Saturday, October 3, 2009

(empo-tymshft) Community statements - the multiplier effect

For years and years and years, it's been a truism that bad news travels more than good news. This is not merely a recent phenomenon - I'd be willing to bet that if Mr. Lee had poor service at an Alexandria pub, he would certainly let his friend Mr. Washington know about it. Of course, if Mr. Lee and Mr. Washington had 21st century Twitter accounts, that news would travel much more quickly, and even Mr. Adams would think twice on his next visit to Alexandria.

Now it's also true that bad news travels more quickly when a celebrity is involved. If I received poor service at a store, my dog and a few people would care, but if Taylor Swift received poor service at a store, many people would care.

Benjamin Golub is not a celebrity in the Taylor Swift sense of the term, but he is well-known in certain circles. My main reference point for Golub was his role as the creator of the fftogo service which allows FriendFeed access from mobile phones. Golub ended up getting hired by FriendFeed, which means that Golub is now an employee of Facebook, helping to ... Benjamin, I'm really happy for you, and I'm gonna let you finish, but MySpace has one of the best music video sites of all time ... C'mon, you knew that the mentions of Taylor Swift would result in a Kanye West reference, didn't you?

So anyways, Benjamin Golub is well-known in certain parts, and his blog is ready by many people. Here's part of a recent blog post:

...about a month ago my bank, Charter One (a local name for Citizens Bank), stopped updating in Mint. There have been a lot of complaints in the forums; some people are upset at Mint but I'm not.

Instead of blaming either company; I'm just moving on. Mint provides a service I can't get elsewhere but banking at Charter One is generic. So I opened a checking account at USAA.

In and of itself, it's a post. But Benjamin's "celebrity" factor, coupled with improvements in online communication, have helped to spread the story more quickly than it would have been spread in the days of Washington and Lee.

You see, after Benjamin wrote his post, Jesse Stay of SocialToo fame commented on it. But Stay didn't just comment; he also shared the story in Google Reader, which resulted in it appearing in FriendFeed. And now, for what it's worth, I'm writing about it. And a Google search for charter one mint is hitting on both Golub's post and some of the forum activity that Golub mentioned.

The difference is speed. I'm working on a future post that notes how the speed of response could affect journalism, but it can obviously affect a lot of other things.
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