Losing the social in social networking: 1000 songs on your iPod and you can’t smell any of them ..

Last week, it was a privilege to be invited to address Professor Dr Andrea Back’s class in the University of St Gallen. The broad subject was The real life experiences of a blogger – and the format was an informal chat hosted by Dr Back and her team.

As is my style, I stress both the technical/content aspects of a blog but also the social aspects of blogging i.e. the online world causes us to lose the humanity of a personal interaction and successful bloggers, in their own small unique way, manage to bridge this disconnect.

I first touched on this topic in the blog Blogging: Of Tom and Jerry and craving the friction of a human being ..

In my view, far too many people worry about making money, ROI, Google coverage etc (by the way, if you are interested in SEO, see SEO: How to use blogs for Search engine optimization and to improve your Google ranking/Alexa rating) and lose the social aspects of blogging. I have yet to see a blogger become successful who failed to take this factor into consideration.

After the talk, I spoke to Dr Back about why the social context is so important and how digitalization causes us to lose our sense of connection with the sensual i.e. we may have 1000 songs on our iPod but we cant smell any of them ..

By that, I mean .. in the older Vinyl records, you had a lot of context which accompanied the music. For starters, the record itself had a distinctive smell. The jacket(cover) was large and colourful. The vinyl had a distinct feel to it. When the song is on an iPod amongst a 1000 others, you cant ‘smell’ it i.e. it loses it’s context(and by the same token – some of it’s richness)(By the way, this example comes from the book Distraction)

The same principle applies in blogging .. make it too efficient, too logical, commercial, too left brained .. and you lose the ‘social’ in social networking/blogging ..

Finally, The University of St Gallen has a reputation as one of the most prestigious universities in the German-speaking part of Europe

Dr Back and her team write a blog appropriately called Back on the future (currently in German) as a part of their Business20 program

Many thanks to the University of St Galen and Professor Dr Back for hosting me and I hope Dr Back’s students and industry invitees enjoyed my talk


  1. sebastian barros says:

    Really interesting blog!
    I don´t agree in the “cant smell” factor of the music today. The thing is that today music has been totally digitalized , but you have even more context, material than ever before. The only thing is that is digital!!! no more paper,just 010101. Lets take a look to one example. Justin Timberlake. In the good all days an Artist launching an album would have 3 pieces of content: The album ( With all the nice arts), radio single and a promotional video. What is going on today? In the case of the latest Justin Timberlake album futuresex (from SonyBMG) you have 77 pieces of music!!Exclusive ringtones for your mobile, Download single from website, digital album w/bonus content, Video stream on the website, exclusive ringtone, wallpaper batch, remix exclusive, itunes pre order, video ringer, full track downloads, mastertones, CD. The $$$ that came from the physical sale of justin timberlake´s CD was almost the same that came from the digital content. My point is that music today has more context than ever before, because you have more creative inventory and ways to distribute it. You dont have only a song in your ipod, you have the ringtone, the ringbacktone, the wallpaper, you watch videos on youtube, you participate in the website of the artist, etc, etc. Is different but is how it works in this days.

  2. Ajit Jaokar says:

    Sebastian .. I take your point. thanks for the comments. wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year kind rgds ajit