Archive for October, 2010

What’s the value of you in the digital universe?

Posted in Digital business, innovation, Web 2.0 on October 26, 2010 by Geir Stene

We all know the ordinary business models on-line. You buy something, and then you pay. We all know about Amazon, and that we tend to buy a book with high rankings. Suggestions from friends have the same effect; we tend to buy a suggested book, before looking for something else ourselves. We know of “freemium”/ premium services, like Spotify.

Of course we know that corporations pay for advertisements. (That’s when you and I are “sold” to someone). Google, Facebook, YouTube and also Twitter are cleverer than just selling banner ads based upon amount of clicks on pages or clicks on ads.

The value of algorithms.
We know that Google made some algorithms, to sort out what search results show up and not. It’s complicated and it’s secret. New lines of work came due to this Search Engine Optimizing (SEO) and also Search Engine Marketing (SEM)..

The other day, we got some insight about Facebooks way of sorting out the flow of our newsfeed (you can read an interesting article HERE ). In short it claims that if you are popular, interactive and have a lot of followers, shares videos and images – you rank higher than others. Where is the value? Well you get less “noise” and facebook can sell you at a higher rate, based on the segment (“high social profile” assuming you have higher influence on people around you)

Beyond old fashioned segmentation there is behavioral and contextual marketing.
The segmentation (Nation, gender, age, education, income, etc.) governs what ads you are likely to be exposed to and this is as old as marketing itself. Online the possibilities to get far better data because people might be willing to provide a lot more information about them. Facebook take this a step further and cooperation with third parties, such as Google, has become common. This makes it possible to share information so that the segment information from Facebook includes knowledge about your actions on Google and your search pattern. The sum of this knowledge is assumed to provide advertisers with “better” audiences, and you with “targeted” ads. All of this has lead to yet new professions: “Behavioral and contextual” advertisers.

If I know where you are, I know what to sell you! “Geo- tagging”
Location based knowledge is great. And it has become “trendy” to talk about. “Everyone” want to jump on this train. And it’s amazing. One thing is to add a commercial message at the map – you know the map on your cell phone, web site, iPad or the GPS in your car. It gets more sophisticated with the “chip” in in your training shoes, together with a GPS and a USB. Your training sessions will never be the same.  Your running patterns is transferred to your community, your cell phone tells you when other training friends are out in the same park as you. My guess is that location based marketing is going to be huge, and then commodity, something just being there as a new marketing / sales technique.

Internet in all things.
Not only geo- tagging is out there. As syndicating system, services are offered via different business partners that never used to be combined is on its way. Devices; like the cell phone goes into the banking, credit card and insurance business. The car computer syndicates with gas stations, car repair work shops and mapping services. The result is on your GPS in your car – and/ or cell phone. If I know where you are, how much gas is on your tank, for how long you have been driving? I can offer you a solution to problems you have, before you thought of them – before they even happened!

Now, combine this with semantic technologies. In the article I linked to, it’s only used to monitor, and moderate comments in an online newspaper. That’s still a very primitive usage of a very powerful business concept. Semantics and semiotics are language disciplines where meaning of communication is decoded See the Wikipedia article about semantics and about the semantic web HERE. This enable the option to provide relevant content to anyone. It enable to port relevant content based upon my interaction with “Internet” and others on Internet that I interact with. E.g. Twitter may run my flow of feed via their semantic engine, and deliver me relevant content, dependent on the meanings of my flow of statement. Twitters business model is starting to take form; look HERE. Provide me with relevant topic, and relevant followers. Provide knowledge about brand, topics and monitoring services(that let them know I have a need, an opinion worth while interacting with towards a business market. Using semantic technologies will surely help Twitter, streamlining their business models.

None of the above is future or science fiction, its existing services. Still the concepts aren’t advanced, but they will, and in a speed we have hardly seen. You see, all the technology is in place. All business models are already tested and working. We, the market, have started embracing the new possibilities and have purchased the devices already.

Is privacy corrupted?
Yes, but not by governments, police or military. Not by nosy journalists, but by you and I. And I’ve seen the reactions (amongst others) against facebook. But to be sincere I don’t think that regulations will help. The phenomena are spreading, and the business cases are too great to back off. The benefits for us as users are too big as well. Not long ago, communities were criticized for interrupting privacy merely because people shared information about themselves, in manners we hadn’t seen up till then. Photos of their loved ones, information on which restaurant they were dining, all kind of “silly” information, that could, if misused interrupt our privacy and be misused ( just think of dating services where people put images of themselves – no newspaper would ever print)  People still do this, and continue to want to share, to interact in every possible way.

