August 27, 2010
Posted by Luke Mackay under Business
, Social media
| Tags: Future of Media
, Trade Events
| Leave a Comment
Today we thought we’d celebrate the wonder that is Paper.li by adding it to the hallowed Gun Cabinet archive.
In case you’re unfamiliar with it – Paper.li is a wonderful tool that basically allows you to create a daily newspaper from #tags and Twitter names. In their own words:
paper.li organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy to read newspaper-style format. Newspapers can be created for any Twitter user, list or #tag.
A great way to stay on top of all that is shared by the people you follow – even if you are not connected 24/7
The personal element is useful, erm, personally speaking. You can read mine here, should you wish. Where we think there is most potential for PRs though is in using #tags to capture a summary of event news. Take the #IFA one we’ve created, for example. It’s a nice piece of ‘added value’ to share with clients on each day of a trade event, as a summary of the big show news. I need to play around with it, but I think could probably create a bespoke Client@Event newspaper as well.
August 27, 2010
Posted by thenakedpheasant under Brand
, Social media
| Tags: britney
, britney spears
, gaga fashion
, Lady GaGa
, twitter queen
| 1 Comment
BREAKING NEWS: Lady Gaga has finally knocked Britney Spears to No. 2 in the Twitter charts, according to gossip magazines, tabloids, the Telegraph, CNN, and the International Herald Tribune. The two have been cat-fighting it out to be the pop star queen of Twitter for the past several weeks. Lady Gaga – with 5,803,000 followers to Britney’s 5,726,000 – marked the occasion with a tweet. "Thank you for beginning my reign as Twitter queen," she said in a video to her followers.
Personally, I don’t count myself as a follower of either. I have absolutely no desire what so ever to know what Lady Gaga had for lunch today. So who does? And more importantly; Why? Are these two just popular because of who they are coupled with our infallible hunger for celebrity gossip, or, as entertainers, are they really genuinely influential and engaging online as well as on stage? Enter TweetLevel. What I found is rather interesting actually.
Lady Gaga has an overall TweetLevel influence score of 87; Britney Spears, 82. So, this tells us that Lady Gaga is indeed on top in this girl on girl battle, but let’s dig a little further, shall we?
Both have a popularity score of 99.8, so no news there. Britney is slightly more engaging that Lady Gaga, coming in with an engagement score of 51.1 to Gaga’s 48.2. Perhaps Britney Spears has slightly more time on her hands to respond to followers and participate in conversations?
While the scores are pretty close, both are rather low: Ashton Kutcher has an engagement score of 64.6 (and an overall influence score of 92). The most interesting stat however is the trust score. Though she is influential and participates in conversations, Britney’s trust score is, in comparison, a rather low 75.7. Lady Gaga triumphs in the category with a veritably whopping 92.2.
So, what does this all mean? When I started this little exercise, I was hoping to find that though she has more followers, Lady Gaga is not more influential than Britney Spears. But of course I now see the errors of my thinking.
Lady Gaga has made a name for herself because she is different in style and tone, her performances are as wacky as her personality and she draws attention from crowds and online communities. Lady Gaga’s brand embodies compelling authentic content, lesson No. 1 in social media engagement – or No. 5 of Mashable’s recent 10 tips for aspiring community managers. Furthermore, she uses her Twitter feed to broadcast updates but also videos and photos.
Britney on the other had is an unstable brand. Recently reappearing (again) on the celebrity scene, the once troubled-star seems to be have put her outrageous ways behind her and is rebuilding her celebrity profile with a highly-publicised stint on Glee and a new album. Still popular yes, but were we more interested in Britney when she was ripping out her hair? Still popular yes, but interest in what she has to offer the masses is dwindling. She may have been America’s sweetheart pop star and our favourite celebrity-gone-wild-to-watch, but we are just not the interested in what she is doing, or has to say anymore. Plus, we have Lindsay Lohan now.
