“Cult of the Amateur” and Twitter

In my previous post I wrote about some of my thoughts concerning three key points that I drew from Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur”.

I wanted to take a few minutes to write about ways to address the challenges of these three points.

I have commented on twitter (@SCMProfessor) that I don’t like the push to be “followed” but not to follow back.  Leo LaPorte, and many others, talk in their podcasts about how many people follow them, and either in jest or with serious intent, talk about wanting more followers.  There I find myself usually asking “why?”

Of course, people like Barack Obama, @LeoLaPorte, and my two personal favorites @BrentSpiner  and @bobbyll (two of the best TV androids around!) serve a role as thought leaders.  But what about the rest of  us? Should we want to be folllowed by millions and not follow back?

I admit, I enjoy watching the following numbers go up.  It is in some sense a boost to the ego.  But I also feel it is important to follow back.  If we are to be part of a “community” then that community should encourage discourse and exchange.  We should want to follow the people that follow us, so that we can learn from them.  @TheRealDvorak (John C Dvorak) actually was doing this.  He would follow back.  He would engage.  Of course, leading the way in following back is Scoble (@thescobleizer) who follows 70K people, and is followed by 65K.  He engages!

Here’s my suggestions for engagement on Twitter.

  1. First, when someone follows you (and they aren’t a scam-bot) follow back.
  2. Don’t block people you disagree with–engage, and learn.  Neither of you will likely change, but both can grow.
  3. Seek out experts in your field on Twitter, and acknoweldge them
  4. Ask questions!  A true community should be willing to help one another, which leads to;
  5. Answer questions!  When someone asks for help, and if you are qualified, respond, and finally;
  6. Engage people at the personal level.

I have tried, in thinking through these suggestions, to address Keen’s legitimate concerns regarding Web 2.0.

First and foremost if we make this conversational and if we are willing to follow and engage with people whom we disagree, we may find that while ideologies separate us, we can be friends.  And through it all we may learn that the “I” is not as important as the “we.”

Second, by seeking out, and acknowledging, experts in a our fields, we help to quell the cacaophony of amateurs, and reinforce the importance of depth.  This approach also helps build sub-communities in Twitter where practitioners (for instance in my fields of education, and supply chain) can grow and share and learn.

Finally, by engaging in these social networking communities of practice we open doors for further growth and development of knowledge.  The professional benefit of Twitter can be that it answers questions to immediate needs, and opens doors for further (monetarily rewarding)

Take a minutes, and contribute to the community. Leave a comment, and if you are on Twitter, leave your twitter info!