Echo Chambers are good

I’m tired. It’s 11pm and it’s time I was in my ‘jammies and cleaning toothies. But I was thinking about this.

Echo Chamber is used pejoratively in the blogosphere:

The term media echo chamber can refer to any situation in which information, ideas or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission inside an “enclosed” space. Observers of journalism in the mass media describe an echo chamber effect in media discourse.[1][2] One purveyor of information will make a claim, which many like-minded people then repeat, overhear, and repeat again (often in an exaggerated or otherwise distorted form)[3] until most people assume that some extreme variation of the story is true.[4]

The echo chamber can come into effect in the Evening News – all the TV stations covering the same story. It’s considered one of the major failings of the TechMeme style news aggregation.

In particular it’s used to refer to a story that is picked up by the Blog Elite -the Bloggerati etc. Robert Scoble, and all those lads on Twitter chucking links back and forth on a subject, making it important in their eyes and therefore the eyes of their followers, and eventually, in the eyes of traditional media. Storm in a teacup stuff – beacon was one example.

But the Echo Chamber is how we build contextual meaning and importance.

First, communities must have leaders, communities function best when different types of leaders arise from various sources. Some leaders are heavy duty posters (5 blogs posts or more per day). Others have a lot of readers or friends or followers – 5000 or 20,000 friends – some post rarely and stand apart from the mass yet are still in leadership positions due to being elders (time online) or deep knowledge or some other agenda. Brand Evangelists, Customer Advocates, Big Mouths, call them what you will…

Then, the echo chamber starts to discuss values – it’s social Values that align community Purpose. What the echo chamber sees as important leads newer members and fans into a discussion. Every community has a membership cycle, a leadership tribe, and an echo chamber. if there is no common discussion point or leadership group, you have a dying community.

Be grateful for the echo chamber – it means you can take the temperature of that group (watch Twitter for the current topics of interest in the blogosphere) and choose a point of view on a subject to enter the discussion. Without it, you might have to choose a topic and arouse interest -and that is harder than you would think!


Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

2 thoughts on “Echo Chambers are good

  1. An interesting post indeed. There was a conversation on the This week in technology (TwIT) podcast between Leo Laporte, Jason Calakanis and some other folks about how Twitter and feed readers are going to create ‘closed communities’ in that you will opt into the conversations that you want to be involved in and that as humans, we gravitate towards those that agree with us.

    Having an authority like a New York Times or a BBC that pulls together a set of news and then gives it to you offers serendipitous discovery and also exposure to viewpoints you may not necessarily agree with.

    I was thinking about whether choosing a set of bloggers to follow does the same, but the diff is that a blogger usually specializes, whereas aforementioned journalism authorities have wider reach.

    This of course is tertiary to the point you make about the fact that the echo chamber in and of itself is a valuable phenom.

    Good food for thought.

  2. Hi Brenny, thanks for you thoughts and insights 🙂

    I don’t necessarily agree with the we gravitate to those we agree with. Or are there never arguments and disagreements in the blogosphere? 😛

    Blogs are one-to-many. Set views, set subjects, set tone, commenters know pretty well what to expect.

    Communities are different. Three people might come together to discuss social media. One is a Professor of Law looking to debate copyright. One is a rootin’ tootin’ gun totin’ redneck wanting to set up a Guns for Australia social network and another a young gay designer from Oxford Street wanting to discuss how to sell his fashions into MySpace. Three people coming together with a similar PURPOSE but potentially flammable VALUES.

    Did Leo and Jason Calacanis et al agree on all points with each other? Betcha: no 🙂

    …and I find most traditional media homogeneous, and rarely as provoking and maddening as bloggers. Heh. (perhaps it would be easier to contrast a tabloid with a financial paper, but what percentage regularly buys both?)

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