January 28, 2009

Social networks maturing fast

Twitter and Facebook top of mind: The nascent power of weak ties and small touches

Design 4 Christoher S. RollysonWhat a difference a year makes! The Social Networking Conference debuted several years ago as a forum for social networking sites and vendors, with enterprise clients few and far between. Miami 2009 took place January 22-23, 2009 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, and it was a veritable enterprise 2.0 conference. Many of the presenters hailed from enterprise-focused high technology vendors, but they spoke as social networking practitioners. The good practices they shared reflected the maturation of social networks. Don’t get me wrong, we are still in early days, but it was obvious to see that social networks would be completely mainstream this year. Enterprise-focused vendors provided additional evidence by explaining some of the new social network features in their offerings.

You may download this report as a PDF:


Social Networking Watch’s Mark Brooks gave an overview of key trends, while jetBlue’s Morgan Johnston and IBM’s Adam Christensen drove home the message that companies could be rewarded for trusting their customers in social networks. Ford’s Scott Monty, Sun’s Lou Ordorica and Microsoft’s Marty Collins shared how they were using social networking to evolve their companies by opening up to customers and adopting P2P, two-way communications.Yammer’s David Schwartz and Faceforce’s Clara Shih presented two tech innovators that promised significant disruptive potential. SAP’s Steve Mann, Opera’s Thomas Ford and Dow Jones’ Tom Aley all shared fascinating social networking elements of their portfolios, which were all enterprise-focused. Awareness Networks’ John Bruce was on hand to share good practices and pitfalls. I presented the only industry-focused preso, focused on how social networks were beginning to disrupt the U.S. healthcare industry. I also gave the pre-conference workshop, Successful Social Networking Projects in the Enterprise.
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January 8, 2009

P2P Media Summit at CES

Here’s the thing about Macworld Expo (in San Francisco) and the Consumer Electronics Show (in Las Vegas) being held on the same week: It drives tech fanatics like me crazy because you only have time to record media and take in a handful of product announcements or interesting events because much of your time is spent socializing with friends, meeting new people, traveling and trying to navigate the logistics of a show, like CES, that is so physically draining.

I’ve been hitting a few of the high points over at Twitter (and actually made a number of new Twitter friends as well as met several folks, like Scott Monty and Joseph Jaffe, whom I’ve already been following).

I just remarked to @stevegarfield that this is the first conference I’ve attended where people are exchanging Twitter IDs rather than email addresses. Actually, that’s not an insignificant shift.

After I arrived yesterday, I made straight for the P2P Media Summit organized by Marty Lafferty and the Distributed Computing Industry Association. The gathering brought together some of the thought leaders around digital media, but as I said on the panel, I get worried whenever I’m at a conference where the most frequently used terms are "distribution," "content," "consumers," "monetize" and "protection." If this were a drinking game, we would have all hit the sauce heavily.

I’ll briefly mention the points I raised during our panel on Creating the Commercial P2P Ecosystem with Dave Ulmer of Motorola, Boh Dupree of Verizon Communications, Mike King of Abacast, Jonathan Lee of PiCAST Streaming Solutions and Neerav Shah of Verimatrix.

I suggested that rarely have we seen such a clear demarcation between eras as when the Obama administration begins in 12 days, and that new approach to politics and governing also applies to similar advances happening in social media, Web 2.0 and cloud computing. Echoing Ulmer’s good point that the technology should be secondary to what the end user wants to accomplish, I suggested that the plumbing (P2P, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), cloud computing) shouldn’t determine a startup’s choice of business models, and that the opportunities provided by the cloud dramatically reduces the cost of a startup when IT infrastructure costs are offloaded. The cloud holds out transformative possibilities in culture, commerce, public policy, national security and personal interaction.

The panel was cut short before I could make my prediction for 2009: that commercial interactions will begin to transform from impersonal experiences to more personal, social and contextual relationships that foster deeper commercial connections. Reputation and identity will begin to play a greater role (in addition to perpetual considerations like price and convenience) in online transactions.

