martes, 27 de febrero de 2007

Eco consciousness in Patagonia thanks to Youtube

The Morenito lake

Last summer the practice water skiing on some Patagonian lakes suddenly went out of control. A significant increase of tourism, the economic reactivation combined with state deflated gas prices summoned, on any given sunny day, dozens of outboard motor boat fanatics.
Powerboats took a preference to the wind-shielded, still waters of the Morenito.

The ecosystem was deeply impacted as the natural habitat of black-necked swans and rainbow trout gave way to oily and raucous sketches of risky crisscrossing wave trails.
While authorities were well aware of the situation they acted obliviously to the many letters of eco conscious neighbors, kayakers and fishermen.

The impact of Cybermedia.
YouTube changed everything; all I had to do was to post this short video describing a normal summer day.

Suddenly the reality was there, accessible to anybody anytime. Over a thousand visits to Youtube echoed the mails that people were interchanging on the matter. In no time, the video link was reaching the local authorities. Not just another complaint letter to be filed in a drawer.
Two months after the video was posted the practice of waterski on the Moreno lake was banned altogether.

The video.

The Municipality resolution.

A letter sent by a neighbor describing some of this summer events.

Hi Ernesto,

Just wanted to thank you for all you have done to recover the tranquility of our Morenito!

Your campaign was successful; there was no skiing in the lake.

Things were rather funny: the day after you left (and during my siesta...) a group of 4 boats arrived jointly, took as base Scioli's place and started skiing.
One boat even stopped at your floating sign and spray painted it.

Well, some 5-6 kayaks showed up trying to stop them. I jointed, with Marina, in our gomon - camera and Prefectura's resolution in hand.
We had some very unpleasant discussions with the Sioli's friends and a tough (but more or less reasonable) conversation with this Repetto guy.
They finally left.

Susana Jimenez organized for the next day a visit of Prefectura. They showed up by boat and car. Whilst the boat patrolled the area, Susana visited with the Prefecto
Some neighbors. Since than Prefectura comes once a week.

The other day, apparently a newcomer, started skiing and immediately an armada of floating devices covered the lake. We saw these people never again.

Doubtless all neighbors appreciate the new situation, it is wonderful to see the lake with sometimes more than 25 windsurfer, rowing boats, canoes etc, plus people swimming without fear.

Susana than also invested a bottle of nail polisher to clean up your sign.

When we left it was common knowledge in Llao Llao that the Morenito was off-limit for skiing, actually plenty of outside kayaks come to visit.

Mission completed!

Regards to everybody


The sign painted by disagreen skiers.

Chapter seven: The Global Citizen, Sustainable Development Consciousness

“The medium, or process, of our time – electric technology is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. Everything is changing: you, your family, your education, your neighborhood, your job, your government, your relation to the others. And they're changing dramatically".
Marshall McLuhan, communication theorist

A new individual is arising. For two years we have seen these people pass like a shadow, but we haven’t lost their trail. They are people who are conscious of their role in society and participate through the media. And the medium of our era is digital technology.

The new individual is a global citizen who is connected to the world and online. Not surfing but googling. These people don’t passively receive information, but participate – mistrust traditional media, and challenge them.

“Besides breathing, what else do you do more than 3,000 times a day? What you do, or rather what you get done to you, is receive thousands of messages aimed at making you buy something”. Paul Hawken, author of The Ecology of Commerce

The new individual no longer watches a 30-minute news program or spends hours in front of the paper, but rather, on turning his personal computer on every morning (or entering a cybercafé), finds the news services he chose to subscribe to on the screen. He converses online and doesn’t want to be directed. He no longer writes to the paper’s “Readers’ Mail” page, but prefers the immediacy of Internet – and interacting to making speeches.

Signs: We are connected
• In Latin America, cell phones rapidly reached every social class and age group. Considered luxury goods or a working tool a few years ago, cell phones are now used by teenagers to send text messages (SMS) to their friends, by parents to know where their children are, by wives to know at what time their husbands will get home, and by those living in underprivileged neighborhoods, where telephone networks still haven’t arrived.
• Broadband connectivity is likewise reaching critical levels. Some access the new media via their laptop computers or iPods, and the majority of people do so at a cybercafé for less than 20 US cents an hour.
• 40,000 people participated in a cyber-activism campaign in Argentina. Encouraged by Greenpeace, they sent SMS from their cell phones so that Buenos Aires legislators would pass a “zero-garbage” law. It was a success.
• An amazing 500,000 million SMS are exchanged every year worldwide.

From consumer to selector
“By the time he or she finishes high school, an American teenager will have watched 350,000 commercial ads. The average adult watches 21,000 commercials a year. We are taught to identify car models rather than bird species, so much that we can identify a thousand brand logos but less than ten native trees. Besides breathing, what else do you do more than 3,000 times a day? What you do, or rather what you get done to you, is receive thousands of messages aimed at making you buy something,” remarked Paul Hawken in 1992, author, among other books, of The Ecology of Commerce.

The new individual, on the contrary, selects what he consumes, refusing to be overwhelmed and convinced by advertising to buy a certain product. Not accepting sales ads at face value, he wants to have things explained to him, wants to be engaged in dialog, to be heard – and is consequently more and more reluctant towards traditional advertising strategies.

The new individual does not reject consuming, but rather (since there was never so much information available regarding the history behind each product) makes, for the first time, purchase decisions based on companies’ ethical behavior. Pioneer brands such as American Apparel, Patagonia and Camper have made him used to reading labels, to learning which are the clean technologies and how his decisions can make a difference in issues of concern such as environment, labor and health. He is aware, and becomes a fan of trusted brands. He looks for authenticity and reacts strongly against deception and shallowness.

The new individual = The global citizen

Chilean students used SMS, MSN, and other Internet tools to paralyze all the schools in their country. With their students’ strike, they forced Michelle Bachelet’s government to promote a change in educational policies.

Local and global
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project research entitled “Online Communities: Networks that nurture long-distance relationships and local ties”, some 45 million people who participate in online communities say that Internet has helped them connect with other persons or groups with shared interests, regardless of distance. Research also discovered that these virtual relationships are becoming offline interactions. “Internet also helps people increase their contacts with other people they already know and who live in their community,” the report concludes.

