Kathy Sierra: Creating Passionate Users (Web2.0Expo, Berlin) [en]

[fr] Workshop de 3 heures animé par Kathy Sierra. Comment rendre ses utilisateurs passionnés.

*Disclaimer: theses are just my live notes of [Kathy Sierra](http://headrush.typepad.com/)’s workshop. Though I try to be accurate, they may contain mistakes or be incomplete. Please don’t hesitate to link to other notes, reviews, or relevant material in the comments.*

Not passion like being attached to your iPod, but more passion like how we invest energy into our hobbies.

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 2

There are techniques we can use to achieve that…

Kathy is going to draw techniques from many domains, who all have a piece of the puzzle:

– hollywood 🙂
– cognitive science
– neurobiology
– psychology
– learning theory
– design
– game design
– advertising

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 3

Passion: music, photography… that level of passion. Think of something that you have a passion for, or have had a passion for. Here’s how to tell if it was: you want to keep getting better, you want to learn more, practice more… that’s a real passion.

People with a passion:

– show off
– learn
– continuously improve
– spend time
– …

Reverse-engineering passion. Look at common attributes of things people have a passion about (e.g. people want to keep learning and getting better). How can we drive passion rather than wait for it to happen?

Where there is passion… there is a user kicking ass. Nobody really get a passion about something they suck at. Challenge: what to do in the period where users still suck.

One of the reasons people pursue passions is that it gives them a higher resolution experience. You see things differently when you’re passionate. You see more details, things that others don’t notice.

The Kick Ass Curve:

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 5

Between the first time and the suck threshold is the real challenge, because that’s where we’ll lose people. Strategies to keep pushing our users up that curve, and not just when they get past the point where they no longer suck. The faster you can get your users past the Suck Threshold, the more likely you are to have passionate users.

So, how fast can we do that, and how?

But… the problem is that people don’t want to be experts *at* a tool, but experts at what they can do *with* the tool. They use the tools to *do* something. That explains why documentation is all wrong, because it focuses on teaching the tool.

Good example: photography site which focuses on the results people want, the photos they want to be able to take, instead of on the camera.

Kathy, seeing slow-shutter speed photo of waterfall, understands why she needs to ditch her point-and-shoot, because she needs control on the shutter speed to be able to take those kind of pictures. And that’s what she wants to be able to do.

**We don’t want to be tool experts.**

Before our customers buy, we treat them well with glossy brochures, and as soon as they buy they get an unpalatable tech manual for their camera.

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 6

What if your product isn’t something people can use to do really cool things? (Showing a picture of Coldplay.) If we look, we can see what people might be able to use it for that they’ll get excited about. So, Chris Martin of Coldplay is very interested in fair trade. He helps people get involved in the cause. (Oxfam.) A band can help people become passionate about their work, their music.

Another example: Red Bull. Kathy likes Red Bull, but she doesn’t want to become an expert at what’s in it! So Red Bull are helping people become passionate about other stuff, not the drink — music, for example.

Bottom line: whatever you have, whatever your business is, you can have passionate users. They don’t have to be passionate about your product.

Imagine Nikon sets up a really cool site to teach people about photography. Learning is a drug for the brain, so this feel-good feeling is going to be linked to Nikon, who is behind the site. Passion spills back to the tool/brand. (That was a bit of psychology…)

**THE important question: what do (or can) you help your users kick ass at? (answers are not: the tool, the interface).** The stuff your tool allows to do.

What if you make trash bags? Well, you can sponsor a festival, do something completely unrelated. But you could have little films with creative use of trash bags, and then you create tutorials to teach people to make kick-ass films with those trash bags. *(steph-note: sounds way more lame when I write it than when Kathy says it.)*

**Big question: how do we actually make that happen?**

It all starts in the user’s head, and the user’s brain is not our friend.

Our brain has a little logic, and lots of emotion. Our brain thinks we’re still cavemen. Our brain has a big crap filter, and not much gets through. Your brain cares about that which you feel. Chemistry! Mind has one agenda, but brain has another. Imagine, trying to learn from a dry textbook even though committed to studies and the test… but the brain isn’t into it. Any moment though, something could wake the brain up (smell of pizza, cute guy).

What does the brain care about?

– things that are just a little weird, that are just out of expectations
– scary things
– sex
– little young helpless innocent things (baby, puppy)
– play, joy
– humour (bunny suicides…)
– faces
– things that are not quite resolved, some mystery, want to know the rest of the story (hand hiding face)

To keep people reading, you need to make sure their brain stays awake.

The brain doesn’t care about

– generic clichés (bride and groom kissing, no-no, whereas groom biting bride’s shoulder…)

Trick the brain!

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 7

**Conversational beats formal every time.** It can be subtle!! *steph-note: this what I try to explain to people about writing in “blog style”.*

Leading theory about that: the brain can’t tell the difference between a real conversation and something written in conversational tone. “God, a conversation, I have to keep up my end, pay attention.”

**Rule: talk to the brain, not to the mind.**

To read: “A mind of its own” by Cordelia Fine (How your Brain Distorts and Decieves)

Prepare the brain so that when people see this they think “ew, bad”:

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 8

Hey… all this was just about getting people’s attention! We still need to get past the Suck Threshold.

Where are my users on the suck / kick ass curve? If your tool is easy to learn, can they spend a lifetime getting better at what they do with it?

Who do snowboarders go back the second day? The first is so awful! Because there is this picture in their mind of what it’ll be like to kick ass at it. People persevere because they have an idea in their head of what it will be to be really good at it. Another reason is that they see a path, a series of steps to getting there.

People stick at something that’s stuff because there is:

– compelling picture
– clear path
– easy first step

How easy depends on how much value they perceive they’ll get. Sometimes just giving an e-mail address is too big a step.

