What’s trending now?
When everyone is an expert on everything…
The on-going social media revolution has changed the way we create and consume content.
Content creation used to be the domain of mainstream media. Today everyone has a voice and a platform from which to speak… But who is listening?… And who is being heard?
The internet and the cell phone enable everyman to communicate his ideas to the same audience as The New York Times, Barak Obama – or even and Kim Kardashian – practically for free.
Why it’s important?
Amateurs are the new ‘experts’.
And these new ‘experts’ can be heard expressing their views everywhere:
- – There are 156 million blogs on the web.
- There are over 200 million registered Twitter accounts.
- YouTube has 490 million unique users.
- Facebook has over 800 million active users.
Even CNN has started broadcasting ‘user generated news’ through its iReport project…
When everyone has a personal website, a blog, a Twitter account, a YouTube channel and a Facebook profile from which to broadcast their own ideas, traditional, mainstream media becomes redundant – or does it?
The advent of the internet may give amateurs the same reach as the professionals, but it is questionable if they are ‘broadcasting’ the same quality of information as the real experts who have dedicated their lives to learning about a particular idea.
Just take a look at how an ignorant inflamed comment on a well-researched online news article is given the same credibility and exposure as the article itself…
This is the double-edged sword of the new communication economy: on the one hand, freedom of information means that everyone’s ideas can be heard; on the other hand a deluge of free ideas means the best ideas of our time are drowned in the information overload.And when everyone is busy talking, who is listening? And who is learning?
The risk is that the shared ideas of our society downgrade to the lowest common denominator – to the scare ‘wisdom’ off the crowds.
As Andrew Keen writes in his book, The Cult of the Amateur,“ what the Web 2.0 revolution is really delivering is superficial observations of the world around us rather than deep analysis, shrill opinion rather than considered judgment.” After all, Google, the god of the web, delivers us the most popular results on any topic, rather than the best quality results in a self-perpetuating cycle where the most popular get even more popular and the truly unique ideas get buried deeper and deeper in the search hierarchy, regardless of their true value.
And Wikipedia, on which every user is allowed to write absolutely anything they like, is now the fountain of all knowledge. But just because a few thousand people agree on something does not make it true…
What’s the butterfly effect?
The challenge today is for the thought leaders of our time to stand up and be heard above the roar of the crowd. We cannot accept that the knowledge of our generation is left entirely up to the ‘wisdom’ of crowds. There is a need for credible curators of information, who will not simply take the ‘easy’ way out broadcast whatever low-quality ‘user generated content’ comes there way, but will rather sift through the masses of messages to reveal the golden nuggets and deeper thoughts buried within.
The pioneers and the global hotspots
TED, ideas worth spreading conferences are already commonplace around the world; however the movement is still the go-to platform for the newest and greatest ideas of our time to be heard and spread. Individuals, brands and organisations alike should be challenged to step back and listen to these ideas, before adding to them; to think carefully before adding meaningless noise to the World Wide Web. When it comes to ideas, it is the quality not the quantity that counts…
As Seth Godin said in a recent blog post, “One option is to struggle to be heard… Another is to be the sort of person who is missed when you’re not. The first involves making noise. The second involves making a difference.”
By: Bronwyn Williams
Bronwyn is an insatiably curious avid reader and an amateur physiologist who takes a keen and amused interest in observing the human condition.
She is constantly astounded at how predictable the world is once one is aware of the underling historical cycles shaping the trends driving our society forward.