What’s happening in the living networks – an irregular update


I send out an extremely irregular email to keep people posted on what’s up in my world and the most prominent content I’m creating. I thought I might as well post it on my blog as well…

What’s happening in the living networks

June 2009

This is a quite extraordinary year for me. It’s now been 15 months since I’ve sent out a ‘newsletter’, so this email is a bit of an update on what’s going on in my world, which makes it quite a long email…. The most important of all this is the birth of my daughter Phoebe on 7 June, packed into a time of great change and development in my work, writing and businesses.

I believe that 2009 is the turning of an epoch. Linear shifts are giving way to exponential change as we call into question existing structures. The key theme for me is divergence: there is a rapidly growing gap between those thriving and those struggling. These are very, very exciting times.

In this update I provide links to some of the more interesting content we have generated over the last period. The best way to keep up with what I’m doing and finding interesting are my Trends in the Living Networks blog or my Twitter updates.

In this update:

I morph into futurist and entrepreneur

Launch of leading events firm The Insight Exchange

Implementing Enterprise 2.0: New book and consulting work

Recent keynotes in Abu Dhabi, San Francisco, Sydney, Perth etc.: videos and presentations

Future of Influence Summit coming soon!

Relaunch of Advanced Human Technologies

Media coverage: New York Times, The Guardian, ABC, SBS, SkyNews etc.

Most popular blog posts: influence framework, future of finance, Twitter and media, organizational change etc.

Phoebe Dawson is born

[NOTE:] You have to be viewing the full article for the internal links above to work

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New iPhone app: Steampunk view of global climate – ideal for world travellers!


Graham Dawson of OzWeather fame has launched his latest iPhone app Climate Eye, which promises to be another big winner. It enables users to look up any city on the planet and find out official current weather and forecasts, including how much colder or hotter it is compared to expectations for that time of the year.


It also shows average weather for any month or day of the year in each location, including temperatures and rainfall, even the likelihood of rainfall on any particular day.

Among other uses, the app is great for travellers who want to know what the weather is likely to be when they arrive in their destinations, or even for choosing where they want to go at a particular time of year.

The innovative interface design (which I am told is referred to as “steampunk”) reminds me of the world in The Golden Compass – antique brass instrument style to access digital data – very cool.

Forthcoming apps from Graham will provide additional insights on climate and climate change.

See screenshots of the app on Graham’s blog


Graham is my brother 🙂

Media convergence in action: Journalists (try) mastering the Twitterverse


That’s influence for you. After The Insight Exchange’s event Twitter’s Impact on Media & Journalism last week, the biggest front page article in The Australian’s media section today, titled Journos mastering the Twitterverse, opening with:

IT’S Tuesday and I’m at a forum on the topic “Twitter’s Impact on Media and Journalism”, busily taking down the speeches in shorthand. As I do, the business-suited woman sitting on my left is tweeting about me on her laptop.

“This is interesting,” she types. “I’m at #timj talk about Twitter and media/journalism. I’m tweeting and the journalist next to me has paper/pen :-)”

Paper and pen? Got me! I do use them. However, I also use Twitter, which is how I caught up with her comment once I was back in the office.

It’s a long article, accompanied by three other articles on Twitter in media. The thrust of the article is about how journalists are using Twitter. It mentions Dave Earley’s list of Australian journalists and news media people with Twitter accounts, and Anthony Dever’s list of Australian media organizations on Twitter.

Presumably from these lists they have compiled a list of prominent Australian journalists on Twitter:

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The motivations of influencers and amplifiers: how content becomes prominent


Increasingly, we primarily find content through aggregated influence. In other words, influencers use Twitter, blog, Delicious, Digg, Reddit etc. to highlight the content they find most interesting. Collectively these influencers make this content highly visible, driving at times massive traffic to articles.

A couple of years ago I wrote about Uncovering the structure of influence and social opinion, which drew on research on how just a handful of influencers drive the content aggregation sites such as Digg, and a little later analyzed how influencers and amplifiers had helped one of my blog posts hit the front page Delicious.

These topics will be covered in detail at Future of Influence Summit 2009 – details coming soon.

In January the grand-daddy of the tech news aggregators, Techmeme, started accepting suggestions for stories, by people sending links on Twitter along with “tip @techmeme”. The most prominent Techmeme story suggestor has been @atul.

Atul is interviewed in Success Secrets of a Top Techmeme Tipper. The entire interview is worth reading; I have picked out some of his comments on his motivations.

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Uncovering high-value applications of organizational network analysis


New Scientist has published an interesting article titled Email patterns can predict impending doom, which reviews findings by researchers at Florida Institute of Technology. They, as many researchers, used the email logs from Enron, which have been made available for analysis by federal investigators.

The key finding from the research was that the number of active email cliques, in which groups exchanged emails between each other but not outside, went from 100 to 800 a month before the collapse of the company. This appeared to reflect decreasing trust across the broader organization and increasing stress. This indicates that very strong indicators of organizational health can be gleaned from network analysis.

Network analysis by Advanced Human Technologies of top executives in global corporation

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Event review: Twitter’s Impact on Media & Journalism


Today I was at Twitter’s Impact on Media & Journalism run by The Insight Exchange. It was as usual a fantastic event with great insights – I will be digesting and musing on the conversations and ideas for a while, and will incorporate these into future frameworks.

