On the Ground at Social Media Week: Benjamin Palmer’s Keynote “Humanizing Brands”

Throughout this week we’ll be posting on the ground accounts from individuals that attended New York Social Media Week events.  To participate, email a blog submission to info@socialmediaweek.org

To follow the conversation online, refer to the following hashtags: #smw11, #smwbarbarian, #smwnyc, #smwjwt

by Karen Seiger, Founding Principal, Sirene MediaWorks, @sirenemediawork

Benjamin Palmer, Co-Founder of the Barbarian Group’s, presentation on Humanizing Brands included a heady vision of a future online society of laws and moral boundaries emerging from the Wild West lawless early days of the internet.  He presented a set of possible Commandments, which included “Bearing False Witness.”  Of course, the main example was WikiLeaks and the role of Julian Assange in our still emerging online society.  Palmer posed some philosophical questions around WikiLeaks:

  • When is it wrong to tell the truth?
  • Does everyone in the world have the right to know everything?
  • At what point does the truth become a danger?

Palmer stated, “This is real life right now.  Some people may view the internet as an exploratory plaything, but it’s real.  Julian Assange has forced his morals among us.  It’s interesting to have an anarchist living among us.  I think I believe a little bit that we’re doing it wrong right now [with the internet].  And so what is happening with WikiLeaks actually has to happen because the level of deception has crossed the moral boundaries.  Maybe this [WikiLeaks situation] is a necessary culling.”

In response to a question from the audience, Palmer suggested that perhaps the fact that Assange is a real person, an individual and not a company or a government somehow makes WikiLeaks more personal and not as deceitful.  “Assange may be the first martyr for the Internet Age.  But he has established the upper limit of what we will tolerate as a culture.”

So is WikiLeaks setting the “us” on a more moral path online?  Only time will tell.