Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Personal Network’

Small Worlds, Connecting the Dots and Dark Side of the Moon

It never ceases to amaze me how the world connects. The “dots” we create as we meet people, take on new experiences and generally make our mark on the world often join together to create startling insights and opportunities.

One of my favourite examples of this comes from Steve Jobs. If you get a chance, watch this video of him addressing students at a Stanford University Graduation ceremony about 6 years ago.

The speech is superb – emotional and motivational. Jobs manages to make you laugh, cry and – most important of all – gets the brains (young and old) to click

…..Thank you for visiting. My blog has moved. You can find the rest of this post by clicking here.

and tick in thought.

One part of the speech focussed on following your heart. Just doing things – that make no sense at the time. He told the tale of dropping out of college and for some reason taking a course on calligraphy. He didn’t know why he took the course – but looking back he can clearly connect this to being obsessed with getting the fonts right on the original Apple Macintosh computer. That’s why today our Mac and Windows computers have great fonts!

Steve said: “You can’t connect the dots going forward, you can only connect them going back.” That was the only part of his magnificent oratory that grated with me. Entrepreneurs can’t say can’t – and you can’t say can’t to an entrepreneur! I think building a Personal Network is the strategic pursuit of creating the dots with a view to making those connections work.

Anyway, this week’s “small worlds” in my life.

1. I bought a book that I’d had my eye on for a while – “Just My Type” by Simon Garfield. I’m not a designer – but I do like fonts. I’d seen the book reviewed – and a skim through in the bookshop convinced me it would be a fun read. I settled down at home to read the intro – and the opening of the book was about the Steve Jobs story above. I’d had it in mind as the intro for “my book” (when I finally get around to writing it!). Ah well, another excuse to not put pen to paper yet.

2. My last blog post was about Reflexivity. I’d never heard the word – and was struggling to find a meaning for it. Lo and behold, one of my twitter pals got in touch about something else – and I mentioned the word (he’s far brighter than me – so I thought he might know a little about it). He sure did:-

As it happens “reflexivity” of two types I am expert on:

– philosophical reflexivity that is concerned with the relation of concepts to experience & how they co-effect each other {example: no point in concepts of left and right if you can’t move. And that is what we find: kids with paralysis & motor difficulties don’t form spatial concepts like left and right easily}

– sociological reflexivity, especially in the work of Pierre Bourdieu the French sociologist (now dead), who pioneered the use of it in empirical studies that avoid dead ends by understanding reflexive co-relations {example: buying behaviour for Chanel No. 5 is based on idea of exclusivity. IF too many class BC&D women buy it exclusivity is destroyed & sales plummet. Therefore Chanel in the 80’s used jazz music in adverts because this put off C&D buyers & some B’s whilst A’s loved it. This re-established the “exclusivity” of their market & sales became stable again. This pattern is necessary to all long term perfume sales. Its a great example of the co-relation of cultural/economic reflexivity.}

3. My blog has been getting some serious traffic (for me) in recent weeks. I hoped it was that people had recognised my talent – but no! It’s the the release of the film – “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” that has triggered it. I wrote a post a while ago entitle “Dark Side of the Moon” – and it has managed to reside on the first page of Google’s search engine. Who says wordpress.com is no good for SEO!

The “small world” on this one is that also residing on Google’s first page for “Dark Side of the Moon” is fellow Bath Tweeter Marcus Tullius Cicer – @georgianbath!

Hoping to join the dots with my Roman colleague at a Tweetup in Bath soon

End “who you know” culture – War declared on nepotism!

April 5, 2011 10 comments

Well there’s nothing more “King Canutish” than trying to stem the tide against human nature! Today, the UK’s coalition government has declared war on nepotism. See the report here at the BBC website of an interview with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Regular readers of the blog will have seen a post about British culture called “Posh & Posher: Education & the Old Boys Network” earlier in the year. The main point of the post was that Personal Networks can bring influence and power. Alongside this was a more worrying trend that the increasingly closed network of “old school chums” in government leads to our politicians being out of touch.

I happened to be watching breakfast TV when Clegg was being interviewed. I nearly choked on my cornflakes!

…..Thank you for visiting. My blog has moved. You can find the rest of this post by clicking here.

He said: “We will stop all informal internships in Whitehall, in government, so that you can’t just have this network where people get an internship because of who they know. They should get an internship because of what they know.”

I’m a big fan of meritocracy – we’ve all worked with people who have little talent, but great connections! However, what needs to be recognised is that in the absence of knowing a person, we test out people ultimately through reference to others. Here are two personal examples from the last week that illustrate that “who you know” is so important.

