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November 2002 Archives

November 1, 2002

Conversation Living Web

Joi, thanks for sharing your comment on the living web (below)".

My feeling is it's "real-time", yet it's not a conversation without exchange. And yet here's an exchange that I persume will be logged. If the "living web" provides "simulated annealing" then we can use "chaos" to contol "chaos". On their own, weblogs (are we reaching hypergrowth yet?) are being linked and I imagine the more the merrier. Afterall a little bedlam can a be a good thing for crowds and data flow. The noise should simply add to the creativity and enable us all to learn faster.

So we do it to live new conversations. Seek out new voices and outside perspectives.... We aim to "live in" the conversation. We can by seeking new -- perhaps slightly controlled elements, that are different and outside our usual perspectives.

Reminds me that I must check on complexity metaphors around blogging. Probably, it's already been done. Yet for my blog to be part of a swarm... I'll need to connect it in new ways.

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web [ Blogging about Blogging ]
by Joichi Ito at November 01, 2002 10:35 PM
What do you think of the slogan, "Joi Ito's conversation with the living web"? I got the conversation part from The Cluetrain Manifesto and the living web part from 10 Tips to Writing the Living Web. People kept asking me what the difference was between a blog and a web site. I said it was different because I wasn't publishing, I was having a conversation. I didn't have "readers" I was part of a "living web". I have no idea if that gets the message across, but I sure like the sound of it.

Michael Lissack on simulated annealing: "Simulated annealing, for example, translates into ascribing a creative value to "noise" and seeking to make use of that value --in one example, by bringing outside perspectives into focus groups at critical moments when making decisions."

November 3, 2002

Diehard Marketing

With the turn of winter Sears began running a "Diehard Express Service" TV campaign in our local market. They guarantee you will have your new battery installed in 30 minutes or less. After two jump starts in less than a week (39 month old original equipement Chrysler battery) I knew mine was dead, and just wanted it fixed. My Dad had Diehard batteries... must be good enough for me. So, why go to PEP BOYS or try and find somewhere else? Afterall with two cars I only shop for a battery every 3 or four years.

The Sears TVC is a classic retail marketing approach. Too bad no-one told the stores, or even set the instructions so the campaign had the potential to work. 10 years ago only my neighbors might have heard this story. Now, it simply recorded, a part of my digital record and lifestream. Who knows one day maybe even the bots... will be able to sample the records and see when disatisfaction really set in and thus the demise of a brand. Let me quickly set the scene...


I arrived at the "Express Lane" for my battery service. There were four cars in front of me and one battery mechanic working and wandering. There was no greeting, there was no instruction board, there was no buzzer. As a good marketer, I got out of my car, punched my stopwatch and started into the garage. Nobody, lots of idle cars at 1:30pm Sunday. After five minutes finally caught someones attention.... he told me to go into the sales office and ask there.

In the sales office was met by a genial rep. Told him I thought I needed a new battery. He said he would write it up and immediately started on a bill. I had to stop him and say..."hey but the battery hasn't been checked yet --- how do I this is the right course of action? He took me outside, we hooked up the car and indeed the diagnostic was "replace". Now we were already at minute 14.

Returning to the sales office he suggested a battery for the car, about $80. Smiled and said fine. He rang it up and handed me the bill. The bill included tax and 9.99 for installation labor. He hadn't mentioned a charge. I guess mistakenly I'd thought installation was free, covered by the core charge for the old one. Still, no worries. My mistake only $10 and they promised to get me out of here in less than 30minutes!

Then the bad news. "We need 45 minutes to an hour" (from now) to get it done. I was flabbergasted. It's three nuts to change the battery so where is all the time. I asked about the advertising. No he couldn't do it. So I then asked if I could borrow a wrench and just do it myself. Why wait 45 when I could be done in 5? "Well sir --- tools could be a problem. In the meantime, he's voided my first bill providing the second with no labor. The crowd on the counter is growing and another knowing customer says if I wait they will give me a $10.00 voucher for a future purchase. Guess that would have made the installation free. Still, this is not how retail is supposed to work. In the end. I took the battery home. Now I have an old one sitting in my garage. Will have to return it one day.

I liked Sears. I loved Craftman tools, Hillary camping gear, my first 10 speed came from there. Still other than a leaf blower, a lawn mower and a Diehard, there not much I buy there now. May visit once or twice a year. Not any more. The reps at home depot are better informed.

So what's the problem? Many executional ones from a marketing point. Poor communication, a very tired product. And I begin to wonder. Who could do tires and batteries better? What would it take? Can I book the appointments on line, say for tires. Still let's not go there today. Tires are just as infrequent. But when a battery dies... you need it immediately. With an automatic you live in fear of stalling. You just want to get going.

So "Express Service" is a good idea, there's a need. Got me there instead of going to PEP BOYS, which is the only other place that came to mind. If my experience is anything to go by. The advertising if false. They aren't delivering. Yet there are so many ways to fix this. I just see money falling off the bottom line. Wasted advertsing, destroyed brand value, lost profits in vouchers, etc.

In 25 minutes I learnt. That a 50 year old Auto Centre approach no-longer works. That I wouldn't be caught dead in the waiting lounge. That the decor, design and color cues were all non-existent, and the mechanics are completely divorced from the frontline. The merchandising is not merchandising, and the fun has gone out of driving the Sears automotive way. Where was the experience? My car now works, though my efforts. There was no joy in it. There is no story about the future of motoring. There is nothing about preparing for family vacations. Nothing about safety, stopping distances, looking after your children. No counters to check auto insurance while I'm waiting etc.

From a brand that was once... part of "motoring together" now there is only supplying the parts that are falling off or worn out. Even Sears history statement finishes limply..."Building our relationships one customer at a time, Sears continues to live up to its tried and true motto, satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. Let us deliver great customer service to you, with speed and expertise."

So. the Sears tag line "Where else?". Yes indeed --- where else can I go next time?

November 5, 2002

Manhattan WiFi Map

Found a new map on Smartmobs, the results of the Public Internet Project to log WiFi nodes across Manhattan. Also picked up in Werblog and others.

At first glance it looks like an explosion of WiFi inter-connectivity and visually we are being asked to reconsider our "traditional" mental models. However, let's also provide some perspective. MAPS are made for purposes. And this one reminds me of another island and the stories around early maps showing California as an island. At GBN we called it the Map Rap. It's a story about mental models, our assumptions and perceptions.

The learning. If you get your facts wrong, you get your maps wrong. If your map is wrong you tend to do the wrong things. Please don't get me wrong. This is a wonderful map, and interesting collaborative project. What a neat idea. Yet......

Public Internet Project.bmp

....it misses many aspects and details. This is a map that existed last fall. Maps are a wonderful naviagation tool. At issue here is how to navigate from then to the future. The answer will not be found in the map, but in the hearts and minds of those connected to the ground swell. They are not only in Manhattan, networks like these are popping up all over.

The technical forces have propelled us this far. Yet what I want is a living map, showing the conections, and exchanges at any point in time. Though is this enough? I'd suggest this is just another signal in the tsunami of change. If you are tel co, an info provider, etc. I hope you are way beyond this map testing alternate environments in which your decisions play out. If a completely devolved decentralized mass provided impersonal collaborative network is not part of your thoughts, then consider testing your strategies against it. Don't just think about sytems. Think about social structures. From communications to accounting and marketing! etc.

Then... what might tickle a real explosion?

It also poses antoher question. As a company, have you done enough future thinking? Now what are all those wireless networking companies doing about their brands?

Are Blogs Really Useful?

"Source ScriptingNews.

