For years, Scratch has studied the compression of time and space between, say, a good idea and a better one; a thriving company and a dead one; instant success and precipitous failure and then (often in a reality show?) premeditated redemption. "Time's moving faster than ever," right? Sure it is, or at least if feels like that, depending on how much (food, content, stimulus, etc) you consume in a given period of time. But those who stop right there and land on "we've just got to move faster to keep up" -- are missing the point and will face extinction. The winners of the 21st century, so far, are those who obsessively pursue a deeper understanding of the ways in which Millennial consumers are calibrating their speed at every turn. Slow food and binge viewing; nap pods and Adderall; apps to consume more in less time and apps to fight distraction, the quantified self and the self #unplugged. Yesterday, Viacom's blog featured a post by Tiffany Knighten about CADENCE, a project Scratch kicked off last month to present new perspectives on the speed of life in 2014: "Open to teams across the company, as well as select partners and clients, the month-long installation – part research presentation, part museum exhibit, part art gallery – brought Viacom’s consumer insights to life in a new way. Cadence was designed to help visitors experience the unique approaches programmers, content creators, marketers and brands are taking to calibrate their moves in a culture that’s compressing time and space in more and more complicated ways." I've been excited about this for a while, for a few reasons:
- It's impossible to perform at a high level in the media business without a nuanced understanding of the velocities of culture. That sounds like a media executive taking himself too seriously on his own blog, but it's true. Most of us get it wrong, most of the time -- we're either ahead of the game, patting ourselves on the back prematurely, or we're behind it, fighting irrelevance. Stepping back to measure the distance gives us all a chance to catch our breath and look at things with colleagues and partners in a new way. Then apply what we learn to our daily work, whether we're writers, programmers, developers, marketers, designers, strategists, planners or anything in between.
- Speaking of a new way... it's exciting to see research served up to make participants feel the information as they move through it. Anne Hubert, Senior Vice President at Scratch, describes CADENCE as "truly immersive, a chance to experience life at Millennial speed, and to apply that understanding to everything we do.” Watching participants take it all in, explore the subject and raise new questions, I could see the need and the potential for bringing more subjects to light in new and exciting ways.
- An enterprising team of people from Scratch made this happen...from scratch. It's what can happen when provocative material doesn't want to live locked up in a PowerPoint deck in a conference room. The content itself inspired innovation in the way it could be manifest.