September 27, 2008 by Colin
Today on Definitely Not The Opera, Sook Yin Lee opened the show by looking at activities we choose to undertake as a member of a crowd. Many of the examples were foolish, embarrassing or relied on being swept in a tide of emotion and amity.
To be blunt, I’m more sympathetic to the reticence Sook Yin expressed on the DNTO blog:
” … As far as crowds go, I’m more of a loner. I like spending time by myself or with one or two friends at a time. I enjoy that direct line of communication rather than the more general ADD conversations I seem to get into at parties with lots of people. Now the thing that makes me uneasy about crowds is how easily you can get throngs of people riled up over a particular purpose. Sometimes it’s destructive and other times that crowd dynamic can mobilize us to do good things en masse, but it’s disturbing that it all seems to stem from a primal human instinct … “
September 26, 2008 by Colin
Once you get past all the fuzzy wuzzy about knowledge sharing, community building and increased opportunity to work on projects that challenge and inspire you, there is one certainty about the implementation of 2.0 applications in an enterprise environment: METRICS.
” … So one approach would be to graph where everyone stands within the organization along six dimensions: authoring, editing, interacting, tagging, uploading, and positive feedback. A simple radar graph would instantly show were an individual is on each, based on their contributions to various [emergent social software platforms] and relative to everyone else in the organization …”
When combined with a more sophisticated analysis of the networks and information sharing processes within an organization, these sorts of measures could help pinpoint the employees who make a positive or continuing contribution – both as a participant in Enterprise 2.0 applications, but simply as employees.
More, including a graph and a rebuttal in the comments, at Andrew McAfee’s HBS blog.
September 26, 2008 by Colin
The anarchist ice cream truck, equipped by the Center for Tactical Magic. Now making its rounds in New York, it is equipped to supply activists in case of confrontation with security forces.
” … The ice cream inventory is limited, because cabinets are used to store rolls of film for documenting police action, Ibuprofen for billy-club headaches and rain ponchos in case of fire hoses and water cannons. There were pepper spray treatment kits and the counter-weapon of choice: water balloons. There is an ample supply of work gloves.
“These are for throwing tear-gas canisters back at police so you don’t burn your hands,” explained the driver, Aaron Gach, 34, who wore a skinny bow tie and black-and-white saddle shoes, and a uniform with “Art” on the name tag and the words “Tactical Ice Cream Unit” on his white captain’s hat. He was not wearing his usual big fake mustache …” (New York Times)
The truck is also equipped with 12 video cameras to produce an independent record of any confrontations, and an audio/video transmission facility.
It’s an interesting and provocative project, but it makes a lot of assumptions (and perhaps overstatements) about the extent of confrontation between activist organizations and security forces. It operates in the United States, not Germany, after all.
September 25, 2008 by Colin
Make Users Happy For 5 Minutes A Day
Ben Huh from I Can Has Cheezburger discusses the site’s growth and popularity – from Web 2.0 Expo NY
h/t to Dino
September 25, 2008 by Colin
Know what the best part of the “I Am A PC” ad is?
“I am a PC, and I SELL FISHH!”
As Faris points out, this ad tries to reframe our collective perception of Microsoft as a company and as a tool manufacturer – highlighting its prevalence and utility around the world.
Nevertheless, it still feels like the third of twelve steps in a recovery program.
Speaking of tools, at what point will Justin Long’s agent tell him to drop out of the Apple campaign? As people slowly grow tired of the comparative ads, he runs the risk of being tarred as the face of a smug and elitist campaign.
There’s more than a little touch of agism in that reaction – if one of my daughters came home with a foppy haired douche that behaved that way ….
September 23, 2008 by Colin
In recognition of Alec Baldwin’s Emmy for 30 Rock I’ll just point you to well put-together podcast, heavy on house music and soundbites from Glengarry Glen Ross – “Always be Closing – 40 minutes of house and abuse, hosted by Alec Baldwin“ – over on the21gunsalute.blospot.com.
If you want to read about Baldwin’s stormy, tempestuous, rough, confrontational, challenging career as an actor and a husband, just read the New Yorker essay from earlier this month.
September 22, 2008 by Colin
I can enjoy a recent note on the work of Marko Pecarevic, a Croatian biologist who just finished up a Master’s at Columbia, for a number of reasons: he thought up an interesting thesis subject that dug into intensive behaviour that occurred daily right in front of millions of oblivious humans; he made up a uniform that would allow him to poke around unfettered, and he managed to make ants interesting.
