Online vs. Off: why the difference?

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in Uncategorized | No Comments

While I’m a big fan of what the social web can help us do and the new opportunities it opens up (e.g. owing me to keep in contact with my aged parent), I’m also acutely aware that online tools are under delivering on their promise of changing behaviour.

This is not some “it’s all BS” luddite rejection of new-fangled nonsense.

No, this is based on a wide review of the evdience

In the IPASocialworks project we’ve seen the poor quality of analysis and badly evidenced argument for many of the big claims made for online media campaigns and the platforms in particular.

Ed Keller and Brad Fay’s Face to Face book captures a lot of what we now know about the relative impact of on- and offline social influence (their estimate is an online:offline ratio of 1:9).

So why the difference?

One simple answer is that we have made it much easier to do stuff online than off – I can “like” “retweet” “share” with one click. I can enthuse or rant in forums and below the line without ever having to do anything for real. To paraphrase Billy Bragg, the revolution can be just a click away.

We have removed the friction online that we identified offline. So things can spread from person to person online without ever touching the real world.

That’s also why the online bubble can sometimes be deceptive (see Daily Mail or Guardian BTL comments or Corbynista tweeters). It can look as if everyone agrees and is prepared to do but in reality it may just be a. everyone you know online b. just online (which is easy).

Making the online would friction-free was a good thing to do but can also mislead us.

OK here’s some people experiencing friction-free in the real world. Again and again.