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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Final Slice on Change - The Age Of Conversation

It only seems fitting to end The Age of Conversation 'slices' with one on change. After all, a book that explores the magic of conversation in this new age of social media naturally addresses change.

Change is afoot as these authors explain.

David Armano in "The Relationship Renaissance" celebrates the "resurgence of connectedness" resulting in "virtual relationships... very real, often times starting digitally and continuing in the physical space." The reason? "... The way we live is gradually changing... The power has shifted from the few to the many."

Ryan Barrett asks in "Face-to-Avatar" "Is face-to-face contact being neglected?" It's a good question. For many of us, Web 2.0 means increased opportunity for connectedness, for reaching out and expanding relationships. For others, it may instead represent an environment more real than reality itself.

Emily Clasper offers a new perspective on Library and Information Science in "Communicating Our Way to User-Centered Library Service." Libraries have changed from "providing access to information to a new focus on providing user-centered services." Library customers are evolving from "consumers of pre-determined content into empowered collaborators who want to be active participants in creating the services they enjoy." Information itself, once scarce is now plentiful!

Matt Dickman brings historical perspective to the Age of Conversation in"Technology is the Thread That Binds Conversation." In the first century, book binding helped to spread ideas. And, then, the printing press in the mid-15th century spread ideas faster and more broadly. Today, the internet through tools like blogging technology has "democratize[d] publishing and decentralize[d] authority." Furthermore, "the collective voice we form is re-defining publishing." How exciting!

Gavin Heaton develops "The Promiscuous Idea." He says, "we are all becoming the connected storytellers of this new era... We are [also] dealing with a different type of story... We can link into the middle of a raging debate or witness the genesis of an idea that can change the world, and the narrative that we are dealing with is no longer linear but multi-textual, layered, overlapping and promiscuous.... promiscuously reinventing [itself] word by word."

[Note: you can also listen to fellow Age of Conversation author David Brazeal's podcast interview of Gavin on JournaMarketing.]

Tim Jackson asks "Are You In The Conversation?" It's serious stuff. "Here's the core, the kernel, the meat of the matter; you can bet your company's entire marketing budget, that if you are not online in some form or another, where your customers ... are spending more and more of their time, somebody else is and they are taking them away from you..."

Dustin Jacobsen describes "Engaging Consumers in the Mobile Information Age." Did you know that "there are three times more mobile phones than personal computers, with the line continually blurring between a mobile phone and mobile computer[?].... [so] what is the best way to engage the audience?" Talk about requiring a non-traditional approach!

In "The Voice of the CEO," David Koopmans asks whether The Age of Conversation will "change the way our CEOs communicate?... This is not just about blogging; it is about a new mindset for people in positions of power that is more direct, less controlled and interactive."

Jim Kukral describes the "new online conversation ... where attention wins" in "Can I Have Your Attention Please?" It's a world where "this new type of user generated content goes beyond words on a page in a browser.... It's fresh, it's new, it's ... engaging. And... It gets attention."

Karl Long describes "Viral Games - Alternate Reality Games" uncovering a world that many may not be aware of, but that in fact is very much 'happening'! An Alternate Reality Game [or ARG] exists around Lost, for example. Anyone interested can explore alternate realities -- as in WorldWithoutOil. It's "an interesting ARG because only the prelude has been scripted. The rest of the story of what a world without oil will look like will be developed by the participants of the game." Imagine the learning that takes place. Imagine the possibilities for unexpected and stimulating conversation!

Paul McEnany illustrates in "Television in the Age of Conversation" the evolution of our interaction with the medium. From 3 channels in 1975, we're up to 400 - most of them irrelevant. "Before, TV was about high-paid executives, Hollywood mega-stars and prime-time budgets. Tomorrow, it's all about me and my friends."

Andy Nulman delights us with "How to Shout" asking us to "consider conversation to be shades of black, white and grey; shouting is the color.... Like singing, great SHOUTS come from the gut, not the throat. They are emotional, not rational, inspired, not contrived. Shouting is ... about making yourself interesting."

Ryan Rasmussen states "It Is Not Enough to Simply Listen." He explains that "the most important thing to remember is that [engaging this pool of creative talent] should be done soon. [And] an approach to understanding the customer's perspective by immersing oneself within said community, using the same tools for communication and collaboration, results in nothing less than a new form of business intelligence."

In "Want to Change the Organization? Change the Conversation," Steve Roesler [to whom I sent Curious George - our Age of Conversation mascot] suggests that "the successful New Leader will realize that organizations are now inhabited by people who are either part of the conversation or disengaged. Internal social media will become the friend of the New Leader or the enemy of change." And that means that the conversation in the workplace must be meaningful to those who work there, in order to engage them fully.

