A Cup of Chaos #54: Santa’s Reindeer Fights Back

At this time of year, we all start thinking about Santa and his reindeers. Most of us, however, tend to go to department stores to see them up close. This entrepid individual decided to seek out a reindeer in its natural environment. And, ok, he had a gun … but here's what happens when you don't wear a big red suit.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

This week – because we are all running as fast as possible – towards the holidays, I thought I’d share with your five SHORT must-read posts from last week.

Each of them demonstrate just how much you can communicate if you squeeze your text and image hard enough.

Be sure to check them all out! It’ll only take you five!

  1. Message is the Medium – Great context setting (as usual) from Stan Johnson
  2. The Eternal Struggle – You know this happens to you too from Katie Chatfield
  3. Roald – The elegance of a letter from one of last centuries great storytellers from Angus
  4. Wikileaks – Is This a Significant Moment in History? Craig Wilson asks the big question
  5. Meet Facebook the New US Census – Ben Kunz shows exactly how aggregated data on Facebook reveals behavioural patterns.

How To Pitch

Here’s an interesting presentation on how startups should pitch to investors. There’s nothing earth shattering – but the design is great. But perhaps, the most interesting thing about this presentation is how widely it could be used.

Don’t just think of pitching a new business or startup. Think about your own projects (internal or external). Think about how you need to convince your wife that you should have a shiny new motorbike, or a sports car or a trip to Vegas. Use the same approach with your boss when pitching for a raise.

The same principles apply in all cases. Now just bite the bullet.

The Consumer Expectations of the Business User

There is a quiet revolution taking place in the enterprise. It’s not something you are going to notice at first. It doesn’t manifest in the kind of disruption that raises the eyebrows of management. It is quiet. Oh so quiet.

This revolution lives in the hearts and minds of the people who we loosely call the “business user”. And the business user is people like you and me. It’s the people who use business systems as part of their daily work. It may be that we use these systems for customer relationship management, timesheets or expenses or it may be that we use them for the heavy duty number crunching of forecasting, accounting, payroll or logistics. Many of us have been using these systems for years.

But at the end of the day, when we log out of these systems, abandon our cubes and head home, we open the door to a whole other world of digital experience.

Grabbing a beer with colleagues at a local bar we use our smartphones to check in on Foursquare. We text friends to let them know where we are, or put out a message on Twitter with the #tweetup hashtag. The more sophisticated will link FourSquare with Twitter and also with Facebook (or Facebook places) to reach different groups of friends with the same message.

Over the next hour there will be tweets, twitpics and Foursquare badges claimed. Photos snapped on our mobile devices will be published to our Posterous blogs or Tumblr sites, pushed to Flickr and tagged on Facebook. We’ll check for restaurant recommendations with our favourite foodies on Twitter, ask @garyvee for a recommendation on a nice bottle of red.

At home over the weekend, we will tag and categorise our pictures, linking people with the places and events of the last week. We will add commentary to our own photos and those of our friends. We will write reviews of restaurants, add tips to locations and “experiences” that we enjoyed and maybe even blog about it all. We are actively engaging, controlling and managing our digital experiences.

But the thing is – we CAN do this. Mobile devices – smartphones, iPads etc all give us access to enterprise grade computing systems framed in a way that links activity, purpose and lifestyle. The fast, powerful, platforms that manage the publishing, distribution and contextualisation of our content vastly outstrip the performance many of us experience in the office. We are increasingly living an on-demand, always-on, connected existence.

What does this look like from the outside? To be honest, it looks like a bunch of people, ignoring each other, sending email on their BlackBerrys or iPhones. But psychologically, you are witnessing a moment of flow. Of connectedness. Or what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi would call “flow” – a state of completely focused motivation. This, of course, is what every employer wants to see in their employees, right?

The problem comes when we take our consumer expectations into the office. Some of our business systems simply do not respond in the way that more “consumer” oriented systems have conditioned us to expect. They take us out of the state of flow. Sometimes this is to do with business rules but often it is simply down to responsiveness. If Facebook can give us an uninterrupted digital experience – keeping us engaged and in the moment – then why can’t our business systems?

As Jakob Nielsen explains, there are three important limits when it comes to response times:

The basic advice regarding response times has been about the same for thirty years [Miller 1968; Card et al. 1991]:

  • 0.1 second is about the limit for having the user feel that the system is reacting instantaneously, meaning that no special feedback is necessary except to display the result.
  • 1.0 second is about the limit for the user's flow of thought to stay uninterrupted, even though the user will notice the delay. Normally, no special feedback is necessary during delays of more than 0.1 but less than 1.0 second, but the user does lose the feeling of operating directly on the data.
  • 10 seconds is about the limit for keeping the user's attention focused on the dialogue. For longer delays, users will want to perform other tasks while waiting for the computer to finish, so they should be given feedback indicating when the computer expects to be done. Feedback during the delay is especially important if the response time is likely to be highly variable, since users will then not know what to expect.

So, when you are thinking about the business systems you use – or that you want others to use – make sure you are delivering to their expectations. After all, you want business users to achieve their objectives. You want to support them in their work. And this means removing those barriers to flow.

A Collection of Australian Wikileaks Commentary

I thought I’d take a quick scan for Australian blogs and non-mainstream media sites covering Wikileaks and its fallout.

While there is a lot of chatter on Twitter, there is less coverage on blogs than I had expected. There are, however, a few more interesting angles covered by the following:

Wikileaks Payback Targets

With Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, refused bail, it is now down to the network of Wikileaks editors, technologists, journalists etc to carry on with their publishing plans.

