Archive for April, 2006
There is an old saying that goes, “Some days it is in the cards, and some days it isn’t”. My grandfather used to say that a lot about whether or not he would be able to golf when the summer rains came, but it just as well could refer to my relationship with Blogging. Rather than looking at blogging as ‘my job’ which I must do every day, I go with the flow and my blog posting frequency changes dramatically as a result.
Somedays I am so excited by an idea or news item that I must put other things on hold to blog about it. Sometimes, I end up writing posts just for me that never get published – many never even saved, just written. Other times, like the past couple of weeks, I am so deep in the activities of ‘work’, having conversations with people and simply being in the real world, I have no time for it. Even if it is important to share or perhaps just personally meaningful, it is nearly impossible for me to get a blog post published. I suspect a lot of people out there are like me in this regards – sometimes we are just too busy with life, work or whatever to find time to blog.
The key is that I don’t need to blog every day, or several times a day to make an impact, but it would certainly help in some regards. My goal is to merely communicate with people who care about the things I care about – to have my voice heard and be recognized for my ability to understand a particular topic. So I do it when I have time and do my best to share valuable insights, stories and experiences with you. Depending on your goals, or the goals of your organization though, the demands on your time could be vastly different. I know of at least 2 startup companies here in Silicon Valley who don’t do plan to do any traditional PR activities. They expect their blog will be the company’s official voice to the public, to their customers and to the press at large. They blog when they have something to say. not everyday for the sake of blogging.
The month ahead is going to be an interesting shift for me as I move from the free flowing Blogger mentality of writing when I feel like it for the sole purpose of serving my own passions to blogging every day as part of my work life. Today marks the beginning of a new gig I am doing with my friends over at Fleishman Hillard. I have this incredible opportunity to lead an online conversation leading up to an event they are sponsoring with DC Communicator called Beyond Blogging 2006. The premise is very dear to my heart and is something I have been talking about for quite some time.
The truth is that Blogs are a free style, free ranging form of communications that have made it possible for people and organizations to more directly communicate with the world over the Internet. It does not require an army of ‘techies’ to publish, it does not require some special knowledge of some cryptic computer language and it does not require any real capital expenditures. A Blog can be started in under 5 minutes, it can be free or a few dollars per month, it can be private or public, it can be used as a simple outbound communications channel or it could be used as the foundation of a community. Blogs are just another tool in the communications arsenal, so I am glad we are not doing another conversation on Blogs – it is time to go way beyond the initial idea and look at the bigger picture of how all of this fits together and can be used properly by all communication professionals.
Too many people think that the ‘Blog’ is some mythical panacea for communications. Too many people don’t understand the idea of Blogging within the proper context of participating in the conversation. Too many people think that the Blog is just another fad. (even I have written about Blogging being a fad previously) Regardless of what we think of Blogging, it is here to stay – the power of the tools are growing tremendously along with the number of people who are using Blogs for personal and professional communications. So this event, and this Blog, represent a great opportunity to dive into the conversation with communications professionals who are on the front lines of the industry. Together we will explore the strategic and tactical aspects of Blogging in the context of the shifting media landscape, to collectively gain a better understanding of where it fits within the broader context of communications.
So your first assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to dust off your old copy of The Cluetrain Manifesto and celebrate the 7th anniversary of this landmark book with me. The majority of what we will be talking about over the next month leading up to the Beyond Blogging event on May 19th will likely be based within the key principle of Cluetrain thinking – “markets are conversations”. From my perspective, the job of communications professionals, marketing pros and even sales people is to engage people in conversations – this is perhaps what has been forgotten by a few and is what real people are craving – but that discussion can wait for another day.
Over the month ahead, join us in a discussion that will go beyond the ideas and the strategies and dive into the practical applications of how it all works together. We will start off by delving into some of the basic questions like “What are tags? and How do I use them?” As we get closer to the event, we will be hearing from the panelists more directly and moving the conversation into areas that are of interest to you. So let’s get this party started – post a comment and let us know what sort of things you want to discuss.
Though I have only been to New Orleans once before, I have a deep love for this great American city and I really want to help bring it back from the tragedy that was Katrina. As a technologist, business strategist, entrepreneur and humanist, I have been been working with BrainJams over the last few months to bring people together to learn from one another in the real world. While I can’t rebuild the houses that were lost or donate millions of dollars, I can work towards connecting the small businesses of New Orleans with an understanding of how they can make the most of emerging Internet technologies. More importantly, I can help facilitate real, personal connections between the people who are building these Internet tools and the local business community in New Orleans who need the best available thinking to help rebuild their local economy.
