You might’ve seen the above video from Jeff Jarvis recently (click here if you can’t see it.)

I like this video because it echoes what I said about Social Media events recently, and extends it: most Social Media isn’t Social.

Jeff‘s main point is that we should cease being an audience, and start being, in my words, participants. When we bemoan keynote speakers who just broadcast content at us as the audience, we need to actually look at ourselves and realise that in our hunger for new content (new being the main driver on Twitter these days), we have created a content-centered world where everyone wants to push their content because content is what gets praised.

Best quote: “The great stuff is already out there. Why remake it, except for ego.

Bang. Jeff just shot most of the Twitter and blogging community dead. Far too many egos, not enough originality.

The community’s continual made-for-Mashable ’10 top tips for Social Media success’, which comprise of 10 shallow, simple, non-frameworked points regurgitated from an array of previous mediocre blog posts, perpetuate the making of dumb audiences across the board.

Well-meaning people relentlessly pursue this mantra driven, depthless content, swallowing any expert’s buzz word hook line and sinker, and it makes for dumb audiences. The dripping of thimble-full approaches is like water torture that is keeping these audiences in check, and RSS subscriber counts high.

Doubtless someone will say I’m in the same bracket. I create mantra, sure. I create buzz ideas, sure. I even write the odd ’10 reasons’ post, sure. But this blog is full of collaboration in the comments, connections who are driving the content forward like curators, and plenty of carefully constructed frameworks and models that are available for free. It all empowers the reader to no longer be a reader but a participant in what is our blog.

Content is King. Someone Kill The King.

How many more blog posts do we need? I love how Jeff says we need to stop competing and start collaborating. We need to stop creating new content, and instead curate the best that’s out there already. Why reinvent the wheel? Seriously — I want many of those A-list bloggers to stop reinventing the wheel and instead impart some originality.

Curation means we save time by linking to what is already good out there, and instead, we can expand and improve where we can add value, instead of trying to making it all about our empire.

I had a big chance in February to build my own empire, by keynoting at Like Minds. I could’ve put myself on the stage and got the glory. Instead, a work behind the stage, to encourage everyone to participate.

Twitter is at the point now where most Tweets contain links. Information overload is about to become a big issue, and the smart people are already working out ways to curate rather than create. As Solomon mused, there is nothing new under the sun — my point is that it’s now about who can describe it the best, and present the best curated approaches to understand what there already is.

Probably one of the best people doing this right now is Jeremiah Owyang. His recent set of Matrix’s were excellent, original, deeep thinking content that can actually be used for real business strategy. It takes guts to not write the mindless pap that gets retweeted, and instead write the steak on the plate that feeds and helps people. Jeremiah is one of these.

Make a stand today. Encourage participation. Stop writing crap. Collaborate and share. Extend the world for our mutual benefit. Check the ego, and don’t pick it up again.

Archived Comments

  • Alex Green

    “Far too many egos, not enough originality” That sums it up quite nicely.
    I also think that the problem twitterers and bloggers face is lack of depth.
    Constantly broadcasting 140 characters or pushing ‘new’ blog postings encourages shallow interaction. The blogosphere encourages shallow / non-existent relationships, with links here, links there, all to similar content to back up or reinforce the point of view of the blogger.
    Trouble is, that means you get a lot of similar stuff spread out, with no depth of relationship between any of the people interacting.
    Don’t get me wrong Scott, I’m not criticising your blog or style, in fact I think the way you go about it and what you practice as well as preach is more about creating deeper relationships and collaboration is definitely one way to go with this.
    Many blogs however have a paucity of comments, and even within those with more comments, there is very little relationship building or depth, it seems more of it is about people pushing their agendas / advertising their own (re-mashed from other people) ideas.
    I’m not sure who it was that started a blog that was based on a brief idea outline and then encouraging discussion through the comments. That seems to me a better way of fostering deeper community, collaboration and connection with people that you can work with and build deeper relationships and friendships with.

    Keep preaching it real bro, enjoying the thought thread, even if I don’t always comment!

  • sytaylor

    Jeff Jarvis is like the crazy homeless guy that turns out to be a Prophet.

    With this post I think you achieved exactly your aim. You have curated an idea, and linked to the best example of it. In watching the youtube video, I took so many ideas to help with a project to bridge the gap between education and career.

    Key being, why do failing schools employ poor teachers to interpret education, when the vast majority of it is already available for free? Why do teachers give the ‘right’ answer then test that the student learned it? Why don’t they ask questions, and tutor for the answer?

    I’m guilty of learning how to blog from copyblogger, but then my blog has the reach and spreadability of mute paralysed dwarf. We as a former audience are smart, and the early among us have started linking to the best content. My goal now is to get out of the habit of feeling the need to regurgitate it, and get into curating it.

  • Colin Winstanley

    Hi Scott

    I don’t know what your secret is for producing original and thought provoking content, but if you can bottle it I can sell it!