Who is describing this “compelling picture” for your users?

Why? Who cares? So what? If people are to learn something, they have to keep turning the pages of the book. We need to get past the brain’s crap filter when we’re explaining.

It’s an exercise:

– My tool does X
– So what?
– Well, if you can do X, then it means you can do Y
– And so what?
– etc…

(when you feel like killing the other for being so thick, you’re getting close t the meaningful stuff: “you’ll never have sex again”, “you’ll lose your job”)

Keep asking why.

Now, we need to get users to *learn*.

Learning increases resolution.

“RTFM” expresses how we feel about our users. If you want them to RTFM, make a better FM!

All the money goes to enticing, sexy, motivating, advertising brochures. And after… when it’s time to learn, nothing left.

**Learning Theory**

Facts — information — understanding. Need more understanding. We tend to teach too many facts. *steph-note: cutlery noise from outside coming in through open door is really annoying me*

The more they understand, the less they need to memorize.

Because a choice is asked, our brain starts doing more processing.

Smackdown Model: throw two equally compelling, strong, arguments at somebody, and the brain is forced to start processing.

Words + pictures > words. Even drawing a picture on a napkin and taking a photograph of it.

Look for “oh crap!” and “oh cool” moments.

*steph-note: tiring*

“just in time” is more effective than “just in case” learning. But be careful, you don’t want to always prevent them from scraping their knees.

Who can help you help your users learn? Where are the resources? *steph-note: other users!* Kathy: “community” 😉

However, nothing of that matters unless you manage to keep your users engaged.

*steph-note: break-time, good!*

Should read the book “Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience”.

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 10

What is it like to be in the flow state? You don’t really notice that time is passing. If you have lost time, either you were abducted by aliens, or you were in the flow state. You *just keep going*. For people to be in the flow state, a very delicate balance needs to be achieved:

– knowledge and skill
– challenge

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 11

What turns the brain on?

– discovery
– challenge
– narrative
– self-expression
– social framework
– cognitive arousal
– thrill
– sensation
– triumph
– accomplishment
– fantasy
– fun (?)

Fun does not have to mean funny.

What breaks flow state, state of enchantment? Think of the user as under a spell. Suddenly realising that they’re using this tool to achieve what they’re doing. (Oh, crap, where’s that button?)

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 12

Don’t make me think about the wrong thing. Just make me think about the interesting stuff. Make it hard to do the wrong thing, and easy and natural to do the right thing.

Techniques to make the flow state happen and remain there. How do we keep them coming back?

Nobody does this better than game developers. Video games! Always trying to get to the next level.

User experience Spiral:

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 13

Motivational milestones. Make sure the users know where they’re going.

Differences between girls and boys and video games:

– boys: getting to the next level is the aim
– girls: getting to the next level, but what for?

Are there any new superpowers that I’ll get at the next level? If done right, the payoff gets bigger for each level. Gives you a chance to paint the next compelling picture of what they’ll be able to do.

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 14

Levels have to be small at the start.

What are levels for web development?
Online communities?
Flickr users?

What are your level superpowers?

Frequent rewards. Lots of small benefits. User as *hero*. Who/what is the helpful sidekick/mentor? How will the hero be changed?

The Tribe…

e.g. 37 signals: “getting real” — so people who are into 37 signals products identify with this “getting real” attitude. Mac: “think different”.

Music video, shot just in living-room and shows what all the money that could have gone into making it could be used for in the third world:

What part of your product is (or could be) part of a user’s identity? (meaning)

Site where people photograph their iPod in various settings. People holding one company’s book in various locations.

So, how can your users show that they belong to the tribe?

If you want them to talk… give them something to talk about. LOTR stuff in calendar OSX (*steph-note: dig around that*).

e.g. on cover of one of Kathy’s series books, same girl as on [this site](http://www.vagisil.com/teencenter.shtml)– lots of talk!

Figuring things out (insider info) is social currency (whuffie). Everyone loves to be the one to tell you about… X.

Find interesting stories. Give users treats. Things that they can talk about. Give them social currency that they can use elsewhere. Legends, stories, people. Where there is passion, there are people.

Once you get to a certain level, people start trying to figure out who will play you in the movies 😉

founder/creation stories, user-as-hero stories? You don’t want to make it about you… people are passionate about *themselves*. First thing to look at: testimonials. They should be about how great these users are as a result of using the products. People want to see themselves reflected in the testimonials.(Not about the product of the founders.) The more first person language in reviews (about a book, eg.), the better. What’s important is if something good happened to the user, not what they think about you.


– forums?
– study groups?

at the least, a blog with comments…

Javaranch registration terms of service: “Be nice”. Users have to agree to that. If people aren’t nice, how do you get them to answer and ask questions? How quickly can you make it possible for people to ask and answer questions?

No dumb questions. Don’t allow people to say “that’s already been answered 50 times”. It’s OK to ask a question again. Never shun somebody for asking a question.

But the most important factor is actually **no dumb answers**. Try to get people to convert to answerers as fast as possible. Information on “how to answer questions”. When people answer a question, make sure they feel encouraged because they’ve done it.

Tutorials on how to make tutorials.

**How to know you’ve got passionate users**

When people stop criticising you, but criticise your users. A bit unsettling, but that means you have passionate users. “Cult?” “Sheep?”

Then, give your users some sort of defensive weapon.

If you try to satisfy everybody, you delight and inspire nobody.

**Tips and trouble on the road to passionate users**

Levelled products (iMovie is free, FinalCut isn’t — so you start with iMovie thinking you’ll never need more, and at some point you’ll outgrow it; problem though: big gap between the two from a usability point of view). Good strategy, however.

