As I sit down to write this, I find that my Klout score is current 73, my score on PeerIndex is 65, and my stock is at 229 on Empire Avenue. Klout shows my top topics to be social media and social justice. PeerIndex has news, lifestyle and the arts as my top benchmark topics and on LinkedIn, the skills I've received the most endorsements in are Blogging, Social Media and Social Networking.
Yet I have to wonder, how much does this really mean? Are these the scores that matter? I remember one person describing HITS on a website as How Idiots Track Success. How influential am I really, what sort of impact am I really having? These are thoughts I think about as I struggle with setting my goals for 2013, especially as part of the CT Health Foundation's Health Leaders Fellowship Program.
In SuperBetter, you work on building up physical, mental, emotional and social resilience. It is a great concept and it made me wonder, what my SuperBetter Online Score would be. How often do I read a post that stops and makes me think (+1 mental resilience)? How often do I stumble across something mind numbing or brain dead (-1 mental resilience)? How often do I see something that warms my heart and causes me to want to do something good for the people around me (+1 emotional resilience)? How often do I see something that makes me want to just quit (-1 emotional resilience)? How often do I see something that makes me feel more connected to friends on line (+1 social resilience)? How often do I see something that makes me want to hide in a cave and not talk to anyone (-1 social resilience)? I have skipped over physical resilience; I'm not sure I get much for pluses or minus physically from my online activities.
Wouldn't it be great if someone came a long with a game, perhaps as a mashup of Klout, StumbleUpon and SuperBetter, where a post could be rated, and optionally shared using these scores? Instead of simply 'liking' a post on Facebook, I could say it gave me a +1 mental resilience. I could chose which posts to share based on this, and make an effort to only share those posts that are increasing resilience in whichever areas I'm most interested in at the time.
At times, I could go back and see which friends have posted things that have been most uplifting. I could thank them for it, tell others about how uplifting I find them. For people posting material generating negative resilience, I could decide if I really wanted to keep following them. Perhaps even a back propagating neural network could be added, but that's probably pushing the envelope beyond the scope of this blog post.
As Facebook, Amazon, Google and other sites continue to refine their searches and recommendations, perhaps I would start getting more uplifting content. Perhaps brands and news organizations could start promoting their material in a more uplifting manner.
I'm probably too busy to write something like this myself, but perhaps I'll find some open source tools I could tweak to get close to this. So, if someone wants to steal this idea and implement it great.
So, what sort of SuperBetter Online Score is this blog post worth?
Recently, a friend posted the question on Facebook, "If you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at 16.. what would you say?"
People posted all kinds of stuff about enjoying concerts, not taking themselves too seriously, etc. My first reaction was, "It wouldn't matter, I wouldn't have listened". This was followed by thinking about what I would have thought 36 years ago if some guy came up to me and said he was from the future. I also always come back to the idea of show, don't tell. With that, here are some guesses about what might of happened:
Journal Entry, November 20, 1975: I was hanging out at the Student Union today, eating some french fries when this weird guy came up to me. He looked a little bit like me, just a bit heavier, balding and with a grey beard. A bit like a cross between me, Santa Claus and my Uncle Bud or Uncle Roger. At first I though he was someone who worked at the college and was going to tell me and other townies to leave the student union. Then I thought, maybe he's a professor. When he started talking I thought, maybe he was a professor that had gotten into some cult and lost his tenure. Hard to tell.
He said he was me, from the twenty first century and started talking about the importance of education, especially computers, telephones and cameras, but also not to take myself to seriously. I thought maybe he was going to hand me a tract or ask for a donation, so I finished up my fries quickly and headed down to Spring Street.
Journal entry, November 27, 1975: I was hanging out at the student union again. This time, I was down in the basement at the radio station. I was reading the news coming off the teletype and the strange guy showed up again. He started talking about how people would have their own news wires on small telephones that they carried around with them. He showed me this small thing. He said it was one of those telephones. On it was a screen called Twitter. It had lots of short messages on it, but very few of them actually seemed to be newsworthy. I shrugged and headed over to the rathskeller. There was a good folk music duo playing. Not many people were hanging out, but it was a good show. Between sets the strange guy showed up again. He talked about how in the twenty first century, people would watch shows like this on their telephone. He showed me a thing called YouTube. It was like a small color tv on his telephone. The music he showed me was pretty good. Then he started talking about how people would be able to make their own television shows, and he showed me something really stupid with a talking orange.
I don't know. The future he's talking about seems about as mindless as the seventies.
It has been a rough few weeks, so I thought I'd unwind with something a little different last night, so I ended up watching the video embedded in the article Jacques Lacan Speaks. My French is rusty and my knowledge of psychoanalysis as well as of the sixties in France is limited, but it really got me thinking about things beyond what has been going on more immediately in my life.
My thoughts drifted to the Open Yale course, INTRODUCTION TO THEORY OF LITERATURE, as I thought about how I was understanding what Lacan was trying to say. My thoughts drifted to Geert Lovink's new book, Networks Without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media.
The article with the Lacan video has the line, "Lacan still has his fans, notably the 'Elvis of Philosophy,' Slavoj Zizek, who dominates YouTube the way his predecessor once did salons", and it made me wonder about the discourse Lacan would have had with the Internet.
I've always been interested in how groups interact online, back years ago when I worked with a management coach whose specialty was the psychoanalytic study of organizations. My thoughts wandered back to reading many articles from the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations as well as attending experiential group relationship conferences organized by the The A K Rice Institute and the William Alanson White Institute.
