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Gluecon tries to solve the Cambrian Explosion

15 05 2009

Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked in several birthing and evolving tech industries. I was born in the storage industry which had no standards and moved quickly to storage virtualization and storage area networks; then I moved on to database applications which were a lot harder to integrate and ERP systems forced integration. At the base of all these experiences are consumers and customers needs, cost reductions for enterprises, and just plain efficiency. When innovation becomes unbearable for users, the next phase is consolidation. We’re getting there and very fast. RSS 2.0 standards were agreed upon back 2005 and we’ve seen a wild ride since then. Web 2.0 has mushroomed. I can pretty much sign up to 5-10 new web services every day if I wanted to.

This journey brings me to the Glue Conference which just finished yesterday in Denver, CO.  We’re there again. Mitch Kapor actually used the analogy of the “Cambrian Explosion” while talking about Social Media / Web 2.0. Like during the Cambrian, we’re at a stage where products and ideas are developed at a greater speed than before because it has become so cheap to develop web and social applications. It has gone wild, the big players are trying to control it (e.g. Facebook Connect…), while the savants are wrapping their heads around Open standards and data portability (e.g. OpenID and Information Cards)

So here is a quick synopsis of my take aways from the conference. I am no technical person but I love technology, so forgive me if you were there and see that much stuff has flown over my head.  I am a shrink not a geek.

1. The Consumer first: The biggest headache the web services industry is putting on the consumer is “signing in”. How many IDs and passwords can one self have and need to get around? If you keep them somewhere it can be unsafe. If you use the same password everywhere… it can be unsafe. If you rely on a third party, to manage your identity… you know what I am going to say. We’re slowly getting there. e.g. Facebook Connect and other services like this… Safe? Maybe, but it’s becoming like Credit Score ratings… I am not sure I like it and my identity becomes the property of a corporation, so to speak.

2. Glue the networks? I tend to use most networks in conjunction with each other. I also like the synchronization that FriendFeed offers me. I also think that most  people are using networks separately. Being friends with your boss on Facebook or your mother is still contentious. All of us have multiple identities due to our life styles and not all identities fit across networks. Should we use networks like islands or enhance them so that noise is reduced? My preference goes to the latter. Networks and web UI and websites need more standardized metadata features e.g. I want to be able to share a mountain biking article with everyone who cares about mountain biking across my networks… Don’t ask me to choose the networks, but the identities… and it should be automatic. I don’t want to spam my foodie friends for example.

3. ID and Identification: Much debate was happening around these two, and I think the consensus was around the freedom to have different IDs but the necessity for proper identification.  It was observed that individuals have different behaviors depending on networks and if identities become unique everywhere, it limits freedom. Someone should not be banned from all networks because his/her ID was banned from one network.

4. Trust VS Reputation: It always starts with identification (who’s logging in). We can then build the trust of individuals or entities across the social web. Once that layer is achieved, we get to reputation.  Reputation could be based on character (e.g. participation) or knowledge (social media, internet or mountain biking… you’re pretty safe with me). Above all, ‘reputation’ depends on ‘Context’. Applications and social web platforms need to move to a more ‘context’ based information sharing model. Context gives meaning to words and information. The semantic web will be contextual.

5. Moving into the cloud: Pretty much everything is moving to the cloud. Applications are increasingly moving to data centers outside of companies as it’s rarely a core competency of businesses. It was clear that the cloud is something that will be totally transparent to the consumer. No one cares if your emails are sitting in Denver or San Francisco.

6. The online social graph is pretty much based on 3 worlds of social graphs:

  1. The first graph is based on email / IM (instant messaging). Everyone really knows each other but it’s a closed environment.
  2. The second graph is based on eCommerce platforms. As a shopper, you’re influenced by other shoppers and more and more networks via those platforms.
  3. Finally the social networks graph, which is probably the most open of all. You may or may not directly know someone who is connected with you. Depending on your purpose, you’ll use them with people you know or at the other extreme, be an ‘open networker’ and accept every invite.

