Tag Archives: Community

Powerful Communities

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As you know, I am a fan of Neil Perkin‘s slide shows.  As anyone in our company can attest, building a C3 – Complete Community Connection is challenging and disconcerting, particularly in this time of economic contraction.  When pressed about the purpose of such an effort, I commented:
a bigger goal of C3 is strengthened communities.  If each individual in the community has exactly the information they need, when and where they want it, and can develop stronger relationships with those in their defined communities, each of those communities will be stronger.
So when I heard Neil was developing a slide show about strengthening communities, sourced from the community, I was eager to see what developed.  In order to get the full flavor of this presentation, it is best to visit Neil’s site, where he gives the context of this effort and the outline of his presentation of the slides.
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Earlier View

Neil Perkin shared his thoughts on the future of media in this slide show seven months ago.  I just saw it yesterday.  I wish I had seen it last June.  Very succinctly, he outlines the need for, and concepts behind, our efforts here at C3.

What do you think?

Transparency and Engagement

An example of a social network diagram.
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Starting the new year with new energy to make C3 happen.  Why C3?  While covered before, the essence is:

If each individual in the community has exactly the information they need, when and where they want it, and can develop stronger relationships with those in their defined communities, each of those communities will be stronger.

“Exactly” means relevance and context.  And, the particular community of interest to an individual, whether geographical, relationship or affinity, has to be expressed by the individual, not packaged by a committee.

So, when I saw Valeria Maltoni‘s recent post on Real Collaboration, I was struck by passages such as :

With collaboration we can make that change more expansive and at the same time better focused; more responsive and less cumbersome. Collaboration also leads to community. To build a community we need to be willing to educate and connect individuals, and have the desire to take action at the appropriate times. …

Can there be mass collaboration? Only when each individual self-interest is served through making that very same choice.

She reminded me of Roy Greenslade’s blog of last year, where he also call for a new mindset among journalists:

When we journalists talk about integration we generally mean, integrating print and online activities. But the true integration comes online itself. The integration between journalists and citizens. Of course, there should be no distinction between them. But journalists still wish to see themselves as a class apart.

We have to open ourselves up to a new thought process. There is no us and them. I had a sudden thought to end this posting with a Marxist-style call to arms: “Bloggers of the world unite”. But it is the lack of unity that makes blogging so vibrant, so critical and also so self-critical. And, of course, so revolutionary.

So, we need a new mindset, characterized by open, transparent, collaboration; a new organization, focused on creating information in the first instance with a set of social media tools; and engagement from those people involved, both within and without the media company.  As Seth Godin puts it:

It’s more important that you be passionate about what you do all day than it is to be passionate about the product that is being sold.

Give me someone with domain expertise and the passion to do great work any time. Belief in the mission matters (a lot!), but it doesn’t replace skill.

Best of both worlds: someone who has passion (and skill and insight) about their task and passion about the mission. The latter can never replace the former.

As Jay Rosen has noted, this has created a tremendous cultural turning point for professional journalists:

The professional news tribe is in the midst of a great survival drama. It has over the last few years begun to realize that it cannot live any more on the ground it settled so successfully as the industrial purveyors of one-to-many, consensus-is-ours news. The land that newsroom people have been living on—also called their business model—no long supports their best work. So they have come to a reluctant point of realization: that to continue on, to keep the professional press going, the news tribe will have to migrate across the digital divide and re-settle itself on terra nova, new ground. Or as we sometimes call it, a new platform.

While the platform may be new, and the changes significant for traditional media companies, we are talking about enduring human relationships, the fundamentals of which do not change, as noted by Sue Murphy:

My point is – social networks have existed as far back as we can imagine. Today, we are fortunate to have this new, amazing layer of technology to help us scale it from our tiny communities to the entire world. This global scale means that we hold a great deal potential in our hands. We now have the power to do great things not only for the success of our communities, but ultimately for the success of humankind.

Having this amount power a the click of a mouse is huge. But, it doesn’t mean we have to act any differently or be anything else other than what we already are as human beings. Success in a small town not dependent on the latest tools, tricks, or techy toys, and success in social media is not any different. Like in small towns, it’s only really dependent on two things – strong leadership and a thriving network.

As 2008 comes to a close, and so many of us are eagerly anticipating all the amazing possibilities that the new year will bring, considering how we are operating in our social networks and where all this social media stuff is headed is vitally important to our progress.

All of this has major implications on how we create the “elegant organization” called for by Jeff Jarvis to create the information in the first instance with mulitple authors, commentators and platforms in mind, and how we present that information in context.  More on that later.

What do you think?

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Relationship = Attention x Trust

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park
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As I talk with many of you about the new mindset and business model for local information, you often say something like “There is just too much.  How do I use my limited time on information that is truly meaningful to me?”

Blogs, tweets, links, flashes, facebook, myspace, linkedin – it all becomes a blur, a cacophony, sometimes disorientating, or even nauseating.

A reaction of many is to avoid the cacophony, and retreat to the one-way, broadcast it to me, world of traditional newspapers, websites, and television stations.

However, many people are trying to drive through the cacophony, and figure out a way to create a new model, whereby any individual can develop a relationship with a network of information, to get what they want, when they want it, and be shown what might interest them, with a high likelihood of success.