Will the governments stop this, and is it all bad?
If one government wants to regulate what is legal, the servers are moved to another country, where no such rules apply. It’s these companies that will win the race, grab the market shares. Internet is not a ‘ cosy café ‘. It’s a hard core business environment that is changing the way we live our lives. Another reason I believe that protests won’t help this time, is that in the western world unions have been a driving force, to regulate what the finance world may do or not. Unions have lost a lot of their power in western societies. After the financial crisis in 2008, politicians are scared of a new breakdown and will not be motivated to stop initiatives for finding business models, creating new types of jobs – keeping the wheels running.

I’m not sure if this is all bad. It’s a dramatic change, and it can surely be misused for a whole range of reasons. On the other hand, it simplify our lives, we get better services and offerings we want, not a mass media cacophony of commercial messages thrown at us at all times. The standard TV commercials, interrupting our film experiences will vanish. “Shouting” primitive messages, attempting to have us remembering a hair shampoo brand will be a lousy business. “Offer me what I want, when I need it and leave me alone if you don’t know me, and my preferences!” –  This just might be the next decades slogan for the marketing business – online.


The digital revolution involve you

Posted in Community, Digital business, Digital media, innovation on October 19, 2010 by Geir Stene

We are in the midst of a revolution. Surely there are no digital armies, not riots on the streets, people  shouting “Digital – digital- digital now!”

There isn’t a digital bloodshed nor any ‘analogue heads’ chopped off. Nevertheless it’s a revolution going on, and it’s affecting us all in fundamentally ways.


I’m not sure what started it, maybe the introduction of the Internet is a starting point, and maybe it isn’t? In any event, the ways we use Internet have changed the basics of how we publicly communicate, conduct business and relationships with friends and our communities. It’s changed the definition of what a ‘public‘ is.

We used to have systems and technologies of: One – to one communications (like a letter or a telephone conversation) and we used to have one-to many communications (like the radio and newspapers).

The Internet represents a continuous communication between the masses and at the same time all the communication forms mentioned above. It influences all aspects of society: Politics, commerce, media, warfare and even the private sphere.

What is going on?
We are discussing all kinds of topics at the same time, and it becomes a myriad where it is difficult to apart the subjects. Some subjects are interwoven; some subjects are wrongly mixed together and are just creating confusion. We are discussing changes of the democracy (for those nations having that established) changes of how to conduct business, changes in the medias and even changes in the way our minds function.

There is no consensus if this is good or bad. Not really. Some are arguing that our capitalistic system is breaking down, and there is a need of a new one. Some uses the opportunity to crave for stronger control over the population and the digital flow of information. Some celebrate it and call it liberation, a kind of anarchism that will “save” us. Whom to believe?

Other questions are: Will this ever end? How long does it take until the dust settles? What’s next? Some says that they have all the answers, others that there are none. Its surely an exciting time to live in. All rules seems to be rewritten, or are they?

Some facts:

  • No civilization has been there since the beginning of time.
  • No civilization has stayed static.
  • Every revolution (from the Latin Revolutio, “a turnaround” is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time…” – Wikipedia) alter what was before, with an uncertain future while being in the midst of it.
  • The basic behavioral patterns in humans changes very slowly.
  • People are highly adaptive to change in living conditions.

This means that, as humans, we have been exposed to change at all times. We adapt very well to changes in the surrounding circumstances and we keep some very typical behavioral patterns, such as being social and relational, striving for a safe life and a mind expanding lifestyle where cultural activities keep being some fundamentals we haven’t “given up”

The way we organize work, provide and exchange values (goods, services) may change in structure, but we will still need each other to make everything we need, wish for and desire.

In a digital business the most obvious up till now is exactly this: Shared value chains, shared services, split revenue sharing. The way digital economics works is based on very old ideas: “The market place”(e.g. Kelkoo) “Community sales” (e.g. home parties like Tupperware, ) one of the most effective marketing techniques are Direct mailing and social spread of opinions (word of mouth, rating)

How to organize work? Well the industrialism didn’t last very long, did it? We got that system in the 18th to the 19th century and it may take some years yet, but if you ask a blue collar worker in the western hemisphere (a shipyard worker in Norway, an automaker in the USA) you will be told loud and clearly that it’s going downhill. We don’t need the factory bells anymore, and we don’t need to clock- in anymore. Nowadays lots of us have’ mobile office’, and a cell phone where customers call, mail, Skype us at all times. Another reality; our clients might be in any time zones around the world. It’s not only consultants and ‘men in business suits’, it might as well be artists, poets, dancers, small family businesses and farmers. Does this resemble the way work was organized before the industrial revolution?

Never before have so many been able to consume, and take part in producing so much content. We read, watch, listen to all kinds of content, and to an extent that nobody could predict only 100 years ago. It’s said that an average teen, nowadays have more knowledge than Isaac Newton. The teen nowadays might not be as curious, but still.  The institutional structures are falling, and we do not know the outcome. Gutenberg never anticipated the outcome of the print press either.