“Dignity is Deadly”

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Startup: individuals
Corporate: consensus

Apes become smarter as they work together. Humans become dumber as they work together. (“Wisdom of Crowds”)

We tend to think our ideas are amazing, but our users think they’re tolerable.

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Listening to users: what they say is not what they want.

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 17

User priorities

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 18

When you ask them to prioritize, and when you ask them to also explain, you get very different results.

The greatest cause of user pain:

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 19

Making things better can in fact make them worse. If a simple thing is nice and flow-inducing… No need to improve it by adding tons of features.

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 20

Web 2.0 Expo, Kathy Sierra 21

The Secret…

It doesn’t matter what they think about you… (It’s not about you, and it’s not about what you do). All that matters is how they feel about *themselves* as a result of their interaction with you, your product, your company… *steph-note: thinking that Lush testimonials are spot-on, they really have passionate users and I’m one of them.*

**The user must have an “I rule!” experience.**

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Remember: your users are real people.

*Thank you, Kathy. It was great to have a chance to see you.*

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How Blogging Brings Dialogue to Corporate Communications [en]

[fr] Notes d'une conférence que je viens de donner à Zurich sur les blogs en entreprise.

As promised to the participants of this (Monday) evening’s event, here is my slideshow of the talk, notes, and links. *note: notes written up on the train on the way home, I hope the links aren’t too broken and that it makes sense; let me know in the comments if there is anything weird.*

Thanks to everyone for participating so well 🙂 Please feel free to add notes, comments, further questions, things you took away from the talk in the comments to this post.

*note: the beginning of the notes are roughly what I said; questions and answers are not included — there were lots; I gave an accelerated version of the second part of the presentation, as we had talked a lot, and actually, covered much of what was important anyway.*

For links related to corporate blogging, see those tagged [corporateblogging](http://del.icio.us/steph/corporateblogging) and [20070924](http://del.icio.us/steph/20070924) for those linked to today’s talk. Click on the “related tags” on the right to explore further.

I’ve added slide numbers in brackets roughly when they appear. Not that the slides are that interesting, of course…

[1] [2] Blogging is a tool that brings dialogue, and the point of this talk is to see how that happens in a corporate context.

[3] Two main aims:

– understanding the “[bigger picture](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12797905)” blogging is part of
– practical advice on introducing blogs into a business setting.

[4] As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not a Powerpoint wizard, so won’t be dazzling you with fancy slides and lots of buzzwords. I’d like to have something approaching a conversation with you. I’m obviously expected to do quite a lot of the talking (that’s what I was asked to come for!) — but you know lots of things I don’t, and you’ll have comments and questions. Please ask them as we go along… I’d rather go off-track from my presentation and be sure to address the things you’re wondering about. *note: and yeah, that’s exactly what happened! got so caught up in our conversation that I lost track of time!* This way of doing things, you’ll notice, is related to what blogging is about.

[5] First, I need to know a bit more about you. I know you’re communication executives and I’m told you’re already familiar with blogs — that’s a start, but I need more:

– who reads blogs?
– who has a blog? (personal, corporate, work-related?)
– who is blogging this talk? *(nobody — hopefully in 2 years from now, half the room)*
– who uses a feed-reader (NetNewsWire, BlogLines, Google Reader)
– who is in a company that uses corporate blogs?
– who has employees/clients who blog?
– who has read The Cluetrain Manifesto? Naked Conversations? (required reading!)
– who is in a company that is blogged about? do you know?

[6] Before we get to the meat (practical stuff), let’s clarify

– what is blogging?
– where does it fit in?

There’s a lot of confusion there.

Blogging is:

– a [tool](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12812114)/technology
– a culture
– from a business point of view, a strategy

Different [layers](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12842694).

Blogs@Intel · Intel Corporation

[7] [Using just the “tool” layer](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12841664) often fails, because it’s just publishing “official communications” in a different wrapping. And official communications are boring — I hope I’m not breaking the news to anyone. Example of this: [blogs.intel.com](http://blogs.intel.com/). Not very exciting.

I think a lot of corporate blogging failures can be attributed to stopping at the “tool” aspect of blogging, and underestimating the cultural aspects.

Listening and Learning Through Blogging

[8] Example that gets the “culture” layer: [Listening and Learning Through Blogging on McDonalds’ CSR blog](http://csr.blogs.mcdonalds.com/default.asp?item=140627).

> I’ve just finished my second posting, and I’ve realized how much there is to learn about the blogosphere. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at other blogs, listening to what others are saying about what we’re doing, and picking up some suggestions along the way. ([McDonalds’ CSR blog](http://csr.blogs.mcdonalds.com/default.asp?item=140627))

From a business point of view, adopting blogging is a strategic decision, because it impacts the culture. It’s not just a shiny tool we can use to do the stuff we do usually, it’s linked to deeper changes.

[9] So we’re going to concentrate on the “culture, strategy” side of blogging, which is the first part of this presentation. So we’re going to have to backpedal, zoom out, and look at the big picture: [10] The Internet, The Cluetrain Manifesto.

**So, what’s [the Cluetrain](http://www.cluetrain.com/) about?** It started as an online rant, and grew into a book in 2000. It’s still valid today.

Basically, the Cluetrain says that [conversations are happening](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12816615), inside and outside your organization, and they can’t be stopped.

[11] People are tired of being talked at. They (inside: employees; outside: customers) are too busy having [12] real conversations with their friends, people they know and trust. Offline as well as online. They won’t listen to fabricated discourse (a lot of marketing). I know that when I receive my bank statements, I’m interested in how much I’ve spent, and the flyer giving details about my bank’s latest service goes straight to the bin. What about you?

[13] These conversations are everywhere. They’re talking about you — you the companies. A lot of our day-to-day conversation is about brands, consumer products, services… These conversations [14] can’t be controlled. Control is a big issue when it comes to corporate blogging.

