The Storm of Conversation

Today is the deadline for Age of Conversation submissions.

Over the last couple of weeks Drew McLellan and I have received drips and drops — a submission here, a submission there. But the floodgates have finally opened.

This afternoon my email box is overflowing with submissions ready for editing, review and publication. It is exciting AND daunting.

I have seen the storm coming, have even smelt the change in the air. But now it seems to be almost on top of me. And while some would batten down the hatches, I — along with Captain Drew — am hoisting another sail.

Does Your Blog Have a Potty Mouth?

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou
Free Online Dating

Some blogs are known for their insight. Some for their coverage of issues. Some for their colourful personalities. And some for their funky design and willingness to share. Sometimes the personality of the author is there in your face while for others, it is important to stay tucked away behind the words on the screen.

But no matter where your blog sits in this spectrum, the words that you write truly do say something about you. After all, blogs and your personal brand are intimately linked.

This fun little cuss-o-meter gives you a quick reading of your cussability score (with thanks to Meg Tsiamis). Meg ranked a healthy 2% while I managed a meagre 0.8%.

I am hoping that some of my friends make up for my poor efforts. After all, some have more reasons to cuss than others!

Interesting South Debrief In-Brief


  Lauren Brown sketches the speakers 
  Originally uploaded by servantofchaos

The Interesting South gang (Emily Reed, Katie Chatfield, Ian Lyons, Gregg Girling, Matt Moore, Rob Marson, Stig Richards, Tim Longhurst, Gavin Heaton, Lauren Brown) breathed a collective sigh of relief around midnight last night. After months of planning, the presentations all came together in a way that held the sellout crowd in thrall.

Our speakers performed very well in front of a large and curious crowd at the Belvoir Street Theatre. As we started, our MC for the evening, Tim Longhurst asked the audience to turn on their mobile phones and contribute to the conference via Twitter or by SMS direct to his mobile phone.

Mark Bagshaw kicked off the proceedings with an astounding speech about opportunity, challenge, disability and optimism — setting a very high bar for all who followed. Roger Dennis encouraged us to look at different industries to identify innovative opportunities for our own. Emily Reed investigated, to all our fears, why marriages fail.

A brief interval saw the audience burst into conversation, inspired by the six word biographies they were wearing. The Belvoir Street front of house team were busy watering the thirsty audience and the staff from Wagamama negotiated the jammed foyer as best they could.

Christian Mushenko shared some everyday heroes with us all. Tim Noonan lived up to his reputation, delivering a daring, daunting and slightly saucy discussion about what it means to be the real you. Annalie Killian reminded us that change is the constant in our lives and was followed by Wade Millican who brought us to a central meditative space in the space of minutes. Zoe Horton brought tears to all our eyes as she stepped through the challenges and delicate joys of genetic counselling.

During the next interval we ran the brave Tereasa Trevor through Marlaina Read’s presentation on the History of Photography. Marlaina was unable to make it to Sydney to present, but she offered to send the slides, and in the spirit of open source, we called for a volunteer presenter. Tereasa stepped up to the challenge via an SMS to MC, Tim Longhurst.

On returning to the theatre, we were treated to Scott Portelli’s awesome images and video of swimming with whales off the coast of Tonga. And then keeping with the animal theme, Ian Johnston asked us whether animals think about what other animals think. Suzanne Dagseven gave an inspiring speech about finding your purpose and escaping the mundane everyday prisons of our own making. Tereasa delivered her own take on Marlaina’s presentation and then Stephen Collins explained exactly how Web 2.0 technologies can be used to make real change — in this case his daughter’s school board. Michael Lister stepped us through the intricacies and amusing challenges of bus route design. Russ Tucker introduced us to his Viral Waistcoat and all the people who have worn it (BUT it seems to have gone missing. If you know where it is, please let him know!).

I will put together some deeper thoughts on the presentations as time allows … but for those who were not able to attend in person, we will share videos and photos as they become available. Thanks to all who participated!

Thinking in Pictures

Agency_ecosystem2_2 As my regular readers will know, I am more of a storyteller than a visual artist. But I often find that one of the best ways of expressing my ideas will be in picture form. Unfortunately, my drawing skills are poor. Really poor. So this means finding an alternative way of working.

Where I always try to start is with the story. What is it that I am trying to get across to my audience? What is the starting point and where does the end point lie? What is the journey that we are going to take and what sights and sounds will we encounter along the way? I try to think of it as a train trip — something that has an EXPERIENTIAL element to it.

An essential aspect for me is the metaphor. What is the key theme that I want to apply … and what is the message? How do I build this up along the way? What are the rhythms I want to interject.

And once I have all this, I ask myself — is there some visual that I can use? Where can I find it? How can I bring my story with its key themes together around the visual? Normally I start with a Google image search based around my key messages. If that does not result in a winning image, I often go to Flickr and do the same. But every so often both of these great tools fail me. That is when I take a breath and think about my friends and community. I think blogs and I think Twitter. But rarely do I think Facebook.

However, when I was thinking about this post, I knew that there was an image that I wanted. I just needed to think where it was. And sure enough, I remembered. David Armano generously setup a fan page on Facebook some time ago and saved many of his well-known (and well-used) diagrams to image albums. This is one of them. Be sure to check this great resource next time you get stuck!