Are weblogs legit business tools? Mike Masnick says yes. Mark Hurst says that Mike's company does nothing but blogs, so of course he thinks they're business tools. To Mark I'd say, one day someone said that about phones, and today every company organizes its business on the phone, and using other communication tools such as airplanes, hotels, notepads, whiteboards, email, instant messaging, spreadsheets, conference rooms, etc. Weblogs are a tool, a good one, but that's all they are. We could stop having these debates, imho. [Scripting News]"

A possible problem is weblogs aren't understood yet by those that have the corporate communication roles. The story-telling possibilities just keep expanding for me. Mike good luck with your techdirt venture. I believe a few more marketers need to sit-up and listen.

Does this discussion also reflects that it's still a little too hard? Or are the doubters the same ones that pooh poohed GeoCities? Dave imho, I'd actually advocate more discussion like this. It's a healthy sign and yet I'm still fighting to do what I really want to do with a weblog. I started with Radio (love the news feature) and failed to get enough easy learning to migrate templates and type to my own site. MoveableType's instructions were easier, despite the additional complexity. One day I may work it all out.

November 8, 2002

Perspective on Business Stories

I don't think Steve will mind me posting these comments on below. <b><a href="http://www.stevedenning.com">Stephen Denning </a></b>is the author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0750673559/qid=1036975620/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/104-6228614-7676733?v=glance&s=books&n=507846"><b>The Springboard</b></a>. I met him some years back briefly at a KM conference in London, where he put more powerpoints across in a short time than I have ever seen before. In the blur a great story about the World Bank experience emerged. More recently we had an online discussion faciliated by <b>Lisa Kimball </b>at <a href="http://www.groupjazz.com"><b>Group Jazz</b></a> It evolved into an interesting discussion on <a href="http://groupjazz.com/chautauqua/">making stories</a>.

You may want to <b><a href="StorytellingInBusiness-subscribe@yahoogroups.com">subscribe to Storytelling In Business</a></b> I'm certainly looking forward to participating there.

Steve's recent comments:

Continue reading "Perspective on Business Stories" »

November 9, 2002

Let Your Screen Tell a Story

Read David Gelerntner today in the New York times:
"What is this universal information structure? A narrative stream, which says, "Let me tell you a story. " The system shows you a 3-D stream of electronic documents flowing through time."

"And so the organization of your digital information reflects the shape of your life, not the shape of a 1940's Steelcase file cabinet. "

Looks like we are all going to become better storytellers. See also my post from October 31.

November 10, 2002

Future Edition

John Petersen at the Arlington Institute wants more subscribers. His newsetter FUTURE EDITION is published bi-weekly. It "explores a cross-disciplinary palette of issues, from the frontiers of science and technology to major developments in mass media, geopolitics, the environment, and social perspectives." To subscribe

November 11, 2002

Collaborative Communities

Participating in online communities is not only growing easier, the results more positive. Kuro5hin is also more than a weblog. It's been around for awhile and yet today I ended up giving it much closer attention as I considered voting on an MLP posting on the Nickel Exchange, was asked for other help with editing, etc.

Various links took me to SCOOP and you learn quickly about the collaborative media application behind Kuro5hin and other communities.

My journey started today looking for methods improve my MT posting and reporting options. I've had in mind the opportunity for a MT based community. Clearly plausible yet not self-organizing. When one compares Smart Mobs with Kuro5hin it becomes clear how obvious this is. I will be looking at Scoop further.

Kuro5hin.org is a community of people who like to think. This is a site for people who want to discuss the world they live in. It's a site for people who are on the ground in the modern world, and who sometimes look around and wonder what they have wrought.

Scoop empowers participants to play a role in the newsmaking. This is not the only application however. My searching located Eric Hanson andShouldExist around ideas;as an idea exchange. Check out their description Eric's list also proved to me how sharing can close and create new links... Some we don't even know. While looking at his "people" section I found myself linked back to Seb's Open Resesearch. who has a great blog going on knowledge sharing, communities and innovation.

Note:"ShouldExist.org is a non-profit website, founded on the belief that individuals are more successful when we work together through open standards, modularity and decentralized control." His project list also includes others. Check it out.

Part of my interest in the first place was driven by the question posed to me. Should the NICKEL EXCHANGE story be posted? I'm going to watch over the next couple of days. We will be revisiting "Nickel Exchange" for I still believe the next frontier is in solving highly decentralised P2P transactions. Frankly... the nickel exchange looks premature, needs consumer friendly content, and a little more to give it legitimacy. I didn't yet try to see if it works.

Then today Movielink launched. This is the site offered by the movie moguls to provide downloadable movies to American broadband connections. Incredibly slow to appear, you would almost think the site is down. Obviously checking out my system for compatibility. I'm waiting for it to be cracked, then Kazaa movies etc might take on a whole new meaning.

Posted by henshall at 09:22 PM

November 12, 2002

A Publishing Future?

From Dan Pink The biggest story you missed . . . if you're into publishing, Costco, or waffle wedges.

From Steven Zeitchick's excellent piece in yesterday's Publishers Weeklys NewsLine: "Over the last decade Costco's influence on the book trade has grown extraordinarily, with the company leading a segment that is now responsible for nearly 10% of sales.

"But starting soon, the retailer will try on a new hat -- as a publisher.

Visual thesaurus

Plum Design provides a neat visual thesaurus. If you are brainstorming words and just need some new phases or new words check it out. Not sure this site has street or fashion smarts. Clearly it isn't linked into blogging. No results were found.

You may like the mindmap like rendiditons that this provides. However it is no subsititute for creative minds engaged and playing.

Sharing Personal Data

Xeni Jardin writes in Wired about Plaxo a new company started by one of the Napster founders. Like Napster, it involves P2P sharing with an index system. But this time it's personal data. See the Plaxo site and how Plaxo works. I'm not convinced.

It apparently works by taking my Outlook address book and sending a request to each addressee asking them for updates. This sounds like a spam solution to me. If I did it, all the addresses that I have automatically added to outlook would be spammed or I would have to spend considerable time editing my address book first. How will companies respond? When their employees start downloading Plaxo? Where does privacy sit and as Xeni notes... where is the business model.

I'd much prefer a real peer to peer system. Something that just automates or calls for an updated record everytime I e-mail. Or should my details change automatically update my addressees using an invisible exchange method. I see no reason why this should sit on a central server Let's hope it doesn't take off. It may be a beta, and you will have to search for the privacy policy. The privacy policy appears leave you at risk.

November 13, 2002

Dynamic David's Spaces

Author, programmer, tech analyst and future open source entrepreneur David Duval is worth following.

I think he is playing with more than words when today's blognovel picks up the theme below. Is this about SPACES or is the context just paraphased here?"

"You close your eyes, open them again, and nothing will ever be the same. It might not be obvious at first. It might not even be obvious later. But it's still there, that newfound feeling of uncertainty, of something lost, and something found, only you don't know what it means yet. " PlanB

Maybe I will have to read his serial. There are at least three threads here. David Duval - interesting person, PlanB- his blognovel and lastly the software application Spaces. Take some time and follow the links.

THREAD ONE: David lists his research interests as "self-organizing and wireless networks, complexity theory, dynamical systems, and molecular nanotechnology among others....... Other than that, he's clearly a good bloke who knows where to find an Irish pint!

THREAD TWO: His blognovel runs on the serial concept. StoryTelling opportunities, serial, case studies etc. There are many applications here and some new opportunities. For more proof that there is a bigger debate around blogging opportunties see Slashdot. Enjoy the FAQ
Stories usually have a strong element of time built into them, just like a weblog. A weblog, however, is a story where the beginning changes every day: what we see is the last element that was posted. Follow this link to PlanB's description.