Meanwhile, a payback campaign has been launched by loosely connected activists, hackers, bloggers and various Wikileaks supporters targeting efforts aimed at financially crippling the Wikileaks group. This group, known as Anonymous Operations are using the web to orchestrate and plan their efforts – and are, at present at least, keeping one step ahead of efforts to shut down their servers. Google’s caching servers unsuspectingly seem to be supporting this.

But who is on the list and why? A quick scan of the cached Anonymous Operations target page reveals the following:

BBC for it's manipulative, distorted and selective reporting on Wikileaks related events.

Any US Anti WL site,

  • FoxNews
  • EveryDNS
  • cnn.com
  • washingtontimes.com
  • Eventually Mastercard/ Visa, not viable with current hive.

If we go after a US site, more US anon will join, its only (as of this writing) 10:20 EST, vs. like 4 am in euro.

  • http://www.dyn-intl.com Exposed by WikiLeaks cables; DynCorp, headquartered in DC with Texas offices, helped pimp out little boys as sex slaves to cops in Afghanistan. Currently not enough attention has been brought to the gross misconduct of a US private contractor.

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Way back in 1996 – before Wikileaks was a glint in the anarchic eye of Julian Assange, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s John Perry Barlow published A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. It speaks of a social contract. A different world. Utopian? It certainly is. But there is also a clear vision of a more open, transparent world where the exercise of power is exposed to the citizens of the world. After all, it is in the name of those citizens that power is aggregated and wielded by both governments and private sector institutions.

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland

February 8, 1996

So how does this declaration read to you in light of the global actions being taken on both sides of the Wikileaks divide? Hackers operating loosely under the collective Anon_Operation are variously targeting institutions who are supporting efforts to close down Wikileaks. Interestingly, where hackers would usually organise quietly, Anon_Operation are clearly sharing, collaborating and orchestrating their efforts in full public view. Perhaps for me, this is the most interesting aspect of the community response – it’s participatory. It’s empowering. And it makes for riveting viewing. Who needs TV?

UPDATE: Twitter has suspended the @Anon_Operation account. (9/12 – 10:30am)

anon-operations

My Media Diet – 2010

Around this time of year we all get a little reflective. I think back on what has worked and what has not – I look for what resonates for me and builds into a trend. I think about the lessons I have learned and then consider what could have been better. What I am looking for is the anatomy of the perfect day.

AnatomyWorkday-600x862

And one of the most interesting exercises is to look at my own personal media consumption. I don’t necessarily look at ALL the things that I have read, listened to or watched – but rather what seems to be trending. What is building from an idea into a behaviour or a habit.

Increasingly – in 2010 – it’s more about what consumes ME.

What I mean by this is that my consumption is becoming far less passive. I need and expect media with a purpose. I am less patient and more exacting. And I am far more reliant on my personal networks than ever before.

So what – in particular – has changed? To begin with – let me just say that everything has changed. 2010 seems to have been the year when my digital dalliances became full-blown behaviours. I believe this has been driven by two key shifts:

  1. Improved ISP broadband speeds (I increased both my connection speed and the download limit this year)
  2. Ease of consumption – a new router, an iPad and an iPhone now mean I can more easily and readily consume content. After all, ease of use drives consumption.

But in terms of the media itself …

Books

TV/Movies

  • 2008: A couple of movies borrowed from local video store; and shows from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  • 2009: A couple of movies downloaded from the web; and shows mostly from Australian Broadcasting Corporation (eg Gruen Transfer, The Bill, Bed of Roses).
  • 2010: Catching up on older, quality series (especially since The Bill has ended!) via online download or sometimes iTunes. I am particularly interested in strong narrative arcs – Six Feet Under, True Blood, Supernatural (hmm, I can see a theme here); and when it comes to TV, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Q&A program is must-see viewing.

Music

News

  • 2008: Newspapers delivered to my door on weekend. No magazines. A handful of feeds and a lot of blogs
  • 2009: Newspapers delivered to my door on weekend. SMH.com.au during week after scanning Twitter for latest news, Facebook status/feeds,WotNews, SocialMedian alerts. And around 200 daily feeds
  • 2010: No more newspapers delivered to my door. News scanning via Twitter, confirmations via The Guardian and other digital editions. I have been largely ignoring the local online instances of the mainstream press, relying instead on sites like crikey.com.au. I extensively use Feedly to corral several hundred RSS feeds into a manageable form and I simply love the personal curation available through Paper.li.

Digital advertising

I have never been a big fan of online display advertising. I think I have clicked on half a dozen banner ads in the last 10 years. I am more interested in particular eDM communications and offers  to which I have subscribed. Winners here include Torpedo7, City Software, Saba and Sportscraft. I continue to avoid most branded fan pages on Facebook but will generally follow branded Twitter accounts.

But what about you? What makes your perfect day?

Is Google on Your Reading List?

I remember about 8-10 years ago thinking that MySpace was all pervasive. That nothing was going to overtake it. Then Friendster came rolling over the horizon and created a whole new category of online participation only to become the first casualty of a resurgent Facebook. The web – if anything – is a story of wave after wave of innovation.

A great example is to look at eCommerce. When Amazon changed the book retailing landscape it seemed that they were so far ahead of their competitors that the industry would never recover. But every industry has a level of resilience. Within a year or two Borders, Barnes and Noble, the Book Depository and dozens of others had responded. And rather than cannibalising their markets, they were able to grow the whole sector.

And today, another goliath enters the fray. Google opens its doors to the world of eBooks. Will they transform yet another industry? Will it create opportunities for new markets and players? It’s too early to tell (and too limited in release, being US-only at this stage). But it does make for interesting pre-holiday season gift giving.