Week notes and some not-so-weak links

So here are some links and notes from my week

Weeknotes

It’s a few weeks to go until the new website goes live for Brilliant Noise (see a preview in the brand treatment from Endless), and I’m thinking one of the things I may well do is have weeknotes. It’s a simple idea which I cam across via Robin Sloan. Companies like Berg share some thoughts about their week every Friday. (more…)

Holiday reading

In case you are looking for some ideas about what to read in the remainder of the summer, here are the books that have tickled my fancy over the summer months.

How I Escaped My Certain Fate, by Stewart Lee

Autobiographical story – interspersed with transcripts of some his shows – by my favourite stand-up comedian/ The book recounts his seeming career collapse, re-invention and return to stand-up comedy.

Take that it is utterly hilarious throughout as a given. Beyond that, what it gives a really interesting insight into the business of comedy and Lee’s creative/artistic methods. It doesn’t set out to be be or ever really use the tone of a profound book, but it is – there’s rich inspiration and example here for anyone thinking about being true to their own ideals or trying to remember, re-work what they do for a living.

NB: I read this on the Kindle app, even though Lee says he wrote it hoping it would only work on paper. It worked fine for me, although maybe I missed the point… ;)

Telling Lies for Fun and Profit, by Lawrence Block

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A book about writing fiction by one of my favourite crime authors (Lawrence Block wrote the amazing Matt Scudder series, set in late-70s, early-80s New York – well worth tracking down). Like How I Escaped My Certain Fate, it sets itself against the conventions of its genre, for instance stressingjust how hard writing is, what a work of hackery pulling together thousands of words is, truths I can attest to after my own non-fiction effort.

This is one of a number of books I’d read, or at leat read in part, before. Again, a joy of the Kindle is that I re-visited it on a whim, re-downloading it from my archive while away on holiday.

Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

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This is a multi-layered, cerebral sci-fi joy. But don’t let that put you off…

It’s a lovely book of ideas, but I’ll freely admit, it’s a bit geeky and if you’re not prepared to roll with the conceptual stuff and pages of people explaining scientific or metaphysical theory to each other you might not like it. Worked for me though…

The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson

An account by Jon Ronson of his research into the tickbox method of diagnosing psychopathy as a condition. Along the way he prods at fascinating subjects like the way that all mental illnesses are categorised (by some shouty psychaitrists in a small meeting room was the original approach a couple of decades ago – loudest theories win) and how madness exists at the edges of many people’s lives.

I ripped through this in a couple of days. It’s part gripping yarn – scientologists, war criminals and psychopaths-next-door rub shoulders in Ronson’s story – and part essay on what mental illness really means to us all. Highly recommend this…

The Power of Pull, by John Hagel and John Seely Brown

This is another book I pulled back out of my archive, partly because it speaks to a strategy project I’ve been working on and partly because it felt like it was time to revisit the source material for some ideas that have been exerting a strong pull on a lot of my work. It’s a business book, pure and simple, about how innovation and markets are speeding up as a consequence of the social web, and what strategies organsiations can put in place to thrive in this environment.

Business books I read all the way through are a minority. This is one of an even rarer breed: books I re-read… Probably as important to me now as The Origin of Wealth has been for the past half decade or so.

Change by Design, by Tim Brown

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Design thinking has come in for a bit of flack lately, but it still stands as an amazingly useful way to approach any challenge, from designing a physical object to planning a marketing campaign. I’ve put the ideas to work in refining my Networks Thinking perspective and in designing the next phase of my business.

What’s interesting as well, to connect it with The Power of Pull’s themes, is how quickly some of the case studies have aged. This book was written in 2009, but already since then some markets and companies have moved on a great deal – not least the mobile industry which has been turned on its head in the past three years. Is design thinking is optimal as an approach for tactical, practical issues but doesn’t address strategic issues, despite its ambitions? I’m not sure about the answer to that, but its something I’m mulling at the moment…

 

 

 

 

Business in Networks: Internet World Kongress, Munich – notes and links

These are the notes and slides for my talk at Internet World Kongress & Fachmesse, given today in Munich. I believe a livestream of the talk is available on the website and there may also be an archive with slides.

This talk is about how business is being disrupted by the web and the things we can do to adapt successfully, both at the organisational and personal level.

