Leave Well Enough Alone? – March 9, 2012
Leave Well Enough Alone
Telling someone you’re an introvert is like admitting to a character flaw. People are quick to tell you that it’s not true or that it can be overcome. So recently I shared a vid from Susan Cain in my social media feed about the value of introversion, just to help people understand what makes me tick. So I rolled my eyes when I read about an airline that is now implementing a policy that is supposed to help the passenger experience by getting travellers to vet each other through Facebook. The New York times poked fun at this, and I have to agree. Not everyone needs or wants to talk all the time.
Who’s Right? Who’s Wrong?
This week my social media feed was packed with an interesting mix of people both lauding and criticizing a viral-video effort to expose a brutal African warlord. The issue was not about the despot himself, but about the motives and tactics of the organization bringing this story to light. By creating a compelling story, packaged effectively, many progressives felt that the emotional message (“we need to stop this killer, dead or alive”) belied a more complex concern about how to create a sustainable rule of law and justice in the region. Manipulating the masses is a tricky business.
Who’s Wrong? Who’s Right?
This week NPR highlighted a story that contrasted the huge gulf between the discipline of academic research and the equally hidebound world of online information crowd-sourcing. In short, a researcher who’s spent his career correcting misperceptions about a famous 19th Century trial found that he was unable to get his facts posted on Wikipedia. Although he tried to link his information to primary sources that backed him up, the wisdom of the crowd was that his efforts weren’t tenacious enough to be true. In the interview the spokesperson for Wikimedia was unabashed. Wikipedia is about “trying to get it right rather than get it fast“. By which he means, it’s about getting it wrong, and then about getting it right, later on. Yikes.
Just. Plain. Wrong.
Last week saw a convergence of two social media phenomena that are still in their adolescence: QR codes and location check-in services. And speaking of adolescents, the idea was to have young (or at least social-savvy) lovers scan a code on a condom wrapper as a means of broadcasting to the world their amorous adventures. My guess is that the people behind the idea are riffing off of the practice of “sexting” (texting while having sex). Call me old fashioned, but back in my day, making love properly required all of one’s attention, not to mention the use of all available hands.