The Power of Association

This year the conference organizers have established a group–"Online Information 2007"–on Facebook., and as of this morning, 416 Facebook members have associated themselves with it.

While talk of social media and its potentially high impact on the information landscape infuses the conference program this week, there really doesn’t seem to be much happening at this official group melding spot.

A few people have posted short write-ups on their talks, a few bloggers have noted that they will be covering the show, and a handful of participants have posted short bios. 

We’ve had similar experiences at Information Today in attempting to organize conference groups for our own shows. Yes, the people sign up, but what do they do then?

I’m beginning to think it’s quite possible I must be missing the point.  Maybe these social media are not about the kind of content objects I generally associate with information transfer.  And ergo you don’t really need to find anything of substance here for the group to be effective.

Maybe it’s all really just about some ambiguous power of association.  By identifying with the group, 416 people are saying to their colleagues that this meeting is something that they are interested in, they think is valuable, and they want to be identified with.

When you or I sign up for such a group on Facebook, this association carries with us on our profiles.  It becomes a part of the description of who we are, who we hang out with, and a notification of where we’re going to be.  It is certainly descriptive, and there’s definitely some intelligence imbedded in that description.

But for all this talk of revolutionary potential, is that all it is?   At the end of the day is it about who we know and not what we know?  I don’t know.  Maybe that’s what it’s always been about. 

I’m still trying to figure it out, but one thing’s for sure, you’ll be hearing much at this conference about the power and potential impact of social media like Facebook. 

Stay tuned, as my associates and I, try to unravel the mysteries of the new media.

Dick Kaser
ITI, V.P., Content

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