Welcome Rory O’Connor (RoryOConnor.org) and Host Beth Becker (Dirty Hippies)(ProgressivePST)

Friends, Followers and the Future: How Social Media are Changing Politics, Threatening Big Brands, and Killing Traditional Media

When I sat down to read Friends, Followers and the Future by Rory O’Connor, I thought I knew what to expect. This is how I earn my living- by advising others on how best to integrate social media into their lives and work. The world that is social media is at best a microcosm of the world at large and at worst a poor substitute for the offline world, and I figured that it would be easy to read this book, digest it into manageable pieces and write this intro for today’s book salon.

I was wrong.

Rory O’Connor takes a microscope to how social media has affected this world and shined a light on some of the ways in which social media has improved our lives and some of the ways in which it has made life more complicated.

Starting with an overview of the Arab Spring and the American Autumn, fondly known as Occupy Wall Street, Rory takes the reader thru an analysis of the power of the Internet, specifically social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Following the theme of social media as empowerment for the people, a theme I often discuss when relating the importance of social media in the political process, Rory then delves into the effects social media is having on legacy news media.

Curation- how does the news get filtered from the newsmakers to the news consumers? Rory provides an in-depth analysis of how we’ve gone from being dependent on the broadcast news entities to being independent by relying on our own skills of curation via social media. How trustworthy are our skills of curation? Thru an examination of Twitter as a news source he demonstrates that sometimes our online sources are extremely trustworthy and sometimes not so good, witness the reports of Michael Jackson’s death vs. the reports after the mass shooting in Tucson which injured Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. The ever evolving tightwire act of watching legacy media reinvent themselves in an online world isn’t without a small dose of humor and a large dose of humility. The legacy media companies that successfully embrace the social web will survive, while the others will slowly die on the vine as these chapters in the book demonstrate in an easy to relate to manner.

Privacy- what role does privacy play in the social web? The other overarching theme that caught my attention was the downward spiral that has become privacy in the social web world. Facebook is held up as the prime example of how the social platforms have slowly but surely eroded our standards of privacy. Complete with a total lack of transparency and a feel of predator vs. prey as Facebook constantly changes how they handle privacy issues and expect the general public to go along just to get along, the social web has single-handedly redefined our standards of privacy. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. It would be good if these platforms allowed us more control over that privacy, but they don’t and the results have been an erosion of trust between brands we’ve long idolized like Google and ourselves. In fact, I go a step further and posit that it seems these brands don’t trust us and think they have to spoonfeed us what they think we want. This only causes us to rebel even more.

Power- How does the social web affect the distribution of power? In my experience, the real power of the social web is the way it has re-empowered the people’s voice and no where is that more evident than in the political realm. The social web has not only given people a microphone that is public, but it has also allowed the people to band together without regard for geographic barriers in a way that our elected officials are just starting to understand and engage. In Friends, Followers and the Future Rory O’Connor draws on the 2004 and 2008 elections to demonstrate how the power of the voice provided by the social web has been embraced by presidential candidates and massaged to create political movements that propelled social media into the mainstream lexicon.

I could go on for hours and hours with my take on the important themes discussed in this book, but we’re really here for all of us to have a dialogue with Rory and with each other about the impact social media is having on our lives. Please join us in the comments for the next two hours as we explore Friends, Followers and the Future.

 

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

111 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Rory O’Connor, Friends, Followers and the Future: How Social Media are Changing Politics, Threatening Big Brands, and Killing Traditional Media”

BevW August 5th, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Rory, Welcome back to the Lake.

Beth, Welcome to the Lake and Thank You for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Thanks Bev…and Hi Rory! And welcome everyone …

I’ll dive right in with a question to start us off…So the first thing I want to ask you about is around the theme of privacy which you spent quite a bit of time on in the book. It does seem like social platforms, Facebook and Google especially, go out of their way not just to erode privacy but to make it darn near impossible for the average person to know HOW to protect their privacy on these platforms…the settings are hidden in nooks in the system that only an advanced user would even guess to look there for them… in your research and talking to people is this turning people away from using these platforms or are people just giving up and going with the flow do you think?

dakine01 August 5th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon Rory and welcome back to FDL. Welcome to FDL this afternoon Beth.

Rory, I have not read your book so forgive me if you address this in there but did you find any age/generational breakdowns in how folks used and saw Facebook and other social media being presented? Especially in privacy area.

eCAHNomics August 5th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

What is the evidence that social media has changed politics? Corps are now firmly in charge of U.S. politics.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Thank you,Beth, and dakine01! It’s great to be back at FDL and the Salon… Regarding generational breakdowns at FB, it’s surprising in some ways, since the largest cohort is young people, but the area showing big growth is seniors. Generally speaking, young people are more inclined to share personal details, but they are also more apt to actually use the privacy settings to control what they are doing. Conversely, older folks are less inclined to share, but apparently not as able to figure out privacy controls…

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:07 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 2

Beth, I agree that the privacy controls could and SHOULD be a lot simpler and more transparent –and yes, there is a lot of evidence of user dissatisfaction with this, absolutely!

