8 Groundswell Examples: News, Education, Religion, Cops, Restaurants, Music, Conferences, and Analysts

While my focus is on social computing for the interactive marketer, as an objective researcher (I’ve no affiliations with any of these groups), I can’t but help but watch the parallels that are happening in other industries outside of marketing.

What’s a Groundswell? We define it as:

[A Groundswell as a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions]

I’m watching how examples of Groundswells are appearing (outside of my coverage area) on the web, and then impact the real world.


Eight Industries Impacted by Groundswells:

1) News: Where Readers Become the Editors
Digg.com is a social news site where the members submit URLs to news stories, and the community can vote them up. Although there’s some criticism of who is empowered within the group, the site sends massive amounts of traffic that can bring down servers.

2) Education: Students Rate Teachers
Perhaps one of my first Groundswell experience, Rate My Teacher has been around for some time, in fact, I used this while in college to find out which teachers were good, which were horrible, and which were easy. Students rate teachers, provide real time feedback, and in one case, even called out a teacher for doing unethical things at one school.

3) Religion: Opposing Groups Organize Against Church
This hotly debated topic came up on my radar when I noticed that a hidden entity called “Anonymous” continued to be featured on Digg.com. This is an anti-scientology group that stages videos on YouTube, and even a masked protest on the Ides of March (March 15th, today) You can see their photos on flickr. This group appears to organize and give orders via the web.

4) Law Enforcement: Citizens Rate Cops
Spurring a lot of news yesterday, this site Rate My Cop lets citizens review the experience they had with an officer, either good or bad. Yet some critics suggest this puts officers lives and families in danger.

5) Restaurants: Patrons Review Restaurants
This bay area company, Yelp, lets the patrons of restaurants rate restaurant food, service, and overall experience. I frequently use this before trying new restaurants or looking for new types of cuisine. Some savvy restaurants have signs on their door asking to be rated, it’s a new shift that puts formal restaurant reviewers in a slightly less relevant position.

6) Music Industry: Consumers Bypass Music Stores
As soon (or even before) a CD hits the shelves, it’s available for free in many file sharing services that have strong connections to cash strapped students and hubs in college dorms. These songs end up on MySpace profiles, or can even be found in file sharing services. Most music industry companies have fought them with legal action, and have made little progress. A few bands and artists are skipping the middle man and publishing songs directly on their websites.

7) Conferences: Audiences Assert Control
I covered what happened at SXSW, in summary, the audience asserted control at the conference, not at just the Zuckerberg keynote, but in three other occasions. Also learn about unconferences where the audience is in control to set the discussion topics, lead, and share.

8 ) Analyst Industry: Markets Can Self Help
I’d be truly ignorant if I didn’t put my own industry here. People come to analysts as they have answers, but people are connecting using social networks, blogs, an forums to communicate and answer problems, many of them are our clients. People want good answers to questions, and they will go to trusted sources to get them, analysts aren’t the only ones who can provide this. It’s safe to assume that the collective market has far more knowledge on social media than I do. This is certainly in my mind, an opportunity, and a threat if ignored.

A few years ago, people told me that Social Media was a fad, I think I’m going to forward them this post.

Where did I learn of the term Grounsdswell? When Charlene was recruiting me, she told me it was the name of her and Josh Bernoff’s upcoming book, Groundswell.

  • You would be remiss to exclude health care, where patients form support groups and rate doctors, discuss drug side effects, and raise money for orphan diseases. And don’t forget the Frozen Pea Fund, an example of groundswells in health care if ever I saw one. I’m hoping for one in the Democratic party this year, too.

  • Thanks Francine, good examples, maybe we should make a wiki.

  • alex

    Jeremiah,

    Good morning

    In the UK we can send a few examples

    Patient Opinion – where patients rate their medical care ( from our state funded National Health Service )

    http://www.patientopinion.org.uk/

    It was founded by a Yorkshire based General Practitioner, Paul Hodgkin in about 2005.

    Fixmystreet

    This is where you can tell your local public authority, we sometimes call them councils, about anything in your area

    http://www.fixmystreet.com/

    Theyworkforyou

    This reminds people that their democratic representative is accountable to them. It allows us people to correspond with our local, natioonal or European representative

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/

    All of the above were done by talented, committed people. If you in America wished to use them, I think they are all pretty open source.