It combines some of the elements from two talks I gave earlier in the year: the web Super Skills I discussed at TEDx Brighton and the ideas about disruption, change management and Glasnost moments I talked about at CityCamp Brighton.

Here are the key points and relevant links:

Digital marketing at the edge of business transformation

  • We’re having some fun here, but just a bit. So obviously, I am talking to a room of digital marketers, so the idea of being at the leading edge is attractive, so is the idea that they have the stuff that is required to be the leaders of their wider organsiations.
  • The point is that they are closest in some ways to the web’s disruption of business. They have the tools and the need to adapt fastest, so the insights they gain may be what business as whole needs.

Business as usual to revolution as usual

  • The context is that we are living and will be living in a time of constant change, of permanent revolution.
  • Marc Andreesen explain this particularly well – as I’ve mentioned before. The web is pure software, we can keep reinventing it.

The Everywhere Web

  • Buzzwords are the hamster wheel of digital media and thinking clearly. We spend a lot of energy getting nowhere.
  • Two or three years ago, after a talks about Twitter people were asking what’s the next big thing after Twitter?
  • Better to udnerstand the big trends and call them what they are. I think about the social web, the data deluge and the everywhere web as the big meta trends.

Networks Thinking

  • We need to level up our thinking to deal with complexity. A friend of mine studying creativity at Goldsmiths introduced me to “threshold concepts”. they are ideas you really have to grasp before you can understand a whole lot of other things.
  • Networks are one of these, perhaps the most important for our age. We think we understand networks, but we really don’t a lot of the time.
  • When you are a German learning English you realise there are “false friends”, (“falsche Freunde“) words which sound or look the same in both languages but mean different things, e.g. “Gift” in German means “poison” rather than a present.
  • We don’t grasp how magnificently, terrifyingly complex networks are. We like to draw pictures of them and then think we’ve captured their meaning, when they are more like the weather – always changing, hyper-complex. Predictable if you are smart and have a huge amount of data and training, but only to a point and only some of the time. (There’s mileage in that weather forecasting analogy – I’d like to come up with it.

Platform-ism

  • One of the traps we fall into when we are thinking about networks is “platform-ism”.
  • We see Facebook as a proxy for the web, as a our new TV channel, we see Likes or Fans or Followers on Twitter as the gauge of our success without taking the time to understand our networks.

Accidental influencers

  • Another mistake we make is to think that influence is something fairly straightforward in networks.
  • To be sure there is a celebrity effect – when someone with a huge amount of followers on Twitter plugs a charity or website it gets a lot of traffic (sometimes). But influence is not as predictable or as straightforward as we think.
  • We fall prey to what psychologists call “narrative bias” – we think we see how things work, think it is obvious after the facts. Duncan Watts’s new book will deal with this subject in some detail.
  • Duncan Watts coined the lovely phrase “accidental influencers” to describe how unpredictable influence in networks can be…
  • Talking about networks with some mathematicians last week one remarked that place, location in a network might be the thing that best predicts influence, rather than popularity.

References / further reading

And as I mentioned, for more on Superskills see my notes from my TEDx presentation and for more on Glasnost moments and LOOP take a look at the notes from my City Camp presentation

Lastly, my book Me and My Web Shadow is available from your local Amazon (in Germany it is here) and other good retailers (well ones with large inventories) :)

If you saw the talk at Internet World Kongress or on the livestream and have any questions or feedback please do let me know.

ZZ1A4C91A9.jpg


Business in Networks: Internet World Kongress, Munich – notes and links

These are the notes and slides for my talk at Internet World Kongress & Fachmesse, given today in Munich. I believe a livestream of the talk is available on the website and there may also be an archive with slides.

This talk is about how business is being disrupted by the web and the things we can do to adapt successfully, both at the organisational and personal level.

It combines some of the elements from two talks I gave earlier in the year: the web Super Skills I discussed at TEDx Brighton and the ideas about disruption, change management and Glasnost moments I talked about at CityCamp Brighton.

Here are the key points and relevant links:

Digital marketing at the edge of business transformation

  • We’re having some fun here, but just a bit. So obviously, I am talking to a room of digital marketers, so the idea of being at the leading edge is attractive, so is the idea that they have the stuff that is required to be the leaders of their wider organsiations.
  • The point is that they are closest in some ways to the web’s disruption of business. They have the tools and the need to adapt fastest, so the insights they gain may be what business as whole needs.

