A Literacy of the Imagination

a deeper look at innovation through the lenses of media, technology, venture investment and hyperculture

Filtering by Tag: Google

Sorry Jason Calacanis, Google Isn't the Only Game in Town (The Amazon Principle)

Next month, I'll be delivering a keynote at TruEffect's Brand Partner Summit in Boulder, Colorado, on the topic of storytelling and advertising. I've talked a bit about the future of ads in general, in particular as a service industry.

The real context I'd like to address right here -- and what will serve as the backdrop for my talk in Boulder -- is what is actually driving the media ecosystem and respective information systems as a whole.

Right now, Google seems to have the upper hand. But this won't be the case for much longer.

As you may recall, late last year Jason Calacanis wrote a really interesting piece entitled "#googlewinseverything".  The post generated quite a lot of buzz in technology and venture circles for obvious reasons. In the piece, Calacanis provides a list of truisms about Google, saying rather emphatically:

"In truth, the 10 ‘facts’ I’ve outlined above are not mine; these are the opinions I’ve collected over the past year asking intelligent folks, ‘So what do you think about Google?’ These are the 'facts' as the people see them. Although, I haven’t found anyone who disagrees with these 10 facts – do you?"

Well, I'm not going to disagree with Calacanis per se (he has access to a lot more inside info than I do and I have lots of respect for him as an entrepreneur and investor), but I am going to challenge the list of assertions he provides within context.

Here they are, point and counterpoint.

1. No company has as many smart people as Google. -> Define 'smart'. In a 'wicked' complex world, creative intelligence (or 'EQ', emotional quotient) is just as important as quantitative or purely scientific chops.

2. No company is as ambitious as Google. -> Define 'ambitious'. Do you mean to say that a host of companies without Google's market cap or footprint aren't taking on significant cultural mores, or attempting to create massive social change (for the better) -- like Amazon?

3. No company is working on as many hard problems as Google. -> Define 'hard problems'. Defer to counterpoint #2.

4. No company makes as many big bets as Google. -> What kind of bets? With what intentions? Defer to counterpoint #2.

5. No company is willing to make as many crazy acquisitions as Google. -> Maybe so. But there are lots of companies that don't have to acquire as much in order to 'push the envelope' as it were (i.e. market ownership is not the same as market creation...). Defer to counterpoint #2, with the caveat that Amazon is buying a lot in order to strengthen its infrastructure and market positioning.

6. No company has more data than Google. -> Perhaps. But is it all the right/best kind of data? (i.e. Is it clean? Can it be parallel processed? Is it behavioral? Does it seamlessly connect to the knowledge/social graphs? Is it scalable through reference/inferential databases? etc.). Defer to counterpoint #2.

7. Few companies understand how to play the government better than Google. -> Probably the case. But in Google's position, and given backdoor surveillance (as just one example), is that a good thing? More importantly, is Google really influencing policy in the best interests of us (its users)?

8. No company has more global influence than Google. -> Right now, probably true. But that won't remain to be the case. Defer to counterpoint #2.

9. No company is as ruthlessly efficient as Google. -> From my own experience working with Google (Google 'proper' and YouTube), that's simply not true. Great company and great people, yes, but 'ruthlessly efficient', no.

10. Only one CEO is more ambitious than Google’s Larry Page.* -> Jeff Bezos?

As you might've gathered, I have a thing for Amazon. Don't get me wrong, I think the world of Google, but Amazon is a special kind of dark horse (if you can even call a company that big a 'dark horse'). This Atlantic piece, which came out right around the time Calacanis wrote his post, was a really good, balanced take on how Amazon is making seismic moves.

The basic premise -- and my firm belief -- is that any company which thinks the way Amazon does long-term, to include massive financial risks, will 'win' long-term.

Now of course, pundits will say that Google has always thought long-term. That's debatable. Per the (counter)points above, Google has thought long-term about experimental domains like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, sustainable cities and transit, but I would assert that it actually hasn't thought that way about its own $28bb+ core search/ad business.

Here's why/how.

Amazon has just about every asset in the new commerce toolkit, and it's only a matter of time before its search product catches up with its capabilities in content, storytelling (journalism especially), publishing, purchasing, production, cloud/quantum computing and network distribution (private, social and virtual).

Bottom line: with its advanced ecosystem, Amazon doesn't need ads or impressions to rule the web like Google does currently.

If you'd like more validation on this position, check out a wonderfully curated thread my friend Alex Schleber put together in early February -- he poses a great list of questions (probably better than those I did here), and there's lots of contextual grist to explore, replete with great data-points.

The 'battle' between Google and Amazon, as it were, will likely produce cultural tensions that will push all of us to think differently, consume differently, produce more thoughtfully and tell stories with more of a bent towards real social utility. As a result, I think we will see the emergence of a truly co-opetitive economic landscape, in which ecosystems amplify these tensions and create amazing new ways to improve our world.

It will be exciting to watch and participate.

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media, Part 2 #transmedia #crossmedia #media

Part 1 covered off on a somewhat crude but personalized timeline of events surrounding the evolution of multi-platform storytelling. There are many examples I didn't include, but I wanted to give folks a reference set for understanding the "macro challenges" of what it means to be a storyteller in a wildly unpredictable and fairly hegemonic Internet economy.

Further to that, my intention is not to scare anyone, or deter them from taking on or developing new projects, but to help people see:

- The importance of building storytelling vehicles as real products that can be modularized, monetized and scaled;

- The importance of socializing the associative models within communities and peer groups;

- The importance of taking those learnings and packaging them up as potential use cases for regulators and legislators who ultimately determine the fate of our media ecosystem(s) as a whole.

In short, storytelling these days requires us to connect dots and to "feed the dots", as it were. It's not always fun, it's never easy, but it's a creative responsibility we must take on, that is, if we want to keep building markets for our ideas, now and into the future.

 

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media, Part 2 #transmedia #crossmedia #media

We're all digital consumers, but are we really prepared to become multi-platform content creators?

 

It's All In a Conversation...

Someone called me recently to ask if I would be interested in helping his company develop an "independent transmedia franchise platform" out of a series of book properties it had just purchased. The company had allegedly built a core technology to distribute the material, and intended to "strong-arm" the studios and networks into specific channel deals based on the distribution footprint.

