Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Big questions for social media strategy

Tom's updated The Building Blocks of Social Media Strategy diagram after a first round of feedback.

It's getting nice and simple. You can judge if its getting clearer for that.

I've got a few broadbrush questions to throw into the pot. I have in mind some answers - but I'd rather raise them first before joining in with my own responses.

Here's some things we might consider:
  • Let's think about the actions in each case. Perhaps this will help clarify the language? What is it that must be done to make the strategy reality - element by element?
  • And to help that, let's maybe consider the Purpose of this project. Why are we doing this? What wrong are we trying to correct? Are we fed up of the smoke and mirrors and misdirection that many are using in the name of social media? Are we attempting to invent a language to describe a new set of actions?

  • I thought it may be interesting to look at jobs, terms and processes which emerged as a result of the printing press (for a revolution of similar scale to the arrival of the networked world) and map that on to this project? (image courtesy)
For example there were scribes before and printers after. How would those people have started describing what they had to do to fulfil the strategic change? You'll be able to think of numerous other post-printing press roles and processesn - and results of these. How could that approach apply to mapping social media strategy?

Biggest question really is, 'the why,' though.

For example, if this is a project to reassure frightened people the result will be very different from one which is about evangelizing the truth - and different again from one driven by a desire to provide a toolkit for those ready to make fundamental change.
  • And then there's the scope.
Is this a 6-24month transitional model (to help broadcast mindset businesses make their move to the networked world) or a 2-100 year transformational model taking account of the fact that the network will disrupt where-ever it touches and that the eighth mass media is upon us?

Big questions. And perhaps only answered by more than one model?

Seven from around the bend

I'm sorry, but I can't let a festive season approach without making a few predictions. It's all that pausing for thought we do at this time of year (that and the fact I'm often asked to do some long range forecasting for company strategists in December!).

Worth trusting? That's up to you to judge.

So here's a few. Not to be taken to seriously - more to provoke you into a making a few of your own - crowd-sourcing the future if you like. (Image courtesy)

Of course, you can always back your thoughts with something like hubdub (in fact, I just might).

1. Broadband providers will start trying to differentiate themselves by upload speeds.
Inspired by a lunch with JP Rangaswami. It's a pet gripe of his that the internet is built all wrong at the point of use - ie it's a medium for participation yet our download speeds are often 10 times or more faster than our upload speed. So, as we get increasingly creative, and (at least the advertised) download speeds get faster and faster, the key differentiator for ISPs won't be a free laptop or 24mb, it'll be how fast I can upload and share my video collection. Watch for the shift this year.

It's an end to placing value in the ability to broadcast and a start to valueing the network.
2. Expect the same rules to apply for mobile devices. I want my iPhone to upload as fast via 3G and wifi as it can download (actually I want the 3G way faster up and down!!).

3. A daily national newspaper will stop printing (finally). In the UK. The shift to network plus the deepening recession will do for at least one. It'll attempt to live on online.

4. A large broadcast media (print, radio or TV) company will go bust (not be sold, cos no one is buying). Btw, it won't be bauer media.

5. There will be a social media backlash.
I do think 2009 is the year a realisation will dawn that social media is less a cause and more a symptom of a changed world.

Having said that, getting a 'social media strategy' is not only fashionable, it IS all important in taking a business, brand or organisation on its journey to the networked world.

And there aren't enough people who genuinely understand this seeming chaos to go around.

With so many bandwagon jumpers coming into the field, many a customer will get their fingers burned. Quick tip, avoid those who try to sell you exploitation of social media rather than participation in it.

The good guys will have some damage to repair.

6. Twitter will monetize in a ham-fisted way. Aggrieved participants will form an open-source co-operative version with funding based on the wikipedia model.

7. Microbanking will get Government backing in a response to growing loan-sharking in the worst hit parts of the economy. (kiva.org for the uk?)

That's enough from me. What do you think 2009 has in store for us?

Monday, December 22, 2008


My four year old daughter met an old lady yesterday. Very old. We sang her happy birthday  Happy 103rd birthday.
She was born before the first radio programme was broadcast. She was 13 at the end of the first world war.

Wonder what she'd have predicted for her life back then?
The flu epidemic which killed more than that first world war? The great depression? The rise of Hitler (she is Austrian) and the loss of most of her family in Auschwitz?

A second world war?

A new life in England? The Cold War? Martin Luther King? Jfk?

