The PR BlogDigital PRDigital-FirstFacebook is our Spinning Jenny

Facebook is our Spinning Jenny

New times, new symbols.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

James Hargreaves inven­ted the Spinning Jenny in 1764.

He was a weaver and a car­penter, and he put his skills into invent­ing the auto­mat­ic weav­ing machine to make his work easi­er. The res­ult was the Spinning Jenny, a device that sparked the indus­tri­al revolu­tion in England.

Imagine for a second that Facebook is the Spinning Jenny of our time, a his­tor­ic­al mark­er of change in a shift that reshapes how we relate and communicate.

The indus­tri­al revolu­tion changed our way of life by restruc­tur­ing how we form soci­et­al groups. We became less depend­ent on a loc­al com­munity to provide for our needs and more urb­an. The digit­al revolu­tion has brought us a shift of sim­il­ar mag­nitude — nev­er before have groups formed and dis­solved so rap­idly and so free from demo­graph­ic­al boundaries.

Of course, the indus­tri­al revolu­tion wasn’t only due to Spinning Jenny, just as the digit­al revolu­tion wasn’t only due to Facebook. James Hargreaves and Mark Zuckerberg just happened to cre­ate some­thing that demon­strated to the world the poten­tial of new tech­no­logy. The chances are that future his­tor­i­ans will use Facebook as a sim­il­ar sym­bol for change, just like we refer let the Spinning Jenny illus­trat­ing the indus­tri­al revolution.

If you, in the early days of the indus­tri­al revolu­tion, happened to be in the tex­tile industry, you would be a fool to ignore Spinning Jenny. You would be a fool not to invest in some auto­ma­tion. And you must be smart about it; you must make money through­out the trans­ition while invest­ing in new ways to make money. 

If you weren’t in the tex­tile industry, maybe you had some “extra” years to pre­pare before your line of work became indus­tri­al­ised. Some used those years to design and invest. Others didn’t. They couldn’t bring them­selves to accept the inevitable.

To Spin Or Not To Spin - Inception - Spinning Top
To spin or not to spin. That’s the question.

Two ques­tions for you, dear read­er and fel­low PR pro­fes­sion­al, to med­it­ate on as I stitch this thought together:

1. Imagine your­self in busi­ness in the early days of the indus­tri­al revolu­tion, and someone came by and described the Spinning Jenny to you. How would you react? What actions would you take?

2. Despite being such a dis­rupt­ive inven­tion, you’ll have to go to a museum to find a Spinning Jenny now. What will the world look like when your digit­al tools are a thou­sand times more potent than Facebook is today?

Now, be smart about your Facebook strategy.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo


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