    This post puts into words what I am trying to do with SuperLiving now which so many people find hard to understand (see the new video at ).

    I disagree on one point. I don’t think that things are necessarily out there in the right format and of the right length for all audiences. I see a gap in the market for producing just the right content, and this is one of the things I am now actively doing.

    I am looking local experts to work with and promote to produce benchmark articles on health, happiness & success topics (see…. ), and provide video content for free.

    Any takers?

    Best wishes


    p.s Videoed a talk on shamanism last night at . Let’s see how that fits in.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Alex

    Agreed – the main driver at the moment is “New” – but this means what is “new” is becoming less and less new and more and more rehashed content.

    I also agree that it’s sad to find a lack of cross-commenting – people commenting on each other’s comments.

    It was Robin Dickinson (@robin_dickinson / who pioneered the comment driven blog. Was awesome. Totally awesome.

    Thanks mate for the encouragement :-)

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Sy – glad you saw the hidden tactic here of actually curating ;-)

    How do you get drawn into being a participant then? How can I engage you more?

    I read a very good post on blogging the other day that might help actually, on the business front:

  • / Scott Gould


    I love your approach here – I’ve tweeted about your video and will continue to do so – it’s a really great way to expand your network.

    One bit of advice: engage more people personally, and make sure you always come off as the authority, and not under authority.

    Re: your disagreement – sure, there isn’t everything out there for the right audience – hence curation means I take what’s there, and I present it in my language to my audience, like I did this video – agreed?



  • sytaylor

    I don’t think I could be any more engaged. Maybe it’s the tools, maybe it’s me. Likely a combination of both.

    I’m web savvy, but old school, so I don’t use Gmail, I don’t sync appointments with my phone, and I generally don’t stick at something long enough, to get something good out of it. All failings I’m aware of and slowly working on.

    In effect the problem is me, not you, and this applies to many who get the message, but don’t take action. Yes I’m attempting to reform that by learning quickly on the days when I work from home… but ultimately I’ll snap back to reality every time I walk into the office and have a workload as long as your arm.

    Can I make curating, contributing and participating seamless to my dayjob, and daily life? If I can, I don’t yet know how to. Maybe that will change when I get an HTC Desire in a few months ;)

  • Adrian Segar

    I think Cory Doctorow said it best: “Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.”

  • Alex Green

    I’m not sure cross-commenting is necessarily the answer and I can see why people are put off doing that. It feels like butting in on a conversation two other people are having.

    I’m more thinking about the tendency to chase links across the web and end up reading plenty of stuff that is comfortable / sits well with one’s position and therefore not reading things that challenge and make us think. This kind of activity leads to shallower relationships and non-depth thinking.

    Maybe cross commenting would increase depth of relationship and depth of thinking, but maybe its just the nature of the medium – web, that shapes us into this kind of shallow, temporal, low-concentration behaviour.

    Can this be changed? I don’t know, but the way you are encouraging people to foster real, meaningful, collaborative, creative and curative relationships is definitely a great place to begin.

    Take care

  • / Scott Gould

    I LOVE that. Excellent input Adrian – thank you!

  • Scott Stafström

    I would add these quotes from the Jeff Jarvis video:
    “Do what you do best and link the rest” – the ‘curator’ idea focused in a sentence.
    “move the customer up the design chain” – very interesting to me as an artist… is there a way to move my customer into my studio as I design?
    “at university you should be asked to create and opera, a program, a business and then at the end instead of a diploma you have a portfolio which shows your abilities and your desires.”
    “University changes from a factory to an incubator.” – both of these quotes interest me as a father with children soon reaching college age… I felt that my real education did not occur at my university but many years after I received my diploma. How will my children feel about that time spent memorizing and regurgitating and why do so many companies still value that paper?
    Thanks again for the video and summary.

  • Colin Winstanley

    Agreed. Use what is good and create the rest.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Scott.

    The idea of factories is one that I’ve been thinking through for for a while (summary here: /free-from-the-factory/)

    There certainly is the processed, mechanised system that we so easily fall into, and I agree we should have practical experience rather than 3 years of theory.

    The ironic thing is companies want the paper and they want the experience.

  • Alastair Banks

    Scott, I love the fact that you’re not afraid to say what you think and potentially risk having it shot down – it’s what makes you unique and it’s what will make you go on to even bigger things – just remember us lot when you get there ;)

    I’ve been musing about this post for a few hours now – should I comment back/shouldn’t I…

    I believe that the concept of the post ‘in an ideal world’ is absolutely spot on. There would be a much smaller number of original thought leaders out there occupying their space (those guys are far too clever for me so I’ll never be one of them). The content creators (people like me) would link out to them where possible rather than re-invent the wheel and life would be a less messy place with less risk of the ‘dumb audience’.