With regard to this, French-Canadian philosopher Hervé Fischer affirms that digital technologies offer more than one alternative to build a society that is more equitable and humanistic: “We have to go from the society of competitive loneliness to the society of shared responsibilities and solidarities. We have to create a ‘hyperhumanism’: a new social model based, like the digital hypertext, on links.”

That’s what the phenomenon is called. It refers to Internet’s aptitude for widening the social world of people who are physically far apart (global level) while at the same time connecting them in a deeper manner with the place they live in and their immediate surroundings (local level). It is thus that users start to gain awareness of problems afflicting their communities and to look for answers to those problems. They start wanting to cooperate, worrying about what happens on the block, at their schools, to their neighbors.

It’s just a few steps from this shared interest to the weaving of a web, a social and digital network. To thinking globally and acting locally.

The new individual:
• Creates.........................................Wikipedia
• Communicates ........................... RSS / Permalink

• Cooperates ..................................Glocalization

viernes, 23 de febrero de 2007

Chapter six: Sustainability, Triple bottom line, a new Corporate Consumer relationship

“I managed Interface as a looter, taking things that were not mine. Things that belong to every creature on Earth. At some point I realized: Oh my God! There will come a time when this will be illegal. A time when looting won’t be allowed. Some day, people like me will end up in jail”.
Ray Anderson, chairman and CEO, Interface

A recent survey carried out by The Synergos Institute in several countries shows that 95% of consumers believe that companies have a debt towards their employees and the community. It also indicates that 3 of every 10 English consumers either chose or boycotted brands, products, or companies for ethical reasons in the last 12 months.
It would indeed look as if we are converging, little by little, at the same manner of thinking. The same ethos. Sustainable development, a concept that leads us not to live beyond our possibilities –– not to burn down our house to keep ourselves warm, or cut the tree branch we are sitting on. A concept that leads us to attend to current needs without jeopardizing future generations’ possibilities, in the words of Swiss philanthropist and businessman Stephan Schmidheiny. Actually, this concept is sheer common sense: the one that drives us to close the faucet while we are brushing our teeth.
Because of these and other signs, pioneer brands are already working on integrating the sustainability of their positioning strategies and communicating it to their publics. They understand the imperious need to establish a new relationship with their consumers.

Signs: Model companies and responsible consumers
• Toyota Motor Co. created sedan Prius, the first low-cost mass-produced electric car. By this means it expects to reach 15% of worldwide sales of hybrids, which would entail beating General Motors as the planet’s greatest automobile manufacturer.
• The annual sales of Interface –one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers– add up to about USD one million-million a year. Since the company started its sustainability initiatives, it has saved more than USD 70 million. For the year 2020, Interface has set itself the challenge of becoming the first sustainable industrial company on the planet.
• Brazilian cosmetics company Natura was, back in the 80s, one of the first in the world to incorporate the concept of “refill”, thus proving its concern for its products’ environmental impact. Today, holding 19% of the market, it is the leader of its sector in South America – a brand valued at 113% of annual sales, and having grown 32% in sales in 2 years.
• No less than 84% of consumers in Brazil would recommend products that assign a percentage of their sales to a social cause or a NGO.
• 40% of consumers in Chile have punished or are willing to punish irresponsible companies.
• In Argentina, 51% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from companies that show they are socially responsible.
• According to the World Bank, European consumers have refused to buy American genetically modified foods.
• On the other hand, the USA –under pressure from its consumers–forbade the importation of tuna fish from Mexico due to that country’s not having prevented the killing of dolphins while fishing.

Nike: Change of habits
The world’s great economic and media groups base their business model on their capacity to influence the needs, desires and lifestyles of their consumers. But what happens when consumers voluntarily change their habits? Market researches have already identified a new consumer that rewards socially and environmentally committed companies while punishing irresponsible ones. Consequently, in order to stay competitive, companies must adjust their business model and anticipate new demands. Some pioneer brands have already found an innovative way of communicating with this new client.
In the aftermath of the scandal caused by its use of sweatshops (as denounced in Naomi Klein’s book No Logo), Nike started manufacturing in a cleaner, more responsible manner. “We know from experience how much a brand can suffer when its practices are questioned,” say company presidents Mark Parker and Charlie Denson. The company launched the Nike Considered line of products, incorporating organic cotton. Furthermore, it changed the values reflected in its advertising campaigns. “I don’t play for prizes,” affirms Ronaldinho, Brazilian football’s star player, in one of the brand’s recent ads.

Kryptonite: Consumers to power
Many are the companies have implemented decisive transformations in their way of doing business. They have understood that, in this new environment, brands must bare their souls, mission, sense, and commitment to a world that both desires and needs to be sustainable. They have understood also that deception cannot be gotten away with and that, in this era, consumers simply cannot be ignored.
Kryptonite is a manufacturer of bicycle padlocks. One year ago, a user posted in a blog that their “high security” padlocks could be opened with a pen. The company tried to ignore this and discredit the comment. A few days later, there appeared on the Internet a video showing that the padlocks were truly “made of butter”. Stubbornly, Kryptonite issued a press release insisting that they were safe. Then, another few days later, the story appeared in the New York Times, making an approximate 5 million readers aware of the episode. Kryptonite finally announced that it would change all the padlocks at an estimated cost of USD 10 million.

“We want to be happy and content and not to exploit our employees. We are interested in music, hedonistic, and love sex.”
Dov Charney, founder, American Apparel

American Apparel: The business of doing things right
American Apparel is located in downtown Los Angeles, where all the cotton garments the company manufactures are cut and sewn. While a great part of the textile industry has opted for foreign labor plants –located mainly in those countries where labor force is much cheaper than in the USA– American Apparel intended from the very start to distance itself completely from the so-called “sweatshops”. The company treats its employees with dignity and respect, besides offering them salaries that are way higher than the average, medical benefits and paid holidays.

