Tagged: technology

It’s Not the Social Tools, It’s the Social Movement

originally posted on Concept Hub

This week’s blog post was going to be a recap of a podcast I participated in with Michelle Batten. The podcast can be found here.

As I sat down to write this week’s blog I realized that it would be wrong for me to let this moment in history not go recognized, so I decided to change directions and reflect on what is happening in Iran.

I am not going to claim to know even a small percentage of what is going on in Iran, nor will I get into the politics of who should be doing what. But what I do realize is that this is an important footnote in history.

I call it a footnote because I do believe what we see happening right now is the beginning of a new movement, a new spirit of empowerment.

This is equivalent to the printing press. It has been said that Martin Luther’s act of rebellion was not the first act against the Church, but it became an important footnote in history because his act was furthered by the invention of the printing press.

The 95 Theses were quickly translated from Latin into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press.[35] Within two weeks, copies of the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe

When we look at our own Revolution in America we recognize that support came from the vast distribution of the great writings of our founding fathers.

Benjamin Franklin was a strong defender of the Freedom of Press. He wrote:


by: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)


Virtue and Freedom chear our Plains,
And Learning Largesses bestows,
And keeps unlicens’d open House.
We to the Nation’s publick Mart
Our Works of Wit, and Schemes of Art,
And philosophic Goods, this Way,
Like Water carriage, cheap convey.
This Tree which Knowledge so affords,
Inquisitors with flaming swords
From Lay-Approach with Zeal defend,
Lest their own Paradise should end.The Press from her fecundous Womb
Brought forth the Arts of Greece and Rome;
Her offspring, skill’d in Logic War,
Truth’s Banner wav’d in open Air;
The Monster Superstition fled,
And hid in Shades in Gorgon Head;
And awless Pow’r, the long kept Field,
By Reason quell’d, was forc’d to yield.This Nurse of Arts, and Freedom’s Fence,
To chain, is Treason against Sense:
And Liberty, thy thousand Tongues
None silence who design no Wrongs;
For those who use the Gag’s Restraint,
First Rob, before they stop Complaint

Without going into the debate of “Old Media” vs “New Media” what we are witnessing today is that the business of media has restricted our access to a free press. Whether it is political favoritism, pressure from advertisers or the need to stay between the established lines as a means to not look biased, or to not cause trouble – our media is no longer free.

I love the work that most of our reporters are doing and I respect their art and talent and most of all their bravery to get the story to the world, but as we have seen the past few days, there are limits to what they can do.

Those limits exist because there are still those who feel they are in control of the message, much like the Church was in control of the message before the printing press.

Today, we witness people taking control of the message, using “new” media to tell their stories. What amazes me most is the tireless efforts of developers around the world working to help people in Iran to get past the media blocks.

The tools, such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are there to empower this movement, but the movement is the spirit of the people.

Perhaps Twitter will be a footnote in this moment in history just like the printing press is a footnote in the history led by Martin Luther. The Printing Press became a footnote because of what it enabled which grew and changed all of humanity. Just like the printing press, what Twitter has enabled is just a spark, a lesson, of what we as humans are able to overcome and how much we can achieve through the freedom to communicate.

Leadership in Today’s World

originally posted on Concept Hub

As many people who know me know, I am a believer in “drinking my own Koolaide.” What that means to me is that if I am going to evangelize anything, a trend, technology, or way of being, I am going to embrace the ideas behind what I am advocating.

As we all know the world is changing. In fact, it is changing faster than any of us can really keep up with. There are changes in technology, which over the years has changed how, when and where we communicate with our friends, family, co-workers, partners, and clients. These technological changes have also changed how we do business by knocking many barriers to entry, reducing costs of production and distribution and increasing the competitive landscape. Not only are people able to get products that are better and cheaper from your known competitors, but they are also able to collaborate to become the creators of the solutions they need. This is known as being a “prosumer.”

Recently many books have been written about how this new world is changing business models and leadership styles such as The World is Flat, WikinomicsBlue Ocean StrategyMobilizing MindsThe Starfish and the Spider, and so forth.

