Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Carnival is coming to a blog near you!

On Tuesday this week I hosted an event to encourage more people who work for emap - the company I work for - to blog. (see Never Mind The Bloggers). Alan Moore and Euan Semple did the inspiring.

As a result, we now have around 20 bloggers (and that number growing by the day) feeling the joy of the network (or just plugging away waiting for someone to connect).

So to support them - and celebrate their achievements - colleague Dan Thornton has come up with the genius idea of launching a weekly Carnival of the Emap Bloggers. It's an idea like the Carnival of the Mobilists that Faster Future has benefited from in the past.

The Carnival will be hosted by a different emap blogger each week - and the selection of posts that blogger highlights will be entirely their own choice - provided the post in question comes from a fellow emap blogger. They are, of course, at liberty to link to anywhere they wish on any other occasion.

I'm really looking forward to the first.


Please offer your support. These are green shoots in need of care and attention!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Beep-beep, beep-beep - my degree certificate just arrived

Now you can do a complete degree course on your mobile. Only in Japan... for now.

Is one-person-one-vote redundant in a networked world?

I'm not proud. I admit it. I was watching the X-Factor on Saturday evening. It made me sad and angry. And not just because I know there are millions of things that I should have been doing that would have been of greater value to me and humanity in general. Like staring into space, for example. Forgive me.

Two things stood out.

1. This show (and those of its ilk) has been lauded as a vanguard of co-created media, two-way flows - the viewers as participants rather than simple broadcast-as consumers. (for those unaware, you text to vote for your favourites - so the audience acts as mass collaborative judge on the singing talents of those paraded before you). (There, I knew I had an excuse to watch it)

But it strikes me that all those ideals of mass collaboration, of edge taking control of centre, work at their best in unfettered networks. And these are not unfettered networks.
While the X-factor may create the illusion of handing control to its voters, they only have one option - to create a hit.

They aren't allowed to say - hey actually we want to form our own global niche of supporters for this artist here (who the 'masses' are kicking out in week six of the show, for example). And, you know what, we're going to set up our own show - or tour or whatever. No, all they can do is join the relentless pursuit of creating the next, one, single, hit.

Seems a bit of a miss really, since as any fool will tell you about the Long Tail, the hit will only account for 15% of the cash to be made. 85% going down the dunny? Has anyone told Simon Cowell?

This winner-takes-all approach results in the survival of the blandest; the least worst, emerge as the 'hits'.

There are recurring examples of this 'survival of the blandest' emerging. In every case they are where a centre-out-we're-in-control approach remains at the heart of the trappings of shared ownership. Simply - the centre organises a competition - the edge gets to vote. The edge loves diversity, is passionate about difference and will self organise around it to celebrate it - but this gets swept away by the pursuit of a winner.

The lesson of the networked world is the big win is in the long tail.

2. My second concern is perhaps more challenging. A very fine singer got voted out on Saturday night. I mean a very fine singer. A fabulous school teacher, from Luton. The studio audience stood in awe to applaud her performance. She was good. Oh, I did I mention she happens to be black?

It's not the first time staggeringly talented black singers have fallen under the wheels of the battle of the bland. Whenever it occurs I get alarmed and surprised about the great British public. And it tells its own heartbreaking story that the wonderful Beverley was entirely unphased by this turn of events.

So this is where it gets challenging. It turns out I just don't trust the judgement of a significant number of people. So why should I be comfortable allowing their 'one vote' to be equal to my own?

Of course, this begs the question - why should my vote, my say, be given any more weight than anyone else's. This is the difficulty of democracy, and famously, it's tyranny.

But perhaps the networked world is showing us ways in which the idea that it must always be one-person-one-vote can change.

We are quite comfortable talking about user ratings being given more credence if the raters themselves have been given more credence by members of their community. We seem comfortable with the notion that if the community values your opinion (or doesn't) they can share this through some kind of scoring, some form of rating and recommendation. And that your influence, your opportunity for your voice to be heard, may rise and fall with this.

One-person-one-vote means everyone's opinion is equal. But in the networked world there is a general acceptance that this is not the case. Perhaps it can apply within niched communities - but not on the mass scale?

Imagine an X-Factor competition in which only people I trust can vote. This is the niche global approach. Tough one to stage on mass broadcast TV, I grant.

My community of people I trust would vote away and we'd all end up with a result we supported. Our bit of the long tail would award the 'win' to artist x. And we'd love x, our building of trust may even have included some taste sharing. No wonder we all love x.

Now repeat with someone else's community of trust. Artist Y wins! Hurrah. The long tail is being enabled.

Everyone is created equal, but when they enter a community equality ends.

That sounds quite anti- web2.0 quite anti, social. But it also sounds like the reality of life as we experience it.

It feels natural. But is this slippage towards hierarchy natural, helpful, or simply residual? Your contributions very, very welcome.

Pushing the blogging go-button

It's not every day you get the likes of Alan Moore and Euan Semple in the same room. It's even rarer that you get them to share between 20-odd people in your own backyard. But that's what we were treated to at the Never Mind the Bloggers event I hosted at emap's Specialist Media hq in Peterborough yesterday.
We'll be sharing video from the event before too long - thanks again to the efforts of motorcyclenews.com's Angus Farquhar. Alan has already blogged about it.
The event was meant to inspire people to start their own blogs - and give them the tools to do so. One way or another it's off to a good start.
I say one way or another because while not everyone agreed with the message that Alan and Euan brought (and which, to be clear, I support), their words did achieve the objective - to act as a call to action to blog.
So today emap has more bloggers. Check out some of their initial efforts here:

more being added as I collect their urls!

And of course, we already had this blog http://fasterfuture.blogspot.com
and Dan Thornton's: http://thewayoftheweb.com
and Guy Procter's: http://trailgear.blogspot.com
Matt Clarke's http://fishfishfish.org
PFK blog

And if you know of more by emap staffers, let me know.

More nodes on the network - more opportunities to connect - more understanding of the power of the network. More edge.
This is good.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Text2Win against the Zimbabwe government!

Communities Dominate Brand's Tomi Ahonen has asked for FasterFuture's help in spreading the word about the following. I'm delighted to be able to offer it. Their work and creativity is a great example of out-thinking a repressive central regime.


The centre can't keep control in a world of constantly connected communities. SW Radio Africa is demonstrating the shift to a world of 'we' from one of them and us.

And it will continue to do so, with your help.

Tomi: "The Association of International Broadcasters awards ceremony has rewarded a small African radio station, SW Radio Africa, for the most creative marketing concept. But while they are doing wonderful work, this is something that needs immediate and urgent support.

