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October 14, 2004
Thursday
“In the Connected Age, sharing information is power”
Tomi Ahonen • Trends 
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Mobile technology expert Tomi Ahonen (blog coming soon, he assures us) reacts to this tBBC post about the shift from monologue to dialogue in how markets interact:

I have been preaching for a few years now on how we have left the Networked Age of the 1990s and have now entered the Connected Age. Of course as in any such global shift, such transition will happen at different rates and with regional variations. Scandinavia was first to discover the Connected Age, now most of economically viable Asia and almost all of Europe is there, while in the Americas it is primarly the younger generations that are discovering the Connected Age.

To clarify, in the Networked Age, we accessed the network. We seeked access to our e-mail, to our voicemail, and to find somewhere with web access, etc. Now with always on personal connectivity via the mobile phone and especially SMS text messaging, we are always connected. As long as our mobile phone can provide technically that level of communication that we crave, we don’t need any other networks. And soon the smartphones will be capable enough and within reasonable cost to do just that. Still, already today, the Connected Age has brought about such issues as Reachability (and the need to disconnect).

This leads me to my favourite saying about this time. Before, during the Networked Age and always before, it was that those who had information held power. Witholding information was the key to power. This is how bureaucrats build their empires from Roman ages to today. But the Connected Age changes that totally. Now, when everybody is always connected - it means that information will reach everybody who wants it, eventually. That is why the equation changes and those who understand the change and learn to live in it will prosper. For in the Connected Age, sharing information is power (as I said in my second book, m-Profits in 2002). 

October 05, 2004
Tuesday
Beyond the “living résumé”: Blogs and recruitment
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Products & Services • Internal blogs • Trends 
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Via BL Ochman, I see that this past Sunday’s New York Times featured an article on how blogs are used in recruitment (annoyingly, a subscription is required to read the NYT’s content). As well as job seekers using a company’s blog(s) to get a feel for the corporate culture and whether or not it would be a good place to work, and writing their own blogs as “living résumés,” employers are increasingly scouring blogs for leads on candidates. Heather Hamilton, senior marketing recruiter at Microsoft, says that she has found great candidates through blogging, and that she thinks blogs will change how companies recruit. That echoes what Thomas Nelson Publishers’ COO Michael Hyatt told me recently:

I think it’s a way to contribute back to our industry and recruit new talent to our company. I have had several people write to say, “Gee, I’d like to work for a company that is this forward-thinking.”

But the recruitment and HR uses for blogs go much further than the NYT piece explores. 

October 04, 2004
Monday
Business Hippos and Blogging Birds
Perry de Havilland • Blogs & Blogging • Trends 
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In January of 2002, I wrote an article called Bloggers: the birds on the Hippopotamus of Big Media’s back, which pointed out that comparing big media to bloggers was generally based on the mistaken notion that it was ‘bloggers vs. reporters’, whereas in reality political bloggers are not competing with reporters, they are competing with editorial columns.  The pundit bloggers are not about telling people what has happened but rather what it means - ‘big media’ is the hippo and bloggers were the birds riding on its back.

At the time, people generally saw how bloggers benefited from ‘riding on the back’ of Big Media but it is now also clear that Big Media gets something in return from bloggers.  The blogosphere drive considerable traffic to conventional media websites and a number of notable bloggers now regularly write for big media.  The relationship is symbiotic, not parasitical.

A lot has happened in the last two and a half years since I wrote about that.  The number of blogs has increased hugely and they have appeared in a vast number of different areas of interest.  In 2002 I was writing about political punditry blogs (or ‘warblogs’ as many called themselves, a term now largely faded from use).  New categories of blog appear every week: blawgs, biz blogs, k-logs, stripblogs, progblogs, moblogs, vogs (but do not let the whimsical jargon put you off)… and existing ones are now seen in nuanced sub-categories such as filters, essayist, advocacy blogs, etc… and now that businesses are starting to understand how blogging can help what they do, whole new types of blog are starting to appear, from the Calcanis and Denton model of blog-as-advertsing-channel as their raison d’etre, to blogs used as internal company communication systems, to ‘cluetrainesque’ blogs as a way for companies to express themselves to customers and industry peers in an ‘authentic voice’.