This strategy has paid off fairly well: today, American Apparel is considered to be among the ten most growing companies in the country within its sector. In the period spanning the years 2000-2004, its sales increased 900%, compared with the 12,9% growth of the garment industry in the USA. Competitors GAP and H&M reached 40% and 76% respectively. For Dov Charney, founder and owner since 1997, the success of this no-logo brand can be explained thus: “Our aim is to make clothes that people like, without employing slave labor. And it seems that people are liking them…”

The future is here
The following news, published towards the end of the year 2006, show that the world has already changed.

• On September 20th, the State of California filed huge claims against six large car manufacturing companies for their responsibility regarding global warming. General Motors, Toyota, Ford, Honda, Chrysler, and Nissan were sued for manufacturing millions of vehicles that release 289 million tons of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere.
• “This is not a hobby. We aren’t doing it to improve our reputation or to feel good,” said Gary Sheffer to ABC channel. Mr. Sheffer is Communications and Public Affairs Manager of General Electric, whose sales of environment-friendly products have grown 100% in 2005, reaching a total of USD 10,000 million.
• “We want to transform the world’s largest supermarket chain into the greenest one, and to transform our suppliers as well,” says Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, the greatest buyer of organic cotton on the planet.

Sustainable human development
It’s part of the business already. It’s not certain whether it was consumers, activists, or pioneering businesspeople that set it in motion – but, sometime while we were all discussing its signs, the change began.

Triple Bottom Line
This term refers to a company’s results, measured in economic, environmental, and social terms, as expressed in the corporate reports of sustainable development-committed companies. For the time being, these measurements are voluntary. 68% of Western European multinational corporations currently carry out this kind of measurement, while in the USA, even though the figure is lower at a current 41%, the increase is still dizzying. In every case, companies presenting this kind of analysis have realized, before the rest, that in the immediate future consumers will become more and more responsible – and will demand to know the economic, environmental, and social impact of the products they reward with purchase.

“An authentic brand has to decide what it will give from itself. It must answer itself difficult questions. Who are we? What is our mission? How do we want to contribute to the world? This is the greatest challenge brands must face today: to rediscover their inspiration. It’s a process that can only be carried out by looking inwards, with less market research and more self-evaluation”.
Jay Walljasper, editor, Ode

jueves, 22 de febrero de 2007

Chapter Five: Wikipedia, collective intelligence and the long tail participation

“The call is historic because it doesn’t issue from a political party. It issues from the Internet, and it’s democratic because there are cybercafés everywhere. The Web is the weapon, and that’s why old politicians don’t understand what’s happened. They only use it to look at naked chicks”.
Chilean student

Our global society is in the early stages of what could be a media revolution as great as that produced by Gutenberg’s printing press in 1448: the birth of the participatory media. The era of the mass media, which began in the twentieth century, is undergoing a crisis. The way in which people connect to information is being crucially changed by a series of technological modifications. There has been born a new force of citizen journalists, armed with photograph-taking cell phones, connected via the Web and with blogs as their means of publishing.
The question is how does one join the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the final picture looks like? By starting at the edges. That is why we certainly cannot predict the exact shape the communications media will take as a result of this revolution. Neither do we know what kind of citizen will arise as a consequence of the use of the participatory media. But at the edges of the system we perceive signs of change whose impact we can already see.

The long tail
The Internet made a U-turn after the 2001 collapse of the dot-coms. After the bubble burst, the only survivors were the software, sites and proposals that form the so-called Era of the Web 2.0. And this is not just about the Internet – because, in its infrastructure, it implies not only access to the Web (which has been in existence for decades) but also a widely spread, always-online broadband access. An access in which uploading speed will soon match downloading speed.
In the new model, small sites constitute the majority of Internet contents. Google’s success (and that of its advertising service, Google AdSense) lay in reaching the entire Web – the extremes and not just the center, the long tail and not just the head.
Thus, the most competitive companies will be those that reach a critical mass of information thanks to users’ participation and transform said contributions into system services. The challenge: to turn clients and consumers into contributors.

Signs: I participate, you participate, we participate
• Around November 2005, 57% of American youths created Internet contents, from texts to photographs, music and videos (source: Pew Internet & American Life Project).
• You can browse over 25 million blogs in the Technorati directory. The blogosphere has grown 100 times in 3 years.
• In the relatively small market of Argentina, 1 million people are broadband services subscribers. In any small town in the country, one can use Internet at a cybercafé for twenty US cents an hour.
• An Online Publishers Association research carried out in February 2006 has shown that 69% of American users had seen videos on the Internet, that 24% did it at least once a month, and that 5% did it every day .

Ohmy News, CNN & BBC: The birth of citizen journalism
In South Korea, Ohmy News, an online newspaper created by Oh Yeon Ho, a journalist retired from the traditional media, receives 2 million visits a day. But his newspaper has no editorial office or staff, no war correspondents, no prestigious columnists. Just 33,000 ordinary citizens who contribute their articles. It also possesses a rating system that places the most-read notes above the rest. A further novelty: just as people at a bar or restaurant leave a tip, Ohmy News readers can make small donations when they enjoy their reads. One article made USD 30,000 in one day. But Ohmy News is not an isolated case. The CNN has just launched the CNN Exchange section for the rising citizen journalism – where the public can upload texts, photos and videos. “Send in your story. Share your ideas. Leave your mark,” they urge. The English BBC, through its website, also encourages its users to participate. In that country, photos taken with cell phones during the London metro attacks surpassed any expression from the traditional media.

Wikipedia, the collective intelligence

Wikipedia is the best example of a novelty – collective intelligence. This free, user-written online encyclopedia already boasts 1 million articles in the English version and is 12 times bigger than the printed version of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Over 100,000 people from all over the world have contributed to the building of it. It has more visitors than the New York Times and CNN sites, among others. And it has been in existence for only five years.

We, the media
Every second that passes, a new blog is created in the world, according to the blog-searching engine Technorati. 50,000 new posts (entries of information, texts, photos or videos) are entered every hour. And yet a blog is more than a personal page such as have existed since the nineties – the difference being that now the new technologies allow us to link one blog with another, subscribe, and receive a notification every time the blog changes. It’s not just a link; it’s a “permalink”. The permalink is what has transformed blogs from a publishing tool into a conversation tool. From this chaos of dialoging and superimposing communities, the discussion has arisen. The Chat appeared. A “we, the media” world appeared. A world in which the audience is deciding what’s important.
It was none other than Charles Johnson, a blogger, who discovered that a photograph from the international news agency Reuters about the Israel-Hezbollah conflict had been digitally adulterated. The agency had to apologize publicly and withdraw from its files that and a further 920 pictures taken by photographer Adnan Hajj, who was fired.