"Briefly, Zimbabwe is a poor African country where the economy has collapsed (latest inflation just during the month of October was 15,000 percent) and the government is very corrupt. And the government censors the media.

"SW Radio Africa is the independent Zimbabwe news source broadcasting on shortwave radio out of neighboring South Africa. Except that now Zimbabwe of course also blocks their radio broadcasts.

"SW Radio Africa decided, if you censor my broadcasts, then I go SMS... (text) Pretty clever by the small radio station where TV is not a viable option and internet/PC penetration is nearly zero. But there are plenty of cheap old second hand mobile phones...

"So SMS. Zimbabweans can't afford even to pay for the SMS. So SW Radio Africa sends the news free to anyone in Zimbabwe who signs up to the service. Over 6,000 have signed up and they are adding 100 new subscribers every day.

"So they don't do advertising (who would advertise to such a devasted economy anyway) but someone has to pay for the SMS. SW Radio Africa asks for sponsors to cover the cost of the SMS transmissions.

"So here is my request. If you think this is a worthy cause, that a free radio station broadcasting news into Zimbabwe is on a good task, and that since they are now blocked by the Zimbabwe government, SMS text messaging is a reasonable alternative to get past the censorship, then please do spread the story. Lets try to find some supporters and further sponsors for SW Radio Africa. Lets get some news and information to the poor devastated people in Zimbabwe."

Their website is

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

Never Mind The Bloggers


Just putting together the final details of an internal emap event I'm hosting at our base in Peterborough, Cambs, tomorrow: Never Mind The Bloggers.
It is intended to inspire and turn that inspiration into immediate action.
I'm thrilled that Alan Moore (Communities Dominate Brands) and Euan Semple (The Obvious) have agreed to speak and join in a forum in our morning session. That's the inspiration - and some of the finest around.
The guys will also be hanging around when the 'action' starts. Everyone who attends the event will get an immediate follow up session in front of a pc to help them turn the desire to blog into the reality of their own blog.
We will be videoing the presentations and hope - with permission - to be sharing words of wisdom on this blog before too long.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Whoops - there goes your identity. Mass hysteria in the UK

I spoke at the high-brow but fun Digital Identity Forum at London's Clink yesterday - on the subject of Reed's Law and the Demand Curve. It was an interesting place to be when news broke of The UK Government's rather careless loss of the personal records of somewhere around half of the entire population.

For those not familiar with the story a Government department was asked for sensitive data records by another - and it chose to send them in the post on a couple of discs - unsecured. Not even recorded delivery. And they didn't arrive.

Whoops.

A story Dr Ian Brown told at Digital Identity (you might have seen him talking on the subject on Newsnight last night) reveals how/why this kind of thing will inevitably happen.
Apparently it was the case in the National Health Service that access to computer terminals involved a swipe card. This card revealed your personal level of clearance. The higher your rank, the greater your access - essentially. Great in theory. Trouble was, each day the most senior person in the department would swipe to log in and then leave the terminal open for all to use - probably because this was expediant.

And in the same way, you could make the data the Government has lost as secure as you like when you control the process, but the moment you introduce human beings, things can go wildly wrong. In this case a human took the expedient course of sticking them in the post. Not wise; But not beyond the realms of reason either.

Even so, I'm not sure there is quite the cause for all this hysteria. The kind of information about me currently available on those missing discs include bank account names and numbers, home address, my child's name etc. Sounds scary. But it's only scary if someone can do something scary with it.

Aren't our security conventions just a little screwed up when they rely on us NOT sharing the name of our child, or our home address. Isn't that just a bit inhuman? Anti-social?

It's time we changed the locking mechanisms, rather than making it the responsibility of users to be less social - to be less like, well, human beings.

It's in our nature. Technologists - design for it!

In any event - isn't my address and other details available publicly on the electoral roll? Sharing the name and number of our bank account gives no one access to remove anything from it. So what's the big deal?

The issue is for other people's security systems. For example - someone could apply for a credit card or some such with 'my' details. Great. They could apply for it. Not me. They are responsible for any bill racked up on it. Not me. So the problem is for the system which makes knowledge of a few social details about me its dirty big key. They are making a few social details equivalent to my identity. Mistake.

Those guys have the problem - get on with making better locks. Leave me to enjoy being human.

Monday, November 19, 2007

See you at Digital Identity

I'm back in London tomorrow, this time to speak at the eighth annual Digital Identity Forum at the Clink.
It starts tomorrow and also runs on November 21 - though I can't stay for day two, unfortunately.
It's an interesting time to be considering digital identity - with the growing buzz around the social graph.
I'm going to be speaking on 'Reed's Law and the Demand Curve'. For those who can't be there, much of what I'll discuss is covered in the white paper you'll find here.
For those who can, please come and say hello.

Doc Searls lends a hand to the Call Centre Customer Manifesto

I was thrilled to receive a message from Doc Searls over the weekend letting me know that he was posting a link back (from his blog to FasterFuture in relation to the Call Centre Customer Manifesto).
Doc is a legend (in fact, I describe him as such in my list of recommended blogs). He is co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto (which you'll also find in the recommended list).
I'm hoping for a spike in sign ups. Doc's blog is, after all in the top 5000 rated by technorati
Coming on the back of support from Communities Dominate Brands and the Social Customer Manifesto, it's turning into a veritable who's who.
Thanks all. Keep on passing it on!

Death of the url - the hornets are stirred

Ivan Pope - who I had the pleasure of sharing a podium with at last week's NetImperative Online Media Seminar - has now blogged about the theme he raised at that event.

Ivan is a widget guru and has concluded that the url must die.
I had a poke around this myself back in February (Services And The Death of the Website).
But I didn't think through the impact in the depth that Ivan has.

Ivan says:
"In a world where you don't have a central web site, then you don't need to embed your domain name in the minds of everybody who is going to come looking for you. Get that centralising fixation out of your head and all sorts of things can follow.

"So what replaces the elegant simplicity of the URL? ...search engine as a navigation tool rather than as a search tool....

"...throw away the domain name and ensure that your content is locatable by way of search tools. You no longer have a Domain Name or a URL, you have a Search Name and a USL (Universal Search Locator)."

His views have stirred up a bit of a hornets nest - some real controversy. Take a look on the comments on his blog.

Strikes me that this insight has interesting impact on marketing and branding. Search terms you want to own are a good way to think about the branding of your 1.0 website, that's pretty obvious.

But where it might get interesting is as the semantic web seeps in. What feel does your brand want to be associated with - and how might that be served by Ivan's USL?

Imagine searching for your brand by images or sounds? Will brands need to 'own' the colours they are associated with through search? How could that work?

