I'll start by self-quoting and self referencing. After all what can be more reverberating that one's own voice? In March, 2007 I wrote:
Some “visible” customers yield a lot of power over companies. Possessing a blog, for instance can be used as a weapon to threaten with creating bad fuzz for a company. The result is that if you threaten or actually post a negative review, comment or experience, chances are you’ll get a sort of VIP treatment.
Now others have seen this light. Or so it would seem. Yet, the usual misconceptions and hurried conclusions seem to show up, at least
Chris Hall, inpired by Peter, wrote a post on Vocal minorities:
Just because I’m able to get on Twitter or (insert social tool here) and complain about a policy or an ad campaign that I don’t think applies to me, while amassing a bunch of sympathizers to take up my cause, doesn’t give me the right to automatically get my way. Whether I’m in the majority or I’m part of the minority in any given group, bullying is not cool.
After visiting Chris's post I read two related tweets by Aviansh:
I have the highest respect for Aviansh, he's one of those rare cases of people who actually generate well thought and valuable content. Yet, I have to agree with David's Tweet reply to him:
So, after way too many quotes: what is the point?
Social media is about minorities.
It is about the minority that connects through facebook because they went to a certain school, about the minority that works for a company and connects through yammer, it is about the minority that takes UFO's pictures and places them at flickr.
The whole point (and one of the original flags) of social media is that minorities and the underpowered get to have the same voice than the majorities and those in editorial control. And that is nothing more and nothing less than plain good old democracy.
I have a personal problem with majorities. Huge atrocities have happened in the name of majorities. I tend to feel that when you try to please too many people at once no one gets what they want.
Although I am a believer of croudsourcing I think it does not apply to every single situation and that the masses can numb individual creativity.
Masses are great to aggregate collective knowledge, but I have yet to see enough examples of collective creativity to become a believer of that.
So I can drive to my point I need to quote Chris again:
I smell a trend… What gets me is that these vocal minorities of less than 1% of their group’s total population are imposing their collective wills upon millions of other group members because they have realized that they have a platform.
Is that right?
Nobody’s asking that question, so let me take a stab at it. I’m not an unreasonable man, I think that a case can be made for the vocal minority. However, I don’t think that people with complaints are always right, nor do I think that they’re ever immediately always right.
For starters: I already made that question
There are several observations I have to make.
It should be noted that the 1% Chris mentions might be influencing the other 99%. People use to think the world was flat, remember? A minority came, stating the world was a sphere, were proven right and now the majority of thinks the world is not flat. Paying attention just to munorities does not seem like a smart thing to do. He raises the question of what opinion matters most and concludes:
Rather then proclaiming a groundswell every time the little guy raises a stink, we should be championing the opportunity for dialogue and understanding.
Well, I sort of agree.
The problem is that there is a lot of noise in the conversation. And that noise is increasing; probably more rapidly than the signal. The real problem then becomes how to tell what in that ocean of conversations is of value and what not. So we end up with "judgment". Nasty.
All of us in the social media world need to make judgments about where the important conversations reside. And that is an error-prone process. Thus we end up in a conundrum: we can't possibly pay attention to all conversations, so we make a selection and we end up either listening to the vocal minorities or just to those that agree with us (the infamous Echo Chamber).
Sound familiar? Yup. That are the exact problems Chris and Peter started complaining about.
Listening to conversations brought us to this point in the first place.
So, what could be the solution? Minorities. Ironic, isn't it?
Let me explain:
We need to connect with those representative of minorities to get in touch with what those minorities think. We shouldn't be trying to add minorities one in top of the other to get a majority, we should be respecting what makes them different, listening to that and we might be in good course for that concept called "long tail".
Minorities are important. Listening and respecting them is crucial. As I stated, Web 2.0 fosters minorities, so we will only see more of that, not less. We better start getting used to that. Need I remind the readers how Obama used to be minority facing both Primaries and Presidential election?
What we need to do is smarten up while connecting to and with minorities. They will have lessons to teach us. We also need to find ways to connect minorities between themselves so we don't all end up living and talking inside walled gardens.
Wait... that IS already happening.
Bottom line is: We need to break all the walls around our gardens.
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