Our Social World

(Oops… should have posted this last week but, um, have been a bit busy.)

Finally made it up to Cambridge to Our Social World, having forced Tom Coates and Ross Mayfield to catch a slightly later train so that I could spent an extra hour on the floor of Tom’s lounge, tossing and turning and having nightmares about trying to give a talk to six people, with a tea lady trying to lay out scones and cakes on the podium whilst elbowing me in the face.

Notes will be sporadic. I’m sure others will take better. (I’m actually trying to kill my reputation for being a great note taker, so expect rubbish.)

Ben Hammersley – 300 Year History of Blogging
The BlogFather – Sir Richard Steele, 1672 – 1729. Starting blogging in 1708. Political and social situations then was similar to now – arguments about Europe, worries about the growth of Islam, social revolution is in the air.

Using new technologies of printing presses and street urchines, he started the Tatler, April 12 1709. Posted three times a week, 800 readers, comments, lots of coffee.

Social revolution of courtly society to enlightenment society, more publishing and science based. Enlightenment based on a few core concepts – science and technology; manner. The idea of manners was invented by blogging. Steele’s sort of blogging. Fashion was to wear very similar clothes, and meeting together for the first time without class boundaries in coffee shops, so no social boundaries.

Re-define social norms of behaviour via the Tatler – Steele was writing about how to behave, how to write interact and deal with each other.

The Spectator was the first group blog, daily, 6 days a week. More influential than any other publication at the time. Advice on how to behave in town.

Amateurs, drinking lots of coffee, and writing short pieces and you have social revolution.

Technology isn’t important, it’s the social side of things. Agit-prop. Blogging is pamphleteering extreme – we’re now able to convey our ideas across to everyone on the planet.

Differences between blogging and Steele?

– Much bigger sphere of influence now – about 2.5 billion people have access to the internet. With paper, you can only read it if you have the piece of paper.

– Interconnectedness. Paper can’t lead you to other sources, but can only tell you other sources exist. On the web, links take you straight to the other sources.

– Findability. Paper’s hard to search. Scholarship was less to do with your ability to research and more to do with having access to the library – you had to be a member of a university because it was the only place with the books. Now the internet, everybody has access to everything, but also everybody can search through everything. And the most important thing is timeliness.

Writing a book, it takes a year from when he finished writing to when it’s published, so it’s basically out of date by the time that it’s published. A blog post is published immediately and becomes available to everyone.

Fundamental changes in information flow. Fundamental change in the way that mankind communicates. Just by publishing thoughts and allowing people to comment and link to them, you can have communities grow up, connections, interactivity, commerce, development of ideas. The limitations are falling way, we now have technology that makes it free, and in both beer and speech, to express your ideas to as many people who want to listen.

We have new concepts of reputation, of groups, of friendships, of how we can work together.

This might seem a bit overblown, except that it’s true. What we’re looking at today is a social revolution akin to nothing we’ve ever seen before. The freedom of the press is free to those who have the money to buy a press, and now everyone has a press.

EM Forster said ‘Only connect’. Connecting is more powerful that you can possibly imagine. You may now see it only as a marketing too, but hopefully by the end of the day you’ll see that this is not going to not only change your life but the lives of your children.

Simon Phipps, Sun
Set up blogs.sun.com. Blogging is not about technology, but about social interaction.

I believe that we are right on the edge of a shift from consumerism to participative life, because connectivity has got into the soul of society.

In 1994, travel was very disconnected, but ten years later, no longer need travellers cheques cos have a credit card; don’t need airline tickets; don’t need a line of credit for hotels; use email, don’t need to be psychic to send news by post in advance. Society has got connected – connectivity is assumed and unnoticed, and we’re now seeing second and third order effects.

It’s no longer cool to be online, it’s expected to be online. Lots of things are happening now because we’re all connected.

Sun blogs set up, happened by word of mouth. Jonathan Schwartz writes once a week or so, his biggest problem is being concise.

Leaving stuff to PR professionals is a nightmare. But on Open Solaris (?), much better relationship because it’s non-PR.

Not so much about no. of readers, but quality. Famous for 15 people.

In starting blogs.sun.com – had to reverse a company policy which had stated that if you spoke in public about your work you could get fired. Had to change it. Need a blogging policy. Make sure people are allowed to tell the truth.

Tom Coates
Started first blog 6 years ago, when there were about 200. Things have changed a bit since then, but Britain is still way behind the curve on this one. The States are huge, the French are doing well. Here there is still a reservation around it.

