Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos, the Twishes Case

I like this little project.

Frank Tentler is scanning for the word “wish” in twitter streams and then he retweets the wish from the http://twitter.com/twishes profile.

This is Frank Tentlers memetic logo!  It is a great little way to position Frank at the intersection of media, aspirations, communications/technology, etc.

I wish I had the code for a little widget that would display the latest tweets from twishes.  I would embed it in this post and a few other places.

Update! Ask & you shall receive … Thanks Frank! (Note: Frank originally provided a widget but it stopped working and Twitter now makes it easy to grab & embedded a twitter stream.)


UPDATE: Another good example from Jacquelyn Cyr.

UPDATE 2 @ Nov.3, 2008 –

I have since come to think of some of the work that conferences are doing to assert their identities along these same lines.

Many now ask Twitterers at the conference to tag all of their related tweets consistently so that they can be viewed via Twitter Search and Twemes as one discussion thread.  #Mesh was the first that I noticed and SoCap08 retweeted all related tweets during the conference.

It looks like defrag08 is doing the retweet thing too.

Update 4@ Nov.17, 2008: Extending Mad Men into Twitter. Make sure that you follow the links in Paul’s post.

UPDATE 3@ Nov.4, 2008:

I have turned my evolving reflections about twitter into a series of posts.  Catch the other thoughts:

Why Twitter Matters #1: Follow me, Follow You on Twitter

Why Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter

Why Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Comment, Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

Why Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Why Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

Twitter Matters #7: Twitter Bot Auto-Debate

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 – an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 – Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”

Is Palin a Kitten-Eater?

I picked up a hard copy of the March 2008 New York Time Magazine at my sister’s place on the west coast at the beginning of August.  At various times it has been on the floor of my rental car, on the beach, in a hotel room in Chicago, in the pile to go out for recycling, in the rack in the bathroom and sitting on the corner of my desk (is that more information than you need to know?).

The serious effects that the addition of Sarah Palin to the equation is having in US politics reminds me … I have been carting this around because I have been meaning to blog about a one page article in it by Farhad Manjoo called Rumor’s Reason

In the article Farhad traces the Obama as “Muslim Manchurian candidate” idea back to a summer 2004 press release by Andy Martin.  With no factual proof, the story was ignored by the “objective” traditional media at first.  But the idea that Obama is Muslim persisted, showing up on the net, breaking through to broadcast media from time to time, to the point where one poll showed 8% believing it.

Farhad goes on to report on the social psychology of why a blatantly false idea can persist.  He highlights “how our brains suss out truth from fiction.  To determine the veracity of a given statement, we often look to society’s collective assessment of it.  But it is difficult to measure social consensus very precisely, and our brains rely, instead, upon a sensation of familiarity with an idea.  You use a rule of thumb: if something seems familiar, you must have heard it before, and if you’ve heard it before, it must be true.”

Understanding these structural factors behind why an idea is accepted and spreads is what we are trying to do at www.memeticbrand.com.  The cognitive factors covered by Farhad are only part of  the story. 

In Social Capital Value Add, I take a deep dive on external structural factors enabling ideas that are inherent in the social web that has emerged in the last few years.  By mashing up a Stanford study by Jonah Berger and Chip Heath (co-author of last year’s best selling business book, Made to Stick) and a Pew Internet & American Life analysis, Buzz, Blogs & Beyond: The Internet and the National Discourse in the Fall of 2004, I tried to illustrated what Dunan Watts might call a global information cascade. (Hey – any crack illustrators want to take a run at Fig. 6 in the eBook? Talent needed!)

These structural factors are often behind overall or turning point dynamics of modern elections.  They matter and they mean that democracy is at work, long before the day comes for you to cast your ballot.  Your contribution to online forums, blogs and the like help charge real world social networks with scales of implicit content not previously achievable. 

“Objective” mainstream media don’t rely on releases from campaigns or blog posts from so-called “influentials”, they use a rule of thumb: if a story “breaks” away from the implicit content milieu it must be a story worth reporting, it has “legs”.

The Pew study tracked the spread of eight ideas during the 2004 election.  Each one of them, in a different context, could have triggered a change of momentum in another election. 

The point is that in the relatively new context where online media has become a fully integrated component of the national discourse, most of those eight ideas were neutralized by competing voices before they spread far enough to change the course of the election.  They remained in the milieu.

The way people use broadband internet takes the milieu out of the cognitive and limited physical word of mouth space and brings it forth as our most intense form of media, incorporating word of mouth, text, audio, photographs and video. 

Ideas “break” when they mutate.  “Obama is a muslum” became an email over the course of two years.  Farhad notes that one version of the email contains a line, “I checked this out on Snopes (a fact checking website), and it’s true”. 

