Where are they now?

socialnomics coverSometimes, while I am reading through actual books (versus articles) in my classes, I wonder how fast the author has to write his book in order to go through the editing and publishing phases to get it out to the consumer before it becomes “old” information.  These days I would say they have to write with lightening speed because of how fast technology changes and how constantly new forms of social media seem to be introduced (and then disappear again).  In fact, I also often wonder if we are going to see a shift away  from paper books in classes specifically because of how fast information changes.  Don’t get me wrong, I still learn a lot even when the information is becoming dated, as it is in Socialnomics.  It almost becomes more of a history lesson – sometimes you can laugh at the information and other times it is scary how true some of their future predictions have become.  For this week I thought it would be fun to explore some of this older information and see what it looks like today.

Chapter four focussed heavily on Barack Obama’s use of social media for his elections, toting is as incredibly forward thinking: “Perhaps due to his widespread appeal to younger audiences, but more likely due to limited funding at the outset of his campaign, Obama embraced social media from the beginning – knowing he had a chance to dominate this medium over his democratic opponents” (Socialnomics, 2009, p. 62).  And this quote:  “If not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president or even the democratic nominee” as quoted in Socialnomics on pg. 65 by Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post. Eric Qualman was probably correct in this assumption, especially with regards to the younger followers being the ones who were using social media very heavily at the time.   Out of curiosity I looked to see where the “follower” counts have gone since this book was written.  Obama has gone from 3.1 million fans on Facebook (Socialnomics, 2009, p. 62) to 36 million today.  His Youtube channel has gone from over 20 million views, per Socialnomics (p. 63) to 291,711,299 views today.  While I did not see mention of how many Twitter followers Obama had at the time this book was written, he currently has 37,736,062 followers. Considering Twitter was a very new medium during his 2008 campaign, we can probably assume that there were far fewer followers back then.

What is interesting is that “Obama has pledged to involve Americans in his decision making, by giving them five days to comment online on any nonemergency legislation before he signs it” (Socialnomics, 2009, pg. 74) but yet I have searched numerous different Obama internet sites and have not found any such options.  I have also seen that many of his sites have not been updated with events or activities since 2008.  In particular, the Youtube channel has not had a recent video from Obama since the beginning of the year.  I think we were all excited to hear that a fresh young President was going to make such great changes – it made him seem more down to earth.  It is just unfortunate that his ideas have not taken off like he had said they would.  Maybe because he found out how time consuming social media can be and his job is a little bigger than he thought?  Haven’t we all been there done that?!

In either case, another topic that Qualman brings up is how Google can predict future trends by looking at its own search trends and advertising click-throughs.  This is still something that Google is promoting.  I found this fascinating and would love to learn more about it.  It still seems that the privacy concerns brought up in Socialnomics are still an issue today and this information is not readily available to the public.

Finally, according to Qualman, “One thing that is surely inevitable is the introduction of online voting” (Socialnomics, 2009, pg. 83).  Well, his prediction is still not reality almost 6 years later.  Not that it isn’t still a topic of debate among those who are interested, especially Internet security types, but it still seems quite a long ways off.  Even Canada is farther ahead than we are in this debate.  I, personally, would love to see this one come true!

Books may still be valuable tools but time will tell if their ability (or lack there of) to keep current, without costing the consumer an arm and a leg, will devalue them in the future.  Might we see a real digital version that can get updated on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis without buying a whole new book?  Wishful thinking on my part, I suppose!

Posted on October 6, 2013, in Social Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I see your point about content getting stale with book writing. One of our readings earlier in the course had studies about FaceBook from 2006, and my thoughts were “is this information even valid anymore?”. Things are changing so quickly, as soon as a study is done and the results are calculated it’s already outdated.

    I really do wonder if social media deserves the credit for Obama being president. I agree it makes him seem like a down to earth person, like he’s one of us. But, without that, I wonder if he still would have won. Guess we’ll never know.

  2. I really enjoy this idea of books that could be instantly updated to match the times. It is an interesting thought, indeed, to think about the idea of how quickly information changes. Even when we think about the publication date of Socialnomics and what has changed or could possibly be added through the current year.

