Competition, Colleagues, or Partners? [en]

[fr] Avec mon projet de démarrage de boîte, je me retrouve à me demander comment exactement l'on définit la concurrence. Qui seront mes concurrents? Quelle genre de relation peut-on avoir avec "la concurrence", surtout lorsque ceux-ci sont des amis ou des connaissances? Est-il possible d'aspirer à un rapport s'approchant de celui de collègues, plutôt qu'une guerre sans merci? Vos idées et expériences sur la question m'intéressent.

In the last ten days I’ve started planning, thinking, and talking about [my new company](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/13/im-starting-a-company/). One of the things I’m struggling with at the moment (besides finding a name which isn’t already taken, isn’t too lame, and won’t get me sued) is how to consider others that are in the field I want to step into (I haven’t told you yet, have I?)

Very obviously, they are competition. My company is going to be doing stuff similar to theirs. But I don’t have the feeling it’s really clear-cut. I mean, look at the “social media consulting” business. Amongst my acquaintances and friends, there are many people who do similar things to me. But they feel more like colleagues than competition.

Is it simply because our skills overlap imperfectly, and our markets are geographically or economically separated?

As I understand it, to be competition, two companies (or people) need to be competing for the same clients/users, and this competition has to be exclusive. By that, I mean that if the client/user decides to go with company A, company B is going to lose his business. I guess this is pretty obvious.

So this is what I’m wondering about. I’m preparing to enter a market which is not totally new. There are already people/companies doing what I want to do. But I’m going to do it in a unique way — mine. Does that still mean the others are “competition”? and in that case — for those of these others who are friends or contacts — does that mean that I will be perceived as a threat, and that any “network benefits” I would have had from those people is to be considered lost? Is it going to have a negative impact on these relationships?

This seems pretty tough. (Maybe it’s just the business world, and I need to toughen up, but I don’t like this side of it, if it is.)

I’m not here to put others out of business. I want to do things better, appeal to a different audience, or “increase the consumption” (horribly way to phrase things, but I don’t have anything better on the tip of my tongue without being more specific) of the current “audience”.

I’m aware I might be coming across as terribly naive to all of you seasoned entrepreneurs and business people out there. But I’d like to believe it’s possible to “play nice” with “competition” — maybe not to the extent that they become partners, but at least something resembling a relationship between colleagues. A relationship where help can be given, contacts shared, advice and lessons learned dispensed. Even if I wouldn’t go so far as to expect partnership.

What about partners, then? Can they be involved with the competition? Could they have interests in one’s competition? (That sound like a bad idea, said like that.) Conflicts of interests aren’t good, that’s certain — but can we really be free of them?

I know that without the specifics this may seem a little abstract, but I’d really love to hear what you all think about this.

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FOWA: Launch Late to Iterate Often (Dick Costolo) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

*Here are my live notes of this [Future of Web Apps (FOWA)](http://www.futureofwebapps.com/) session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material and photos later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check.*

Dick: a bunch of startups, last one successful (FeedBurner), so now people think he knows what he’s talking about. 😉

FOWA 2007 136

We hear a lot about how cheap it is to start a company now. Lessons learned that are somewhat counter-intuitive to what is usually thought in this industry.

It’s true that you can get a company started without much money, but it still costs a lot to scale.

Cofounders: unequal equals. Better to treat all cofounders as equal. Unequal brings problems (“yeah, sure you want to do that, you have 75%”).

Dick and cofounders never build business plans anymore. Business plans are things that people write to try to make things they want happen the way they want them to happen. Dick doesn’t think investors read them anyway.

Disagrees with trying to evaluate the size of the market. You can’t know. e.g. eBay.

Location: FeedBurner, everybody in Chicago. Believes there is no strategic benefit in locating a company in the Silicon Valley. Actually, better to be away, you’re distant from the echo chamber. Self-perpetuating myth. Benefit in buzz in being in the Silicon Valley, but do you really need buzz to be successful? For Dick, no benefit in the long-term success of the business.

Cash. You always need way more cash than what you think that you’re going to need. Estimate, then multiply by 2.5, and it was even a bit tight. The leading cause of companies going out of business is running out of money. So raise as much as you can. Don’t run out of business.

VC funding is great. Find the right investors. Raise money when you don’t need it. You can get better terms for venture investors. When you start raising a few millions from VCs, you’ll start seeing legal/jargon VC terms (preference, multiples, participation). They’ll tell you they’re standard deals, but there is no such thing. So learn to understand those terms. (e.g. on Dick’s blog, and other places).

