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A open letter to Stephen Conroy October 31, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news, philosophy, politics, social media, technology, web 2.0, work/life.

Many international readers will not be familiar with the goings on of the Australian political landscape. Back in January I wrote about some unfortunate measures Australia’s recently-elected Government was planning to introduce, suffice to say our elected officials are engaged in a well-meaning but ill-informed program of censoring the access Australians have to the Internet. While looking in to the issue I’ve come to learn I reside in what is by law the most heavily censored Westernised nation, something I find rather ironic considering Sex & The City ran free-to-air here while it was confined to cable State-side.

Regardless, I have written an open letter to Stephen Conroy, the honourable member behind the intiative. Let it be known his intentions are good, but in practice his methodology is flawed, and imposing unnecessary (not to mention ineffective) rules upon the lives of ordinary Australians will achieve few, if any, of the aims of the program.

To read my letter to Mr. Conroy, please head on over to Marketing Magazine. If you feel as strongly as I do, please also visit Keep Your Filter Off Our Internet to learn how you can get involved.

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Fundamentals 2.0 – Open beats closed. Every time. October 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, philosophy, strategy, web 2.0, work/life.
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The image of author, essayist, poet, Ralph Wal...

Image via Wikipedia

This is the sixth post in my series on The A-Z of 2.0.

As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can’t get it out of my head, I hope you can’t get it out of yours. If you’re managing then you’re not trying hard enough, you’re not grasping it deeply enough, you are, as I’ve recently stolen from the great Ralph Waldo Emerson, relying on methods as opposed to principles, where one leaves but a handful of tools at your disposal, the other gives you the knowledge to decide whether you want to use tools at all.

Advertising is dead, long live advertising. Where are we as opposed to where we were. Five, ten, fifteen years ago? What has changed so drastically at the level of sheer corporate, psychological and emotional DNA that those who get it are in many ways mutants, and those who don’t spend their time wielding traditional authority while looking nervously over their shoulders for what might be coming, deep in the night, right when they least expect it.

The fundamentals of what we’re doing are shifting. The A-Z of 2.0 isn’t about marketing or business, it is about everything. Everything is changing, and we all have two options: we can run with it or we can stand still and be taken along with the tide; we ride the waves or get caught on the reef below.

I can appreciate why this causes consternation among most people, we’re not naturally geared for change, we’re ostensibly creatures of habit, we make our lives familiar and manageable through a routine devised for us thanks to titans of media deciding when we’ll be inside thanks to the scheduling of Lost or Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t watch TV anymore, and in the generation coming up behind me that is going to be more of the norm than anyone who does not grasp open beats closed realises.

Because a TV schedule is a method of control. And because open beats closed is a principle that circumvents it. We’re changing the fundamentals of the methods used to entertain us for the last forty or fifty years, but what the big media companies are failing to understand is that does not mean we are forsaking the principles; we still need to escape, to live vicariously through characters on stage and screen, in books and music and art the way we have for thousands of years; to define ourselves through a greater collective consciousness. A song downloaded illegally is a challenge to an outdated method of distribution and value exchange; it is not a challenge to the principle that music is valuable and worth something, it is simply being couched in different terms, and we’re working with different currencies.

The crux is all business as we know it is founded on method and not principle. Almost every business anyway, I can think of one we all know, one with a principle of “Don’t be evil”. Where’s the method in Google that consistently trumps principle? With the understanding that no brand, business or person is ever perfect, show me a company that does it better.

We are more than a hundred and fifty years on from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s great insight, yet so many are still decades from grasping it that it has taken the invention of the internet and to some extents the rise and proliferation of social media for that to really take shape and force.

For businesses of all shapes and sizes to not only grasp the Fundamentals of 2.0, but move with them and avoid the reef below, they are going to need to adhere to higher standards, to move out of the quagmire of method and practice and habit, to step away from routine and the way we have always done it, and not only understand but be excited by the idea that we can do better. America 2.0, Borders 2.0, Celebrity 2.0, Dogma 2.0, Everyone 2.0 – these are all ideas based on principle, they frame the discussion and force us all to higher ground.

Principles beat method. Open beats closed. The way we have been is not the way we will be.

What is the point otherwise?

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Using consumers to tell your story for you (or “Hey diddle-diddle to the people in the middle”) October 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in social media, storytelling, web 2.0.
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So last week I identified the three ways stories are getting told in advertising. Today I want to talk about the second one: A narrative with the brand at the centre of the story but with the story being generated by consumers, leaving the direction of it loosely defined, usually through a particular campaign moving in a very particular direction. Also known as: User Generated Content.

I said this last week in the office and came under fire for it, but I’m going to wheel it out again because I think it’s true: user-generated content in its current context is a crock.

An absolute crock.

Marketers: you don’t want a UGC campaign. Agencies: stop telling them they want them, they don’t, not if they really understood the trade-offs. And in fact if you really understood them too, you wouldn’t recommend them either.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote the following:

As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.

