Gaffney's Law

Godwin's in actionI was once told by an almost complete stranger that I have a very placid and calming air about me, that they felt if there were an emergency I would know exactly what to do and, more significantly, would remain unflappable. This may or not be true, I haven’t really  been involved in many emergencies. That said while I do tend to be a bit sweary on the odd occasion, I don’t tend to lose my temper about much at all, ever, years can go by without me getting really, truly, angry. There is one notable exception to this, which I have previously mentioned, my social media bollox induced tourettes.

Actually bollox is a misleading word, what annoys me is inaccuracy and because digital and social media are both topics that I care deeply about. Which is why I get angry when someone who is purporting to be, or is presented as, an expert lies. Either blatantly, say by using a Technorati graph of blog take up to explain the long tail, or by neglecting to tell the audience that the solitary blogger behind the whole Dell Hell kerfuffle was also a well known journalist.

Obviously, sometimes the person giving the presentation, or talking about these matters, doesn’t actually know any better and that’s because the expert that they got their information from didn’t care enough to be accurate in the first palce. Stating that one blogger managed to create a maelstrom of bad publicity, both on and offline, for a major computer company, gives far more weight to the importance of social media argument, than explaining that the guy in question already had a large audience and contacts that could be exploited to get his message out.

I’m also getting a tad fed up that the same examples are used time and time and time again, Dell Hell was now over four years ago, the Kryptonite blogstorm was back in 2004 and even Wal-marting across America is nearing its third anniversary. There are more recent examples out there but the same ones keep getting used to, badly or misleading,  illustrate the same points, and then they are being regurgitated as gospel*. Recently I sat in on an introduction to Social Media session, prior to leading a break out session, the presenter obviously knew little about the topic but had faithfully pulled together stats on why online is important and what can happen if it is ignored, using Dell Hell as an example. Now I’m not blaming them, as mentioned above,it is most likely they had attended a 101 session by someone who was introduced as an expert, or maybe even a guru, and they had diligently regurgitated what they had heard.

Anyway, the upshot of my general feelings of disgruntlement is the suggestion of a new law, namely Gaffney’s law**.

It’s based on a variation Godwin’s Law, which in its pure form states:

“As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one”

The variation is:

“that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically “lost” whatever debate was in progress”

So, Gaffney’s Law is:

“Once a person uses either Dell Hell, Kryptonite Locks or WalMarting Across America as examples of the impact and importance of Social Media, they immediately lose all creditability and should be banned from presenting on any topic for an indefinite period”

As with most new laws, it’s a little clunky and will doubtless need much refinement overtime, which is where  you can all help out..:)

*Not that the gospel is actually gospel

**Another person, a completely not stranger in this case, once told me to develop an ego – this is a belated step towards doing that***

***The initial step involved a self-named cocktail which was a variation on a red witch, amazingly it wasn’t that popular

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