Finding Your Social Balance

by Jay Deragon on 12/07/2010

The social web is pulling people and business off balance sucking everyone’s time and attention away from other priorities.

The Web is changing human behavior and the cycles of changing technology and discoveries has and continues to grab more of our time and attention.. Traffic to almost every major media and portal site has been in a free-fall for the last two years. Consumer interest has shifted from traditional media to human media and markets are scurrying to adapt to these new dynamics for fear of loosing consumer attention.

Human interaction is on a tear. While we might conclude that Google, Facebook and Twitter are the largest traffic brokers  of attention flows the reality is that the human network itself is the broker of traffic ushering in a cognitive revolution. While sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter currently commercialize human interaction the human network largely rejects the methods.

The massive interactions of the human network is being used to apply old commerce models (advertising and marketing) as the means to commercialize said interactions. The old school of thought was and still is that traffic represents avenues of commerce for brands and merchants to insert there “signs” so as to capture consumer attention.   It is an old theory carried over from the industrial revolution and the growth of “population centers”. Today the “population centers” are online and the attention isn’t centric to commercial messages rather human conversations.  Just maybe we are witnessing a philosophical shift which means old theories need to shift as well.

Are Old Theories  Being Replaced by New?

While the web is revolutionizing things the bigger revolution is in human behavior. The web is a tool for communications and when people are empowered to communicate with more reach and influence than ever before then people’s behavior begins to change.  Communications change behavior based on what has become known as cognitive revolution.

The cognitive revolution is the name for an intellectual movement in the 1950s that began what are known collectively as the cognitive sciences. It began in the modern context of greater interdisciplinary communication and research. The relevant areas of interchange were the combination of psychology, anthropology and linguistics with approaches developed within the then-nascent fields of artificial intelligence, computer science and neuroscience. (Sounds a lot like the web of activity)

In his book The Blank Slate (2002), psychologist Steven Pinker identified five key ideas that made up the cognitive revolution:

  1. “The mental world can be grounded in the physical world by the concepts of information, computation, and feedback.” Sounds like  knowledge is becoming tangible
  2. “The mind cannot be a blank slate because blank slates don’t do anything.” Sounds like the web is the “slate” in which we create actions from our thoughts
  3. “An infinite range of behavior can be generated by finite combinatorial programs in the mind.” Sounds like bits turned into media, information and knowledge from conversations
  4. “Universal mental mechanisms can underlie superficial variation across cultures.” Sounds like connected conversations
  5. “The mind is a complex system composed of many interacting parts.” Sounds like the web

We titled this post”Finding Social Balance” because the word balance means the power or ability to decide an outcome by throwing one’s physical and mental strength, influence, support, or the like, to one side or the other.  The human network is creating its own media which is throwing commercial market strengths, influence, support from one side to another and back again.

The other definition of balance is to estimate the relative weight or importance of; compare: to balance all the probabilities of a situation. A cognitive revolution changes everything because our behavior changes based on what we learn we can do. Learning is a process of physical,  mental, spiritual and emotional interaction. Sounds a lot like social interaction.

When new theories enter a market and become validated it changes the balance of an entire marketplace. To find your balance you have to change how you think. If you don’t well you’ll end up with more “liabilities from old thinking instead of assets from thinking anew”

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