Tag Archive | "listening"

Tags: , , , , , ,

My Philosophical Review of the Audience Conference


Loren Feldman. 1938 Media. Audience Conference.

That’s about as much of a summary as you’ll find about the Audience Conference held in New York last Friday. That’s because there were no open laptops allowed during the performances. There was also no Wi-Fi, no video streaming, no tweeting, and no blogging. Something akin to omertà joined the members of the Audience Conference together.

This bond of silence was at the core of the Audience Conference, and it goes against everything that technology and Web 2.0 events normally stand for: openness, transparency, and participation. You would be hard-pressed to find any information anywhere on the web about any of the Audience Conference content. Tweets during the event were generic (“just arrived at the Audience Conference”) and posts after the event were vague (“loved the conference, got to meet Calacanis”). Nobody knows what happened unless you were a genuine member of the audience.

Many other features of the event were also unfamiliar. There were no sponsor booths, banners, and signs all over the place, the speakers had no slideshows, internet connections, or videos to keep us interested, and there were no press or even questions from the audience allowed. No problem.

Read the rest of my new post, “Quarantined Conferences: Claustrophobic Technophiles or Attentive Audiences,” at O’Reilly Radar today!

Posted via email from Mark’s Cheeky Posterous

Posted in Mark's BlogComments Off

Tags: , , , , , ,

Microsoft Public Sector: The Bright Side of Government?


My colleague Steve Lunceford from Deloitte called my attention to a new Facebook Fan Page that Microsoft Public Sector (government group) started, called “The Bright Side of Government.” From an initial glance, it looks pretty cool. First, there are a lot of nice features, including YouTube videos from Microsoft principals, and links to local and state governments using emerging technologies in new ways. There’s a theme to the page that’s greater than the Microsoft brand. And there are some links to other sites like Twitter and LinkedIn where people can connect deeper or converse with the people behind the site.

In the recent past, I’ve been somewhat critical of the Federal government’s Facebook Fan Pages; perhaps this “cause branding” tactic is something that Web and Public Affairs folks in the government should look at. For example, rather than have an EPA “Fan Page” (Who’s truly a fan of the Environmental Protection Agency? How many people wake up in the morning excited about new environmental regulations or inland waterway policy?), have a page devoted to news and information, and yes, fandom, over a larger movement: “Green for America, Green for Everyone” (or whatever).

Second, there is a call to action on the Fan Page. At the time I looked at the page, the status update stated: “Is your city/county/state/agency on Facebook? Share it with us so we can add it to the Bright Side Stars tab!” One of the biggest challeges I’ve faced as co-chair of the Government 2.0 Expo is finding local government success stories in the realm of social technology and new media; The bright Side of Government may become a resource people like me who are trying to plan well-balanced and thoughtful events in the Gov 2.0 space. People and groups that develop unique resources and generously give them to the community develop strong brand engagement with their communities.This isn’t a fair post, because I’m not looking at other companies. Who else in Microsoft’s sector (Intel, Apple, Cisco, Google…) has something similar, or worse? What about brands more generally, how does this effort by Microsoft Public Sector stack up?

Posted via email from Mark’s Cheeky Posterous

Posted in Mark's BlogComments Off

Tags: , , , , , , ,

You Don’t Have To Follow Everyone You Like In Real Life On Twitter


I want to let you all in on a little secret: You don’t have to follow everyone you like in real life on Twitter, just because they have an account there!

Simple, right? Well, not really. A lot of people seem to have a disease whose symptom manifests itself in the form of a question, “Why don’t you follow me on Twitter?”

Guess what. I can choose follow people I don’t like in real life on Twitter. And I can choose to not follow people I enjoy speaking to in real life. Maybe you tweet so infrequently I forget you’re there. Maybe you’re boring. Maybe you don’t engage. Maybe I don’t even have to explain myself.

It doesn’t mean I don’t like you. You might just suck at Twitter. Let me give you one example. I unfollowed @MorningMika (http://twitter.com/morningmika) today. She co-hosts a terrific morning show on MSNBC, “Morning Joe” – I watch it all the time. But her tweets are boring. And she doesn’t engage her 13,000+ followers, almost ever.

So, follow people who add value to you. And link up with other people on Facebook, LinkedIn, the comments section of their blogs, whatever and whenever adds the most value for the least cost.

If using Twitter were the same as real life, it wouldn’t be very unique, interesting or useful, would it?

Posted via email from Mark’s Cheeky Posterous

Posted in Mark's BlogComments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Public Diplomacy 2.0


Tero Ojanperä wants to rule the world. Well, perhaps the September cover of geeky Fast Company magazine goes a little too far with that pronouncement. But despite all the media buzz about Apple’s iPhone and the fact that nearly everyone in Washington has a Blackberry attached to their thumbs, those two devices combined account for only three percent of the global phone market. Nokia, on the other hand – the company that Tero Ojanperä  is the Executive Vice President of Entertainment and Communities for – owns nearly 40%. If he who controls the medium controls the message, Nokia might very well control the future of mobile text, video, music, and other things you want to have on-the-go. And this in turn may affect international diplomacy.

