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Filtering by Category: "participants"

Conversation Economy

Added on by Chris Saad.
There is a fantastic post about the Conversation Economy on BusinessWeek by David Armano.

There is really nothing more I can add to it. It is beautifully written.

Here's an excerpt:

"Conversation architects move marketing beyond the idea of one-way messaging. Traditional marketing efforts were founded on this tried-and-true format and are still prevalent within the industry. Consider the example of a typical creative brief template, which usually says something like, "What are we trying to communicate?" Can you can see the old-world residue in the word "communicate"? It lacks the dimensions of experiencing something and having an ongoing two-way dialogue. "What are we trying to communicate?" implies a one-way conversation. Maybe we should ask ourselves: "How can we facilitate?""

Going Viral - By design

Added on by Chris Saad.
Interesting article was published in Ad week on the 19th called "Clients try to manipulate unpredictable viral Buzz" about clients asking ad agencies to create viral videos for them.

Ad agencies are spending a lot of time and creative juices trying to manufacture stuff that people should 'Pay Attention' to each time having mixed results. They are seeding blogs, commenting, creating content and faking YouTube stats all in an effort to get noticed.

From the article:

"The move to bring a measure of predictability to the still-unpredictable world of viral marketing is being driven by clients trying to balance the risks
inherent in a new marketing medium with the need to prove return on investment, said agency executives."

Some campaigns work - like the one below:

But many don't. While the video above got millions of impressions (and is still going - even getting linked on Blogs dedicated to the subject of Attention!) other videos that would (on paper) be expected to get a lot of attention don't.

"Then there's the seven-minute film by Leaving Las Vegas director Mike Figgis of Kate Moss in her underwear for Agent Provocateur, a lingerie maker that had what would appear to be the recipe for a viral sensation. But it was viewed fewer than 75,000 times in the three months after it was uploaded last September."
There is a fight going on out there. To win hearts and minds. And I am not talking about the War on Terror.

Actually what they are really fighting for is Attention. Once they have that - its yet another battle to actually convert Attention into Engagement.

In the mean time. I am having a very hard time uploading a screen-cast of Touchstone in action. Google Video and YouTube seem to compress the heck out of it so you can't read the screen! This should be easier.

Things are proceeding exactly according to plan

Added on by Chris Saad.
As I predicted with the Media 2.0 Roadmap - more and more TV will be about airing "What's popular" from the web. Just like Current.TV.

Here's a post covering the topic further entitled "You can be on TV!"

VH1, currently airing the third season of "Web Junk 20," this moth premieres the Jack Black-hosted "Acceptable TV," which attempts to fuse TV with the Web. In February, Nickelodeon debuted a two-hour programming block called "ME:TV," featuring contributions from 10-year-olds. TLC recently began a six-part documentary series, "My Life as a Child," in which kids were given cameras to videotape their lives. Also, high-profile, consumer-created ads for Doritos, Chevy and Dove ran during the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards.


Current TV, now in about 40 million homes, predates the YouTube sensation with its viewer-created "pods," which make up a third of its programming. Joel Hyatt, who co-created Current TV with Al Gore, is understandably a little irritated that his network — which launched in August 2005 — hasn't always been given the credit it deserves.

"We pioneered the concept. We are the only television network totally premised on the concept of viewer-created content," says Hyatt.
Hyatt says Current purposely wanted to level the playing field in television, rather than unveil itself as a Web site. (Current does boast a robust Web site and plans to launch a full "destination" site this summer.)

I think the way that Current.TV allows its audience to join the conversation is amazing. It is the embodiment of next generation TV. The reason they don't get the credit they deserve though, I think, is that they themselves don't join the conversation beyond their own network/blog.

Making money from the long tail...

Added on by Chris Saad.

There have been a number of posts lately about the profitability of the long tail.

First Guy Kawasaki posts his year in review where he mentions how little he makes from his very successful blog.

Then Chris Anderson posts called "Don't quite your day job" a reaction to Guy's blog revenue talking about the long tail and its profitability.