It’s better to own a smaller piece of a bigger pie than the opposite. Everybody needs to be happy about what’s going on. Everybody employed needs the same *kind* of deal (options, equity etc.), keeps goals aligned, and everyone is treated the same way. Even if it’s the “only way I could get that guy”.

Hiring. Take the guy who runs the fastest and then figure out where to put him. Don’t go out to hire a VP of sales. Look for people who are best available athlete, well-rounded person for this kind of role, but able to zig if necessary. *steph-note: …any startups looking to hire? ;-)* Dick prefers flat organisations. Hierarchy begets bureaucracy. Problem with flat organisations: when there are under-performers. Replace hierarchy with tools. Deal with this by having employees come up with their own KPIs (measurable!)

Growing the team: mistake = hiring sales and marketing too soon. Once you start selling and marketing, things need to be cooked and ready to go. Without that, you can iterate rapidly. Speed of execution is a competitive advantage of small companies over big ones. Wait until you’re ready to go to market.

**Product development and business strategy (1-4 years)**

Visit to the eye doctor. Iterate on everything. Disagrees with “get a crappy version out there”, because then you have to iterate with that version that is out there.

Day 1: feed stats, but knew they wanted to do more later. They waited until they had a basic underlying architecture to be able to extend the service before they launched. It didn’t do much, but was ready for building more. So that allowed them to iterate very rapidly. “How are you guys rolling out features every month?!” Spent the first 5 months building that underlying architecture for extensibility.

Let the market tell you what the business model is (cf. Twitter). Open system with APIs, help the market tell you what the business model is. Lock-in is bad for business. APIs lower the barrier to entry and to third-party service development. Lock-in creates barriers to entry. *steph-note: so does the fact you don’t own your data*.

Revenue plan: don’t kid yourself. Goes along with “don’t run out of money”. You’ll never make as much money as you plan, or as fast. VCs don’t pay much attention to it. Those plans are always wrong and at least a year late.

Don’t spend months and months trying to get your pricing right.

Strong advice: **don’t worry about your exit strategy, worry about everything else**, and also **be competitive on your merits, not on how much the other guys suck**.

FOWA 2007 138

Let your company have a voice and a culture. It’s harder to make your language sound antiseptic.

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FOWA: The Edgeconomy (Umair Haque) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

*Here are my live notes of this [Future of Web Apps (FOWA)](http://www.futureofwebapps.com/) session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check.*

Laws of the Edgeconomy

FOWA 2007 80

*steph-note: whoops, no more slides!*

(organizing principles)

– 1. Open beats closed

Huge companies are shifting to open business models.
A universe of external possibilities explodes.

– 2. Betters beat goods

– 3. Plastic beats specific

Bluetack vs. screw.
Widgets.
Glue that can hold stuff together.

Lots of companies get this, but it’s not enough.

How to make this work is about management. How do we manage all of this stuff? We really need to think about 3 key challenges.

1. volatility of the economy – interdependence

Craigslist does not intend to maximise profits.

Trust. *steph-note: slides are back*

FOWA 2007 83

FOWA 2007 84

Purpose Beats Profits.

FOWA 2007 86

Guilds were there to protect a skill.

A purpose is a set of shared beliefs about how value is created. Encapsulates key trade-offs. Google: organizing the world’s information (that’s a trade-off). *steph-note: I’m lost.*

Failure Beats Success.

Fail really fast. Not like Bush… Can’t plan for the future in this kind of environment.

Play Beats Work. There is No Consumer. They are the people at the edges of the firm. Synergistic relationships with firms. Culture > Brand. Competition is a Commodity.

Markets, Networks, and Communities Beat Firms.

We don’t compete. This is what we have to build business models upon.

Advantage is in the DNA. It’s the stuff that makes the firm go.

Future of the recording industry: two futures

– dynamic pricing
– open pricing (a kind of “social price” — challenge: how do you get that to scale?)

Networks manage risk much more efficiently. Communities are better for managing fixed costs. *steph-note: (?)*

Future of big media corporations? They need to start by blowing themselves up, atomizing — before coming back together.

