When it comes to appearance, we are sometimes informally issued a number from one to ten. What if we lived in a world in which everyone is assigned a number that tells everyone ELSE how influential we are, and this number determined whether or not you got a job, a hotel room upgrade or free samples at the supermarket? This is really happening to millions of social network users. Right now, everyone is spying on everyone else (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show): Robert Murdoch's News Corporation has gotten into trouble for hacking into the phones of politicians, royalty, and the relatives of 911 victims and the parents of a murdered little girl.
In the June 26th edition of the New York Times, Stephanie Rosenbloom writes, "If you have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account, you are already being judged--or will be soon. Companies with names like Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader are in the process of scoring millions, eventually billions, of people on their level of influence--or in the lingo, rating 'influencers.' Yet the companies are not simply looking at the number of followers or friends you’ve amassed. Rather, they are beginning to measure influence in more nuanced ways, and posting their judgments--in the form of a score--online." How you become an influencer? It's not enough to attract Twitter (or other social network) followers, you must inspire them to TAKE ACTION. That could mean persuading them to try yoga or donate to your favorite charity.
Rosenbloom quotes marketing expert Mark W. Schaefer as saying, "Now you are being assigned a number in a very public way, whether you want it or not. It's going to be publicly accessible to the people you date, the people you work for. It's fast becoming mainstream."
But twitter data gathering isn't all bad: One GOOD thing about it is that scientists can use it to track epidemics (so that physicians can intervene quickly). Researcher Mark Dredze says, "Our goal was to find out whether Twitter posts could be a useful source of public health information (and) we determined that indeed, they could. In some cases, we probably learned some things that even the tweeters' doctors were not aware of, like which over-the-counter medicines the posters were using to treat their symptoms at home."
After Whitley wrote "Communion," he lost his chance to be mainstream, and when Whitley met the Master of the Key in a Toronto hotel room in 1998, he didn't predict sexting, but he DID predict climate change--and everything he said has COME TRUE! The new, UNCENSORED edition of The Key, with a foreword that talks about how many of his statements later turned out to be true, is in bookstores NOW.