I said sure, why not, but threw out the caveat that I needed to ask him a few questions first. He agreed. So, to my own detriment I suppose, I immediately "led the witness":

Me: "What's your definition of 'transmedia'?"

Him: "Excuse me?"

Me: "What's your definition of 'transmedia'?"

Him: (chuckles, then) "I'm not sure I understand the question."

Me: "Um, ok, what's your definition of a franchise?"

Him: (chuckles again) "Are you serious?"

Me: "Ok, lemme ask you this -- do you have a distribution and revenue model in mind?"

Him: (laughs, then) "That's why I'm calling you, dude!"

Me: "And I really appreciate that. Really, I do. But you haven't given me a definition of transmedia, or a definition for a franchise, and I need to set expectations here."

Him: "Is this a creative issue? Do you not have the right people?

Me: "No, that's not it..."

Him: "Well, I don't want to hire (so-and-so) or (so-and-so). I need someone who isn't gonna sell me a bunch of black magic or charge me a shit-ton of money to produce storyworld elements, or an automation system to distribute stories. I need scale."

Me: "Actually, it sounds like you need an audience..."

Him: "The books have an audience. A pretty big one."

Me: "No, the books have readers. We would need to build the audience and maintain it. One does not necessarily facilitate the other."

Him: (clears his throat) "Ok sure, fine, but I need scale. The investors were sold a transmedia platform, a franchise platform with multiple revenue streams."

Me: "I get it. Believe me, I get it loud and clear..."

Him: "So can you do the work?"

Me: "I'm not worried about getting the creative work done. I know lots of people who can do that -- people a lot better at it than me, quite frankly -- but I need to have some idea of what we're trying to build here, you know, as a business."

Him: "We have a business plan..."

Me: "Sounds to me like it's more of an idea than a business plan."

Him: (suspiciously) "Really..."

Me: "Yeah, we would need to create a framework. A real distribution model and a real revenue model, before we hire a single writer, designer, programmer or director. Have you considered how you're going to license these properties? Established terms for use? Creative commons considerations ala 'freemium to premium' or something like that?"

Him: "Sort of."

Me: "Then we'll have to look at various licensing models and strategic partnerships. We'll need to know what's in front of us, you know, obstacles and opportunities. We'll need to make deals with both publishers and distributors, as well as with open communities, even if we create our own content because we want people to distribute some of it themselves -- the question is what part of it. "

[pregnant pause; shuffling in the background]

Me: "Look, I don't sell transmedia. I can't. I shouldn't. I help build platforms that hopefully make money, and I can measure success with unique tools in my arsenal, and I can continue to do so over time. Isn't that what you want?"

[another pregnant pause]

Him: "I'll call you next week."

I never heard back from this gentleman again. By the way, I've had more than a few conversations in recent months that transpired just like this one, with a couple that have taken more positive turns.

Creating Accessible Standards For Growth

Here's the bigger rub.

We've had an opportunity -- a good number of us in the creative community -- to define what transmedia or crossmedia or multi-platform storytelling is and, for whatever reason, we haven't been able to do it very well.

Sure, people have overlapping definitions, and use cases, but there aren't many scalable revenue models from which to borrow or leverage. There is very little to be deemed as "industry standard". Just like, for the most part, they're aren't many in social media. Just like we didn't define what video or DVD distribution should have been when they came out.

Enter DRM, IP management, piracy, privacy, astroturfing, franchise licensing and the like, and we have an overwhelming smorgasbord of issues that just won't allow is to tell stories the way we think we might want to.

Maybe certain standards can't be put in place. But, if we look at a storytelling platform by the channels in which it is comprised, we probably can. And there are models that do exist for channel-specific distribution, mostly those which are "proprietary". I've developed some of my own through various engagements and won't be sharing them here as I'm not at liberty to do so, and because I share a lot already as it is (probably too much at times ;)

That said, I don't mean to come off as hypocritical; what I'm saying is that we don't necessarily have to dive into core methodologies -- that is something which makes us as individual entities competitive (in a good way), and something through which we can create value and markey viability -- but we do need to share as many use cases as we can so as to provide context. The context piece is what we can all collaborate on to empower the market as a whole.

More important, when we don't develop standards for growth, experiments or not, we lose out to the gatekeepers -- media brokers, lobbyists, legislators and other private and special interest groups, you know Old Media, that don't want us to break out of our little creator and consumption boxes.

But, again, there is hope in building a sustainable marketplace. I think.

The Go-Forward Considerations (And a Friendly Tip)...

Right here in Los Angeles, in my own backyard, Google and Facebook are moving into bigger, hipper, bolder offices.

Why? They're taking over where studios, TV networks and banks refuse to go, or anywhere they can't go. Internet companies, along with Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach (a funny new label for the west side of LA), are getting deeper and deeper into the distribution business.

Twitter, in my honest opinion, is probably threading this needle in the most innovative of ways. Its foray into the broadcast space has a lot of promise, and the platform is already attracting strategic partners from the highest ranks of media, as well as content creators who have made a name for themselves cutting through the clutter of crap on offer in most social media channels (like YouTube).

Whether these folks are proven multi-platform storytellers is not the point; they are looking to reinvent what does work out of the more established Old Media and branded content models, and hope to lay the groundwork for where New Media can play a more definitive role.

What's Twitter really doing? It's looking at audience development in an entirely new way. Google is approaching it from a different angle, which is the premium channel route, and, through its robust suite of utilities which are now integrated into G+. Facebook is betting on distribution ubiquity by empowering folks to use Timeline as a storytelling and curation tool, and by leveraging its new array of mobile platforms. Yahoo! is making a run as a premium publisher, and is looking to leverage its communities of users to do it. AOL is using the HuffPo relationship to feed its content syndication model that hopes to stretch across a variety of New Media. Bing is making a stronger play in location-based services, which includes the development Microsoft has undertaken to allow people to connect through stronger social media interactions and various forms of interactive storytelling, particularly through its gaming platforms.

Harking back to the early days of the 'net, these companies are coming around, full circle.

But Internet companies, as much as they like to portend that they are actually media companies of one sort or another, are not storytellers. Most of them (not all) don't really understand multi-screen audiences. They're just now learning how to build real fan bases, and not like studios or TV networks or brands do when they do things right (which is, of course, a tragic irony in all of this).

