We’re Living In The Dark Ages Of Social Media

If you believe the media and social media “experts”, we’re living in the Renaissance of social media. Novel and creative campaigns like the recent YouTube campaign from Old Spice purportedly demonstrate the power of social in marketing. Hundreds of thousands of blog posts, articles, and books are written every year about how big and small businesses can leverage social media.

If we all believe it to be true, is it true?

No.

We’re living in the Dark Ages of social media. Here are four reasons why:

we value words over substance: look at the blog posts in your RSS reader or on Twitter. Most of the posts are social media 101 posts offering ten tips to use Facebook and Twitter. Even those basic posts often contain little real substance – most of them reflect the same 10 ideas, regurgitated and republished thousands of times by thousands of bloggers and journalists. There are gems too – but those are rare exceptions.

I’m not suggesting that simple is unimportant. Learning must start somewhere. But simple in social media has become the norm, much like artistic elements in the real Dark Ages reflect use of simple geometric designs and patterns.

we reward complacency: Popular bloggers publish post after post containing basic and uninspiring ideas that get re-tweeted hundreds of times not because the posts are interesting – but because it has become important (both to be social and to increase our followers) to be seen as re-tweeting something written by another person. We do this despite study after study showing that the number of followers doesn’t correspond to influence.

Again, there are exceptions – people who create inspiring, intelligent and thought-provoking content. You know who you are – you don’t need your ego stroked by hundreds of people re-tweeting your posts (although that certainly won’t hurt).

we value harmony over debate: when was the last time you saw two people active in social media disagree about anything? It rarely happens. Why is that?

Perhaps disagreement is rare because social media is, after all, “social”. But when everyone is promoting the same concepts (and content), there’s not much room for disagreement.

More importantly, people fear failure. They’re worried about not getting mentioned in someone else’s blog post. Worried about not being invited to speak at an upcoming conference. Worried that their audience won’t buy their next book about social media. And so they stay clear of disagreement and debate – at the expense of progress and innovation. This fear of failure can be very harmful.

we don’t challenge perspectives and traditions: rather than fight to challenge and change perspectives and traditions, we settle by convincing ourselves that we’re looking at the world through a different prism, when in reality, our perpectives are only marginally different.

For example, when we push the boundaries like David Armano did in his recent post in the Harvard Business Review - Fire Your Marketing Manager and Hire A Community Manager – we miss opportunities. We should stop looking for ways to make social media work for us and our businesses, and instead look for ways that we can work with social media.

Rather than thinking in traditional organizational structures (i.e. which person should be responsible for community management), we should consider how we must change our entire organization to empower our social media activities.

Rather than embedding social media into every customer touchpoint, we should be looking for ways we can change our customer touchpoints to better leverage social media.

But surely the media and all those social media experts can’t be wrong!

They can be wrong. And they are wrong.

Ben Kunz, writing about another subject, explained Folie à deux:

Folie à deux means madness of two — a rare psychiatric syndrome in which a delusional belief, or psychosis, is passed from one person to another. There is a story of a woman named Margaret and her husband Michael who adamantly believed invisible people were living in their house spreading dust. The craziness usually starts with a dominant person, called folie imposée, who begins imposing the delusions on others … until it becomes folie à plusieurs, the madness of many.

There are plenty of reasons to believe that the Renaissance in social media is coming. We’ll have to do better than regurgitated social media 101 posts, if we want it to arrive sooner.

We’re living in the Dark Ages of social media. That’s the truth.

  • Anonymous

    I find it ironic your post generated 22 retweets, but only one previous comment in its first. nnBeing a history enthusiast and having grown up on the prairie, I view the social media crowd as a boomtown of the Manifest Destiny era. It’s a new frontier offering opportunity to those who were previously fenced in, as well as those who have large interests in the status quo. nnOne thing that is interesting to me about social media is how individuals can now project their controlled, desired image to the rest of the world without ever meeting them in person. This has opened the boomtown up to anyone with Internet connection, computer, and inexpensive handheld devices. In someways, this boomtown has allowed for them to create or recreate their image, much like individuals back East loaded up the wagon and moved West to start their life anew. nnit still frustrates me how the web’s voracious appetite rewards those who produce content regularly – despite it’s rather inferior quality. But, Scott Belsky from Behance helped me understand why when I heard him speak about his book “Make It Happen”. The equation is Creativity x Organization = Impact. Discipline and execution is equally weighted to quality of ideas. nnHe cites Thomas Kinkade and James Patterson has examples of critically panned, commercially successes. That helps me understand why those who blog everyday and invest consistent energy to social media can amass quite the audience, even if they’re just pumping out watered down lists. nnI agree that we need to focus on encouraging an integration of social media into the organizational culture and encourage adoption throughout the team. To me, social media is the modern version of “alternative rock” – the standalone will disappear from the vernacular when the function becomes integrated.

