Top social media strategists put their time up for auction on eBay

Here's a golden chance to get two hours of consulting services from social media veterans Adriana Lukas and Chris Heuer for a bargain.

Adriana emails to say they are currently auctioning two hours of their time on eBay. I'm a bit late to this story as I've been on the road for a few days: the slot is for tomorrow, in London, but at the time of writing the only bid submitted is on $50 - so still possible to get an amazing deal.

"This is a low cost way for a smart company to take our minds for a test drive, to see if what we know, and to improve what you are doing with social media, marketing and web strategies to make your organization more succesfull in these effort," writes Adriana. Read more on why the two have decided to put their time up for auction, in what is a one time opportunity so far, on eBay here.

Now, at this point I should tell you that Adriana is the woman who kicked me into the blogosphere in the first place. After listening to her musings on social media, and reading the books she recommended, with fascination for years, but always blaming my deadlines for why it was never the right time to have a go at blogging myself, in the end she just set up this blog for me in 2005 and told me to get going.

It was a big white canvas for me, and I was quite surprised by how, after a few months, I revealed myself to be a media junkie... ;-) Of course, blogging changed my world, my focus and opened up new previously unthought of opportunities for me. Still, even after immersing myself in social media for years, had I been in London tomorrow and had I the time, this would have been an opportunity too good to miss....  

Update 14:25 CET: Message from Chris Heuer on Twitter just now, saying "unfortunately I glitched & UK folks werent able to bid, so am taking it down :( #lessonlearned". Still, seems some lucky person might have secured those two hours with Adriana and Chris after notifying Chris about the glitch - see more in his comment on my post here.

Media and disruptive technology (or why change is so hard for entrenched companies)

What if we were to look at mainstream media's response to social media, such as blogging, thorugh the prism of disruptive technology?

This is an issue I've been mulling over since I heard Espen Andersen's talk on disruptive technologies, open source and mobile at Open Nordic conference in May: how does this apply to media?

Diverse 041

It occurs to me that looking at media and social media through this prism must have been done before - but I haven't come across any such analysis, and, regardless of whether or not such analysis already exist, I think looking a the changing media landcape this way is a very useful thought experiment for trying to understand how big media companies tend to approach disruptive innovations, such as social media. Now, feel free to join me in this thought experiment, I'm just playing around with ideas here, but I think it's a very useful exercise.

What is a disruptive technology?
Espen quoted Clayton M.Christensen's book The Innovator's dillemma (which I haven't read) when describing disruptive technology:

1) your best customers don't want it,
2) it gives poorer performance,
3) if you did it you would loose money.

Core attribute: the incumbent market leader is the least suited to adopt it.

Two examples on disruptive technology listed in Wikipedia:
- Early desktop-publishing systems could not match high-end professional systems in either features or quality. Nevertheless, they lowered the cost of entry to the publishing business, and economies of scale eventually enabled them to match, and then surpass, the functionality of the older dedicated publishing systems.

- The music and movie industries see file-sharing as a very real threat to their livelihood. With technologies like Bittorrent becoming part of pop culture the current business model for these industries, selling physical units, has been completely shattered.

Seeing MSM/social media through this prism
I think sharing news via social media such as blogs, social networks, and microblogging sites also fit the bill here, because

1) your premium subscribers are unlikely to be the first to jump the ship

2) social media, like say blogging platforms and twitter, are often, especially in the first stage(s), less reliable than the big expensive content management systems mainstream news sites tend to run on/ it's cruder and gives less functionality

3) big MSM players are often hampered by their own size, prestige and institutional slowness (for lack of a better word) and utilising these tools effectively from an early stage is easier for a small nimble start-up with nothing to loose.

Also, according to Wikipedia:
"Disruptive technologies are not always disruptive to customers, and often take a long time before they are significantly disruptive to established companies. They are often difficult to recognize. Indeed, as Christensen points out and studies have shown, it is often entirely rational for incumbent companies to ignore disruptive innovations, since they compare so badly with existing technologies or products, and the deceptively small market available for a disruptive innovation is often very small compared to the market for the established technology. Even if a disruptive innovation is recognized, existing businesses are often reluctant to take advantage of it, since it would involve competing with their existing (and more profitable) technological approach."

The Entrenched Player's Dilemma
The latter point leads to The Entrenched Player's Dilemma, which is featured in Wikinomics, as the authors attempted to find out why corporations resisted crowd sourcing and mass collaboration.

"The problem with mature companies is that the very commercial success of their products increases their dependency on them. Making radical changes in the product's capabilities, underlying architecture or associated business models could cannibalize sales or lead to costly realignments of strategy and business infrastructure. It's as though popular and widely adopted products become ossified, hardened by the inherent incentives to build on their own success. The result is that entrenched industry players are generally not motivated to develop or deploy disruptive technologies."

