Look, for instance, at the press. Stodgy, we say – why won’t they just try stuff, do some experiments? Then, bang, it’s 2013 and they’re experimenting and evolving like there’s a Cambrian explosion going on.
Have you seen, for instance, usvsth3m.com? It’s an experiment from Trinity Mirror – made by a small team of people who are used to being quick and funny on the web using established web platforms (Tumblr, Twitter, e-mail). They’re just trying stuff, and they’re actually being quick and funny.
Have a look at "Icefail", its parody of the New York Times legendary "Snow fall" web story. Or look at the feature The Economist stuck on BuzzFeed – translating its deeply important, deeply rigorous reports on significant things into the strange, pop-culture, listicle world of BuzzFeed. It’s a bit like your dad in his disco trousers, but I suspect that it’s actually genius.
The Economist on BuzzFeed is a bit like your dad in his disco trousers, but I suspect that it's actually genius
Or there’s the Financial Times’ Fast FT service or The Guardian’s #guardiancoffee pop-up coffee shop. Or have a look at the extraordinary start-up NSFWcorp.com, which describes itself as "the future of journalism – with jokes". It started as a purely digital thing, but has recently branched out into print – perhaps the craziest of experiments. And, last week, it raised money by holding a 24-hour online telethon-like event – taking calls, commenting on the news, just chatting. All the while connecting with its community and getting some money out of them. Trying things out.
Except now we’ve got to keep up. If we’re going to develop "native advertising" for platforms that change this quickly, we’re going to have to speed up – a lot. Can agency/client/media processes cope with this kind of inventive speed? What about the regulators? Be careful what you wish for – and hang on to your hats.
Russell Davies is a creative director at Government Digital Service