SuperSkills at 3 Monkeys – some more thoughts and writing a second book


Early start today to talk about the SuperSkills idea, at 3 Monkeys Communications in Soho.

If you attended – thanks very much and here are the slides (which strictly speaking I should have posted beforehand). For more detailed notes about the detail of the talk, take a look at the post from TEDx last week.

Super skills at 3 monkeys

View more presentations from Antony Mayfield.

The main change from this presentation’s debut at TEDx Brighton last week was to add a little about the business or management context for thinking about SuperSkills. Moving on from some ways of describing this I’ve used in the past, I talked about analysing the impact of social web on a business across four areas, with the acronym LOOP:

  • Long term: What are the strategic implications of the web for the next 5 – 10 years. How will it affect the classic PEST elements (Political, Economic, Social and Technological) in the organisation’s environment.

  • Operational: Here and now in the next 12 months where can social/web tools support operations such as marketing, customer service, sales, research, product development, HR etc.

  • Organisation: How will different teams be able to work together on social web related projects? How will information and insights be communicated quickly around the company?
  • People: What are the issues that the social web raises for our people? The line between public and private is blurring,

The feedback from both this talk and the TEDx one has been very positive (please do let me know if you have any criticisms, constructive or otherwise) and I’m going to start developing some of the ideas in a book now. Watch this space for more new son that front.

The main things that people have been positive about (other than the Gotham font) are:

  • The idea of investing time in learning tools like Twitter, to develop literacy.
  • How effective the Pomodoro technique can be.
  • Thinking about social networks as productivity tools at work.
  • Developing different approaches to work habits and workflow.
  • The importance of always-on sharing

Thanks to everyone who has shared their thoughts on the subject – it ‘s really useful in working out how a book about this might work.

The ROI of personal networks (especially LinkedIn)


Image: An email from LinkedIn prompting me to tell my network what I’m up to…

Yesterday I had a conversation with someone who told me that over the past year that had learned how to use LinkedIn and that they reckoned that they could directly attribute several hundred thousand pounds of profit to it. Not vaguely, not hypothetically – they knew exactly which items on their balance sheet were the result of doing things because of and through that social network tool.

They were a fiftysomething avowedly non-techie businessperson in a service industry and I found their account of their experience very useful, as it had the fresh perspective of someone outside of the connected world I most live in.

They were of course highly successful in their field already, and implicitly understood the importance of personal networks in business.

Their nightmare scenario in business was missing out on an opportunity because they weren’t in the right place at the right time, that they weren’t front of mind when someone in their sector was pulling together a short-list for a contract or similar. What Twitter was doing was helping them to increase both their presence and profile in their personal network and their ability to listen to the needs of their connections and contacts.

These were some of the points they related which stuck with me…

  • Paying attention to what is happening: They weren’t a compulsive checker of what was happening on their LinkedIn account, they used a weekly email update to see who was doing new things, connecting with someone else, saying interesting things or asking for help on status updates.

  • Light-touch presence: They update their status every now and again, but had grasped that in LinkedIn less can often be more. I agree with this, which is why I don’t connect Linkedin to Twitter. In Twitter I am much more chatty, and when the mood takes me update several times a day or even hour. In LinkedIn that’s not useful – I leave status updates there only when something significant has happened, or I am travelling somewhere that I think I might meet others from my network or I am looking for input on a particular project or issue. They also mentioned that changing their photograph or updating their profile details every few months was a useful way of keeping (sociologists would call that a phatic expression – the online equivalent of waving as you pass or saying “hi” briefly).
  • Being useful to their network: As well as answering obvious business opportunities, they stressed the importance of connecting others who would be useful to one another, when they spotted an opportunity. This connecting behaviour is a classic networking approach, and one that leaves everyone feeling positive toward one another. Often it can also result in direct or indirect commercial benefits for the connector.

