Social Bits Joins us to Help Expand our Community

We are pleased to share with you the news that we will be working with Social Bits a Galway based Social Media technology company. We will be working together to expand the online presence of Socialmedia.net on the various social networking platforms.

As our output of articles grows we have concluded that it is time to bring in some dedicated expertise. We know from our own behind the scenes measurements that the most effective way to use social media is by making practical use of the results from the monitoring and analysis of our data.

Social Bits specialises in measuring the return of investment in social media from a business perspective. Social Bits also develops Semantic Web strategies to help companies organise their data. It is an absolute necessity to measure your social media outreach as we know measurement is extremely important in the effective use of social media.

For those of you who haven’t come across it yet we have a Facebook Pages site for Socialmedia.net.

Facebook is huge with 500 million users plus, and we are think it is time to increase our level of activity there. We know from our own articles such as How to Influence on Twitter that engagement comes through activity and activity leads to further engagement and so a virtuous circle is created.

As well as linking articles and blogs to our Facebook page we also plan to share more of the workings around their creation. Pictures that we like that we couldn’t fit into a piece. Quotes that didn’t make it into articles, more video and audio clips that we would hate to have disappear forever but have no place on the main site for.

In the spirit of transparency we will also show some our thinking. We have already got a picture up of a font pattern that we have decided to use. We also posted Emma Creighton’s Jogo video as a standalone from the main article on her work because we thought it was that good.

Social Bits plans to use all major social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Digg and other social bookmarking websites to define, measure, analyse and improve our use of social media.

However, we will continue improving and developing our main site. We are very much looking forward to the Drupal 7 upgrade in September which will allow us to enhance all sorts of things both at the front and the back end of the site.

Our ultimate ambition is to build a strong community of people who are interested in the subjects we cover and the stories we write about.

SMXQ: Ted Vickey

Ted Vickey hails from Erie, Pennsylvania and now resides in Galway, Ireland. He started his first company when he was 24 years old and his first client was The White House: official residence of the President of the United States of America. He is now working on a PhD in social networking and exercise adherence at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He will be speaking at BlogTalk 2010 on how to make best use of your profile and connections on Linkedin.

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

I am an American entrepreneur living in Galway, Ireland. I studied Exercise and Sports Science at Penn State. I then had a 17-year stint living in the Washington, DC area.

Two years ago, I decided to live my bucket list. One item on that list was to live in Ireland and another was to get a Master’s degree. I finished my Master’s in International Business from the University of Limerick earlier this year, with my thesis on how the Irish entrepreneur uses social networking to create, manage and grow their business.

2. What was your route into social media?

I’ve always been known as the guy that knows everyone that gets things done. It was one of the things I learned at the White House. You can’t do it alone, you need help along the way. As an entrepreneur, I learned early that it isn’t always what you know, but rather who you know. Social media is a key resource for me in many aspects of my life – from my education to playing golf around the world. From growing my businesses to researching my Irish/German/Polish/Italian family history.

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

I am very excited about my PhD looking at how we can use social networking and social media to increase exercise adherence. We’ve all heard the same message for years, but inactivity continues to be a challenge for many and the global obesity rate is expanding. This current generation has grown up in a digital world, thus we need a digital solution to live longer and healthier lifestyles.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

I am an evangelist for Linkedin, a big fan of <a href="Twitter, a frequent mayor on FourSquare, and an active user of YouTube and different blogs.

I have a plan for my LinkedIn network: if you want to achieve your goals, your network can’t be accidental. You need to be conscious and purposeful about whom you’re devoting your time to and why. LinkedIn will help you build stronger, more genuine relationships by providing you with information about the people that matter most. When someone makes a connection with me, I often ask how I can best help them.

For my personal use, I use Facebook to stay in contact with friends and family from all over the world. The jury is still out for me on Facebook and business uses. While there is a huge pool of potential customers, I haven’t yet seen a stable business model with Facebook.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?

Hands down, no questions asked: Linkedin. If you can learn the effective ways to use LinkedIn as a business tool, you can find your dream job, grow your own business, increase your personal brand, and even win a political election. Through my LinkedIn network, I have sold product, hired experts, found golfing partners, researched graduate schools, hired employees, helped others and made a difference to those around me.

