Saturday, June 18, 2005

Too much to do, too much to read, too much to say...

Looks like I am getting to that point that I always dread - being overwhelemd by the feeling of too much stuff and not enough time to do what I truly believe needs to be done and done right. But this past week marks a great turning point and building on the successes of this week helps me to see the successes of next week, and most importantly, the success of this very day. Sure I am already behind my schedule as my tangental mind finds a plethora of other things that need my attention, but that is ok.

The reason it is ok is of course an internalization that I have embraced, but there were 3 specific things this past week that make today different from how I would have responded in the past.

1 - I just read Steve Jobs' now infamous Stanford Commencement address - it really is that good. William Cohen spoke at mine (American Univ 1991), and while he is brilliant and I respect him immensely, I only wish I was fortunate enough to have had such a poignant and inspirational speech.

2 - I got a massage yesterday from a kindred spirit, one of the world's peaceful warriors to be sure. She helped me reconnect to my essential self and remember deep thruths about the nature of the world and our roles within it.

and finally

3 - Earlier this week I met Antonio Salerno, former founder/ceo of Conxion, who though force of presence drove home the old adage of focusing on the bits that will make the most difference - I realize this is simply priortization, but something about the way in which he said it, made it more meaningful and more than ever, relevant and vital to my work ahead.

So no more blogging for a couple of days as I move to compete that all important 20%

Friday, June 17, 2005

Information, Knowledge and Wisdom

Recently while trying to figure out my business story for pitching to Angel Investors and others, I came to the question of "what is the difference between information and knowledge?" Since a key presumption of my business is that we are moving from the information economy into the knowledge economy in earnest, I wanted to know what the PHD's had to say (thankfully my close friend Michael Kull is just such a person).

Mike provided me with a great textbook answer (with practicality) to this which reaffirmed my original thinking, but in essence came down to this great Insyte which I quote"

Knowledge answers the question, "what should I do next." Information provides us observations about the environment of that decision: the circumstances of a situation.


While riding the bike at 24 Hour Fitness during lunch, a moment of clarity on this matter hit home. While you may view it as a semantic refinement of what Michael has to say on the subject, for me it forms the basis of a more understandable construct around the business. In brief:

INFORMATION is mostly unstructured data which is processed by the analytical side of our brains (the left hemisphere) - thanks to Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind for this Insyte.

KNOWLEDGE is when that information is put into context that is processed by the synthesizing side of our brains (the right hemisphere).

WISDOM comes about when we process the entire situation and then listen to our heart to determine a course of action.


So while I had initially planned on focusing on Knowledge, I now find it more appropriate that Insytes should become known as "The hidden jewels of wisdom that are found to be truth by genuine people with experience." Not a short catch phrase, but certainly a worthy brand identity to establish and voraciously pursue...

Blogging a passing fad?

I just added the BloggersMap from feedmaps to the site and in so doing found someone very nearby to my office who recently just quit blogging after many years, citing several of the same reasons (more eloquently) than I did earlier today - and he was one of the few creatives that not only made a difference, but also had impact on people's lives as evidenced by the comments his readers and friends left.. Cygnoir's Quill

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Blogging is a fad - personal publishing is real

OK - so that is a bit controversial perhaps, but if you really look at it from a macro point of view, blogging is a new term for what people have done for centuries. The best part about it of course is how easy it is now for people to share their thoughts. It used to be that someone who wanted a personal web site needed to know HTML, FTP, and Photoshop or be able to pay someone who did. So now, all someone needs to know is how to fill out some forms and write, or speak, or record video...

So the Internet revolution is finally about to take hold of the global consciousness as a participatory medium. Up till now, it has primarily been used by the mainstream of society as a place for information retrieval, shopping and talking with others. This is incredibly good news, but lets talk about why I think it is a fad. There are really 2 primary reasons for this - the first is psychological and is backed up with statistics as shown below and the second is more evolutionary in nature.

1 - Psychological and Sociological reasons blogging is a fad

Simply put, we have historical proof that a lot of people start with good intentions towards keeping an updated personal web site, but eventually taper off their involvement over time. There are many reasons for this such as: lack of time; lack of satisfaction; lack of time; getting flamed or put down; realizations that what they have to share is not worthwhile; human nature to start something with high interest that fades over time as the original motivation is lost; and revised priorities to name just a few.