Note to Lady Gaga/ Lady Gaga’s social media team: Start engaging with your followers and then maybe we can call you the Queen of Twitter. With 5,831,213 followers (at the time of writing), I am not convinced you have earned the title just yet.
August 26, 2010
Posted by thenakedpheasant under charity
, Social media
| Tags: bins
, cat lady
, Social media
|  Comments
an interesting development from the twittersphere yesterday; with the arrival of Cat Bin Lady (on the back of this)… she’s gone from sod all followers to about 1,900 in the space of a morning, and I’d challenge anyone to suggest these posts are not very entertaining…
…however, for me, what’s interesting is that the account links directly to the RSPCA donation page. Is this therefore either a fuzzy heart warming bit of philanthropy from the person who set it up, or an amazing reactive piece of social media from the RSPCA? (and if it *is* from them / their PR department, fair play for having the conviction to set this up)
…be interesting to find out whether any donations come through this to the RSPCA…
note, she’s gone up another four hundred followers since i began to write this.
August 25, 2010
Posted by thenakedpheasant under Art
| Tags: Der Spiegel
, industrial expansion
| Leave a Comment
A new twist in the copyright tale and the question of rights was raised in Germany’s Der Spiegel today. A German historian argues that Germany’s rapid industrial expansion in the 19th century can in fact be attributed to an absence of copyright law.
Economic historian Eckhard Höffner argues that England had pretty stringent laws, whilst reading and production of materials was massive in Germany. In a single year (1843), 14,000 works were produced. England, by comparison, produced 1000. As you can imagine, the industry is up in arms. Interesting stuff…
August 18, 2010
Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, is certainly provocative theory and a great read. Essentially his thesis boils down to the argument that the ability to search and access the world’s information means that our habits of concentration and work have changed with growing web usage. This is causing our brains to evolve to a different pattern of skimming information which he claims is rather shallow, hence the title.
Despite all the hype that surrounds the new media darlings of Twitter and Facebook, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of business, more time, effort and most significantly money is spent by businesses focussing on search than anything else, so the behaviour of companies suggests that he may have a point.
He singles out the largest of these companies to make the point: “Google as the supplier of the Web’s principle navigation tool, also shapes our relationship with the content that it serves up so efficiently and in such profusion. The intellectual technologies it has pioneered promotes the superficial skimming of information and discourages any deep, prolonged engagement with a single argument, idea or narrative.” Carr believes one of Google’s founders: “Page had another insight, not all links are created equal. The authourity of a web page can be gauged by the incoming links it attracts. A page with a lot of incoming links has more authority than a page with only one or two. The greater the authority of the web page, the greater the worth of its own outgoing links. Page’s analogy led him to realise that the relative value of any web page could be estimated through a mathematical analysis of two factors: the number of of incoming links the page attracted and the authority of the sites that were the sources of those links. If you could create a database of all the links on the web, you could have the raw material to feed into a software algorythim that could evaluate and rank the value of all the pages on the web. You would also have the makings of the world’s most powerful search engine.”
Carr succinctly describes a powerful group of Influentials we have observed participating in online conversations – the ‘viewer’. The characteristics of a viewer are relatively simple; they are searchers. Viewers seek information about a topic that is important to them and transient in their community memberships. Individually they contribute little to the addition of content but savour the information that is freely available to make ‘informed’ choices. The people who invariably influence this group are those with one significant attribute – Google juice. Therefore the algorithm running at the heart of search reflects the core reason why these viewers make the decisions they do because they make judgements as they skim.
Carr, I believe, underestimates the engagement the viewer has with the content. It may be shallow but it is not irrelevant as it is the frequency and speed of interaction that makes a true ‘influential’. They don’t need long to understand and they certainly make judgements by synthesising and aggregating thoughts very differently from traditional opinion forming, but this is not superficial. The power of this engagement is illustrated by how these patterns of search create endorsement for deep content experts such as ‘idea starters’ and ‘curators.’ It is the viewers’ choices on Google that give a democratised influential their authority. If these choices were as superficial as Carr believes, these new influentials would be an arbitrary selection of noisy web citizens. They are clearly not; even lesser known influentials stand out for the veracity of their opinions and depth of content. As I said, Carr’s book is a great read and makes a powerful point about the changes the web has created in the dissemination of knowledge, but he has not fully explored how this dynamic works and therefore over emphasises the negative points and does scant justice to the new benefits of the web and how it engages us with influential thought and knowledge.