Gary Schoeniger says in "The New Entrepreneurial Paradigm" that "a new breed of entrepreneur is emerging, adapting to a new global economy where the old rules no longer apply, where no one is in charge and no one is coming to the rescue.... To [whom] problems are opportunities", who thinks more like an "insurgent rather than an employee."

Ron Shevlin describes "Behavioral Conversations" rather than simply verbal ones. Behavioral in that consumers interact with our sites, and based on their behavior communicate information back to us. "These are just the one-to-one conversations that a single customer has with a firm. But customers care what other customers are doing [and not just saying]. Marketers must relate these one-to-one behavioral conversations to the larger community..... [and] develop a new marketing competency..."

Jamey Shiels compares today's online conversation to high school dances of not so long ago in "The Wallflower." Our opportunity is to not be a wallflower and instead to engage. "The world today is connected, engaged and interacting. Social media and new marketing are allowing individuals, corporations and brands to interact like never before.... [But] almost 85% of Internet users are either inactive or spectators in the social media space.... That presents an incredible opportunity for us to reach out to the 85% and build an audience, build brand awareness and brand loyalty.... It's time to dance."

In the realm of relationships, Kimberly Dawn Wells in "Untitled" details new approaches to breakups. Luckily, "while 11% of adults surveyed thought it was acceptable to break up via email, DIY IM divorces are still a thing of fantasy."

Nick Wright starts out "Creating Video Conversation" saying that "marketing is becoming less about finding a way to sell and more about communicating with your consumers." Although still a niche venue, "video is a language consumers can understand an displays an openness they will appreciate. The nature of constant consumer feedback keeps this conversation authentic. Motivate your consumers to use video to talk with you and you'll have your own media group working for you in no time."

Change is definitely afoot!

Previous slices from The Age of Conversation include:
+ The Age Of Conversation Redefines Conversation
+ Inspiration & Awareness In The Age Of Conversation
+ Power To The Customer In The Age Of Conversation
+ Listen! A Slice From The Age of Conversation
+ The Age of Conversation - A Slice on Connection
+ A Slice From The Age Of Conversation
+ The Age of Conversation - Now Available
+The Conversation Age - Enabled

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Anonymous said...

I agree with many of these comments. While the digital world allows us to communicate more easily than before, there is an inherent issue that people are not engaging in the more effective form of communication, which takes the traditional form of face-to-face and telephone. As people communicate more and more online, I think that the quality of those relationships won't be as high as they might be in an off-line context.

CB Whittemore said...

Jonathan, there definitely is a balance to strike. Online can allow for rich interaction, but becomes even more effective when combined with off-line interactions [and vice versa].

Blogging has been a big surprise in that it is primarily online. However, it is so intense a process that when I meet other bloggers in person, we're able to dive deeply into the relationship immediately - skipping the more superficial get-to-know-you stuff -because we've already spent time doing that online. It's powerful, intense and very productive.

Thanks for visiting and sharing your perspective.

Anonymous said...

C.B., thanks for linking to the podcast!

People can say what they will about emoticons being cheesy, but they go a long way toward solving the "tone of voice" problems inherent in written communication. I'm not saying we all need smileys on all our business correspondence, but once we've gotten to know someone -- especially if both people are experienced online communicators -- those little faces can make a conversation pretty "real."

And there's another reason online communication is so powerful. We say things in writing that we would never say face-to-face. For good or bad. So we get to know people far more quickly than we would ever get to know them over dinner.

CB Whittemore said...

David, you're welcome.

Great build mentioning emoticons to make online conversations more real!

I know we'll be talking live soon, and that conversation will be that much more interesting from my having read your AoC chapter, read your blog and heard your podcast.

Thank you! :)

WriTerGuy said...

When Jonathan says that the telephone is "traditional" communication, on a par with FTF itself, doesn't he undercut his own argument? Seems to me telephone, email, Second Life, etc. are all tech-mediated communications. The only difference is that the telephone has been around long enough to become ubiquitous. But these days many people choose email over the phone, and would bristle to hear their relationships termed lower quality.

CB Whittemore said...

WriterGuy, you make an interesting point. If a relationship were 100% email related, altho very rich, it could become even richer with the addition of the off-line medium. At least, that's what I've observed via blogger meetups where the FTF adds a greater dimension to the interaction.

Altho telephone has a technology aspect to it, it immediately transfers voice to the other party, making it the next closest interaction to FTF. That plus its ubiquity make it traditional given all of the other tools now available.

Thanks for adding to the discussion.

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