Thursday, 6 January 2011

New Ideas in Social Marketing

Attended a stunning event last night at the BCS London conference rooms. The speakers were Thomas Power of Ecademy and Lee Bryant of Headshift. The event was jointly organised by Richard Tandoh, Dalim Basu and Sara Misell on behalf of the North London Branch, Elayne Coakes on behalf of the BCS Sociotechnical specialist group and me on behalf of BCS Software Practice Advancement.

I learned that my use of social media was probably at the very raw beginner level - and moreover, that all the companies I have ever worked for, including my current employer, are at or below that level. If you want some insights into your level of influence measured by the effectiveness of your online behaviour (and how it compares to others), try Klout or PeerIndex. These applications use people's Twitter usernames as the primary key, so if you aren't on Twitter, you don't even get to first base.

Thomas showed how the stream of information we receive from the Web is growing exponentially - his FriendFeed home page was updating with new events more than once a second. A potentially incredibly useful tool for cutting this deluge down to size is made by My6Sense. They make a reader for iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices that watches your Twitter, Facebook, News and RSS streams and brings the most important items to your attention. Thomas believes it takes around 30 hours to train it. More importantly, this being a social media world, once something has caught your attention, the my6sense app lets you share it easily with your own network of contacts.

In the Q&A session, I found out about a recently launched online service that is attempting to cross-fertilise a crowd-sourced knowledge repository (think Wikipedia) with a personal reputation index (like eBranding Me). A fun way to find out more is to take the Quora programming challenge.

The discussion in the pub afterwards was most illuminating too, though it veered away from social media to discussing the disaster that is likely to befall the civilised world when, not if, the next massive Coronal Mass Ejection occurs. This event is expected to occur within 10-24 months as of this writing and is likely to knock out not only communications networks (particularly satellite-based ones) but all manner of computer systems, data networks and power grids. Since everything these days is dependent on computers, we're likely to suffer supply shortages of everything from drinking water to fuel. As for withdrawing money from your bank account, you will probably be well advised to forget it for a few months. The guy telling us this has inside knowledge as a result of working for a major data security company and claims that they have working solutions to sell that will handle the backup and disaster recovery requirements of computer users from home users to data centres (remember that from the first detection of a CME, the world has only 15 minutes to secure everything before the plasma storm hits). His advice is to print out your bank statements and keep them safe along with non-perishable emergency supplies; also to have a spare laptop computer somewhere wrapped in several layers of tin foil to protect it from EMP. Contact me if you want to know more!

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