The Social Media Parable of the Orange Marble

I facilitated a recent lunch and learn on social media for a small group of about 20 people. Most of the group felt overwhelmed by all the information available, so I came up with a simple little analogy. Then over the weekend, I borrowed a few props from my children. Think of this video as a Yuvi Zalkow knockoff for those that can't afford the real thing. [yframe url='']


Imagine information as a giant set of marbles. Billions and billions of marbles. And every single marble is unique - different colors, different designs, different sizes, different textures. The way we used to access these marbles of information and the way we can access them today has changed - dramatically.

These marbles used to live in a remote mountain lake. Calm and serene. A colorful majestic masterpiece. But there were two major problems with this information set up: visibility and access. Not all the information was visible, in fact most of it was hidden below the surface. And while learning was technically open to anyone, it was difficult to access. You either had to hike up to the lake with your canteen and fill it up, or someone else hiked up there and brought information back down to you. Learning required a significant amount of work. Someone had to hike up the mountain. Plus if what you wanted to learn what was on the other shore or in the middle of the lake, it required even greater effort.

Today, the dam on lake has broken open and information is on the move. Picture Nigahiga Falls with marbles. Millions of gallons of information flowing over the falls every second. While we can now see what was once hidden below the surface, the flow of information is too fast and powerful. If you tried drinking from that big of a waterfall, you'd likely drowned.

Fortunately, there are several tips and tools that give us the power to control the flow of information for our specific, individual needs.I can say, give me only orange marbles. Look at those and say, not focused enough, give me only plain orange marbles that are 9/16 in diameter. That's much more manageable.

Social media at its simplest from is about consuming and sharing information. The trick is simply to learn to filter to your specific interests and pace.