In short, Silicon Valley will not solve our storytelling problem. Not by itself, at least.

Don't get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for these companies. I really do.

But they're not looking out for the media ecosystem itself -- they're not really democratizing production along the web, and they're not doing it just for creators or consumers, as much as they like to say they are. The reasons for this are far more complicated than the viewpoint presented here, but let's just say that they can't -- some are public companies tied to inextensible ad models and quarterly earnings reports and investors who only care about the bottom line... And putting ideaology aside, I suppose we can't blame them.

And guess what else?

These same companies are becoming the banks of the future. They've got way more cash on the books than any of the retail institutions (probably combined), as well as alternative currency and transactional systems, and they have the distribution pipelines to boot -- you know, captive users.

In addition to taking on the disposition of banks, if they look like studios or networks, and they operate like studios or networks, then they probably are studios or networks.

If this is the case, can they also fight or continue to support our battles around an open Internet? Do they even want to? Studios want to do the oppposite, and to date, have poured millions into lobbying for paywalls and encryption technologies to charge consumers for content at every turn...

... And so a sobering reality remains...

...The media world is still based on scarcity. Investment is scarcity-led. The Internet doesn't really operate on scarcity, but unless you are an Apple, an Amazon or a Netflix, you're either in the content distribution business, the device manufacturing business, or the audience building business, and no one has figured out the latter. (Hint: It won't be done through a single algorithm either...)

Not yet at least.

A piece of advice to all you storytellers out there: Learn how to build, cultivate and maintain audiences. Develop a model for it. Or five of them. But do it, and do it fast. Knowing how to spread stories is one thing (and a very prized skill), but knowing how to keep audiences satiated and "engaged" is the holy grail of our media existence.

With all that said, I am still a firm believer in good storytelling (that can mean a lot of things, but still...).

So I'll remain a storyteller, and as a technologist, I'm placing my bets in other areas: Solving the legislative problems we have, the distribution challenges we face, the Big Data opportunities we have, and the economic barriers that keep us from being creatively free.

Think about how this relates to you, and the role in which you're comfortable playing. Think of this guy, if you need a dose of inspiration:

 

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media, Part 2 #transmedia #crossmedia #media

Hopefully, one day soon, transmedia or crossmedia or multi-platform storytelling will just be storytelling that can be enjoyed and shared by all.

And we will get there, sooner rather than later. Believe me, we will.

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

I'm not one for lists, nor do I pay too much attention to trends (trends are fleeting), but I do see a whole lot of shifts in the work I do. You know, seismic ones. So I thought I'd share a few that I think are critical to business, and those shaping the way we leverage media and technology for the better.

(1) Brands as major studios & publishing conglomerates

We've seen the transition of brands into publishing and content distribution with their own paid, earned and owned media properties -- as evidenced by the likes of Coke, Pepsi, Levis, Ford, Whole Foods, P&G, Intel, Red Bull and a host of others.

The new shift is even more impressive now: They're replacing studios and traditional publishers outright. Some might scoff at the idea, but it's been discussed at length; the studios are out of time and money, and publishers can't figure out how to monetize through flatter distribution schemes. And then there are the reams of proprietary IP of which they refuse to give away pieces (ala "freemium"); this stasis is literally killing off their businesses systematically. TV networks have fared far better in this game, but the verdict is still out on whether or not they can keep pace with a ratings horizon that isn't dependent on where people watch, but how they watch and why.

THE DISINTEGRATING LANDSCAPE...

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

THE EMERGING LANDSCAPE...

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

To boot, companies that have robust distribution platforms, like Walmart (Walmart Labs, Vudu), are realizing that if they can't license content outright, they can create it and distribute it themselves, and they're looking for smaller, agile partners with which to do this. Coincident TV (a company I advise and work closely with) is just one of a select group leading this charge in the social TV and multi-screen space. Add companies like Netflix into the mix, and you've got a brigade of disintermediaries that are literally replacing the role of media companies. This is the more obvious play in terms of media planning, buying and placement (which by the way, are commodity services that are still important, and likely to remain with media agencies). The less obvious play is in how they're doing it: they're creating new markets -- something that media companies, for the most part, aren't set up to do.

Is it the death of the big media buy? Depends on how you look at it -- "Big Media" is becoming the playground for owned and earned media properties that can scale... And brands are wising up to the fact that they don't need brokers for it. Media companies are getting scared, and rightfully so.

In terms of production, brands can either go to smaller 3rd party vendors, or, they can simply produce the content themselves. Companies like Best Buy have built an entire internal infrastructure to do this and many other companies have followed suit.

Whether brands get into the movie or the TV business isn't so much the question or the issue (they already have on multiple levels); the bottom line is that they have the screens, the means and the access to consumer audiences, and that, in and of itself, poses both a major threat and an amazing opportunity... Mostly for the people that matter most: the end "consumers".

(2) Dynamic publishers comprise the primary market, while agencies comprise the secondary market

Upon first glance, an agency exec might say, "Bullshit! Our margins are fatter than ever and the market is solid!"

To the ad exec: Maybe so, but the big journalism and the big data markets are much bigger and that's where your big clients are playing, kimosabe. The numbers don't lie -- in aggregate, more than 40% of measured media budgets are shifting towards content-generation just in 2012. Also: you're not building markets, you're just squeezing blood from those that are dying or in stasis. A few holding companies get it and are building new divisions to take advantage of this shift, but they're still challenged by their size and hamstrung by their less agile portfolio companies.

No, Sir: ads and billboards and bright, shiny digital objects aren't going away, they're just being put into their proper place, which is second fiddle to rich, original content and stories driven by experiences that have real value (read: not curated stories, not headline stories... But actual, real stories). In some ways, they're also being reinvented (in a good way).

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

Leading-edge creative and social media agencies as well as true content companies (dare I say, transmedia storytellers) will continue to play a vital role in this, especially as they staff up with real journalists, writers, creative artists, film & TV directors, experience designers, culturalists, environmentalists and political thinkers. However, the rubber will soon meet the road for them as they are challenged with turning these offerings into service products and scalable IP. One solution they've undertaken is the development of true content platforms (the amalgam of unique people, unique technology and exceptional storytelling), which can generate new stories, new products and new campaigns in perpetuity. These platforms are also co-developing the utilities of the future (like Nike+ Fuelband). Where the medium has become the message to a large extent, the content created becomes the context (or part of it) for the use and spread of that utility.

