Peter Cochrane's Blog: The true power of social networking

Doing the hard work so you don't have to...

Written in a Seattle coffee shop and dispatched to silicon.com via a really expensive and slow wi-fi service in Rome a week later.

Some people in the media seem to have a real downer on social networking and concentrate considerable energy on charting its failings. I prefer to exploit everything that is right in the technology.

Older people - and minds, especially - often ask me: "What's the big deal about social networks?" I could reply in many ways, but the core of my reply tends to be as follows:

  • Other people read so I don't have to
  • Other people watch so I don't have to
  • Other people search so I don't have to
  • Other people research so I don't have to
  • Other people test things so I don't have to
  • Other people check things so I don't have to
  • Other people solve problems so I don't have to

Being a part of a vast community of people who choose to tell everyone else what they see, find, discover and understand is incredibly powerful.

Their efforts save me time while reducing the chances that I might miss or overlook something important and, of course, I contribute too.

the importance of social media lies in its ability to facilitate collaboration

The importance of social media lies in its ability to facilitate collaboration
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

What some older people don't get is the idea of openness and sharing: theirs was a world of information and experience containment; it was about control through the metering out of snippets of information and the secret application of wisdom.

Today's world is about being influential through sharing across a community of choice. It is a world away from the centralism of the past, and far more powerful.

If you need convincing, consider the world before printing presses when only a few could read and books were largely handwritten in Latin. This was a centralist world of gods and guilds, and control through fear and ignorance. Now, chart the progress after the printing press right through to the present day.

In short, I know where I would sooner live, and the manner in which I have to conduct my life and business, and it isn't at any time in the past.