The other thing is that blogging is at present still emanating from the core of geekdom. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a full-fledged geek myself, though often not accepted as one within their circles because I don’t geek out hard enough with coding and I have an equally live business mindset as well as a spiritual base. By this I really mean that mainstream society has yet to fully embrace it (I still have to explain it to smart people I know who live in San Francisco) and I don’t think they will in its current form. Just take a look at these stats from LiveJournal

http://www.livejournal.com/stats.bml

How many users, and how many of those are active?

Total accounts: 7,432,685
... active in some way: 2,639,465
... that have ever updated: 5,278,345
... updating in last 30 days: 1,488,723
... updating in last 7 days: 924,956
... updating in past 24 hours: 338,654

Most people see these stats and think how great it is, I look it at and see that fully 28% of people signed up and never updated. More telling is that only 35% are 'active in some way' and out of those active members, only 35% of them (or 12% of total) have posted within the last week. Please note that I am a confirmed, committed and card-carrying optimist, but this is just sticking out as a sore thumb. Also, the largest population of members from LiveJournal is between 15-20 years old

What does it mean? Well it doesn’t mean that blogging is going away, but I do see it needing to evolve in order to fully penetrate the global consciousness. Which brings me to point 2

2 - The evolution of Blogging

The rise of blogging is a force majeure in my decision to start building my new company. Only with the rise of Blogs and WIKIs and social networking would Insytes be possible. But all the venture capitalists investing in blogging tools, blogging syndicates and other singularly unfocused business models are in for another shakeout. These tools, due to the power of open source software and the great community behind it, are certain to be available free at some point if not already. Right now everyone is on the Internet 2.0 bandwagon (including me to a degree) but many are simply tackling a 'space' that will be commoditized, or worse, will become just a feature of a Yahoo or Google. But I digress from my main point here, so lets get back to that...

If we look back historically to the origins of publishing with Gutenberg we can make an informed assumption that his motivation was perhaps 2 fold - 1 to move intellectual life out of the church and court and 2 to make money in doing so (though it can be reasonably argued that he did it out of religious inspiration we actually don’t know his true motivations - http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventors/gutenberg.htm) - OK, another tangent, albeit important, that I will wrap to get to the point so I can get to my meeting....

Journaling goes back even further then Gutenberg, back to the time of the caveman and cave paintings. The need for humans to tell their story is obviously innate and great. So is the need to share knowledge and pass it on to others and for many people motivated by joy or anger, so is the need to provide commentary. Today in our often physically distant digital economy, we also have a serious need to know more about the person sharing their thoughts, opinions and commentary. The blogosphere is clearly the foundation of this global conversation, but I contend it is only the beginning. With the power to easily self publish the amount of bullshit disseminated is going to increase so much I recently bought hip waders and galoshes just so I can get through the day!

Ultimately I envisions that there will be several different types of 'Blogs' created by both organizations and individuals and this is where I will end - the types of Blogs, which may or may not still be called Blogs after this whole fad shakes out are

- Commentorial (opinion type stuff, on politics, society and related humanities stuff)
- Insytes (intellectual contributions to the global understanding of best practices)
- Journals (personal stories for private and public audiences)
- Passionals (fan sites and other hobby focused stuffed)
- Entertaining (works of fiction)
- Reportings (news from individuals and organizations)

Are there some other types of categories for future Blogs that I missed? let me know what you think...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Going off to Jury Duty

As if I did not have enough time already... Now I am off to jury duty to see if they will grant me a waiver so I can get back to work. Yesterday was a very productive day thankfully. I had a chance to apply my own insytes to the company's nascent organizational culture by setting up our intranet (Blog, WIKI, DocLib, ResourceLibrary and even a BugTracker) You know, it looks like that hosting investment is going to pay off for a lot of my related domains - now that I know what to do, I will soon be cranking out a separate site for the following concepts

ConversationalKnowledge.com
LimitedSource.org
TheNoblePursuit.com
InfoApps.com (relaunching as a gadget blog / directory)

Lots to do over the coming month while we get our development underway - every moment will be full and fun.

[INSYTES: PERS: jury duty, blogging, in the moment]

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Content / Commerce divide

I read a couple of posts about what some of the other Gnomedex attendees are saying, and it seems the usual editorial/commerce divide is still being debated. I honestly dont understand why more people dont see that the free market (for infomration and commerce) will ultimately weed out the people and organizations who are untruthful or shilling for someone else. Unless entities speak with authenticity and good intentions, they wont last long. Commerce and the Commons must coext, and can do so as long as the people who publish are not taking money for the sake of money, are not motivated by the money and most importantly, they are not lieing for the money.