Another new life in Australia? Deciding to move back to the UK alone at the age of 93?

The Internet?

I wonder which she regards as the most significant event in her life time? (image: 1906 picnic, courtesy)

I wonder what we will in our own?

Friday, December 19, 2008

A shared model of social media strategy

Tom Nixon (he of Nixon McInness) has been working up a diagram to act as a model for social media strategy. It's going to be a creative commons project and Tom has already reached out to myself (at Brando-Digital.com - site going live any moment now!) and others to sense-check his initial proposals. The outcome of this initial tinkering is seen below.

What I've seen so far has been a remarkably detailed and deep reaching description of the Power of the Network and one I have very few quibbles with.

It has started life on the Nixon-McInness blog but, as we discussed off camera (you'll see a video below) we feel it's going to be wise to widgetise - and make the ideas and concept as portable as possible.

I'm already thinking about how we could create a truly interactive version of the diagram Tom has started us all off with. Something the team at Brando-Digital.com (my lot) could contribute, I'm thinking.

And I wonder if Dave Armano might consider throwing his considerable talents into the co-creation mix on this one? And with purpose core in the model, we're going to need Mark Earls, too. How about it fellas?

Tom and I met on Tuesday to talk about the project. And I shot this quick video of him elaborating on it.

I hope you will take up his offer to join in.

I'll be sharing this at the P2PR community, too.

Enjoy the street sounds :-)

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

2009: The Year Realisation Dawns

2009 is the year the realisation dawns that social media is already bigger than all other media put together, because more people spend more time participating in it than is spent consuming any and all other kinds.

I mean that the stats which, for the past and present, are already staggering, will start to reflect the truth that many of our daily lives bear witness to - less TV, less print, less broadcast; more social media, more networks more of our time. More of ourselves, personally invested.

It is the year when even those sat plumb in the centre will be unable to deny that our mass migration to and participation in social media is much more than simply where and how we are entertained and informed.
It is how we come together around things we care about. And in doing so, we create change. We can create everything we care about.

It is the year that many will realise that our increasingly ubiquitous use of social media is not a fad, trend or bubble - it is a new reality and the key to unlocking a new era in cooperation, a new world of collaboration. (image courtesy)

For those with their eyes open wide enough, 2009 will reveal that we are only at the start of the great disruption of the Internet.

2009 will be a great year for those who ditch the idea of the web as a distribution channel and instead embrace the web as a place where communities of purpose come together to collaborate.

The more we engage with social media the more we understand this and the deep reaching disintermediation that follows from this as sure as night follows day.

It will be a year in which those wedded to broadcast will have their notions of reality challenged at every turn.

I saw James Gardner, head of innovation at Lloyds TSB (the UK bank, of which I am a customer), write that:

"social media is a channel optimised for the insignificant." (context here)
I think that rather neatly sums up how and where the misunderstanding is occuring.

This is not a channel for use. This is a web of many-to-many flows for participation.

It is optimised for everyone to share with anyone they care to, any and everything that matters to them right now.

Significance, whether you describe the nodes or the content, is relative - no longer to be judged from the centre. The value is between the people doing the sharing.

Those stuck in the centre must prepare for the new reality. And you, my friends, must help them.

It's not Us versus Them. It is We.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Generation Game meets the X factor

Grace album coverImage via WikipediaIn support of JP's call to arms, here's Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah.

It's up against the UK X Factor winner Alexandra Burke's version of the Leonard Cohen original (and likely the Cohen version too) in a race to be Christmas Number 1.
If X doesn't quite hit the spot for you, you know what to do this Christmas...
Embedding is restricted by request on youtube, so you'll have to go visit the Sony BMG channel and watch the Buckley version there.

When will they learn?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why new measures are so critical in social media

The P2PR community we've started over here is all about changing the way things are done - shifting broadcast modes of thought, delivery and measurement to networked ones.

This is why I think changing the way things are measured is so critical to success:

Love to hear what you think needs to change.

Watch more P2PR videos here (including Jamie ranting about what's wrong with the way social media owners treat brands).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tweetup! Social Media, Online PR, P2PR

If any of you are in Victoria, London tomorrow am (December 16, 2008), I'm free from just after 10am until noon and would love the opportunity to talk to you about some of the themes we've been discussing on this blog and on the p2pr community.

I'll have a video camera along for the ride to record your thoughts, too - if you're game.
Keep track of where and when via twitter!

