James F. "Jim" Moore

December 2, 2010

Making Bill Densmore’s “infovalet” concept successful

Bill Densmore, the well-known journalist and philosopher/strategist of journalism futures, is in town this week, and I will be meeting with him later today. His concept for “infovalet” as a new vision of journalism in society is, I think, quite interesting. Here is a link to his very wiki-like material on the concept.  http://newshare.com/wiki/index.php/Infov…

Bill’s strategic challenge is how to get traction on creating a very broad new ecosystem, with new roles, new ways to pay for value, and new institutions.

I’m going to make a few suggestions.

First, in my view infovalet is as a disruptive technology to the various form of high-priced consulting now thriving in society, not as an extension of journalistic institutions. Infovalet can sell journalism’s highest values and virtues, but in new and disruptive institutional forms.

For example, information networks funded by hedge funds are currently in the news for helping promote insider trading. Can an infovalet network pull information out of companies and industries–information the companies and the industries don’t necessarily want out in the market–and make it available to the public by (expensive) subscriptions? Can the legal issues by resolved? The hedge funds won’t get exclusive information–in any case that is illegal–but they could get fast access to limited release information.

Controversially, a number of social commentators believe we need more exposes like those of Wikileaks, not less. Indeed, Wikileaks is rather tame compared to Bob Woodward’s excellent Obama Wars account of the disturbing and dysfunctional run up to our current “strategy” in Afghanistan. Is there a way to create something with the reach and power of Wikileaks, and with the insight and reflective excellence of Woodward’s book?

Second, I believe strongly that Bill should start with a for-profit entity focused on disrupting high-priced consulting in a particular niche. Les Vasdez of Intel Capital has long pointed out that startups should be focused on attaining their first ten million dollars of revenue, not their first billion. Only in this way do they force themselves to identify, serve, and learn from a real market. Capitalism, for its ills, assures focus on solving problems someone is willing to pay for. My contention is that vast sums of money are today being paid for information of exactly the type developed by high quality journalism. This is not recognized by journalism professionals because this money, this market, has a business model that is not understood by the journalism world. Vast sums are paid quietly by customers to firms based on consulting business models working mainly in niches. These businesses are just waiting to be disrupted.

New models of journalism should not, with all due respect, be funded mainly by foundations. Foundation decision-makers are not close to real customers, real markets, real social needs. They do not co-evolve their offerings with markets, but rather with donors. I genuinely believe in the value of good journalism. It is because of this belief, and my optimism about markets, that I simply don’t believe foundations add that much to the conversation, beyond supporting the startup costs and new thinking that folks like Bill do.

November 15, 2010

Facebook Messaging and Messages: 10 Reasons Facebook + email + IM + SMS + archiving Matters

Filed under: All and everything,Innovation — jim @ 6:40 pm

James F. Moore 2010

Facebook’s Modern Messaging System was announced today. It is phenomenal! You can witness the full event on livestream here.  Here are ten reasons Facebook’s messaging matters to all of us.

1. Instant messaging is the future. Facebook Modern Messaging is at its core instant messaging among friends. Why instant messaging? The newest generation–high school students–more or less only use IM or SMS. IM is fast, simple, and easy. Email is a legacy system with lots of cognitive load: addresses, subject headings, salutations. Non-essential. KK?

2. Modern Messaging sucks up and spits out email. Email is a legacy system that lots of people use. E.g. high school teachers, as well as Facebook engineers. :) – So Facebook Modern Messaging communicates by email, as well other end media such as SMS and smartphone apps. You can send messages to a friend in Facebook Messaging from whatever source you like. You can receive messages wherever you are. Facebook routing provides a central exchange point. There are no silos, no unsupported platforms. However, you have social permission and the tools to move to the simplest media, IM, for most of your relationships.  You may.

3. Facebook Modern Messaging creates narratives: a story-line for every relationship you have. Messages are saved in person-to-person threads, and can be easily displayed (0ne click) in historical sequence, back to the beginning. A use of personal history was demoed at the announcement. The lead engineer displayed (quickly) the history of his four year relationship with his girlfriend. From “let’s have coffee” to moving in together, to discussing furniture and cats. We all live for stories. We thrive when we can review them. Do you keep a journal? Of course you should. But do you? Of course not. Now you will. Read your own stories. Enjoy.

4. Facebook is the most personal of worlds, and Modern Messaging is the most personal of messaging.  Click on a face of a friend to send a message.  See a new message accompanied by the face of a friend.  You don’t have to think about communication means and media.  Just think about the people you like.  If you want more context for a message, one click shows your shared history, and another click their Facebook page.

5.  Your social graph is your main filter of messages.  Modern Messaging displays one view of messages from friends and priority sources.  This is your main space.  This is where you likely will live.  Your communication will speed up with these people.  Modern Messaging offers a second view for messages that you want to receive, but don’t want mixed up with the most important and enjoyable mail.  (Zuckerberg: “Most people will probably check this once a day”).

6.  You can bounce emails and other messages from people and sources not on your  friend list.  This means that even if your private email address “gets out” you don’t have to change addresses to shut out unwanted contact.  Bounce it.  This feature, plus a spam filter, will go a long way toward making the overall communication experience enjoyable again.

7.  You can easily add attachments to Modern Messages.  Photos, songs, posters, letters.  And all the attachments are available essentially forever within each friend-to-friend thread-archive.  Like a box full of old love letters and photographs.  How valuable is that?  The story AND the songs.

8.  Facebook is creating the world’s largest oral history, and we each can be represented.  Each of the friend-to-friend thread-archives is instantly available to both friends–that is, to you and your friend.  Now, imagine dozens to hundreds of narrative threads radiating out from you to your many many friends, and in parallel from each of these friends to you and to the rest of their network of friends.  What Facebook has established is a dense social history, accessible and open, all the time, to those who created it.  And all this happens without any conscious effort on anyone’s part.  It happens without anyone needing to anticipate the value of any of these items, and of any particular friendship and its path into the future.  Say you have that first “let’s have coffee” with twenty or more potential girlfriends or boyfriends.  How will you know which initial message to save for posterity?  Now you don’t have to chose until later, after some relationships unfold, and others fold up.

9.  Facebook Modern Messaging is designed for simplicity.  What is not in matters.  Mark Zuckerberg gave one example at the announcement:  email jockeys often have multiple folders for different types of messages exchanged with the same person. By design, Facebook Messaging does not do this.  Facebook Messaging makes only one thread for each relationship.  Journaling, with all topics interlaced in an unfolding history, combined in the person-to-person connection–trumps over topics and buckets. And the really really good news is not found in this or any particular simplifying move, but in the overall strategy of simplification and elegance.  Most people want simple and fast over complex and comprehensive.  Put Facebook squarely in the center of the design philosophy of Apple and the iPhone, 37signals and Basecamp, and millions of high school kids using IM.

10.  Strike another bell for the power of sharing, of real names, of authenticity, of being who you are, of personal connections.  Yes, privacy advocates will go nuts (see #8).  So what?  Facebook has demonstrated over and over that sharing itself is the core benefit of the web, and perhaps a key to making the world a better place.  True security is not gained by trying to remain an anonymous surfer.  True security on the web is being surrounded by your friends, being able to develop real relationships, and increasing the daily velocity and depth of near face-to-face communication.

11.  (free bonus reasons from folks smarter than me) It will be spam-free, opt-in-only, yet marketers will love it.  Win/win.  Read more in this excellent piece by J.D. Falk.

12. It will be big, as shown in these timely charts from Jay Yarow and Kamelia Angelova.

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