I am into my first week at the European Graduate School here in Saas Fee, Switzerland. I hopefully will post some photos and observations later. However, I have a lazyweb question.
Apparently, someone has taken over our old business domain name (which we let lapse, I think) and it is now a porn site. Has anyone heard of this type of practice? Is there a solution? The domain is actually mine and my former business partners, combined. Of course, this happens when I simply don't have the time to deal with it. Any advice, dear readers?
After my marathon of reading these past few months in preparation for school, I have begun to narrow down what it is I want to focus on for my thesis: digital identity. As a kick off to this, I have started to frame my thinking on the topic, using a paper for school as an impetus to start pulling it all together. I am not completely happy with this paper, but it is a start, and I thought I'd share it with you. I am, of course, always interested in what you have to say!
Thinking About Digital Identity
One of the more intriguing aspects of participating in cyberspace
is how it leads one to question identity, specifically identity as
technologically mediated. Certainly identity has been mediated before
(and continues to be so) via telephones, photographs, home movies and
videotapes, and so on. But now, with the growth of online social media
(blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, forums, discussion boards,
chat, photo and video sharing, social bookmarking, tagging, etc.) more
and more people are actively creating digital identities (whether they
realize it or not). And these identities are persistent slices of
personality that others interact with and react to, which then can feed
back into self. Managing identity therefore becomes a serious task and
there are increasing numbers of tools for one to do so. So questioning
identity in this environment becomes more critical.
Given how much time I am devoting to being cerebral these days prepping for my on-site graduate school classes and soon-to-be-started thesis, I have had to cut back on some things. One of those was the Corante blog on the future of work called Future Tense. Today, we made the announcement that Giovanni Rodriguez will be taking over as "conversation leader" at Future Tense. I will remain a contributor. You can read my post about the change here.
I hope you'll continue to read! We'll be writing a lot about emergent organizations, a special interest of Giovanni's.
With all due respect to Elizabeth, she started down an interesting path, only to draw back just as the "gettin' was good"
I was speaking about my views on the process of corporate transparency, and how it might be practiced. That process entails us not only providing truthful (honest, accurate) information, but demands that we also question how much information is provided and when. It means providing the information behind the information. Or, to put it another way, it means sharing with our audiences how the decisions we made got made. So, yes Allan, you are reading me correctly when you say:
If I read Elizabeth correctly (and I may not be),
she's arguing that corporations should not only make their decisions
public, but the thinking behind the decisions. I'm all for it. But I'm thinking into which C-level suites I can bring that idea and not get thrown out.
I touched only briefly on these ideas in my remarks (I only had 20-25 minutes after all), but I was a little surprised that there wasn't more discussion about it afterward. We did indeed talk about transparency, but more in the context of choice (does more transparency lead to fewer choices (about products, services etc.)? Is this a good or bad thing? I'll post more on that conversation later, as it was quite interesting.) Then the questions moved into some other areas.
There is much more to be said, however, about this idea of making the process of decision making more transparent. Certainly, I am not going to disagree that the idea of doing this will initially strike organizations as heretical, to say the least. I doubt we are going to see this become a mainstream activity any time soon. However, that doesn't mean it is worth investigating, as I believe it shows promise.
For one, given the lack of trust in organizations overall among populations, the current way of doing things simply isn't working anymore. This lack of trust combined with the problem of gaining attention in a media-saturated environment should at least open up the possibility of doing things in a different way. Furthermore, legislation like Sarbanes-Oxley is already forcing this type of action, in a sense, by requiring that companies track their information more completely (to put it broadly). In order to rebuild trust (and perhaps even prevent the need for further expensive legislation and regulation) companies should rethink how, what and when they communicate.
But here's a challenge: decision making is messy. You should ask yourselves, was, in fact, a decision actually clearly made? Or was it more stumbled into, or made by default by letting certain deadlines pass or information pass by? Who actually made the decision? Anyone? A group vote? Someone up against a deadline who finally just did something because they had to with little or no input from anyone else?
I can speak from personal experience about how many times I made up product positioning during the course of writing the press release, having received virtually no brief from the client. When they asked how I did it, the answer was often, "I made it up." Of course, they were usually educated guesses, but still, guesses after all. And most of them were accepted with little change.
I have worked with many start-up clients and my first question was always, "May I see your business/marketing plan?" With the answer 8-9 times out of 10, "We don't have one." Scary stuff indeed! And let's not talk about the pass-the-buck style of putting off decisions at large companies that I have seen, that often ended in a negotiation between me (PR agency rep) and the corporate attorney about what the final positioning would be, 10 minutes before the release was to hit the wire.
It is worth asking if more disclosure of decision-making practices would actually improve the decisions made. I suspect it would. And that benefits everyone.
So here's an experiment for you to try. Closely track one major decision your company makes. Maybe it is around a product launch. Date, timing, naming, launch venue, etc. Actually document the steps towards decision. Who was involved? What was decided? What was the timing? I suspect the result will astonish you (or maybe not, sadly). And if you are very brave, maybe you'll share it with us.
Last Thursday evening, I had the great pleasure of participating in a panel discussion about Web 2.0 at the Demos thinktank. We had about 40 people, and the discussion was lively, both among the panelists and with the audience. I enjoyed meeting my fellow panelists Livio Hughes of Headshift and Tom Steinberg of MySociety.org, and the conversations both before and after the event with both of them, and moderator Paul Miller were very interesting.
I don't usually prepare remarks ahead of time when I speak, but I am doing it a bit more frequently these days, as I want to be precise about my thoughts and, in this case, I didn't want to use a PowerPoint presentation. The risk of doing that is to sound like you are reading vs. speaking. I hope I did a good job overcoming that. The benefit is that I can easily make the remarks available to you. You'll find them below. I didn't follow them exactly, but you'll get the general drift. I spoke primarily about persuasion and transparency. Apologies for not adding all the links and references...I'll try to do so later.
We had a great day in London this past Friday, as we delivered the third in our series of one-day Delivering the New PR conferences organized by the University of Sunderland to about 150 people. As always, it was great to see Neville, Tom, Philip, and Chris. I was sad to miss Stuart, who had to cancel at the last minute due to a family emergency (all is well now, thank goodness). I also was quite pleased to be able to continue the debate with David!
Neville recorded a podcast at the event at lunchtime, and Philip used it together with some photos to create a little video, which you can watch here.
As always, our event director, Nicky, did a simply fabulous job, not least of all helping to rescue my poor aching head from an allergy attack. You and your team are wonderful Nicky! If only your efficiency and grace extended to Heathrow.
We are continuing the series, so stay tuned for further dates!