  • Anonymous

    The answer is yes, we have hyperboled social media too far…nnAt some point the term “social media” got corrupted to mean all of customer relationship management — acquiring and growing relationships across all those people who can provide your organization with value. The brilliant Jeremiah Owyang is pushing this with his “social CRM” methodology. That’s a fine idea, but a little silly, because it is untrue — just as advertising or marketing or the web don’t control *all* of customer relationships, neither do electronic systems that help people network. My point with “folie u00e0 deux” is people like to believe what other people tell them to believe, so we get caught up in religious fervor over a new idea that has a marginally new framework for understanding the world (see “1to1 marketing” fanatics in the mid-1990s, the black-belt Six Sigma guys, etc.). The end result is we drink social media Kool-Aid, thinking this too will change the world.nnSocial media is another channel — one of connectivity, but only slightly more so than your current email system. It expands our Dunbar numbers of the amount of relational contacts we can maintain slightly, but only to a new limit, just as the automobile allows us to now commute 40 miles but not 400 to work. It’s nice that the channel has been a wake-up call for people to rethink how they manage their relationships. But channels were made to hold things — water, ideas, communications, streams of services, value or data. It’s not the channel that matters, it is what you do with it.nnI agree, Ross, that instead of looking at social media as a revolution, to be applied like a panacea to our business, we should “look for ways that we can work with social media.” It’s a very nice, new, shiny tool. Personally, I think it goes well with TV ads and a good direct-mail prospect database.

  • Anonymous

    Scott – looks like DISQUS had a few hiccups – and I had my first experience with their customer service. It was excellent. All looks to be fixed and I’ll leave this note up (although your initial note seems to be intact).

  • Anonymous

    Scott – thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m not surprised by the lack of discussion – I recognize that this is a sensitive topic.nnThere’s much to be said for discipline and execution, but I’m not sure I’d weight those as equal to the quality of ideas. I’ve heard Scott Belsky speak about his book and research a number of times and I agree with him that creativity and organization is important. But if we step back for a moment and evaluate the nonstop flood of generic social media posts, we must at some point wonder whether the “ideas” suggested by those posts have much relevance. It’s one thing to make ideas happen – and another to merely talk about the same ideas over, and over, and over again.nnI’m curious what you think about the comment from Ben Kunz – about the uncontrolled breadth of what we today call “social media”. Do you think we’re labeling anything that involves a few people talking online “social media”?

  • Anonymous

    Ben, I must admit that I haven’t given much thought to the boundaries of this “channel”. I suppose, much like cable television, the many flavors of social media could represent 500 channels – something different depending on your interest. Having said that – we’re not doing much with those 500 channels. It’s the same syndicated shows running on most of the channels.nnYour last sentence did get my attention. I’m curious about your experience with TV ads and especially direct-mail marketing. We’ve tried direct mail with crowdSPRING with pretty poor results. Do you find that direct mail continues to present a meaningful marketing channel? How does it compare to email campaigns? Would be an interesting topic for your blog if you haven’t covered recently…

  • Anonymous

    Judith – the last paragraph in Stowe Boyd’s short post in response to mine is spot on: “Find the good writers, the interesting corners of the Web with real interaction, networks of questioning intellects. Support them. Forget the rest.” http://www.stoweboyd.com/post/927104666/were-living-in-the-dark-ages-of-social-media

  • Anonymous

    Hayes – interesting thoughts. Thank you.

    I waited at least 17 hours (I could have done this at 16.67, but I was asleep) before responding to take the pulse of “social media” and we still seem to be in the dark ages.