THREAD THREE: DynamicObjects has just lauched an alpha PIM. It is naturally object oriented. I sense the objectives again to create a more collaborative space. Perhaps today we have the answer in the making to yesterday's PLAXO. David writes: "... spaces is qualitatively different. It shares many features with standard email/PIM software like Evolution or Outlook. However, its abstractions over information management are designed to simplify organization and access to information and for collaboration from the ground up. Along with the simplicity of its user interface, these elements will not only make spaces a better PIM, they will also allow it to be an ideal tool for collaboration between individuals and small groups....

......Using self-organizing P2P technologies, there will be no need for servers. Having designed the interface for collaboration from the ground up, there will be no need for five different programs that always do things differently and need a subpoena to talk to each other. The FAQ contains more information on what features are available now and the schedule for additional features.

To this layman... that sounds pretty good.

Then there is the final story of how I got this post. It goes like this. I was again searching MoveableType. Looking for answers. For the first time I noted that MT actually has a list on their home page of recently update MT sites. (I have paid my donation and no I haven't solved my automated ping yet). I clicked on an interested name... Orbitalworks and noted the link to spaces. Captured by Names and a good hour of reading. Hope I've simplified the places to look

November 14, 2002

Spiraling Creativity

The Creative Generalist picked up the Great Big Idea Guideand a couple of quick thoughts from Doug Hall. I liked it and yet lament. Spirals aren't mentioned.

Of course what we want our products to spiral with success. The GBI list is a great beginning, yet smacks of boundaries. It will take more than coffee. The staircase is more than a story!

I leave you with quotes about spirals. Of which I add there are plenty. Let me have your favorites.

"If you are inside of something, say an atom, you only see electrons whirling chaotically around you. If you moved outside the atom you would see those electrons moving with a pattern around the atom. If you rise further above you see that atoms are actually the building blocks of larger structures called molecules. And so it goes, on up the scale, ad infinitum. The ever familiar 'forest from the trees' syndrome. It's all a matter of perspective. True creativity is allowing yourself to gain the loftiest perspective you can in relation to the object of your quandary or inquiry."

Enchanted Mind - Creative Chaos

Big Top ~ Spiral

In ascending the spiral stairway of life each new level is at right angles to the one below. Each shift in consciousness demands an alternation of perspective and a reorientation towards life. Just as the seed determines the unfolding of the tree, so within each human life a similar blueprint is contained in the double spiraling DNA molecule."

"Calling symbols "the stuff both of feeling and of knowledge," Lawrence Blair characterizes spirals as more than the timeless symbols of eternity which we find scrawled or woven throughout our earliest mythology; . . . Spirals are the actual "shape" of fluid energy evolving order from chaos, and are found even in the anatomy of our own biological inheritance--the spiraling nucleic acids in the DNA molecule."

Storytellers BLOG

I'm convinced, that blogging is reshaping the way we get news. There is plenty on publishing out there. Yet as with so many products it is not until you start using them that the "intangible" start to show through.

Friends, colleagues with e-mail lists, you need to change the way you do business. As marketers, we better start thinking about new collaborative PR. We also have to expect that new "personalities" will emerge. The news is the same but different. My friends in blog world are now in cahoots with me, filtering stories I might be interested in and for which my Radio blog subscribes me. My challenge will be to find the rarified air and new thoughts over time. Potential signals for new directions. At the moment I'm far enough to scan 100's of stories in seconds and post just a few in minutes.

There are more threads in this post. My news clips, more on blog publishing (it's not just individuals that need to rethink how they publish -- where are the companies that are blogging?) an article that led to more sites and an ad slogan generator. It didn't think that much of UNBOUND SPIRAL. So I had to find more crazy quotes on spirals and the creative chaos they suggest.

Stuart's News Clips In less than four weeks I've migrated to MT.and yet continued to use Radios RSS news feeds. It's like having my e-mail subscriptions on steroids. Much faster than trying to scan outlook. I can see I will have to encourage my favorites to start their own new feeds.

As yet Radio... (I haven't worked it out) how can i post my clips in a single one click group and then clear the list. It's also clear that my subscription information like that of my colleagues should be shared. Just like the Napster hot lists we learn faster when we can see the hot lists of other. No doubt this will also lead me to track a random blog a day or more. A random Kuro5hin. Hmm.. does it exist?

I'm pretty sure I will get a news feed directly into my MT however for those of you that want to try out another service try AmphetaDesk and let me know how it goes.

Yet another publish publish... piece Livewire: Publish your heart out with easy-to-use Web tools As usual there are more clips and links to follow. The whole process is bringing back my passion for web learning journeys.

A web learning journey is simply an interactive session, typically uncovering and using illustrative examples to get groups thinking. Yet there are many other ways to do it. Suppliers demos fo online products and GROOVE members are surfing in tandem. Looking for new functionalities and new applications. The blogsphere is ripe for great commentary. The fact is too that most companies and employees don't spend enough time seeking the unknown. The web can often provide an accelerated view.

LiveWire led me to Glenda see agendacide.com/glenda: Wanted: "Creative Maximizer" and the I Can't Believe It's Not The Advertising Slogan Generator!. For a bit of fun try your brand. Not sure it worked for the Unbound Spiral, yet it worked for me. I had a laugh! Suggestions:

Promise Her Anything, But Give Her Unbound Spiral
A Different Kind Of Company. A Different Kind Of Unbound Spiral.
I'd Walk a Mile for an Unbound Spiral.
This Is The Age Of The Unbound Spiral.
We're Serious About Unbound Spiral.
There's Only One Unbound Spiral
No Unbound Spiral, No Comment.

Have a better one?

November 15, 2002


Articles About Blogging; Anti-Blog Article; Books About Blogging. All in all getting broader recognition than I thought. The last year has been big for blogs. The next year will be bigger.

Sourced from Cynthia Typaldos who wrote 12 Principles of Collaborationa piece I really enjoyed a few years back. She also runs a yahoo group called webcommunities . where I picked up the links below. Running a search on webcommunites provided an interesting list. Will have to talk to Cynthia next week.

Still I wish the post had been blogged! Then I could have just linked it or forwarded it as news. Still I've spent the time and formated it for blogdom. However the real reason is I have a few friends to convert. Out of which I believe something interesting will emerge.

Articles About Blogging
The Blogging Revolution
Blog Nation
Weblogs Make the Web Work for You
Use the blog, Luke

Anti-Blog Article
Secret CIO: Beware The Blog In Your Company's Future

More Articles

Living Reflections : All about blogs
GOOGLE media blogging articles

Essential Blogging Books About Blogging none of which I've read. A quick search and knowing who the authors are points to the Oreilly book Essential Blogging as probably the one to choose. However I'm not buying it. The discussion groups and real-time blog players are moving too fast. We Blog

We Blog, ISBN 0764549626
Blog On, ISBN 0072227125
Blogging, ISBN 0735712999
[Essential Blogging], ISBN 0596003889
The Weblog Handbook, ISBN 073820756X
Weve Got Blog, ISBN 0738207411

November 19, 2002


Today I had a motivating coffee with a close friend. Much of our early conversation was about SMART MOBS the book. Both of us really itching to push boudaries and take product and service concepts concepts well beyond the boundaries outlined in the book; to give SMART MOBS a business building edge.

Then it is not unusual for Tom and I to reflect on stories, the scenarios we write and exploring different concepts as we go. It's an update. We are both passionate about the challenges of the future. Then we discover some fragment or item we have never shared, playing with some new concept and model. Today one emerged as I was hunting for yet another example of how the blogging / publishing community might revolutionize the customer service business.

