Tag Archives: web 2.0

the other networking

This morning I got a message from my niece on Facebook, two messages from colleagues on Linkedin , 1 SMS messages and a couple of dozen emails.  Which got me thinking about networking.  I use social networking tools LinkedIn and Facebook regularly (not heavily) but probably not the way most people think.  I tend to feel that social networking via computer isn’t the be all and end all, in fact quite the reverse.

There is an expression in the Army,
A smart soldier …
doesn’t stand when he can sit,
doesn’t sit when he can lie down,
doesn’t lie down when he can sleep.
(This makes lots of sense when you are finishing up a 22 hour day).

My approach to networking is similar.  In fact I might say:

“Brendan …
Doesn’t broadcast when he can send a personalised message
Doesn’t send a personalised message when he can call
Doesn’t call when he can catch up for coffee”

A major objective of business networking is to generate opportunities.  And opportunities are much more likely to come from a personal relationship.  Because if they’re not thinking of you, they’re not thinking of you.  Therefore I would much rather meet face to face with people over coffee than try to connect online.  Emoticons aren’t the same as body language :)

Gen Y may love tools like MySpace, Facebook and SMS but it appears that most still only have a relationship with an inner circle of friends (those they meet offline), despite the fact that they may be connected to thousands.   I feel that if they think Social networking is the only way to network, that’s great for me.  I have much less competition when I want to meet somebody new :)

So why do I use LinkedIn and Facebook?  A couple of reasons.
1.    Linkedin is a good networking metric – If my connections or friends hasn’t increased in the last fortnight it means I am not putting any effort into networking and I should pull my finger out.  This is also the reason why I don’t say yes to every friend request or engage in harvest networking (eg Toplinked) collecting 1,000’s of connections that I don’t know.

2.    It keeps  me up to date  – Its so much easier to connect with people over coffee when you know what they have been up to.

3.    On rare occasions I use social networking tools to make announcements.

4.    I don’t have all the answers so I like to be involved with trends to see where they go.  I have yet to use my LinkedIn connections to solve a problem, and am looking forward to see how that will turn out.

So I’d have to say that Social Networking tools are great, but shouldn’t be confused with actual networking.  Its hard to enjoy coffee over the internet.

Bookmarks

At anyone time I have around 5 books on my bedside table.  I tend to buy books I want to read and dump them there until I get to them, plus I tend to read more than one book at a time.  To stop myself from just reading trashy novels, I have process –  I alternate between non-fiction and fiction.  I have just started reading the new Malcolm Gladwell book “Outliers: The Story of Success” and the “The Voyage of the Sable Keech” by Neil Asher .

I reckon since I have been reading around 50 books a year since I was 14, or around 1,500 books.  Assuming I live to the average Australian age of 78 and keep my eyesight and interest, I expect to read another 1,700 books.  Since I buy most books I read I expect to spend about $34,000  (assuming $20 a pop) and need another 34 metres of bookshelf (at 2cm per spine).  Since I already have 30m of bookshelf, it looks like I will need to get a new house and have my own library.

I have a lovely collection of bookmarks given to me by my children, but its rare that I find them though and consequently I tend to use whatever I can find lying around, which normally means old receipts and (unused) scraps of toilet paper.  Unfortunately these tend to slip out easily and I then spend time trying to figure out where I am up to.

Online I’m a bit tidier, having bookmarked everything I like to read.

But everyonce and a while I replace an old computer, plus I am am now in the position where I regularly use three different machines.  This means I am forever losing bookmarks.  Having just had recommended to me by ACER that I wipe my new Netbook to see what’s wrong with the trackpad (grrrr…)  I decided to come up with a better solution.

I didn’t have to look to far.  del.icio.us is the tool I selected.  del.icio.us allows you to manage book marks / social networking  / content promotion tool.   Not just a website, it also has a tool that inserts itself onto my browser allowing me to access my delicious bookmarks just like I would my normal bookmarks.

Delicious bookmarks can either be private or public.  If you make the public you share them with all other delicious users.  Its fascinating to see how many other users have also bookmarked the same page as you.  Especially if its one of your websites. At the time of writing this – The Churchill Club 14, Smartcompany 155 and Wikipedia 34,724.

An important attributed of bookmarks is that you can also tag them.  Tagging is the classifying bookmarks by keywords, rather than in an older less intuitive way such as categories and subcategories.  There are two types of tags on del.icio.us , “tags” and “favourite tags”.

