Thursday, October 30, 2008

tribes - how about that audio book

So as you may remember, I signed up for Seth Godin's latest book Tribes. The book arrived last week. So what's the verdict?
  • The marketing campaign was a blinder. The Ning site for the first 3000 people to sign up to the book - which was a bit of mess and kinda lost my attention but still a brave experiment.
  • Sending you two copies of the book for the price of one to those 3000. One to give away. A nice(ish) gesture. It wasn't like it was ice cream or anything but that doesn't travel so well. But a fantastic idea in terms of spreading the word.
  • Giving the audio book away for free. Some people bitched about this but so what? It's free!!! And it's different to the book so that's fine.
So I think SG has done a dashed good job of marketing by being quite nice to his readers and generating buzz. Full marks.

Now let's get to the actual book. SG writes cool, buzzy sentences. Even his paragraphs are quite good. Things start to unravel at the chapter level and the final result is not really a book as many traditionally might think of it. There is no line of argument rather there's a rant that riffs around tribes and leadership with lots of case studies - a statistically improbable number of which are based in New York restaurants. I'm not finished yet but I'm getting a similar feeling to reading "Purple Cow" last year. There is an idea here but it feels more like a talk thats been worked up (really worked up) into a short bookette. I suspect the audio book would actually be better because then you might lose yourself in the momentum of the SG verbiage. Maybe he should charge for the audio book and give the paper one away for free.

I don't think that SG was always like this as a writer - I mean Permission Marketing felt like a, you know, proper book. Or are proper books, like, soooo 20th century? Plus the prose has a bit of a Tony "Awaken the Giant Within" Robbins feel to it. Is there going to be a 5-day, 5-figure seminar series off the back of this?

As for the idea? That (informal) tribes are more important than formal organisations? That leadership comes from all over the place? It's not a bad idea by any means and there are parts that I absolutely agree with. But it didn't feel that new to me. Maybe it's "Here Comes Everybody" if you have ADHD.

So Seth Godin. Genius marketer. Good blogger. Book writer? Not so much anymore...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


A recent post led to a somewhat predictable exchange with someone. In the comments section, I am told that one of my statements is impolite. A couple of months ago I had a stoush with someone else on an email list that then went off-list. I had publicly attacked the mode of arguing that person had used. In an off-list exchange, I was told I was being impolite and unprofessional. Maybe I am.

I'm always a bit dubious when the "politeness" card is played. If I have called you "stupid" then I agree, that is impolite. If I have called what you say "stupid" (and also justified why I think that) then the case for "impoliteness" is much weaker. It often seems to be a distracting tactic. I reserve the right to criticise statements and behaviour. I also accept that my words and actions will get called these things in return. And yes, those who seem generally "nice" will get treated more gently than those who seem to relish verbal battle.

What do you think the rules of etiquette are?

[UPDATE: Well that doesn't seem to have ended well]

actkm - networks

Graham and Laurie both ran sessions on networks of different sorts. BTW networks are so hot right now.

I interpret Graham's work as being built on a single, brilliant insight (plus lots of hard work). The insight is that the nodes in social network analysis don't have to be people. They can be projects or policies or many other kinds of business objects. I strongly advise you to read his blog.

Meanwhile Laurie's partnership scorecard is also shaping up nicely. He now has lots of nifty templates. The session suffered from being a dash hypothetical (I imagine it plays so much better for real) but again definitely worth checking out.

actkm - arthur shelley's wiki

Arthur presented on his wiki experiments with RMIT students. The trials and tribulations. The collective efforts. It's a shame that this one wasn't recorded as the slide don't really do it justice.

actkm - matt hodgson

The key part of Matt Hodgson's presentation for me was the note that social software uptake inside organisations could be related to power distance i.e. social software is more likely to be taken up in organisations with low power distance. Matt - Do you have the background research on that?

UPDATE 30.10.2008 - Stuart French has pointed me towards this discussion on Matt's blog where Matt sources his findings. I'd like to get my hands on the underlying data if possible. Any spreadsheets there Matt?

actkm - dave snowden's challenge

Rewinding to the actKM conference a couple of weeks ago, I want to pick apart a comment by Dave Snowden. In a public discussion, he stated that knowledge managers should focus on solving intractable problems.