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:07 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 4

I’m sure Rory will have more to add to this but I’ll chime in here…

Social media has changed politics a LOT and is one of the few tools we have to make sure individual voices, our voices get heard. Not only is it very public in the sense that whatever you say is seen/heard not just by the person you are addressing but it allows us to find and create relationships with people all over the country who think like we do.
And from personal professional experience, I can assure you that electeds do in fact pay attention to what is being said … one recent example I can point to is the NYC fight regarding paid sick days…I wrote it up for epolitics.com but the short of it is that just a few hundred people hammering on the same point got Susan Sarandon’s attention and got her to SPEAK OUT on an issue the people care about

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 5

Absolutely Rory… as they say, the kids come first then the parents and grandparents follow along so they can see what the kids are up to… I saw something recently that said the fastest growing demographic on FB last year was the 55+ crowd

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 4

Regarding politics in general, I’d say there is a lot of evidence. Let’s start with Occupy movement, which was able to circumvent the sneering attitude of legacy media and tell their own story using social media. Let’s also look at the international scene, and successful revolutions in places like Egypt and Tunisia, which were facilitated ( but certainly not caused!!) by social media.

In this country, political campaigning has been more affected so far than governance — but perhaps there is hope there yet…

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:10 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 7

I agree but would like to hear more in response from eCahnonmics–both to Beth’s post and my reply…

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

While we’re talking social web and politics… You spend a few chapters exploring the social web and politics. Given that I live in that realm professionally, I’m interested in hearing more about where you think this is going? One of the things that you talk about that seems especially relevant right now is the confluence of privacy and political advertising. Given how it’s continually easier to target online ads on all kinds of dimensions, at what point will this be a total turn off and turn into a negative for the voters? We’re already hearing that online ad inventory is getting scarce and as a result ever more expensive given the popularity of “bidding” systems for securing online advertising… will this help to get politicians to NOT rely on advertising and instead actually engage the voters using the social media platforms?

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Further on the topic of corporations and politics…one of the points I make in my book is that all sorts of things are in the process of being disrupted–not just media and politics, but certain aspects of corporate behavior as well. What it actually means to be a “brand” for example is changing so rapidly that there word may soon have little to no meaning. So although I agree with you that corporations have inordinate power on on our political life now, the Great Disruption of the digital information revolution may affect that by changing corporations as well as politics.

eCAHNomics August 5th, 2012 at 2:14 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 9

Occupy movement & examples that Beth cites in 4 are small bore. They are not scalable. If social media started threatening to make political changes on a large scale, corps would merely infiltrate them, buy them, get pols to pass laws that make them ineffective, or any of a myriad of ways that the corps with all the money & all the power can disappear opposition as though it were a mosquito bite.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:19 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 11

Re social web and politics… I think it”s a accelerating very rapidly, and yes, the confluence of privacy and political advertising is certainly something to monitor closely as we proceed. The same datsa mining techniques that Facebook et al are using to gather information about us for advertisiers is now being employed by political campaigns to target voters in all sorts of ways, including those intrusive online adsthat are ddelivered in different forms to different citizens. I think we’re set to see the first truly digital election this fall, and by 2016 digital will probably be paramount or close to it.

“will this help to get politicians to NOT rely on advertising and instead actually engage the voters using the social media platforms?” So far the evidence is that it is not. But I think the ultimate answer to that is still in the hands of the electorate–ie We the People, and the decision we make and actions we take now and in the immediate future.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:20 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 13

Occupy seem to me to be very scalable–it started a couple of miles from where I live in Manhattan with just a handful of people, and soon led to thousands of actions all over the world. I’m curious as to why you say it is small bore and not scalable?

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:21 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 13

I don’t disagree but I will say this (and it’s something I talk about a lot when I do trainings)…nothing will ever be won with social media alone… now a days I believe you can’t win without social media but you won’t win because of social media… that said social media an incredibly powerful organizing tool… Evan Sutton of New Organizing Institute talks about the happenings in Madison last winter… the first clue we had that anything was going on was a fb post from a WI State Senator that said “brb” …soon there after reporters were posting on her fb page trying to find out what was going on
Another example….the furor over Trayvon Martin- the first week or two the only people talking about it were African American activists on social media… then it transitioned into a main stream media story after some noticed all the chatter on social media
Likewise, Occupy Wall Street is certainly not an online only movement but no one would argue that it may not have blown up like it did w/out the power the social web provides

Dearie August 5th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Rory@15: in what way, would you say, has OWS had any impact upon the political malaise that is going on in the USA right now? I love OWS for its intentions, but I cannot see any positive results. Perhaps I’m a cynic. I think I’m a realist.

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Here’s a question for the audience… one thing I’ve noticed that the book clarified in my mind was our turning as a society from being dependant on legacy media to curating and becoming our own media via social platforms. I learned about WI this morning on Twitter for example…. do any of you find yourselves turning to social media instead of the tv or radio when there’s big breaking news?

