web 2.0

Web 2.0 Offline - A Real Life Example

One of our local radio stations is providing its listeners with the option of recording their voice for special song dedications. One of the listeners, actually speakers now, has turned this into a real offline Web 2.0 application.
Most of the people recording their dedications just do that, they say to whom they would like to dedicate this song, and how much they love that person, blah blah blah.
One of these people took this service to a really new level. She started recording certain messages to certain people. Talking to one of her friends, she would wish him a safe trip to his destination, and wish that he accomplishes the goal of that trip. To another friend of hers, she would apologize for the things that she said yesterday and ask for forgiveness. She would have two friends who are not really understanding of each other's differences, and talk to both and try to find a compromise or a midway where they can communicate again together.
All this is done publicly, and all listeners would listen to this. It is becoming more like an interesting series of stories related to this one person, who they have never met, but started to know and identify with!
Next? She became a star! Other listeners who are familiar with her messages started recording their own messages just thanking her and complementing her on how great a job she is doing to get friends closer to each other!
One person decided to use the platform her own way, she used it for her own interest. She became famous, others start to complement her, and eventually new ways of using this recording service will be used by other people.
The radio station is only providing the context for people to record and publish their messages (and they get paid for each sound recording). The users are finding creative ways of using it, and since they are given the chance to publish their voice, they are doing the word-of-mouth advertising for the service since it makes them famous.
This is a really great example of how any application can be utilized in a context where the users can find ways to actively participate in the creation of content, and they will definitely do the marketing for that service or experience provided.

Web 2.0 Offline

While thinking about the different applications Web 2.0 is bringing us, I have been also thinking about how this might be implemented offline, in media that are not based on the Web, and more importantly, applications where the media are not involved at all.
The main aspects, or components that make any application a Web 2.0 application are user-generated content, community empowerment (where the community decides what is and what is not acceptable), and the service provider acts merely as a platform for these activities to happen. This platform is a passive aggregator of whatever the community chooses to produce, and works only on making the platform easier to use, more efficient and effective at realizing the goals of the users and the community, and finally, works on marketing that platform.
In other words, I like to think of Web 2.0 as a new phenomenon of doing business, community activities, and transforming any aspect of our lives and work.
An application I imagined was having a city without a police force. That was my opening example for my presentation on this topic, in an attempt to make it familiar to the audience, and to show them that it is not that technical or complicated, it's just a really new way of doing things.
The police department of city X decides to empower its citizens by allowing them to photograph all the cars that are violating the law, and sending them via email to the department. The officers there will take a look at the photos, and if there is sufficient proof that the car is actually violating the law, a ticket will be issued, and sent to the car owner.

Why would anyone take photos?

I first thought that only people with nothing better to do than pick on other people's mistakes would be engaged in such a thing. But I immediately remembered the frustration I feel when some people park in front of our parking and stop us from getting in or out of our own house. Sometimes, we are in a hurry, sometimes guests are coming, and it is really frustrating to have to deal with it. In such a moment, I will definitely pick up my mobile phone, take a picture of that car, and immediately send it for him to receive his ticket. The beautiful thing is that there are other people also living in the same street who are frustrated with this, and probably one of us will take the picture.
A basic principle of Web 2.0, is that people engage in it for their self-interest. I would really be interested in doing this for our street, and might do it here and there occasionally, but I'm sure the people living there will make sure nobody intrudes. Since everyone will be using the system to protect their own street, almost all streets will be protected this way.

What benefits does it have for the police department?

This method provides much greater coverage for the department. Police officers cannot be everywhere all the time, and people will eventually learn that to take care of their neighborhood, they have the means for that, and they should do it. There will also be a lot more understanding and cooperation with normal citizens who will have the chance to be police officers whenever they need to be! This eliminates the "us vs. them" attitude, and transforms the community into a whole big "us" where "they" would be the ones breaking the law in a certain instance.
Eventually, when this becomes the norm in a certain society, policemen will be less needed to waste their time writing tickets, and can focus more on more important and deeper aspects of their work, like focusing on combatting organized crime, and training for more sophisticated skills.   

How does it benefit the society?

Just like society makes sure the social and ethical norms are being taken care of, again through their pursuit of self-interest, this circle will be expanded to included new areas never tackled before, it should also foster a new sense of cooperation and responsibiliy among people toward increasingly more aspects of their lives.

How to implement?

The first thing is to make this system available while keeping everything the way it is. This provides a buffer, since you cannot know when exactly the use will be widespread in society. Therefore, you keep things going as they are, advertise for the new system, start mentioning instances where this has happened, warn law-breakers that Big Brother has become one of your own, and sit back and watch the photos coming!