The time of the Mojos
Research on audience tastes indicates that people increasingly want local news, sports, entertainment, climate, and traffic information, and less agency-produced, long reports repeated ad nauseam throughout the media. People expect to be told shorter stories and to be given relevant information. Based on this information, Gannett, the greatest newspaper group in the world, is trying to make its journalists focus on more local issues. That’s why it has invested in “mojos” (mobile journalists) equipped with laptop computers and always out in the streets, where things are taking place that matter to the community.

Clip culture: vlogs

Towards the beginning of 2006, the vlog (video blog) Rocket Boom was being watched by 350,000 people a day , half of which are outside the USA. A perfectly ordinary girl who every day issued her own three- to five-minute television program on the Internet, giving her own peculiar vision of reality. The cost of producing that program? Twenty dollars a day, plus a USD 14,000 Sony HDV camera and a set in producer Andrew Baron’s apartment in New York’s West Side.
YouTube was born in December 2005 out of the simple idea of making it easier to upload homemade videos to the Web. A million videos had already been published before its official launching. Halfway through 2006, 50,000 videos a day had been uploaded, and people were watching some 100 million videos a day. And these are figures that keep growing.
Contents change, supporting devices change too. Multimedia reproducers become portable. Users download videos to watch in their iPods or cell phones. Entertainment has ceased to be a synonym for sitting on the sofa in front of a square box. Reception moments become more personal.

The end of the media as we know them
For the first time in more than a century, ordinary citizens represent a challenge to the few corporations dominating the mass media. Borders between audience and communicators become blurred and sometimes downright invisible. The old media model was “there is a source of truth”. The new model is “there are multiple sources of truth, and together we’ll determine which are the most important contents and values”. An Oxford professor’s blog can become as popular as that of a Shanghai secretary telling about the trivial details of her daily life in China. The decision is in people’s hands.

Questions arise: How will the brands make use of these new media? How do they want to talk with the new, participative citizen? Even though the media may have become sophisticated, successful models demonstrate that their strategy is among the oldest – telling stories. The challenge is thus to tell stories that move, inspire and promote participation.

miércoles, 21 de febrero de 2007

Sustainability and Triple Bottom Line surf the disruptive wave of New media

Cannibals with forks is probably the best book on Sustainable development since Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce. Fifteen years later, John Elkington, its author, and Chairman of Strategy consultants, SustainAbility, identifies seven revolutions that are already transforming the world of business. Transcending another diagnosis, and in an attempt to start walking the talk, he goes on to define the Thirty-nine steps to sustainability. We will elaborate more on future posts, for now check

Elkington suggests that we are already seeing the emergence of a new- or renewed -set of values, many of which will be central to the sustainability transition. He defines sustainability “as a new form of value which society will demand and which successful businesses will deliver through transformed markets”.
This is a different approach to the traditional WBCSD or Schmidheiny’s definition.
I admire Elkington’s exactness in the affirmation “society will demand”, a concept we have been emphasizing for some time both in this blog and in the more elaborated Spanish version “el viaje de Odiseo”.

I am convinced that this demand will be the most critical factor of change, it will be sudden, decisive and of great impact. Most businesses will no even know where it is coming from since the power force behind it is strengthening and escalating in what we have defined as the New Web, We Media or the upcoming Web 3.0.

Elkington goes on to affirm that the revolution "is under way and is fueled by growing international transparency, and it will accelerate. This process is itself being driven by the coming together of new value systems and radically different information technologies”.

Due to its publishing date (1997-99) the book does not mention the changes profound changes in the Web 2.0. (which I might have overly stressed in this blog).
We clearly concur that powerful forces are colliding for a major change in the way we produce, consume and communicate. He defines seven revolutionary forces: Markets, Values, Transparency, Life-cycle technology, Time, Partnerships and Corporate Governance.

The “tipping point” (a term coined by Malcolm Gladwell to define the moment when something unique and unusual becomes normal) has come so much closer to occur since then, and it is about to take place, if it has not yet.

I coincide with his seven drivers, but I am convinced that since the publication of this book three of them have proven deeper in strength and have confirmed the erosion of the foundations of twentieth century capitalism: a profound value shift in society, an anew business conscience and the transparency new web technologies have instated.

Business will find its thinking, priorities, commitments, Elkington affirms, and activities under increasingly intense scrutiny worldwide. Some forms of disclosure will be voluntary, but others will evolve with little direct involvement from most companies. He convincingly concludes, “The transparency revolution is out of control”.

martes, 20 de febrero de 2007

Wikinomics meets the Long tail

I have just finished two incredible books: Wikinomics and the Long tail.
My summary on them is the following:

The change already occurred.
In 2004 ITunes redefined the music industry. In 2005 Skype redefined global communications: In only one year, its user base went from one hundred thousand to one hundred million.
In 2006, as amateur blogs began turning the attention away from mainstream media, a new participative and programmable web appeared to rapidly stamp out the static web altogether.
In this sense, Blogger outgrew CNN, Wikipedia replaced Britannica, MySpace outgrew Friendster, Craigslist -Monster and Flickr - Webshots.
Then, You Tube redefined the video industry altogether by introducing the revolutionary concept of “user generated content”. These events prove that this new Web 2.0 is not disruptive in itself, but a platform for thousands of potential new disruptions.