    I especially thought this was interesting: ** I have also seen that many of his sites have not been updated with events or activities since 2008. In particular, the Youtube channel has not had a recent video from Obama since the beginning of the year. **

    The entire section in our readings about the influence of social media and the campaign really was thought-provoking, and when you note that these sites have not been updated, and videos are not updated regularly, this implies that the social media has fallen by the wayside a bit after the election ended. Is this true? Was its purpose only to get the vote? Is the administration still actively using social media to affect change? Is it too timely to keep up with social media? I thought there were staff members devoted to this task, but maybe that has changed in light of more important matters that need attention.

    In summary, your post made me think about how those who use social media, books, and other methods of communication really need to consider the upkeep and necessary changes in order to keep current and relevant information flowing to the people who seek out information from these sources.


  3. You make an interesting point about Obama not maintaining his presence on social media post election. Maybe he thinks that now that he’s on prime time network TV, he doesn’t need YouTube videos anymore? 😉

    I do follow him on Facebook and Twitter, though, and he (or his people) posts updates there daily, often multiple times per day, so in that way, he has kept his promise and maintained his social media presence. I know that I feel more connected to what’s going on because of these updates.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your post! I have had similar thoughts about how easily outdated a book becomes when writing about anything technology related (like software guides or even Windows for Dummies). But, you’re right – they are still helpful and interesting. However, they can only print the phrase, “at the time of this book’s publication….” so many times!

    Regarding Obama’s pledge to involve Americans in decision-making through online forums…probably a very lofty promise at the time. The realities of maintaining social media for the President of the United States probably sunk in pretty quickly! It’s too bad, though, because I agree that this makes him much more “real” and personable, especially to the younger demographics.

  5. I was really interested to hear your follow-up research on Qualman’s statistics. I had never heard about the proposal to allow people to comment on legislation until I read Socialnomics, and I had wondered if they had actually been doing that, because I thought it was really a great idea, so I was disappointed, though not particularly surprised, to hear that the Obama Administration hadn’t followed through on that idea.

    I am in agreement with your assertion that the US should institute online voting, it would really make it so much easier, instead of having to take time out of a busy day to vote.

    However, I do not agree with your hope that books would go fully electronic, especially schoolbooks, because frankly my post it note system doesn’t work as well on my computer screen. I do see your point, however. Getting updates easily to keep books current would be nice, although I very much doubt they would be free.

    Good post!

  6. evelynmartens13

    In the academic world, I still think the turnaround time from manuscript submission to publication is often 15-18 months, which seems incredible these days. Maybe that is less of a concern with certain subjects (maybe a Revolutionary War history?), but certainly it is problematic when discussing technology. I was recently teaching a group of Bridge students (entering freshmen,and I had them read a 2006 article about Facebook’s new features with regard to privacy settings. Every single one of them recognized the fact that the article was way outdated (my teaching goal), though most were too afraid to say so.

    Many of our faculty have moved completely away from hard copy books and rely on journal articles or perhaps particular chapters of books they find relevant, but they don’t require students to have the whole book.

    I’m a big fan of hard copy books because I find it difficult to work at a computer screen all day and then do so all night, plus I like the “feel.” However, as expensive as hard copy books are for students, and as outdated as many of them seem, I’m afraid I’m becoming a fan of “something else”…

  7. smitht09052013

    Digital books would definitely make published literature much more responsive, although it wouldn’t always need to be quick to be relevant. There are many subjects that do not change as rapidly and would not need such frequent and responsive updates.
    The focus of this course is interesting because it is occurring and changing around us all the time. The history of social network sites is a great example of this potential change. It is entirely possible that Socialnomics could’ve described a popular site at the time of it’s writing, but by publication that site could be closed or obsolete. This would definitely date the book, and actually cause it to become irrelevant even faster.
    I may be in the minority, but I don’t currently share the desire to see online voting become a reality. Maybe that will change for me in the future. I can definitely see the convenience, but I also see too much potential for voter fraud.

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