A Handmade Thing in a Machine World

There was a curious phrase in the movie The Art of the Steal:

“A handmade thing in a machine world.”

The line was used to describe The Barnes Collection of art, as it was compared to the large institutional museums that we are all familiar with.

This had me considering many of the recent trends in online media. That, while businesses are obsessed with systems – with things that can be managed, processed, and scaled – the following ideas are rare and appreciated more than ever:

  • Authenticity.
  • Local.
  • Community.

This is why the web is empowering individuals. Because many people feel encumbered by the machine.

Why did people react so strongly in favor of the actions of the Jet Blue employee who just couldn’t take it any more? Because many people feel trapped by the systems they are a part of. They want desperately to flex their own muscle, to take initiative, to not have to follow someone else’s rules. What is interesting to me is not the actions that the Jet Blue employee took, but people’s reaction to it.

How are you connecting your brand to your customer in ways that don’t just throw a “product” at a “need.” People often look for deeper connections to a brand. How are you doing that?

This is why social media is revamping how people interact, and how brands reach their audience. Not because it is “marketing,” but because it can allow three things:

  • A more authentic connection to the real people within a brand to the real people in the market they serve. It connects them NOT via commerce, but by a shared interest.
  • It gives people pride and context in their location, allowing them to connect in new ways with people and places that they are surrounded by everyday. It gives them a face in a crowded faceless world.
  • It helps establish and strengthen a sense of community, be it regional or virtual.

A quote I read this morning:

“The world is craving distinction. People are looking for that something a little bit different, that can’t be replicated, and makes us feel special.”
— Emma Bearman

How are you helping others feel special? How are you empowering them to not just to buy a product or consume a piece of media, but to have a unique experience that gives them pride?