A new era has commenced, one that is characterized by community, collaboration and self-organization.
Having matured beyond its years as a static presentation medium and a collection of stationary documents, the new web is now an actively running conversation.
Its foundations have launched new dynamic forms of community and creative expression.
It has become a massive playground of information bits that are actively shared and openly remixed into a fluid participatory tapestry.
Billions of individuals are connected and actively participating in a different approach towards social development and the creation of a new economic democracy.
The new community principles are: openness, peering, sharing and acting globally.
If we would chart the impact of these changes on business economics, the line currently seems to maintain a gradual ascent, but we are about to experience a steep ascending boost in the graphics as a new generation get out of school and flow into the workplace.
This is the generation that is empowering the new Web.
Connected most of the time they are becoming to be known as the Net Gen. While their parents are passive consumers of media, this new generation are active creators of media and web content. They are participants, not just observers, and therefore they have incredible access to information.
The computer is no longer a static box, but an amazing doorway for interaction.
According to a Pew investigation 57% of them are active content creators and most upload it to the web.
While the boomer generation value loyalty, seniority, security, and authority, the Net Gen treasure openness, innovation, mobility and authenticity.
Their constant participation seems to be characterized by the strong Ethos they demonstrate in their sense of common good and collective social and civic responsibility.
This new entire generation is growing up grouping into thousands of cultural tribes connected by shared interests and less by geographic proximity.
Their tastes are more diverse than the thousand of marketing plans being fired at them. This will signify a radical change for marketers since faith in advertising and the institutions that pay for it, is disappearing, while faith on the individuals is on the rise. Peers trust peers. Top-down messaging is losing traction, while bottom up buzz is gaining power.
As the boundaries between the enterprise and the market dissolve, the opportunity to bring Net Gen and other customers into a relationship of trust with the enterprise in a conversation where stakeholders become cocreators of value, possibly presents the most exiting long-term engine of change and innovation the world will ever see.
We are entering a time where a company’s brand is not what the company says it is but what Google says it is.
This new Web is based on recommendations, where word of mouth becomes even more powerful and the marketing of brands is been amplified by the interactive effect of peer recommendations.
Web Word of Mouth participation is transforming the information age into the recommendation age
More and more use the mass medium less and less. And more and more will soon be most.
In this framework, a new kind of business is emerging: one that opens its doors, one were transparency is a powerful new force for business success, and in which certain companies will have a lead role in redefining marketing and advertising techniques, where trust will be the essence of a new relationship and partnership between companies and customers.
Firms that create trust-based relationship with their stakeholders through this interactive Web, will be able to take advantage of sprouting business ecosystems that create incredible value, originated in these participative and peering relationships between the thousands of vibrant communities online.

miércoles, 14 de febrero de 2007

We Media final conclusions: The influence of online communities on corporate behavior.

As the Web evolves beyond 2.0, thank to open source participative software, people are finding each other online around shared interests, and although these thousands of active communities are not tangible, they are real, this is a not virtual phenomenon as many assume.
Geography is been redefined and becoming totally irrelevant as a Brazilian organic grower starts sharing real time information and content in an extremely efficient knowledge created partnership with a New Zealand farmer who shares his same passion.
This goes further than getting information from Wikipedia, it is no longer about downloading content, people are grouping in specialty communities revolutionizing decision making processes in a way it never seen before. Consumption, production and communication patterns are changing as people, influenced by others they trust online, share news, information create a collective intelligence and constructive partnerships. Since this is a web occurrence, most people are not aware of the enormous activity that is taking place online, since in our “real” world everything flows as usual, but we are about to get our heads up when Technorati will soon announce 100 million registered bloggers and MySace 200 million users online.
Since the demographics are so overwhelmingly young and the Millennials are not in power positions, we are not experiencing yet any real transformation in behavioral patterns nor corporate changes. But these adolescents, that are now partying online, will soon be making corporate, political, and consumer decisions in the real world. They are accustomed to watch little television, and since they access the news online they seldom read newspapers. They do not respond to traditional marketing campaigns or advertisers. They respond to each other. Their trendsetters are their peers on MySpace, people who they trust. Opposed to us, the boomers, they are not to be influenced by mass media, they decide for themselves.
They are accustomed to the constant exchange of ideas online; therefore corporate communications will have to change dramatically in order to dialogue with, and between, these new stakeholders.
As these increasing online communities seem to build themselves around common interests and goals, companies that want to develop relationships, will have to open up and integrate management, employee and customer blogs into a common blogosphere where product, corporate responsibility and customer information will be shared in Wiki like platforms.
Stakeholder’s active participation will probably outgrow customer reviews, and powerful new models of production and consumption will be created based on a new integration of community collaboration and self-organization.

martes, 13 de febrero de 2007

We Media Miami conclusions (III): Entering the Web 3.0

Due to deep changes in technology triggered by open source software and new collaborative media we a defining what some already call the Web 3.0.
As Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams define it in their recently published Wikinomics:
“ This new participation has reached a tipping point where new forms of mass collaboration are changing how goods and serviced are invented, produced, marketed and distributed on a global basis. This change presents far-reaching opportunities for every company and every person that gets connected.”
"MySpace, YouTube, Linux and Wikipedia – today’s exemplars of mass collaboration- are just beginning..."
In their book they go on to describe seven unique forms of peer production that are making the economy more dynamic and productive, and we will discuss more about this in future posts.
But what they affirm in the quoted test is true it is just the beginning of an incredible revolution in of mass collaboration.
My-Wi-Li-You is my aphorism to describe these four revolutionary first entrants to the Wikinomics era, the Fords, the Bells, Sears and Procter’s of this century.
Following with the WE Media Miami conclusions, a new question arises: when the audience, this new participative individual take the overall control of the web and the true Web is born, the Web 3.0, a Web that requires identity, true collaboration and commitment, will “Mywiliyou” survive???.

Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of the MIT's Technology Review, is skeptical about YouTube, “it has not become a journalistic media”
He affirms that Splashcast, recently reviewed, is the “coolest” concept, and will probably challenge YouTube/Google to adapt the concept of user-generated video.
He also states that Blinkxs will revolutionize search video content. Searching text is easy since you can identify words, but searching for video content has been impossible to now. “Blinkx lets you find what you want in video”.

