Thursday, November 27, 2008

Connecting the dots. Creating change

Take this (via Mark Earls)

"What can we do, what do we need to do, to improve our differentiation?”
And add this. (via Neil Perkin)
"Everyone sat inside... organisations has the leverage to transform the model of the business they are in. When they try, the temptation is for the business to wrap such ideas in short-term ROI, judge it by existing rules, implement it through an existing structure, make it fit an existing process. You don't manage innovation. You need to get the organisation, with all that process, all that hierarchy, all those assumptions, out of the way
Sprinkle in some of this. (Via Chris Carfi)
"There is a transformational thought, a "transforming idea," and a point at which the group "gets it" and starts to gel in the new world."
And... do not relax.

News: Where trust is a two-way street

I was on my way home last night on the train when news of the events in Mumbai reached me.

It wasn't via print, radio, tv, rss or search. It came via Twitter.

This is not the first time that Twitter has beaten the mainstream media to the news - at least to news that matters to me..

And it certainly trumps the mainstream for depth.

When I read the first tweets, I rattled over to the BBC site for more. And what I found was less: Sterile, seen-from-the-centre, one-size-fits-all, mass media.

Twitter not only wins for speed and depth, but also for humanity. (Image courtesy)

Twitter presents us with the human face of events. It does this by going beyond the best efforts of the BBC et al to personalize the story by giving us one human version of events (ie this is Mustapha's story, he's an 11-yr-old refugee etc). It presents everyone's story - witnesses, actors, worried friends and relatives.

A rich complex tapestry of news emerges, one much more like human stories than broadcast news. A mainline, unfiltered connection to reality.

News is now information that is relevant to you. The people you trust are great at sharing with you what you need to know. And now we have the tools for communities of purpose to gel globally, and in real time. Like twitter.

Can the likes of the BBC remain one of the 'people' we trust. Of course. But they have to understand trust is a two-way street. If you want us to trust you, you need to trust us.

For example the BBC could have rapidly assembled an rss output from a twitter search ( as we used to call it) of relevant terms in respect of the Mumbai attacks and streamed that on their site. But of course, that would mean they'd have to trust the great US (We, not the U.S.).

And that seems such a struggle for the centre. They can stick to their guns. They can stick to their old ways.

And they will, quite literally, become an irrelevance when compared to the real-time relevance provided by communities of purpose worldwide - the eighth mass media.

I want to thank my good friend Mike Leis for prompting me on this post. He has a great take on what twitter means for news and more, here.

Update Nov 27, 2008, 4pm. Daily Telegraph; Last Night The Social Web Came of Age.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Power of the Network: Your reviews

The first reviews for the Power of the Network are starting to appear - for which I'm full of gratitude.
Please take a moment to give them a read, point your friends at them, etc...
Neil Perkin at OnlyDeadFish said:
"David Cushman is one of those people that has a rare understanding of a complex subject - in his case the disruptive power of a networked world to transform business models, communications, value chains and, well just about everything."
Thanks Neil: In context here.

Anjali Ramachandran at One Size Fits One, said:
David Cushman's The Power of the Network, a collection of white papers from his blog, from that point of view passes the first test - that of having enough meat in it. The best chapter in my opinion is his explanation and exploration of Reed's Law and the Long Tail,
Thanks Anjali. In context here.

Via twitter: 
@johnfschneider Reading David Cushman's "The Power of Network" and finding it excellent.
@gleonhard: Recommends you study "The Power of the Network by David Cushman (Book) in Business & Economics" ( 
More as I discover them and they get pointed to me.

And please, if you think there's value in joining in, the blogger review program is still open, as is the win-one-to-give-to-a-friend comp which is all about doubling the value of this network we share!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Social Media made easy

Really quick slidedeck my lot at Brando-Digital are sharing to help clients, colleagues, friends and bosses understand this social media thing.
You're welcome to share, comment and disagree as always!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Love social media? Love digital design? Join us!