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

Social media is all about relationships. The need for building social connections hasn’t changed over the years, but the tools that we use to participate, share, create and network have.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

Social media is a digital bridge that can allows real-time interaction between friends from down the street to halfway around the world. It is a mutual desire to build a connection where ten years ago a connection could not have existed. Physical distance is no longer a challenge for personal and business growth. A small one-person company on the west coast of Ireland can now compete on a level playing field with a large company in downtown New York city.

8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?

The biggest issue I see with social media is that people take the “social” out of the equation. Would you rather have a core group of followers who care about you and your product and tell their friends about you, or a large number of followers who know nothing about you with no reason to follow you?

9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Social media isn’t hard, you just need a good plan. Take time to create a plan.

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

Social media IS the future. With so much noise online, you need to be innovative to stand out.

Ted can be found on Twitter as @tedvickey and on Linkedin here.

The Call Of Nature


Connemara, County Galway.

Many of us live a life of information overload, and we all need a break now and then from our computers, our e-mails and our online social networks. Unlike the poor folk living remotely in the countryside with intermittent connections (that were featured in Susan’s article), we would like to get to decide when we take ourselves off the grid.

In this New York Times article “Outdoors And Out Of Reach, Studying The Brain“, five scientists disconnected themselves from the Internet, or as we like to think of it these days, civilisation.

They are five different characters, and it is not much of a surprise that they reacted to their field trip/experiment in five different ways. Apart from this being an entertaining account, I don’t think I am spoiling the ending when I tell you it concludes with the idea that getting away from it all every now and then is good for you.

But a subtheme in the article is very interesting: “Why don’t brains adapt to the heavy stimulation, turning us into ever-stronger multitaskers?”

We are well practiced with computers, dealing with e-mails, managing ourselves so we are always in a position to give a ‘timely response’ via our smart phones or from a laptop in a cafe. But it is stressful, and unlike so many more activities like playing the piano, or speaking a foreign language, we don’t seem to get better at it the more we do it. Faster maybe, but not really better. Once you have the hang of forming a tweet, there isn’t much in the way of advanced work to do.

Could it be that our interactions with computers are turning us into over-worked robots? With playing a piano or speaking another language, or joining in with a great many recreational games, there is a learning component inherent in the activity. Putting in the effort results in greater proficiency, no matter how flat the learning curve.

I would imagine for you, just like me, all the requests for action that come through the screen every day – “When is this?”, “Where is that?”, “What time will…?”, “Can you..?”, ”Would you be interested…” – are very much of a similar nature in their daily repetitiveness and are dealt with in a correspondingly similar way. This is the fabric of our connected lives, and there is great benefit in how we form our communications to make our life easier, but there is a robotic element to it as well.

Going off the grid once a week, taking ourselves away from the online world and reminding ourselves of our immediate world would – if the NYT article is anything to go by – be a good thing, and it might just save us from being slaves to the machine.

One piece of irony in the article was the discussion about how scientists are spending more effort on learning how we as humans focus. I say ironic because as the scientists began to relax themselves and relax into their surroundings, they began to see more and hear more, and exhibited a greater awareness of themselves as being alive and on the planet. Now that is being focused – everything else is just a distraction.

The Gap Between Rural Communities And Online Communities

Pat Quirke is an auctioneer, and like many other small business owners he likes to take full advantage of his internet connection. Apart from his website and blog, he has a well-established presence on Twitter and Facebook. In fact, so successful have his online ventures been that he has recently managed to sell a property through Twitter.  All the viewings for the property were arranged through tweets. Things went so smoothly that when the deposit came to be paid the client had to ask directions to Pat Quirke’s office as he didn’t know where it was.

For Pat, there is no problem leveraging all the advantages of the Internet while working in a small town in rural Ireland. It’s when you leave the town itself and go into the true countryside that the promise of the Internet age fades quickly.

Five years ago, when my husband John and I moved to Clonmel, Ireland, Tipperary’s largest town, I was surprised to find that the only broadband access available for those of us living on the outskirts of the town was supplied by just one independent wireless broadband supplier.

With no other choice, we took a subscription and a box was installed at the top of the house to communicate with a mast on top of the Comeragh Mountains. All went well until spring of the following year when foliage on the trees obstructed the signal, and our connection practically vanished! It was extremely frustrating to connect to the Internet and with the next gust of wind be knocked off again. By a stroke of good fortune, Eircom had upgraded their lines and we were able to take out a contract with them.