Is communication something you control?
Are conversations something you can control?

[15] We know how important word-of-mouth is in marketing, and in the shaping of buying decisions we make. We listen to our friends (people we trust) way more than advertising.

Do great stuff. Care. Let people know. They’ll talk about you.

[16] Blogging is about jumping in there, being part of the conversation. And this conversation is bigger than just blogging.

Not that easy, but [not that hard](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12817670): remember what it is to be human. To be passionate about something. To care. Bring that into the conversation.

So the important question becomes: how will this fit into my corporate culture — or not? Is it compatible?

[17] What [I mean](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12814659) by corporate blogging: blogging that has to do with corporations, businesses. Blogging beyond the tool (culture). Everything is possible.

– internal
– external
– one author
– multiple authors (group blog)
– very official
– unofficial
– employee blogs
– news outlet (with the danger of missing the “culture” and falling back into the “just tool” use)

[18] Some quick [examples](http://del.icio.us/steph/example) of real “corporate” blogs. A lot of damage control in my examples — one thing blogs are good at.

– [Dell](http://direct2dell.com/one2one/default.aspx): started out badly, listened, learned
– [McDonalds CSR blog](http://csr.blogs.mcdonalds.com/default.asp)
– [English Cut](http://www.englishcut.com/): “my tailor is rich” (haha) fairytale; blogging to demonstrate expertise and built credibility (and [drive your business through the roof](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12827453))
– [Palm’s response to Engadget’s open letter](http://blog.palm.com/palm/2007/08/thanks-engadget.html): a personal reply, and look at all the comments
– [Robert Scoble](http://scobleizer.com/): ex-Microsoft, hired for his blogging skills and reputation
– [Nee-Naw](http://www.neenaw.co.uk/): a LAS employee — impacts the image we have of the LAS
*note: this is where things started going fast*
– [Richard Pierre SA](http://www.richardpierresa.blogspot.com/): Swiss, also an “expert” blog (demonstrating expertise)
– [Rapleaf’s “we made mistakes”](http://blog.rapleaf.com/2007/09/06/start-ups-privacy-and-being-wrong/): if you mess up, and talk about it, and say sorry, chances are many will forgive you
– [Domaine du Crest](http://www.domaineducrest.ch/blog/): winemaker, Geneva; insight into vinyard life
– [Yahoo! official blog]: taking the heat in the comments
– [4500 Microsoft employee bloggers](http://blogs.msdn.com/)
– [DreamHost, ongoing disaster](http://blog.dreamhost.com/2006/08/01/anatomy-of-an-ongoing-disaster): being candid about what went wrong
– [Larry’s take on the Vista SR bug](http://blogs.msdn.com/larryosterman/archive/2006/07/31/684327.aspx): info straight from the horse’s mouth
– [Michel-Edouard Leclerc](http://www.michel-edouard-leclerc.com/content/xml/fr_home.xml), French CEO (see also [reaction in food poisoning crisis](http://www.michel-edouard-leclerc.com/blog/m.e.l/archives/2005/10/intoxication_al_1.php))

[19] Who should blog?

Corporations do not blog. Humans do, people. You can’t remove the person from the blog. Businesses with a “do the right thing” attitude. Enthusiasm needed! [20] Bad guys shouldn’t blog. Businesses who mistreat customers and employees shouldn’t either. Not if you’re dull or cheesy or very controlling. (See Naked Conversations, pp. 134-138.)

[21] [Why](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12816423) should one blog? Very important question.

– to communicate differently, humanise the company
– not just another channel to push the same tired message through.

Where does blogging fit in strategically? => who, what exactly…

See [possible objectives here](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12842170). Basically, anywhere there are people doing things. Except probably high-confidential security stuff.

[22] How?

You want to get blogs going for all the good reasons, but how does one

– start blogging [23]
– blog well? (ongoing work!)

[No real “one size fits all”.](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12843845) Many answers to this, depends on the situation/culture of the company in question.

Some general answers, however.

[24] Check out the [corporate blogging 101](http://theobvious.typepad.com/blog/2007/05/corporate_blogg.html), very precious stuff there.

enable blogging. Encourage employees to blog. Blogging is a grassroots phenomenon, but it needs support form the top. There are maybe people already blogging — find them, and use them to encourage more blogging.

[25] have a purpose (that important Why? question). Don’t blog to blog. Figure out what **current needs** can be adressed by blogging. You can start small:

– event?
– product?
– “news”?
– project?
– office life?
– expertise on one topic?

This is very context-dependant. Need to understand the context well to be able to choose/advise wisely.

Careful! If you’re using a blog to post the usual “official communications”, you’re missing something.

[26] **learn the culture**: this is the big bit. Listen to bloggers (online and offline, in-house and out). Get training (this is where it’s worthwhile to put your money, as you’ve saved on expensive software).

Before going to [India](/logbook/), I studied the culture, but it couldn’t prepare me totally for what I found when I went to live there. You need to go to a foreign culture to really “get” it. Blogging is a foreign culture.

Learning to blog well can take time. Not everyone is a natural. Ongoing effort!

[27][28] Remember, blogging is about **Me & You**, having a conversation.

– dialogue
– relationship
– people

[29] **Listen.** Read blogs. Read comments. Be open. Get a feed-reader.

[30] **Passion.** Believe. Be passionate. If you’re not interested, it’ll be boring.

[31] **Style.** HUGE subject. How to write on a blog. It’s difficult.

– write for the web
– use “I”
– use links, make your writing 2D instead of 1D
– informal
– short paragraphs
– simple, direct language
– no jargon or corpspeak
– tell a story, as if to a friend
– author name, but don’t sign posts like e-mail

[32] **Time.** Don’t kid yourself, it takes time. Commitment. Easily an hour a session, a few times a week. But it’s fun 🙂

If you try to remove any of these ingredients, I doubt your blog will be successful and survive.