August 17, 2010
Posted by thenakedpheasant under Art
, Social media  Comments
Last week, I had some very interesting discussions with a well known UK music consultant Daniel Cross (head of Record-Play), who also runs an East-end indie label called TAPE. He was talking about the shifts he is seeing in the UK music industry and, yes, wait for it: digital is dead. No, not really. But that got my attention too. Rather, the model for revenue generation in music is shifting. TAPE – and indeed, many UK indies and industry heads – don’t even count digital as a serious driver of revenue anymore. And you can hardly blame them when labels make around 0.01p per play on music streaming services like Spotify. TAPE have moved music retail to the periphery of their business model, (they are returning 90% of digital and physical sales royalties to their artists), have set up a publishing division and launched a merchandising division with eco furniture designer Ryan Frank. They are small, they are agile and they are storming. Rather than make money off traditional and new retail platforms, they are using them as places to build, engage and grow communities and fans of their brand. Interesting to see that music businesses are going back to the roots of digital, for what made digital popular in the first place: people.
August 16, 2010
Over the past year, Edelman Digital APAC and our partners at Brandtology have mined and analyzed 12 months of online conversation about major technology brands covering:
- 8 million posts,
- representing the perspectives of millions of netizens,
- talking about 350 technology brands,
- housed in 4,000 regional online channels,
- across eight Asian markets.
So what? Well apart from improving the insights; targeting and relevance to our client’s digital programs; and helping us to win some new clients; the DBI has answered many of the questions we had when we launched it. Further, the DBI has tracked and enabled us to better appreciate macro-trends in the social media landscape across Asia. For example:
- Online chatter grows and grows: The first DBI (October 2009) tracked 800,000 mentions of survey brands in the quarter, while the fourth and most recent DBI (10.3, August 2010) tracked 2 million. This finding demonstrates that as more Asians come online, they are happy to build or join communities to discuss (technology) brands, pass verdict on products, and share content that catches their eye. The unprecedented rise in social network usage across the region has also not gone unnoticed in the DBI. For example, this quarter, the DBI (10.3) in China saw social networks finally overtaking bulletin boards in terms of total conversation about surveyed technology brands. We all knew people were talking – but the speed of increase has been startling!
- The Twitter Phenomenon: Asia has been a major contributor to the 100+ per cent increase in the platform’s usage over the past 12 months. In October last year, Twitter represented approximately 18 per cent of the conversations found in the first DBI (ex-China). This has since grown to represent almost half of all posts tracked about technology brands surveyed in influential local channels monitored – with a high in India where microblogs account for a whopping 69 per cent of all conversations! As Steve Rubel eloquently puts it – we are quickly moving from a Web of pages to a Web of streams, and one where tech brands need to be omnipresent and working in, and reacting, in real time
- Tech brands joining the conversation: The past 12 months has also seen technology brands expand their local blogger engagement outreach programs, with some running online competitions for advocate communities (Canon being a great example) to build their social presence on Facebook and Twitter in particular. In Singapore, seven of the 50 technology brands tracked now have a local Twitter presence, with others contributing to a regional or global Twitter ID. Facebook pages are also springing up, with tech brands taking a regional, local or product line approach towards building communities – with some building communities across all three at the same time! However, presence alone is not enough – more needs to be done to build engaged and active communities – but more on that another time.
