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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...

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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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America 2.0 – when Generation X reaches The White House August 29, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, work/life.

This is the first post in my series on the A to Z of 2.0.

Yes we can.

Yes we can.

Barack Obama is about to give his speech accepting the Democratic nomination to be the next President of the United States of America, an idea I find pretty exciting. Whether people like it or not, America can still impact our world in a way no other country can. True, China has the potential to do so, but it is wholly focused on its personal rise to the global stage and is unlikely to be distracted by regional conflict, preferring a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy that has bit the US squarely on the ass more times than anyone would care to remember. They do after all say history is doomed to repeat itself.

Obama gets compared often to JFK, a comparison that taps into notions that aren’t uniquely American. Through the 50’s and 60’s it invented popular culture, and the gospel of the teenager spread like wildfire around the globe, reaching hundreds of millions of people who were sold on a promise, on an ideal, and only the tiniest proportion of those people would ever set foot in the land of the free to find out how the ideal held up once you got to the source of that ever-flowing river.

In the years following JFK, that dream got lost, the promise extinguished in a haze of misguided foreign policy, diplomatic arrogance and an innate misunderstanding of the global populace that began right at the top and worked its way down to the lowest denominator it could find. Actually misunderstanding is the wrong word, because you can’t be an idiot and become president of the US, despite all evidence to the contrary; it was a complete lack of appreciation for how anyone outside its borders perceived it, a point of view brought horrifically home on my mother’s 50th birthday in 2001.

That was the first time America as a whole snapped out of a haze and realised things were not as they believed they were, something anyone occupying a seat anywhere else in the Western world had accepted an uncomfortable knowledge of long before.

The American dream isn’t something anyone has talked about without a strong sense of irony for quite some time. It is a virus that infected the world more than 50 years ago that managed to wear itself out through its own self-importance, one that was caught when the world was sick and weary in the aftermath of World War 2, when the global populace was lost and ready to grasp on to anything that would lead them out of the land in which they’d lived for a decade.

And we’re back there again.

The mere idea that Barack Obama could become president of the US is an opportunity for America to light a fire under the dream again. 200,000 people turned up to see him speak in Germany. 200,000 people who have an innate understanding of what the promise of America is, despite most never having set foot there. How much more powerful could an idea be than to have had eight years of Bush’s foreign policy doing irreperable harm to global relations and opinion of America at an all-time low, yet have that many people turn up to a rally in a part of the world that doesn’t get to have a say on who the next president will be? Having been born in the American century we are products of the American ideal, whether we like it or not.

This is an opportunity for America to reclaim the dream. To elect a president who because of his childhood has a first-hand understanding of cultures outside his own, and in doing so re-ignite a long lost notion of what it was that country promised the rest of us.

Barack Obama gives Americans a new direction, and he gives the rest of us America 2.0.

Image courtesy of jetheriot, with thanks to compfight.

The Democratic race in 8 minutes June 20, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in marketing, politics, web 2.0.
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This hilarious short comes courtesy of Slate. The race for the Democratic nomination in less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

With thanks to the recently discovered and completely brilliant Now In Colour.

Happy weekend everyone

P.S. Yes we can.

Yes We Can February 24, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in politics.
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Coming to the party a bit late on this, had had the video loaded for a couple days before I got around to watching it. But it’s a great speech, and gave me chills in places. Obama is more than anyone living outside the US has had to hope for in a long, long time. If only there was a system by which the rest of the world could have a say, because the President of the United States invariably becomes everyone else’s president, whether we like it or not.

But I wouldn’t mind this one, not one bit.