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 13

Also, you say that “If social media started threatening to make political changes on a large scale, corps would merely infiltrate them, buy them, get pols to pass laws that make them ineffective…” I think the record thus far shows that these tools level the playing field against more powerful foes–such as corporate interest and legacy media expressions of them — and maybe Beth can kick in with some examples of how corporations (such as Bank of America on the debit fee issue) can be forced to roll back their decisions in a way that was no possible previously.

eCAHNomics August 5th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 15

Occupy has just about disappeared. I donated to Zuccoti location about $400 worth of sleeping bags which were confiscated about a week later when it was raided.

Occupy is a perfect example of not scalable. Police have kept them to minuscule size and pols have kept it off of the news. I wonder what % of Americans remember it.

By contrast, look at the demonstrations in Greece & Spain. Hundreds of thousands, and still no influence on austerity. Even if Occupy got that large, which would not be allowed to happen in the U.S., it would have no influence.

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Hi Rory. I have read your previous book on Shock Jocks. eCAHNomics makes a good point regarding corporations, so I’d like you to talk about how corporations have been impacted by social media. I have a sense that they were hoping to use it to sell stuff and then people started publicly pressuring them to respond in this new two way channel and I think they were now in the position where they couldn’t ignore public stuff like they could emails or phone calls.

Could you talk about some examples where social media got corporations to stick to their stated values or to act?

eCAHNomics August 5th, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I hate to post & run on such a good discussion, but I have another engagement. Thanks to Rory & Beth for responding to my Qs and observations. I appreciate it.

Twain August 5th, 2012 at 2:28 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 18

No legacy media for me. Haven’t watched a news program in more than three years. And I keep up with everything via the net.

Tammany Tiger August 5th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I don’t see Facebook as a step forward, either socially or politically.

To begin with, its business model is based on large numbers of people surrendering personal information to be aggregated, sliced and diced, and sold to corporations.

As for the content posted on most Facebook, it reinforces an awful trend: people telling total strangers intimate details of their lives (have they forgotten what “www” stands for?) or conducting what Frank Deford called “simulated conversations” laden with babblespeak.

Color me unimpressed.

cassiodorus August 5th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Question for the author: How thoroughly do government spy agencies have its fingers in the Internet pie? The FBI, for instance, equates anarchism with terrorism and is no doubt trying to monitor the whole show to see where it can make arrests…

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to Dearie @ 17

Well, as a fellow realist who is often accused of cynicism himself, let me say that I find myself surprisingly optimistic and positive about the potential for change that social media and the digital info revolution have unleashed. That said, we are only in the beginning stages of the revolution — it’s chaotic, hard to figure out where to go next, etc…This should be expected–but I do believe that these new media tools and technologies have flattened the world and given us power and leverage where it didnt exist before. What we make of all this, and what happens from hereon in during this ongoing revolution, is at least in part up to us–not JUST to corporate interest and powerful politicians!

dakine01 August 5th, 2012 at 2:30 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 18

I find myself kind of doing all of the above though will still look first at online TradMed sites – I guess old habits and all that, though I do not rely on any one TradMed site but generally check multiples

Tammany Tiger August 5th, 2012 at 2:31 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 18

do any of you find yourselves turning to social media instead of the tv or radio when there’s big breaking news?

Rarely. The last time was two years ago, when the Tea Partiers threatened to turn the Michigan GOP convention into a bar brawl. After the state party pulled the plug on the live feed from the convention hall, I turned to the Twitter feed from the hall to keep up with the shenanigans.

Yeah, I have strange tastes in entertainment.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to spocko @ 21

Yes, good question… I think it’s a question of accountability more than any corporations ticking to their stated value… Although small scale, the successful protest against BOA and its debit fees, which I referenced above, is one example. The bank executives were forced in a very short period of time bu the reaction of so ail media to completely fold their tents.

In a not-for-profit but still corporate context, let’s not forget what happened with the Komen foundation when it went off the rails with its membership over Planned Parenthood. Beth can add details to that!

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 19

Absolutely…I often call social media the great equalizer. The BofA bank fees situation that Rory mentioned is a great example. Last summer BofA announced a new $5 fee and shortly there after there was a citizen started change.org petition that gathered 100s of thousands of signatures, some of the large advocacy groups jumped in and within a few weeks BofA announced that due to “unpopularity” they were dumping the fee.
Another example might be the huge outcry we saw over Komen’s funding of Planned Parenthood and the leverage used by PP to garner support large enough and loud enough that Komen eventually rethought what they were doing.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have any power…social media allows us to bundle our individual powers into a voice that can no longer be ignored by corporations or politicians.

cassiodorus August 5th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 20

The problem with demonstrations and rallies is that when they are over people go home and resume their normal lives. Building the new society actually requires that people build a new society.

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 13

Along these lines eCAHNomics, I’d like Rory to talk about some way that the corporations are working to game social media, both subtle and outright fraud.
(For example I just read that over 83 million Facebook accounts are fake.)

I wonder how many fake twitter followers Mitt has? How many sock puppets accounts were purchased by HB Gary like companies for Pete Peterson so we talk about “the defict” instead of jobs.