ANTIPORT traces to 1999. I remember writing it - sort of pounded it out. It was meant to fly in the face of today's customer service practices. Antiport suggests that smart mobs can run customer feedback systems. What's more perhaps today with a more object oriented web the costs and programs maybe ready to enable it!

I beleive it was brash and bold then. From marketing PR to seeding a community for customer feedback. Let me know what you think. I'll be watching to see if anyone registers www.antiport.com this time round.

Imagine: January 21, 2003 (updated) News headlines around the world…...
Antiport Flys New Format for Landing Consumer Feedback
Today the largest mass registration in the history of Internet names took place. The top 10000 companies worldwide have a new conscience. Today, Antiport.com spent $1m and registered 10000 urls including antiibm.com, antitoyota.com, antige.com, anti….anything important…and they plan on making a new business out of customer complaints. What’s more they are giving the business away!

Marketplace for Customer Feedback
So how does it work? Antiport is a new marketplace, the market for customer feedback. Antiport began by giving away 10000 opportunities to take over the customer feedback function for the largest companies on earth. Each antisite will run a similar franchised feedback model capturing and reporting on key customer feedback. The antisite will pay five percent of all revenue received to Antiport. Antisites are all employee owned and gain shares and vest over three years in the Antiport based on the volume of organizational and community feedback they support. As this feedback network grows, so will the value of Antiport shares. Antiport appears to have adopted the successful SAIC ownership model. Potentially anyone can register an unregistered anti-site and working to the open standards gain approval and membership. This may become the ultimate recruit yourself business.

Handling the complaint virus!

But it doesn’t stop there. Antiport is simply anti bad services and products. And the best remedy isn’t just forgetting about it but making problems transparent. When you register a complaint with the relevant antisite, as a consumer you get some additional choices; you can share it with a “pass this one on” list of your friends or contacts, you can also add to that the “activist list” automatically forwarding your complaint / request to a random sample of interested parties. Then there is the follow-up list. Having put in a complaint you can follow similar items, etc. Each one provides metrics, and a call back to the community for discussion and remedies. This is because the founders believe that these “cold viruses” will make poor performance transparent. As consumers we can expect better responses. Companies that fail to respond will probably end up on the anti-port black list. Now would you buy a product from one of those? It’s rumored that deals with bizrate, epinions, revbox and dealtime are also pending.

Lower Costs, Improved value creation
With the announcement 25 fortune 500 companies announced from today that their feedback functions were outsourced to these new antisite consumer communities. In reality their customer service departments just started their own businesses. Long term the new services are expected to provide customer feedback for a lower cost. So now, for the first time those receiving the complaint will have ownership in running it down and reporting on it and getting a remedy. Now that’s a lot better than just $10.00 per hour. More importantly Antiport just redefined their job. They are no longer there to hide company problems (How much sooner could we have learned about explorer tires?) but to benefit each of us. No wonder we will leave them a tip --- and that’s different! What happens when it is a pleasure to make a complaint? Now, just think how their shares of the most valuable information on earth will appreciate as consumers adopt this simple new approach. We expect Antiport to be come the news portal for all major consumer complaints.

Antisites all agree to provide for the customer information they collect to their originator for free (eg antiibm.com to ibm.com). Additional customized data required by the company will be completed by Antisite customers at current costs. Additional revenue comes from selling the information to competitors, selling advertising for competitive products, a commission on legal remedies, and running new industry community feedback groups.

For the community too
For smaller companies there are even bigger benefits. A number of groups are registering anti-sites for a collection of local community businesses. For example three people expect to handle all consumer complaints for the businesses in the town of Lafayette California. They are just using the same infrastructure the larger companies use, but there are some twists too. They are providing a follow-up sales service to local contractors, so feedback on their performance is captured. It’s rumored that the best community in the US award will be announced starting in 2005. What’s more it is tied in with scorecard.org.

Of course it won’t be easy for them to get off the ground. But if you interested and you’ve got a company you think need reforming you best get acquainted with Antiport. The educational materials, on-line training and control systems are all there for you to get qualified and started. Register and hold your Antisite today!

Antiporters will also participate in an audit system exchange, thus learning from other industries and other problem solving situations. Thus at it’s core it provides a Peer to Peer model of learning and collaboration. Interestingly, it may well be the first business that requires no offices anywhere! The core web system is completely web enabled, reducing communications costs.

The antisite approach is currently available in 13 languages and confirmed operable in 56 countries.

Marketplace for Customer Feedback

Centralized feedback market, - one number- guaranteed follow-up
Distributed Structure Distributed scalability
Transparency - Viral – rapid visibility,
Ownership structure owned by knowledge workers directly involved
Marketplace speeds learnings and provides new opportunities for solutions / community
Industry groups possible – shared learning and new standards
New panels possible

As consumers:
Feedback is used not buried, more likely to improve products and services.
Enable the powerful telling of real stories.
Viral structure will take “bad” feedback to a new level!
Creating a consumer conscience!

November 20, 2002



Smart Mobs
Today's post reviews SMART MOBS by Howard Rheingold who many have admired for his passion and thinking development around communities. SMART MOBS recognizes and captures a new paradigm. As he says "....a technology that is going to change my life in ways I can scarcely imagine..." Ultimately that is my real bone of contention with this book.

It's unfinished. We must collaborate on dreams to seed tomorrow's solutions.

My attraction to SMART MOBS was the language that enables swarms to emerge from science and appear in our daily lives. The theories aren’t really new and neither are the observations, which never break any new ground. It is a masterful collection of sources capable of leading you on a merry journey. Yet someone not already partially aware may find it tedious, for within a descriptive prose it fails to uncover real dreams for tomorrow. As a result it won’t create many inspiring new options for you. It may stimulate further inquiry. It is timely and yet primarily observational tracing to Howard Rheingold’s 2001 journey of discovery.

If you are new to Napster, SMS and Seti, or books by Kurzwiel or Mann and don’t know what 802.11b is, then this book may provide plenty to think about. Did I mention Lessig, Winer and Searles, or Seattle, participation on eBay, surveillance? The list could go on.

This book is exploratory not prescriptive. Not all the facts and observations are likely to be correct. It fails to address questions that CEO’s marketers and strategists should ask about a SMART MOB world. If you send it to your CEO friend (not HP, Motorola, Sony IBM etc. who better be very familiar with the concepts) for Christmas make sure you make it your job to get them thinking constructively beyond this book. Sell them a Learning Journey; collapse Howard’s travels over two years into two days. Then help them create. Here there is not enough to move the majority of businesses forward. If you see possible impacts on your business the challenge will be to create a dream and road map for action. For CEO’s it fails to conceptualize how smart mobs will affect the business model. Or how will money be made in a world like this? What does marketing mean in a smart mob world?

So let’s give FIVE STARS for those that need SMART MOBS as a wake-up call, and realize that the book is out of date. I believe much is inevitable. Hidden within are market-changing concepts and ideas. Believe and you will ultimately need to rethink everything regardless of market and industry, from Inventory to customer complaints.

Smart Mobs covers a lot of ground. Some like music sharing or texting we take for granted now. Not all of it exists on our doorsteps. The changes are global and local. However the emergence and impact can’t be confined to your business, market or learning environment. The challenge is also personal. I wish HR had spelled it out more boldly. You will need to take a stand. A revolution is in the making. It will tip the whole system, as we know it. Think about your position on intellectual property, digital exchanges. How should wireless spectrum be regulated? What is the future of publishing? Are you managing your reputation? Where do you place your bets and investments? How should learning and education change? Will this affect my government? Etc.

