Redefining insanity for the social web

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” -Benjamin Franklin

I’ve heard the above quote hundreds of times in my adult life. I’ve believed it. It makes sense. It has taken a residence in my mind. Forced me to give up when projects seemed pointless. An excuse to stop trying, to abandon the so-called broken.

Today I’m thinking this quote no longer rings true.

What if we’re just early to the party? What if the thing we’re doing isn’t broken, we’re just waiting for others to show up to make it work? What if doing the same thing over and over isn’t about getting results, but instead about preparing for when the crowd arrives?

The University was on twitter well before our students. In 2008 we were tweeting, but the messages weren’t yet reaching our intended audience. Instead of thinking the early efforts were insane, we added to it by setting up accounts for @admissions, @financialaid, @studentlife, @advising, @studentaffairs and many more. We played, we made mistakes, we learned from them, we prepared so that when the students finally arrived we’d be ready. Five years later, we’re doing the same thing, but getting much different results.

I think insanity on the social web is not exploring the possibilities of the new and shiny simply because it’s lacking an audience. Playing, learning and understanding before the arrival of the audience is preparing.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin

Well said, Ben.


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