I'm really looking forward to sharing some thoughts on this at Ivan's Widgety Goodness event in Brighton on December 6.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mobinar 2 and the top 200,000


Just had the pleasure of attending Mobinar 2 - the latest in the series of mobile seminars that Mobinar launched in September. It's an internal emap thing with invited guests.
I was just along for the ride on this one, with emap specialist's head of mobile Ian Richardson in the chair.

Scott Beaumont told us about Mippin (something I was lucky enough to get a preview of at the beginning of October).

Mippin is fast heading towards its 2,000,000th page impression. It clocked its first million within its first 22 days. Scott, who is also speaking at LeWeb3 next month shocked me when he revealed there are already 220+ people who have tagged this blog as a favourite on mippin.

If nothing else, this ought to convince you of the need to extend your reach by mobilising the content you already have - via a simple re-appropriation such as mippin's RSS-driven service. There is clearly the hunger for content - provided it offers a good user experience on the mobile device.

Must be a bit of day for stat magic, because a look on Technorati today revealed FasterFuture has crept in to the top 200,000 globally for the first time. Given that recent estimates suggest 70m blogs are being tracked, that's a nice place to be. The more people who connect, the better the conversations are going to get - the greater the value we'll all share.
Cracking the 200K coincided with this blogs 'authority' rating rising to the magic 40 (where, no doubt, life begins).

Our second speaker was Rok Media's CEO Graham Baines.

Rok floated this week and were valued at $1bn. But you probably haven't heard of them if you, like me, are based in the UK. That's because they do about 1% of their business here. Their big markets are China, India, Brazil and Russia.

Graham described some cool tools they offer on a global scale.

They've got loads of clever stuff - from made-for-mobile avatar-based communities to youtube-style newstreams of UGC. But the thing that really stood out for me was their insight into the markets they endeavour to serve.

They have a text-to-voice service, for example. Sounds like a neat bit of fun? And I've heard of something similar being deployed for dating purposes.

But it turns into something of critical personal and business need in a market like Pakistan - where large numbers of mobile phone users can't actually read the texts they receive!

Insight.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Loudmouth lives! A new era for old media?

UPDATED Nov 16, 2007 to include an interview with project lead Colin Kennedy (see below).

Very pleased to receive the following text in an email a few moments ago:

"I got an invite to this brand new service and thought you might want to be one of the first people to check it out.

If you're into movies, music, tv, people or cars (biscuits coming soon), or you just want to meet new people, you should find something that interests you.

Have a look at www.projectloudmouth.com.

P.S. It’s still in trial mode, so feel free to give them feedback. If you like it – pass it on!"

Which all means that emap's first from-scratch social media play is in public beta.

It's a bit of a watershed in some ways. It's not attached to any current emap brands - and it's not about push content. It is about self-forming communities of interest, about user ratings and recommendation, about networks of trust. This is community-assisted navigation. And it's fun.

You answer enticing questions, building your social network as you go. The result is networks of taste, recommendation and trust which make it easy to discover things you didn't know you needed to hear, see, drive... own.

Maybe it's one answer to the question: what happens after advertising?

It's all pretty radical for an 'old' media company. Maybe the old dog can learn the new tricks?

Disclosure; I work for emap and this is an emap project. I'm privileged to have had some great conversations with some of the guys on the development team - led by Colin Kennedy (ex-editor and publisher of film mag Empire) and Dhiraj Mukherjee (co-founder Shazam).

I caught up with Colin last night (Nov 15) and this is how he sees it:

"We are (at last) in public beta and yet still sort-of in semi-secret trial mode. In other words, there's a long way to go. By mid-December we should launch with a new brand name (finding open .coms in late 07 is a bitch) and I may even label that an "alpha" release if only to highlight the potential we see for the service (if all our dreams come true).

"For the minute though, our aims are more modest, get a rounded product out, get some users, get some feedback, be prepared to kill some favourite features if necessary. We’re trying to remain open about what the service will be used for, it could take off as a dating site or as an Amazon add-on or a classic social network – or some mixture of all three. We’re not sure.

"The trick is to communicate the immediate benefits to our early adopters clearly while keeping our options open for long-term development. This is very much a work in progress but the December drop should make the more useful aspects of taste navigation clear. Our belief is that personal taste is an important factor in lots of decisions and if we can therefore capture and correctly index taste on a wide scale then we can start to facilitate user navigation in lots of interesting ways.

"No one else is quite so well positioned to capture the way people feel about a wide variety of stuff – how important this is only time will tell.

"Since you ask, entertainment navigation is an age-old problem and something I am personally very familiar with from my Empire days, the reason we decided to pursue a social solution to an old problem is that after analysing the market it was just obviously more powerful and scalable. It was like we had all been making radio shows for a number of years and someone had just invented television – if you wanted to remain where the action is it was simply impossible to ignore.

"As it goes, we did trial what I would call a more traditional “content” solution to the problem which would have enjoyed a close relationship with Emap brands but the proposed service just didn’t feel very elegant or cost-effective compared to existing social solutions like LastFM or Flixster - even Trip Advisor and LinkedIn were inspirations. The technology was new but the thinking was old.

"So we went back to a drawing board, tried something that is much more simple in terms of client-side technology but represents a pretty radical break for a traditional media company.

"We asked them to believe in the properties of successful communication systems rather than put their faith in content. I am not sure they entirely understood the pitch but, all credit to them, they did at least decide our approach was worth a shot.”

I think it's exciting and innovative - but I would say that wouldn't I?

I'm really interested in what you think - and so are the team. Feedback please in comments here or directly through www.projectloudmouth.com

Death of the URL... and a fairer distribution of ad dollars

I spoke at the TUC yesterday. That's not something I blog every day.

To clarify, I was speaking at NetImperative's Online Publishing Sector Seminar which was held at the Trade Union Congress in Great Russell Street.

It was a good session with some great fellow panellists. My bit was about the impact of social networks (what isn't impacted by social networks?).

Two sessions struck me as being particularly relevant to the discussions on this blog.

Ivan Pope, widget authority and founder of Snipperoo dropped the 'death of the url' bombshell.
The conclusion is no suprise to anyone who has followed the rise of the widget - from google's adsense and Youtube code snippets, to rss readers and beyond.

Widgets are the reaggregation of disaggregation - and this time it's on the terms of the user.

Indeed, I offered this take on the subject on my blog in February this year: Services and the death of the website

Ivan has been kind enough to invite me to the Widgety Goodness conference he's hosting on December 6 in Brighton, so I'm hoping we'll have an opportunity to discuss this further, then.