If you have views on these things and need examples, use this book. Don’t wait for a follow-up edition. Share your motivation to learn and swarm on curiosity seeking answers collaboratively in real-time. For the next hit about SMART MOBS won’t be written by an individual. It will emerge collectively perhaps bloggedly with many faces, contributing. Despite today’s uncertainty the web is already a better place to learn, experiment and prototype these things. Resorting to a book is catch-up! There are daily blogs that provide more up to date perspectives. The supportive SMART MOBS blog tries to step into real time. It has a nice focus. It has a theme to clip around. Absorb the postings and you will probably be on your way.

My largest learning’s in the book came from the link made to Steve Mann and CYBORG. Again this is not news. Mann has been a roving CYBORG for twenty years. His experience shows there is a problem in the language. The link that Howard makes bringing Cyborgs into this picture was interesting to me. His quoting of Mann was worth reading the book for: “The smart room is a retrograde concept that empowers the structure over the individual, imbuing our houses, streets and public spaces with the right to constantly observe and monitor us for the purported benefit of ensuring we are never uncomfortable or forced to get up from the armchair to switch on a lamp…” Naturally Mann’s research is working to foster independence using wearable computers. Bring it back to today. Now look at networking your house. Will you wire it? Or simply go wireless? Wireless is already winning on cost!

For those that know how technologies trickle down and where to look, Smart Mobs gives great examples out of DARPA. (Mesh networks and more.) When our kids and soldiers operate this way. Take notice. The book may also help you understand quickly why the regulations around wireless and selling bandwidth have been a mistake. We now have incumbents with enormous investments trying to protect and maintain a system that is no longer effective. Change the way Wireless is regulated or simply watch it overturned by consumers.

I am not raving madly about this book for I’d like a stronger conclusion. I really believe Howard is on the side of decentralization, collaborative communities, protecting the innovation commons and thinking about governing in a world of SMART MOBS. SMART MOBS is simply another name for communities of consumers (COMSUMERS) empowered and collaborating to accelerate the use of their information assets. Are costs for moving to unbound systems rapidly dropping? SMART MONEY will be on invisibly aggregating these new markets while consumers stay in control.

There is a thread. Not one I found blaring out in the book. SMART MOBS accelerate learning. Whether you are part of a music sharing community, fighting on a battlefield, a human cyborg, all are part of collaborative SMART MOBS prototyping real-time solutions. They are more open source by nature. The thread is there. Napster hot lists and the emergent subscription communities around blogging for example.

Despite underscoring SMART MOBS as the next social revolution there is little clarity on when the revolution will tip. What is the tipping point? As examples from Philippines to Seattle show, systems can tip in just a few days. There is an inherent suggestion that systems around wireless may tip and become P2P based. I remember writing such a Scenario a couple of years ago. As we wrote it CYBIKO was announced (another example in the book) which added credibility to our scenario. That stimulated a financial discussion (the book lacks any financial insight about tipping points). How close is it? That will be for you the reader to guesstimate.

This decade will continue to challenge us all. The way we live, collaborate, and connect though communities that swarm, sometimes for seconds and others towards eternity. Smart Mobs goes beyond just applying Moore’s, Reid’s, and Metcalf’s laws and yet never really brings urgency to the challenges that face us. As a business you cannot afford to wait!

November 21, 2002

Blogging Serendipity -- the CollectiveSome

More links for joining and exploring the blogging community. WSJ.com - ...Find a Blog Then if you have a blog you my like to tryand find new Recommendations. Then every often we make a convert and hope they will keep it up.

I've been clipping notes sporadically as time permits on things that strike me as "signals" or "markers" to simpify finding them later. I've not yet managed to integrate them into mysite. There are themes. Not sure I will ever get to them today.

Picking up on todays CLIPS what's the theme from clips of the day? What is the strategy? What issues are raised? I have thoughts......

Discovery Capital

collectiveSome Thank's Tom!

"Stuart Henshall (http://www.henshall.com/blog/) deserves credit for this idea. I take credit for retyping it and adding a few minor tweaks (as well as trying to find a market-y sounding name for the service/process.

How can our companies discover opportunities faster than our competitors? How can we be more perceptive about future difficulties? How can our organizations' leaders become better connected, build new relationships and stay on the cutting edge of learning?

Some of the answers come from new directions. In the last few years we've seen organizations tout the value of 'upstream scanning' activities. And we have seen bottom-line (albeit seemingly short-lived) implications of the "Napster-iztion" of customers: a world where communities of customers learn faster than traditional companies.

But other answers are suggested in something terribly old.

As a leader who wants to remain ahead, you know the biggest surprises come from the edges of perception -- rarely from where you're directing your focus. As that old adage goes, it's what you don't know you don't know that help you -- and hurt you -- the most.

DiscoveryCapital is a service that puts you in touch with ideas and questions outside your daily comfort zone and frame of reference. Explore the edges of new ideas with others who embrace the idea of searching out the new, the different. As a subscriber to DiscoveryCapital you will find yourself in an extended focus group with an emergent agenda controlled by the participants.

DiscoveryCaplital is an online networks 1000’s of remarkable people. It beats e-lists, online discussion forums and lethargic participation rates. DiscoveryCapital rewards participants for their postings.

How does it work?

One of the keys to DC is how it randomizes connections between innovative people.

DiscoveryCapital subscribers are assigned to a random e-list of a dozen people. Each exchange list is valid for two weeks. DC members are exposed to 26 different groups each year, with upwards of 300 people tossing ideas into the ring. New participants are sent a DC 'reminder' - with their new random group response in the e-mail header. It simple asks them to respond to their group with something interesting they've seen today, something they've been reflecting on, some thorny problem they've been tackling.

In order to foster a sense of activity - there has to be some enforcement for 'group performance' (as odious as that is -- for all sorts of reasons). The DiscoveryCapital moderators need to toss those who never participate (or, at least, goad them on). These "performance criteria" should be published - numbers participating in which groups, total no of postings, average 'ratings' (a la Ebay rating system), etc. Part of the DC service would be a kind of search capabilities -- DC participant in Company "A" is intrigued by DC-Participants "Brian", "Raul" and "JoAnne". They need to be able to connect. They need to be able to take the ideas and develop them (offering, for example, these 4 participants the tools to run a topic-focused DiscoveryCapital sponsored blog. The most active of the DC-participants will probably find it addictive and appealing -- they can become the people that search out other like-minded DC-participant candidates.

We reckon this could be a big deal in a pretty broad range of companies...

Collective Some

"CollectiveSome is the odd-sounding name for something I'd argue is pretty important. It's the idea that applying a group's perspectives, preconceptions and blind-spots to a problem at hand yields something quite remarkably different than anything any *one* person could." Tom Portante.

Tom! Rather gratifying to see you here after coffee just two days ago. There is more to this story than will ever be posted here. not sure where the linking will take us. It is the right thing to do. I can't think of a better method today to accelerate my own "creative friction" points and thus illustrate how it streams "discovery capital".

And it works. I've filled my head with links (a selection) this morning. Looking for methods and ways that change the game. Discovery Capital leads to market changing concepts, and that's what leads to value creation. The CollectiveSome, the Unbound Spiral, what ever we call it the need is here now the capability to provide it perhaps closer than we think.

Then Tom posts on Beyond Certainty this am. I know I have to write another piece. "Radical Strategy Innovation"

Radical Strategy Innovation

Charles Handy is one of the really primo strategy thinkers. The thread I picked up on was how top managers - manage - and yet fail to have the skills to look beyond. The classic solution is to bring in consultants - outside perspective -. Great we all need it. AND I WOULD NOT TURN AWAY ADDITIONAL WORK!

Then I open Fast Company. I always read Gary Hamel "Now's the Time to Change the Game" and think. My offering has to be better than his! In the FC article I see similar words around the Handy dilemma, reading as he introduces learning journeys and the need to inspire "viscerally" led solutions from within! So I will take his advice from the article to heart! His advice! My response! Flippant comments!

