Tag Archives: Twitter

Gabler Asks Where Did the Ideas Go?

The August 13 edition of the New York Times included an informative article by Neal Gabler entitled “The Elusive Big Idea.”  Gabler is the author of a book about Walt Disney and a senior fellow at the Annenberg Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California.

His thesis in the article is that we are drowning in information, with neither the time, nor the desire to process it.

Think about this for a moment.  Just 15 years ago, you would not be doing what you are doing right now – reading a blog.  There were no blogs.  Your phone would not beep when a new development in the news occurred.  Everyone has knowledge to share, and everyone has the capability to access it.  But, in what ways are you processing, implementing, or transforming what you know?

As a result of all this access to knowledge, your big idea is easily lost.  As Gabler says, “If our ideas seem smaller nowadays, it’s not because we are dumber than our forbears but because we just don’t care as much about ideas as they did.  In effect, we are living in an increasingly post-idea world – a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t be instantly monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are diseeminating them, the Internet notwithstanding.  Bold ideas are almost passe.”

He goes on to say that in the past, “we collected information not simply to know things.  That was only the beginning.  We also collected information to convert it into something larger than facts and ultimately more useful…[now] we prefer knowing to thinking because knowing has more immediate value.  It keeps us in the loop, keeps us connected to our friends and our cohort.  Ideas are too airy, too impractical, too much work for too little reward.  Few talk ideas.  Everyone talks information.”

And much of that information is personal – where you are going, what you are doing, who are you meeting with, and so forth.  The early days of Twitter popularized this  method of sharing personal knowledge. 

The problem is that we now have fewer thinkers, and fewer people who transform the way we think and live.   We have no shortage of information.  We know more than we ever have before.  The question is what are we doing with it?

Gabler’s article suggests that we won’t be thinking about what we know.  “What the future portends is more and more information – everests of it.  There won’t be anything we won’t know.  But there will be no one thinking about it.”

So, he ends by saying, “think about that.” 

I don’t believe many people will think about it.  They will just turn to the next blog entry, the next page, the next news channel, and so forth, filling themselves with short-term knowledge.

What do you think?  Let’s talk about this really soon!


Easy ways to Keep Up With Our New Blog Posts

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Privacy – What Could Be More Fundamental Than This?

Sam Seaborn:
It’s not about abortion. It’s about the next 20 years. Twenties and thirties, it was the role of government. Fifties and sixties, it was civil rights. The next two decades, it’s gonna be privacy. I’m talking about the Internet. I’m talking about cellphones. I’m talking about health records, and who’s gay and who’s not. And moreover, in a country born on a will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?
The West Wing — “The Short List”
Story By: Aaron Sorkin & Dee Dee Myers (script here).


I keep thinking about business decisions, and how much impact they have on others.

And I keep thinking about personal decisions, and how much impact they have on others.

And I keep thinking about when to make what public.  But, it may not be up to the company, or the individual, to say…  Not anymore.

Technology keeps moving forward.  What we can do, we seem to do.  And, so, if I can put a message on Facebook, everybody has a chance of seeing it.  And, if someone else has a message about me, a photo of me, a video of me, and if I am famous enough, or important enough, or silly enough, there is a pretty good chance it will spread far and wide.

In the first season of The West Wing, there is a “shoo-in” supreme court appointee who is rejected by President Bartlet because of his understanding of privacy.

The episode first aired in November, 1999, pretty much before any of us had high-speed for the internet, long before Twitter and MySpace were born, quite a few years before Facebook became so omnipresent. The script was written by Dee Dee Myers, and Aaron Sorkin, who recently wrote the screen-play for the movie The Social Network, about Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg.

In the news this week, Facebook’s security was breached, and a whole lot of information about actual people went tumbling out for many to see.

It’s being claimed that some of the most popular applications on Facebook have been transmitting information identifying users.
The company said that it would introduce new technology to limit the security breach.
Facebook developer Mike Vernal blogged: ” We take user privacy seriously. We are dedicated to protecting private user data.”
(Read the story here).

