* Term by Andy Clark, from his book "Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence". Andy Clark is great, and I strongly recommend his books (esp. "Being There") to whomever is interested in distributed cognition, biology, and information, all combined.
So, he uses the idea of "global swarming" to draw an analogy between information traces that we leave online and the information traces that snails leave in their mucus as they move (that shiny thingy left behind). Apparently, while it looks just gross to most of us, this slimy matter if full of information that is useful to other snails. Now, I read this a while ago so the only thing I remember is that he connected this with Amazon's recommendation system (yep, a while ago). But anyway. The real culprit for this post is in fact Johanna, or to be more specific, an email exchange that we had. It made me remember the snails and information trails and how we can now see the connections between our trails.
It turned out that we know a few people in common, most of whom I have never met but know from the Internetz. Johanna included. I knew that Michael linked to her blog recently, and that I came across her blog maybe through Faris' blog, or who knows how. (At the end of the day, it does not really matter).
More important is that what made our paths finally cross is what both of her and me regarded as a series of coincidences. Now, some people say that coincidences are actually stuff made visible, and that we are all connected anyway. Regardless of your view is on the subject, this was super interesting because both of us could actually trace the line that made our paths cross. The interesting part is, it would probably take many many more months, and many many more coincidences for this to happen in the world without digital media. Which is I guess why people were obsessing about the importance of "informal social networks" and "social networks in organizations" for so long in the past.
Now it is all done in "3 steps or less" (actually, in 6 :). This is interesting in itself, but I made me think about something else. Which is, if now we can know stuff that other people make and do and how they think, do we need really a centralized measure that is a resume (and what I am talking about here hopefully will bear no relation to the recent POKE's solicitation of prospective interns' videos. Changing the communication channel really does not make the format that different). My point is, similarly like Download The Use of Knowledge in Society of price as the main coordinating market mechanism in the world where everyone has only local information but no one has all available information, that there is the world of "accumulated accomplishments" (resume) that used to be (and still is) the main coordinating mechanism of the job market. Which was indeed very useful at the times where people had only local information.
Now, there's a suitable metaphor, "this all looks great on paper", and it is exactly what I am talking about. From the conversation with Johanna, and Amber and Leila before her, I learned more about them and about the company they both work for, Naked, that I would have learned on this company's website; they may have learned more about me than if they just came across my resume. If someone really wants to be competitive in the digital marketing job market, they need to be on the web doing something, making something, or saying something. Building a street cred. (btw, this is not new. Apple founder, Microsoft founder, Twitter founder, etc. left their formal education to make stuff). This situation tells a lot not only about the set of skills needed for working on/with the web, but ultimately (and now read between the lines) about the marketing & branding in the digital.
p.s. the image above is part of the 100m long photo exhibit called "We are all going to die - 100 meters of existence". It's pretty great, you can see it here.