1>>> Radical innovators challenge the dogmas and the orthodoxies of the incumbents. The first thing the CEO should challenge is his strategist and outside advisors! Ask them how do we create tomorrow's strategies today? Ask yourself --- What dogma does this strategist carry? How orthodox are his perscriptions? What strategic business model does he or his organization use? Then get rid of every "strategy" provider that isn't network and community centric. For the first rule is. Go fishing where the others are not fishing! Don't let Strategos, McKinsey, BCG etc near your business for insights. Insights come when your whole community (customers, employees, partners, shareholders, other stakeholers, etc) accelerates learning. Then search out individuals with dreams to help you make change using methods that inspire from the ground up. Make sure they come with an offer that includes a free beta testing capability worth 20 -200 times what you are paying them! Cause then you know you will be getting leverage! As an individual I can give you 20 times now tracing to my network and affiliations. Then wrap this in to a community and grow the organism.

2>>> Radical Innovators spot the trends the are already changing but have gone unnoticed. Well we followed his first rule in one above (look where your competitors aren't). Sorry real radical innovation is in sythesizing disparate threads find collaboratively creative solutions at friction points. Spotting suggests someone is a watcher. Collaboration suggests methods within your community that accelerate the emergence of new concepts that lead to action. Your role is to create compelling friction points that give your community "an innovation voice"! Of course in this section he really pisses me off. "I'm not a big fan of ...... scenario planning, because I don't believe that you can predict the future." Scenario planning is not about predicting the future! Scenarios are about synthesizing new threads, discovering potential, accelerating learning, asking better questions, often in real-time, yes testing hypotheses to creat alternate environments in which we MAY have to execute our decisions. I think Gary's problem is not knowing how to create relevant context for scenarios with participants. THEY are NOT PREDICTIONS! Merely a tool to help answer the unaswerable.... until you know, really know.... What must we collectively do next?

3>>> Radical innovators learn to live inside the customer's skins. Looks good doesn't it. In fact I'd trace my most successful marketing programs to just this statement and the need to go after unarticulated needs. So what's the problem? It's a given. In our world of radical strategy, accepting the above is to accept the industrial paradigm. It suggests we... the organization are providers of value rather than the co-creators in value. The emergent exchanges that create real value are multivariate experiences. The current renewed passion for deep ethnographic reseach is a result of the dash amongst large corporates for the "unarticulated need". I admit I've seen some fantastic stuff as a result. So while I am finding it difficult to frame my complete objection here. I have a suspicion that these current passions are microed into the shower or bath, when perhaps the real elements that will reframe them are a paradigm shift away. Mentally, although not in time. Now if you have read my posts whether on swarms, smart mobs, or COMsumers you will see an underlying belief that collaborative responsive highly connective networks are important to framing the fullfillment of unarticulated needs. So as a strategy organization we should start thinking much more systemically about how to respond. For me the experience is enhanced when everyone is a customer and th community is the brand and vice versa.

4>>> Radical Innovators think of their companies as portfolios of assets and competencies. There is a fundamental assumption here. It is that the company controls assets that actually make a difference. (Brand, customer relationships, databases etc noted) These are fundamentally information assets and increasingly valueless when held by companies and not within markets. SMART MOBS can take this asset away or make it transportable and mulitply them 1000 fold. The radical innovative leaders for tomorrow won't think of themselves as managing organizations but facilitating markets - value creation across markets / networks. And here we seemingly have a dilemma, and a real challenge. For networks aren't more effective when they compete. They require collaborative skills.

Then the closing --- guess what? He promotes "Wisdom in markets" markets with peer review and alternate forms of funding. However I struggle with the suggestion that "The goal is to build systems (Internal) that mimic the marketplace, where ideas, talent, and capital can find one another quickly." This sounds like consultant speak for spend lot's of money. Guess that is the problem. There are not many companies out there that would live in an open source world or provide that degree of transparency with their customers. When you spend your money. Remember you are not really after an innovation system. What you want is to be the leader of and in healthy markets! At the moment beyond eBay I can't think of many. Like Gary I believe you need an effective migration path and a systematic approach customised to context. Then like me. Test what he is telling you. Is it radical enough? Then cut his budget by 20%, offer us 10% and pocket the rest! You need some heretics on board!

Ah it's old: A para from The COMsumer Manifesto. "As information transfers to COMsumers, organizations are thrown back into the world of goods and services. Information will no longer be a scarcity around which organizations compete. This is a world where information is freely available or priced at fair market rates. Businesses will no longer be able to maximize their profits by mining the closed, proprietary data mines they have accumulated. This is a world where information is freely available or priced at fair market value rates. Thus organizations will find themselves with new product and service development demands. The challenge for organizations will be to look to other scarcities that help to develop the value of their products and sustain their position."

As a final note and thanks to Gary for stimulating my thinking - one of my favorite stategy quotes from him is: "Great strategy is always subversive!" Without "Competing for the Future" other books and all the HBR articles my life would have taken a very different path!

November 22, 2002

Darknet Future Strategy

The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution is an article by Microsoft employees posted at Stanford University. They describe the darknet as the collection of technologies used to share digital content including hardware (DVD Burners), software (Kazaa, Napster) and the objects that are traded (music, films etc.)

Their conclusion:
"We speculate that there will be short-term impediments to the effectiveness of the darknet as a distribution mechanism, but ultimately the darknet-genie will not be put back into the bottle."

More importantly they had a few words for business and marketing strategy.

".... probably make more money by selling unprotected objects than protected objects. In short, if you are competing with the darknet, you must compete on the darknet’s own terms: that is convenience and low cost rather than additional security."

So in other words... in the minds of Microsoft's thinkers it is a foregone conclusion that the trading of digital product (music, cd's etc.) will be enabled by darknet technologies. Nothing really new here. So what is the recording industry to do? First follow the advise of many. Provide me with an experience!

Now using the music industry as an example and simply trying to be provactive, with thoughts of Smart Mobs, COMsumers etc in the back of my mind.

Economics limited the size of personal music collections. I could never before afford every piece of music on earth. Now I can. It's almost free! However, I have no idea what to look for. I also bet there are many more "stars" out there who are not managed because they didn't package into a record store. So expand the number of artists you market, and then market them to me, locally as well! I'm sure music is played in public venues in the Bay Area! I suspect the challenge for RIAA members is to become a lot more efficient at becoming a ubiquitous agent.

Technology has enabled me to play progams in many locales. I'm no longer confined to a plug or affected by environmental conditions. My music consumption by time is increasing. So how fast can you grow my music interest and music conversation? Make it even more attactive to live my life with music. Can you make my music profile go anywhere? Can it swarm with people in a street fair? I think you better take my darknet sharing wireless!

As an industry you segment me rather than link me. You seek to profile me rather than find my peers. I'm guessing there is real utility value in linking hotlists. I believe that and some slick metrics / indicators would subtly accelerate my learning and your learning about me. Hey you can have the information if I get some better utility for it. Afterall on Kazaa I already give it away. What might that be? Try changing the experiece of a dinner party - invisibly without effort?

Of course the music industry thinks they are limited to music. In fact this industry is the benefactors of a completely new channel. This is like waking up and realising you could be the next WalMart. A channel where consumers are comfortable sharing their music lists. Can you not ask yourself what else we consumers might be willing to share. Here you are an industry that knows how to write contracts! Negotiate good prices and secure a profit for yourselves and your artists. Hey can you link me, my interests and make some slick purchase recomendations on my part? Perhaps (given the number of us playing the music) you could do some buying for us. Might just be a margin in it.