For stuff that you regularly look at,  you can give a favourite tag.  The reason this is important is that the bookmarks delicious puts on my toolbar can be stored in folders, one folder for each favourite tag;  but it doesn’t offer this for plain old tags.     My favourite tags are:
“TCC” for Churchill Club stuff, “FP” for Flinders Pacific stuff, “L2i ”  for L2i Technology Advisory stuff, “technology”, “entrepreneurship” and “lookup” for useful tools and news sites.  This means that the 30 or so websites I regularly go to can be stored neatly on my toolbar into five folders that have drop down links.

I can can still access all my other bookmarks, there just not at my fingertips though.

Now to the really nice thing that saves me lots of time.  By installing the del.icio.us tool bar on to all my computers, I no longer have to recreate bookmarks as each computer is automatically updated.  It also means that my bookmarks survive anyone computer dying.

There is a whole lot of other features on  del.icio.us as well such as th ability to share your bookmarks with specific people (useful for collaboration teams), and being automatically notified when other people bookmark something with the same tag as you .  However just the basic functionality was enough to get me across the line.

Anything that saves me time on line is got to be good.

Lessons from the Adult Entertainment Industry

Fiona Patten and I were both born in 1964. At around 26 I made a major change in my life and moved from Western Australia to Victoria. I had actually planned to move to NSW, but never quite made it there as my intermediate move to Melbourne kept on getting extended. 18 years later with wife, kids, house, and businesses, I realise I never actually planned to move to Melbourne, but I’m really glad I did.

Fiona also made a major change at around 26. She was a fashion designer who started putting on fashion parades at 3 in the morning. Her target audience was sex workers and her mission was to raise funds for people suffering with HIV. And that was the start of her relationship with what’s preferably known as the Adult Entertainment Industry. 18 years later she is now the spokesperson for the industry as CEO of the Eros Association. Fiona didn’t plan to be there either but she’s glad she did.

I figured that Fiona and her industry had learnt vast amounts about doing business on the internet as everyone is always telling me that the porn industry is making money hand over fist. So I decided to have a crack at getting Fiona to spill what she knew about technology trends and business models. I thought it would be great content for a Churchill Club event . So we did it and actually managed to have an enjoyable, educational, judgement free, snigger free evening. I decided to share what I learnt.

The Environment

Her industry is one of the most regulated in Australia. Distributing adult DVD’s is illegal in most states, but a blind eye is normally turned to it by authorities. This causes a massive headache as piracy is rife in their industry (maybe 80% of content purchased). But on a piracy complaint, Police are much more likely to simply arrest the person for selling illegal adult content than pirated content. Since AICO , Adult Industry Copyright Organisation, doesn’t want to damage distribution channels they have to take slow, expensive civil action against each pirate.

The adult entertainment industry never planned to be online, they were pushed there by market forces and problems with distribution channels. But once there, they found they a new level of scalability. They could have websites with 100,000 members paying $30 per month. Unfortunately this is no longer the case and those days (just a couple of years ago) are fondly known as the “good old days of the internet”.

Banks were also loathe to give the industry access to their payment gateways lest they be seen to be supporting porn. Necessity’s being the mother of invention this meant that the Industry ended up developing this own third party payment gateway solutions so that they could take money online. Interestingly third party payment gateways (eg Paypal, Authorize.net etc) now dominates transactions on the internet.

So What’s happening today?

Not all online innovations happened first in the adult entertainment industry though. The rise of Youtube has led to “tube sites” becoming vastly more popular. Delivery of video inside a flash player means that content can be delivered with clever controls, advertising funded sites can be built incredibly quickly and content is harder to pirate. In the last two years or so, 2.5 Million adult tube sites have apparently appeared on the internet.

And like Youtube, user generated content has also become very popular. Unlike Youtube users were much more militant and a 50/50 revenue share model was quickly settled on.

One of the changes that’s happened through delivering content on the internet is that the industry has realised customers are happy to purchase short short clips, 7 minutes is apparently just right for most men :)  .   So the economics of making full length adult movies (around $100K to produce) is becoming more shaky. Interestingly the adult entertainment industry is now looking to music industry models to see what they can learn about unbundling content and collecting royalties.

There is also a fair bit of experimentation with revenue models going on. Content is sold by monthly access, by the clip and by the minute. There are also plenty of successful sites that offer low quality free content with advertising wrapped around it. Delivering content inside a flash player in a web page means there is plenty of real estate for advertising, without having to insert ads into the video.

