Oct 11 2008

Social proof

Gene Smith observes in his book on Tagging that Cialdini’s idea of “social proof” explains a lot about why social tagging is useful.  Smith’s book is full of insights and suggestions for software designers, but also seems very useful from a tech steward’s perspective.  And “social proof” is one of the reasons that communities of practice are so powerful for spreading practice (whether good or bad, whether about technology or not).  Among other things seeing that others in your community are paying attention to something is proof that it’s important.

A few weekends ago I helped design an event that brought together volunteer administrators from Shambhala Centers in the Northwest region.  I had pushed for the idea that the whole day should be focused on sharing administrative, financial, instructional, or technology practices.  It was a great day.

But during afternon the report-outs it was surprising how the people who were in sessions focusing on fund-raising or leadership or schedule coordination had so much more enthusiasm for using technology to do their work than the people we had brought together to talk about technology as such.  I think we didn’t provide enough social proof that technology was relevant to the functioning of a little meditation community.

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