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

Internet publishers like AOL (HuffPo in particular) and Yahoo! (yes, YAHOO) are starting to resurge with this new movement, provided that they can continue to see past their ad models and realize that the real opportunities lie within their own networks of dedicated readers/users. Similar to some of the brands mentioned above, they have three distinct advantages: a) distribution; b) content; and c) utilities.

To boot, less commodified services like data journalism continue to strong-arm the marketplace and companies with independent strengths in publishing properties (and with dedicated divisions) like the New York Times will become the bedrocks in this equation (a bit ironic, eh?). Again, there's a dire need for good stories, and the context to back those stories (read: good data). By the way, the NYT data journalism unit is a thriving enterprise business forging significant paths into the at-present $100B big data space. Look out, world.

(3) User-generated data or "UGD"

Speaking of good data, you might ask: "What's the obsession over data all about?" 

Simple: We've been using outdated, ineffective models for measurement. In the Internet world, this has been going on for the better part of 17 years (which is a lifetime)! The fact that most companies still can't account for 50% of their media spend is, well, pathetic. And some are getting sick of it. And so are the people who consume, share and/or remix content -- they simply don't care about ads and don't want them flooding their social media feeds. They will, however, tolerate or even enjoy ads if they are used as containers of good content or shareable utilities of one sort or another.

For example, the value of a sponsored story on Facebook isn't the fact that it's more relevant (which it is), it's the fact that it's something that you might've discovered just by clicking around a page, and that's the difference -- you engage with something you discover rather than something you're just being served. Instead of a brand having to support a conversation that's already happening, a person can go to a storefront with all the goods and services they need. This means conversations remain as free, valuable bits of information and fCommerce remains relatively unfettered because the endorsement comes from a person, not a brand.

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

The big boon in this is privacy. On one side, privacy exists as a means to somehow protect individual data, and to avoid being fed ad-like objects that are intrusive. On the other, it exists as an opportunity for users to knowingly share data and potentially profit from it. Platforms like Glome, Mynd (a company I advise) and Kapture represent a new wave good data providers that are creating exchanges for companies to leverage individual and category data in more altruistic ways. This amounts to brokering information with audience consent. The VRM space is specifically focused on companies not actually owning user data, but managing how people and vendors share it. A New York Times article that ran just over the weekend provides details on some other start-ups that are tackling the challenge of pricing and managing personal data.

Here's the even bigger boon: UGD markets. These are new, emerging markets based on dynamic research, focus groups and myriad forms of panel data. Think of progressive companies like Lithium or Passenger with more open, flexible models whereby users can actually build market segments of their own. No more experiences in which you, as a survey participant, are forced to drink bad coffee behind mirrored glass -- you particpate on your own terms, and in environments in which you are comfortable (like your living room). Watch Google quietly get into this space with its new privacy regulations and a stronger effort to leverage its networks like G+ for this range of enterprise benefits.

(4) User-curated data, or "UCD"

Which brings us to another really interesting shift, UCD. Not to be confused with "OCD" (although the condition might fuel it), this is a means for company analysts to adapt to the rapid changes in the consumer and enterprise landscape and curate data in such a way that it reflects the more real-time nature of sharing and transactions (or in some cases, shareable transactions).

You've probably read or heard rumblings about the merger of structured (paid or owned media) and unstructured (earned, conversational) data. This actually isn't anything all that new. What is new is how data is managed, parallel processed, stored and correlated to the extent that companies can actually make sense of their analytics systems and make quicker decisions that impact their bottom lines. Believe it or not, BI (business intelligence) systems are just starting to be able to do this on a level that isn't confounding to the average user.

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

Additionally, talk about "influence" or "engagement" or "virality" is meaningless without context -- the metrics surrounding them are literally moving targets. So how do we achieve context? We constantly adapt how we measure, and curation is the key. This is something we've been working hard to refine at Heardable -- to allow users to curate in such a way that the data becomes easier and easier to understand, and business decisions become more noticeable, and actionable, within context. At the end of the day, this is all about understanding people.

(5) People are not only media, they are also technology

With "consumerism" losing its greasy heels on the wave of a newly charged, people-powered media environment, people really are becoming media, and they are also embodying the technologies they use.

This doesn't mean they've taken to writing code per se, although tech development has become a lot easier, especially through open source communities like Gnome. But overall, people are becoming more literate in a way that their dependency on devices, software and applications have changed their behavior, and more specifically, their daily rituals. Don't be fooled, digital literacy is still a huge problem for the general population, but the good news is that people are curious enough to interact with technology systems as an alternative to their socio-economic struggles.

We have already started to see this at the NGO level, but it seems that there is a permeating factor in terms of driving innovation across borders. Take China, for instance: labor costs have risen dramatically as a result of young people graduating from universities and seeking higher-paying jobs, many of which are technology-based. To add, the average age of the entrepreneur in China and other APAC countries is 30 -- this clearly points to a shift in how technology markets take shape, and how they develop via peoplesourced means.

The net-net...

If you are a company playing in any of these spaces, now is the time to act and make very uncomfortable decisions. If we don't reverse-engineer the staid methods that have hampered our growth up to this point, then our audiences and "consumer cohorts" will do it for us (they already have). To compete in the 21st century means we have to be extraordinary, at all times and at all costs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Angeles: Aliens, Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Sheen-Like Superegos... A Transmedia Mythology #BattleLA

The textual backdrop.

I live in Lost Angeles.

The phrase was coined by a host of prolific and underground artists – the likes of Henry Rollins, Greg Graffin, David Hockney and others – who saw the corruptibility of a marshland and its broken dreams a stimulant of sorts, as well as a means to manufacture a new life.

Chief among them is Norman Klein, who in his landmark book first released in 1997, The History of Forgetting, describes Lost Angeles as a series of myths culminating in a forbidden territory, a violent land masked as an entertainment mecca – anything but a real place with historical roots where people live and are in constant need of better living conditions and better lives overall. Klein wonderfully illustrates how sensationalist constructions of LA gain dominance and displace memories of lived experiences. He goes on to argue that instability in white hegemony has led to overreactions in public policy, urban planning and police practices (remember O.J. Simpson, Rodney King and the LA riots?), and these overreactions find expression in the built world as freeways, demolished homes and decimated public transportation systems.