Each of the authors of these books looks at the world we live in today and have found that organizations need to be flatter and more collaborative. As a whole, we need to knock down siloed walls and engage in open and transparent dialog with customers. Leaders of organizations today need to empower their employees to take ownership of the success of the organization. Each member of the team needs to be able to think on their feet, have access to just in time information, be fast learners and contributors to the organization’s knowledge base, as well as be empowered to serve the needs of the consumer.

Organizations today need to be agile enough to shift and change as fast as the market changes. This means that R&D gets products and/or services to market in the “Beta” stage and test and refines offerings based on the reactions of the market. This means employees are not only able, willing and empowered to learn more, do more, and be more, but that they can do so with a unified message that is consistently in sync with the demands of the consumers.

Add all the changes that technology has brought to our world with the fact that people are watching the financial markets become a 6 on the Earthquake Richter scale and organizations are now faced with the need to have the best and brightest talent that can react fast, serve each and every client, be innovative, and contribute to every idea that directly affects the bottom line.

A few questions that the leaders of today’s organizations need to consider are;

  • Are there organizational barriers to understanding the full relationship we have with our clients/vendors/donors/members
  • Are the technology solutions we use sharing data in an efficient and effective manner?
  • Do we have a complete picture of our clients and their activities with our organizations?
  • Are we allowing clients/vendors/donors/members to truly interact with us – via multiple channels?

However, the reality is the level of contribution needed now is a lot to ask of most people today. As I have attempted to drink my own Koolaide I have come to recognize the unfortunate reality that most people are not conditioned to be the types of employees or team members that organizations need in order to be successful. We were raised in an education system that taught us to take direction and to “color inside the lines.” Even today many schools refuse to allow students to use Wikipedia as a resource even though many doctors, lawyers, and various other professionals admit that Wikipedia is their first reference source. The reason is Wikipedia is based on content created by users, which is not deemed authoritative enough for schools. So instead of teaching our children to be critical thinkers, we are still teaching them to be mindless consumers of direction.

But our world is changing, and changing fast. A couple of weeks ago Andrew McAfee, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, asked: “Should Knowledge Workers Have Enterprise 2.0 Ratings?”

I personally see this as an important question. One of the biggest obstacles that organizations face right now is that even when they realize that they need to empower their team, enable collaboration amongst teams and departments, and tap into the intelligence of the marketplace, they are faced with a cultural challenge that is much bigger than organizations have ever faced in that past. We can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the technology that will enable people to connect, collaborate and innovate, but that technology will not necessarily mean that people will change their habits of simply waiting for direction.

Your performance will not only be based on how well you carry out your responsibilities but how well you lead conversations, interact in collaborative discussions and lead new efforts.

In this world organizations will act as a “Flat” organizational structure that coexists with the hierarchal organizational structure and social software becomes a key competitive advantage for unlocking hidden talent, innovation, and removing inefficiencies within the organization.

But what will it take to get us there?

Perhaps a culture where all complaints are documented alongside recommended solutions. All ideas are considered as viable options. If we all go into the game with the agreement that;

  • People want to create
  • People want to be heard
  • People want to make a difference
  • People want to make money

perhaps we can begin to take the steps necessary to lead people to be individual contributors. But as many organizations who have already adopt 2.0 technologies have learned,  the solution is not in the technology, but in the way we lead, the way we hire, and what we expect from our team members.

We have in front of us new challenges that require new leadership. Leadership that can inspire. Leadership that can learn from the masses. Leadership with minimal egos and maximum curiosity. Leadership that can think globally. Leadership that sees opportunity in change and therefore can create a culture that will continuously be leaders of change.

The Technology that Keeps Us Connected

originally posted in Concept Hub

Last year I had the opportunity to be a “career mom” at my son’s school and to speak to 2nd graders about my career.

I struggle explaining what it is I do to adults, how could I explain it to children, and what key point did I want to leave them with?

I brought with me a single envelope. I explained to the children that when I was their age I was taught that if I wanted to express myself to a person within an organization I had to write a letter, put it in an envelop and mail it to them. I would not know if that person received the letter or what resulted from my communication.

