Blur of Red-Backed Jumping Spider – Phidippus johnsoni – that Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he found in his shower and doesn’t know what to do with.
It was hardly the post that Neil Armstrong might have tweeted from the moon in 2008 rather than his iconic message recorded in 1968, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” that changed forever the non-earth footsteps homo sapiens have made.
Compare that with Mark Zuckerberg’s question and attached photo on the crowdsourcing app, Jelly: “What kind of spider is this, and is it okay to let it keep living in my shower?” and you have, unwittingly, a kind of stark relief between the dawn of man’s attempt to travel beyond Earth and the dawn of man’s attempt to connect the world’s citizens with one another.
Or the moon’s first astronaut might have tweeted on Jelly: “The Eagle is running out of fuel. Should I land on the moon?”
The Apollo program stood for one kind of dawning and social media stood for another kind, what many are calling the third great revolution of man on Earth. First there was the agricultural revolution, second came the industrial revolution, and now the information revolution. Zuckerberg stands for the dawning of the information revolution with social media and the advent of Facebook touching over one-seventh of the entire world’s population via the Internet. Zuckerberg is social media’s Neil Armstrong in the sense that both took humans beyond what they thought they could connect with–Armstrong as one man among all humans reaching the moon; Zuckerberg one man connecting all humans on earth.
So, arguably, posts by Mark Zuckergerg take on an importance other mere mortals’ social media musings might not. Is what he posts significant?
His question on Jelly is meant to stir a crowdsourcing response, since it’s a crowdsourcing site. Crowdsourcing has been said to be one of the great tools of problem-solving where thousands if not millions of individuals come together to solve a problem one person or team cannot or is not likely to in reasonable time.
Mr. Zuckerberg was lucky. He got a response. No less from the COO of Jelly, Kevin Thau, who said the Facebook founder and CEO had a Phidippus johnsoni spider, or red jumping spider, in his shower and that he should “relocate it out of his home.”
Let me go out on a crowdsourcing limb and suggest that 1) it’s probably a no-brainer to suggest that it might be a good idea to wash the spider down the shower drain; or 2) call someone at Facebook, like maybe his COO, Sheryl Sandberg, and ask her what she thinks (she’s obviously very smart and has a best-seller out); or 3) call a professional exterminator who knows how to handle spiders, since the jumping spider’s venom is not as toxic as, for instance, the venom of black widows, but still dangerous and Mr. Zuckerberg is a married man whose wife ostensibly showers in the same place (or ask her, she’s a physician); 4) email a photo of the spider to renowned Stanford University zoology department, a mere 4-minute drive away, and ask if they would like the spider? or 5) look for a similar spider and build a little terrarium in the shower where you could watch the lucky couple settle in and maybe build a home or, if they are similar sex, just hang out. Then you could post it on your own Facebook page.
Why is the post and its comparison with Neil Armstrong’s moon message important for social media? Perhaps, to this blogger and follower of social media trends at least, it is where crowdsourcing seems to be at this very early dawn of the vast human potential that 7 billions of minds are greater than one.
The writer of the article about the Zuckerberg anecdote, “The Crowdsourced Life,” goes on to recount his version of the crowdsourced life in Philly. To find out, he decided to spend a week crowdsourcing his decision-making, letting “friends” (quotation his), on Facebook and his Twitter account “guide my path.”
Here are the seven questions he “crowdsourced”:
1. So does anyone on the Internet have any opinions on True Detective or House of Cards?
2. What movie should I see right now?
3. Where can I find a plumber? Like now?
4. Which outfit should I wear on my date?
5. Can anyone recommend a better pick-me-up than caffeine?
6. What gym should I join?
7. I threw my back out yesterday. Ice, heating pad, ibuprofin. Anything I’m missing?
The writer, after his admittedly non-scientific “self” research, comes to several conclusions.
First is that not all that much has changed with social media–“people have been seeking the advice of friends since the dawn of human communication” (hence my temptation to frame the blog in the terms of the dawn of new ages).
“But that’s where it fails us,” the reporter/researcher concludes. “The sheer number of answers you get can be paralyzing and unhelpful as having no answers.”
But the upside he found was more “crowd” than “sourcing.”
The experience, he said, was gratified by “all the people who ended up helping out. It makes me feel loved (or at least liked). I actually think that’s the key,” he said. The act of crowdsourcing “is also a way to bridge some of the gaps technology created in the first place. It’s about connecting, about not being alone in your moment of need. Even if the need is just what movie to see.”
Or whether to keep a spider living in your shower.
Might there be other more profound, deeply meaningful uses of harnessing the power of many minds, experiences, world views, or human knowledge that might be associated with this tool made possible by the Internet?
Philadelphia Magazine writer Dan McQuade’s piece, “My Crowdsourced Life” is available in the April 2014 issue of the magazine where Penn president Amy Guttmann is featured on the cover story about “Power. (Who Matters. Who Doesn’t)” along with Main Line film maker M. Night Shyamalan and Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr. The article is not yet posted on the Internet.