As Clay Shirky said:

By the time that the publishing industries spun up in Venice in the early- to mid-1500s, the ability to have access to more reading material than you could finish in a lifetime is now starting to become a general problem of the educated classes. And by the 1800s, it’s a general problem of the middle class. So there is no such thing as information overload, there’s only filter failure, right? Which is to say the normal case of modern life is information overload for all educated members of society.

If you took the contents of an average Barnes and Noble, and you dumped it into the streets and said to someone, “You know what’s in there? There’s some works of Auden in there, there’s some Plato in there. Wade on in and you’ll find what you like.” And if you wade on in, you know what you’d get? You’d get Chicken Soup for the Soul. Or, you’d get Love’s Tender Fear. You’d get all this junk. The reason we think that there’s not an information overload problem in a Barnes and Noble or a library is that we’re actually used to the cataloging system. On the Web, we’re just not used to the filters yet, and so it seems like “Oh, there’s so much more information.” But, in fact, from the 1500s on, that’s been the normal case.

So, the real question is, how do we design filters that let us find our way through this particular abundance of information? And, you know, my answer to that question has been: the only group that can catalog everything is everybody. One of the reasons you see this enormous move towards social filters, as with Digg, as with del.icio.us, as with Google Reader, in a way, is simply that the scale of the problem has exceeded what professional catalogers can do. But, you know, you never hear twenty-year-olds talking about information overload because they understand the filters they’re given. You only hear, you know, forty- and fifty-year-olds taking about it, sixty-year-olds talking about because we grew up in the world of card catalogs and TV Guide. And now, all the filters we’re used to are broken and we’d like to blame it on the environment instead of admitting that we’re just, you know, we just don’t understand what’s going on.  (Emphasis in bold, underline and italics added by Chuck Peters on 12/21/08)

The ideas on this are not new.  As mentioned earlier, Bruno Giusanni noted many of the ideas over 11 years ago.  Tom Ratkovich outlined the role of the trusted “infomediary” over 6 years ago:

There are three essential qualities of the infomediary:

  1. Trust. As stated by Hagel and Singer, “Trust
    is the infomediary’s lifeblood.” Without trust, consumers
    will not share their personal information. Any doubt concerning
    the integrity and credibility of the infomediary will entirely
    undermine its ability to serve it that capacity.
  2. Existing relationships with consumers and
    merchants
    . While today’s newspaper is the logical entity to
    evolve into tomorrow’s infomediary, it is not the given entity.
    The Internet opens the door to numerous other institutions to
    usurp that role. The window of opportunity is not a large one,
    and those posturing to serve as the dominant infomediary will
    be disadvantaged if they must build these relationships from scratch.
  3. Channel integration. The ability to integrate
    the distribution of marketing communications across multiple channels
    is vital for two reasons. First, it allows for communication utilizing
    the preferred medium of the consumer. Second, it contributes to
    the optimization of merchant ROI by minimizing redundancy. (This
    is the primary impediment to companies like Amazon.com and Yahoo!
    in assuming the infomediary role.)

In order to engage and strengthen our communities, we need to engage and inform each individual.  We, as the local media company, cannot know what each individual is truly interested in.  The individual does not want to tell the whole world exactly what their interests are, for fear of loss of privacy, or being abused.

Yet, we are moving to a Relationship Economy, in which how we act will depend not only on the information we receive, but how those in trusted relationships with us inform and guide us.

The formula I have been testing lately is Relationship = Attention x Trust.  I am sure that others, at other points in time, have come up with this, but I could not find a direct citation.

In order to have a long relationship with a local information organization, I want to know that I will find everything happening in the community relating to those people, places, events or topics in which I have expressed an interest, without wading through lots of articles and content in which I am not interested.  I also want to be aware of other information which a trusted “conductor” thinks someone in my community should know, or someone with my particular interests should know.

Despite the running commentary on whether print newspapers or broadcast news can survive, I think Tom Ratkovich had it exactly right in his expression of complementarity in channel integration.  I want those broadcast sources to act like they know that I have the option to be plugged into a relevant network of information.  So, in those broadcasted, print media, provide overview, context and promotion of the network.

Those interested in the Semantic Web, including e-Me Ventures, recognize that machines reading code, tags and text can only do so much to serve relevant information.  Each individual needs to declare interests, pretty specifically.  They are not likely to do so without trust.

People working on the trust side of the equation include the Information Valet Project and Attention Trust.  What I think we need for C3 is a plug-in, widget, or service that will allow individuals to clearly express their interests, in exchange for our promise to only use that information to serve information of value to that individual, in a long term relationship.

That information of value can be information created without an agenda ( what we ideally think “news”  currently is) and information with an agenda (advertising and commercial content).

That relationship has to be built over time, with lots of conversation.   If something is no longer of interest, we need to know, and react quickly.

Without replaying the rest of this blog, we cannot actually serve as the trusted infomediary without the right mindset, tasks, organization, technology and persistence.  If we break trust, by failing to provide accurate, timely and relevant information, the game is over

With the daily bemoaning of the fate of local media, and the general economy, the time to act is now, with urgency, as this is our time of greatest opportunity to actually implement these old ideas.

What do you think?

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Blogging Insights for Building Community

Young people interacting within an ethnically diverse society.Image via Wikipedia

Todd of Wediabuzz really liked this slideshow from Trisha Okubo. There are many slides but it moves quickly and is very interesting, and most appropriate for those of us thinking about how to engage and inform our communities. She makes the point, near the end, that communities cannot be built, like products, but need to develop from shared passion.