For the last 15 years of my life post-employment I have struggled when people ask me what I do. More recently I have managed to crystallize a simple description of myself: Futurist and Entrepreneur. However that doesn’t explain the diversity of my companies’ activities, and how they fit together. In particular people are often confused by the relationship between our primary companies: Advanced Human Technologies, Future Exploration Network, and The Insight Exchange.
A few months ago I started designing a business model diagram to help me conceptualize the relationship between our brands and activities, our scalable and less scalable business models, and our current priorities. While it included a few personal aspirations, I ended up showing it a number of job applicants to help explain what we are doing. I soon realized I needed a public version of our business model. This is what we created.
Some comments on a few of the features of the business model:
The internet can be characterized very simply. Billions of people are looking for interesting and useful information, and millions of companies are trying to make money by people finding their content, through search engines and increasingly on social media.
This has led to the rise of companies such as Demand Media, which last week listed on New York Stock Exchange to be valued at $1.5 billion, more than the New York Times. Demand Media and its peers such as Associated Content, now owned by Yahoo!, use low-cost writers and sophisticated algorithms to create massive amounts of content tailored to generate revenue from search traffic.
There are also many writing brokers such as TextBroker and The Content Authority that help smaller companies that need web content to improve their search rankings to get copy written, at rates as low as 1.2 cents a word.
I have written about the proliferation of crap content and how search is evolving to deal with the rise of low-quality content. The latest iteration in Google’s search algorithms explicitly address duplicate content. The quest for original content to feed the search engines continues.
The obvious next step is to automate copywriting, further improving the cost-revenue equation for those seeking to attract search traffic.
We see the nexus of the rise of tablets and the transformation of media as one of the most fascinating and important topics today. It continues to be a key focus for us in our client work and own projects.
This week International Newspaper Marketing Association (INMA) released its Tablet Opportunities for News Publishers report, which is free to members and $295 for others. In the report, “dozens of leading news industry executives reveal their up-to-the-minute thinking“.
I was quoted throughout the report, and they also included our iPad Media Strategy Framework, as below, to encapsulate the key themes.
Here are some of my quotes and thoughts included in the report:
A few months ago I did the opening keynote for a national roadshow run by Telstra Business on cloud computing. My big picture piece on Tapping the forces of change was followed by a more detailed presentation by Telstra’s CTO Hugh Bradlow.
It’s taken a little while to get up, but here is a complete video of my 25 minute keynote speech for those who are interested.
If you’d just like to read some of what I covered in the keynote, you can read an article on Six steps to success in a world driven by cloud computing which summarizes some of my messages.
Personal branding is one of the big themes today, for a number of reasons.
As I wrote in five key trends in how influence is transforming society, one of the dominant forces is that reputation is shifting from the corporate to the individual. People build relationships and place trust in individuals more than organizations, changing how (the best) companies organize themselves and engage externally.
In addition, professionals are increasingly shifting to independent work in a global distributed economy. As such they must build their own brands and not rely on their affiliation with the brand of the company for which they work.
The first of my 11 themes for the Zeitgeist of 2011 was ‘Networked or Not?‘
We are all facing a fundamental choice that will shape our lives. Many dive headlong into a world of always-on connection, open social networks, and oversharing. A few cry halt and choose to live only in the old world of tight-knit personal communication. The result is a divided society.
Addressing exactly that point, a great article in The Guardian titled Social networking under fresh attack as tide of cyber-scepticism sweeps US , drawing particularly on Sherry Turkle’s new book Along Together.
The article notes:
Search is not getting better, or it certainly seems that way. In the evolutionary battle between search engines and search engine marketers, the search engines are not keeping ahead, and crap content is finding its way into the top of search results. This makes search users unhappy, opens the way for alternatives to the dominant player in the Western world, AKA Google.
In a blog post on search engine spam by its principal engineer Matt Cutts Google says it is ready to respond, in particular to filtering out low-quality content. He says:
Today, English-language spam in Google’s results is less than half what it was five years ago.
However, we have seen a slight uptick of spam in recent months.
To the first point, people’s expectations are continually getting higher, and so they should be. And it turns out that people’s perception that the problem is getting worse is true.
Google’s response is two-fold: cracking down on duplicate content, and downgrading in search results what Google algorithmically determines to be “low quality content”. The video describes Google’s initial changes on this front that happened around 1 May of last year.
At the client workshop I ran earlier in the week, I raised the concept of the “serendipity dial” (something I have written about many years ago in the context of creating enhanced serendipity, and more recently asking Last.FM to introduce a serendipity dial.)
Source: sixdegrees.hu Click on the image for a very large size version including artist names.
The image above shows the similarities between different musicians, as determined by the users of Last.FM. If you like an artist, you are very likely to like other artists positioned close by, and far less likely to like artists positioned on the other side of the chart. This is an example of collaborative filtering, whereby many users behaviors can be used to predict what others with similar musical tastes will like.
Excerpt from the list of ExaTrends of the 2010s:
Talent is everywhere. As organizations shift to networks, transcending workplaces, success will be driven by how well they can attract the most talented, those who can choose where, how, and why they work. Real-time translation software will enable true multi-cultural teams. Wealth will flow to the talented, wherever they are.
See the full 3 page framework including the Map of the Decade, full descriptions of the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist of 2011 by clicking on the image: