My Harajuku Moment


It was December 8th, 2010. I remember the date because December 8 was the day that John Lennon was killed and that story, a remembrance of his life and legacy, was the top story on most major newscasts that evening (more on that later).

December 8th was the date of my Harajuku Moment about Twitter.

What’s a Harajuku Moment? Well, first off, it’s not my term. I think the credit goes to computer programmer Chad Fowler who was featured in Timothy Ferriss’ new book The 4-Hour Body (affiliate link). It’s a moment of discovery that leads to understanding and ultimately to change. To quote the book:

It’s an epiphany that turns a nice-to-have into a must have. There is no point in getting started until it happens…No matter how many bullet points and recipes I provide, you will need a Harajuku Moment to fuel the change itself.

The Harajuku Moment is an epiphany. It is perhaps more commonly referred to as an “a-ha” moment. So, what happened that day on Twitter to turn on my lightbulb?

First, some facts. On December 8th, 2010 all of the following statements were true:

  • There was a website called WikiLeaks
  • WikiLeaks published a lot of private, secret and classified documents
  • A lot of people were pissed at WikiLeaks
  • The site’s founder was arrested and detained for charges unrelated to the site
  • Concurrently, payment providers like Paypal, MasterCard and Visa shut down the WikiLeaks merchant accounts
  • This virtually eliminated the ability of people to donate money to support WikiLeaks and its founder
  • There was a globally distributed group of activists called Anonymous
  • Anonymous aims to maintain free speech on the Internet…at any cost
  • Some people in Anonymous have mad computer skills.

December 8th, 2010

The group Anonymous decided to rally around the cause of WikiLeaks. Their chosen targets, Visa and MasterCard. A person or persons claiming to be with the group Anonymous sent out a call and coordinated a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) on the public facing websites of Visa and MasterCard.

I first read that something was up when I checked my RSS feeds that afternoon. Somebody, maybe Mashable, had a little blurb about the DDoS attacks on MasterCard and Visa. It wasn’t a lot of information, just that the attacks were happening right then. That’s kind of a big deal so I searched the Internet for more info. CNN, FoxNews, Yahoo!, Huffington Post…nobody had the story. After all, it was just happening. Perhaps they didn’t have time to write and post.

But I wanted information. Where to go? I turned to Twitter. I did a search on the hashtag: #wikileaks and what I got blew my mind. Tweet, after tweet, after tweet after tweet about the DDoS. Ten, twenty, sometime thirty per second. I couldn’t keep up with it. It was information overload.

Holy shit! Now I get it.

The power of the real-time web is tremendous.

Instantaneous communication with people all over the world in real time. I wasn’t just reading about the story, I was experiencing the story as it happened. I was part of the story. I was interacting with the story.

Think about what this means for businesses. First, never before in history have companies had the ability to listen to their customers like this. Second, never before in history have companies had the ability to respond to their customers like this.

If you are a business, company or individual that sells a product or provides a service; people are talking about you. Maybe it’s not on the web yet….but it will be soon. As the social Internet continues to evolve the conversations will move from offline to on…from analog to digital. Be ready for it.

You hear someone bragging on your product? Say thank you. You see that someone is having a problem? Offer to help fix it. You hear someone complaining about you? Ask what you can do to help. You hear someone complaining about your competitor? Jump on that new sales lead.

A Lot of Lessons Here

The WikiLeaks / Twitter saga has tons of angles. This post was about the realization of “real-time” for me. I took the business angle here. Hopefully later I’ll talk about the other things I learned. But for now, realize that “real-time” is here to stay. Those who are present and participating are much better positioned to win than those who have yet to have their Harajuku Moment.

What about you? Have you had your moment yet?

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