From tech visionaries Oliver Luckett and Michael J. Casey, a groundbreaking, must-read theory of social media how it works, how it's changing human life, and how we can master it for good and for profit.
In barely a decade, social media has positioned itself at the center of twenty-first century life. The combined power of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine have helped topple dictators and turned anonymous teenagers into celebrities overnight. In the social media age, ideas spread and morph through shared hashtags, photos, and videos, and the most compelling and emotive ones can transform public opinion in mere days and weeks, even attitudes and priorities that had persisted for decades.
How did this happen? The scope and pace of these changes have left traditional businesses and their old-guard marketing gatekeepers bewildered. We simply do not comprehend social media's form, function, and possibilities. It's time we did.
In The Social Organism, Luckett and Casey offer a revolutionary theory: social networks to an astonishing degreemimic the rules and functions of biological life. In sharing and replicating packets of information known as memes, the world's social media users are facilitating an evolutionary process just like the transfer of genetic information in living things. Memes are the basic building blocks of our culture, our social DNA. To master social media and to make online content that impacts the world you must start with the Social Organism.
With the scope and ambition of The Second Machine Age and James Gleick's The Information, The Social Organism is an indispensable guide for business leaders, marketing professionals, and anyone serious about understanding our digital world a guide not just to social media, but to human life today and where it is headed next.
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About the Author
Michael Casey is a writer and researcher in the fields of economics, culture, and information technology. He is the author of three critically-acclaimed books: The Age of Cryptocurrency (2015), The Unfair Trade (2012), and Che's Afterlife (2009). In a two-decade career as a journalist, much of that spent as a reporter, editor, and columnist at the Wall Street Journal, he wrote extensively on global economics and finance. In 2015 Casey become a Senior Advisor at MIT Media Lab's new Digital Currency Initiative.
Table of Contents
Preface: Purging Hate xv
Introduction: Epiphany in the Desert: The Seven Rules of Life in Social Media xxiii
Chapter 1 The Algorithm of Life: How we Process Information and Evolve as a Society 1
Chapter 2 From Steeples to Snapchat: The Darwinian March of Media 14
Chapter 3 The Age of Holarchy: The Interconnected, Decentralized Cell Structure of Social Media 48
Chapter 4 Cracking the Memetic Code: How Ideas Spread Like Viruses 75
Chapter 5 Balanced Diet: The Organism Must Be Fed Healthy Content 114
Chapter 6 The Immune System: How Social Media Responds to Unwelcome Threats 142
Chapter 7 Confronting Our Pathogens: Bolstering the Cultural Immune System 164
Chapter 8 Thomas and Teddy: The Open Constitution of the Social Organism 187
Chapter 9 Digital Culture: Toward a Global Brain 225
What People are Saying About This
"As individuals, we are the authors of our own thoughts. But, social media has triggered emergence. The sum of our public thoughts has become greater than the wholea new life has manifested. The Social Organism brings context and perspective to this, our hyperconnected ecosystem."
"Social media is the most obvious recent way that human life is being forever changed by technology. This book's brilliant unifying metaphor, the Social Organism (which is the converse of my mentor Marvin Minsky's book Society of Mind) illuminates how the ground is shifting beneath our feet. As Luckett and Casey conclude, social media will begin to act more and more like a global brain. The implications for our way of life, our governments, and our businesses are immense. I cannot recommend this book enough."
"Social Media and its complexity may appear to be disordered chaos, but, using a natural and biological lens, The Social Organism helps us make sense of this powerful new system. Important reading for anyone trying to understand the world."