Archive for December, 2008

Survival of the Fittest

December 18, 2008

So, a couple of seemingly random things yesterday got me thinking about the future (seems I have been doing that a lot this month), and it kind of made me think in a lot of ways its no different than ever–survival of the fittest.

The first trigger for this came when a co-worker posted on his Twitter this great little ode to those who have felt the blade in recent weeks. Michelle Chappel tells their story:

Then as the day unfolded, came word out of Moutain VIew that LinkedIn, the "venerable" business networking site was shaking up its management.  Now, I have been on LinkedIn for years, add me if you like, but I am almost never on the site.  And I have had that LinkedIn for years.  I almost never think about it as a resource.  Although, its always a good way to tell which partner is about to have a shakeup, because I get swamped by requests from LinkedIn.

For utility sake, I have been pretty happy with Facebook; go ahead, friend me up.  But lately even that has been well, wonky at best.  Not sure that it is built for speed for the future.

So, I have been checking out some other sites-like Live Journal, Social Median, Twitter, Plurk, Digg, Friend Feed, the site I run CBS Eye Mobile -and others.

And the conclusion I have reached is that we are getting closer, but not quite there yet.  I kind of hope that there is a push now that the field may be thinning out to take a step back and sort out the upsides and downsides of each–and then come up with an ueber social networking experience.

The ease of Twitter to quickly update–and to connect to others.  The simplicity of Eye Mobile to add video and multimedia.  The capability to add a blog like Live Journal.  The abilty to quickly share like Digg and Social Median, and the sense of community that Facebook offers.

Either the beauty of the experience, or the trouble for a business model is that the site can't be just one thing–it has to be all things to all people-and have the utility to be flexible enough.

There are some steps in the right direction–Facebook Connect for instance is rolling out and hitting key sites.  But that is a start. 

What we all have to remember is that we are not in this alone–and we need to make our sites open to one another–because the upside is limitless, but the walls (like fences in a neighborhood) will kill the community.

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Go Forward, Ever Forward

December 12, 2008

And so it was our turn.  My company did its business restructuring yesterday.  I won't put the details here, there are at least 15 blogs (that I found with a simple search) that have background.  Instead, I am thinking about a few tangential things today–and some things that have weighed on me for a while leading up to this.

The discussions started about this over the summer–I want to say in August.  And to be clear, and pretty high up in this thought process today–I get the business decision.  100% I understand.  But there are people involved–both those who joined the swelling ranks of the unemployed, and those on what we in corporate land like to call the "go forward" team.  And for very unique reasons its not easy to be in either group (and I have felt the sting from both sides).

Throughout the day yesterday, as news of restructuring surfaced (again check the blogs) the outreach was impressive.  People I know who battled through this during this week, and last week, and last month, and last quarter reached out–who was impacted? are you ok? words of encouragement.

Yeah, we are all in this together.  It is a social fabric–but still to Robert, Sarah, Dan, Ramy, Vaughn, Mike, Hamid and the rest it may seem like you are alone–but you are not.  I can remember the first time I was the victim of "business restructuring."  It was pre-email–and keeping connected with the people who may be able to help you get re-settled was about making phone calls, and trying to go for coffee.

Today-reach me via Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, LiveJournal, IM, email, text, mobile-I think its part of my social contract to be a resource for you. I am sure Cali, Julie, Mark, Mike, Jeff, Randy and all the rest agree.

So yeah, we will go forward, ever forward.  But we will also remember where we are today, and where we have been together.

Mixology as the Future…

December 8, 2008

When I was in college–as I would think most people my age (just north of 40) would admit-I idid my turn behind the bar. Hey, it was OK cash, got me to the parties, and I learned a skill. Now, I never trully mastered the art of mixology, and those rare times someone wanted more than a draft or a bottle, or somethign with more than one two ingredients I gave them the old, "How do you make that again?" line…but it was a great experience.

This is not about being a bartender. At least not in the classic, "Give me a double and keep 'em coming" sense.  No, this is about how we need to think about media, consumption, social networking and the hows and whys we should create a solid mix in order to create a meaningful and engaging experience.

As a senior level manager for a big media company I am watching a lot of changes fall across the landscape of my office. Ask the folks at NBC or Gannett, or Papas or Tribune about the climate. 

Whether is be a good, bad or indifferent model, at least for now its my job to generate eyeballs.  If I generate eyeballs to content, sales has a product to for placement of VIagra, Tums, Cingulair or just about anything else.  Call it quid-pro-quo, call it old school–I call it a business model.

So, now the challenge. I have destination content and I want to get people to my destination–but the people I want to reach are on Twitter, Jaiku, You Tube, Plurk, MySpace, Facebook–pretty much anyplace but on CBS News.  What's a middle manager to do? The key has to be to get to where the eyeballs are.  Its a matter of getting out and generating interest where people are.

There was a great story in today'sNY Times about the impact Twitter had on CNN's announcement last week that it would create a news wire service–similar to the AP, but not in competition with the AP.  You can go dig into that and try to piece that together.

So, I Twitter.  And I follow some of the folks who apparently were in the room when CNN made the announcement.  I thought nothing of the fact that I was learning about this through Twitter.  After all, the first hint of the terror attacks in Mumbai I got from Twitter.  Same for the riots in Greece.  Same for the protest at the airport in Thailand.  Its the power of social networks.  People are able to connect you to what they are doing and what they are seeing.

If you want to connect with them–then you need to be where they are and engage them not on your terms–but where they are.

Its like a perfect Bloody Mary.  Needs pepper, tabasco and a little love.

The cross point?

December 1, 2008

So, an interesting thing happened last week for users and watchers of social media. The horrific (and cowardly) attacks in Mumbai were a chilling and gripping story line (as a news consumer, news producer and news professional)–but the best information and the best images were not coming from "all the usual places."

Instead, there was a constant flow of real time eye-witness data, video and images pouring into sites like Twitter, Seesmic, Mahalo, Jaiku.

So, this brings us to an interesting point in time in the information age–when can we substantially count on these social network sites as a source of information. Now, I work for a broadcast network adn spend a lot of time finding ways to work in social media to the flow of information. The biggest push back from managers, producers, on-air typles, pretty much everyone is–how do we know if the information is right? How can we confirm?

Believe me, I know how vital it is to confirm information before its use. Having gone through the long and drawn out process of being deposed in law suits, having to testify in law suits–I get it. But just because it comes from Twitter or Seesmic or any of the "citizen journalism" sites-does that make the information suspect?

I have spent times working at local TV stations, and taken random calls from viewers with the next great story for air. These "tipsters" as we called them back in the day are the early adopters of social networks. They had information they wanted share. Its what we do with Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku, YouTube, CBS Eye Mobile–all of them.

As the person on the other end of the phone, it was (and still is) my job to make sure that information is right before we put it on air. The game has not changed, the tools have just become more direct.

So back to the central issue-I think its a cross point. As platforms evolve, and the data flow becomes simpler, I am going begin requiring (probably first for producers then for on-airs) an ability to convert from social media to "confirmed news product." There is just too much information out there that we (and I use this term collectively) are missing because of "old school" rules in the new media age.


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