Last time I did one of these we came up with the Eighth Mass Media. :-)

What are the biggest challenges for PR in social media?

What are the biggest challenges for PR in social media? That's the question Jamie Burke, founder of the P2PR Ning Community put to me last week.
The video below has my off-the-cuff response.
Love to hear yours.

For the sake of transparency, Jamie and I work together at Brando-Digital, where we talk about this kind of stuff all day...

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Music (insert Industry here) Manifesto

Manifestos rock!
The Cluetrain Manifesto, the social customer manifesto, the call centre customer manifesto.

Now we find the Music Industry Manifesto.

Music to my ears. I rarely repeat in full, but in this case...

The Manifesto

1. Music will always continue, but the parasitical 20th Century music industry is dead.

2. Music does not rely on technology or distribution. It simply requires people. It did not begin with vinyl, the CD, the electric guitar or the synthesizer.

3. If piracy is able to damage your ivory castles, you should seek to understand it and learn from it. Piracy is the most effective distribution.

4. You will never win the war on privacy, because the pirates have a belief, and you are protecting a business.

5. People will only pay for what they want to pay for. Get used to it.

6. Artists and fanatics run the show - if you are in neither camp you’re fucked.

7. DRM’s only function is to limit the spread of music and to irritate the very people you should be pleasing - your audience.

8. I’ve paid for the tape, the vinyl, the CD and the MP3 - if I ever pay again, I’ll pay for the rights to the content in whatever format is appropriate for the rest of my lifetime, not for something limited to one format.

9. Let’s face it..artists can make more money if middle-men are not involved

10. Look - we all know you’re pissed about you’re expense bill no longer being approved but please stop taking it out on the rest of us

11. The people of the world want to share what they love. If you stand in the way there is only one outcome. Rebellion

12. People embrace what they create. We all want to take part. It’s no longer your industry, its ours. Sure that hurts…

13. Just become a concert promoter. Live music will never end. Rip-off, insular and selfish business models already have. Sorry

14. People will pay for what they want to. If you create something of value to people, people will pay for it

15. People will not longer automatically pay for something that YOU think is valuable

16. Resistance is futile. However powerful your connections are, the people of the world will find a way around it

17. Every time you sue, you nail an even heavier nail in your OWN coffin. Think about it…

18. The people of the world love music as much as they always have - not less - its just they have seen behind the curtain now

19. Artists love fans and will get paid by them for products and services the fans adore. Get out the way and let it happen

20. Copyright is a byproduct of the business model for content creation and distribution. It’s not the reason for content creation

21. The case studies of artists making more money from not using your regime will never stop - only increase. Listen up

22. It makes no difference how connected you are to the government. Artists and fans out-number you and always will

23. All the time you spend wining about protecting music you could spend working out ways to help the new world mature

24. If you really wanna get rich, concentrate on facilitating fanatical advocacy. There is no ceiling of value to that

25. People can only truly be of financial benefit to you if they are free. Confined humans have no long-term monetary benefit

It is very cluetrain - and all the better for that.

I'm fond of saying that where-ever the network touches it disrupts (that's central to my book The Power of the Network). Music is just one of the places it has touched and is wreaking havoc.

Of course, you can remove the music industry references in The Music Industry Manifesto and insert Industry X, or any-form-of-centralised-organisation-from-education-to-government Y instead.

The same rules of disruption will apply. The same human-centric models will emerge to dominate.

Which remains the point of the Cluetrain 10 years on.

If you still haven't read it, get a clue.

Bonus question: Who is this masked manifesto writer? I have my suspicions, But there's no contacts or name attached. We think we should be told. If you're into hiding lights under bushels, by all means email me. But if I were you I'd be shouting it loud and proud.


I'm running a little project via twitter - and now on this blog - to see how people would describe social media in one word.

You can join in in one of two ways.

1. Go to twitter and post in this format:
#socialmediais and then your one word description!

Please do include the #, please also type socialmediais as one word. It'll make it all so much easier to find.

Here's how folk have been responding so far.

And the purpose of one word? I want to put together a tag cloud at some point soon.

2. If you aren't using twitter, by all means simply post your one word in a comment below.

Here's hoping you'll want to play,

Image courtesy

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Changing perceptions about the mobile society

This man's writing changed my life. Now he's turned his attention to changing Microsoft's perception of mobile in The Glittering Allure of the Mobile Society.

