Solsbury Hill live – the call to something beyond


Peter Gabriel’s song Solsbury Hill has been a special song for me for more than two decades. It tells the story of being called to something beyond, something that others wouldn’t understand, that you can only take on faith and dive into. That is like the call I’ve experienced through my life and done my best to follow.

Browsing the web this afternoon I came across this excellent live rendition of Solsbury Hill.

And here are the lyrics, courtesy of Lyrics Freak.

Climbing up on Solsbury Hill

I could see the city light

Wind was blowing, time stood still

Eagle flew out of the night

He was something to observe

Came in close, I heard a voice

Standing stretching every nerve

Had to listen had no choice

I did not believe the information

I just had to trust imagination

My heart going boom boom boom

“Son,” he said “Grab your things,

I’ve come to take you home.”

Read more

Discovering the most interesting and inspiring phrases


I’ve long said that newspapers and books will become digital when they have all the qualities of the existing media – including readability, portability, and the ability to highlight and make notes – as well as all of the capabilities of digital media – such as searchability, compactness, and remote access.

The Amazon Kindle allows people to highlight passages and take notes – a basic functionality required for a e-book. What this also allows is to discover what others are highlighting, providing a form of collaborative filtering. Amazon has just released a list of the most highlighted books and phrases on the Kindle.

The most highlighted books are:

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

The Holy Bible

The Shack by William P. Young

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

A selection of the most highlighted phrases:

Read more

There are TWO possible attitudes companies can have to social media


Last week I gave a presentation on the future of business to the top executive team of a large fast-moving consumer goods company at their quarterly offsite meeting.

One of the issues they were keen to hear about is the rise of social media and how they should respond.

I told them that there are essentially two possible attitudes a company can have to engaging with its customers in an open world.

One attitude is to EMBRACE the fact that customers now have a voice that the company – and others – can hear, and to do whatever possible to help its advocates to form communities and talk about its products. That doesn’t mean its executives aren’t concerned that things can go wrong in social media. But the belief is that fundamentally it is a GOOD thing that customers can be heard by the world at large.

The other attitude is to HATE the fact that customers have a voice that can be widely heard. While the executives realize that their fans can communicate their love for their products, they are far more afraid that bad things will be said about them, merited or not, and they think they will have no recourse. The belief is that it is fundamentally a BAD thing that customers can be heard by the world at large.

I used one example for each of these attitudes.

Read more

California Management Review: Network perspectives on improving team performance in sales, innovation, and execution


The summer issue of California Management Review a couple of years ago contains an article co-authored by myself together with Rob Cross of the University of Virginia, Kate Ehrlich of IBM, and John Helferich of Northeastern University, titled Managing Collaboration: Improving Team Effectiveness through a Network Perspective. The article can be purchased from the California Management Review website (the journal is published by the Haas School of Business at University of California – Berkeley).

I’ve provided the synopsis of the paper and a more detailed description below. Writing the paper was an interesting process, bringing together specific domain expertise and insights from projects that each of the four of us have run over the last few years. The result is a framework and detailed prescriptions on how a network perspective can take the lessons on teams learned over the last decades to the next level, applied in a number of specific areas. Here is the article title and abstract.

Managing Collaboration: Improving Team Effectiveness through a Network Perspective

Rob Cross, Kate Ehrlich, Ross Dawson, and John Helferich

50/4 (Summer 2008): 74-98

Whether selling products or services, making strategic decisions, delivering solutions, or driving innovation, most work of any substance today is accomplished by teams. However, since the early 1990s, teams have evolved from more stable groups-where members were co-located, dedicated to a common mission, and directed by a single leader-to more matrixed entities with colleagues located around the world, juggling time between several projects, and accountable to multiple leaders. As teams have become more fluid, substantial challenges have been posed to traditional advice on team formation, leadership, roles, and process. This article describes how leaders at all levels within an organization can obtain innovation and performance benefits by shifting focus from forming teams to developing networks at key points of execution.

Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) (social network analysis applied to organizations) provides deep and specific insights into how to enhance the performance of organizations.

