The book reviewed here is ‘Socialnomics’ by Erik Qualman and narrated by Nick Sullivan. I was interested in listening to this audiobook in order to gain insights into wider cultural changes driven by social media technology. Such cultural changes are closely intertwined with illness in numerous ways and whilst illness is not the subject of the book I expected that the material would be indirectly relevant. Sullivan gives a solid performance as the narrator, using subtle changes in intonation at time to highlight the more important material. Turning to Qualman’s work itself, I found that this covered a variety of social media technologies such as YouTube, Google and Facebook. He looks at how social media transformed politics with the example of Barack Obama’s political campaign in the run-up to his election as president. Qualman also addresses the business sector illustrating how social media will affect their relationship with customers. I was puzzled by Qualman’s use of the term ‘schizophrenic behaviour’ when referring to behaviour that changed from one situation to another. I thought perhaps what Qualman was referring to here was persona, the promotion of a behaviour appropriate to the social context and indeed a little after the initial reference he indeed refers to persona. He even recognises the serious nature of schizophrenia and emphasises this when using the term although. Apart from this Qualman covers a broad range of material, suggesting future trends in places and speculating on potentially successful strategies for companies. There are a number of stories that feature throughout the work that serve as exemplars of the phenomenon that Qualman is describing. One of the themes that emerged within the book was that social media is accessed by people of all ages. Qualman also discussed how social media is influencing the relationship between employers and employees. On a broader note, I thought many of the points could be generalised to the relationship between organisations of varying sizes and individuals both inside and outside of these organisations. Thus a number of the arguments could be applicable to non-business organisations e.g. government and non-government organisations. These in turn would have some relevance to healthcare delivery on a number of levels. I found Qualman’s book to be informative and helpful in providing an overview of the influence that social media is having on wider society.
Erik Qualman. Socialnomics. Narrated by Nick Sullivan. Audible inc. 2009.
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