Glue-on then. It is clear that the suggestive web or web 3.0 will require clear identification of individuals and groups. We need to move to a place where platforms and systems bring you better information based on the graph. People’s identities and conversations create enough data to give context and meaning to conversations. We’re still in a communicative world. The sender and the receiver of information still need ‘coding’ to understand each other.  Given that social media is producing an explosive growth of information, better information will be subject to context.

All in all, it’s all about context. I know it’s thick but bringing the right information to the right people was not good enough in the media world, new media has multiplied that information quantity. Now is the time to bring quality to new media.

Cheers

Yann

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Geeks and Shrinks

20 02 2009

Geeks and Shrinks. That’s who Robert Reich (former secretary of labor, not the Robert Reich who runs the BDNT Meetup)  in his book ‘The Future of Work’ believes will rule the new economy. I’m no shrink, (Shrink = translator who communicates technical stuff to regular people). although I am a communication studies graduate, but am I geek? Let’s see what you think after one of my forays into the geek kingdom of the Front Range.

I’m at the Boulder-Denver New Tech meetup held at the Law Building at the University of Colorado at Boulder. If you want to see the new kingdom of geeks in one of their prime territories, there’s no other place to come…..I really wasn’t sure what to expect when driving to Boulder for this event.  Of course the term “geek” pops in my head and I am thinking pocket protectors, single guys in their mid thirties to late 40’s perhaps some of them still living in their mothers basement, writing codes all day long.  Boy was I wrong….

I am pleasantly surprised to find men and women, yes women, of all ages and appearances.  Some dressed as if they just came from work and the rest dressed as a typical casual Coloradoan.  I don’t think I saw any pocket protectors either. We all mingle around trays of chips and guacamole, fruit and of course a bar filled with Colorado micro-brews (so cool)…. @YannR(see we even use his Twitter handle)  tells me that we better find a seat because this place fills up quick.  He sure was right…within 10 minutes of the doors opening majority of the seats w ere taken and many people had to result to sitting on the floor or standing in the doorframes. Geeks in door frames. But wait, there’s more……

As the meeting begins I see that there are three screens up front, one for the speaker’s presentation, one for a bio and info of the speaker and to the right a large screen with a live feed from Twitter of a quickly trending topic; #bdnt.  I see right away people commenting on the speaker and the event, jokes being made, shout outs to friends in the crowd and time to time some heckling.  Everyone around me is tapping away on their laptops or of course iPhones making these micro-blogs themselves.  I suddenly feel naked without my laptop and especially without my non-existent iPhone.  I’m not sure what I would micro-blog about but I find myself wanting to be a part of the action.  The Tweeting I find quite interesting, it reminds me of sitting in grade school passing notes to friends talking about the teacher or friends in our class.  I guess this is the “new tech” way of passing notes.  Only this time the speakers engage as well, unlike my teacher in grade school.  They stop when chuckling begins and look to the Twitter screen to see someone asking if anyone in the door frame can pass him down a beer and continues to describe his location and appearance. It’s like a meeting within a meeting. Tech within tech.

So this is the new geek kingdom……. now I know not everyone lives this way but even if these guys are 5 years ahead of their time, this is one heck of a future we are looking at! All in all, I have to say, my first foray to the Meetup was great.  I learned a lot, not only about what a new geek looks like but also about new tech, and start ups that are popping up all over Northern Colorado.  It was refreshing to see so much passion, intelligence and new ideas all in once place. This Meetup was my christening into my new found geekyness that working for Extanz has given me.