I have two responses to this:

1. That's easy for you to say, Dave. To my knowledge, Dave has never held down a KM role inside an organisation (apologies if that's wrong) and his primary engagement with KM has been as a consultant. He gets to pick and choose "intractable problems" that he will work on. Most knowledge managers do not have that luxury but must try to sell innovative projects to a sceptical management while ensuring that things like the intranet are working.

2. As a provocation, an incitement to knowledge managers not to get pigeon-holed as document minders, it's a great one.

an infatuation

All the Obama vs McCain stuff in the US? It nags at me. Not because I think Obama will lose. It's possible but looking less likely by the day. At not because I think Obama will be a bad president. I think he'll be competent enough. And he seems a better choice than his competitors for the crown.

My beef is that he cannot possibly satisfy the desire for change that he has both nurtured and ridden. He reminds me of Tony Blair in the UK - and to a lesser extent Kevin Rudd here in Australia. A dream has been created that must necessarily be broken.

Within 12 months of Tony Blair's election, many of those who had been hyping him turned against him. They had created a fantasy candidate in their heads and Blair with all his human failings (plus the slightly autocratic leanings that Rudd seems to share) could not live up to their dreams.

The problem with infatuation is that you don't fall in love with a person but your project of that person. I give the infatuation 6 months before it fractures in the face of the human reality.

i really don't give a **** about social media

I'm kinda over it all at the moment. Maybe it's because I'm sick in bed with nothing but my computer for company. But maybe I'm getting a bit over the social media milieu as well. We are actually a very small group in Australia - buzzing each other up on Twitter.

I'm a bit bored of presentations talking about "revolution" and using inspirational stock footage that trigger associations with these guys. This stuff isn't a revolution. Which is good coz most revolutions fail in their aims and end up eating their children. I don't want a revolution.

I'm struggling to articulate these small annoyances. They'll nudge together into something more coherent over time. I want this social media bubble of voices bouncing off the inside of its skin to burst.

I want little moments of insight.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

i don't want a clean feed

Let's get one thing straight. I am against child pornography. However I am also against censorship of the internet by governments. Esp. when that censorship is ineffective. The EFA's no clean feeds campaign is well worth a check out. As is Angry Aussie's analysis of the situation.

email not dead shocker

A friend of mine called me last week and said she was thinking of setting up an online community for a group of female entrepreneurs. What should she use? Well, we had a chat and what do you think we came up with?

A blog, a wiki, a Facebook group, a Ning site?

No - an email list. An oldie but a goodie. These people aren't tech-savvy and email is their primary form of communication. I've ranted about email before but in this situation it kinda makes sense (for now).

mp3 on advice to new knowledge managers

I asked several people at the actKM conference what advice they would give to people new to the field of KM. You can now listen to their advice on the actKM site.

Hear what Mark Schenk, David Gurteen, Arthur Shelley, Graham Durant-Law, Keith De La Rue and Cory Banks have to say.

What piece of advice would you give?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Age of Conversation TWO!!!

Some of you may remember the first Age of Conversation last year. Well Gav & Drew have been hard at it and assembled another 200+ writers, ranters and relics for Age of Conversation
TWO!!! The aim is to raise $15k for Variety (the children's charity not the magazine). You can buy the book here.

Go on. Treat yourself...

Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Chris Brown, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Schawbel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Dave Davison, David Armano, David Berkowitz, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne & Todd Cabral, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, John Herrington, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kristin Gorski, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tim Brunelle, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

Friday, October 17, 2008

my future bank is blank

If you are an Australian social software head then you probably know all about Cheryl, uBank/NAB and the demise of My Future Bank. At this point it would be de rigeur to beat up Loaded Tech/NAB and point you towards my own top 10 tips for corporate social software engagement (because this is, of course, all about me).

Here's my take:

  • Cheryl's been writing about the marketing attempts of Australian banks for a while. I think her criticisms were valid and I share a lot of her frustrations with the way Australian banks operate. I want the banks to get it. I want them to give a flying **** about their customers but I am not convinced they do.
  • The more observant of you may have noticed a little turbulence in the financial markets at the moment. Perhaps many people are not liking bankers presently...
  • ...However the question of what my our future bank(s) should be has never been more important. We desperately need more consumer engagement from our banks - N.B. "engagement" does not equal "advertising".

