Evening Beer Notes

I’m bummed that I’m drinking a beer on the deck here in Santa Barbara while Dave is in Cambridge. Would have enjoyed having coffee with him this morning. So instead I’ll raise a glass in his general direction, and post a bunch of loose notes here.

Sez Dave, Doc Searls likes to say that markets are conversations, but people are conversations too. Right. And markets are people, which is our point in this Cluetrain chapter. They are not marketing. The market in marketing is a verb. A synonym for sell, basically. (See definitions 13 to 16 here.)

Which is why I think “conversational marketing” is oxymoronic. Federated Media’s Conversational Marketing Summit, for example, came to my attention by way of a fellow Cluetrain author who attached a promotional email from Federated, adding “yep, looks like our work here is done! Off to find some good stout clothesline and a high enough limb.” Among the speakers is Comcast’s “Director of Digital Care.” Feeling cared for, Comcast customers?

Okay, that was unfair. The director in question is Frank Eliason, who has a fine blog and is running at about 16,000 followed and followers as @comcastcares on Twitter. I’m one of those thousands (on the following side, anyway).

Anyway, here’s just one paragraph from the CM Summit pitch:

CM Summit will provide key insights from some of the world’s largest brand advertisers and the web’s most successful social media properties. Don’t miss this opportunity to look under the hood of conversational marketing and find out what’s driving innovation and success for the publishers, marketers, and consumers who occupy the social Web.

Gag me with a shovel.

Gag Steven Hodson too. He says The wrong people are promoting Social Media. Specifically,

We are increasingly be told that Social Media is about being able to open lines of conversations with corporations and governments. It is supposed to be the new way for us to interact with those in more powerful positions than us. We are increasingly being marketed to about the benefits of being connected to brands – be it personal or corporate ones.

As a result people are beginning to think that social media is nothing more than a round table with corporations, marketers and public relation people deciding on what the conversation is all about. Once more we are finding ourselves being talked to even though it is carefully couched in terms of openness and transparency.

Yep. Later Steven adds,

We have only begun to taste the incredible freedom and personal power that comes with being a part of a social media world. It is this taste that companies fear because it removes them from the top down position. It brings them onto a level playing field where even the poorest person in the world can have an effect.

Social media doesn’t belong to the marketers, the public relation flacks or the corporations so desperately trying to take ownership. It belongs to the people. For the first time the media truly is made up of people for the people.

It is us who should be out there promoting Social Media – not the Facebooks, not the MySpaces, not the Twitter and especially not the marketers and corporations. The sooner we realize that the sooner we can take back our social media from the grasp of those who would bastardize it to their own means.

I’m with him in every respect other than love for the term “social media.” That’s because most people equate “social media” with Facebook, MySpace and all the other conversation containment silos.

Let’s go back to fundamentals. For that I’ll defer first to Larry Josephson, my favorite personality in the history of radio, who naturally isn’t working there any more. Larry once told me, “Radio is personal. That’s my philosophy.” The road radio traveled to hell (where its commercial corner has rotting for the last thirty years or so) was paved with jive like Federated is talking in that pitch. It’s all sell-side shit, and about as conversational as a billboard.

The Net is personal too. So is the Web. Also email, SMS, IM and the rest of it.

And before all of those, so was the telephone. Nothing could be more conversational than that. Back in the 80s, Reese Jones told me that the phone — a tech communications mode that is senior in the extreme, was both the original and the ultimate platform. And now there are close to a billion app downloads for the iPhone. One of the iPhone’s 25 thousand apps is the Public Radio Tuner, which is now passing 1.6 million downloads. That app, plus WundeRadio, have turned my iPhone into my radio. Together they get many more stations than would ever fit in a dial.

Reese’s point: conversation is personal. It’s one-with-one, not one-to-many.  It may be social in the sense that talking with another person is a social act. But it’s not a group thing. Orignally a brain researcher, Reese pointed out that none of us are capable of listening to more than one other person at a time.

In other words, talking may be social, but listening is personal.

Talk “social” and the silos show up. That’s what “social media” are. The good stuff Steven wants us to save, and advocate, are inherently personal qualities of the Net and the Web.

By the way, without Reese schooling me about phones and conversations, I doubt I would have come up with the “markets are conversations” line.

Speaking of which, in Brian Solis’ The Conversation Index, he says this:

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Communities support each other. Citizens actively help others make decisions, offer suggestions and referrals, proactively share negative experiences, and repeatedly ask question – with or without our participation.

Doc Searls calls this Vendor Relationship Management (VRM). Others refer to it as Customer Relationship Management (CRM). But, as we are quickly learning, “management” and “relationships” are as distant from each other as their intentions. Perhaps it’s better stated as Community Relations or better yet, Public Relations.

Well, VRM is not CRM. Nor is it public relations. It is nothing that the seller does. VRM is something the customer has. It comes from the customer. There will be, in the VRM world, both individuals and user-driven and customer-driven services, which I call fourth parties. More about those distinctions here.

