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The Google Flow November 28, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy.
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I was sketching business models the other night (I know I know, there’s a reason eveyrone wants to party with me…) and drew the below diagrams while thinking about how people use Google and Facebook. It struck me that Google benefit as much from people leaving their site as they do from entering it – maybe even more so! Contrast this with Facebook, who derive no value from people getting to anywhere else.

Google vs. Facebook

With next-gen strategy in mind, Google are so far ahead of the curve it boggles the mind. Not only that, but the flow of users through their system is engineered into their core DNA – it isn’t an idea they have to get stakeholders on board for. Sure they have occasionally dabbled in other fields, like their ill-fated attempt to take on Wikipedia, but for the most part they can focus on things other than strategic innovation as there are so very few people even playing in their league.

Strategy for the next revolution November 26, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, digital strategy, strategy, technology, web 2.0.
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At the risk of this becoming a Fred Wilson love-in, I’m catching up on my unread items and he mentioned a conference coming up focused solely on creating add-ons for browsers. I’m a BIG fan of add-ons that make it easier for what I’m trying to do – as I’ve said before this revolution we’re going through is based around making it easier for the majority to express themselves (which is subsequently why there are now businesses around organising information – see what we did?).

What is happening in this space though is people are harnessing the notion of the web as the platform and getting away – slowly but surely), from operating systems as we knew them.

The moves that Microsoft, Google and Mozilla have been making though are ones towards the inevitable (and closer than you think) point where there is no such thing as an offline experience. At that point the browser is the experience, with different plugins and views for different things (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.).

Where we’re also headed is the recovery of our personal data away from the social networks and back to a central repository, one we are in control of. I wrote the following for Marketing back in May this year:

(Facebook are) desperately trying to maintain hold on user data, under the daft assumption it was somehow their’s to play with in the first place.

That idea, and the moves MS, Google and Mozilla are making, brings the online experience back to the user, it takes the data back to the source, rather than downstream where it currently resides. Facebook exists as a repository for personal data, wrapped up in a layer of communications software that shares it with your friends. Nothing more, nothing less. Facebook gambled – and rightfully so – on that information being worth something; they’ve made a fundamental mistake though in attempting to build a business around something they do not own or control: your information.

So, in playing the game of would-be gate-keeper, distracting you long enough with werewolf bites and status updates, Facebook are trying to build a profitable business around supplying access to the owners of the information.

…stop me if you’ve heard this one…

Meanwhile, people innovating in the browser space are building out their own platforms – ones that exist at a pre-site level. By doing this, they will tap the water supply at the source and not down-stream, and while yes we will still be the ones handing over the information, they know we need software to facilitate interaction with the web, that isn’t changing any time soon.

Facebook’s strategic advantage could be in opening up its system and allowing people to build Facebook applications that reside in the browser and not on their website. But in order to do that, they have to make some fundamental shifts in strategy and philosophy, and move from a siloed-mentality, the kind that built businesses in the 90’s, to an open one – the kind that builds businesses today. They have the scale, what I doubt they have is the will to become, almost overnight, one of the largest publishers of web applications on the planet and give a massive boost to the fledgling economies of browser plug-ins. In Facebook Connect they half-heartedly attempted to extend the reach of their platform beyond their own domain, and it plays like it is: an attempt to be a little bit open, but not too much.

Meanwhile companies like Zemanta, and like Adaptive Blue with Glue, are building businesses for the next revolution by creating technologies that do not require something as decidedly old-fashioned as a website to exist. Indeed they more than anyone recognise there is limited value in pushing a destination, but endless value in pushing content.

As soon as the hardware conversation goes away, the website-as-destination will quickly follow as we embrace the distributed web. So too, I imagine, the gross over-valuation that came and went with everyone’s favourite social network.

This year’s one anyway.

Props to Alisa Leondard who got me thinking about this, you should go and read Socialised. Wait, she’s American, so it’s SocialiZed. Dig.