So if you’re like me and you’re not a shrink, heading towards being a geek, and looking towards the future, here’s some things to keep in mind on your journey…

1. If you’re not on Twitter by now, you need to be — www.twitter.com

2. If you want to connect with like minded people, go to search.twitter.com, put your interests as keywords and search for them — then connect with them.  Or you can also use something like www.twitter.grader.com

3. Follow people. Be patient. They will follow you back.

4. To communicate with the Twitter natives, just put @ in front of their usernames (like @YannR).

5. Share. Retweet stuff you think is valuable. Remember, it is not about you. It’s about creating a conversation online that mirrors face to face interaction. Be positive. Be enlightening. Evolve.
Now if I could just get my hands on an iPhone……..

Thanks for the great pics from Frenchista and Coghill Cartooning

Cheers,

Lauren





What’s the old Napster got to do with the new PR?

6 01 2009

As 2009 dawns here at Extanz we have been reflecting on  some of the simultaneously insightful and frustrating conversations we have had with folks recently around the notion of PR 2.0 and what counts as “success” in such a field. Now, we know we say we do PR 2.0 and the term sits heavily with us. We use the term because it is something that people can “hold onto” and has some meaning, but like all language, it traps us in a game (as Nietzsche would argue) and it is this game that has become increasingly frustrating to us. You could argue that our view on PR is colored by our politics. You could argue it is colored by our international backgrounds. Even our language differences. But it really comes down to some very simple terms — “public” and “relations”. These terms beg the questions, we would argue, of 1)  “who is your public?” and 2) what kind of “relations” do you want to have with them? We’ve implicitly discussed these philosophical underpinnings of Extanz’ work before in our posts on Trust 2.0 and The Medium is the Message, but we thought we try and spell it out here. See what you think.

First of all, hands up all those who remember Napster? How about KaZaa? Come on now, you don’t have to be nervous…. how many of you participated in P2P activities way before it was gentrified and still considered a somewhat edgy act akin to, dare we say it, hacking? How many of us believed ‘information just wants to be free’? How many of us still do?

Back in the radical early days of Napster, I was lucky enough to be around some super smart media  and cultural studies people and we wrote a paper on just what it was about Napster that made authorities’ blood boil and music lovers rejoice. Napster and its P2P friends, peers and offspring reminded us that systems of enclosure such as copyright, patents, and property deeds are artificial creations, the tools of the powerful to become more powerful; weapons of exclusivity, designed to keep their users in “in their place” in an artificial order of things; instruments of selfish wealth creation for some individuals. Now, one of the reasons Napster and KaZaa and the like were so popular was because we all knew we were being sold 2 good tracks on a CD for the price of 10 and there was nothing we thought we could do about it until we realized that if we just set those tracks we liked free, or if our friends had them and we traded them for others, then everyone could win. And win we did. Heck, even the bands cut out the middle people which made them, well you know, discontent. And then vengeful.

Around the same time, I was torturing myself over my ‘original contribution’ to academic knowledge as I toiled through my PhD program (with those smart types I was mentioning earlier). Frozen like a deer in the headlights, I was whining to one of my mentors one day about my desperation of not finding my unique contribution when she reminded me that, “there is no such thing as an original idea. There are only original combinations and articulations.” That’s academic speak for what we know now as, ‘the mashup rules; and the more creative the mash, the better it is’.

What’s the old Napster got to do with the new PR? Everything. Napster then and now serves us a reminder of the true power of the Web (it is called a web for a reason, folks). It reminded us of its original conception, its unique brilliance– its power to connect and create mutually beneficial relationships with others. At the same time that Napster ruled as a radical force and disruptive technology, we both had the honor of working for a data storage company. While sadly unaware of what would come to pass in its industry, the company had a slogan at the time —  “information made powerful”.  Napster was information made powerful. Facebook is information made powerful. Web 2.0 is information made powerful. Napster ushered in the age of the bricoleur; the artist who weaves different forms, different objects and different ideas together to create something new and useful to share with others. PR 2.0 is about the bricoleur; the individual who creates relationships between people, objects and ideas.

