Influence Jacking!

Yesterday I learned that Fast Company’s Influence Project is going to be hijacked tomorrow. The hijacking is reportedly being organized by Nate St. Pierre and executed through his global networking site ItStartsWith.us. The objectives stated in a draft copy of a blog post state:

I think we've waited long enough for something beneficial to come out of this project. I know that Fast Company has good intentions, but to this point it hasn't really gone too well. So here's how it's gonna work from here on out: We're taking over, and we're going to use our "influence" to do something good – something to make a difference in people's lives. We're going to show the world that this can be much more than a silly popularity contest, and that we don't have to accept the conclusions of Fast Company when they crown "the winner" (a dubious title indeed).

The Influence Project—a viral experiment launched 4 weeks ago by Fast Company as part of a larger investigation into online influence and influencers—has been controversial since its first hours and continues to both unite and divide.
 
I learned of the future hijacking with the help of two sources and members of Fast Company’s editorial team. A quick Google search of "ItStartsWith.US" and "hijack" yielded a number of leads.

Fast Company has yet to receive a list of demands from ISWU, and I’d like for this blog post to serve as a formal request if that seems appropriate. Perhaps at this point demands is the wrong term? Maybe this is intended to be more of a liberation or a revolution? Or maybe it's a ruse, an intentional leak designed to get us talking about ISWU (if so, bravo!).
 
We’ll see tomorrow.
 
Below are additional details that allude to how the hijacking may unfold and who the participants may be. A specific goal is still unclear at this time, but in the document St. Pierre writes of a "common goal" to be addressed on Wednesday, August 11:
 
I've already spoken to many of the biggest players in this project, and a large number of them are on board. We're going to pool our collective networks together for one common goal on Wednesday, August 11th. We will help everyone in our own communities to touch hearts and change lives in a way that's meaningful to them. To use their influence in a positive way. Just one day to work as a team and make a difference – together. We're going to do something the world has never seen before.
 
We're gonna turn this ship around and take it somewhere new. Somewhere a little bit better. Because it would be a shame to waste all the energy and attention that's already been spent on this project without doing something meaningful. Please sign up below and help us get it done. Instructions to pull this off will arrive via email.
 
Fast Company, consider yourselves hijacked.
 
Ahoy, mates.


Whether we are hijacked or no, we remain fascinated by the unexpected directions this project leads.
 
Stay tuned as we continue to cover the events around The Influence Project, influence and influencers, and all the wild and creative action they inspire.

Read more about The Influence Project.

Image: Shine 2010 - 2010 World Cup good news

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25 Comments

  • greg

    Why do some of the top people have 0 or very few 1st level contacts? are you sure this "math" adds up right? look at #20 Michiel Ebberink, he has NO contacts and he's the 20th????

  • Ed Cohen

    Opt in or opt out, the opportunity is greatly appreciated to spend time learning more about how this social media works and the new paradigm for reaching the masses. KUDOS to ALL at FAST Company.

  • Susan Young

    A lot of people are already misusing this this service by voting more than once.It has alredy lost it's credibility,if that's even an appropiate word.

  • Ed Cohen

    Hey Mark,

    Great response to the "hijacking" threat. It would be great if you would take a look at some of the bios, see who and what is being featured. This is the true miracle of the influence project. Putting aside ego to share important messages about personal situations and memorable stories like the child we are featuring, Prashanth. We wrote about him on our site www.nelsoncohen.com

    Here is an excerpt

    Born in a small village in south India, a precocious child, he often got in trouble. Believing the soul resides in the belly, the religious figure traced a circle around his belly button then up and down his skin creating horizontal and vertical lines with a fire hot iron to remove the demons. Prashanth burned his fingers while trying to stop them. Untreated, they folded over and fused, rendering them unusable.
    Thanks Mark! Keep gong, this is uniting more people than anyone can imagine.

  • Michaelteoh

    @Ed Cohen - I agree with you. Sometimes i wonder when i browse through the profiles of the candidates and most of them did not even bother to fill up their biodata column, let alone for us to find out what cause are they are really representing. I agree that more support should be given to individuals who champion a cause which prove to be important to the masses. Perhaps this Hijack scenario would just be the trick to turn the direction and real spirit of the candidates in the Influence Project around?

