Everything Is Dead, Long Live Everything

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 01:05 PM with 2 comments

There are about 469,000 search results in Google for the phrase “is dead long live,” which only has meaning if you put the same word at the front and tail of it. We have all probably seen this in some form or another – “AM Radio is dead, long live AM Radio” and so forth. The phrase is commonly used by someone to state that a particular thing – service, product, industry – is no longer viable, or is on the way out. In a lot of cases, the person stating this is in a position to benefit or profit from the successor to whatever they are proclaiming as dead.

When I originally scrawled notes on my whiteboard on this blog post, I had listed a number of industries, products and companies that I felt were “dead.” After looking over those notes, I realized that these entities weren’t dead at all, they were simply dead to me.

Take for example the newspaper industry. Sure, sales of all major daily newspapers are going down. But in rural areas, newspapers thrive, as they are the main source of information. Before you start hearing dualing banjos in your head, this has nothing to do with the people themselves, just try to get DSL or broadband Internet more than a few miles outside of a small town in north central Wisconsin, let alone even a weak signal on your mobile device! As a result, the mediums of the newspaper and local AM and FM radio are successful in these areas. There may not be a Tribune Tower in the center of these towns, but the handful of people who work there are gainfully employed. Even if you are nearby the Tribune Tower, it's not that people don't read newspapers anymore, there may be simply less of them. With the exception of the day after the presidential election, of course.

As someone who remembers a time before email, I keep that in mind when working with my own clients at Dunkirk Systems, LLC in the strategy and decision-making process for their use of the Internet. I work with graphic designers who understand both print and online – why create a logo that looks good online that you can’t possibly put on a fax cover sheet in black and white? Understanding that people who are not technically savvy still have credit cards and if it’s easy enough they will buy from your Web site is important not to forget.

So the next time someone says something is dead, you need to seek your own meaning in it. If what is being called dead or dying is what you do for a living, you may want to explore it a little further – the alternative may not be too much out of reach. Or it may be still viable but just not for everybody.


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