realtime really? my slides from #media140

Spoke during the last session of the day at Media 140 Perth about realtime web and how it might evolve into an internet of connected people and things. Our evolution towards a networked and hyperconnected society is under way.

The slides might be somewhat opaque without the commentary but please feel free to ping me with any questions.

#febusave update – nearly 9,000 women signed up

Nearly 9,000 women signed up for the Febusave 2010 campaign, for example:

  • 2,307 pledged to give up buying lunch
  • 1,118 pledged to give up treats
  • 162 pledged to give up taxis

These might not seem like much; but little changes like this can make a real difference to your finances.

My pledge was to stop using the car to drive to work every day. The savings from that are now going into paying my mortgage. This means that it will be paid off several years earlier and save us thousands of dollars in interest payments.  I’m going to keep up this new habit of savings going even after Febusave is over.  It’s been a really good learning experience.

Some other great bloggers who have been sharing their journey All For Women, Inside Cuisine, Strawberry CommunicationsRainbowtatt, Liz and Jarrod, Little Lioness and Beautiful you by Julie

You can see what some of the other bloggers have shared via the #febusave hash tag on twitter.

Don’t forget! If you have registered for Febusave,  at the end of February simply complete the online entry form at the Febusave site and answer “what was your secret to achieving your FebuSave goal?” in 50 words or less and you could win $5000!

Why I’m probably not a social media expert and neither are you

Over the past few years a plethora of Social Media Experts* have cropped up and their tweets, posts, podcasts etc serve up a cacophony of advice and pontification.

Here’s a few of my thoughts on the matter, from the perspective of someone who sees herself as an apprentice on a learning journey.

Anyone who claims to be an expert in social media is probably talking through their hat.

Social media has been with us for only a few years. Expertise is not developed overnight.

Deep knowledge is founded on a basis of research and experience. Lessons learned, especially from failure and pushing of known boundaries, are key to development of expertise.

But research has shown that expertise in a particular field is achieved over many years of research and practice. Since social media has been with us for such a short time it is unlikely that any of us have gleaned more than primitive insights as yet.

As Wikipedia notes:

Some characteristics of the development of an expert have been found to include

  • At a minimum usually 10 years of consistent practice, sometimes more for certain fields
  • A characterization of this practice as “deliberate practice”, which forces the practitioner to come up with new ways to encourage and enable themselves to reach new levels of performance
  • An early phase of learning which is characterized by enjoyment, excitement, and participation without outcome-related goals
  • The ability to rearrange or construct a higher dimension of creativity. Due to such familiarity or advanced knowledge experts can develop more abstract perspectives of their concepts and/or performances.

Some people may have expertise in other areas that gives them unique insights into the possibilities inherent in social media. They may be able to fast track the development of expertise in social media by building on their previous knowledge and experience.

Further, social media is just media and communications on a new platform. I’m not quite sure if that fact privileges social media in some special way?

Rather it seems that what we are undergoing is experimentation with the new media publishing platforms – from hard copy to soft copy, from television to online, etc.

This is no different from the platform change that ensued with the move from radio to television. I wonder if there were a bunch of Television Media Experts running around back in those days too? And I suspect that those experts of olden times would have known just as much as the average Social Media Expert today.

Perhaps rather than being social media experts we are social media learners? If indeed social media is a real thing we should even consider in and of itself (but that is a topic for another day)?

* Updated: OzDJ also reminded me of the various “social media ‘luminaries’, ‘mavens’, ‘gurus’ et al”

Progress report on my #febusave pledge

For the month of February I decided to give up driving to work and bank the savings. It’s been surprisingly easy to catch the train each day, even if it does mean I need to plan ahead a bit more.

The savings have been a real eye-opener, especially when one of my friends mentioned how much that adds up to over a full year.  Putting that money into my mortgage is really going to make a difference if I keep it up after February!

 

Over 8,000 women have already signed up, pledging to cut back in various areas to kick start their savings for Febusave.

There’s still time left to sign up now.

Not just Twitter, most conversation is meaningless babble

It’s not really meaningless babble anyway! And this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Most conversation is not important for the words we speak. Instead it is the act of being present to the other person and giving attention that gives most conversations their true value. Some experts term this social grooming.

It also enables the growth of social bonds by means of the time spent in relatively trivial communications.  These seemingly unimportant communications are what makes dealing with bigger issues between individuals and groups easier.

How much easier is it to ask for help from someone you’ve known socially for a while than a stranger? How much easier is it to know the best way to phrase a suggestion or request to someone if you’ve chatted with them before?

The important thing that social networking tools like Twitter or Facebook  (or newer tools like Google’s Buzz) enable is non-localised proximity. No longer do you need to run into a person in the office kitchen each day to build up informal social ties.  Now we can do it from half a world away in real-time.

It’s also worth checking out Dunbar on this kind of thing.

