Social Objects vs. Social Networks

Sp_sinha_l As part of some of the work I'm doing with Supernova, had the chance to have a great chat on this week's Network Age Briefing regarding "social objects" with Rashmi Sinha, who is the CEO of  It's a completely different way of looking at "sociality" online, and worth checking out.

The conversation is now encoded and live. Take a listen:

Fly The Evil Skies

Picture 18 On the subject of frequent flier miles, Gary says:

“Miles are evil. They create apathy on the end of the service

The he asks the real question:

“Have decades of frequent flyer programs instilled institutional apathy on the part of customer facing employees? Perhaps we are talking about apathetic DNA across entire corporations or even within the entire airline industry. If one believes customers won’t
leave even when treated poorly, where is the incentive to ‘step it up?'”

Back in the late 1990’s, I was flying weekly between Chicago and Palo Alto. 1,846 miles out on Monday, 1,846 miles back on Friday, week in, week out.  I racked up hundreds of thousands of miles, was “1K” on United, got an upgrade every flight, and was willing to put up with a lot of their crap. 

Flash forward a bit, and then I’ve moved to the Bay Area proper, and am no longer flying over 100,000 miles a year.  Now, all the compensating behaviors have gone away from the United side since they no longer view me as a “high value” customer since I’m no longer part of their super-premier program.  I’m still flying a lot, but not on a route that they have a lock on.  And instantly, all the poor service that I used to tolerate became untenable.

Since that time, I may have flown on United half-a-dozen times in the last ten years.

So, it’s interesting.  For me, it was less about “loyalty,” and just about the fact that I happened to frequently travel a route that they had a systemic lock on (since I was flying between two of their hubs).

I agree with Gary.  The mileage program did nothing to induce “loyalty” for me.  Once there were trips on other routes, all bets were off.

Kudos to Seth

Kudos to Seth Godin on fixing the most very broken thing about his 2005 book "All Marketers are Liars."  He convinced the publisher to change the cover on future editions, and the book is now called "All Marketers Tell Stories."

Seth says:

"So, go tell a story. If it doesn’t resonate, tell a different one. When
you find a story that works, live that story, make it true, authentic
and subject to scrutiny. All marketers are storytellers, only the
losers are liars."

I was fairly harsh when I read the book in 2005, and while some of those criticisms still stand, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Well done.

Twitter’s “Trending Topics” Bridge Neighborhoods in Social Networks

Had a blast chatting with danah boyd this morning on this week's SupernovaHub Network Age Briefing (disclosure: Supernova is a client).  The link above is to a rebroadcast of the call, which ran about an hour and covered "Class and Connection in the Network Age."  We also had some great conversation with @nwjerseyliz and @evanwolf the others who joined live in the conversation.

One of the big "a ha" moments in talking to danah was the fact that, as has been noted in many other places, we typically hang out (more-or-less) with "people like us" online, as well as offline.  However, Twitter's "Trending Topics" are a bridge to the other neighborhoods, a bridge to the "not-like-me."



As you can see in the sketch above, the "people like me" are typically talking about technology and business oriented things, not surprisingly…things like "Google Wave, CRM, VRM" and so forth.  But if you look at the Trending Topics, from my neighborhood of connections, perhaps only one of those (let's say "Google Wave") might have enough oomph to make it onto the Trending Topics list.

Other neighborhoods have other interests…online gaming, fashion, celebrity gossip, politics, TV shows and the like.

When we see these other topics bubble up, what we're seeing is a surfacing of the other groups that are in the network; we are seeing patterns made visible.

The take-away: Even though your Twitter and Facebook networks may make it seem like "a lot" of the people online are "just like you," that's not necessarily the case

As more and more individuals come online, and especially as mobile and smartphones really start to hit critical mass and broader adoption worldwide, this visibility into these other neighborhoods will only become more pronounced.

The Laws of VRM

In conjunction with this week’s Internet Identity Workshop, a number of folks including

and others have been thinking a lot about ProjectVRM.  As part of the conversations, an activity this group was doing was trying to distill down to its essence what “makes” something “VRM” (or VRM-like, at least).  We came up with a couple of core concepts, the first of which is that in a system that is VRM-ish, the following holds true:

“VRM Law #1: The individual is the point of integration.”

In other words, instead of myriad entities holding various “slices” of data/information about an individual, that individual instead is the place where that information comes together.  The individual is the place where it all happens.

We want to keep kicking this rock down the street (or rolling this snowball downhill, or keeping this ball rolling, pick your own metaphor for “imparting forward motion to some type of spheroid object”).  However, I’ve noticed that in trying to determine these traits of VRM-ness, we sometimes are getting caught up in the semantics of the words, and instead are not clearly communicating the core concepts.

So.  Going to try something a bit new here.  I’ve embedded an open, editable presentation below.  Taking a page from the sketchbooks of Armano and Dave Gray and Dan Roam, let’s see if we can do this better visually.  

Think of this as a “visual wiki,” if you will.  Feel free to go ahead and change it, mark it up, tweak it, and adjust things.  You should (theoretically) be able to edit the presentation by clicking here.

Let’s see what happens.

Thought of the Day: Single-Sign Off

Lots of folks have looked at integrating online identities, and there are various types of "single sign-on" (cite) systems around.  Thought experiment for today:  what would single sign-off look like?  In other words, what would happen if an individual had the ability to conceptually "unplug" from the Network?