I find our little world perplexing. So many wonderful people, yet so few active citizens.
I say this, because for the past decade or so, I have been researching social media and new tech.
With a decades worth of data catalogued across most industries, I can tell you – hand on heart –
Organic community growth on social networking platforms and apps is a myth
Let me explain…
‘Community’ growth evolves from a value exchange.
When community-based connection moved online it extended our network and when new mobile tech entered our everyday, a new business model emerged to reframe the way we participated – as commodity.
Social technology, enabled us to access a global community of people FOR FREE, effectively evolving ourselves into data.
While enabling the promise of a ready and willing ‘market’ ripe for ‘capture’ and ‘free’.
In algorithmic terms it might have looked like:
TIFF’s ALGORITHM (aka Tiff’s Plan)
Internet connection +safari + BLOGGER = ACCESS & PLATFORM for writing, reading, researching and engaging.
FACEBOOK, TWITTER = FREE community, ENGAGED WATCHERS, LISTENERS, CONVERSATIONALISTS
Social sharing buttons in BLOGGER = OPPORTUNITY for LEARNING, EXPLORING, CONNECTING, ENGAGING, PROMOTING at no-low cost.
… and I was not alone…
From Australian citizen to a global netizen.
My largest ‘audience’ ranged from Europe to the America’s, Asia and The Pacific depending on what I wrote about, when and where I posted.
The WHO, WHAT, WHEN and WHERE was critical to message reception. Nothing new here.
It was as per traditional platform-based mediated communications… except for the potential reach #’s that were now possible.
What wasn’t apparent initially, was the WHY…?
This evolution – largely touted as a communications ‘revolution’ by the industry pushing its wares and those of us researching it – is of itself a wonderful study in the power of language – either alpha or numerical to influence behaviours of animals.
If you look at the animal kingdom and you accept that humans are but one of many mammals within it, we are forced to look for evidence of other species within the ecosystem who have become mediated communities.
While there is a plethora of evidence around animal communities – they appear to be location or sex-based (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong… by posting in the comments below) rather than mediated in any manner shape or form either naturally or animal-made.
yet, are we to think that humans – a subgroup of primates within the broader group of mammal species existing on earth within the broader animal kingdom – are the only ones to have connected with tools of amplification and connection?
Or is it merely a case that humans are operating in 0’s and 1’s while whales and dolphins’ preference for sonar within the natural world leads them to another plane of evolution…?
Meaning, humans are the ones who have reengineered themselves and their ecosystem as data points, in much the same way we learnt to capture the experience of time within a photograph which we then learnt to embellish with joy via photoshop to suit the social context of the time at which it was being consumed…?
A new market reality of commodity as consumer now exists.
As Australian citizens we are willing participants in the ‘evolution’ of the human species from flesh and blood into multiple data points from which behavioural (and more recently biological) patterns are computed before being collated and showcased for profit.
The ‘User’ a tool for learning as much as he is for targeting thanks to the self perpetuating abuse of his privacy through the expulsion of his personal information.
A commercial exchange founded in a ‘test’ motivated from one man’s desire to understand what moves and motivates humans to categorise each other based on physical attributes after a failed date.
Think about it.
Zuckerberg created a US college ‘social’ experiment that utilised a rating system.
From the insights gained, he was able to create the most influential commercial market in the world for individuals, organisations, governments and just as efficiently – their opponents.
A community of exchange. Not of money, although the new business model would ultimately make lots of it – this was non monetary. For the first decade it was binary.
This community ensured it’s longevity by positioning the user as the product and giving them a place of perceived community influence to procure at their leisure according to their needs.
Facebook created the digital playground where humans could connect, be seen, exchange, access and repeat at their convenience at will.
Because it was free and it was a global tool of connection that enabled conversations with friends, colleagues and loved ones around the globe with minimal effort, we became not only the Facebook product, but the contributors to a much larger problem. The ringing of the deathneal on private and personal information security.
Instead of customers craving the product, we the product craved the retail showcase that is the Facebook platform.
It was fun to connect, easy to use, widely available anywhere, anytime. It worked, so to use it was effortless.Additionally, everyone else was using it, so you got access to ‘the inner sanctum’ of their world – or at least, you started to think…
The cost of which is still not yet apparent to the majority, although it will be soon enough.
As products, we shed our privacy and our right to our own behavioural data. After all, what we don’t see, we can’t miss, right?
About a year ago, I stepped off my Social Parenting soap box because ‘adults’ are reluctant to engage is a genuine solution to the dangers of children’s online activity.
Social Parenting was a program borne from my Masters research back in 2010, that encouraged parents to reconsider their children’s use of new social and mobile tech, based on the triad of:
1) neurological immaturity,
2) physiological and
3) psychological health wellness implications (aka blue screen addiction, bullying)
as well as social in the wild wild western internet.
What I discovered was shocking to me.
Sure, parents and carers would openly talk about it as an issue, but when it came to solutions 9 times out of 10 they would only pay lip service.
I don’t think they know (or don’t particularly care) that they are in fact in breech of their legal duty as legal guardians to an Australian child.
I also suspect the government – both state and federal are also hoping we don’t realise they too are in breech of their duty to Australian citizens.
Acceptable digital practice has for too long now, been constructed by the sales-focused social tech industry.
After 25 years of the commercial internet, it’s time the private information of citizens was protected from mining by the industry because Australian state and federal Governments were actively endeavouring to protect it’s citizenry.
Question is… who is going to step up?