Last night I stopped by the Valleywag mixer, which was geared towards PR and Media types, at Apartment 24. I was curious to meet Owen Thomas, and understand what he was trying to accomplish by bringing together flaks for a no-host bar (heh). If you don’t know, Valleywag is the Silicon Valley tech gossip rag that everyone claims to hate but reads anyway. Recently merged with Gawker Media, it takes a decidedly “New York attitude” towards gossip, publishing juicy tidbits that you might expect to find on Page Six. The publication is both a boon and a nightmare to PR professionals.
Trending Toward Neophilia?
Owen talked for about 20 minutes about what he observes as an emerging trend toward “neophilia” – an obsession with what is new and uses the real-time communication service Twitter as his most prominent example, speculating as to why the service should be valued so highly and could potentially be a sexy acquisition target for big companies like Google or AOL. In a surprisingly serious post this afternoon, Owen goes on record with these thoughts on Valleywag and I can’t help but think, “is this supposed trend anything really new”. Ha! I must be a Neophile, too.
Self-help gurus like to talk about living in the moment. But if we are constantly documenting the moment in which we live, we stop being able to live in it. Sometimes the most important things happened hours ago, years ago, a century ago — but we are just beginning to understand how they mattered. Realtime? So 10 minutes ago.
There is Value in Capturing the Moment
After spending nearly two years explaining to people why they should capture their lives in real-time with Whrrl, the location based collaborative storytelling application I worked on before, I’ve had a lot of time to think about this. In my mind I picture the scene from American Beauty where they are watching the plastic bag floating through the air to some simple and moving music.
“Do you want to see the most beautiful things I’ve ever felt. It’s one of those days, where it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air and you can almost here it, right? And this bag was just, dancing with me like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes.
That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know that there was no reason to be afraid… ever. Video is a poor excuse, I know, but it helps me remember. I need to remember.
Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it and my heart is just going to cave in.”