(Full text and a few slides after the jump.)
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, to whom we owe pretty much everything, was talking about how proprietary vs open software fueled his development of the WWW. I captured the tl;dr version in my book, in case you’re interested:
Increasingly, I’m getting mentions from people with whom I’m not familiar, asking to click on links to their work. I see this happening to my friends, too, so I thought I’d collect and share my responses to one Twitter user on why this doesn’t work that well.
UPDATE: I got a little swipe about my ego being too big to click on links. Granted, my ego is ginormous (ask anyone who knows me intimately offline), but for once, it doesn’t have much to do with the situation at hand. I’m just explaining here how important the relationship mechanism is for sharing information– it’s called “social” media for a reason. Tee hee.
In case you’ll be at SXSW Interactive this weekend, and in case you want to see me and some pretty amazing folks doing some killer speaking and workshopping… Monday is the Day o’ DZ:
Updated March 2014
So, you’re ready to sign up for Twitter! Sometimes the signup process can be a bit daunting, so I created this short guide showing you what you need to know. Let’s get started! Read more
Check it out: full text, audiocast with slides, and guerrilla video:
You can also have a look at other presentations, workshops and talks that I’ve done.
Today over at Gizmodo, blogger Joel Johnson posted what was intended to be encouragement and a challenge for his cohorts of the world to start following people who are different than them on Twitter: “Why I Stalk a Sexy Black Woman on Twitter (And Why You Should, Too).”
Conceptually, encouraging dominant cultures to divesify is fabulous –I subscribe to the DNA model of ecosystems and social spaces, so I support it wholeheartedly. As I’ve said in my book and recent talks: Read more
Last night I was poking around the socnets before going to bed, and saw that Beth Kanter had posted a link to Fast Company’s “Influence Project.” I’m keenly interested in ways to measure influence as part of the research fellowship I have with the Center for Social Media at American University, so naturally I was intrigued and signed up. It took me a while to suss out what they’re actually doing. While they recognize that influence isn’t about numbers of followers or fans, this is how they measure:
The scale of your influence, and therefore the size of your photo, is based on two measures.
1. The number of people who directly click on your unique URL link. This is the primary measure of your influence, pure and simple.
2. You will receive partial “credit” for subsequent clicks generated by those who register as a result of your URL. In other words, anyone who comes to the site through your link and registers for their own account will be spreading your influence while they spread theirs. That way, you get some benefit from influencing people who are influential themselves. We will give a diminishing, fractional credit (1/2, ¼, 1/8 etc ) for clicks generated up to six degrees away from your original link.
What I find problematic: It’s still in many ways a popularity contest. Someone with a lot of time on their hands could launch a campaign to focus on generating as many clicks as possible, which would certainly skew the measurements of that person’s true influence– if they’re not actively campaigning, how much are people actually clicking on their links?
Plus there’s the problem of the power law in this case–early popular adopters are going to rise to the top faster than later adopters and benefit the most from the Amway-like pyramid scheme of click benefits.
There’s no good measurement for influence right now. Part of that’s because there’s a Pandora’s box of factors to consider. I may be influential in recommending information about social networks or dog behavior, but completely ineffectual at recommending solid information on the cultures of Lower Slobbovia. Which measure of influence is important? Do we take a mean number of some kind to represent my overall influence in the world? If we did, how much weight should my recommendations on Lower Slobbovia play?
I know people are desperate to have quantitative metrics when it comes to social media, especially when thinking about ROI. I don’t want to see us falling back on paradigms that we’re used to, though, because they’re now becoming outdated and useless. Here’s a smidge of how I address this in Share This!, from the section “Avoiding the Newest Numbers Trap” in Chapter 4:
Someday, maybe even while this book is being printed, my dream of having an application that shows me “interestingness” in the social network sphere will come true. Flickr has this for photographs: There is an algorithm based on “[w]here the click-throughs are coming from; who comments on it and when; who marks it as a favorite; its tags and many more things which are constantly changing.” The best part? Interestingness itself, then, is constantly changing, based on these shifting variables, so there’s a good chance of finding both something new and something surprising when one goes spelunking through Flickr’s massive collection of interesting photos.
I’m not going to lie to you: This great shift in authority isn’t the easiest part of social networking’s brave new world to navigate. The tools give us tremendous power to change the culture around us, but they’re new, and our behavior and impressions are still based on operating within a hyper-capitalist-focused, hierarchical mindset. We have a lot of work to do on freeing our minds before the rest of our bits will follow.
Surprisingly, though, the uncertainty of the future of social networking tools is also the good news: Things are still shaking out, and we’re in a position to determine whether the reordering of authority will benefit people who previously did not have the access or the means to make their voices heard. Armed with a fundamental understanding of what’s taking place (by, ahem, reading good books on the subject), you’re primed to make the most of change.
June is a wild rollercoaster ride of talks and workshops that I’m giving, and I wanted to make sure folks know about the wonderful conferences I’m heading to — hopefully I’ll see you there!
June 3-4: Personal Democracy Forum, New York City. This is one of my favorite conferences all year because it’s one of the few that blend many worlds well together: Technology, electoral politics, advocacy politics and cultural analysis. I’m giving a 10-minute talk on Thursday, June 3, that will (definitively!) answer the question: “Can the Internet fix politics?” Muwahaha. Other luminaries on the speaking roster include Howard Rheingold, Clay Shirky, Cheryl Contee, Jane Hamsher, Arianna Huffington, Esther Dyson, Anil Dash and many, many more. Register today — I’ve got a code to give you $100 off the registration; just email me and ask for it.
June 7-9: America’s Future Now, Washington DC. A yearly pilgramage to DC for progressives, where we talk strategy and tactics for challenging the right-wing agenda. I’ll be moderating a workshop on Tuesday morning, June 8, on social networking with Toby Chaudhuri, and we’ve actually turned it into a gameshow format: Social Media Jeopardy! Contestants will be Lizz Winstead, Garlin Gilchrist II, Scott Goodstein and Heather Holdridge. Also, Monday night, June 7, will see the DC launch of my book, thanks to Toby and Scott of Revolution Messaging, who are throwing me a killer party. Wooooo! Register today for all the goods.
June 9-11: Making Media Connections, Chicago, IL. I’m thrilled to be keynoting this gathering of non-profit communicators, put together by the Community Media Workshop. This year’s theme is “Storytelling and Strategy in the Digital Age,” which hits home strong for me– it’s through our stories that we have always made change, and our shiny new digital tools give us unprecedented capabilities to tell them. Register today for this amazing conference. (PS — That Friday night, June 11, I’ll be reading at Women & Children First, and having a party afterwards nearby.)