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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Unfortunately, links to categories, pictures uploaded and permalinks to posts will be broken here, as Radio Userland has closed down.

New Blog URL - http://dinamehta.com/
Subscribe via RSS 2.0 - http://dinamehta.com/feed/
Subscribe via Atom - http://dinamehta.com/feed/atom/
Comments feed - http://dinamehta.com/comments/feed/

3:08:27 PM    comment []  trackback []

Monday, October 8, 2007

This is my last post on this blog. Radio Userland has served me well since I started blogging in 2003. I will post more details on the transition, at my new blog - for now I just wanted to make this announcement, and provide the new url and feeds.

New Blog URL - http://dinamehta.com/
Subscribe via RSS 2.0 - http://dinamehta.com/feed/
Subscribe via Atom - http://dinamehta.com/feed/atom/
Comments feed - http://dinamehta.com/comments/feed/

The new blog will also be called Conversations with Dina - it's just a new blogging platform - but the same old blog! I do hope you continue reading and feeding it.

My old blog will be archived at its old url (http://radio.weblogs.com/0121664/) and I will keep the archives going. Stuart, who has worked out the platform for Conversations with Dina on Wordpress has done some neato hacks - one that I love a lot is that the search function will not just search the new blog archives, but also my old Radio blog archives. And he has managed to transfer some of my posts over too. That's so cool!!! Lots more needs doing there ... and that will emerge I'm sure.

12:26:59 PM    comment []  trackback []

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Its been quiet here too long ....... the result of many many shifts. A new home, getting things to work smoothly, much travelling, transferring from a PC to a Mac, not being able to figure out how to get my Radio blog easily onto a Mac (Paolo has very graciously offered to help after I left a comment at his blog)....

And mosoci β

Mosoci is more than an idea - it is a beta platform, an emergent plan.  It is jazz, bricolage and serious play.  It lets us play a little music where chaos, creativity, diversity and complexity are all welcome.
It fulfils our desires and needs which are driven by the fundamental experiences of our souls, to live and work in an emergent, globally connected community.

What it is not, is a formal traditional organization.  We hope the lifestream we have built at the Mosoci blog demonstrates this.  We want it to be more than just the two of us.  Stuart spells this thought out really well:

"We know we would not be doing this without everyone that has read our blogs over the last few years. Social Media built the platform for our collaboration and the sense that our network and community would support, participate with us and help us grow. Now it is beyond an idea and yet it is still being formulated. We certainly don't want to end up as just the two of us. Today though we are happy to feel like we are in a constant state of beta. That's the zone where it is a real rush.

Thank you for your support, praise and interest. Our blogs and blogging will evolve just like our other social media activities are. For example we are really enjoying bringing our bookmarking into the feed. For now our tweets are there too. That may be overwhelming. Then it may also be helpful. We'll let the readers tell us.

A picture named mosoci2.jpgIt is born out of our curiosity, passion and deep belief in the strength of social technologies to make a real difference, our willingness and drive to share, learn and grow allowed us to experiment with and use those very technologies to communicate and collaborate on several projects over the years. More details from Stuart:

"Much happens today by chance. Things also emerge and we find ways to jump on them and adapt. Over the years Dina and I have enjoyed telling parts of our story. We first met in an online forum. I set her up blogging ìConversations with Dinaî with install instructions over an IM chat session, long before voice and video connections were possible. Skype also helped to revolutionize our collaboration and connectivity. Open channels between India and the US made collaboration around Learning Journeys, research, and just links and interests possible. Working in India for most of the last year, attending some conferences together around the world and we knew we were at the point where where 1+1 makes more than two.

Mosoci is the platform of our collaboratory around the interests we love, are passionate about and to reinforce the direction and learning we need to go in. We wonít be successful without our network and our community and the power of social media. Blogs, wikis, forums, twitter, bookmarking have enabled who we are today."