    Many of the issues I highlighted are indeed problems in society generally, not merely in social media. And it might be foolish for us to think that we can easily fix them on social networks when society generally isn’t interested in fixing them. But…

    As you point out, pace is accelerating and at least in some respects, we have achieved some remarkable things – including that news now spreads amazingly fast. We have an opportunity – because of the added interaction and the added opportunities to talk and be heard – to leverage the technological tools in unique ways that promote creativity, innovation and progress.

    As for media vs. social. Lots of interesting viewpoints. David Armano, for example, argues that media isn’t social – http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2010/0

    Gary Vaynerchuk argues that the word media is wrong. http://garyvaynerchuk.com/post/894991073/the-word-media-is-wrong-i-really-think-much-like

  • Anonymous

    Good observations. I’m not certain that I agree with the generalizations at the top about the parallels with “different aspects of society.” The lack on critical and innovative thinking in social media circles is far more homogenous than we see elsewhere. nnBut you’re absolutely right that we’ve become a bit lazy – especially in the way we interact with each other (even if it seems that we’re actually interacting more often).nnI am curious about your last few sentences, particularly when you say that you “do things with social media that are impossible to do through email.” RSS feeds existed before “social media”. group communications, in the form of forums , existed before “social media”. Perhaps you mean other things…would love it if you’d explain.

  • Ben Kunz

    The answer is yes, we have hyperboled social media too far…

    At some point the term “social media” got corrupted to mean all of customer relationship management — acquiring and growing relationships across all those people who can provide your organization with value. The brilliant Jeremiah Owyang is pushing this with his “social CRM” methodology. That's a fine idea, but a little silly, because it is untrue — just as advertising or marketing or the web don't control *all* of customer relationships, neither do electronic systems that help people network. My point with “folie à deux” is people like to believe what other people tell them to believe, so we get caught up in religious fervor over a new idea that has a marginally new framework for understanding the world (see “1to1 marketing” fanatics in the mid-1990s, the black-belt Six Sigma guys, etc.). The end result is we drink social media Kool-Aid, thinking this too will change the world.

    Social media is another channel — one of connectivity, but only slightly more so than your current email system. It expands our Dunbar numbers of the amount of relational contacts we can maintain slightly, but only to a new limit, just as the automobile allows us to now commute 40 miles but not 400 to work. It's nice that the channel has been a wake-up call for people to rethink how they manage their relationships. But channels were made to hold things — water, ideas, communications, streams of services, value or data. It's not the channel that matters, it is what you do with it.

    I agree, Ross, that instead of looking at social media as a revolution, to be applied like a panacea to our business, we should “look for ways that we can work with social media.” It's a very nice, new, shiny tool. Personally, I think it goes well with TV ads and a good direct-mail prospect database.

  • http://twitter.com/scottyhendo Scott Henderson

    I find it ironic your post generated 22 retweets, but only one previous comment in its first.

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Ben, I must admit that I haven't given much thought to the boundaries of this “channel”. I suppose, much like cable television, the many flavors of social media could represent 500 channels – something different depending on your interest. Having said that – we're not doing much with those 500 channels. It's the same syndicated shows running on most of the channels.

    Your last sentence did get my attention. I'm curious about your experience with TV ads and especially direct-mail marketing. We've tried direct mail with crowdSPRING with pretty poor results. Do you find that direct mail continues to present a meaningful marketing channel? How does it compare to email campaigns? Would be an interesting topic for your blog if you haven't covered recently…

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Scott – thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I'm not surprised by the lack of discussion – I recognize that this is a sensitive topic.

    There's much to be said for discipline and execution, but I'm not sure I'd weight those as equal to the quality of ideas. I've heard Scott Belsky speak about his book and research a number of times and I agree with him that creativity and organization is important. But if we step back for a moment and evaluate the nonstop flood of generic social media posts, we must at some point wonder whether the “ideas” suggested by those posts have much relevance. It's one thing to make ideas happen – and another to merely talk about the same ideas over, and over, and over again.

    I'm curious what you think about the comment from Ben Kunz – about the uncontrolled breadth of what we today call “social media”. Do you think we're labeling anything that involves a few people talking online “social media”?