First example, I’m planning to invest in a small US start-up in the area of crowd sourcing. I had a conference call with one of the advisers of the business who is based in San Francisco last week. We’d not met/spoken before – but I have the luxury of checking out his CV via Wikipedia and LinkedIn. He can do the same for me. CVs over – how do we connect. Well, he knows and is trusted by my friend (and start-up founder), Todd, who I’ve know for 20 years. At the end of our first call, the guy in SF floated “do you know ****”? No, but I did know someone who knew **** well – who used to be my companies chairman – and onwards. We’re all reassured by the trust of the “who we know”. CVs are the “what you know”!

Secondly, I had a tweet last night from a Friend of a Friend – Chris Book. We’ve not met, and this was his first tweet to me. He’s from Bath and is very good pal of one of my first connections in my new home town. He tweeted me because of who I know – and knowing my interest in Personal Networks. He wanted my opinion. His tweet was:-

Interesting thought (ish) – my last contract I got through linked in (exactly 3 years ago) this one through twitter

My opinion is that LinkedIn is primarily a CV – and has filled a gap in finding candidates, collating information. The “recommends” service has little use. If you wanted to business with someone or employ, you would pick up the phone/email and check with their connections. Twitter has moved this on so much, you can see whether people are genuinely active – and who wants to know them and engage! Twitter gives the who you really know and have a relationship with – and how they interact with you in a transparent format. LinkedIn gives you the “what you know” and “what you’ve done” presentation.

Sorry Nick! I’m a big fan of the coalition but you need to accept that “who you know” will always be our way of quickly building trust to offering partnerships, employment, opportunities – and internships! As Social Media develops Personal Networks will become more valuable every day. Everyone need to keep focussed on the “who you know”. It will always be the most important and valuable asset you have in life. The CV and application form doesn’t tell the true story….

Is Facebook the “McDonalds” of your Personal Network?

February 22, 2011 10 comments

I’ve been listening to an excellent BBC radio series called “The Secret History of Social Networking” – and reviewed the first in the three-part series about three weeks ago. I got the chance to listen to the other two parts on a podcast the other day – and both were gems. The podcasts are available internationally – so do follow the link at the bottom of the last post to load up to your iPod or listen on-line.

There were two different quotes in the interviews by Rory Cellen-Jones that struck me. The first was from John Perry Barlow. In the 80s John was on the board of the prototypical social network, The Well, and continues to be a respected

…..Thank you for visiting. My blog has moved. You can find the rest of this post by clicking here.

commentator. In answer to Rory’s question about Facebook he said:

I think that it has enough of the characteristics of group connectivity that it seems to be fulfilling that need in the same way that treacle can make your appetite go away so that you don’t go out and eat your broccoli. It’s the white sugar substitute for the brown rice nutrition that real community might be able to provide you.

Wow – that’s powerful stuff. The analogy with fast food and wholesome nutrition is particularly thought provoking – especially when I see the time spent on Facebook in my household (and by the stats available on-line)

Also, in the programme was an interview with Chris Cox, one of the “Inner Circle” at Facebook. He was asked about how Facebook had gained popularity and overtaken the likes of Beebo and MySpace. Rory placed Chris, at this time in 2006, as being “connected with every Facebook innovation – all of which were hated”. He asked Chris – “what was the worst single reaction to any change.” Chris immediately said “Newsfeed”:

Before Newsfeed your home page just said ‘you have 2 new messages – go look at your profile.’ And afterwards it was a story line, it was literally a newspaper of what people were saying and what photos they were posting. … Nobody liked it. I remember my entire inbox being full. Personal messages from friends and family ‘can you please turn this thing off – we all hate it’.

When asked why Facebook had persevered with this controversial feature, Chris said:

The usage told us people were fascinated. But getting through these first few days…. You just need to have your own vision and need to be willing to stick to it in the face of criticism.

I love the entrepreneurial drive to see changes like this through in the face of negative customer feedback. Interesting that the guys at Facebook could read the numbers – the usage – and understand the addictiveness of the Newsfeed!

One of the best commentators on the dynamics of Social Networking (and Personal Networks) is Paul Adams. He has been featured on this blog before. He was a key User Experience guy for Google – and is just about to take up a post at Facebook. On his personal blog, he’s just posted an excellent commentary called “The Problem with On-Line Reputation”. In it he states:-

As with most people problems, I feel the roots of the solution lie offline. From our ongoing face to face interactions, we learn who is knowledgeable, who to turn to for an informed opinion, who is likely to say it like it is, and who has hidden agendas. There is no substitute for that. Reputation is built conversation by conversation at the desks, halls, cafes and meeting rooms of businesses all around the world.