You may ask, what does Mosoci do?  Simply put, a) we immerse ourselves in research and deep dives, b) we facilitate change and help re-frame value for organizations.  The time and opportunity to conduct and deliver research and strategies in new ways is here. We constantly push the boundaries with emerging social tools (blogs, wikis, SMS, RSS, social networks, beta communities), with clients when and as appropriate.  We want to take this practice, this method of working, along with others who are doing some excellent work in this field, to the whole world.

Let's create that map together, in the hope that the map will bring forth the features of the territory.
We want your comments, perspectives, and just plain old honest help and advice to make this a success. We are open to suggestion and really donít want to stop at just a few of us.

It would be great if you would jump in on the conversation at Mosoci and add Mosoci Feed  to your reader. We'd love your feedback and suggestions.

10:29:31 PM    comment []  trackback []

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I will be in the US from July 18th to 27th - am attending meetings in Cambridge MA on the 19th and 23rd. Have some free time over the weekend July 21-22nd. Am meeting up with Yazad who touched base with me on Facebook when I mentioned I was going - and looking forward to meeting him on Sunday. Would love to meet up with bloggers and other folks in the Boston area who are interested in the social media scene or in qualitative research and ethnography or just want to hangout and yak!

I will also be in London for a few days on my way back - July 29-31st where I am going to hangout with friends. Again, would love to meet anyone who's free on those days.

Do drop in a comment here or send me email to dina(dot)mehta(at)gmail(dot)com if you'd like to meet up.

11:58:59 PM    comment []  trackback []

Had an interesting interaction with an FMCG Client for whom we are setting up some presentations and workshops around how they can take their brands into the social media realm. I sent a client a detailed note on what we could provide, and she forwarded it to one of the marketing guys who felt it is exciting, but perhaps too focussed on blogging and not enough on youtube!

I dashed off a response to the person who is leading this effort that she must frame this workshop for her organization, only then can she get buy-in. It is one thing for us as consultants to deliver on the content, but because it is such a new field here, and because of the tremendous hype and buzz around it, there are many misconceptions; the most salient one being that blogs are individual personal spaces.

My response to her:

Please frame the workshop when you send it out internally - some thoughts on that ... assure them we will talk about youtube and many many many more such services like flickr, twitter, podcasting, facebook etc. All these are microblogging applications. And we will do a whole session on facebook - which is the latest 'hottie' and is a platform where users are encouraged not only to create their 'user-generated' content, but also build new applications bottom-up.

I think there is a mismatch here in what your team understands about what blogging is - and what it actually is. Most non-bloggers seem to refer to blogging as merely writing a diary. But that's not complete, nor does it do blogging any justice. Blogging is the act of publishing content online in a space that is yours - usually chronologically ordered. It could be videos, audio, short text messages, photos - all forms of multimedia. It could be in your own space where usually you use a text-driven blogging platform, and to which you can add plugins for a multimedia experience, or it could be within a social network space - like youtube, twitter, etc

So, in the presentation unless they understand what blogging really is - and what influence bloggers have, I think we will be doing the social media space no justice at all. Moreover, it is bloggers that are the early adopters, analysts and consultants in this space --- unless they had built it, it would not exist. Much the same in the potential for products and brands. They are the new influentials - and they have the potential to really evangelize or rant big time.

This is not just an international phenomenon - a recent study in India revealed that 85% of active internet users claimed to read blogs regularly! This is their growing influence. Today most news channels in India have a list of bloggers they call upon on general stories they are covering - to get the buzz on what's going around on the web. When Sunita Williams and her safe return to earth was the big thing on TV, I was asked by a TV Channel to participate in a show on it - I turned it down, as it was not really relevant to either blogging or my areas of interest - but that's a different issue. A lot of civic and political action is now being mobilized through mobile phones and online. Many of these use blogging platforms for their causes, and build large communities around them by taking them into Orkut and Facebook.

