Philip Sheldrake

Menu Close

Category: Content (page 1 of 3)

The unfreedom of filter bubbles – let’s pop the bloody things

bubbles
We could see it coming. Sort of.

I wrote a post titled myChannel back in 2005, a time without smartphones, Facebook, Twitter and news aggregators like Flipboard. YouTube was 17 days off launching. Reviewing the tech landscape I concluded:

... mass personalisation has become a ‘qualifying’ rather than ‘winning’ criteria. The advantages to the user include choice (of the most apt personalisation), collation, and access in their own time and filtering. ...The user, the recipient of news and information, the listener, the viewer, the inter-actor, has been empowered to set the schedule. It’s what they want, when they want it and how they want it. They have one channel ... and they own it. It is myChannel.

Seems I got some part right. Two thirds of Facebook users and 59% of Twitter users in the US get their personalised news from the social network. Facebook counts a quarter of the world's population as users.

Seems I got some part wrong, to our collective misery. My post referenced user choice of personalisation service, which is of course absent under monopoly conditions. And alarmingly, my assumption that the individual would own their own channel was way off target.

The Internet and the Web have been radically centralized in the intervening years. The network effect has left many abdicating their choice of media, exposure to ideas, facility to corroborate stories, and the opportunity to debate different points of view, to algorithms written by distant employees of centralised and centralising services whose commercial motivations do not necessarily extend to ensuring you get anything other than the instant gratification that your current viewpoint is spot on. You are right. They are wrong. Empathy be damned.

We've seen this with Brexit and during the US election this year.

Since 2011, the effect has become known as a filter bubble – automated information separation that isolates each of us in own cultural or ideological bubbles.

The hi:project intends to help sort out this mess by re-establishing each and everyone of us back in the driving seat of our own lives. I like this metaphor because driving entails responsibilities as well as rights.


Image source: By Jeff Kubina, BY-SA 2.0

Why I’ve decided to stop curating a Flipboard magazine

goodbye flipboard magazine

I have curated a Flipboard magazine for 16 months with the super title: Social Business Design magazine – Purpose & policy, openness & agility, structure & culture, communication & trust. Organizing to create more value for all faster than otherwise.

Trips off the tongue.

The service dutifully informs me that of all the stuff I read I have considered 913 articles worthy of inclusion in my niche 'publication', attracting 73 followers and 670 viewers.

I first posted about this sort of stuff ten years ago, and posted my likes and dislikes of Flipboard a year ago, so I've given this some thought. And Flipboard ...

It's over.

It's not me. It's you.

I enjoy sharing, but sharing is insufficient. You need to understand that curation is about community and shared knowledge. Yet there is no community.

Who are these followers and viewers? I've no idea... it seems I must carry on my altruistic curation absent social feedback. Can we comment on what we find? No. We can share and discuss the curated content with our other communities on other social platforms, but not with this specific group of people coalesced around Social Business Design Magazine. Quite weird. Makes Flipboard start to look like a step worth skipping.

But what about Flipboard as knowledge repository? Perhaps each of us can enjoy the utility of my Flipboard magazine in isolation.

But alas, no. For those unfamiliar with Flipboard you may find this quite odd, but there is no way to search back through the corpus I've assembled here. Zero. It really is incredibly frustrating. And whether intentional or otherwise, I can find no way to export the collection to a service or format that makes it searchable.

Flipboard fail

How odd to be told there are no results for "socioveillance" when I know for definite that this content is flipped to my Flipboard magazine.

So that's it, we're done. This is the last item of content I will curate to my Flipboard magazine. Just to let followers know. Because I'm sociable like that.

Why I self-published this time

Having gone down the traditional publishing route with The Business of Influence (Wiley, 2011), I decided for a number of reasons to try a different route in 2013 with Attenzi – a social business story. Most of those reasons boil down to one simple fact, the publishing industry isn't yet embracing social business principles. In fact, it's perhaps a prime example of an industry continuously trying to manipulate the application of 21st Century technologies to maintain the 20th Century status quo.

Attenzi - a social business story, book coverI appreciate that cannibalizing ones own livelihood is never an easy journey (heck, even management consultancies find it tough), but I figure it's got to be worth attempting when the alternative is so bleak. I'm hardly the first to levy such criticism (crystallized beautifully in The Innovators' Dilemma of course), but here's a prime example in my particular case.

Quite clearly, I'd love to stimulate conversation and debate about social business – after all, collaboration and co-operation cannot spring forth without first conversation and sharing. So the ebook formats of Attenzi feature hyperlinks at the beginning of each chapter taking readers from the ebook to the HTML version where they can coalesce to comment, to ask and answer questions, to share resources, as they wish. And share hyperlinks to pages of the book wherever they hang out.

That means the whole book needs to be available in HTML – the global, open standard for the presentation and mark up of documents, <sarcasm>lest anyone from the publishing world require an explanation here</sarcasm>. This in turn means traditional copyright terms would be violated, which means I couldn't work with traditional publishers.

I appreciate the economics here don't apply to all authors or all published works, but as both Doc Searls and JP Rangaswami note, I will derive more value personally "because of" the ebook than "with" the ebook. I have secured two projects during the past six months on the back of releasing Attenzi unfettered, creating revenues far in excess of any I would have derived from traditional royalties. (Note: my writing doesn't achieve Harry Potter levels of readership!)

So I have lived up to the principles of social business, and profitably.

Should any publisher wish to have a conversation about business models for B2B publishing, please get in touch. My network of associates and I have plenty to contribute.