FOWA 2007 82

*steph-note: can’t said I understood everything (and to be fair, I think Umair was a bit thrown off by the Powerpoint failure, or it’s just that I have trouble grasping all this “economy” stuff) but all this seems really interesting. Going to start reading [his blog](http://www.bubblegeneration.com/) for a while to see.*

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FOWA: How to Turn your App into a Business (Ted Rheingold) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

*Here are my live notes of [Ted Rheingold](http://dogster.com/)’s [Future of Web Apps (FOWA)](http://www.futureofwebapps.com/) session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. [Suw also blogged this session.](http://strange.corante.com/archives/2007/10/03/fowa07b_ted_rheingold.php)*

*Blogged Ted earlier this year at Reboot when he was encouraging us to [learn about cats and dogs](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/05/31/reboot9-ted-rheingold-learning-from-dogs-and-cats/).*

Simple idea: let people make web pages for their dogs and cats. Realised later that this could actually be a business.

FOWA 2007 64

What does it take to be a business? Suddenly all sorts of words like CTO, CEO, Incorporating, Titles… start flying around.

But mainly, being a business is about **generating revenue**, or at least having a pretty good idea where it’s going to come from. If you don’t have an idea how you’re going to make money, you’re going to run out of money.

Important: don’t think there is a new economy. There’s new technology, but **the economy hasn’t really changed**.

Dogster and Catster make money from advertising, partnerships, people subscribing… A lot like a magazine. Virtual gifts. You’re maybe disrupting the economy, but not creating a whole new one.

**Learn your market.** It took Ted a long time to learn these markets. You can’t pretend to know where the advertising goes because you’ve read magazines. Also, get ready to learn other markets. Ted thought at some point they were going to do classifieds, spent a lot of time trying to figure it out, but nobody was interested in their classifieds, so that failed. Don’t get overly attached.

**Get advisers.** People who understand the industry you’re in. But also people who understand how to run a business.

**Learn business finance.** Know how much money you need to spend, etc. Forecasting expenses, revenues. Some of these things are actually pretty basic, but you need to be comfortable with them. Don’t spend any money you don’t have to. If you’re cheap with your employees and your contractors, they may leave (*steph-note: indeed!*), if you’re cheap with your hosting your site might go down, if you don’t trademark your logo/names…

**Sell, sell, sell.** Ted is a designer, not a salesperson. Nobody is going to sell your business for me. Everything changed for Ted when he brought in a business partner. (Not an employee!) Important to choose well. It will be years of partnering with that person, startups don’t usually get bought. You need somebody who is as passionate as you are.

**Make your business a business.**

Very hard to make money on AdSense or that kind of advertising unless you’re serving millions and millions of pages. Sponsors and partnerships are more viable. Even a small market is interesting if it’s targeted. Subscription: emotional thing. Be part of the team. To show their support.

*steph-note: lost some of the Q&A because of running around with the microphone.*

Fail fast. They just removed classifieds three months ago. Important to see if the changes you’re thinking about are really worth it financially.

Q: when did you decide it could be a viable business?

A: thought it would be a kind of passive business where he’d get a check every month from advertising for a bit of maintenance here and there. Month 3, 10’000 people joined the site. A lot! Way more than he thought. Used the wisdom of his crowds to think about it, and then sat on it for a while before making the big decision. Making sure people are using it and spending as little money as possible the whole time.

Hiring is a real pain, specially if you want to be ethical about it (don’t want to hire somebody and lay him off three months later).

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Satisfaction Looks Neat [en]

[fr] Un outil de "customer care" qui permet d'une part aux "clients" de s'entre-aider, et au personnel de participer à la conversation. Ça semble vraiment pas mal! Quelques petits problèmes après 20 minutes d'utilisation.

I read about [Satisfaction](http://getsatisfaction.com/) yesterday somewhere and saw it again today [in Brian Oberkirch’s blog](http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2007/09/13/beyond-trouble-tickets-can-satisfaction-make-customer-service-fun/). I went to [sign up](http://getsatisfaction.com/people/new) and [give it a quick toss around](http://getsatisfaction.com/people/e217220ab7592d9724e9137d6d35aeae376f9ee4/). Here are the first screenshots.

The nice thing is that as this is a support tool, I used it to [record the problems I bumped in](http://getsatisfaction.com/satisfaction) too.

Satisfaction: submitting a problem_idea_question_chat

I think it’s a pretty neat tool and I’m going to use it in future when I bump into problems, in addition to [posting them to Flickr with Skitch](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/skitch). It’s community-based support, but with an option for company employees to participate with a “label” that identifies them as staff.