Took some nice photos today, will see if I’ll upload them Friday or Saturday.

September 6, 2007

Report from Office 2.0

office 021

The wi-fi at the second annual Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco today was spotty, so I’m able to post this only now. I attended for the second straight year.

Here are some photos. And here are some highlights:

All the registrants received a free iPhone — pretty cool. (I didn’t because I’m a member of the press.) Spotted Julia French, Stowe Boyd, Buzz Bruggeman, Brian Solis, Tom Foremski, Kaliya Hamlin and other familiar faces.

From this morning: A look back at the success of the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Great Britain last November. Mash-ups, wikis, podcasts and blogathons were among the key sessions. The site is still getting a thousand visits a week nearly a year later.

Some websites mentioned during the day:




Turnitin, the website that enables teachers to spot plagiarism

Library 2.0, a social network for librarians, using the open-source Ning platform

Notable quotes

Consultant/author Shel Israel: "Social media is coming of age in the corporate world. The stuff that was cool with geeks two years ago is now being brought into the enterprise. Consultants are being asked about blogs and wikis more than ever before. Within the next two years, the use of video as a primary way of conversing with employees, prospects and branches worldwide will expand exponentially."

Anil Dash, vice president of SixApart: The openness and transparency of social software is not something companies are clamoring for. At too many gatherings like this, thre’s little discussion of real world constraints. … Email is failing us. We’re not holding people accountable. These things are broken. Email, IM, they’re interruptive. … Employees under age 24 are using social tools in the workplace already. "They’re using it at work, but they’re not using it for work." Smart companies will find ways to change that and take advantage of these new social capabilities.

John McCrea, vice president of marketing, Plaxo: "The social web is not just about fun and interesting things and about throwing sheep and ‘super-pokes,’ but it’s something fundamental and important that needs to be as open as the Web. By open we don’t mean your privacy should be violated. By the open social web, we think all applications get better when they’re socially enabled. The social graph is extremely important, and when you put it together with an application, it turbo-charges it. I disagree with the idea that there is a single social graph."

Anil: "My Facebook network couldn’t be more different than my LinkedIn network."

Anil polled the mostly 20- to 50something audience of 200: about 80 people had Facebook accounts and only a half dozen had MySpace accounts.

Buzz Bruggeman (who’s speaking tomorrow) pointed out that after he received 116 happy birthday wishes by friends on Facebook, he tried to reply to them en masse, but Facebook wouldn’t allow it — anything above 100 recipients is considered spam.

Panelist: "The strike rate [success rate] for new ideas is 1 in 200."

Audience member: "Dont forget that the average IQ is 100."

Panelist: "You can’t outsource creativity"

Panelist: "25% of all education-related research on the web goes to Wikipedia; the next highest site is 4% for Encarta."

Audience member: "ISPs don’t let you send more than 300 emails at a time."

May 2, 2007

At OnHollywood 2007

Arianna Huffington

I’m at OnHollywood, the second annual Silicon Valley-meets-the-entertainment-industry conference held at the Hotel Roosevelt in L.A. I was a moderator and “industry expert slash judge” last year. (Disclosure: My registration was comped as a blogger and citizen journalist.) I posted some initial photos on Flickr, though the dark room makes shooting very difficult. That’s Arianna Huffington, above.

The conference is still far too one-way and non-interactive for my tastes (putting up an IRC chat on the big screen is far from enough). No questions or comments from the audience at all in the first two days. I’m running around meeting people so can’t do live blogging this week. Still, my notes show a few nuggets from last night and today:

• Late night talk show host Carson Daly and Richard Rosenblatt, CEO of Demand Media, unveiled dot.tv, which looks pretty cool. A few thousand people have already joined this new site, which lets users aggregate videos from around the Net. Host Tony Perkins joked that it’s “a MySpace killer.” It was said a bit flippantly, but I think in two to three years more and more of us will want to create our own multimedia homesteads and the big social networking sites like MySpace will suffer if they try to keep their members locked in a virtual cage.

