You are Mutually Oblivious 26/07/2011
You may have noticed that I am an understated fan of Twitter *ahem!*. It's different things to different people, but for me Twitter helps me to become; aware of; chat with; maybe meet or network with; and most of all keeps me in touch with a large proportion of what is happening in the world of brewing. It goes without saying that 140 characters is limiting when it comes to getting your point across, but Tweeting is just the front-end of the conversation and links to websites or offline chats can prove to be valuable for all manner of reasons.
One thing that needs to happen to make Twitter useful to individuals such as myself, and I imagine any other discerning Tweeter, is that you need to put a little bit of work in to build your network. 'Following' other like minded individuals or businesses is half of the equation, the other being 'Followers' who will determine how far your own message will be heard by others. It's a network in the truest sense of the term, imagine the possibilities for a commercial business looking to get their name on the map and the cash registers ringing. Beyond those in your immediate Twitter atmosphere you have the 'Mutually Oblivious', those who, like it or not, are only a click away from Following you! This is a resource just waiting to be tapped. They Follow someone who Follows you or you Follow someone who Follows them, but whichever way you cut it, you are connected.
Six Degrees of Separation
Before thinking about the status of Mutual Obliviousness, and becoming interested enough to blog about it, I was already aware of a couple of well known ideas that explain this better than I can. You will probably be aware of the concept of the Six degrees of separation. Wikipedia tells us that this "refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, "a friend of a friend" statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy. (Source Wiki). You can see how this relates to Twitter without me stating the mutually obvious!
Karinthy describes a "Shrinking World.... Due to technological advances in communications and travel, friendship networks could grow larger and span greater distances...an ever-increasing connectedness of human beings". He concluded that "despite great physical distances between the globes individuals, the growing density of human networks made the actual social distance far smaller" (source Wiki).
A study of social media and of 5.2 billion such relationships was undertaken by Sysomos (a monitoring company) and found that the average distance on Twitter is only 4.67. I.e. on average, about 50% of people on Twitter are only four steps (or degrees) away from each other, while nearly everyone is five steps away. (source Wiki).
But enough of that, I've made the point and have a tendency to labour an idea given large amounts of caffeine. I decided to look at the Twitter accounts of all the British Breweries that I am Following and list those with fewer than 500 Followers. 500 is an arbitrary number and could easily mean nothing in terms of a brewery's market share or relative success. However, I was surprised to see a mix of fledgling breweries mixed in with those you would expect to have a much greater following.
@bronteales 15 Bronte Ales
@shawsbrewery 70 Shaws Brewery
@brasscastlebeer 84 Brass Castle Brewery
@ridgesidebrewer 126 Ridgeside Brewery
@wensleydale_ale 137 Wensleydale Brewery
@redchurchbrewer 145 The Red Church Brewery
@tobymckenzie 183 Red Willow Brewery / Toby McKenzie
@revolutionsbrew 188 Revolutions Brewery
@wentwellbrewery 200 Wentwell Brewery
@orkneybrewery 200 The Orkney Brewery
@kentbrewery 207 Kent Brewery
@kirkstallbrew 219 Kirkstall Brewery
@stringersbeer 235 Stringers Beer
@quantumbc 236 Quantum Brewing Co.
@broughtonales 277 Broughton Ales Ltd
@sandstonebrewer 277 Sandstone Brewery
@lochnessbrewery 279 Loch Ness Brewery
@brentwoodbrewco 283 Brentwood Brewing Co.
@durhambrewery 289 The Durham Brewery
@westerhambrew 296 Westerham Brewery / Robert Wicks
@ccookbrewery 338 Captain Cook Brewery
@quantockbrewery 349 Quantock Brewery / Rob Rainey
@mallinsons 366 Mallinsons
@trianglebrewery 370 Golden Triangle Brewery
@bantambreweryco 381 Bantam Brewery Co. / Henry Kirk
@huntersbrewery 403 Hunters Brewery
@wharfebank 420 Wharfe Bank Brewery
@oldbrew 455 Oldershaw Brewery
@conistonbrewco 467 Coniston Brewing Co.
@lymestonebrewer 472 Lymestone Brewery / Ian Bradford
@merlinbrewingco 478 Merlin Brewing Co.
There are of course a few that creep just outside the 500 mark (just to reiterate that these are just from my Follows);
@roosterbrewing 505 Rooster Brewery
@woldtopbrewery 537 Wold Top Brewery
@drinkmoorbeer 573 Moor Beer Company
(all figures as at 17/07/2011)
The Tipping Point
Other than waffling on about something I happen to find interesting, I'm hoping that people reading this blog spot a few on the list that they are Mutually Oblivious to and may want to Follow? The idea being that between us we increase the readership of our beer and brewing network and reduce further still the average distance or degrees of separation we are from each other. We only need look as far as Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (ISBN 0-316-31696-2). In his book Gladwell defines a tipping point [among other things] to be; "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point." The book seeks to explain and describe the "mysterious" sociological changes that mark everyday life. As Gladwell states, "Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do" (Source Wiki).
As unsavoury as it sounds, let's spread the message of good beer like a friendly yet pleasantly inebriating virus!
Thanks for reading.
Just as an after thought....and far from British, but a fun example of this theory put to the test can be seen with Tooheys Extra Dry Campaign in Australia - Six Beers of Separation .
David Bishop, 33 year old Bradfordian, born in East Yorkshire. Garage brewer and novice blogger with grand designs to own a micro-brewery. It's early days!