Policy being drafted at the BBC that says blogs are a public conversation and that people should have that conversation so long as they don’t say anything too stupid.

Social internet was the first stage of the internet – IRC, emails, usenet, mailing-lists, messageboards, MUDs/MOOs/games. It’s not a change, now, to a participatory internet – it’s always been there.

The web then came along and transformed the net into something more publishy. So Usenet was eradicated by AOL user. Got away from social behaviours.

What started to shift it back was weblogging and Amazon. Enormously distributed platform for social debate.

Friendster. You can engage with people you know online, and get to know others. Spread like a plague across the world and really re-ignited the social aspects of the web. Where we’re at:

– social networks with a point
– collaborative annotation of stuff
– collaborative creation of stuff
– new ways of sharing experiences
– new ways of harnessing individual creativity
– new ways of harnessing play

Then goes through Flickr, Upcoming, Wikipedia, Last.fm/Audioscrobbler, Technorati, microformats.

Demos BBC Radio 6 Music’s PhoneTags – bookmarks songs, tag them, rate them, find songs with specific tags e.g. songs about summer, find the best rated songs. Is about music bookmarking. BBC then gets related metadata about songs, so good for them too.

Also working on allowing the Radio4 audio to be annotatable – can add tags, metadata, or maybe treat it as a wiki. BBC has need for metadata, and people like to add metadata and also derive value from metadata, and they are hoping to work with people in an honourable way to do something more than can be done individually.

Johnnie Moore
Hard to do notes for this – Johnnie never really gives talks. Started off asking for a volunteers, it took a while for someone to stand up. Johnnie then drew a face with them, each drawing one part of it, and named it writing a letter each. Then got people to draw a face in pairs too.

Everyone drew a human face. Most of the names were English. People felt a bit uncomfortable doing something that had an unknown consequences and outcomes – terror of the unknown [or looking like a prat?]

Johnnie gets this reaction when talking about technology to people in business. People feel fear, and that’s a natural reaction so maybe a good idea not to be too judgemental.

Discusses a blog that he set up with some other bloggers about Sainsbury’s. Just set it up out of a sense of play, and it’s developed organically. Now Sainsbury’s are interacting on the blog, and it’s taken on it’s own life.

This is down to the fundamental human need to communicate.

Lee Bryant, Headshift
Tags are about negotiating social meaning. In order to communicate you need:
– shared situation
– shared perception
– shared cognition
– shared language

Semiotic dynamics. Ok… lost me now…

How do terms develop? Why do they develop?

Hegemonic discourse. (Small pig with spikes?)

Enterprise social software. (Sorry, I sorta faded out during this.)

Loic le Meur
Six Apart – 8 million users worldwide. 100 employees worldwide.

Long tail – brief explanation. Media blogs – Le Monde, Business Week etc.

Perseus stats: 30 million blogs in may 2005, 50 million expected by the end of 2005.

Technorati stats: Blog created every second. Blogosphere doubles in size every 5 months. Blogs vs. MSM slide.

Media are starting to get it. In France, Skyblog have 3 million blogs. vnunet. 01net.

Double F Radio Blogs, radio station, blogs. Podcasts, drag and drop to iTunes.

MonPeteaux.com – popular blogger, videoblogs. Vocal critic of Paris (?). Can sub to video in iTunes now too.

Le Monde – give a blog to every journalist, and provide blogs to their readers. They do top 10 blogs of journals and bloggers so can compared.

Lafraise.com – sell t-shirts online but have never advertised. Customers design the products, vote on them, then he makes the ones that are popular.

Loreal. Someone decides to launch a brand blog, and did it all wrong. Invented a fake character, put a picture of this fake person on the blog, the text was written by a pro and weren’t authentic, comments were filtered so no negative comments went up, took an hour from going up before someone flamed it and it went round the blogosphere like mad. 48 hours later, cover page of Le Monde. Big crisis.

Dealt with it by apologising. Sort of new. Posted their pictures. Asked bloggers to tell them what to do and got a lot of help. Bloggers said they want customers talking, real comments, and so that’s what they did.

Has wikipage about Euroblogosphere. Source: best guess of bloggers.

Dec 5th/6th, Les Blog 2.0, Paris.

Euan Semple, The Beeb
Missed the beginning of this. BBC blogs – Richard Sambrook’s blog, using blogs with aggregators so as soon as Richard says something it appears in people’s aggregators.

But still a ‘who do you think you are, and why are you saying what you’re saying’ attitude. So people use them as link blogs, to point as other things.