But such global ambitions do not happen without good public relations and influencer outreach. Fast Company describes Ojanperä as a Warhol-meets-Bond-villain businessman wooing music industry executives at a fashionable Tribeca hotel. But this kind of public-outreach-meets-global-domination is certainly not unique to corporations. In fact, governments and empires havehad the lead on that score for centuries as they fight for and strive to maintain influence in the world, and Finland is no exception. Thanks to a new “sister city” marriage of Washington and Helsinki, a program called Invitation to Helsinki brought some District influencers to meet counterparts and exchange knowledge. With backing from Finland’s U.S. Ambassador, this brainchild of the Finnish Embassy’s cultural counselor Pekka Hako blossomed into a collection of relationships that may last far beyond the week-long trip that people like Government 2.0 Club co-founder Peter Corbett, Georgetown student body president Patrick Dowd, and political communications expert Blake Zeff took.

Read more about Diplomacy 2.0 in my full-length article at Washington Life magazine.

Posted in Mark's BlogComments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Government Ambassadors For Citizen Engagement


To the average person, government is represented by an anonymous person on the other end of the phone, a pile of mandatory paperwork, and perhaps at best a friendly neighborhood postal carrier. If you ask the average American not living inside the Beltway to name a single individual who works in the federal government, how would they reply? My guess is that the broad majority of them couldn’t give you the first and last name of a federal government employee; In reality they would find it much easier to name their local pharmacist, garage owner, or supermarket manager. And from the perspective of the government, this is a shame. How might emerging social technologies help to bridge that gap, in combination with a modification in thinking about government public relations?

The ideal end state when a citizen is asked to name a government employee would be that a person working in a micro-niche of interest to them – finance, farming, foot-and-mouth disease – immediately comes to mind. Unfortunately though, interesting and talented people working at Treasury, USDA, NIH and other places are not well-known to the public, despite the great effects their work has on everyday life in America. Why is this? Partly, it is a vestige from the days when communications were controlled by professionally trained public relations staff and mainstream journalism teams. This was understandable – equipment was expensive, channels were few, and citizens trusted authenticated, official sources for their information. But this media structure that worked well for 40 years is now outdated.

In the Web 2.0 world, every individual is empowered to be not only a consumer of information, but a producer of it. Writing is searchable, discoverable, sharable, usable, and yes, even alterable. The proverbial “pajama mafia” of bloggers has morphed into a powerful society class of listeners, questioners, writers, editors, publishers, and distributors. And in some outlying examples from the federal government, such as the TSA’s blog, we see this same power being harnessed by individual employees (with their agency’s approval, naturally) – Individuals from the TSA not only blog, but interact with citizens who comment on the articles. But this form of government-citizen interaction is, honestly, a primitive version of how social technologies can empower citizen engagement with government.

The modern citizen is not a vessel waiting to receive press releases and government website updates. Even a sophisticated government website like the White House’s new blog can only expect to attract a subset of citizens a subset of the time. Why? Simply, there are simply too many avenues of information flowing towards these people formerly known as a captive audience. No matter how compelling your government information, they are not waiting to hear from you about it. Nor are they necessarily waiting to hear from the New York Times, MSNBC, or any other mainstream organization.

Read more about how governments can harness the power of social media to reach the modern citizen at O’Reilly Radar.

Posted in Mark's BlogComments (4)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Conversations Are Intelligence, Not Invitation


Fox’s recent experiment of overlaying live tweets on an episode of Fringe was an epic failure unwelcome to Twitter enthusiasts and traditional viewers alike.  It’s hard to imagine anyone who understands social technology thinking that this was a good idea. It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone working in entertainment thinking that this would add to, and not detract from, a fictional television drama. Conversations that happen via social media are not necessarily an invitation for businesses to join them. They are, however, business intelligence that can be collected, analyzed, and adapted to. In one of the best simple articles I’ve read on this topic, media and entertainment entrepreneur Patricia Handschiegel writes that,

If TV wants to have a presence online or integrate its offerings online, it needs to think like a user. Not BE a user, not be “part of the conversation,” but understand what is valuable to the user and deliver it. You all should be on Twitter telling us when your shows are going to air and what we can expect, showing trailers, driving us to YOUR website for contests, special footage, etc…Your job is to entertain and inform your audience. Nobody cares what people think of your shows but you, and nobody cares what people have to say about your shows but you… Just because you can “hear” the direct conversations about your brand via the web today doesn’t mean you have to go bananas with it. Listen, use it for insight, adapt your offerings around it, etc. Brands of all kinds are taking all of this way, way too seriously. Your message has always been reshaped and shared among people — the only difference now is that you can see and hear it. This is not something to be afraid of. This is something to use to your advantage.

