What Social Media Wants

Kevin Kelly wants us to undertand what he calls the “technium” and outlines his life’s work in What Technology Wants. I’d like to riff on the way Kelly uses the word “want” with respect to Social Media, and ask: “What does social media want?”

Social Media wants…

  • Your time
  • Your attention
  • Your friends
  • Your brand
  • Your business
  • Your data
  • Your privacy
  • Your publicity
  • Your location
  • Your behaviors
  • Your wants
  • Your life

There’s nothing wrong with “want” in itself – maybe it’s OK that Social Media wants all these things – and more.

The more critical question, rather, is: What do you want?

As the power of technology increases the number of choices we can make, we will have to intensify our awareness of who we are and where we’re headed.

Whatever Social Media wants, what you want determines how much it gets.

@PhilBaumann

484-362-0451

Will Checkins Be The New Inbound Links?

iPhone home screen updated: new theme & added ...
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After having had some fun half-mocking health care uses of location-based media such Foursquare, BrightKite and Gowalla, I do think these services represent a small part of larger set of trends. Although these services have thus far emerged as stand-alone media, their essential functions can be thought of as modules which eventually will be mashed up and integrated and subsumed into bigger bits. And now I wonder if geolocation-based media may usher forth a new kind of attention-currency.

Just as links to a website play an important role in how we find businesses in Google, I can see how checkins could be part of an emerging trend to bring hyperlinks to “real” places. Services like Foursquare provide information about business in several ways, two of which are by number of checkins and the tips/reviews patrons tap into their mobile devices. Additionally, other meta-data (such as the number of tweets or blog posts referring to a particular venue on Foursquare) conceivably add attention-weight to businesses.

What’s interesting about these technologies, is how (and that) people use them. We now know – for good or ill – that there are people who willingly share personal information which only years ago they would have concealed within an intimate context. The revealing nature of technology becomes clearer as novel technologies beget novel re-purposing, which in turn reveal things about ourselves.

And so, anytime we consider these media, we have to not only consider their effect on human beings but also on their effect on the evolution of technology itself. The Web is giving rise to metadata-based media. Which is to say if the medium is the message, then the message of the future Web is metadata. Just something to consider as social-streams become a staple of human interaction.

Anyway, I can envision the emergence of other services which wish to capitalize on this new kind of IRL hyperlinking. What do you think? Will we see the emergence of a new kind of attention economy, where metadata like geolocation and tagging become valuable commodities?

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Marketing Is Technology – Insight for the Perplexed

An ancient spoked wheel on exhibit in the Luri...
Image via Wikipedia

This post is the first in a series focused on revealing the essence of Technology.  These aim of these posts is to spark inquire into the nature of Technology and to provide some fresh insight for Marketers, PR professionals, technologists, bloggers, doctors, nurses and everyone else. It’s important that we understand the essence of Technology; to understand our relationship with it; how it influences our perceptions and feelings and actions; and how and why it’s critical to all of us to re-frame what we see and do in terms of a panning-out from our accustomed ways and habits. You can get these posts delivered to you by subscribing here. I’ve also started the blog Technescan: Revealing the Essence of Technology – you can subscribe to TechneScan’s Posterous here and follow @TechneScan on Twitter.

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS MARKETING?

What is Marketing? Is it an Art? Is it a Science? It’s possible to attribute characteristics of Art and Science to Marketing of course. In its essence, though, Marketing is neither an art nor a science. Rather, it is part of the domain of Technology.  And we must understand Technology before we can understand Marketing. Let me provide the first installment of what I mean.

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS TECHNOLOGY?

The essence of Technology is not just tools and gadgets. That may be how most people view Technology but that’s an incomplete understanding of Technology. A definition of Technology is very difficult without understanding its essence. Define Life – it’s not easy: and yet, like obscenity, we know it when we see it. Similarly, Technology is a difficult thing to define. The difference, however, is that we don’t always see or recognize things as Technology.