Wikis encourage people to be as open as possible, to collaborate. Wiki’s grown faster than other tools – 1000+ users. Not just a regular text editor – have to learn wiki markup, but people have taken to it because they were fed up of sharing Word docs.

E.g. staff were frustrated at not being able to take part in a BBC photography competition, so ended up using a wiki and Flickr to organise their own. 300 photos submitted. Very dispersed thing, happened very quickly.

Social software tools have been introduced over the last 3 years. Bulletin boards are noisy, quick, intuitive, viral. The blogs are more about personal space. Wikis are being used for more formal communications.

All tools have RSS, so want to get in a desktop RSS aggregator.

It’s beginning to democratise the organisation.

Believes it will become more prevalent in more organisations. Kids who are used to using social software personally will start to come into the workspace and expect this sort of tool. And if they don’t see it, they will work for someone else.

Euan didn’t want to ‘own’ it, different way of managing it, managing status.

No idea what I said or whether it was any good. You’ll have to ask other people for that. The slides are online though. Pretty, aren’t they?

Julian Bond
A nice bit of English cynicism.

Gives rapid-fire demo of usual business comms – veeeeery much impossible to follow. Culture of powerpoint, email and chocolate biscuits. Used to use memos, but the culture hasn’t changed.

People in senior management are very nervous about going into print. Hard to persuade them that communication is a good idea.

Places where blogs are going to be most successful is whre they come in bottom-up communication, rather than where they are top-down broadcast.

The Geek Imperative – tell everybody everything you know in excruciating detail.

Doing biz with the FTSE1000. They can’t do stuff on their own, so they ask you do to it, but because the software is free they expect it to be veeeeeery cheap.

– sell to consultancy to FTSE
– sell solutions to the S of SMEs

Simon Gryce
Identity – in the last hundred years, identity was letters of introduction, passports, driving licences, library cards, usernames/passwords, form filling, silos in data, in-efficient CRM, business cards, privacy policies.

Next 1000 years – personal digital identity.

What changed? Why now?
– tipping point
– possible
– efficiencies

Data currently resides with individual orgs and businesses, and is silo’d.

What’s driving it?
– internet services
– always on culture
– mobile devices
– personal directories
– personal privacy

Our personal identity should be managed by us. Ability to be anonymous should be cvontroled by us.

Can find out where someone is (currently, with their permission). Need society where individuals are in control.

Legal requirements. Getting harder and harder for companies to retain personal data.

Personal Digital Identity Summit
17-18 Nov. www.pdid.org or email summit@pdid.org

Data Protection law in Europe, stronger than in the States, you have the right to ask for all the data about you. Went to Vodaphone and asked them what mobile data they have about them. The pile of paper you get is huge – including physical coordinates for hte last six months.

Max Neiderhofer
(Oops, missed the beginning, due to too much good conversation. Again.)

The majority of bloggers are 18 – 24 (ish), and they make up the majority of bloggers. Not the experts.

They are young, and there are more of them. Relatively technologically savvy. Internet is part of their lives.

Blogging is like games. but MPOORG not Noughts and Crosses. Games come to an end though, blogging doesn’t. Blogging is one of the best games, but it’s not a game it’s play. Lots of variations, never solved.

Point of blogging is positive human interaction. Getting confirmation for the things you’re doing, getting love from other people.

Rules in blogging – rules are important because if you don’t deal with people on their terms they wont’ come to you. If you bullshit a blogger you will suffer for it.

And example of someone who’s getting it right is Stormhoek – giving away wine, no strings attached. You blog, or you don’t blog, but they give away the wine anyways.

Ross Mayfield, Socialtext
Been working with social software for the last three years. Going to talk about the way that social software is used in enterprise.

LA Times wiki debacle. Decided to take an editorial, slap it in a wiki and then let the world have at it. Within 24 hours the side was shut down, because the internet ‘had at it’. Did the wiki all wrong.

Have been talking more about blogs than wiki – wikis are more group voice, blogs are individual voice. French like blogs, Germans don’t like blogs but like wikis. So the Germans talk and come to consensus before they post anything.

So cultures are different. People use tools in different ways.

We’re all talking about social software. People doing something for social rewards, not finanicial. User generated content is a sucky term. Control is shared. Wikis’ are about shared control. But all our other software is about the opposite.

Email – organisational spam, push network, point to point. Wiki is hub and spoke, can be a bit smarter, RSS etc, pull model.

Best features of RSS is the unsubscribe button.

[Sorry for the crap notes this afternoon. I really ran out of steam.]

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