The second idea I took away with me came from Mike Teasdale - planning director at Harvest.

Mike made a plea for a bit more fairness in the distribution of advertising spend. The story goes that google (and their ilk) gets the lions share of the CPA (cost per acquisition) cake because the final click is most often from search.

Mike argues that isn't fair - because it's not giving enough value back to the creators of the demand. You don't go searching for something you don't already want. Content creators/hosts are doing the job of creating desire.

Example: User sees an in context and related banner ad. What we do next is... very often not click it. This may well be because we feel interrupted, irritated or whatever. This doesn't much matter to Mike's case. What does, is that the ad has planted an idea in the user's mind. It may have seeded the demand and it has been displayed in a context in which the user was susceptible to that demand.

So there is no click-thru record of me 'responding'. But I do actually respond to it and I am more prepared to part with cash as a result.

More often than not I'll do a search around the terms the combination of ad and content has planted in my mind and do this because I want to do some comparisons - and perhaps because I don't trust one single ad when I can go comparing and do some consideration with communities I trust.

But despite all that - the combination of content and ad has had a large influence on a deal getting done.

I suppose one simple way of redistributing the value more fairly would be to increase the value placed on ad impressions served.

But to achieve this will need some serious client re-education. Perhaps this story should be in the toolkit of anyone selling targeting advertising on their own web properties - against the rising adsense tsunami.

Why reputation holds the key to revenue success

I caught up with an old friend yesterday morning; BBC presenter Dotun Adabeyo
Dotun and I studied philosophy together towards the end of the last Ice Age (in fact, I recall a fair amount of co-creation went into some of those late essays...).

Dotun launched his own TV channel in August this year: ColourTelly It's very much a broadcast model with a schedule and quality programming - and he does have his reasons for this less co-created, less VOD approach, which I'm not about to debate here.

The channel is billed as Britain's "first general interest black internet television station". Check it out and tell your friends!

While we discussed it, Dotun introduced me to some thinking around reputation which may have use in the construction and value of trust.

His father always told him to eat in hotel restaurants. His reasoning was the hotel has more to lose if they serve you a bad meal than a stand alone restaurant. They don't just risk losing your eating dollar, they also risk losing your accommodation, conference, drinks and associated hotel service dollars.

Applied to media, this is why Dotun will trust a review written by an 'expert' journalist and published in a magazine much more than he will the view of Joe Public (at least in the singular) posting on a forum. The publication has more at stake when it publishes its review. If it gets it wrong the risk is you'll never buy the magazine again.

If Joe Public gets it wrong what's the cost to him?

And I think this is the guts of the issue. Review systems which attach no value to reputation are doomed.

What we're looking for here is the equivalent of losing a customer. I've often praised ebay's ratings and reputation system. But one of the reasons it is so robust is that what is at stake in losing your reputation is exactly that - losing a/all customers. That has real and easily identified value.

Perhaps this is our pointer. Reviews by people for whom the loss of reputation means nothing are likely to have less value to your average internet user. And reviews with less value = less incentive to contribute and less opportunities to inspire a purchase.

This makes it a critical element in any revenue generating model. It's also critical in sustaining community.

So what is at stake for the contributor in any of your UGC systems? If there's little this may explain why it's a) not valued by contributors and therefore not growing like you expected it to, b) not inspiring a bucket-load of trust-related purchases to pay your bills.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Come and say hello at NetImperative or Digital Identity

I'll be speaking about the impact of social networks at the Net Imperative Online Publishing and Media Seminar at the Congress Centre in London's Great Russell Street tomorrow, November 14.
And I'm back in London the following week (November 20) to speak at Consult Hyperion's 8th annual Digital Identity Forum.
If you are attending either please don't leave without saying hello!

United we stand: THIS is Fansumers

Fansumers - another take on 'prosumers'. It's a term used by Jeremiah Owyang when writing about the new Facebook Pages - easy tech which allow brands to interact with their communities within Facebook's easy-to-use walled garden. Great value for those brands willing to actively engage in the conversation - as I discussed in this post.

It's an idea you'll also be familiar with if you've come across the likes of freakonomics or if you've considered Alan Moore's engagement marketing.

However it's a pretty light-weight version compared to this.

When MyFootballClub.co.uk got rolling I loved the idea. Now it's become a reality - a community of football fans is taking charge of the thing they are fanatical about. They have bought their own real life club - and now they get to take control. Fantasy football made real.

It's a really clear example of the edge taking charge - the community dominating to such an extent that they take ownership of the brand.

And in so much as that is true, then the notion of Fansumer as described by a 'fans' relationship with a brand's Facebook Page, really doesn't reflect the power of the converged individual we see in MyFootballClub.co.uk.

Here the members of the community aren't simply fans, or just consumers. They are also the decision makers, they are co-creating the value, they are the innovators - in everything from team selection to the quality of the half-time hot dogs.

I wish them luck and will watch the outcome with interest.

SEO is the new spam. Actually, it's worse!

SEO is the new spam. Actually, it's worse.

It's worse because if I receive some god-awful missive about penile disfunction via email I can simply delete, block sender etc. It is annoying because I've been broadcast at.

SEO is worse because it targets me and makes me part of its deception. I perform the act that brings the spam to me when I enter my search terms.

It's another example of what I call pseudo engagement.

How so? If I mention the I-phone on this blog (apologies I-phone wannabees...) I will receive a certain number of additional visits to this article from people who are interested in the I-phone - not on my tirade against SEO!

So SEO helped you find what you wanted, how exactly?

SEO of the machine kind may deliver increased traffic but if it's gathered in a mercenary 'acquire-at-all-costs' way it's really just a poor man's broadcast - another way of acquiring eyeballs that just aren't interested.

The engines need some human help - community advice, ratings etc. I know what I want. The search engine doesn't.

Irony: I tried searching for this article to reference in this post. I used almost the exact title of it "google doesn't know what you're looking for". It took me three search attempts on google and on this blog's google-powered search! Only when I changed the term 'you're' to 'you are' did I find it.

How does your SEO fit? How fit is your SEO?

Monday, November 12, 2007

$10 million open source R&D budget for Android

Google's Android open mobile platform isn't just relying on the fun factor of engineering geeky new fun with its tool kit. It's got $10m of prize money to inspire some concerted effort.
This is open source R&D. This is the Goldcorp (wikinomics) turbo-charged.

Tim O'Reilly defines Web2.0 - and the data opportunity

These are Tim O'Reilly's slides from the recent Web2.0 expo in Berlin. I think they are particularly useful in offering some guidance about data.

What Is Web 2.0?


