Thursday, March 18, 2010

This is MY idea...

From 1966 to 1968, Adam West and Burt Ward played Batman and Robin in the very campy, and very popular series 'Batman' for ABC. The series portrayed Batman and Robin as being very cartoonish, and often as inept as the villains they were chasing. DC Comics took its lead from the success of the ABC series, and began publishing stories in its Batman comics that were similar in stance and tone to the very funny and satirical shows being shown in the Batman television series.

About a year or so after the Batman series ended, a writer named Denny O'Neil and an artist named Neal Adams began collaborating on new Batman comics. At this point the Batman comics were still taking their lead from the campiness of the Batman series, and the writers and artists that worked on Batman comics were encouraged to do so as well. O'Neil and Adams not only didn't agree with this stance, they thought it was ridiculous. They wanted to see Batman return to his roots as a brooding force that fought evil from the darkness and shadows, not a campy superhero that fought in tights.

So bit by bit, Adams and O'Neil began to make subtle changes to way Batman was written and drawn. If a script called for Batman to appear in broad daylight, Adams would change it to a night scene. They made Batman more menacing to criminals, more violent, but at the same time, he became more cerebral, going from being bumbling in the TV series, to 'the world's greatest detective'.

Slowly, O'Neil and Adams took the idea of what and who the Batman was, and made it their own. Most fans consider the O'Neil and Adams work on Batman in the early 70s to be one of the greatest collaborations in comics history. In fact, much of the present image you see of Batman, in movies such as The Dark Knight, is heavily influenced by the work of Adams and O'Neil, four decades ago.

So what does this have to do with social media?

One of the complaints you hear often in this space is that there are no new ideas. We are all simply rehashing the same ideas over and over. We've become an echo chamber.

To a large degree, that's correct. But instead of simply looking for new ideas, sometimes it's just as effective to take an old idea, and make it your own.

Twitter launched in the summer of 2006, and from Day One, users of the site were suggesting to their friends who they should be following. We all did this, but Micah Baldwin was the first to take this idea and make it his own, with the creation of #followfriday early last year.

How often do you see someone promoting a post or work they have done in a blog comment? Many people do this, and many more people probably would LIKE to do this, but don't want to seem too self-promotional. Becky McCray created the Brag Basket on her blog, and solved this problem. She took an existing idea, and made it her own.

For as long as there have been blogs, there have been bloggers wanting other bloggers to link to them. We all want more links, and we all want to be found by more readers. This is why I started The Z-List in late 2006. The idea was simple, you highlight any blogs that you think others should be reading, and link to them. I took an existing idea (linking to other blogs, asking for blog links), and made it my own.

The point is, instead of chasing 'new ideas', how can you take an existing idea, or an existing activity, and add more value? How can you take that idea, and make it your own? Sometimes improving the wheel makes more sense than trying to re-invent it.

Pic via Cover Browser


stargardener said...

MY idea — like most ideas — is actually a collaboration of what I have learned via tweets and innovative social media-ists. (Interestingly enough, I actually find the courage to post a comment about it here due to your influence, Mack, and that of fellow Oklahoman, Becky McCray.)

My idea is to effect a change in the way solopreneurs view social media. To offer them opportunities (online and locally) to learn how to utilize and incorporate social media as a collaborative element of both their personal and business development. (Instead of viewing it as an exclusive club for larger businesses and.or a waste of time! ;-) )

I have worked in small business development for over 25 years. Remarkably, certain aspects of this segment of economic development remain the same — particularly in rural areas. There is a crippling notion that a solopreneur has to do it all. They end up in a bubble of long days and mind-numbing rabbit trails in search of a tools and ideas they need to operate and thrive.

Social media offers a profitable ROI — in countless ways beyond marketing. Especially for a solopreneur or rural business owner!

gianandrea said...

Mack, the quest for the latest hype is sometimes the burden of proof to show that we are the consultant superstar and it's a cool way to escape from measure our ability to deliver. If this was a good propeller for the birth of the social web, I think it's time to break the circle of the bla bla and prove that we can deliver results.

Unknown said...

Wait, did you borrow the idea of linking marketing and comic books from me?

Whoa, meta ;)

Mack Collier said...

Thanks for the comment, StarGardener. I learned VERY early on that the comments to my posts are often more interesting than the post itself. Thanks for proving me right with yours ;)

Becky McCray said...

(Hi, Stargardener!)

Mack, I remember a conversation you and I had years ago. I noticed that I was nearing 1000 followers on Twitter, and tweeted that it surprised me. You retweeted that, and vaulted me over 1000. I pointed out that it wasn't my intent, and you said that was why you did it. We are all happy to promote others who are deserving, but not self-seeking.

And I agree on borrowing and improving ideas. Keep an idea file, and borrow liberally!
"If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." -Isaac Newton

Mack Collier said...

I remember that, Becky! Yes I can tell when someone is tweeting their follower count to brag, and you weren't, so I was hoping I could give it a kick in the pants to get you over 1,000. Glad it helped ;)

BTW I still think more people should be following you, and I'm going to go tweet that right now ;)

Promotional Products said...


Great correlation and comparison. It is really amazing what we are trying to morph social media into. I hope that it turns out better that Batman.

ArtseyC said...

Mack, you struck a chord with my hubby with Batman talk. :) He says you are right on target re: O'Neil and Adams.
As a writer and artist, I agree that there is nothing new under the sun. Most everything is based on something else; a word, a picture, or an influence we may not even realize. It still takes creativity to re-create or reinvent. Like putting rubber on the wheel... otherwise we'd still be having awfully bumpy rides!

Bryan Stapp said...

There are so many ways you can add value to an existing idea, even if its just to summarize it better. An early mentor of mine got in my face because I routed an interesting article to the team without adding any value - where is the summary, where is the insight, what is your conclusion - she asked. A great early lesson.