The Gen Y Guide to Web 2.0 Work

Make no mistake, there are some challeging times ahead for companies. And one of the big ones is dealing with the influx of new employees and the successful transition of young managers into the ranks of decision makers. Beth Kanter discusses social media as a form of innovation within NGOs here and points out this great slideshow from Sacha Chua. A taste of things to come? It is only a matter of time 😉

Your Platform is Not My Friend

I was reading ReadWriteWeb’s post on social networks and filtering and was immediately reminded of the Tangerine Toad’s Your Brand is Not My Friend. RWW’s Corvida is looking at the large amount of "noise" that occurs in social networks and suggests that filters are the necessary next step in the evolution of social networks.

However, one of the things that I most like about social networks is that the WAY that participants actually USE the social platform is what determines its value. Take Twitter for example. If it was down to Twitter, we would still be answering the question "what are you doing". Instead, the Twitter community have moved in a completely different direction, finding connections, conversation and activism a far better use of the 140 character micro-blogging format.

When you add the concept of personal branding to this, you can begin to see the importance of conversation. In this Age of Conversation, we are what we talk about. We are known by what we say and who we say it to. Our reputations rely on the connections we make, the friendships we build and the content we create. The platforms that we use to carry on these engagements are, to an extent, irrelevant — afterall, the almost all aggregate under the all-seeing eye of Google.

So while, yes, filtering would be a nice addition to most social network platforms (especially when you start to link them), the best form of filter is your friend. Not the platform. If you take the time to listen, learn and TRUST, then that personal network will pay back your time and effort many times over.

Servant of Chaos Joins the Junta

Junta42_top_blog Back in January, Joe Pulizzi published the Junta 42 … the top content marketing blogs on the Internet. A few months further on, Joe is announcing the updated list which includes a number of my favourites, including David Reich’s My Two Cents, Mack Collier’s The Viral Garden, Neil Perkin’s Only Dead Fish and of course, Drew’s Marketing Minute. I am pleased to say that Gavin Heaton’s Servant of Chaos blog has edged in, ranking this quarter at #38 (this could well be the only list on which I rank ahead of Guy Kawasaki).

One of the things that I like about the list is that the top 42 blogs are individually researched and measured against a number of elements (you can find the full list here). This is how Joe describes the criteria.

  • The number of posts in the five most recent posts prior to and including March 31, 2008, that pertained to a content marketing topic.
  • Substantiveness of Posts. Here we worked to weed out posts that fell short of adding value to the collective body of knowledge about content marketing. For example, blogs that simply linked to other blogs or articles without adding new information, perspectives or ideas to the commentary received lower scores than did blogs that consistently delivered unique ideas, thoughtful insights, deep coverage, rich media and the like – you know, high-value content – to the community.
  • Regularity of Posts. Here we looked at the frequency of posts throughout the month of March. Those posting on 3 or more days per week (12 or more days throughout March) received the highest number of points.
  • Google PageRank. All blogs were checked on the same day to record Google PageRank.
  • Junta42 Member Ratings. Blogs ranked on our previous Top 42 list received points for their position and their Hitch! popularity. Blogs that were newcomers to our list received a first-round quality score instead.

Lists such as the Junta42, Mack’s Top 25 Marketing and Social Media Blogs and Ad Age’s Power 150 have an important role to play. They are a great source of "go to" knowledge — and can prove invaluable for new and experienced bloggers alike. When I first started writing this blog I used Mack’s list and aspired to one day be ranked there. And to this day I use it as a reference and reminder of the great blogs that are freely available to us all.

And while no ranking methodology is without its flaws, the most important thing is that lists allow you to identify where it is that you do (or want to) belong. At the end of the day, the list is about community, or as Drew McLellan would say, "tell me your friends and I”ll tell you who you are". Think about it … where do you belong. Oh, and thanks for belonging here!

Sh1thot Designer Job

Web_design_job New jobs in social media here in Australia tend to be Laurel’s domain, but this one came across my desk today so I thought I would share it with you all. Now, I don’t know how many of my regular readers are web designers, but it seems like this may be the sort of opportunity that is rarely seen outside of the capital cities.

An agency in Newcasltle looks set to shake up the industry … and by the look of things, they want to do it by being more than just a little provocative.

If you know someone who fits the mould — or likes to break the mould — then let them know. Visit sh1thotdesigner.com to learn how to apply.

Good luck.

Digital Experiences and Magic

A great presentation by Iain Tait on the connection between our online and digital experiences and magic. Interestingly, he separates magic and illusion — the aim is to be both entertaining and purposeful. Take a look!

I love the way that he walks us through some of the earliest digital experiences that he had (almost the same as mine) — the old video games of tennis, football etc that ran through channel 3 on your black and white TV; followed by a small computer that loaded programs from a cassette tape.


My Talk At Under the Influence from iaintait on Vimeo

Quicksand!!!


QUICKSAND !!!
Originally uploaded by Mickie Flick

Things are a little quiet around here at the moment … but all for a couple of good reasons!

ONE — We are busily putting together the program for Interesting South which hits Belvoir Street Theatre next week — May 12! The program is shaping up to be very … well, interesting.

TWO — Drew McLellan and I are already receiving submissions and questions for the next round of the Age of Conversation. And this time around there are almost THREE times as many authors.

And finally, I am still working sporadically on the Future of Your Brand series. There are some great ideas ready to share … I just need about 10 more hours each day to write them up!

In the meantime, do drop by and leave me a comment or a link (for some reason all I am getting at the moment is spam!).