Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In-Our-Face Book

The most fundamental disconnect of current state web 2.5 lies between our dual roles as content producers and consumers. It's one thing to shed aliases and handles as fluidly as we're pressed for passwords. It's quite another to be torn between our need for peer approval and self-protection. That's not a minor misalignment. That's a deep and impassable identity crisis. How the two are reconciled is not the next big app. It's the staging ground for the gathering storm perfection of:

* The rise of Facebook
* The fall of journalism
* The abyss of credibility

For the last five years or so we've been feeding the sociable media beast with friend affirmations. We want a sense of belonging, of inclusiveness. But if we pay for that community-building with back-scratches and platitudes that leaves a gaping hole between what we hope to be expressed and what we know to be true. It's not that Facebook praises are empty but enforced by a culture of reciprocal transparency. As much as positive reinforcement is the elixir of choice for self-expression, it leaves us hungry for how others perceive us. It's tone deaf to the indifference of outsiders. Those are the potential employers who background check us out. But they're not looking for suitors, social circles, or listening to our echo chamber of megaphones.

They just want to know they can trust us and can't just take our word for it.

What would happen if none of us were allowed to post to our own social media profiles? Would our friends make up for the shortfall? Could our enemies commit "face crimes" and libel us with half-truths and fabrications? In a regulated web, non-vested observers would honor their own reputations by speaking to objectives, standards, and rankings -- not how they've been blemished by greatness or influenced by the people they're profiling. Sounds like the ghost of journalistic myth-making? Sounds like a reason to pay for content in cash -- not gratitude.

Build It -- and They Will Dump

In the web 3.0 future to be this darker Facebook will be compensated from both sides of the message exchange. Anonymous enemies will get to post unsubstantiated kiss-and-tells once they sign-up. Group members will pony up too. But they'll have to preempt these negative reviews with their own cathartic self-examinations. Post enough of these face-saving gestures and perhaps they can learn the actual identities of their blasphemers. Now that's a business model no practicing journalist is in any position to bargain over.

The most intriguing difference in floating the counterweight to Facebook idea is that my peers see it as a license to print money. "You can't call it 'BlackFace Book' -- too facial," one friend quipped. They suggested names like 'Disgrace Book' or even 'Evil Facebook' and the servers would crash from the endless lines of partisans queuing at the chance to shape a fair and balanced view for each profile holder: "can I subtract you as my enemy?"

However, when I rolled out the same business plan to a 20-something colleague they headed immediately for the cyber-bullying exits. 'Controversial' was the diplomatic term they used for unleashing the innert tensions between editorial control and open source opinionating. That perspective carries a greater educational value than any social or anti-social medium and the business models that will dwell there.

No comments:

Bookmark and Share

About attentionSpin

My photo
attentionSpin is a consulting practice formed in 1990 to create, automate and apply a universal scoring system (“The Biggest Picture”) to brands, celebrities, events and policy issues in the public eye. In the Biggest Picture, attentionSpin applies the principles of market research to the process of media analytics to score the volume and nature of media coverage. The explanatory power of this research model: 1. Allows practitioners to understand the requirements for managing the quality of attention they receive 2. Shows influencers the level of authority they hold in forums where companies, office-seekers, celebrities and experts sell their visions, opinions and skills 3. Creates meaningful standards for measuring the success and failure of campaigns and their connection to marketable assets.