Case study: hitting the Billboard charts by free online streaming of the album


I notice that Imogen Heap is continuing with the free streaming of her album Ellipse . And no doubt significantly because of the free streaming, Ellipse is charting at #5 on Billboard. It is a glorious album, though I think we can pretty definitely count the free streaming of the album on the web as a very effective strategy. Perhaps it will become commonplace to stream music for free in order to maximize sales.

I’d be keen to know the proportion of sales of this album and the songs on it online versus through CD. It would almost be surprising if she sold much in CDs at all, because her presence is so online..

I notice Imogen on Twitter now has over a million followers.

A bit tangentially, I just found this beautiful video of a beautiful song by Kate Havnevik, who I found through collaborative filtering and Imogen’s music. If you like Imogen you’ll absolutely like the extraordinary Kate. (note that it doesn’t start for 10 seconds)

ABC Radio National: Discussion on the future of influence


ABC Radio National Future Tense this morning featured a discussion on the future of influence (click here for the podcast of both the radio program, and the unabridged discussion between Duncan Riley and myself). It kicks off with a quote from Chris Saad saying that influence and reputation are the currencies of the day, even more than attention.

When asked why we rebadged Future of Media Summit as Future of Influence Summit this year, I explained why “influence is the future of media”, and the five key trends in how influence is transforming society.

Duncan pointed to how the rise of Internet and social media means that influence can now be global. He also raised the issue of trust agents, and what it takes to be trusted as a publisher. We have more choice in what we look for, and so we need markers of credibility.

On the topic of business models for influence, I talked about two key ideas. The first is whether and how individuals can profit from their influence, and how that will develop. The second is the emergence of influence as a currency, and the companies that profiting from making influence explicit for companies.

Listen to the long version of the interview for more details.

The shift from corporate brands to personal brands


Was just catching up on Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang joining Charlene Li’s Altimeter group from Altimeter.

Jeremiah is quoted in the New York Times:

Mr. Owyang said that his story holds lessons for other companies. “I think this is an interesting trend that many companies are going through — personal brands are here to stay, alongside corporate ones, and the key to success is to make sure they help each other,” he said. “But now the power is shifting to the workers, because they can take their network and a lot of what they know with them, with these social media tools.”

The third trend in my recent Five key trends in how influence is transforming society is:

Reputation shifts from the corporation to the individual

I strongly believe in Jeremiah’s point that individuals and corporations need to support each others’ brands. In fact one of the important reasons I have pointed to as to why companies should support use of social networks is that it helps their employees to build their own brands, to the benefit of both individual and company.

Now, as personal brands grow in relative strength, corporations need to consider how they can best reflect and tap the influence of the individuals working for them. As Jeremiah notes, social media means that personal brands are immensely portable, as are personal networks.

This is about power to the worker, absolutely, but those companies that understand this and tap this shift can do extremely well. They can attract those with strong personal brands and create immense value from their influence, simply by focusing on building the brands of their key staff as much as they do their corporate brand.

Quick review: Social media coverage of Future of Influence Summit


I was very happy to be able to sleep in this morning after Future of Influence Summit. While I haven’t had a full debrief from the Sydney side of the event yet, it was a fantastic event on the San Francisco side, and I’ve had great feedback so far on what happened in Sydney.

Influence and reputation are now key issues on the agenda for any organization. At the Summit, we began to tease out the many issues that will be critical moving forward. I will spend some time digesting what was discussed and pull together some structured thoughts in the next little while.

We will also post videos of a couple of the sessions soon.

For now, it’s worth reviewing what attendees at the event captured on social media during the event – together these provide a great overview of the Summit.

Twitter stream for #foi09

Blog posts: (In no particular order – more coming soon I believe):

Mick Liubinskas: Live from Future of Influence Summit

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Five key trends in how influence is transforming society


I just got off an interview on the future of influence on 2SM radio which lasted almost 15 minutes – close to a record for my interviews on live AM radio, which tends to do 3-5 minute segments. The talk show host was clearly fascinated by the issues of how influence is shifting away from people like him, and towards the unwashed masses.

In the interview, done in the lead-up to Future of Influence Summit which is on next week in Sydney and San Francisco, I discussed the social transformation wrought by the changing influence landscape, and pointed to key five trends driving this change:

1. Influence is democratized

It used to be that people were influential by virtue of their position, such as CEO, journalist, or politician. In a world of blogging, Twitter, and social media anyone can become highly influential, shaping how we think, behave, and spend. Companies can ignore no-one. As many more become heard, a truer democracy will emerge.

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Selected quotations for our times


In finding the quote from Marshall McLuhan on professionals and amateurs I used in my last post, I dug up a file I created a dozen years go with some quotes I was collecting. Here are just a few that are still worth bearing in mind today:

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind”

– Winston Churchill

“It is hardly possible to overrate the value… of placing human beings in contact dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar… Such communication has always been, and is peculiar in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.”

– John Stuart Mills in 1848

“Computer games don’t affect kids; I mean, if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music”.

– Kristian Wilson of Nintendo Inc in 1989

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”

– Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

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Adults take over social networking, children bail out?


UK telecom regulator Ofcom has released a major study on use of telecommunications in the UK, out of which some interesting statistics on use of social networking have come.


It’s not surprising to see the substantial rise in social networking in the 25-54 year old age bracket. Adults have “got it” and piled on board to network online with friends and for work. What is more surprising is that 15-24 year olds are using social networks slightly less than they were, with the Guardian speculating (there is no evidence for this from the report) that it is the uptake of social networks by older people that is causing this “adolescent exodus”. The nub of it is this:

“There is nothing to suggest overall usage of the internet among 15-to 24-year-olds is going down,” said Peter Phillips, the regulator’s head of strategy. “Data suggests they are spending less time on social networking sites.”

Part of it is definitional – what constitutes a social network? When young people use the Internet, they are primarily using it to connect with their peers. Whether that is on Facebook, through content sharing, or on music sites, they are effectively social networking.

The significant drops in use of social networks by the 65+ year olds makes me question the survey methodology – I find it hard to believe that 80% of the over 75 year olds who were using social networks a year ago have dropped out with none taking their place.

Here is the data as a spreadsheet, kindly provided by The Guardian’s Datablog.

The World in 2030: Four scenarios for long-term planning and strategy


This morning I did the opening keynote to the top executive team of a major their strategy offsite. It’s not appropriate to share the full presentation, however I can share the rough scenarios I presented for the world to 2030. The scenarios were presented after having examined the driving forces and critical uncertainties for the company. (See also my post on The best visuals to explain the Singularity to senior executives)

As always, a strong disclaimer comes with any generic set of scenarios like these – scenarios really must be created by the users themselves for specific decisions and in context (for the full disclaimer as well as a brief background on using scenarios in the strategy process see my scenarios for the future of financial services).


A traditional scenario process identifies two dimensions to uncertainty, that when combined produce a matrix of four scenarios. Once the framework is created, the full richness of trends and uncertainties uncovered in the research process are integrated into the scenarios. Here the two dimensions selected are:

RESOURCES AVAILABILITY: Resource Poverty TO Resource Affluence

Availability and real cost of key resources including energy, food, water, and environmental stability.

COHESION: Cohesion TO Fragmentation

Cohesion of society, government, nations, and institutions.

Together these dimensions yield:



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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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Keynote: Transforming Aged Care with Technology


Tomorrow morning I am doing the second day opening keynote at ITAC09 – Information Technology in Aged Care conference.

Here is my presentation – as always these are intended to accompany my speech, not as stand-alone slides.

I hope to write some more on this blog on this topic before long, though it depends what I can fit in…