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 22

Thanks for being here eCAHNomics

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to cassiodorus @ 31

I don’t think that’s a failure of social media… it’s still about the people. One of the keys to successful online organizing is integrating the online with the offline… say you have a rally, in the “old days” it was easy to go to the rally then go home and that was that. Today it’s important to maintain the momentum by having follow up interactions that keep people involved, we call that building the ladder of engagement and when done right it’s power is second to none in getting things done.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to cassiodorus @ 25

How thoroughly do government spy agencies have its fingers in the Internet pie?” All the way tot he core I would say. Every email, every phone call..even every keystroke is at least potentially available to them. Their data-mining techniques, honed by Total Information Awareness and subsequent “black” programs, are incredible. And of course major media and tech companies cooperate with them constantly, from Google to ATT, with its open back door to all the Internet traffic center. I could go on and on–but the basic answer here is that they dont just have their fingers in the Internet–they’ve shoved their whole arm in already, and it’s scary to contemplate!!

Tammany Tiger August 5th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In response to spocko @ 32

Let’s not forget the “comments” sections on traditional media sites. There’s a small army of right-wing posters who pop up every time subjects like global warming come up. Come to think of it, they even pop up on an article about how to can tomatoes and somehow find an opening to bash Obama and the Democrats.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
In response to cassiodorus @ 31

And the new tools and technologies freely available now–which give us all,for the first time in history, the opportunity to btw produce and distribute media to the entire world, are a great leveler! I agree we should be realistic–but ket’s not surrender to a feeling or powerlessness and say nothing can ever be changed and the corporations will rule us forever, no matter what!

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 30

For Beth and Rory, Could you talk a bit about how social media had a huge role in blocking SOPA? Then I’d like you to explain how the big corporations dealt with this loss (by going deeper in to backdoor anonymous lobbying and spending money on the support of “decision makers” campaigns vs. dealing with annoying tweets.)

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to spocko @ 32

Thanks Spocko for giving me an opening to preach for a moment… the emphasis people put on the # of followers/likes etc is insanely ridiculous. I call it the numbers fallacy…it’s so easy to go like a page or follow someone on twitter and never interact with them again. Where’s the power building in that? It’s about the interactions…having meaningful conversations that allow us to collaborate and build power and make real change.
::::steps off soapbox:::

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:41 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 36

Why isn;t there a “small army” of progressive posters on traditional media sites? If conservatives are using both legacy and new social media to great effect — and they are, in my estimation — don;t blame them, imitate them!

Twain August 5th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 39

Call me an old fogey but I think Facebook has done an enormous amount of damage and I would not join it ever. I think kids have been especially harmed by it.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
In response to spocko @ 38

Yes, social media played a huge role in drawing attention to SOPA and eventually blocking it — another great example of their power. I believe it was Tumblr and Reddit that led the charge, and then it spread to other sites, includsing Wikipedia, which we can;t forget to mention.

True, big corporations dealt with “by going deeper in to backdoor anonymous lobbying and spending money on the support of “decision makers” campaigns,” which is pretty much what one would expect from them.

As I said, this is an ongoing revolution — and we are only in the very earliest stages. So expecting big changes on the part of the powerful–unless they are forced to make them — and hoping for instant, permanent victories is chimerical.

We have to be in this for the long haul–but at least now the playing field is being flattened, and I think there is hope in the social media where we had little to none for many years….

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 40

Honestly? There is…but I would also say from my observations that that progressive army tends to take their commentary even more public by taking to FB and Twitter instead of arguing with trolls on the news sites

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to Twain @ 41

Re Facebook–you may never join it, but 956 million people all over the world have, so it’s certainly something we all need to be aware of and knowledgeable about, if not actually participate in!

Ludwig August 5th, 2012 at 2:49 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 40

don;t blame them, imitate them!

It’s my impression, in the context of electronic communication, that more speech does not work.

Go ahead, call me a fascist now.

Assumptions must be interrogated.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:49 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 43

Agreed…but couldn’t they do both? I don’t advocate arguing with trolls — but perhaps beating them to the punch!

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 2:50 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 37

I’m so with you in understanding the need to create our own media. Also, because “the media” are also consumers of social media, they get ideas from there.
(the old saw was, “three examples? It’s a trend!”

I was trying to explain to a group I follow that they need to create their own media to help show their friends (and their friends) just what a big deal it is to put 150,000 Watt Stadium lighting in Golden Gate park, just 500 Feet from Ocean Beach. They want someone “in the media” to do a story on it. I said, “The media doesn’t want to do the work, create a video showing the impact and then link to the science behind it and send that to your friends. When they are all talking about his crazy decision then it can bubble up to the media, “What’s all this hubbub? Let’s do a story about the proposed AT&T Park-like lights along the coast of California and who is funding this development and why. Are Honolulu like hotels next?”

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:50 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 45

Why would I call you a fascist? For one thing, it would invoke Godwin’s Law…
But please amplify…

Tammany Tiger August 5th, 2012 at 2:51 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 40

I think there are two reasons you don’t see a progressive guerrilla army: (1) the right wing has much more cash to deploy; and (2) rich progressives are more likely to donate to the Democratic Party, which is averse to new media, than to insurgent groups.