He concludes that once the material landscape is altered, memories lose their symbolic cues and history itself adapts to the dominant stories of urban growth or destruction, but very little if anything in between.

Lost Angeles: Aliens, Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Sheen-Like Superegos... A Transmedia Mythology #BattleLA

A revisionist life. An active mythology on steroids. The kind of culture one would find in a giant petri dish. And the associated delusions of glazed, manufactured, neon opportunity that rinse over the senses of anyone who will buy them for cents on the dollar.

For now, let’s just call this reality... imagination.

Mythic reality: (re)introduction of phenomena.

I sit here writing this as the local and national news show clips of a massive Japanese earthquake that struck in the wee hours, Pacific Standard Time. Almost immediately, the news outlets go haywire and platforms like Google step up to offer a helping hand as communication lines go silent.

Lost Angeles: Aliens, Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Sheen-Like Superegos... A Transmedia Mythology #BattleLA

This is a tragedy of epic proportions. A tsunami has swept through many coastal and rural areas with unprecedented force. People, cars and buildings topple and break like matchsticks. Fires sweep the countryside and urban centers. Newscasters wear helmets at their desks for fear that the roof above might cave in.

Shortly thereafter, those of us here on the west coast – Southern California in particular – are issued a tsunami warning. I live by the coast. My mother lives next to a harbor. I’ve been through warnings like these (and false alarms) before. But this should get interesting. There’s a bigger story here, and a timely one at that.

The myth of signs.

Just this week, I’ve witnessed some things that are not only strange, but downright eerie and of Biblical proportions.

First, there was a sudden spell of fish that mysteriously died in Redondo Harbor. Then, legislation was passed – after 15 years mind you – ordering the county to take action on the storm drains polluting our local beaches. Then, rumblings about Navy activity “protecting something off of our coastline”. Then, something I have never seen in my life, something so magnificent and frightening: A foggy, cloud-like formation with beautifully organized holes like Swiss cheese, hovering above San Clemente island... Smack dab in the middle of a sunny, virtually cloudless, oceanic horizon.

I am not making this up, nor am I mentally unstable (well, insofar as I’ve been told). Here is a photo of the foggy cloud-like formation I just described, taken by my girlfriend on Wednesday, March 9, 2011 (the same day that the news broke about the dead fish). Look closely at the center of the photo.

Lost Angeles: Aliens, Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Sheen-Like Superegos... A Transmedia Mythology #BattleLA

Allegories we might question, but there are still truths hidden within lore and conjecture.

The myth of government conspiracy.

Sure enough, there has been something going on above San Clemente island for quite some time, a curious story about an ex WWII fighter pilot who has been tracking unusual Navy activity off the coast... Even more curious that this story is more or less buried in the search engines (conspiracy theories aside, and in case you didn’t know, Google has a partnership with the U.S. Government).

To boot, back in November a news story ran briefly on a "mystery missile launch off of the California coast." When I say it ran briefly, I mean that it circulated for about 12 hours and then dropped off the media radar. Poof... Just like that.

Media & narrative form a definable mythological trail.

Amid this paranormal landscape are all the movie posters for Battle: Los Angeles. Posters depicting alien domination, replete with crop-circle like explosions rising out of the ocean and long, distending plumes of artillery smoke stretching across the city basin... All illustrated in key art using the same location where I saw the cloud-like formation on Wednesday...

Lost Angeles: Aliens, Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Sheen-Like Superegos... A Transmedia Mythology #BattleLA

Oh, and did I mention that

today

is 3.11.11? (Do not forget that the tsunami warning was issued this morning...) Hmmm, some dots are really starting to connect. Here's a video posted in 2006 on the 1942 battle between the military and an "alien presence above Los Angeles".

By the way, word of mouth around the movie is spreading like nobody's business...

Making meaning out of circumstance.

Okay, so someone is doing some very clever marketing... Or, maybe just tapping into phenomena that have taken hold of our collective consciousness for decades. Or just maybe, people like me are committed to carving out some sort of meaningful reality for ourselves, whether that is embedded in delusion or not.

If you live in Lost Angeles, maybe it really is the end of the world as we know it. We’re constructing it. We’re building that bigger story.

States of mind and being are apocalyptic in this hotbed of media, pomp and calculated, transcendental circumstance.

For now, I have no real desire to go see Battle: Los Angeles, but I can tell you that my curiosity around unspooling the myths of the city is piqued. I am going to continue to investigate to the best of my abilities. I am an accidental journalist

And finally... The main theater of the absurd.

Just as I sit here waiting to discover “our” fate in the form of a tsunami and other unforeseen forces of nature, Charlie Sheen is furiously planning his seemingly rightful manipulation of the media machine, accruing millions of fans through social channels like Twitter, setting high ticket value for his protestations and rationalizing every bit of bad behavior with a penetrating stare into the audience (that audience being us).

So what does this have to do with the myth of Lost Angeles, you ask?

We all know, or at least think we know, that Charlie Sheen is insane. But Charlie Sheen is no longer Charlie Sheen. He's now an integral part of that much bigger media machine. And it is very likely that this machine is focusing our attention both on the storybook absurdities of a man, his family and a "fight for freedom" (yes, read into this and remember that conspiracies are circulating...), as well as diverting our attention away from warning signs that are not grounded in fact, but in wild, nail-biting assumption (is San Clemente island another Area 51?).

Things not so much attributable to Charlie Sheen the human being, but Charlie Sheen the alien meme.

An alien meme, no less, that is driving our collective Superego, an organism on the brink of collapse. That, or, Charlie Sheen the superhero is planning to save us from ourselves. After all, he may see something none of us can afford to, or even want to.

Maybe this is a bit of a stretch. Maybe not. But what is the difference, if any, between reality and our imaginations?

Meanwhile, online and offline chatter surges. People are talking about conspiracies. Private interest groups are forming. More myths in the form of memes are developing. The stories transcend the media channels they are born in.

