The Great Mystery of Media

by Susan Murphy

Sketchy notes
Image by Sketchy Notes

Back in the 1970’s, a Canadian named Moses Znaimer did something that nobody had ever done before. He took the medium of television, which had long been a great, mysterious and meticulous process reserved only for a select set of highly trained professionals, and gave it back to the people.

Through his little UHF station, CITY-TV, he turned the TV production process on its head, and made everything the studio. He showed audiences not only what was happening on the screen, but what was happening behind the scenes too. Lights and cameras and microphones were in the shot. The cameras moved and roamed and shook and zoomed in and out, and were taken from the pros and placed in the hands of the reporters and hosts. It was spontaneous and real. Moses Znaimer de-mystified TV, and the broadcasting world was never the same. The medium is the message, indeed.

Flash forward about 35 years and here we sit, firmly planted in a new era where media truly is in the hands of the people. Everyone now has the opportunity to be a publisher. So, one would think, with media being so accessible to all of us now, that more people would actually be publishing.

Yet most of us are not.

As much as the Internet as changed our behavior, it really hasn’t changed much at all. We just think it has. As easy as it is to just push a button and become a publisher now, most people still are not doing it. They know the process is not a great mystery any longer, and they are intrigued by the possibilities.

They WANT to publish, because they’ve seen the benefits publishing can bring to them and their business. But still, they hesitate. Why? Because the average person still thinks the so-called “experts” and “A-Listers” are the ones with all the control. They think that the people with the loudest voices know more, so they fall back to the role of passive consumer of media, because it’s the safest place to be.

The truth is, just because the mystery of the media process has been removed from the equation, doesn’t mean that you are ready to take the next step to become a publisher. Why? Because as comfortable as you are with the process now, you’re still not convinced you have anything interesting to say. You still would rather consume than create, even though you know that creation is the best thing for you.

But you DO have something to contribute. You are already interesting, by the very nature that you are the only one in the world who sees things from your perspective. And by sharing that perspective, you’re giving the world something very, very worthwhile.

So, with all the mystery out of the way, how are you going overcome your fears? How are you going to make the transition from consumer to creator?

There’s really only one way.

Just. Hit. Publish.

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Susan Murphy is an entrepreneur, TV producer, teacher, blogger, podcaster, and social media nerd. She’s been tinkering with media in all its forms for the past 20 years or so. Suze lives in Ottawa, Canada with four furry four-legged creatures and her extremely patient husband.

Why Tech Already Has Women (And Why They’re Better Than Arrington)

UPDATE: Robert Scoble believes our comments are taken out of context, and has offered this Cincast on his views about women in tech. We appreciate Mr. Scoble’s participation in this important topic, and wish to encourage all parties to discuss the matter.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble has shared his thoughts on Women in Tech. You can view his take here.

Women of WiFi, after Caillebotte

Image: “Women of WiFi, after Caillebotte” by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

by Danny Brown and Geoff Livingston (Cross posted on Danny’s blog)

Contrary to Violet Blue’s disappointing stance about women in tech in 2010, this year saw a terrible new trend, the outright enforcement of the glass ceiling in technology.  First there was Michael Arrington’s terribly ignorant rant, followed verbally by the likes by Robert Scoble and Ms. Blue, as well as the visual use of boobs to sell copies of WIRED by Chris Anderson and crew.

Before opining too much, here are some statistics for you (the first three were originally cited by Allyson Kapin in Fast Company):

In spite of the statistical advantages of women in tech, negative trends towards male speakers and executive leadership continue. Worse, reading this negative enforcement of sexism in tech has been a damn shame. Working with great women in tech — Susan Murphy, Beth Kanter,  Kami Huyse, Allyson Kapin, Amber MacArthur, Sarah Prevette, Lisa Kalandjian and Cali Lewis to name a few this year — has been a phenomenal experience for both of us, and they demonstrate every day how brilliant and capable they are.

In fact, these women are better than the likes of Arrington and crew, because they would never allow themselves to demean an entire race, gender or religious sect of people on the Internet.  Even if they had such feelings (which we doubt), they would rise above this kind of baseless attack to offer solutions.

Then again, perhaps that shouldn’t come across as too surprising. TechCrunch is hardly the purveyor of common sense and good “fights,” as they’ve shown continuously in the past with their attacks on PR, CEOs, bloggers – basically anyone who doesn’t bow to Arrington’s missives.

