Around the share button in Facebook some myth are available. Nobody is able to explain exactly what sharing is about. Today I want to make things more easier and explain what the general idea is.
At first a short look into the early forms of online-discussions make sense. In the Usenet area so called crossposting was used to ask the same questions in different groups. Even today, some Facebook marketing experts are using sharing synonym to crossposting and they are right. In the Usenet area crossposting was usually explained with a negative touch, similar to post spam in the groups. But let us construct a case in which crossposting make sense.
Suppose, in the usenet group comp.os.linux in a thread about the Linux scheduler a complex mathematical problem was discussed. One of the reader has the wonderful idea to deliver this problem a wider audience. He cites the problem in quotes and creates a so called forward message. That means, he opens up a new thread in sci.math in which he is asking the math group for help. What he has done is not spam, but he acts in the social role of a moderator. He has connected both groups in a meaningful way.
From the perspective of communication such a case is interesting, because the user doesn’t answer the question itself. Perhaps he is not familiar with the mathematical details. Instead he acts as a human reflector. He takes the problem from group a and crossposts the message to group b. This behavior is equal to what is called sharing in modern Facebook world. It is not a technical question of pressing a button, it is a linguistic pattern in which a person is not part of a discussion, but acts as a proxy between different groups. What the proxy is doing is to transform the domain specific language of the Linux group into the mathematical language spoken in the Math group. He doesn’t answer the question, but he is managing the discussion. That means the user is trying to include people from the outside in the problem in a productive way.
On the first look, this behavior doesn’t make much sense. If somebody is not able to provide an answer to a problem, why should he post the same question to another group? But a look into real groups shows, that a moderated group is superior to a non-moderated group. It makes the communication easier.
The most compelling form of cross posting is a language translation between natural language. A question which was discussed in a German newsgroup can be forwarded to a English speaking newsgroup and vice versa. The task of the human proxy between is, to translate the message. That means, to convert the message from German into English. This makes sense, because the audience is different. Without the translation, group1 isn’t aware of what is happening in group2. SUch kind of translation is also possible in the same langauge group. The case of a Linux speaking newsgroup vs. a mathematical newsgroup was already mentioned. The situation here is, that between the groups the people are different. In the LInux group the people have no idea about mathematics, and in the mathematics group the people are not familiar with Linux. If somebody is able to translate back and forth he can bring the discussion forward.
In modern days, this translation is called crossposting or cross-marketing. The idea is to connect different groups. For example a post on Facebook can be shared on Twitter. And people who are doing so are called influencer. They are connecting both worlds. What they are providing to the community is not knowledge itself, but the ability to translate between knowledge groups. Like a translator between German and English, they are not interested in the information itself, but trying to manage a discussion. In modern media theory, this behavior is called gatekeeper, because all the messages have to go through the bottleneck.
On the first look, gatekeepers are no longer needed in the Internet age, because all the information are available for free. But gatekeeping works on a linguistic level. That means, it makes it easier to access to information, because it reduces language barriers and domain specific barriers.
A famous example for an Artificial Intelligence gatekeeper is “Sirai Raval”. On the first look he is doing nothing. He is not a scientists who is researching new neural networks. What he is doing is to translate knowledge which is already available in fulltext for a new target audience. He speaks both languages: the academic language and the mainstream language of computer amateurs. What Sirai Raval is doing successfully is to moderate between both groups. He takes information from the academic community and forwards the messages to a mainstream audience who might be interested in the same knowledge.
According to the numbers, he is doing his role very well. Around 0.5 million people are following his youtube-channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWN3xxRkmTPmbKwht9FuE5A