But there is no need to be naive and to think that finally “the power came to the people”. The propaganda machinery in China, North Korea, Iran, USA and also Norway has an easy match these days. I’m not talking about the governments and military only. Corporations, criminals and political groups also know how to manipulate, and they do.

The private sphere
Kevin Kelly has said it better than anyone. He said something like that the Internet is not something out there, it’s surrounding us, it’s everywhere, it’s in everything. That makes our former idea of private and public irrelevant. At the moment we are confused by what role we have at work, and when we are private. We are concerned about privacy, and that government shouldn’t be able to conduct mass surveillance. At the same time we are freely giving out the most personal information to a wide range of Internet offerings, like Google, facebook, Amazon, YouTube and  iTunes to name a few. We gladly provide information on our name, gender, age, civil status, hobbies, purchases and locations. I don’t think this is necessarily bad for us, but there is no, or very little control mechanisms in place. The best example of how to make sense is to look to Visa. Visa has established a promise toward us. -They keep the secrecy about our credit card usage, and take responsibility to prevent us from fraud. They exclude businesses trying to cheat us, or misuse credit card information they have.  They have built a trusted relationship with all parties involved to let business on Internet happen.

The future
The digital revolution is like a wave at the ocean, you cannot stop the movement once started, but you can find ways to ride the wave.  Some people react at change with fear, and become insecure. Some people let their arms fall down passively and let the changes happen, feeling out of control. None of them will influence and participate in creating how the future will evolve.

I believe that every action taken now, by each and every one of us, will influence how the future will look like. If we embrace large global corporations uncritical, they will surely set the rules of the game. If we let governments grasp the opportunity to take control over our lives, they will – all over the world, whatever they call it. But if we, each one of us discuss, take part in our way, locally, by our blogs, our statements on facebook or twitter. If we address corporations and tell them how we want them to act, in order to conduct relational business with them, if we persistently demand our politicians to act on our behalf to protect the democratic ideas and demand that ethics should be incorporated in their every action. I think the digital revolution is worth it, and that it will lead to a constructive evolution; if we do our part of shaping the future.

Does Media businesses want to survive?

Posted in Community, Digital business, Digital media, Digital news, innovation, Web 2.0 on October 9, 2010 by Geir Stene

Reality is harsh for the media business, and has been so for the last decade. Is there any chance for the business to survive? It depends on what is the definition of what a media business is, and it depends on the media companies of today.

Ivar Trondsmo wrote about this in the Norwegian Aftenposten today. You can read it HERE The head of information in the Norwegian publishing house Gyldendal presented what they think is “six myths about the e-book”  HERE, what do you think represent the most relevant arguments for the future?

Why not ask the important question? What do we need the media production for? In my opinion, if we know the purpose, the business models and organization of it will evolve. The question is if the media institutions of today are willing to change, in order to be a future participant in the business.

I have a suggestion that I’d like to invite you to evolve and improve.

Using the press as a category for all news activities in TV, Radio, magazine, papers, web sites and so forth, and Publishing as another category for all production of “story telling” factual and fictional, in film, TV, books and so forth I hope to have made a simple viewpoint to discuss the core of what we as society want from media production, or – production of meaning. I don’t know if it’s sufficient, but hopefully you help evolve the perspective with me.

The press: We need the press to watch out and protect the democracy. This requires skills, quality, and guts.

Publishing: We need publishing to engage and tell us about life and what society is all about. It helps us understand ourselves and the relations we have towards other, as individuals and as communities. Publishing keeps us from falling out of culture and into barbary.

How to best ensure a system that provides these goals? As of today, the traditional media institutions are using their energy to preserve the power of yesterday, and aren’t able to realize that the fact is that this power structure is lost already. My problem of the ongoing development is that neither Apple, Amazon, Google,(or the like)  with their Apps stores, you tube sites iPad, Kindles and so forth have given an answer to what their purpose is, –  not a purpose we as a global, national society or for that matter individuals needs and wants.

Content production and products. I don’t think that it’s fruitful to fear the digital revolution, nor to be afraid of the “announced death of print”.  The printed newspaper, magazine, book have a glorious future in my opinion. They will surely evolve in quality and the prices change (as the volume of sold units will decrease, and most likely the profit increase). The digital business models are there, in place already. The Press and Publishing businesses needs to align their products, work-flows, processes, organizations and business models to a digital environment.All to be a part of the future. If they don’t want to, it’s not a real problem, others are already here to take their positions. I only hope it will be players in the business that are fulfilling our needs and wishes;  of a free press and an enlightening publishing system.