Has the orderly Web replaced the chaotic one?

Was 2010 the year the web grew up?

In today’s Globe and Mail, Ivor Tossell writes (link not available) that — WikiLeaks, ChatRoulette and Anonymous DDoS attacks notwithstanding — this will be remembered as the year when order finally trumped chaos on the Web.

Yes, the world was enthralled with Chatroulette in March but had abandoned it by April to return to Facebook and other more orderly social realms. The Denial of Service attacks didn’t work quite as well as we expected they might. And many of us who formerly loved Torrents and LimeWire and once believed that nothing digital should have a price now happily pay for music, movies and apps from iTunes because it’s simpler, safer and saves time.

Tossell writes:

2010 was a year in which the anarchic Internet of yore gave a few mighty trumpets only to be abandoned by a stampede in the opposite direction. … We have seen the future and it has a “Like” button.

For those of us that grew up digital, the powerful truth that all information longed to be free was encoded in our DNA. In 2010, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have at least raised doubts about this myth.

What do you think? Did the orderly Web replace the chaotic one in 2010?

The Social Network: Three things you should know – and one you shouldn’t – before you go

The Social Network opens today to rave reviews. I was lucky enough to see a sneak preview earlier this week thanks to Zaigham Zulqernain and  Xavierpop.com.

Is the movie worth seeing? Absolutely. This is truly a great film that is both timeless and perfectly grounded in contemporary history. Is it for everyone? Probably. Here are three things you should know and one thing you shouldn’t before you pay your $12.

Three things you should know:

1) If you’re expecting an Oscar winner you will be disappointed. The film has Oscar buzz and will likely get a nomination, but it doesn’t have the gravitas films require to win the Best Picture statue. The closest anyone comes to dying is riding a zip line into a swimming pool.

2) If you’re a fan of Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing-style banter you won’t be disappointed. The movie opens with a prolonged exchange between Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his soon to be ex-girlfriend that is as good or better than anything from The West Wing or Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

3) If you’re expecting a blow by blow history of how Facebook evolved and innovated into one of the world’s largest websites with 500-million active users you will be disappointed. This is a character-driven drama that focuses on the tensions between Zuckerberg and his associates during the site’s journey to one million users.

And one you shouldn’t (Spoiler alert):

1) If you go into the movie knowing that the Winklevoss twins are played by the same actor (Armie Hammer) you might be disappointed. I found myself thinking too much about the technicallity behind the Winklevoss scenes which took away from being correctly absorbed with the art of the film.

Mickey Mouse and the Future of Newspapers

When my uncle, my dad and I get together we invariably talk about the future of journalism.

I worked as a newspaper journalist for one decade; my father and uncle combine at close to a century in the newspaper business.

Recently we were discussing upcoming changes at the Globe and Mail, which will further entrench an evolution that began before I left the newspaper in 2007. Years ago, Globe editors made a decision that with 24-hour news channels and instant online news, delivering yesterday’s news in print didn’t cut it.  A quick “what happened” story was great for the Web version, but editors groomed their reporters to focus on what it all meant and what would come next for the print article.

Which led my father, uncle and I to ponder whether “hard news” has any role in today’s print newspaper business. My uncle joked that I hoped to dance on newspapers’ graves; I conceded that I expect to see a day where newspapers are no longer printed on dead trees for daily delivery.

My uncle made some great points about newspapers. They’re better than digital for skimming and quickly finding what you need.  They’re light and disposable and can be read in bright sunshine – unlike the Globe and Mail app on my iPad.

“Paper is a great technology,” I conceded, “but it’s expensive and it’s bad for the environment.”

A few minutes earlier, my son had been thrilled to learn that his grandparents are taking him to Disney World this fall for a travel story my father will be writing for the Globe and Mail.

But it wasn’t Mickey Mouse or riding Pirates of the Caribbean that made him most excited. It was the fact that the trip will get him in the newspaper. He’s been on Facebook and YouTube and Twitpic – and that was ok – but being in the newspaper would make him special. Famous even.

Print still holds a certain cachet. Even for a six year old.

My CluetrainPlus10 post: Thesis #3


This post is my contribution to the ClutrainPlus10 project, in which 95 bloggers are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto by reflecting on the 95 theses of this seminal social media marketing work.