Image courtesy of Digger Digger Dogstar, with thanks to compfight, who’ve just had a facelift. Go tell them they look pretty – they’ll put out. Promise!
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Tools for the linked economy November 26, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, business strategy, social media.
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Last week I was talking about business opportunities that exist around the aggregation and sorting of information, something Fred Wilson just wrote about:

This gets me excited. Because someone could do so much more with this idea. We have a few companies that are trying to extract meaning out of content on the web. Adaptive Blue recognizes pages about things (books, music, film, stocks, wine, people, etc). Outside.in recognizes posts and articles about places (neighborhoods, schools, parks, etc). And Zemanta recognizes concepts in blog posts and recommends content to add to your post.A VC, Nov 2008

I’m digging this notion of building a business around the curation of content right now – not that I’m looking to start one, but there are opportunities to leverage this moment with the right execution and the right brand(s).

Which of course means the race is on to see which ad agency fucks it up first.

(Incidentally, I use Zemanta in regular posts as well as having used it to re-blog the above quote from Fred. It is a fantastic service, any blogger reading this should go check it out – you’ll see the little re-blog image in the bottom-right corner of this post)

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How to draw a car by Dave Gray November 21, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in work/life.
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I adore this, so cute and simple.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

posted with vodpod

I’m finding myself increasingly drawing pictures to get my ideas across to clients, definitely on a bit of a visual-thinking kick (I’ve even created an Amazon wish-list… *whistles nonchalantly* Jingle bells, jingle bells…).

I am an atrocious artist, and can only claim to follow the Impressionist movement as justification for drawings that don’t look even remotely like what I’m attempting. Watch this space for a story about a seahorse, which will be (poorly) illustrated by yours truly – thanks to Alysha who gets partial credit for having been on the other end of the conversation when I came up with the idea.

Marketing quote of the day, take 2 November 20, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in marketing.
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Seth Godin

Image via Wikipedia

When you fall in love with the system, you lose the ability to grow – Seth Godin

He says this in his new book Tribes. A little more conventional than Bob, though perhaps a bit more obvious.

So…are we there yet?

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Creative Is Not A Digital Marketing & Media Summit November 19, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in work/life.
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Never the less, I shall be there this Friday with my favourite partner in crime, Julian Cole. Also along for the fun will be Peter Wagstaff and Zac Martin, who will join me in assisting Julian in a somewhat unusual but hopefully engaging presentation.

And now to the good stuff.

After the summit, we’ll be hightailing back into the city for drinks at Madame Brussels from 6pm. You don’t have to attend the conference to come along for a drink, I’ve arranged for a special room, so upon arrival ask for (and you have to say it in the most sultry voice you can muster, lest Pearls, the proprietor of Madame Brussels not let you in!) “The parlour up the rear of Madame Brussels.” Take my number –> 0404 078686 <– in case you get into any trouble (knowing you lot this is bound to happen) and come out for a drink to kick-start the weekend.

I should also add our lovely location would not have been possible without the assistance of Michelle Matthews at Deck of Secrets who this week launched their own iPhone app. Entitled DRINK, it is a handy guide to the best bars in Melbourne, soon to be rolled out across all the cities her cards have appeared in. Go say hi. Go on, it’s polite.

Now get outta here.

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Make your problem somebody else’s November 18, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, social media, web 2.0.
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Experiences facilitated by brands but not about brands – David Gillespie (broken record).

Entertainment, content of all shapes and sizes, offline, online, anywhere you like it. The problem could be a lack of conversation, and when you give the community around your offering the tools and platforms to make themselves heard, you take a step towards something much bigger than where you’ve been before. As I said when I called social media out, the exciting thing about where we are in our digital evolution is for the first time in our history it is as easy to create content as it is to produce it.

So what are you doing with this opportunity?

User-generated content was the first ham-fisted attempt to do something creative in this space, but it is only going to get better as organisations get more comfortable with the conversation going on about them. There is no silver bullet when trying to harness the enthusiasm of your tribe and align it with an organisation’s goals, this quote from Henry Jenkins though will steer any effort in the right direction:

The key is to produce something that both pulls people together and gives them something to do…I don’t have to control the conversation to benefit from their interest – Henry Jenkins – MIT

If your problem is nobody knows about you, make that the community’s issue and give them a reason to talk. Rally the tribe and give them purpose, make your anonymity their problem, let them solve it in their way. If you’ve been good to them along the way, they will reward you more than your own efforts ever will.

