The past, present, and future of location-based mobile social networking


I have long believed that location-based mobile social networking is central to how technology will connect us. The advent of next generation phones including the iPhone combined with people’s familiarity and engagement with social networks means that the space is – finally – ready to take off. Here is a very quick review of the past, present, and future of the space.

The Past

The original location-based social networking application was proximity dating, which I wrote about in chapter 2 of my book Living Networks in 2002, in describing some of the many ways that networks bring people together:

In mobile-mad Japan, “proximity dating” has had a big success. As in Internet dating, you complete a profile of both yourself and your desired partner. Instead of suggesting people to exchange e-mails with, the service rings you on your cell phone to let you know that someone with a matching profile is within a few hundred yards of you, and allows you to arrange to meet them. Since high bandwidth mobile technology is now available in Japan, the system can also allow you to see each other on your mobile videophone before you meet.
[Download Chapter 2 of Living Networks]

People were very interested in the idea, and I got a lot of media coverage at the time for my thoughts on where this was going. There were a variety of technologies and platforms available for location-based social networking in the early days, however the major constraint was that very few phones had GPS, so the location of each phone had to be determined by cell tower triangulation, giving an accuracy often not better than one kilometre. One early example of location-based social networking at the time was from Swisscom, in which people could engage in anonymous chat, with indicators of both the numbers of degrees of separation from their counterpart in their phone books, and the approximate distance between them (from low to high).

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Living Networks – Chapter 8: Next Generation Content Distribution – Creating Value When Digital Products Flow Freely


Download Chapter 8 of Living Networks on Next Generation Content Distribution

Every chapter of Living Networks is being released on this blog as a free download, together with commentary and updated perspectives since its original publication in 2002.

For the full Table of Contents and free chapter downloads see the Living Networks website or the Book Launch/ Preface to the Anniversary Edition.

Living Networks – Chapter 8: Next Generation Content Distribution

Creating Value When Digital Products Flow Freely

OVERVIEW: In a hyper-connected world digital products flow freely, unless safeguards are put in place. Providers of content – including entertainment and high-value information – must balance protection and promotion to maximize value. All content industries are in a state of massive flux, and evolutionary strategies are required to succeed in this time of transition.

Chapter 8 of Living Networks – Commentary and updated perspectives

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Peak of Australian Twitter use was at Future of Media Summit 2008


Hitwise has just released statistics on Twitter usage in Australia, showing that Twitter usage is up over 500% over the last year. More interestingly, Australia’s share of Twittering globally has more than tripled in that time. It should also be noted that people increasingly use mobiles and Twitter clients such as Twhirl, so Hitwise would not be seeing this traffic, suggesting that the increase in usage is probably significantly greater than the figures they’re reporting.

Of particular interest is that Twitter’s peak of usage in Australia was at the time of the Future of Media Summit 2008, on July 15. This isn’t that surprising given the very strong use of Twitter at and beyond the Summit (see Twitter posts tagged #fom08), and the many people who commenced Twittering at the event.

Certainly other more recent events in Australia (for example today’s Web Directions South #wds08) are likely to have more Twitter usage than the Future of Media Summit, however that is on the back of a significant increase in the local Twitter population since then. It’s certainly great to see that the Future of Media Summit got such great Twitter uptake, especially since the event covered the entire media landscape, not just social media, and many attendees were from traditional media and unlikely to ever Twitter.

Thanks for the reference from the blog of social media strategist and Twitterer extraordinaire Laurel Papworth!

Also see the original release from Hitwise for more interesting insights, such as the fact that Twitter delivers 10x more traffic to financial institution websites than it did a year ago, suggesting that Twitterers are saying either nice or bad things about banks.

SkillsOneTV: Ross Dawson on the future of work


SkillsOne is the TV channel of the Institute for Trade Skills Excellence, providing video programming both on cable TV and online to promote the development of trade skills. Last May it

won the Webby award for the best association website.

Shortly after SkillsOne was founded last year I was interviewed by the channel on the future of work. The full interview was run on the cable programming, while two 3 minute excerpts from the interview are provided online. Part 1 of the interview is below – I’ll post Part 2 a little later.

A quick summary of the key points I made in this segment:

Two questions when you are considering a trade or profession:

* Is it possible that computers or machines will be able to do this?

* Is it possible that someone working overseas will be able to do this for clients here?

In a global connected economy we must become more and more specialized, otherwise our work become commoditized. However specialists must collaborate closely with others in order to create value.

Living Networks – Chapter 7: The Flow Economy – Opportunities and Risks in the New Convergence


Download Chapter 7 of Living Networks on the Flow Economy

Every chapter of Living Networks is being released on this blog as a free download, together with commentary and updated perspectives since its original publication in 2002.

For the full Table of Contents and free chapter downloads see the Living Networks website or the Book Launch/ Preface to the Anniversary Edition.

Living Networks – Chapter 7: The Flow Economy

Opportunites and Risks in the New Convergence

OVERVIEW: Devices, communications, and industries are all converging into one vast space for doing business. This is the flow economy, in which almost all value is based on the flow of information and ideas. Companies must continually reposition themselves in this flow economy, both to meet new competitive challenges from unexpected quarters, and to take advantage of the massive emerging opportunities.