Then Chris makes a follow up post where he clearly explains who in the long-tail ecosystem can make money, and why those that can't, shouldn't worry anyway because direct revenue is not the main motivating force or reward.

This is how he explains it:

  1. Consumers. Effect: Largely cultural. People have more choice, so individual taste increasingly satisfied even if the effect is an increasingly fragmented culture.
  2. Aggregators. Effect: Largely economic. It's never been easier to assemble vast variety and create tools for organizing it, from search to recommendations. Increased variety plus increased demand for variety equals opportunity. Also note that just as one size doesn't fit all for products, nor does it for aggregators. I think the winner-take-all examples of eBay, Amazon, iTunes and Google are a first-inning phenomena. Specialized niche aggregators (think: vertical search, such as the real estate service Zillow) are on the rise.
  3. Producers. Effect: Largely non-economic. I responded to a good Nick Carr post on this last year with the following: "For producers, Long Tail benefits are not primarily about direct revenues. Sure, Google Adsense on the average blog will generate risible returns, and the average band on MySpace probably won't sell enough CDs to pay back their recording costs, much less quit their day jobs. But the ability to unitize such microcelebrity can be significant elsewhere. A blog is a great personal branding vehicle, leading to anything from job offers to consulting gigs. And most band's MySpace pages are intended to bring fans to live shows, which are the market most bands care most about. When you look at the non-monetary economy of reputation, the Long Tail looks a lot more inviting for its inhabitants."

Nik Cubrilovic still holds onto the hope that producers can indeed make money from blogging and suggests some alternatives to AdSense which should be more profitable.

But of course, each of these commentators have day jobs.

There were some posts from bloggers who do basically make a business out of their blogs. First Yaro Stark who posts "Is Professional Blogging a Sustainable Business Model" and Darren Rowse with a post called "Does AdSense Suck for Bloggers?".

This is an interesting topic to me because I have had a number of conversations with friends, partners, investors etc about 'where the money is' in this emerging marketplace.

My feeling is more closely aligned with Chris Anderson's. Participants who create long-tail content are not doing it for money. We don't write open source code, contribute to wikipedia or blog about our lives for cash. We do it because we want to contribute - both to our egos and to the world. We want to be heard.

Professional producers, however, need to pay the bills. But unfortunately they are finding it hard to monetize their 'participants'. That's why I think aggregators should give something back. But that's a post for another time.

Blog Highlights of 2006

Added on by Chris Saad.
Hi everyone - I hope you had a great 2006. I know we certainly have. In just one year, Touchstone has gone from the back of a napkin to a funded, flying company with a number of great staff, friends, advisors and testers. We wish to thank you all very much for your efforts this year - we literally could not be doing this without you.

Here are the highlights from the blog over the last year in reverse order (most recent at the top).

Hitting the Mainstream 2
Information Overload hits the mainstream media for a second time - in a big way.

Hitting the Mainstream 1
Information Overload hits the mainstream media for the first time (or there abouts)

Democracy Now!
Web 2.0 has barley hit and people are talking about Web 3.0. We discuss how absurd that is and why YouTube is NOT Web 2.0.

Show me the money (or pain!)
Some people (read:head in the sand) think there is no information overload problem. This post explains why there is.

Filtering vs. Ranking
Some people are still talking about filtering RSS. Filtering is so 5 years ago.

Aggregation is King
Content used to be king. If that's true, then Aggregation is now master of the universe.

Desktop vs. Web-based
Web 2.0 implies that stuff is on the web. Not true. This post talks about the value of desktop applications in a web world. By the way - did you know the Browser is a desktop application? Shock/Horror.

What is Attention Data?
And no - it is not just OPML or Attention.XML.

Personalized Content
Some claim that the battle for 'People Powered News' is over. Digg and others have won. I make the argument that People Powered News MIGHT be done, but Personalized Content is just getting started.

