A Better Social Web Exists

Silhouette of Fire in Khaki Blue

A better social web exists. It exists within each of us.

Today, this social web isn’t popular, instead it has fascinating small pools and eddies of action and meaningful dialogue. But this can be The Social Web, a place better than a popularity driven attention sphere focused on the best looking unicorn (Bieber or Kardashian, take your pick).

Our virtual worlds can become a place of vigorous discourse. Rather than dismissing social media‘s incredibly empowering capability in the hands of the Fifth Estate, the better social web seeks to increase online literacy for Everyone using these tools. The Middle East is just an example of what driven people can do with intelligent networking tools. So much more can be accomplished if we apply ourselves.

Rather than arguing over ideas and dismissing what we don’t like as uncivil (and thus engage in civility debates), politeness and manners will take precedence. Discourse can include disagreement without discoloring it with a personal sense of “respectful” civility. Posturing and maintaining top rankings via attention metrics will mean less in the Real Social Web.

The Real Social Web is a meritocracy where great acts drive the ebb and flow of the tides. This social web of the future works for society instead of trying to fleece it. Accomplishing acts that matter will take precedence: Social change occurs, companies working hand in hand with nonprofits to achieve great acts, and companies serving their customers with better products in services, embracing them as part of an extended social enterprise.

Popcorn dreams? Maybe. But changemakers seize on ideas and make them happen. Dreams can be achieved.

What do we have to do to get there? We can’t turn a blind eye to it. As communicators we are as responsible for the current PR 2.0 driven popularity mess as Silicon Valley is. We have to look at ourselves, and see how we have created this and why? It is incumbent on us to mindfully evolve within to create this new social web of the future.

We must speak up, one by one. And we need to stop rewarding the old PR systems and the people who have lead us into the popularity trap. It’s time to start asking why these people are popular, and what they did “Before Social Media.” What qualifies them to lead the communications industry besides personal attention?

Together we can collectively build a better online community. This means educating ourselves and our customers on what real business outcomes are. It means focusing on the basics, instead of the hyperbole of the latest shiny object (Android Honeycomb app, anyone?). It means much stronger practices of metric based communications across the industry. Instead of focusing on the Klouts of the world we need to develop more myImpacts.

It means talking to our children and reinvesting our values back into great deeds and hard work instead of quick fixes and popularity. Digital literacy and understanding how information is served must become a critical function of our education system. Sustainable happiness will be the outcome as opposed to short term vicarious pleasure (yum, Pop Chips).

The Real Social Web of the future is a place where anyone can use these tools to achieve great things. Imagine writing literature of the digital future, making a child laugh, creating a virtual place where scientists from around the world work to conquer AIDs, building the best company in a sector, or achieving a more peaceful, democratic country.

Yeah, it’s a dream. But inside this heart a better social web exists. Some people live this dream already. It’s worth fighting for.


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  • We bring our greatest strengths and all of our weaknesses into the web the same way we do in love, business, sports, hobbies and life. Talent and drive sit side by side with laziness and self-serving pettiness. If we want to build a better social web, we have to start with who we are and what we want to stand for. Are we all about the benjamins, bling and status, or are we about breaking new ground, helping people, and making the world a little better? Are we focusing on raising our Klout scores, or do we set our sights on more productive endeavors? At its core, it’s basically a sellout vs integrity question, isn’t it?

    I enjoyed the post. Thanks, Geoff.

    • The new media dream of five years ago has been betrayed, that we — as a collective whole — have sold out. Now it’s what we decide to do about it. And we can look inside and lead that change together. I don’t believe we will change the whole conversation, but like great brands, I think we can fracture off a piece of the idea market and turn it to something more productive.

      Today, I saw a great example. with the California Milk Producers Board — the folks that own Got Milk… They licensed the use of their trademarked handle to La Leche League, a self help group for breastfeeding moms. Their new handle is Got Breast Milk? This is sharing, and intelligent marketing, and intelligent CSR. It helps everyone, all boats are lifted in the tide. http://osocio.org/message/got_breastmilk/

      Such the antithesis of what we are shown by today’s conversation about… Twitter or social media in Egypt or any of it. We need more people and common growth stories and less BS about any particular media form, and the posturing that comes with it.

  • Thank you very much for this post Geoff. To me, it means that there is hope, that there are people who are working at a better social web. I sometimes felt discouraged but the shallowness of it all but as you said, it’s worth fighting for. We bring who we are as a person into our online interactions and in turn, our online experiences spill over into the real world. They are interconnected. We better make it good.

    Thanks again.

    • Yeah, I decided to write this post when I realized that I was losing hope. But the truth is the loudest voices are not the best voices, and the idea that we can just tune them out is not accurate either. What we need to do is refocus our conversation, and change our part of the web. The rest will follow, but some will always be mired in pop. Thank you so much for coming by.

  • It is definitely fighting for!!! I don’t know much about the corporate side of The Social Web, but on a social and personal side, it is doing wonders for people and societies from where I stand, here, in the Middle East. It is worth fighting for tweet by tweet, blog post by blog post, FB message by FB message and getting the conversation going. I think we are living the dream and I hope we make it a better place. Great post Geoff :-)

    • It has been so awesome and inspiring to watch your blogging and everyone’s efforts in the Middle East. What an incredible restoration of faith in the power of people. I hope Bahrain and Libya don’t prove to be as nasty as they are looking. My thoughts are with you and the others in the Middle East acting for freedom on and offline.

  • Geoff, thanks for introducing me to MyImpact, and thanks for continuing to say the things that need to be said.

  • Pingback:Interesting reads for the weekend 19-20 January 2011 « Fuzzagent – The web marketing curation blog

    […] A Better Social Web Exists A better social web exists. It exists within each of us. Today, this social web isn’t popular, instead it has fascinating small pools and eddies of action and meaningful dialogue. But this can be The Social Web, a place better than a popularity driven attention sphere focused on the best looking unicorn (Bieber or Kardashian, take your pick). Read the complete article: Geofflivingston.com […]

  • Love this phrase, “Discourse can include disagreement without discoloring it…” It’s so true Geoff!

  • All these things will happen, they will fall into place as a matter of natural evolution. Seeing a virtual world run by people and not big, greedy corporations and useless governments will lead to people expecting nothing less in their real lives.

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