Just two days ago, I presented two lists of people to follow in software development for blogs and Twitter from Jurgen Appelo. The funny part about this is that in my recent blog reading, I am getting the feeling that we may not be following the right people. Why do I say this, especially after presenting “who to follow” lists? Let me first give you some of the context of my thinking. First I was reading a post from Chris Brogan and a quote jumped out:
When asked to define “Web 2.0,” I usually just shortcut and say it’s the two-way web. It’s our ability to shoot back that makes it interesting. It is also, very much, about the removal of distribution roadblocks, of jumping the hurdles of authority.
I highlight this because it is an excellent summarization of the power of sites like Twitter and FriendFeed. On those sites, you can avoid the normal channels and interact directly with those people seen as an authority on a subject. This is a fantastic development for the internet. This also further reinforces who the authorities tend to be. This is due to the “echo chamber” concept that many people complain about in social media. A recent post by Kevin Palmer on Social Media Explorer highlights this echo problem.
One thing I have the most trouble getting over is the massive echo chamber that is social media… As I have explored Twitter more I became fascinated that the same people are always mentioned as people that one should follow. Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Liz Strauss, Darren Rowse, and a handful of others are on just about every list.
As Kevin states, I am not saying to not follow these people as they could teach you more about their areas of expertise than I could. However, they are some of the most followed people on Twitter. There is little that you will be gaining from them that others are not. This means that you need to explore outside the standard authority figures to determine who that “undiscovered mind” may be. Granted, all of the social sites have various purposes, like networking, but I am focusing more on the aspect of learning. When you follow these people, you expect to learn something and maybe gain some competitive advantage.
If everyone is following the same people, then everyone will be getting the same information. As the number of subscribers grows, the value of that information will likely decrease. So, you need to find those people that are just as smart or experienced, but do not have the massive followings of people like Guy or Darren. I am not saying you should follow me on Twitter, but who do you follow that gives you that nugget of information that gives you the edge. Who is your secret weapon?