Bob Dylan — Bringing It All Back Home

Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Early ‘80s

The biggest name in a small industry is still, usually, typically, completely unknown in the larger public consciousness. No one knows the big names in, say, the field of entomology (no pun intended) except those who are deeply entrenched in it, their heavy hitters framed by a very specific area of expertise, their heavyweights still tied to independent rosters.

As members of those smaller industries, though, we lose sight of this. When your whole world is centered around an field like entomology or state politics or content strategy, you can’t help but see the area experts as something bigger than they are — it’s the classic big fish, small pond, decent twitter follower count kind of story.

This is me. I still remember being starstruck when content strategy practitioners would respond to me on Twitter, and attending the first Confab was akin to a pilgrimage, where every name I knew was suddenly there and accessible and yes, absolutely, I 100% made a fool out of myself at least once. It’s the “first time at Confab” tradition.

Mostly, though, we try not to be a bother. Despite the fact that our small industries redefine industry fame by cutting several layers of influence away from speakers and general practitioners — from the people you know and the people who follow the people you know — we always assume there’s something better that the experts could be doing. We always assume bending the ear of a keynote is verboten. We gasp jealously at those who have the guts to do it.

That’s how we think. We are there to gain influence from those who are at a higher level. We are there to leech, and to borrow, and to push. Gotta give ourselves a bit more credit than that, though — it’s not always just what we take, but what we give, even in the most subtle ways.

The questions we ask help signify direction and trends, and the answers we follow up with help determine what ideas need further work. Our own experiences are unique enough that they provide more facets to a concept’s full potential. When Bob Dylan finally met the world champion Beatles, it wasn’t just Bob Dylan getting ideas for Bringing It All Back Home — it was also The Beatles laying the groundwork for Beatles for Sale and, eventually, the twin masterpieces of Rubber Soul and Revolver. Both sides benefit, no matter how short, no matter how small, no matter what.

Those people — the internet famous people, from the industries you work in, or from conferences you’ve attended — they aren’t famous. And they are still learning. They want to talk, because you bring new ideas. Every person who furthers their little corner of the world is a person working on their side, and the potential for the two sides to part ways and make something even better becomes exponentially more likely.

Go talk to that person. They won’t mind. Then, bring it all back home and make something great.