Monthly Archives: June 2009

The real social media

It is all too easy to think of consumer empowerment as simply a web based phenomenon, but something interesting is also happening beyond the world of social media: public meetings are suddenly all the rage.   Not content with simply meeting in a virtual capacity, empowered consumers increasingly see value in coming together as a physical [...]

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A barometer of the collective mood

A couple of interesting articles illustrating how the ubiquitous Twitter is providing institutions – in these cases, the US government and television broadcasters - with the ability to guage the public mood.  The vast majority of Tweets may be completely inane, but, taken as a whole and with the right monitoring tools, Twitter is a brilliantly useful, [...]

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Cutting out the middle man

One of the ways that businesses and other institutions have leveraged consumer empowerment is to use it to help them cut out the middle man or intermediary … what Sir Martin Sorrell likes to describe as disintermediation.  This philosophy has encouraged politicians to circumvent political journalists by communicating directly with voters through social media and brands, such [...]

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Tehran all a Twitter

It is 20 years since ‘people power’ brought down the Berlin wall and ended decades of authoritarian government across Eastern Europe.  In 1989, state control of the news media made it difficult to co-ordinate mass protests, which probably explains why the discredited Communist regimes were able to hang on for so long. Leap forward 20 years and [...]

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The birds and the bees … not forgetting the sharks

We are a national of animal lovers, which is why nature conservationists – from marine biologists to apiarists (that’s bee keepers to you and me) – have been highly successful at enlisting the nature-loving crowd to help with their scientific studies.  If experts want to track the migratory patterns of sharks, establish the relative health of [...]

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The Party of Empowerment

The consumer empowerment movement is celebrating a notable victory this week, thanks to Swedish voters in the European election.  The Pirate Bay, a peer-to-peer file-sharing site – in the guise of the Swedish Pirate Party – now has its own member of the European Parliament, after receiving 7.1% of the Swedish vote. Earlier this year, four [...]

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Crowd Surfing in Germany

Just back from Berlin where I ran a Surf School workshop at the Deutscher Multimedia Kongress.   One of the most interesting conversations focused on whether Barak Obama’s style of political campaigning could or should work in a German context.  Understandably, given their relatively recent history, most Germans are wary of what they described to me in [...]

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Work with the willing

When asked how a brand or business can create a social media community, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, declared ‘you can’t’.  He then went on to suggest that the role of organisations is merely to provide ‘elegant organisation’ for communities that already exist.   The RSA’s Matthew Taylor, made a similar point when talking about the importance of ‘voluntary [...]

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The New Peasant’s Revolt

I have a degree in history, so I am always a sucker for historical parallels, which is why I was particularly taken by Carl Mortished’s Times article, in which he  described the current wave of consumer protest – against MPs, bankers and greedy business leaders acting against the interests of shareholders – as ‘A peasants’ revolt’ [...]

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Scaling the Great Firewall of China

The Chinese government remains one of the few institutions that believes itself capable of withstanding consumer empowerment, but even in China, things are beginning to change.  The case of pedicurist, Deng Yujiao, accused of stabbing to death a party official, has led to a public outcry.  According to The Times, “Such is the indignation over [...]

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