Beyond the iPad

Doc Searls’ fantasy for the iPad involves interactivity with the everyday world:

“Take retailing for example. Let’s say you syndicate your shopping list, but only to trusted retailers, perhaps through a fourth party (one that works to carry out your intentions, rather than sellers’ — though it can help you engage with them). You go into Target and it gives you a map of the store, where the goods you want are, and what’s in stock, what’s not, and how to get what’s mising, if they’re in a position to help you with that. You can turn their promotions on or off, and you can choose, using your own personal terms of service, what data to share with them, what data not to, and conditions of that data’s use. Then you can go to Costco, the tire store, and the university library and do the same. I know it’s hard to imagine a world in which customers don’t have to belong to loyalty programs and submit to coercive and opaque terms of data use, but it will happen, and it has a much better chance of happening faster if customers are independent and have their own tools for engagement. Which are being built. Check out what Phil Windley says here about one approach.”

Doc’s “story none dare tell”

Doc Searls says we need a new leadership narrative:

“…what’s “super” about U.S. superpower — a near-limitless ability to make high-technology war, backed by a fighting force of finite size with few allies — is an anachronism. I’m not sure the people of any Great Nation are ever ready to face the fact that the height of their military and economic powers has passed. Or that the leadership they most need to assert is no longer only a military and economic one.”

If we can no longer win every war we start and our economy isn’t Number One… is it possible for the U.S. to still be “super?” Let’s hope so.

This is a thoughtful and insightful post on America, leadership and journalism. Worth a read.

Procrastinate like your life depends on it

Doc Searls –who happens to be the same age as I– draws some insight from the movie No Country for Old Men:

“The central figure, Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem, is a psychopathic killer who personifies death and chance in unequal measure.

His motives? His quarry is money, but that’s just a point on a path. There is no doubt that he will get the money, and that people will die along the way. But death itself has no motive. It is merely inevitable. Like Anton Chigurh. The Terminator, the Alien, the guy DiNiro played in Cape Fear… all the relentless bad guys we’ve known… don’t compare easily with Chigurh. Because all the others could be, and were, defeated.

Death can’t be defeated. In Chigurh, it could only be wounded, because he is death in human form. But he is still death.

Which is on my mind more as I get older. The old men in the movie — Tommy Lee Jones and cohorts of his generation — are barely older than me, if they’re older at all.

Being older, if not yet “old”, requires increased acquaintance with the certainty that Your Time Will Come.

I plan to procrastinate. For some things that’s a helpful skill.”

I’ll be 60 years old next Saturday and, like Doc Searls, mortality has been more on my mind. In coming days I might post a thought or two on birthdays that end in zero and what –if anything– I’ve learned in the last 6 decades (I like the sound of that better than “sixty”). But once the day has come and gone,  I’m going to try not to think/write about it.

Doc Searls: What’s Around the Bend?

Doc Searls is on a panel (Public Media 2008) titled Technology and Trends: What’s Around the Bend? From his list of ten, here are three I found interesting:

  • Cell phones will be the new radios and televisions. This will start to happen in a big way the minute Apple opens its iPhones to independent developers of native applications (rather than just ones that run in a browser).
  • Websites will become as inadequate as transmitters. That is, both will remain necessary but insufficient means for reaching listeners and viewers, and for relating to them. “Live Web” methods such as streaming, file sharing, social networking and “rivers of news” will all play roles as well.
  • Archives will be the ultimate killer kontent. Stations and networks will come to value not only their own archives, but will work to make those archives as easy as possible to find, consume and otherwise use — and to open CRM systems for VRM tools to make it as easy as possible for listeners and viewers to voluntarily pay for the privilege. Bigger inventory, bigger income.

I couldn’t begin to guess the number of hours I’ve spent archiving material (I think Doc hates the term “content”). MissouriDeathRow.com; Legislature.com; Missouri Supreme Court oral arguments; and –once upon a time– Missouri State Highway Patrol accident reports. We saved damn near everything but I can’t say that I noticed a huge appetite for that archived material and I was never smart enough to make any serious money with it. But we’ve got it.

“Public Media”

Doc Searls says the Net makes radio and TV transmitters obsolete the moment high-enough-bandwidth wireless connectivity becomes ubiquitous.