The root word of Technology is Techne. The ancient Greeks’ conception of Techne was not just tools or craft (in the sense that we conceive). Techne for the Greeks was a way of knowing and being – a way of understanding our relationship with the world around us. For them Art and Technique were bound up together into a way of interacting with the larger environment. It is this angle that can rescue us from our narrow conception of Technology which will reveal deeper insights into its essence. NOTE: This is a much harder task than one may think at first. You can read the philosopher Martin Heidegger’s works on the matter: but it’s very heady stuff.

Examples of Technology include but are not limited to: Culture, Law, the Internet, Capitalism, Democracy, Reading, Writing, Twitter, Politics, Civilization and Humanity. Think about the world you live in – the one which influenced your personal and professional history: it’s utterly bound up within the contexts and influences of Technology. Kevin Kelly is right to assert that Technology is the Seventh Kingdom of Life.

When we do things with Technology – say build telecommunications networks or cars or medical devices – the effect of our use is something beyond our initial perception of the technology. Technology offers us a new view of things: it reveals what was hidden to us before. Twitter, for example, has revealed a social construct which always existed but we just never realized. We didn’t know how much we could learn about each other in just a few bursts of 140 characters; nor did we know how far we would adopt Twitter and incorporate it into our daily communication and news gathering and sharing behaviors. If you were told four years ago that millions of people would be messaging each other en masse in 140 characters, you just wouldn’t believe it.

Thus: Technology is a Revealing influence.

MARKETING IS A REVEALING

So what does all this esoteric babble have to do with Marketing? Well, when marketers seek to solve problems such as getting the word out (WOM) or Branding or positioning or distribution, they are enframing their solutions within a Technological context. What technique shall we employ here? What metrics will we measure our success or failure? How can we engage our base? These are technological frameworks.

Oh yes, many professionals will respond: Well, what we’re doing is a human activity – we’re reaching out to humans and we engage in person-to-person communication. And this position is becoming increasingly popular in light of the emergence of a two-way Web. But even here, marketers who are just awakening to the conversational nature of modern Marketing are asking themselves technological questions: How can we properly use social media to reach and engage our customers?

How is a part of Techne. And that’s not to say that Marketing can’t be Human – it should be. But Marketers can easily confuse a Technological engraming for a human one.

So Marketers need to ask themselves what their efforts reveal. They also need to pan back from their day-to-day operations and re-frame what they’re looking at, so that they can reveal the essence of what they’re doing.

HOW MARKETERS CAN GET UNSTUCK

…if you’re not present, you can’t persuade.

Marketers often get stuck in certain ways of thinking and often over-focus on tools and tactics and techniques and algorithms. This explains why so many traditional marketers are struggling with “Social Media” and the shiny new social software and gadgets that continue to pop up. Even those who understand the need to dovetail traditional efforts with conversational ones maye risk forgetting the role Technology plays within the context of person-to-person communication.

If Marketers understand just how big Technology is, what it is in its essence, how it influences our daily perceptions and conceptions of the world around them, and what it might reveal, then they will find themselves with freshened perspectives and important insights into the essence of Marketing.

Marketing, just like Technology, is about Presence. Some marketers believe “all Marketing is Persuasion”. The fault in that mantra is simple: if you’re not present, you can’t persuade.

Technology reveals what is present in our world. Marketing reveals what is present in an organization’s or individual’s realm of possibilities. If you don’t understand Technology, you aren’t realizing the potential of Marketing in its fullest and most human form. After all, that’s the proper goal of Marketing: to transcend technique towards sincere human relationship.

Confused yet?

It’s OK if you’re confused by this. It’s a completely new way to view the world. That’s why I’m devoting a series (and a blog) to this topic. I hope you follow along, contribute in the comments and even contact me (Phil /at/ PhilBaumann /dot/ com or on Twitter or by phone – 484-3726-0451.)

If you enjoyed this post and what to keep up-to-date at your convenience, subscribe here.

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Privacy Matters: Dirty Little Secrets Are Essential to Your Health

Psst. Come closer here so I can whisper in your delicate ear: I have dirty little secrets. Not bodies-in-the-basement dirty little secrets, but those tiny wishes and memories and thoughts that arise within the experiences of being human. I keep them in a province called Privacy. Entrance is by invitation only.