The later in particular are closer in both spirit and means to the political punditry blogs because blogs are, above all else, about authenticity and credibility:  Blogs are not crafted by a PR department but are written in conversational language and constantly link to sources for whatever they are discussing.  It would be no exaggeration to say that a blog used that way is a ‘credibility machine’.

For companies who actually ‘get’ the Cluetrain Manifesto thing (even if they have never heard of it), they realise that if the internet means ‘the end of business as usual’, then it means the unlamented death of PR as usual.  For those companies which do not ‘get it’ and who just think blogs are ‘funny looking websites’, well I am sure they will never start blogging.  And for companies who just like to jump on any bandwagon without really knowing why, I look forward to seeing them publicly impaling themselves on their shiny new blog once their PR and legal departments have got their hands on it and filled it up with turgid consultant-speak and gobbledygook.  But done right, bloggers can indeed be the birds on the back on the big hippo of not just ‘big media’ but also business, big or otherwise.

September 26, 2004
Sunday
Restoring leadership to the leaders
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Trends 
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Robert Paterson has a link to a review of a book called Hope is Not a Method written by Gordon Sullivan and Michael Harper. It is considered to be one of the most important books in military and business management.

The book is an illuminating account of what it actually takes to build a learning organization in practice. Contrary to most conventional thinking, which says results come from good plans of planners executed by trained and compliant managers, it suggests that a learning organization is one designed to be successful in spite of plans which are imperfect, even though they are the best possible in an atmosphere of rapidly changing missions and resources. Good plans in a changing environment are those evolved during their accomplishment by those mandated to fulfill them, who must be willing to examine and learn from what worked and didn’t work at each stage of the way.

The authors articulate some rules for successful renewal. The first three of these bear repeating here.

Rule One: change is hard work. “Leading change means doing two jobs at once - getting the organization through today and getting the organization into tomorrow. . . . Change will not spring full blown from the work of a committee or consultant. . . You have to spend a lot of time communicating, clarifying, generating enthusiasm, and listening (including listening to negative feedback, resistance and general disagreement).”

Rule two: leadership begins with values. “Shared values express the essence of an organization.” They are what binds an organization together when practically everything else is changing.

Rule three: intellectual leads physical. “Strategic leadership is the front-end work- the in-depth, serious thinking by a leader and his or her team- that results in the creation of an intellectual framework for the future. . . Without the tough up-front work of intellectual change, physical change will be unfocused, random, and unlikely to succeed.”

And the final pearl of wisdom that will resonate with most CEOs…

The toughest part of starting is starting. This is especially so for leaders pre-occupied with incidents and situations which are pushed to the top of the decision tree because the old strategic framework is far out-of-line with the actual demands of the time. Leaders are apparently too busy to lead. Thus, the first phase of the renewal journey could be called: “Restoring leadership to the leaders.”

Technology trap
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Trends 
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A very interesting ‘matrix’ for understading the issues associated with introducing innovation based on technology. Dave Wilcox has developed a framework for clarifying the challenges and explains:

The point of it is that you need to deal with cultural change as well as technology change at the same time. If you try and bring technology in without commitment from the top, regard to working practices and so on, you’ll get resistance… or lots of systems that don’t work. And if you try and innovate without using appropriate tools you could be frustrated in your purpose.

technology trap.jpg

He also makes a valid but frustrating point about introducing blogs and similar collaborative tools to companies:

In discussion about the barriers to introducing blogs and similar tools, there was some amazement that senior management could possible fail to see the benefit of such powerful collaborative tools. My feeling was that these managers weren’t so dumb, and could spot something that potentially challenged their control a mile off, even if they didn’t quite understand how it work.

Yes, but the point is that command and control don’t work no more…

We are doomed…!
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Trends 
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David Weinberger blogs his impressions from a World Economic Forum meeting in NYC earlier in the week. He was asked to talk to the Entertainment and Media section, and boy, he did not like what he encountered:

...these people are thrashing. They’re floundering. They’re desperate to find a way in which their organizations still add value. They are in denial but, it seemed to me, they know that there’s just about nothing that the market wants from them. For example, at one point someone said, “Content is king.” I replied that judging from the content they’re producing, marketing is king; that’s where their real value is. Further, I said, on the Internet, connection is king. But then they want to know how to “monetize” connection. There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you understand how monetizing it can kill it.

...

