Social Media: Trees and Forest

Social media, as we now know it – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the like – that’s all trees. There’s something much bigger in play all around us.

The forest is ubiquitous digital networks.

Social media “stuff” is actually a subset of this much larger technological and cultural movement.

If you want to clearly see what the future is – step away from the trees, and think about the forest. Or, to change the analogy, don’t just focus on the boats – look at where the river current is heading.

Every person, and increasingly, every thing will be a node. What that leads to as far as communication is fascinating to consider. We’re still in the training wheels stage, folks.

Things make a lot more sense when you see the inevitable, inexorable direction of trend currents (as opposed to current trends).

I’ll be painting more of this picture at the Social Media Masters event in NYC next month, if you care to joint me for some forest-gazing!

(Photo: Lake Placid NY from Whiteface Mountain)

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (personal or company Brand Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> The Unglamorous Need for…Semantics!

>> When Your Branding Zings

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Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

The Unglamorous Need for….Semantics!

Communication – whether on social media or not – is all about exchanging ideas. What we often don’t think about, however, is that there is a “currency” involved – the currency of agreed-upon meanings attached to words.

Let’s say you walk into a convenience store. You pick up a bottle of Diet Coke and a donut. You pull out a green piece of paper that has a number on it – you insist that the number means 10 dollars, while the clerk says it means 5 dollars. Now what do we have? A stymied transaction. Both parties lose when the currency is non-standardized.

Semantics. Without definitions, we’re just wasting time and words, talking past each other. And that means we’re not communicating at all.

This came to mind today as I read this thought-provoking post by the duct-tape marketing guy, John Jantsch (It’s Time to Purge the Word Entrepreneur). Reading through the posts and comments, it’s clear that there are so many perceptions of what the term means or doesn’t mean, that it’s impossible to arrive at any resolution.

My entrepreneur is your small business owner is her tech start-up is his solopreneur is their…you get the picture. I don’t agree about purging the term, but I understand the frustration – when meanings are diluted or changed, it becomes difficult to exchange any ideas.

On Twitter, where context has to be sacrificed for 140 characters, the problem is compounded further. One of the biggest challenges I have discovered in moderating a Twitter chat is how much time and energy is expended with issues of semantics. There’s an awful lot of tweeting past one another as we “chat” starting with different understandings of terms.

This is one reason why political discourse can be so frustrating. What does “progressive” or “liberal” actually mean? How does one define “Tea Party”? These terms have such wildly divergent meanings depending on the standpoint of the speaker, that it seems impossible to carry on an intelligent and reasoned conversation. We are left with tossing pejorative grenades that may inflame, but cannot enlighten, without a shared agreement on meaning. And, yes, I’ve been guilty of that as well. Because I just assume that people carry around the same definitions in their head as I do. You’d think I would have learned something by now about that…(how do YOU define dense? :>)

Perhaps the person on the other end of the conversation is not in need of a hearing aid. Maybe we just need a dictionary on the table between us.

In order to disagree, we first have to agree – on what our words mean. I don’t have a good answer to this widespread dilemma, but perhaps as bloggers, we can be more careful up front to define the terms we’re going to use. Otherwise, our posts may become like so many trees falling in the forest, with no-one around to hear them. Because we’re all on different frequencies.

(Can’t resist linking to this post from Kevin Dugan – because the graphic says it all!)

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (personal or company Brand Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> When Your Branding Zings

>> Can You Stop Me from Being a Pimp?

Subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

Do You Have a Mission Statement?

I think I finally figured out mine:

My mission is to be a Connection Agent.

I am connecting people and businesses with their true identity and message; with creative opportunities to grow and succeed; and with other people and resources to bring about increasing success.

I want to leave behind a network of people who are richer because of these connections, and who will follow that example by enriching others.

As I look over the entire landscape of my heart and my activities, I think that kinda sums it up.

What about you? Can you arrive at yours a whole lot earlier in life than I’ve been able to?

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Steal This Idea

Just went to Wal-Mart to buy some replacement ink for my printer.

I hate the prices, and I hate the thought that 90% of the price is the packaging. Thief-proofing, I know – but wasteful and environmentally unsound.