All went well for the next two years, and then we decided to move outside of the town and deeper into the countryside. However, giving up the life of a townie also meant parting with our reliable broadband. I had been using Facebook and online forums as a way of keeping in contact with family and old friends, and for making new acquaintances, so I sorely felt the absence of continuous access.

We were told that it would be another couple of years before the lines would be upgraded, so we cancelled the subscription. There seemed little point in paying for a phone service which came with the broadband package when, in our family, we all have mobile phones.

It is ironic to think that in a rural community where online facilities would be of great benefit, a good broadband infrastructure is unavailable. As a student, I have the option of downloading lecture notes and uploading my completed assignments from home. I work part-time as a typist and could also opt to have dictation e-mailed to me and to upload typed documents to the company website. Studying and working this way would free up time that I could better spend in the home or with my two daughters, but with an unreliable internet connection this is not possible.

Networking online poses problems for me as well.  Conversations are often difficult to follow on Twitter and other online forums when you’re lagging behind and responding out of sync. Simple tasks such as uploading photos to Flickr or Fotopedia become a chore when you have to either crop or manipulate photos and then wait an age for them to upload.

Poor connectivity could be why rural dwellers seem slow to embrace the likes of Foursquare. It is not much fun to check into places on Foursquare when you’re the only one ‘checking in’. The excitement of being Mayor of ‘everywhere’ soon wears off.  On a recent visit to Killarney, I found myself competing with the tourists who had been passing through the town, had checked into various locations and added tips for restaurants, etc. With the exception of a friend in Clonmel, with whom I have been regularly contesting with for the role of Mayor for our local Super Valu supermarket, I hadn’t experienced this element of ‘the game’ before.

Earlier in the year, when I travelled to Listowel for Writer’s Week, I used Twitter as a tool to meet up with others who had come as well. It was funny to sit talking to a girl in Lynch’s Bakery only for it to dawn on both of us that we had already been communicating with each other through Twitter.

Clonmel Coffee is a great example of how online social networking can bring a community together. People from the locality meet up monthly and discuss everything from technology and social media to local news. This is invaluable to a ‘blow-in’ like myself looking for local services and recommendations.

With the increasing number of businesses and government agencies now online and communicating directly with the public, and as the importance of social networking and online relations grows and gains recognition, hopefully those of us living in the country won’t have to wait too long before our access to the Internet matches that of major urban areas.

Susan can be found on Twitter as @queenofpots, and she blogs at Queen of Pots!

The Web Is Not Dead: It Is Full of Apps (Soon)

Wired did a great job in their latest report “The Web Is Dead. Long Live The Internet“. A lot of the focus is on the growth of apps which we have written about before in “The Collective Brain App“, which talks about the potential for apps to elicit change in such a manner as to emulate a giant global brain.

In Wednesday’s article on the Synaptic Web, we again touch upon the importance of apps and concur with Wired’s assessment that they will play a major part in the future development of the Web.

However, looking at the graph that graces the Wired report, I have to say I am surprised by the growth of video on the Web. I had not expected it to be that much. I know television is very popular as is watching movies, but compared to social networking sites, watching videos seems such a passive, time-consuming activity.

I had thought of the Internet as an antidote to TV, not the TV experience by other means. Of course, the size of the pipes had been responsible for video really taking off, but with broadband becoming faster and faster, pumping large video files through downloads and streaming is also becoming more rapid.

In a part of Sweden, it is now possible to download a movie on a 40 Gbps connection in less than two seconds.

If this keeps on, we are going to end up with TVs with a computer attached in the same way we now have pocket-sized mobile computers with a phone in there somewhere.

The other surprising piece of evidence, to me at least considering the volume of e-mail I receive, is the decline both in volume and numbers of e-mail. It could mean one of two things: either the people who write to me haven’t got the message that e-mail is in decline, or video, peer-to-peer, web-based platforms and apps have become so incredibly huge in proportion. I suspect it is the latter.

The Synaptic Web: More Like A Brain?

Web development is anything but a static affair. Progress is constantly being made in whole or in part. Sometimes in tiny incremental steps or, just occasionally, in a sweeping, life-altering manner when a killer app hits the Web.

