Tragedy of the Commons: Twitter vs Online Forums

Riding on board a Virgin America flight, I have CNN on my seat media screen. I’m watching CNN much more than I’m usually able to.

I notice those tweets flashing along the bottom of the screen. Some are good. Many aren’t. They are examples of the tendency for online discussions to devolve into name calling, stereotypes and ad hominem attacks.

They remind of the worst sort of comments found on online message boards. The problem with inline message boards is that there is little control by the individual for what they see. It’s not just political discussions. Marketers pollute LinkedIn message boards with their spammy webinar solicitations.

It’s the tragedy of the commons. A common resource – message boards – is overrun by those not providing quality contributions.

With Twitter’s one-way subscribe model, this particular attack on the commons is limited. Why? It’s easy to unfollow those who post irrelevant or non-productive things.

Want to be a participant beyond the amen chorus and fellow polemicists, or get people to actually care about your webinar? Figure out how to engage in an intelligent discussion.

A benefit of Twitter: managing the tragedy of the commons. It should be noted, however, that enabling discussions among multiple people is quite important. Letting multiple people on a thread while preventing the spammers is the next step in protecting and improving the value of the commons.


Clinton, Hamel, Krugman, Lucas…and Me: World Business Forum

WBF crowd 2008The first four names in the title – and many others – will be speaking at the World Business Forum in New York City on Oct 6-7, 2009.

And I ‘ll be listening to them. From the mezzanine level of Radio City Music Hall, where the journalists will be. I explain why below.

What is the World Business Forum? From its Wikipedia entry:

The World Business Forum is an annual global business summit held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. A 2008 Burson-Marsteller survey ranks the World Business Forum among the world’s top five most influential venues for CEO’s and C-Suite executives.

This is my first time attending. The lineup of speakers is impressive:

  • Bill Clinton
  • Gary Hamel
  • Paul Krugman
  • George Lucas
  • T. Boone Pickens
  • David Rubenstein (co-founder, managing partner of private equity firm The Carlyle Group)
  • Irene Rosenfeld (CEO of Kraft, USA Today story)
  • Kevin Roberts (CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi)
  • and many others…

I’ll be participating in two ways: my company Spigit is a sponsor, so we’ll have a table there. And I’m a late addition to the Bloggers Hub as well. Looking forward to a great view from the mezzanine – where the journalists are apparently located – and wifi.

Look for my tweets with the #wbf09 hash tag.