[cross-posted from theelusivefish.com]
the physics of social media

Hyperlinks may subvert hierarchies, information may flow freely and the tyranny of geography may be toppled by the Internet, but despite the marvels and wonders this communications tool affords us, it’s important to remember simple Newtonian physics are at play.

Newton’s First Law.
An object at rest tends to stay at rest.

This is doubly so when that object is someone’s behind, firmly at rest in a chair facing the computer.

The rate and ease at which ideas pass along the net give it the appearance of a frictionless medium. Bookmark, email, blog and tweet this idea and it will smoothly spread across the globe.

But transforming an idea to action, aye there’s the rub. That’s where the true mettle of an idea is tested. Few ideas have the momentum necessary to propagate onward, let alone push an individual out of their chair. Getting them out the door and into the streets? Best of luck to you.

Unless your idea attains significant velocity, or is of such weight and importance, do not expect the object at rest to do anything other than remain at rest.

Y’canna break the laws o’physics, Cap’n. Plan your approach knowing that you’re not getting that rump out of the comfy chair without a good push.

Can your goals be achieved through the propagation of an idea?

Every Creative Commons licensed work is an invitation to share that work. By passing along the work, you also spread the idea that the sharing of intellectual property can have value. You bring awareness of the Creative Commons and, along with it, the larger ideological issues that surround intellectual property and copyright.

Seth Godin talks a good deal about this in his book, The Idea Virus. Don’t worry about having to get up out of your chair. Seth has made a copy available for download, free of charge. In making his book free and available, he makes it all the more likely that you’ll divert your time and attention towards his ideas. The greater his ideas take root within the business culture, the greater the demand will be for his thoughts and opinions in future. Future book sales and consulting gigs made possible by the spread of an idea.

Can you defer, delegate or eliminate the need to physically move?

Getting folks to dedicate an afternoon towards making pies for bake sales in support of the local hospital is far more difficult than wresting a cheque out of their hand. Far easier, still, is allowing folks to make a one-click donation. Take Child’s Play, for example. Each December, the gaming community rallies to raise toys and cash for children’s hospitals around the world. The idea is quickly spread throughout the community by way of links, banners and badges. But the giving of toys is made easier still by way of wishlists on Amazon.com and cash donations via PayPal. Last year, they raised over $1.3 million.

And speaking of Amazon, has buying ever been easier? I log in and immediately find what I’m looking for. If I’m ready to buy, one-click and it’s on it’s way to me. If I’m not sure, reviews from other consumers help firm my decision or push me towards an even better purchase. I don’t have to wander aisles, hunt down sales clerks or wait in lines. In but a few days, the products will arrive on the doorstep. Their new gadget, the Kindle, even saves you the trip to the doorstep and satisfies that desire for instant gratification by downloading the book directly into the machine, any time, any place.

If you can’t, realize that you will need to build your idea into something of significant substance or to such a velocity that there is no choice but to take action.