Things are going nicely at Brando-Digital, thanks for asking.
And that means we've got a vacancy for a recent grad who loves social media, loves digital design and has some html skills, too.
For more about what we're about read this. (at least in the abscence of Brando-Digital's own website - due very soon now).
If you want to join a purpose-driven business (based close to the tube in Camden, London) and really do know your way around social media, you won't need telling what to do next.
And if you know someone who would find this opportunity valuable - of course, pass it on.

Social Media: It's educational

One of the reasons I love social media is its ability to reveal the power of the network.

That power is there for anyone to discover. But is only truly appreciated by those who participate.

This is a key distinction. There are those who believe they can use social media and those who understand they can participate in it.

The first group, the users, stand back from it. And from afar they order its deployment. These are the people who - no matter how much they may protest - do not really understand it. (Picture courtesy)

This first group see social media as just another channel. They see it as another way to extend reach, to gather eyeballs. They like their measures in the thousands and millions.

They neglect a simple truth. The only measure that really counts is the action that results; a sale, a new believer, a new organisation, a better mousetrap. .

Theirs is the world of never mind the quality, feel the bandwidth.

You'll know you are in group 1 if you blog but don't allow comments, if you broadcast an rss feed into Twitter but follow no one, if you stuff videos on to Youtube but don't respond to comments or video responses. If you spam 'your friends' on Facebook.

Sure, you're using social media. You're not participating in it though.

The second group are those who genuinely benefit from social media. 
They learn as they do.
  • Where group 1 says Use Social Media, we say Participate.
  • Where group 1 asks how many were exposed to a message, we ask what action resulted ( how was a community of purpose galvanized to act?)
  • Where group 1 stands back to witness the power of the network, group 2 is partipating in it.
Like I say, one of the reasons I love social media is for its ability to adapt people, brands and organizations to the networked world.

Those who would only witness are missing out on learning so much.

They aren't taking part in a conversation.

As I've said before, the act of participating raises and answers questions about control and ownership - a process which makes brands and orgs better adapted to the connected world.

This does not happen if you and your people simply stand back and count the beans.

This time, you really do have to be in it to win it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Social Media Slideshare goodness

Delighted to say this slidedeck, which I shared in The More Digital We Become, The More Human We Become, yesterday, has been selected to be featured on the homepage of slideshare.
You can see it below. And in context, here.
Mobile's Role in Eighth Mass Media
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: mobile)

And while we're on the subject of sharing slides; here's a great deck from a regular member of the loosely connected community of purpose that is FasterFuture, Graeme Wood.

His slidedeck - which includes (with my whole-hearted blessing) a couple of slides from the deck above AND an investigation of the notion of The Eighth Mass Media, is a great synthesis of a lot of great social media thinking that's happening right now.

Graeme explains his deck here (which, again, will give you context).

I like the hint he gives us with his first slide. I've been saying as much myself: When we stop calling it social media and start just calling it media, then we'll know it's truly gone mainstream.

The Future Of Social Media
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: brands technology)

And finally, Neil Perkin - another of the loosely connected nodes of fasterfuture I'm happy to say, has recently shared this deck.

It's another fine piece of human-focused thinking from Neil and, as usual, beautifully presented.

Don't say I never give you anything to do on a Friday!

By the way, if you feel you get value from FasterFuture, buy the book and pass it on :-)

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The more digital we become, the more human we become

The more digital we become the more connected we become, the more human we demand.

And the more human we become.

I spoke at Mobile Content 08 in London yesterday. It was a great event with a stella line-up: fjord's Christian Lindholm, flirtomatic's Mark Curtis (author of Distraction), msearchgroove's Peggy Salz, Sean Kane from Bebo, Melissa Goodwin from ITV, Ray de Silva from Vodafone and Graham Thomas from T-mobile. Not to mention Day One's chair JonathanMacdonald (ogilvyone and chief node in the Every Single One of Us project - which you MUST check out) Day Two's Tomi Ahonen (Communities Dominate Brands and mobile legend) and in attendance, Day Three's Andrew Grill (London Calling). And many more, of course.

I opened with a talk on mobile's role in the eighth mass media - which is why the line about the more digital we become the more human we become was so appropriate.

