IAM or “Social Media Man”

One of the central concepts of Social Capital Value Add is the Individual as Medium (IAM).  I also considered using the more anthropological “Social Media Man” but wanted readers to steer past the buzz words and/or gender concerns.

Which one do you like better?  I don’t care what you call it, as long as the dog brings back the bone.

I am realizing that the IAM concept may not come across very strongly in the e-book.  I dripped references to IAM throughout the e-book.  Let me try to draw them together in this post.

Perception is reality.

Shared perception requires some form of media.  I.e., thoughts must be communicated through some form of artifact whether fleeting or more resilient.  Examples include gestures, words, text, audio and visual … anything that can be sensed among parties.

For most of history, our ability to communicate was relatively geo-spatially limited.  We could communicate as far as our voices could be heard (town criers) or our eyes could see (smoke signals). Perception was very locally oriented.

Then along came technologies that Marshall McLuhan taught us to understand as Extensions of Man.  The printing press, radio and television are a few of the biggies.  These are essentially one way, broadcast forms of media. The telephone is another biggie, it is interactive & reaches far, but does not scale well to large audiences and requires synchronous connection.

McLuhan explained to us that “the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.”

He also said, “Our conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot. For the ‘content’ of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. The effect of the medium is made strong and intense just because it is given another medium as ‘content’. The content of a movie is a novel or a play or an opera. The effect of the movie form is not related to its program content. The ‘content’ of writing or print is speech, but the reader is almost entirely unaware either of print or speech.”

When digital media started to really emerge with the introduction of the browser in the mid-1990s, it naturally incorporated many previous forms media.  But bandwidth, computing power and storage were still scarce and expensive.  A lot has changed since Netscape came along.

We have arrived at a point in history where the effect of IAM has been made the strongest and most intense form of media we experience because it has been given all other media as its content. The movie, the play, the opera, the newspaper, the television, the radio, commercial music, print and photographs, even the brand (a broadcast concept), have all been given over to the Individual to be reincarnated as the YouTube video, the prosumer indie, the blog, the blog comment, the forum, the Tweet, the IM chat, rating & review, the Flickr album, the podcast, the viral email and the mashup.

Real world social networks (and social network applications like email and MySpace that facilitate) are the infrastructure of these new forms of media that emit from the Individual.

SCVA argues that the effect is a new scale of social capital that marks a point of inflection for business and it is this new scaled-up version of social capital that SCVA is determined to highlight the value of.

Whereas, the network infrastructure to shape shared perception could be rented with great flexibility in the broadcast era (i.e. the 30 second spot), access to social networks is a function of social capital.

This new scale social capital is a critical corporate asset.

I spent the first half of the e-book illustrating how these entirely new scales of social capital are evidenced by new scales of the intrinsic elements of social capital which are individual assets (remember, the corporation is a form of individual).  These include: information flow, exertion of influence, certifications of social credentials and reinforcement of identity and recognition.  These are observations that are consistent with Nan Lin’s network theory of social capital, whose approach enables us to link the thinking to social network analysis and economics.

Technologies have evolved and mapped so tightly to the way humans transact, form relationships and create self-identity that it is time for business management to adopt the thinking of leaders in social network theory, such as the University of Chicago’s Ronald Burt.

Like it or not, the shift from broadcast media to IAM has implications throughout the corporate ecosystem.

Almost all of the changes highlighted in the illustration above have occurred exponentially, which is why we experience them as a sudden shift.  The “more of the same”, “everything that changes, stays the same” mentality will not derive competitive advantage from change like this.  It may not even survive change like this.

Does it not seem natural? Project and scale up the power of the individual, and that value of human connection of which we are all so instinctively aware, emerges in amplified forms as well.

In addition to the new scales of intrinsic social capital elements examined in the e-book, I would like to study further the extrinsic variables of social capital that aggregate into collective assets such as trust and network structure.  I am sure that there is similar evidence of new scale that would shed more light on social capital formation, access and use.

The GM Solution

This is a guest post authored by John Maloney, you should check out all of his work …

Last month I agonized though a lofty lecture on “Change Management.” It was from a slick consultant who assured us with his shiny loafers and PhD. Problem was, it was positively identical to one I heard at Ford Motor in 1988 while participating in a senior management offsite. It was extremely painful, wrenching, and, well, foolish. Ironically, even after a generation, change management hasn’t changed!

Change management is the biggest management and development farce ever known to business. If you have ANY change management or often worse ‘cultural change’ programs in your organizations immediately kill them or resign your post. They won’t work and you will be badly victimized.

Here, for example, is GMs response to change. It is from the BW Article below, ‘The GM Solution: Life Boats, Not Life Support.’ http://tinyurl.com/5qpk7o

And in 2007, with over a million unsold cars in inventory, Mark LaNeve. GM’s head of North American sales and marketing, protested the need for change. “It’s not like we have some crisis,” he told the Wall Street Journal in its Feb. 9, 2007 edition.

If you ever hear the specious change management change mantra, ‘senior management sponsorship,’ run, don’t walk for the exits. If you hear the dopey, ‘change is the only constant’ calmly pick-up your notepad, pen and find a new role.

Change does not originate from the top or the middle. Please. These structures were specifically invented to eliminate change.

(Years ago I rallied against command and control. I was ostracized. GM is now headed to the ash heap of history on their confident rails of command and control.)

Begin to recognize loopy change management experts lament the failure of change management that THEY perpetuate! Woo-hoo! What a $$$ racket…

Here is how friend Shoshana Zuboff in says it in Business Week this week, exactly concerning GM.

“None of this is exactly “rational” behavior, but it tracks with what institutional economists have observed: The more a practice is institutionalized (history, legitimacy, interdependence, codification), the more it is taken for granted, the greater the energy that goes into maintaining it, and the more relentless the resistance to change. In 2006, GM’s CEO Rick Wagoner responded to the call for “new blood” in GM’s leadership with this screed in Newsweek: “These are sophisticated problems with historical tails that run back 80, 90 years. The chance of someone coming in and understanding our business…is absolutely microscopic.”

Today, business and economics is in a headlong flight to value networks and network intangibles.

Toyota, Nissan and Honda get it and helped invent it vis-à-vis TPS & Lean. See: http://valuenetworks.com/public/item/209498

The focus on value and network intangibles allows the new “Big 3” to account for 52% of the US car market. Flatly rejecting the vulgar UAW makes them produce products that are  enormously popular and profitable. Toyota’s annual profit is more that GMs market capitalization!

Here is a reinforcement of network intangibles from Shoshana.

The car is becoming an expression of identity, values, and personal control in ways that move far beyond traditional segmentation and branding. For example, fuel efficiency will be only one consideration for a socially responsible vehicle (SRV). What percent of the parts are recyclable? What is the vehicle’s total carbon footprint? Are there child labor inputs? Toxic paints, glues, or plastics? How transparent is the supply chain? Is the seller accountable for recycling? What methods are used? Are fair labor practices employed?

The new demands for an individualized driving experience at an affordable price require a fundamentally new business model—a discontinuous shift from economies of scale and push marketing to distributed networks of enterprises that cluster around individuals. The single most important factor for competitive advantage will be a brand’s ability to forge durable intimate relationships with customers based on trust, dialogue, and transparency. Similar skills will be needed at the enterprise level, as carmakers collaborate with other entities to support diverse customer needs.

Value networks and VNA are highly instrumental in defining this new business logic and putting in-place “…distributed networks of enterprises that cluster around individuals..”

Sure, it is possible to kick-back and not activate in value evolution of business and the economics of intangibles. That will only prolong and perpetuate our dire situation and put all solidly on the path to oblivion like GM.

Here is the article link. Please read and comment, here and at Business Week.

http://tinyurl.com/5qpk7o

Can’t really say ‘happy reading’ at the moment. Rather, it is time to act decisively.

(Note:  John, thank you for this guest post.  You are a real leader in this movement.  All – please go to the BusinessWeek article and add your comments. sincerely, Michael)

Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Doug Luberts has an interesting post and thread going about Twitter and Social Capital that is a nice weave into the series that I have going on over at www.memeticbrand.com about Why Twitter Matters.

Doug introduces Felicia Day as an example. Her Twitter following alone is close to 15,000. “She tweets, and she not only hits her 15,000 followers, but taps into their networks as well.  Those followers re-tweet or reply, and everyone who follows them gets a whiff.”

Here is the money quote from Doug:

“In this brave new world of New Media and Social Networking your visibility and ability to attract a following is no less important than the need for a network television show to do the same via Nielsen ratings.”

Twitter really highlights these effects, but the idea is the same for all forms of social media which are scaled up forms of social capital.

As long as Fecilia continues to deliver value to her followers, she will be able to tweet for dollars. However, there is great productivity and value in the obligations that she must take on to maintain her position as arbiter of information and/or entertainment.

This is not the broadcast era, driven by a shortage of bandwidth.  There are millions, soon billions of channels, i.e. broadband empowered individuals who can present a more authentic alternative.  Hollywood stars that fade, do so for these same reasons.

Fecilia can not “sell” her social capital. She must always be fostering it.

She can only align with products, services, ideas, messages, films, shows that help her foster her social capital.

Products, services, ideas & messages must be socially aligned.

This matters to you unless you are content to fade.

I have turned my evolving reflections about twitter into a series of posts.  Catch the other thoughts:

Why Twitter Matters #1: Follow me, Follow You on Twitter

Why Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos

Why Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter

Why Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Why Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

Comment, Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 – an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 – Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”

Social Capital Value Add – Chinese Version @ China 2.0

I am looking for volunteers to refine this Mandarin version of Introducing Social Capital Value Add. Please contact me if you can help.

Thanks to my good friend and co-worker, Susan Du and her assistants for this first draft. During my three years in Shanghai, Susan supported my work at Shanghai Links and as a Board Member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.  I was in Shanghai for three years & Beijing for two.

The problem is that most of my old friends are not familiar with the translations of the specialized media, social capital, economic and management terms throughout the paper. The other problem is that my China network works in a completely different context than my new “twitter speed” online networks.  I suppose that another problem is that little word … “volunteer”?

I am releasing this version now because I am hoping to get the attention Robert Scoble, Shel Israel and the rest of the gang on the China 2.0 Tour. Organized by The China Business Network, Web2Asia and CNReviews, the inaugural China 2.0 Tour is sponsored by Edelman Digital China and represents a unique opportunity for companies and individuals to gain a deeper understanding of China.  Check out this line-up:

Over the course of the next few days, these folks will be mixing with the right enthusiasts who will both very much appreciate the translation of Social Capital Value Add and be positioned to refine it.

If you are connected to the China 2.0 tour or anyone on it in any way, please help me recruit some support for the SCVA idea.

Check out these posts on the consistencies of the Chinese notion of guanXi and social capital.  New global economic order anyone?

Xie Xie.

Social Capital Value Add @ Apr1 15 Chinese Version

And another thing.  My wife in Beijing this week on business & I miss her.

Facebook and Social Capital

Nice work by George and Evan.

Social Capital Inside the Enterprise: Steve Golab