Easier? We play more data records with more connection points per day than we will every play music. Perhaps you might like to think about books rather than my groceries or insurance at first. Amazon is nice and yet they will never understand what I read or the reviews I should be seeing. (like blogs I'd like sent to me.) Why don't you put your minds to it. Afterall I know what I play. Just not prepared to put the effort into list sharing. Can't you use the same principles with my peers to create and enhance my reading experience?

Of course dear RIAA you thought I was done. I'm not. To build your reputation you must build the reputation of our community, our data sharing community. You need to work on trust and building in the right levels of privacy. I really doubt you can do it. Afterall it requires leadership by example. With your threats I've learned to despise and distrust you. Clearly you can't control it. HOWEVER YOU CAN FACILITATE IT! Your goal is to set in play a market for digital information sharing. Call it eBaycubed for the prototype. Get the idea?

It would seem the elements for a recipe are obvious. All that is left to do is cook up a migration path. Weathly magnates, show me the customer that you really have our music interests at heart! Build a community for all of us around our digital rights!

DNA, P2P, and Privacy

Clay Shirky "DNA, P2P, and Privacy" proposes that:

"In the same way Kazaa has obviated the need for central storage or coordination for the world's music, the use of DNA as an ID technology makes radically decentralized data integration possible. With the primary key problem solved, interoperability will arise as a side effect, neither mandated nor coordinated centrally"

Earlier in the piece:

"In this model, the single universal database never gets created, not because privacy advocates prevent it, but because it is no longer needed. If primary keys are issued by nature, rather than by each database acting alone, then there is no more need for central databases or advance coordination, because the contents of any two DNA-holding databases can be merged on demand in something close to real time."

Thank you Clay very insightful.

November 24, 2002

Reflections on Last Weeks Blogging

I grabbed a leaf-blower today; it is that time of year. While it was dispersing leaves in random fashion I tuned out, and reflected on what type of order had emerged from my blogging this last week. I found I didn’t like the tone. Reflecting, I realized that my enthusiasm had moved me too far too fast and not as constructively as I would have liked. Blogs really aren’t places for thinking out loud. At least not in the format I used.

In retrospect I feel the Antiport idea may be a winner. Then I got carried away. I thought “finally” we are closing in on an environment where turning smart mobs into business propositions is not only feasible, it is a must do. It is an area I’ve followed and talked rather passionately about. I believe we are closer than ever to seeing a paradigm shift in the making. I have many radical ideas that I poured into the Radical Innovation and Darknet posts without taking the time to frame them in a clear and compelling manner.

Now I simply will have to take the time to really make the case and apply some editing controls. Guess I’ve learnt something, and that was partly the reason for starting this blog a month ago.

November 25, 2002

Smart Mobs Scenarios

All of us, at one time or another, have wondered what the future will be like? Dreamt the odd imaginary life and asked what sort of world will our children to live in? As corporate leaders there is pressure and desire make the world a better place? However, short-termism often gets in the way of exploring better ways of getting to the future. While we rush to INNOVATE - INNOVATE we still require frameworks for testing BETTER IDEAS! How often do we consider the forces of change that might light a long-term fuse, --- create new options and ultimately help us frame that better more robust path forward?

This is a post mulling over long-term changes and whether earlier thinking about Smart Mobs had appeared in Global Scenarios. I just briefly looked again at "The Millennium Project" from 1999. It's a normative scenario and way out there 2050, so we don't benefit from an alternate view or obvious critical uncertainties. I just scanned it for threads around innovation, invisible tech, smart mobs etc. My interpretation is that our emerging "digital commons?" is encapsulated in the cyber brain concept, which appeared to emerge without wars over IP, DRM etc. Could it be the Millennium scenario assumed that "information wants to be free"?

Relating Global Scenarios to Smart Mobs; will the underpinnings that link the interests of organizations and govenments survive?

Global Scenarios are developed to go beyond regional or business boundaries. They are really attempts to think at higher levels of abstraction. They usually deal with global scale developments often providing useful background summarizing research and findings that enable smaller organizations to relate to these issues. An organization can then nest their scenarios in a way that enables a panorama style view. Dependent on an organizations / industry development there may be parallels. As an organization progresses this might increase the level of confidence amongst decision-makers. Regardless the idea is to provide people with images that make them think and learn. Having strong Global Scenarios out there helps us think.

So recent Smart Mobs discussion points piqued my curiosity. If I search Google for Global Scenarios, how many will address "Smart Mob" type issues? How many links will provide thoughts and frameworks for the next stage of this technical revolution? On searching I can find smart dust, pervasive computing, and yet I think our probing finds Smart Mob threads sadly missing. At a time when technology is accelerating is it possible that we need some new "global scenarios" that more effectively deal with the emergent challenges to "identity", the digital commons, nano-dust, etc.?

An older article may help to provide some additional context. In 1995 Wired "How to Build Scenarios" asks the question "What will be the general tenor of commercial life on a global scale in the year 2020?" This article was not about predicting the future or specific event, but to highlight large-scale forces that impact on the world we will live in tomorrow. The scenario matrix is still interesting today, though we may fill in some of the blanks differently.

Quoting from the article: "The first axis of uncertainty is the character of our desire, an "I" or "We," individual or community. This uncertainty about the quality of our individual hopes and intentions cuts at the most fundamental level: Will the energy of democratization and the ascendance of the ultimate individualized "I" continue to prevail? Or will our social organization and self-definition be rooted in a group - a nation, a tribe, a collection of users of a particular brand, a more communitarian "We"? The I or the We will never disappear, but which will come to be the prevailing influence in our culture? It could go either way, and with a bang; that is the uncertainty."

The second (vertical) axis shows the uncertain character of social structure: Will society be a center that holds and provides stability, or will it fragment? Here, we stake out the extreme possibilities of social organization: Will social and political structures (either new or traditional) provide a society wide coherence and order? Or will society shatter into shards, the jagged edges of which do not mesh into a coherent whole? Will there be a state to impose order, level the playing field, and unify a commonwealth? Or, will permanent fragmentation, increasing plurality, and unfettered free-marketism bring us to "bottom-up" functioning anarchy? Our second uncertainty might seem at first blush an outcome of the first. But in fact, while they're related, they're separately uncertain. Indeed, it's precisely the way they're intertwined that makes them interesting by giving us four scenarios, four very different "future spaces" to explore.

Now I know scenarios have been written (some with/by my clients) that included "smart mob" type consumer environments and radically changed information asymmetries. Yet my quick brush looking for updated Global Scenarios doesn't bring this social information revolution to the fore. In fact there are few scenarios around that contrast the changing digital commons. Lawrence Lessig has spoken at length about the innovation commons. In other threads the 'war on terrorism" is perhaps masquerading while serving a darker purpose.

Please judge for yourself. The question I am asking myself is. Are the premises that have effectively linked organizations and our governments for the last 200 years likely to be broken by Smart Mobs? I'd certainly like to see some global scenarios that deal the future for innovation, the exchange of cooperation, identity and community values.

Have you seen any? Can you provide any links? Without them, organizations and government may not change fast enough. As institutions they have served us well. Are we certain they will serve us as well for tomorrow or how must they change? Perhaps there are other ways forward? This area for dialogue can be made more compelling and build a conversation with a broader audience. I’d love to see some new global scenarios do just that. Of course even better would be to run such a project

November 26, 2002

Innovative Collaboration

For the longest time I've had the attached scenario matrix as a plaything. (click on it to full size it). This matrix repesents a tension that exists around an innovative collaborative community. The four quadrants reflect different aspects - dimensions of community. Simply, communities require members, networking, navigation and co-creation. A sustainable community will operate in all quadrants. It's meant as reference points to promote a common language to encourage the experimentation and openness necessary for innovation and new ideas.

brandp5_small.gif There are tensions in a great matrix. On the horizontal axis it looks at personalities, reflecting the individuality and the commonalities in all of us. At one end we have the need for divergent experimental thought and ideas; chasing our dreams. At the other end the need for a common language, alignment and reference points; pressure to conform. The vertical axis highlights the structural tension between open source sharing, contrasted with the need for some value creation engine that makes it sustainable. The top half may also be seen to represent where value is created and the bottom half how we capture it. I suspect the processes and methods around this axis are ready for some real innovative ingenuity!