Here's the accompanying slide deck - though you won't find the line in it.

But the fact that The Power of The Network equates to the power of humanity is written through the idea of the eighth mass media.

As we become the connections and the way the connections are made we are reconnecting with our human selves.

We connect in a network - in adhoc self-forming communities of purpose. There is nothing from the centre. And the centre has a tendancy to dehumanise.

  • The government line is very different from an MP's opinion.
  • Company policy is very different from an employee doing what seems right and reasonable.
  • Brand voice can't compare to a human conversation with someone who cares about what they are doing.
  • Search engine optimisation can't beat my friends' recommendation (and of course their friends' recommendations)?

Now that we have the ability to organize ourselves through the tools to connect, what we are demanding is more human interaction.

Our connectedness in, through and beyond silos is tearing off the hard corporate masks and revealing the soft human faces. And we're ready to reach out and touch that warm flesh.

The digital future is a very human place to be. And for this, it is ever truer to who we are.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How you can double the value of our network

One extra person added to a network doubles its value. That's a truth revealed by Reed's Law; group forming network theory.

I also find that inspiring. It means if I ever feel like I'm wading through a quagmire of resistance to change, I know that adding one more connection can literally redouble my network's efforts and effectiveness.

We are all made greater by the sum of our connections - all of us. Even the newest, loosest connection.

So, with all that in mind, who would you like to introduce to this network WE share?

Who doesn't yet know they they need to know us?

I'd love to hear your suggestions - either privately via email or publicly by posting below.

Ideally it'll be someone you know because the best five suggestions will be rewarded with two copies of my book The Power of the Network.

The idea is you get to keep one for yourself and one to pass on to the person you've suggested needs connecting to our network.

If you've already got The Power of the Network, great (and thanks!) you'll have two copies to pass one.

I hope handing over a tangible real-world book will act as a physical conversation starter for you - a social object around which your introduction to the network can begin.

Maybe you'll see this as something interesting we can do together? I hope so. And if so, please share.

The closing date for this is December 31, 2008.

  • By the way, I'm presenting at Mobile Content in London today - talking about Mobile's role in the eighth mass media at 9am (The Big Question slot) and on a panel in the afternoon at 4.10p. Come and say hi if you get the chance.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brando-Digital: What, How, Why?

Many of you will by now know I work for Brando-Digital. And when our site goes live (in a few short days now) you'll find more defining, and refining, the following there.

But in the meantime, I'd be really greatful if you'd take a look at this slidedeck (just five slides in total - and just three key ones), and let me know what you think.
Brando Digital: What we do
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: media digital)
What I've tried to do in this deck is really simplify what we're about. Collectively we've been working on our service offering (we're a full service social media outfit with everything from simple online PR to board-level strategic advice on offer and pretty much all stations in between; viral, blogger outreach, engagement strategies etc).

That's the strategic 'What' side covered.

We've also got the tactical stuff nailed (the How).

But the way we've arrived at both is by discovering our 'Why' first. Most businesses either forget or never bother working out for themselves why they are in business - other than 'to make money'. A shame, because it's more important than strategy. It's what defines your strategy.

What gets you out of bed in the morning, what do you want to do to change the world, what's wrong and needs fixing? These are the kind of questions that can tease out your 'Why'.

It's what gives a business its purpose.

Mark Earls always likes to dig this out of people and organisations and I follow his lead in this. In fact what I'm working towards is a combination of Mark's Herd thinking and my own communities of purpose. A double-purpose whammy!

I hope the result is compelling. I believe in it.

Our purpose is to bring people together around things they care about - in communities of purpose. We want to do that because communities of purpose create great value for everyone involved. They find each other, talk to each other and act together to create change that matters to them.

And because we believe that's important, we think that makes us better at delivering our tactics and creating our strategy - because all of it grows from our Why, to our Purpose. There is a reason we do everything we do - and it goes beyond money.

So, maybe now go take another look at that slidedeck? Tell me what you think?