[Best practices?](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12828157)

[33] DO:

– eat your own dog-food
– trust your bloggers
– read other blogs
– be [part of the community](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12817808)
– use a feed-reader
– link! even to competition, negative stuff
– be human
– learn the culture
– use an existing blogging tool
– discuss problems
– define what is really confidential
– give existing in-house bloggers a role (evangelists! learn from them!)
– tag, ping, use the “kit” and other social tools

[34] DON’T:

– try to control
– use a ghost-writer or outsource blogging
– “roll your own” tool
– ignore established blogging conventions, they’re there for a reason
– copy-paste print material in posts
– use corpspeak
– force people to blog
– write happy-clappy stuff
– write blog posts or comments as if they were e-mails (starting with Hi… and ending with a signature)
– be faceless (signing with the name of the company instead of the person)

[35] FUD: fear, uncertainty, doubt. Cf. Naked Conversations pp. 140-145 for discussion, really, it’s all there:

– negative comments
– confidential leaks
– loss of message control
– competitive disadvantage
– time-consuming
– employee misbehaviour
– ROI absent…

[36] ROI of blogging (google for “ROI blogging” — without quotes). Comes up often (need for quantitative measurement), but still very debated topic. Respected experts all over the map, from [“it doesn’t/can’t apply”](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12843414) to [“here is a way to calculate it”](http://blogs.forrester.com/charleneli/2007/01/new_roi_of_blog.html).


– hard returns
– soft returns

There is a return, it’s a worthwhile investment, say those who do it. How to measure it is another story. Sorry 🙁

[37] A closer look at some examples… [coComment](http://blog.cocomment.com) [disclosure: ex-client]:

coComment blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[38] Read the first sentence… what is wrong here? Not a human speaking. Don’t post press releases as blog posts. You might cite them, or link to them, or comment on them, but don’t stick them in there as posts. How does the reader think his “feedback” will be received when he’s being spoken at to start with?

coComment -- Corporate Blog Example 1

[39] Privacy concerns raised on other blogs. Good to address the issue and respond, instead of hiding! (it would just get worse… cf. Kryptonite). “Click here” looks bad, though, and hints that the medium (blogging) isn’t really understood.

coComment blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[40] OMG. What is this doing here? Did somebody smoke something? First-time author on this blog — an introduction would have been more appropriate.

coComment blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[41] Note that this is a multi-author blog, which is usually the case with an “official blog”, though often there will be one “main author” who carries it. Apology for painful upgrade, that’s good. E-mail-like signatures on each post, however, again point to incomplete understanding of the culture.

[Flickr](http://blog.flickr.com): great example (and great photosharing service too, sign up today).

Flickr Blog -- Corporate Blog Example

[43] Look at that outage notice. It’s fun! Really fun. And there are updates. Two of them. As a user/customer, I feel that they give a damn.

Flickr Blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[44] Coverage of what’s going on in the community. Blogging is a lot about community, nurturing it.

Flickr: it's not just blogging

[45] Here, a forum post. It’s not just about blogging, remember the “bigger picture”? But same kind of attitude. How you engage with others in the community. Treat them as people and not like numbers. Look at how well this issue is documented, with links and all — and this is a “problem situation”. We’re not shoving the dirt under the carpet here.

[Moo](http://moo.com/blog/) *note: if you got a business card from me, this is where they come from!*

MOO | Blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[46] So, this is a promotional posting (ad, marketing, oh my!) but look… it feels like she was e-mailing a friend, rings true.

Up for debate (bloggers will tell you “yes”): can you feel if somebody put his/her heart into a post?

[47] Closing notes:

Blogging is a strategy. Deep change in communications. Not pushing a message anymore, but

– conversations
– relationships
– trust
– people

The question to ask is:

Is my company/department/team ready for this?

Blogging is a grassroots phenomenon, so bottom-up (you can’t force people to be passionate about something and blog about it), but needs support from top-down. There are maybe already blogs in your company, and you might not know it!

Read The Cluetrain Manifesto and Naked Conversations to start. (I’m serious.)

Eat your dog food. If you’re going to introduce blogging in your company, you need to start blogging — before. Open a WordPress.com account and start writing about stuff you’re interested in. Use your blog as a [backup brain](http://www.contentious.com/archives/2007/09/05/how-to-blog-without-the-time-sink/), writing things as they occur to you. For you first, and for sharing with others in case it’s of interest to them.

Blogging is technically cheap, but culturally expensive.


Some extra stuff, off the top of my head (some from off-presentation discussion):

Blogging tools: [Wordpress](http://wordpress.com), Movable Type and Typepad ([SixApart](http://sixapart.com)), Drupal.

Looking up stuff in blogs: use [Technorati](http://technorati.com) or Google BlogSearch. Use Technorati Cosmos to see who linked to a given blog post.

The “Because Effect”: I make money *[because of](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12827176)* my blog, not *with* my blog.

Discussion of trust and reputation in the blogosphere. Auto-regulating medium.

A few sketches I made while preparing this talk, but didn’t use:

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 1

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 2

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 3

[Open-sourcing the invitation copy.](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/11/corporate-blogging-talk-draft/)

Good example of an “event blog”: [LIFT conference](http://www.liftconference.com/blog/official) (and go to the conference, too, it’s a great event).

*promotional 😉 note: if you would like to have me come and give this talk (or another!) elsewhere, please don’t hesitate to [get in touch](http://stephanie-booth.com/contact/). This is one of the things I do for a living.*

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Two Panel Submissions for SXSW Interactive (Language Issues) [en]

[fr] Il y a deux propositions portant mon nom pour SXSW -- merci de voter pour elles! Sinon, dates et description de mes prochaines conférences.

