Where are they now?
Posted by Jennifer Smoot
Sometimes, 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!
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