An example of a social network diagram.Image via Wikipedia

I’m here in Philadelphia, preparing for the Society for Scholarly Publishing‘s Top Management Roundtable. The topic is blogging and podcasting. We have incredibly talented speakers, bloggers, and podcasters coming to present, network, ‘cast, and publish at the meeting.

It made me think about how the fundamental question about all this isn’t, “How?”. We know how. We’ll show attendees how to use the technology, which is, like most disruptive technology, simpler, cheaper, and more reliable.

The question isn’t, “How?”. The main question is, “If?”.

If you start, if you try, if you begin, if you develop, if you commit — the question is, “If.”

It’s the same for joining online communities and social networks. The game-changer isn’t online or print or video or audio or blogs or anything else. It’s joining.

Deciding to join or not defines how we think about time, spend our time, and expand our time. Online, joining means more today than ever before. It has amplification effects.

This notion first began to reawaken in me when I heard people talk about blogging as a proxy for lassitude and depravity. As a blogger, I began to hear the snide remarks about how I must live in the basement and play with dolls.

One of the casual cranks people make about bloggers is that they “have too much time on their hands.”

Writing a blog does take time. Social networking does take time. Yet, it seems people, and a large number of them, are willing to shift their priorities to have this time. A friend of mine who knows such things recently told me that the internal growth rate of social network adoption overall exceeds that for any given social network application, suggesting that people have time to adopt multiple social networking applications.

All of this seems to have cut the legendary six degrees of separation down to three.

Joining does change the game. It changes things on a large scale. It changes things for people who join.

People who haven’t joined, and those who are also negative, have a lot of time on their hands as well. If I could repurpose into social networking, blogging, and podcasting the number of hours repeatedly spent by these people marveling at all the time social networkers have to blog, Twitter, and Facebook, I think a huge and vibrant social network would emerge, filled with thoughts, connections, and linkages.

Joining is a binary game-changer. You either bring the tools and techniques of modern communication into your life, or you don’t. That is, you’re either in or you’re out.

Look for updates from Philadephia at the Top Management Roundtable blog, including audio and blog entries. Join us.

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.


3 Thoughts on "Joining: The Binary Game-Changer"

I think persisting is just as important as joining. We always see numbers like 60,000,000 blogs in existence, but I’d be willing to bet the vast majority of them are long-abandoned. Ditto for growth in social networks. I have to admit, I’ve joined a few dozen, played around for a few days and then never gone back.

Kent writes:
Joining is a binary game-changer. You either bring the tools and techniques of modern communication into your life, or you don’t. That is, you’re either in or you’re out.

This statement could be applied to just about every technology: “either your an iPhone user, or you’re not”, “an email user, or not…” The problem with making binary statements like this is twofold — it confuses the medium with the message, and secondly, it implies technological determinism.

I suppose that blogging once or twice a week (and replying to Kent’s posts) makes me a blogger. But this form of public dialog can also take place over listservs, in person (viz SSP Roundtable), or (gulp) even in print newspapers. The blog can represent a fast form of online, semi-formal publishing, and given the time writing and editing posts, and vetting comments, can seem like it is working like (gulp) other traditional sources.

The fact that I don’t have a cellphone would appear to put me into the Luddite camp — someone who has rejected the marvels of modern technology and resisted how this tool could change my life for the better. But I seem to function quite fine without it.

So let me finish my blog reply so I can go out and hoe my vegetable garden.

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