Friday, January 16

Polarizing Futures: Apple, Facebook, Everyone

When Amazon first launched Kindle, it seemed to me that no matter how anyone felt about the product, the technology behind it represented crossroads with potentially polarizing effects.

It represented an opportunity to educate everyone on the planet (once there was a price point drop), giving them access to the best books ever written. And, it also represented an opportunity to enslave humankind by filtering future content and killing the last refuge of reader privacy at the same time. Some responses were expected...

"Enslave humankind"? I can imagine a few scenarios, but what did you have in mind?

Facebook Sacrifices Burger King

Burger King posted a Facebook application in early January that promised users a free Whopper if they publicly sacrificed 10 friends. Facebook disabled the campaign after 233,906 friendships were sacrificed, claiming the application did not meet users' expectations and the campaign was singling out users for ridicule.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky has since move to its third attempt to force feed a viral campaign in the last couple months. You can now send someone an Angry-Gram.

Apple Becomes Editor-In-Chief

Tom Krazit, a staff writer for CNET, recently outlined the details between the e-book author David Carnoy and Apple. Apparently, Apple rejected Carnoy's e-book for containing "objectionable content," which appeared to be a couple of uses of that four-letter word that starts with F.

Carnoy succumbed, saying the changes didn't impact the book. Apple has since approved the e-book now that the author removed the words that Apple considered objectionable.

Mack Collier Questions Listenership

Mack Collier, a social media purist for whom I have ample respect, questioned my interest in the 'Real-Time Communications Conference' because it was led by Pfizer Vice President Ray Kerins, someone who is virtually unknown in social media circles. Pfizer has been using social media internally.

Collier made the case that listening to people who were outside the circle might not be worth listening to. I'll be sharing some notes from the conference, which was broadcast live in real time, next week. There is ample content that is useful for businesses, students, and social media consultants alike.

Some of the discussion goes a long way in bridging the gap between business marketing and social media enthusiasts. Bringing very different ideas from different people, companies, and industries is a passion of mine.

Stanford University Was Right

While I might be an instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, I still have a passion for learning. And since I am geographically challenged in pursuing my education, I make ample use of multiple sources, including the content rich Stanford University section of iTunes.

I'll be writing more in-depth about these programs soon, but for now there is a thought that seems especially appropriate. As much as the Internet and social media have contributed to making more information and commentary from a greater number of sources available, it also allows participants to pick and choose their own content to such a degree that each participant can effectively select their own set of facts and create their own reality.

In other words, it might even be said we run the risk of self-isolating ourselves from knowledge that makes us feel uncomfortable. So I wonder, no matter if it is the smallest examples of gatekeeper censorship such as Facebook and Apple or even self-selected, what are people doing to ensure they continue to challenge themselves — even if it means listening to opposing viewpoints or taking the risk of being offended — in order to grow? What are your thoughts? I'd love to know.


Mack Collier on 1/16/09, 11:16 AM said...

"Mack Collier, a social media purist for whom I have ample respect, questioned my interest in the 'Real-Time Communications Conference' because it was led by Pfizer Vice President Ray Kerins, someone who is virtually unknown in social media circles. Pfizer has been using social media internally.

Collier made the case that listening to people who were outside the circle might not be worth listening to."

No my point was that it's silly to place credibility in the words of someone speaking on how to best use social media, if they have no experience using social media. I also questioned your apparent implication that the 'social media crowd' better be worried about a conference such as that. Still not sure who the 'social media crowd' is, but that's ok.

I am ALL for listening to people 'outside the circle', and are actively seeking out these voices every day. As we all should be.

Rich on 1/16/09, 11:37 AM said...


With all due respect, I didn't imply anything; I asked a question. For lack of a better definition, I suppose we could define "crowd" as those who say businesses do not get it.

That would shift the conversation to something useful ... such as looking for ways that social media can bridge the gap with business, if one exists.

Mostly, I'm interested in what people, yourself included, think about this general subject. How do you keep communication open and diverse? What do you think about gatekeepers increasing content controls, even if it is in small steps?

All my best,

Rich on 1/16/09, 12:51 PM said...

From MarketingGuy via Spinthicket:

Good question on a difficult subject. It seems to me that the same vow that medical pros of integrity go by works here very well: first, do no harm. Corporate policy or not, it seems that the BK campaign was designed to take advantage of the very young that monopolize facebook.

The Apple censorship seems like just that--personal/corporate view only. 1-1, imho. Since censorship has been around forever, it is unlikely that the issues that it presents will be resolved soon; PC, however, may be close to if not at its apex--the reach of the internet helped it get there and is responsible, in part, for the backlash.

Just a thought. Tide in, tide out. Aaahhh.

Jacob Summers on 1/16/09, 1:24 PM said...

Ooooh, I love this post. This brings to mind something I have been melding on for the last few weeks... Social Media is great. But. Is it not allowing us to create our own little worlds apart from reality. When do we begin testing people to make sure they are testing their horizons? And would that in fact be censorship? Someone recently told me online that they didn't think I would follow through with some of my statements, and that I simply talk a good game based on the info I listen to. I disproved them, but the point stands - with iPod in hand, networks selected and a list of blogs and specific facts most listen to each day... do they really know what's going on around them? And do they know how to dissect it? This applies to people in general, as well as the PR/SM field.

Rich on 1/17/09, 10:15 AM said...

Thanks Jacob,

Your thought process is right on. If two people are pulling information from two sources that are polar opposites, it stands to isolate them more than bring them together.

As I recently mentioned on another blog, it used to be that sharing knowledge was about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comforted, whereas nowadays, we run the risk of creating spheres that afflict the afflicted and comfort the comforted.

We cannot learn anything by remaining comfortably tucked inside our own little worlds, with realities that only work within a set ecosystem.

Culinary schools didn't invent a microwave, the military did. Broadcast didn't push the envelope on flat screen televisions, computing did. Etc., etc.

Feeling comfortable and only seeking validating sources of information is much like assuming that the cheese will always be in the same place. In reality, the only thing that is certain is that the cheese will be moved. Nothing stays the same.

I often look for new sources of information, even those I disagree with, because those sources often have a perspective that lends something of value, even if it cannot be seen on the surface.

All my best,

Gylon Jackson on 1/19/09, 2:26 PM said...

I am not a fan of facebook, but because the business I am in I have to use Facebook and I do enjoy some of the interaction.

On facebook you can kill ducks, send nasty grams, tell someone how cute they are, get scamed by a product that shows you how to get government money, get scamed by a wrinkle free cream, put a tattoo on your profile, get a Macbook for free... another scam, oh yeah and peek at her (dating site, the advertising is selling sex).

Facebook has no real moral or business ethics unless it is tied to money. The Burger King idea was great advertisement and I am sure that a few people complained and that scared facebook. Here is a interesting group found on facebook "Look like a movie star, party like a rock star, f*&K like a porn star"....

Apple has a brand to protect and I am sure that Steve Jobs never uses the "F" word. Most of the people that work at apple, buy apple and love the culture love the F word.

Rich on 1/20/09, 2:27 PM said...

Hey Gylon,

You're right to some extent. Facebook tends to be noisy.

As for the Burger King campaign, it was cool in terms of social intelligence though I'm still not sure sometimes what they intend to do with the brand.

As for Apple, I understand their concern for branding. However, sooner or later, you have to decide whether you are a distributer or a content publisher. Their decision lands in a very grey area.

All my best,


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