This is related to what I’ve previously written about on O’Reilly Radar how for businesses and brands (including personal brands) Twitter should mainly be viewed not as a conversation to be involved in, but as a mechanism for providing great content to people. This can be derided by critics as “broadcasting” but there is a happy medium between being in a multiplex chatroom “engaging” with people and merely broadcasting. Listening, understanding, and some interacting is important – but it is not an end goal in itself. This is also related to what I’ve recently written about on PR 2.0, something I call proactive social media (or offensive social media) – filling the information space with great content that people will find if they’re looking for information about your area of expertise or your business sector. This is the strategy that I am beginning to talk about with individuals, government employees, and large and small companies that ask for my advice about how they should best be using social media to interact with the public.

Posted in Mark's BlogComments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Efficiency of Celebrity Obituaries


Are celebrities dying at a higher velocity these days, or am I just discovering information about their deaths more efficiently?

I think the latter. This is information I didn’t know I needed to know, until I found out about it. With online software platforms like social bookmarking and microsharing increasing in popularity, you no longer have to spend lots of time finding information – the information finds you.

Obituaries are interesting, because  they are generally sudden, unanticipated news events. You could not possibly be looking to see if your average celebrity has passed away the minute before it happens. Today director John Hughes is being reported as deceased, and I was not thinking about this before this afternoon.

One could think of real-time celebrity obituaries as a metaphor for natural disasters or other sudden events of large impact – so-called Black Swans, in Taleb’s terminology. These are events that impact many people that cannot be anticipated or forecasted with much certainty, if any. The social web makes this information known to you in nearly real-time, however, which is about the best you can expect.

Posted in Mark's BlogComments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Government 2.0 Expo Showcase: Women By the Numbers


While I was traveling the last few days, a minor controversy seemed to flame up about a lack of women in some of the Gov 2.0 events being planned by Tim O’Reilly and associated crew.   They’re welcome to comment below, but I see no reason to call out individual people and their various comments.   Here, I want to  personally comment on an event I’ve been involved with planning for Tim during the last few months, and how women have intersected with it in interesting ways.

I’m a scientist and I tend to deal with quantifying data as a mechanism for seeing patterns, and that’s what I intend to do in this brief post.  As many of you know I’m the program committee co-chair for the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase that is happening the day before the Gov 2.0 Summit (everyone, men and women, are able to register, incidentally).  Anyone could submit any proposal for a five minute talk for the Showcase, and on Monday, July 20, we chose 25 fantastic proposals to become talks (as I write, notices are being sent out by O’Reilly Media).  I believe this data, previously not publicly known, bears on some of the issues being discussed.

We received 189 valid proposals for talks at Expo Showcase.  A few people, men and women, submitted two proposals, but the vast majority submitted just one.  Of these 189, only 41 (or 22% of the total) were from women, with 147 proposals submitted by men.  I have no reason in particular to offer for this. Perhaps women would like to comment on this blog about why a two month open call for proposals for anyone with a good idea for a five minute talk about Government 2.0 was dominated by 78% men.  Whatever the explanation, I don’t think it had very much to do with the organizers of the event, who did quite a lot of outreach to tell people about what was happening.

Nevertheless, despite a minority of women submitting talk ideas, those relatively few ideas generally fared well as the program committee voted and discussed the agenda for Expo Showcase.  Of the 25 talks chosen, 8 of them, or 32% of the total, were submitted by women, and the remaining 17 were from men.  Note that, perhaps counter-intuitively to those protesting the lack of women presenters at events like this, the percent of women being accepted for talks is higher than the percent of women who submitted.  I think that few women would have a problem with this outcome.

Further, this means that the “rate of success” for a female proposal to Expo Showcase was approximately twice as high as a male proposal (20% chance of being chosen if female vs. 11% if male).   Now, I should point out that at no time am I aware of gender being explicitly discussed, in particular on the final conference call where we decided the 25 talks.  We talked about the merits of the projects, the proposals, and the speakers.  So, we didn’t choose women at twice the rate because they were women, but rather on average twice as many female proposals (vs. male) tended to rate extremely well by our criteria.  Bravo.

Singling out Tim O’Reilly for critique is a bit narrow, and approaches what I’d call a low blow.  I should point out that the Expo Showcase program committee is 38% women, and while Tim certainly knows what we’re up to, he didn’t directly play a role in deciding which proposals became talks.  It is also worth noting that my co-chair for the Showcase is Laurel Ruma, a woman.  It is additionally noteworthy that the event chiefs for O’Reilly Media and TechWeb that head up planning for the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase and Summit are Gina Blaber and Jen Pahlka, both women.  There are lots of women involved at all points in the decisionmaking process with these events, so if shotgun-style critics want to “blame” people for perceived problems, they may as well accuse the entire crew of people, men and women. Not that I necessarily think anyone should be “blamed.”

