Disruption (NSFW) Good Lord, people, hide the fine china! Lock up your children! It’s all gone NSFW!
I shouldn’t kid.
This assignment is about social media being used as a tool for disruption. I chose to examine the Boston Marathon bombings, and of course that’s nothing to be flippant about. Further, I selected a completely NSFW (Not Safe For Work) moment during the ordeal.
I chose to center my video around Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz taking the microphone during the first game after the bombs went off, and him bellowing into the mic, “This is our f—in’ city!”
There are some people who complained, after the fact, about the obscenity. But the vast, vast majority of viewers took it all in stride.
What did Social Media do? How did it disrupt coverage? Well, let’s just put it this way. If the bombing had occurred fifteen years ago, or even five, coverage (and our memories of it) would have been far, far different.
It would have been far less immediate. We would not have seen the carnage in anywhere near as much graphic detail. Jeff Bauman would have maintained some privacy with reference to his grave injuries. And David Ortiz, if he had dropped the f-bomb live on TV at all, would have been fined, big time, as would have the Red Sox organization.
Instead, we know. We have seen. We have heard. And it’s a lot harder to forget. The news is no longer being sanitized successfully in America.
Be aware, there are adult words in here, for very adult events. Turn back if four-letter words bother you more than terrorism. That makes no sense to me. Maybe it does to you.
For all who have been living under rocks, things here in Boston have been astounding over the course of the past week. If it were a film script, it would never be made. No one would believe it.
On Monday, April 15th, 2013, the unthinkable happened, when two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people died, and nearly 180 were wounded, many gravely.
Then, going from Thursday, April 18th at night, into about 24 hours later, Friday, April 19th, at about 8:40 PM, there was a lockdown and a manhunt here. To give you an idea of how close it all was, check out this map – I can scarcely fathom it. And I have friends, former colleagues, who were even closer, people who heard shots and explosions.
This is reality.
But I want to put in what, to me, is a bit of perspective, I hope.
Destruction and Despair
There are plenty of horrible images and I will, mainly, not focus on them.
But this image should tell the tale of Friday. We, like most people, did as requested and stayed in our home.
I took maybe 20 minutes at about lunchtime and sat on my front porch. I saw a guy walking his dog and another getting a smoke. Plus maybe three cars went by.
And that was it.
I firmly believe that staying out of law enforcement’s collective way was vital in not just keeping bystanders from being harmed but also in the swift conclusion to the manhunt. Also, I will not publicize the alleged (yes, alleged; I believe in the right to a fair trial) perp’s name.
Hope and Glory
There are a lot of images and words and I cannot possibly cover them all so I will cherry pick a few.
Neil Diamond and Sweet Caroline
So Neil Diamond hopped on a plane yesterday morning at 4:30 AM.
He just showed up, 40 minutes before the Red Sox game was to start, and asked if he could sing “Sweet Caroline“.
Sure thing, Neil.
David Ortiz (who never made more sense than at this very moment)
David Ortiz got on a microphone and dropped the f-bomb on live TV. The FCC shrugged and said the equivalent of, hey, no sweat.
So he is neighbor to a friend who lives in Stoneham. And this young roofer has already lost one leg, and there is shrapnel in his heart. There is a legitimate fund to help him, too.
I have loved Boston ever since I attended BU (I am from the Class of ’83) and am also a runner (but only 5K races – marathons are too long for me). Many of these directly affected people are second and third degree of separation from me. I cannot begin to describe just how personal it all feels, and I know that my feelings are rather small within the scope of this immense tragedy.
I’ve been running through life lately by shooting along at seventy gazillion miles per hour, and it’s catching up with me.
I suppose that’s to be expected. After all, hurtling along like that should, eventually, lead to some form of burnout. So I am looking to cut back.
Now, I love to write. I truly, madly, deeply love it. But lately it’s been something of a chore to get the blog out. It’s been — oh Gawd, I’ve gotta do this again? And that’s led to, what are to my mind, some less than stellar blogs.
Perhaps you have noticed them, or maybe you have not. Or you are too polite to say so. Or, I am just talking to myself. I don’t discount that as a possibility, either. And that’s fine, too. Hey, it happens.
But in my head, some of the joy was getting sucked out because it had turned into much more of a chore than a labor of love. And — gasp! — I had been running out of things to say. Things had stalled, and I was floundering, and it was all moving more slowly and I am sure that you all don’t want to hear, yet again, about my exploits shoveling snow — fascinating as they may be.