LinkedIn is a productivity, networking super-charger: It’s not just about LinkedIn, of course – it is about understanding your personal networks and how to behave, to be useful in them. Tools like Linkedin accelerate and augment our ability to successfully work with our networks, in them, through them. But the real, underlying superskill as I’m calling it at the moment, is all about networks.

Don’t be distracted by the Facebook climbdown “victory” – big issues remain

I wrote yesterday on the iCrossing UK blog some thoughts about the Facebook decision to revert to its old Terms of Sevice (TOS) in the face of a user revolt.

M’learned iCrossing NYC colleague Alisa is on the warpath over the Facebook Terms of Sevice (TOS) debacle. Seems she’s on to something, and I’m listening closely:

Some people have claimed that user data on Facebook is worthless (silly people). I recently wrote a post for Mashable on how Facebook could build a revenue model by essentially selling even anonymized user data. Silicon Alley Insider then posted about this same idea. Commenters to the SA post clearly didn’t get that what they view as “useless” or frivolous Facebook data is in fact extremely rich and valuable trend data– worth a lot of money to marketers, government entities, and private enterprises.

Its the value of our data that incenses me so much over the current Facebook TOS hub-bub. Its not enough to say “Facebook doesn’t own your data” when the license we grant them is so wholly encompassing so as to allow full usage of user data as if they did own it.

The FB-TOS debacle dominated the top of the Techmeme news/blog aggregator yesterday, showing that this was issue number one for the digerati. From Perez Hilton to Pete Cashmore, everyone had a view.

Now it’s tucked down at the bottom of the page, with a couple of posts which have a users-force-Facebook-volte-face sort of flavour.

Was reverting to the old TOS is just legerdemain, misdirection on a grand scale? If so it hasn’t worked. This is an issue which has hit the mainstream, much more so than the Beacon advertising issue of a year ago, and many people have a niggling doubt in their minds about Facebook and their data.

It’s good to see the BBC continuing to look closely at the issue in its coverage. According to its man in Silicon Valley law suits were being prepared by privacy activists against Facebook at the moment that it decided to revert it its old TOS.

It’s made me think more about the concerns Tom Hodgkinson voiced in his article for the Guardian – one of its most popular articles ever, I believe – about Facebook’s suitability as the keeper of so much of our most private data.

Here come the MetaSocNets?

Image: Er, All your media in one place (an excuse to include a pic of Babel, by Cildo Meireles)
Image: Er, All your media in one place (an excuse to include a pic of Babel, by Cildo Meireles)

Yep, you heard that right: 2009 could be a year of MetaSocNets. That is to say meta-social networks, services that give you access to all of your social networks in one place, a bit like the way that Adium will give you access to all of your IM accounts in one package.

And it could be a very good thing indeed. Although not if Facebook has anything to do with it, seeing as it has started the year with a law suit against

Users of can stil access Hi5, Orkut, MySpace, YouTube, MSN and other social networks, but no longer Facebook.

It seems a bit mean, given that Facebook Connect is all about letting you access other web sites and serivces while remaining within the comfortable grip of your Facebook log-in…

That’s hard cheese for but as Alan Patrick at Broadstuff observes, this could well just be the beginning:

I await with interest the surfeit of MetaSocNets that will now predictably emerge in 2009, but without making’s main error of having an office in the US – fighting the lawsuit in their native Brazil would have been far more entertaining.

Now, I’m no Facebook hater. I like that Facebook is there giving so many people their first taste of the power of the social web, spreading the seeds of social media literacy, as it were.

The fact that so many of my friends and family use it have also prompted me to make an almost-resolution to use it more this year. Social media snobbery aside, it’s the best thing online for doing that because that’s where those people are.

But open, as we know, beats closed

Good luck, then, to the rising tide of MetaSocNets, the FriendFeeds, the aggregators and the filters… we need things to make things simpler and to provide easy exits (and entries) into platforms like Facebook. The more bits of the social web work as walled gardens, the more potential good things with wither and fade away.