In the article we ask six questions to determine team effectiveness:

Read more

Five steps to effective content distribution strategies


When I wrote the book Living Networks the content distribution landscape was in the early stages of unfolding. Yet the strategies I prescribed then seem to be just as valid today.

Here they are, excerpted from Chapter 8 on Next Generation Content Distribution: Creating Value When Digital Products Flow Freely.


1. Build evolutionary business models

2. Define and refine strategies for standards and interfaces

3. Develop and implement aggregation strategies

4. Enable versatile syndication models

5. Rework your product versioning

Read more

Australian Open Innovation Competition: how about complete corporate transparency?


My good friends and network experts Laurie Lock Lee and Cai Kjaer are the founders of Optimice, which has recently acquired Australian rights to the Enterprise 2.0 ideas management software Spigit. The platform is used to power, among other initiatives, the Cisco i-Prize, which gives prizes of up to $250,000 to external teams for generating ideas for Cisco’s next billion-dollar business, and Pfizer’s internal innnovation initiatives.

Features of the platform include reputation scores for contributors, ideas trading markets to buy and sell ideas, and participation-based currency with redemptions, all of which can create a real marketplace for ideas inside organisations.

Read more

Mediagazer becomes the reference source for the media industry


I have long watched technology news aggregator Techmeme, first mentioning it in 2006 as an example of user-filtered content and then writing about how it helps to find interesting conversations, and later discussing how it’s sister site Memeorandum was the best place to watch the US presidential elections (and US politics in general). We were also delighted to get Gabe Rivera as a speaker at our Future of Media Summit 2007.

Mediagazer was launched early last month to provide the same insight into the most prominent discussions on the media industry. This Compete chart of Techmeme’s and Mediagazer’s traffic shows that in its first measured month the site has achieved 112,000 visitors, a fantastic start from scratch.

Read more

Is 3D TV dangerous?


This morning I bumped into neighbor and fellow futurist Mark Pesce at our local cafe. He was on interviewed on the 7pm Project last night about the dangers of 3D TV (see the video here) so we chatted about that.

Mark has been involved in 3D for close to two decades, most famously in creating Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML), and before that helping Sega to develop a head-mounted display in the 1990s. When it was sent for testing by Standord Research Institute, problems arose for users. Yet the research was never published.

In an article titled Keep doing that and you’ll go blind, (which was taken up by Boing Boing among others), Mark writes:

Read more

Extending the scope of augmented reality to what you CAN’T see


To many people, augmented reality is about annotating what you can see. Names of landmarks, reviews of restaurants, the sale price of houses, and so on.

However with a little imagination, augmented reality can allow us to see what is around us but invisible, or what our environment will be like at another time.

As a follow up to the award-winning augmented reality iPhone app SunSeeker, which shows the direction of sunlight at any time on any time, Graham Dawson has released See Breeze, an “Augmented Reality Wind Visualizer” which shows the direction of the wind. Graham has a detailed write-up of See Breeze on his blog. The video demo below gives a feel for what it can do.

Read more

Use your imagination! The potential of Annotated Tweets


Aside from the announcement of Promoted Tweets, Twitter’s advertising platform, the most important thing coming out of Twitter’s Chirp developer’s conference was a hazy pre-announcement of Annotated Tweets.

In a nutshell, developer’s will be able to let users to attach up to (probably) 512bytes of structured metadata to a tweet (plans are to increase this to 2KB), which can be used in one or many ‘annotations’ with additional data. This can only be added at the time of the tweet, or it if is retweeted.

To put this in context, a character can be represented in a byte, so you can add over 3 times as much data as the 140 characters of a tweet, in whatever format you want.

It is very early yet, with estimates of being launch in two months, and many things to be ironed out, not least how people can untangle the plethora of annotation formats that are likely to be launched.

It is completely open what can be done with this. In its note to developers Twitter says: Think big. Blow our minds.

Ideas for what annotations could be used for, adapted from Twitter, Venture Beat, Scobleizer, plus quite a few of our own, include:

Read more