Monday, 31 March 2008

Defining Digital Curation: It's Them Not Us

Grant McCracken has a thoughtful post on the usage of the term curation which has become one of the latest blogosphere buzz words (a blogosphruzz perhaps?).

Grant specifically mentions Steve Rubel, who alongside many others in the marketing world, has been using the term to refer to a 'new' approach towards content and community. In his post "Digital Curator in Your Future" Rubel states:

"Museum curators, like web users, are faced with choices. They can't put every work of art in a museum. They acquire pieces that fit within the tone, direction and - above all - the purpose of the institution. They travel the corners of the world looking for "finds." Then, once located, clean them up and make sure they are presentable and offer the patron a high quality experience.

Much the same, the digital realm too needs curators. Information overload makes it difficult to separate junk from art. It requires a certain finesse and expertise - a fine tuned, perhaps trained eye….

Brands, media companies and dedicated individuals can all become curators. Further, they don't even need to create their own content, just as a museum curator rarely hangs his/her own work next to a Da Vinci. They do, however, need to be subject matter experts.”

Interestingly, I never put too much thought to the notion of curation although I likely have used the term as much as anyone (ah marketers, we are such a shallow bunch sometimes). But looking into it, I have a serious issue with the entire issue of curation and particularly as defined by Rubel.

It continues the myth that brands can 'manage' digital networks. While it's not as bad as the top down approaches of the past, as I've gone into detail on my presentation on an ecosystem approach to marketing, I don't believe 'management' is any more successful. As a believer in emergence and harnessing the power of the network, I'm not sure curation is anything more than a new fancy term for experts (in marketing terms that would be the brand, brand champions or other subject matter experts) attempting to manage the community/network.

At the end of his post, Grant takes a cut at redefining what curation could mean.

"Real curators think with their collections. The collections are intelligence, memory, conceptual architecture made manifest."

And this comes to what is at the heart of the matter. WE are not the curators. As brands and marketers what we can do is help create architectures that enable a community to curate as the networked whole. A difference in semantics but it’s important. The expert and curator are the harnessed intelligence and power of the network. Once again, it’s not about US, it's about THEM, and understanding that will make all the difference.

photo credit

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Stuff White People Like: Blogs & Book Deals

Here's a very cool story. A blog called stuff white people like spread like wild fire the past months. The site, as you might have guessed by now is about, well, stuff white people like. In fact, in the blogs own words "This is a scientific approach to highlight and explain stuff white people like. They are pretty predictable."

Well, according to some guys I"m working with from the digital agency Schematic, the brainchild behind the site is a project coordinator who works with them. Or should I say, WORKED with them. They had a company wide announcement that the person in question was resigning because he got an agent (William Morris no less) and a subsequent book deal.

And who says blog writing doesn't pay?

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Maybe Lane Hartwell Should Sign Up to PicApp?

Here's a nice entrepreneurial idea - PicApp (found via People want photos on their blogs and people want to get paid for their photography. Why not make the photos free but turn them into ads? (yes yes sad but true soon everything will be advertising.) Maybe Lane Hartwell should give it a try?

Check out the very cute husky dog below.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Double Take On DoubleClick: Enter OpenX

Ever since Google bought doubleclick, I've been wondering how long it would be until they pushed out the third party intermediators like adbrite, and valueclick. Afterall, doubleclick has the ability to do it all and why they haven't yielded that power up to now is likely only because of the privacy concerns surrounding the merger.

But now the story gets way more interesting. Enter OpenX. OpenX is ad serving publishing technology that puts the control "back in the hands of publishers." It's basically free ad serving technology that connects advertisers and publishers. Jeff Jarvis thinks that this could be the beginning of a system that could finally compete with Google in a substantive way.

Apparently the larger networks are supporting OpenX - and given the power of Google and doubleclick that's probably a wise move. Dependency doesn't make for good business strategy. As OpenX builds out its capabilities it will definitely be one to watch. And if I were the likes of Microsoft and/or Yahoo, I might be watching a little bit more than closely.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Retrieval: Cultural Lost & Found

As I read my brother's very interesting post on the history of the leather jacket in modern culture, it reminded me of the importance of 'retrival' both in user-centric strategy and design.

Dave's take on the importance of the "hide":

"Why is a hide important as a concept? Hide implies and imbues all the earliest conceptions of what leather is. Leather is a skin; the skin of an animal. We are hairless, clawless, toothless beings who took the hair, claws and teeth of the animals we feared and revered most and through creativity, invention and respect fashioned our own hair, claw and tooth. Protection from the elements, animals and each other were fundamental to the fashioning of leather jackets. That paradigm stretches far into the 1970s, where North American made leather jackets arguably reach the pinnacles of the representation of those instincts. Where jackets run a perfect gamut of utility meets fashion."

