Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disqus Removed

I noticed that since I added Disqus for comments that no one comments on the blog itself anymore. I do receive quite a few emails and some comments on LinkedIn but nothing here. So as an experiment to see if it was having to register for Disqus that stopped people from commenting directly I have removed it.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Boxes and Labels-Occupy?

My original plan was to write something about the Occupy protests mostly because so many articles, tweets, videos and photographs showed up in my reading over the weekend. But then I watched this video that Bruce Mol sent out via Twitter today and I shifted a little.

Occupy is still in my mind but rather than pretend I understand it any better than anyone else does I am going to focus on an aspect that has received little attention so far. Do we really want things to change, or have any realistic sense of what that change will look like and more importantly who precisely is “we”?

Occupy: has done exactly what happens all too often-the people who are driving it have slotted us all into two opposing camps-according to their statement you are either in the 1% or the 99%, dividing us along an arbitrary financial line. There are close to seven billion humans on earth and the way we relate to or identify with money is far more diverse than this simple concept of 1% vs. 99% suggests.

Is the growing income gap problematic? Focusing on a ‘gap’ is a simplistic way of looking at a complex situation. It isn’t the gap that is the problem.

It is the level of difficulty in having sufficient housing, food, education and health care for everyone that is becoming problematic.

It is significant that advances in technology mean we can extend and improve the well being of people beyond anything imagined when medicine meant that you visited a general practitioner or what is known today as an “alternative” health care provider. It is significant that all of this technology costs large sums of money as does the education and training of the practitioners that know how to use it.

It is significant that advances in technology mean we can share and learn from a far more diverse population than ever imagined when the current education system was devised.

It is significant that in light of all of this wonderful technology our education system does not teach systems thinking early on, indeed that it is rarely taught at all anywhere in the education system.

It is irrelevant if a small proportion of people have large sums of money.

It is relevant that the governments of the world gather many billions of dollars yet constantly claim that there isn’t enough to meet the needs of the constituents the money comes from. It is relevant that these governments can create and manipulate money and thus manipulate the population of their countries (and other countries if we consider the IMF). It is significant that we are so focused on money as the problem when it is our relationship to money that is the problem.

It is relevant that at some point over the last 30 years we began to demand more and more services from government bodies while taking less and less responsibility for enacting change or taking action ourselves.

It is relevant that in wealthy western nations a significant percentage of the population do not exercise their right to vote.

It is significant that rather than collaborate, to work together to build the society we claim to want that instead we put people in a box and then apply a label to that box.

It is significant that we go into defensive mode, protecting what we are familiar with while warding off with angry words a different perspective if it threatens that comfort of familiarity.

It is significant that there are people, many people, enacting change, taking action-they do not hold the 1% responsible, they simply figure out what they can do and off they go.

And there are people who at some point in their life, need you to take action, to figure out what you can contribute and to act, and it is important to know the difference between need and want.

I am intrigued by the people participating in the Occupy protests and the people who are opposed to them and the people who are sitting on the careful side of the political fence. All circling about looking for that opportunity, that advantage, that understanding. And it isn’t as simple as 1% vs. 99%-not even close.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vision Is Where It Starts

I do respect what Steve Jobs accomplished, especially in that it went beyond producing things in exchange for dollars. He didn't just mass produce stuff that got the job done "good enough" but that offered one the opportunity to get the job done in ways they may not have thought of.

It is called vision.

Every really great invention or advance in the world started with someone, somewhere having a vision. Mr. Jobs' "ding in the universe" is not the rather elegant Mac I am writing this on, it is that because of the way it works and the way it works with other devices and allows me to work collaboratively with people that are not even in the same geographical location-that is the ding. Not the device, but the opportunities the device opens up to me. Sure, I could also do this on my old PC, but not as much, as easily and as well as I can on this device.

