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Andrew Keen: ‘Social media is killing our species’

In his new book “Digital Vertigo,” Keen argues that the profusion of sharing online is harming society, dividing, diminishing, and disorienting humanity.

Andrew Keen took on the unruly Internet with his provocative 2007 book, “Cult of Amateur — How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture.” He advanced a thesis that mainstream media, copyrights, and the public trust are being compromised by the profusion of content on blogs, YouTube, and other venues. He described the situation as “ignorance meets egoism meets bad taste meets mob rule.”

In his new book, “Digital Vertigo,” Keen takes on Facebook and the social web. He argues that the profusion of sharing online is “killing our species,” dividing, diminishing and disorienting humanity. He maintains that a kind of “digital narcissism,” or exhibitionism, is becoming a salient feature of our culture, and that Facebook is “stealing the innocence of our inner lives.”

Sharing, or over-sharing, individual data, according to Keen, will lead to a generation of individuals without “mystery,” living more isolated lives and lining the pockets of the social network companies that turn their data into profit.

In the video interview above, Keen and I debate his notion that the social web is leading civilization off a cliff and “stealing the innocence of our inner lives.” Watch the video

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Clinton Says Mobile Tech, Cooperation Key to Tackling Global Problems

Wireless technology figures to be a crucial factor in any serious address of the laundry list of capital-letter challenges confronting the developing world, from health care to personal finance, energy to education, former President Bill Clinton said in a closing keynote address here at the CTIA Wireless 2012 show.

Clinton also had a larger point to make, warning that divisive politics and a narrow-minded focus on special interests run at cross purposes from solving the big problems.

“What works in real life is creative networks of cooperation,” Clinton told his audience of wireless industry members from around the world. “If you think about it, the business you’re in created more new networks of knowledge and cooperation than any single development in human history all around the world.”

Since leaving politics in 2000, Clinton has thrown himself into work addressing numerous social, economic and health issues in some of the poorest areas of the world, forming a foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to give those efforts and organizational structure.  Read More

Can Social Media Ease Your Business Decisions?

Given the overwhelming flow of information, both vital and utterly trivial, available to all of us 24/7, has it become easier or harder to make business decisions? Is social media helpful or just another distraction?

The recent study by Forbes Insights and global ideas shop gyro, “The @Work State of Mind Project,” examined these questions. The results show that executives are pretty evenly divided on whether making business decisions has become easier or harder over the past few years. But those who say it has gotten easier include more of those who use social media of all sorts for business purposes. And no, this doesn’t break down along the generational lines that you, dear reader, probably expect.

(While executives were almost evenly divided on the ease/difficulty issue, they agreed by a 3-to-1 margin that they are making better decisions today. So even if the process is harder, it’s presumably worth it.)

First, let’s step back a moment. To quote from one of the study’s key findings: “Social networks are important for conducting business. About two in three respondents (67%) said that such work-related networks play a significant role in business, and 56% said that personal social networks influence their determinations. But business-related networks are clearly more important than ones more focused on personal life.”  Read More

Inside the Reddit AMA: The Interview Revolution That Has Everyone Talking

Reddit StickerReddit Sticker (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

I’m talking about the Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything).

It’s a stage that’s been graced by Jimmy Kimmel, Bear Grylls, bestselling authors Neil Strauss and Tim Ferriss, Ron Paul, Zach Braff, Joe Rogan, Ezra Klein, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Stephen Colbert, and DJ/producer Deadmau5 to name a few. All these megastars have opened themselves to the Reddit community and dedicated as much as 5 hours answering literally any question that a user might ask. It’s like the Barbara Walters’ tell-all for a new generation, where the questions are actually probing and the celebrity actually matters to the fans.

The AMA (and Reddit itself) has come a long way from its humble beginnings. What was once a place for the internet-savvy to pass time, is now the internet hot spot to see and been seen. Celebrities are lining up daily to field Redditors questions, a trend that doesn’t show any sign of slowing. The subreddit now boasts over 1.2 million members, half added in the past year. Comments and votes on any one AMA can now reach 5 digits or beyond. Likewise, 9 of the top 10 all-time AMAs have happened within the past year.

If done right, and that means treating this unlike any other interview ever done, an AMA can build loyalty among the Reddit demographic. (What is the demographic? Neil Degrasse Tyson described Reddit best as “a raging community of people with boundless curiosity.” Ken Jennings: “Redditors are everywhere.”) Capturing their attention often translates directly to huge sales increases. Comedian Louis CK took a chance on a Reddit AMA by offering Redditors the chance to purchase his Live at Beacon Theater performance for $5 through his website. The result: over $1 million in sales in the first 10 days and a new distribution method. Fellow comedians Aziz Anasari and Jim Gaffigan soon followed up by releasing their material in the same manner.  Read More

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