And so the transmedia mythology behind Lost Angeles grows... Are you a willing participant? A piece of the puzzle? A part of its mystery? Bringing this back full circle to a history of forgetting, what can possibly manifest in the physical spaces between?

Lost Angeles: Aliens, Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Sheen-Like Superegos... A Transmedia Mythology #BattleLA

PART III of FIVE EASY PIECES - The Federation of Ideas, Intent & Action #curation #socialutility #business #ThinkState

[Part I – Embracing & Cultivating The Great Divide]
[Part II – Making Meaning Out of Experience]

Knowledge must be federated (and must manage scarcity).

Knowledge federation as a convergent human technology: why is the nexus of digital collaboration and live event so powerful?

PART III of FIVE EASY PIECES - The Federation of Ideas, Intent & Action #curation #socialutility #business #ThinkState
[image by @GavinKeech]

Fred Wilson’s post December 30th highlighted some salient points around our current business landscape through the lens of digital technology. He was talking about how mobility will become an inherent function of web economics. Wilson went on to say that “scarcity is not a viable business model for the Internet”.

Truth is, scarcity isn’t going away just yet, not at least until we are able to remove the artificial barriers we have imposed with our transactional models. Scarcity has come into play as a manufactured by-product of supply and demand dynamics (think of how stock or commodities markets have evolved; speculation—not value—is the currency).

The search and publishing spaces, for one, exist in a vacuum because there is no consensual context for how or why stories or told, or, why they mean so much to business. But the fact is that most businesses have very little if any context for understanding them anyway. Much of this has to do with their organizational outlay, and much more of it has to do with the fact that we are conditioned, through institutional systems, in how we are supposed to think and act.

But here's the good news: conversations and respective behaviors can and do evolve as stories (narrative fractals, for example); the communities and discussion forums are everywhere – and metadata can tie them all together into new, dynamic intelligence frameworks.

The LBS (location-based services) space is a terrific example of where dynamic intelligence could go or be codified, provided that we don’t use the respective channels as fodder for sales indulgences or as a means to spy on the unsuspecting.

Regardless, we have lots of work to do to get to a place where dynamic intelligence is protected (think of this as the new privacy). And where intelligence isn’t protected, neither is business.

Take Google, for example; Google offers free application suites and open source services (not to mention a host of great non-profit ventures) yet revenue is confined to fixed media systems that cannot scale; it can only push its model outward (Google basically skins the same cat differently - the core search product - and then repackages it across its offerings.)

So ask yourself the important questions:

Will things like "Social Search" or "Google Instant" change the search paradigm? They can’t.

Will a quicker, faster, eCommerce engine make buying more meaningful and fun? Hardly.

Will people continue to check into places because they want to give their data away? No f---ing way.

Will more media, easier and quicker to digest, produce meaningful experiences, or compel us to make purchases? Maybe for a moment or two, but not really.

You see where this is going.

Let’s break this down into a purely business context, with the caveat that we love each and every one of these companies for different reasons... It’s just that their business models were not prepared for the inevitability of open networks.

Google considers itself a media company (not a technology company) but doesn’t quite grasp the construct that the inherent value—and scale—is in people, not technology. Case in point: Google is a highly unsocial brand.

Amazon is an eCommerce company (not a media or publishing company) that doesn’t understand the inherent value in buying is actually sharing, not making limited purchases (or purchases with unwanted thresholds).

Netflix is really an intermediary business (although it considers itself disintermediary) that does not understand the value of people as products; for one, where are all the peer reviews in the US market? (As one person tweeted recently, why not merge with a partner like Rotten Tomatoes, for example?)

AOL is a portal that wants to be a publishing powerhouse but can't - why? Because it is reliant upon closed networks dedicated solely to inflating the value of its own inventory, or that within its own affiliate/publisher networks.

...Just like Gawker and StumbleUpon can only try to filter content so as to shoehorn their relevance into…more and more of the same...

...Just like OpenText needs better, more hyper-relevant and hyper-local search characteristics to be better at selling its core vertical services.

Pepsi is changing its entire business model around a sustainable infrastructure (and deserves high praise for this), but having made a major investment in fixed media systems as well as product development and procurement loops, Pepsi needs major help.

Walmart has exploited its might in the green & clean energy space for a few years now. But it also owns the distribution chain. What happens when supply runs low or is commodified or distribution hubs disintegrate and abundance wipes away the need to purchase? (It could happen... And soon.)

Best Buy already recognizes that its future is not actually in electronics retailing, but in providing families with utilities of scale (like energy credits).

Arguably, every Fortune 100 brand needs help in this way. Every company needs help in this way. Economies of scale can’t scale if the media and technology systems they rely on won’t afford them the opportunity to be adaptable. While the dynamics are very complex, the paradigm is quite simple.

And all businesses already curate. What they don’t realize is exactly what or why.


Federated curation culminates in purpose, intent and action.

We might pare this down to a single equivalence: the realization that like individuals who need to have a higher purpose other than their jobs (the ideal scenario being one in which the job is the purpose), businesses need a purpose other than to just sell products and services.

Clay Shirky’s recent article about social media supporting civil society is a terrific (if unintended?) commentary on how individuals and businesses can find their meaning and purpose in curation. Quite simply, civility is the key to relational (and relatable) value. Relational value leads to collective understanding. The web will continue to evolve into a network of actions, fueled by common purpose.

That said, common purpose requires actionable context.

For businesses, this can culminate in a wiki, for example, but we need to be able to actively provide instances for change. In other words, forums are not channels or platforms (in the digital or media sense); forums, like networks, are comprised of people intent on taking action.

In 1727, Benjamin Franklin organized a group of friends to provide a structured forum for discussion about money, called Junto. The group, initially comprised of twelve Philadephia members, were drawn from diverse occupations and backgrounds, but they all shared a spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves, their community, and to help others.

Franklin’s Junto was an early effort to literally socialize the discourse of our everyday challenges. In 21st Century terms, that socialization matched the underlying drivers to a series of frameworks that acted as actionable solution-sets; these solutions spawned a movement that would illustrate a real, human willingness to contextualize the role of institutional hierarchies, and in particular, banking systems. Junto also introduced some of the earlier precepts for localizing subsidies and making financial “utilities” a fungible, tactical practice that would leverage human networks.

