Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Social Media: Are You Open to Interpretation?

I like Twitter; In my opinion, Microblogging is the future, but that's another post... The Twitter concept is simple; users are given 140 characters to convey themselves. Clearly the character restriction can pose a limitation upon a user, constraining their ability to effectively convey themselves. A number of organisations have appeared which address this limitation through the provision of a simply URL shortening service. My favourite URL shortening service is which, in addition to URL shortening facilities, allows users to track clicks on each of the miniature URL's submitted to Twitter. I regularly follow the statistics on the links which I submit to ensure that my contributions remain relevant. Whilst checking these links today, I noted that one of my links had attracted more attention than any of my prior submissions. The post in question was a link to an article on Obama's use of the Social Media, by one Andrew Keen...

For those unfamiliar with Andrew Keen, I would recommend picking up a copy of the book 'Cult of the Amateur'. Keen has achieved a position of notoriety within the digital community for his outspoken views on the Social Media, and the impact thereof upon world culture. In the world of Social Media, the comments more often than not are massively one sided in favour of the benefits of the Social Media. Although I must admit that I fall closer to the pro-social media side of the fence, I find the perspective of many evangelists somewhat blinkered. As such, it is often refreshing to examine alternate view points such as those offered by critics, and to develop one's understanding of a topic that is still arguably in its infancy.

Although this particular post was nothing overly remarkably, when posted to Twitter the URL achieved over twice as many clicks as any of my prior submissions. The tweet, which simply stated 'Andrew Keen's Thoughts on Obama and the Internet', clearly offered potential value to a number of those within my network of follows. Arguably the comments drew a proportion of interest from the Twittering community familiar with Keen, however I like to think that these figures illustrate something else. Occasionally, I am concerned that as social media advocates, we overlook contrary views to our own; an issue which I addressed in a previous post. Not for the first time, I think the figures discussed above prove me wrong...

The interest in Keen's post highlights a desire to understand views which differ from our own; an important element of developing our knowledge of the social media. Whilst any discussion will invariably draw strong proponents in either corner, the adoption of unwaivering belief in our own points of view will result in a flawed understanding of the subject. In order to truly consider ourselves experts, we must possess a knowledge of both sides of the equation, recognising and understanding the contributions of social media critics, such as Keen. Who knows, you might learn something new...

I pose the question to you; how open to interpretation are you with regards to the Social Media?

Show the Rogue some Stumble love


  1. I agree.

    Although I feel social media has more pros than cons, I'm not naive enough to think it's going to solve the world's ills or make your business suddenly take off into the stratosphere.

    It's like anything - it has its pluses and benefits. What you get out of it is down to how you use it and using the right tools for your needs.

    The one thing I don't like about social media is the surge of self-pronounced experts and gurus. There are definitely some that stand head and shoulders above anyone else in knowledge, but even the best of these experts admit to still learning.

    The amount of times I've looked at a social media "guru's" professional profile and wondered "And what makes you such an expert" is getting beyond a joke.

    Sorry, the fact you blog and have a Twitter account with 1000+ followers does not an expert make...

  2. Thanks Danny. Reading through the above, I was actually reminded of one of your previous posts on 'elitism' in the social media. The pro-social media crowd is far more vocal than the anti-social media one; which is slightly concerning, particularly when many new media elitists effectively 'dictate' their perspectives. Fortunately, an increasingly knowledgeable collection of social media advocates seem to recognise the importance examining the two sides of the equation.