Dearie August 5th, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Just an anecdote: I love FB for the opportunity to kep up with a very small group of people, share photos, hear updates on activities and such. My 95 year old dad is on FB to see photos and updates on the great-grandkids.
He also used FB to poke me…. a progressive, if not an Obama lover….. by “liking” some Mitt Romney thing. Gah!

But I also think FB can be a divider. Sometimes I see things that my friends post (ala “let’s have us some Chick-fil-A), and I think, hmmm…are these people really my friends????

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to spocko @ 47

The name of my blog (accessible at roryoconnor.org) is “Media Is A Plural.” For the first time in history, we can all now be,simultaneously, creators, distributors and curators of media of all sorts.

Understanding what this transformation means and how powerful it can make us is an essential first step. For example, if you want someone “in the media” to do a story—go ahead! As Scoop Nisker once put it,”If you don;t like the news, go make some of your own!”

Only now it is easier, cheaper and faster to do that than ever before…

BevW August 5th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Note: Beth will be back – storms in NE – her internet is out

Ludwig August 5th, 2012 at 2:55 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 48

Well, I’ll let you infer my meaning there. But the proliferation of dishonest and disinforming communication is a huge bubble of individual effort wasted.

I don’t really believe this is a good path to follow.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 49

I honestly don;t think money is much of a determinant factor any more in any of this…and if rich progressives only give to the Democratic Party, et’s go disrupt them too!

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 2:57 pm
In response to Twain @ 41

Harmed in what way exactly? Believe me, there’s a lot I don’t like about FB but it is where the people are so we adjust and use it as best we can to connect with others, but the reality is we come back to the integration of off and online… much of the organizing I find myself involved with involves a lot of offline to make the online work and vice versa…they say no man is an island, i say no social platform is an island

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 2:59 pm
In response to Dearie @ 50

Love the anecdote about your Dad! And yes, FB can both UNITE and DIVIDE –and it is constantly morphing and changing, often with little to no regard for its community, which does tend to make it even more confusing. Basically, I think of it as a tool,like a hammer — something that can be used to build or destroy things, depending on who is using it and how!

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:02 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 49

I’ll disagree with one part of #2… ” Democratic Party, which is averse to new media” is absolutely not true. Quite the opposite in fact. I could go on for days about this but in the spirit of brevity will just say that it is widely believed that it’s only recently that the GOP has caught up to the Democrats in terms of new media skills. In some ways this is true and in some ways it isn’t but to say that the Democratic Party is averse to new media is far from true. I am curious what would make you think that tho?

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to Dearie @ 50

I think your bit about it being a divider is interesting. For those of you who are interested in the dark side of social media I want to recommend the three episode series “Black Mirror” that was aired in December 2011 in the UK. It was created by a media critic and ran on Channel 4.

It discusses how twitter can be used in a vicious political way, what happens to relationships when everything is recorded in facebook and the virtual economy combined with the “American Idol” popularity model. The shows are profound, but dark. I consider them the best SF I saw all last year.

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
In response to spocko @ 47

Agree 100%.

I’ll also add that new media allows us to create our own filters of the news and really find the news that matters. Case in point, Progressive Congress News (disclosure: I am the managing editor of this project) goes out and finds policy news articles, blog posts etc relevant to policy makers and then shares them via dedicated Twitter feeds and daily opt in emails.

In fact one of things I’ve been pondering a lot lately is how do we teach curation skills so that people have the knowledge, skills and confidence to curate the news in a way that is meaningful for themselves and for their social platform audiences.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 55

Beth makes a great point about the need for an online/offline mashup strategy. (One group that does this well is Meetup, of course)

But this need is also evident in the silly debate between self-styled “cyberrealists” like New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell or Evgeny Morozov and people the term “cyber-utopians,” who claim Twitter and Facebook actually CAUSE revolutions instead of facilitating the growth and increasing the reach and efficiency of “offline” movements that have been agitating for change for years, even decades.

As activist Omoyele Sowore is quoted in my book, “The Internet has helped revolution; but the Internet is not revolution.”

Dearie August 5th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

spoko@58: thanks for the link. I do think that twitter is weird and I’ve stayed away from it. What I love most about blogs is the links and the ability to do some extra research before agreeing with whatever is being said.

gesneri August 5th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Hear, hear. Something with tremendous potential degraded to the lowest common denominator.

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Twain @ 23

I’m not surprised to hear that. I actually went and bought a tv yesterday after not having one for 2 years…not for news but so I can watch sports again LOL.

gesneri August 5th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

above should have been a reply to tammanytige24.

cassiodorus August 5th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 37

My intention at post #31 was to point out, simply, that building a new society involves actually building that society, rather than being a mere reflection of the proliferation of media, and posting one’s most recent adventures on Facebook or whatever.

My own use of social media attempts to reflect that point. My blog, for instance:

http://www.dailykos.com/user/Cassiodorus

is full of posts where I am either 1) trying to define what a new society would look like (the first thing we ought to do, the simplest thing IMHO, is to change the way our food is produced), 2) showing how a continuation of the old society (“more capitalism”) is going to work out for an ever-decreasing number of people, or 3) poking fun of existing efforts at maintaining the status quo or of faux activism.