  • http://twitter.com/scottyhendo Scott Henderson

    I find it ironic your post generated 22 retweets, but only one previous comment in its first. nnBeing a history enthusiast and having grown up on the prairie, I view the social media crowd as a boomtown of the Manifest Destiny era. It’s a new frontier offering opportunity to those who were previously fenced in, as well as those who have large interests in the status quo. nnOne thing that is interesting to me about social media is how individuals can now project their controlled, desired image to the rest of the world without ever meeting them in person. This has opened the boomtown up to anyone with Internet connection, computer, and inexpensive handheld devices. In someways, this boomtown has allowed for them to create or recreate their image, much like individuals back East loaded up the wagon and moved West to start their life anew. nnit still frustrates me how the web’s voracious appetite rewards those who produce content regularly – despite it’s rather inferior quality. But, Scott Belsky from Behance helped me understand why when I heard him speak about his book “Make It Happen”. The equation is Creativity x Organization = Impact. Discipline and execution is equally weighted to quality of ideas. nnHe cites Thomas Kinkade and James Patterson has examples of critically panned, commercially successes. That helps me understand why those who blog everyday and invest consistent energy to social media can amass quite the audience, even if they’re just pumping out watered down lists. nnI agree that we need to focus on encouraging an integration of social media into the organizational culture and encourage adoption throughout the team. To me, social media is the modern version of “alternative rock” – the standalone will disappear from the vernacular when the function becomes integrated.

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Ben, I must admit that I haven’t given much thought to the boundaries of this “channel”. I suppose, much like cable television, the many flavors of social media could represent 500 channels – something different depending on your interest. Having said that – we’re not doing much with those 500 channels. It’s the same syndicated shows running on most of the channels.nnYour last sentence did get my attention. I’m curious about your experience with TV ads and especially direct-mail marketing. We’ve tried direct mail with crowdSPRING with pretty poor results. Do you find that direct mail continues to present a meaningful marketing channel? How does it compare to email campaigns? Would be an interesting topic for your blog if you haven’t covered recently…

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Scott – thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m not surprised by the lack of discussion – I recognize that this is a sensitive topic.nnThere’s much to be said for discipline and execution, but I’m not sure I’d weight those as equal to the quality of ideas. I’ve heard Scott Belsky speak about his book and research a number of times and I agree with him that creativity and organization is important. But if we step back for a moment and evaluate the nonstop flood of generic social media posts, we must at some point wonder whether the “ideas” suggested by those posts have much relevance. It’s one thing to make ideas happen – and another to merely talk about the same ideas over, and over, and over again.nnI’m curious what you think about the comment from Ben Kunz – about the uncontrolled breadth of what we today call “social media”. Do you think we’re labeling anything that involves a few people talking online “social media”?

  • Judith Copeland

    I am glad you wrote this. I have spent the past year reading and teaching myself social media and culling out the bright and imaginative and even inspiring people has been so difficult. Adding to the morass are those who offer to increase you Twitter following exponentially. I had to have a long conversation with my boss to convince her it’s quality not quantity that are important. Unfortunately, social media and measuring its impact has devolved into how many clicks or views you get and not whether you had something insightful to say. Please continue to rock the boat!

  • Judith Copeland

    I am glad you wrote this. I have spent the past year reading and teaching myself social media and culling out the bright and imaginative and even inspiring people has been so difficult. Adding to the morass are those who offer to increase you Twitter following exponentially. I had to have a long conversation with my boss to convince her it’s quality not quantity that are important. Unfortunately, social media and measuring its impact has devolved into how many clicks or views you get and not whether you had something insightful to say. Please continue to rock the boat!

