Is this program a mockery of social media as cast by some of the web’s most vocal pundits? No. However, to position it as a way of measuring individual influenceis disappointing. With leadership comes responsibility and as such, we must continually earn a position of authority through our actions, ideas, and words. Doingso thoughtfully contributes to not only our social capital, but also our level of influence.As an aspiring social scientist, I do find that as a cultural experiment, The Influence Project is fascinating and even fun to those involved. To take the role of anthropologist and document the experience is something that I’m sure Fact Company’s Mark Borden is anxious to document and publish.The experiment comes at a price however and one that requires a modest, but important webwide cleanup effort. At the heart of the matter is a simple, butpowerful word and it needs to be taken back.
Wisdom of the Crowds
Social media is said to be defined by the wisdom of the crowds. As Andrew Keen emphasized in his book, “The Cult of the Amateur ,” many of the most visible
movements online wouldn’t represent the level of wisdom one might expect. As such, effects are measured by the sum of their parts. And unfortunately, one cannever underestimate the power of the uninformed in large groups.It’s trivial to spur a click, vote, like, or share/ReTweet. Over time, harmless requests transform into questionable acts of self-promotion and once switched, thetransition is difficult to reverse. Social currency comes into play in all that we do online. It is the active investments of relevant content, insight, and a balancedregiment of recognition, reciprocity, and reward that boosts trust and authority. Over time, our net worth is measured not by the size of our social graph, but our place within it. As a result, social capital is visualized as influence. It is influence that shapes the agenda of social communities and the resulting activity andconversations that contribute to their resonance.In social networks, influence aligns with individuals, where the extent, level, and effect of authority contributes to a stature of varying degrees. Services suchasKlout, Edelmen’s TweetLevel,and PeerIndex, have devised complexhuman algorithms to calculate the level of prominence individuals have amassed in each
network over time. These services, to some extent, establish a FICO score that calculates the credit of one’s social capital.HP’s Social Computing Lab recently published a landmark studythat examines the building blocks for making a tweet unmistakably influential. The team led by Dr.
Bernardo Huberman, Daniel Romero, Wojciech Galuba and Sitaram Asur analyzed 22 million tweets. To put that number into perspective, 65 million Tweets flyeach day, equating to just under 2 billion Tweets per month.As a way of measuring influence and identifying particularly influential users, the HP team devised a new “IP Algorithm” to measure the influence level of users aswell as surface Twitter’s most influential individuals. The calculations also accounted for “passivity,” the propensity for someone to view, ignore, or miss the contentshared by others. Over the years, I’ve studied “connectivity,” the opposite of passivity, where attentiveness begins with our attention aperture.In order for social
object to trigger the social effect it must represent something compelling and shareable in addition to a right time vs. real-time introduction.