Check out Digital Tonto

Greg Satell has a blog called Digital Tonto that I recommend.

Here is a sample post that caught my attention:

How Social Network Analysis Solves Real World Problems.

I hope that everyone had an awesome summer.

I am working hard on cdling.com, which I think of an application of Social Capital Value Add.  And we definitely believe that SNA will deliver great insights to the investor and start-up communities that we serve.

Whuffie? As long as the dog fetches the bone.

Last month I met up with Tara Hunt at the Drake Hotel in Toronto.  Tara was in town for business for Intuit, had her friend’s wedding mixed in and the pending launch of her book.  It was nice that we had enough one on one time for a pint and some of that amazing food at the Drake.

Last week a signed copy of Tara’s new book, The Whuffie Factor, showed up in my mail box.  That is appreciated all the more because I know Tara probably had to personally buy and ship this copy.  I heard the whole story about how she and her publisher were having the Duncan Watts influencer sminfluencer debate about how to spread the word.

Tara Hunt is a case study on personal branding.  I should know because I have included her case in the course outline for the first year social media course at Humber’s new BA-PR program.  Through a combination of personal risk taking, hard work, experience, intuition and smarts Tara has arrived at the intersection of business, social media, social capital and community with a quality contribution.

The Whuffie Factor is not only a compilation of Tara’s own experience.  It pulls together hundreds of headline stories that we are seeing all around us about companies like Dell, Twitter, Threadless, Vonage, 37Signals, PayPerPost, Last.fm and brings them into focus with a critical eye, in terms that are designed for everyone.

A pint at the Drake

A pint at the Drake

From time to time I have found myself defending the “Whuffie” approach on Twitter and in blog comments.  The basic arguments that I have seen against the term “Whuffie” come from a couple of directions.  Firstly, there are more buttoned down business types who think that “Whuffie” is a term that won’t cut it in the boardroom.

I bet there are more Boardrooms within 100 km of Tara’s house that would be down with the Whuffie than there are stodgy ones.  Even the old boys will tune in when it comes to making Whuffie (unfortunately for all the wrong reasons).

Then there are the academics and intellectual “knowledge management” types who go to great lengths to carefully choose the words that they want to associate with.  In academic circles, I have come to understand that this is a fairly big concern.  I have noticed that even the term “social capital”, where there is an academic tradition to build upon, has been steered around by some for a variety of reasons.  I have virtually stopped following one google group where I respect the knowledge and experience of the members because it seems that more than half of the dialogue is an attack on this way of describing management or that way of describing a community.  Even the value of profit comes under attack.

I recognize that different words are useful for different applications.  I think that we are living through a time where we are still coming to understand our networks as the primary factor of production.  As common understanding evolves, meaning will build behind certain words.  Some will emerge as the dominant labels some won’t.

I also have made it clear that a “conversation” that is designed for everyone needs to be complimented with terms that are designed for investors and senior level managers.  As Tara points out in the book, “Who are metrics for then?  Investors.  Journalists.  Outsiders.  People who want a number to tell the whole story because they are not part of the community itself and it is really hard to explain the impact of a great community to an outsider.” (p. 237)

Personally, I think that the terms “Whuffie” and “Social Capital Value Add” each have memetic qualities because they both come from fertile idea habitats (to borrow a concept from the work of Chip Heath & Jonah Berger, see p. 20 of my ebook).  But that is another post.

I usually conclude my defense of “Whuffie” with a one liner, “It doesn’t matter what you call the dog, as long as it fetches the bone.”

In 1979, Deng Xiaoping put to rest ideological naval gazing in China with a simple phase:

“It doesn’t matter if a cat is white or yellow, as long as it can catch mice.”

There was no mistaking the common mission of the people of China while I lived there from 1995 to 2000.  In fact since 1979, China has averaged growth rates in the 10% neighborhood.  How much does it matter that most people think that he used the word “white” instead of “yellow”?

America has the opportunity to unleash a new era of healthy, sustainable growth from break throughs in productivity and innovation made possible by management methods designed for the network age.

During a period of phenomenal change, I think it is best not to take issue with words or symbols that may seem fleeting from deep in the silo of your particular area of expertise.

In a Beginner’s Mind there are many possibilities.  In an expert’s mind there are few.

Whuffie is involved.  That is indisputable.  Let’s catch mice, dog.

I Digg Valdis Krebs, please follow me

I just dugg a post on the Wired Blog Network about Valdis Krebs.  I think you should too.

Here is what The WOMMA Word had to say about the Wired piece yesterday:

Finding the Common Ground Between Steroids and Online Social Networks

Valdis Krebs, a social networks researcher who will be presenting at the annual PopTech conference in Camden, ME this week will be presenting a perhaps, non-intuitive similarity: steroid usage and Facebook. Krebs finds commonalities between the two resulting from the ability to quantify everything as a social network. His view is steroid usage in baseball disseminated quickly because of a closed network of higher performance seekers, players who insulated themselves from outside influence and opinions because they sought company only of those similar individuals. Facebook, MySpace, et al, are all platforms which foster the same insulated contact. We seek those like us, with similar interests, and the result is social networks are created in the same way Major League Baseball’s steroid network was formed.

More from Wired (10/23) | Permalink

Social Capital Value Add is all about linking the work of leaders like Valdis to value based management, so that their value proposition is more easily articulated in global boardrooms.  I think it can help do the same thing for the work of PR and social media practitioners.

Here is what my e-book Introducing Social Capital Value Add has to say about Valdis and a few of the others who are pioneering methods to add value through networks:

“There are many inspiring examples of companies taking a structural approach to strategy, including the work of Wendi Backler at Boston Consulting Group (a fellow alum of mine, and someone I admire) and the clients of Valdis Krebs and John Maloney.  The International Network for Social Network Analysis, founded in 1978 by Barry Wellman, brings together about 1000 members, primarily academics, many of whom consult with corporations.

Popular book and blog author Seth Godin has observed a class of a few million “Digerati” who are dedicated to “using the learning tools built into the Net to get smarter, faster” (Godin, 2005) and he himself evangelizes marketing methods aligned with SCVA. However Godin also notes the minority status of these examples. He describes a new digital divide separating such early adopters from the rest of business’ investors and managers.

SCVA is an attempt to appeal to the sensibilities of the early majority, shift attention away from brand in business circles and bring attention and investment to radically new methods of value creation. There is not much here that will impress the Digerati. Thomas Friedman has attempted to drive bottom-up adoption with a gigantic metaphor and educational effort targeted at individuals in The World is Flat. Malcolm Gladwell picks up on associated tactical marketing communications dynamics in The Tipping Point and Duncan Watts is provocative at the level of product/idea positioning and design.

SCVA would like to facilitate this crossing of the chasm by placing the typically unseen structural sources of corporate control in the networked age directly on the boardroom table using the carrot of increases in corporate value and the stick of performance metrics (along with a Wizard of Oz metaphor to keep the marketing folks awake!).”