Further, Franklin and his Junto colleagues used the act of physical lending or subsidization as a reciprocal means for creating better social value.

What they did was effectively curate social value (actionable value) within a truly federated system.

Today, there are a number of juntos in existence, including many online forums that elicit action in local communities and affect change. Several of us in an emergence collective have used our own Junto to evaluate instances in an attempt to co-create solutions around them, including hard thinking about curated experiences in a federated system... The heart of Part IV.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The following illustrations manifested by Gavin Keech represent the infocology of how content develops as a fluid experience, as well as what the variables for an experience might look like. These will be posted in Part IV as well to hopefully provide and gather more context; the last piece will actually walk us through what an interface experience might look like, with an emphasis on how purchasing and social value can align.

  First, is the infocology of content as a fluid experience. While you can identify a pentagram shape within the design, do not be alarmed ;) Our intention is to build technologies around or representative of these flowcycles.

 

PART III of FIVE EASY PIECES - The Federation of Ideas, Intent & Action #curation #socialutility #business #ThinkState

Here are the precepts, or experiential drivers, for content interface variables. Please note that these are explorations, frameworks if you will, that address content dynamics, but do not intend to identify all of them (as dynamics constantly change).

 

PART III of FIVE EASY PIECES - The Federation of Ideas, Intent & Action #curation #socialutility #business #ThinkState

Clearly, this stuff is dense – we know this – but we want you to engage with us in a discourse around these recursive elements. We live in a world of complex systems; embracing complexity is the bridge to intelligence discovery, and of course, an approach for curating meaningful experiences.

 

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

Semantics, Semantics, Semantics...

The phrase “Let’s not get hung up on semantics...” really rings true in the actions of where, how and why the web leads us down convergent paths. Truth is, language has always been challenged by “viscerality” and context; just looking at history - you can find endless, glaring examples of how interpretation has spawned great debate, conflict, economic depression, and, of course, through the lens of irony, great artistry.

Social & cultural memes have strongly indicated to us that intelligence is collective and emergent in nature. Pattern recognition and analysis have given us the benefit of causality and relatedness. Where purpose & meaning may not be self-revealing to us as individuals, now they have a new place in the emergence of objects, themes and artifacts — we are literally defining the search and communication gateways by virtue of what we represent as ourselves, as communities, all within the context of moments, environments, or even, dare we say, gaps in time & space.

Entity Creation Versus Word Association

Well, reining this back in a bit, we can look at Google’s recent acquisition of Metaweb as an open acknowledgment that semantic-based solutions are greatly challenged, if not a road leading to nowhere. Google’s plan with Metaweb is to solve the problem of word complexity by opening up the content gateways – from blogs and other content-rich sites to actual entertainment properties – and ascribe physical and relational values to them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJfrNo3Z-DU

This is no doubt a smart and intriguing play, but it still begs the question of how we interpret the meaning of content, and more importantly, what it can mean in the context of experience.

Going a bit deeper into the search construct, we also find engines like Collecta, OneRiot, Scoopler or Wolfram Alpha hampered by the limitations of expanded binaries, which lead to clear “word imbalance”, “semantic hangtime” and “phrase favoritism” - just look at the quality of mid-tail or longer tail searches. Even with bottom-up approaches for indexing and correlating search behaviors, it is likely that none of these platforms – as cool and effective as they often are - will ever be able to get out of their own way, not even with the most advanced algorithms and fractal configurations.

Veteri is an example of an aggregated search tool that intends to evolve through symbol, theme and object-oriented correlations (what Metaweb describes as entities, not the traditional objects oriented around semantic programming protocols). In sum, it pulls from multiple search indices and specific content networks, but really aims to scale by way of knowledge attribution -- the things, even products, that we can describe with great emotional detail.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

  Meme Machine is an example of a software platform (SaaS) that uses a similar approach to improve the relevancy and efficacy of online ads by creating attribution values between the content within a unit and the surrounding content (often search-based) on a web page.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

  These tools will continue to evolve; regardless, we have a lot thinking and collaborating to do around the precepts of knowledge sharing in general (and this is the primary impetus for emergent discussions like those found on Junto).

  Ecosystems Really Do Matter

In reality, this isn’t so much a search issue, or an online construct, or even a new methodology — the Memetic Web (and the web in general...) is much bigger than all of those things; it is ecosystemic, sentient, empathic and regenerative. It is evolutionary. It is a mindset, or a mindstate, in which we think on the part of the other, a sort of “anticipatory freewill”, where we define our actions in the context of each other... Something that search engines, media networks, technology platforms or organizations do not have the ability to do without our individual and collective inputs, and those that we craft meaningfully.

  Why is this? At the most rudimentary level, we are conditioned to think, believe and evolve in terms of absolutes. But that is not the way nature works. Nor is it the way people truly, even fundamentally, want to live (separating the notions of want and need for the moment).

As for purchasing, we can easily argue that not only has commerce become a social practice, but that trust must be evaluated and defined within our purchasing experiences, not just before or after them. A great example of this are the deltas we can ascribe to various media and communications channels.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto
[image credit: Razorfish’s Fluent Report, July 2009]

  Staying within the context of search, platforms like TrustRank were established to improve relevancy and create “trust” within our core search experiences... But of course, the results are devoid of community consensus (people) and don’t tell us much of anything.

Now of course sites like Wikipedia stepped in to solve the problem of trust in that validation or credibility is delivered by consensus (or at least an aspect of it), but we still miss any sense of emotional or behavioral affinity.

Then there is the phenomenon of replacement behavior, something, for example, we see exhibited all too often in our daily discourse within the social web. To offset this, Memetic Computing has involved the explorations and emergence of cultural artifacts, game, trade and negotiation strategies, rules of behavior, organizational compliance, artificial intelligence or machine learning, operational research and natural services by way of memes (or “temes”) and heuristics (educated guesswork for solving problems most notably through gestural type interfaces).

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

But now, we face a much more formidable challenge: how do make these things truly adaptive?

Behavioral Economics & Knowledge Cartographies

Behavioral economists and business solutions architects such as Jeremy Rifkin, Stein Ringen, Steven Levitt, Stephen Dubner, John Hagel, John Seely Brown, Dan Ariely, David Laibson and Daniel Kahneman have all made significant inroads with respect to creating adaptive frameworks for emergent thinking within organizations. And while there is a substantial learning curve and iterative discovery in defining and addressing specific need states, we can defer to the communication systems we already have in place to recontextualize their role or roles.