From: adunne, 5 days ago





Speaker: Tim O'Reilly


Link: SlideShare Link

The Social Graph: Is it what me, myself and I want?

Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang offers this executive summary today to help define terms for men in suits as the buzz around The Social Graph becomes a clamour.

The Social Graph is the representation of our relationships. Today, these graphs define our personal, family, or business communities on social websites. Unfortunately, we’re duplicating our same Social Graph on multiple websites, resulting in inaccurate data and time spent managing it. Despite many challenges, our Social Graphs should be self-managed from a single trusted source, replicated to websites of our choosing, thus resulting in accurate, efficient, relationship management.”

Which is simple enough. But is the idea of the Social Graph anything new and/or useful? And can it really be this simple?

I’ve got three problems I hope you’ll help with:

  1. What does The Social Graph add to what we can already discern from Reed’s Law (Group Forming Network Theory)
  2. If the Social Graph is about mapping the individual within networks, is this single ID approach all positive?
  3. Finally, is what Jeremiah and many others describe actually Social Graph Lite?

Reed’s Law describes the exponential growth of value potential in networks – based on each node’s ability to move between groups, operate within multiple groups and choose which groups they wish to belong to.

The Social Graph maps the individual within those networks.

If we accept that multiple connections in multiple groups require your node to exhibit characteristics (it is these which enable the connections – ie shared interests/passions) then it is these characteristics that are the true enablers of the network.

So the social graph is inherent in Reed’s Law.

In other words; without a node sharing its characteristics in some form the network cannot be sustained and certainly won’t grow. If you know nothing about me why would you connect? (you could, of course, but you would be spam).

So Reed’s Law cannot function without shared characteristics. The Social Graph is simply the way those characteristics can be described.

Its benefit is that It’s a way in which we can define and describe the demand for a digital identity utility which carries a key to all your relationships with it.

As Jeremiah puts it: “centralising a users Social Graph on a trusted, third party area that can be a central place where relationships are updated, and then replicated to every social networking website using a common process and technology.”

That means it’s about making the potential for value growth in networks described by Reed’s Law closer to actual value. That's because the bits in networks that create value are those which connect with purpose. If you give me a way in which its easier for those connections with purpose to form, you're going to create more value.

And this is where I have to ask, is this single ID approach all positive?

I get the efficiencies: time saving, completeness of picture – and potentially the better ability to serve as a result. But…

But it’s not always what we want. There is value in allowing the same node to have multiple identities. It’s an idea I explore in detail in this paper (Reed’s Law and How Multiple Identities Make the Long Tail Just a Little Bit Longer). And I’m speaking about it at the Digital Identity Forum at the Clink, London on November 21, 2007.

In a nutshell: I think differently when I act differently. And acting differently is influenced by which facet of identity is deployed, depending on the social mores of the community I am interacting with.

When I think differently I contribute new value to the network.

So the charge towards a one-hit social graph may have a negative impact on the value created by networks. Whether the creation of value emerging from multiple identities is greater than that created by more efficient sharing of my characteristics remains to be seen. It’s a calculation that may have critical importance as the network evolves.

The ideal of course would be to deploy a fluid social graph which serves multi-faceted individual nodes, allowing me to choose which of my multiple IDs is revealed to each community.

It’s going to be a complex beast – particularly if you accept that “I am part of a community, therefore I am”. That is: your ID is created by those around you.

So there has to be a constant feedback to your central social graph, and it has to work out which of these updates is relevant to which other of your facets. And you have to be able to rate the accuracy of those updates – and you may want to switch off vast swathes of characteristics for displaying in one community compared to another. And all this may eat into the better-serving efficiencies we must hope the Social Graph creates.

And if you think all that is a bit complicated, consider this: The idea of the Social Graph emerges from the ‘six-degrees-of-separation’ work of Jeffrey Travers of Harvard University and Stanley Milgram of the City University of New York.

It inspired mathematicians’ Watts and Strogatz to model connections which resulted in some pretty pictures and some scary maths. So when you take a look here you may conclude that what we’re looking at in the concept of the Social Graph emerging in social network thinking today is a bit of a watered down version. And if anyone can explain how that maths is currently being deployed in the development of social networks, please contribute by commenting!

All thoughts very welcome. It feels like there are some tough nuts to crack here so the more minds, the better!

Friday, November 09, 2007

SecondLife: Welcome to reality.

Fabulous post by Joseph Jaffe about how brands should set up in SecondLife as a fast track to discovering how bad they are at relationships. Unmissable!
Resonance with Starting a Fire On the Village Green

Must try harder to KISS...

cash advance



Well... I never said I was aiming to broadcast to a mass audience. A niche of the right people was always going to have more value. And if there's ever something I' ve failed to explain, pull me up on it!

How to be a stepping stone manager

An interesting discussion on Euan Semple’s The Obvious blog has inspired me to think about how managers might become the stepping stones to more networked companies.

He has come to the conclusion that: Management is becoming about noticing and enabling rather than driving and controlling.”

He advises: “Get yourselves a big melting pot of different social tools that engender different conversations and expressions of intent from your staff, watch like a hawk, spot the cool stuff, fan the flames and then protect the baby shoots from your spoilers.”

Jon Husband contributes this piece of mantra magic to the conversation by describing the notion as “Champion and Channel”.

And all this inspires me to think about the skill sets this suggests for the new leaders in organisations.

I have long been an advocate for a Communities First mantra. I think it describes and guides both what we should do and how we should go about doing it.

For example; Allow self-forming teams to follow their passions and we just might deliver products and services with a better fit with the networked world.

Teams that derive from an understanding of the power of the network ought to deliver results suited to success in the networked world. It’s an edge-in rather than centre-out solution. That’s the theory.

But most organisations remain silo’d and hierarchical. And we labour under command and control restrictions and structures. Letting go of all that all at once – well, let’s be honest, it would risk a certain level of chaos...

The networked company is the ideal; the current regime is the reality.

I think Euan’s insight is to offer relatively safe and secure stepping stones between the two.

The stepping stones are leaders of traditional hierarchies who have both the insight and the tools to harness the creativity of the Net Gen that wikinomics describes, Stowe Boyd's Edglings and Communities Dominate Brands' Generation C; people who expect to (are gagging to) join in the process of creating value in a networked way because that’s the way they’ve been brought up and it’s what they are used to.

So not only do managers need to provide (ands USE) the tools for their teams (wikis, forums, face-to-face discussion groups, facebook groups, whatever social tools they want to engage with) but they must also engage in the process with the insight to Champion and Channel – from the position of someone ready to champion and channel rather than one who might ‘drive’ or ‘control’.

So what skill sets does the stepping stone manager need?

