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‘A Very New Brand’; or, What’s more important than Charlie Sheen?

October 3, 2011

“We are more important than Charlie Sheen right now.”

OK, so those aren’t exactly words that anyone really wants to take seriously. But because there are people in the world who take Charlie Sheen seriously, then you have to take whatever is more important than the actor’s puerile behavior with a bit more than a grain of salt.

The speaker is Pete Cashmore, creator of Mashable, a social media force to be reckoned with.

Cashmore’s comment was about the amount of Twitter volume that was generated by an interview he conducted with Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, someone who is, indeed, much more important than Sheen.

In an interview with the New York Times, Cashmore, a 26-year-old Scottish blogger, says the success of his site, which keeps an eye on the world of social media, points to something exciting about our present: “It shows how we can steer the conversation to help the world. We are a very new brand, and I think that this adds a great deal of legitimacy to our cause.”

I see it a little differently. What it says to me is that, no matter how hard I try to stay connected, there’s always something new that’s changing the world, steering the conversation or just brewing a better cup of joe. Honestly, I had never heard of Mashable before reading the story, which you can read here (if you have proper New York Times registration).

That doesn’t say a great deal. After all, I’m in my late 40s and only now in grad school. I didn’t have a cell phone until I started a new job earlier this year. And I prefer 1,000-page 19th century novels to 140-character tweets. I read “Anna Karenina” last year for the first time in 30 years and was astonished at how much I had remembered from my first reading back in high school and how much more I somehow forgot. There’s a reason it remains a galvanic force more than 135 years after it was first printed.

By  the same token, I can’t remember a single tweet I’ve ever sent out.

But I do recognize the importance of social media. It’s an instantaneous way of getting information to the public. After natural catastrophes, tsunamis and hurricanes, more heartfelt and often more accurate information could be found in tweets than in news reports.

These various media also help keep us connected, even if the message is only something like “Don’t forget to place your vote for duk truck for best truck” or “Edge of Darkness. Awesome movie!” Those were two postings I received earlier today. And all I can say is, duly noted.

Research has been easier for many because of tweets and Facebook postings. Jobs have been found via LinkedIn and other communications services, and they’re also more important than Charlie Sheen ever was or will be, given today’s economy.

So, a force like Mashable keeping tabs on these media is essential. As we know, humans are prone to all kinds of human behavior, and that’s not always for the best.

Until the next “very new brand,” to use Cashmore’s phrase, comes along, here’s hoping Mashable does all it can to keep the abuses in check while we move forward in our attempts to connect with one another digitally.



From → #CMC11

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