Web evolution is an observable phenomena and there is plenty of room for curiosity and speculation as to where or what the eventual outcome would be. Or probably more accurately, since it is a continuous ongoing process, what will this outcome look like at a certain stage in the future?

Khris Loux, Eric Blantz and Chris Saad have written an article about how they see change coming, and by way of providing a clue they have included you in the authorship as well.

Their basic suggestion is that the Web – while not exactly evolving into a brain as we know it – will certainly operate like a brain. The key to brain operation is the transmission of information from brain cell to brain cell. Since brain cells are discrete objects they, need a means to reach out to each other, and these bridges are called synapses. There are two kinds of synapses, one is chemical in nature and the the other is electrical, and they work quite differently. Chemical synapses transmit information via neurotransmitters and receptors, and electrical synapses use conductive channels in the membranes of the cell.

One very important thing to remember is that neither of these methods are binary in the sense of being fully on contrasted with fully off. They are either more active or less active.

The purpose of this mini brain science lesson is to define the limits of the Synaptic Web metaphor. It will be a long time, if ever, before we can get a computer system to work like the brain.

However, that shouldn’t detract from some of the points that Khris, Eric and Chris make. They say that the Web has evolved from document delivery (Web 1.0) to a communication platform (Web 2.0), and is heading towards, “something more profound: a dynamic Web of of adaptive ‘organic’ and implicit connections whereby real-time information flows give structure and meaning to previously-unconnected sets of data. The Internet is a sea of conversations streaming through connections, and these patterns have meaning.”

In a previous article, The Collective Brain App, we talked about how increasing interconnectivity would obviate the need for the construction of monolithic websites and their associated data silos, and communication would become more focused on real connections than by billboard-like, broadbased announcements. This is very much in tune with the authors’ idea that, “Like individual neurons, ‘sites’ must now maximise their connections to outside data sources and applications in response to external stimuli or risk being ‘pruned’ themselves.”

There are over 500 million users on Facebook now whose activity revolves around over 900 million social objects (images, profiles, links, groups, and so on). The relationship that the users have with each other and via their social objects has been described by Mark Zuckerberg and his team as a social graph.

All these connections create patterns of behaviour, interactivity and relationship. The significant and relevant patterns can be said to hold meaning.

“Implicit information derived from content and gestures is one of the great opportunities of the Synaptic Web. To observe a set of gestures and connect them together creates a dynamic profile of interests, intentions and friends that can be used for discovery and filtering.”

This, perhaps, is where the great leap forward promises to take place.

“In the Synaptic Web, filtering is more important than search. While search is about narrowing the infinite document Web to a digestible set of pages, filtering is about narrowing the torrent of streams, nodes and networks into something that matches your current and evolving criteria. It’s about defining and constantly refining your world view so that information can find you.”

Of course, to make all this possible, code will have to be written and applications developed. The authors describe in their own list what they expect this new software would have to do:

  • They connect two or more categories of things together (e.g. people and data, content and communication, data and devices, places and companies).
  • They create or derive new/novel meaning or utility from implicit connections (e.g. interest profiles, filtering, visualisations).
  • The connections they enable adjust in real or near-real time to changes in users’ behavior or other inputs.
  • They bias towards implicit connections that are strengthened or weakened by actual behavior rather than explicitly-stated connections that are arguably less accurate and relatively inflexible.
  • They use the Web as the platform (e.g. open standards and interoperable endpoints).
  • They apply a variety of inputs to extend existing applications (e.g. GPS applied to maps, interests applied to dating).
  • They become stronger through network effects (e.g. crowd-sourced images, social gestures, etc.).
  • Though they might have a companion site, they are defined by usership and information flows and are untethered from any given destination site.
  • One of their primary inputs and/or outputs is the stream.

This criteria offers up some fascinating challenges for those wishing to rise to them. But to make the Web with its mind-boggling amount of data relevant, meaningful and accessible, then it is worthwhile to think about approaching it by using the way our brains operate as a model. After all, it is still the best computational machine that we know of.

SMXQ: Darragh Doyle

Darragh Doyle is the communications manager of boards.ie. He is a self-confessed internet enthusiast with extensive experience in online community building. He has a blog called This Is What I Do and you can find him on Twitter at @darraghdoyle.