I think Communities Dominate Brands offered a useful starting point when it described the role of the new marketeer.

Alan Moore & Tomi Ahonen wrote:

"What does it take to succeed in interruptive advertising? To be visible and heard, loud and eccentric, creative and brave, to crowd out the competition, gain attention of the audience - even annoy.
"This breeds an arrogance of "We know what is best, we won the awards, we have the training, we have the track record."
"This means many rogue marketeers break rules, live by their own rules, force their opinions upon others.
"What does it take to succeed in engagement marketing?
"To be humble, to listen, to empathise, to care, to be innovative, to be flexibile and adaptive, to live by other people's standards and rules. Subjecting one's own ego and ideas to the opinions and desires of the community: "They know best."
"To repeatedly readjust the existing and "own" ideas to the feedback of the community. My idea was not perfect, of course it should be revised again and again until my contribution disappears."

Does all or some of this sound useful?

Euan reminds us to Watch like a hawk, spot the cool stuff, fan the flames and then protect the baby shoots from your spoilers.”

Providing the tools and leaving ‘them’ to it is a luxury you can allow yourself only if you already have a well-functioning network of a company.

But if that were the case, you would want to be using them rather than leaving ‘them’ to it.

So I guess it follows that if you - the stepping stone manager - wants tohelp create a successfully networked company you HAVE to engage.

You have to be the stepping stone. You have to engage with the tools in order to “watch like a hawk, spot the cool stuff, fan the flames and protect the baby shoots”.

In Michael C Jackson’s Systems Thinking Peter Fryer’s Humberside Training and Enterprise Council’s experience is referenced.

“Forms of dialogue, aimed at ensuring win-win rather than win-lose outcomes were introduced to help overcome barriers to communication.”

That’s about culture and ‘permission to speak’. It has to come from the top that it’s alright to share, shape and contribute. In fact. It’s very welcome. It earns you brownie points with the boss. It is not a waste of ‘company’ time (what ever that is).

Jackson continues: “The ‘messages’ conveyed to support ‘making connections’ were ‘everyone can talk to everyone and should’, ‘everyone is responsible’ and ‘network extensively’."

While all these messages should pervade your culture, the critical one in the enabling of the stepping stone is ‘everyone is responsible’.

This starts with the stepping stones themselves. The managers must set the tone. They are responsible for engaging with the internal (and external) social tools they make available.

But as the idea becomes more widely accepted – up and down the hierarchies and across silos - it becomes the responsibility of all – the entire network – to “watch like hawks, to fan flames, to spot cool stuff, to protect the baby shoots”.

The role of the stepping stone is to show the way and plot the path. But everyone must cross the water. When they all have, you have your network.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

FriendSpam. Viral ain't all good.

Facebook's SocialAds have great promise. But I hope for their sake they have overcome an issue that seems part of the fabric of this particualar social network.

The default mode of every application I use on Facebook is that as soon as I sample it I am presented with a pre-filled series of tickboxes against my friends - whom it's all to easy to infect with whatever I fancy. It is this which has played a huge part in driving facebook's exponential growth.

This is all good for SocialAds when/if I am selective. But the default is not to be. In other words the balance is in favour of spamming all my friends.
SocialAds will be making a dangerous assumption if it believes all my friends want the same things.

Spam is initially ignored, moves on to annoy, and ultimately inspires an angry backlash.
So the very thing that has driven the exponential growth for Facebook is exactly what could crush its potential for financial success - indeed kill it as a platform. Look at the growing annoyance with vampires and zombies on facebook, for example.

Of course, we have to assume that facebook have worked this out and that the touch will be lighter, that segmentation will be driven by friend interactions and selections. But there are signs the viral imperative is endemic in facebook's build.

For example, I sent a message to the Friends of Faster Future group on facebook yesterday. And then I had to send another - apologising.
It seems many of the group received my first message five times - an error entirely created by the facebook machine (update - I note my facebook ID stopped working this morning [10.10am], turning the friend badge on this blog into a simple link to facebook - and preventing me from accessing my facebook account altogether - not a good time for the tech to go belly up is it Mr Z?). Annoying enough if it's from a friend and relevant to you. Imagine if either of those conditions isn't met?

Did Facebook open the viral throttle only so it could grow to this commercially viable scale and is now ready to close it in the interests of actual commercial success?
The balance between the needs of its users and the needs of its commercial partners will be a tricky one to maintain.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Facebook's SocialAds: Jam today and tomorrow

SocialAds. The clue is in the name. What they do is the simple thing we see replicated elsewhere - serve the right ads to the right people at the right time.

That's a given. It's a big, big step in restoring response rates against the swan-dive of interruptive advertising.

But SocialAds have added something extra. Something, er, social.

They get that word of mouth is the single most effective sales pitch there is - accounting for between 60 and 70 per cent of all purchase decisions, depending on where you find your stats.

So an in-context, related ad is great. But an in-context related ad from a friend? Well that's a different league.

Ratings and recommendations of products from people you trust. Blyk understands this and we'll see exactly how it deploys that understanding as it rolls out its mobile model.

The idea makes use of the self-forming networks of trust that social networks create.

This is particularly effective when you add the understanding that people now have more trust in their peers than they do in brands, authority... the centre.

Recommended further reading on this:
Jeremiah Oywang at Forrester (Here).
Doc Searls (Here)

Now, I could argue that google's adsense does all this. It is in-context, related and served to the right people at the right time (if I'm searching for X and an ad for X is served against it - I'm the right person at the right time). What about the social bit? Well, my friend could forward me a link to a bit of content - that comes with his recommendation. I follow it and get served the ad when I see the content. It's kind of arrived in front of me with his recommendation.

However - there's no automation in that process. In SocialAds there appears to be.

The other element of their new business proposition is Facebook Pages, which allow businesses to have their own facebook profiles (and they are free) - so you can interact with consumers (fan-sumers as Jeremiah describes them - though I feel that underplays their role somewhat). I guess this is the equivalent of google's blogger?

They don't appear to have a way in which users of products create their own ads to share, or get invited into co-creating communities. Pity.

But these could be precisely the things that spin out of brands making wise use of the the two-way flow Facebook Pages are able to deliver.

The Facebook play is based on sound strategy for two reasons:

1. SocialAds are an easy sell for the current marketing mafia. They 'get' in-context related ads. They hear that social networks create trust. They know that trust begats sales. Where do I sign?