Give him half an hour and he'll change yours.

Download the white paper now.

Alan Moore is one of the key inspirations behind my book The Power of the Network, and, I'm proud to say, a very good friend.

Image courtesy

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To lead is to listen

Seth Godin interviews Richard Branson about the value of listening for innovation and leadership. You can spare 1min 15 for that, can't you?

Listen - and listen aggressively!

As Branson says, your customers have got more and often bigger brains than you have. And they'll tell you what they want - for free. (Image courtesy)

Watch it here.

BTW American Express, while you're listening... we prefer portable video (ie a code snippet which makes it playable here a la Youtube) not a fixed location we must point at. Just so's you know.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's the opposite of email?

I'm a member of 100 or more online communities. Come to think of it, it has to be more.

I pretty much sign up for everything anyone recommends to me. Keeping abreast of the latest developments in the networked world is important in my job.

But it's also important for all of us as we become the eighth mass media.

We store some pictures here, others there. We find some music here, some there. Video likewise. There are our profiles in ecommerce to manage, multiple blogs, our bank accounts, competitions we enter, events we plan on attending...

That's before we get to our multiple profiles and interaction on social networks and through social media. Representations of our digital selves - with a heap of helpful meta data attached, are spread throughout the web. And we merrily distribute all this with no considerations for silos. We go beyond them without even acknowleding they are there.

So if I asked you to write a list detailing what and where, you wouldn't be able to complete one.
And if I asked you to confirm your username and password for each of these - you'd struggle even more.

Few of us are organised enough to keep lists in secure places and back up multiple versions.

So how is that our networks don't collapse out of simple forgetfulness - or even through our failure to personally persist?

How do we keep track of all this? How do we open the doors when we lose vital passwords?

There are two hubs right now which go beyond the silos: your email address and your mobile phone number.

It's clear to me that right now that email address remains the core one.

In my case, my gmail address is where the alerts and reminders arrive, where lost account details can be sent to. It's a sign-in for some functions, too. Gmail even has todo lists now. Without my gmail account my network would be at risk of collapse. Your phone number performs a similar function in the other digital world of peer-to-peer - sms text messaging and calls.

So for all the demand for our own portable id we can take from social network to social network, we already all have a simple, ubiquitous id which acts to collate our disparate identities and metadata - our email accounts.

Yes email has its problems, email has its spam, email has its overloads. But even if you ONLY use it for registering yourself throughout the web, you can't deny its fundamental importance in your digital life.

No wonder google came up with a rival for hotmail. Email is the place you are MOST locked into - beyond any individual social network and beyond even the widest reaching of the Open ID-Open Social-Friend Connect continuum.

What we need for the arrival of the eighth mass media is something which is as good at expressing our id and metadata outwardly just as broadly and effectively as your email account can collate it centrally.

What's the closest thing you've found so far?

What is the opposite of email?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Communication Movement

My good friend and co-conspirator in the Eighth Mass Media, Jonathan Macdonald, launches phase two of his Every Single One of Us; Communication Movement initiative today.
Go take a look with my hearty recommendation. There's a wealth of resource and inspiration available there for all to share.
Join in, you just might be part of something big.

Here's the Press Release:

An industry movement entitled EverySingleOneOfUs (www.everysingleoneofus.com) launches today as a grassroots resource, aggregating knowledge, and authorizing best practice and methodologies that ensure optimal mobile advertising user experience.

Founded by Jonathan MacDonald, who was previously a Chairman of the Music Industries Association, Commercial Director of Ministry of Sound, and Sales Director at the advertisingfunded mobile network Blyk, the effort unites a cross-section of mobile operators, mobile companies and big-name brands to educate the market and encourage discussions about emerging business models, industry issues and areas of growth that will help companies, stakeholders and shareholders engage with potential consumers and ultimately drive mobile advertising revenues and positive results.

The success of mobile advertising and subsidized models based on delivery of content, applications and services, is dependent upon the willingness of participants to accept advertising on their mobile devices. Whilst recent research, including a 2007 survey by Generator Research, confirms that over half of mobile users (61% US and 72% UK) are interested in mobile advertising, there is a catch: Mobile advertising must be relevant and genuinely useful.

Ultimately, users demand advertising that relates to their interests and is tailored to their specific needs. Anything else will be perceived as ‘spam’, which degrades the experience, increases the likelihood of churn, and breeds a distinct lack of trust.

“I created this movement as a collaborative project for us all to grow the industry together,” said Jonathan MacDonald, Founder of EverySingleOneOfUs.
“The promised land of ‘upward curve revenue’ from mobile is unlikely to happen without a catalyst. This catalyst can only come, in my opinion, by working together in the interests of citizens rather than the protective interests of various elements of the value chain.

The EverySingleOneOfUs movement uses state-of-the-art tools to map out structure and progress, such as ‘Personal Brain’ (www.thebrain.com), and cutting edge publishing platforms to ensure clarity, access and freedom of expression.”

The inspiration for the EverySingleOneOfUs movement comes from The Communication Ideal (Vol 1), a comprehensive and collaborative online publication authored by MacDonald, drawing on the passions and pragmatism of a loose group of contributors -- ranging from senior executives at mobile networks such as Carl Taylor, Director of Applications & Services, Hutchinson Whampoa, through to renowned bloggers/research analysts including Peggy Anne Salz, Founder of MSearchGroove, and thought leaders like best-selling author and independent consultant Tomi Ahonen - to identify and differentiate the shortcomings in mobile advertising approaches, more specifically the industry's blanket assumptions about user behaviour, from the positive opportunities and potentials for growth.

Based on these insights, MacDonald has connected with a wider network of professionals and practitioners to develop No Way Back From Here (Vol 2) – a collaborative effort to provide players in the evolving mobile advertising ecosystem with a realistic roadmap to change.

More importantly, this second volume – which is a work in progress - will guide the future work of EverySingleOneOfUs worldwide.

The first phase will kick off with Mobile Advertising U.K., an ambitious and far-reaching research project which will be endorsed by industry associations in early 2009. Drawing from primary research, in-depth interviews with 25+ mobile executives, agencies and mobile networks, as well as an online consumer survey, Mobile Advertising U.K. will expertly document the state of the mobile advertising industry in the U.K., and shed important light on industry obstacles and opportunities.

To an extent, Mobile Advertising U.K. will follow the blueprint of Mobile Advertising Netherlands, a mobile advertising research project spearheaded by AENEUS Strategy Consulting and Management and sponsored by some 20+ companies including GroupM, a leading media investment management operation; telecom vendor Alcatel-Lucent; mobile operators and service providers Vodafone, T-Mobile, KPN, and Blyk; and full-service media agencies Starcom, Marvellous, MADS Mediacom Mindshare, and Mediaedge:CIA.

MacDonald also states: “The research project stage will conclude by the end of Q1 2009 and will be complemented by a range of conferences, seminars and master-classes from the world’s thought leaders and industry heads. Together we can mature this industry in a positive and productive way, and the angle we approach this from is firmly biased towards the best interests of the citizens of the world – every single one of us.”

To learn more now, visit www.everysingleoneofus.com.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Why cut brands out of the conversation?

Cutting brands out of the conversation is not a wise business strategy. It is is limiting and potentially damaging for all concerned.

I’ve used Flickr for many years – as have many of my colleagues.

I’ve even used Flickr for ‘Branded’ functions – setting up accounts in the name of brands, using its functionality to upload and display to those brands' own websites etc.

And I know I’m not alone in this.

So when we thought of running a competition using the group functionality of Flickr no one thought – STOP surely this is all nasty commercial stuff Flickr won’t accept.

So it came as something of a surprise when we discovered that a competition group associated with a brand runs the risk of being closed down because it contravenes Flickr’s commercial use terms and conditions.

Let’s consider the landscape here for a moment. We’re told by Flickr that groups don’t support competitions. We found 3600+ running when we last looked. Image courtesy

A vast proportion of the users of Flickr are promoting their photographic wares, from just displaying the quality of their work right up to (and including) people selling T-shirts and mugs with their images on them.

Huge numbers of groups are brand-related. From the obvious (Canon and Nikon users) to the might-as-well-be-an-advert of group’s extolling the virtues of one of Ford’s trucks.

None of these have links to buy stuff (though, hang on a minute, many of the groups do, it turns out).

Seems even if your group has zero links to external sites, no calls to action to buy – in other words is less commercial than most, you’re still not welcome if you come attached to a brand.

It seems a little unfair that because you organise a group FOR a brand Flickr will take exception but if users of brands (and how can you tell the difference in most cases) create a group, all is well.

Not exactly encouraging transparency now, is it?

Is this a case of ‘if it’s from the edge its ok, if it’s from the centre, it isn’t’. A big principled philosophical stand?

Nah. It’s all about the money. Any brand can PAY for a sponsored group, which Flickr will then happily spam its users with by pasting it all over the homepage with no regard for that user’s interests. There is no moral high-ground in that.

Good brands don’t use social media, they participate in it. At least, their representatives do.

They go to the trouble of reaching out to people who care about a particular competition, theme or idea - to join in. And they ask them to bring others – more people to Flickr in this case – more of the people who make Flickr.

Flickr is the provider of tools and a platform. The community that emerges is not Flickr's, it's simply enabled by those tools.

Good examples make Flickr more useful for all those concerned. Users end up uploading and sharing more images, and forging more connections. And each new node on the network doubles its value.

We didn’t intend to give Flickr money. We did intend to give it more people and something useful those people could do together.

We usually charge for this service…

I suspect those at the top in Flickr get all this. But those charged with hitting short-term commercial targets don’t.

So, a little advice for the commercial strategists at Flickr. Nose off grind-stone a minute. Look around you.

Facebook. More images than you. More people than you. Treats brands just the same as it treats users. There I can set up a fan page, share functionality etc, as a brand or as a user. Perhaps they’ve noticed brands are made up of people (you can but hope…)
Whatever the case, Facebook’s treatment of brands is welcoming. Come and play. Join in. Learn from the networked world.

Consider Youtube. Brands can create channels, profiles, upload content. They are treated like users. Join in: Brand or user.

Consider Blogger. Brands can create blogs and have them hosted by google. All at no cost. Join in: Brand or user.

Consider Twitter. Brands can create a profile and interact just as much as any individual user. Join in: Brand or user.

These, and the vast majority of communities, see the bigger picture. They are not the owners of a community. They are the owners of a set of tools for the community to do with as they will. And the communities include people who happen to work for brands.

Flickr, and communities like it, are made up of people who have to create part to take part. Brands are one of the things they want to create around and interact around – just try some searches to see. Creation and interaction is what makes community valuable.

My best advice: Don’t stand in the way of this.

Youtube, Facebook, Blogger, twitter are all applying the principles of the because effect – when something that was once scarce becomes abundant you can no longer make money with it, you have to try to make money because of it.

The classic model is music. Now that digital music is everywhere and all-but free you can’t make money charging for it (selling cds) but you can make money because of your music (ie concert tickets –things that are scarce).

Youtube made uploading, sharing and broadcasting video abundant. They realized therefore they couldn’t make money from that. They have focused on making money from what has resulted from that (because of that) – their place as one of the biggest sites on the planet with huge, huge audiences and increasingly clever in context ads.

We appreciate these are difficult times for commercial considerations. We appreciate the lines are blurring.

But Flickr and other social networks have lessons to learn if they want to connect properly with brands as they adapt to the networked world.

  • Social Glue has a plan to open debate around this and get the social networks (yes Flickr dudes, you included), users and brand-promoting folks to join in and establish some new ways of doing business in this networked world - ways which will be to all parties' advantage - particularly for the communities we're all trying to serve.

Hope you'll join in.
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ISP censorship reveals fragility of our connections

Looks like a number of UK ISPs have been 'persuaded' to censor your internet.

In quick summary, a series of UK ISPs have bowed to pressure from the online watchdog the IWF (a quango) to block access to a wikipedia page about rock band The Scorpions. The row is about an image from one of their album covers - of a naked girl.
From the Beeb: "...the IWF, which warns internet providers about possible images that could be linked to child abuse, said it had consulted the police before making its decision."
It's not clear if the ISPs or the IWF had even spoken to wikipedia before taking the action it did. After all wikipedia has (controversially) frozen pages in the past when libel issues have emerged. And surely child abuse is at least as big a concern to all parties as libel?

The ISPs have not just blocked the picture in question, they've blocked text and, wikipedia says, blocked many peoples ability to edit parts of wikipedia. (Image courtesy)

The issue reveals a wider and painful truth we must face:

The internet is created by us, is connected by us. It is ours - but our access to it - our very ability to use it - is not.

While ISPs are run by people who can be threatened with legal action by the centre (Governments and the like) they can be controlled. Mobile operators are already subject to rule after rule about what can and can't be distributed using their infrastructure.

That ISPs have come under so little pressure so far is something of a surprise. The reality is the centre can literally turn off all our access to the web tomorrow. And there's little we could do about it.

While the ISPs retain such power the network is at risk.
Yes, we are the distributors and in the idea of the eighth mass media I claim:
"We are the connections. We are also how the connections are made."

At least, we are when the eighth mass media arrives. What this ISP censorship issue reveals is that it is not yet with us. We don't have as much control over distribution as we'd like to think - as much as we must ultimately demand.

Peer-to-peer distribution requires the means to distribute. And that remains in the hands of the centre.

Only when the distribution itself becomes more distributed itself, a loosely connected network of nodes itself rather than these giant central on/off hubs, only then will the risk to the network be removed.

The eighth mass media requires the free distribution of metadata beyond silos to increase our ability to connect one to another. But one of the biggest silo walls remaining is centralised ownership of ISPs.

I have a feeling we have accepted and tolerated this only as long as the potential power the ISPs holds remains unused.

Examples like today's wikipedia clampdown give us cause for concern and raises questions about how long we'll tolerate this control.

And as we see time after time - people and their connections have a way of finding their way around control.

Friday, December 05, 2008

My Christmas Wish List

The fabulous Dan tagged me in this little bit of fun.

If you get tagged you have to blog your Chrstmas Wish list too - and link back to the person who tagged you (me, if you're reading this - that's me :-).

But just because you aren't tagged here and now doesn't mean you can't join in; it just means you don't HAVE to!

These mid-winter thoughts also remind me the year is coming to an end. So it will soon be time to drag out my annual predictions from last year (not much time left for some of those now!) and make another wild stab for next. (image courtesy)

Always fun!

But back to my Christmas wish list. Of course at the top is health and happiness for my nearest and dearest - and for you and yours.

But beyond that, what else could Santa deliver. (appropriate on a day on which its entirely possible I may be spotted in a Santa outfit myself... More of which another time.

1. An end to silos.
The more our metadata can leak beyond them the more we can bring value to one another. Maybe I want one big silo everyone can swhirl around in. Less structured database, more primordial soup.
I happen to believe it would go a long way towards us understanding each other and caring about eachother. Which would help with my next little request.

2 Peace.
Peace has a great chance when it's powered by the flattening of inequalities. Inequalities are the result of exploitation. Exploitation is a good deal harder when we are all publishers, advertisers' marketers and ultimately producers. It's tough to exploit people in the world of the eighth mass media.

3. One more node to share my network, doubling the value for all of us.

4. More of you to pledge to undertake some community action in the offline world. You'll be giving us examples of the generosity of spirit emerging from and required of the networked world.

5. To finally meet Jp Rangaswami in person and hand him the signed copy of The Power of The Network he flattered me so much by asking for. :-)

And I'll tag


A tax on virtual currencies: And other ways of sharing the wealth

The Chinese government is planning to introduce a tax on virtual currencies.

This (via Dan) is apparently leading to confusion and consternation in virtual gaming circles.

I'm a little surprised there's so much surprise. All currencies are virtual. They get based on a bedrock of value. Once it was gold. But which nation remains on the gold standard now?

I'm not an economist. But it seems to me that valuation built on the creativity imagination and productivity of a population is as good a basis as any. (image courtesy)

And isn't that what a virtual currency values, too?

We really shouldn't be surprised when treasuries want a piece of the profits that this creates for ALL those taking part and benefiting.

If you create value, while there remain inequalities, expect some of that value to be redistributed.

Now. Has my stock risen or fallen with that last post? ;-)

There's no tax on thinking. Yet. But if I get paid for my thinking, there is.

That's why it seems reasonable to me that any treasury wants it's share of virtual currencies too.

But that's just my snap judgement. What do you think is right or wrong about how value created in this way, or in the networked world in general, gets redistributed?

How could the new fiscal rules be drawn?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Purpose: Stop talking, start acting - do good.

If you are trying to understand Purpose (as best articulated by Mark Earls) and the role of Social Objects in that (very much at the heart of my insistance on 'Make Interesting Things For People To Do Together' as core to social media [all?] strategy) you can't miss this from Hugh.

"Purpose-Ideas are articulated via Social Objects, not Messages."

Hugh reminds us that the Why of a business (its purpose) can't simply be expressed in messages. It has to be expressed in actions.

As he puts it beautifully:
"Social Gestures beget Social Objects".

It's something I talk about a lot as we organise around the Purpose (our why) that drives Brando-Digital (the story so far in five slides, below). What stuff do we do that is more than skin deep? How will we live our purpose?

Brando Digital: What we do
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: media digital)

Perhaps there's a call to action in all this for those who believe in the power of the network and the dominance of communities (and I know I ain't the only one...).

Maybe, if you aren't already, consider taking your love of the social offline?

Do something for your community in the real world. Pledge away (by posting a comment) below. If five people post a pledge, I'll join in and share what I'll be doing and have been doing.

I'd rather do it that way because then I'll know the community of loosely connected nodes that make up this blog DO care. And it makes me sound a bit less like ' I-do-a-lotta-work-for-charidee', mate.'

One thing I know all of us who join in will share is a sense of community.

And it is a sense that is more than skin deep.

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Guest Post: Celebrating Scottish software excellence

My Good friend Richard Marshall has been bemoaning the lack of buzz around the recent Scottish Software Awards.

So, like any good node in a community of purpose, I responded in (almost) real time. Because Richard cares about this, so do I. And I hope you will too.

This is how communities of purpose work - we don't witness. We do.

Over to Richard.

Scotland is famous for supplying the engineers that built railways, ran ships and even controlled dilithium crystals. In contrast, the thriving Scottish software industry is all but unknown.

Clearly we’re much better at developing software than at promoting ourselves, so the Scottish Software Awards (www.scottishsoftwareawards.co.uk) were formed in 2003 to promote the excellence on offer. The awards ceremony for 2008 was last Friday night in Glasgow.

The first thing that you notice on arriving at the event is that the dress code is “lounge suit” and that a huge number of people are even wearing ties. I mention this because you quickly realise that this is not a homogeneous group.

In fact it’s a community of communities – we’re not sufficiently numerous to fill a hall from any one area, so we have to bring together disparate application areas.

Best Company this year was won by a company called Craneware (www.craneware.com); no, I’d never heard of them either. They provide software to the US medical industry – fantastic export story.

Best Software Product was won by another company quietly cranking away in the audit and compliance space - Gael Ltd (www.gaelquality.com). The diversity of the runners up shows the problem making a community: our Ad360 mobile advertising platform (www.ad360.com) and Bloxx internet access control software (www.bloxx.com).

Familiar territory for Best Mobile Product, won by Mobile Acuity www.mobileacuity.com), with my company Rapid Mobile (www.rapid-mobile.com) and our neighbours Mobiqa running up (www.mobiqa.com). The Digital Media award was won by Storm ID (www.stormid.com) with 2Fluid (www.2fluid.co.uk/) and 3D modelling specialists Aarkid (www.aarkid.com) running up.

Very pleased to see KeyPoint Technologies (www.keypoint-tech.com) winning Emerging Business as they’ve some great wins for their predictive text solution. The rest of the categories ranged from Educational Open Source to Environmental.

Strangely there was nothing involving social media. Apart from the official photographer there was nobody taking camera phone pictures: nobody on Qik, no WiFi and no blogging or tweeting. I sent out a couple of tweets as we won our awards, but I seem to have been the only one.

It would be easy to castigate the organisers for being old fashioned, but it really points to social media for business use being in its infancy.

We true believers live immersed in constant connectivity and get fractious when we don’t get feedback on our twittering or readers to our blogs. But for the moment, we’re the exception. We need to be out their promoting how social media can help every business.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Social Media pays

For those who are still unconvinced of the exceptional value for money of social media (gosh, there's even a business logic to adapting brands to the networked world !!?!) Jeremiah Owyang delivers from the horse's mouth.

Be sure to point those who have yet to participate.
As Jeremiah says:
"It’s great to learn first hand from Dell how they’ve used these tools to increase revenues and reduce costs –it’s time we focus on the business aspect of things rather than the feel good branding only."

In context here.

100 most influential blogspot blogs

And in at number 46 - there's us folks. It's a list compiled by Richard at UKNetMonitor.
Here's how: "We monitor user-generated-content on behalf of a number of clients (mainly better known brand names), clipping postings that we judge to be significant in terms of reputation, brand development, stakeholder engagement or customer service; much like a press cutting service.

"The “league table” we posted on our blog, is simply a list of those bloggers (using the blogspot platform), we have clipped from the most."
A blog is a sum of its connections. We are the connections. Good work us.

Those 100 in full:


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?