Jason Calcanis and Lord of the Flies

I’m on Jason Calcanis’ mailing list (you should be as well – you can sign up here), and today got a long missive from him that I think is quite important and goes to the heart of what I want to fight by moving our interactions back to conversation. Here’s the nut graf:

Josh’s experiments in 2000, during which he and his cohorts became obsessed with their view counts, parallels today’s blogging, social media and YouTube “arms race.” In his experiment, the technology robbed the subjects–and their audience–of every last ounce of empathy.
Digital communications is a wonderful thing–at least at the start. Everyone participating in digital communities is eventually introduced to Godwin’s Law: At some point, a participant, or more typically his or her thinking, will be compared to the Nazis.


Five Decisions on Social Media


When I talk to clients about social media, I try and lay out a basic path through the process for them. Over time, it’s developed into what I’m calling “The Five Decisions.”

1. Decide that you want to do this.

2. Decide what you’re really capable of.

3. Decide what you’ll have to change to make it work.

4. Decide on the tools and processes to do it.

5. Decide how you’ll know whether it’s working.

Here’s how it works.


The Janitor

I’m traveling (in DC for the last few days, and headed to Boston tomorrow then home) and will be back on a regular schedule next week.

Today, though, I ran across this blog post and wanted to share it here:

A Janitor’s 10 Lessons in Leadership

By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander, graduate USAFA class of 1977

It’s a moving story (and we’re all suckers for those) but it contains some basic points that deserve the attention of people who are using social media.

And there’s a larger point we ought to take away.

In the story there was originally a divide between “those that mattered” – the students at the Air Force Academy – and “those who didn’t” –


Bars, Pickups, Advertising, and the Return to Conversation

I thought I’d toss in a quick comment about advertising and conversation while I work on kind of a ’12 step’ list about implementing conversation-centric organization using social media tools…

There’s a lot of discussion about why it is that social media is challenging advertising and on the roles of each in the future. Let me make a homely metaphor, and talk about bars and dating.

I worked with a guy once who had a remarkable plan for picking up women – he simply asked every attractive women he met to come out with him. Literally. If we went to a restaurant for lunch, he would ask out five women on the way to the restaurant, and once we were there, he’d walk past every woman on the path from the door to our table and ask them.


Conversation (2) – Why it Matters

I’m an inside > out guy; it’s difficult for me to make a plan without having some basic idea about the deep, underlying models that my plan is supposed to interact with. In any situation, I’m more of a hedgehog (knows one great thing) than a fox (knows many things).

So when I explain things, I tend to start with central principles and work my way out.

I’ve been a user and fan of social media for a long time (a really long time…thing AOL, the Well). But it’s only in the last few that I ‘converted’ to the belief that they are central, not add-ons, to creating successful organizations in the 21st century. And so to explain that, I need to make some conceptual points.

And I’m taking your time to do it because I think it’s critically important that people become convinced that this isn’t just a fad –



In my world, conversation is suddenly a very hot topic; I’m suddenly sitting down with my institutional customers and they are all talking about how they can build business and technical systems that make conversation easier – with customers, with employees, with vendors, investors and stakeholders.

And everyone is excited about it, which worries me, because it suddenly feels like the ‘concept of the day,’ which we all know will be replaced by a new one tomorrow. And I think it would be a very bad thing if that happened, because I think the idea of making ‘conversation’ the center of our public activities is a very good thing. Why, you ask?

A starting point ought to understanding what conversation really is. Because when I ask people to tell me what ‘conversation’ is so we can design systems to make it easier,