There are certainly issues for women, as pointed out by Allyson Kapin in the above articles as well as many other women who discuss this issue. Men have a role in it, too, as evidenced by this year’s newest glass blowing experiences.  Moving forward, men need to be more active about providing solutions to create a more level playing field. For example:

  • Actively support women in business, both through choices of partners, vendors and employees, and in promotion.
  • Support men and women trying to help women.  Whether it’s Girls, Inc., supporting female entrepreneurs abroad, efforts to highlight Women Who Tech, or a host of other efforts, support women.
  • Stop trashing and reacting to women trying to succeed.  Rather than get into throw downs about how women create their own problems in tech — or worse revert to past bad practices like conferences for men — work to create an inclusive balanced playing field for every human being.
  • If you are a man and you don’t like these types of actions against women — posts, magazine articles, speaking rosters — say something. When both genders actively voice dissatisfaction in this matter, it becomes a powerful statement.
  • Instead of supporting old structures for speaking — such as soliciting speaking submissions from chest beating male A-Listers — build an editorial mission for the conference, and seek out great male and female speakers beyond the comfortable and immediate social network.
  • Stop thinking with the mindset that “women” and “success” are two words that – together – are news, and start thinking it’s the norm.
  • Think of the challenges your great-grandmother, grandmother and (possibly) your mother went through to be someone. Then ask if you’d want that still, and add your wife or daughter into the mix. Would you want them to be viewed as “unique” because of their industry choice? And that’s “unique” in a negative way, not in a good one-of-a-kind way.

To be fair, this isn’t an isolated issue with the technology sector. Think of a lot of industries, and you’ll find that women are often viewed as second-best to their male counterparts. They may have won the vote but it’s clear that women still trail men when it comes to advancement, recognition and financial reward compared to their male peers in too many industries.

But it’s even more evident in the technology sector, where too many geek overlords want to keep the sandpit for themselves, and maybe the women can solder a chip or connect a conference call between the male kingfishers.

And it’s just plain stupid. For every Michael Arrington there’s a Bindi Karia; for every Robert Scoble, there’s a Gina Trapani; for every Chris Anderson there’s a Stephanie Agresta. And with new innovators being sponsored to come through from India, and developing countries making women and technology one of their key focuses, these names (and others like them) will only be added to.

Frankly, an argument can be made that most of the modern gender imbalance issues are rooted in men not consciously looking for great women, as opposed to them not existing. 2011 can be a year where forward progress can be made — by both women and men.  Let’s hope the community joins together in working towards that goal.  Given how great women are in business, why wouldn’t you?

About Danny Brown

For readers who aren’t familiar with Danny, he is co-founder and partner at Bonsai Interactive Marketing, a full service marketing agency offering integrated , social media and mobile marketing solutions and applications. He’s also the founder of the 12for12k Challenge, a community-driven social media charity initiative to connect globally and help locally that’s raised over $100,000 since inception in 2009. His top ranked blog is featured in the AdAge Power 150 list as well as Canada’s Top 50 Marketing Blogs, and won the Hive Award for Best Social Media Blog at the 2010 South by South West festival.

10 Wishes for the Baby New Year

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Image from Rudolph’s Shiny New Year

With the Baby New Year about to be born, it’s time to reflect on resolutions and wishes for the next 365 days. Here are 10 wishes for the online communications space in 2011:

1) Instead of running to lynch Julian Assange, the market needs a deeper analysis of Wikileaks and its role in the 21st century media environment, good and bad. The implications will be far reaching for all Fifth Estate participants, bloggers, pseudo journalists and social network voices, alike.

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2) Ethics, what are those? It’s time for the Wild West known as the blogosphere to look deeply at practices like affiliate marketing, Perks and other interesting forms of compensation.

3) That the market starts treating high school conversations purporting greatness and righteousness as the distractions that they are. There are so many better ways to invest our time.

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4) May the mercenaries at Apple cave and let nonprofits receive commission-free donations on iPhone Apps.

5) Vigorous civil discourse ensues about what happens next now that social media adoption is coming to a close, and the primary focus is learning best practices.

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6) Better self policing in the communications blogosphere. When a communications blogger takes a plane ticket — disclosed or not — to attend a party, then blatantly defends the party organizer and the questionable influence algorithm financing the effort, conversations about ethics need to happen. Enjoy the Pop Chips.

7) That Causes, Crowdrise, Jumo, or another platform becomes a killer valuable middleware solution that really makes a great difference for the nonprofit social web.

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8) A great book launch for Welcome to the Fifth Estate that centers on the actual ideas in the text. Isn’t that what books are supposed to be about, ideas?

9) President Obama announces that he won’t run for re-election in 2012. Well, it’s just a wish!

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10) Last, but certainly not least, that Soleil and every reader’s children stay healthy and safe in 2011.

Do you have a wish you’d like to add?

Special thanks to Anna Barcelos, Diane Court, Susan Murphy, Amy Hordes Erbe, Meg Fowler, Danny Brown, Isaac Pigott, Liz Scherer, Devin Mathias and Stacey Hood for their wishes, too! Trackbacks on this post are turned off. This post does not seek to generate in-bound links, instead it will hopefully inspire people to consider the ideas discussed in the context of their own efforts.

The Questionable Ethics of Klout Perks

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On the social web, it is important to look at the details, including content publishing rights, communication “best practices,” influence theory, or a “Perks” package. For the past two weeks, many online personalities updated their Facebook and Twitter statuses declaring they had received their Klout Perks package. It has brought up the question of ethics. Will these influencers always reference the Perks program when touting their Klout?