Je cherche aussi un "speaking agent" -- faites-moi signe si vous en connaissez un qui travaille avec des personnes basées en Europe. Merci d'avance!

Oh. My. God.

I just realised, [reading Brian’s post](http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2007/09/13/gum-flapping-youve-been-warned/), that I haven’t blogged about the two panel proposals I’m on for [SXSW Interactive next March in Austin, Texas](http://2008.sxsw.com/interactive/):

* [Opening the Web to Linguistic Realities](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/544) (co-presenting with [Stephanie Troeth](http://www.webstandards.org/about/members/steph/))
** A basic assumption on the Internet is that everybody speaks and understands one language at a time. Globalism and immigration has created an even more prominent trend of multilingualism amongst the world’s inhabitants. How can the WWW and its core technologies keep up? How can we shift our biased perspectives?
* [Lost in Translation? Top Website Internationalization Lessons](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/349) (panel I’m moderating)
** How do you publish software or content for a global audience? Our expert panel discusses lessons learned translating and localizing. Leaders from Flickr, Google, iStockphoto and the Worldwide Lexicon will tackle various marketing issues; how to translate the ‘feel’ of a Web site, and; best practices for software and content translation.

As you can see, both proposals revolve around the use of languages on the internet — and as you know, it’s one of the topics [I care about](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/22/what-do-you-care-about/) nowadays. I’ve spoken on this topic a few times now ([BlogCamp ZH](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/25/blogcamp-multilingual-blogging-session/), [Reboot9](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html), [Google Tech Talks](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/10/talk-languages-on-the-internet-at-google-tomorrow/)) and I’m looking forward to taking things further with these new chances to toss these problems around in public.

80 or so of the [700+ panel submissions to SXSW Interactive](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/) will be selected by public voting and actually take place. That’s not a lot (roughly 10%). So **please** go and vote for these two panels (“Amazing” will do) so that they make it into the selection. I really want to go to Austin! (Can you hear me begging? OK, over. But please vote.)

Other than that, I have a few more talks planned in the coming months:

– a [talk on corporate blogging](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/11/corporate-blogging-talk-draft/) in Zürich ([MScom alumni Jour Fixe](http://www.mscomalumni.ch/news/events_full.html?events_id=47), private event) [Sept. 24]
– future jobs of the web (evolution of the “webmaster”) at [BlogCamp Lausanne](http://barcamp.ch/BarCampLausanne#Proposed_Sessions), and probably a second session either on languages or [teenagers online](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/09/09/informations-et-prevention-adolescents-et-internet/) [Sept. 29]
– a talk on being a blogging/social media consultant in Europe for [BlogOpen](http://blogopen.eu/) in Novi Sad, Serbia [Oct. Nov. 10]
– [Multilinguisme web et problèmes associés](http://2007.paris-web.fr/Vendredi-16-novembre#booth) in Paris for Paris Web [Nov. 16]

My [proposal for Web 2.0 Expo](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/09/another-multilingual-talk-proposal-web-20-expo-berlin/) didn’t make it, it seems, but I’ll probably submit something for [Web2Open](http://web2open.eu/).

And, as [you might have heard](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/273739252), **I’m looking for a speaking agent**. If you can recommend any good speaking agents who work with European-based speakers, please drop me a line or a comment.

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Corporate Blogging Talk Draft [en]

[fr] Je donne une conférence dans un peu plus d'un mois à des responsables de communication d'entreprises suisses. On m'a demandé de fournir une présentation de mon intervention, qui figurera sur l'invitation. Voici la version resultant de deux jours en sueur (oui je sais, c'est pas très impressionnant!) -- j'apprécierais votre feedback en la matière si vous lisez l'anglais.

A little over a month from now, I’ll be giving a talk on corporate blogging to leading communications executives of Swiss companies. I’ve been asked to provide an introduction to my talk, which will be included alongside some biographical information in the invitation to the event. Here’s my draft, based on examples of previous invitations I was given:

> Blogs are way more than teenage diaries, and it is now common knowledge that they can be a precious tool in corporate environments. Many companies today are interested in embracing social media, and some take the plunge — unfortunately, not always with the desired results.

> Blogging is not a magical solution. Though it requires little technical skill to exertblog (akin to sending an e-mail), it comes bundled with the culture of openness and real human dialogue described at the beginning of the decade in The Cluetrain Manifesto, which can be at odds with existing corporate communication practice.

> When a corporation starts blogging, whether behind the firewall or on the internet, it changes. Not all corporations are ready for that. Not all corporations can accommodate those sometimes unpredictable changes.

> Though one could just start blogging blindly, it is wiser in a corporate setting to identify some particular needs or problems which can be addressed with social media. Though social media is by nature error-tolerant, it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of learning the “blogging culture”, or the time required to keep a blog alive.

> Stephanie Booth will share her insights on how blogs can find a place inside corporate culture, and how to go around introducing them in such a setting. The focus will be on blogging culture and practices, illustrated by real-world examples taken directly from the blogosphere.

I’ve been struggling with it for the last two days, and I’d appreciate your feedback in the comments (both on the language and the content).

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Another Multilingual Talk Proposal (Web 2.0 Expo, Berlin) [en]

[fr] Une proposition de conférence sur le multilinguisme et internet, pour Web 2.0 Expo à Berlin en novembre. J'ai un peu laissé passer le délai, mais advienne que pourra.

I’m sending in a (very late) talk proposal for [Web 2.0 Expo, Berlin](http://berlin.web2expo.com/). Here’s the description I sent them, for my personal records, mainly. We’ll see what happens.