BrainJams is about people sharing what they know with one another – people helping people, treating one another with respect and working to understand each another’s unique ability to contribute towards a common goal. If you are interested in working towards
revitalizing New Orleans, won’t you join us for a conversation between the business community in New Orleans and people who understand emerging Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, tags, open source software such as Drupal, and other Web services?
I believe that together, we can discover innovative solutions to the business problems that are being faced today, as well as learn from one another how to make the most of what we already have. We know from firsthand experience that the traditional way of running a conference was seldom best for the attendees. The most interesting parts of the conference were often the hallway conversations we had with other attendees. Often times, the people in the audience have better insights to share than those speaking on the panel. BrainJams takes away the “power of the podium” and puts it in the hands of the people in the audience. We turn attendees into participants, and in so doing, make it easier for everyone to get what they need from the event while having a turn to step up on the soap box to share their ideas, concerns and experiences.
So rather than coming to hear me tell you how it is, we will get together on Thursday May 4th in downtown New Orleans to figure it out together. To share our insights. To learn from each other. To identify the needs of the business community. To launch new projects. To pump new life into the heart of the city of New Orleans. To Jam with each other like Jazz musicians, riffing on each other’s ideas, leveraging everyone’s unique contributions.
There will be many different topics discussed over the course of the day, all of which will be chosen by you and managed under the principles of “Open Space“, which is a simple structure for enabling more powerful conversations for large groups of people. In the morning, participants will create an agenda that addresses the most important issues and opportunities for the New Orleans business community and how it can best use the latest technology. The rest of the day will be spent in small group sessions working on the specific issues that matter most right now. All of the proceedings will be documented and a wireless network will allow us to post all of our notes directly to the internet, where others can find them and support our work. The point of the day is to start conversations that matter while making new connections to the people who can contribute to projects that will make real impact. If you care about what New Orleans has been and where the city is heading, your participation is essential for our success.
Please join us! BrainJams New Orleans is free for all to attend – just complete the registration form and put it on your calendar.
I can’t believe I almost missed this. In case you did too, read the article from CNN and check out the official statement from Bausch & Laumb about ReNu with moistureLoc potentially being linked to a rare eye infection that damages corneas. Several people have had to have corneal transplants as a result. There is also a generic brand they make but I did not have time to find those specifics.
Thankfully I don’t use my contact lenses as often any more, but I did use ReNu and I did leave my lenses in at night, which increases the risk, but everything seems to be ok.
When have I truly lived my passion and what in particular was powerful about this?
More often than not, I feel my true self and complete happiness in my being, when I am connecting with others and sharing my ideas, insights and individuality. When I am able to be of service to others by exploring our shared connections, reveling in our passions and feeling comfortable at the edge of the precipice, staring off into the distant unknown and figuring out how to get there together.
The most powerful thing about this for me has shifted over the years. At first it was a matter of simply gaining external reinforcement of my purpose for being. Eventually it shifted to the perception of power that was bestowed unto me when people were giving me their attention. Now it has settled fully into the understanding that the real power came from an unknown future in which I would play no physical role, but one in which my ideas, insights and voice would be given life through the hand of another – fertilizing the seed I previously planted and watching it grow, far from my own eyes.
What do I now sense is the next level of my passion and practice?
The next level involves bringing together all that I have experienced in a way that can be of value to others. It is through service to the community of my peers – which is all of my fellow man, not a specific industry nor a type of person. The next level is a return to an old idea infused with new life. The Noble Pursuit is my dream of a better world that allows me to be within a space where my passion can be felt by me with every awakened breath, and seen by the world through open eyes. Not hiding in fear of failure, but being ever present in the learning, smack dab in the middle of the circle, but not necessarily up on stage.
It is the work that has already begun for me through BrainJams and is within the space that my new friends call Hosting. These things are one and the same, though rather than trying to teach others the art of hosting, we are working to teach them the art of participating, with respect for every individual and their unique ability to contribute. Even when the contribution is manifested as silence. It is a community of participants rather than hosts or attendees. When each participant has their own leadership held within the space, if only for a moment…
The next level of my passion and practice is the development of the community of shared resources that is BrainJams, the tools and virtual spaces that make up Insytes and the way of being which is at peace with myself, in balance with the world around me.
If this is the next level of my passion and practice, what could stop or come in the way of this?
“as we shine more light, the shadows get bigger” – Debbie from Berkana
While I do believe that the past does not equal the future, it has been hard to live with this principle on a daily basis. The fears of failure, and even of success to a certain degree, have in the past held such a grip on me that I would often choose to not take action to remain with the possibility of some future success. As an entrepreneur, you would most likely not guess this of me, but as a human without someone to take me by the hand and encourage me to take the leap – to provide external validation of the figments of ideas that swirl within my mind, it was nearly impossible.