“We’re one good UI away from the cell phone becoming a radio. (Thanks to the iPhone, it already serves as a TV.) And we’re one smart cell company away from radio- and TV-as-we-know-it from being replaced entirely — or from moving up the next step of the evolutionary ladder. Public broadcasters know that. That’s one reason they now call themselves “public media”, a move that separates the category from its transport methods.

Will this someday be an issue for our networks? Radio Iowa. Wisconsin Radio Network. Nebraska Radio Network. Time will tell.

Doc: “The only real social works are personal ones”

So says Doc Searls. I’ve been waiting for someone smarter than I to put into words my “issues” with social networks (Facebook, My Space, etc). The focus of this post is the effort by companies to use social networks for marketing.

“…today’s “social networks” look to me like yesterday’s online services. Remember AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve and the rest? Facebook to me is just AOL done right. Or done over, better. But it’s still a walled garden. It’s still somebody’s private space. Me, I’d rather take it outside, where the conversation is free and open to anybody.”

“…the thing companies need to do most is stop being all “strategic” about how their people communicate. Stop running all speech through official orifices. Some businesses have highly regulated speech, to be sure. Pharmaceuticals come to mind. But most companies would benefit from having their employees talk about what they do. Yet there are still too many companies where employees can’t say a damn thing without clearing it somehow. And in too many companies employees give up because the company’s communications policy is modeled on a fort, complete with firewalls that would put the average dictatorship to shame. If a company wants to get social, they should let their employees talk. And trust them.”

What he said. Truth be told, the company I work for has “highly regulated speech.” And no shortage of good reasons for it, but I agree (with Doc) that we would be stronger if our employees could “talk about what they do.” There’s more to the post than the graphs I pulled. Read it if you’re interested in social networks.

“NPR is not radio”

Jeff Jarvis, David Weinberger, Doc Searls, Jay Rosen and some other New Media thought leaders have been invited to Washington to talk/think about the future of National Public Radio. Mr. Jarvis shares some of his notes going in and I found myself substituting the names of our radio networks for NPR.

“NPR is not radio. If I tell newspapers they have to stop thinking on paper, so I’ll argue that NPR must throw off the limits of its medium. And I don’t just mean that the can go multimedia, adding photos or videos to their sound. I mean changing the culture, not thinking like a radio network anymore so they can see the options the internet opens up to work in every appropriate medium with entirely new kinds of content, from TV to data bases. So change the name: It’s National Public Media, except that Doc will scold me that this is more than media. It’s National Public Whatsis.”

Some of his other ideas: NPR should be a network of networks and a training ground for great media. They should add to their mission finding and nurturing new talent and help local affiliates become hyperlocal.

I surely would love to sit in a corner and listen to these guys. But it appears they will be blogging all or parts of the conversations so I’ll follow it there.

Favorite blogs and podcasts

Henry wants to know my ten favorite podcasts and blogs. I read a lot more than 10 blogs a day, but if I had to pick 10, they would be:

Scripting News, Boing Boing, Dilbert Blog, Doc Searls, Jeff Jarvis, Mark Ramsey, Micro Persuasion, Podcasting News, Seth Godin, and GrowLearfield.com + all of the Learfield blogs. Links to the right.

As for podcasts, I don’t think I listen to 10 on a regular basis, only because I don’t have time. I sample others from time to time bu the ones I listen to regularly are:

MacCast, Keith and the Girl, Podcast 411, This Week in Tech, Diggnation, NPR Technology, This American Life, Cutting Edge (Business Week).

All are weekly except Keith and the Girl which is daily. Usually an hour.

Blogging isn’t a business

Doc Searls was one of several blogger biggies taking part in BloggerCon IV (“Celebrating the art and science of weblogs”), this weekend in San Francisco. Looks like all of the sessions are available as MP3 downloads and I’m looking forward to the one titled “Making Money.” Doc’s take on blogging and business makes a lot of sense to me:

First, blogging isn’t a business, any more than emailing or phoning are businesses. It is, however, becoming more important to many businesses. And to the nonbusiness lives of millions. This is an example of what I call The Because Effect. In the Making Money session yesterday, John Palfrey called this “making money Off blogging” (“as opposed to making money by blogging”).