Over the coming weeks, through our Brando-Digital website, you'll come to discover the rest of the team, their take on all this (the above is entirely my own interpretation, not an official nailed down, it shall-be-for-all-time mission statement or similar) and our approach to opening silos and sharing - to engaging the power of the network in the way we work and in who we are.

BONUS LINK: The Social Media Play Book.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mums excercise the power of the network

Oh dear. Motrin upsets its customers. (via David Armano)
On the plus side, once upon a time they'd have had to wait for next quarter's figures to find out how badly they went wrong. Now the feedback is instant.

The Power of the Network's growing network...

The Power of the Network - now in it's second, 100-page extended, edition is slowly but surely forming into just the kind of social object I hoped it would become: an interesting thing people can talk about together - their conversations creating new ideas, action and value.

The new version's chapters are as follows:

1. The Death of Death
2. Don't Just Witness the Network (adapting to survive)
3. How to Go Viral
4. Communities of Purpose
5. Advertising & Marketing in the 21st Century
6. We're All Publisher's Now - The user is the destination
7. It's Not How Famous You Are - It's How Relevant
8. Digital Identity and the Long Tail
9. Why Media is the New Business Ecology
10. We Are the Eighth Mass Media
11. Hail To the Chief Node
12. How We Are Made Great

Support independent publishing: buy this book onLulu.

Review copies are either in the hands of or on the way to the following. If you 'd like to join the list, just drop me an email with details of your blog and your postal address.

If you've read, reviewed it, shared it or would just like to be included in the following list please let me know via comments or email. Thanks

The Power of the Network's Network (so far).

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Introducing something you didn't know you needed to know

Introducing people you didn't know you needed to know - pulling together communities of purpose... allow me to introduce MrTweet.
All you have to do is follow him on twitter and he'll:
"...suggest to you followers you should be following back, people you should check out, etc!"
When I joined this am I was follower No11. So this is a chance to get in early!
The reason I like this compared to other attempts is that I trust who is behind it. Ming Yeow.
You'll have read about him before on this blog.

And this time of rumours about twitterank being somewhat iffy trust in this space (as in all) is all important..

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Social Media Search

Just came across this. Thought some of you may find it useful? And it prompts me to go build me own custom version!

Extended version of The Power of the Network now available

Just finished editing the new extended version (2nd Edition) of my book: The Power of the Network.
It's gone from 7 chapters to 12 - from 60-pages to 100.

The download remains just 49p but the price of the paperback print version has inevitably had to rise to the heady heights of £4.98 (the earlier version was just £3.98).

Support independent publishing: buy this book on

As before - the blogger review program remains open. So if you're interested in reviewing a copy, just send me details of yourself and your blog and I'll get round to sending out to as many of you as possible (apologies for delays to some of you, I held off sending some until the 2nd edition became available).
All profits (and they are very few) will be invested in
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Focus Groups vs Communities of Purpose

The focus group is a much relied on tool in marketing, PR, politics - behaviour changing activity of all kinds.

But its role is disrupted and a layer of professionalism disintermediated by Communities of Purpose.

This morning I found (via twitter) Robert Scoble bigging up the response he got to a tweet on Twitter asking for advice on great accessories for his flip cam.

Robert said: "By the way, in just a few hours I got about 30 suggestions for the Flip accessory on Twitter. Is this the world's largest focus group? Yes!”.
But it's way better than that. What Robert was taking part in was an adhoc, self-forming community of purpose.

And there were two key elements which gave it an outcome with real value attached.

1. The community self organized around something they care about.
In this case its purpose was sharing best advice about the flip cam. Only a subset of Robert's followers cared enough to join in. This was likely driven by their desire to connect with other flipcam users (shared content about the flipcam and their desire to flag up ownership of it providing the glue) and to gain trust and authority within the larger community of purpose which has organized around Robert Scoble.

Odd to think of Scoble as a social object perhaps. But not wrong?

The second key element:

2. The real community of purpose here, the real creators of value, were the ones who cared enough about the purpose to drop everything in real time, right now.
In other words, a subset of a subset in any community is where it's ability to create value lies.

But this does not mean Reed's Law is wrong. No, because any additional node added to this network can still double its value. Why? The two sub groups are self-forming and self-organising.