I’m feeling that in the long run, the “quick hit” of Facebook will backfire. Who fancies putting down that “junk food” for a minute and treating yourself to some more nutritious “brown rice” …..face-to-face??

I have created a LinkedIn Poll called “Is Facebook the ‘McDonalds’ of your Personal Network?” – my last poll “If LinkedIn closed down – would you REALLY miss it?” has had over 1400 votes in a week.

Please go and vote, add comments – and do tell you friends (via Facebook – or face-to-face!).

Viewdle – social face recognition – interview with founder Laurent Gil

February 17, 2011 5 comments

I’ve just come off the phone from chatting with Laurent Gil, the founder of Viewdle who have created some revolutionary patented face recognition technology. If you read my blog early today, you will have seen their launch video (it’s shown again below).

I asked Laurent whether the video was just a big budget ad creating a vision – but with few links to reality. Laurent said: “Definitely not. What you see is not science fiction. This is the first application of our face recognition technology. Even on the relatively small processors on mobile phones, we can recognise a face in 300ms and then go off to the cloud

…..Thank you for visiting. My blog has moved. You can find the rest of this post by clicking here.

to get more information. It’s just like you see on the video.”

“It’s not a big budget advert either – we’re a start-up! We got together with some cool guys we knew in LA, explained what our technology does and they shot it. It was shot with HD cameras – so you might not see the same definition on your phone quite yet – but the rest is here now with Viewdle’s technology.”

I probed further to see if he could explain why this video had had such an impact on me and many others – the leap in techology is a bit scary. Laurent said: “We have some very serious brains behind this technology. We have 8 PhDs and 30 staff just working on visual analysis. We have a total of 65 engineers. Our team work in Palo Alto, South America and in the Ukraine.”

I’d read on the LA Times blog that Viewdle’s technology “has its roots in technology created for the surveillance-happy government of the former Soviet Union”. Laurent said; “No – that’s not right. People like to say that – but all my staff are much younger than me and from way after the cold war days. The technology came out of clever people in maths and science in Kiev – but out team is around the world now. Our business is consumer facing – and we plan to apply this exciting technology to social media, not surveillance.”

Laurent explained that the technology works on a “Faceprint” that is generated by the software – typically from Facebook albums and photos that you have tagged and have access to. On the phone the super fast comparison and matching is based around this “FacePrint”.

Laurent talked me through the broad vision of Viewdle: “We are getting social at the point of capture – and creating the links to your friends and family. We are closely integrated to Facebook – and the generation that loves social media. Young people want to take and share pictures now. They don’t want to have to go and tag on the desktop. Our technology tags, routes and shares instantly for you – it’s a photo messaging tool.”

They’ve got some heavy hitter supporters in terms of technology and finance. People like Qualcomm, Blackberry and Texas Instrument. They’ve also announced today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a Software Development Kit (SDK) – so he said: “expect to see applications on your phone using this technology by the end of this year.”

I asked about whether it would be hitting the iPhone soon. Laurent said: “Apple acquired Polar Rose last year. They are a face recognition company – but we believe that what we have developed to work actually on the phone is very different. I suppose you could say we are Apple competitors.”

Throughout the conversation, Laurent talked up the idea of Viewdle being for “friends and family” and that “it is an extension of what young people are doing already on Facebook.”

I asked about the “Big P” that hangs over this – Privacy! Laurent said: “We’re focussed on being consumer and social. We work within that environment – and so we recognise and track the Privacy Settings in Facebook. If you are sharing your pictures with someone – then Viewdle can use them to help you.”

I checked how this would work with the SDK – allowing other organisations to build applications. He said: “We are very careful in this area. We know it is sensitive. We are going to make sure that there are the restrictions at the API level so that you can access the ‘Faceprint’ of only those people you connect with and if they allow access.”

There is no doubt that this is a fantastic bit of technology – and that people using social media will have their lives enriched. I spent many years as a professional photographer – I understand the passion to share images. It’s ground breaking – and the Viewdle video gives you a clear view of how that works on a social level. It’s great.