2. Facebook Pages offer more engaged (enlightened or willing to experiment) brands an easy opportunity to touch the network themselves (rather than simply witnessing its exponential value generation and handing over their cash). As they learn what it's like to be part of the communities which define brands, they will better serve the co-creational aspirations of Generation-C, Net Gen, the Edglings... the people who are inheriting the earth. Along the journey they should discover that these people want to help rate, shape, create, co-design, engineer and market. And they'll want rewards and ownership. Facebook Pages offer them an easy intro to the new business ecology and in an environment where connecting is made easy.

So it offers both a wedge of cash from the old guard right now (SocialAds) and a ticket to the future for the new (Facebook Pages).

It sounds like a winning combination to me.

This from the facebook blog (I would point you to the link, but it would only work for you if you were a member of facebook... as google's adsense may wish to point out)


What they say:
My first reactions in red:

"Today we announced an entirely new advertising solution for Facebook. Right now, we want to make clear what's changing—and what's not—for you.

"First of all, what's not changing:
  • Facebook will always stay clutter-free and clean.
  • Facebook will never sell any of your information.
  • You will always have control over your information and your Facebook experience.
  • You will not see any more ads than you did before this. See anymore ads? I didn't 'see' any in the first place. I appreciate they were there, but they didn't register.

Here's what is changing:
  • You now have a way to connect with products, businesses, bands, celebrities and more on Facebook.
  • Ads should be getting more relevant and more meaningful to you.
  • You now have the option to share actions you take on other sites with your friends on Facebook.

Engaging with businesses and buying things are part of your everyday life. Advertising doesn't have to be about interrupting what you're doing, but getting the right information about the purchases you make when you want it. We believe we've created a system where ads are more relevant and actually enhance Facebook.
Ah, so they get the engagement over interruption thing. But I'm afraid this IS just about serving the right people with the right ad at the right time. Yawn.

You now have a way to connect with things you are passionate about. We've launched Facebook Pages, which are distinct, customized profiles designed for businesses, bands, celebrities and more to represent themselves on Facebook.

We noticed people wanted to connect with their favorite music, restaurants, and brands; but there was no good place for these types of affiliations to exist. Now, there is a place for them and you can become a fan of whatever pages you choose in order to interact with your passions in new ways. You can post reviews for a local restaurant, buy tickets to a new movie, or be the first to get a heads up about new promotions.

Ads will be getting more relevant and more interesting to you. Instead of random messages from advertisers, we've launched Social Ads. Social Ads provide advertisements alongside related actions your friends have taken on the site. These actions may be things like "Leah is now a fan of The Offspring" (if I added The Offspring to my music) or "Justin wrote a review for Sushi Hut" (If Justin wrote this review on the Sushi Hut page). These actions could then be paired with an ad that either The Offspring or Sushi Hut provides.
A sample Social Ad.

Behind the scenes, we've instituted a system that tailors ads to you and your interests, which should make ads more appealing. Advertisers never have access to who is seeing their ads, personal information about you, or even what social actions accompany their ads. In other words, all of this completely respects your privacy, while providing you with a better Facebook experience.

Hmm wonder what kind of social data analytics they have going on at the back? Can they discern the most viral within each community, and offer them for sale?

You now have the option to bring actions you take outside of Facebook back in. Just as Facebook shares your on-site interactions with your friends through News Feed, we now give you an option to let News Feed share your off-site actions with your friends as well.
This is the notification you'll see whenever another site wants to send a story to Facebook.

For example, adding the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to your queue on Blockbuster.com might be something you want your friends to know about, so you can have a marathon. As usual, you have complete control over this information. Affiliate websites always notify you of any stories they want to send, and you'll have two opportunities—one on the website, and one on Facebook—to opt out of that story. Facebook always gives you the choice to decline a story the next time you log in.
They've watched and learned from the likes of the Visual Bookshelf and Blogfriends apps.

We want Facebook to reflect and enhance all your real-world relationships—the movie you see this weekend as well as the friends who are seeing it with you. If you have any questions or suggestions for how we can improve this, let us know.

Well yes I do: Take a look here.(How Facebooks SocialAds should work, but probably won't)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's war: Brand vs Fans. Hmm, I wonder who'll win?

It seems the lessons of mash-up culture are still not being learnt. The desire to control can be crushing. But there always comes a point when the pips squeak. And in a networked world the squeeks are loud, long and globally shared.

How long is it going to be before this film starts to circulate through non-official and entirely out-of-THEIR-control channels? (first one to spot clips on youtube et al, please comment below!)

The row over Damantus, a movie made by German fans of The Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000, centres on German copyright law and who gets to own IP. Read the BBC report. It looks like "it'll never be shown in front of an audience". Maybe not. A community? quite possibly!

If this dispute couldn't be resolved by those 'in charge' I'm willing to place a hefty bet on 'leaks' taking control from them.

And while I'm happy that'll happen, I'm depressed that those who are doing all in their power to prevent that from happening will actually benefit from it.

The Games Workshop and the Warhammer 40,000 brands can only benefit from the exposure and engagement with the brands that this co-created film represents. Watch this.

Hey, come to think of it, maybe this is just a deep-cover viral scam...

By the way, google are thinking of banning my blog. Honest!

Lower the price and more people pay the piper

The TimesOnline is reporting that 3 out of 5 didn't pay a penny for the latest Radiohead album when offered the chance to download and pay what they wanted.

The average price paid was just £2.90, globally.

And there is much wringing of hands about this in the Times report. How terrible. The grand experiment has failed - is the general sentiment.

But the album has been downloaded 1.2m times in the first month. So the £2.90 a pop (as an average) is not a bad return - given that there are no production costs, and huge cut in marketing and distribution costs.

A bit of context, from everyhit.co.uk:

Lowest-Selling Number One

"The record for a non-limited edition single is "Wonderful" by Ja Rule featuring R Kelly & Ashanti. Entering the chart w/e 6th Nov 2004 it went on to sell a total of 65,000 copies. "

Another upside for Radiohead: Many of those sampling the album 'for free' may yet go on to buy a CD of it - following the same model as those who download free novels online and go on to purchase a hard copy to own on the bookshelf.

Lesson: Careful how you measure success.

Monday, November 05, 2007

First OpenSocial, now Android - Bring Out Your Dead!

Worthy of note today (read the whole thing here):

"A broad alliance of leading technology and wireless companies today joined forces to announce the development of Android, the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. Google Inc., T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm, Motorola and others have collaborated on the development of Android through the Open Handset Alliance, a multinational alliance of technology and mobile industry leaders.

"This alliance shares a common goal of fostering innovation on mobile devices and giving consumers a far better user experience than much of what is available on today's mobile platforms. By providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling mobile services are made available to consumers."

