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It’s Not How Many Followers You Have, It’s Who Follows You

By Matthew Yglesias  

"It’s Not How Many Followers You Have, It’s Who Follows You"

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Felix Salmon adds to the growing legend of the world’s least-likely protest sign:

Ben Furnas only has 325 followers on Twitter, but that’s all it took to make this photo of his go seriously viral over the past few days. He posted it on Twitter at 5:42pm on Saturday, with no commentary other than the hashtags #ows and #win. It didn’t take long (I’m a little bit unclear about the timezone of BoingBoing timestamps) before Xeni Jardin posted it on her hugely popular blog. And from there it went, well, everywhere.

But herein lies one of the secrets of the faux-meritocracy of the internet. Furnas may appear to be a mild-mannered law student with only 325 Twitter followers. But in an earlier life he was a key player in a ton of CAPAF’s policy products and he’s extremely well socially and professionally connected to the younger cohort of political media people. So that 325 includes reporters and editors from The Washington Post, Politico, Slate, Good, ThinkProgress, Mother Jones, and the Nation and think tank folks from CAP, Third Way, New America, and the Manhattan Institute. Given that particular nexus of people, it’s hardly a long and winding path to wide exposure for something interesting.

This, I think, is an illustration of something important. People sometimes talk about the Internet as if it somehow supplants or replaces personal relationships. But in practice, it often acts as a force multiplier for them.

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