- Telcos and mobile chatter dominates: Local telcos are prominent in the Top 10 brands across all eight Asian markets where we run the DBI. Netizens either love or hate their telcos – there seems to be little middle-ground. When you consider the fact that telcos are often the access point to the hottest devices we have tracked – smart-phones – then local telcos have the best opportunity to lead and define successful online brand engagement. For example, Bakrie Telecom in Indonesia, a new entrant to the local list of Top 10 ‘Buzziest Brands’ had 90.9 per cent of brand mentions take place on Twitter – mainly referring to its “Esia” product and service – and has done a good job at engagement. It will be especially interesting to track how such telco social engagement strategies and efforts evolve as people seek increasing amounts of information about popular smart-phone brands that we continue to track such as including BlackBerry, iPhone and Android.
As the DBI evolves, we see the opportunity to dig deeper into the hottest technology products, as well as into the specific content that brands are using and creating to engage with online communities. Further, we’ll be able to track specific branded Facebook pages to measure engagement on an ongoing basis.
However, that’s for the future. In the interim, you can read more about the fourth Asia Pacific Digital Brand Index (10.3) in the following documents – a personal favorite of mine is how World Cup initiatives helping drive buzz for consumer electronic brands in China.
Finally – I knew you’d ask, so below are the Top 10 most discussed technology brands we’ve tracked in the 12 months (ending June 2010) across our eight Asian markets:
- Research in Motion
We are keen to hear any feedback you may have on how we can take the DBI to the next level!
Disclosure: Edelman represents technology brands around the world, many of which are included in the Digital Brand Index.
August 13, 2010
Posted by thenakedpheasant under Cloud
, Enterprise IT
| Tags: Cloud computing
, enterprise IT
, IT department
|  Comments
“Why Cloud will only see widespread adoption if the IT industry has a Stock Market-style crash”
Given that my job is providing PR consultancy to the IT industry I appreciate the absurdity of recommending some kind of Stock market crash as the way forward for the IT industry. I went through the dot com bubble – it wasn’t pleasant. However, I am not making this suggestion because I enjoy scaremongering or want to see anyone out of a job, but because I am at a loss to understand how else we can correct and move beyond this ‘Age of Institutionalised Complexity.’
Enterprise IT departments, ever since the early days of mainframes, have built up stockpiles of hardware and software, which I would contend they rarely fully use. Sure, technology has pushed greater integration and commoditisation, but major organisations are left with bulky IT infrastructures creaking under the weight of their inefficiency.
Yet models exist which could enable CIOs to become more agile and responsive, but adoption – although on the increase – is not widespread.
It would appear to the cynical eye that enterprise IT environments have become so institutionalised by this complexity that wholesale change isn’t possible without some kind of dramatic event, such as a crash.
“Why isn’t every IT department moving wholesale to the Cloud?”
Ok, perhaps I’m being a little too impatient for change – and probably only have a superficial understanding of the technical requirements – but enterprise customers, in particular, are not grabbing the opportunity of Cloud Computing to move wholesale away from hereto expensive and restrictive relationships with their existing IT providers (as Ray Wang highlighted last year at the SAP UK User Group).
If we believe the analysts Cloud is heading in only one direction with revenues soaring and yet we’re still having a debate about the theory of Cloud – how it should be applied, etc (single tenant, multi-tenant, private cloud, public cloud).
Surely the long-term benefits far outweigh the challenges? Yes, cost is stripped out of IT structures, but more importantly it should create IT environments with the flexibility to respond to ever changing business conditions.
Call it resistance to change, fear of the unknown, or plain stubbornness – there is a need to overcome such blockers as the IT industry will collapse under its own complexity unless it adopts new models such as Cloud.
“Stupid is as stupid does…”
Despite the traditional IT vendors taking flak from every angle for their poor innovation (you only have to read Vinnie Mirchandani’s book, which suggests a lot of the innovative application of technology is being done by non-IT companies) we’re still moving quite slowly given that ‘Cloud’ has existed in some form for quite some time. (Simon Wardley suggests the concept first appeared in 1968).
In moments of greater frustration it seems the only conclusion is that humans really are as stupid as some believe. Thankfully, though, further investigation leads me to a different conclusion, one prompted by a term referenced by Dennis Howlett on Cloud – ‘Institutional Memory’.
