Monthly Archives: November 2008

Social media experts needed?

Well what I need now are some social media marketing businesses to work with on a project in Brighton (lets see if this sentence gets picked up by a potential business partner, by osmosis or Google)…

While doing my research I came across the debate in various blogs on the fate of the self appointed/publicly acclaimed experts as well as the corporate social media specialists and the hired guns (and much speculation whether they will/can survive the recession?)  Examples include Shel Israel’s  post and the highly relevant comments – as Shel says in his open letter to CEOs –

“This is the time to think about the most efficient way to be closest to you customers, to what’s left of your company ecosystem. You need to be among the first to detect the nuances of your market and adjust. You need to think about the most efficient way to keep in the conversation. “

Enough to encourage Hugh MacLeod to produce several (tongue in cheek) Social Media Specialist drawings :

Someone said in one of the blog comments that the only proof of SM expertise is results – agreed, so thats what I am looking for.


Business planning 101

business plan


Sunday afternoon working and while we try to avoid Dilbert’s optimism and buzzwords in our Strategic Plan for next year I have also been reading between the lines of the new Transport for London Business Plan. For what its worth my initial thoughts on the business plan are offered, prepared for the South London Partnership .

Buy Nothing Day 08

From the wonderful disassemblers at Adbusters is this year’s Buy Nothing Day campaign – one week to go – on Saturday 29th November say no to the corporate world. The events proposed include the zombie walk through malls and credit card destruction:

Credit card cut up – Volunteers stand in a shopping mall with a pair of scissors and a sign offering a simple service: to put an end to extortionate interest rates and mounting debt with one considerate cut. Be careful though: in some first-world countries, carrying scissors in public can get you arrested as a “terrorist”.

Three weeks before Christmas seems to be perfect timing for this, but apart from a few liberal pockets of the western world (Berkeley, Greenwich Village, Brighton, Totnes, Freiburg perhaps) I can’t imagine anyone is going to notice – maybe in this credit crunch year it will have more resonance? or will the Chancellors exhortations for us all to spend our way out of recession underline the reality gap between consumerism and (non economic) well being?

While you are on the Adbusters site and taking out a subscription to the magazine (well I did) their view on the financial crisis is well worth reading as well…

The UK site for my “fellow activists” is here – it includes a scratchy FOE video (thanks to Polyp) which seems almost a throwback to the sixties – is it suddenly contemporary, ironic or just naive?:

Who do you trust?

David Cushman, author of the “Power of the Network”, questions the role and usefulness of the focus group in his blog, Faster Future . Although the Scoble example is appropriate in a web/Twitter context it is David’s “Communities of Purpose” proposition, which ties in with some of the new thinking we are pushing in travel behaviour change, that is causing us to review the theories that back our work.

Key criteria for the communities of purpose in the example related in the blog:

  • The community self organized around something they care about.
  • The real community of purpose here, the real creators of value, were the ones who cared enough about the purpose to drop everything in real time, right now.

Some of the blog comments note that the focus group is hardly dead and a collaborative approach to harnessing knowledge and enthusiasm may work better when the promoter is well known.

David has been promoting the idea of self-forming collaborative communities of interest and purpose for some time and has challenged some very established ideas about network behaviours. Some more deep reading is required to see what practical explanations can be pulled from this work, but I thought I would link to it early and analyse later.

Deja Vu

Its all about timing…

Last night I watched the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young DVD “Deja Vu“, recording their 2006 tour and specifically the anti war protests that divided audiences across the States. The mixed reaction to the song “Let’s Impeach the President” is instructive – surely fans going to a gig by the band that wrote “Ohio” shouldn’t be surprised by 4 old hippies still having liberal views? 

What a difference a week makes – suddenly all the references to Bush, Cheney, Rice, etc. seem so retro.

However the excellent Neil Young blog/website “Living with War Today” is hardly going to cease to function overnight and rightly Neil has said it will stay until the war is over.  How many other 60’s figures are relevant in music, culture and politics 40 years later? His interviews in the film were typical, slightly grumpy, but clear on the messages and commitment. Also watched the “Don’t be Denied” Young documentary on BBC, now off to find my copies of “Tonight’s the Night” and “On the Beach” – forgot how good they were/are.

American Dreams – semiotics and the last word on Obama

And now the hangover, but perhaps first a short walk through the values and meanings of Obama in the context of the “new” American Dream… using cultural theory to analyse and develop brands (or Presidents).

Please have a look at all of the Greg Rowland Semiotics presentation, (don’t be put off by the semiotics tag) but particularly the slides from 38 onwards about Obama – a cool calm intellectual treated to cool calm intellectual analysis;

  • Obama represents a new evolving topography of hope and desire for the American Dream – bringing disparate pieces together into a promising future
  • By choosing Obama the US is electing to look into the mirror that is the reflection of the present, rather than searching for our reflection in the past


  • Obama is the story of a fractured progressive narrative, pointing towards a new paradigm in the expression of the US dream
  • The American dream is at its most powerful during moments of chaos (as we resort to escapism for comfort — fantasy industries,such as entertainment, soar during periods of economic distress)
  • While McCain’s version of the American Dream was a familiar, yet antiquated one of small town America, Obama projected the dream through a fragmented post-modern lens of real and abstract hope

Thanks to Mark Earls for the link

PopTech 2008

Just like TED there are so many opportunities to enjoy the presentations at the big US “ideas” conferences without putting your name on waiting lists and spending thousands of pounds.

Names at this October’s PopTech include Dawkins, Stephen Pinker, Bruce Sterling, Kevin Kelly and one of my favourites, Stewart Brand (of LongNow fame)- watch his predictions for the next 30 years of environmental action and how cities will develop – the video is here.

“3 kinds of environmentalists – Romantics, Scientists and Engineers.”

“Jesus People against Pollution” an example from over 1 million environmental organisations in the world…

“squatters are the dominant builders in the world today” – one billion live in squatter cities, two billion expected – these are the real green cities because of recycle and reuse, ecological footprint small.

And he is pro nuclear power…

also have a look at Christian Nolds bio mapping  presentation – actually watch as many as you can, just choose at random! and start thinking 🙂

PS best geek joke – Bruce Sterling “we need a new word for neologism”