There is no more audience
Participants have killed the audience. Media outlets that treat their audience like eyeballs are doomed to fail in a Media 2.0 world. This is a short rant about the death of the Audience.

Touchstone funded by Angel
Touchstone get's funded by an Angel Investor. What more do we need to say about that!

The Long Tail of Attention
Chris Anderson describes the three factors that have made the Long Tail a viable market. I then explain why a Tool like Touchstone empowers the 'Long Tail' (that's you and me) to take advantage.

Personal Relevancy
What is Personal Relevancy exactly? It's when your interests and personality become the basis for choosing content, rather than the whims of one editor who decides what 'the mainstream' should care about.

Tune Out the Noise
Touchstone is not about alerting - it is about NOT alerting. Think about that.

Attention, Scarcity and Demand
Markets work on Supply and Demand. Price is dictated by Scarcity. So in an era of abundance, the scarcest resource is our Attention.

Power Back in your hands
Amazon Recommendations are great... for them. They help cross-sell and up-sell their customers. But what if you could use the same technology to take control of your information across all the sites you visit?

Anti-Web 2.0
Touchstone is a desktop application. Does this make it Anti-Web 2.0?

Not a Gadget Engine
Touchstone compared to the current rash of Gadget/Widget engines out there.

RSS is not just about News
Imagine using RSS for something other than News. Feed readers fail for most of those other applications. Touchstone picks up the slack.

Thanks again for sticking with us. The best is yet to come!

Chris, Ash and the whole Touchstone Crew.

Hearing names over and over...

Added on by Chris Saad.
While on our Trip to the US and while chatting to friends and contacts online you begin to hear names over and over. One of those names is John Battelle...

"Oh John Battelle would love what you're doing" - Mr X

"Your ideas are right up John's ally" - Mrs Y

I have only just now had a chance to catch up with John's blog and work. It's fantastic - and now I know why people kept on mentioning him.

As you can see I have recently had a run of posts around the theme of 'Media 2.0' and his recent post about Packaged Goods Media Vs. Conversational Media does not disappoint.

Don't worry John - I got to the end!

Media 2.0 Roadmap

Added on by Chris Saad.
I have been thinking a lot about 'Media 2.0' lately. So I quickly wrote up a roadmap from the distant past media landscape to our near future opportunities. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Distant Past (Local Radio Stations)

  • Distribution: Costly, via radio towers and dedicated ‘wireless’ receivers
  • Content: Local news and radio plays
  • Advertising: Local sponsors

Past (National Radio Networks and TV Networks)

  • Distribution: Costly (via radio and TV towers, TVs and Radios)
  • Content: National shows targeted at demographic groups
  • Production: Costly
  • Audience: One way broadcast from the top to the masses
  • Content: ‘What’s popular’ (as decided by editors) is on the air – segmented by broad demographics
  • Advertising: Local and National sponsors

Recent Past (Internet – Web 1.0)

  • Distribution: Cheaper (via modems and PCs – unstructured content in HTML)
  • Production: Costly (in terms of time and skills)
  • Audience: One way broadcast from the top to the masses – now also on the web
  • Content: ‘What’s popular’ (as decided by the editors) is on the air – segmented by more niche demographics
  • Interaction: Interest groups and communities trapped in silos
  • Advertising: Local and National advertisers splitting revenue across web, tv, radio.

Now (Internet – Web 2.0)

  • Distribution: Mostly Cheap (existing TV, Radio towers and across multiple devices using the Internet – structured content via RSS)
  • Production: Cheap (just click publish on your blog)
  • Audience: Two way participation within the audience (‘the bottom’) with democratic editorial control in the grassroots
  • Content: ‘What’s popular’ (as decided by the audience) as measured using services like Technorati, TechMeme and Digg etc. Segmentation in the mainstream continues by more thinly sliced Demographics)
  • Interaction: Interest groups unbound by silos (due to RSS)
  • Advertising: Context sensitive Ads targeted at the page – served by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft

Coming (Media 2.0)