• Celebrity sighting: I was having dinner with the gang from BlogTalkRadio last night and who passed by our table but Sarah Silverman, whose off-color comedy show was recently picked up for a second season by Comedy Central. Sarah stepped out of the hotel and gabbed on her cell phone before crossing the street solo.

• Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube, was available for interviews last summer after his talk at AlwaysOn. But not now, after Google bought the company. A two-person PR entourage followed him and he left town before giving any interviews (though his PR team promised they’d try to set up something at a later date). Hurley from the stage: “Just as bloggers are beginning to make money, hobbyists who make videos will start to, too.”

• In response to a question, Hurley said, “We’re seeing the optimum length of a video is 2 minutes.” YouTube didn’t create that phenomenon. “It’s the environment of the Internet. I’s not a sit-down and watch TV experience.” More Chad: “We’re concentrating on the mobile market rather than TV right now.”

• Blake Krikorian, founder-CEO of Sling Media (and a great guy), suggested that in the coming years, if a producer can aggregate 2 million viewers around the world — say, shows that might generate a cable network audience — that’s a number too small for network TV’s current mass media distribution system but it’s big enough to create a whole new economy around these mid-level content creators.

• Michael Robertson, founder of mp3tunes.com, doesn’t see it. He recalled his prediction a decade ago about the coming rise of the “middle-class musician” whose income would be enabled by the Internet. But now, he says, “I don’t see it.” There are label-signed artists and everyone else. “You don’t want to resign yourself to that middle tier, you want to reach for the top. I don’t see why it’s going to be any different with video.  … If you want to
make money, you’re going to have to graduate up the video food chain.”

• More Robertson, on the transfer of ad dollars away from traditional media channels and toward the Internet: “Yes, it’s happening,  but God damn, that iceberg is melting slowly!” There’s no reason a major corporation shouldn’t be spending ad dollars for targeted advertising, but “there’s no network out there yet” to facilitate that.

• Richard Rosenblatt, co-Founder and CEO of Demand Media, said don’t write off the idea of an emerging “middle musician or filmmaker” just yet. They’re seeing quite a few people creating home-brew instructional videos. A lot of these people are spending 10 hours in their basements making an instructional video for, say, $500. Once that can be monetized for, say, $700, you’ll see an explosion of these.

• More Rosenblatt: “The more you empower a niche community and help them monetize that small vertical, the more you’ll succeed. I think the very targeted micro-niche is very valuable.” His dot.tv harks back to 1996 and Geocities by giving people the ability to build their own profiles (and communities).

• More Krikorian on brain-dead digital rights management and content
protection: “Steve Jobs saw it coming. It’s just infuriating that you
can’t play iTunes songs you bought on the Sonos player you bought.
That’s a problem.” Yes!!!

• Arianna Huffington says the New York Times, with its Times Select, and other newspaper companies are making a mistake by taking themselves out of the online conversation and putting major chunks of their material behind a pay firewall. Doc Searls and I have been sounding that alarm bell for years.

• Padmasree Warrior, chief technology officer of Motorola — whom I had the pleasure of spending some time with last August at the Aspen Institute mdash; on the coming phenomenon of the “personalcast”:
the mobile device should know my location and let me access my content in the format and context I want. How fast is mobile exploding? There are now 2.7 billion cell phones on the planet mdash; three times the number of PCs or cars in the world.

You can join a live chat during the daylong session Thursday.

April 16, 2007

At Stanford’s MediaX conference

I just finished a talk, along with Dave Toole of Outhink Media, at the fifth annual MediaX conference at Stanford, being held today and Tuesday. About 300 educators and business people in the audience. (Why oh why did they have to schedule this smack in the middle of the Web 2.0 Expo? I’ll be there tomorrow and Wednesday).

From the MediaX program:

More people on earth will purchase a cell phone for the first time this year than have ever used any other electronic device in history. Web 2.0, serving the “last mile” at the last outpost on earth, participatory media creation by “smart mobs” – the information age has indeed arrived. Emergent technologies and organizations stimulate new ideas  and cause disruption, creating new tensions and opportunities. anticipating the unanticipated, reducing ambiguity to knowledge, focusing attention on the critical issues – all become essential ingredients for a world in transition.

MediaX was conceived with a strong belief that interdisciplinary perspective is crucial to better understanding and solution definition for these issues, coupled with a realization that nearly all academic research is conducted departmentally without involvement by either industry or other disciplines. our model is that MediaX industry partners provide crucial questions and modest funding for Stanford faculty and student scholar research that spans multiple disciplines. The resultant insights exemplify the best intersection of industry need and academic research,
accelerating understanding and progress on critical topics.

Ourmedia, a partner with Stanford media groups, and in the Humanities and communications departments, is proud to sponsor media X for vBlog
team collaboration. Key factors that set ourmedia apart: 1) support for video producers as well as the grassroots media community; 2) specific support for the educator community. 3) an open-media, open-standards, open-source, open registry that supports remix culture to create a space for people to mash up and remix video, audio, music and images.

Dave and I gave a presentation about Ourmedia, digital media producers, and the opportunity for us to work together with — and provide resources for — the educational and business communities.

A fascinating array of speakers here:

You likely saw Scott Burns, producer of An Inconvenient Truth, on stage at the Oscars accepting the Academy Award for best documentary. He talked about making the ground-breaking film with Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore. It’s now the third highest-grossing documentary of all time.

Roy Pea, professor of education and learning sciences at Stanford, showed off DIVE, an academic effort that’s about ready for a real-world rollout. With DIVE, users point into a streaming video with a mouse-controlled camera
viewfinder to mark interesting frames or record a movie within a movie. DIVE is the clip collection with its annotations. By selecting and annotating video segments, a user authors a POV on specific video moments.

Interesting factoid from the morning session:

Intel, HP and Cisco have 1.4 million employees globally. Three out of four employees there work on a distributed team. One in five employees has never met her supervisor face to face. Two out of three employees work on three or more teams simultaneoulsy.

Paul Brown of Stanford showed off some fascinating 3-D imagery of
mummies as well as real-world applications — such as dental patients.

B.J. Fogg, who runs the Persuasive Technology Lab and put on the Mobile Persuasion conference here two months ago and who developed online voice service YackPack: "The more you use email to manage your closest relationships, the more likely those relationships will weaken or end. Email is a poor substitute for the emotional richness in our other interactions. … It’s an inability to connect emotionally to people because of its rigid structure."

Later: Pithy quotes from Paul Saffo, the big-ideas guy who left the Institute for the Future and who calls himself a forecaster and not a futurist:

“Most ideas take 20 years to become an overnight success in the media world. …

“You create it, you own it. That’s what personal media is all about.” Personal media, in one form or another, has been around for decades, says Saffo, who uses the term more frequently than anyone other than myself.

“Cherish failure and don’t chase success. … You want to look for short-term success? Look for something that’s been failing for 20 years. Something that when people hear it they say, ‘That’s an old, tired idea.’ … Silicon Valley is built on the rubble of cherished failure.” He cited Habitat, an early online game derided by skeptics who said people don’t want to talk to each other on screen as cartoon characters. Years later, up sprang Second Life, which millions of us now use. “People say they love change. Bullshit. They’re afraid of change, they don’t like change.” Resist that impulse. “Embrace change. Change is opportunity.”

“The next big thing is not movies on a handheld. The next big thing that comes out of nowhere and blows people’s minds is robots. … Consumer robots will be everywhere, and there are going to be lots of surprises."