So here's the pitch. A bunch of us re-start MyFutureBank. The banks are invited. Consumers are invited. Governments & NGOs are also invited.

Let's have this conversation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

actkm 2008

Massive shout out to the team who organised and contributed to the actKM 2008 conference in Canberra this week. Here are the presentations from Day 1 (including my own). Further reflections will follow on the weekend.

webifying the australian government

Did you know there is a Director, Web Policy & Online Technologies in Canberra who is responsible for making the Australian government all Web 2.0 n stuff? I didn't until a couple of days ago when I got an email for her. I had written to AGIMO to enquire as to what had happened about this. Of course in between sending the mail & getting the reply, I found this. There is undoubtedly some good stuff going on - such as Lindsay Tanner sticking his head above the parapet.

Apparently there are several events going on in Canberra in the next few months around this. Has anyone out there been invited?

It seems that the government are trying to achieve a radical goal (online engagement with their citizens) through traditional means (consultations, expert advice, behind-the-scenes meetings). N.B. If this is not the true state of affairs then educate me.

I really want to encourage them to go beyond that. Can we have members of AGIMO blogging about this for example? One thing I love about people like Jason Ryan is that they walk the talk. Come on my little cuddly bureaucrats, it's nice and sunny out here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

slower (perchance to dream)

I was at the Dave Gurteen / NSW KM Forum brekkie on the topic of "Is KM social?" with many of the usual suspects and some new faces.

One thing that stuck with me, while social software tools allow you to record experience as part of people's work, they can't fully solve one of the key challenge that knowledge managers face. Whilst embedding stuff and making things easy for people is very important, we've actually got to be wary of making things too easy for people.

Sometimes it's our job to say "Stop".

A key part of learning (individual or collective) is reflection. If you aren't willing to stop and reflect on what you have done (and its consequences), then you do not get the full benefit of that experience. We all probably need a weekly thinking time.

Just as our bodies need time to process the events, thoughts & emotions of the day (which may well be a key function of sleep), so we need time to process. Sometimes we do need to be asleep on the job (metaphorically).

One symptom of sleep deprivation is psychosis. If we cannot process our lives, we risk going insane.

Join the dots.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

game 3: sticky wiki

A wikipedia entry referencing the minister of your department includes derogatory nick-names given to your minister by the press. A senior advisor to the minister approaches in the tea room one day and asks you – as the office “computer whiz” – to delete the offending remarks.

What do you do?

game 2: forumed is forewarned

An internet forum site with thousands of Australian users – – includes a number of threads that are openly critical of the work that your group does. One thread in particular contains accusations that you and your group have acted illegally. These accusations are false. A major national newspaper has been lifting stories from this forum site on a regular basis and you fear that the contents of this thread could be next. You contact the media relations advisor in your department but they do not appear to understand the risks involved.

What do you do?

game 1: unleash the blogs of war

You are a public sector manager. Anne, a member of your staff, has a public blog where she posts mostly personal news about her rock climbing hobby. You don’t read the blog but occasionally she sends round email links to her climbing photos on the blog to her colleagues in the office. One afternoon you receive an angry phone call from Tricia, a senior public servant in another department. Apparently Anne has posted a blog entry critical of activities of that department that involve the rock climbing community. The post is not defamatory but some of the readers' comments attached to the blog post are abusive. Tricia believes that Anne has broken her terms of employment and wants to institute disciplinary proceedings against her.

What do you do?

social media public sector decision games

I'm doing a conference session in Canberra in November. My session is Social Media and the Public Sector - Examining the Hazards and their Policy Implications. I thought I'd kick things off with some decision games. I will post the 3 exercises up here. You can post up:
  • The decision you would make.
  • How you might change the scenario to make it more challenging or useful for participants.

the election (no, not that one)

Just before I went overseas (hence the lack of blogging), I exercised my rights as a new Australian citizen voted in my local elections. Australia differs from the UK in that voting in compulsory – punishable by a fine if you do not participate.

If you ask most Australians which system is better then they say the Australian one. However if you dig a little deeper and ask if they believe that Australia has a more engaged and informed electorate or a better standard of government than the UK then they tend to answer no.

The big problem here is that compliance is a poor way of generating engagement. The option of “going thru the motions” is a very tempting one for most people when presented with a compulsory activity. Do I need to point out any similarities with the world of organisational change and knowledge management?