**Title:** Waiting for the Babel Fish: Languages and Multilingualism

**Short description:** Languages are the new borders of our connected world, but our tools make them stronger than they have to be. Most people are multilingual: how can language-smart apps help us out of the Internet’s monolingual silos?

**Full description:** The Internet is the ideal space to reach out to a wide public. However, if geographical boundaries are non-existent, linguistic barriers are all the more present.

Localization is a first step. But though most people and organizations recognize the necessity of catering to non-English audiences, some assumptions on how to do it need to be challenged. For example, countries and languages do not overlap well. Also, most people do not live and function in exclusively one language.

However necessary, localization in itself is not sufficient in getting different linguistic communities to emerge from their silos and mingle.

Multilingual spaces and tools will weaken the linguistic borders by allowing multilingual people of varying proficiency to act as bridges between communities otherwise incapable of communicating.

Till today, unfortunately, our tools are primarily monolingual even when correctly localized, and multilingualism is perceived as an exception or a fringe case which is not worthy of much attention — when in fact, most human beings are multilingual to some extent.

**Previous incarnations:** for the record again, previous incarnations of this talks (or, to put it slightly differently, other talks I’ve given about this topic):

– [BlogCamp ZH](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/25/blogcamp-multilingual-blogging-session/), March 2007 (with video)
– [Reboot9](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html), June 2007
– [Google](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/10/talk-languages-on-the-internet-at-google-tomorrow/), July 2007 (with video)

**Speaker blurb:** Stephanie Booth lives in Lausanne, Switzerland and Climb to the Stars,
The Internet. After a degree in Indian religions and culture, she has
been a project manager, a middle-school teacher, and is now an
independant web consultant. More importantly, she’s been bilingual
since she could talk, has lived in a multilingual country since she
was two, and been an active web citizen in both English and French
since she landed online in the late 90s.

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WordCamp 2007: Dan Kuykendall, Podcasting and podPress [en]

[fr] Notes prises à WordCamp 2007. Introduction au podcasting et à podPress, un plugin WordPress qui le transforme en machine à podcaster.

*Here are the notes I took of [Dan’s talk on Podcasting and podPress](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/podcasting/). I did my best, but they may not be accurate.*

WordCamp 2007 Podcasting and podPress

[Dan Kuykendall](http://www.mightyseek.com/) is the author of the popular [podcasting plugin podPress](http://www.mightyseek.com/podpress/).

Podcasting is very similar to blogging (just audio/video). About getting your message out. All about content, in consumable ways. Feeds.

RSS2 feed + “enclosure” tag.

Difference with blogging: lots of offline podcast viewers/listening. (Not many offline blog readers.)

Gear? Microphone, recording software, site + RSS2, something to say/play. Dan has a $100 mike, a $100 external sound card — *steph-note: fancy! but not even necessary… in-built microphone and soundcard can do for starters.*). Software: [Audacity](http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/) is free, so is WordPress.

WordCamp 2007 Dan Kuykendall's Gear

Podcasting does not require a major investment.

Dan got into podcasting early 2006. *steph-note: is [that](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/18/nuit-du-journal-intime-quelques-paroles/) early, as far as the history of podcasting is concerned?* Podcasting is a little more personal than blogging (voice, etc.) Podcasters, like bloggers, really crave feedback. At that time, podcasting wasn’t built into iTunes. WordPress looks great for that, but if you’re interested in podcasting more than blogging… hmm.

WordCamp 2007 Dan Kuykendall

Dan heard about the plugin system in WordPress… He had figured out how to do podcasting and make his podcast look good in iTunes, but what about others? => started writing a [plugin, PodPress](http://www.mightyseek.com/podpress/). “Which has now grown a bit out of control!” *steph-note: indeed, problems with redundant queries which caused my site to be shut down by DreamHost twice in the last six months.*

Podcasting is not just about pointing to your mp3 files. PodPress adds meta information, media players, etc. This means your public can view your podcast even if they don’t use a dedicated “podcast reader” (iTunes…)

*steph-note: tour of podPress’s features, and demo (not blogging this)*

WordPress: amazing blogging platform and CMS, with tons of hooks for plugin developers.

*steph-note: my experience of podPress is lots of settings, does the job though, even with minimal settings. However, as I mentioned above, my blog has been taken down once and maimed at least once by DreamHost because it was raising the load on the server it was hosted on way too much. After narrowing down the problem, the culprit appeared to be podPress.*

Q from Dan: who is providing media content in their blog, but doesn’t use podPress? *steph-note: question unclear from me, in my mind a blog which provides media content is a podcast, as long as the media content is made available as an enclosure in the feed, which I thought WordPress did out of the box.*

Q from audience: monetization? A: no, for free, but PayPal donations, though they haven’t really covered the cost of hosting…

Q Mark JaquithAaron Brazell: I love podPress, but the only problem is the weekly releases… could we space them out a bit? A: never sure when I’ll be coding, so when I get some stuff done I release it. => Q for Matt: will WordPress support some kind of plugin update automation? A (Matt): yes, for 2.3 (at least notification). *steph-note: yay!*

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Videos, Videos! And Kittens! [en]

[fr] Un nouvel épisode vidéo de Fresh Lime Soda, le podcast que je co-anime avec Suw Charman. On y parle de ce qu'on fait dans la vie, et surtout, de comment on le définit (mal!)

Aussi, vidéos de la Gay Pride ici à San Francisco, et de chatons. Oui, des chatons. Tout mimis.

Although [there is just one week left for me here](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/151809632), I’m still [in San Francisco](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600394601924/). When [Suw](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com) was here a few weeks ago, we seized the occasion to record another (video!) episode of [Fresh Lime Soda](http://freshlimesoda.net). Our conversation takes [the episode I mention in my “What do you care about?” post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/22/what-do-you-care-about/) and goes on from there, to examine how we define ourselves in our professional field, and a bunch of other things. Read [the shownotes on the original post](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/07/16/fresh-lime-soda-episode-7-in-san-francisco/) and enjoy the video!