Personally, I am not so worried about privacy – it is ultimately an individual’s choice what they chose to share. I’m an entrepreneur – and I believe these exciting new technologies will find many great uses. However, I do think that Viewdle’s video – with its technology “here today” – will fuel the debate about the “time bomb” of what the Facebook generation chose to share about their life. The “Digital Dossier” or the “Digital Footprint”.

Reading the article on Technology Review – I was struck by one of the comments that focussed on the Orwellian implications:

The amazing thing is that Big Brother is being built without a penny in taxes. We just buy all the gadgets, voluntarily, that enable it.

I’m not so worried about Big Brother. It’s the simple things in life and relationships for me. I can’t see a future where my son will scratch his head and say to someone he thinks that he might have met before – “Do I know you?” He’ll probably know so much more (even at first contact) than he would ever want to know!

Visualising Who You Know – Cool vs. Scary – Impressed vs. Concerned

February 17, 2011 9 comments

I just checked my LinkedIn home page – and one of my connections had commented on a video by a new business called Viewdle. Take a look at it below:-

Absolutely brilliant, mind-boggling video. Before I get on to the rest of the blog, here were the first two comments on my LinkedIn page about it:

Dr. Kim (Kyllesbech Larsen) “This is so cool that I get goosebumps (or am I scared?)”

Tim Lewis “Agreed Kim! I saw this at MWC and was impressed but concerned in equal measure”

I created this blog to track my journey of understanding the value of Personal Networks – and how to visualise them. Watching this video today gave me a fantastic glimpse

…..Thank you for visiting. My blog has moved. You can find the rest of this post by clicking here.

in to the future – and I’m not sure how comfortable it made me feel! It leaps several levels about the visualisation of Personal Networks I had imagined.

One of the first thoughts I had was – “wouldn’t that be great built in to your glasses – so you never have that ‘they know me, but I’m so embarrassed I can’t remember their name.’ moment again!” However, the more I think about it – the phrase “beauty is only skin deep” comes to mind. Do I really want to know so much about everyone I meet? I’d like to judge them by their beauty or their “Digital Dossier”.

Our family are moving to a new city – and my wife and I walked out in Bath yesterday chatting about the future. One of the discussions was about out 13 year old son – and what he would be like when he was 18 and living in the city. I said that he’d be sneaking in to the house late at night and playing games with his mates on the Playstation 3. We both said – “no – it will be a Playstation 5 by then”. What will that beast be able to do – technology moves on at such a pace.

I hope in 5 years time I will meet people I know nothing about – and build a relationship “unwrapping the layers of the onion”. I’m worried that this might not be possible – everyone I meet will have an FBI style security briefing/”Digital Dossier” attached to them that will pop up on my iPhone 10! Anyone out there with a comment to re-assure me??? Off to check out Viewdle …

Googleing, Networking – and the activity of Pandas

February 16, 2011 2 comments

One of the best blog posts I’ve read in a long while is by Adam Rifkin.

Adam posts and twitters under the name “I Find Karma”. The post I liked was called “Pandas and Lobsters: Why Google Cannot Build Social Applications…” – and amongst other things drew the analogy of our behaviour on Google being very “panda like”. I love analogies – and Adam’s navigation

…..Thank you for visiting. My blog has moved. You can find the rest of this post by clicking here.

of the social media landscape in this way is well worth a read.

Here’s the intro of the much longer article:-

After researching what pandas do all day, I was struck by how panda-like we are when we use the Internet.

Roaming a massive world wide web of forests, most of our time is spent searching for delicious bamboo and consuming it. 40 times a day we’ll poop something out — an email, a text message, a status update, maybe even a blog post — and then go back to searching-and-consuming. For a decade, Google has trained us to optimize our pandic selves:

The kind of application that Google knows how to make well are the kind that embody a panda’s “eats, shoots, and leaves” model of Internet behavior. Pandas spend every waking hour foraging — aka searching — and consuming. The most successful Google applications serve such a utilitarian mandate, too: they encourage users to search for something, consume, and move onto the next thing. Get in, do your business, get out. Do a Google search, slurp down information, move on. Pull up Google maps or Gmail or Google news, do something, leave.

I’m constantly reading blogs and articles in the press. A couple of articles have filtered through the reading pile in the last couple of days that are relevant to this panda analogy.

The first was an article in Intelligent Life (currently free to download as an iPad magazine). The article was called “Appleism v Googleism” by Robert Lane Greene – and discusses the clash of cultures between gadget-maker and search engine. The writing is great – and one particular point in the middle of the article struck a chord:-

It’s worth noting “to Apple” is not a verb.