Content Marketing Show 2012

I've just kicked off Content Marketing Show 2012 here in London. Thanks to Kelvin Newman and his team for the opportunity. Here's my stack.

The Illustrated History of Content

Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR, by the CIPR Social Media Panel

Share This book cover

After three months of social collaboration involving two dozen authors, we're just a few days away from publishing Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR (Amazon UK). The authors, all members of the CIPR Social Media panel or friends of, decided that that there was a need for a handbook that covers the full gamut of issues facing the PR practitioner in 2012.

Incredibly, Lord Sugar provides the endorsement for the front cover :-)

I'm delighted to have authored two of the chapters, Chapter 17 on real-time public relations, and the final chapter looking at the future, beyond social media.

Here's the introductory video featuring CIPR CEO Jane Wilson, and then the Table of Contents. Read the CIPR's press release here. Pre-order your copy today!

 

Read more

‘Earned media’ is not a synonym for public relations

British Heart Foundation outdoor ad, Leo Reynolds, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/2138006896

"Categorising media as Paid, Owned and Earned isn’t particularly useful. In fact, it simply appears to reinforce increasingly irrelevant functional silos."

That's how I opened a blog post back in November, The Influence View of Content, and three incidents over the last couple of weeks have redoubled my determination to cut this crap.

Names have been changed...

Incident 1

Anne: "So our marketing team looks after the website, the blog and Facebook. And PR is obviously earned media – the traditional media relations, blogger relations and the like. They cover Twitter too, at least most of the time."

Me: "So if we're looking at things like that, let me ask where the concept of shared media takes us... the owned stuff that has earned a share – a 'Like', a RT, a +1 for example." Read more

Interview with Carla Buzasi, Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post UK

I recently interviewed Carla Buzasi about her relatively new role as Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post UK. The interview went out as the middle part of October's three-part CIPR TV episode, and the video below is set up to go straight to the interview. To watch the whole episode, simply skip back to the start using the YouTube player controls.

Don’t forward. That could be illegal.

Here's how The Independent reports on this week's Appeal Court decision to uphold the High Court's decision that customers of media monitoring services – which provide digests of news from websites run by newspapers – need licences from the publications involved, in order to avoid breaching their copyright.

And as much as this might surprise anyone who thought they knew that the Web is made up of web pages with unique addresses that anyone can forward, share, bookmark, embed and access – I'm afraid you're wrong. In fact, I may have broken UK law by including the link to The Independent article without having bought a license from the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA).

[Note to non-UK resident readers: This situation is acutely embarrassing for us Brits and I'd appreciate it if you kept this quiet. After all, our current coalition government really wants the rest of the world to think we 'get' digital.]

You see the trouble is the Court's are dealing with horse and cart in the age of the automobile. The government commissioned May 2011 review of the state of UK intellectual property law, the Hargreave's report, concludes that laws designed more than three centuries ago with the express purpose of creating economic incentives for innovation by protecting creators’ rights are today obstructing innovation and economic growth. An unequivocal conclusion if ever there was one. Read more

Taptu for iPad – with gorgeous illustration

Taptu Web Fishing illustration

With a spike in visitors to my blog exceeding 1000% of normal activity, the most popular post of all time on this blog is Content – an illustrated history. That obviously excludes the much greater exposure the illustration by Nic Hinton (@karoshikula) and me will have garnered when Mashable and Wired ran with it, and I've since heard that the illustration is being used to teach university students and school kids, and for the purposes of social media training in organisations.

I mentioned in the updates to that post inserted during the ensuing days that Taptu CEO Mitch Lazar had become smitten with the illustration style and had expressed an interest in applying the style at Taptu in future. Well now they've done just that.

Today, the next generation of the popular and free social news reader comes out for iPhone and iPad (it's already rocking and rolling on Android). Taptu calls it the social news DJ – allowing you to mix your favourite news streams. I've posted some of the illustrations used in the app here, but there's nothing quite like checking the app out for yourself and seeing all of them in all their glory... particularly on the larger screen of the iPad. I've also posted a video of the new iPad version in action.

I consider an app like Taptu to be an indispensable tool in the PR professional's armoury. Do you have a favourite social news reader?

Read more

Radian6 and the Insights Platform – getting semantic

Radian6 Social2011 conferenceI'm in Boston this week for the Radian6 Social 2011 Conference. (Disclosure: Radian6 is paying my expenses to be here.) So far I've enjoyed talking with Radian6 CMO David Alston, OpenAmplify CEO Mark Redgrave, Edelman's David Armano, Dell's Head of Interactive Marketing Adam Brown, Klout Head of Platform Matthew Thomson, Marshall Sponder and Nathan Gilliatt.

Radian6 CEO Marcel LeBrun has kicked off the event this morning by launching the new Insights Platform, and I appreciate why Marcel is so enthusiastic about it.

Here's how Radian6 describes it:

Insights are answers. Insights give meaning to unstructured volumes of content based your needs and integrated into our current dashboard offering. Current partners include Klout, OpenAmplify and OpenCalais. The insights that each of these partners offer (like age range, location, influencer score, textual analysis) are added as drill down options on the Dashboard widgets, so you are able to take your Radian6 topic profile mentions and overlay the insight partner data all in one place. No exporting River of News and doing comparative analysis in Excel to these providers data from your separate account, now it’s all been brought together for you.

How does it work? Well Radian6 has leaned heavily on the three partners, with both OpenAmplify and OpenCalais having deep expertise in semantic technologies. This is the tech that helps interpret, understand and process the meaning of content. Serious stuff. Read more