MySpace will evolve with adolescence usage, and as their participants grow up in social media and the Millennials get their fist job, or go to college, MySpace grow out of puberty and probably a new and different MySpace more aligned to the new times will grab the youngsters attention. It is difficult to keep leadership when the audience has the control, as we have seen with MTV, which is paying the consequence of entering adulthood.

lunes, 12 de febrero de 2007

We Media Miami conclusions (II): Participation, the end of anonymity, the demise of traditional advertising

Broadcasting and telecommunication managers initially envisioned Internet as another distribution conduit to channel more content and advertising to the rapidly growing PC user market.
It was aimed at the broadest possible audiences, those anonymous masses they already reached through their TV, Cable and Radio frequencies.
As such, Internet was initially thought as a download content distribution media and the same agencies that created advertising campaigns for corporations, cloned the simple and successful billboards into Web banners, convinced that the same business model would work.
It didn’t, as the Internet Ecommerce evolved to a Web 2.0 Me media, advertisers discovered that the same communication formula wasn’t working. The audience was different, it was not passive individual, but an active participant who actually expected companies to stop “selling” and start dialoging, who wanted companies to speak a common language, that of the participatory media. People were searching for relevant contents to be informed, to learn, but also wanted to construct a personal history, and participate. They were “uploading” and sharing personal information. And as the Millennials appeared, a new standpoint appeared regarding Web identities: the posted pictures, comments, preferences, recommendations and ranks. They tagged and linked and voted. And as the chat evolved to MSN and blogs, identities became relevant and as important as the participation itself.

Credit card numbers together with Ebay reputation and Amazon preferences evolved to information of who we are as people, our interests, in music, books, and media. Our passions, secrets and habits are increasingly shared with our MySpace friends, our new community. We entered a new era, that of We Media, an era of radical change for media companies and marketers.
As Chris Anderson states in his recently published book the Long tail & Long Tail Blog:
“Faith in advertising and the institutions that pay for it is waning, while faith in individuals is on the rise. Peers trust peers. Top-down messaging is losing traction, while bottom-up buzz is gaining power. A Company’s brand is no longer what the company says it is, but what Google says it is.”

Peer Word of Mouth is more important in the decision making process that a product advertising campaigns, as Zara the Spanish apparel company confirmed in a recent study: peer recommendations, accounted for 39% of the purchasing decision of their customers while conventional advertising only impacted in a 27%.

As Anderson points out, "remarkable democratizing forces are remarkably un-democratizing industries".

We Media is here.

domingo, 11 de febrero de 2007

We Media Miami conclusions (I): The death of printed newspapers

The death of printed Media in 10 to 20 years?

Although it seems impossible to Oldmedians, and most of them are skeptical or deny it, think of this: Millennials, this new user-generating content self publish generation, is just flowing out of high school and they are not accustomed to reading printed newspapers in order to access the news.
Most Oldmedians say "but.... you need to hold something in your hands to read it", listen up, if this is true, for those that have this habit, of holding something in their hands, known as “the hold & Fold” factor, EInc, out of MIT will be launching a revolutionary slim sheet that beams custom made information from the internet.
Sony’s reader, although not as flexible, will also be in the market this year.

But......Don’t underestimate the Oldmedians, Big media will catch up pretty fast, Oldmedians are listening. The We Media convention was outbalanced by these “media elites”, networking, listening and learning. Newspaper editors worldwide are learning from the blogosphere, and although it seams that blogs are to drive the mayor media, this will probably won't be so......

sábado, 10 de febrero de 2007

BlackBerry on a Sustainable Development campaign

Has BlackBerry decided to associate its new campaign to the sustainable development “green” movement that Wall Mart and GE embraced last year?
We will probably see more of these ads where BlackBerry speaks through committed environmentally friendly leaders.

"I'm passionate about sustainable environment. Our premium homecare products are bringing green to mainstream. In the last three years, the company experienced 3,400% growth, kicking off a tidal wave of demands on my time. I never stop moving. Firing up a laptop isn’t going to happen. Blackberry gives me fingertip access to what I need. And I guess most importantly, it helps me manage my own sanity." Says Adam Lowry co-founder of Method products Inc.

viernes, 9 de febrero de 2007

We media Miami

New media explained:

Via Chris Anderson, Wired

lunes, 5 de febrero de 2007

Gore and McLuhan, a road full of inconveniencies

Today I received these books from Amazon, I had unfortunately misplaced, or lent, both an Inconvenient truth and McLuhan's understanding media.

The world is full of inconvenient truths, our problem is that we are either afraid to listen, or unable to see them.

Denial is probably our most effective countermeasure. We are afraid to see, to understand. We probably don’t fear the truths themselves, but dread their follow-up consequences: commitment or action. We despise their combination: commitment to action.

The medium is the massage,” wrote Marshall McLuhan.

"Societies have always been shaped more by the nature by which men communicate than by the content of communication.... It is impossible to understand social and cultural changes without knowledge of the workings of media."

This was right forty years ago, and still is, but did McLuhan envision Web 3.0?

Was McLuhan referring to old media concept?: That of one transmitter, powerful and influential, and one audience, millions of passive individuals receiving the same message.

Did he envision Internet? and its flip-flop, from an initial extension of the old media formula, devised as an edit-publish concept that brought connectivity to millions of ‘eyeballs”, to an out of control and mutating phenomena of publish, and then edit, RSS of sprouting participating communities online.

"Understanding is 50% of the road to the solution" afirmsBill Drayton the creator of Ashoka.

This is just the beginning. Power is no longer where it used to be.

sábado, 3 de febrero de 2007

The revolution of the Civil Society Organizations and The Sustainable Development movement will be empowered by the advent of the New Media

By Ernesto van Peborgh

Permanent link to La Nacion article

Towards the most revolutionary change

Wal-Mart, the greatest supermarket chain in the world, announced its commitment to the environment. Muhammad Yunus, the economist who created the first bank for the poor, received the Nobel Peace Prize. The giant Google acquired YouTube, a website whose only assets are millions of homemade videos uploaded by users.

These and other events that took place towards the end of 2006 are signs of three powerful forces that are changing the world: sustainable human development, the revolution of the social sector, and the boom of the participatory media.

Sustainable human development is a group of concepts and practices that allow us to consider what kind of world we shall bequeath to our children and the children of our children. It represents a profound change vis-à-vis the industrial model that was established in the Western world in the eighteenth century. This current implies a different look on our planet, companies and governments, and our way of producing, consuming, and living.

