100th post! signposts for XXI century visibility- a directory

Well, it started in February, and now it reached 100 postings. And 150 twitter postings (between @robertolofaro and @aleph123).

As you know, this is a knowledge-sharing platform, not the usual 2-minutes-a-post blog.

Therefore, instead of just commenting on what others are doing, I usually like to publish short (or not-so-short) articles that contain a summary of my experience on managing the impact of technologies and political/policy decisions.

Or how I would apply that experience to something new.

This post is something slightly different- and it is also an announce.

This Summer, I will publish an updated version of my work on the introduction of new media and technologies in business processes, including both profit and non-profit/government/institutions.

A section of that material has been already pre-published as a contribution (they used part of the structure and a really limited part of the content) to a book on using social networking online as part of the media mix, for a company, but the material online will have the original wider coverage.

If you search “XXI Century” in this blog, you will find different articles- this will give you an idea of which subjects will be inside the forthcoming publication.

Meanwhile, to celebrate the 100th post on this blog, I enclose a “virtual library” of references, by adopting a simple approach.

It is a tool. But if you have tools and no ideas on what to do with them- no technology spending will help you in achieving your goals.

Otherwise- the tools will drive you to do what they are best at, not what you need.

The audience My selection (and my suggested readings) could probably disappoint somebody.

My target audience is: whoever is making decisions in organizations, politics, business on how to integrate new technologies within your own organization- both online and offline.

The structure of this posting is as follows

Ideas

How this list was built
why something is in this list- and something is missing
Being visible
the new rules of cross-media visibility and marketing
Evolving your organization
you need to differentiate the reaction time across your organization
Metabook
reference books about what others are writing/doing
Nuts&bolts

Communities
beside the Myspace and Facebook, a cottage industry of “niche” communities
Build your own online service for free
do you need a community website? no-ICT-budget solutions
You have content, you need structure
using OpenSource to publish online
Moving across
the few technologie that you should know about, to ease your and your audience life

How this list was built

I started doing the research on the social issues related to Internet long ago.

First to create “community” sites (somebody recently defined an experiment that I did in early 1990s on Lotus Notes to allow the cross-functional coordination of activities a “wiki”).

Then to identify how to integrate each new technology in business processes.

In early 2007, I went online, but until late Autumn 2008 I refused to read any of the “state of the art” books on social and new media.

Why? Because I am quite pragmatic.

Therefore, I wanted first to analyse using my own network and resources, and then read the summary of somebody else’s research, to avoid being influenced in my research.

Also because the publishing process involved in producing a book out of a research or professional services practice usually leaves behind two important items.

Details, and anything that the authors assume that could be useful to deliver their own services.

Most business books are, frankly, a waste of time. Read the summary on HBR or SMR.

Beside selected sources, you will find also the “do-it-yourself social media” list.

But the main purpose of this post is to deliver to you, the reader, enough material to make an informed decision.

By sorting out from the hundreds of books, thousand of articles, and all the other material something that I could use as the “bibliography” for an introductory, brainstorm-based, creative workshop.

Beware: I did not enclose movies (everybody reading this blog knows that I like using movies as a reference).

Also: I did not enclose links to online articles- those will be published in a more structured way later on.

Why? Because everybody has a different perspective- so, without the framework that I will deliver in a workshop to “drive” the brainstorming on each subject, what is the point?

And also because… the links are either just to give you an overview of what is out there.

Or to allow you (or somebody working for you) to build with limited time experimental communities for your own organization (or yourself).

If you want- to prototype your own ideas on if, when, how to benefit from the opportunities offered by the new technologies, without being dazzled by the snake-oil sellers (there are still too many around), pushing for one-size-fits-all technology-(and budget-)rich solutions.

And if you go the OpenSource way, using online free-platforms, and so on…

… remember, once you start generating profits (or cost-reduction) on those platforms to support the industry, by giving some of your profits as a support for future developments.

back to the table of contents


Being visible

High Visibility
High Visibility, Third Edition: Transforming Your Personal and Professional Brand
I remember when I read the first edition, long, long ago; at the time, the focus was mainly on extending what McCormack had done via his activities to promote sportsmen, but over the years the book added a more holistic approach on managing the visibility of a person or group, moving from the integration of multiple channels, to the identification of the right suppliers for each phase of your visibility building activities
Convergence culture
Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
While “High Visibility” is about the building of visibility, this book contains some in-depth analysis of different cases, covering both old and new media- and their integration
Flat Earth News
Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media
Sometimes quirky, but an interesting study in the evolution of the media industry and how it is working
Scared to death
Scared to Death: From BSE to Global Warming – Why Scares are Costing Us the Earth
As “Flat Earth News”, a writer with a thesis and an agenda- but an interesting series of detailed case studied on how to (mis)manage the “spin”- and the lasting side-effects of impromptu visibility quests

