Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top 2010 trend? Using twitter to ask what the top 2010 trend will be

(photo by pdsphil, Creative Commons, Flickr)

I think the trend of crowdsourcing trends has just jumped the shark.

OK - that's it. I'm done asking others to identify trends for me. Now that we have a wiki to identify fundraising scenarios for 2020, a twitter hashtag on 2010 nonprofit trends, and my own September contribution about 2010 trends - I'm done. Clearly the most pervasive trend is using these tools to ask about trends. As we approach December and the list making frenzy of "top 10s" that marks that month, let us all take a deep breath and perhaps even do some of our our own thinking.

As we are now 40-something days away from the second decade of the 21st century this New York Times article asked "what will we name the decade" from 2000-2010? Experts offer up suggestions like the age of overshooting, age of disruption, and Bob. I don't know about the decade, but certainly the year 2009 needs to be named "tweet."


OK it is 30 minutes later and I'm feeling slightly less snarky than I was when I wrote the above. Chances are, I will continue to ask folks for input using twitter and the blog. And those who know where the cafes really are and which streets are one way should continue to edit and add that information into online maps. And open organizations are good. And FutureLab was a great effort. And crowdsourcing ideas and information and expertise is vital to the future of how work gets done, change gets made, and organizations function (or not). However, we also need to realize the degrees to which we can begin to talk to ourselves with these media and the sometimes limited nature of the conversation (just because the tools make it possible for lots of new voices to participate doesn't mean they do). I'm not going to riff on how and when social media work well and when they don't, there are much smarter people than I am already having that discussion. More lists of trends, more reports on the same trends, more groups of trends - enough already. It is definitely not enough to just throw together another list and call it data or insight. Time for some analysis.


Christine Egger said...

Love this, snarkiness and all. Yes, yes, yes.

Wrap your message around Marnie Webb's recent post about the revised purpose for nonprofits as resources (including information) become easier to distribute, and you have a call to include analysis in every organization's mission.

Marnie wrote, "Trends are moving the challenge: it is moving from finding the data to getting insight out of it. NGOs need to step up to this new challenge.... I want to be sure that the data is correct, that it is meaningful, that I provide any additional context. All of that takes time I don’t have. But it needs to be a part of what we all consider our jobs."


Christine Egger
Social Actions

James Edward Dillard said...

You sound like you need to hang out with Merlin Mann from 43folders.com...

It is frustrating what passes for thought, especially in this space. It's like people who work in the non-profit sector are obsessed with people knowing about what they are doing.

I guess that's the nice thing about the for-profit sector... money provides a convenient scoreboard.

Lucy Bernholz said...

Christine - Yes! Thanks for reminding me of @webb's great call to action on this. This is exactly right and the reason - if we don't add analysis and thinking to these lists and things that can be easily crowdsourced we will "overstay our welcome" deluging everyone with the same junk till everyone tunes out.

My next prediction - data visualizations that are pretty, cool, and do nothing to make the interpretation of data easier or more apparent. Yes, I know Tufte has been making this point for years but now that we can all mashup our excel spreadsheets into super cool "motion charts" it is even more imperative that we don't just blast around a bunch of pretty, cool, and useless or wrong, data.

See this wonderful resource, BTW, if you haven't yet found the many cool sites that will let you connect your data to cool visualizations


And, of course, there is the Google Data Visualization API as well.

Lucy Bernholz said...

Thanks for the tip, will check out 43 folders again, its been awhile since I went over there.

I would not over-attribute an interest in sharing one's every thought or action or a lack of analysis to the NPO sector.

I think humans, all of us, in every place, can get caught up in the coolness of the tools themselves.

Thinking is hard. Tweeting - well, not so much. No matter where you work or what you are trying to accomplish.

Thanks! Lucy