The Dark Hallway

I heard a great quote today from a newspaper sports columnist regarding the emergence of the Internet and social networking. I was in the car at the time and couldn’t write anything down. Several hours later, I sat down at my computer and typed in as much of the quote as I could remember. Google came through and I found the columnist and an article with the same quote (apparently, he’s using it a lot!). Richard Justice is the columnist’s name, he works for the Houston Chronicle

“Right now, we’re running down a dark hallway as fast as we can go. We have no idea what’s at the end of the hallway because we have to keep trying to figure it out.”

I’ve told a few people that I don’t believe there are many true experts on social networking because the rules are still being written. How can one be an expert on something that is still changing?

Ironically I have a connection to the Houston Chronicle. Years ago my first real job was at the Edwardsville Intelligencer newspaper, which was and is still owned by the Hearst Corporation, who also own the Houston Chronicle. While I was at the Intelligencer, sometime in 1995 or 1996 the Hearst corporation gave a directive to all their newspapers which was something to the effect of “get online”. Of course, back then nobody really knew what that meant (eerily similar to the situation today with social networking, it seems). So all the newspapers basically just did what they could. For being a small newspaper, we at the Intelligencer did quite a bit for ourselves, and for a while we had a friendly competition with the Houston Chronicle, the other newspaper that got an early jump on the Internet.

Seeing how well the Houston Chronicle seems to be doing, perhaps the moral of the story is that the early bird gets the worm. Those who see the coming trends and get on board early will be in a better position than those who wait.

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