Many of the stars of the industry (again like the music industry) have Myspace sites. Not only are these stars approachable they are generating significant traffic to the content sales sites.

So what’s on the horizon?

Fiona regularly travels to the US to look at trends in the industry and a number of things caught her eye that she thought she’d pass on.

The pressures of content piracy combined with a market need for only 7 minute clips means that full blown movies may become a thing of the past. The short movie format is much more desirable to customers and much more profitable for the industry

It was quite clear that the increased availability of broadband was leading to content that’s filmed from multiple camera angles that the user can select from on the fly. Fiona commented that the accelerometers in an IPhone could quite easily be used to track how you are viewing content. This means that you could turn your phone to change the camera angle you were viewing. Apparently this is being experimented with already.

Like every mature market, global players are appearing that are buying up content producers. The small guy strategy is to get better at market segmentation. More and more niche interest sites are starting to appear. Its no longer porn. Its becoming short porn, tall porn, green porn for left handers etch.

The gay market is also being recognised as punching above its weight in terms of revenue generation. Apparently the average catalogue has 10% gay items in it, but this generates 30% of the revenue.

The social networking platform Ning has just announced that it will no longer allow adult content groups to run on it. The industry apparently considers this quite exciting as it means video piracy will be reduced (apparently lots of content was shared inside Ning communities) and it will drive these nascent communities that generate their own content, back into the fold where revenues can be derived by the industry.

The downside of all this user generated content, online communities and community acceptance is that more information about what people like in the space is now online and potentially compromising your right to privacy. However it was Scott McNealy (Ex CEO of Sun Microsystems) who said in 2001 “ Privacy is dead, get over it”

Magazines, DVD’s, TV, Film, Computer Games all have different regulations in regards to adult content. There is expected to be some alignment between the regulations in the future. This means that some adult content will start build brands by taking advantage of lots of channels to market. Think Pirates of the Caribbean with its movies, games, dolls and colouring in books. This isn’t possible for the industry today, but clearly will be in the future. (Actually, maybe not the colouring in books).

The final thing that Fiona expected to see in the future was more complex offerings in her industry such as the multi viewpoint clips, and two way broadcasting. She also expected see offerings that combined online and off-line components. The driver for this innovation will be the fight against online piracy.

And on top of all this, it turns out the Adult Entertainment Industry is pretty much recession proof. Makes you think what kinds of innovations are going to flow down to us in the near future.

Australian Web 2.0

So this week the Churchill Club is running a program, called Australian Web 2.0 Success. There seems to be a hang-up in Australia about what Web 2.0 actually is, and whether we have any successful companies in that space. When asking around, there seemed to be a lot of consent that Atlassian, was one of our most successful Web 2.0 Companies, as they supply Web 2.0 software to many of America’s Fortune 500. However there was also a dissenting voices, that say Atlassian supply Enterprise Software that that produces Web 2.0 functionality, and are not actually a Web 2.0 company. Their products include Wiki’s and bug trackers.

So what’s Web 2.0?

It appears that Tim O’Reilly http://radar.oreilly.com first used the term Web 2.0 in 2003, but many of the things (applications, technologies, methodologies) talked about as Web 2.0 date back to the beginning of the world wide web in 1989.

There are many definitions for Web 2.0, and plenty of information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2 , however the main thrust is as follows. Web 1.0 was about placing traditional business models on the Web. Web 2.0 is about taking the natural attributes of the internet, and using them to make new business models. For example, Web 1.0 was online publishing, Web 2.0 is about blogging (grass level content generation). Web 1.0 is putting your putting up a home page, Web 2.0 is about creating a MySpace or Facebook page that is linked to others in your social network. Web 1.0 is creating tree like structures of categorisation, Web 2.0 is about tag clouds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_clouds.

So does the definition matter?

I would argue not really, as there are lots of definitions and they mean different things to different people. To the technologist, Web 2.0 is about technologies such as XML, AJAX, SOAP and Ruby on Rails. (Yes these really are computer technologies). To content providers, its about user generated content, to marketers its all about authentic messages, and to financiers its about grabbing market share before layering in products and services.

To members of social networks or tribes I am sure the definition matters, but since I’m not an anthropologist, I won’t comment further.

Are Atlassian a web 2.0 Company?

Form my point of view they are, as they are harnessing the power and attributes of the internet, to ramp up their business, which just happens to be enterprise software that provides web 2.O functionality. I hope this makes sense.