Web 2.0 Goes Corporate

This is a very interesting report, made by Fastsearch for the Economist Intelligence Unit titled, "Web 2.0 Goes Corporate" and it's the result of a survey they did with 406 executives, most in the C-suite level. It's great and very interesting to know that the large (and typically slow) corporations are picking with such a crazy way of doing business!
Opening up everything (almost) to their consumers, and encouraging them to share their knowledge and thoughts, participate in the product creation process, to become Fastsearch"prosumers".
Although this is not new, the degree to which these executives are embracing Web 2.0 is interesting. P&G is one of the sited smart companies, who are capitalizing the power of social networking to engage users in their products. Capessa, is a joint venture with Yahoo! and aims at tapping into the collective knowledge of women, their preferences, and what they think about in the various stages of their life. This is indirect market research, where they can collect the data they want, and can also have the engaged members of that community fill out some questionnaires for them. It's strange they have an ad for Colgate on the home home page! Or maybe they are embracing the truly open nature of this new phenomenon and allowing almost anything, on the condition that it nurtures the community they are building. They also have Miss Irresistible on Myspace. This is a fictitious character that indulges in being stylish, and boasts a great smile, she also encourages others to show their smile (Crest) . Interesting.
Markets are more and more becoming "conversations", and the markets are becoming more and more liquid.
The report was made by asking the top people in the top industries, most of them really know what they are talking about. This really contrasts to Seth Godin's post on "pundits". Makes you think again...

What to Do With the Increasingly Complicated World?

Be like the Internet!
The Internet is definitely one of the main forces, adding to the complexity and uncertainty in our lives. Although it is giving us unprecedented opportunity and threats, what it equally provides to everyone is an increase in the size and number of interactions that we make (with humans and machines).
I can't understand why many people say that with the advent of the new technologies, the world is becoming smaller. I think the world has become huge, and unintelligibly larger, because of technology. We send and receive hundreds of messages every day, to tens of people, and in several different formats. Each person is the center of their own world, or universe if you will. My world at least is definitely not smaller.
So how do we deal with all this, and what does it require from us as people to do? What kind of attitude do we need to have to thrive, or at least survive, in such circumstances?
The name of this presentation is a part of the answer: Be Like the Internet. The first thing that came to mind when I read this, was that we should be widespread, flexible, scalable, shapeless, and vague.
This presentation is much better in explaining this, especially with creative and descriptive photos that clearly tell you how to "be" like the Internet.

How Crowdsourcing is Using Too Many Cooks, Without Spoiling the Broth

Outsourcing, insourcing, open sourcing... What's next?
I remember reading about a great method Walt Disney would use in developing his themes. It relied on tapping into the minds of anyone who wanted to participate.
Simply, the project manager would post the main theme / idea on a highly visible bulletin board, and all employees are encouraged to post their comments, add their insights, and share whatever feelings they have regarding that idea.
I thought, "wow! this is truly great in allowing people to contribute to one big idea, and a democratic and human way of allowing anyone to participate to whatever extent they want and can. This is really teamwork."
"Too many cooks spoil the broth" we were taught. Well... not with the Internet, and definitely not at Walt Disney.
Nowadays, we all know that this is the "normal" way of harnessing collective intelligence. Wikipedia is best example that demonstrates the power of global cooperation. (funnily enough, the master crowsourcer needs some support in their article on crowdsourcing. I, considering myself a crowdsourcer contributed with information I thought to be relevant)
Although we are all adding to the global information base through our writing, commenting, and all the social networking programs available, crowdsourcing is evolving to become one of the reliable business practices for product development, market research and design.
Several companies are adopting this method and actually rewarding the successfull contributors of the best ideas with cash.
A recent example that I stumbled upon was Cambrian House, which is a website named after the Cambrian era in which major diversification occurred on Earth. This is a company, focused on creating innovative products, software, and simply great ideas. They are also offering lucrative psychological and fianancial rewards for the greatest idea providers.
Ideawarz is one of their cool project competitions where sixteen ideas compete in four rounds, and the best single idea wins.
Crowdsourcing is another example of leveraging the long tail. Many people contribute with insignificant improvements on the same idea. But the combined total of these contributions make a really considerable difference.
Although it's a really exciting concept, limitations present themselves in sophisticated and technical products and services where highly educated people are required to crowdsource. With general products also, a significant number of people have to participate to really reap the benefits.