Shirky and Social Media

Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody was published in the beginning of 2008, which probably means it was written in 2007. Social media has grown exponentially since then. I found that some of the concepts and examples he gives don’t really ring true anymore.

As I was reading the section on fame, I kept thinking about how Twitter has changed everything. He writes about Oprah:

Oprah has e-mail, but her address would become useless the minute it became public. These social constraints mean that even when a medium is two-way, its most popular practitioners will be forced into a one-way pattern. Whether Oprah wants to talk to each and every member of her audience is irrelevant: Oprah can’t talk to even a fraction of a percent of her audience, ever, because she is famous, which means she is the recipient of more attention than she can return in any medium.

Although celebrities stilly may not be able to respond to every tweet, Twitter has made it easier for them to connect with fans, haters, whoever. Before starting the program and cleaning up my follow list, I followed more celebrities than I cared to admit. I’ve also been mentioned in tweets by two “celebrities.” If you’re curious, one was a host of an HGTV show and winner of Design Star Season 5 and the other was a contestant on the Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad. What I’m saying is, Twitter has made it really easy for celebrities to connect with everyday people. In some cases, Twitter is making unknowns celebrities themselves. The web is taking interactive to whole new levels and it will continue to do so. Shirky’s point is that just because the technology is possible to interact with anyone, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will. Seems the easier it gets the more we see it happen though.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about this week is our discussion about Facebook on Monday. We talked about strong ties and weak ties and how those related to social media. It was said that Facebook makes all ties equal by putting them in the same news feed – but in real life those people aren’t all equal in your life. I think Zuckerberg has caught on and addresses the problem with the new “timeline” in Facebook. I haven’t actually seen the new changes, but I’m interested to see how it plays out.

I am more of a Twitter person. I think Twitter relates, again, to the strong and weak ties theory. I also think this relates back to my proposed research topic. Maybe the reason Twitter is such a good networking resource is because it brings users closer to their weak ties. There are a ton of people I follow on Twitter that I’ve never met in real life. I follow them because I’m interested in what they have to say and what their companies represent. Which in turn helps me find ways to connect to new opportunities and bring new information into the network. Thus, networking FTW!


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