When I became an adult the world had moved to email as a prominent form of communication. As I explained email I asked the children to pass the envelope around. Once the envelope had gone halfway through the room I told them to stop passing it around.

Next, I wrote a message on the whiteboard. I asked the children to raise their hands if they touched the envelope, and half the class raised their hands. Then I asked them to raise their hands if they were still holding the envelope, only one child raised their hand. Then I asked who saw me write the message on the whiteboard. Every child raised their hand. Then I asked who still saw the message on the whiteboard. Again, every child raised their hand. I explained that was the power of communications today. Email can be distributed to many but is contained within a siloed channel and is often deleted.  Today communications can be broadcasted to the world and lives on the web. The key point I left them with that the careers they were learning about today may not exist when they are grown up and the careers they end up choosing most likely do not even exist yet. What kids need to learn in school is how to continuously learn.

When email was introduced it was a powerful communications channel that was also considered a disruptive technology. How disruptive was email and the Internet? Consider that ClueTrain Manifesto was written long before we reached the power of social media, and it states:

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.

Each day new technologies are being introduced to the market that are changing the landscape of the conversation. With the rapid introduction of these new technologies that are supposed to make us all more connected we are actually finding that we are still facing the same challenges that we faced when we mailed letters or even when we sent emails. Siloed channels.

If I choose to participate on Twitter I am ignoring the community on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. Our communication channels seem to be more siloed because we simply can not be everywhere all the time and our friends, family, peers, and co-workers may be in a different community than where we are.

However, as I mentioned, every day we are being introduced to new technologies by Entrepreneurs who like to solve problems.

Lately, I have been using Ping.fm “a simple service that makes updating your social networks a snap.”

When I update my “status” my latest update is sent to my Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter community with one click. When/If someone responds I am alerted. This leverages the power of syndication and aggregation to organize the web.

Each community has its own purpose and it’s own culture. However, sometimes our own minds and assumptions are the culprit of creating siloed communities more than the technology. Last week I submitted an update that I had just made the best Cappuccino, a meaningless update I agree, but I was proud of that cappuccino and felt I wanted to express that pride. Such an expression is common on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace, however, I received 5 times more responses to that update from LinkedIn than any other community. Communities change, cultures adapt, and we need to keep our finger on the pulse to stay relevant and interesting.

In my lifetime (which is still fairly young) I have seen a shift from one way and one to many, to two-way and many to many, to what we are already starting to see which is communicating to multiple communities and community to community communications.

Social Media is Just the Next Logical Step in Technology

originally posted in Concept Hub

One of the most popular blog posts on this blog (based on stats and offline conversations) is “How Social Media Became a Speeding Bullet.” Although for some people it may seem like one day they woke up and everyone was saying to blog or sending a friend request, the reality is technology has been moving toward social software since the beginning of the Internet.

State of Online Communications and the Affect on Organizations

How the Internet has evolved from controlled messages to interconnected communities of trusted peers

The Internet began to hit the mainstream in the mid to late ’90s. It revolutionized the reach of an organization’s message. For a modest investment, anyone could set up an online storefront, broadcast their message to an email list, create a shopping cart, and manage data.

The same technologies that revolutionized the way organizations communicated and interacted with the external audience also revolutionized the way organizations communicate with their peers, staff, vendors, and partners. EDI(Electronic Data Exchange) an inter-company, application-to-application communication of data in a standard format for business transactions (Source: Wikipedia) allowed organizations to get just in time relevant information which decreased the cost of storage, shipping and provided valuable insights to purchasing trends.

Behavioral Marketing – Analytics and Cookies (Amazon.com)
Amazon.com was one of the first companies to employ web cookies or just cookies, which are parcels of text sent by a server to a web browser and then sent back unchanged by the browser each time it accesses that server. Web cookies are used for authenticating, tracking, and maintaining specific information about users, such as site preferences or the contents of their electronic shopping carts.

Because of the user data that Amazon.com was able to collect, they were able to provide a customized level of service to their customers by recommending books and other products based on past purchases of their collective customers.