The new PR is not the PR of our parents’ generation. It is the PR of the Napster Generation. The Millenials. Gen Y. Gen disrupting the workforce. Gen ADHD. In the eyes of Extanz, PR 2.0, the new PR, is conversations made powerful. People made powerful. Participation made powerful. Relationships made powerful. As the Zen Buddhist Teacher Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind states, “when you forget all your dualistic ideas, everything becomes your teacher, and everything can be the object of worship.” (p.44). PR 2.0 Extanz-style.

With thanks to Today is a good day  ,  jm3and of course Napster, for their inspiration!

Welcome to the brave new world — ready to share?

Kirsti





Trust 2.0 … Get Used To It

12 12 2008

I am more and more convinced that 2.0 is a mindset.  I was on Twitter (like always) last weekend between attending to the urgent lives of my 5 and 3 year olds… (Tonka trucks and other logistical movements) and struck up a conversation with @bakespace (bake who you may say? … twitter name/id). Much of our conversation was based on the rise of Digital Divide 2.0 which I see happening as Social Media reaches out to more human beings. You could argue that social networking sites in general are a generational thing and ultimately we will all be on there . You could also argue that it’s an early adopter phenomenon.  I tend to think that 2.0 is a mindset.

Newspapers, magazines and traditional sources have been ‘seen’ as the trusted source of information over time. “Who are we going to trust”? They say. Well YOU, your brand, your digital footprint. Web 2.0 is an organic world where new tools (software for the most of it), new behaviors and new ethical codes swarm. We are the media. We are re-creating trust mechanisms. I believe we can see through, look at each other in the eyes, shake hands, smile at each other and respect each other online. Businesses as well. Get used to it. It’s here.

Forums in the 90’s and early 2000’s have really given a bad reputation to online presence… they were one big stream and everyone could actually be as primal as possible. We now live in a more open world, if you vote for a 2.0 Mindset.  More and more consumers are judging how they are being treated and how their peers are as well.  BS on Twitter, blogging, facebook and so on just doesn’t fly and people quickly vote with their feet when BS shows up.

This week, amongst other things, I ran into 2 great pieces of content that talk about TRUST. The first was by Rodger Doodley blog on Trust with Rodger quoting Paul J Zak: The key to a con is not that you trust the conman, but that he shows he trusts you. Conmen ply their trade by appearing fragile or needing help, by seeming vulnerable… the human brain makes us feel good when we help others–this is the basis for attachment to family and friends and cooperation with strangers. “I need your help” is a potent stimulus for action. [From The Moral MoleculeHow to Run a Con.]

Selling is about creating a trustable and repeatable experience. If you are a marketer, you are here to build or consolidate the brand trust capital. Social Media (blogging, facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube….etc) when used in concert are here to “empower users” as Chris Brogan says – Those users are your prospects or your customers… Instead of being in their face and being another ‘Interruption Day Marketing’ brand, be part of their lives, be part of their search and their social graph.

Forrester Research just published a new study that has made bloggers and micro-bloggers rage this week… Corporate Blogs are at the bottom of the scale when it comes to “trusted information sources”.  It is very debatable and obviously linear thinkers (let’s apply traditional marketing to social media) are mostly doing it wrong. If you try to sell hard, you’ll just have ZERO effectiveness.

Cloggers (corporate bloggers) it’s time to stop – Companies and corporations have the bad reputation of just republishing their press releases on their blogs, talking about inward content…etc. RISE UP I say… Start by creating value, content that ’empowers your users’. If you can’t think of your higher purpose… have someone else handle your social media services. If you think you know but can’t get traction and your blog traffic sucks…. you’re also in need of help.

Now go on, get out there and build your company digital trustworthiness…

Onwards and upwards,


Cheers
Yann

Thanks to jasoneppink and will lion for their cool pix





What the Blog?

1 12 2008

One of the things Extanz is committed to is “growing experts”. It’s one of our core values. We take this approach to our clients and to ourselves. My story is a case in point…..

