Back in Catholic school we really only had a parking lot for a playground so we passed the time calling out random "Pile Ons". The kids would pick some poor victim and randomly run and tackle the chump. The rest of the playground would then have a non-asphalt landing surface (the pile of initial kids) to swarm and jump onto ...oh the fun.
Seth Godin picks up on the pile on dynamics of the blogosphere and provides the outline of the online dynamic. Politicians and others have been tapping into this cascade for years. In a networked movement, we have a greater opportunity to dog pile an issue increasing our success and "fun". The pile on always offers the smaller guys opportunities to get some licks in on the bullies. in an advocacy context the pile on offers the nonprofit liputians a chance to bog down the giant industries and opponents that work against us so often. One of the side effects of the massively many-to-many publishing model that is the blogosphere is the following math:
1. controversy is fun to write
2. controversy is fun to read
3. piling on is safe and fun
4. undoing 1, 2 and 3 is no fun, hard work and easy to avoid.
Unfortunately, there are many dynamics that prevent the "pile on" from lots of nonprofits. The way we define the scope of our groups and missions. The way foundations, members, media and the public reward lone actors and punish work that is essential anonymous.
One of the side effects of the massively many-to-many publishing model that is the blogosphere is the following math: