Friday, July 30, 2010

Tomi Ahonen, Alan Moore and me at Oxford Uni

It's not often you get the opportunity to see both of the authors of the seminal Communities Dominate Brands in the same place at the same time (Alan Moore and Tomi T Ahonen) - and even rarer that you'll find yours truly joining them in what promises to be an exciting exploration of Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media.

Not only is that the title of Tomi's latest book, it's also the title of a course at Oxford University on October 12-13 led by Tomi, Alan and myself.

We tried to run this course almost two years ago. Now that iPhones have become so ubiquitous, there may be more readiness for it.(image via

Hope you'll know someone who ought to be there! Book Your Place

The following is from the University of Oxford's Continuing Education site.

About the Course

Mobile is emerging as the 7th mass media channel, whilst legacy mass media witnesses a decline. This course presents a journey through some of the most advanced content and media services deployed on mobile phones, in the most advanced mobile telecoms countries such as Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Finland.

Intending to build on the content of Tomi T. Ahonen’s sixth book ‘Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media’, the course provides a unique opportunity to explore the taxonomy of the seven mass media, with an emphasis on what lessons can be learned when newer media are introduced.

The course will begin by examining the overall industry and the consumers of mobile content, before moving on to explain how to build compelling content to mobile, and exploding the myths of the limitations of supposedly too small keypads and tiny screens. The most promising early media content types: music, gaming, TV, internet, advertising and social networking will also be discussed.
All delegates will receive a free copy of Tomi T. Ahonen's book Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media.

Tomi T. Ahonen speaks to CNN - watch the video here

Who is it for?

Anyone in the current legacy media space who wants to understand new media, thus digital media executives in television, print, radio, cinema, recordings industries and advertising; all in the internet businesses who are interested in the future of the web; and those within mobile who work with media and convergence. No prior knowledge of mobile telecoms or media is necessary.
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Information or relationships?

I was recently engaged in a piece of work aimed at transforming an organisation through the tools and techniques of social media. A big one.

Part of the process included interviews with internal stakeholders. We used a tranche of revealing qual/quan techniques to surface use and attitudes toward social within the management team.
Two questions stand out for me in revealing those attitudes.

First, I asked which was most important: information or relationships.
Later, I asked: What's the single most important thing the Internet offers?

I'm pleased to say the answer to the first question came back, consistently, without fail: Relationships.

Excellent, that tells us a lot. We humans think relationships are really important. We're super-social.

That and we know the best route to all the other stuff we need (information) is with and via other people. Team Human has been our competitive advantage since evolution began - and we haven't forgotten that.

So what of the later question (deliberately not juxtaposed)?

Consistently we got the answer 'information'.

Eh? The Internet - the engine that drives the social, sharing peer-to-peer, human connectedness we clearly think so vital, is for information first?

What's going on here?

Well, I think what we're observing is a relatively normal response in many large orgs. The intellectual argument for engaging with customers and internally with staff, is, for the most part, won.

But there is a gulf in understanding that resides on the cultural level and which must bs overcome before you can operationalise.

Choosing information over relationships suggests you think the Internet is a place you go to harvest and take from.
It suggests an attitude to the tech from the broadcast world - a place where fans somehow appear on your Facebook page and remain on passive standby until you grace them with your advertising message.

This is not a disaster. It can be fixed by engaging for yourself in the network rather than observing from planet broadcast.

And it must be fixed. Because if you plan on showing up at this party empty handed you won't be getting quite the welcome you hoped for.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so I may have to tidy it up later ;-)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Disney, Dali and Machiavelli on influence

Being quoted alongside Walt Disney, Salvador Dali and Nicolo Machiavelli is something of a first for me.
I very much enjoyed this deck by Valeria Maltoni (Conversation Agent) and hope you do to.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Participation is the new default

A short while ago I wrote about the 90:9:1 rule - how I felt this was less a rule about human behaviour and more one about opportunity.

The story of the Internet has been one of lowering the transaction cost of forming groups. The lower the cost the lower the motivation required so to do = the greater the opportunity for all parties to engage.

We have the best set of tools in history to connect people (and if you think our current set are cool, wait until we truly get out of the silos). And the impact of their arrival has been to reduce our reliance on organisation from the centre - for our entertainment and our news etc (from Facebook to YouTube, IM to SMS).

When given the opportunity to connect, we take it. Whether it's to move into cities to be together - or to never be out of sight of our mobile phones - such is our reliance on the connection they offer.

The internet and our ever-growing collection of digital toys have given us a new order of magnitude of self-organising behaviour, not a new behaviour.

The 1:9:90 rule suggests it is normal for people not to participate (90% being lurkers).

500m people on Facebook suggests otherwise. Each of them has had to, as a minimum price for admission, contribute their own profile. This is the age of the total community - one in which to take part you have to create part.

And through this we are reminded that as in the real world, so in the digital.
We have an innate ability to identify and punish freeloaders and all-for-themselves bores. The more we and others can express our humanity online the more we will apply those innate abilities. Brands and orgs attempting to join in will have to put down their shields and meet us as equals; face to face and in the flesh of genuine human interaction.

The cost is low, the barriers increasingly surmounted and surmountable. Does anyone still believe only 1% of us is motivated (as the 1:9:90 rule would have it)?

So let's build our new institutions, our updated organisations, with the expectation of 99% participation.
If our governments, schools, businesses etc were designed from the off with that expectation I suspect they'd look somewhat different.

Participation was the old default. And now it's back.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to treat your best customers worst - by First Capital Connect

Many organisations, the UK Government included, are frantically herding us online to reduce the transaction costs of having to deal with us pesky customers.

The usual pitch to us is that it will either save us money or save us time. There are even some companies who will offer us both carrots.

Well here's a warning about the hidden sticks - direct from the commuter's friend First Capital Connect.
It's not just a warning to fellow commuters, it's also a lesson in how to treat your best customers worst.

For my sins, I commute regularly from Huntingdon to London. My options include car (way too time-consuming and costly by the time congestion charges and parking are taken into account, and not exactly good for the planet, either), cycling (er, no), coach (really, no thanks) or - there in a monopoly position; a season ticket with First Capital Connect.

I have a season ticket. I pay First Capital Connect over £4000 a year for my 4 x a week commute. I give them that money up front. The whole lot, in advance, for a year. In their bank account, not mine. For them to spend. Not me.

I could go on about how my 'gold card' as it's laughingly labelled should deliver a level of customer service that it doesn't; I mean I do get a seat most journeys so my commute is a shining beacon of joy compared to many I hear about.

I reckon my lining their pockets with silver a full year in advance makes me a very good customer indeed. I only wish 90:10 Group had customers like that. Wouldn't we all?

So, back to that being herded online thing. This year (last October) when my season ticket was due for renewal I took the bait. I think it two off-peak train journeys was the freebie on offer for ordering online. And I figured I'd save some queuing time.

So, for the princely sum of two off-peak tickets (during which times there are always seats free so the marginal cost to FCC is zero) I saved them time, cut down their admin etc etc.

And as one of their very best customers I expect some modicum of reward when I need assistance.
Today my Gold Card stopped going through the ticket barriers. May not sound much if you don't experience the rush of the commute, but boy that can be a tad inconvenient.

When it failed on my way in this morning I was advised to take it to the station I'd bought it at to get a replacement.

Foolish me, I'd forgotten I bought it online. Well, it was last October. I'd had one or two other things to think about since then.

So when I rocked up at the station this evening with my photocard and Gold Card in hand (yes, all the gubbins ready) I was surprised to find I could not get a replacement. I had to go back to 'where I bought it' - and the station staff couldn't tell me where that was.

So penny dropping, I'd bought it online, I had to go online to get a replacement (not that there was any advice on that coming from behind the counter).

That's a monumental fail. That's putting the inconvenience on the customer for whom convenience was clearly important - hence the decision to buy online.
It's a fail in the disconnectedness of First Capital Connect services. Apparently it's 'not the same company' that sells tickets online (via the FCC site, I'll have you know).

Guess what? Your very best customers don't give a damn which agency is between us and you. Every time we are dealing with a service related to you (and I don't think the ticket for the journey can be any more related) we're going to assume you should take some responsibility.

As it stands, it's down to me, your very best customer (ok, one of) who has to go back to the site, remember my log in details, log in - and print out what is effectively a begging letter to station staff - with the appropriate code - to issue me a replacement card.

Let's look at this a little closer. The station staff told me they couldn't issue tickets which didn't match codes for ones issued at their station as a fraud prevention measure.

1. That's FCC's problem not mine. No, seriously, make a better, less counterfeitable ticket - don't put the inconvenience on your very best customers.
2. On the website it says any ticket office can replace a season ticket issued by any other.
My Season Ticket doesn't work the entry or exit gates. What do I do?
Please return it to the station of issue (or any ticket office) where it will be replaced free of charge.
However, if you are one of FCC's very best customers, who both paid them in advance and saved them money in the way your bought your ticket...
If you bought your ticket online, log in to your account and click on apply to replace a damaged season ticket.
At which point you generate the begging letter I referred to above, which you have to print out (at your cost in both materials and time) and take to the station... again.

So, congratulations FCC - you have managed to disincentivize buying season tickets online with some truly crass disconnected thinking (and thank you for reminding me what an absolute nightmare process involving duplicate payments it was last October).

Miffed? Damn right - and angry that I have no choice but to return with my begging letter to get my replacement gold card tomorrow morning.

I bet the staff thank the management daily for saddling them with this kind of stress-generating stupidity. And I do hope the staff are reporting back how their very best customers are reacting.

But just in case - I'll be sending you a link to this post and awaiting your response with interest...

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

What happens when you hand control of a documentary to the crowd

What happens when you hand control of road-trip documentary making to the crowd? Well, this does.
Everything from sky-diving and bouncy castles on water to tattoos, backstage access at gigs and naked ladies painted blue - it all poured from the collective creative heads of everyone of us and spilled across Europe.
I'm glad to say Live Every Litre is a project my lot (90:10 Group) has been helping out with from its earliest inklings - for client Honda.
And now the premier is upon us. On July 21 it'll be premiered online at 15:00 in NYC, London at 20:00 and Berlin at 21:00.
There may even be a super-exclusive, behind-closed-doors screening of the final cut, by award winning director Claudio von Planta, next week in London. As and when I find out more, I'll let you know. 

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Media Owner Co-creation Solutions

I'm planning on getting part III of this week's Clay Shirky presentation at the LSE up on the blog tomorrow morning. (part II and I are already live - see links below).
In the meantime, here's a slidedeck we've put together at 90:10 Group I hope you'll find interesting.

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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?