Such algorithms have evolved to sites such as Pandora and StumbleUpon which customize radio stations and web surfing based on what the users tell the system they like or do not like.

The Technology the enables the Internet – Why Open Source is Such a Big Deal
Today the modern living room contains more computing power than was used to land Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969. The critical component of rapid technological innovation is low barriers to development and the ability to collaborate with peers for Rapid Application Development, a methodology that involves iterative development, and the construction of prototypes.

In the early and mid-90s Rapid Application Development and Graphic User Interface, a type of user interface which allows people to interact with a computer and computer-controlled devices, lowered the barriers for developers to create customized solutions or to customize pre-package solutions. However, with the barriers to development lowered, communities of developers began to explore solutions that rivaled the big players in technology such as Microsoft, IBM, and Sun.

In 1992 Linus Torvalds began to work on a non-commercial replacement for MINIX. His system would later become known as Linux and proved that a community of volunteer developers could create a system that could rival and in some opinions outperform systems that were developed by corporate employed developers.

Almost 10 years later, Wikipedia was launched with the goal of gathering all the world’s knowledge. Articles are submitted, edited, and reviewed by volunteers in our global community. To date, there are over 5 million registered editor accounts and Wikipedia gains over 1,700 articles a day. Although credibility has been in constant debate, Wikipedia has managed to create guidelines and forums that have improved the credibility of each article. Today more than 33% of Americans reference Wikipedia as a primary reference source. (Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project). At the beginning of 2007 Wikipedia ranked 9th as the site with the most unique visitors according to comScore Networks Inc.

Today applications are being developed with Open Standards, a standard that is publicly available and has various rights to use associated with it (Source: Wikipedia). Open Standards have enabled plugins, mashups, and widgets which enhances and customizes each site at a very low cost. By allowing one application to plug into another, developers have increased the viral exposure of their application, reduced the cost of development, and increase the speed of innovation.

Email as a primitive form of a social network

In 1999 Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger wrote The Cluetrain Manifesto, a set of 95 theses, or call to action, for all businesses operating within what is suggested to be a newly-connected marketplace. This was long before blogs and social networks. Their insights came from the idea that employees can connect with each other and with the organization’s customers. The most common way to connect was email.

Email enables people to connect and communication 1 to 1 or 1 to many, without regard to time or geographic barriers. Email is also archivable and measurable. However, unlike today’s social networks, email is a closed network. You can not access the communications in an email unless the email is sent to you.

Forums and Message boards

The early days of the Internet also saw the development and rapid adoption of online forums or message boards. These are threaded discussions that are typically displayed in chronological order. They allowed for open discussions about everything from the workplace, to sports, to technology. The limitations of a forum/message board are the effort involved to find relevant information and know when content is updated.

The mid ’90s saw the first beginnings of social networks.

Sites where you can create personal profiles
Dating Sites

SixDegrees (acquired by YouthStream Media Networks in 2000)



Sites with media sharing activity


Yahoo! 360°
Bebo launched as social network
AsianAvenue launched with social network capabilities
BlackPlanet launched with social network capabilities

As of September 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 106 million blogs

•    Typepad
•    WordPress
•    Blogger

Blogs with Social Networking
•    Livejournal
•    Vox
•    Xanga
•    MySpace

After a slow start, blogging rapidly gained in popularity. Blog usage spread during 1999 and the years following, being further popularized by the near-simultaneous arrival of the first hosted blog tools:

•    Open Diary launched in October 1998, soon growing to thousands of online diaries. Open Diary innovated the reader comment, becoming the first blog community where readers could add comments to other writers’ blog entries.
•    Brad Fitzpatrick, a well-known blogger started LiveJournal in March 1999
•    Andrew Smales created Pitas.com in July 1999 as an easier alternative to maintaining a “news page” on a website, followed by Diaryland in September 1999, focusing more on a personal diary community.
•    Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan (Pyra Labs) launched blogger.com in August 1999 (purchased by Google in February 2003)

WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) tools make writing, publishing and linking to other pages easier — specifically permalinks, blogrolls, and TrackBacks. This, together with weblog search engines, RSS and Tags enabled bloggers to track the threads that connected them to others with similar interests.

