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Concerns in the Social Age

 

 

Last week I attended the Social Age Safari, led by Julian Stodd and the rest of the crew from Sea Salt Learning. It was an amazing experience. I came away with so many ideas and thoughts swirling around in my brain that I still can't get them to coalesce into something concrete, though as I explained the conference to a colleague today I think I got a step closer. I believe some of those ideas will never really be something I can articulate, but I did come up with some thoughts last night surrounding learning (and leadership, really) in the Social Age that I wanted to share.

 

At the Safari, we had brief and intense conversations about learning, leadership and change in the Social Age. We wrestled with what the Social Age really is, how learning and leadership fit into this new Age, and how we and our organizations can, could and/or should respond to change as a result. However, one thing that I never heard anyone talk about at the Safari was sources of information.

 

What I mean by this is that we all talked through the learning and leadership discussions with (apparently) the basic assumption that people know how to find credible resources. I think it's very important that we have a discussion about how and where people are sourcing their information. There is A LOT of disinformation and misinformation out in the social spaces and, quite frankly, in my experience most people don't check their sources before utilizing and sharing. A concern we should all have is how much bad information is being passed around in social networks and how to address this.

The same goes for human sources. There are so many people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., who can too easily claim to be credible and get away with it. I'm not talking about having or needing formal education or credentials. I'm talking about the loudest voices v. the best voices. We talk about social leadership and part of that is who's getting then attention. Who appears to be knowledgeable. Who people follow. If formal hierarchy and education/credentials are being supplanted at least in part by social leaders who don't necessarily fit into the traditional molds, we need to have conversations around credibility and networking that takes this into account.
 

Even some of the brightest and most astute of my friends have fallen into the trap of not checking their online sources, or following wildly popular persons who have turned out to be charlatans selling snake oil. I believe that part of the conversation around social learning and leadership must include an examination of where and from whom people get their information in social spaces. We need to talk about balancing sharing with weighing credibility. We need to discuss how to decide, and help others decide, what is credible and what is false. Who is being truthful and who is selling us a pack of lies.I'd love to base things on the basic tenet that people are not gullible, but unfortunately I think social media has made people more so, not less.

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