When all of the people and organizations of the world understand that the core problem in our society is one of trust and truthfulness, and they move beyond the world based on fear, perhaps this won't be an issue any longer. I think more than anything else, people need more experience with this mindset and less experiences with the likes of an Enron. Until there is a system out there which can authenticate a person's statements and publications (hint, hint) the general public will still have to figure out whether what they read/watch/hear is truthful for themselves.

Just because someone makes money because of what they have to say (ie via grassroots media or even mainstream media) it does not necessarily make them bad or evil. Even in the more recent brouhah over the Bush administrsation paying those 'experts' to speak about the plans for education reform, the actions themselves were not problematic, insofar as the people involved truly believed what they were writing/speaking about. The way in which they handled it, however, was an error in judgement - perhaps stemming from the same lack of understanding that lead to some of the early corporate bloggers being fired from their jobs. Their affiliation with the white house should have been clearly stated somehow, or if the person really believed in what they were doing, they should have turned down the money and acted as a true independent voice, finding another way to get paid.

Look, we are living in the Knowledge Economy, and in such an economic system where people and organizations reap the rewards of value creation by thinking, the marketplace of ideas can be a full time pursuit. Some people (writers/columnists) get paid by organizations to write (New York Times, Weblogs and Fast Company) some people may get together to form a co-operative on a topic, some people may blog to promote their expertise/consulting services.

The bottom line is that it is ok to find a way to make money off of what you know, say or do, insofar as you do it with good intentions and are truthful. I think the real problem with this debate may just be one of transitioning from the information economy to the knowledge economy and creating grassroots media for fun and profit is a new way of participating in an old profession - hence the old judgements on the need for a content/commerce divide.

One last note on this topic for now: I first encountered this problem back in 1995 when we launched Virtual Community Network and our first site Sobe.com. As a local content site for South Miami Beach, FL that was way ahead of the dotcom curve, we took most of the arrows for that industry and the biggest one among them was regarding how we would maintain our editorial integrity. To me it was never an issue because I knew that as long as we were truthful with what we said, we clearly demarked what was paid and as long as there were no illicit dealings involving payments for a piece of editorial, we would maintain our 'trusted source' status - the only slippery slope to fall down would be found by people already in mid slide...

[INSYTES: PROF: content/commerce, knowledge economy, trust, blogging, grassroots media]

Going to hang with my Gnomies...

After hearing about it for the 3rd time in about a week, I decided today to max out one of the last credit cards and go to Seattle WA for Gnomedex - an event I had not even heard of till just 2 weeks ago. Looks as if there are a bunch of likeminded souls and future compadres I will meet there and also people to learn from - just my sort of conference.

What I am really hoping to get out of the trip though is a stronger connection with a couple of people I have just met and perhaps if I am really lucky, some partners to work on the new business with me - Insyytes . This is not yet online but if you made it here, the very least I can do is give you a sense of the problem I am trying to solve. This is a flash presentation which visually explains my simple view of the holistic knowledge system.

This is only the tip of the iceberg really. I have been working on the concept of conversational intelligence and customer knowledge management for the past 6 years almost - could be considered even longer, but those words only began representing my ideas around 1999. Around that time is when I first developed The Communications Strategy. The concept was previously known as The Customer Strategy but after many years of working with palmOne on partner related issues, realized a name change was in order. Go ahead and read about the origins of my current work and check out the flash - then let me know what you think or what questions you might have.

[INSYTES: PROF: gnomedex, the communications strategy, holistic knowledge system, conversation intelligence]

Back and ready to share...

Well, that epiphany I had about starting to blog for real back in OCT was short lived. I had planned on getting serious with writing, as I have numerous other times in my life, but really have difficulty with just sitting down and writing. It is kind of funny in a sense, sad in another.

Funny because I regularly write emails that consume 2 printed page without so much as a bead of sweat. Sad because all of these years worth of valuable insights and connections with others have been wasted - and really sad because that is just how I feel when thinking about it. Thankfully I have great support from my friends and especially from my girlfriend who are all helping me push through this.

My friends and associates tell me I am fairly bright so perhaps you too will find this out - personally, I feel that sometimes I am and sometimes I am not. Hopefully we will find more of the former together rather than the latter.

[INSYTES: PERS: feelings, blogging]