Social Media has revolutionized the Internet by enabling:

➢    The increase in the ability to discover and connect with people of common interest.
➢    The increased ability to connect communities of people within other communities of people.

•     33% online Americans who say the internet has improved the way they pursue hobbies and interests

•     Entertainment is the third most popular blog subject (about 7%)

•     30% said the internet provided information that allowed them to compare options

•     28% said the internet helped connect them to expert or professional services

•     Nearly 17M Americans say the internet had played a crucial or important role in them helping another person with a major illness or medical condition

•     37% of bloggers cite “my life and experiences” as a primary topic of their blog
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project – 2006

People find content through sources they trust.
These sources can range from online news sources to blogs, and their peers.  Especially their peers!!

Networks of people create communities of trust.
➢    Each of these communities has different cultures and rules as to how they communicate.
➢    Cultures, rules, and activity on a site are sometimes influenced by the software.
➢    Each social networking site is it’s own community.
People are part of multiple communities!!!

According to a research report, “Engaging Advocates through Search and Social Media,” released in December 2006 by Yahoo! and comScore Networks, not only is social networking’s influence on marketing growing, but particularly vocal individuals are having more of an effect than ever.

Dubbed “Brand Advocates,” these are consumers who spread opinions via word of mouth, as well as over social networks, instant messaging, chat, photo sites and blogging. Such advocates have at least a two-to-one rate of converting an actual friend or family member to buy the same exact product or brand they support, according to the report.

Brief History of the Peer to Peer Sharing Culture

The viral nature of the Internet via video, photos, podcasts, links, comments, trackbacks.

The first generation of peer-to-peer file sharing networks had a centralized file list. In the centralized peer-to-peer model, a user would send a search to the centralized server of what they were looking for. The server then sends back a list of peers that have the data and facilitates the connection and download.

The first file-sharing programs marked themselves by inquiries to a server, either the data to the download held ready or within appropriate different Peers and so-called Nodes further-obtained so that one could download there. Two examples were Napster (today using a pay system) and eDonkey2000 in the server version (today likewise with Overnet and KAD – network decentralized). (source: Wikipedia)

Decentralized Peer-to-Peer sharing is what is enabling the rapid growth of social media and accelerated innovation.

When Facebook opened up its API to 3rd party developers it allowed for a new type of file-sharing service to emerge. Box.net and FreeDrive.com are two examples of companies that have specific Facebook Applications that allow file sharing to be easily accomplished between friends. (source: Wikipedia)

This trend is described in detail in regards to how it relates to organizations in the book Spider and Starfish, The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.

Starfish organizations, on the other hand, are based on completely different principles. They tend to organize around a shared ideology or a simple platform for communication- around ideologies like Al-Qaeda or Alcoholics Anonymous. They arise rapidly around the simplest ideas or platforms. Ideas or platforms that can be easily duplicated. Once they arrive they can be massively disruptive and are here to stay, for good or bad. And the Internet can help them flourish.

So in today’s world starfish are starting to gain the upper hand.

How can Toyota leverage starfish principles to crush their spider-like rivals, GM and Ford? How did tiny Napster cripple the global music industry? Why is free, community based Wikipedia crushing Encyclopedia Britannica overnight? Why is tiny Craigslist crippling the global newspaper industry? Why is Al Quaeda flourishing and even growing stronger? In today’s world to answer this it is essential to understand the potential strength of a starfish organization.

Creative Commons
Share, Remix, Reuse – Legally

Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from “All Rights Reserved” to “Some Rights Reserved.”

Source: http://creativecommons.org/

By allowing others to share, remix or reuse intellectual or creative property and still reserve some rights, such as attribution, an organization or individual enables viral marketing and encourages the creation of new innovations.

The revenue model shifts from R&D and then Marketing to Marketing and then R&D with an emphasis on customization and upgraded services.

Just like the communication technologies that enabled e-commerce sites also revolutionized internal communications and enabled electronic data interchange, today’s collaborative tools are revolutionizing how teams of people connect, receive just in time relevant information, and collaborate on shared sections of different projects.