Lane control.

In order to maintain some sense of control, safety and to coordinate the potential chaos, major roads have lanes. Imagine if that wasn’t the case and a four lane motorway had no lane markings or organisation. Can you picture the carnage and free for all there might be? Its bad enough if you have ever been on a toll road or motorway with a 20 gate toll booth- going in and going out of the toll booth area is a moment to have your whits about you!

Regular readers to my blog might wonder why I’m writing about highway maintenance and lane markings. Having some rules in place- or at least some controls, aids a smooth journey for all users. Sticking in your lane helps others navigate the complex series of junctions, know where you can go and can’t go and sets up some parameters in which to play. Sound familiar?

Moving back into my normal area of comment- media- staying in your lane is important for many reasons. Now, sometimes this phrase can be used as a negative I concede…”You should stay in your lane!”, that is something different and perhaps for another post at another time!

We live in an over complicated and over communicated world. We are met, every day, by a barrage of messages, ads, comments, concepts and questions all fighting for our attention. It is impossible to manage, assimilate and sort all those messages to the same degree and so your mind triages them into categories of subject. For example, you know that The Great British Bake Off does cake and so your brain puts it into that mental folder, Grand Designs does house building projects, and Never Mind The Buzzcocks does music quizzes and comedy- and so might live in two mental folders. Its a simple system built on your experiences, that helps you access the information and know how to deal with it in the daily barrage. Things staying in their lane, helps them build an audience who know what they stand for and come to them for just THAT.

What prompted this blog post was a podcast. One of my regular listens is a pod which discusses “all things tech and business”, which I enjoy and find interesting- with the hosts’ views on tech and business being insightful, sometimes amusing and often giving me pause for thought. A recent episode instead was all about ‘parenting’. Now- this blog isn’t about a criticism and dissection of this one pod, or its subject matter (as it goes it did reference back to tech very loosely a few times), but it got me thinking about the wider “lane control” thing as I listened and argued with myself. Why would a tech and business themed stream decide to pivot to a parenting episode for one week- then go back to discussing Elon Musk, Disney and Zuckerberg? The hosts are both parents but then they both might also like wine, or cycling, collecting stamps or pottery!

One of the most dreaded phrases someone can utter for the healthy maintenance of your mental folder collection is, “we are going to do something different“. Your regular audience come to you for the normal. You are in the category in their head and they don’t have the time to reshuffle everything and recategorise you into different folders and reevaluate what you stand for. Imagine watching Great British Bake Off and they begin with, “this week we are going to be doing something different, we want you to make a workbench out of this pile of freshly cut timber“.

This week on Grand Designs we look at making a gingerbread house and making the best gravy for Christmas“.

Now to be fair to my regular podcast listen, the show was quite entertaining (even though it shifted in my priority listen as a result of this change, as it wasn’t what I had come to them for and so I listened to some other podcasts first and came back to this one when, and only if, I had time). There is nothing wrong with doing a parenting podcast at all- in fact there are many that are worthy of a subscribe, but they also don’t suddenly do a show about tech, or politics, or building a workbench because the hosts like woodwork.

Knowing the lane you are in, respecting that lane’s parameters and not scrubbing out the lane markings, thereby creating havoc for other users not knowing where they are is not the best for enjoyment or listener loyalty. I’ve posted before about consistency in programming. In my own mental categories, my favourite podcast under the “tech and business” folder now has an asterisk against it [*sometimes does parenting]- all of which weakens its ownership of the category in my over communicated head.

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Published by Dick Stone

Radio...its always been radio.

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