Saturday, February 21, 2009

Interactive Austin 2009

I'm excited to be speaking at Interactive Austin 2009, a conference whose goal is "to explore how social media enhances business and marketing strategies and adds to the bottom line." Austin's social media community is vibrant, and I think this event is going to showcase that fact nicely.

If you're in Austin or plan to be, please do check it out. Monday, April 27, Norris Business Center. I think it's going to be a blast.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Crowdsourcing for tips

A few minutes ago, Twitter informed me that someone named bountystorms had begun following me. I clicked through to the stream, then to the listed website,

The basic idea behind BountyStorms should seem half-familiar to anyone reading my Twitter feed or blog. When I wanted a good popular-oriented name for my new project, I crowdsourced it: I gave my followers the parameters, then invited them to submit their own ideas. I didn't come up with this idea, but I've found it to be really handy for generating ideas than I never would have produced on my own.

BountyStorms is a site for submitting ideas to be crowdsourced. Unlike run-of-the-mill crowdsourcing, though, BountyStorms involves paying a cash prize for the winning idea. That is, it connects a network of BountyStorms readers with people who need a service - and are willing to pay (paltry) cash for it. Skimming the site, I see requests for "Product name for a leading edge energy appliance" ($20), "Creative Ideas for Valentines" ($5), and "Catchy title for Work Life Balance/Resilience workshop ..." ($20). Some of these problems are traditionally those of PR or marketing firms, while others are more along the lines of self-help.

Will the service take off? This is the sort of service that could take advantage of stray minutes in people's lives. If it can attract enough clever readers, it might become useful. So far, though, the number of people weighing in on each idea is fairly small.

Thoughts on how the economic downturn will reshape the world

We're all talking about the impact of this economic precipice, right? Instead of venturing my own analysis, let me point to two analyses that are very different but have similarities.

One is Richard Florida's analysis in the Atlantic, entitled "How the Crash will Reshape America." Many in my Twitter stream have pointed it out. Florida sets up his argument this way:

In his 2005 book, The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman argues, essentially, that the global economic playing field has been leveled, and that anyone, anywhere, can now innovate, produce, and compete on a par with, say, workers in Seattle or entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. But this argument isn’t quite right, and doesn’t accurately describe the evolution of the global economy in recent years.

In fact, as I described in an earlier article for this magazine (“The World Is Spiky,” October 2005 [link opens PDF]), place still matters in the modern economy—and the competitive advantage of the world’s most successful city-regions seems to be growing, not shrinking. To understand how the current crisis is likely to affect different places in the United States, it’s important to understand the forces that have been slowly remaking our economic landscape for a generation or more.

Florida goes on to argue that we'll see some real impact shear at the level of region and city, not nation, and that the disadvantaged will be those regions and cities that lack dense social connections. That doesn't do justice to Florida's argument, but I want to note that this analysis is at least somewhat consistent with Castells' argument.

The other analysis comes from a paper that David Ronfeldt posted, along with its responses. Ronfeldt dusted off and reframed a paper from a few years ago, suggesting that we start thinking in terms of the "network-state." In the comments, one person suggests that we're on the cusp of radical decentralization in favor of rhizomatic constructions - and that the result will be less effective asymmetric warfare (e.g., terrorism) since the disappearance of state centers will mean lessened asymmetry. Another points to the response of the P2P Foundation, which pushes farther along the lines of "peer-governed civil-society networks," which are described as "the great innovation of the last decade."

Update on titling my new project (bumped to top)

Originally posted 2/9/09; update below.

A few days ago, I invited people to suggest titles for my new project, a popular text (blog, book, probably both) about loose work arrangements in Austin. So far, the entries have included the following:
  • cgbrooke: Attack of the Telecommutants!!
  • spinuzzi: adhocracy
  • spinuzzi: "the pick-up economy"
  • billhd: Quirk* *(Co-Work, really fast)
  • johnmjones: "The Clay Spin Zone."
  • aprudy: Ac-knowledging Austin
  • johnmjones: 'The Funtastic Workatoriums of Dr. Clay'
  • billhd: Austin's "Invention Class"
  • mkgold: Working Out: How Social Networks Reshape Organizational Structures
  • jdhancock: "The Clay Spin."
  • honeyl: Ambient Workability
  • honeyl: Office Dispersion
  • honeyl: Atelier Diaspora
  • siquecountry: alt!Office
  • siquecountry: teleCommune: jellys, conjectures and other alternative workspaces
  • cgbrooke: Smart Jobs
  • cgbrooke: The Workplace of Crowds
  • ifss:
  • ifss: Cutting Loose in Austin: How the Live Music Capital became the Web Worker Capital
  • socialtechno: CrowdWhoring
  • socialtechno: MeLancing
  • socialtechno: DeliWorking
  • socialtechno: CrunkArbeit
  • siquecountry: Business Casual
  • siquecountry: Co-Work: Using loose places and Jelly spaces to work, freelance and connect.
  • jcsalterego: The Untold Stories of Digital Nomads
  • jobsworth: weird work
  • jobsworth: wrok
  • jcsalterego: Digital Nomads
There are some real gems in here. Do you have a favorite -- or do you think you have a better idea? Why don't you tweet with the hashtag #spinuzzi-project and I'll add your feedback to the list. If you don't have a account, feel free to drop your suggestions here in the comments. Looking forward to seeing what you think.

Update 2/15:
  • People have added the following entries:
  • spinuzzi: Spliced
  • averysmalldog: Work 2.0
  • twitt_ercoryb: the real cloud computing
  • spinuzzi: hyperworkspace
  • @spinuzzi "adhocracy"
  • djteknokid: office 2.0
  • djteknokid: workspace 2.0
  • spinuzzi: So close in, yet so far out
  • spinuzzi: Work on everywhere
  • spinuzzi: Outer workspace
  • johnmjones: Jelly
  • cwood: Working Where You Work Best
  • jade_girl work space
  • spinuzzi: work, spaced
These are some great suggestions. But reading through them, I'm having trouble finding a direct hit, and I think that's because the project is still too underdefined. So I'll let this cook a while longer, define it more carefully, and move from there. Thanks so much, all, for some great suggestions.

Twitter, the Google of right now

TechCrunch has a good post today on the significance of Twitter. Erick Schonfeld points out that a datastream like Twitter provides "a different kind of search engine altogether. A real-time search engine. A what’s-happening-right-now search engine." And the information returned by such as search is very different from that returned by Google, in which information is privileged by number of incoming links (among other factors, of course -- I don't want to oversimplify Google's algorithm).

The difference, Schonfeld argues, is that Google captures people's intent. Twitter captures trends ("what people are doing or what they are thinking about").

That, he says, is why Twitter has merited another round of funding. And if I can inject my own analysis here, this is also why social media types have gone crazy over Twitter and its potential: Google is for marketing with SEO, SEM, and paid search, but Twitter is for detecting trends and holding conversations in real time. Unbelievably, Google can now be considered the king of the "slow" media.

But so far Twitter has not done much to capitalize on its search potential: Summize, which is now, is still a fairly rudimentary search engine. Let's hope that this new round of funding is applied to cracking that nut.