Sometimes, it is good to gain a little bit of perspective on things and not get too wrapped up in the often insular world of digital signage. There have been terrible things going on in the world: the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan and the horrible aftermath; devastating tornadoes in the southern US and wildfires in Texas; uprisings and violence in the Middle East; flooding along the rain-engorged Mississippi; $4 gasoline; the Red Sox’ April performance.

The challenge of accelerating the flow of advertising dollars into DOOH from other channels pales in comparison to that faced by the Japanese nation. The need to find the equilibrium between DOOH and mobile is pressing, yet hardly as pressing as rebuilding in Alabama. You can be sure that Japan will rebuild, no longer how long it takes. So will Alabama. Despots and cowardly mass murderers will meet their fate as they always seem to. The common thread of recovery, rebuilding and redemption is the selfless and dedicated work of many otherwise unconnected people toward a common goal. Politicians call it “unity” or “coming together”, hoping to take credit for it. In reality, it is the human spirit that can not be repressed and that rises to any challenge when the going gets tough. We may need some of that in DOOH.

In the world of digital signage , we have lots of important work to do in order to optimize the amazing potential of our young industry. Sadly, the short history of DOOH is littered with shameless self-promoters, opportunists, liars, backstabbers and people who will say anything yet do nothing. Cynical, or all too true? Perhaps it is thus in the frontier phase of any emerging industry. However, I see signs that the human spirit will emerge here as well. The community response to the Japanese disaster was impressive, and from that was born DOOHgood, led by Dave Haynes. Bravo to all who participated! Both efforts are evidence that a community of good, and a spirit of cooperation exists in our midst.

I have heard the saying that “a rising tide floats all boats” used in the context of digital signage for nearly eight years now. Until recently, I was not sure that anyone really meant it when they said it, and that their own boat, be it dinghy or yacht, was the only vessel that mattered. I have had many conversations with customers, competitors, vendors and partners over the past several months that lead me to believe that folks are starting to buy into the rising tide and to look at partnerships, ventures and opportunities in a more holistic manner. There are examples of this in the more mature media channels. From such thinking comes innovation, and it is innovation that we need to realize our potential. In a marketplace that craves leadership and something big, the winners will break through the barriers of conventional thinking.

Despite the slew of industry awards given out recently, I’d suggest that the best awards will come from the marketplace, in recognition of creativity, innovation and a burning desire to advance the industry. When we work together, we can overcome virtually any obstacle. It isn’t like we have to rebuild a town. Or a country.