Until recently I didn’t really understand what all this blogging was about. To be perfectly honest I thought it was primarily for geeks who wanted to discuss….well I’m not really sure what I thought they were discussing…. or for journalists who were just re-formatting their previous articles into the form of a blog to keep up with the times or a new arena for people to rant about whatever they were currently annoyed with. None of the above was of any interest to me what so ever.

I never really did much work on-line in my past jobs aside from daily emails and helping to update our company’s website every now and again, but working for Extanz has opened my eyes to a whole new world…the blogosphere. And this blogosphere is pretty cool, I must say.

While doing research on influential blogs (yes, blogs can be influential!) for our clients I began stumbling upon all these nifty blogs that I found very helpful and interesting. I have now become the “annoying yet full of information” friend and daughter that emails everyone links to cool and sometimes helpful blogs. Like the gluten free blog for my Mom who has Celiac disease, or the cool Mom product review blog for my best friend who just had her first baby.

Yes, blogs are cool, but as I mentioned they can also be influential. Does your company have a blog? Are you letting your customers/clients know about who you are? Are you reaching out and making a connection? Having a company blog can bring in new business that you never thought possible. For instance, the other day I was cruising around the web and found this really cool, local, honey farm and they happened to have a blog on their website. I started reading and found myself so fascinated and loving all the information in this blog, about the history of the company, the bees, and most importantly to me, the honey and its health benefits. Before I knew it, I was buying $30 worth of honey and have been telling all my friends about it.

So… as you can see, I have found out that my previous assumption of blogs was not entirely true. Blogs are not just for the geeks, journalists, and complainers. Blogging is for everyone and by everyone. Make a connection, share information, tell a story, be influential. Come on, what are you waiting for? Everyone’s doing it…

Cheers,

Lauren

Thanks Hi I’m Chris for the cool pic





The medium is the message, (stupid).

9 09 2008


Ah, yes, who remembers Marshall McLuhan and his famous statement in Understanding Media (1964)?

In claiming that “the medium is the message” McLuhan expresses the sentiment that there is a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived, creating subtle change over time…. a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but by the characteristics of the medium itself.” (wikipedia.com)

We have been blessed to have multiple inspiring and challenging conversations with people over the last few weeks/months. As you may have guessed from reading some of our blog posts, we are a little fed up with how the web has been and continues to be used. We are also find the lack of vision and willingness to interact openly on the part of those who communicate for organizations, more than perplexing. But perhaps what Extanz finds most concerning is how underestimated, and you could say, diminished the power of social media tends to  become as it is relegated to interpretations of ‘all about me blogging’, ‘a group of drunken college students and their photos’ and ‘meaningless noise in 140 characters’. You know who I am talking about here….:)

Let’s face it, we remember the days of Napster, Kazaa and all the aggravation of the record companies. We remember how P2P was considered radical, dangerous and controversial. We remember the origins of the Internet, when it was known as the Arpanet and designed for information sharing, collaboration, and institutional and community coordination. These ways of organizing and communicating are built into the very fabric of the web, its DNA if you will. That’s why web 2.0 has come on so fast, because those technologies are moving the web away from its reliance on experts, on one way transmission of information and to some degree, away from producer control. What Napster and its comrades initiated was the rise of the prosumer = part producer, part consumer. It highlighted the connections between the relationships we build and the technologies that can serve, support and sustain them. It forced us into conversation with each other and it also raised the critical questions of authority and control. Information wants to be free, or so the battle cry suggested.