My mind returned to the old question, if groups have a persona and with it, an unconscious, what can we say about online groups, or, to put it another way, how would we understand Facebook as an analysand?
Now, most of us experience Facebook, not as something completely other. First and foremost, it is, very much, a social construct, coming out of a specific time in American history. That, in and of itself, is worth extensive study. Even more so, our experiences with Facebook are typically with a set of people whom we have designated as 'friends'. In many cases, this is a self selected group, of a similar size to a Group Relations, or perhaps Lacanian Large Group of around 150 people. In my own case, it is a much larger group, the size of a small town of over 2,500 people.
It is further complicated that the boundaries are much less clear. Everyone in my Facebook Large Group belongs to their own Facebook Large Groups which have different sets of members, and content from one group easily gets shared from one group to another. In addition, Facebook is 24x7. For many of us, there are now time boundaries on the group. Lacking these boundaries, the group does not have the same sense of safety that a normal group might. However, that sense of safety may be promoted by the disinhibition that often accompanies online interaction.
So, if my Facebook Large Group is an analysand, does that make me the analyst? Am I approaching this group like an analyst would? Where does transference and counter-transference fit in? What can I learn, about myself and about my society by looking at my Facebook Large Group through the lens of an analyst?
With this, I come back to Geert Lovink's new book. If Facebook a network without a cause? Is his question "at what point do we pause to grasp the consequences of our info-saturated lives", construed too narrowly to think only about the conscious information that is saturating our lives, or is there room for exploring the group unconscious information that we might be able to tap into via social media. For that matter, how different is the group unconscious of a Facebook Large Group from that of other very large groups? Yes, we can talk about persistence, searchability, reach and scope, both are they really a difference in magnitude or a difference in kind? Was not the information of early villages also persistent and searchable, through the town elders, historians, mystics and artists?
So now, I need to post these thoughts on my blog. They'll be shared on Facebook, and perhaps discussed a little there. How will it change my interaction with social networks? How will it change the interaction with social networks of others in my Facebook Large Group?
Maybe that will be a different blog post and Facebook discussion.
Recently, a friend shared an Op-Ed on Mashable entitled, Why Social Media Can’t Win Swing Votes. The title caught my attention, so I clicked on the link to see what the author had to say. Unfortunately, the title seems misleading and a better title might be, "Why Facebook Ads won't are unlikely to swing enough votes in the Presidential Election to make a difference".
It seems as if the Op-Ed makes a few significant mistakes. First, it seems to confuse social media with Facebook advertising. Social media is really about engaging people in conversations. An ad on Facebook might draw someone into the conversation, but most likely it won't. Some of the people who are starting to turn away from Facebook ads are probably people who haven't grasped the importance of engagement yet and are disappointed that their ads have been ineffective.
This continues on with the Op-Ed's discussion about numbers of followers. This isn't an especially compelling metric either. The bigger question is, how much are links to articles, videos or other content being retweeted.
The other big failure of the article is that it focuses on the Presidential race. Just about everyone knows who Obama and Romney are. There are a lot of people in my district that don't know who i am, or who my incumbent opponent is.
The article also seems to focus on elections as an either-or type decision. Either a person votes for one candidate or another. That is perhaps the biggest problem with electoral politics today, and a place where social media has the biggest potential to make a difference. As a nation, we need to move away from either-or thinking. We need to move away from thinking that electoral politics is just about which candidate you select in the voting booth.
Social Media is about conversations, and politics should be as well. How do you get people to think a little more deeply about the issues we as a people face? It is about moving people along a spectrum of involvement; getting the unregistered registered, getting the registered to vote, getting voters to become more involved in campaigns as volunteers or donors, and getting people who have been active in others campaigns to consider running for office themselves.
Social media, meeting people where they are, has a great ability to help with that. Or, it can simply be another advertising platform in a beauty contest of brands. In that role, the author of the Op-Ed is right. Let's not get stuck with that sort of social media.
Recently, I watched the YouTube video, We are all cyborgs now
It is a thought provoking video which I highly recommend. On Facebook, I asked what this means for the political process. Perhaps I'll write a blog post exploring this a bit later. Today, I want to explore the idea of digital identity. All of our actions online live a digital footprint, they paint a digital picture of who we are. This picture may, or may not, correspond nicely with our analog identity. We may be less inhibited online and post things that we wouldn't normally say or do in our analog lives. We may re-post things for different reasons, which at times may be hard to fathom.
A couple sites that encourage this sort of behavior are Triberr and Empire Avenue. With Triberr, you join tribes of like minded people, promoting their blog posts with the expectation that they will promote your blog posts. If you look throughout my twitter stream, you'll see links to various blog posts that I've shared. They are fairly easy to identify, the title of the blog post, a link, and then a reference to the twitter handle of the person I got the post from on Triberr. Many of the triberr posts are about social media, although some are health care related. It is a reflection of the tribes I'm part of. It is also a reflection of which posts I find most interesting or think my followers on Twitter will find most interesting.
Empire Avenue is a bit different. This is a game, where you essentially score points for social media activity. You can get extra points for doing specific social media actions, called missions. These missions may be to share someone's blog post, retweet something, like a lot of posts on someone's Facebook, recommend them on Klout, or similar tasks. I do a handful of these tasks, but I've not done a lot of them because the value of the points usually isn't worth the impact on my digital identity and I'm not sure how interested my friends, fans, followers, or other social media connections would be in the results of these various tasks.
There is a lot more to think about from the video about the impact of being cyborgs now. Hopefully, I'll find moments away from campaigning to explore more of these, especially as they relate to the intersection of being a cyborg and a candidate.