I can tell you one thing.  I would have written this blog post a lot sooner if a friend had sent me Farhad’s piece electronically instead of it being stuck on a bit of dead tree, kicking around in meatspace.  Heck, maybe folks will even stick around long enough to figure out the new spin-doctors’ talents if we que this piece up with something hilarious!


 

“Obama offered a clear, point-by-point rebuttal to every argument in the chain e-mail, and he provided an important alternative story – “dirty tricks”.  His single voice and one counter story did not kill the story.  To neutralize a negative idea about your brand you need what Seth Godin refers to as a Tribe.  Endless volunteers, amplifying your voice.  Getting your messages out through mutations and offerring the right alternative story to the right audience at the right time.  There are also underlying structural factors that you need to take under management.  Both are involved in memetic brand management.  Traditional central campaign methods are not designed for this.

It was not until 2004 that broadband internet overtook dialup connections, and the correlating behaviour of people and network effects entirely changed the game. 

The spin doctors’ craft has traditionally been more creative than calculation.  In 2003, there was a moment during an Ontario provincial election campaign when the ruling conservative party issued a press release calling the liberal opponent an “evil, reptilian kitten-eater from another planet“.  Many commentators at the time believed that the resulting turn in fortunes against the conservatives was due to voter resentment of negative campaigning.  I speculate that the combination of environmental cues that existed had created for voters uncertainty about the liberal leaders’ leadership qualities.  The kitten-eater moment, filled the void with a tough, vivid image that finally materialized the liberal leader as a force to be reckoned with. 

Over the last six months I have seen demonstrations of real time online social media monitoring systems that dramatically reduce the guesswork involved in exploring what key concepts are churning in the milieu of implicit content. 

Investing in this kind of know how.  Securing corporate reputations in this context.  Making the corporation more accountable to social forces and society more aware of corporate capabilities is the motive here. 

Now let’s test those key words again … “hockey mom”, “ordinary American”, “small town”, “Washington outsider”, “beauty queen” … truth.

Susan Blackmore TED talk, released June 8

A few memetic brand reflections that occur while watching this Susan Blackmore TED talk:

– good introduction to the foundations of memetics,
– we are the meme machines,
– what are the keys to selection? Variation is a key to selection. Mutation/variation is key to the survival and the spread of an idea, key to memetic branding but contradicts the traditional brand mantras of consistency, continuity and conformity … hmm,
– “don’t think intelligence”, “think replicators” … this would seem to point us as brand strategists, towards investing a lot more time and money on understanding and developing relationships with broadband empowered uploaders, we over invest in campaign creative and broadcast “push” because it is easier,
– “spreading memes is dangerous” but economic network theory (UPDATE: Just came across this related paper: http://econ-www.mit.edu/files/2756, it’s new!) makes us hopeful that not only will we observe and replicate the behavour of our neighbors, there will be sufficient optimism to spur experiments, so that we will settle on optimum behaviours … hope matters. Elections like this one in the USA, matter …

Launch the video and please jot down your thoughts as they occur below …

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Twitter Matters #1: Follow Me, Follow You on Twitter

memeticbrand

That’s my twitter handle.  Despite the technical problems that Twitter has been having, I finally took the plunge at MESH08.  I promised to monitor the “back channel” for a few of the panelists on www.twemes.com and I just could not stand being a fly on the wall any longer.

I must say that being live in one session and monitoring the tweets from two other sessions brought an incredible FULL ON level of engagement that I could not image before Twitter and Twemes.

But my main motive for joining Twitter is not to monitor back channel.  My real reason is that I want to tell you all about what I ate for dinner – NOT.

My real reason is because I definitely think that it is a new medium that is particularly suited for memetic branding purposes.

Firstly, there is still a relatively small group of people on twitter (even less following me!).  They are the early adoptors and in most cases, they publish blogs and other web content, so they are endowed with scaled up forms of social capital.

Perhaps more importantly, I think Twitter is a medium that is involved in the genesis of shared perception.  From a memetic branding stand point, that is worth exploring.

Finally, over the years I have lived in different parts of Asia, Europe and North America.  My personal network is stretched by time and geography.  So far, only a few of my contacts are on Twitter, but I can really see how this is going to make the value of these global relationships present in each moment, in a much more tangible and immediate way.

I can only describe my initial impressions of Twitter as – prescience.

15hrs ago – “I am brushing my teeth”.  Can’t you see the potential!

Update:

I have turned my evolving reflections about twitter into a series of posts.  Catch the other thoughts:

Why Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos

Why Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter

Why Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Comment, Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

Why Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Why Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

Twitter Matters #7: Twitter Bot Auto-Debate

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 – an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 – Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”

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Brands: Evolutionary, Organic … inherent mutation

This TED talk by Kevin Kelly is not focused on brand, but it is interesting how these ideas can be applied to technology, biology, culture and … brands.

As you watch or listen, please keep the comments section below open and jot down thoughts related to brands that pop up for you …

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