  • http://www.hayesthompson.blogspot.com Hayes Thompson

    As I tweeted last Thursday:rnrnSocial Media usage and sales up 23493%, say Social Media Bosses, in a Social Media report released through Social Media. rnrnYou’re aware of the bubble, which is great. I wish more people were. For example, when everyone was tweeting about the 107% rise in Old Spice sales, I was trying to ask 107% from what to what? rnrnUntil you know what the raw sales numbers were, 107% could be what @psyblog calls false logic.rnrnIe. The same old marketing bs. rnrnSo, 107% rise from what to what? We’re still waiting…rnrnI do like your points, though. It’s not even like we need a fight – just healthy debate. You could be right about the word ‘social’ having an impact. rnrnBut aren’t lots of organisations debate-free zones, too? Especially when it comes to…don’t say anything that might rock the boat…rnrn…director level people. rnrnI love this idea that we’re just at the start. But who knows? Perhaps we are quite advanced. Perhaps everything will change. Just remember two things:rnrnTry to focus on reality, not the medium.rnrnEven if we are in the dark ages, it’s not going to take us 00s or even 000s years to evolve. Ideas and news of events that used to take, say, seven years to spread across the world now take perhaps 7 minutes (the numbers are less important than the factor, which is around 525, 600 – the number of minutes in a year). rnrnSo if you think that the dark ages were 1000 years ago, that means we will get to ‘present day’ of social media in around, let me see… show my working:rnrnIf 7 years = 7 minutesrnThen 1000 years = 1000 minutes rnrn= approx 16.67 hours rnrnTherefore I postulate that we are in present day, not the dark ages (remember what I said about reality?)rnrnSo while you seem aware of the bubble, I think you’re contributing to it too. rnrnI think the points you make are good. I just think they apply to many, many aspects of society, especially organisations, because they are social issues. rnrnDon’t get hung up on the media bit. Focus on the social, You’ll then see the problems you highlight above refer to society, not social media. rnrnSocial media just helps us see these problems a bit more clearly, because, finally, we can all talk and all be heard.rnrnPower to the people.

  • http://www.hayesthompson.blogspot.com Hayes Thompson

    As I tweeted last Thursday:

    Social Media usage and sales up 23493%, say Social Media Bosses, in a Social Media report released through Social Media.

    You’re aware of the bubble, which is great. I wish more people were. For example, when everyone was tweeting about the 107% rise in Old Spice sales, I was trying to ask 107% from what to what?

    Until you know what the raw sales numbers were, 107% could be what @psyblog calls false logic.

    Ie. The same old marketing bs.

    So, 107% rise from what to what? We’re still waiting…

    I do like your points, though. It’s not even like we need a fight – just healthy debate. You could be right about the word ‘social’ having an impact.

    But aren’t lots of organisations debate-free zones, too? Especially when it comes to…don’t say anything that might rock the boat…

    …director level people.

    I love this idea that we’re just at the start. But who knows? Perhaps we are quite advanced. Perhaps everything will change. Just remember two things:

    Try to focus on reality, not the medium.

    Even if we are in the dark ages, it’s not going to take us 00s or even 000s years to evolve. Ideas and news of events that used to take, say, seven years to spread across the world now take perhaps 7 minutes (the numbers are less important than the factor, which is around 525, 600 – the number of minutes in a year).

    So if you think that the dark ages were 1000 years ago, that means we will get to ‘present day’ of social media in around, let me see… show my working:

    If 7 years = 7 minutes
    Then 1000 years = 1000 minutes

    = approx 16.67 hours

    Therefore I postulate that we are in present day, not the dark ages (remember what I said about reality?)

    So while you seem aware of the bubble, I think you’re contributing to it too.

    I think the points you make are good. I just think they apply to many, many aspects of society, especially organisations, because they are social issues.

    Don’t get hung up on the media bit. Focus on the social, You’ll then see the problems you highlight above refer to society, not social media.

    Social media just helps us see these problems a bit more clearly, because, finally, we can all talk and all be heard.

    Power to the people.

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  • http://rallythecause.com Scott Henderson

    Arg. I had written a pretty lengthy comment that was truncated to a pithy sentence. Let me see if I can recreate it:rnrnAwhile back, I concluded that “social media” would give way to “media”, since it’s all becoming more inherently social. Just like “alternative rock” became an archaic when the mainstream absorbed it. rnrnBeing a history enthusiast and growing up on the Prairie, I think there is a lot of similarities between social media and the Manifest Destiny era. They’re both about pushing the frontier forward and having an opportunity to make oneself anew. rnrnNow that individuals with an Internet connection, computer, and inexpensive handheld devices can project their image to the rest of the online world, we’re dealing with the challenge of winnowing the substance from the images. It’s irked me for awhile that the web’s insatiable appetite for content rewards those who follow the mantra “always be creating (content).” rnrnListening to Scott Belsky, founder of Behance, talk about his book, Make Ideas Happen, I finally have come to peace with why this is. From his research of creatives, he’s found this equation to hold true: Creativity x Organization = Impact. This explains why James Patterson and Thomas Kinkade have created empires, despite their questionable craftsmanship. [Sidenote: I find it funny you cited this, too, without my original comment including it]rnrnSocial media rewards those who are willing to put the effort of publishing and creating even the most trivial content, as long as they are disciplined in churning it out regularly. But that’s true for all kinds of goods and services – the masses aren’t always the most distinguishing when it comes to quality and depth.rnrnFor me, I hold true to these two maxims: “Cream rises to the top” and “Run your own race”. Despite the tug of creating content regularly, I focus on building a string of pearls on my blog and other soapboxes I’m invited to write on. When people come across my content, I want them to pull on that string and find it laced with pearls, not slop.