Business as usual to revolution as usual

  • The context is that we are living and will be living in a time of constant change, of permanent revolution.
  • Marc Andreesen explain this particularly well – as I’ve mentioned before. The web is pure software, we can keep reinventing it.

The Everywhere Web

  • Buzzwords are the hamster wheel of digital media and thinking clearly. We spend a lot of energy getting nowhere.
  • Two or three years ago, after a talks about Twitter people were asking what’s the next big thing after Twitter?
  • Better to udnerstand the big trends and call them what they are. I think about the social web, the data deluge and the everywhere web as the big meta trends.

Networks Thinking

  • We need to level up our thinking to deal with complexity. A friend of mine studying creativity at Goldsmiths introduced me to “threshold concepts”. they are ideas you really have to grasp before you can understand a whole lot of other things.
  • Networks are one of these, perhaps the most important for our age. We think we understand networks, but we really don’t a lot of the time.
  • When you are a German learning English you realise there are “false friends”, (“falsche Freunde“) words which sound or look the same in both languages but mean different things, e.g. “Gift” in German means “poison” rather than a present.
  • We don’t grasp how magnificently, terrifyingly complex networks are. We like to draw pictures of them and then think we’ve captured their meaning, when they are more like the weather – always changing, hyper-complex. Predictable if you are smart and have a huge amount of data and training, but only to a point and only some of the time. (There’s mileage in that weather forecasting analogy – I’d like to come up with it.

Platform-ism

  • One of the traps we fall into when we are thinking about networks is “platform-ism”.
  • We see Facebook as a proxy for the web, as a our new TV channel, we see Likes or Fans or Followers on Twitter as the gauge of our success without taking the time to understand our networks.

Accidental influencers

  • Another mistake we make is to think that influence is something fairly straightforward in networks.
  • To be sure there is a celebrity effect – when someone with a huge amount of followers on Twitter plugs a charity or website it gets a lot of traffic (sometimes). But influence is not as predictable or as straightforward as we think.
  • We fall prey to what psychologists call “narrative bias” – we think we see how things work, think it is obvious after the facts. Duncan Watts’s new book will deal with this subject in some detail.
  • Duncan Watts coined the lovely phrase “accidental influencers” to describe how unpredictable influence in networks can be…
  • Talking about networks with some mathematicians last week one remarked that place, location in a network might be the thing that best predicts influence, rather than popularity.

References / further reading

And as I mentioned, for more on Superskills see my notes from my TEDx presentation and for more on Glasnost moments and LOOP take a look at the notes from my City Camp presentation

Lastly, my book Me and My Web Shadow is available from your local Amazon (in Germany it is here) and other good retailers (well ones with large inventories) :)

If you saw the talk at Internet World Kongress or on the livestream and have any questions or feedback please do let me know.

ZZ1A4C91A9.jpg


Business in Networks: Internet World Kongress, Munich – notes and links

These are the notes and slides for my talk at Internet World Kongress & Fachmesse, given today in Munich. I believe a livestream of the talk is available on the website and there may also be an archive with slides.

This talk is about how business is being disrupted by the web and the things we can do to adapt successfully, both at the organisational and personal level.

It combines some of the elements from two talks I gave earlier in the year: the web Super Skills I discussed at TEDx Brighton and the ideas about disruption, change management and Glasnost moments I talked about at CityCamp Brighton.

Here are the key points and relevant links:

Digital marketing at the edge of business transformation

  • We’re having some fun here, but just a bit. So obviously, I am talking to a room of digital marketers, so the idea of being at the leading edge is attractive, so is the idea that they have the stuff that is required to be the leaders of their wider organsiations.
  • The point is that they are closest in some ways to the web’s disruption of business. They have the tools and the need to adapt fastest, so the insights they gain may be what business as whole needs.

Business as usual to revolution as usual

  • The context is that we are living and will be living in a time of constant change, of permanent revolution.
  • Marc Andreesen explain this particularly well – as I’ve mentioned before. The web is pure software, we can keep reinventing it.

The Everywhere Web

  • Buzzwords are the hamster wheel of digital media and thinking clearly. We spend a lot of energy getting nowhere.
  • Two or three years ago, after a talks about Twitter people were asking what’s the next big thing after Twitter?
  • Better to udnerstand the big trends and call them what they are. I think about the social web, the data deluge and the everywhere web as the big meta trends.

