Six Degrees, But Not Much Separation

Have you heard the one about the London Underground guard who said a passenger who refused to stand behind the yellow line should be slung under a train? I suspect you will, because he had the misfortune to do so when one Jonathan MacDonald was standing close by and captured the incident on video.
Macdonald is familiar to many in the mobile business. Once of Blyk, he now consults, blogs and generally evangelises about mobile. That’s about the only tenuous link that justifies having this story on the site actually, but I felt compelled to write about it, because, well it's Friday, so we can relax the rules a little, and if you're into mobile, you're into social media too I'm guessing. More than anything though, it just shows how the communications world has changed, and how the viral nature of Twitter is playing such a massive part in this change. The six degrees of separation rule may still hold true, but the distance between each of those degrees is becoming smaller by the minute, thanks in large part to Twitter. I often hear people saying they are fed up with Twitter, that there’s too much noise, and I go through periods of boredom with it myself, but you can’t deny its power.
The incident in question happened yesterday afternoon at Holborn underground station. MacDonald tweeted about it late last night, with a link to a video of the incident, filmed, I imagine on his phone. MacDonald himself has 1,1782 followers on Twitter so that’s a sizeable audience for the story, but this morning, the tale was retweeted by serial tweeter Ciaran Norris (1,940 followers), and then by equally serial tweeter Mike Butcher, Editor of TechCrunch Europe, who has no less than 12,259 followers.
So it was almost inevitable that the story would find its way into traditional media channels eventually, and sure enough, the Daily Telegraph has it on its website now, complete with MacDonald’s video. Transport for London has now launched an investigation. It’s to be hoped that this is against the guard, and not against MacDonald for covertly filming a member of staff (if indeed the filming was covert).
I have in the past heard some of the more pompous journalists I know playing the: “Do you know what I do for a living?” card when they have been having a hard time with someone. It’s a line I haven’t heard for some time, but I wonder if, in the future, the words: “Do you know how many followers I have?” might have customer service agents reaching for the ‘Escalate’ button.
David Murphy