I suppose that the point of having a society full of people who are basically trying to tweet sweet nothings at each other is to shield those who would create a new society from the reactionary elements in society, for whom freethinking is anathema. They are the necessary noise behind which the meaningful signal must hide. Otherwise I’d be interested in your take on the society of cellphone and Facebook junkies.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 57

Beth, you say “it is widely believed that it’s only recently that the GOP has caught up to the Democrats in terms of new media skills.” That’s not my take–I think it’s pretty clear that at least by the 2010 midterm elections the Repubs –including people like MArco Rubio and RickPerry, interestingly –were very active in social media and it made a difference in the races.

In any event I’d say at the moment parties fully recognize the need for and power of social media–at least in terms of getting re-elected.

As mentioned earlier, however, Obama never followed through after 2008 on the transparent governance piece — so the question is, Will the parties use this great new tool ONLY to perpetuate themselves? Or will the winner go on to use it to extend and improve governance?

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 55

I’m interested in online bullying. As someone who has fought corporation bullies and right wing radio bullies I felt it necessary to use a pseudonym. But I know that others use anonymity to attack, attack, attack.

I haven’t had to use it recently, but if I was under an “anonymous” attack with death threats etc, I take it seriously and turn over to police to track them down. But with lesser insults, and repugnant comments I often wonder, “what is to be done?” This is not if I just disagree with them, but if they are saying something so foul, racists, homophobic, violent, bigoted” In one case using clues from a facebook posting I figured out where this guy who made a vicious racist comment worked. Should have have alerted his boss? (He worked for a government agency.)

Tammany Tiger August 5th, 2012 at 3:13 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 57

We might have different ideas of what the “Democratic Party” is. I’m referring to the official party structure and party candidates. They’re still wedded to the old business model of funneling huge amounts of cash to the same pollsters, strategists, and ad agencies.

The Democrats will never be able to match the GOP in fund-raising, and must find a way to wage the political equivalent of asymmetrical warfare. I see little evidence of that happening.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to cassiodorus @ 65

Re your remark that “Building a new society involves actually building that society, rather than being a mere reflection of the proliferation of media,” I couldn’t agree more. That is one of the very point I was trying to make earlier to the self-sytyled cynics and those expressing the feeling that no matter what, the powerful corporations will snuff out all our efforts, etc

I understand why people feel this way but one of the main points of my book is that the digital information revolution is truly a game changer, at least potentially, in all sort of says and in all sorts of field.

Higher education, for example is about to be radically disrupted and transformed into something entirely new, and it could be to great democratic benefit in the end, just to mention one exciting new area..

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:16 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 66

“As mentioned earlier, however, Obama never followed through after 2008 on the transparent governance piece — so the question is, Will the parties use this great new tool ONLY to perpetuate themselves? Or will the winner go on to use it to extend and improve governance?”

AMEN! Last year at a training I did in MN someone asked me and my co trainer what we thought of Obama on social media. My reply was that his campaign rocked it during the 2008 election but since then imho Obama was sucking at social media because they aren’t engaging people. Things have changed a lot as the election has heated back up but in general once in the White House, Team Obama reverted to using social platforms to broadcast information as opposed to engaging and building relationships.

Two segments of govt that have really embraced social well would have to be NASA (who has hired a former RNC Social guru to run their program) and the VA … they don’t just throw info out and hope it sticks…they actually have a conversation with their audience and the difference in engagement levels is easily noticable.

Agreed with regard to the 2010 midterms. From my experience, the GOP tends to adopt new platforms and strategies more readily in their effort to catch up but from where I sit both sides do some things well and have some things they both need to improve.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:19 pm
In response to cassiodorus @ 65

Also, regarding my “take on the society of cellphone and Facebook junkies,” I guess my answer is that it’s unfortunate to be addicted to anything. I like a cold beer every now and then, but I don’t drink a case a night.

And there are times I thank the Lord for the invention of cell phones–and yes, Google, and Twitter, and all the other marvels of these days of miracle and wonder — and then there are the times when I curse their existence!

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:21 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 68

Agreed to an extent. Yes the party seems to be wedded to those old methods, but the reality is the DNC has a very robust new media program…I know many of the people who work there.
That said, yes the “traditional parts of the party” are all about incumbent protection and seem to not support the kinds of progressive candidates many of us would like to see in office…but that is one area in which social media can and should play into our hands. Take a look at the Twitter Stream of DownWithTyranny…Howie does a great job of using social media to shine a light on those candidates you and I would support but that the traditional party structure would ignore, but that doesn’t mean the party doesn’t embrace new media.

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 69

Rory, can you explain a little more what it is you see coming with regard to higher education?

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 70

Obama used social media in 2008′s campaign largely for field organizing and money raising. He then spent much of the money on old media–ie television advertising.

But those days are already gone, and the current campaign is different. The real problem is that neither candidate is likely to continue with their efforts to reach out to us and open up via social media ONCe they are in the White House.

