A Recent History of Communication
Several hundred years ago, newspapers were born from broadsides and pamphlets, where information was aggregated and distributed, most specifically to a regional area. Stories were often personal, where many people knew the protagonists and antagonists of every piece. The learned people of a region stayed informed by paying attention to the distribution of various printed materials (as well as through private letters delivered through the postal system).
A hundred or so years ago, the telephone came into play. People used them to communicate. They were expensive at first, but then people figured out ways to cut costs, including the initiation of the party line (where people would all use the same service, but would use different ring types to indicate which house was receiving a call). Phones were very social.
Radio came, and it had a more broad reach. We learned about areas beyond us. Newspapers grew up. Television came. Nationalized content came. Syndication. International.
There’s obviously some good that comes from learning more about the world. I wouldn’t want to go back for anything. Having friends all over the world is really the best thing that ever happened to me. And yet, something happened with business communications.
Missing That Neighborhood Feel
With the ability to reach the masses came the disconnect between businesses needing to reach potential customers and any chance of personalization and localization. It’s hard to do both: reach millions of people and yet seem personal. Is that necessary?
We all want to feel important and unique. We want people to address us personally, to remember us. At least sometimes. I understand that we don’t need a relationship with our gas station (especially since they rarely have mechanics on staff any longer). I realize that we really don’t care to know our telephone company (until we have a problem).
Or do we? Do we like being treated personally? Is it too much to ask? Do we want these kinds of interactions? Which products or services do we want to be personal versus not?
Do we want that neighborhood feel back?