So just because the purpose of one community subset does not tempt you to drop everything to join in, the next one may.

And unless you are connected you cannot contribute. Therefore just by being connected you add value to a network.

And the fact that you are connected may mean you are drawn in as the conversation grows and sustains.

As you see other people talking about it within your community you may follow the lead, lean forward and discover that if they are interested, you should be too.

And so, the difference between focus groups and communities of purpose?

1. Focus groups are centrally organized
Communities of purpose organize themselves around things they care about.

2. Focus group membership is centrally selected
Members of communities of purpose select themselves

3. In focus groups the centre makes the introduction and extracts the value
In communities of purpose members introduce eachother and share the value created

4. The composition of focus groups reflect the preconceptions of the central organizers
Communities of purpose are only limited in scope by the silo in which they form (btw, language counts as a silo).

5. Focus groups can't influence anyone outside the room in realtime.
Communities of purpose do.

Actually and quite simply, in all senses, communities of purpose do.
And that opens the doors to co-creation. Exactly what Robert was getting at in his subsequent tweets and response to my own.

“There's a reason behind the Flip question. I'm working with a supply-chain manager and he's showing me how we can disrupt the market about 1 hour ago from web.
“Imagine building a product, getting funding, getting feedback via Twitter, building it, marketing it, shipping it all within days. Wow.
“@davidcushman “I am shocked more companies don't design products on Twitter. After seeing the video we're filming now there will be more.”

Now. How will you go about organising your next focus group?

Monday, November 10, 2008

ThinkTank makes it easier to connect people who care

Delighted to say this post, which includes my user-is-the-destination now slidedeck and a video of me presenting it at widget web expo (London) has been short-listed for post of the month in Neil Perkins ThinkTank.

I hope you'll spare the time to go cast a vote for any of the very worthy candidates.

Neil's ThinkTank is a great way of connecting communities of purpose: People who care enough about something to make change happen.

The first step is discovering and connecting with people who share your purpose: People you didn't know you needed or needed to know.

Blogrolls (which in a disaggregated one-post-only kind of way is what ThinkTank is) perform this introduction extremely effectively.

It works as a distributed network of trust. Trust me and it's likely you'll trust my advice to check out ThinkTank.

Trust what you find there - and who knows how much value you will find in the new connections that leads you to.

You are on a journey to seek others who  have the same issues and challenges to solve.
If I can be part of that journey, great. If we join together on that journey, even better.
We are the eighth mass media.

Bonus link: Alan Moore on why brands need people and people need brands.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Power of the Network: Help make the second edition

I took delivery of the first copy of my new book, The Power of the Network, last night. Quite a moment to open the package, check out the repro quality and hold in my hands, I have to admit. And it's all good. The paperback, by the way, is priced at just £3.98 if you buy it through the orange button (and below.

And I started re-reading it this morning on the train. Reminded me that the book does include my prediction that Obama would become president of the US - dated autumn 2007. I knew I'd written it down somewhere.
Inevitably, I've spotted a correction here and there I'd like to make.
So there will be a second edition - and before too long. (hint, if you want the cache of the first edition, you know what to do!)

Support independent publishing: buy this book onLulu.

So, in the meantime, I would love to hear from you about any additions you'd like included in the second edition. Perhaps there are previous blog posts you would like to see included? Perhaps there are points you'd like to see better expressed?

You can download the first edition for just 49p. The paperback is £3.98). The tiny amount of cash that comes back to me on these will go to support the activities of

And as posted previously; we have a blogger review program you're very welcome to join.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hail to the Chief Node

Way back when I worked for a plc, those of us keen on adapting the business to the networked world faced a problem.

The biggest stakeholders in the business were not the staff or the bosses, they were the city institutions through whose hands ownership passed on a monthly, weekly and occasionally daily basis.

Image: tsevis via flickr /

Theirs was a mindset built on predictions based on on past performance. They understand and back incremental improvement.

"A little higher with your scissor kick please, but don't you dare try that Fosbury flop!"