The methods are simple: give people a platform, incentivise their involvement, and then let them get on with it. The problem here is the principles of user-generated content stem from people behaving in their natural state, creating work because they want to and not manufacturing it for a purpose other than self-expression and social currency. Brands see the natural enthusiasm people exhibit in their daily lives and and hope to co-opt it into their own work, which is like U2 showing up at an indie rock gig, deciding they like a song and then wheeling it out at Wembley Arena the following night.

In the above scenario, U2 wins by bringing the indie band on stage with them, playing the song together. U2 gets kudos for being hip and championing the next generation, the new band gets exposed to a new audience, everyone wins. Everyone wins. That is a principle of user-generated content, of social media. Mutual gain and that being a good thing is a principle – method is acquiring content for a campaign; that is neither cutting-edge nor insightful and increasingly out of touch.

I could go on, but instead just read this great synopsis of a terribly poor effort on BMW’s part, which sums it up perfectly. Brands need consumers more than consumers need brands. Without them their stories mean nothing, and without meaningful stories, there’ll be nothing to tell anyone else about anything at all.

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Everyone 2.0 – Remember you’re unique; just like everybody else October 19, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, philosophy, web 2.0, work/life.
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This is the fifth post in my series on The A-Z of 2.0.

Needs. Need and wants. Things I desire that nobody else does, at least not the way I do, in the form I do, with the pre-conditions and checklists I have for them. Everybody has them, but we don’t articulate them quite into the detail they need to be in order to make them actionable. I could say I want to make music for a living; what I mean is I want to earn enough to be very comfortable from recording and performing my own songs; anybody with half an ear for music can go earn a couple grand a week playing covers, but that wouldn’t satisfy my criteria, regardless of whether I take the time to define it or not.

Andy Warhol‘s most famous quote is “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” At the time there’d only been a decade or two where it was actually possible to be famous just for being famous, prior to that you actualy had to be extraordinarily good at something for the word to spread enough and genuine fame to be acquired.

Fame in itself is a funny thing, one I feel, for most people, is entirely undesireable. To be endlessly recognised simply for being anywhere you went does not strike me as the kind of thing a lot of us would wake up in the morning with a burning desire to achieve, even though there are folk out there who do. With the assumption most people desire the money or lifestyle that comes with the kind of fame people find appealing, then I think, regardless of the dreams and desires you have for your life, people seek the conveniences being in that sort of position can bring with it; and in The A-Z of 2.0 a lot of those things are possible.

If you own a car, pause for a moment the next time you’re in the driver’s seat. Look at the dash, the airconditioning, the (if you have them) power windows. Seat adjustments, cruise control, airbags, CD, MP3, DVD players. All of those were once the province of the wealthiest of wealthy individuals. Movie stars and musicians and big business men and women had access to these features. They would be released in the top of the line Mercedes and BMWs, and slowly, via the wonder that is trickle-down economics, make their way into the lives of ordinary people.

This is true of most things around us. I have a Macbook Pro sitting on my lap as I write this, holding computational power that, in my father‘s lifetime has gone from being the sole domain of Government to an item available at the cost of a month’s salary for the middle-class. In our personal lives we seek the same thing in the automation of services; bills going out when they’re due, a cleaner every fortnight, a laundry where they will wash and iron 5 shirts for $12.50, the only decision I have to make being “Is two hours of my time on the weekend it would take to do that worth $12.50?”. I don’t know about you, but the ability to spend two hours on a weekend to do something other than washing is worth at least $12.50.

The ubiquity of products and services trading in an ever increasing commodity (money) to allow you more of an ever decreasing commodity (time) is an idea born from the same place as the DVD player in the backseat of an Audi. I can’t afford a full-time personal assistant, but I can set up an account at Remember The Milk which will automatically send me reminders and help me get through a to-do list. Get Friday takes it a step further, with staff on hand to assist with mundane tasks – I currently have them helping me roll all my superannuation into one account, we’ll see how that goes. For more on this though, read Tom Friendman’s The World Is Flat – you’ll be amazed at what you find.

There exists right now, in Everyone 2.0, an opportunity to provide products and services that were previously the domain of the rich and famous. It is commerce for the empowerment of others, as opposed to commerce for the empowerment of commerce itself. What we’re seeing right now in the global economy is the collapse of a system infected, at its core, with DNA doomed to rot from the inside out because it had blinkers on and couldn’t see how the world around was changing. Even if it had, there’s no evidence to suggest it would have cared, not when a bail-out for companies in need of it is, for all intents and purposes, socialism for the wealthy and capitalism for the poor. Everyone 2.0 is taking the personalisation the web affords us and moving it offline into the every day lives of every day people, where you don’t need a screen and a keyboard to feel the impact.

Capitalism, entrepreneurism, commerce as we know it hasn’t for a single moment meant that open beat closed, but in Everyone 2.0, it is the only way you win. Put the empowerment of others and genuine happiness at the core of your business model and watch as the opportunities for the life you wanted to live come to fruition.

