Power of Social & an example of “Wisdom of the Crowds”

In a previous post, I discussed how you don’t always get a correct answer to a question you ask to a crowd.

One of the Spark talks given at Lotusphere 2012 was by Mitch Cohen. It was titled “Get Cancer – Get Social”. His wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mitch’s talk was a good, & inspiring, one. He talked about the part the internet, and social media played, and broke it down into three areas:

  • Information
  • Misinformation, and
  • Support



“Believe it or not, someone (can) be wrong on the internet”

The first thing that Mitch did when his wife was diagnosed was to tell her not to look for answers on the internet. In his talk, he tells us that no two diagnosis’ are the same, and that everyone reacts differently. There are a lot of people out there trying to be helpful, and give advice, but it was, really, misinformation. The best thing to do, said Mitch, is ask the questions to the experts – the doctors and oncologists.


“There’s a lot of support you can get”

Mitch talked about Facebook. “You can be sitting at an infusion centre, letting this poison run into you boy, and you could be thinking about that, or you could be looking at the 100 of comments coming in wishing you support.”


Mitch’s wife started blogging about what she was going through. She wrote about how she was feeling, how she was handling it, and what she thought about what was going on. Not only did it made it easier for her to tell her friends all about it, it made it really made it easier for Mitch to share it with his friends.

Living Vicariously

Mitch pointed out that going through chemo means you end up being more susceptible to infection  Which means that you can’t be around other people. Being able to see what the vacation photos of others on Facebook, and reading their stories really made a difference to his wife.

Thousands of Miles Away

“I wish we were closer, I wish there was something we could do”

Mitch told of the great support they got from their local friends was, but what he found incredibly powerful was the support he got from people thousands of miles away. How people he had never met in person came up to him (at the conference) and were genuinely concerned and interested with what had been going on.

The Spark Talks were, and are, organised by The Nerd Girls. You can see, below, a list of other excellent Spark talks that were given at Lotusphere2012.

  • Spark Ideas Lotusphere 2012 – The Videos (nerdgirlsrule.wordpress.com)
  • Wisdom of the Crowds – part 1 : When the wisdom of the many helps the few or the one (markjowen.com)
  • Relationships in social media (markjowen.com)
  • From The Wisdom Of Crowds, To The Wisdom Of Friends (neilperkin.typepad.com)
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