11:49:46 PM    comment []  trackback []

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bloggy thought three. Something I was mulling over for a while, even shared in a completely inarticulate manner with Rajesh yesterday, who by the way awarded me with the Thinking Blogger Award.  He shared with me some links that report on the recent IAMAI Web2.0 conference, with the comment - "am getting a bit restless with marketers"!  Then I got a call from a journalist, who wanted to discuss 'unconferences' - and I took off on her a little and told her how I dislike the term - any activity that is prefaced with an 'un' makes me feel not-so-nice about it.  Anyways, it also reminded me about another phrase or term in the social media realm that I generally dislike ---- user-generated content and I started my rant on her! 

I particularly dislike it when I hear mainstream media and corporate organizations get a high on the phrase 'user-generated content'.  In India, many times, its shortened to UGC (the only UGC I know of is the University Grants Commission!) and it bugs me no end. 

I dislike it, especially when, in the background, I hear their minds ticking away the rupees they can generate, behind all this buzz and excitement around the term.  When they have not really embraced it themselves.

I dislike it when they distance themselves from it - it's something other people -- oops users do.   How many of them have actually generated content themselves?

I am happy with adopting the term when I am talking about content that is created by users of a service - so there is user-generated content on Youtube, or on blogging platforms, or on wikis.  But I dislike it when marketers, PR agencies talk about the 'potential' in harnessing user-generated content for their brands, products and services through advertising messages on the user-generated content spaces or sites, and then believe they are really using social media in their strategies.  Am not knocking advertising based strategies - I just feel they are skimming the surface of the true potential in participating in the conversations, co-creation, community and collaboration that occurs when there is user-generated content.

I think they have it wrong, when they feel that getting onto the user-generated content bandwagon is a quick-fix for their social media strategies. Inherent in the phrase is a division, the notion or assumption of 'us vs them'.  They have got to see themselves as co-participants and partners rather than marketers or advertisers who are 'using' user-generated content as another media opportunity.

I simply loved Toby Bloomberg's rant at Unilever which so well illustrates what I am trying so hard to articulate!

"So I really want to see that ad. I really Need to see that ad. What do I do? Do I search for Lux? Do I go to the Unilever website? Nope. I head for YouTube and sure enough here it is! It's a must watch. Oh and the Unilever Lux site? Good I didn't head that way, my coffee would have turned cold looking for any mention of the campaign. Anyone for integrated marketing?

Questions To Ponder
Does a marketing campaign have to be "social" to be successful?
Is traditional advertising dead?
Is there room in the proverbial marketing mix for the good old 60 second TV spot?

Diva Marketing Thoughts
Marketing 101 tells us to hang where our customers hang. For some the "tube" means television and for others it means YouTube. And for many people it means Both

While there were quite a few Neon Girl videos on YouTube, I didn't notice a Unilever Neo Girl YouTube Channel. Unilever you missed an opportunity. Actually you missed several. Never too late to get into the game. Would be a good idea to consider especially if a sequel is in the works. Work it right and you might have the next Lonely Girl."

Bonus link: Here's Jon Udell on why he dislikes the term per se.

5:00:52 PM    comment []  trackback []

Bloggy thought two. It's not worth it, if it's not searchable. Robert Scoble and Steve Rubel seem to feel so. Am actually feeling the contrary only because of my recent experiences with Facebook and Twitter. The other day, I was chatting with a young friend who is 18, and he told me a few things around Facebook. His dashboard and homepage is Facebook - all his social interactions happen around it, along with a few IM clients. He doesn't really use email very much. And most pertinent to this post, was his comment that he was disturbed that his whole family including aunts and grand-aunts could 'peep' into his entire life. In fact, it was so funny when he related a story about how an aunt actually sent his grandma some pictures of girls who wanted to 'marry' him. He's now got most of his family on 'limited' profile -- but his friends have full access to him!