The first thing that annoyed me was that I had trouble finding where to change my profile photo. I clicked on “Account” and expected to find something there, but in fact it’s under “Dashboard”.

Satisfaction -- change image

Here is [the topic I created about this problem](http://getsatisfaction.com/satisfaction/topics/account_details_place_confusing).

Next issue, a rather important workflow/design flaw:

Recently active topics in Satisfaction Unlimited about Satisfaction Beta Release

I was a bit wordy in [explaining it](http://getsatisfaction.com/satisfaction/topics/submission_workflow_breaks) (early Sunday morning here), but I hope this makes sense:

> Ideally, when fill in the first “chatbox”, I’m going to want to check out the links before saying “not quite right, want to add details and submit”.

> Unfortunately, once I’ve done that, it seems I can’t come back to the page with the link inviting me to “add details and submit”.

> That doesn’t encourage me to click the links and check out first! It encourages me to go straight to “add details and submit”.

> So, if those links are really expected to be useful, encourage me to click on them by providing the “add details and submit” form on them too.

Last but not least:

Get Satisfaction: two gripes

1. If you’re telling me that I’m set to receive e-mail updates, that’s really nice of you — but it would be even nicer to give me a link to where to change it.
2. Please, please, please. [Space-separated tags](http://getsatisfaction.com/satisfaction/topics/i_only_just_discovered_that_you_support_commas_in_your_tags). At least support them. I’ve talked about this [elsewhere](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/09/22/wordpress-finally-has-tags/) (and before, too, but I can’t remember when or where). It breaks the current input model we’re used to (del.icio.us, Flickr…). It makes us type an extra character.

Go try out Satisfaction!

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Suw Charman at Google: Does Social Software Have Fangs? [en]

[fr] Mes notes de la conférence que mon amie Suw a donné chez Google aujourd'hui.

*Here are the notes I took of [Suw Charman](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com/blog)’s talk. They’re not necessarily well-constructed, and may even contain inaccuracies. I did my best, though!*

It’s trickier than it seems when using blogs in business.

Will talk about using blogs and wikis internally. What can you do when things go a bit wrong?

Software is easy to install, so companies install it, some people start using it, but they’re not getting everything they can out of it.

Wikis are for collaboration, blogs are for publishing. Clear how the technology works, but not clear why some people don’t adopt social software internally for their work.

Suw Talks at Google

Reasons?

Low-level fear of social humiliation. How are they going to come across to their peers and bosses? Fear of making mistake. People don’t realise they’re afraid, they just feel a bit uncomfortable talking /publicly/ to their collegues. E-mail is different because it feels private, it’s 1-1 communication. You’re not exposing yourself as much. People become “shy” when you give them a very public place to work.

Also, some people aren’t comfortable in writing. Some are better talkers than writers, and are not comfortable writing in a semi-formal environment. E-mail is more informal. Blogs and wikis are perceived as requiring a higher level of writing skill. Again, people don’t admit to this.

This doesn’t happen in very open organisations, but often if permission isn’t explicitly given to use such tools, that will really get in the way. “Blogs as diaries”, etc — psychological mismatch. What the boss /thinks/ blogs are, and what they are used for in business.

Trust in the tool. “So you mean anybody can change my stuff?” for wikis. “Can I stop them?” Not comfortable trusting the content placed in such tools, and the tools themselves. “What if the tool loses everything?”

Will the tool still be around in one or two years? If we pour our data into this wiki, am I going to just lose everything if management pulls it down?

Many people just don’t see the point. See social software as something they need to do /in addition/ to what they’re already doing. Parallel with KM disasters.

Biggest problem: how to get people involved. Two basic routes: top-down, and bottom-up.

Top-down can work all right if you have a hierarchical company and control what people are doing. Will work while managers go “you have to use this, or…” but people will abandon it when pressure disappears.

Bottom-up. Trojan mouse. People start using stuff because they think it’s useful, and it spreads through the organisation. Grassroots can be very powerful in getting people to use this kind of software. Risk: incompatible software, duplication of efforts, managers closing things down.

Go for the middle way: support from above (yes, you can use that, we encourage you to use this) but rely on the “bottom”, people using the software to have it spread.