Then there is a complementary matrix which takes into account the knowledge strategies necesary to lead an organization. Rather cryptically labelled, I think the real question is around the Jazz quadrant. As organizations, most of us have our composers, and piano players while the orchestral choir simply hums along. Yet that quadrant represented by the frontline staff (leverage) and the network receives possibly the least attention of all. This is an opportunity quadrant for almost every organization I know. It's a world in which the pace, the collison of ideas, products and services, inspire adaptive responses and insight in both participants and audience. It's the jazz club jamming metaphor and it is crucial to your innovation proposition

November 27, 2002

Human Clone

The first human clone. When? Used to be a question I would ask. Just to get people thinking, out and beyond their day to day realm. A question that always received stong responses and thoughtful questions. Till now! The answer was usually no! I would answer with...would you tell? Now there could be a seach to find the oldest human clone.

Last night on TV news, an Italian doctor (Dr. Severino Antinori) announced the cloning of the first human. Details were scanty, the baby due in January. Many links in Google news today. It is not clear who did it or in which geographic location. Ultimately, hoax or not it won't matter.

There are so many issue here. Ethics, timing - why now?, protecting the unborn, scientific progress, etc. There is of course no proof. Still it is a signal, an early warning signal of more to come. So where's the medical venue, who supplied the equipment, the drugs? There is an industry at risk here and it may not be glossed over in the US like genetically engineered corn.

It's immature science - playing with matches, and good or bad a fire is burning. So what will my children be learning next in biology? How will this be incorporated and frame their global views? Will they see it differently? Is it simply time to upgrade the operating system? Let's hope they are smarter than this doctor and his hidden associates!

November 28, 2002


Michael Crichton has done it again. Written a book that will make a powerful screen play and a great movie. I was attracted to Prey as soon as I heard that this nano - machines exploration was released. It's a quick read, a tale greed and scientific disregard. Prey is composed of nano-particles, acting intelligently, learning from the environment. They are growing exponetially more dangerous. The story and characters remain fictitious. Yet Crichton's descriptions of swarms, flocking, and complexity brings the convergence of biotechnology, computing, and nano-technology into our lives in a way that will make you think. Let's hope this is not the future we pray for! Let's hope the likely movie follow-up makes sure of it!

Don't discard this from your realm of future possibilities.

November 30, 2002

The 30 Second Shopper

How can one consumer reject jean stores and auto offerings in less than 30 seconds? Should jeans be an easy purchase? What’s the relationship between carmakers and jeans? Are they both using the same sizing charts, and am I apparently off the charts? Do these industries need to rethink big and tall? See “more” below for gory details.

For me just a recent reinforcement of why I enjoy, custom clothing from shirts and pants, to suits, and shoes. Unfortunately, it’s expensive and indulgent though I wish it were everyday. At times it involves a very personal service experience --- great tailors make you feel wonderful. Unfortunately, mass customization is still just round the corner. However, after my latest shopping experience I came home, and logged on… searching Google for custom jeans. I knew they were there; next time one of them will get my business.

Some retail experiments (e.g. Land’s End) have made progress with full body scans. There are myriad of issues surrounding them. Starting with customers (your measures) and including, standards, ownership, portability, privacy, etc. There are clear incentives for clothing retailers and consumers to get to into mass customization. In clothing, it makes sense to enable consumers to become part of the production process. I suggested this in COMsumers too.

Still I must assume it will take longer for me to customize the sizing of my latest car --- add 4 inches to the front foot well and raise the roofline at a price I can afford. Yet clearly not every store or auto manufacturer needs a scanning system. For ultimately a scan is a scan. Can someone send my scan though every car? What's the most comfortable car ever built for me? Real-time access and matching is the key.

The combination of scans with smart labels appearing RFID tags make the convergence even more attractive. For my 30 seconds, will be judged by a complete list of inventory on hand. Secret shopper can then also work for me… letting me know where there are clothes and inventories that work. Hmmm could be an attractive world. …. A world for smart mobbing clothing.

Is there a moral here? Not sure. Is there a message? Partly! Is there a need to change? Definitely! Auto manufacturers aren't building in enough flexibility and thus failing on comfort (By the way is there an auto brand that owns comfort anymore?). While Mass Retailers / clothing suppliers, are simply failing to help me dress! Is the business of dressing a lost art? I know my son is not being sold on "dressing". This may hurt the industry in the future.


Last week the SF Auto Show I found I don't fit in more new cars than I can ever remember. I frequent auto shows every few years (even made Geneva once) when a new generation of cars emerge. Now the thing is… I am a car nut, run many classics, played with many an engine, raced a few laps and read the mags. Yet shopping for cars is one of the things I hate. Most may immediately think “salesmen” but it is not that. My approach to shopping for a car involves 10 seconds with the car. It’s simply decided. DO I FIT OR NOT? So for me an Auto Show provides a real bonus. It can also dash dreams and be really depressing. I can look at cars for years and know I will never desire ownership.

This time my list of must sit-in’s included Jaguar’s S, new Infiniti G35, Nissan 350Z, Audi A6, Porsche Boxster, Range Rover, etc. There were many more. Other than the Range Rover (I’m hooked), none of these cars fit! Two enormous problem areas trace to room between the steering wheel and center console and the headroom front windshield roofline. If you can’t steer or see out, then the car simply won’t work. This fit issue is not limited to just these cars and I am not a freak… While height at 6’5” is pushing boundaries, weight certainly isn’t. Plus for the record I drive an old ’90 911C2, and have even owned an original Mini Cooper S. So I’m pretty flexible when it comes to flexing my frame. The Boxster was particularly disappointing. A Porsche NUT excluded from a future upgrade by engineering and design! At least size 12 boots don't auto exclude you anymore (remember old Lotus's).

Leaving the auto show I continued in search of jeans. My son 13 is starting to get the picture about shopping. He’s fearful too now for the future. A few weeks ago he needed new pants. He growing fast and at 5”9” he’s still an easy fit. I know he is starting to wonder --- for how much longer. I won’t try and explore his aversion to jeans. However he learnt a couple of weeks ago that Macy’s and Nordstrom’s don’t stock 36” inseams. So I had reconciled myself to going into SF. Diesel was my target. My last three sets of jeans came from there. So I was shocked when they said 34” inseam is now the longest we make! I was in the store for less than 30 seconds. Another time wasting stop. While walking up to the Levi’s store we stopped in Banana Republic. “Do you stock any pants (note the ANY) with a 36” inseam?” “No!” Ok. Thanks I’m out of here.

Made it to Levis --- horrible thumping music, they had a few jeans, e.g. 501’s 550’s, 505’s in my size. Limited colors, limited selection. I did get new jeans! They do have a custom order opportunity in the store. However it was confusing, and the line meant I wasn’t waiting. Will check it out online. Upstairs at no time did the salesperson try to up sell me to custom product. In fact the jeans were discounted – on sale. After the experience I’m afraid Levi’s remains a last resort shop. For the record... I didn't see any other 13 year old boys purchasing there either.

About November 2002

This page contains all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in November 2002. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2002 is the previous archive.

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