broadcasting, and while there’s a touch of sadness there, ultimately it’s a radical step forward for humanity. Now instead of looking to the media for trust, we look to each other. And all the tools here enable us to do that more rapidly, tweet by tweet, than ever before.