2012 and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Social Media

Social Media and Information OverloadBarring an electronic Armageddon, the impact of Social Media will reverberate in education as deeply as it has on Madison Avenue. As of 2012, neither industry has come to grasp with the depth of the disruption or the new challenges and opportunities that await both industries.

The many forms of education can draw many parallels to advertising because advertising is simply a form of selective education. Prior to the era of instant inexpensive electronic media, both education and advertising were accomplished in one of three forms:

  1. One-to-Many – Books, Billboards, Film/Video and Journals/Magazines
  2. Many-to-One – Classroom, Demonstration, Lecture Hall
  3. One-to-One – Tutoring, Sales Presentations

The mantra for Bill Gates’ Information at Your Fingertips was a concept existing from the first generation: character-based Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). The unintended consequence of Mr. Gates’ vision was that the humans of the planet were transformed from having a lack of information to information overload.

In effect, the information age has become its own undoing.


Mankind’s progress over the last 600 years in its ability to transfer knowledge and build on that transfer has progressed since Gutenberg improved existing printing presses with the creation of movable type cast in metal circa 1440. Movable type was not new in itself. Clay movable type was first created in China by Bi Sheng (®…•N) circa 1041

It is our premise that in the large picture the rate at which mankind’s ability to do more in less time and with less resources has reached the tipping point for the human brain’s ability to absorb and synthesize mankind body of knowledge. It is acknowledged when examined on a micro level the progression is not linear growth. Conflicts (war) are the basis for anomalies in linear growth. Yet it is these very conflicts that on the macro level necessitate innovation further accelerating man’s understanding of technology. Historical samples predate the longbow being made obsolete by the rifle or the Castle becoming defenseless because of the airplane.

We further acknowledge that the linear progression proposed in this article may not be measured in a scale as broad as single decades. 1900-1910 is acknowledged as the Age of Inventions. Broadly, it would appear mankind runs on a cycle of approximately 80 years. The great recession of 2008 is compared to the meltdown of 1929. Largely forgotten is the Long Depression (1873 – 1896).

Therefore any attempt at an infogragph at its finest demarcation point should be no less than a generation (20 years) and ideally on the long side of the average human lifetime (80 years).

 The Tipping Point

Author Malcolm Gladwell analyzed the psychology of human mass movement in his book The TIPPING POINT —http://www.gladwell.com/tippingpoint/index.html.

Thomas Friedman analyzed globalization as an aftereffect of the Dot Com Bust in his book The World Is Flat —http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_Is_Flat.

It is our assertion that the global bankruptcy following the Dot Com Bust created conditions whereby ‘Information at Your Fingertips’ (AOL, CompuServe, GEnie, Prodigy) did far more than make these example information companies either footnotes in history or forced into radical change (AOL).

We believe that the almost non-cost of globally instant communications, along with associated storage costs has done far more than commoditized highly specialized knowledge available, ‘At Your Fingertips’.

Social Media

Our position is mankind is largely awash, indeed drowning in data. Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D. in his book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, sites two factors of the human condition. First, human brains do not have the capacity to consciously process all the data inputs that happened simultaneously on a daily basis. That we filter out many inputs and relegate them to lower-level brain functions that were built based on experience.

His second assertion is that given this phenomena known as compression, as humans we rely on previous judgments and trusted sources.

Given the rise of highly specialized knowledge available ‘at your fingertips’ to the point of overwhelm we propose that the Information Age has passed. That society largely is now in the Recommendation Age. In other words – peer-to-peer education.

Peer-to-peer education is not a new concept. When man did trading by horse or camel, pockets of society emerged based on the distance of a day’s ride. A traveling salesman would need to perform maintenance on his vehicle. For example: coming into a new town at the end of the day his horse needs a new pair of shoes. The tradesman sees three blacksmiths in town. Likely his first stop would be the local saloon. Typically he would introduce himself as new in town and traveling through, offering to buy a few of the locals a beer.

With the acquaintance and favor phase (the gift of the beer) complete, the salesman would explain the need for vehicle maintenance (new horseshoes) and solicit his new town friends on which would be the best blacksmith to patronize in town.

Competition for Mind Share

Today it would be difficult to argue that social media is a fad. We can already witness the fractionalization with Facebook being more casual/neighborhood interaction and LinkedIn being the more professional/career version of social media interaction.

I consider Facebook and LinkedIn to be two of our four Horsemen. The other two being Apple and Amazon. This is not to discount other social media players such as Twitter or the thousands of others of smaller players.

Tcat HouserTcat Houser is a well-known computer book author with over thirty-six 600+ page tech manuals to his name, which he now considers to be “door stops”. Known prior to 2000 as Tim Catura-Houser, since 2000 as Tcat Houser. You can see 5 of his old works on line for free at http://certiguide.com/ (no longer available)

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    • Kristy
    • January 13, 2013

    Social media will become the new internet with all things being socially connected I think

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