Adoption strategy:

1. Figure out who your users are, not globally, but as small groups with shared needs. You need to understand what these people do every day. Good place to start: look at how they’re using e-mail. E-mail is a very abused tool. CCing just to let you know stuff — we get a huge amount of e-mail for things we don’t really need. Or things like conversation often happen badly in e-mail: somebody missing from the CC list, or somebody replying to one instead of all. And you can’t just access somebody’s inbox. People send out attachments to half a dozen people, and they all send back with comments, need to merge. There are places where these things can be done better/quicker. Identify who is influential within your area — supernodes — who can help you spread adoption, push a tool from something that is used locally to something that is used business-wide.

2. How is this going to make their lives easier? Some use cases can be very small, not very impressive, but very practical. E.g. coming up with a presentation in a short time by using a wiki. Doing that by e-mail wouldn’t work, not in four hours. Another thing is meeting agendas. Put it on the wiki instead of sending out agendas in Powerpoint, Excel, Word… The minutes can go on the wiki too. Looking for places where conversations are fragmented => wiki. Blogs: look for people publishing stuff on a regular basis. Start with those simple use cases, then these practices will spread to other uses. People are bad at generalising from a high level (ie, wikis are for collaboration — d’uh?)

3. Help material on the wiki won’t help people who aren’t comfortable with it. Print it out! Or people are so used to hierarchy, that they recreate it in the wiki, even though it might not seem necessary. If this is the behaviour they feel comfortable with, then we’ll enable this. Come up with naming schemes to make this possible. Be very open to letting the people use these tools the way they want to: coffee rotation, sports page, etc.

4. At one point, requests for help etc. dropped. Critical mass had been reached. People were self-organising.

Top-down stuff: Suw’s more in favour of bottom-up, but often needs to be married to top-down.

Important thing: having managers who accept the tools. Some people can really get in the way of this kind of adoption project. Work around them in a way.

Managers who are the most successful in getting their people to use these tools are those who are the most active, who blog, use the wiki, encourage their people to use it. E.g. manager who would put everything on the wiki and send one-liner replies to e-mails containing questions about this with pointer to the wiki.

Use the tools regularly if possible. Easy to slip back into the old ways, but go back to using the tools.

Beware: adoption and usage is not the goal. Getting your job done is.

Q: what about privacy and secrecy?
A: easy to create little walled gardens in a wiki. also, everything that happens on a wiki is logged.

Need for wiki-gardners. Most of the problems are not technological, but cultural. How people react to the environment. Social vs. hierarchical organisation.

Tool recommendation: depends a lot on who is going to use it. E.g. MediaWiki sets business users running screaming, because it doesn’t look like Word. Happier with SocialText, maybe. What is the users’ comfort zone regarding tools? What about the existing IT infrastructure? Businessy users tend to like shiny stuff, branded, Word-like. More technical users tend to be happy with bland-looking things that might even be broken.

Q: external use cases for blogging?
A: “blogs are diaries” => scary for businesses. Some very mundane use cases: Disney used blogs to announce events (threw away their customer crappy tool). Personal knowledge management — “what have I been doing, what stuff do I need to find again?” Person who has to report on what he’s doing: blog about it, and let boss read. Competitive intelligence. What’s happening out there/in here. Also, “oh this is interesting!” — people blogging about social things, not business-related things. Actually good, allows people to get to know each other. *steph-note: I think Google understands that.* We tend to underestimate the importance of social relationships in business.

**Update, July 3rd: the video**

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Blogging 4 Business: part 2 [en]

**Next panel: Heather Hopkins, Kris Hoet, Scott Thomson, Simon McDermott, moderated by Mike Butcher**

*steph-note: again, partial notes, sorry*

Blogging 4 Business

Simon McDermott: [Attentio](http://www.attentio.com/) monitoring all this social media stuff. Analyse the buzz. Identify what influencers are saying about your product. What are the popular bloggers saying? Reputation monitoring. What issues are being raised?

How to interact with this media?

– monitor and analyse brands
– identify influencers
– communicate with key influentials

Case study: Consumer Electronics Player — monitor buzz around gadget with lower momentum than other recent success story. Better understand online consumer opinion and identify key forums and bloggers. Delivered a dashboard with relative visibility and trend information, etc.

Mike’s question to Heather: what would [Hitwise](http://www.hitwise.com/) do differently?

Heather: blogs are a rather small category. Two examples: one (Sony Playstation virus or something) story which spread like wildfire amongst the blogosphere (hardly anybody has heard about it in the audience here) and the Coke-menthos video (many more people). Use Technorati, del.icio.us.