back to the table of contents


Evolving your organization

you need to differentiate the reaction time across your organization

Cyburbia
Cyburbia: The Dangerous Idea That’s Changing How We Live and Who We are
An interesting (sometimes just plain funny) review of the social impacts of new media on individuals and group behavior
The Starfish And The Spider
The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
Suggested by a friend that I was going to help to develop a startup via Skype, it starts from a curious perspective on studying cultural and organizational differences between the Apache and the Conquistadores, not just to discuss the new organizational structures, but also how to manage competition with them
Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business
One of the best business books (along with “Cyburbia”) that I read in 2009 about social dynamics of a web-based audience- and how to avoid expensive mistakes
The IT Governance Blog
linked to a certification and book online operation, it publishes once in a while interesting articles- see the ones on Basel II and the future of IT governance; as ICT is now part of any activity, IT governance should be, in my view, considered part of the general corporate governance

back to the table of contents


Metabook

Wikinomics
Wikinomics
The book originated as a research project, and probably lacks a little bit in depth, to really move from the “interesting” to the “applicable”- but a worth “directory” on what organizations and companies were doing, to guide further investigation
The Social Media Bible
The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success

It is huge; but it is built like a well-structure directory, telling you the essentials about any “buzzword” or name that you could hear from your “social media experts” (and probably with more depth than most new media experts that I met over the last 10 years across Europe)
The Social Media Guide
A blog that monitors social media, and is a constant source of interesting and up-to-date links; I would not even try to replicate them 😀 if you need to know something, check on their site- probably they have the answer (I received this link on my twitter, @robertolofaro from @mcrosson)

back to the table of contents


Communities

beside the Myspace and Facebook, a cottage industry of “niche” communities.

I am neither the first not the last to think that giants like Facebook and Myspace are fine to experiment with the “online social network”.

But if you want to build an online community that mimicks normal human communities, just being online in the same environment is not enough (as many companies discovered after investing on SecondLife services).

Therefore, enter some communities of shared interests and values.

I did not add to the list the communities that are already referenced in one or more of the books list in this article, and I selected few that could potentially evolve into something more interesting.

epractice.eu
The EU Commission social network online built on the OpenSource platform Drupal; target? linking together whoever worked or is interested in working on projects co-financed by the EU Commission, and creating “organic groups” of shared interests, spanning across the national and industry boundaries
celtx.org
A social network built around an OpenSource screenwriting/pre-production software (that is actually better than most paid for softwares that I used in the past :@); the community side? it is not just about the software; it is about inventing new ways of collaborative creative writing and media production, including community prizes, and so on
causes.com
from their website: “Causes was founded on the belief that in a healthy society, anyone can participate in change by informing and inspiring others. “
pledge.com
Built to allow micro-financing/-funding of political and social causes, integrated with twitter, to enhance the “impulse shopping”
projectplace.com
With a typical business model used by most online communities offering applications as an online service (you install nothing or next to nothing on your own PC), ProjectPlace allows the project management of teams distributed world-wide, without the need to have a central location; the basic service is free, you pay a low monthly fee only for larger groups, or additional services/features

back to the table of contents


Build your own online service for free

do you need a community website? You will need a budget only for the time spent by the people managing the website, and your new community/group online could be up and running in minutes- or a day, if you want also to adapt the website to your own corporate identity.

I selected the few examples that I created to test the options: with all of them, you just need to connect, register, and add content/invite members.

If you want more flexibility, you can either install on your own servers, or just pay a minimal monthly fee to obtain additional services.

ning.com
collectivex.com
wordpress.com
some OpenSource e-commerce platforms
like: Tiget, OSCommerce, VirtueMart have social components, and are available as (paid) pre-installed services online

back to the table of contents


You have content, you need structure

using OpenSource to publish online is certainly an option if you have already enough material to support a publishing plan, but you lack the time or resources to create a new website.

Some hosting servers offer these platforms pre-installed, and then you will just need a couple of days to decide what you want to use, from the thousands of “extensions” (additional features) available, without any programming or technical skills required.

drupal.org
you can use it as is; or start developing a product around it, without knowing that your are programming; the only issue? you could end up with something like certain undocumented Excel spreadsheets- impossible to maintain; still, its popularity is increasing
joomla.org
if Drupal is stronger on the “community” features, Joomla is more flexible as a CMS (Content Management System); still- you could add so many options, that it would become too slow to be used
wordpress.org
available also as a free service on wordpress.com, WordPress is mainly used for blogging- but it is also quite easy to adapt, by adding pre-existing modules; and, without any additional tools, it is more advanced than the other two when it comes to presenting your content so that it is found by search engines like Google (SEO Search Engine Optimization)

back to the table of contents


Moving across

the few technologies that you should know about, to ease your and your audience life.

If you are a normal online user, you are probably tired of having each website asking you to fill a profile, enter a password, and so on.

And all that, maybe just to buy a book, or read one article.

Beside privacy concerns (try to de-register from some of those websites :D), it is boring- for the user.

And expensive- for any organization that wants to be visible online, as it must assume that users are scattered everywhere, but probably would not like to register again to use its services.

So, few competing and partially overlapping standards have been created.

I will summarize here only the few that I think that any community-oriented site should consider:

OpenID
share your userid credentials across multiple sites; register in one, and the other will give you access
OpenSocial
share your profile across multiple sites
FacebookConnect
allow access to your website by letting Facebook users identify themselves via Facebook
TwitterApi
same as FacebookConnect, but allows also to post directly SMS-like (140 char) messages to twitter

back to the table of contents

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