Hence I have decided to pull back a bit, and write less. Instead of sustaining a twice per week blog, I am pulling back to a once per week blog. And, sometimes, that may even turn into a no times per week blog. It’s silly to merely pump out content for the sake of pumping out content. I want to write when I have something to actually say. And I suspect you — if you are out there — would much rather read my blatherings if they have a coherent point and a purpose.
I don’t want to waste my time. And I don’t want to waste yours.
So here I am, disengaging a bit.
The mountains will not crumble. The seas will not boil away.
This post is a riff on 10 Community Roundtable Member Predictions for 2011. If you don’t follow the Community Roundtable, you should — they are very knowledgeable about an aspect of social media that is very near and dear to me — the creation, nurturing and management of online communities. I only wish that my Friday Worcester schedule didn’t conflict with their biweekly lunches!
I am particularly interested in #2, #3 and #4 on their list.
#2. Managing international social initiatives. Language is only one complex dimension to this and it also includes tools, regulatory environments, and culture. The combination makes it very challenging for large corporations that operate in many countries around the world. Social structures may mature into more localized or regionalized entities. – I well recall, a good seven or so years ago, attempting to come up with a good list of words for the profanity filter on Able2know. First, you round up the usual suspects, such as George Karlin’s Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Television. Then you move on, to abbreviations, synonyms and the like. Racial epithets, religious slurs, etc. But then it starts to get tricky, when you add in an international element. I don’t find the word “bloody” to be offensive at all, but British friends can find it to be downright awful. As a woman, and a Jew, did my own personal sensitivities color my perceptions? Was I laying into the list more heavily skewed as against slang terms for female anatomy, or terms that offended my religion but weren’t even being used anymore? Relatively recently, when Able2Know added a thumbs up/thumbs down voting system, plus the ability to ignore topics, posts and users, the profanity filter was dropped. Now that forum is more open (although the Moderating Team continues to eliminate spam and pornography and does watch out for comments that are beyond the pale), and there is a certain thing to be said for allowing consenting adults to let fly if they so desire. A contrast to that is Trek United, which continues to have a filter (they replace every naughty word with “Phlox”, the name of an alien character. That can make for some rather amusing exchanges). That forum is more genteel, to be sure. But are the restrictions better, worse or just different? Of course there are many, many words out there that are not offensive ones, and there are many more differences in language and culture, and not just with English speakers. But I think the point is illustrative — cultural differences matter, and they can matter in unexpected ways that can cause quite a ripple effect.
#3. Changing the 90-9-1 rule. It is no longer good enough to only have 1% of constituents actively participating so training and mainstreaming the use of social functionality will be a theme going forward. – Regular users often fret about a lack of response, and a skewed ratio. Often views versus responses are 10-1 or even 100-1. Here’s a topic where the ratio is more like 500-1. But I think that skips a bit of the point. It’s certainly less than an issue on a free site like Able2know, but converting lurkers to creators is not going to happen overnight. And, it might not happen at all. Creating good content is important, and vital, and it’s particularly important for the content to be created by a lot of different people with dissimilar perspectives. But you can lead your members (horses) to the topics (water). You can’t always make them post (drink).
#4. Creating a content supply chain and managing it with the same discipline as physical product supply chains. – This is of particular interest to me because it can often be a chore to come up with new things. For Neuron Robotics, it’s not so difficult because I can either comment on something we are doing or I can spin out a robotics news story. It is something of a hot topic and so people are posting about it all the time. But with Social Media, it’s trickier. Sure, there are news stories and blog postings, but these can often be posts about posts. There is still good, original content, but my riffing on it can eventually begin to resemble yet more embedded riffing. At a certain point in time, you can’t spin yet another nutritious meal out of leftovers. But creating original content isn’t easy. Inspiration doesn’t always strike, or it might not be appropriate or perfect or on time. The only suggestions I can provide in this area are to (a) repurpose if possible, (b) save content up for a rainy day and (c) continually keep yourself open to experiences, viewpoints and circumstances which will help you to gather and nurture ideas.
What does 2011 hold in store? As always, my crystal ball is cloudy. All I can tell you for certain is, there will be plenty of Social Media, and there will be people like the Community Roundtable, and like me, who spend our time trying to make sense of it all. Your comments, as always, are more than welcome.