    However….I’ve been interestingly watching a different industry recently – that of self development and in particular within the sales and service environment. I’ve been to see Jeffrey Gitomer twice in the last year and was so impressed I took my two sales guys to see him (I literally ‘sneeze’ his message on). While he referenced books in his presentation from yesteryear on the subject matter, it wasn’t until I bought these books and started to read them that I realised the content of his presentations has been around for hundreds of years – Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie….the list goes on. So my point is this….Jeffrey has enthused me – through his live presentations, his blog, his facebook page etc..but the content is old and he has put his stamp on it. He has changed it to suit his style but he has bought it to hundreds of thousands of people across the world that would never have seen or heard of some of the older material. Surely that is amazing and worthy?

    In my own blog I’m certain I’m not creating anything that isn’t out there already if you look for it but I’m putting my own spin on things and trying to get it into a format that is easy to digest for people who start their business at an early age (much like you and I did). I like to think that those people buy into ME because I’ve been there and done it and can give them inspiration to do it themselves. If I simply linked to other content and videos is there not a risk it would be less compelling for the reader and less ‘real-life’?

    Interested to hear your thoughts as always,


  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Al

    It’s a good point. There are many people who have done this. They have curated the best stuff and interpreted it through their lens, and passed it onto the crowd with their stamp. And yes, this has been happening for a long time.

    My two responses:

    1. Jeffrey has taken than content and expanded it – translated it. This in my mind is a large part of the curation process. Sure, he hasn’t accredited others like today we do online, but he is from the broadcast age where everything was about YOU. This leads me to point two:

    2. With the plethora of content being produced everyday ATM, we have a different scenario for those rising up the ranks today.

    So let’s take your blog. Given you are focussing on entrepreneurial subjects, when you write a post you could link to those who have inspired you and their content, as well as particular posts that have helped you the most. Then, you provide your interpretation – this is curation for me – because I wouldn’t have known about Jeffrey, for example, unless you had said about him last year.

    Or take this post itself. You have written and engaging comment based on what was a very real life post of mine, yet I have clearer curated here and linked to Jeff’s video. This post is no less compelling because of the link – on the contrary, it is more so – which I know because you haven’t commented here in a while so it *must* have been compelling!

    We are coming to the stage of content overload, and these methods are what we will bring the strong through. By curating I am also building up other people by linking out, which means I am 1] building a network, and 2] showing I am not insecure. I always direct people to certain blogs for certain content today – the most common being Robin Dickinson’s for leadership and business development.

    So, what say you to that?


  • Paul McSweeney


    This is a great post. I vow to make a stand henceforth! I am indeed guilty of retweeting, borrowing other people’s “10 greatest mistakes/ initiatives” or whatever is out there on a particular day vis-a-vis social media. Originality is my new mantra, and I hope I can be of use in the participation process going forward. I think information overload has ALREADY become a big issue..where would you start in this social media minefield, when coming at as a complete novice. “Much of a muchness” is the expression that springs to mind. The sum of the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Paul

    Thanks for stopping by and being open and honest!

    I love that you’re making originality your new mantra. There is so much repetition out there, that an original and targeted blog will create far more value.

    Don’t go for the numbers at first – go for the value. Add the numbers later.


  • Paul McSweeney

    Thanks Scott.

    All the best,


  • Tim

    I’m a curmudgeon who dotes on the retweet. It’s important to share, listen, think, rethink, and feed back into the loop. And the RT (via-feed-source or whatever favorite annotation you like) is the best way to do it on Twitter. Of course, there’s considerable challenge in keeping it relevant.

    Like you, I don’t care much for the pseudo-Confucian quips, cliche Churchill-isms, and other mindless, retweet up that passes for social interaction. It’s not any kind of conversation that I would let go on in my yard.

    I’m also not one to sell my soul for followers. You’ll either like me for my words and think OR you won’t. I keep it real. Because I do it for me. I have my own terms by which I engage the world beyond my big hand. That’s not going to get me to 20k followers anytime soon.

    But don’t think even the least sophisticated can’t see the apparent contradiction of how I do things and their own ambitions. People do tend to be clear in the head about what they want.

    I also happen to live almost off the grid. I kill trees to keep me and my family warm. I kill animals with my own hands to feed my family. Not because I think it’s cool. It’s cheaper that way. The pig in the picture: I cut its throat with a kitchen knife while holding it with my other hand.

    In other words, I’m peculiar in my manly way.

    But this doesn’t solve your problem. Your problem is how to give all those happy, enthusiastic customers (customers who suckle at the bosom of one-dimensional convenience and culture) that sure way to get famous (let’s say 100k followers), monetize that fame, and live happily ever after. Who can make it happen for anyone in 12 months?

    And that’s what we really expect from a social media expert. That kind of know how. Those kind of results. The truth is that, ain’t no one like that out there.

    There is no business model in social media. It’s just a people model. Always keep that in mind and you’ll have fun.