Since this post is inspired by a debate on Klout (Mark Schaefer’s blog), I have to mention – I think Klout is doing a great job with whatever they are doing. If not Klout (trying to measure online influence), it would be someone else (Peer Index, Spotinfluence etc.).
That aside, let’s go back to about a decade ago. When branding and marketing experts, like their PR friends, worked mostly behind the scenes. Back then, control over media (being more or less centralized) meant Governments, Corporations, Brands etc, could easily manipulate individuals.
The Social Media Phenomenon
Enter the age of Social Media, enhancing almost everyone’s abilities to share thoughts and ideas. Along with others, a lot of the branding and marketing folk quickly adopted these decentralized media channels.
Concepts like transparency, communication, engagement, authenticity, individual empowerment etc. abound in the rhetoric of today’s social media expert jargon. Which is great, these are concepts we all hold dear, right?
But wait! What are all these metrics doing ? Now algorithms measure social ‘influence’. What will inevitably follow are other algorithms, that replicate ‘influence-building’ behavior, along with new ways to game the system. Will these ‘automated social friends’ (or Bots as Allan Maurer calls them) replace the email spammers of today?
What happens to authenticity, transparency etc. when metrics and algorithms drive behavior?
Are algorithms that understand and efficiently predict/influence consumer behavior, the end game?
What can one blogger do?
Maybe you can tell us what you would ‘like to see’ vs. leaving it to the ‘market’? Do certain developments fit in with your world view, on how new ways of communication/engagement can bring about a sustainable change in our habits?
All of us have to pay bills and raging against the machine is probably detrimental to that cause. I cannot afford that risk myself. However, one post a month or every other, on how things could be, will probably not break the bank.
Tell us about how – concepts like transparency, community, engagement etc., that you so often blog about, can be sustained in the long run. That is, minus the objective of creating Kloutbots that can be corralled by Brands, Corporates and Governments.
Topics that help people think about what the future entrepreneur and human citizen can achieve. One idea at a time, ideas that online communities can help tweak/expand on, to arrive at something with universal resonance.
Individual ideas on how one would like the world to be, helped emancipate race, society and even countries. Ideas like Freedom, Non-Violence and Civil Disobedience.
Ironically, bloggers/netizens with Klout and influence are probably in the best position, to help the rest of us define, what coming socially integrated technology should be like. Future breed of technology innovators and thinkers wait to be inspired by fresh ideas.
Viva la revolución
Are we going to continue looking only for new ways to repeat what was done before? Are new tools merely seeking other ways to encourage unsustainable consumerism (like they seem to be doing)…and ultimately failing in that, as they are likely to? Are thought-leaders and Influencers of today going to play safe, sticking to some of the inevitable career paths that Brian Solis talks about? Will the impending reliance on metrics prove Malcom Gladwell right about the inability of weak-tie networks to create bigger social change ?
Will the focus turn to creating sustainable humanity? One idea, at a time.