Just like everyone else.

**Update** – October 25th, 2008

For those interested in thinking a bit more about Everyone 2.0, watch this fantastic talk by Paola Antonelli, Curator of Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Image courtesy of kygp, with thanks to compfight.
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The company and kindness of strangers October 9, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, social media, web 2.0, work/life.
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A month or so ago I was interviewed by Brad Howarth on social media and blogging for an article he was writing for B&T. That has just hit the news stands, which is great. You can find the article on page 34 (it’s also available online).

Brad also contributed an article to Smart Company and I’ve been included in a list of 15 of Australia’s best business blogs. A couple friends such as Julian Cole and Gavin Heaton are included, along with a great new blog I’ve only recently discovered, Get Shouty which is written by The White Agency’s Katie Chatfield. In addition there’s a collection of other blogs I haven’t had the chance to read yet, but I’m looking forward to getting into them.

One thing I’m quoted as saying in the B&T article which is absolutely true is the comments on this blog at times have been far more insightful and valuable than the post they were attached to. To everyone who stops by and shares their two cents, it is really appreciated.

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When I was young like you October 6, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, technology, web 2.0, work/life.
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I was doing some house-keeping, cleaning up old files and I came across this image I snapped when I was logged into Facebook on my house mate’s laptop.

You’ll need to click on it to see, but those yellow boxes are help tips – the one in the middle is a message telling her she is using Internet Explorer 6, and should upgrade to IE 7 or switch to a different browser. On the right is a message introducing Facebook Chat, which also says she’ll need to upgrade her browser or switch to Firefox in order to get the most out of it.

Interesting stuff here:

  • Browsers listed are IE 7, Firefox, Safari and Flock! Big coup for them, I wonder how many readers have actually heard of it, let alone people who would still be using IE6.
  • FB is using data that is freely available to everyone in order to make these tips appear
  • They are aware of the possibility for people to have negative experiences that are usually outside the scope for the service to control, yet they’re going an extra step to ensure that doesn’t happen.
  • Has me wondering how I can provide better service for my clients by doing the things that take no time, but have far reaching effects
  • Since FB delivers me my FB emails straight to my Gmail, I don’t log in to check them. So they stay unread. Someone please tell me the ability to reply to them without having to log in is coming…?
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Hold up (wait a minute) September 30, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in web 2.0, work/life.
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Take 15 minutes out from whatever you’re doing right now to watch the below video. I realise it is video over-kill today, but you need (<– Note the use of “need”, not “should”, need) to watch it. I promise you there is nothing more important in the next 15 minutes than watching it.

Nothing. It will even make you smile. Promise (you can trust me, I work in advertising).

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Let’s see how far we’ve come September 30, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, technology, web 2.0.
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I’ve spent far too much time recently talking to people about what tools they should use to achieve ill-defined business objectives. We as human beings have this desire to cut corners, and that is fine – the issue is we wind up slicing straight through the solid parts as opposed to shaving the edges off.

For more on this, check out this post on a methodology from Forrester which I found tremendously useful, I’m sure you’ll find the same.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems September 24, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, social media, web 2.0.
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So I got on a bit of a soap box earlier today regarding what I think I’ll come to call Currency 2.0 (where was that when I needed it). Currency 2.0 concerns itself with appreciating what is precious in marketing that isn’t a physical world dollar. Email addresses, phone numbers, these things matter, it is a form of currency that you can build ROI around, and you should.

Julian Cole has been tagged at the end of this, it’s an idea we’ve been kicking around for a while where we’ll post a video and tag someone ese at the end to respond. It’s open to anyone who wants to play, just be sure to create a video response on YouTube and we’ll pick it up.

You and me, and the games people play September 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, conversation, creativity, digital strategy, marketing, philosophy, social media, web 2.0, work/life.
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Content. Engaging content. Stories being told. Experiences facilitated by brands but not ABOUT brands. The logical extension of “This program was brought to you by…” in life after the 30-second spot is entertainment created solely for or by a brand. Entertainment that doesn’t ram a message home, but simply offers it up on a plate and says “Hey, yeah we did this. Hope you dig it.” The goal is of course still re-enforcement of whatever your brand’s values are, but there are better ways to do it than to just spit out a tagline.

The below quote from Henry Jenkins sums it up for me. I’m trying to figure out where it came from, it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for quite sometime…ahh here it is. I ❤ Google.

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

That ties in nicely to something I read over on Slideshare the other day (found by way of my friend Tim’s Insight + Ideas blog) that I liked so much I wrote on a Post-It and stuck it to my screen at work:

Autonomy (the ability to make a choice) plus Competence (a feeling like you have the necessary resources to make that choice) plus Relatedness (a sense you are working together towards a common goal) equals Happiness.

Maybe even a good deal of love for your brand.

First image courtesy of via, with thanks to compfight.

Second image courtesy of my own bad self.