Making a joke of Social Media

I’ve been working on another idea and as a result I’ve been doing some thinking about this whole Social Media thing that has gotten a whole bunch of folks wet and warm. My thoughts have been exacerbated as well over this idea that there is some kind of authority ranking associated with people using social media services and tools like Twitter. Hell we wasted a whole weekend blathering on about it both in blogs and on Twitter itself.

The more I thought about the whole discussion about search on Twitter based on some perceived authority the more I have become convinced that there is no such thing as authority in Social Media. In fact I would go as far as saying that by suggesting that there is does nothing more than make a mockery of what Social Media is suppose to stand for. I even went as far as posting this on Twitter itself – which garnered me exactly two replies (excuse the spelling error – I’m in bad need of a new keyboard).

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Chris Baskin however put it quite nicely in a post today about this

While there’s no doubt that Twitter users are eager for better search tools (how else will we know what perfect strangers had for lunch?), I rather suspect the attempt to quantify the idea of “authority” as a metric will prove slippery. And here’s why:

In social media, there is no authority.

Not authority as it is being discussed. Because in social media, authority doesn’t extend from its participants. Authority is vested in information and its relevance to users.

This idea that the participants have no vested authority based solely on number of followers; or even the newest suggestion of re-tweets, was clearly made by Douglas Karr the other day – especially in reference to the new Twitter search engines that are using this idea of authority by followers

These sorting engines for Twitter lack both. When I tweeted about Valkyrie a couple of days ago, I would have popped up in the results with my 3,200 followers. Chris Pirillo’s Tweet on Valkyrie is #1 in the results today – because of his 24,000 followers:

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I love Chris Pirillo, but he doesn’t have a lick of authority (sorry Chris!) in reviewing Valkyrie.

Even they only have 1,872 followers, it’s probably a lot more accurate to state that NY Times Movies Twitter, from the NY Times Movies page, has far more authority than me, Chris or anyone else in the results. And the NY Times Twitter account has a fraction of the followers.

The same could be said about my message posted on Twitter about this. If some-one like Robert Scoble or Hugh Macleod had posted the same thing you can bet your ass that they would have gotten more replies; or the new Twitter currency re-tweets, than what I got. Does this mean that they have more authority on whether we are making a joke of Social Media or not? Does it mean that the idea has more value than when I expressed it?

No it just means they have more people plugged into them and in my opinion numbers of people plugged in doesn’t change the inherent value of what is being expressed. It just means that more people will read it and comment on it.

Does this mean that rankings or authority is wrong in Social Media?

No it doesn’t as long as it is the content that is being ranked or given authority – not the person providing the content. Any other form of ranking based on authority only ends up making a joke out of Social Media and when that happens we all will lose out.