So how to convince them that they needed to try a Fosbury flop?

Alan Moore and I mused on this and came up with an audacious plan to bring the then wannabe-democratic party nominee Barack Obama to address city leaders at londons mansion house on the subject of how he would become the next president of the united states through the power of the network; his use of social media to co-create an election victory with self-forming groups of purpose, sharing and passing on a message of vital use to them.

We figured that on his election (which we regarded as a given even then, yes I did tell anyone who would listen so) ought to convince any plc's shareholders that it was time to embrace the power of the network, to buy into, join with it and benefit from it.

Would have cost us a few quid

Just wanted to say thanks to Obama for saving us that time, trouble and money.

I'm sure in due course Obama will address the mansion house. More importantly he now has a platform to address the world: Hail to the Chief Node.

If any company, any organisation, any person remains unconvinced of the need to embrace the poetry and power of the network now, then I am sorry for your losses.

Check Obama's website, his Twitter account, his Youtube channel, the Facebook groups etc etc and stop wondering how he did it.

Instead ask how you can too.

Question time with yours truly

I was interviewed by Information World Review recently and the result has just been published in the monthly mag.
It should also be available online at either not or in the very near future.

Or just read it below:

Information World Review Blogosphere Nov 08

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Human interaction requires human intervention

Too many people see social media as just another channel - another way of deploying the high-impact weaponry of creative content with the intent of leading the largest number of horses to water.

This is a mistake.

Social media is about human interaction. About the interactions humans have with one another. About humans sharing stuff between themselves, doing things together. Doing their things together. Stuff that they find useful to each other.

If you want to involve yourself with each of their interactions, then yes, it's going to be hugely labour intensive - human labour intensive.

You can automate the collating of what you should be listening to. But you can't automate how what you hear should be perceived or CRUCIALLY how you can, should, must respond.

Instead of seeing social media as a place to deploy, think of 'it' (and I think we're talking about the network here...) as a place to learn - to learn how humans share things. To learn how, in the context of the group you are seeking to change behaviour in, behaviours are communicated - and copied.

Focus your human effort, YOUR human interaction, here.

Then you might, just might, learn the right kind of useful and interesting thing to share with that group - something they will think worthy of sharing with one another.

Remember: It's not what you do to them, it's what they do to each other.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Get my book: The Power of the Network, free

Finally, I've got round to completing the production of my first book: The Power of the Network.
It's a compilation of my white papers and is available as at low a price as I could set via When it arrives at Amazon I'll share, too.

The download is 49p, the print paperback is £3.98.

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

The small amount of each price that finds its way back to me I'll pledge here and now to donate/loan via social bank

It is never intended for profit, but rather to share and evolve ideas.

To that end, if you are a blogger yourself and would like a copy to review, I'll send one to you free, provided you are prepared to publish a review (good, bad or indifferent).

All you have to do is drop me an email (subject line: book review) with the url of your blog, a description of your regular subject matter (you don't want to be sharing your review if its not relevant to your community, do you?). And I'll need your postal address of course.

I'll send out as many as I can afford (this is entirely self-funded so numbers will be strictly limited at first. Promise to let you know if you are successful or otherwise!). So if you feel you can spare the 49p for a download of £3.98 for a paperback and both buy and review, all the better.)

When and if you do review, please let me know, so I can link back to you.
I'll also be linking to all those who apply to join the free review copy list.

You can preview the book here. Many fine folks are thanked inside. My apologies if I've missed anyone.

The Power of the Network is made available under a creative commons licence.

The name was chosen by crowd via some healthy tweeting. Neil Perkin suggested: "The User is the Destination - one of my favourite Cushmanism's." And while the book does delve into that concept, I thought, on balance, The Power of the Network was a better summary of the whole.
And as @simonfrank suggested; "The Power of the Network works as a philosophy/brand."

The cover artwork is by fasterfuture regular Gregory Lent. Love his work and thrilled that he agreed to allow its use in this project.

In short, we did this together. So please join me in sharing. Review where you can, rate where you can, share where you can. If you find it useful...

All feedback welcomed with open ears.

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?