Hype Machine

“He who has a thing to sell

And goes and whispers in a well

Is not so apt to get the dollars

As he who climbs a tree and hollers!”


This old marketing adage is currently being put to good use by a variety of electronic gadget manufacturers. You can’t turn on the radio, browse the Web, listen to the radio, read the newspaper or watch TV without being pitched iPhones, iPads, Androids, e-readers, and other assorted devices.

All of them are screaming from the tree-tops--“You can’t live without us! We’re ‘smart’ devices. We’ll make your life easier, better, simpler…”

But, despite the noise these companies are generating all around me, I can’t help but notice that one of the highlights of my week is always Thursday evening--when I get home from work and grab the current Sports Illustrated out of the mailbox.

More interesting, at least to me, is the fact that by the time I grab the magazine out of the box, I’ve already visited their Web site, kept tabs on their Top Stories and/or current scores on my “smart” phone and glanced at their RSS feed. Heck, sometimes I even know what’s featured on the cover before I get home (they post the cover online in the morning).

Despite all this, there’s still something special about putting the kids to bed, finding a comfortable (and quiet) spot on the patio and digging into that week’s features.

I know part of the appeal is the format. A glossy magazine is portable, lightweight and colorful. I don’t have to zoom, toggle, wait for a page to download or squint to read text my eyes are no longer capable of deciphering.

The other part is habitual. I know what to expect out of the magazine--I’ve been reading it forever--and even though I know the results of every event they’re covering, somehow their writers are able to take me deeper into the experience. In some way, knowing the result before I start makes the experience better. Or, maybe it’s just that they save their best writing for the print format (I believe that to be true).

I hear the same thing from PRB readers. Even though PRB can be enjoyed online, on your phone, in your Inbox, on your favorite social networking site (Facebook or Twitter), the preferred method is still good, old-fashioned print--though the numbers for the electronic options are growing quickly.

Regardless, the times they are a’ changing.

The hype machine is running full-tilt, pushing the pace and subtly (and not so subtly) changing the way people communicate, live, work and play.

Which means the communities of the future will be forced to hire a different type of leader--somebody who is able to harness the energy and talent of kids who grew up in the instant-communication age--kids who are able to, as Randy Gaddo notes in his article “How to Catch A Fast-Moving Train,” listen to an iPod, watch television, study for exams, text-message friends and carry on chat room conversations simultaneously!”

My guess is the days of defining success as the late John Wooden did are numbered.

Wooden said, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.”

After all, who has time for that?

Till next month …

Rodney J. Auth