An Oil Sands Tribe: I Like It

Earlier today, Jeremy Dietz, a Calgary-based professional communicator, shed light on a recent trend. His post, Shifting Sands?, talks about the emergence of an Oil Sands Tribe –  an online community of people that are progressively  adding their voices to the oil sands / tar sands rhetoric. An online space that has been dominated by the anti-oil sands / anti-tar sands faction for a while now.

Jeremy Dietz

The first indication (at least to me) that this online debate was evolving beyond its lopsidedness was when I scanned through the comments on an NRDC anti-oil sands blog post. I was amazed to find that the vast majority of the people lending their voice to the debate were not NRDC supporters, but were pro-oil sands readers. Furthermore, these comments severely out-numbered those of the anti-oil sands online community.

I like this idea. I like this idea of an Oil Sands Tribe so much, that I wish I had posted about it first. Kudos Jeremy, kudos. Looks like we’ve both been reading some Godin.

I place myself in this camp, in this tribe. Yet as with all tribes, there are differences on the individual level. Some of us in the tribe try to use reason and facts to prove points, and some of us don’t. I prefer to think of myself as belonging in the former.

Those of us that rely on reasonable arguments are starting to have an impact, we are asking questions and probing lines of thought. This is needed.

Rational, intelligent debate is needed on issues of importance, and the oil sands are definitely important. They do after all impact the things that make the world go round: the economy, the environment, the transportation-slash-production-slash-everything- we-base-our-society-on sectors are all impacted by this industry, this community, this tribe.

So go read Jeremy’s post, and then come and interact with the tribe. You don’t have to share the same point of view – in fact, considering how complex the issue is, I can guarantee that you don’t. Heck, we don’t even all agree – it’s a complicated, multi-faceted topic, and informed discussion is a good thing.

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2 responses to “An Oil Sands Tribe: I Like It

  1. I think the oil sands industry could really benefit by taking a more proactive approach to online community building.

    A good start would be by developing an industry-wide social media policy that could be slightly modified for each specific company.

    By doing so, oil sands companies would be giving a tacit ‘ok’ to their employees to educate the online crowd about what they do for a living. This would allow their message to proliferate as opposed to limiting it to the few oil sands voices that currently exist in the medium.

    Up until now, the ENGOs have had free reign because they have thousands of more participants – all of who are encouraged to chime in with their opinions.

    If the energy industry is serious about changing perception around the oil sands, they should follow the ENGO lead and empower (and educate) their employees on how to converse in the social media arena.

    The rest of the business world is starting to develop these policies, so why not the energy industry?

    For quick reference check this out: http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php

    • Couldn’t agree with you more Jeremy – transparency is the way to go, and online services such as Twitter are the perfect tools for achieving that goal.