I have given Darragh the briefest of introductions because as you can see he has an awful lot to say for himself.

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

I’m from a Kilkenny village called Graiguenamanagh which, in many ways more than I sometimes care to admit, has defined who I am and how I react to things. I’ve lived in a variety of places and haven’t lost my fascination with people and how they interact with each other or the world around them.

I’ve had a varied career path – stepping in and out of business, charities, retail and even acting.  I’ve always followed a “talking to people” route in my professional life and this has transferred online quite easily. Where I now work with boards.ie, I am able to blog, tweet, Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, and more. Basically I use the Internet to tell people about things I think they’d like to know.

2. What was your route into social media?

I’ve got an extensive background working online – starting in 1999 shortly after I left the seminary I was studying at. I started in a customer service role with the launch of the Irish Independent‘s online initiative Unison and moved into the marketing/communications/PR side from there. I’ve been employed in Ireland, Spain, London and Manchester by a variety of companies who are looking for new and better ways to communicate with their customers and make them come back. I’ve been lucky enough too to work with some of the best known brands and PR companies in the country on a variety of their campaigns, and with charities, events and festivals who are looking to attract new audiences.

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

Right now, both as Communications Manager for boards.ie and in blogging/tweeting, I’m involved in and genuinely fascinated by three different things:

  • a. Customer service – this has always been a love of mine and I’m keen to help develop it as comprehensively as possible. I have work on a boards.ie initiative called “Talk To Forums” where we allow companies to talk to our members and in turn facilitate communication from our members to companies. This negates the need for complicated phone or contact systems. All you have to do is post and get an answer to your query.

    I’m working with some of the biggest companies in Ireland helping develop their social media strategy in this regard and I’m glad to say making friends along the way. The other benefit, because I’m quite vocal in my requirement for high standards in this area, is that I get fantastic customer service when I need it – because they know I would point out when I didn’t and what they should do to improve it – not just for me, but for everyone. It’s one of my passions – my ultimate goal is to own a small café one day, just to see how I’d do…

  • b. Metrics – There’s a lovely fluffy side to social media, where we talk about influencers and social media experts, gurus, ninjas, and the like. We have blogger campaigns, PR invitations and the like but how does that translate into cold, hard provable statistics? For example, I know that 2.2 million people visited the boards.ie website in March of 2010, but where did they go, what did they do, and what are they interested in?

    When PR companies talk to bloggers and companies and get them to feature a product or service, what benefit is the client actually getting? Are awareness and sales actually going up or is it only in a relatively small community? Services like our recently launched BoardsDeals.ie show exactly how many people have paid for an offer – that is a real benefit to the consumer as well as to the business. I would like to explode all of our statistics in an equally open way. I don’t understand the hesitance of many new media outlets to engage on this level – suggests a lot of smoke and mirrors to me. There’s a need for transparency right across the spectrum.

  • c. Social media for broadcast – slightly related to my metrics point, but I love seeing how people can get their message across – whatever that message may be – creatively online. Should someone factor in all of boards.ie, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Foursquare, Flickr, Pix.ie, Vimeo, iPhone and Android Apps and more into their social media strategy? Are we seeing the end of expansive expensive websites? How important is mobile? So you need a massive budget to be able to do all of this or is it just about playing smarter and thinking more? My hope is that it’s a lot more of the latter than the former. It’s something I’m working on with a variety of people.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

I’m most active on boards.ie (funnily enough), Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp.ie, Foursquare and Tumblr, but I also have active Pix.ie, YouTube, Vimeo and Picasa accounts. Why? Well it goes back to getting my message out there and communicating with people in whatever way I can.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?

Twitter, definitely. It’s a brilliant outreach service – I compare it to Grafton Street in Dublin – as much as there are retailers, entertainers and distractions there on the street, there’s also people you haven’t seen in ages, people you remember you need to talk to and people you’d like to get to know. It’s also wonderful to see the positive impact a message of 140 characters can have on someone’s day – one of my main motivations in telling as many bad jokes as I do!

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

Customer service and reviews – the voice that people now have to show bad service and that companies are now accountable to the people who give them money. Nothing new here of course but there’s a lot of great stuff happening. I also think we’re both seeing and needing to see more improvements in the legal framework surrounding defamation vs. free speech.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

Talk to people I don’t know or have people who don’t know me talk to me.

