Wednesday, 10 March 2010

I Compare Thee... - The Law of Association

[picture: Heliospheric current sheet, the largest structure in the Solar System, resulting from the influence of the Sun's rotating magnetic field on the plasma in the interplanetary medium (Solar Wind). Image credit: NASA artist Werner Heil]

A tweet and a post are what inspired me to write this, a remarkable tweet from Nikhil Nulkar and a fine post from Tim Kastelle
Sonnet 18 from William Shakespeare inspired me for the title
I left a comment on Tim's post, and responded to Nikhil

I was in doubt about the title "Hi I'm your Social Media Inquisitor" but Social Media was just an example, and it's about the bigger picture. It's also got to do with failing among others, so I just stuck to this

The tweeter mentioned in the first reference is, according to his bio, a Social Media Evangelist. The weird thing is, he's protected his tweets - not very social nor usual on Twitter. He also follows over a 1,000 others, has about 100 followers, and is mentioned on 2 lists. Twitter spam-alert for the ratios there!

So I thought I'd look up what he's been doing on Twitter, by using Twitter Search. First I looked for his Twitter name with the @-sign, then without it:

The guy was spamming like crazy (see the left), and getting pretty well retweeted too (see the right)! To be honest, I'd like to get a ReTweet amount like that with that many (= little) followers, although the rate is far worse than mine. And he's spamming the people he follows, it's not the people who follow him that retweet him.
Someone like this will "give Social Media Evangelists a bad name". Much like the Spanish Inquisition turning evangelists into murderers, the initial intention here was probably good but the final effect is disastrous
(There. Managed to squeeze in religion again. It's never about intention. A certain man in Germany once had great intentions too - with his perception of the German race. Not sure I can fit all that on a sidenote, but I'll try)

What does this giving a bad name imply? A certain matter will be taken out of its context, put on display, and judged. It will not be compared, just perceived and judged. What are people experiencing here? Spam. Who's doing it? Someone calling himself a Social Media Evangelist. There. People will say Social Media Evangelists are bad. They're spammers. Therefore, Social Media is bad. Worse, Social Media is spam!
And before you know it, people have turned from lovers into haters, labeling all Social Media as spam
The association has taken over the original word

In Tim's post, Scot Berkun is cited in his original blog post from January 2008 where he pleas for not using the word innovation because
it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Or more specifically, it means many different things
Scot's been infected, in that very post, by the same contamination: over-association caused by context-less comparison. Sounds like a great topic for a thesis, but I just mean that sometimes our puny minds short-circuit due to complexity overload, and mistake the shadows of an image for the image itself

We do find great difficulty in judging actions, occurrences and people just for what they are. But only, if we don't take time for that
In business, in our personal lives, in love, in hate: what do you do when it comes to comparing one situation to another?

2 reacties:

Tim Kastelle said...

Nice post Martijn! Ambitious though - hitting Shakespeare, the Spanish Inquisition, spammers and innovation all in one post is maybe even more than I'd try to pull off!

I think that your main point is important though. Mistaking the association for the phenomena is a widespread error - I know it's one that I've made a number of times myself, despite my best efforts to avoid it.

Martijn Linssen said...

Thank you Tim. I did kind of hastily finish it as it was getting a bit much indeed, but I think especially Socrates will return in another post - I've always loved the "images in a cave" story

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