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“Muffins and Beer”

In Nicholas Christakis: The hidden influence of social networks, I feel that Nicholas has made a significant point about the influence of social media on people. He speaks of the hidden influence of social media on society and how people are connected in simple terms that have to do with the nature and environmental habits of likeminded people. This is a vital yet simple point to make. People influence people through network structures that are essentially made up of groups of bonding people. Let us look at this more in depth.

I personally agree with the theory that people are interconnected. If you read or see on the news a bad news story that about a disaster that happens in another town or even another country, you feel sad for those people affected. You do not know them. You do not live near them. You do, however, feel a common social bond of being a human being trying to get through life and prosper. Nicolas would argue that it is these type of bonds that occur in social media formats every day that make people bond through computer networks. I would say that he is correct. We are all a member of a bonding group of some sort, and give and take product attributes from interacting form the group.

Nicholas speaks from a point of sociology. All of the major studies that we have showcased to a degree so far have been more focused on the social network then the person. He uses the widower effect to illustrate his point. This is a great point. No one can network alone. Networking is a social activity. If a married person dies, the spouse has much heart ache too. The bond to them dies and the pain is real. They are of greater chance of passing away. The reason for this is that it was the bond, not the person alone that kept them alive. We see the same aspect of social networks. The network keeps itself going when you post to a blog, on Facebook, or does a tweet; you are acting in a manner which is social. You are making a point that others will read, react to, repost, and enjoy. They will feel the emotion in the lines that you type. They give you emotional posts back. Social networks are very much the sharing of experience by people. You see the same bond in the married, divorced, and jobless, sports team, gender, preference, political affiliation, and any bond by which people can bond and feel and share emotion.

Look at the current youth movement, Occupy Wall Street. It has sprung up in every major city, many people of the same age and experience, and was spread through social media into the movement that it is today. Those people related emotionally to other. There was no call to arms, specific obligation, or even official news release. There were just many equal posts that many other people read and reacted to. Large numbers of people collectively feeling the same frustration and deciding to make it known in their own towns. Nicholas uses the behavior simulation analogy of coworkers going for “Muffins and Beer” together causing them all of to gain weight. The behavior is learned and shared and bonded. The result is social groups formed and the message is unified. The idea is multi person centric, however, and many different relationships will be formed, causing many pairs and complexities. The same is true in social networks. Many groups will further develop and reform as other groups and react to yet other groups. The common social format which brought them together for “Muffins and Beer” is the structure and activity of using a social media network.

The bottom line is that Nicolas is dead on. If social networks provide benefits which outweigh the costs, have good values present, and allow people to share new ideas and positive goodness, then they will join and form emotional bonds. If more connections, as Nicolas says, means more goodness, then a life of social media is a connected and emotionally rich social one. Anyone for muffins and beer? Ty Ray


Seth Godin makes a great passionate speaking engagement on leadership. He introduces his concept as a tribe or group to make change. People do not know what they do for a living. Mr. Godin argues what he thinks that we do – Try to change status quo. We try to make what he calls “big permanent important change.” He states that the modern way to do this leadership is the tribe concept and that it works well.

His example was that of the San Francisco MSPCA. It original charter was to catch and kill stray animals. Nathan, who was involved with the SPCA in this area, got the charter changed to that of an animal adoption agency. He did so by creating a movement by engaging the city officials and then the community to share his concern for pets. He found those who believed in his cause and used them to make groups to help him. He then replicated it in other states. Rather then by using mass media or spam, he got those interested and formed a movement.

Mr. Godin cites Al Gore and others as “light bulb breakers.” He terms those who live to an analogy in a Jewish Wedding, where a light bulb is broken to move the old into the new. Anyone can be a leader he says, and do not be afraid to break with the old and make new ideas happen. In marketing, the evolution form the factory worker, to mass production and mass marketing, to spamming and junk mail, has given way to a tribe mentality. This is a small group of person with a potent message. In social media it can come by way of a Facebook profile, a blog, an online review, or even a new portal by which products and services can be shown and sold. If the message is true, then it will be carried in its true form through many mediums and achieve measurable results. These people are not forced, argues Mr. Godin, but engage in tribes and then use common interest to be a movement towards change. The key to any grassroots effort in his terms is to use your ability to challenge, create a new culture, keep your curiosity within in out of your skill set, and to connect with others through charisma and commitment. Charisma to him is leadership in spirit and drive.