Image courtesy of paf triz, with thanks to compfight.
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Keeping the main thing the main thing November 17, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, marketing.
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I have a new piece up over at Marketing Magazine, thinking about marketing as business strategy and encouraging everyone to dig a little deeper into the businesses they work with and on:

Look at Google. They weren’t always Google, not like we know them. They created one of the most remarkable services the world has ever known and built their empire on being remarkable. Products and services do not get more remarkable than that. Where are those products? The ones that don’t require a clever tagline and a media spend to get the attention they deserve? Why are we not sitting with our clients and challenging them on what is actually remarkable about their work?

Hope you enjoy!

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Stephen Conroy boxes glacier, loses November 14, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in politics, technology, work/life.
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See the below clip for Stephen Conroy being questioned on his Internet filter by Green’s Senator Scott Ludlam from Western Australia.

It always struck me that one of the best backhanded compliments you could give a person in public office was that they were an excellent policitian. The criteria for such a remark is generally an innate ability to avoid answering a direct and obvious question, and to finish speaking leaving your audience feeling somehow diminished for having listened in the first place.

With this in mind, Stephen Conroy strikes me as a masterful and utterly natural politician. My hat is off to Scott Ludlam for taking it to Mr. Conroy, Scott anything you need from the folk out here, just ask.

Calling Social Media Out November 13, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, web 2.0, work/life.
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I’ve had enough. I’m done with social media and I’m calling you, you and particularly YOU out on it. I’m nailing it to the wall for the crock that it is. UGC was the first to cop it, social media is next.

I’m looking at what Jules is doing with The Population, my friend Matt‘s work with DP Dialogue, whoever else is out there. Yes, we have the Beersphere tonight, yes I blog, vlog, put music on MySpace, I comment, bookmark with del.icio.us, I use compfight to search Flickr for Creative Commons-licensed imagery, I discover new music via Last.fm and Pandora, and I Twitter. I do all that, and I’m telling you right now social media will be, in the great history of the web, hell in the great history of the next three years (if that long), the 2.0 equivalent of Pets.com.

And here is why.

First, we have to agree on something. You can choose to disagree, and I welcome that, but my stance is this: the web is inherently social. Not for everyone, particularly not for older generations, but from me back to the babies it is inherently, indiscriminately, and unavoidably social.

Next, we have to agree that the web is young. The web is still figuring out what it is, what it wants to be. You know movies? The name comes, need I remind you, from moving pictures. Photos that seemed to come to life, truth 24 times a second. Web 1.0 was moving pictures, we’re now in the Talkies. Imagine if film had stalled when talkies came along and we suddenly found the actors had horrible voices?

That is where we are; social media is “the talkies” of the Internet.

Social media isn’t anything special, it is just the Internet in its current form. All media is social – Julian says this himself. It is a period that will forever be known as a time where it became as easy to create content as it was to consume it. THAT is the important part of what is going on.

Not Web 2.0, not new media, not digital media, not post-media and certainly not social media. If all media is social, media must be inherently social and if we agree the web is inherently social then the Internet is, my friends, just a collection of media (we need to separate that idea from the business of media). We have created a new taxonomy in an attempt to somehow describe the “otherness” of this new space, which is itself not a recent development; we’ve separated movies and TV for years even though they showed us essentially the same thing (like FM radio and Pandora do now). Watching video online is no different, and soon we won’t treat it like it is.

In fact, thank God (or Dawkins for the atheists) we’re rapidly coming back around to a place where we’re not stuck on discussions of platforms and mediums; there will only be one platform where everyone produces and, once again, content will be king. That platform is the Internet, and, dear client folk, if someone comes to you with a digital strategy that does not have a focus on creating 1-to-1 connections in your audience, then run for the hills. But do not be caught up in the myth of social media, that is just the interwebs as we know it.

As Iain Tait said much more succinctly than I, digital is not a thing anymore.

Now, let’s talk about something interesting for a change.

**Update** I got the name of Matt’s social media company wrong as he points out below. Apologies to him and the good people at De Pasquale.

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