Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Impact of Social Networks on War, Politics, and the Sons of Anarchy

Kurt Sutter's Sons of Anarchy on FX Network
Evidently there is nothing that has remained unscathed by the power of instantaneous communications via social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The protest against perceived fraud in the Russian elections is the largest seen in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. The protest against the 1% by the Occupy movement hasn't been seen since the anti-war protests of the 60's. The State Department is still struggling with how to cope with the exposure of hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables published on Wikileaks a year ago.

A clue to how the Russian government, the U.S. State Dept. and pretty much every other related agency and organization needs to re-think their strategy thanks to the power of social networks can be found in two podcasts by Sons of Anarchy creator and show runner Kurt Sutter. Sutter is clearly passionate about his show, and deservedly so. I think it's one of the best dramas on television and both my wife and I are fans. But passion isn't enough in today's wired world. Sutter has to factor in union production requirements, network schedules, and something which didn't exist in the first few seasons - instantaneous critical reviews. Unfortunately, he hadn't counted on the power of that last factor in this latest season. As I watched Kurt Sutter's podcasts (WTF Sutter Finale parts 1 and 2) I sympathized with his frustration as he talked about learning the hard way that crafting a great season wasn't enough; that his entire season would now be judged in the world of instantaneous communications solely upon the strength of his last show.

Lots of powerful figures besides show runners have underestimated the power of social networks. The ability for huge numbers of individuals to observe, communicate, and act in real-time is throwing traditional strategies of law enforcement agencies and battlefield commanders into obsolescence. We should be open to learning new strategies wherever they may be found - including the musings of the creator of a show about an outlaw motorcycle club.

As a side note, if anyone has a contact for Kurt Sutter, I think he'd make a great addition to the Suits and Spooks conference. Consider this your invitation, Mr. Sutter.

Related:
Sons of Internet Anarchy
George Clooney's Satellite Sentinel Project to be Featured at Suits and Spooks

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