Looking to a time when I felt the impact of the changes that have come from increasing use of social media, I would have to say that it would be the last Presidential election. By using social media tools, online fund raising, blogs and online talking points, a little known Senator from Chicago was able to challenge a two term incumbent President and win the Presidency. He sent his message right to the people who would listen and repeat it. He appealed to the Tweeters, bogglers, and the Face bookers who were fed up with the staus quo in Washington DC. They posted, texted, went online and donated funds, and became e- soldiers for the message of now President Barrack Obama. Whether you agree with his politics or not, the heretics of the day got his message out and people listen and voted him in. His online campaign mantra “Yes We Can” was everywhere.

How does one be an effective tribe leader? For marketing and for life, Mr. Godin lays out his steps to tribal success. They are tell a story to those who share your interest,
connect a group to tribe of similar interest in an issue, lead a movement of people towards the desired result, and finally to achieve the result as a tribe. In all honesty, if the marketing message or cause is valid, these steps will take care of themselves. See you out on the plains of change. Best of luck. Ty Ray

Post Truth – Use Social Media

        When I first saw the group “Occupy Wall Street” I did not know what hey were about, what their message was or even why they were camped outside to deliver their message to the public. Part of the reason I did not know what these people had to say was that mainstream media was speaking about them and not for them. The news would come on and say that the protesters were dirty or that they were loud. There was even a story on the new which lasted about fifteen minutes saying that a member of the group “Occupy Boston”, a like-minded group who is squatting in the commerce section of Boston, was mean to a female member of the Coast Guard which has a base nearby. As I watch this drama unfold, and begin to hear some of the facts come out in this act of civil disobedience, I turned to social media to find out what is really going on.

        Sites like mobiledia are vital in the spread of facts that the mainstream media does not want to cover. Its has a full Facebook presence that anyone can go to as well as over 7,000 likes on its Occupy Wall Street article alone. Its Occupy Wall Street article, by Lorien Crow, shows how the social groups involved in this movement are using Facebook , Twitter, and other social media applications to get participation, organization, and information out to the public in spite of almost no coverage to that end by the mainstream media. Sadly, the mainstream media is so intertwined with business advertisers that it cannot be independent in its reporting of aspects of conflict in modern society. I dealt with this first hand recently as a unionized member of Verizon on strike for a new contract. The news took more than a week to report anything about the strike but ran ads everyday from Verizon advertising that the company was still strong in spite of the strike. Any detraction from the message of the workers looking for a fair contract was reported on immediately. It is simply true now that sometimes mainstream media panders to its advertisers in its reporting. This is not fair reporting, but it is a safer way to do business for them.

       The article speaks of a new application called Vibe. This application can send out information and messages to its membership. It also allow users to register anonymously and erase posted messages in a timely manner. This application will be vital on both connecting participators as well as informing members of possible conflicts while not worrying about archived messages coming back to hurt them legally.

     At first glance Vibe seems to repeat other formats or even be destructive to open conversation. The truth of the matter, however, is that every conflict has two sides. If one side can plan and organize in the quiet private confines of its board room and meeting houses, then the other side should be able to post its activism to social media without fear of mainstream organizational reprisal. Simply, Vibe is a needed tool in social activism.

      In the end I read on Facebook what the Occupy Movement is all about. It is about truth and relevance It is about kids becoming adults, having huge school debt, and not being able to get a job. The truth of the matter is that these kids could have just stayed home, collected unemployment, and become irrelevant. Through the use of social media they instead connected with a common frustration, organized with a common voice, and showed the world that the masses are not content to sit home on the dole while the economy collapses. Much like the grassroots efforts in the Middle East, and through social media as a tool, they have started to gain attention to the fact that economic change is needed. They have done so while traditional media has collected advertising money and slept on the story. Power to them for refusing to be irrelevant and attempting to showcase the truth.

   In pure marketing concept,  If social media ia the new voice of the facts, then it may render mainstream media simply a voice box for ads. If users go to social media for facts, they will render the advertising dollars of traditional media useless. By looking only at the business dollars and not reporting the facts, traditional media is just shortening  the lifespan of itself.

Ty Ray


In the online Video titled How to Make a Splash in Social Media, Founder Alexis Ohanian teaches the web using public a bit about user control of the web via social media. In this historical and honest point of view, Ohanian tells us that in modern social media the groundswell belongs to the user not originator of the web content, and that’s ok. He knows this via his background and showcases a case study to prove his point.

Mr. Ohanian started a web news interface called, which allowed users to vote news stories up or down in popularity. This was user control content rather then author or owner controlled content. He gave us the key points via his Reddit site as the interface and the groundswell of user control via the topics posted.