“… If people, viewed from a great height, look like ants, do ants, viewed at close range, look like people? Of course not. Ants have six legs, compound eyes, no lungs, and impossibly narrow waists, and they tend to hang around with aphids and mealybugs. Still, behavioral similarities make them excellent analogues. Ants, like humans, are into career specialization, livestock herding, engineering, climate control, in-flight sex, and war; for them, as for us, free will may or may not be an illusion.
… Employing Google Earth (forgive him, he’s from Zagreb), he chose three median-rich stretches—Park Avenue, the West Side Highway, and Broadway—then made himself an official-looking ID, dressed in parkish green, and started collecting ants, travelling the city with a duffelbag of garden tools and Evian bottles filled with antifreeze. No one bothered him …” (New Yorker)
September 21, 2008 by Colin
I spent the last three days at a resort in the Muskokas, wedged right alongside the majestic Algonquin Park. There is nothing more relaxing than a crisp and clear early autumn morning, sitting on a deck perched on an outcrop of the giant Canadian Shield, looking over a lightly misted bay framed by a ridge of pines, oaks birch and elm trees tinted in a palette of orange and red hues, the silence only interrupted by the far-off honk of Canada geese.
Which does nothing to explain why THIS was the only photo I took all weekend:
An AMC Eagle on display at the Huntsville old car days. Cherry.
September 21, 2008 by Colin
I love this description.
“… the governor, Sarah Palin, became the human cannonball of the Presidential campaign and blasted into overlapping orbits of political and tabloid super-celebrity …” (New Yorker)
September 21, 2008 by Colin
Plus ca change, baby. Five hundred and sixteen years ago, respectable intellectuals were worried, nay, overwrought, that fantastic new technologies were giving any loudmouth and troublemaker the opportunity to speak to larger and larger audiences with fewer and fewer filters.
“… every grosse braind Idiot is suffered to come into print’, and ‘every scandalous tongue and opprobrious witte … will advance their peddling wares of detracting virulence in the publique Piatza of every Stationers shoppe …”
Anna Bayman, Rogues, Conycatching and the Scribbling Crew, History Workshop Journal, Spring 2007 (sub. only)
See what that fool Gutenberg wrought? Within a hundred years, fantasies and crime stories about the rapscallions of the street – “conycatchers” – were stimulating the masses teeming on the streets.
And here we are, worried that poor strategy, bad language and weak logic is undermining social media.
September 17, 2008 by Colin
Voila, people. My presentation from today at the ALI Social Media for Government conference. Since I try to follow the 10/20/30 rule, you will not be able to use this presentation as a moving backdrop to your spoken word denunciation of the egos and self-importance of “social media gurus.”
I’ll let you in on a secret: everything I learned about public speaking i learned by participating in “subway debates” at Trinity College.Integrating Social Media in Government
You can also follow the twitter blow-by-blow from @thornley, @markgoren, @quepol and others: Twitter search log here.
(the clown in shadows reference is to the second slide of my deck)
September 13, 2008 by Colin
September 13, 2008 by Colin
I saw a brand new van driving down a nearby thoroughfare* today, freshly painted and wrapped with graphics for a local graffiti removal firm.** This is Ottawa. We do not have a quantifiable graffiti problem, no matter what resident associations, politicians or the police would argue.***
Not to sound too Marxist, but the creation of a private graffiti removal firm can be interpreted as catering to the petty prejudices and simplistic tastes of the suburban bourgeoisie.
Considered and creative graffiti can make a statement about the economic, political or social situation in any urban area – even boring, quiet Ottawa.
It certainly makes a statement about the level of engagement between community activists, artists and residents. A knee jerk opposition to graffiti can belie a knee jerk preference for order and restraint – to the expense of debate and criticism.
NolaRising, a blog championing New Orleans’ recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina through the use of public art, pointed to a very creative and constructive application of graffiti: the appearance of several Banksy pieces in the Louisiana city in the weeks leading up to the third anniversary of Katrina’s landfall.
Now THAT’s graffiti that demonstrates a sympathy and empathy for the city and its citizens.
*what’s the difference between a thoroughfare and a street? One is full of stupid people that drive too fast. And fast food restaurants. The other has no restaurants.
