Recycling Past Success

I’m sitting here, in my parents’ living room (which also happens to be my temporary “social media living room”), watching VH1’s top 100 songs of the 90s. Delicious 90s pop culture served with a side of snarky commentary. When you’ve got nothing new to offer your viewers, sometimes it’s better to recycle the old stuff. The trick is one that VH1 has made into an art form—resurrecting decades-old content and packaging it with the perspective of present-day.

Recycling content can be a good thing—especially when it enhances the original product. We create something new with remnants of the old.

But sometimes, the desire to repeat past successes stifles creativity. It scares us away from risk-taking. We think, “this worked before, let’s just do it again.” Only, it never seems to work as well the next time. Lightening, especially on the web, never strikes twice.

That’s why my new years resolution is this: To learn from past success, but never to imitate it. Success, failure and everything in between are merely guideposts for what our users want (and don’t want).

Yesterday, I thought this problem had more to do with immersion in the work—too many RSS feeds and project management meetings. (Listen to the Utterz here.) But now, I think it has more to do with hitting “repeat,” when I should be listening to the users.

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