His view of social media is that the user control of the web isn’t about the things authors want, it’s about seeing new things via the web – the application is just the interface to new learning. Hence his site,, allowed the user to produce new content for other to learn and know using his interface as a vehicle. He did not need to be the admin of the information posted, merely the facilitator to others to produce as well as learn.

Case Study –Green Peace Whale Humanity Campaign

To illustrate his point about user control of social media, and how it does not erode the vitality of web effectiveness and information, Mr. Ohanian showcased an online Whale Humanity Campaign initiated by Greenpeace. Green Peace wanted to raise awareness to Japanese Whales Being Over killed by allowing users to name the Tracking Campaign to save them. They had many cultures intrinsic names and a silly one called Mr. Splashy Pants Mr. Splashy Pants was named a web favorite despite Green Peace putting out a full list of more cultural and pertinent sounding titles to vote on. Social Media site like Reddit, Fark, Boing Boing and others got Mr. Splashy Pants form a 5% underdog vote to the favorite at 70% by promoting its user voting.

Greenpeace slipped back into the old model of top down control and tried to extend the voting another two weeks to get others to vote for a more cultured name, but then Facebook got involved with others. This approached backfired in a user controlled web society. The vote for Mr. Splashy Pants ended up at %78 with just under 120,000 votes and won the name of the whale campaign.

What became clear form this case study? It became evident that the web users in social media setting controlled the vote for Mr. Splashy Pants and Green Peace could not stop the process. The irony, however, was that awareness was raised to the total of 120,000 voters and many more who read the story. The web buzz was a success. Green Peace was also able to profit from the user control buzz of this campaign and make popular clothes for sale from this for web users. The money could be used on future humanity campaigns.

In the end, though it was not what Green Peace has intended starting this online vote the Mr. Splashy Pants Whale Campaign was a success. Money and awareness was raised and the whaling was stopped in Japan. What can this teach us about control and social media? Mr. Ohanian summarized in five key points what this case study proves about social media in general. He says:

1. The web is a level playing field – Each person has equal link to the web
2. The buzz created in many social media campaigns is zero, just a free web account
3. Being upfront and honest in your web media is vital. People will know.
4. Most important, it is fine to lose control. As in the Green Peace example, they did not have full control of the Whale Campaign name, but the goal was awareness and they reached the goal with a silly name to a serious campaign.

Even if the interface does not have control, that’s ok. With equal posting ability, free online publishing tools, and honest and important ideas to share, users form all over the world can learn and teach one another via the World Wide Web. Social Media is the interface, but the brain of the user is the teacher. Ty Ray

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From the evolution of the printing press, the phone, the film, and now the Web, Clay Shirky points out the we are evolving in much the way the book Groundswell says. We are going form one way communication, to two way communications to what he calls “many to many communication.”

Many to many communication is just what it sounds like. Groups and masses of people are now sharing information with other masses of people. The users of the web are now the producers of the web content. The Web becomes the administrator of the different groups. It can also keep the research organized by having the different information sources readily available concurrently.

Two examples of this evolution that Shirky cited were great moments in history. One was China having an earthquake. China is a heavily censored country which relies on the government to show and censor what its people see. The last earthquake took them many months to acknowledge. This past earthquake was different. Many people posted to social media the conditions of the people during the disaster as well as the government’s efforts to cover up structural weaknesses which came out during the damage assessment.

China could not censor the past earthquake, Shirky says, as the social media was global, social, ubiquitous, and abundant. In short, like in the Groundswell accounts, there are just too many people in the web posting instant content in real time for any central government to control. China had to let some of the news be sent out before it tried to shut down the social media sites. By the time it did both the local people and the world knew of the conditions the Chinese people faced. Local pressure was out on officials to find out who allowed such shoddy infrastructure and the world got international aid to the people. This would not have happened in the old censored government controlled media model.

The other example is a shining one of web transparency. The Obama website voted in a free trade agreement called FICA different then the party was calling for. People began to post on the site that Obama should look at his vote more carefully. As more and more people voted about this vote, Obama felt the need to answer the groundswell of postings with his position and the facts of why he voted the way he did. He also left all of the positive and negative postings about the FISA trade agreement on his site. This is true web democracy in action, and may be the Web’s finest political hour. Keeping the facts in the hands and fingers of the people in real time, the Web has evolved to even be a sort of political watchdog.

Shirky attributes the Web evolutionary persons to be a few attributes in general. They are local in geography, post quickly, are amateurs by way that they can post freely, and are abundant in number. It is in these terms that the group versus group movement is thriving. Ty Ray

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