7 questions to ask re new technology for your business

These questions apply for all kinds of technology decisions including hardware, software, or even social media and social networking technologies.

Business people do not want to spend money on unnecessary or unhelpful technology, yet are often ill advised when they make technology acquisitions or expenditure.

I often see businesses, both large and small, acquire unnecessary or inappropriate technology for which they will never achieve the projected return on investment. Or, even worse, the ROI is based on the capital costs alone without factoring in other costs such as staff time.

New technology is often proposed by someone you know – a friend or family member, or a business acquaintance or sales person.

Here are a few questions I always ask about new technology before acting:

1) What is it and what does it do?

With this question you can find out how much the person recommending it actually understands.  If someone can’t explain what the proposed technology is and what it does in plain English be very suspicious.  Seek alternative perspectives if they are unable to answer this question in a way that makes sense. I always say – “if you can’t explain it to someone’s grandmother so she can understand what it is and does then you don’t understand it properly yourself”.

2) How does it work?

Don’t be afraid to openly ask “Can you explain to me how it works?” It is similar to the previous question but digs in more on the functions that it can perform and how it does so. Uncovering assumptions – such as that the proposed technology assumes access to high speed broadband – is critical.  These assumptions generally add unanticipated cost to implementation of the solution.

This question also uncovers information about potential extra costs. For instance, if an application is hosted in the cloud (a.k.a. software-as-a-service or SaaS) then you will need likely need an extremely reliable and robust internet connection.

3) How does it make or save money for me?
This is an important question. Often the person suggesting technology for your business does not correctly understand its profit model.  The revenue model for your business in relation to the new technology needs to be clear, otherwise calculating the payback period is impossible.


4) How long is that payback period?

Strong and confident off-the-cuff answers to this question are invariably wrong. A sensible answer to this question will depend upon a number of variables, some of which are particular to your business, time and place.  I have seen more dodgy payback assertions than I’ve had baked dinners.  It’s worth digging into this question and doing a proper ROI analysis.


5) What are the indirect costs of this technology?

Often the focus is on the capital cost of the technology and little consideration is given to the total cost of ownership during the life of the asset.  Indirect costs include:

External costs: hardware and software maintenance (a good rule of thumb is 20% of original capital cost annually adjusted for CPI), additional support, ongoing minor enhancement requirements

Internal costs: this is usually the cost of time for staff to look after or use the technology; sometimes the technology adds new tasks that must be considered & often these tasks require some level of technical skill; also often overlooked is the possibility that you will need to take on new staff to run the technology


6) How updateable is this technology?

This is a big question. If there are improvements in the technology will you have to buy a new model or can the existing model be upgraded?  Given how fast technology innovation cycles move these days, being able to upgrade or expand the technology is key to having a decent useful life for the asset.


7) Who else uses it & how do they use it?

If nobody else is using the technology yet then there needs to be compelling answers to all of the other questions. Further, if there are no other local users (i.e. in your country) then the support infrastructure might not be there ready to offer effective support. There is nothing worse than the support help phone line being in a timezone that is opposite to your own.

The few times that I have implemented either a beta version or version 1 of a technology in business there was a bad outcome due a variety of problems. Usually this manifested itself in the form of cost and time overruns on the project. Consequently, unless there is an extremely compelling business driver, I tend to avoid betas or version 1 of anything.

Ada Lovelace Day 24 March 2010

Last year many of us supported Ada Lovelace Day, the international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology and science.

ada-300x234It’s now time to pledge your support once more for Ada Lovelace Day, 24 March 2010.

To sign up, please go to http://findingada.com/ and add your details to the brand new pledge!

If you’re not sure who Ada was I really encourage you to find out a bit more about this remarkable woman here or here.

National Growth Summit 2010

I’m speaking at the National Growth Summit 2010 in Sydney this week about engagement marketing and running a workshop on Technology to drive Growth.

The line-up includes a number of international luminaries along with local experts, gurus and knowledgeable people such as: Mick Liubinskas, Stephen Collins, Mike Walsh & Stephen Belfer.

There’s also workshops available on day 2 of the conference – for a special discount on the Technology to Drive Growth workshop use this registration form (opens pdf)

Savings plan progressing nicely for #febusave

As part of the ANZ Bank’s Febusave campaign I’ve been following up on my pledge to catch public transport as much as possible during February, especially for the commute to the office.

I’m finding the daily train trip gives me a few unexpected benefits in addition to saving money:

  • more time to work on projects rather than concentrating on driving in the crazy Sydney traffic
  • more thinking time so I can hit the ground running when I arrive at the office
  • uninterrupted time to plan my day
  • on the way home the I have time to disconnect my mind from work before arriving home

Also participating in Febusave has made me conscious of spending choices, and is making me question if I do really need to buy certain things.

Why not sign up too? You can do it here (and you might even win a $5,000 prize).