Social media is a problem, a threat, a waste of time, the answer to all questions and the solution to all problems, as well as their cause. Do we spend as many hours talking about the “connect-me Internet” as we spend talking in it? Possibly – at least it feels that way. Oliver Luckett and Michael J. Casey have taken a not-uncommon observation – “It’s mimicking life” – and by running with it to explore implications good and bad, have crafted The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life.
The innovation here is to dive deep into biology and set up a series of careful parallels, and this is where most books might stop. But Luckett and Casey really go for it. The result is a wild and weird mash-up of cybernetic and social bio-philosophy that offers both practical advice for the here-and-now (as you read this, it’s there-and-then) that leads to an optimistic if not utopian future.
The power of this book is the depth to which the authors take their argument. Internet memes are likened to biological DNA – information packets, pay-loaded to deliver specific information that will set in motion a series of planned, if not always predictable changes. The implications might lead anywhere – business, politics, the arts, science, even and perhaps especially, crime. Luckett and Casey make an excellent case suggesting that by treating the connect-me Internet as a living organism, you may be fighting less and swimming more.
Luckett made pots of money and probably even more friends (digital and actual) by leveraging our desire to connect for Disney, Revver and theAudience. It’s experience we can all profit from, in all senses of the word. Rest assured that both authors know the power of story and use it well to make their cases. After offering hands-on, use-now advice, they take us out into a future that is bright but not blinding.
The authors themselves are well aware of the pitfalls of social media as well. Not to put too fine a point upon it, evolution gave us both apples and anthrax. Unfortunately, the Internet (of late) has been leaning more towards the latter than the former. A book that understands this but looks towards a tomorrow better than today (not a slam-dunk by any means), is a book that’s both useful and engaging.
Obviously, the hard science of all this, the cyber-biology, so to speak, is decades in the future. But having an informed, high-level discussion of just how we, as a biological species want to manage the evolution of information technology is the only and probably the best way for us to get this science in the queue. And as we think about the evolution of the Social Organism, we’d be well advised to remember the early paleontologists, who in their enthusiasm to rebuild dinosaur skeletons, managed to put a thumb-bone on the nose of an Iguanodon to give it a horn. Evolution is not so easily understood as we might hope.
I spoke to author Oliver Luckett by Skype about The Social Organism in an epic conversation that you’re not going to hear on the radio without more than a few beeps. Which is to say, that he was lots of fun and minced not a single word when it comes to taking on ummm… most of the Internet. Follow this link to download the interview, or just listen below and make sure the volume is high enough so your cubicle neighbors can hear all the parts they won’t hear on the Ray-Joe.