**can you appreciate the irony that a graffiti removal company feels the need to cover every inch of their van with graphics in order to make an impact on a society besieged by commercial messages every second of every day?
**although some property owners certainly do have a right to complain about poor graffiti and vandalism on their property.
September 12, 2008 by Colin
Being a generalist doesn’t mean you shy away from being an expert in one particular subject. It means that you remain open to the possibility that other subjects, items, disciplines or theories may have value for you, your customer and their product.
“… my profession is identifying and establishing the connections between people, culture, brands, stories, and products, and that means it’s absolutely crucial that I know a little bit about all sorts of stuff that I may personally regard as crap.
… I believe strongly that those of us who make things for other people need to embrace the existence of the “other.” Whether it’s postmodernism or pop culture, we need to consider the good, the bad, and the terrifying aspects of those others …”
September 9, 2008 by Colin
Let me begin by drawing an analogy: this will prove you and I have a common cultural frame of reference that allows me to effectively explain a contemporary but minor development in the evolution of social media in a manner that you will understand and find appealing.
This cultural frame usually revolves around one of three axes:
- 80s movies or music (of which John Hughes and New Wave are subsets)
- A citation from one of: Office Space, Glengarry Glen Ross, or the Judd Apatow oeuvre
- A reference to a similarly obscure yet momentarily popular applications from either 2005 or 2000.
Now that we have a shared understanding, I will support my argument by making a tenuous link to social theory, literary criticism, existential philosophers or post-modern artists. This will reassure you that I can move beyond simple analogy and am capable of applying cognitive frameworks to the issue under consideration.
If I’m unsure of my interpretation, I will link to a Wikipedia article or mention that I last studied the point in university.
At this point, I will need to tie my budding argument into a contemporary narrative. After all, you the reader needs right here, right now to keep on reading. This means one of two things: a link to a more prominent blog that has already staked out ground and an opinion on the issue, or a direct citation from a report in a mass media publication.
Unless I’m an economist, you will never see me link to a more considered examination of the issue in an academic journal. This is largely because academic journals are long and hard to read, but can also be explained by the firewalls that keep me from reaching subscription-only material.
Anyway – back to the contemporary narrative. If I have bounced onto this issue from an MSM report, I will take issue with the reporting. There is no value to me, my reputation as a capable strategist and thoughtful person or my employer in reaffirming the work of a more informed and professional reporter.
If I’m deriving inspiration from another blogger’s insight, I will take one of two tacks: I will be 87% in agreement, or I will cockblock their argument. In either circumstance, I will be demonstrating that I am, in no way, a dogsbody or a yes man. I am a man of ideas, a man of thought, a man to be considered a thoughtful and capable strategist.
Having established that I am well informed, educated enough to draw historic comparisons and critical enough to avoid parrotting the work of others, I will present a thesis for why the issue under consideration has arrived at this point. This thesis will draw upon three things:
- my experience, however limited, with a particular technology still in alpha
- my conversations with other strategists and gurus
- trends derived from online analytical apps
This thesis will present a forward-looking statement that is sufficiently vague that I will not get in trouble with the SEC nor anyone who decides to conduct a semi-annual retrospective evaluation of my predictions and assessments.
IT WILL, however, claim that the issue under consideration will have significant impact on the future prospects of a) the public relations industry b) publicly traded consumer goods companies c) the future of one politician in particular or d) the advertising industry.
Now, as a capable strategist, I will take a moment to point out that others have taken issue with the position I am currently arguing. I will reference a high profile blog, even if I have to dig deep into the comments to find a point contrary to my own.
I will then hurredly summarize my position, for a variety of reasons:
- it’s a wobbly house of cards, truly understandable only when read on a smart phone in traffic
- I cannnot extend the argument without revealing that it was lifted directly from Wired and the Economist
- if I stretch the logic of my main thesis much farther, it will disintegrate like a stick of chewing gum from a pack of 1983 O-Pee-Chee’s
- the Lavalife commercial just came on tv.
Having established my bona fides with my insightful and prescient thinkpiece, I will tend to the comment fields like a Chinese democracy activist who had the temerity to actually apply for a protest permit during the Olympics.
There, people of a similar mind will be in 87% agreement, or will cockblock me. Or, if they’re Amanda Chapel, they will actually make constructive comments that point out the holes in my argument and question my ability to wield a keyboard without significant instruction.