Thesis #3: Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

A lot has changed in my life over the past two years.

In April of 2007, I was still working as a business reporter at the Globe and Mail where my job was to try to turn corporate gobbledygook into Stylebook-approved English.  Learning corporate speak is critical to success in business reporting. There’s a certain pride in knowing you can follow the conversation when analysts ask coded questions in a conference call and a certain arrogance in knowing you’re better than all that. Reporters tend to look down on the way that corporate types speak with all their “leverage this to operationalize that” mumbo jumbo.

A couple months later, I left the Globe and went darkside, joining a PR agency in downtown Toronto. My job was to build and launch com.motion, the social media marketing division of Veritas Communications. I built a “Social Media 101” presentation to teach our clients what all this was about. On more than one occasion, the clients seemed lost until I got to the slide about the Cluetrain Manifesto. I learned that these simple theses were still relevant and powerful 10 years later.

Then a few months ago, I switched jobs again, joining Rogers Communications where I’m building a team to speak to customers and critics. In English. In conversations that sound human. It’s a work in progress. Shortly after joining Rogers, I jumped on Twitter to respond to our customers. One of my followers shot back:

you gotta loosen up a bit there, Keith — that was kind of a de facto PR blurb

That came from my friend and former Globe colleague Mathew Ingram (see earlier paragraph about cynical reporters). Speaking in a human voice should be easy but language is complex. We speak in different ways to our friends, our parents, our kids, our co-workers, our customers. Words mean different things in different contexts and conversations.

But social media can be an antidote. For the first time, corporate spokespeople now have the freedom to be human. This freedom allows us to connect with our customers like never before. And that would be a terrible thing to waste.

CluetrainPlus10 is here!

Used under Creative Commons license.

Used under Creative Commons license.

It’s  April 28 in Europe and the first blog post just went live in the #cluetrainplus10 project.

It seems like forever ago (I was in a different job at the time) that I came up with a simple idea of celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Cluetrain Manefesto. 95 bloggers writing 95 posts on the 95 theses in one day in April.

Dozens of you have signed up to participate. At the time of this writing there are still a few theses left – I’m hoping these will fill up tomorrow as people begin to write their posts.  Visit the cluetrainplus10 wiki to claim any vacant thesis.

To answer a couple questions I’ve received over the past 24 hours:

  • Post should be on your own blog, not the wiki
  • You don’t need to let me know when you post – just send out an alert via Twitter. You can also embed the link to your finished post at the wiki.

My post on thesis #3 will be up tomorrow. Looking forward to writing, posting and reading all the great content.

Cluetrain Plus 10 Project Needs You!

cluetrain-7784761The date is set. On Tuesday, April 28, 95 bloggers from around the world will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto.

Cluetrain author Christopher Locke has signed up for the project, as have several high profile bloggers including Chris Brogan, Mitch Joel and Shel Holtz.

But there’s room for more. To sign up to participate in the project, visit the Cluetrain Plus 10 wiki and sign up for the thesis you’d like to write about or leave a comment here and I’ll add you to the list. More details on what’s involved can also be found at the wiki.

cluetrain plus 10: 95 bloggers. 95 theses. one day in april.

One day in April. 95 posts on 95 blogs on the 95 theses in the cluetrain manifesto.

A few weeks ago I wrote about plans to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the cluetrain manifesto with a series of posts on my blog. But the interest from that post led to a better idea. Let’s get a bunch of bloggers together to write about the manifesto in one day in April.

I’ve already heard back from several prominent bloggers who are going to take part including Chris Brogan, Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Andy Beal and Mitch Joel.

The goal is to commemorate the tenth anniversary of cluetrain, but the posts need not be fawning praise. Let’s explore each of the theses and debate how relevant they remain 10 years later. (In fact, I’ve invited John C. Dvorak to take part, who has been quite critical of what he calls the cluetrain cult.)

I don’t have a final answer yet on how many of the cluetrain authors will participate, but author Chris Locke tells me there is also a tenth anniversary edition of the book coming out in July.

Stay tuned for more information on the cluetrain plus 10 project.