Duck! and Gather

Social Media as the End of History? (cont’d)

Posted on: June 9, 2010

Part 1 was the introduction. Here is the ‘splainin’.

Social media will kill Google, and bring the Corporations to heel.

90% of Google’s revenue comes from those paid search listings on the right hand of a Google search results page. When we search for “iphone” on Google, we get some anonymous schmoes (the “Long Tail” of retailers) on the right hand of the page trying to sell us an iPhone. At the top of the results are the Head players (ATT and Apple). (BTW  I had to shut off AdBlock Plus to see those ads.)

But when we search for “iphone” on Facebook we get something very different. That difference is found in the reason why I didn’t provide you with a link for that search. You need to be logged in to Facebook for that link to work. A key reason why you need to be logged in to perform a search on Facebook is that the results include things your friends have said about what you’re searching for. Facebook “backfills” these results with Microsoft’s Bing.

Some people believe that this is the future of search, especially commercially oriented search. These people say that the Millennial Generation doesn’t scratch their ass without checking first with their friends. If this is true, then, over time, Facebook will come to knock off Google as the #1 commercial search tool. The day that happens is the day that Google stock goes all MSFT.

On the point of bringing Corporations to heel, this is a more subtle point. Next to its ads, Facebook places a small “X”. Clicking on that X brings up:

You have removed this ad. Why didn’t you like it? Uninteresting? Misleading? Offensive? Repetitive? Other?

Contrast this with Google’s paid search and its YouTube. The only “voting” we have on paid search is not to click. And YouTube has buried its 5 star ratings just as the former web 2.0 darling is moving fast to embrace the media Head.

What about Twitter’s new “Promoted Tweets”? Corporate advertising tweets will get dinged if not retweeted enough by the hordes.

Social media is driven by we the People; not by management.

Staying on Facebook, recall the Beacon fiasco. That episode showed us two things: (1) if any doubt about Mr. Zuckerberg had remained, that episode removed it. Yup, we knew for a certainty right then and there that “ceo … bitch” is a world class asshole; and (2) we the People pushed the Corporations back.

I know, I know. It looked like we were piling on Zuckerberg. But underneath that show, this was a People vs. Corporations skirmish. And the People won.

Look at Twitter how it’s rolling out Promoted Tweets. Biz Stone sounds scared of the potential blowback coming from the millions. He’s going slow and cautious enough to give the Twitter community time to tell him and the Corporations exactly what we will and will not accept.

Social media will save us from the need to duck, and history will end.

I guess Twitter is the best example here. Surely, by now, you’ve followed Twitter for updates on some breaking story. Whether it’s a TV episode, a sports event, or a political upheaval like the Iran protests following last summer’s stolen election there.

Twitter is the most subversive technology on the planet today. It has a million entry ports. Plug those up, and another million will pop up, like snakes of the Hydra.

What you find during these breaking events is not just regular folks retweeting the Head Media stories. You get true insiders reporting from inside. The Iran protests were especially fascinating because you knew these kids tweeting from Tehran were being searched by people who would kill them if they were found.

Imagine a war between two advanced nations in the Era of Twitter. The idea of putting a clamp on the flow of information — a necessity of wartime going back to the dawn of civilization — is futile in this Era.The best that can be hoped for is disinformation. But that’s a thin reed on which to hang national security.

And if the Government “shuts down” Twitter, how many Cassandra nodes and sub-nodes would start popping up around the world like mushrooms?

The genie is out of the bottle. We People cannot be silenced. Propoganda is dead.

And thus the tragic cycles of history will end.

Nobody dies. Crisis averted. We all live happily ever after.

Well, maybe not nobody. But in the Day of Social Media, I don’t believe we’ll see anything like the carnage visited upon this nation during its past existential crises.

I have explained before that I am not anti-Corporate. Hell, I run my own little corporation (Jack Polymath LLC). What I’m against is Corporate personhood, Corporate immortality, and Corporate power without limit.

When I was thinking about People vs. Corporations, I wasn’t thinking about Microsoft, Google, Apple, or Yahoo!.

I was thinking about ADM, Monsanto, Pfizer, Lockheed, Exxon, Citigroup. The purveyors of our poisoned food, spoiled environment, diseased nation, endless wars, irresponsible mindset, and corrupted politics. All of these companies, and the industries to which they belong, we’re founded around the time of WWII or before that.

These are old Corporations. Their time is past. They should be winding up. But they’re not. They seem only to be getting stronger.

But get on Facebook. Notice that the page for the Black Bloc has more “fans” (1404) than does the page for ADM (10), Monsanto (17), Pfizer (29), Lockheed (88), Exxon (32), and Citigroup (10) combined.

I know, I know. A bullshit poll. But spend some time searching Facebook for the “Organization” pages for those Corporations. On NPR, these kinds of Corporations provide us with lyrical, innocuous-sounding advertising.

But on Facebook, the truth about them comes out. This is the architecture of Facebook. And of Twitter.

And yes, most eyes today are turned away from these truths. But when the time comes to look, the truth will be there for all of us to see.

Imagine if Facebook and Twitter had existed a year before 9/11? Imagine how different the following decade would have rolled out.

I’m bullish on the future. Because even if Zuckerberg and Stone mess up, others will be there to pick up right where they left off.

Update: HeresTomWithTheWeather says those “others” might include Diaspora.

for the money has gone too far

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June 2010
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