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Rude tweet hits six o’clock news

Now, what did you have to do again in the good old days to get yourself on the evening news? These days all it takes is a tweet.

Arguably it might take what most people would call a tweet too far, but still… This week I was invited to discuss what is probably the most shocking tweet I’ve come across on a six o’clock news show  – with the guy who wrote it and a few others.

The set-up was somewhat surreal:

Last Sunday a far-left-wing journalist-author wrote the mentioned tweet in reply to the debate editor of Norway’s newspaper of record, Aftenposten.

The latter had  recently written a short and scalding, if still civilised, review of the former’s recent book.

To which the former replies to the openly gay editor with a tweet that somehow manages to include such phrases as ”suck negro cock” and ”jewish cunt”  in the same tweet.

The political editor of Aftenposten replies with a harsh leader on the implied racism in that tweet and he, the tweet-writer, the head of Norway’s Union of Journalists and me are invited to discuss the affair on the before mentioned evening news show.

It should be mentioned that the guy who wrote the offending tweet was quick to apologise on Twitter, but on the evening news we also learned that the tweet was meant as a joke and was paraphrasing a scene from a Norwegian movie (”facts” which had entirely escaped me before that session on the evening news).

Aftenposten’s political editor made the very fair point that had this tweet been sent by someone from the populist far right it would have created a media upheaval, and the news presenter tried to get a discussion going on whether journalists should be allowed to tweet privately...

Now, imagine: Journalist says something stupid, rude and racist on TV? Should we therefore ban all journalists from TV? Of course not, and no one was seriously suggesting during that TV slot to ban journalists from using social media privately either – but it was one of the topics being discussed, as well as all the awful kind of things people can bring themselves to say online…

I must admit I’m not quite sure what to conclude from all this, it was a somewhat surreal event, but it’s definitely part of that brave new media landscape of ours…

The Utöya election and lessons in social media campaigning

“I for one want to vote the Utøya-generation into office.”

I’m not certain where I read that statement now: on Facebook, Twitter, blogs.

It probably flashed past me frequently on all those platforms after 22/7, and after the municipal and county elections last moth it’s clear that many people did exactly that:

Several of those who so tragically lost their lives on Utöya were elected, as were several of those who survived the atrocities.

That must be unparalleled: How, as a symbolic action, people voted for those who lost their lives but who’s names had not removed from the election lists.

As for those who survived the atrocities and were elected, it will be interesting to see how their influence will play out.

22/7 was certainly a big influence on the election, but mostly in a positive way.

Let it be that after 22/7 too many politicians just trotted out the same old slogans and solutions which now feels oddly like ghosts from a bygone age.

There were also politicians who met the tragedy with great compassion and strength, who somehow became much more real, more human as a result of it.

That side of them was probably always there, just now we got to see it.

I thought a lot better of many politicians for it. Not that it made me vote for someone I otherwise wouldn’t have voted for, but I hope it will lead to a wider recognition that letting your guard down can be a good thing – even for a politician.

Also, for the first time in perhaps a decade or more I felt good about how I cast my vote. See, in the words of an acquaintance, I voted for the internet party.

Not that there is a party by that name in Norway, but it was the first election where social media played a major role for me:

I voted for lots of really clever people I know from the Internet (in Norway you can cast personal votes for your favorite candidates from more than one party at municipal and county elections).

But among those candidates there wasn’t one I voted for because I’d seen him or her with a Twitter-profile stating their name and their political party.

I never follow those kind of Twitter-users back. All the folks I voted for were people I know, either just online, or online and in real life, for a long time and not primarily as politicians.

They were all people I “know” because of the work they do, the blogs they write, or because we have interests in common.

In fact, while casting my vote I found myself thinking I could easily have voted for a blogger I’m a big fan of despite being on the opposite side of the political divide.

What I’m trying to say, both when it comes to my “internet party” and those politicians who let their guard down and thereby became more real, more human after 22/7:

Personality matters, humanity matters, being real/genuine/allowing yourself to be vulnerable and go off script is a good thing.

Nothing revolutionary there you may say. In fact it’s all very Cluetrain.

But it is also quite the opposite of the social media strategy many politicians and/or political parties seem to subscribe to.

To them just getting a Twitter-profile spewing out politically correct or mundane and largely uninteresting stuff seems to equal a social media strategy.

Well, it’s not a very successful social media strategy.

It has to be personal.

Not necessarily in the sense that you have to share personal stuff, far from, but you have to get a sense of the person behind the social media profile even if it’s just their genuine passion for a certain subject.

But it has to be genuine, and it’s definitely not a short-term fix.


Steve Jobs, innovation & serendipity

Writing about Steve Jobs and his philosophy of life for work today I was reminded about liberation management.

I was really struck by this video (which must have travelled all over the web by now), Jobs 2005 Stanford commencement speech, and how it gels with the other things we know about his life.

I especially found myself wondering how many leaders of disruptive and/or innovative companies subscribe to something along the lines of this statement:

”Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

It reminded me about liberation management as I said (I’ll return to that), but also of how Google's Marissa Mayer once described Google's culture and how it could reinvent the rules online in the early days (quoted in Steven Levy’s excellent book about Life in the GooglePlex which I reviewed for work around Easter).

”You cannot understand Google unless you know that both Larry and Sergey was Montessori kids," she said, and continued: ”It’s really baked into their personalities, to do things their own way, to not respect authority. Do something because  it seems sensible, not because someone told you to”

Page has later said he thinks there some truth in this.

But this all comes down to how important it is to think outside the box to be truly innovative.

Oh, and in Jobs case (whom I wrote more about here for work, in Norwegian) about trusting that serendipity can benefit, and even be crucial to, your career.

Which brings me to liberation management.

It’s just about five years since first I blogged about Tom Peters’ 50 strategies for increasing the odds for getting innovative ideas and creating innovative companies, or at least for attracting a little nuttiness into your life, so I think it stands repeating.

One of my favourite strategies, which writing about Jobs’ philosophy of life reminded me of today, is:

48. Nurture peripheral vision. The interesting “stuff” usually is going on beyond the margins of the professional’s ever-narrowing line of sight

I don’t agree with all of these, especially not on constant reorganisations, but they offer food for thought and here’s some other good ones:

31. Spend 50 percent of your time with “outsiders.” Distributors and vendors will give you more ideas in five minutes than another five-hour committee meeting.

3. Ready. Fire. Aim. (Instead of Ready. Aim. Aim. Aim. ...)

11. Ask dumb questions. “How come computer commands all come from keyboards?” Somebody asked that one first; hence, the mouse

14. Don’t back away from passion. “Dispassionate innovator” is an oxymoron