Third, they believe they’re responding to the market. They do not recognize that their market has abandoned them. They think that file-sharing is an aberration. In some unthought way, I think they actually believe that the legislation they’re back[ing] is something the market wants. They maintain this thought this by not actually thinking it out loud.

There is much more and it is depressing. The conclusion?

These are smart people and I liked talking with them. They were willing to listen. Some, in fact, even agree to varying degrees. But they are riding beasts that are in agony, and the Internet will be a sticky stain on the bottom of their massive hooves.

We are doomed.

But in his talk, David represented the Net well. He made a point to the BigCon (big content) companies that they do not really understand the “customers” and probably the whole ‘internet thing’:

I said that I understand that to them the Net looks like a medium through which content passes, some of which people aren’t paying for. But, (sez I) their customers aren’t “consuming” content. We’re not consuming anything. We’re listening to music, We’re watching video streams, We’re talking with friends. To call it content is to miss why it matters to Big Content’s customers.

By the way, the official topic of the session was how to “monetize communities”. David is right, that’s evil.

September 09, 2004
Thursday
Pirates of the Brand
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Trends 
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It’s more fun to be a Pirate than to join the Navy.

A quote from Steve Jobs has been taken on as a metaphor for brand culture and brand building by Adam Morgan in his book The Pirate Inside. I just finished reading the excerpt from the book, the Introduction: Necessary Pirate.

You see, what is interesting to me is that he [Steve Jobs] doesn’t talk about processes; he talks about a type of people. He doesn’t talk about saying; he talks about being. And I find those two distinctions interesting and important. The idea that perhaps it’s the kind of people that we are or choose to be, individually or collectively, that will make the difference to our futures. Perhaps we shouldn’t focus so much on the processes we use, or the tools we have, or the architecture we discuss, or the organizational structure we find ourselves in but on who we are and how we behave.

Brilliant, simply brilliant. And compulsory reading for all around me. Please indulge me while I am having my ‘told-you-so’ moment. image

via Brand Autopsy here and here.

September 08, 2004
Wednesday
Skype lives up to hype
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Trends 
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I have been using Skype, the popular VoIP application. We run parts of our business using it, talking to our designers and techies in different countries. I have introduced several friends, clients and associates to it, who after initial incredulity, happily joined the ranks of the Skyping.

So, I was not surprised that James Fallows gave it the thumbs up.

Skype’s distinction is that, for now at least, it is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way for individual customers to begin using VoIP. It works this way:

First, you download free software from skype.com. Skype runs on most major operating systems, including Windows XP and 2000, Linux, Pocket PC for portable devices and, as of this summer, Mac OS. On three of the computers on which I installed it, it ran with no tweaking at all. On the fourth, I had to change one setting for the sound card, following easy instructions on the site.

What is the secret of Skype’s success? Network effect and open and free access, which despite being the watchwords of the dot.com fiasco, are increasingly validated in this dot.net era.

Skype illustrates network economics in the purest form: free connections within the network become more valuable to each user as more users sign up. Because of the system’s peer-to-peer design, loosely related to the Kazaa file-sharing program that Mr. Zennstrom and Skype’s other co-founder, Janus Friis, invented four years ago, the system scales well - that is, it doesn’t bog down as more users join. The peer-to-peer design also allows it to work behind most Internet firewalls.

However, there seems no reason for Skype not to make it even bigger, other than eager regulators and entrenched telecoms rising to the VoIP ‘challenge’.

In the meantime, let’s Skype into the sunset.

via Boing Boing

August 22, 2004
Sunday
The revolution will be (mo)blogged
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Trends 
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In his piece Olympic Sized Arrogance, Dan Gillmore paints a vision of the future:

Look past today’s technology. What’s coming will utterly wreck the Big Media monopoly over Olympic images, and all Big Event images. When all spectators have a high-quality video camera in their phones, will the powers-that-be ban phones? Unlikely. But even if they could ban phones that are obvious, what will they do when we’re carrying video cameras in the buttons on our shirts, and when our eyeglasses contain phones or other transmitting devices?

This reminded me of something I observed the other night at a Madonna concert in London. All around us, people were whipping out their mobile phones and sending still photographs and video of the show to their friends and family. When the first person did this, security told her to stop. But before long, there were so many people waving their phones in the air and using them to broadcast their impressions of the gig to those not present that security gave up trying. They could not stop the flow of information - it wanted to be free and it was.

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