  • Distribution: Cheap (across multiple devices using the internet as the ‘universal pipe’ – structured content via RSS). Aggregation is the main user interface.
  • Production: Cheap (just click publish on your camcorder and mobile phone)
  • Audience: The audience is gone, only participants are left: Two way participation with all stakeholders and democratic editorial control of what’s on the web and what’s on the air
  • Content: ‘What’s popular’ (as decided by the participants and measured by services like Technorati, TechMeme and Digg) is played on air. Segmentation by niche interest groups.
  • Relevancy: With hyperchoice, ‘What’s personally relevant’ becomes far more interesting that 'What's popular' – Audiences of one.
  • Advertising: Ads targeted at the individual – served by aggregators

Web 3.0 - Are you serious?

Added on by Chris Saad.
I am starting to get a little sick of talking about versioning the web - as I'm sure you are. But I've just found something that has forced me to address it again.

Have you seen this? It's a search from the Web 2.0 Workgroup website on Eurekster on their hottest topic at the moment - Web 3.0.

Web 3.0? Are you serious?

Apparently a lot of people are. More than I imagined.

It seems from the search results, though, Web 3.0 is some sort of Web 2.0 - except with more of everything. More mainstream users, more revenue (or finding a way to get revenue in the first place), more programmable etc.

First let me restate my case about Web 2.0 (*sigh*). 'Community' is not Web 2.0. Community is as old as Newsgroups and IRC (pre web) forums (web 1.0) and have merely changed shape with more sites dedicated to 'user generated content' (ugly term I know). So the community aspects of YouTube (for example) are not what make it Web 2.0.

The Web 2.0 part is more complex and profound - yet it all has a common theme - the participant is the most important entity in every transaction. You and I are in control.

It's about how the creative and editorial power is shifted from a central editor to a community of millions.

It's about making the site content portable through embedded players and syndication.

And it's about the CEO bloging about what they're doing so that the community has a transparent way of understanding the motives, intentions and direction of THEIR platform.

YouTube, however, is still not a fully realized Web 2.0 platform. It still tries to trap the user on their site. To drive traffic to their pages and to create a community on their terms.

The ultimate Web 2.0 solution is when I create my own platform and video is only part of my self-expression and community. Where my friends are my friends, irrespective of the tools they use or the content they create.

This platform is already emerging - to date they have been called Blogs, but I think blogs are much more important than people think. Maybe the name needs to change to suggest something grander than a 'Web Log' - but ultimately blogs are the ultimate form of participant power.

They are not a forum, yet there is a discussion going on.

They are not video hosting site, yet there can be video there.

They are not a photo sharing site, yet there are photos there.

They are not mySpace yet I have a list of subscribers (read: friends) and contacts (read: blogrolls).

They are not social news, yet Technorati and TechMeme seem to know what the top news is.

Blogs are the purest example of Web 2.0. They are decentralized, syndicated (and then aggregated), social, self-expressive personal islands that connect via a great ocean called the blogosphere.

So if we have not yet properly recognized, commercialized and leveraged Web 2.0 - why the heck are we talking about Web 3.0. Especially when it seems like the definition seems to be 'Web 2.0 for the masses'. If Web 3.0 is Web 2.0 for the masses, then that sounds to me like Mainstream adoption of Web 2.0.

I am queasy just writing all these version numbers.

Dreaming up the future is one thing, but trying to create a new buzzword so that you can be the first one who thought of it is quite another.

Web 2.0 represents something much more fundamental than a bubble of new software online. Web 2.0 represents the democratization of information and media. It is a change in the way we tell stories and connect to each other.

More importantly than that, however, It is a symptom of a cultural change in the civilized world from top down hierarchy to distributed participation and freedom of expression. Where the storytellers are no longer just manufactured celebrities – but you and me. Where what’s newsworthy today is not what’s popular for my demographic, but rather what is personally relevant to me.

Let's not trivialize this cultural change (it's greatest example being Web 2.0) by trying to jump ahead to some fantasy version number just because some of us want to pretend to be pioneers.