    Politicians over here are beginning to wake up. We have a Minister in London. Tom Watson who gets this. He spoke to a conference last week, and was mentioned by this civil servant blog

    http://whitehallwebby.wordpress.com/

    The same blog was covered by the Economist magazine last month in an article calld the electronic bureaucrat

    http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=10638002

    You should get yourself over to London to do some Forrester research work, and see what is happening across the pond. There is good action.

  • Great list BTW – and Alex’s…

  • I would also add something like Freecycle.org or Ebay, which are vehicles to move goods between consumers, without the intervention of traditional markets or retail outlets.

    Or something like Kiva.org, which is taking an online community approach to lending that is outside the area of traditional banking.

  • Todd

    I think it’s an unfortunate example of the arrogance of some that we’re seeing conference agendas hi-jacked by a few loud-mouths.

    Sure it makes for great press to write about this so-called “groundswell” of dynamic feedback but in reality I can’t see how this is anything other than naivety and bad manners becoming socially acceptable.

    My take on the recent example relating to the Zuckerberg interview was that the discussion was great but obviously not techie enough to keep the attack-nerds at bay. I’m sure if anybody cared to survey, that there were equal numbers that thought it was interesting and well run (I did).

    Some have commented that this feedback is only provided under the cloak of anonymity, so let’s see if these people behave the same if a web cam is focused on everyone whilst they’re providing feedback.

    This is no groundswell, it’s groundswill.

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  • The last post (No. 8) is from Israel in Hebrew. The guy is just asking here whether anybody knows a better translation to Hebrew for the term ‘Groundswell’.
    It is OK, I’ll take care of him.

  • ALPHY

    I was an innocent person. The head of a police department set me up for my business insurance policy. That’s whey I found out that the Justice department is good at helping police out of a sticky situation and ignoring everyone’s rights.

    I also found out that the United Nations has a task force for the Police Departments in the United States for ” Crimes against Humanity”. Please report to the United Nations if you have a problem!!!! Tell everyone.Your not supposed to know!

    Also , I found out that citizen revue boards across the country were voted down. Why? Because you didn’t know about it! You were never given the chance to know.

    The police ain’t afraid of being tracked down. They are afraid of being found out for their dirty deeds. I also found out that( some) police are hired because they did something illegal. That way they won’t rat out their buddies…This is called the Blue Wall…

    RateMyCop.com is what the citizens of the United Stated need. There is so much police abuse, so much falsifying of police documents, so much lying under oath, so much ” BLUE WALL”. And I want to say one more thing to the corrupt police…just because you cover up for a buddy ” BLUE WALL”, DON’T MEAN YOU ARE INNOCENT! Let me say this another way…Whey you cover up for a Bud ..” Blue Wall” your as guilty as the person you are covering up for and deserve to go to prison. You violated the Citizen’s of the United States trust.

    Dear Government, the citizens of the United States are tired of abusive, sadistic police. They no longer protect and serve. There are self serving and abusive. I’m so glad that you can see how everyone feels. Oh sure, you will put a spin on this site. But there will be a time whey the INTERNET will be flooded with this type of sites. This is a HUGE symptom of YOU not serving the people! It’s become a disease. All you hear about is police corruption. Isn’t it funny how so much of it is kept secret. And yet nothing happens to these guys. Isn’t that called organized crime. You bet it is. Everyone please get familiar with (1) Citizen review boards…(2)(UNITED NATIONS CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY)…(3)RICO LAW…..WHO ACTUALLY UPHOLDS THE LAW..IT SURE ISN’T THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. The guys that went after my insurance police got away with over 1 million dollars, even after there were many confessions. Yours so truly Alphy

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  • CletusShirley

    Yelp is also the place where once can get information like where did the restaurant supplies come from, who's a restaurant's their primary chef and even if the site has a specific.

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  • These songs find yourself on MySpace profiles, or will even be found in file sharing services. Most music business corporations have fought them with proceedings, and have created very little progress. some bands and artists square measure skipping the center man and commercial enterprise songs directly on their websites…

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