I do realize that I can choose what to post in my Facebook page, and in/on my Tweets.

But in a world where people secretly (and publicly) take pictures, and videos, and put them up for the world to see, it seems that this discussion of privacy from the first season of The West Wing is eerily prescient, and a still unsettled issue of our day.

“What could be more fundamental than this?” asked Sam Seaborn.  It’s a good question.

Context, and Confusion – Reflections on Gladwell’s Latest

Malcolm Gladwell

(Wiki/Twitter activism) is simply a form of organizing which favors the weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger. It shifts our energies from organizations that promote strategic and disciplined activity and toward those which promote resilience and adaptability. It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact. The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order more efficient. They are not a natural enemy of the status quo. If you are of the opinion that all the world needs is a little buffing around the edges, this should not trouble you. But if you think that there are still lunch counters out there that need integrating it ought to give you pause.
(Malcolm Gladwell, from his latest…)


I am a big fan of the whole social media, Twitter revolution, Wikinomics era thing going on.

I am a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell.  (I’ve presented his first three books at the First Friday Book Synopsis).


In Wikinomics:  How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (I can’t wait to read Tapscott’s new book!), we learn that there is a whole new world out there from the connections, put everything up there and out there on the web, approach to innovation.

So – Twitter, wiki, everybody gets access, everybody gets connected, is the answer to all of our problems.  Right?

Not so fast.

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest is: Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted. He acknowledges that Twitter, and the whole new world, has its place.  Its place is just limited.  When you want a real revolution, it won’t provide what we need.

In the article, Gladwell contrasts the massive work behind the scenes in the Civil Rights era 50 years ago to the environment of today.  Consider these excerpts:

These events in the early sixties became a civil-rights war that engulfed the South for the rest of the decade—and it happened without e-mail, texting, Facebook, or Twitter.

Fifty years after one of the most extraordinary episodes of social upheaval in American history, we seem to have forgotten what activism is.

The platforms of social media are built around weak ties. Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with the people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with. That’s why you can have a thousand “friends” on Facebook, as you never could in real life

But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism.

Gladwell reminds us that the people who sat at lunch counters in the 60’s were literally tempting some goons to bash their heads in – and some of the heads were bashed in.  It took a lot of preparation, a lot of serious organization, a lot of courage – not “weak ties,” but very, very strong ties.  Twitter wasn’t needed, and would not have been enough to pull this off.

In the world of politics, there is a new observation developing, which Gladwell alludes to.  People who read blogs and even write in blogs are under the impression that they are involved, they are activists, changing the world.  But the evidence is not yet backing this up.

Here’s what I think.  Gladwell is a master at raising the right question – a master of tapping into the Zeitgeist, saying just the right things at the right time.  I’ve read this new article carefully – even as I have just thrown Tapscott’s new book, Macrowikinomcs, into my “I should present this book” mix.  Let’s just say that I am trying to figure out just what Twitter and the new world can – and cannot – accomplish.


Read Gladwell’s article here.  It’s worth the time.

Navigating the Social Networking Era

It is hard to keep up.  It may be harder by the day.  (On the other hand, it may get easier.  I can only hope!)

But, the more there is to keep up with, the more flitting we become.  We flit from fad to trend to web site to social networking venue to…

In Groundsell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Charlene LI and Josh Bernoff tell us that the one thing all of these trends/fads/sites have in common is that it takes the power away from companies and corporations and “established power” and puts it into the hands/thumbs of individuals.  Here’s a key quote:

Thousands of corporate executives are now dealing with a trend we call the groundswell, a spontaneous movement of people using online tools to connect, take charge of their own experience, and get what they need – information, support, ideas, products, and bargaining power – from each other.  The groundswell is broad, ever shifting, and ever growing.  It encompasses blogs and wikis; podcasts and YouTube; and consumers who rate products, buy and sell from each other, write their own news, and find their own deals.  It’s global.  It’s unstoppable.  It affects every industry – those that sell to consumers and those that sell to businesses – in media, retail, financial services, technology, and health care.  And it’s utterly foreign to the powerful companies and institutions – and their leaderships – that run things now.