Like Dennis I reviewed the excellent keynotes by Mark Masterson and Simon Wardley at OSCON and started to build a clearer picture of this notion of ‘Institutionalised Complexity.’
Both speakers underlined the fundamental in the clash between innovation and the desire to achieve predictable success in business. Masterson applies this view to the previous decade, describing an era he calls the ‘Age of Productivity’ which was focused on reducing the likelihood of failure and cost of failure in return for predictable business success.
The outcome has been that companies focused on initiatives – both in business and IT – driven by this need for predictability and as a consequence pushed IT products/service development towards commoditisation. As Wardley explains this creates a fundamental issue for innovation, because it requires a risk-taking, uncertain environment to prosper.
Wardley’s solution for IT vendors and their customers wanting to reinvigorate innovation is to recommend they analyse where products and services have already been commoditised. He highlights functions, such as HR, CRM, and Finance – all mainstays of ERP – as prime areas for exploitation. Areas where value has been eroded so much that they are ripe for the Creative Destruction process. Masterson sees breaking free of the constraints of the ‘Age of Productivity’ as the opportunity for open source software and argues that companies should be focused on the ‘Age of Growth.’
“Trapped in an Institutionalised Mindset”
Logically that should mean the time is right for mass adoption of Cloud Computing. Yet I have a concern that most enterprise IT departments simply aren’t prepared or willing to enter this ‘Age of Growth’ because they’ve become so institutionalised in their adoption of IT. Cloud Computing challenges this mindset at every level, in terms of how IT is acquired, supported and how its success is measured. JP Rangaswami even suggests that attempting to apply traditional measures such as Service Level Agreements (SLAs) is wrong, that IT departments need to be designing their IT infrastructure for a ‘loss of control.’ Applying the linear models of the ‘Age of Productivity’ is wrong, companies need to be thinking in terms of language such as ‘self healing,’ ‘self aware’ and ‘heuristic.’
Having grown up being driven by the need for risk aversion and predictability it will be difficult for any IT department to cope with such significant change, particularly at a time when there is even greater pressure on IT leaders to demonstrate value to their business peers. Therefore I contend that the easiest way for such technologies to gain much wider adoption is that the IT industry has some kind of implosion with both vendors and IT customers being forced to start again.
I appreciate this is slightly insane, well possibly very insane, but let me cite two reasons why:
1. All good things come to an end because they become too complicated: Clay Shirky has written about a book by Joseph Tainter, “The Collapse of Complex Societies.” In it Tainter analyses why supposedly sophisticated societies such as the Romans and the Mayan Indians eventually implode. In his view complexity has stifled each of these societies and it leads Shirky to suggest:
Complex societies collapse because, when some stress comes, those societies have become too inflexible to respond…When the value of complexity turns negative, a society plagued by an inability to react remains as complex as ever, right up to the moment where it becomes suddenly and dramatically simpler…Collapse is simply the last remaining method of simplification.
2. History is repeating itself: a quick look at any number of examples demonstrates why this logic is applicable to business and therefore IT. The automotive industry went from innovative to commodity driven by Henry Ford and hung on for dear life, until its recent collapse due to the stress of the global economic crisis and changing attitudes to the environmental impact of car travel. While some of the incumbents fight on (eg: Honda, who’s tagline has been ‘dream the impossible’) a range of new manufacturers are emerging. For many the well-publicised collapse of the Financial Services industry has been due, largely, to the complexity of its products and the inability of regulation to cope with this complexity. The Media and Entertainment industry is in the throes of a similar challenge, with various sectors in different stages.
“An alternative solution would be to simply embrace the chaos”
The simplest conclusion for the IT industry is to embrace collapse and its accompanying chaos, but perhaps we don’t have to see Rome burning. Rather enterprise IT users should prepare for a period when IT structures and their accompanying ‘rules’ have to be reset. Cloud Computing is the vehicle for that change and there is a significant opportunity for Cloud vendors to help their customers move towards this ‘post-proprietary’ era of adoption.
