This is the world social media made

I had hoped my introductory remarks from the Market Research Society’s Social Media Conference last Thursday would have been the highlight, but I was wrong. I thought people would be retweeting my rousing speech about the path to the fire exits and the location of lunch, but I was mistaken.

Instead the delegates were talking about a ripping speech by internet Eeyore Andrew Keen, the author of The Cult of the Amateur.

The Cult of the Amateur was an angry book about how the internet is destroying culture by creating a world in which everyone’s contribution to a debate is equal, whether or not they know anything worth contributing; a world in which a CEO blog is more “authentic” than a press release, even though they are both written by the same person (a clue for anyone who isn’t in the copywriting business: that’s not the CEO).

It’s a book that is easy to hate (two stars on Amazon from reviewers), but I loved it. This is not to say I agreed with all of it.

Now he’s worrying about the effect that pervasive social media is having on the way we live, and that’s what he was talking about at the conference. A clip here:

The way that social media changes our behaviour worries me, for personal and professional reasons. Personally, as Keen points out (though not in this clip), the ease with which data about us can be collected may mean that privacy becomes something that only rich people pay for, rather than a right. Professionally I note that, when I’m doing editing jobs, increasingly better communication is confused with frantically saying more things.

Most of us spend hours a week hoovering up thousands of pointless status messages, tedious posts, updates and tweets, just in case. It’s like stuffing yourself with the entire menu in a crap restaurant, in the hope you will find something worth eating.

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3 Responses to “This is the world social media made”


  1. 1 Richmonde September 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

    …but we don’t spend hours a week on long pointless phone calls, or long pointless waits at the wrong entrance. Shurley soon we’ll get better at filtering tweets etc? About the time Twitter reinvents threading, Ignore, Goto etc.

    • 2 Tim Phillips September 29, 2010 at 11:15 am

      But then Twitter looks like a bulletin board from 1990. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; but it’s not going to happen soon, because Twitter, Facebook and the others depend on Too Much Information for a business model. They’re not going to rush to make it easier to prioritise, because the longer we spend in their world without prioritising, the better it is for them.

      Some bits of social networking are efficient and fun and have a point. But I believe that the benefits are exaggerated and the problems undervalued – and that’s partly because the people who dominate the debate have a financial and emotional stake in the growth of social media.

      That went on a bit, didn’t it. But you see what I mean.

  2. 3 joannesimonis September 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    “Hoovering up pointless status messages… just in case.” I love it!


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