I was watching this video from the Kaiser’s Toilet on Twitter and Google’s new Buzz – and it got me thinking. Much of the discussion that we see around social media, marketing and new technologies relates to yes/no decisions. The conversations are framed in terms of scarcity – of time, resources, budget and so on. But one of the fundamental transformations that the social web has driven is that of abundance. Of information, knowledge and connection.
So we are seeing a fundamental disconnect between the way that we VIEW this emerging world and the way that it OPERATES.
The idea of VIEWING a website or social platform is a behaviour that has created a world view. It comes from 50 years of broadcast TV. It places us, “a user” (and therefore a dependent) in a passive mode. The newer, social web places us, the PARTICIPANT at the centre of a hub. It requires choice, it engenders responsibility, and presupposes action. It PLAYS to the concept of abundance and see scarcity as outmoded, traditional, passe.
But as Mark Earl’s Herd has taught us, it is behaviour which changes thinking, not thinking that changes behaviour. So perhaps, surreptitiously, our engagement with the social web may have wider implications. Or maybe the social web is more chaotic, playful and unpredicatable than our marketing and IT “use cases” would suggest.
This interesting article by Alan Wolk shows how the #thuglife meme has made Twitter into a purely experiential platform. More importantly for marketers, perhaps, is the scale of this type of participation – which far exceeds the early adopter circles that characterise much of the social media debate:
It's an interesting use of the medium, and the people participating in these hashtags seem to be getting as much value out of them as the Twitter-Is-a-Serious-Business-Tool types who busily append words like "Genius!" to their retweets of a fellow blogger's "Top 10 Reasons Location-Based Services Are the New Twitter."
What we are seeing is the logical extension of YES. We are seeing the “crowd” embracing abundance and participating in a way which is consciously unselfconscious.
What would happen if we did the same? What if we said YES to Twitter? What would happen if we followed everyone? Would our world change? Maybe not. But maybe WE would.