We no longer access media, but are instead accessed by it.

What and where, but no who or why

Jung dealt with the collective unconscious and alter egos. After McLuhan, we experience collective consciousness and alter ids. The previous mechanical age was one of internal stability; ours is inhabited by Painted Birds trapped in a strange land.

The metaphor for those coming of age in post- industrial America was “a generation lost in space,” for out there was where it was at. NASA represented the pinnacle of human achievement and Marketing tried hard to tie in to that. Being able to claim that a product was “space age” was even better than if it was blessed by the Pope. The contemporary final frontier is the kingdom within and Neuroscience is the instrument used to probe that. Now NASA needs Marketing that would make a Barnum blush.

Through the surging sea of wireless signals, we no longer access media, but are instead accessed by it. Submerged in and permeated by this noosphere, our mental metabolism needs to work, not to acquire, but to avoid dissolving. People everywhere are regularly exposed to a range of ideas, images, and experiences that previously only a world traveler could hope to match. Much current advertising is based on the assumption that a general audience can be expected to be – at least subliminally – familiar with hard core porn.

The space family Robinsons of yesterday have left and gone away. Today’s pioneers are the Burroughs-esque My Favorite Martians crash-landed here, but through antennas to the brain able to traverse other times and minds. Via Telstar broadcast, people across the globe appeared in our homes by the medium of television. By Internet immersion, we channel and transmute spirits and ideas. The Black Angels of Austin in many senses are The Velvet Underground of New York City fifty years ago.

With the current fusion of mind and electronics, trying to craft media by content and demographics is as doomed to failure as were cavalry charges against the Blitzkrieg. Constantly supplied with a shifting set of histories and experiences, any particular individual can assume one personality one day and another, the next. By the time poll data is tabulated the yield is a series of mistaken identities. The result of what’s essentially futile navigation by a confused compass at the North Pole can be seen in radio which tries to move forward either by jumping in place or by banging its head against the ground. Another example is the strange attempt to shovel what are basically television soap opera commercials onto the Web; here we have history repeating itself simultaneously as tragedy and farce. The radio audience relocated to TV. TV viewers did not just shift their attention to the Web, but essentially changed into something else entirely.

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Does the number of Twitter followers have predictive value?

Below are the Twitter follower tallies for some names in the news. Does a high number of Twitter followers predict an election win? And for celebrities, is the Twitter count a “market quote” for endorsements?

# # #

Chris Christie 134,755
Paul Ryan 195,632
Bruce Springsteen 251,558
Sarah Palin 817,362
Mitt Romney 854,919
Jeremy Lin 879,625
Tim Tebow 1,808,667
Barack Obama 18,565,514
Lady Gaga 28,397,806

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When Social Media Is Bad for Business: Understanding the Legal Risks

When Social Media Is Bad for Business: Understanding the Legal Risks

By Donald Scarinci

Social media has arguably transformed the way many companies do business, particularly how they interact with the public. However, as the business advantages of this new technology continue to grow, so do the legal risks.

Many of these risks can be traced back to the novelty of the social media phenomenon. While social media issues have started to pop up in courtrooms across the country, there is often little established precedent for courts and businesses to consider. In addition, while some laws have been amended to apply to social media, other aspects of the new technology are largely unregulated. In many ways, social media is still akin to the “wild, wild West.”

The problem is particularly apparent in the field of employment law. Employers are increasingly relying on social media to screen candidates. However, many do not realize that this practice could expose them to liability if their hiring decisions are based on certain “protected” information (age, race, marital status, pregnancy status, etc.) gleaned from Facebook or Twitter. After the practice of asking applicants for their social media passwords caught the attention of lawmakers last month, efforts are now underway to ban the practice.

In addition, the National Labor Relations Board has come down hard on companies seeking to terminate employees who make disparaging remarks about the company online, particularly if it can be construed as relating to the conditions of their employment. In addition, the Board has also found that social media policies that restrict employees’ use of social media can violate labor laws, particularly when they are so broad that they prohibit the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees.

Other legal risks are caused simply by the speed and reach of social media. One mistake or error in judgment has the potential to reach millions of people in under a minute. While it is possible to delete a post, it almost always leaves behind a digital footprint that can continue to haunt the business. Therefore, companies need to approach social media like any other form of business communication.

The late Steve Jobs, beloved by Apple devotees, even suffered some social media backlash after the release the iPhone 4. After it was widely reported that the new phone had an antennae issue that occurred when the user’s fingers were placed in a certain location, Jobs’ curt response was plastered all over the Internet. Rather than acknowledging users’ frustrations, he offered this advice: “Don’t hold your phone that way.”

In the same vein, social media has the ability to put a company’s legal troubles front and center. While it can provide a forum for a company to defend itself, adversaries can also use it to bolster their position and rally public support.

Chick-fil-A is facing this problem in its legal dispute with a Vermont folk artist named Bo Muller-Moore. He sought to trademark his phrase “Eat More Kale,” which the fast food chain claims infringes on its slogan “Eat mor chikin.” Since sending a cease and desist letter to Muller-Moore, Chick-fil-A has suffered a social media backlash, with most characterizing the dispute as classic case of the “big guy” trying to push around the “little guy.” On Facebook, thousand of fans have flocked to the Eat More Kale page to offer support. In addition, the hash tag #eatmorekale has become prominent on Twitter.

Of course, these are just a few of the legal challenges involving social media. I expect that additional problems will continue to surface as the court system struggles to catch up with the speed of technology.

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