If we look at one of the core quadrants to Marshall Mcluhan's tetrad of media effects it the notion of retrieval. What does the medium bring back that was previously lost? In David's case as he begins to create this new couture vintage leather business, he is deeply rooted in what drives our basic desires and needs to own leather.

One doesn't have to look further than this as a concept to understand why traditional market research fails to uncover deep insights and rarely predicts accurately change. The sum of the parts rarely becomes a meaningful whole. Instead, we must look to things such a figure and ground to understand not only what is visible but what lies culturally and socially below even our own daily conscious to provide a foundation for strategy and design lost and found.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Edge Economy & Value Creation

Umair says if there is one lesson you should apply at the edge, it’s that
“Business models happen” He goes on to say that:

“We don't "monetize" resources. We co-create and co-produce value….Monetization is ugly because it blinds us to the truth that value must flow in many directions.”

I love when someone who writes a blog on HBR starts crystallizing for me why I don't regret not going to business school and instead having my degree in environmental resource management...

Let’s take a look at one of the basic business tools, value chain analysis created by Michael Porter way back in 1985. Let’s go to our friend Wikipedia for a definition:

“A value chain is a chain of activities. Products pass through all activities of the chain in order and at each activity the product gains some value. The chain of activities gives the products more added value than the sum of added values of all activities."

But we no longer create products and services for customers. To Umair’s point, we co-create and co-produce. It’s not linear any more and therefore cannot be prescribed nor predicted. It in fact, must emerge over time.

And yet where are the tools to understand emergent value? And if profit margins traditionally depend on our ability to manage the linkages between activities in the value chain, then what happens when we no longer have that management ability in a chaotic networked world?

We have been working on ways of trying to harness emergence. In large organizations this won’t simply happen without some structure that helps facilitate it and yet, the traditional tools are antithetical to solving the problem. Constructs while not the solutions in of themselves are key. A smart group of people sitting around in a room simply won’t solve this one.

photo credit

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Taking The Twitter Plunge

It was Doug that pushed me over the edge and I finally did it. It can be avoided no longer. I joined Twitter. I know I know, once I use it, I'll get it. I'll care about it. I'll love it.

Anyhew.....if anyone cares you can follow me...


Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Best Purchase Of 2008 So Far: My Technology Review Subscription

I can't remember why I decided to subscribe to Technology Review the MIT published rag, but I have to say, two issues into it, I'm luving it.

Being the blog crazed feed reader that I am, I rarely get to "read" anything. I'm really more of a scanner and get a broad daily understanding of what's going on in the world.

With Technology Review however, I am enjoying the indulgence of sitting down and reading cover to cover some of the most interesting and in-depth articles (which if i get some time I might even write a shallow post or two on).

But for now i'll leave you with my favorite quote that was found in the editorial by Jason Pontin

"...Innovation seems to be more the product of culture and methodology. The culture of innovation tolerates failure and smiles upon creativity. But such a culture is not enough in itself: successful innovation also pitilessly rejects bad ideas when their promise has been exhausted and efficiently executes the development and commercialization of the best ideas."

Monday, 3 March 2008

Is Technology The Villan?

An interesting discussion with Rex Murphy on CBC radio last night had a National Post columnist questioning whether or not technology was the villain and not in fact, Robert Latimer.

For those of you not familiar with the case, Latimer is the farmer father who killed his severely disabled daughter. Many people called the case out and out murder, others a mercy killing.

What I found interesting however, last night, was the discussion around technology in the case. The truth is that in any other day and age, Robert Latimer’s daughter would not have survived childbirth. She was however, resuscitated five times. The end result was a child with little quality of life and a tragic circumstance that eventually rightly or wrongly, ended in her death by her own father’s hands.

In my mind, I agree with the Post columnist, that the real questions in this debate that are being ignored have to do with ethics and technology. Just because we can, does that mean we should? And what does that mean both legally and morally?

The questions around guilt or innocence are one thing. But looking in the rear view mirror at those choices that were made in the operating room – those are potentially the place where we truly need to start and look to figure out who the real villain is. And in fact, in this case it might just be the technology, speed of change and our lack of ability to keep pace with the ethical and social questions that come as a result of it.

Real Time Web Analytics