When I think of those still insisting on locking down, closing out and burrowing into their silos, I can't help thinking of that scene from The Holy Grail: Bring out your dead!






BTW: For a reality check on whose open this is, read mobhappy.

Why you can't expect business as usual

I spent the morning with Alan Moore (Communities Dominate Brands) today. Alan and I agree; where the network touches, it disrupts. Expect to see him publishing more on that before too long.

It's not just about new ways of making content. It's about new ways of making. Everything.
It's not just about new modes of advertising. It's about new modes of production.

(Got an example of how/where the network will disrupt - from education to politics and beyond? Add your contribution to A Shared Vision of a Networked World here.)
We're getting better and better at delivering the right commercial messages at the right time and to the right people, by focusing on communities and making use of social data analytics. And perfecting this has big wins for ad agencies, marketeers, commercial enterprizes and media... and this is a fantastic leap forward compared to the interruptive advertising that has gone before.

But the ultimate wins are about people taking control of the creation of the product they want to own.

Advertising, so far as I can understand, is about closing the gap between the supply of that which is created and the demand for that product. This has profound implications. Implications that are regularly shied away from by the 'business2.0' brigade.

Perhaps they have a fear of biting the hand that feeds? If your pitch is to the suited business community the view from around the curve, if taken to its extremity, is a scary place indeed.

What is disintermediated by truly co-creational processes? The owners of the means of production.
Apply? Who are the mediators in business: Corporations? Companies?

Now, I'm not about to predict the end of the company overnight - just as it's unfair to completely write off mass media. But it is reasonable to understand that just in the same way that mass media has been disrupted by the network (leading to the emergence of a new global mass-niche focused community-driven approach) so the story for corporations must change, too.

Media is having to reinterpret itself (Why Media IS the New Business Ecology, is my stab at this). So must the corporation.

Looking far enough ahead may help us steer the right course. What do you see?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Join in creating a shared vision of the networked future

The wiki vision of a completely networked world

The network will disrupt everywhere it touches. I keep saying it. But what does that actually look like? In detail?

Making predictions is a tough gig. Back in 1987, when I left university, I started writing a book (didn’t we all?). It was called The Auto-composer and I. Don’t bother looking on Amazon, I never got round to finishing it, let alone getting it published.

It was a science fiction novel (I read a lot of it at the time…), the themes it explored were familiar ones to anyone following my blog. But it’s only now that I look back that I find my themes have been quite consistent over 20 years. It’s just my perspective has changed – and how full my glass appears.

At the core of the book was how family life and the normalcy of sustained relationships got disrupted by a centrally-dictated regime of cyclical suspended animation. Everyone had to go into suspended animation for five years every 10 years – thus reducing the human demand for resources by one third (yes, kids, even then we knew resources were finite). Oh, and you only got to live for a standard 70 years.

The society-shattering bit was that you had no choice over the stop-and-start of your five years in suspended animation. Didn’t matter if you were out of synch with the people you came to love. Tough. The centre remained in charge. And that impacts on the value/reliance you can place on relationships. Imagine bringing up children…

This level of control from the centre had implications for almost every aspect of life. No real family life, no real long-term friends, time segmented lives – with no chance for appeal when your deadline arrived.

The auto-composer of the title was a device which played back the music in your head, to you. The notion was that the best sounds you ever wanted to hear were the perfect versions (reflections/echoes even…) of what was in your head. The idea was that they ought to be – at least to you.

Relevance over quality. I got that, even then.

You could share what you’d created with your auto-composer. But few wanted to. One scene I wrote described a party in which everyone was dancing to their own beat. Another simple metaphor for the world I was imagining.

Things got really interesting in the book when the makers of the auto-composer launched the auto-reality… people started getting lost in their own virtual realities. None of these were connected to anyone else in any way whatsoever.

So, I guess I was writing about the same ideas – the impact of control from the centre, the importance of relevance over quality, 20 years ago.

When you look at this from a disconnected perspective the world we’re lead to is a bleak one indeed.

In 1987 I didn’t have an email address or a mobile phone. I had a home pc for playing games on (and writing unfinished novellas…) but it wasn’t connected to anything other than the mains.

And this coloured my vision: Centrally controlled and individually obsessed. Maybe I thought like that because that’s how life actually was in 1987?

I had no way of understanding the positive impact the network would yield.

But with the arrival of a platform to enable the network (that’ll be the internet) – taking control away from the centre - everything changes.

The world becomes a positive place in which we can all engage, share and participate. It’s not their world any more – it’s ours.

The individually-obsessed ‘auto-composer’ would be something much more fun and social seen from the networked world of 2007. Perhaps a Last FM with music I collaborate on with others, people I have learned to trust through recommendation of friends and shared passions. Music made from the nobody-is-as-clever-as-everybody perspective. Global niche orchestras/bands/ensembles – developing tools together and taking their music to the places they (not the man) want it to go.

The auto-reality has obvious echoes in Second Life – and the versions of virtual reality that will follow, those which will enable the cinematic experiences in which you and your friends are the stars – which has to be more fun that sitting back and watching a movie (having one broadcast at you). Joining others in creating a virtual world to share is always more fun than making one you only share with yourself, isn’t it?

And instead of enforced down-time for the vast tracts of the human race through suspended animation, the network is allowing us to create value in new ways which I believe will ultimately create an absolute fit between demand and supply – an improved allocation of resources.

Effective models of co-creation enabled by the network will ultimately mean that only that which there is an actual demand for right now will get created. That has to help us towards a less wasteful world.

The notion that we can’t all participate in the creation of everything we need seems to make common sense.

But I wonder if that’s just because we haven’t cracked the tools yet, haven’t fully transferred into a flow rather than focus world, of the kind Stowe Boyd describes.

I’ve referred before to the absolute (potential) match between the demand curve of the long tail and the shape of the exponential growth of Group Forming Network Theory (Reed’s Law). Fulfilling the potential seems a few steps away – just yet.

But what would an utterly, completely, unrestricted networked world look like?

In simple terms what will change when something which is controlled from the centre is controlled from the edge.

We know that in broad terms it should change how things are produced, how education is shared, how politics works, how mainstream media operates. We know the broad strokes.

But I’d like to paint a more detailed picture of the world.

And it’s right that I leave this to the edge. Please, if you can think of one small detailed example to illustrate this, post it as a comment and/or add to the wiki version of this post (which you’ll find here) http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/The_Wiki_Vision_of_a_Networked_World .

Obviously, pass it on to someone else, share it on your blogs and forums.

Together we will be creating a vision of the future – one which belongs to us all.

CLICK HERE TO ADD YOUR PART OF THE VISION

FasterFuture.blogspot.com

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?