Is your organisation an Apple or a Google?

Nice post from Steve Rubel, comparing the approach taken by two hugely innovative companies to engaging with their customers:

Google isn’t exactly known as the most transparent company in the world, but they’re light years ahead of Apple – a company that in some ways they share a kinship with when it comes to their reputation for innovation. Apple (or for that matter any big company) can learn a lot about radical transparency, customer service and PR from Google, even though they’re hardly perfect here.

The post is worth reading in full as Rubel analyses some of the good stuff that Google does (open about improvements to their products and lots of blogs) – and compares it to the lack of such activity by Apple.

I dare say that many public sector organisations are behind even Apple in this regard. Would you even want to be as open as Google about this sort of stuff? My view would be yes, but I would imagine that the idea would scare a lot of folk to death!

Digital Curator

One of the interesting discussions at yesterday’s focus group meeting at Ruralnet was around the idea that by aggregating all the content that’s out there on rural issues, Ruralnet might end up overloading people with information. In other words, no matter how well tagged and categorised content is, an awful lot of people just don’t have the skills or the experience to deal with a huge amount of information.

What sort of skills are required? Some are:

  • The ability to scan web pages and articles to check for relevance/interest
  • The use of RSS to subscribe to content you are interested in
  • Using tags to further break down content to identify the stuff you really want
  • Using tools like social bookmarking to clip content to read/use later

Steve Rubel has written an interesting post today, entitled ‘The Digital Curator in Your Future‘:

The call of the curator requires people who are selfless and willing to act as sherpas and guides. They’re identifiable subject matter experts who dive through mountains of digital information and distill it down to its most relevant, essential parts. Digital Curators are the future of online content. Brands, media companies and dedicated individuals can all become curators. Further, they don’t even need to create their own content, just as a museum curator rarely hangs his/her own work next to a Da Vinci. They do, however, need to be subject matter experts.

The point here is that the tools are not enough. Google Reader, etc already exist and can be used to manage and view information. But the need is there for a guiding human hand, someone used to dealing with large amounts of information and with the ability to be able to spot at a glance what is useful, and to whom.

This is yet another facet of the role that is emerging, including the community facilitators that Steve Dale has written about, and the online community organiser that Seth Godin has discussed. Bring in other elements: Steve Bridger‘s buzz director, David Wilcox‘s institutional hacker, Nancy White‘s community technology steward.

Slowly there is a job description building up for a role which is needed within every organisation – the only issue is, do they know it yet?

The ‘Lazysphere’?

Steve Rubel has posted about "The Lazysphere and the Decline of Deep Blogging".

Somewhere circa 2006 the tech blogger mindset shifted – at least among the majority. People who used to work hard creating and spreading big ideas resorted to simply regurgitating the same old news over and over again, often with very little value add. It’s almost like we stopped the real work of reading, thinking and writing in favor of going all herd, all the time.

So is this true? Is there really less value in the blogging that’s going on right now? I’m not so sure.

One issue is that the level of noise has increased – there are more bloggers. Therefore, there are more rubbish bloggers, and more crappy blogs. After all, 98% of everything is pretty crud. So that’s a factor. Attention loggers like TechMeme are bound to display large numbers of bloggers regurgitating news, because that is what a lot of bloggers do. That doesn’t mean to say, though, that the quality bloggers aren’t out there, nor that they are in decreasing numbers in real terms.

The other is that many of the best bloggers like to be on the bleeding edge – they like to be early adopters, especially those who blog about tech and web innovation. Quite rightly so: if they weren’t engaging in new technology, we’d be questioning why we bother reading them. Now, one of the trends of recent developments is that stuff is getting smaller, shorter. Twitter is blogging, reduced. Seesmic is YouTube, reduced. If people are playing with these toys, then their output is bound to be reduced. That’s not being lazy, it’s just taking part.