What is most striking about the times we live in is the sensation that the future is already here. In the last days of 2006, economist Thomas L. Friedman wrote: “We reached a tipping point this year — where living, acting, designing, investing and manufacturing green came to be understood by a critical mass of citizens, entrepreneurs and officials as the most patriotic, capitalistic, geopolitical, healthy and competitive thing they could do…”

The recent world release of the movie An Inconvenient Truth, starring Al Gore, established the problem of global warming once and for all as a current reality, no longer the paranoia of a few scientists and activists. In California, the State has sued six big automobile manufacturers for their liability with regard to global warming. Wal-Mart has announced its commitment to sustainability and, in so doing, has become the world’s greatest organic cotton buyer. It has started a plan aimed at having several of its suppliers sell it products manufactured through sustainable practices, in a term of three years. In consequence, some 40,000 companies are adapting their manufacturing methods to satisfy this giant that has resolved to change the habits of the more than a hundred million clients it welcomes every week.

Everything indicates that the “tipping point” (a term coined by Malcom Gladwell to define the moment when something unique and unusual becomes normal) is very near.

For more than 20 years, another powerful force has grown at a rate between two and three times higher than that of the private area’s economy. It is the global associative revolution: the rise of millions of organized citizens who are working to find answers for mankind’s most urgent problems.

The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Muhammad Yunus is powerful proof that mankind is accepting social change ideas which –just like microcredit- have little to do with the traditional concept of charity and philanthropy. Through his Grameen Bank, founded in Bangladesh in 1976, Yunus demonstrated that offering trust and responsibility to loan recipients is an efficient way of solving the problem of poverty and of building peace from a community’s foundations. Thanks to this financial system, among many other positive consequences, eight million Bangladeshi people earning less than a dollar a day obtained access to cell phones, which allowed them to be better communicated from their rural villages and to improve their employment possibilities.

Yunus is no longer alone. According to Johns Hopkins University, the total contribution of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) makes them the seventh largest economy on the planet. They are true armies of people connected between themselves, whose aims are to protect the environment, to fight poverty, to defend human rights, and democracy.

Google’s acquisition of YouTube made headlines worldwide. This union marked the peak of a third phenomenon with the power to accelerate the process of the other two currents: the rise of the participatory media, which for the first time in history allow common citizens to be heard in the world stage. The tool is the Web 2.0. The platform is the Internet.

Time magazine has just chosen as “person of the year” the Web user, the one who, through his or her participation in blogs and sites such as YouTube, MySpace and Flickr, is generating unprecedented economic, social and political changes. In this new model, a Shanghai corporate secretary’s blog can have the same relevance as an Oxford professor’s. The decision as to what is worth one’s while is in the hands of the people.

Internet natives, teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18, participate in social networks such as MySpace and Fotolog, very popular in Argentina; Orkut, with a big following in Brazil; and Facebook, the favorite of American university students. Meanwhile, citizens of all ages are making their own news through blogs or sites such as Crónicas Móviles (“Mobile Chronicles”), where anyone can upload videos filmed with cell phones, showing –for instance- what is going on in the city: from Daniel Barenboim’s concert to the Gay Pride parade.

The advertising industry is already reacting to this change. Companies such as Unilever (Dove), Chevrolet, and Converse have understood the phenomenon: the massive audience that passively received “buy” messages is on its way to extinction. In the year 2006, Dove Canada –through Ogilvy Toronto agency- launched on the web a video entitled “Evolution”, which shows all the steps cosmetics advertisers follow in order to transform an ordinary girl into an artificial beauty for an ad. It is estimated that over three million people saw this campaign of viral marketing through the brand’s official site or social sites such as YouTube and Daily Motion.

But, besides revolutionizing advertising, journalism, and communications in general, Internet users are transforming the concept of citizenship. Chilean students –a mass of half a million youths united through the Web- have used social networks, chatting and SMS to empty all the schools in their country in their demand for a reform of the education system. They put into practice the phenomenon some call “glocalization”, that is, the Web’s aptitude to widen the social worlds of people who are physically far apart (global level) while also connecting them more deeply with the place they live in (local level).

Notwithstanding this, users’ interests are not circumscribed to the public sphere — they are also looking closely at corporate practices. There are a number of consumers who look for corporate information online, conversing among themselves about the products they consume and the history behind them, and reading corporate blogs. In 2005, a blog informed that motorcycle padlocks manufactured by Kryptonite, a leader company in the market, could be pried open with a pen. A few days later, a user uploaded a video to show that the padlocks were really “made of butter”. The company ignored these comments. Days later, the news appeared in The New York Times and an estimated five million people learned about the incident. Kryptonite had to announce that it would change all of its padlocks, at a cost of ten million dollars.

According to a recent Ipsos research, presented in Madrid in November 2006, 39 million Europeans have refused to buy a product after reading a negative opinion in a blog. What will happen with the civil society’s power of action after it has massively adopted these new communication tools?
What will the corporations that don’t progressively adopt sustainable practices do to stop the wave of citizens-turned-activists, informed through the new media?

The tools are out there, within everyone’s reach. 25% of Internet users participate in online communities. Solutions for the future lie in the weaving of virtual networks, united by values such as social inclusion, responsible citizenship, and sustainable human development. The world is moving in that direction faster than we can perceive. The change is here and people are talking about it — online, of course.

viernes, 2 de febrero de 2007

Lesson three: Web 3.0 Radical transparency, Collective intelligence

You are not alone, there is a community "out there" of participative individuals, I call them "Wikiduals" always online, willing to help.

Tap The Hivemind:
"Throw everything you've got online, and invite the world to look at it. They'll have more and better ideas that you could have on your own, more and better information than you could gather on your own, wiser and sager perspective than you could gather in 1,000 years of living -- and they'll share it with you. You'll blow past the secret-keepers as if you were driving a car that exists in a world with different and superior physics. Like we said, information used to be rare ... but now it's so ridiculously plentiful that you will never make sense of it on your own. You need help, and you need to help others."

via collision detection for upcoming Wired feature: "Radical Transparency"

jueves, 1 de febrero de 2007

Chapter four: The new heroes

Social entrepreneurs are essentially individuals who have decided to face by themselves the answers to problems afflicting their communities, and to do so by applying the same vision and determination for achieving goals that characterize businessmen and –women.

