Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The machine is them/us/you/me

What the heck does this web 2.0 social networking stuff have to do with us anyway?

I’ve been reflecting on the place that the “social networking” phenomena has in the online world, and what that means for our work. After hearing presentations by Dr. Michael Wesch, Andrew Barnett, and our own Dr. Bob Hughes, Jr., I’m convinced that we need to pay attention to playing the social network game for two major reasons.

Playing for for fame and fortune

  1. If you don’t show up in the first page (and actually the first 5 entries) in a Google search result, you cannot count on being found.

  2. A relatively small number of web-savvy geeks are determining what gets to the top of the Google food chain. These folks are dedicated participants in the way of the (social) network, and they determine what everyone else is most likely to find on a particular topic.

  3. In order to appear high on the search list, we have to capture the hearts and minds of those who play in these social networks.

  4. In order to capture their hearts and minds, we need to play in same playgrounds, and be willing to figure out the rules and join in their games. Standing on the periphery and pouting will not get us noticed.

Playing to spread the word

In his talk, Bob used the controversy surrounding vaccinations and autism as an example of how “experts” have failed to engage in the kinds of conversations (in blogs, etc) that would counter unsubstantiated beliefs that have draw enthusiastic support from non-scientists. The public does not pay attention to research-based outlets - blog entries or videos that “go viral” have a greater chance of getting widespread press and public attention. We need folks who are willing to spread the word in personal and public arenas so that our views can be “part of the machine”.

What does this mean?

Does this mean that we ALL need to dive immediately in the world of Twitter, Facebook, del.icio.us, Digg, etc? I don’t think so – but it means we need to find CoP members who could and would! And we need to provide some support for CoP members who would like to join this brave new world and give them concrete suggestions for how they can promote JITP (or any other website they might support). These “web evangelists” could be:

  • writing their own blog posts or commenting on others’
  • linking on their own websites
  • providing links and tags in social networking sites like del.icio.us
  • providing ratings in sites like Digg
  • creating or linking to media content in sites like YouTube or Flikr

But how do we find these people? What kind of characteristics or qualities should the have? How do we recruit them? How do we provide initial guidance?

1 comment:

Robert Hughes Jr, PhD said...

I think in addition to participating in other's social media activities, we should create some of our own trial social media activities. This means we will have a place where we can discuss topics and create discussions that reflect on topics in the news and on the web, but have some control over the focus of the discussion.