  • http://rallythecause.com Scott Henderson

    Arg. I had written a pretty lengthy comment that was truncated to a pithy sentence. Let me see if I can recreate it:

    Awhile back, I concluded that “social media” would give way to “media”, since it’s all becoming more inherently social. Just like “alternative rock” became an archaic when the mainstream absorbed it.

    Being a history enthusiast and growing up on the Prairie, I think there is a lot of similarities between social media and the Manifest Destiny era. They’re both about pushing the frontier forward and having an opportunity to make oneself anew.

    Now that individuals with an Internet connection, computer, and inexpensive handheld devices can project their image to the rest of the online world, we’re dealing with the challenge of winnowing the substance from the images. It’s irked me for awhile that the web’s insatiable appetite for content rewards those who follow the mantra “always be creating (content).”

    Listening to Scott Belsky, founder of Behance, talk about his book, Make Ideas Happen, I finally have come to peace with why this is. From his research of creatives, he’s found this equation to hold true: Creativity x Organization = Impact. This explains why James Patterson and Thomas Kinkade have created empires, despite their questionable craftsmanship. [Sidenote: I find it funny you cited this, too, without my original comment including it]

    Social media rewards those who are willing to put the effort of publishing and creating even the most trivial content, as long as they are disciplined in churning it out regularly. But that’s true for all kinds of goods and services – the masses aren’t always the most distinguishing when it comes to quality and depth.

    For me, I hold true to these two maxims: “Cream rises to the top” and “Run your own race”. Despite the tug of creating content regularly, I focus on building a string of pearls on my blog and other soapboxes I’m invited to write on. When people come across my content, I want them to pull on that string and find it laced with pearls, not slop.

  • http://WangleCreative.com Le Wang

    I agree with the above poster Hayes Thompson about your points applying to many different aspects of society. rnwe value words over substancernwe reward complacencyrnwe value harmony over debaternwe donu2019t challenge perspectives and traditionsrnIf we take these out of the social media context, it applies to society as a whole especially in our corporate society where we want a bunch of complacent zombies all agreeing that product X is great and that everyone should go and buy it. Incite the next revolution, Ross.rnrnI also agree that there is much to be done to truly leverage social media and that a lot of people are just beating around the bush. As a photographer, I see the same Folie u00e0 deux phenomenon. At numerous photography meetups, people all crowd around the guy with the newest, biggest. baddest camera and ooo ahhh saying how great the camera is but none of them are creating anything innovative, just praising the tool. I see the same thing in social media–bunch of people praising it’s power but very few truly harnessing it. Sure, social media is encouraging people to connect, to let down their guard, and opening the flood gates to a deluge of data and information but we still have yet to realize its full potential.rnrnFor example, people keep saying “I no longer find the news, the news finds me.” Yes and no. I have hundreds of blogs/tweets in a stream but I still have to sift. What I want is just a list of the “gems” every morning. If I didn’t stumble across this post I would not have known about Stowe Boyd’s blog.rnrnI click one button and collect every article related or responded to this particular postrnI send this tweet, “I want to transfer money” and have my banker call me within minutes.rnI filter out all the bullshit from my twitter stream through a color-coded quality metric and display the best ones at the top.rnI do things with social media that are impossible to do through email.rnWhen will this day come? I don’t know about Dark Ages, but I think we all agree we have far to go.

  • http://WangleCreative.com Le Wang

    I agree with the above poster Hayes Thompson about your points applying to many different aspects of society.
    we value words over substance
    we reward complacency
    we value harmony over debate
    we don’t challenge perspectives and traditions
    If we take these out of the social media context, it applies to society as a whole especially in our corporate society where we want a bunch of complacent zombies all agreeing that product X is great and that everyone should go and buy it. Incite the next revolution, Ross.