Below are quick on-the-fly notes from the event. Check out the Twitter stream #timj for the rich conversations from the event. For my own thoughts on the topic read my post from last week on How Twitter impact media and journalism: Five Fundamental Factors.

Here are my notes from each of the presenters – taken on the fly but hopefully a reasonable representation of what they said. Some of the presentations will be put on online in audio and hopefully transcription so will post links when they’re available.

Mark Pesce (@mpesce)

He begins by quoting Bob Woodward:

“Social media? It’s noise. Twitter? Facebook? It’s all a diversion. Good reporting is always going to be about hard work; about waking up every morning with the thought: What are the bastards hiding today?”

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Driving innovation in large professional service firms: Six high-return initiatives


Over the last years I have spent significant time assisting professional services firms to drive innovation. This year I am finding that the economic climate is intensifying the focus on these issues rather than pushing them to the background.

The pressures that commoditize services are intensifying, local and global competition is increasing, and clients are seeking value in different forms than they have in the past. Another critical driver is the war for talent. Young, talented professionals show little interest in continuing to plough the furrow of long-established processes, however wax enthusiastic about creating new approaches to their work.

However there are many barriers to innovation in large professional firms, including billing imperatives, strong functional specialization, and often highly risk-averse cultures. Much of the management literature on innovation focuses on product development and design, and is not always relevant to a professional services environment.

I’ve written before about innovation in professional services, including the White Paper I wrote for SAP on Service Delivery Innovation and in Chapter 9 of Living Networks.

Here are some reflections on where I see the greatest potential for value-creation in the space.


There are several key domains for innovation for professional firms:

Services and products. In a rapidly changing business environment, providing the services that are most relevant to clients’ needs can provide real competitive advantage. The issue is not just in quickly generating new offerings, but also in packaging these so they can be readily communicated to clients by front-line professionals.

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Gerontocracy is our future


Gerontocracy n. Rule by the elderly

When we think about the future, there are some things we can predict better than others. One of the things we have the best idea of is demographics and age distributions. There remain uncertainties such as improvements in health care and gerontology, the rise of unforeseen diseases and pandemics, and devastating war, but by and large we can be fairly confident of our demographic forecasts.

In recent keynotes I’ve done on technology in aged care and the future of the global health economy I examined the implications of future demographic profiles. The forecast profiles for 2050 for some of the world’s largest economies are shown below. Source for all of the profiles is NationMaster, an excellent repository of country information. Of all of these countries, USA is the country which will have the least imbalance to the elderly, accompanied by a dramatic shift in ethnicity of the young.

One of the many implications of these age profiles is the inevitability of gerontocracy – rule by the elderly. Given the age profiles below, it is starkly clear what segment of the population any warm-blooded vote-seeking politician will seek to woo. In other words, given a democratic future, we can expect government policies to be unmitigatedly pro-aged, with barely a look in for the young.

Fortunately I’ll be old by then.

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Video of TEDx on Future of the Enterprise in San Francisco


We finally have video of my presentation on Future of the Enterprise at the TEDx event in San Francisco on May 5. The video is a nice production, very kindly done by Denis Mars to pull in the slides and Flash that supported my presentation.

Read more about the TEDxAdvance event, organized by Advance San Francisco. The best description is Andrew Mager’s excellent review of the evening.

The TEDx presentation format is strictly 20 minutes, so my presentation fits into two 9 minute YouTube videos below. Feel free to start at Part 2 if you want a sampler of the content – the story pretty much hangs together from there too.

In the presentation I discuss:

* Origins of organizations, from pre-agricultural through pyramid building, the guild, and modern companies

* Enterprise vs. Corporation. The critical distinction that means the “enterprise” will be more important than the “corporation” moving forward

* My personal work journey, through distributed computing, financial markets, Japan, information broking and NLP formed my thinking on organizations

* Knowledge and relationships are the only resources that matter in today’s economy

* Living networks of people, organizations and industry emerge

* Organizations are media entities – the flow of information defines its functioning

* Three driving forces today: Connectivity, Expectations and Commoditization

* Enterprise 2.0 is about creating the next phase of organizations – it is done by creating parameters for experimentation

* In the Heuristic Age structured trial and error is the only viable path to responsiveness

* Five questions: I end with five key questions we must answer to create the future of the enterprise:

What structures will emerge for allocating capital to enterprise?

What models will best turn participation into value creation?

How do we best tap the global talent economy in a virtual world?

What role will reputation play?

How will we make work meaningful?

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The emergence of mobile augmented reality


A new mobile app called Layar has been launched recently. It will initially only be available for Android, with the intent of getting it onto the iPhone 3G S as a priority. At this point it only functions in the Netherlands, but will be available in Germany, UK and US this year. The video below shows how it could work, giving an example of identifying vacant real estate simply by scanning around.

One of the phone features required for this app to run is the magnetometer (compass). This has been available on many Nokia and some other handsets for a while, and makes its iPhone debut with the 3G S. Magnetometers are actually very inexpensive, but allow a wealth of new mobile applications that depend on knowing which way the camera is oriented.

There is no question that augmented reality will be a key feature of our technological future, and clearly this will be primarily relevant when we are mobile. Annotation of our environment, including detailed information about its features, and particularly user-generated content, will be extremely useful as well as fun. The pervasive nature of the iPhone means this is the platform which is likely to popularize mobile augmented reality. Layar is a player and no doubt there will be more.

Additional commentary from TUAW, IntoMobile, ReadWriteWeb, AndroidGuys, and MacRumors.