Other stuff…

Mike Arrington’s post about The Cenralized Me and Data Portability is all about VRM, though he doesn’t mention it.

Great interview with Richard Rodriguez, one of my favorite writers and thinkers. Richard’s book Brown foreshadowed Obama’s presidency. This is outstanding, too.

Umair Hague is in high dungeon about The Geithnerconomy, which Umair considers a coup.

Long as we’re down on Obama, Tim Jones of the EFF says In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ’s New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush’s. That’s on top of Jennifer Granick’s post about a proposed federal take-over of the Net. More centralization and concentration of power, anyway.

Not sure whether or not I’m creeped out by this new biz model for journals and Twitter.

To answer the question “How come you’re not posting your usual giant piles of photos on Flickr?” the answer is that I stupidly somehow signed off Flickr and can’t sign back on, because I have no idea what the hell my ID or password are. (Actually I do, but they don’t work.) I have appealed to Yahoo for help here, and its automatum has thanked me for that. They may not want to thank me for what I’ll say if “one of our knowledgeable and well trained Sign-in & Registration agents” doesn’t get back to me within the promised 24 hours. That’s by tomorrow afternoon. FWIW, I’ve always been vexed by Yahoo’s ID system. Not that it’s much different than anybody else’s but … somehow it has always been a bit of a problem.

The Failure of #amazonfail, by Clay Shirky, is a good read too. What he calls “conservation of outrage” (that is, “finding rationales for continuing to feel aggrieved, should the initial rationale disappeared”) is exactly why I am always slow to get worked about stuff that get crowds excited. In fact, VRM is in part a way not to get outraged at vendors, but rather to engage them constructively. (But we don’t have those ways yet, so go ahead and get outraged anyway.)

Here’s a nice rationale for PayChoice. (Which needs a different name, by the way.)

Okay, beer done. Later, folks. I’m heading in.

8 comments

  1. Crosbie Fitch’s avatar

    You could combine the ‘volition to pay’ with ‘the unencumbered delivery of the work’ in exchange. In other words the proposition is “I’ll take the initiative in paying you to publish your work, but only if you’ve taken the initiative in restoring the public’s liberty to your work”.

    Copyright unethically contrives the ability to exchange copies for money. It has no place in the exchange of work for money.

    Thus how about a name that also indicates the emancipation of the public? Perhaps EmanciPay? or PayAndShare? or Pay2Share? PayFair? FreeMart?

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    I like ‘volition to pay,’ and the deal you outline. It’s a good example of an assertion that one could make as a first party.

    And I like both EmanciPay and FreeMart. Alas the latter domain naime in both .com and .org form are owned by Koreans already.

    But EmanciPay .org and .com were both available when I checked, so I just bought them.

    I’m liking it more every minute too. Well done, Crosbie.

  3. john- owassa history’s avatar

    Sir,
    Not sure if you received my previous request in late February. Would be interested in hearing from you regarding one of your photographs.
    Regards, John

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Sorry, John.

    Use any of my photographs any way you wish. There is a Creative Commons license there for guidance.

    I wish I could get into my Flickr account to do more, but alas, Yahoo won’t let me. Which will be the subject of my next post.

  5. Brian Solis’s avatar

    Doc, you are completely correct. I lost a sentence that actually explained your take on VRM and will add that back in asap. The spirit of the Conversation Prism and the Conversation Index is intended to motivate brands, and the people who represent them, to first discover, document, and then breathe in the meaningful dialogue and the insights they reveal in order to improve their relationship programs, services, communications, marketing, training, infrastructure, and products overall.

  6. Nevada DUI Attorney’s avatar

    Couple of things I came across recently. I was “shared” a video about the latest updates on youtube, and the talks with the big corporations that they are having. The actual users of youtube are outraged [ ok outraged is over the top, they are more intrigued, outraged would be a mass exodus from youtube ] why? because youtube has systematically ousted the little guy in favor of the corporate bigwig videos. And, they are putting forth these videos as “most popular”. When in fact most advertisers receive a very cold and poor welcome, and if they are rated, are rated out of existence quickly.

    So the users that made youtube what it is today are out of the dialogue as to the future of the entity that they had a direct impact on.

    Someone in response to these “did you hear” videos, said radio was the same way. At first, radio was done by ma and pa radio holder and then the corporate big wigs came in and took it over.

    In the end, there’s nothing really any one can complain about. Social media, was of course started by the real users of the web, but corporate greed has seen the light and are flexing their Emuscles to oust these silly peons and defining the market … to put it biblically “in their own image”.

    However, I think they will find, as your commenter alluded to, the internet is a vacuous space and there is lots of room to wiggle in. If these corporations seek to take over the kickball and remake the rules, everyone can simply leave their playground and go elsewhere at the touch of a button.

    Youtube may have been the only kid on the block, but now they are just the “big” kid on the block, there are plenty of other kids to go play with. The same is for a lot of social media. It’s all now properly categorized and waiting for new users.

    The Obama talks concerning censoring the internet is scaring me though, 4th amendment violations aren’t even being brought up.

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