Bill Drayton has accurately defined those people as “persons possessed by an idea, who, by means of unquenchable determination and revolutionary ideas, are solving problems around the globe.” Like himself. Like Rodrigo Baggio, Iqbal Quadir and Fabián Ferraro, who transformed football into a tool for the social inclusion of kids from low-income neighborhoods.

Bill Drayton: “The most radical change”

“How do you intend to put your initiative into effect? How will you manage to make others join you? How will you do it?” How, how and how. The kind of question theorists hate, but which obsesses Bill Drayton and all entrepreneurs of his kind.

Drayton, an American, studied in Harvard, Oxford and Yale and was a member of President Carter’s administration in the EPA. Almost thirty years ago, influenced by Gandhi, the American civil rights movements, and his own travels in India, Indonesia, and Venezuela, he reached the firm conclusion that everywhere in the planet there were people who thought that their ideas could improve the world significantly. It was the passion and enthusiasm expressed by those people that persuaded Drayton that every one of them was a social entrepreneur, a catalyst for large-scale social transformations. And this is what he had in mind when in 1980 he revolutionized philanthropy by eliminating the words “non-profit” and “donations” from its vocabulary and creating Ashoka, the organization of which he is both president and CEO.

During its twenty-five years’ existence, Ashoka has supported 1,700 people in 62 countries – people Drayton defines as social entrepreneurs, using the latter word to signify their ambitious, competitive characters, which one would rather expect to find in the business world than in this area.

“Magical opportunities are out there for everyone willing to face the challenge and go for a social solution,” he affirms, adding that “if we allow people the deep satisfaction of being able to contribute, of feeling they are total citizens, they will love it, because it’s contagious. We are nearing that end: if we multiply the number of change-makers from 1% to 20% in the next fifteen years, that will be the most radical change ever witnessed since the agricultural revolution.”

Rodrigo Baggio: Everything started with a dream

A dream in which slum kids transformed their reality by means of informatics. The year 1993 was drawing to a close and the dreamer was Rodrigo Baggio, at the time an employee of IBM and bound to be featured a couple of years later on the cover of Time magazine as one of 50 youths likely to change the world in the Third Millennium.

Baggio created the Committee for the Democratization of Informatics (CDI), an entity that currently has branches in 10 countries and has already introduced more than 500,000 youths to the use of new technologies.

“How can we use information technology as a means for transforming our society into a more just, equitable, and free one?” he asked himself at the beginning. In 1994 he started the first computer-donation campaign Latin America had ever seen. “We received the computers from companies and delivered them to low-income neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. But then I started thinking about a model school of informatics and civil education.”

What Rodrigo immediately realized was that, in order to make a real change, he needed to replicate the school he had created in one Rio de Janeiro neighborhood in the hundreds of other slums or low-income areas of the region. Aware that he clearly couldn’t do it on his own, he decided to work jointly with the communities, creating a simple franchising system that could be autonomously developed in different parts of Brazil. It was then that he made the fundamental decision of trusting this project in the poorest areas of his country and gave local leaders the responsibility of making the schools work.

“We believe that through our schools we help young people help themselves,” Baggio says.

Meet Rodrigo Baggio

Iqbal Quadir: “Connectivity is productivity”

Thus the motto of this entrepreneur who grew up in the rural areas of Bangladesh. A motto that in 1997 led him to seek answers for the telecommunications problem of his country, where one had to wait over ten years to have a phone installed, and that at a cost of USD 450, one of the highest in the world.

Combining state-of-the-art digital wireless technology and the Grameen Bank’s experience in granting micro-loans, Quadir created Grameen Phone and launched the Village Phone program. His aim: to increase the non-urban, low-income population’s access to communications, by means of the introduction of mobile phone terminals managed by rural operators, preferably women.

Community telephones have been installed in 40,000 villages since the program’s inception, which means that 50 million peasants are connected.

Telephones are used, among other purposes, to exchange information about health issues and product prices. “Not only is the program socially beneficial, it is profitable as well. It has also represented a significant increase in the Bangladeshi communities’ economic activities, promoted commercial exchange, and created new sources of income,” Quadir explains, adding that “the economic impact is also relevant with regard to the person managing the telephone service: rural operators are usually women who, thanks to their jobs, can be the source of about 25% of their homes’ income.”

Fabián Ferraro: “The wonderful thing is to see the changes”

“… and see how kids start changing their personal appearance, their way of acting, their vocabulary – how they respect each other, want to improve their lives and start having hopes. It is with these kids that we have to work, because it’s them who are going to make the changes,” says Fabián Ferraro, who lives in Chaco Chico, a densely populated neighborhood in the Buenos Aires suburbia where many of the 6,500 residents are unemployed. Like many Argentinean young men, Fabián had played football since he was a kid, and soon after started playing it professionally. It was around this time that he began working with street kids. And then, convinced that football could be a powerful tool for social change, he decided to quit professional playing and create the Asociación Civil Defensores del Chaco (“Chaco Defenders”) club.

Says Fabián, “in 1996 we formed a team and started working with fourteen youths. As the club started growing, we began teaching the older ones how to train the younger.” Like Rodrigo Baggio, Ferraro had also grasped that giving responsibility-involving tasks to young people who grew up marginalized and undervalued by their environment could have a real impact on their personal development.

The organization Fabián leads uses street football as a method for social inclusion, violence prevention and informal education for youths in “risk situations”. For some 1,500 children and teenagers, its offices have become a space for having non-competitive fun, for teamwork and collective construction.

Meet Fabian Ferraro

In the words of its founder: “Defensores is no longer a dumping ground. These sports fields and this club that we built jointly with lots of entrepreneurs are a school without walls. This is a space for education, where human values are intensely transmitted.”

Ideas in action

The sheer variety and quantity of social organizations formed by these and other entrepreneurs is glaring evidence of how far these people are from traditional relief organizations focusing on charity: they have new, distinct work methodologies, new concepts – they develop a management style in accordance with their aims and their members are people with very different qualifications and profiles. They are joined by a central idea: that solidarity is not enunciated but practiced; that one must not give away the fish, but teach how to cast the nets; that the common good is everyone’s good and we have to act now.