"Free" Problems and Social Media Forensics using Radian6 and Blogpulse

Picking up from my last post titled - I can’t believe it’s free – Chris Anderson – said I would try using Radian6 to find out if  Chris Anderson and/or his publisher, somehow, fomented  controversy, starting close to June 24th, around “Free” in order to  sell more copies of his book (available from Amazon.com on July 7th, 4 days from now) in place of having anything new or unknown in his book about  “Free” worth the level of discussion taking place; this takes forensics (yet another new term – “Social Media Forensics), not sure Radian6 is built to be a forensics tool.

I used Conversation Tracker in Blogpulse because I wanted to establish a sequence of posts as they appeared- noticed June 23 is when most of the controversy started (see above) and the very first place it appeared was on Kottke.org but it’s really Gawker ( <i>Wired</i> Editor Steals Content for Book About How Content Should be Free [Books] ) that gets the ball rolling with 4 more posts between 6/23-6/25

Also, it looks “kinda” suspicious (or maybe I’m reading too much into these charts) the spikes just “happen” 15 days before the book launch, seem to be 7 or 8 days apart and get larger as they approach July 7th.   Maybe this pattern is natural, I bet is influenced by some deliberate promotions.

But who is actually the influentials for this conversation about “Chris Anderson” and “Free”?

According to the criteria I set up in Radian6, the 4 sites most influential in Chris Anderson’s “Free” conversations are Techdirt, Chris Anderson’s own Long Tail Blog, Gawker and Valleyway (another Gawker blog) – which boils down to whoever wrote the Techdirt posts, Chris Anderson and Gawker Media.

The next question … what does Techdirt and Gawker Media get out of promoting Chris Anderson (are they all in bed together in this – or are they adversaries)?

In  Mike Masnick at Techdirt, it appears to be a honest question about the book (see below):

There was a lot of attention paid recently to charges of plagiarism in the book. Chris has admitted to the basics of the charges, and explained it as sloppy editing in an effort to deal with concerns about how to cite online content. I have to admit that sloppy editing seems like a weak excuse here, and a bit disappointing. It seems a bit lazy.

That said, I’ve discussed at great length my position on “plagiarism” in the past — and, amusingly, much of it is inspired by Malcolm Gladwell‘s own discussion on plagiarism, where he recognized that someone taking his own work and adding value to it and doing something different wasn’t such a bad thing after all, and that it could actually represent an inspiration. So if I were actually “plagiarized” by Chris or anyone else (and I don’t believe I was), I’d actually find it something of an honor to have my works as a part of something better and more interesting. I don’t think it takes away from the quality of the overall work at all. I would have preferred that such mistakes in attribution did not happen, mainly because it’s a distraction, but the issue is a minor one. If Chris can take the works of others and make it into something more valuable, aren’t we all better off because of it?

In Gawker’s case Ryan Tate stirs up the controversy with a provocative title “Wired Editor Steals Content for Book About How Content Should be Free” on June 23rd and has been viewed 22,506 times in the last 10 days (as of the moment I checked it), but the post is more hype than substance, typical of what you’d expect from Gawker.  Ryan Tate write another post on June 29th about Condé Nast’s Grumpy East Coast-West Coast Feud that has had 7,000 views (last I checked).  Essentially, Radian6 told me we have a “geometric” relationship between Chris Anderson, Mike Mesanik, Ryan Tate, plus a few others; the debate was honest, as far as I can tell, but I’m not sure there’s much substance to “Free” (after all, it is “Free” which is being equated to “Zero”).

In order to create buzz, I guess, all we really need, is a product or idea and a few well known bloggers – disagreeing, right before publishing date for book – like 2 weeks – perfect, and just what Chris Anderson wanted.


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3 thoughts on “"Free" Problems and Social Media Forensics using Radian6 and Blogpulse”

  1. Very Interesting blog and analysis!

    Just one point that I’d like to key in on RE: the Techdirt post:

    “If Chris can take the works of others and make it into something more valuable, aren’t we all better off because of it?”

    I don’t see this as an honest question at all, but a nice narrative arch to obfuscate what’s actually going:

    He’s says at the outset of the post that he and Anderson are aqcuiantances and that Anderson sought his feedback on the book prior to publication.

    He necessarily addresses the criticisms and charges prefunctoraliy, but then really sugar coats them by omission of the fact that numerous portions of this book were taken verbatim in violation of the Creative Commons licence they were published under. What more of an affront to legitimate ‘free culture’ could there be??

    Also, the heaviest criticisms laid out in the post are pretty much walked back by the author in the comments when elaborated on further by others.

    I don’t think Anderson sought a back-and-forth or controversy about this book as much as he just wanted links and press. The bad press may yet to play to the books favor, serious plagiarism charges and poor reviews notwithstanding.

    I find it more interesting that the pro-free articles and ‘discussion’ started to ramp up after the book was panned right out of the gate.

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