Still Unsocial

Illustration by Andre Metzger
Illustration by Andre Metzger

The internet “the old Web 2.0” is all about communication and openness, right? Hrm, I wonder why it is so hard to communicate and be open using it’s tools? Another great post on FC form Robert Scoble sighting Kevin Lynch, Adobe‘s CTO, form the company’s annual developers event. I will just regurgitate it here:

“Please say who you are, what you do, and how the Web is screwed up.” How’s that for an icebreaker? That was the way Kevin Lynch, Adobe’s CTO, grabbed his audience at the company’s annual developers event this year, throwing open a discussion about what we don’t like about the Web and what we’d like to see fixed.

My biggest problem with the Web? For all the cool things we can do, Internet breakthroughs don’t play well together — or even talk to one another. Ironic, no? The Internet, which is shorthand for “interconnected network” and is one of the most significant achievements in the history of communication, is often broken because applications don’t interact. We spend all our time hopping from one island of information to another, repeating the same tasks, costing ourselves and our businesses time and money. The good news is that, even as I complain, there are efforts under way to make things better.

Think about passwords — for your bank and your blog, Facebook and photo sharing, and on and on. We all know they are a pain to keep track of. Microsoft tried to fix this problem years ago — remember Passport? (shudder) — but people freaked because it was big, bad Bill Gates trying to take your Web data.

What’s going to save us from user name and password fatigue? OpenID. An open-source technology that gives users a portable, secure account, OpenID is accepted so far by almost 10,000 sites, and a grassroots effort has bubbled up such that Google and, yes, Microsoft are among its supporters. Site operators who add OpenID will save users frustration — and save themselves money, because they won’t lose customers for no good reason.

Let’s go beyond passwords. Imagine having to create basic information — such as your contact particulars, calendar items, and so forth — only once, and then reusing these bits as needed around the Web. That’s the formatting promise behind the so-called semantic Web. It’s great to see this initiative being embraced by the likes of Amazon and Yahoo!. But it’s hardly ubiquitous — yet.

None of that will cure my headache with the Web 2.0 community. If you use more than one social tool and want to change some universal bit of personal data, you have to update over and over at each service. Want to change your email address or photo and then notify your friends about the update? Put on a pot of coffee and set aside an afternoon.

I get why fierce rivals like MySpace and Facebook don’t want to cooperate. But a number of the social tools Yahoo has under its own umbrella — Flickr‘s photo sharing, Upcoming’s events calendar, Del.icio.us‘s bookmarks, Bix‘s contests — don’t even communicate with one another.

Thankfully, the folks over at DataPortability.org are working with social-networking outfits to get them to adopt the existing technologies that will let users share data between sites. But it’s not going to be easy. I got into a bit of trouble with Facebook not too long ago when I experimented with an unreleased tool from Plaxo, a popular online address book and calendar. The app pulled names, email addresses, and birthdays from the profiles of my Facebook friends to see if they’re also Plaxo members. Facebook kicked me off (but later reactivated my account).

That kind of nonsense is wearying and expensive. The Internet has already exploded many notions about business. It’s time that we stop hoarding customers and their information in silos for fear of them straying. If you love them, set them free.

Spot on… All these social tools that supposedly are for communication fighting to be closed. Is there something wrong with this picture? Need to find a happy medium here, where the person (user) can move seamlessly between different niche social networks/apps. It will benefit all in the end. Will lead to more use and open for more communication. Seriously don’t hold on to a old business model while trying to push the envelope with new innovation. Don’t forget to support technology you feel will help solve this closed world. Talking will make a difference…

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Understand. Act. in that order

Collaboration

AdAge on Separating Brilliance From Blabber. A round the table discussion with some heavy weight bloggers/marketers (Power 150 network) on the subject of making sense of the shift in relationships between the consumers, brands, marketers and media. Brilliant conversation on the subject with maybe a not so surprising outcome which I have tried to capture below.

So the game is changing (yes yes we all know this…), but the large media/ad shops are still ignoring (yes they now have digital departments, but come on)… How do we educate to change the mid set…

“You’ve got to be ahead of what we’re doing. You’ve got to educate the agencies, because they’re the ones who for now are buying a lot of your advertising. So how do you help them see the next best thing? Blogging is going to be superseded by something bigger and better, and people like you, editors, need to know what that is. Because it’s going to bubble up from the people” – Lewis Green of Biz Solutions Plus.

Yep, got to be at least on game, well preferably ahead and know your stuff. The web thing is not that new anymore, so one should know this. The social aspect maybe new, but anyone with a little vision can see the potential in this for both brands and media… why then are we struggling here? It is all about the education, correction, all about the right persuasion tactics… One need to sell this in the right way… for the VP’s there is one way, for the media companies there is another and so on (hey sounds like advertising to me). Like Green and Howard points out.

“I came out of the corporate world as VP of marketing, and I’m not going to do any of the things you guys are suggesting, as a VP of marketing, because you haven’t told me how that gives me more customers. I only care about social media if it helps me to create more loyal customers. As a VP of marketing for a major brand, I don’t care about filtering and aggregating, and I don’t care whether you give me a link or not.”Lewis Green.

“The conversation that needs to be had with big brands is this: They are looking at how media is changing, they are talking about fragmentation, about spend, about all these things. That’s not the game. The game is that behaviors are changing. So the discussion we generally get into is to focus on understanding the shift in behavior. Once we start to understand the shift in behavior, then we can start talking about things like context and relevance, which is really what we’re talking about.” Sean Howard of Livingston Buzz

Only when one has understanding one can reap the benefits (that sounds very zen, but not a quote:). There are lots of great people out there that has full understanding of this, so  persuade without steeping on peoples feet. Aha, there lies another dilemma, the egos. As pointed out by Dickman:

“The other conversation inside the agencies that I’m seeing now is there’s so much confusion. Really, because the PR shops, Fleishman, Ogilvy and all those guys are doing the digital stuff, but the client may have a digital agency, and then they have an ad agency that also has a digital group, and there’s all this confusion on who has control of that space. And it’s worse for the client, the marketer. Trying to educate them on how to deal with that situation to get the most out of their money — it’s very confusing.”  Matt Dickman of Technomarketer.

Adaption without full knowledge. Noted that many of the larger shops get good people joining but many of the clients don’t, to many players syndrome. Hard pressed to find a solution here, but believe that it is good with separated disciplines, have specialists on each subject. This is especially true for fields that are constantly evolving. Important is that these specialist have a 360 view on what they do, so opportunities do not get lost in narrowness. Integrated com, optimal use of all channels – done by specialist in respective fields. So let’s put egos aside. Less confusion and better communication…
Good point also by Green on where this will happen (quickest).

“The Fortune 500 is never going to lead anything. The Fortune 500 [are] going to be the last adapters. I work with what I would call midsize companies ($100 million companies). It’s uphill with their marketing people, but they are willing to listen because their margins are thinner, and some are public and some aren’t. And that’s where I think we have to do a better job. Because it’s not going to come down from above. It isn’t. The Apples and IBMs and Microsofts — when the time comes, they are going to do the mergers and acquisitions to get what we’re all talking about.” Lewis Green.

Warping this up – educated persuasion with friendly collaboration between specialist from the ground up… I love to here your thoughts on this subject.