    I also agree that there is much to be done to truly leverage social media and that a lot of people are just beating around the bush. As a photographer, I see the same Folie à deux phenomenon. At numerous photography meetups, people all crowd around the guy with the newest, biggest. baddest camera and ooo ahhh saying how great the camera is but none of them are creating anything innovative, just praising the tool. I see the same thing in social media–bunch of people praising it’s power but very few truly harnessing it. Sure, social media is encouraging people to connect, to let down their guard, and opening the flood gates to a deluge of data and information but we still have yet to realize its full potential.

    For example, people keep saying “I no longer find the news, the news finds me.” Yes and no. I have hundreds of blogs/tweets in a stream but I still have to sift. What I want is just a list of the “gems” every morning. If I didn’t stumble across this post I would not have known about Stowe Boyd’s blog.

    I click one button and collect every article related or responded to this particular post
    I send this tweet, “I want to transfer money” and have my banker call me within minutes.
    I filter out all the bullshit from my twitter stream through a color-coded quality metric and display the best ones at the top.
    I do things with social media that are impossible to do through email.
    When will this day come? I don’t know about Dark Ages, but I think we all agree we have far to go.

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Scott – looks like DISQUS had a few hiccups – and I had my first experience with their customer service. It was excellent. All looks to be fixed and I’ll leave this note up (although your initial note seems to be intact).

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Good observations. I’m not certain that I agree with the generalizations at the top about the parallels with “different aspects of society.” The lack on critical and innovative thinking in social media circles is far more homogenous than we see elsewhere. nnBut you’re absolutely right that we’ve become a bit lazy – especially in the way we interact with each other (even if it seems that we’re actually interacting more often).nnI am curious about your last few sentences, particularly when you say that you “do things with social media that are impossible to do through email.” RSS feeds existed before “social media”. group communications, in the form of forums , existed before “social media”. Perhaps you mean other things…would love it if you’d explain.

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Hayes – interesting thoughts. Thank you.nnI waited at least 17 hours (I could have done this at 16.67, but I was asleep) before responding to take the pulse of “social media” and we still seem to be in the dark ages.nnMany of the issues I highlighted are indeed problems in society generally, not merely in social media. And it might be foolish for us to think that we can easily fix them on social networks when society generally isn’t interested in fixing them. But…nnAs you point out, pace is accelerating and at least in some respects, we have achieved some remarkable things – including that news now spreads amazingly fast. We have an opportunity – because of the added interaction and the added opportunities to talk and be heard – to leverage the technological tools in unique ways that promote creativity, innovation and progress. nnAs for media vs. social. Lots of interesting viewpoints. David Armano, for example, argues that media isn’t social – http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2010/08/media.htmlnnGary Vaynerchuk argues that the word media is wrong.nnn

  • http://twitter.com/rosskimbarovsky Ross Kimbarovsky

    Judith – the last paragraph in Stowe Boyd’s short post in response to mine is spot on: “Find the good writers, the interesting corners of the Web with real interaction, networks of questioning intellects. Support them. Forget the rest.” http://www.stoweboyd.com/post/927104666/were-living-in-the-dark-ages-of-social-media

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  • http://nicoleyeary.com NicoleYeary

    u201cwe value words over substanceu201d & u201cwe reward complacencyu201d – Yes, just observe the number of people who retweet without reading the content first.nu201cwe value harmony over debateu201d – Do you think it is smarter to be more diplomatic and position differences or do you risk losing something in the message with that approach?nu201cwe should consider how we must change our entire organization to empower our social media activities.u201d ~ back in Jan, I was moved by this HBR article, The Age of Customer Capitalism by Roger Martin, itu2019s a shift from stakeholders to customers/end users, which means the shoes have to be untied, and entirely re-laced; can you “undo” a culture, like when relationships cross the line of disrespect, the reinvestment period is far greater than that of a clean slate. Coke, Johnson & Johnson are the epitome of sustainable businesses (both having gone through a huge product crisis) but they never had to change their culture – they had customer, employee then stakeholder; Is that even possible in a startup with investors? nnThis song came on this morning and made me think of this post (I read yesterday after mvLaunch) We ask the #wrong questions… http://bit.ly/cztWCg

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  • http://www.harrr.org/rrr righini

    we are doing “social” stuff in the wrong way. Your wonderful article “How Often Do You Ask Why?” has zero comments, while this provocative post have 67 direct reactions.

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