Monday, July 11, 2011

Real Signal

I’m thinking about social networks still – as always. How can we build Uncharted up? How can we find the people with the passion for what we do, as the makers of the Revelry social network have discovered for those who knit and crochet? As Facebook expands to 740 million users, as Google+ begins to tear it up among techies, what chances do we have, as microblips on the social networking radar, of becoming a force to be reckoned with?

Maybe Clay Shirky has the answer.

Part of what we want to do at Uncharted is to unite our users to do good, to do humanitarian things as our reach expands. And if we can develop the passionate user base that we hope to develop, we can accomplish great humanitarian things with thousands, not with the tens of thousands or millions that the behemoth social networks possess.

Shirky, in this short presentation, says that he’d like to see “more effort put into helping groups send real signal, rather than continuing to engage in competition in increasingly meaningless political noise.” What he means is that he’d rather see change wrought by a thousand letter-writers than spam coming from 2.5 million people whose most active political engagement comes from sending a form email. This goes back to what Michelle and I have talked about – in this day and age, what you’ve got to do to get attention is not to flood the mailboxes with stuff people won’t read, but show a much smaller, but much more committed group ready for action. Shirky talks about this in the guise of representation and voting, but I’m sure the same easily translates into other forms of social action.

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