IMHO, the biggest single failure of the Obama presidency has been his failure to continue to use social media to build and extend a constituency to fight for change the past four years. Instead he chose to attempt conciliation with the Republicans and to more or less ignore the progressives — which is one reason he’s in such a close race at the moment…

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:25 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 71

Also one thing to keep in mind about cell phones is that they are, imho, a big part of why social media builds power the way it does. It is much easier to engage on social media via a cell phone for a lot of people than via a computer. So much of our country lacks broadband … computers are expensive… but now a days almost everyone has a cell phone. As I often point out, Twitter is built on SMS technology…you don’t even have to have a smart phone to tweet…you can just send a text message to shortcode 40404

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Some friends of mine started a twitter hash tag #wakeupwithMitt (Tweets about what the world would look like in January 2013 with Romney as president)
It was successful enough that it trended to #1 briefly.

What are some methods that we can use social media to push an idea to followers AND ways to reach people outside of your own silo?
(And please refrain from using cats in your examples :-)

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:31 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 73

MOOCs are upon us! Massive Open Online Courses, from such stellar universities as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc are beginning to turn the old academic world on its head. Instead of a few lucky elite paying tens of thousands of dollars a year to “attend” a university, imagine courses with 1200 or 2500 participants engaging in the materials each week — not just for “credit,” but actually to learn…

Meanwhile prominent professors are quitting their tenured positions to start outfit like Coursera — a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. They say they envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions.”

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Social, mobile, local is the future of all media….

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 74

I wonder how much of the “Buy TV ads” as the way to go is based on the way that consultants who create and sell TV ads are invested in that method?

Is it the most effective? Maybe, maybe not but I think about how just knowing that someone is making a huge TV ad buy shows they are “serious” And how the mass repetition on TV is hard to avoid, where as you can avoid political ads easier on the internet.

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

no cats? wtf? :)

Well Twitter makes it much easier to reach others that aren’t your followers…it’s called hashtags and imho they are what make Twitter such a valuable tool.

For those that don’t know, hashtags are basically Twitter search queries. So for example if you go to twitter and do a search for, let’s use Spocko’s example, #wakeupwithMitt you will see all of the tweets about that topic. By using such a hashtag you are sending your content to an audience interested in the hashtag’s topic that may or may not be already following you. There are some great websites out there that make it easy to find hashtags already in use like so if you’re starting a new hashtag, go to those sites and predefine the hashtag to make it easy for others to find and understand what it’s about.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:36 pm
In response to spocko @ 76

What not LULCATS? Oh well–here’s a good example despite that! remember KONY 2012? Say what you will about the Invisible Children group behind that effort — you can’t deny their social media strategy was brilliant and brilliantly effective. They engaged THEIR community to use social media to reach out to a handful of celebrities with huge Twitter followers to link to their video. When Oprah, and Justin Bieber, and Ryan S eacrest did so–the rest was viral video history.

So there are lessons to be learned from that… Look also at the Ted talk by the community engagement guy from YouTube on what makes things go viral–and then try to emulate them!

BevW August 5th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Rory, Beth,
Do you see a time when the smart phone becomes another ad platform, like the computer is now – an ad before any content is available?

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to spocko @ 79

all I can say to that is that I often mutter to myself that I’m in the wrong business when I hear about the %s that media buyers take…I mean imagine as a social media strategist telling a client that I’m gonna charge them per tweet/post or whatever that I help them with…it’s just not a sustainable method if we’re truly gonna get $ out of politics imho

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:38 pm
In response to BevW @ 82

we’re already there… there are several companies out there that specialize in mobile ad targeting…it’s not as obviously widespread yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s as big as google/fb ads by the 2014 elections if not sooner

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 3:38 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 77

Is going to Harvard really about learning things or about meeting people? I had this discussion the other day with a friend about how knowing the content is not always the key to success. Brilliant jerks nobody wants to work with, fund or play with can make breakthroughs, but they might not make it out of the lab. As we have seen more and more, access to the elite world is not a brain based meritocracy.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to spocko @ 79

Zac Moffat, who is Romney’s digital chief, made a great presentation at this year’s PDF (where NO Obama people agreed to appear!) One of his main points was the extent to which people are turning off television and simply not watching it anymore — at least not “live” when it happens. Looks more than ten percent are watching NO television now–and another 20 percent are skipping ALL the ads when they do. Moffatt points out that means 30 percent of your hoped for audience isn;t even seeing your TV ads anymore.

Hence the beginnings of the turn to online video ads, carefully targeted to individual voters… By 2016 online ads will become a major force, and tv advertising will lessen even further…

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:43 pm
In response to BevW @ 82

Yes–and soon!

One of Facebook’s current biggest problem, for example, is the fact that more than half of its users now access via mobile means. And FB hasnt figured out yet how to squeeze ads into that experience. What you suggest is one likely future “solution!”

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Thinking about the education thing reminds me of another area we’re starting to see some interesting, but to me scary, social media developments. Facebook is now actively partnering with a bank in Australia to conduct banking transactions via Facebook
if that doesn’t scare the heck out of you nothing will

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
In response to spocko @ 85

Well, “going to Harvard” may come to mean something completely new and different in a very short period of time!