8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?

Legal problems regarding what people think they can say online, a sense of entitlement or self importance from those who see themselves as influential over things that are really, basically, none of their business though they feel the need to involve themselves. The ever increasing need for faster service. It’s a tough one that goes back to who people are and how they use the Internet.

9.  What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Don’t do what I did – take it seriously enough to try change who I was because of what people said about what I was doing. It’s only the Internet. Do what you think is right, take constructive advice seriously and appreciate it, and read a lot. A LOT. Oh, and obviously, enjoy it…

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

I think we will be more educated – both about the news and what is happening abroad, about our rights and responsibilities and how we communicate with each other. That’s my hope anyways – and something I’m working towards. There’s a lot of people out there doing the same.

Interview: Dan Gillmor On The Changing Media Landscape

Dan Gillmor is director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University. He was a columnist for the San Jose Mercury for a number of years and is a regular contributor to Salon.com. In his soon to be new book, “Mediactive“, he writes about how people need to stop being passive consumers of media and become more engaged. Plus, in addition to inherited principles of journalistic ethics, we need to take a deeper look at new ideas such as transparency. The book also looks at how our society will be transformed by the new social customs that are forming.

Dan will be a keynote speaker at BlogTalk 2010 in Galway, Ireland.

We began our interview by discussing the state of flux in the mainstream media (MSM) and how it is coping with the changes brought about by the developments in the online technological landscape.

“My sense of the traditional press is that they are still caught up in a manufacturing model of journalism and that is a constraint all by itself. If that’s how you do your work, the whole process infects the rest of it… you’ve automatically constrained your ability to go beyond what you might otherwise do.

“Another part is a cultural or institutional arrogance about traditional journalism. This is not true of everyone. There are many and increasing numbers of people in the business who get this. And there are a few institutions, and I would cite for example The Guardian that thoroughly gets it.”

However, Dan points out that it is not a black and white issue. There are plenty of dyed-in-the-wool journalists at The Guardian who are very reluctant to adapt to new ways of doing things. Conversely, at highly conservative institutions such as the Washington Post, there are individuals who understand that change is taking place and are responding appropriately.

The context for this change in attitude is realising that the MSM can no longer be just the voice of assumed authority telling us how it is and leaving it at that.

“The traditional journalism role of deciding what’s important is still pretty valuable, but it’s absurd to say here’s everything that’s important and I am not even going to point you to further background. That’s crazy but that’s typically what they do. It reflects the culture of lecturing at people rather than recognising that this is conversation. All media is at some level social now and where that’s going to take us is really going to be fun to watch.”

Dan went on to describe an aspect of the resistance to change towards operating in the new communications environment.

“For those of us who are watching this and participating in it, it’s a combination of fun and daunting in some ways as we don’t know where it’s going to go, and we’re struggling with that in some ways. If your career is being turned upside down by forces that seem out of control then it’s less fun, but that is the reality.”

For many journalists and communicators who are seeing their whole way of life changing, and for whom it is becoming increasingly harder to prepare for what is coming over the horizon, there is hope. Dan goes on to say, “For journalism and communication it’s clear to me that the future is in a large part about entrepreneurship because… traditional business models for media [are] exploding and simultaneously we see the entry barrier drop to zero. Which means we are going to see lots of people try lots of things. What will emerge is still unclear. I am fairly confident that we are going to end up with more and better than we had in the past.”

While Dan is optimistic about the future he says there are developments which we should observe carefully.

“I think we’re starting to see more opportunities for very real-time news as opposed to the traditional news. But as we see that, I think there is also an understanding starting to emerge that the wrong response to seeing something flash by on Twitter is to automatically believe it. We’re in real trouble if we don’t slow down a little bit. We should be skeptical of just about everything.

“When you see or hear something that there’s no strong evidence for, the appropriate response is, ‘That’s interesting if it’s true.’ Not, ‘Oh, my God!’ Right now, we are still saying, ‘Oh, my God!’ We are still getting fooled by things that are false and are wildly misleading, and there are real risks to taking for granted what you see or hear without seeing evidence.”

After this admonition to keep our critical faculties in the fully switched-on mode, we discussed the purpose of his visit to Galway. I asked him why people were still making long journeys, and spending time away from home when we can access each other electronically any time we please.

