The shiny object? 闪亮之物

2020.07.31

Reader question:

Please explain "shiny object" in this sentence: This one is all about priority, and it is so applicable to all of us in this amazingly distracting “Era of the Shiny Object.”

My comments:

This is the era of the shiny object?

Well, that's an apt description. Today, in the age of social media, our attention is caught in the moment, by what's trending, what's in topic. And the moment is fleeting. The trending topic changes by the week, by the day or hour. The "in" topic for now may be "out" the next day, even the next hour.

Anyways, under the circumstance, our priorities also change accordingly as we try to keep up with what's currently trending and popular.

And what's currently trending, what's currently popular, what's currently fashionable, what's currently "on", what's currently the "in" thing to do is the shiny object, something we're all attracted to.

Or distracted by.

The shiny object as an idiom, can be learned in association with the proverb "all that shines is not gold." Gold nuggets, however little in size, glisten in the sunlight. If you're a gold digger on the bank of a river, for example, your eyes will constantly by attracted by pebbles that glisten and shine. But alas, since not all glistening objects are gold, your time and effort might be wasted while you go for all the shiny stuff. Maybe you should dig deeper into the ground, as a gold digger do, but you're distracted by all the shiny objects on the surface of the earth.

See the point?

Yes, the shiny object stands for anything that attracts a great deal of our attention because of its superficial values and characteristics. In actuality, the shiny object can be misleading and a total waste of time.

The shiny object is also called the bright shiny object. People who fall for the shiny object is said to suffer from what's known as the shiny object syndrome.

Here are media examples, one of each - shiny object, bright shiny object and shiny object syndrome:

1. Beware of bright shiny objects!

That could be a lesson contained in J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy when we see characters who find themselves in difficulty because they have strayed from their moral center. Today the term “bright shiny objects” is used in reference to organizations that cannot formulate a strategy, or if they do develop one, they fail to adhere to it. As a result such companies end up chasing after things that on the surface look appealing but upon investigation prove to be untenable.

Examples of this abound. Companies try new product lines as a means of growing their business. For some companies, like 3M or W.L. Gore, introducing new product lines is second nature; it’s endemic to their mission but for other companies they are better off sticking to their core products and seeking to improve them rather than wasting resources in unproven markets.

But the bright shiny syndrome is not reserved for companies. We see examples of it occurring in organizations when senior leadership fails to provide the steady hand the enterprise needs. All too often executives have told me they fear when their CEO or COO travels abroad or even attends an industry conference because they return to the office full of new ideas for new products, or even new processes, that may be strong on ingenuity are weak on feasibility. That is, pursuing them would be costly, and drain corporate coffers. Worse, such a pursuit takes management’s collective eye off the target; they become distracted and as a result fail to act on their core objectives.

- Are 'Bright Shiny Objects' Worth Your Time (And Money)? Forbes.com, July 23, 2013.

2. Artificial intelligence is the thing right now, so naturally, any modern marketer can’t afford to miss out. In the latest edition of Confessions, where we trade anonymity for candor, a senior media agency exec argues that most clients chasing AI are mostly doing it for public relations, not business objectives. Here’s our conversation, lightly edited.

There’s a lot of interest around AI.
You have the senior-most clients, generally CMOs and even CEOs, who are trying to make sure their company is in the press, saying, “Brand X is doing something innovative.” And there are only two things at their shiniest point right now, and that’s AI and blockchain. The conversations start with, “We want to be innovative.” Then, there’s a big pause. That translates into: “I’d like to have some press about it and speak on stage about it.”

How bad is the misinformation?
I’ve had clients asking me how to buy [an IBM] Watson. We see a lot of this. We try to talk them down, to say there’s a lot of this that’s based on promise, not reality. The year of mobile is a perfect example of that. Until the phones became widely distributed and platforms emerged to use them, it was just talk.

Is there even agreement on what AI is in the first place?
There are as many definitions as there are grains of sand on the beach — like programmatic, it’s become a word that has many meanings.

Will AI mature into something important?
I’m hugely bullish that it’ll transform our business, but I’m realistic. If you have very large data sets, these algorithms can process them in a way that humans can’t figure out, like understanding how to bid on programmatic for different kinds of audiences. The problem is, very few clients have their data act together. So they all want to try AI, but they don’t have anything to feed it.

...

What’s the cost of all this chasing shiny objects?
I think some chasing the shiny object is healthy because even if don’t get all the way there, we get down the path. The cost is that some programs that we know are working get starved a little. The money’s always coming from somewhere. Most will cut the print budget — that’s the first cupboard that gets raided — or the platforms they’ve had a long time. We do spend a lot of time chasing down different opportunities that turn out not to be a thing.

- ‘It’s a lot of chasing shiny objects’: Confessions of an agency exec on AI, by Lucia Moses, March 9,2018.

3. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump used some of his time at an important press conference to take a shot at Steve Kerr over the Golden State Warriors coach opting to give the situation between the NBA and China more thought before he gave an answer.

Trump said that Kerr "was like a little boy, he was so scared to be even answering the question. He couldn't answer the question — he was shaking, 'Oh, oh, oh, I don't know. I don't know. He didn't know how to answer the question, and yet he'll talk about the United States very badly."

Kerr, of course, wasn't shaking like a little boy when he spoke.

On Thursday, Kerr addressed Trump's comments. The Warriors coach brought up a story about when he and his mom were invited to the White House in 1984 by President Ronald Regan shortly after Kerr's dad was killed in a terrorist attack.

Kerr's father, if you didn't know, was assassinated while serving as the president of American University in Lebanon.

Here's Kerr's thoughtful answer, in which he says he was the "shiny object" for Trump to be mad at that day, saying, "mainly just because it was me. Then you stop and you think, this is just every day. This is just another day. I was the shiny object yesterday. There was another one today, there will be a new one tomorrow. And the circus will go on. It's just strange, but it happened."

Kerr hopes in 2020 we can have someone in office who can bring America back together again.

- Steve Kerr Has Thoughtful Response To Donald Trump: ‘ I Was The Shiny Object Yesterday’, SportsLifeTale.com, October 11, 2019.

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About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


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