The only thing that can stop me is myself. Today, I choose not to stand in my own way, but instead to lend myself a hand – a hand up, a pat on the back and a round of applause. All of these powers are within us, we just need to practice with more – we need to give ourselves permission to try, to pursue with vigor and undeterable purpose, that which burns within our hearts.
On this day, I choose commitment over complacence, movement over stillness and love over fear.
While the things that could stop me are many, I will not allow it. I will overcome whatever obstacles I may face. There is always a way.
What is the burning question that will help me step more fully into the fire of my hosting?
The focus can no longer be on the costs of taking these actions, or on what I need before I can take these actions, it is squarely within the question of “What will it cost if I don’t step fully into the life I was born to live?”
How will it feel if the world heads into complete chaos and fear, and I have to live with the fact that I did nothing to stop it? How will it feel to live with myself and my loved ones everyday for the rest of my life, knowing that I could have made a difference but chose not to act because I was afraid or thought that I might be judged unfavorably by others?
Many, many things to talk about this week, but I only have a minute since I have to leave for Boston in 6 hours. This article on CNN about the Muslims protest over the launch of Playboy in Jakarta is a telling tale of the deep value conflict between the our different perspectives. Many of the hardliners, such as those from the Islamic Defenders Front, are still protesting and threatening violence even after the magazine debuted with much tamer content than is displayed in the local tabloids and other magazines daily.
As reported by CNN
group spokesman Tubagus Muhamad Sidik. [said] “Even if it had no pictures of women in it, we would still protest it because of the name.”
Trouble is this is the same problem that we have between our use of different names for the power/being in whom we faithfully believe – for the entity that proves there is meaning and purpose in this life, a reason for being and a reason for all things. The belief that someone is in control, it is of course the word I believe in who is in control. For you disobeying the one I give this name to, you will be punished – I will punish you. We fight over the many different names we have for the same idea, in this case, the blind faith in a higher power we call God, Muhammed, Jesus, Abraham, Yahweh or even within new age circles, “The Light”.
I obviously disagree with people who take to violence in light of calling the same thing a different name, but at least he is honest, which means there is just the sliver of hope that we can learn to get along with one another not only in spite of our differences, but because of them. We really need to get past that sort of reaction to the things we dont have in common and see that the people around us are all people – the ones in the ivory towers and the ones in the streets. Respect of our fellow man and a love for them just ‘because’ they are people, regardless of their beliefs, their looks or their station in life is the real shift we need to make to energize our society.
What we give to others, we get in return. Give a peaceful smile, share it with everyone. See what happens as the world lights up around you.
On a lighter note, this is very much similar to some of the disagreement around calling the new new, Web 2.0 and the meaning of Marketing going on over at Burning Bird, where I have more to add tomorrow…
Tara has a great article on Chevy’s ‘create a commercial contest’ for the Tahoe brand of ubersized SUV’s that serve little purpose other than to take over the role that Jaguar once did for those with fears of inadequate equipment. The story is a must read for everyone, as is watching the actual user created commercials which are over on news.com
On top of it all, her post contains all the right elements of an exceptional blog post that people can look to as a case study.
1. It is informative – she told me something I did not see elsewhere
2. It is entertaining – she was clever with her delivery and the story itself is actually quite amusing
3. It is engaging – I wanted to share it with you and talk about it
4. It is educational – her advice for Chevy to embrace the vitriol rather than hide from it is spot on
In response to her earlier call for suggestions to rename “Pinko Marketing”, I wish it could just be called “marketing”, but that term has been tainted like a used car salesman in a loud suit. In a very real sense, she is really talking about “Cluetrain 2.0″ through the lens of the Web 2.0 era. I don’t honestly know what is wrong with simply referencing the original Cluetrain Manifesto, other than marketing the ‘New’ “New”. Don’t get me wrong, I respect Tara immensely for what she has done and she fully embodies the core principles of the Cluetrain in her blog and her work, but I am in the camp with those who don’t think Pinko Marketing is the right phraseology for helping more people to “get it”.
It feels a lot to me like the original statements Chris made about “Open Source World Domination” before he changed it to the more powerful “Liberation”. I just don’t see anything remotely “Pinko” about it, it feels more like “Real”, “True”, “Authentic”, “Genuine” or “Honest” might be most appropriate. Steve Wrubel calls it “Open Source Marketing“, which may be accurate, but is not simple or fun enough to catch on – or perhaps it is, we will have to wait and see.