I still believe that what you write or say or show on the web is there for everyone to see, read or hear, and I like that openness and transparency of the web. Still I am enjoying the levels of privacy that Facebook offers me. When I blog, I do sometimes (not when I am feeling particularly ranty) wonder whether what I write will come back to bite me some day or how people will view me as a result of what I write. I do feel more 'responsible' about what views I share on my blog - perhaps this happens when you have been blogging since 2003 and when your blog becomes your single-point public profile, for the whole world to see - family, friends, clients, potential clients etc.

But on spaces like Facebook and Twitter, I feel so much more comfort - I can rant, I can be silly, throw some food at a friend, hug someone else, share when I am upset or ecstatic. I don't ever 'think' too much when I am on Facebook - my mode is a more feely one. It's more about me and who I am. And less about my thoughts on a particular subject and less of the 'Dina' I want to project or promote or share around what I do.

I loved this comment at Steve Rubel's post by Ryan McKegney - it resonates:

"As Steve points out above, there are advantages to having a walled garden. In real life, I have a public and private life, but because of Google and the general openness of the web, the balance between public and private online is out of whack. The existing "private web" (IMs, email) has been largely static for the last half decade, but if it chooses to be, Facebook could be the next evolution of the private web. Facebook isn't just a walled garden, it is MY walled garden."

3:31:29 PM    comment []  trackback []

I was driving back from a meeting when I had a few bloggy thoughts ... long drives in traffic and beating rain tend to do that to me! It was a good meeting - regular (I actually said that!!!) qualitative research project among IT students and professionals to understand motivations that drive them to join certain sorts of organizations in a highly competitive field, to figure out a strategy to draw them to my Client's organization. As we were discussing the research, I suddenly felt - wow - this is the perfect case for a social media / new media strategy ---- you have young professionals, in the IT industry, probably heavy users of the internet, a captive target audience that must be familiar with blogs, social networking sites, youtube and the like! When you think of motivations and drivers for this segment, how can you not think of The Influentials, who help them frame their opinions. Am waiting eagerly for my copy which is winging its way here currently. It would be neat to figure out who or what they are in the project I am doing. So somewhere midway in discussing sample definitions, I broke away and asked my client - do you have a social media or blogging strategy - you need one! She was interested I think, particularly since one of her marketing objectives is to build a powerful corporate identity in order to attract the best talent.

Now am hoping it's a qualitative research +++ project!!  Am beginning to believe any organization or brand that is targeting an audience that is 'online' must have a social media strategy.  Social media is in-your-face today, no web user or surfer can really escape it.  

2:13:54 PM    comment []  trackback []

Monday, June 11, 2007

OMG this is soooo funny - a supermarket going web 2.0!! Thanks Toby.

3:11:52 PM    comment []  trackback []

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Refuses to block Orkut under political pressure!

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The New York Times had similar thoughts. Check out this really neat article there on how a daughter is pissed off because her mum gets a Facebook!

"But after receiving a follow-up threat from my daughter ("unfriend paige right now. im serious. i dont care if they request you. say no. i will be soo mad if you dont unfriend paige right now. actually"), I started worrying that allowing parents in would backfire on Facebook."

While I wonder about how the younger generation will react as more of us 'oldies' go in there, I must say I am really having a blast at facebook. After a long time, a social networking site has really drawn me in. Along with a few others, I thought I had reached the limit way back in 2003, when there was this mad scramble to invite all your friends to every new social networking site that came about. This time, when I got my own Facebook, I find myself behaving differently. I find I am not inviting all my friends in there, or sending out one of those blanket join me at facebook sort of message to everyone. I find a lot of my family, old and young, in India and abroad, are in there and we're having fun peeking into each others' lives and reconnecting in ways we haven't done via email or even chat. Many of my close blogging buddies are in there too - and I am enjoying learning about so many new facets of their lives with applications like Trip, Last.fm, Ask a question, books, movies, photos etc.