(If the feed/RSS reader doesn’t take care of it for you, you can [download the video from Viddler.com directly](http://www.viddler.com/show_movie!orgFile.action?movieToken=5bc3aa08).)

While we’re on the subject of videos, I’ve uploaded quite a few to [my Viddler account](http://viddler.com/steph) recently. (Oh, and yes, I still have a post in my drafts somewhere… a review of viddler, which I really like despite its bugs and greenness.) There are videos of [the Gay Pride](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/sfpride) (and photos of the [Dyke March](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600459417123/) and [Parade](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600487653731/) of course!), the [iPhone Launch here in SF](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/iphonelaunch), but most importantly, [really cute kittens playing](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/blukittens). If you like kittens, you’ll enjoy the 5 minutes you’ll spend watching the videos. There are obviously [kitten photographs too](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600783421840/):

Blu's Kittens 7

Blu's Kittens 29

Blu's Kittens 24

And for those who missed the update, [the post announcing my talk at Google (on languages and the internet)](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/10/talk-languages-on-the-internet-at-google-tomorrow/) now contains a link to [the video of my talk](http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5004419583730327409&hl=en-GB), the (http://www.slideshare.net/sbooth/waiting-for-the-babel-fish), and my [handwritten presentation notes](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/801234849/) (not that they’ll help you much…). All that!

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Talk: Languages on the Internet at Google [en]

[fr] Demain, je donne une conférence à Google sur le thème du traitement des langues sur internet.

Tomorrow 2pm I’ll be giving a talk at Google (thanks for the invitation, [Kevin](http://epeus.blogspot.com/)) about languages on the internet. It will be an updated version of the [“While We Wait For The Babel Fish” talk I gave at reboot](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html) a month or so ago. For details, click on the poster Kevin made:

Talking at Google: Languages on the Internet

**Update 11.07.2007:** here is the slideshow!

**Update 12.07.2007:** and here’s the video!

**Update 13.07.2007:** and here are my notes for the talk… click on the photo to decypher!

Waiting for the Babel Fish Notes (Google Talk)

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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


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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Reboot9 — Leisa Reichelt: Ambient Intimacy [en]

*Here are my notes, unedited and possibly misleading, blah blah blah, of the Reboot9 conference.*

Ambient intimacy, a name Leisa made up to express the way we are connected through all these tools.

Photograph of one’s bedroom. Rather private, huh?

Flickr, Twitter, etc: keep us informed of small things going on in people’s lives which we wouldn’t know otherwise. Creepy or exciting?

Leisa Reichelt

As a good consultant, Leisa found herself compelled to come up with a name for this weird creepy exciting feeling: ambient intimacy. Floating, diffuse. Intimacy is closeness, basis of friendship, etc…

– 30 boxes: “situational awareness”. A bit too task-focused.
– Om Malik: “hyper-connectivity”, like justin.tv. Not that either, because you’re not always “on”. It’s a trail.
– Dave Linabury: “hive mind” in a blog comment.
– Andrew Duval: “lice picking” (*steph-note: we could say “grooming” instead.*)
– Ito & Okabe: “distributed co-presence”, 2005 — more the mechanics than the effect
– etc…

Actually, the concept goes back quite a while. Twitter made it visible to us, but it actually even predates the internet. Text messaging. Ongoing background awareness of others.

Easier now to broadcast/communicate with a larger network. On Facebook, teens regularly communicate with about a dozen or so contacts, though they have 100-150 “friends”.

Dunbar, etc.

Seeing your teacher in a shop. Weird! The teacher doesn’t count in your monkeysphere if you see her in the classroom only, because she remains one-dimensional. Basically, seeing people outside “context” makes you see them in a different light.

“Intimacy” better than “co-presence”, because this is about human relationships and supporting them.

The village green. (*steph-note: third places*)

Leisa lives in a neighbourhood where people know each other.

Being careful how we represent ourselves online. When I twitter something, it can be googled later. A great way to shape the way that others see you online.

Are these people **really** friends, then? We need to make a judgement about how authentically people are representing themselves online. => taxonomy of relationships.

Phatic expressiveness for virtual spaces. 140 characters is fine for that. People who complain about lack of content are completely missing the point about Twitter. Phatic expression: sole function is to perform a social task. (*steph-note: “we are in contact!” or verbal lice picking…)

David Weinberger: “continual partial friendship”
Johnnie Moore: “it’s not about being poked and prodded, it’s about exposing more surface area for others to connect with.”

Twitter: love it, or hate it. We who love it think that people who don’t like it, don’t get it. It’s a bit patronising. There are quite enough people who *do* get it but don’t like it.

E.g. Kathy Sierra: is it false connectedness?

If we’re not careful, we can trick our brain into thinking we’re having real social interaction. (*steph-note: didn’t get who said that.*)

We’re craving attraction, cf. Generation Me, chapter 4.

For Leisa, these online social interactions are not the social equivalent of junk food.

Ambient intimacy is not a **replacement** for real-life interaction.

Atmospheric communication.

Writing and receiving communications which are not intended to receive full attention.

Leisa doesn’t feel like IM/Twitter etc. prevent her from doing whatever she is doing. The interruptions are stressful according to Kathy Sierra, and prevents one from reaching the state of flow.

David Weinberger: it helps that the volume of flow information is so high that there is no expectation that it is all followed. “Hey dude, I twittered it two days ago!” is not a valid excuse today.

If it bugs you, distracts you, well, shut it down for a while. Is that too simple?

Design to support ambient intimacy. Think about ambiance.

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