Andy on Twitter

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You Are Not A Gadget

Once every year I rewrite my core speech, updating my thinking and ideas. This time round I’m giving it another degree of thought as I want to use it as the foundation for a book.

For the past ten years or so I’ve been a huge advocate of all things social. That’s not about to change. What I am becoming more cognizant of are the effects of social media. Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget lit a fire under many of my thoughts and provided a refreshing perspective on what we need to do to thrive in the social age. I strongly recommend reading it.

Years ago, a CEO I worked for said “anonymity breeds irresponsibility”. Jaron is right, don’t post anonymously unless you are really in danger. I wonder how many community managers are really looking at the identity of those posting on their sites. Systems for accountability need to improve.

We need new ideas and thinking for rewarding creators. We need to make more time to create and craft – and not confuse that with expression. Posting photos to Twitter is not the same as creating art. Jaron’s idea that we “post a video once in a while that took you one hundred more times to create than it takes to view” drives home the idea that we need to create, not just transmit.

As I glanced through my Twitter feed looking at the brands I love and follow, I was surprised how much of the communications were trivial. Jaron suggests we “write a blog post that took weeks of reflection…”. Again, authentic communications – the stuff we want — shouldn’t be trivial.

You Are Not A Gadget enforced for me how much work brands have ahead of them to connect with customers through social. And how big the issues are for all of us living in the social sphere.

Love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read the book.

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