So, in using “search” as example of function rather than mere technological or mathematical design, tags and labels now expand to symbols or artifacts that are dynamic in nature — they can be shaped, redefined and remixed accordingly, and at any given place or time. These symbols take on new life and meaning through collective interpretation and consensus, and can be activated through things like gaming.

Here is an example that my friend, Ishan Shapiro (@notthisbody), has provided through an exploration of Memetic Cartography; first are the establishment of entities that define specific intentions or actions:

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

[image credit: @gavinkeech]

Each icon or entity reflects a specific type of intention or action, and is also ascribed sentimental value. These values of course can change or shift roles, which is precisely why they have memetic qualities. We can then map these entities together to form a strategy or an initiative, one that can be scaled up or down at any given time, and in real-time.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

[image credit: Ishan Shapiro @notthisbody]

What this ultimately means is that the

knowledge of actions

(what we stated as “viscerality” at the top of this post) can be developed and shared collectively. Not only does this empower our intelligence systems, but it in a commerce capacity, it gives us incredible purview into

why we do the things we do and how we can make them better or more fulfilling

. In other words, we

humanize

our actions even when we make purchases, or when we decide not to.

If we expand further on a cartographic approach, we can see how some technologists and scientists look to solve the problem of complex systems by humanizing the constructs of computational rigor and analysis, what we can also consider to be knowledge cartography:

You’ll notice that irrespective of the systems or technologies themselves are frameworks that can be validated algorithmically, scientifically, mathematically or even metaphysically (many logicians would have a field day with that one, but I digress...). The good news is that these frameworks can be applied to the latest and greatest marketing constructs.

Virtual Goods & Currencies Becoming A New Reality

The Farmville phenomenon (a social and cultural meme in its own right) has given us an entirely new way of looking at value creation. While Farmville itself doesn’t reflect the type of meaningful actions we might find in the examples here, the function of sharing and trading goods has clearly caught on. Habbo is a great example of how community interaction has evolved to a place where affinities are being extended into the real world.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

  And then of course there are Facebook Goods and Facebook Credits, initiatives that FB is betting the farm on... Pun intended. The critical piece here is how this can drastically inject new life into our credit and hard currency systems.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

  This also significantly redefines our notions of social currency and social capital, and as these hard and soft currencies converge, we find that our measurement standards greatly benefit from dynamics that are actionable.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

 
Practical Application of Meme-Based Affinities

So, let’s place this in some more applied thinking, really more to show the failure of semantic-based search and what the possibilities are around entity-based experiences, particularly in regard to making purchases.

Pulling from a Veteri product search on "iPad accessories" and applying its potential use in the exciting new movement of location-based engagement (or LBE) as a context for creating or extracting the “Internet of Things”, and more granularly, the “Internet of Products”, we come across a very interesting paradigm: the fusion of product and real human affinity.

So first off, let’s assume that every product has a QR/QM coded or has a Stickybit. Here is a Veteri-based search table, with enhancements I've given it to reflect the elements mentioned above.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto
You’ll notice that the actual search listings themselves are banal; where we have made up for a lack of keyword or phrase recognition, we now have symbols or entities. On the left side are coins or currencies that represent things like the number of people (in relation to you, not necessarily “friends”, although they could be) that have used the product, those that have redeemed for it or traded it back in, those that have reviewed it and the currency or “trade value” of this particular product.

On the right side of the table, you find a specific geo-local retailer or group of retailers, the actual price of the product within that location and the color bars above the map represent the sentiment around the retail experience itself. If you are a Yelp user, for example, this means that stars used for reviews can be enhanced or even replaced by sentimental and repeat-purchase values, things that are critical in making such a decision.

Next you can see “hotspots” of activity where the product is being used in your area, and more specifically, at a specific street location. Here, we see the currencies integrated and applied to a retail outlet, or, even an area around those outlets where products are being used, discussed or shared.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

  We can then see how things like augmented reality applications can enhance the search experience (and notice that “search” has been redefined in its function, most notably to physical places) by tying all the elements of sentiment, social currency value and functional use together. Further, there is another wonderful component to this, which is the connectivity product can provide in bringing people together.

The Memetic Web & The "Internet of Products" #search #semantics #commerce #location #LBS #Junto

  What culminates out of this is real-world, real-time data that is enriched by these experiences, and then, indexed back into online search. You might consider this a cyclical loop of elevated human engagement.

  The Economic Open End...

Privacy issues aside (and in no way should we write them off – quite the contrary - they are just not fundamental to this exploration), we can see some fascinating dynamics at play here:

The physicality of search data & related content grounds itself in a renewed context: us.

  The locality of the data correlations we draw from make the associated experiences hyper-relevant and hypersocial.

  The ubiquity and transferrable value of products and/or services are no longer confined inside of fixed credit or media systems.

  The relatedness of products to people drives market growth and supports microeconomic scalability and stability.

  The building of trust through the consensus of emotional and ethical co-created value is the new foundation for associated currency systems.

  The specialization of new or renewed common interests begets the creation of emergent disciplines (more artistic in nature than regimented), behavioral economies (or microeconomies) and/or new vocational segments.

  Emergent collaboration advances our notions of capitalistic opportunity, and more importantly, the realization that businesses are the activation of social intent (basically, good value and the co-creation of good value systems, or what Umair Haque has been developing as “The Betterment Model”).

  Last, but certainly not least, value enrichment becomes the active and adaptive centerpiece of business growth based on cultural development; the things we develop affinities for are actually the utilities we use, as well as the things we compete over, and therefore (staying within a marketing context, for example) we bridge the gaps between brand, people, category and vocation.

In conclusion, here are some questions we might ask ourselves and/or our clients:

* How do you feel you can play or already do play in the evolution of the Memetic Web?

* What values would you personally ascribe to the “Internet of Products”?

* Does this change your perspective of communication and relationships as you’ve come to know them?

* Do you have a renewed sense of vocation, or do you feel that is constantly being redefined?

* How does this impact you as an individual?

* How do you feel this might impact your business?