Kris: Microsoft go to blogger events, try to keep conversations going — for that, they need tracking (what are people saying about Hotmail?) Also use Technorati and del.icio.us, comment tracking *(steph-note: with [coComment](http://cocomment.com) maybe?)* Best way of tracking is to read all these blogs, of course, but it’s a lot of work.

Moderator (Mike): comments very influential!

Kris: Comments can influence what the blogger writes, so it’s important to engage there. You don’t need a blog to engage with bloggers. Leave a comment. Everybody is a customer.

… *steph-note: sorry, tuning out*

Woman from public: blogged about her Dell nightmare (computer broken after guarantee), and was tracked down two months later by Dell, comment with apologies for the delay in tracking her, got somebody from the UK office to call her, pick up the laptop, repair it free of charge, and then ask her to get back in touch if there were any problems.

Simon: if Dell had been monitoring 18 months earlier, they would probably have saved themselves some trouble — they grew very fast and customer service didn’t follow.

Question: tracking in different languages. Short of one person for tracking each language in each country, what can we do?

Simon: solution is identifying top 5 bloggers in the area we want *steph-note: not sure I agree with that*

Kris: if you’re in contact with bloggers, ask them if they know anybody else who might be interested in joining the conversation too. They know each other.

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Blogging 4 Business Conference [en]

[fr] Notes de la conférence Blogging4Business à laquelle j'assiste en ce moment à Londres.

So, unless some miracle happens, I’ll be blogging this day offline and posting it tonight when I get back at Suw’s. There seems to be no wifi provided for conference attendees unless you are willing to shell out £25 for a daily pass. (Actually, it seems there were a certain number of passes available.)

I would honestly have expected an event titled “**Blogging** 4 Business” to be “blog-aware” enough to realise that providing free wifi to connected people will encourage blogging of the event. Granted, most of the people I see in the room are taking paper notes (not that there is anything wrong with that) — this doesn’t seem to be an audience of bloggers. But wouldn’t it be an intelligent move to encourage the blogging public to “do their thing” at such an event?

I missed most of the first keynote and panel, spending time in the lobby chatting with Lee and Livio of [Headshift](http://headshift.com) (my kind hosts today), and [Adam](http://onemanandhisblog.com).

**Panel 1** incomplete and possibly inaccurate notes (they’re more snippets than a real account of what was said, partly because I don’t understand everything — audio and accents)

How do you respond to crisis online? (cf. Kryptonite)

Ged Carroll: In the 90s, faulty lock was broadcast on consumer TV. Mistake: didn’t tell the blogs that they were monitoring what was being said in that space, and that they were working on a solution (they *were* in fact acknowledging the problem, but hadn’t communicated that state of things to the public).

Moderator (Paul Munford?): how do you prevent something like that from being so predominently visible (search etc.)?

Darren Strange: owns his name. Same if you type “Microsoft Office”, his blog comes up pretty quickly too. Blogs attract links, good for search engine ranking.

Question: brands need ambassadors, OK, but where’s the ongoing material to blog about Budweiser?

Tamara Littleton: brand involvement in the site keeps things alive and happening. Reward ambassadors with merchandise.

*steph-note: on my way to London, I was reading the Cluetrain Manifesto (yeah, I’m a bit late on that train) and was particularly inspired by the part about how most of traditional marketing is trying to get people to hear a “message” for which there is actually no “audience” (nobody really wants to hear it), and so ends up coming up with ways to shove it into people’s faces and make them listen. This idea is kind of trotting in the back of my mind these days, and it’s colouring what I’m getting out of this event too.*

Question: transparency is a big thing… “creating ambassadors” (*steph-note: one “creates” ambassadors?!)… where is the space for disclosure?

Tamara Littleton: it’s about creating an environment, not saying “if you do this you’ll get that reward”. Rewards could be access to information about the product. Invite people to take part in something.

Ged Carroll: two types of rewards: merchandise etc, and also reputation-ego. Doesn’t have to be tangible.

Darren Strange: trying to have non-techie people try new releases of Vista, etc. Installed everything on a laptop, shipped it to the people’s house, and gave it to them. “Take the laptop, use it, blog if you want to, write good or bad things, or send it back to us, or give it to charity, or keep it, we don’t really care.” Huge debate about this. Professional journalists will be used to this kind of “approach”, but bloggers are kind of amateurs at this, they don’t know how to react. Disclosure: just state when you received something. *steph-note: and if you’re uncomfortable, say it too!*

**Panel: Lee Bryant, Adam Tinworth, David ??, Olivier Creiche**

*steph-note: got wifi, will publish*

Blogging 4 Business

Lee presenting first. Headshift have quite a bunch of nice products in the social software department. “It aint what you do it’s the way that you do it, and that’s what gets results.” (Bananarama)

Concrete business use cases.