Here’s what I’d love to find – a really high-quality third-party ink replacement company that would let me “subscribe” to having ink sent at regular intervals (or on-demand). In simple packages without the retail garbage surrounding it. I just enter in the printer(s) I have, make my first order, specify auto-ship or auto-remind intervals, and never run out of ink again.

I’ve used third-party ink replacement companies before, but the interval between orders is so long, I often don’t even remember who I used. And, the quality can be spotty. I hate paying manufacturer’s ink pricing – give me reliability and cross the threshold of easy; you’d have all my business immediately. Game over. Plus, the simple principle could then be extended to other supplies.

Anybody you know have something like this in place??

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It’s All Going Away

These social media tools we’re all using right now?

They’re all going to go away. Or, they will morph so much in the next 3-5 years as to be unrecognizable.

Why? Because they do bits and pieces of what we want. They’re Legos. Blocks. We’re rapidly growing up and finding we need better toys and tools.

We want to Find. Connect. Filter. Stratify. Create. Publish. Consume. Purchase. Consolidate. Aggregate. Edit. Comment. Link. Interact. Organize. Get face-to-face. Control our information.

Smart designers see this and are evolving their tools to keep doing more, and doing it better.

But we’re nowhere close to having what we need – these functions are scattered all over the place. We like the bits and the pieces, but now we need them assembled together in smarter ways. There are undoubtedly brilliant developers already working on this in stealth mode.

I, for one, can’t wait for a lot of what we have now go away. Not because it’s not great stuff. But because it’s not really built around us, and how we want to interact.

What do you want to see in the next generation of networking platforms??

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Friends Matter

Totally overwhelmed.

That’s how I was feeling as last week went on. Big plans and dreams got even bigger after brainstorming at SOBCon. Moving current business forward while exploring new avenues of creating value. Upcoming conferences. Writing. Trying to get a house sold so we can move. Family logistics. And on, and on.

Then my friend Jane Chin stepped in. Not only did she respond to a private post with a very perceptive note, but she offered to be a sounding board on a phone call, taking a half hour out of her very busy life to focus on me and my needs. Jane is part of my “Inner Circle,” a group committed to helping each other out on every level.

She asked the right questions. Gave wise and practical advice. Set me straight. Helped return “overwhelming” to “manageable.”

We can use all kinds of fancy terms like “network graph” and “ecosystem” and “six degrees of separation,” etc., etc. There’s a certain small satisfaction to page views and followers and rankings.

But when the rubber meets the networking road, it’s friends that matter! (& thanks, Jane!)

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Get Some Help

I’m a happy man. I wake up with peace in my heart, and hope for the future. Most days, anyway!

It was not always so.

For many years – decades – I lived under a dark cloud. Depression was a constant companion, so woven into my experience that I did not even know how bad off I was. I was so used to coping and managing around it, that most others had no clue either.

Seven or so years ago, I hit the wall. I was drowning in darkness. And, after getting some help, those clouds lifted, through the miracle of modern medicine.

My doctor let me know that if I couldn’t think my way out of, say, kidney disease, what business did I have believing I could think my way out of an organic brain chemistry disorder?

If you think you may be suffering from this affliction, know this – you’re not alone. Please take a few moments and read this, penned by Amber Naslund this week (don’t miss the comments!). And this personal plea, by Ellen Nordahl. Read this book review (Moving Beyond Blue) I posted a few days back, which tells Terese Borchard‘s story.

Then, get some help. Talk to a doctor and/or a therapist. Gain the support of trusted friends and family members. There is no stigma in being treated for a medical problem, no shame in taking a pill to help fix a biochemical imbalance, no “Go Directly to Jail!” card for opening up about your inner demons. But there’s a REAL problem with robbing yourself and others of your gifts, your energy, and your time, all of which are stolen away by the thief that is depression.

When the Apollo 13 astronauts radioed “Houston, we have a problem!” they took the needed step to recover from potential disaster. They didn’t append the phrase – “but I’m sure we can handle it ourselves!”

You’re not alone. And there’s a whole bunch of folks ready and willing to help you get back to earth safely. Get on the radio. Please.

[Update: Thanks, @cloudspark, for pointing out the example of former star quarterback Terry Bradshaw)

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