Facebook also lets me feel I own my own page there - something Ryze lost a long while ago with its new UI. Stuart had expressed this feeling so eloquently then:


no sense of art in a place where artisans play
no sense of personality in a realm of personalities.
no sense of canvas when everyone paints
no sense of action when everyone chatters
no sense of our place just structured space."

"The new stuff? Says RYZE first --- ME second. What was the brief? Oh probably make the community more professional looking. You have any recommendations? Is there a strategy? Is there a business model? Ryze could have had it all."

Facebook today offers me that sense of art where artisans play, that sense of personality, that canvas for me and my friends to colour on, that sense of my space (pun intended!). And its all happening in my time at ease, without that pressure to be really active on it that there was while many of us were indulging in some Serious Play at other networks.

Tags: Facebook, social networking, social networks, social media

7:42:42 PM    comment []  trackback []

Monday, June 4, 2007

Google is not merely moving towards "owning" the internet, its also beginning to "own" me.I had a friend over this weekend, and I was setting up a blog for her on Blogger. I had to sign out of my Blogger account to set her up. During the process, I wanted to check my mail, and clicked on my Gmail tab in my browser - and I was shocked to see that it opened up her Gmail account instead. Should have expected it - its logical - but it disturbed me. It's convenient, it's quick - but I want the controls and the ability to decide which ones I want auto signins for and which ones not.

Say, if I have Google Reader running - and I have signed out of Gmail -- if someone else tries to log into their Gmail account - they can read my mail. Or if they want to check their scraps on Orkut - they get to see mine instead. Google Maps can show pictures of your front door and look through your window - very cool - yes - but it makes me uncomfortable too. Although I need not worry as I live in a city where its going to be very difficult to get everything 'on a map' as there is so much chaos in the planning.
They have my presence info (limited tho) through Gmail and Gtalk, they have my social network on Orkut, they dish up ads in my Gmail which make me feel a little uneasy about privacy. I have been doing many studies recently with youth, and when I ask them how they use the internet - the response is Googling, Orkutting (note - not search and social networking) and chatting - Gtalk hasn't yet managed to become a verb!

In countries like India however, where for the large part, computers are shared at work and home - this could become a problem. Not everyone has the know-how or the presence of mind to set up different logins and user accounts at boot up.

Look at Google's acquisition over the years - they are buying up the best really. And our lives are enriched and simpler as a result. I love using many of these and it makes my life better. But yesterday's experience with setting up my friend's blog got me thinking in the longer term - and I kept pondering over - what cost?

Eric Schmidt , Google's CEO was quoted in FT. Do I really want my computer to tell me what I should do tomorrow, or what job I should take?

Asked how Google might look in five years' time, Mr Schmidt said: "We are very early in the total information we have within Google. The algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalisation.
The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as 'What shall I do tomorrow?' and 'What job shall I take?'"

See this video, although a little dated - it looks forward to a Google world in 2014 - EPIC. Robin Good has a transcript:

"On Sunday, March 9 2014, Googlezon unleashes EPIC.

Welcome to our world.

The 'Evolving Personalized Information Construct' is the system by which our sprawling, chaotic mediascape is filtered, ordered and delivered. Everyone contributes now - from blog entries, to phone-cam images, to video reports, to full investigations. Many people get paid too - a tiny cut of Googlezon's immense advertising revenue, proportional to the popularity of their contributions.

EPIC produces a custom contents package for each user, using his choices, his consumption habits, his interests, his demographics, his social network - to shape the product. A new generation of freelance editors has sprung up, people who sell their ability to connect, filter and prioritize the contents of EPIC.

We all subscribe to many Editors; EPIC allows us to mix and match their choices however we like. At its best, edited for the savviest readers, EPIC is a summary of the world - deeper, broader and more nuanced than anything ever available before."

With the recent acquisition of Feedburner, Google just bought over access to not just us, but our readers as well. They even acquire the internet in year 2017!!

