Communicators in the New Bazaar

I recently reread Douglas Rushkoff’s book Program Or Be Programmed and there was one quote that particularly stood out this time around. It’s sort of an obvious insight about social media when you think about, but it’s something that is easy to forget. Here it is: “Those who succeed as communicators in the new bazaar will be the ones who can quickly evaluate what they’re hearing, and learn to pass on only the stuff that matters. These are the people who create more signal and less noise, and become the most valued authorities in a digital media.”

First, I think excellent Digital Age communicators understand that there is a threshold for how frequently one should post (although, it obviously varies on the individual level). If one posts too frequently, it’s like crying wolf. In other words, nothing seems important when everything seems important.  Most of us surely have at least one person in our digital networks who is guilty of this.  Frankly, I’m surprised at how many academics and journalists commit this networking sin too.

Anyway, I pay close attention to those people who I think filter information well (I certainly hope to be one of those people).  I don’t follow individuals who post of barrage of newspaper articles because I think Thomas Jefferson had it right when he said, “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers”.  If only we were forced to check back the following week, month, or year to see how accurate those newspaper articles we read turned out to be…

So, I closely follow communicators who filter well and this creates intangible value for me!  Even if it’s a few days after they initially posted, I will eventually see what these people shared because I’ve developed a trust for their judgement and I don’t want to miss what they think is important.  On a side note, I think it’s OK to promote your own work (especially if it’s good stuff), but it’s incredibly easy to become an annoyance if you over-do it (even if you create good stuff).

Ultimately, when it comes to social media, I think negative advice is more valuable.  Accordingly, however tempting it may be, there is one thing I think you should avoid doing if you want to be a top notch communicator in the new bazaar: don’t post a link to every article or essay you read.