CM 080: Oliver Luckett and Michael Casey Rethink Social Media

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Blog Post - Oliver and Michael and SocialWhy is social media so pervasive?

Many have searched for just the right metaphor to capture its explosive growth, yet few have found ones that fit. Instead of turning to concepts like networks or connections, maybe we should be looking to biology.

And that is exactly what Oliver Luckett and Michael Casey have done in their book, The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Your Life. In it, they offer a provocative theory: that social networks mimic biological life. As part of that theory, they explain how our capacity to create and share memes actually facilitates an evolutionary process. That process mimics the transfer of genetic information in living things.

Oliver is a technology entrepreneur and currently CEO of ReviloPark, and he has served as Head of Innovation at The Walt Disney Company. Michael Casey is the author of three books, including The Age of Cryptocurrency. He was a reporter, editor, and columnist for The Wall Street Journal and also a senior advisor to the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT Media Lab.

In this interview we discuss:

  • Social media as the vehicle for a shift from top down gatekeeping to broad and open distribution
  • How the creative expression that is part of social media mirrors the evolutionary process of biological organisms
  • How the Internet operates as a social organism that we feed and contribute to as it evolves and reproduces
  • The fact that there is an order inherent in the chaos of social media, just as there is order inherent in biological systems and organisms
  • How the evolution of social media, like that of organisms, is not about progress, but about randomness, feedback, and interactions important to the evolutionary process
  • How the metaphor of social organism better helps us to understand and respond to our changing culture in ways that encourage healthy responses and interactions
  • How changing online business models hamper the kinds of organic, authentic, creative expression we need to be healthy online and to support an organic evolution of social media
  • How the distribution mechanisms for information and creative expression have shifted from physical elements — the TV tower, printing press, newspaper delivery truck — to our brains and social networks
  • How artists like Banksy are using social media to collaborate and impact the art world
  • Why memes are like cultural currency and replicating tools that get repeated and absorbed into our culture to help it evolve
  • How censorship works against our building up immunities to that will allow social media to evolve and increase in authenticity and creativity
  • How social media is a human phenomenon that allows for a vibrant exchange of ideas
  • Why we need to get it right when it comes to understanding social media, especially as we head into our AI future

Links to Topics Mentioned in this Podcast

@mikejcasey and @revilopark

Norman Mailer


Banksy and documentary Banksy Does New York

Hatsune Miku

Richard Dawkins

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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise!



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1 Comment

  1. […] are powerful, always have been, but now that they’re all connected they operate a lot more like a live organism than a hierarchy. What comes with this new life form is a great opportunity to supercharge the […]