1: The Kardashian Effect will dominate the sociosphere this year
In a recent interview with GQ Magazine, Mr James Bond himself (Daniel Craig) called the Kardashians "f******g idiots” for turning their lives into entertainment and cashing in on it majorly.
"You can’t buy it back – you can’t buy your privacy back. We’ve been in your living room. We were at your birth. You filmed it for us and showed us the placenta and now you want some privacy?” Craig ranted.
At this point I would agree with Mr Bond’s statement. If you are already prancing around in bikinis and throwing up in garbage bins for the camera (like on Big Brother or Jersey Shore) don’t go complaining to the media about privacy. We live in a digital world now and sharing every facet of our lives is the norm. As much as we may condemn others for this type of behaviour, most of us are guilty of the exact same crime.
Social media has resulted in the Truman Effect – sharing our every thought and experience with the world through Twitter and Facebook. The difference is that, unlike Truman, we have full knowledge and control over this voyeurism. Not only do we intentionally share our lives online, but we actually begin to crave the attention we get from people liking our status updates or commenting on our photos.
With smart phones featuring cameras and internet enabled broadcasting capabilities now widely available, it has become easy to publish aspects of our lives that once remained private and to share them with our online communities.
The Kardashians might be famous for starring in a series of reality TV shows, but we are quickly learning that you don’t need your own show to share your life with the world. In fact, the Kardashians themselves are now known as much for posting controversial and provocative tweets as for their many reality shows. Not to mention all of the stars out there who have been shot to fame thanks to YouTube.
We see the current generation of teens and tweens sharing every bit of their personal lives on Facebook and Twitter because they have a potential mass audience through these portals – just like a reality TV show. The argument here is that the Kardashians are creating a generation of "digital narcissists”.
The Kardashian boom is coming and we are going to be forced to accept it whether we like it or not, because shows like these are inadvertently causing a behavioural shift. People will find new and more extreme ways to exploit social networks for fame and they in turn will be exploited by their audiences.
The subject is bound to become a textbook one in university behavioural psychology courses for years to come.
2: Who owns the Twitter followers when employees leave
Twitter began as a silly social media site that let people share the most mundane tasks, like eating breakfast or walking to the shop. But after several political revolutions and breaking news events, Twitter has officially become a mainstream information tool.
As Twitter’s influence grows, so does the baggage of increasing responsibility and complicated dilemmas. Take, for example, a recent story first reported in the New York Times, in which a former writer for PhoneDog, Noah Kravitz, was sued for $34,000 over his Twitter followers.
Kravitz started on Twitter with the username @PhoneDog_Noah, and over time he gained 17,000 followers. When he left PhoneDog in October 2011, he changed his Twitter name to @NoahKravitz and continued to tweet from his renamed profile. He says PhoneDog gave him its blessing to continue to tweet from this account.
Fast forward eight months and PhoneDog has decided to sue Kravitz for violating trade secrets and interfering with their business. PhoneDog claims the followers Kravitz amassed during his stint at PhoneDog make up the company’s private customer list.
The controversy comes down to whether Kravitz would have amassed this same Twitter following if he didn’t write for PhoneDog. There is no definite answer because it’s still a very young issue. In my opinion, PhoneDog and Kravitz mutually helped each other’s brands. Thanks to new social media sites and the opportunities they bring, Kravitz could have easily built his own media entity without any help from PhoneDog. However, the $34,000 question is would it have been as successful?
What are the lessons to be learned? Many writers spend a great deal of time and effort creating their own brand on social sites such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook and would be more than a little miffed if all of their hard work had to be left behind should they decide to switch companies.
No matter what industry you are in, if you include the business name in your username, make sure that straight out of the gate you have a conversation with your employer over who owns what.
If your company agrees to let you keep your account but demands that you change your username, they risk losing all of your followers to a rival company. On the other hand, if the company insists on taking over your account when you leave; they also risk losing those loyal followers since you (the person doing all the tweeting and relationship building) is no longer affiliated with the account or company.
It’s a new legal issue that I am sure will be increasingly discussed and scrutinised in 2012 – with new territory comes complex new issues.
3: Can you kick it? Yes you can
On 1 January 2012, a company headed up by Siobhan Bulfin launched the concept of a "value” social network. Goalpost is looking at the bigger picture of people helping one other with their new year’s resolutions, whether it be to lose weight, quit smoking or write a book. Goalpost’s first project for 2012 is its Smokefree challenge, partnering with Quitline and the Health Sponsorship Council (HSC) to help spread the non-smoking message in the community.
What is interesting about Goalpost is that it keeps its community of users engaged and progressing towards individual goals in a similar way to Kickstarter, the American project funding website. Goalpost aims to integrate a similar game element into its service where people can support the goals of fellow community members and be rewarded for their achievements.
I passionately believe that this sort of social network, serving as a support system to help us combat our bad habits, is very much needed in today’s society. There is a perception that tough addictions and bad habits are a taboo topic on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and people are often criticised for negative or "whiney” status updates and posts.
The concept of the value social network will definitely be a breath of fresh air in the sociosphere, and I believe it is this concept that will set Goalpost apart from the many other social networking sites out there.
Articles by John Lai @IamJohnLai
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