27 November 2010

So Exactly How Many People are Drinking This Cool Aid

Back to the rant section of the choir...

I get the impression that there is something of a marketing effort by the Gnomes of Social Web to make me drink the CoolAid. Being something of contrarian - the adoption of Social Media sometimes feels more of hype than of substance.

As with many forms of hype - the definition of Social Media is still very woolly and decidedly open to misinterpretation. And I cannot shake the feeling that perhaps the hype is going to outlast the substance.

Just so we are clear - I do value the Social Web. I use Facebook and (Lord Help me) Twitter for specific uses. My team even has a Tweet engine we have developed for promotional services - very cool even if I say so myself.

But I still hold the Social part in healthy skepticism. Not least of which because every time I have tried to use a commercial application for personal benefit - e.g. Trip Advisor - I have found it lacking in value. or in many cases - just out and out wrong. Yes the "factual" data is often wrong from the direct purveyors to their surrogates or frankly people who should know better.

One thing that does bother me a lot is that no one is held accountable for mis-leading or wrong information, but this is not confined to Social Web data alone.

The now much quoted Sheraton Study on Social Media is being used to prop up the view that Social Web is just so darn essential to our lives. The 39% of respondents (who clearly have no life) said they could not do without their Social Media doses. The study ludicrously places Social Media up there with Life's real essentials:

"Overall, survey respondents ranked social media somewhere near air and water as a must-have in their lives"

I recall my headmaster in school when confronted with a parent (British version) who said: "O Levels are the most important part of my son's life" to which he retorted within my earshot - "Then the trip down the aisle is going to be a bit of an anti-climax".

Yes Social Web has its place and the media provided is a part of the fabric of our lives - intentionally or not as the case may be. But to have it become the be all and end of our existence is just unwarranted.

Context, objectivity and rationality must not be lost.

With thanks to Sodahead for the image.


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