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 86

We’re definitely seeing this already… online ad inventory is extremely low and getting quite expensive (much online advertising is sold on a bidding kind of system)

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 81

“Look also at the Ted talk by the community engagement guy from YouTube on what makes things go viral–and then try to emulate them!”

HA! (Literally,HA! I did look at that Ted talk and noted that 7 out of the 10 were funny ones. Now of course he selected those, but I also noticed that there weren’t a lot of ones that were intentionally created to “go viral” (I can hear this phrase being uttered in PR and ad firms across the nation right now. “Make my campaign go viral so more people will buy our Monkey chow!”

I’ve told clients, You want a video to “go viral” you have to be really funny or really moving, or use cats. A funny, moving cat video that sells your product, 1,000,000 hits.

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:47 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 87

FB itself hasn’t but the 3rd party apps have…witness UberSocial’s highly targeted ads
The interesting thing about online ads is that using a script like No Block or buying a paid subscrition like on ubersocial or daily kos you can opt to not be served the ads…FB on the other hand will never let you opt out of that because that’s their revenue model. Heck, if you’re doing FB ads and link to something off of FB your ad will get a much lower ROI…that’s a well documented fact.

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:47 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 88

FB will do whatever it can to try to create a “walled garden” experience that you never have to leave to do anything–chat, email, purchase, you name it!

On the other hand, there are a lot of things to dislike about current forms of online payment, like PayPal. It wasn’t very “pal” like for that outfit to shut off contributions to Wikileaks and Juliam Assange, now was it?

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:48 pm
In response to spocko @ 91

I hereby fine you 2 million quatloos for using the V word!

Dearie August 5th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Rory@89: Right! How to destroy a brand. The very term “college educated” has been sadly diluted here in California due to the “Associate” degrees handed out in community colleges. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that say, “I have my degree in psychology”……when, in fact they have an AA from some really mediocre junior college. Means nothing. On the other hand, Harvard is ready for its comeuppance!

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:49 pm
In response to Beth Becker @ 90

Yes, that’s one sure sign…Also, there is a limit to the amount of television advertising that can be effective when both campaigns are saturation-bombing the air waves–but only in about 9 ‘swing” states! At a certain point people simply turn off to the broadcast bombardment…Online video works quite differently

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:50 pm
In response to Dearie @ 95

Well, I’m ready for that too!
:)

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to Dearie @ 95

On the other hand, the online world has made getting valuable training done at little to no cost. I do a lot of social media training all over the country and much of that I do right from my own living room via conference calls and screen sharing so it opens up a whole world of education to people who might not otherwise have the access.

spocko August 5th, 2012 at 3:52 pm
In response to spocko @ 91

Oh, but I will point out one video that went viral on purpose. Did you all see the #ShellFail video?

The production and the role out of the video(s) was brilliant.

The Yes Men and GreenPeace really figured out what would work for initial video and then the follow up video answered the question, is this real? And give them an opening to tell the public the real story about the dangerous of Arctic drilling.

BevW August 5th, 2012 at 3:53 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon discussion,

Rory, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and the future of social media.

Beth, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Thanks all, Have a great week.

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:53 pm
In response to spocko @ 91

yes, a look at that Ted talk shows that 7 out of the top 10 viral videos were funny ones — and not intentionally created to “go viral.”

So let’s try at least to emulate what works? Even if it involves cats, I don’t care!

Twain August 5th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Really excellent Book Salon. Thanks to Rory and Beth.

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Thanks for asking me to do this Bev and thanks Rory and everyone who participated… I’m always available on Twitter at to continue the conversation!

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to spocko @ 99

Thanks to all for a great session! Thanks Bev, Beth and the entire community! And please visit me at my blog Media Is A Plural

Dearie August 5th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Beth, I’m a big advocate of education, for sure! What I don’t like is phony degrees, worthless credentials. Education for really learning stuff is fabulous, but many online ‘institutions of higher learning” are turning out to be valueless.

Beth Becker August 5th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

hrmm why didn’t my link take LOL @Spedwybabs

Rory O\'Connor August 5th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Over and out–see you on Twitter @rocglobal

gesneri August 5th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Do you think there’s any danger in “education in isolation”–i.e., on-line courses taken alone at home? How important is the sacrifice of the educational experience of leaving home, being exposed to new people and new ideas? Is this just another means of divide and conquer by the PTB?

Dearie August 5th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

And thank you all for a really educational Book Salon.

Dearie August 5th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

gesneri@108: that is such an intriguing question…..would make a whole discussion of its own. Throw that question up in diary format at myFDL and see what happens!

cassiodorus August 5th, 2012 at 4:40 pm
In response to Rory O'Connor @ 77

Perhaps the Internet will finally allow us to dispense with the erroneous notion that education is about learning information. Education is about being a student — education is about what students do with their lives, and the farce that goes on every day in our colleges and universities is a severe underestimate of that possibility. Perhaps the Internet can put paid to the mythologies that sustain the university, after of course the universities price themselves out of existence.

Do you think we can start newer, more radical universities in place of the dinosaurs that roam the Earth today?

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