- Caleb Gardner: The Zero Moment of Truth - Empowering People to Find Their Own Agency. Patrick Huey 45:40
The Zero Moment of Truth
The Zero Moment of Truth describes a consumer phenomenon that has emerged with the age of hyperconnectivity and the internet. Today’s consumer decides whether they will buy a product before they ever walk into a store or go online to make that purchase. They research it on Google. They “Google it.” What they see there on the pages and pages of information, the pictures and the reviews about a product will close or break the deal.
As we learn from Caleb Gardner – author of the No Point B, Co-founder of 18 Coffees Innovation and Change Management Consultants, and former Lead Digital Strategist for President Barack Obama’s Political Advocacy Group, OFA – the Zero Moment of Truth at its core is Google’s attempt to give you a “right” answer when you search for something on their platform. To achieve this, Google gives you the top results that match your search. It all sounds simple enough. But what if the information is wrong? Google can give you SEO and top searches, but it can’t give you critical thinking to evaluate the truth of what your top searches reveal. We’re getting more information, but not always good information. If you are searching for a sweater and the sizes aren’t accurate when it arrives in the mail, it may be irritating, but it isn’t determinative. But what happens when the wrong information is about a political leader of the country? Or misinformation about a person in your neighborhood? Or a teacher in your child’s school is wrongly accused?
Part of the genius of the Obama campaign was its ability to bypass the traditional media and talk directly to the voter. The Obama team created that personal, human connection that politicians don’t necessarily get from staged, moderated debates. Caleb and the team rejoiced at this capacity to create new channels of relationship building. It was a heady moment for the winning campaign, and the power of the internet and social media, to enroll millions of people into the army of those yearning for Hope and Change. Until 2016.
We are now left with the moral conundrum of what to do when the communicative tools of power are used to intentionally deceive, defraud, and hurt people. This was highlighted by two events that framed my conversation with a reflective Caleb. 48 hours prior to our conversation, the Department of Justice raided Mar-a-Lago, the residence of former President Trump, to seize back top-secret documents that could place the security of the nation in jeopardy. And Alex Jones was handed a 45-million-dollar judgment against him for claiming that Sandy Hook was “Fake News.”
So here we sit. At the intersection of Engagement and Truth. The Number of Eyes versus the Number of Facts. Which way do we go? As Caleb says, “We’ve given people more information and in certain cases we’ve given them more knowledge, but we certainly have not provided more wisdom. We certainly have not provided the ability to self-reflect or be self-critical.”
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