"The same equations have the same solutions." – Richard Feynman (Physics Lectures Vol. 2, Chapter 12)

"In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is." – Yogi Berra

Bad behavior has been around in digital commons for 40 years. The fact that Anil Dash and Nick Denton talked about it this year at South by Southwest demonstrates that, despite everyone’s efforts, the problem remains unsolved. Comments (and digital commons) still suffer from trolls, snarky behavior, bozos, and a general lack of quality at scale.

In a previous post, I showed how one can create a solid analogy between the classic Tragedy of the Commons and what happens in online discussions (or in any digital commons). With this groundwork, the natural question to ask is whether we can leverage real-world solutions to help find ones in the digital world. Read More →

The world of social media is awash in a sea of data: followers, friends, likes, links, purchases, engagement. Anyone trying to make sense of (and justify) their social media efforts has to dive into this sea. Fortunately, there are a plethora of tools tools available (free and otherwise) that slice and dice this data in different ways. But how much do they actually help? In the case of many of the free tools out there, the basic principles of information design are taking a backseat, with incomprehensible charts, mysterious metrics and marginal usability ruling the day and obscuring the valuable information present.Read More →

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The term “social media” continues to rise in usage and popularity, but what do people mean when they say it? Is it misleading? And who needs a label, anyway?

Both Aliza Sherman and Olivier Blanchard have taken on this topic recently, each with similar conclusions (i.e., “social media” is not the best term, it’s hard to come up with a better one, but we should probably try). They suggest “social web” and “social communications” as possible alternatives, each of which has its appeal. At the same time, neither term seems to get its arms all the way around the paradigm shift that’s taking place.Read More →

Things are getting a lot tougher for the jerks of the world. Do something to irritate an articulate blogger with a modest Twitter following, and you could find yourself ridiculed in a post whose flames are fanned by a hurricane of tweets. Pretty fun for everyone to watch; not so fun for the jerk. But they had it coming, right? Or did they?Read More →

Many companies are trying to figure out how to use social media effectively, and hordes of social media thinkers are eager to help (from those worth your time to the snake-oil salesmen). A quick Google search for social media success yields more than 500,000 hits as of this writing, with the top results mostly of the “Five easy steps” variety. While simple recipes can offer some good advice, as many of these do, they can do a disservice to businesses by creating the illusion that (a) it’s simple to succeed with social media, and (b) there’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Dorothy’s quest in Oz provides aRead More →

ideally, blogs should say something interesting. this isn’t generally a prerequisite, but it’s what i always wanted. i’ve never been too interested in turning my blog into a linkroll, since others do that much more effectively. the problem is that for me to blog the way i want to, it takes time (which i either don’t have, or want to spend elsewhere).

enter new ways to blog: microblogging (e.g., twitter), image blogging (flickr) and other lightweight blogging services (e.g., tumblr, posterous). there are other things that could be seen in this light (e.g., dopplr, YouTube), but i’ll only focus on the first two.Read More →