Returning to the Agora

Posted by on Aug 19, 2009 in Social Media | 2 comments

Thats a Phone, Watson?

That's a Phone, Watson?

Attribute it to preoccupation with other things — summer, life, jobs, the general hustle of starting your own business. I ignored Twitter, this blog, my Posterous account and some new developments in social media through late July and into early August. I was awash in a sea of informational ennui brought on by a general lack of interest in the perceived-dross that was washing over the transom of my social media platforms. I broke out of it though by really focusing on the group I’d set up in Seesmic entitled “friends.” Some of these people are real friends, people I’ve know for years. Some are friends I’ve only ever interacted with on Twitter. Regardless, I call them friends because for whatever reason I caught a spark from my interactions with them that really opened up to me the possibility and promise of social media, when I first jumped in. These people say things that matter to me. They’re not selling me something. They’re not telling me how to act. They are sharing information, insight, links, pictures and asking for feedback. They are initiating conversation and interaction and sharing.

One Tweet in particular helped me snap out of it because it brought me to a wonderful, thought provoking post, Search as Research by Richard Reeve (@CCSeed) at his blog, Catskill Cottage Seed. Writing about the vast oceans of personal information that folks share, and how it can and will be used down the road — by not only marketers (of course) but also by sociologists, anthropologists, historians and psychologists — Richard ends by asking “who will effectively learn to read” this sea of information? The post sparked a tremendous discussion, and sharing of ideas that helped to snap me out of my social media torpor. I stopped watching the data stream by in my various interfaces and instead engaged, and remembered that it is engagement that draws me to this space and this business.

In the world of social media (really in any world) it’s all about engagement: with people, their ideas, their points of view, opinions, photos, work, trials and triumphs. Marketers have been striving for decades to engage customers to sell clients’ stuff. The name of the game hasn’t really changed; but, the tools have, and the communication channels have proliferated and how and where and when we consume information and connect certainly have (Imagine A.G. Bell looking at a Blackberry or an iPhone: “you mean that’s a phone, without a wire and you hardly talk on it because you’re too busy using it to type messages and read articles and take and send pictures…?). But, for now, tonight, I’m not concerned with how marketers use social media — that’s covered, ad nauseam day in, and day out, c.f. Twitter. Richard’s thought provoking post (and he’s always thought provoking) rekindled the joy that comes from engaging with people in conversation about things — and I mean things, stuff, the weather, whatever. For all of the technology, and systems and interfaces this is really a tremendously humanistic time. Never before have we had such ability to interact with other human beings. On the most basic level people are talking. As Richard mentioned in a comment:

So again, it comes down to
people interacting in the digital marketplace regardless of the
platform, but here with sense being that of the Athenian agora

Some are selling and promoting and others are offering me free access to hot singles in my area . . . but most of us are just talking. Engaging. I’m not sure why I forgot that — chalk it up to Sirius, maybe — but once I remembered what was important, the engagement with real people, social media and it potential came back to me. What one does with that engagement, is up to the individual and their own personal needs, wants and desires. For me, I’m going to talk.

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  1. I find that my ability to be emmersed goes in waves as well. From May to July I was way scaled back with my engagement. I can recall hitting a kind a wall back in the fall as well. So much of the value of these platforms comes from what we pour into them, and sometimes the energy just is’nt there.

  2. Yes, indeed. These things require energy and when you don’t have energy to put into it, you don’t get much out of it and it becomes a vicious cycle. Well, your post energized me and got me back on the social media train, thanks. Thanks, also, for stopping by and commenting.