The Whuffie Factor and Social Capital in The New Economy

Gary Vaynerchuk got me started on this… just giving credit where credit is due.

Gary’s site at  Cork’d got hacked and I was happy about the experience.  Not that he was hacked mine you, but I really enjoyed the video segment he posted at GaryVaynerchuk.com, where he shared a little about the hack; starting that it got reported on TechCrunch before HE even know it had happened.

His post is titled “I had a wild day, you? Turning negatives into positives!” and in it he shares the roller coaster ride he had in getting the site back and working as expected.  In it he also talked about compensating people with money, Whuffies or whatever to get the site back online quickly.

hard_Soft I do not believe that Gary is poor by any means, likewise I do not think he made a gazillion in selling wine at WineLibrary.com, but in the video he talked about offering on Twitter whatever people wanted to get the site back up quickly.  At the time I heard him say it, I thought I had an idea what he was talking about, but not certain.  I wondered how I might find out about this ‘Whuffie’ to make sure I understood where he was going with his story…  enter the power of Viddler.

Gary uses a the video service from Viddler.com, which allows people to make comments at specific places in the video and only by noticing the comments from the post did I get a link to Tara Hunt / HorsePigCow.com and where she is proposing the use of the term ‘Whuffie’ (her term) to refer to the ‘social capital’ (my term), either of which comes from participating and sharing in the social media space.

Tara has refined the idea well enough that she has come out with a book ‘The Whuffie Factor‘ that is now in pre-order with Amazon(go to her site or use my link to get yours) and I admire her work in applying a word to it to make it memorable.  Turns out her use of the term was first proposed in the novel ‘Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom’ by Cory Doctorow, which portrays a world in which all your needs are met and the medium of exchange to build any kind of wealth, is your reputation, measured by Whuffies.

I suppose a Whuffie is fine by me, but my sense is we’ll not see the phases used in board rooms much – what I think will play is social capital.  Businesses understand the need for capital of all kinds, and the usage I saw coined back in June 2007 in an interview by the Washington Post about Twitter.  Social Capital and Whuffies might be about the same, but popular usage will dictate the day.

Which term do you like better – Whuffie or Social Capital?

  • http://twitter.com/alapointe Alex Lapointe

    Perhaps it's a matter of phrasing, but I'm not sure how “Whuffie” could be considered Tara Hunt's term since Cory Doctorow was the one who coined it which Tara even notes (http://bit.ly/BONg). I have a feeling that you may have meant it in the sense of “this is the term she uses and this is the term I use” sense though and not in a possessive sense.

  • http://www.TheSocialMediaBible.com StevenGroves

    Yep – you got my sense of it Alex… thx

  • http://www.horsepigcow.cm Tara Hunt

    Thanks for the pointer to my book.

    I don't know if using the terminology is an either/or thing – but my book is coming out with a major publisher in April (Random House) and we have planned a big marketing splash, so it will probably spread around a bit at that point. And really, nobody liked the word blog or the word wiki…how about the word Google? Yikes. Odd. But now used in regular business vernacular. ;)

    As well, I interchange social capital and whuffie frequently in the book and have been discussing social capital and online community building since mid-2006. Whuffie was more recent. Neither are my terms (Cory invented Whuffie and Pierre Bourdieu invented Social Capital – Robert Putnum popularized it in the 80's) as Alex points out below.

  • http://www.TheSocialMediaBible.com StevenGroves

    What treat to see you here Tara and welcome!

    I actually tried to use it the other day in a meeting and was mildly rebuffed, which is why I thought I'd explore it a bit more here.

    @dbarnhardt retweeted me with the @gapingvoid comment “Real Men don't measure their self-worth in Whuffies”

  • http://www.socialcapitalvalueadd.com Michael Cayley

    As I have said many times, it does not matter what you call the dog, as long as it brings back the bone.

    What's with the dog?
    http://socialcapitalvalueadd.com/2008/05/14/wha

    I do agree with you about that boardroom conversation though.

    That is the difficulty in obtaining the revolutionary changes required to cope with broadband empowered individuals. You need memetic branding to survive. Natural selection is a product of variance. So call it Whuffie! That is great! Call it social media, call it Social Capital Value Add … but just call it. I've tried to incorporate a Wizard of Oz metaphor, some story telling and root the arguement in accepted financial & economic theory.

  • http://twitter.com/alapointe Alex Lapointe

    Perhaps it's a matter of phrasing, but I'm not sure how “Whuffie” could be considered Tara Hunt's term since Cory Doctorow was the one who coined it which Tara even notes (http://bit.ly/BONg). I have a feeling that you may have meant it in the sense of “this is the term she uses and this is the term I use” sense though and not in a possessive sense.

  • http://www.TheSocialMediaBible.com StevenGroves

    Yep – you got my sense of it Alex… thx

  • http://www.horsepigcow.cm Tara Hunt

    Thanks for the pointer to my book.

    I don't know if using the terminology is an either/or thing – but my book is coming out with a major publisher in April (Random House) and we have planned a big marketing splash, so it will probably spread around a bit at that point. And really, nobody liked the word blog or the word wiki…how about the word Google? Yikes. Odd. But now used in regular business vernacular. ;)

    As well, I interchange social capital and whuffie frequently in the book and have been discussing social capital and online community building since mid-2006. Whuffie was more recent. Neither are my terms (Cory invented Whuffie and Pierre Bourdieu invented Social Capital – Robert Putnum popularized it in the 80's) as Alex points out below.

  • http://www.TheSocialMediaBible.com StevenGroves

    What treat to see you here Tara and welcome!

    I actually tried to use it the other day in a meeting and was mildly rebuffed, which is why I thought I'd explore it a bit more here.

    @dbarnhardt retweeted me with the @gapingvoid comment “Real Men don't measure their self-worth in Whuffies”

  • http://www.socialcapitalvalueadd.com Michael Cayley

    As I have said many times, it does not matter what you call the dog, as long as it brings back the bone.

    What's with the dog?
    http://socialcapitalvalueadd.com/2008/05/14/wha

    I do agree with you about that boardroom conversation though.

    That is the difficulty in obtaining the revolutionary changes required to cope with broadband empowered individuals. You need memetic branding to survive. Natural selection is a product of variance. So call it Whuffie! That is great! Call it social media, call it Social Capital Value Add … but just call it. I've tried to incorporate a Wizard of Oz metaphor, some story telling and root the arguement in accepted financial & economic theory.

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