I only speak for myself and don’t want to discuss Gov 2.0 Summit and Web 2.0 Summit too deeply as I’ve been involved less with those events, but I think the notion that Tim O’Reilly and anyone else involved in planning these events is trying to do anything but find the best possible people and have influential events is silly.  Summits are high level events as Tim points out in his post here, and attendees want to see high level, influential people; many of them happen to be male.

Everyone can always strive to be better.  Intelligent suggestions are always welcome.  But the way in which some people approached lobbying for more women to be involved in these Gov 2.0 events was not only tasteless and somewhat misinformed, it may have been counterproductive.  No one likes being publicly blindsided with baseless accusations.

Posted in Mark's BlogComments (3)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Strategic vs. Popular Event Attendance


People frequently ask me if I’m going to this or that event. Are you going to SXSW? Are you going to Gnomedex? And I often say no.

It’s okay to defy people’s expectations. Most people are followers and attend whatever events everyone else is attending, often without a great reason. When people ask me if I’m attending an event I don’t plan to attend, I do say “No” but then I usually ask, “Why should I go?” – and I usually don’t get a great answer.

To me that’s just more justification for not attending.

Everything starts with a strategy for you and your career. Don’t go to Gov 2.0 Summit or SXSW or Personal Democracy Forum or anything else without a great reason – and preferably more than one. You have to do what works for you. Events are just tools that help you complete your mission better. That’s all.

Personally, I mix small free events that are great for networking with some high profile events in my area where I can learn something new with academic conferences to think about things more abstractly with events outside my area to deliberately take me outside my element with conferences I speak at to get feedback about my ideas. That’s why I attend lots of events but any one person feels like they don’t see me very often.

This month I’ll speak to the Network of Entreprenurial Women in Washington, the World Tech Summit in New York, the Open Government & Innovations Conference back in Washington, then the 5th Annual National Veteran Small Business Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. All different, all broadening who I am and how I think.

Pick and choose your events according to what works for you, not peer pressure. Sometimes the event that “everyone is going to” works for you, and sometimes it doesn’t. Buck the crowd sometimes – that’s what will enhance you and set you apart.

Posted in Mark's BlogComments (7)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Where’s the Greatest Government Generation?


Last week I attended a dinner hosted in Washington, DC by the terrific group ACT/IAC about the topic of Government 2.0 and innovation.  One thing that occured to us during the formal discussion period was that during World War II and the early days of the Cold War afterwards, there was simply less bureaucracy, and things like getting a government job just took less time.

When we talk about attracting the Millennial generation into the government workforce, and when we talk about innovating to adapt to a rapidly changing environment, we’re often thinking about futuristic digital technology.  But we rarely look back.  In the 40s, 50s, and 60s there was a great deal of innovation taking place – the federal government was scaled up, the Pentagon was built in a matter of months, the OSS and CIA were created (and were relatively effective), and so on.

It’s hard to imagine doing that so quickly today.  Just think about the U.S. government’s official job portal, USAJobs.  I don’t know anyone who’s had a pleasureable experience with USAJobs (whether they got the job or not).  It can be so offputting, some people just give up.  That’s not a great message to send about how urgently we need smart young people in government.  Where’s the concierge to guide you to a job that suits your unique skill set?

This “fierce urgency of not right now” is something I have written about for a while.  One idea we had at the dinner was to gather people from “The Greatest Generation” who have been working in and around government for 40 years together in a forum where they can teach us how to innovate by looking backward to what they did then.  Tom Brokaw could moderate, even.

I think that if a lot of government leaders and managers took some time out from their day-to-day work and listened to and conversed with these veterans, everyone would learn a lot.  And we may get some fresh old ideas about how to make Government 2.0 happen with some urgency.  Simplify, get back to basics, decide what’s truly important, make a plan, and innovate.

Update 9:46am – Chris Matthews was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program this morning (right after I wrote this) talking about health care and how America needs to “get it done.”  Normally I would be on the side of asking more questions, making value judgements, looking at costs and tradeoffs, and so forth.  But maybe I’ve become caught up in this too.  It’s not always great to rush into things, but Matthews’ point (which he was getting hammered on by the host) was simply: Do you want universal health care in America or not? If you do, we have to get it done.  I have to respect the blunt argument given the above.

Posted in Mark's BlogComments (3)

  • Popular
  • Latest
  • Comments
  • Tags
  • Subscribe

Search this website

Post Archive