There’s a subtle difference between the activity – Googling – and the long term affinity/passion that many have for Apple.

This linked through to a recent article I’d read by “corporate anthropologist” Karen Stephenson called “Network Management” which she had written back in 1997.

What is a network? In today’s popular literature and business press, there is a lot of talk about social and organizational networked the role they play in fomenting change. Typically, this literature focuses on the notion of “networking” as an action orientated, i.e., network as a verb……

There is a second meaning to network, however, and it is far more profound than the first. ….. network as a noun…

The three separate threads help me to conclude that Networking can be a very short-term – “eats, shoots and leaves” – style of activity. We’ve all heard of turnover focussed “busy fool activity”. Don’t get suckered in to networking without a strategic objective – it’s definitely in the “busy fool” category!

I think that more and more people are coming around to this way of thinking. I read a great blog post yesterday by Penny Power (founder of Ecademy). In her post, “#Slow Media – can we get off the Social Media hype and take care of one another”, she has one quote in there that particularly resonates:-

the ‘digital age’ that believes that connecting means ‘manipuating a connection for my own gain‘.

Networking whether face-to-face or via social media needs to be a slow process – building trust. There are way too many insincere “eats, shoots and leaves” networking activities going on. Your Personal Network should be your “fan club”/supporters – and you theirs … it’s not the people you sell to or manipulate.

Building a Personal Network, I believe is nurturing and creating your most valuable asset to last you a lifetime. It’s a strategic issue – where sometimes networking is a tactic.

Don’t be a panda with your Personal Network (pandas are an endangered species, you know!?) …..

If LinkedIn closed down – would you REALLY miss it?

February 15, 2011 14 comments

I’ve been wading through LinkedIn’s IPO registration document. It’s called an S-1 and can be found on the SEC site in the US. I used to spend time wading through these things when the main competitor in my photo business, Getty Images, were listing in the US. The language has got even drier and risk averse. Do have a read – but you will have to skip over a substantial part of the document that tells you why they might fail. Here’s a section I found particularly “entrepreneurial” … must have driven the “forward looking” execs mad…

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This prospectus, including the sections entitled “Prospectus Summary,” “Risk Factors,” “Use of Proceeds,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business,” contains forward-looking statements. In some cases you can identify

…..Thank you for visiting. My blog has moved. You can find the rest of this post by clicking here.

these statements by forward-looking words such as “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “could,” “would,” “project,” “plan,” “expect” or the negative or plural of these words or similar expressions. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the following: …………

I had been chatting to a friend about how we use social networking. He’s not a fan of LinkedIn – the classic argument of “you only go there if you are looking to find a new job”. However, he did make a good point: “If LinkedIn closed down tomorrow – would you really miss it?”

It got me thinking. Then today, I was pointed in the direction of a post from 2009 by Lea Woodward entitled “What If Twitter Went Down & Never Came Back Up?” How dependent are we on social media?

Let’s take a look at LinkedIn’s S-1 filing. The two elements that I highlighted – in amongst the legal backside watching – were:-

We believe we are transforming the way people work by connecting talent with opportunity at massive scale. Our goal is to provide a global platform capable of mapping every professional’s experience, skills and other relevant professional data to his or her professional graph, including connections with colleagues and business contacts.

and

Business Model with Powerful Network Effects. The size and growth of our member base, the number of enterprises and professional organizations that use our platform, and the amount of rich and accurate information generated by our members increase the value we deliver to all participants in our network. A larger member base provides more opportunities to form professional connections for members, as well as increased opportunities to identify and attract talent for enterprises and professional organizations. At the same time, an increasing number of enterprises and professional organizations accessing our network enhances the relevance for members who stand to benefit from professional insights and opportunities. We believe the breadth and depth of our network would be difficult to replicate and represents a significant competitive advantage.

It seems to me that in the trade for free use of LinkedIn’s platform – they are benefiting from the network effect immensely. Personally, I find LinkedIn an interesting peripheral service that helps get a perspective on who I know – and keeps me in touch with what they are doing.

Are the key relationships in my Personal Network supported or “managed” through LinkedIn. Definitely NOT!

If the doom and gloom of the LinkedIn prospectus all came home to roost – would I REALLY miss it? I got over SixDegrees.com closing down during the .com fall out over 10 years ago – so I could get over LinkedIn closing its doors too.

I’d be interested in hearing about how critical LinkedIn is to how you carry out your work. What’s your opinion?

[Have now created a LinkedIn Poll. Please take the time to vote -
http://linkd.in/gaeWb1]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: