Tag Archives: mobile technology

A brief case study in social networking


This evening as I wrapped up a meeting about a significant database issue, I received a phone call that, at some point in the next hour, tickets for a heretofore-known-only-to-party-hoi-polloi visit by presidential candidate and Illinois senator, Barack Obama, would be handed out at the local Democratic headquarters.

In this region, news is normally traded over morning coffee at the Weenie Stand (no, seriously, that’s what it’s called) or at Barbara’s Dream Hut at the farmer’s market on Saturdays.  Rare is this bucolic place the epicenter of national news, and rarer still is there a need to react very quickly to information you receive through the grapevine.  But today, if you waited to hear about this on television, you totally missed out.  This revolutionary’s visit was not advertised publicly.

So on this evening, with newly-produced adrenaline coursing through my veins, I picked up a client with whom I was to meet, forced her to race out of her home without her keys and moved with deliberate speed downtown to see if we could get passes to our town’s historic evening with Barack Obama. . . in LYNCHBURG.  Are you serious?

I immediately texted my wife, then called her to see if she can drag the kids out of the pool, dry them off, end their swim date, then hustle downtown to get more tickets.  Unfortunately, even though she was in the first wave of recipients of the message, and managed to alert a couple family members, her schedule kept her from arriving at Obama HQ in time, but let me not get ahead of myself.

TWO HOURS, 1,000-plus PEOPLE

While I thought we were privy to truly insider knowledge, received at 5:10 p.m., I was shocked to arrive at 5:35, and find myself standing in a reasonable, but growing queue, of a couple hundred people.  Already, within 30 minutes of the first insiders letting their circles of influence know, their closest concentric circle of influence had assembled.

5:38: I receive a blast text message from a buddy telling me to head downtown for free Obama tix, limit two.  Thank goodness I was already in line.  But it occurred to me that someone who hadn’t even arrived to get his own tickets was telling his entire network about the opportunity.  This suddenly became about social networking.

At 5:40, we were inching toward the ticket table, but had already started to hear rumors that the tickets were beginning to run out.  This was a lie.  First responders simply enjoyed taking a poke at those of us who waited with anxiety.

5:42: A recipient of the same text message I had received text-messaged me to ask if I knew what was up with tickets.  Unfortunately, as I received his message, I was invited to take a brochure from a campaign volunteer.  I made a mental note to write him after securing my tickets.  Knowing I needed to help my Karmic cause as much as possible, I accepted the innocuous propaganda, and prayed silently that it would somehow increase my chances of getting tickets.

Or better yet, getting the last two tickets.  Yes, I am that guy.  Its not enough to get tickets.  I also wanted the distinction of being LUCKY!  Since I couldn’t be FIRST in line, I figured the second best option would be to be last.  Alas, plenty of tickets were left.  Its 5:45 p.m.

5:46: I step up to the table, sign my name promising to show up at the appointed time or to give my tix to someone who would, and finally, I can think about responding to the last text message.

As I exalted in my victory, and repeated the new ritual of ribbing those still waiting in line, I felt the  adrenaline rush out of my body, much like that sensation moments after a big hit in a football game, or the few minutes after a wrestling match (freestyle, not WWE).  Knowing well those in line would get tickets, I felt justified in helping create a sense of tension they would enjoy after getting their tickets.  Tag, you’re it.  Pass it on.

6:00: A slight buzz is going through the waiting crowd of what must now be 400 people, wrapping out of the building, around the corner, up one city block, and around a second corner.  People who must be in the second concentric circle — or two degrees of separation from the insiders — have arrived, skipping dinners, dragging reluctant kids, toting briefcases and whatever they could carry as they raced from their cubicles to lap up whatever tickets their second-degree contacts would allow.

But I need to get back to my client meeting, because we have much to do and loads to lift.

7:00: As my client and I begin charting her path to increased contracts and greater brand recognition in the consulting community, I got a text message from my wife letting me know that they were about 30 people behind the last ticket recipients.

Two hours after the first ticket recipients arrived, in an absolute hush, the last ticket to an unpublicized event was gone.


The citizens of Lynchburg returned to their coffee and breakfast sandwiches, knowing that if they weren’t within two degrees of separation of the insiders, they may as well have been on another planet.  Now, primed for one of the most significant news events in the area’s recent history, the real story is all but over.

If you’re not using today’s technology du jour, you will miss many opportunities.  Its pretty simple.  Nearly 1,000 tickets to a quickly-organized, ZERO promotion event were gone.  If you want to truly be connected to the most up-to-the-minute action in your community, keep your cell phone on, learn to text, or, of course, work for years to become an insider.  Otherwise, enjoy the news coverage.  Or as its also known, HISTORY.