In addition to becoming the preeminent influencer package of choice for businesses, it’s clear that Klout has a second agenda: Disseminate products into the marketplace via volunteer online influencers for their marketing clients. The sponsorship program is called Klout Perks. Certainly, at face value this seems like a reasonable way to monetize a database, and also cement influencer loyalty. Of course, given the questions that have arisen about the integrity of Klout’s algorithm, advertisers may not get the ideal result.

While Klout had a code of ethics around its Perks package and how participating will impact and individuals’ score, the larger question of ethics for the actual influencers still remains. How can an influencer who counsels others about online communications maintain their integrity and take the Klout Perks package?

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At a bare minimum, according to the Federal Trade Commission, disclose needs to happen. Providing disclosure that one is a Klout Perks recipient every single time Klout came up in conversation would be a bit of an odious task. And even at that, one would then still have to question any statements made about Klout or other influence measurement packages.

From an ethical standpoint, perhaps the journalism profession can lend a hand. According the Society of Professional Journalists, “writers should ‘refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment…,’ so as not to ‘compromise journalistic integrity.’

Marketing, PR and social media folks don’t have the same kind of rigorous code of ethics, unfortunately. In this case, it would clearly provide guidance and enable a less inflated view of Klout on the public interwebs. Instead, clients, readers and friends are left to discern the truth in unclear waters.

Special thanks to Susan Murphy, Mike Ashworth and Calvin Lee for weighing in on Facebook.

Related Content: Klout versus Reality

Mashable Outtake: 12for12K’s Susan Murphy

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My column last week on Mashable tied together overarching themes from mega charity events like Twestival, 12for12k, Tweetsgiving and CrisisCamps. To get the information, I interviewed the four organizers cited in the article. Each interview was fantastic and informative in its own right. So with my editor’s blessing I am publishing the unedited interview source material over the next couple of weeks for general consumption, starting with Susan Murphy‘s 12for12K interview.

GL: What makes 12for12K unique as compared to other large-scale social media events?

Susan:I think what sets 12for12k apart is that we started small. It wasn’t about getting the large numbers for us right away. In other words, we weren’t trying to raise a million dollars in a month. Our goal was pretty reasonable. Find 1200 people to donate $10 per month for 12 months.

Since we were already pretty heavily involved in social media, reaching 1200 passionate people didn’t seem too daunting a task for us. We knew we had the capacity within the core team to reach people, and we focused on inspiring people to not only donate, but to help us spread the word. Our idea was to focus on building a community first, and the money would follow.

GL: How does 12for12K attract the long tail (large amounts of people) so successfully?

Susan:We focused first on building a community that cared about the cause. These people became our ambassadors – they were as passionate as we were about helping, and they spread the word. We got the charities directly involved too, and made sure their stories were out there for people to hear. Once we had a passionate community, spreading the word was much easier. When we needed to get a message out, or inspire people to contribute, our community went into action.

GL: In spite of its size, people seem to feel a relationship with you and local 12for12K organizers. How did you achieve that?

Susan: It’s not enough to just find a bunch of people willing to spread the word – that kind of publicity has a shelf life. We needed people to commit to 12for12k long term. We achieved this by empowering our community, not just “using” them for their blog posts and retweets. We wanted our community to feel ownership in 12for12k.

So we encouraged their ideas and feedback, and eventually 12for12k took on a life of its own….people were organizing their own fundraisers, and offering to help with web site design, logos and graphics, content, video production, social media outreach and other tasks. It is a true community effort, and our supporters have been absolutely critical to the success of 12for12k. It was this strong community that raised over $100,000 last year. We are so grateful to everyone that has supported the cause.

GL: What can a cause learn from your effort?

This has been a learning experience for us from the beginning. One of our biggest lessons happened mid-last year when we started to lose momentum. This is a natural thing with any long term initiative, and it’s something that causes need to be aware of.

It took some time to pinpoint the exact issue, but we realized that we’d lost some of the connection with our supporters – we weren’t reaching out to them as often, and weren’t listening as intently. We refocused our efforts on being there for our supporters, and regained our momentum by making sure we were involving our community at every step.

GL: What’s your favorite social media tool that you used for 12for12K?

Susan: Well, my mantra is, it’s not about the tools… but if you insist. ;) It’s important to leverage the platforms where your community resides – in our case it was important to have our home base as the web site www.12for12k.org, where we could share news and promote the charities and events, as well as promoting our strong community and highlighting their tremendous efforts.

Involving our community in conversations on our Twitter and Facebook pages was also extremely important. I would say that our leveraging of Twitter has been extremely successful. Last year we worked with Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) and held a Tweet-a-thon for our March charity, Share our Strength, and brought in over $12,000 in 12 hours, which was remarkable.

We’ve had other amazing 12for12k’ers that have also done their own online fundraising events, like concerts and live webcasts, with great success. But I think a balanced social media strategy is the best approach. Find your community. Listen to them. Encourage and empower them to share the message. The tools come second.