FOCUS: Introducing a Summer Reading Sampler!

Summer Reading

Ah….summer reading!

I frequent the Conversation Agent blog published by Valeria Maltoni regularly, and take away more food for thought than I get from any other blog. She recently posted an article containing a Summer reading list. Heading into the last full month of summer (although here in the Pacific Northwest it actually feels like the first full month, as the summer to date has been rather cool and moist….), I felt this was a great idea and opportunity to bring to light a number of works I have or am reading and the ways they have enhanced by thoughts and are enriching who I am and making my business more worthwhile.

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A Successful Community Manager

My communities

My communities (Photo credit: steven w)

I was asked a really great question recently: what is a successful community manager?

I have a pretty well-formed idea of the answer, but had never articulated it before.  My first reaction was to stay away from any kind of description of the community manager him/herself. I feel that a successful community manager is evidenced by the community they work with and for.

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More Than “LIKE”


Detail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a justifiable lament in the air. It concerns the lack of actual conversation taking place between people. In the online world a large portion of our conversation has devolved into one-click LIKEs or, in the case of LinkedIn, Endorsements.  No context.  No qualification.  No degree. No discussion.  Either you LIKE/Endorse or you don’t.  Life isn’t like that, by and large.

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Measure the glue–continued

Measuring time

Image by aussiegall via Flickr

In my earlier post about the “glue” of collaboration, I spent the time describing the area of discussion and none about the actual measurement.  That wasn’t exactly by design, as much as it was a realization that measuring collaboration means establishing some ground rules and accepting some risks and vagueness.

The ground rules are both simple and tough. Define what it is you’re trying to measure.  I’m involved with that right now on my team and it is not easy.  Objective measurement, as well as methodology, of collaboration and/or teamwork means setting up scales, deliverables, degrees of importance or weight (“So, was that assist worth a 5 or a 7?” and what does that mean?).  There’s also the issue of whether this measurement applies to the group or to individuals and how you measure individual collaboration in a way that reduces the ability to game the system (“I’ll give you a +5 in the assessment if you give me one as well.”).  Messy stuff….

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My First Video – Can this PLEASE be less painful?

Adobe Premiere Elements

Image via Wikipedia

Thanks to the opportunity provided by my current class in the MCDM program, I have put together my first video.  This has taken place despite my absolute novice skills in video editing (interestingly enough, shooting the scenes was fairly straight-forward for me).

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Who’s at the top of this pyramid?

Image representing hulu as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Analyst Laura Martin needs to lighten up. In assessing the evolution of content from TV-only to TV/Web mix (face it, my mother will NEVER watch her soaps on her laptop…) it is easy to see that the demand for quality content remains, regardless of device. The top-end owners of Hulu content (ABC=Disney, Fox=News Corp., NBC=GE…for now) are all invested in seeing profit from the venture. If they don’t, they are quite likely to pull their content, which is unlikely as they can sense the moving of the tectonic plates of media consumption and will not be caught off-guard.

And then there’s Comcast….

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Don’t sweat the short stuff

Reading the newspaper: Brookgreen Gardens in P...

Image via Wikipedia

Bill Wasik, senior editor at Harper’s magazine, makes several interesting and interlacing points in his talk (seen here). I feel that his assertion that “short stuff” will never be monetized is essentially correct. Short posts by an author or organization are too much like Twitter, and most of these same authors Tweet their short stuff, so why would I pay for that?

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Print (Not Print)

DORCHESTER, MA - MAY 4:  A man walks by the fr...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

…with apologies to Was (Not Was)

Newspapers are signposts of their constituents in so many ways. Just take look at the difference between the Seattle Times, the Des Moines (Iowa) Register and the Boston Globe (the paper/site I took a look at for this post).  Each has top line focus on local news, but the Register does not have a link to national/global news on its front page. They choose to stay purely local.

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It may be Free, but is it Valuable?

In the battle and discussion around Free (using Chris Anderson’s capitalization), I have felt that a missing component has been whether the Free stuff in and of itself has value to the consumer.  Sometimes maybe and sometimes maybe not.

I work in an organization in which we run across something like this: another business unit inside the company has created some technical training content aimed at consultants and systems integration firms.  Many times it takes the form of “<Name of technology goes here>-Brain-Dump-in-a-Box” which is duly posted for broadest possible distribution on the Web.  Great!  Lots of folks go there, download and/or watch it (if it happens to have webcasts that aren’t downloadable) and get whatever assistance the content by itself can offer.

Then, this internal group will approach my team and ask us to make it available to our training channel.  For various niggling reasons, a cost/price becomes associated with this training content in the process.  So the question is, will a training company be able to sell this same course to corporate customers despite the fact that they can get it “for Free off the Web”?

The answer is Yes.

The reason is value. When this corporate student attends an instantiation of this class, she or he will not be staring at a monitor for five days. They will be taught by an experienced technology trainer. There is the value!  It’s not just the content (or whatever other IP you might think of) by itself.  It is the context and the “value-add” that make it worth paying for.  The value-add also adds cost, but the Value scenario still comes out looking good.

Will some companies still opt to go to the site, download the content and point their employees at it, telling them to “get up to speed” on their own?  Sure.  There will always be takers for Just Free. However, context and extra value can make the difference.

The challenge is to discover the context and extra value the potential consumers of your currently Free Stuff would be willing to pay for.

Discussion – Yin and Yang – Technology and People

I read the article cited here:

Williams, F., Strover, S. and Grant, A. E. (1994). Social aspects of new media technologies. In J. Bryant J. & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 463-482). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

I have substituted their phrase “new media” for “social media”.

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