Archive for the ‘General Observations’ Category

Vectors of Change in Television and New Media — video of speech from 5D

In October 2008, I was invited to give a talk at the 5D conference in Long Beach, CA.    Here’s the clip.

I had a great time at 5D.   I met terrific people, including brilliant speakers, visionary designers, committed event organizers and the director of the excellent contemporary art museum.   I learned a great deal, and saw some brilliant examples of the future of TV.   I’d recommend 5D to anyone who is interested in the future of mass media and digital media.  Check the conference out at :

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I’ve joined the Oprah Winfrey Network

Those who’ve heard my public speeches know that I am passionate about the leveraging digital networks to multiply the creative power of individual people.  Two or more people working on the same problem can achieve great results, even if they are geographically dispersed.  Beginning November 2008, I will get an incredible opportunity to apply this concept on a big scale.    I’ve joined the Oprah Winfrey Network as the President of Digital Media. Continue Reading

Why I plan to address the Nokia Game Summit

Next week I will travel to Rome to give a keynote speech to the Nokia Developer Summit.   Some friends have asked me why.   Given the recent release of the Gooogle Android phone and the Apple iPhone 3G, there has been a surge of commentary about the smartphones in the tech blogs.  The general thrust of such blog posts is that the newcomers will transform the mobile industry.

I disagree.    The newcomers may have an impact, perhaps an outsized impact, but in reality the primary driver of change in mobile is one of the old giants: Nokia.    No major mobile technology company comes close to Nokia in its support of open standards, open software and open APIs.   And no company comes close to challenging Nokia’s 30%+ market share. Continue Reading

On the web, even the most secretive companies eventually embrace openness

Back in the 1990s, many people considered Microsoft a kind of “death star” of the northern wilderness, stealthily issuing new products that would destroy an entire category of software overnight.  But in the 2000s, the mantle for Most Secretive Company In High Tech passed to an unlikely successor, Apple Computer.

Under the second reign of Steve Jobs, the legal team at Apple would pursue leakers with a vengeance, hounding them with legal action.  But now, as one of the original Apple rumor site founders notes on Tina Brown’s new site The Daily Beast, a kinder, gentler Apple seems more inclined to let rumors and leaks slide by unchallenged.

What happened?   Did Apple suddenly lose their mighty mojo?

It’s just another illustration of creative collaboration.   The web is an echo chamber.  Rumors and photos constantly leak out of Apple.  Some are accurate, some are not.   Today they appear on various blogs, and then they get picked up by CNET and AOL’s Engadget…. and then suddenly the rumor metastasizes across the  blogosphere.

What can Apple’s legal team possibly do to muzzle the entire blogosphere?   Absolutely nothing.

We’re seeing something similar occur during the 2008 presidential campaign.   On the surface, both candidates have agreed to take the high road and steer clear of nasty smears and innuendo.   But on the outer fringes of the blogosphere, you can find all sorts of kooky speculation about Obama’s purported ties to Muslims and Palin’s ties to Alaskan secessionists (and McCain’s ties to Keating, etc etc ad nauseum).   This garbage is leaked by campaign operatives and sympathizers.   And once the rumors appears on the fringe blogs, they migrate rapidly to the mainstream blogs who report on the rumors, and from there to the web sites for the mainstream media.    Once the rumor is published on a blog, no matter how dubious, it can be swiftly legitimized by mass media hungry for any scoop in a fiercely competitive 24 hour news cycle.

Any attempt to repress the rumors only drives more search and more page views for the original rumor.  Supression is tantamount to promotion.  Heavy-handed attempts with cease and desist orders only stoke the furnace hotter… thereby spreading the meme further.

The obvious solution is to embrace openness.  Reveal all, for on the web, privacy and secrecy are artifacts of a bygone era.   Far better to reveal all the gory detail right up front, as Sarah Palin did with her family’s awkward teen pregnancy.   Get the facts out, endure the painful news cycle, and then relax because once the info is revealed you are immunized.    Until the next leak.

Collaborative approach to disasters

This week I gave a presentation to Fortune 500 executives at the Marketing Forum on my favorite subject, collaborative creativity.  Although my talk was focused on social media for marketing purposes, I included many examples of “incomplete content” where the participation of the audience is necessary for a complete content experience.   This principle extends to a broad range of online experiences, from online community to multiplayer games to citizen journalism.   My argument is that marketers in a two-way network must foster “brand experiences” that people can participate in and contribute to, rather than passively view.  It’s the difference between an “impression” and an “expression”.

Now, today, here’s a great example of a small group of people harnessing the power of social media for the greater good. Blogger Nate Ritter has launched a program to utilize social software to generate alerts and a public address system for natural disasters.   Check out his blog post and then click through to IdeaBlob to vote for this idea so Nate’s team can win the funding necessary to bring this project to completion.

Surely this project merits the financial support of a major marketer, such an an insurance company or financial services firm (okay, maybe this is the wrong week to mention marketing spend by financial services companies).   But seriously, what better way to give people a brand experience than Nate’s project, especially if your brand involves security, safety and wellbeing?

BTW, I notice that IdeaBlob is supported by Advanta.  Smart positioning for Advanta, dontcha think?

Are comic books the future of self help? New Google collaboration with Scott McCloud shows how.

The introduction of Google’s new open source Chrome browser is newsworthy.  So is the way that Google chose to explain the new features to users. Both items are sterling examples of collaborative creativity.

Google teamed up with veteran cartoonist Scott McCloud to create a cool graphic narrative about the new browser.

During a week of breaking news about hurricanes, lurid political drama, and the GOP convention, the Google announcement is likely to get buried in sensational headlines.  But it’s worth your while to check out this new online comic book that illustrates the sophisticated new features of the Chrome browser.   Because this type of presentation just might be the future of self help guidebooks. Continue Reading

Don’t expect Virgin America to fix the horrible US airline problem

This week I flew Virgin America round trip from Los Angeles to New York JFK for the first time.  Having heard rave reviews about this new airline, I decided to give it a try.  My experience was so disappointing that I will never fly Virgin America again.

Launching a new airline to compete with American must have seemed like an irresistible challenge to Richard Branson, considering the horrendous quality of the typical US airline.  Great idea, lousy execution. Continue Reading

Here comes the iPhone backlash

Apple‘s legendary obsession with controlling information and availability of products has reached the tipping point.  A growing number of iPhone developers are grumbling about the arbitrary nature of the decision-making process which governs which applications get included in the iTunes storefront.   A spate of recent stories highlights what is clearly a haphazard and chaotic process. Worse, for those who are paranoid about Apple’s ability to control how consumers make use of the iPhone is the emergence of a blacklist built into the phone.  No one knows what the criteria for making the blacklist might be… and Apple isn’t telling anyone.

Simultaneously, a growing number of consumers are voicing their concerns with the iPhone, too.

Coming on the heels of the widely-publicized glitch in the launch of the iPhone 3G and the much-publicized failure of the MobileMe service, these reactions underscore just how difficult it is to execute a new strategy in the wireless business.   It turns out the mobile carriers are not so bad, after all. Continue Reading

Collaborative Creativity at the X Media Lab in Melbourne

I am very excited to be attending the X Media Lab in Melbourne, Australia on August 1 – 3.   I’ve been invited to give one of the keynote speeches during the opening session.

My talk will address the subject of Collaborative Creativity, especially as it pertains to user-generated content in the context of major media brands.  This is a more challenging proposition than it may seem.  Most media companies are unfamiliar with user-generated content, and many of them are not especially skilled at dealing with customer feedback.  It’s a steep learning curve. Continue Reading