The Limits of Social Networking

August 11, 2010

Several times today I tweeted a link to what I consider a very important article which could help save the lives of innumerable children and adults. It is a piece from the Boston Globe about how to spot that someone is drowning, and I urge my readers to look at it and understand that most drownings are not the dramatic and noisy affairs that Hollywood would have us believe.

But the point of this post is only peripherally to advertise that article. I have several hundred “followers”, people who receive my tweets and they between them might have tens of thousands of followers of their own. Each time I tweeted this link on Twitter today I made a specific request that those reading the tweet re-tweet it to their own followers in order to save lives. This “retweeting” (shown as RT on Twitter) is how information is spread around the network. As I mentioned above, I posted this piece several times today to try to catch the eye of as many of my followers as possible; and I am distressed to report that not a single one felt the need to retweet this post. Not one.

And yet if Lady Gaga sneezes or Stephen Fry chuckles or a fake set of pictures of a woman supposedly quitting her job is circulated, hundreds upon thousands of retweets flood the system and are spun off into discussions reaching literally millions of people.

Somewhere today I read about a survey that suggested more than 50% of social network users would turn to their social networks for assistance in times of trouble. My experience today leads me to believe that is not a wise decision. You might get some help from some close friends but for everyone else it is all apparently just entertainment.

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The City Paints Itself

August 11, 2010

Another of the fabulous reflections that Vancouver gives us! [better resolution image here]