The Flow Economy Framework

Chapter 7 of Living Networks – Commentary and updated perspectives

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Creating the next phase of entrepreneurial capital


I have written and been quoted many times before on the rise of a new layer of capital markets and the segmentation of venture capital. Venture capital certainly will continue to play an important role in years to come, but many major variations on the current model will emerge. One of the most important drivers of change is the far lower capital-intensity of web and technology businesses. With powerful development platforms, ready access to global talent, and speed to market being of the essence, many ventures can get going with minimal capital. The proliferation of less-capitalized companies has been a feature of the entrepreneurial landscape over the last year, supported by a slow drying up of capital from venture firms.

In today’s New York Times an article titled A New Kind of Venture Capitalist Makes Small Bets on Young Firms focuses on Union Square Ventures and in particular Fred Wilson, the new superstar of web VCs. The piece starts out by describing how Etsy, now the leading crafts marketplace, was delighted in Union Square Ventures to find a VC firm willing to take just a 5 percent stake in the company. Most VC firms demand at least 20%, and usually seek strong or dominant influence on the company’s strategy.

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Conversation with Napier Collyns on scenario planning, networks, oil, geopolitics, and noticing what matters


I caught up with Napier Collyns in Sydney the other week, after having seen him in both New York and London earlier this year. His highly peripatetic lifestyle means that we’re often not in the same place at the same time, but we’ve managed to cross paths more regularly recently. Napier had just spoken at the Australian Leadership Retreat organized by the Australian Davos Connection on a number of topics including peak oil.

I thought it would be a great opportunity to record a video conversation with Napier. We sat down for an hour after a pleasant lunch and spoke on a wide range of topics, including many aspects of scenario planning and its history and future, Global Business Network, social networks, geopolitics, oil, and how we notice what’s important from an excess of information. The video is below, and a timeline of conversation topics at the bottom of this post.

Conversation: Napier Collyns and Ross Dawson from Ross Dawson on Vimeo.

I’d originally thought we’d create three 10-15 minute self-contained segments on different topics, but that’s not how conversations work. It ended up as a free-flowing discussion over an hour moving far beyond the intended starting points. There were some extremely interesting insights in the conversation, I thought, particularly for anyone interested in scenario planning, so I’ve posted the entire conversation, together with a chronology of conversation topics so you can go to the points of greatest interest to you.

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The Future of Financial Services – the Indian perspective


I’m writing at the Vision 2020 Financial Services Sector conference in Mumbai where I’m giving the keynote speech. I’ll post a review of my presentation later, and here will post notes from the interesting speakers and my conversations on the day, combined with my own reflections.

[UPDATE:] The complete write-up of my presentation Strategy for the Future of Global Financial Services is now up.

The conference is organized by NDTV Convergence and Wipro. NDTV runs all of the online operations of NDTV, a diversified media company centered on its business TV channel. Wipro is one of the top three IT services companies in India – for each of Wipro, TCS, and Infosys financial services is their largest client sector.

Public sector banks and transformation to a true market economy

India has 23 public sector banks, which means they are owned at least 51% by the government. In most cases these are listed companies with a wide variety of investors. While it is now well over a decade since India began its transition from a largely nationalized economy, there is still a long way to go. There is unlikely to be large scale privatization for the foreseeable future, and in many sectors other than banking there remains major shifts required to move to open market attitudes and competitiveness.

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Social networks help people to get jobs: employer survey

By has just launched a survey which says that 22% of hiring managers use social networks to screen candidates. The report emphasizes the downside for applicants, saying that one third of hiring managers rejected candidates based on what they found, including drug and alcohol use, inaccurate qualifications, links to criminal behaviour and so on. That’s the stuff that gets the headlines.

Less prominent in the report is that 24% of hiring managers found content on social networks that convinced them to hire a candidate, including solid references and a professional image.

Using social networks to get additional information about candidates is a no-brainer, and think it’s an indictment of the profession that just one fifth of hiring managers use an obvious source of information about applicants. It also should be very obvious to anyone with half a brain today that their social network profiles will be looked at when they’re applying for jobs.

Of course using social networks in screening is just one possible use for social networks in the hiring process. Even the CIA has been using Facebook for recruitment for well over two years, well after leaders in the space such as Ernst & Young (see EY’s Facebook careers page , which has over 18,000 fans (Facebook login required).

Future Exploration Network and IBM are running a Social Network Strategy Executive Roundtable this week for top executives of major organizations. We’ll release a report on the discussions, which will give some great insights on how these and other aspects of social networks in the enterprise are viewed by senior management. The report will be available here in a couple of weeks.

Keynote presentation: Creating the Future of Financial Services


At the 2020 Vision Financial Services conference yesterday I promised I’d have the full content of my presentation here up within days. But my schedule means I probably won’t be able to get it up for a week or so, so for now I’ll just put up the slides. The usual warnings apply – my presentation slides are not meant to be meaningful by themselves, but to accompany my speech, so unless you were there, I suggest you wait until I do the full write up of the presentation.

[UPDATE:] The complete write-up of my presentation Strategy for the Future of Global Financial Services is now up.