My respect for the accomplishments of Mr. Jobs isn't really all that emotional. It is respect for staying on course to see his vision grow, to be able to recognize the talent that others had to make his vision possible, to withstand the slings and arrows that inevitably come with enacting any really big vision and for being human and having flaws. So, well done Mr. Jobs, you did make a ding in the universe but you always acknowledged that you did so because you had people with great talent working with you to make it happen. And that matters.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Ads Are Removed-A Change

I experimented with AdSense on my blog over the past several months and decided it wasn't contributing anything to my blog, my finances or my sense of what I intend to achieve with my posts. So, today the ads are removed and I think it just looks better overall. And since the ads were not chosen by me some (the dating one) didn't make sense to any of the content, and some were for businesses that I don't necessarily want to promote.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Social Behaviours and Brand Identification-My Intrigue Today

(1) A Social Network company’s email error

This morning an email from A Social Network Company’s landed in my email box. The salutation was odd *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|* , clearly there was a glitch in the mail out that substituted that where the recipients first and last names would usually go. Subsequent to that I noted on Twitter that a number of people directed tweets to A Social Network Company’s’ to complain about receiving this. A couple of thoughts came to mind when I saw those messages:

(a) When we receive messages from an email newsletter or promotion and our name is in the message, it ‘feels’ personal but it isn’t really, thousands of people received that same email with their name in it. It is simply technology taking the information you provided when you signed on and ‘personalizing’ the message. To my mind, real personalization comes from an individual sitting down and thoughtfully crafting a message to me. A mass mail out isn’t personal, whether my name is in there or not. Yet the wording of some of the tweets gave the impression that people actually felt slighted because this time there was an error where their name should have been. Have we gone too far in blurring the lines between what is truly personal and what is simply mass marketing? Do we identify too closely to a brand or a business?

(b) A Social Network Company’s’ employee responded to the messages noting it was a “wee” error, which essentially it was. However, as someone who has worked in HR for decades I do know that people are sensitive to how and when their names are used. A misspelling or worse a wrong name being used in a written or verbal message will understandably upset people. So while the error A Social Network Company’s’ made was in the big picture, really quite minor, it unfortunately targeted the one thing in that message that was bound to create some frowns.

(c) What do you think: did A Social Network Company’s’ get it right by referring to it as a small error and providing a simple apology?

(d) A few people that sent tweets crossed the line into rudeness or overstated the issue in their messages-is this something you would like to see less of in Social Networks?

(2) Apple announced a new product today. Usually, for the two weeks prior to an Apple announcement the rumours start flying around the tech sites, yet we know that Apple never reveals what they are about to announce until they are ready. Perhaps some writers enjoy the guessing game.

What I find more interesting than whatever it is that Apple (or any company) is announcing as a new product or service is the reactions of people on Social Networks and in subsequent face-to-face conversations. The commentary around Apple vs. their closest competitors is interesting not so much based on the technical points discussed but on the level and type of emotion that is expressed. It used to be that we chose what products or services we bought based on what we needed and what we thought provided the best quality we could afford.

(a) Now, it appears that there is a fair bit of emotion that goes into these purchases although often people seem unable to really explain that emotion in a way that is identifiable. I find it relatively easy to understand someone stating that they don’t purchase products from a specific business because there is proof that the business is having products manufactured in factories that engage in abusive and dangerous employment practices.

(b) It intrigues me when someone states they will not buy a product, not based on the quality of the product, the price of the product or egregious business/employment practices but because someone irritated you by an overenthusiastic rave about why they like their (insert product), or you have a negative concept of who buys (insert product) and don’t wish to be seen as part of that group of people, or because ‘cool’ people buy (insert product).

Which brings me back to my question in (1) (a) Do we identify too closely to a brand or a business? What does this mean to our individuality, our ability to innovate and create and our sense of self? I have used Apple as an example here simply because they so conveniently made an announcement today and the social networks comments that followed were pretty much in line with what we see each time, however, this applies to many different brands and industries.

I have posed a couple question here that intrigue me but I am really curious as to how people feel about the level of brand promotion and our approach to choosing what and where to purchase necessary items. What do you think?