Last week I attended Ottawa’s first Social Media Book Club meeting, which brought together about a dozen social media enthusiasts from the area. The meeting was organized by Kelly Rusk from http://web2dotwhat.com/ and Scott Lake. I’ve actually never been part of a book club before, even though I enjoy reading – so this was a first for me. I also find it difficult to find the time to sit and chat about social media with like-minded people f2f, so another bonus!
The book club was also inspiration for me to read a new book, the choice of the month being “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Having read “Tipping Point” (and lovin it!), I was pretty excited about Outliers. In case you haven’t read it already, it’s about different conditions that come together to propel people to excellence in life – examples including Bill Gates journey to world IT domination, which was not just hard work (although the 10,000+ hours of computer time helped!), but also a series of “lucky” circumstances including the time period he was born, access to computer labs when he was young, and a series of opportunities that helped foster his skills.
Gladwell goes on to argue that not all exceptionally skilled people succeed, largely because it takes much more than individual effort, but rather social support to cultivate the skill set and create the right environment for someone to succeed.
One of the interesting topics raised at the book club meeting was, “how does social media influence the ‘outliers’ effect?” In other words, in today’s connected world, do people have greater opportunities? Is the playing field leveled? I would argue that people have greater opportunities to social support networks through social media channels, and this presents more potential to collaborate, share knowledge and ideas, and gain more experience – thus improving the potential for people to become “outliers”. For example, an aspiring musician has access to a wealth of information, lessons, examples, peers, and mentors online. Furthermore, it’s easy for someone to connect with other musicians, and even to jam online with others from around the world. When I was growing up I was limited to jamming with friends from school – and thus the reason I’m not on a world-wide tour today!
I’m not sure yet what the next book club selection will be, but hopefully either “Naked Conversations” or “Here Comes Everybody”, as I have both of them sitting on my bookshelf waiting for some motivation to dig in!