Networks Thinking

  • We need to level up our thinking to deal with complexity. A friend of mine studying creativity at Goldsmiths introduced me to “threshold concepts”. they are ideas you really have to grasp before you can understand a whole lot of other things.
  • Networks are one of these, perhaps the most important for our age. We think we understand networks, but we really don’t a lot of the time.
  • When you are a German learning English you realise there are “false friends”, (“falsche Freunde“) words which sound or look the same in both languages but mean different things, e.g. “Gift” in German means “poison” rather than a present.
  • We don’t grasp how magnificently, terrifyingly complex networks are. We like to draw pictures of them and then think we’ve captured their meaning, when they are more like the weather – always changing, hyper-complex. Predictable if you are smart and have a huge amount of data and training, but only to a point and only some of the time. (There’s mileage in that weather forecasting analogy – I’d like to come up with it.

Platform-ism

  • One of the traps we fall into when we are thinking about networks is “platform-ism”.
  • We see Facebook as a proxy for the web, as a our new TV channel, we see Likes or Fans or Followers on Twitter as the gauge of our success without taking the time to understand our networks.

Accidental influencers

  • Another mistake we make is to think that influence is something fairly straightforward in networks.
  • To be sure there is a celebrity effect – when someone with a huge amount of followers on Twitter plugs a charity or website it gets a lot of traffic (sometimes). But influence is not as predictable or as straightforward as we think.
  • We fall prey to what psychologists call “narrative bias” – we think we see how things work, think it is obvious after the facts. Duncan Watts’s new book will deal with this subject in some detail.
  • Duncan Watts coined the lovely phrase “accidental influencers” to describe how unpredictable influence in networks can be…
  • Talking about networks with some mathematicians last week one remarked that place, location in a network might be the thing that best predicts influence, rather than popularity.

References / further reading

And as I mentioned, for more on Superskills see my notes from my TEDx presentation and for more on Glasnost moments and LOOP take a look at the notes from my City Camp presentation

Lastly, my book Me and My Web Shadow is available from your local Amazon (in Germany it is here) and other good retailers (well ones with large inventories) :)

If you saw the talk at Internet World Kongress or on the livestream and have any questions or feedback please do let me know.

ZZ1A4C91A9.jpg


Strategy and innovation: Head for the edge

Image: John Hagel & John Seely Brown's book, The Only Sustainable Edge
Image: John Hagel & John Seely Brown's book "The Only Sustainable Edge"

Business thinkers John Seely Brown and John Hagel are always worth listening to. Their perspectives on innovation and concepts like FAST Strategy have not only resonated as theories for me in recent years but have given practical, effective models for the work we’ve been doing at iCrossing, especially in “edge” areas like social media research, strategy, marketing and measurement.

Like Umair Haque, who also thinks and discusses the economics of the edge, their writing seems even more urgently relevant to businesses, activists and governments in the face of multiple economic, geo-political and environmental disruptions.

If you’re confused slightly by what “edge” means in the context of commerce, politics, society etc., there’s a nice illustration given in an article by Hagel & Brown in a BusinessWeek article about Google and the phone business:

Two decades ago, wireless telephone networks created a vibrant new edge to the wire-line telephony business. Many analysts at the time viewed mobile phones as a fringe event, something that would never take hold in the mainstream telephone business, except perhaps as a status symbol among the very wealthy.

Twenty years later mobile telephones are ubiquitous in the U.S. despite continuing challenges in service coverage, particularly in buildings. In many other parts of the world, these devices have replaced the old wire-line phone as the primary means of communication. What was on the edge has now become the core.

If you’re thinking and planning right now for the year or years ahead – and many people I know are – then the piece is reading, especially for the advice the duo give. The headlines are:

  • Don’t get distracted by your existing competitors (where are the start-ups who will compete with you tomorrow)
  • Look beyond product innovation (to really develop new models and markets changing how the world works may be required)
  • Mobilise others in support of your innovation initiatives (heroic entrepreneur myths oversimplify)
  • Don’t be deceived by theoretical concepts like “emergent” and “self-organising” (leadership required!)
  • Target the edges (find where there’s high value for your customers)