Venture Knowledgists

Or how the twitter bug is a few beats off key.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be working in the Internet space. Social media is bringing everyone closer together. RSS and widgets are making our lives more productive and there are some very cool web applications for people to mess about with.

Blogging, podcasting and social networking have clearly been game changes for how we, as marketing folks, do business. There are now new distribution channels for our messages, new markets and an increasing amount of invaluable niche audiences to communicate to.

Everyone wants to be able to use the new media, the social revolution to their own benefit and this has led to the rise of the venture knowledgists.


Venture Knowledgists are the ultra early adopters. The people who trawl the Web looking for new apps to try and then pimp to their colleagues, friends, family members and network.


Their raison d’etre is to be able to say “I was one of the first people to use XXX” and they live to able to contribute some sort of critical mass for the things they have a stake in.


Obviously their stake isn’t money; its ego. There’s no tangible return for being the first Twitterer or the the first Second Lifer. In fact, being first can often be lonely. Just try getting into your office/campus building at 7am.

Caveat Emptor

There is, however, one way that venture capitalists and venture knowledgists are incredibly similar – the failure rate. I’m no VC but I believe from what I’ve read, that if one in ten investments are a success then that’s a good success rate. VKs are in the same bracket.

For every Myspace, Facebook or Skype there are a tonne of useless Web apps that have been mercilessly pimped by the marketing industry. Things like Second Life and soon, I’m afraid to say, Twitter.

I’m not saying that we don’t need VKs — in fact they perform an invaluable purpose in uncovering new things — I’m saying that we should all be aware of their vested interests (do we need full disclosure?!) and put anything they suggest through a full level of scrutiny. Something all the young PRs/marketers should be doing anyway.

What to do?

So next time the Steve Rubel pimps the latest Google App or For Immediate Release breathlessly announces another user has been added to Second Life or Mitch Joel gives you his Twitter feed, take a step back and think why they’re pimping it and whether you can actually use it or not.

**UPDATE** Chris Edwards (not Green – see below), a journalist in the UK, has found another way for PRs to annoy the hell out of him. Yes, it’s Twitter which Charlene Li thinks will be dead before too long. I guess the backlash has started but I may see if the iStudio team can use it for project updates…

**UPDATE 2**

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5 Responses to Venture Knowledgists

  1. Twitter fits with a theory I have that people aren’t experiencing where they are at that moment, because they are using their phone/pda/iPod/camera to be somewhere else at the same time.

    I think it started with the video camera, when you were on holiday but not experiencing it unless through the lens. I remember being up the Empire State Building in 2001 and people were on their mobiles telling their friends they were up the ESB. Then there’s emailing/blogging from the beach…

    Now we have Twitter – which reminds me of when you a small child or new puppy keeps following you around the house all day, even when you go to the loo.

    Can’t we just enjoy a moment any more?

  2. Judy Gombita says:

    **UPDATE** I believe you meant (non-pack running) Chris EDWARDS of Hacking Cough….

  3. Ed,
    As I think I mentioned (or, as least thougt about mentioning; maybe I Twittered it?) to someone earlier, Twitter primarily plays off of human nature — kind of like blogs do (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). We all want to feel needed. That just has to be it. Other than my own nosiness, I don’t really care what others are doing every second.

    Yeah, unless people find legit uses for Twitter (see my post from Saturday), it’ll fade away . . . .

  4. Ed Lee says:

    Judy – I stand corrected. Chris Green is, of course, the (former) editor of IT Week while Chris Edwards has the hacking cough.

    Mike – Twitter may have some interesting applications but ,for me, it’s more interesting to witness the hysteria and inevitable backlash against the en vogue web2.0 service du jour 🙂


  5. Eden Spodek says:

    I’m not convinced Twitter is the be and and end all but I’ve found a useful as a micro-blogging tool. The challenge is keeping it useful for my blog readers while occasionally wanting to jump in to the Twitter conversations. I wish there was a way to do both without setting up multiple accounts or direct messaging. There are interesting/educational comments made by people I’m following. The problem is having to sort through some of the junk to find the jewels. ; )

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