Enlightened Self-Interest and the Social Web
Wikipedia set Neutral Point of View (NPOV) as the standard for user generated content a few years ago. Much of the Wikipedia community is ideologically opposed to self-interest in any form. While obviously not ideologically opposed to originality or creativity, Wikipedia makes it clear that its role is to summarize accepted wisdom, not to break new ground. Wikipedia is an ideologically collectivist organization built around creating reliable reference content. Capitalists like myself must tip our hats to them, because they’ve done a fantastic job creating a great resource that delivers great benefit to many people.
But the social norms of the Web have changed, and Wikipedia is now the outlier. The Age of Anonymity has ended. Most people now log on to the Social Web with their real identities and build their real reputations.
The golden rule of the Social Web is Serve the Community, Then Serve Yourself.
The Web rewards originality, creativity, and individuality. The younger generations don’t seem to flinch from the ideas of self-interest, self-promotion, or profit. It just has to be done in good taste, and while serving others first. Wikipedia was about the collective. Social Media is about individuals being themselves and coming together.
The Social Web has moved past post Gordon Gecko (“Greed is good. Greed works!”) capitalism and collectivist visions. It’s developing more along the lines of what Adam Smith (the moralist often credited with being the father of capitalism) called enlightened self-interest. The Social Web has also largely moved past the dichotomy of Express Yourself vs. Conform. It’s about being the best version of yourself, respecting others’ individualities, and coming together.
This is good news for you if you’re trying to use the Social Web to grow your business and reputation. It’s good news if you’re trying to be your best self and to bond with others. I think it’s also good news for society.
Get People to Put Your Message on Their Site | Managing Greatness
June 8, 2010 @ 7:39 am
[…] When writing on community sites it’s important to note that the rules have changed over the last few years. We had this era of anonymity, where you were encouraged to live your second life on the internet and choose some strange username that couldn’t get linked back to the real you. Then Wikipedia came around, and we had a nice increase in quality, but they’re ideologically opposed to any kind of self-interest. Most Q&A sites today are run according to social media norms, which encourage enlightened self-interest, and being yourself. As long as you serve the community, you can also serve yourself. I know this is true, because I read it on my blog. […]
Search Traffic and Community-Generated Content
October 4, 2010 @ 2:08 am
[…] guidelines. As long as you serve the community’s needs, you can serve your own. See Enlightened Self-Interest and the Social Web and The Age of Anonymity has […]