You have them too. You and I could get very hurt if our dirty little secrets were pried from our hearts without our consent. Our very integrity as human beings would assaulted by shame or guilt or betrayal or depression or anger or abandonment or terror. In short, our health would be compromised. Health. The very word conveys whole. Health is the integrity to be alive. But integrity isn’t perfection.

And therein lies the beauty of our dirty little secrets: they remind us of our limits; they keep us from making mistakes; and they inspire us to act on desires we pain ourselves to suppress for too long.

THE BARE NAKED WEB

Every day, as the Web expands and quickens and infiltrates its way across and through our world, the boundaries of our privacy diminish. There’s not much we can do: Technology does what it wants eventually – one way or another. What does it want? I’ll pass on that for now but I can tell you this: technology doesn’t want your privacy. The question for you then is: do you want your privacy?

For Privacy is more than just data and information. In that sense, privacy – in the face of technology – could be considered dying or even dead. We will have to accept that aspects of our privacy will be undermined. But the more fundamental components of Privacy are far more important and vital and eternal than mere data. They are: dignity, solitude and healing.

THE HOLY TRINITY OF PRIVACY

The purpose of any civilization is to defend dignity. Once a people – or person – loses dignity they are finished. Nothing is more painful than the loss of dignity. Even in death, it’s the dignity of our dislocation from this life that matters. We must remember this when thinking about our relationship with technology. Dignity is even more important than private information: I may have to violate your privacy in order to save your life. But I don’t have to wreck your dignity. And yet, without privacy in our lives our dignity cannot mature.

Solitude isn’t loneliness. Solitude is a marvelous paradox. Solitude is what happens when we access the greater world through a private connection. Without solitude, there is no peace. Without peace there is no health. Without privacy there is no solitude.

Healing can be conceived as a communal process of enabling natural processes. But ultimately, healing is a private matter: all of us who’ve been wounded – by broken skin or heart or pride – need moments of privacy to rest and reflect and hope.

THE SECRET OF SECRETS REVEALED

All this leads us back to our dirty little secrets: the secrets we keep are there to defend ourselves, foster our wholeness and provide our humanity. Until we find the freedom or courage or need to turn, face and name our darker parts, keeping dirty little secrets is part of a life-long healing process. Dirty little secrets are private messages from your own life telling you – and only you – what work you have to do. They’re private because you’re the only one who can do the work.

Lastly, keeping our dirty little secrets is a way to protect others. They’re part of communal health. Don’t believe me? Go ask her: how much better in bed was he than me? She may or may not be in a mood to reveal her secret – depending on how you treat her – but I’m pretty sure you really don’t wanna know the answer. See what I mean? :)

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SixthSense Technology – A Whole New Web

The Web now is crude. Desktops and laptops tie you to a typewriter. Mobile devices tie you to tiny typewriters. From our perspective, the Web is two-dimensional.

Pranav Mistry, however, wants to liberate us from the two-dimensional Web. How? With something he calls SixthSense technology.

Rather than reading me blather on with a textual description of his vision, why don’t you just take a look. (If you can’t see the video, check it out over here.)

I’m already envisioning health care applications for this technology – tons. What about you?

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Healthcare Technology Isn’t Social…Yet

Healthcare professionals are technologists. Social media involves technology. But there’s a substantial gap between the general public’s use of social media and the Healthcare industry’s presence along the spectrum of social networking spaces. Why? Shouldn’t health care professionals be on the leading edge of online services and community-engagement?

Here’s a short video giving a partial explanation for the gap. (The second video is a bonus. for my  #hcmktg followers):

Patients deserve the best kind of healthcare in the world: the Web is part of our world – in fact it’s fast becoming the biggest part of our world. Amateur health care is a dangerous trend – therefore, it’s critical that healthcare professionals work extra hard to establish best practices for online transactions. And that can only be done by healthcare professionals extending their role from clinical technologists to social technologists.

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