I think we can even take this phenomenon down to the indivual level, rather than look at abstract entities such as companies: "People who have built up power and status in a particular specialty are scared of change that calls the knowledge and experience that got them there irrelevant," says Carrie Lisa Brown in this brilliant post (I'm not so interested in the Jarvis/Rosenbaum dustup described in the intro, but the last five paragraphs give a great description of some of the reasons change in the newsroom is difficult and often met with resistance)

There: I think this is a pretty useful prism for decribing why change is so difficult for many media companies. It's also interesting because describing the obstacles is often the first step towards finding solutions. Most notably, I can think of one media company that has been successful perhaps exactly because, at least to some extent, it has managed to break away from The Entrenched Player's Dillemma - I'll return to that in a separate post later.


Using the social web, Oslo 25/10 - live notes

Happy to see so many find there way to #socialweb so early a Saturday morning (see previous post for twitter feed). Note to self: don't put yourself up for the opening talk for seminar you're also organisning next to working full-time as a journalist.

As expected, kicked off 10:30, took some extra time to fix web connection etc, as always, but everything seems to be working and had planned for 30min of fumbling at the start so we're on schedule. Must be my most rambling talk ever, but will sum up neatly, and add lots of links, here later.

Using Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools for investigative and in-depth research

Colin Meek: Web 2.0 tools fantastic tools for journalists to monitor their beat, especially delicious.com. Not like Facebook where you can only network with people who'll accept you as friends, with delicious you can follow all people whose bookmarks you like. You effectively create a network of experts who monitor your beat for you (see Colin's slides on this here)

Furl: archives copies of entire page, delicious saves links, furl saves entire pages. 

Track breaking news with Twitter. People often twitter about events as they happen or straight after, remarkable tool. California wildfires a breakthrough for twitter coverage of events. Covered this here

# developed as way of tracking an issue on twitter. Twine and Twemes add additional functionality.

As a reporter you should really use all of these tools to help monitor your beat

Colin: I'm getting fed up with all this fuss about information overload. What's the fuss? Yes, there's information overload, deal with it. If you feel overwhelmed you're not using RSS - and if using RSS you haven't set your filters properly.

Search social networks

Use advanced Google operaters to refine your Google searches. Use Google to search socialnetworks such as Beebo: site:Bebo inurl:memberid inurl:Bebo (see Colin's slides on this here)

When using advanced operators you have to think differently, have to think like the documents you are trying to find, do what some call forensic surfing. Big privacy issues connected to all the info you can find using these search techniques, but we can do it because we are professional journalists, can use this information responsibly - but big concerns related to this.

The Semantic Web

"Social media sites are like data silos" said John Breslin  when Colin interviewed him for Journalism.co.uk . Semantic web about linking up different clouds of information, has profound implications for journalists. Practical consequences of semantic web: can search Twitter, Facebook, Technorati, Bebo etc simultaneously. Will be like a snowball, once people get used to this, will come to expect it and think what's the use of say twitter if it doesn't allow you to do this.

Twine makes searching much easier, just released from beta

(Note to self: this is why I'm uncomfortable with the new Typepad composer, have to set it up differently. Of course I should have started typing in Html mode, not Rich text as I did without thinking. Now its adding all sorts of errant formatting, like addional spaces, I have to go over and fix afterwards.)

Semantic Radar is a free Firefox plugin to alert you when you come across a website where the metadata underpinning the semantic web exists. Headup another application that layers useful information on top of the page you're using.

Indice and SWSE search engines worth knowing about, but need to be semantic web expert to use them really efficiently. Don't know of anyone using this for search yet, but think it will come. Open Calais another interesting application, a smart way to tag (or keyword) your archive in a way that makes sense to the web (developed by Reuters). Search Monkey is Yahoo's foray into the semantic web. These kind of sites and the technology underpinning it is something we'll see more and more of, but the privacy issues connected to it are huge. Do people know that some of their information may end up on the semantic web, say if they choose the wrong privacy function on Facebook? Journalists need to keep talking about the implications of this (See Colin's slides on the semantic web and journalists here)

Anders Brenna to Colin: isn't one of the biggest problems that media is so far behind on everything that's happening, so behind the curve? Colin agrees completely, says: What sets journalists apart from citizen journalists and bloggers is a certain skillset: like investigative skills, training in ethics etc, that's what sets journos apart. I believe this is what can save the newspaper industry and something the industry should invest more in.

See also Ingeborg's comprehensive bilingual notes from the first half of the seminar here.

Okay, that's the first half covered in brief. My brief notes from the second half, in Norwegian, are here.