The “thingification” of social media

Last week I took part in several events at Social Media Week London. It is an amazing event and kudos to Sam Michel and his team at Chinwag for helping make it happen.

I met loads of interesting people and had lots of interesting conversations but came away bemused by the amount of business there is doing something for people that I believe they should be doing for themselves. We have turned social media into a thing that can be bought and sold and are attempting to industrialise something that I believe is organic. Just turning it into a thing is problematic (thanks to Mark Foden for the word “thingification”) and I had a few rants about this throughout the week.

You can watch one below!

7 thoughts on “The “thingification” of social media

  1. Ah, Euan. If people didn't have product to sell, where would they find meaning? ;0) I've experienced so many instances where the simple act of communicating created tremendous angst and discomfort, and we always seem to end up looking for a product – or a reason beyond ourselves – to help us just talk to each other authentically. It should be so easy, eh? If only.


  2. I have rarely observed such a polite, charming "rant"…it's a British speciality, I reckon! :)Euan, I share your views. At the same time (oh, do I hate those four words), sometimes a truly organic creation – let's say, a farm – does need some help plotting out the fields, figuring out whether crop rotation makes sense, choosing the best seeds, deciding where to invest in equipment and where leasing from others makes more sense. (Yes, I grew up on a farm.) What farmers tend to be better at is knowing where the market is going, and how to meet its desires. If there are way too many bushels of corn, or a glut of soybeans in the market, the farmer has to figure out how to recover from that. (Too often, it's through government subsidies. But that's another rant.) Within large organizations, I see a huge disconnect between the people running the business and the people they are supposedly trying to serve. If consultants like you can help fix that, all the better.But yeah, the old days were better. 🙂


  3. Totally agree Jackie that people do need help and I don't think organic means laissez faire. It does take effort and you are right – I reckon the best place to invest the effort is in helping people "get" what is going on and see what is in it for them rather than doing it for them or flogging kit! (Hence the book btw)


  4. Thingification is very much a problem with all of this social media business Euan. And in fact, its a much larger problem when we talk in abstract about our "culture" or our "organization" and assign dynamic, fluid, changing processes (metaphorically closer to organisms as you've said) with static attributes or properties that assume a sense of stability and object-ivity. The word that you're actually looking for is reification and we have Marx, Lukacs and a bunch of other heavy duty German philosophers to thank for it. few months ago I came across this passage, which I believe sums up the problem when we reify things like the organization, social media, culture, and the likes: have always struck me Euan as someone who, as van Oorschot and Hogerhuis say, "avoid[s] certain behaviour out of empathy, but will be perfectly capable of transgressing against existing imperatives by way of an intervention."Or, put another way, reification be damned, let's talk and figure this out.


  5. attempting to industrialise something that I believe is organic.I seem to remember we've talked about this from time to time in at least three different countries over the years ?


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