Simply put, the groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of from companies.  If you’re in a company, this is a challenge.

(By the way, Karl is presenting his synopsis of the new Charlene Li book, Open Leadership:  How social technology can transform the way you lead, tomorrow morning at the First Friday Book Synopsis).

So – here is the challenge.  For those of us who do not take to all of these social networking sites so naturally, we have to learn how to use them and take advantage of them.  But the folks growing up on them make those adaptations a little easier than we do.

{In one sense, it is a true reversal of the natural order of things.  For all of history, the older folks knew more than the younger folks.  We used words like novices and journeymen.  Now, the novices are the older folks, and the journeymen are the younger folks.  I remember in the dominant days of Nokia in an earlier chapter — the “cell phone era” instead of the current “smart phone era” — reading that Nokia executives learned about cell phone usage by watching their young children use the cell phones.  Such is this strange new world that we live in…}

So, Good News!  Here is a quick read to help us all out.  It is a top most e-mailed article from the NY Times at the moment: STATE OF THE ART:  For Those Facebook Left Behind, by David Pogue.  It is a quick guide to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and a few other social networking sites.  It is accessible, readable, understandable.

Here are a couple of important excerpts:

As a public service, therefore, I’m offering a handy clip-’n’-save guide to the social networking services you’re most likely to hear about at this summer’s barbecues. (Warning: This is an extremely basic overview. If you’re already someone who, you know, tweets, this will all seem like old news. But it’s not intended for you.)

These services all have a few things in common. They’re all free. They’re all confusing at first. They all require time to understand and exploit. You can interact with them from your cellphone, which is part of why they’re so popular.

And he ends his article with this:

These sites all derive their power the same way: We, the people, provide the information — not the Web site owner. Some of these services establish lines of communication between people who might otherwise never meet, joining them by interest rather than geography. Others connect you with people you do know, or once knew, so that you can help each other out.
You may find absolutely nothing of value to you in these sites, and that’s fine. But isn’t it better to make that decision now that you know what you’re ignoring?
Happy tweeting!

For some of us, we feel awash in an ocean that seems strange, almost unnavigable.  For many others, they are a little more at ease – and the advantages are enormous.

Here’s the sad thing. For people like me, we need to have Charlene Li and David Pogue explain all of this to us.  For those who swim in this ocean so naturally, they don’t need Charlene Li at all.  I envy those folks.

Li’s New Book May Not Be What You Think – Are All Systems Go?


Charlene Li’s new business best-seller, Open Leadership (San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass), is all about social technologies.  The major premise from her book is that leaders need to let go.  They must take the risk to expose their organizations to customers, suppliers, vendors, and competitors, or they will be left behind in the rapidly evolving marketplace.

Be warned that this is not a guide to using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or any other tool.   The focus of this book is on developing and creating systems that work for individuals and organizations. 

I was particularly fascinated with the “sandbox covenants.”  These are the rules, procedures, and disciplines that it takes to structure openness.   If that sounds contradictory to you – “structuring openness” – realize that without walls to keep the sand in, you do not have a system, and you have chaos.  Every executive, employee, vendor, or customer who interfaces with a social technology system offered by an organization must play by some rules, or the system collapses.

You may not be surprised that not everyone is cut out for this task.  One of the interesting features of the book is a self-assessment to determine where an individual stands concerning the mind-set, traits, and behaviors that it takes to succeed with social technologies.  The good news is that “where you are” is not necessarily “where you can be,” and practically every behavior and skill to succeed is trainable and learnable.

Li emphasizes patience with these systems.  She is correct.  Rome was not built in a day, and neither are any of these tools.  The key is to make them work for you – not you working for them.

I really believe that this book deserves a careful read by anyone who holds an interest in greater returns from social technologies.

What do you think?  Let’s talk about it!