But here’s the issue. Where does information live? It lives within you, me and we. And herein lies the rub. Recently some bloggers have been talking about risk and trust and how they collide in the implementation of social media. Social media is seen as risky, Amber Naslund contends because of its ability to influence the multitudes = people may critique what you do, say something bad about you, you lose control over the message etc etc. Naslund does an equally good job of providing defenses to these contentions which she says, are largely based on the open, organic, ubiquitous nature of this particular medium. On the other side, as we have stated before, social media depends on trust and the cultivation of same. As Rex Lee puts it “A lack of trust will cause people to withhold information, to waste effort validating each message instead of integrating, to be less receptive to compromise, and to just be overall less committed, often choosing the least amount of commitment possible. Ultimately this means organizations are, less agile, less innovative, of average performance, and peppered with incomplete analysis.”

The fact that social media is open, is organic and is ubiquitous can provide some level of trust as there is a certain level of transparency in a relationship based medium.The power of social media, that collection of technologies born out of and through web 2.0, lies in their persistent commitment to participation, connection and interaction. All technologies, web 1.0., 2.0, 3.0 etc carry the values of their creators. That we see these technologies and forms of media ascend now says much about the people producing-consuming them. So can we reframe the title to ask – what is the message we are sending about who we are when we choose social media as our medium of communicating….OR perhaps more importantly, what message are we sending when we DO NOT?

Kirsti





Daring Social Media: Any Online Marketers Out There?

29 08 2008

Do you think social media and social networking is only for finding friends? Um….not quite!

30-40% of our customers’ clients are registered on some form of social network(e.g. facebook), social bookmarking (e.g. stumbleupon) and social media sharing sites (e.g. flickr). Out there. Participating, creating, cooperating together.

Are you with them or are you hibernating/hiding from your customers? It’s the social rejection thing, isn’t it? Maybe they will find out you are not as cool as you hyped yourself to be. Maybe they will talk trash about you behind your back. Maybe they will have a bad experience, and then they will tell all their friends, who will tell all their friends and before you know it, you’re out of business. Every business has that 5% of their customers who are unhappy, but what are the chances they’ll all get on Facebook and tell everyone on the planet how bad you are? Really, the chances are better that your fans will tell all their friends about you and before you know it, you’ll be meeting people you would never normally have the chance to meet.

But what about the bad apples, you ask? You just get out there and confront it. Present your side of the story, respond to your customer – offer an open door – they will be honored that you even engaged with them and responded (sad but true) and then they will spread the word about your response-ability. Businesses and brands need to open up to the very people they are supposed to serve. As far too many authors have written, businesses (especially large ones) have an inherent low trust worthiness in the industrialized world. Now is the perfect opportunity to rise up and engage in social media. Social media marketing is not about using another venue to slam more ads down people’s throats… it’s the wrong place to do that but it is the place to bring useful content to those who already support your enterprise.

If they buy your product or support your enterprise, they care about you. Their friends ought to know about that and you ought create a viral presence….

Marketers, your absence from social media and online engagement brands you as antisocial and uncaring- your so called ‘customer centricity’ is disappearing because you’re NOT where 350 million people already are using Open Social. Yes 350 million! (Washington Post). Can you believe that? Can you believe you aren’t even there?

Time to get busy….

– Define your social media goals – you can’t be everything for everyone but you can represent a ‘larger purpose’. Be a voice for your industry.

– Create and launch yourself properly where your customers are – talk with them.

– Grow your credibility – Feed them content (blogs, podcast, pictures, videocast…) that matters to them and their lives – A larger purpose will help.

– Engage and create an atmosphere of collaboration and co-creation – let your customer rave about your next super cool product or service and how user friendly it is because it was made by them for people like them.

Above all – be open, they’ll buzz you up.

And just in case you thought you were too old for all this or your customer is too old …. check out these stats!

# The fastest growing demographic on the Web are seniors. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is over 25.
# A baby Boomer turns 50 every 8 seconds. As a generation, they are vastly more Web-enabled than their parents.
# 75% of all Internet users watched at least one video last month. A good portion of these are seniors, and its possible that a site like YouTube provided many of those videos.
# Nearly half of those who use the Internet for health purposes (which is 80% of all Web users) are doing so on behalf of somebody else. (Source: Manhattan Research)


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