Olivier talking now. “To blog or not to blog?” Simple answer: blog. Serious Eats. Citrix: a lot of knowledge disappeared when people left the company — a lot of knowledge out there that is only waiting to be gathered out of people’s e-mail boxes. Used Movable Type for that.

Another case study: AEP, also wanted to prevent e-mails from being the central repository of company knowledge (e-mails are not shared spaces!) Start small, experimental. Need to find the right people to start with. Another one: Arcelor/Mittal merger. Decided to communicate publicly about the lot of stuff. Video channel. Wanted to be very open about what they were doing and how, and answer questions. Good results, good press coverage.

David: allowing lawyers to share their knowledge and expertise, not just in their offices. Blogs, RSS, wikis allows time-critical sharing of information. *steph-note: like I’ll be publishing this as soon as the panel is over…* Catch things on the fly and make them available over a very short period of time.

Adam: starting to roll out business blogs just to allow communication. Bringing about profound change. *steph-note: very bad account of what Adam said, sorry — audio issues.* Other problems: educational issues. Best to not force people to use this or that tool, but open up. Share. Get people inside the teams to show their collegues what they’re using.

Question (moderator): a lot of evangelising going on in terms of blogs. Do blogs/wikis etc deliver on the promise of breaking down barriers, etc, when it comes to internal communication.

Lee: not a simple black/white situation. It comes down to people. Big problem: people bear a high cost to interact with communication systems and get no feedback. But with social tools (lightweight), we get immediate feedback. Integration with existing corporate systems.

Question: is social media the end of communications as we know it.

Lee: every generation of technology sees itself as a ground-breaker. But they’re all layered on top of each other. We have technology that delivers on the initial promise of the web (equal publication, sharing, etc) *(steph-note: yay! I keep saying that!)*

*steph-note: more northern English please ;-)*

David: now, using the web to create communities of practice, getting lawyers to communicate with people unthought of before.

Question: how do you deal with outdated material.

Lee: with mature social software implementations, any piece of information gathers its own context. So what is relevant to this time tends to come to the surface, so out-dated material sinks down. More about information surfacing when it’s time than getting out-dated stuff out of the way.

David: social tools make it very easy to keep your content up-to-date (which was a big problem with static sites).

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Cours blogs en entreprise [fr]

[en] The two-day seminar we're giving on blogs in business is finally happening.

Le fameux [cours de formation sur les blogs](http://www.romandieformation.ch/index.lasso?ID=14&Course=2318) qu’Anne Dominique et moi-même donnons au Centre Patronal ce mercredi et celui d’après aura bien lieu. Il reste encore des places si vous désirez vous inscrire — à bon entendeur!

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Mon premier Stamm Genilem [fr]

[en] An evening spent networking on the local business/startup scene. Really interesting.

Suite à un interview, je me trouve invitée [au Stamm Genilem](http://www.genilem.ch/) sur le site de l’usine des Clées de [la Romande Energie](http://www.romande-energie.ch/wwwromande/swf/home.asp). Thème: le développement durable. Cerise sur le gâteau: visite de l’usine. Blonde: tongs et pas de petite laine (on était dehors).

Stamm Genilem Romande Energie (31.08.06) C’était très intéressant: quelques présentations sur le thème du développement durable, entre autres par [Julien Perrot](http://www.salamandre.ch/3.php?IDrecord=55&IDpage=2&menu=2), fondateur et rédacteur en chef de [La Salamandre](http://salamandre.ch), journal entièrement bio 🙂

Ensuite, les personnes présentes (Poulains d’abord!) avaient 15 secondes pour dire en quelques mots qui elles étaient, ce qu’elles faisaient, et ce qu’elles cherchaient. Ça facilite grandement le networking après, autour des pains surprise. Quelques prises de contact intéressantes (entre autres un projet de podcasting en milieu scolaire, [DéDOC](http://dedoc.ch/ “Destruction de documents confidentiels sur place.”), [des p’tits bonheurs](http://desptitsbonheurs.com/)…), une [série de photos](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157594262918621/), et l’envie de revenir.

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