“It doesn’t surprise me that people still want to get together in person. It’s just a better… virtual communications are not as good. That’s just a fact. So, putting people in a room together is still an important part of business and getting ideas more fully developed.

“I think the nature of conferences is changing actually to a more unconference-y style where people recognise that the audience is at least as interesting as the speakers. The Q&A portion of a talk is always better than the talk. I’ve been to and done several conferences where it was assumed that the main panelists were the people in the audience.”

We look forward to hearing him speak more about the rapidly changing media landscape at the end of this month.

BlogTalk is returning to Ireland on 26-27 August; check out the speaker list.

A Future For Doocracy In The Workplace

Paul Killoran, @dancinpaul from Starlight Solutions, posted a comment on our post Doocracy: It’s The Doing That Counts. I thought the reply to his comment merited a blog post of its own.

Burning Man and Alchemy – The Georgia Burn are all very large-scale examples of doocracy. They are geared around the idea of creating the space for an event to happen that will contain lots of sub-events. Each aspect of a given event is either happening or not happening because someone did something or not.

In a modern industrial economy, human beings are organised around a process – whether it is making TV sets or waging wars. Human beings are in a subservient role to the process, and through educational programming and careful training they have become replaceable and dispensable.

For a doocracy to really work in our modern society, we would have to set about thinking on how to humanise the production line. To do that, we would have to rethink our consumerist lifestyle which funds this production line paradigm that is the foundation of our society.

But change is happening. In a previous article “Corporations Must Embrace The Principles Of The Social Media Revolution To Evolve And Survive“, we wrote about how companies are going to have to adapt their employment policies and work practices if they want to get the best and most talented picks of the generation coming through. For subsequent generations, companies will have to bend even further to cope with even more different expectations of what work means from potential recruits.

Most new small businesses in the leading edge space have little or no conventional structure. Technology Voice is a case in point. There is very little need for John or I to meet up. (However, it is usually a good thing if we can when possible as we get through things quicker without having to go back and fro.) Our ‘newsroom’ is in the cloud. We only have a hot desk because for personal reasons it makes my life easier. But we could probably get by just as well without it. We just do what we do and only occasionally is there a bit of confusion, and that is usually due to the shortcomings of technology. (Computers, they’ll never catch on.)

I would say our experience of publishing Technology Voice is prototypical in the sense that we are aware of how technology can be an enabling force for us and we are happy to share what we have learned should anyone ask. We are planning to set up our Facebook page in such a way (if we can) that our activities are more transparent, for instance. But we are also very aware that Technology Voice gets done because we get on and do it without the need for diktats or directives. John and I have our areas of expertise, we do what we do and we make an effort to stay coordinated – which is another word for organised.

I am glad you are enjoying you business experience. Removing fear and arbitrary authoritarianism from the workplace and replacing it with a sense of trust and collaboration is a liberating experience.

BlogTalk 2010: Galway, Ireland

Technology Voice is one of the sponsors of BlogTalk, a conference taking place at the National Univeristy of Ireland, Galway on the 26th and 27th of August. We will have speakers not only from Ireland and Europe, but we also have some who are flying in from America especially to present.

These conferences are important because even though the wonders of the Internet and its associated social media services allow us to be more accessible to each other than ever before, there is stil no substitute for getting a bunch of people into a room and having them meet and talk to each other. Despite all our wonderful technology, there are some things that can only be communicated in person and in not in any other way.

As is becoming more apparent in the conference world and in the ideas underlying the notion of unconferences, the audience is equally important if not actually more important than the speakers. To quote Dan Gillmor, one of our scheduled speakers and whose interview with Technology Voice we will be publishing on Tuesday, August 17th, “The Q&A portion of a talk is always better than the talk. I’ve been to and done several conferences where it was assumed that the main panelists were the people in the audience.”

So, if you do have space in your calendar we would urge you to attend.

At Technology Voice, we will be featuring some of the speakers either through interviews or by way of their response to our popular Social Media Ten Questions item. So look out for those.

Also, we will be covering the actual event with audioboos, tweets, updates and further blog posts here. So if you can’t attend, please don’t feel that you will be completely missing out.

Look forward to seeing you and if we don’t see you, we look forward to hearing from you.