  • Nate St. Pierre

    Perhaps it could be. :)

    Hint: Don't think "causes". Causes are not uniting for a large body of disparate people. Think personalization, and memorable stories. That's how you connect with a large, diverse audience. Give them something they can do that's specific enough to be a tangible goal, yet open-ended enough to be interpreted individually.

    You'll see how this works next Wednesday. Stay tuned.

  • Michaelteoh

    And i look forward to that Nate. I am keen to learn and explore. And you have a point. Telling a story which could be related towards the common norms, experiences and acceptance of others too. Good luck dude! You have my support, all the way from Malaysia!

  • Ed Cohen

    Why can't we let the natural course of events happen? There are some great causes out there and people who have put there heart and soul into this among other projects.

    Our appeal to Nate, Mari, Mark and everyone else who wants to hijack the project is at: http://nelsoncohen.com/?p=441

  • Michaelteoh

    No doubt it is controversial, yet it can be seen as innovative too. From the parts of South East Asia where i come from, this is what we call Multi-level Marketing or Network Marketing. Only thing is Fast Company add the 'Cool' factor to it. Though some may claim that it is merely a popularity contest, however, you have to give credit to the designers and especially the implementors of this project a thumbs up! All the way from Malaysia!

  • Ryan Thompson

    I am a subscription junkie when it comes to Fast Company, it is one of my "must have" reads especially when I travel. So when I came acorss the the website last night at saw the brilliantly designed Fark-like hijacking of the Fast Company plane photo and read in the article that a local start-up in Milwaukee was planning this, I said hot damn and jumped on board. Good luck Nate & FC staff - I hope it goes well in whatever happens, i'm all for it, whatever happens. It's fun to watch and make the project more interesting. One request...

    Can we request parrots, rum or eyepatch icons over our avatars if we are part of the pirate crew? Lmk!

    Avatar: http://fcinf.com/v/djjk
    Twitter: @RyanThompson

  • Nate St. Pierre

    Milwaukee represent!

    A parrot or patch over the avatar would be awesome, hahaha - make it happen!

  • Nate St. Pierre

    Hello, my dear! So nice to see you over here too . . . thanks for your help with this little project. :)

  • JLSpradlin

    "I think we've waited long enough for something beneficial to come out of this project. I know that Fast Company has good intentions, but to this point it hasn't really gone too well." -Nate

    Is this fully true -- that it hasn't gone too well?

    I have been influenced positively by following this project -- on many levels. I have also enjoyed this project because I think it naturally forces all of us to consider our motives by asking ourselves and each other "why do we seek to influence others?". Popularity? Helping others? Popularity for helping others? I think we're forced to consider these things as those desires to influence overflow from what each of us believes is most important in life.

    Which, quickly makes this topic, and even this project, very personal -- as we see in the diversity of reactions.

    When these train of thoughts continue down the tracks, I then run into more questions such as "how do I measure my influence?". Soon, a more revealing question comes next ... "is this act of influence worth it if i ONLY influence one person?". Or even further, "Is this worth it if it positively influences someone I never know of?".

    How do I measure the value of an act of influence that begins as a seed but yet takes decades to grow? Is that influence ultimately worthless?

    Is the tally of sign-ups and click-throughs the only measure of the success of the Influence Project? I don't believe so.

    Thanks Mark for inviting us into and leading all of us in this learning experiment -- it has made a beneficial difference in my life in the how and the why I seek to influence and be influenced. :) I'm excited to see what comes next.

    And ... my hope is that others will continue to be vocal about how it has benefited them -- and I would even ask that you consider dedicating a space that allows others to share how the Influence Project has influenced them.

  • Nate St. Pierre

    I love this comment, JL. I happen to believe that you're right about this. I think part of the problem is that most people haven't taken the time to do as much thinking about the Influence Project as you have, and a lot of them have just jumped on the "it sucks" bandwagon and started ranting about it. And of course that leads to more ranting and a large dose of pessimism, and pretty soon that's the majority of the noise.

    This project has been beneficial to many people in many ways (myself included), but what we're trying to do here is turn the public perception around a little bit, AND accomplish something meaningful at the same time.

    Let's see what we can do. :)

  • JLSpradlin

    I appreciate your encouragement Nate -- and I am very much looking forward to what happens over the next few days especially.

    And it has to be an absolute blast for Mark and the team to watch this thing evolve. I wonder if their friends and family are tired of them talking about it yet? :)

    Thanks again FC.