News at the speed of light

My dad didn’t wake up this morning. I’m sure you’ll all hear about it. It hasn’t yet hit me but it’s about to.” This was a tweet from Billy Mays’ Jr. breaking the news of the death of his father, legendary pitch man Billy Mays on Sunday June 28th 2009.

Just to get a sense of the speed at which news travels today, consider that it used to take weeks for word to spread to other parts of the country and months for some parts of the world.   News of Michael Jackson’s death was spread before he was officially pronounced dead and news of the legendary pitch man’s was broken by his son’s tweet ”

At the turn of the century the outbreak of World War I was said to have been hastened or even partly contributed to by the “speed” of the telegraph.   The telegraph had only then be introduced and before that leaders had weeks in between communications to reflect, consult, deliberate before they made decisions.

Because of technology, reputable news organizations like the New York Times can no longer wait to have a story corroborated by three independent sources.   If they want to be on the edge of breaking news, if they wish to stay relevant they have to go immediately with what’s being talked about and passed around by (gulp) us!

What this means to not just news, but business, marketing, politics, is not yet understood by the players in these areas, and they struggle to cope.  News organizations are being forced to adapt or perish.  Many are perishing.

How is this relevant to us?  That’s a question you must actively ask yourself.  For me it’s an indication that we can’t step aside and say “I’m not participating in this computer/internet thing,” or “That’s for young people”, or “It won’t affect me.”  Business models are dying and new ones are popping up and we must develop the skills to move from job to job, career to career, business model to business model.  We must develop the skill to leap and create our own landing spot while we’re in mid-air.  This is the world we live-in.  This is the world your children must master if they are to live well not just survive.

Any thoughts? Contributions/acknowledgments welcome.