This reminds me of what I have often told people about the ‘marketing’ of BrainJams – “If you mean to say that I am trying to reach those people who will get the most benefit from what we are doing, than yes, we are marketing. If you mean to say we are trying to sell our ideas to more people to just get better numbers, than no, we are not marketing.” Unfortunately, for too many people, marketing has come to mean the latter, rather than the former. As I have been telling people through my work on “The Communications Strategy“, the goal is not to get sales for the sake of sales (though this is what is still taught at most business schools). The real goal is to find customer’s who can obtain the right value from what you are offering and deliver that value while creating a reasonable profit to sustain and grow the organization. The job of marketing is to identify the unique needs of those specific customers and be of service to those needs.
The bottom line is to understand that people are talking about what they are talking about and your company can’t control the conversation any longer and you can’t ignore what is being said when it is not favorable. Companies need to, as Pat Riley said in his book, “embrace the ugliness” and just deal with it head on. Either you take your stand in righteousness when others are misinforming the conversation, or admit you have a real problem and deal with it as Tara suggests.
With regards to Chevy, it will be interesting to see what there response is to this, and if any of the vaulted General Motors’ Bloggers will respond. As of this moment, they are sticking with the contest.
The other day I wrote a post on Web 2.0 as a state of mind, with it really being an attitude of openness that defines our era. Shelley Powers writes about this again in regards to Doc’s thoughts on Business Morality. Since most blogs don’t post trackbacks from Blogger (another reason to change platforms), I am cross posting my comment here.
While I still detest the phrase Web 2.0 myself, I feel forced to use it in order to converse with others about the nature of what is happening now and what is different about the emergent practices we are seeing. Shelly is right that there is no version of the web per se, and while the technology has evolved somewhat, I still think it has its place. The phrase Web 2.0 still represents the attitude of this new era as good as anything else I have heard thus far including what I have called it – The Open Web.
The difference that is really touched upon in Doc’s post (though with terms I don’t really like) is the nature of Open systems versus closed systems and human behaviour within those systems. Systems now really do put people at the core and these new systems are contextually aware of the individual’s relationships with other people.
Yes it is still about communications as was the original promise of the Web being bantered about in 1994 after Mosaic’s release. But today more then ever, it is about the ease with which we collaborate with one another within organizations and uniquely, in the commons. It is the spirit of openness that manifests itself as participation in services that allow us to more easily gaze into the collective consciousness that every so often gives rise to an insight from the collective wisdom.
For some the characteristics of the technology matter most, just as the numbers matter more to the accountants than the narrative does. For others like me, it is about the differences in human behaviour. The idea behind Web 2.0 is complex and changing and many people are still working to describe it from their own perspective. In the end though, I think Doc was right when he said “I think it’s what we’ll call the current bubble and the next crash”.
Above all else, and regardless of the semantics, it is what we call the time we are living in today, no matter how much we like or dislike the term.
Technorati Tags: Web2.0
I had said I would put my BrainJams post here any longer and I meant it. Instead, I want to point out a pretty long piece I just posted there that really explains a big part of my thinking behind the transformation society is undergoing at this time. To put it simply, in the old competitive model of the world, people fought one another to “climb the ladder”, in today’s cooperative world, we are all helping one another to “fill the funnel.”
Shortly after posting this to BrainJams, I visited Doc Searl’s site and read about an idea that was posted over on O’Reilly’s Radar that deals with this same subject from a slightly different angle, that of ‘business morality’. Supported by our discussions on collaboration at the UC Berkeley BrainJams event, I think Doc is spot on with these ideas. I posted my comments on this over there, but I am really wondering if anyone has any better language to use for describing these loosely joined ideas that are the core of what is happening in our economy.
I don’t want this blog to become a place that only complains about crappy customer service, but after reading this article about an annual survey on the airline industry, I wanted to share the bad news with you. While there were not major revelations in the survey, this particular nugget was satisfying at least, because it shows I am not alone in being treated poorly by them.
Southwest Airlines had the lowest rate of complaints, 0.18 per 100,000 passengers, while US Airways had the highest, 1.86.
JetBlue was of course the favorite (and I agree), but I was a little surprised to hear that AirTran was one notch ahead of Southwest. In the past, I have purposefully avoided AirTran, even when they were cheaper because I had thought they were not up to par. In the future, I will at least consider them, though my loyalty is now clearly to JetBlue, with American close behind because of my gold status and membership in their Admirals Club.
Unfortunately, this weekend I am flying US Airways for my Boston trip (actually America West planes). We need to be more budget conscious, and I had to use the $190 credit we had leftover from that little incident I wrote about back in November. I was grandfathered into gold status with them last year before our problems with them, so perhaps the experience won’t be so bad after all.