To encourage change Cloud vendors need to follow a number of steps, mainly to appeal to the current institutionalised mindset, but also to lead their customers to place where they believe that risk-taking isn’t dangerous.
Step one – build trust: recognise that technology> won’t lead to change alone – accept Simon Wardley’s point that it is only one of four triggers that drive uptake. Unless the concept for a new technology is clearly defined, unless the customer recognises its suitability for its environment and the customer has been convinced to change their attitude, the technology will always sit on the shelf, no matter how good it is.
Step two – change the benefit discussion around Cloud: both Nicholas Carr and Paul Strassmann have said – in one form or other – that there is little value in IT spend and in fact Jevons Paradox showed that technology adoption increases consumption, rather than saves money. There is a need to appeal to the predictability mindset, because cloud will never achieve widespread, commoditised consumption – similar to other utilities – unless vendors show how Cloud can bridge the default position regarding risk aversion and the desire for repeatable solutions. But making a conversation solely about cost reduction will never move IT users out their comfort zone to experiment fully with the Cloud.
Step three – embolden customers to take risks: for me this is encapsulated by provoking customers to respond to Shirky’s question: “Would this be an interesting thing to try?”
It goes to the heart of the point about moving the discussion beyond cost. If Cloud vendors can show the benefits of piloting their technologies can be done at minimal risk, they can begin to break down linear approaches to IT adoption. However, to do this they must bring customers on a journey that explains what their roles will be in the future, because a guaranteed blocker to change is an IT Director, who sees his or her role being replaced by a new technology. (Classic example – which I’ve witnessed – try selling database automation technology to a room full of Database Administrators)
Cloud Computing suppliers are beginning to reassure more and more enterprises that they have a role in their IT infrastructure, but they are yet to build significant trust among the broader ‘Church’ of the enterprise IT industry. The danger is that the traditional vendors are not only feeding that hesitation, they are using this period to catch up, so the Cloud specialists don’t have long to drive their advantage home.
For this ‘Age of Growth’ perhaps the new motto should be: “Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)
Or as Mrs Doyle said it more succinctly, “Ah go on, go on, go on…”
August 2, 2010
The guardians of the new transparency
One principle of transparency is that influence does not simply rest with the ‘idea starters’ and ‘amplifiers’ who energise the beginning of the conversation. As conversations develop two important behaviours have a major impact on how the conversation is shaped – this is where the ‘curators’ and ‘commentators’ fit into the topology of influence. The curators and commentators are in many ways the guardians of the new transparency. To explain this here is a quick digression on the hidden hero of the Web.
Hyperlinking and the conversation revolution
One of the unsung heroes of the Information Age is the hyperlink. This one innovation in the entire history of the online revolution meant that Internet readers could instantaneously connect with referenced primary source material or ideas to check the legitimacy, background and context of the information. Indeed the ability to ask, question and then interact, became the prerogative of the reader. This might not seem a huge change from traditional media where the published word was always open to interrogation, scrutiny or legal action, but the main difference is that the only way to do so was only available through a formalised process of writing a letter or directing your query through a complaints procedure. The hyperlink helped shape a new culture around how ideas and thoughts were developed and questioned, the speed at which they were to do so, and how conversations pervaded the online world.
The second innovation around hyperlinking was the ability at one click to email a question or directly challenge the creator of the material. Ideas became live and open to dissection like never before, and in real-time. This did not just include the big ideas either, any thought was now open to the smallest piece of plagiarism or unsourced repetition. The creator of ideas was now in a live Q&A and it was because of this new transparency that he or she had to respond.
The culture of transparency and authenticity
This technical ability, above all else, drove the culture of authenticity that emerged around Internet communities and conversations, and the insistence of cross referencing, and credibility checking that has become the norm today. This process eventually embedded itself and became a natural instinct for every true geek who insists on contextualising the online conversation always maintaining transparency.