The Human Network

Added on by Chris Saad.
I just stumbled across something that, as far as I can tell, is a brilliant stroke of marking genius by Cisco.

They call it 'The Human Network' and it is a phrase they have coined to try to embody the connections being made on the new social web.

One of my favorite definitions of the network is by Mike Davidson from

The human network is the only defense we have against the ever-increasing flow of information to our overworked brains. The technology of publishing was originally about creating signal. Then, as monetization became more important, noise was added. As information discovery shifted to the web, customization allowed for an increase in signal and a reduction in noise. Now, however, we're at a point where even in the absence of any noise, there is simply too much signal for most brains to handle. Enter the human network -- a collaborative filtering system which vets all signal against the profiles and tastes of those we trust, admire, and love. Not all signal is created equal and the human network is the only way to adjust for this.
I would (and have) describe it like this:

The Human Network means that there is no more audience. There are no more users. There are only participants. Participants in a human scale network.

Participants do not passively consume what an author, creator, director, developer, editor, critic or media outlet has to publish. They do not accept the authority. They do not sit silently ready to have their eyeballs converted into cash.

Participants participate. They create their own original information, entertainment and art. They remix their own version of mainstream pop culture – copyrighted or not. They post their thoughts, publish their fears and fact check every announcement. They share with their friends and discover the quirky and interesting, making it an instant blockbuster – at least for 15 minutes.

Participants are no longer eyeballs to be converted. They are ideas to be declared. Individually they are a market of one. Collectively they are a trend, a publishing powerhouse and a voice to be heard. A voice that has something to say.

Participants have changed the way media is published and interactions are monetized. But more broadly and importantly than that, they have changed the flow of global information from top down to bottom up. They are changing the tone and tempo of the conversation.

Elvis? Who is he? It’s the audience who has left the building. All that’s left are fellow participants. We are all authors, creators, directors, developers, editors, critics and media outlets. We are a million voices saying one thing – listen to me.

As Mike says, however, with all this signal, we need a way to create personalized media experiences. Our own personal signal.

"Now, however, we're at a point where even in the absence of any noise, there is simply too much signal for most brains to handle. Enter the human network -- a collaborative filtering system which vets all signal against the profiles and tastes of those we trust, admire, and love."

However I believe that collaborative filtering is only a factor of Personal Relevance.

From Conversations to Influence via Attention and Intentions

Added on by Chris Saad.
The Cluetrain Manifesto was a massive influence on me. It changed the way I think about my entire field from technology to marketing and public relations. Cluetrain was a revolution in my mind. It still sits next to my bed with little post-it notes sticking out of it where I marked down my favorite parts. There are almost as many post-it notes as there are pages.

Since then, Doc's (and his co-author's) writings, I feel, have inspired (or at the very least been validated by) the entire blogging/social/casual revolution.

The result has been an explosion of information. We have all become participants in the ecosystem of giving and getting attention. More importantly than that, however, there has also been an explosion of transparency, accountability, participation and genuinely participant focused technologies and media experiences. It has literally made the world a better place.

This movement has spawned entire fields of study and innovation starting at Attention Management, moving into Intentions and now the most recent blip on my radar - Influence.

I only started to consider Influence seriously when I discovered BuzzLogic. Their demo at demofall and their blog is interesting and insightful. They have added even more depth to the picture for me.

I love their app (based on what little I have seen) but better yet I love the philosophy. As the Knight Foundation would say "One Man Can Make a Difference". Perhaps in the remake of Knight Rider the quote will now state "One Blog Can Make a Difference".

Influencers are all around us. Being able to map the landscape will be a powerful tool indeed.

Another interesting development has been that Doc has given the Buzzlogic guys permission to post the original manifesto in wiki form so that the community can begin updating it for the next phase of our little revolution. What a nice thing to do.

I also noticed that Buzzlogic's tool sends email alerts based on various conditions being met. I wonder if they need a client-side alerting platform.