Even in places where this culture of open transparency is weaker, such as parts of Asia, true geeks know that if the link is not there then the phrase or source can be checked out on a search engine which is exactly how the true geek thinks.
This mindset is summarised in a short but brilliant post on the Joho blog – Transparency is the new objectivity.
|“You can see this in newspapers’ early push-back against blogging. We were told that bloggers have agendas, whereas journalists give us objective information. Of course, if you don’t think objectivity is possible, then you think that the claim of objectivity is actually hiding the biases that inevitably are there. That’s what I meant when, during a bloggers press conference at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I asked Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Walter Mears whom he was supporting for president. He replied (paraphrasing!), “If I tell you, how can you trust what I write?,” to which I replied that if he doesn’t tell us, how can we trust what he blogs?
So, that’s one sense in which transparency is the new objectivity.
What we used to believe because we thought the author was objective we now believe because we can see through the author’s writings to the sources and values that brought her to that position. Transparency gives the reader information by which she can undo some of the unintended effects of the ever-present biases. Transparency brings us to reliability the way objectivity used to.
This change is, well, epochal.
Objectivity used be presented as a stopping point for belief: If the source is objective and well-informed, you have sufficient reason to believe. The objectivity of the reporter is a stopping point for reader’s inquiry. That was part of high-end newspapers’ claimed value: You can’t believe what you read in a slanted tabloid, but our news is objective, so your inquiry can come to rest here. Credentialing systems had the same basic rhythm: You can stop your quest once you come to a credentialed authority who says, “I got this. You can believe it.” End of story.”
This culture of transparency is central to the way conversations work and it explains why the model changed from being top down to bottom up, as it pervades the whole conversation wave. Yet the crucial behavioural element to ensuring it works rests in our topology with the highly influential idea starters and amplifiers. After all, in the traditional top down world there have always been people with ideas who amplified them via publishing and broadcasting throughout history i.e. the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther’s attack on the Catholic Church in 1517, the Scientific Revolution from the 16th century, Louis XIV’s Absolutist reign in 1643, and Hitler’s dictatorship from 1933.
The revolutionary, new influential behaviours are what we call the curator and commentator segments. In many ways these groups are the guardians of the new transparency, the executioners of deference and true democrats. It is these, often ordinary people, that take amplified ideas and either validate them, question the assumptions, challenge the ideas, seek the reference and even start fragments of a new conversation or debate. Just look at how Wikipedia works and has grown for instance.
Curators – individuals who use a broader context to define ideas
Curators are the historians, librarians, encyclopaedias, researchers and organisers of the online world. They find, group, share and archive digital information with the aim of categorising content, providing quick and easily accessible information for today’s time precious audience, and preserve cultural heritages for future audiences. Curators may subtly edit information to include a broader context to define ideas, but they usually have a low level of online engagement compared to idea starters and commentators.
Wikipedia is the ultimate curator’s tool and currently one of the most popular online preservation platforms to resonate so successfully with the online world. Another, as discussed, is hyperlinking and other forms include mash-up sites.
Curators are in many ways a radical group. The key point with this segment is that as a behaviour it barely existed in the traditional world beyond academia and the spoken word. Before the web you could not comment on a media in any specific way beyond rather formalised processes that were very controlled, for instance writing a letter to the editor, and you certainly did not really adapt this content to your way of thinking other than an equally formal expert response in another journal. The Internet changed all of this. Now you could take a person’s thoughts from an article, mash it up with other sources, and then share this broadly as your own adapted content. You could be wildly wrong and inaccurate in which case you may often be called to account on this or you could be wildly successful in hitting a huge communal conversation with this adapted content.
Preservation platforms such as Wikipedia have helped make the new transparency become a reality. Wikipedia successfully brought a library of information to the masses; it removed geek perceptions once associated with looking up information in printed encyclopaedias, cost boundaries (think back to buying CD-ROM software such as Microsoft Encarta), language barriers as Wikipedia is available in a multitude of languages, and became relevant to today’s audience because of its real-time and broad content.