Google has my past, and it's rapidly 'taking over' my future. My actions today, in the present, are building the tracks for that future. A dystopian Brave New World, or Utopia?

Should I really care? Does it bother you at all?

12:04:55 PM    comment []  trackback []

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

So everyone is talking of Facebook.  My Twitter is abuzz with it. My aggregator is bursting with blog posts around it.    The social media blogworld is freaking out in it.  Even my 79 year old aunt who sent me an add as friend invite!  Reminds me of the old days when we all moved from one social networking site to another.  This one's different of course - its more than small pieces loosely joined and the potential is immense with the opening up of their platform.  Widgets and plugins around VOIP, presence, twitter, music, video being created with a frenzy. A great platform play.  I like this play - although I haven't done much with it yet.

Still, I can't help wondering, with all the attention it's getting and with this invasion of geeks, social media analysts and older folk like me, how the youth on Facebook are going to react!   Ironically, they are the 'older' Facebook users - we are the newbies. Will they see us as an intrusion?  Will they build their own walls now that it's less of a gated community?  What might those walls be? Will they revolt, as they did last September when they felt their privacy was compromised by the addition of new features?
Their definitions of what's public and what's private is different from ours.  Will the more geeky among them, who would like to build on the platform read the fine print and get put off?  Will the opportunity for marketing and advertising that it's going to encourage put them off? Or will they embrace this change and build their own worlds on the platform? Will there be a massive shift from Orkut and MySpace into Facebook?

Hmmmm.  Interesting to see how this one progresses.

8:16:46 PM    comment []  trackback []

Friday, May 4, 2007

I'm going live on CNN-IBN in half an hour, at 8.30 pm.  They're doing a show on how a community on Orkut is helping in collecting aid for an ailing lyricist.  They've asked me to comment on the positive aspects of social networking.  I hope we don't go thru the usual pros and cons of social networks, an angle most channels approach the issue from.

8:09:19 PM    comment []  trackback []

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I've been using Twitter a lot again recently. And yesterday, when Jace wondered "Twitter. Jaiku. Twitter. Jaiku. What to use?" I found myself thinking about why I tend to be in Twitter more than Jaiku. I know Jaiku is better 'loaded' but I feel I lose the real flow in conversation there as the updates are all jumbled up with updates from blogs, flickr accounts, bookmarks and newsreaders. I feel comfort with Twitter that I don't with Jaiku. Difficult to express why - just that there is comfort in its simplicity. A cappella versus symphony. Sandwich and coffee versus a full-course meal (how often do we have the latter!). Dal-chawal versus biryani.

What metaphors would you use for comparing your Twitter and Jaiku experiences?

8:53:14 PM    comment []  trackback []

Friday, April 27, 2007

Here's an excerpt from an article I did for Tehelka's special on youth and the internet, on much urging from Shivam, who put an apt title to it - The Mirror of Change - This is Who We are Becoming.

"For those completely immersed in virtual worlds such as Second Life, the seduction of intimacy combined with anonymity does not mean they do not share the joys and sorrows of their real worlds. My bet is that they do. "Pet", a very close friend and a colleague who worked with a team of online volunteers when the tsunami struck in December 2004, got me looking at Second Life with new eyes. He had been feeling trapped in his body for a long time, and when he got onto Second Life, it helped him become more comfortable with his feelings that he was a woman trapped in a man's body. The beauty is that Second Life was a tool for "Pet"to figure out who she really is and how to work it out for real. Today, she has friends not only in Second Life, but also in her physical world with whom she can be herself. "Pet" has shared so much of her period of transition and angst with me, that I feel I know her intimately. Being a geek, she also helps me with my websites. I trust her as she trusts me. I know she is very real - there is nothing 'virtual' about her, even though I have never met her.

While I may never have seen or met "Pet", there is depth in our friendship, and solidity. I know, for some people, that is hard to accept. I'm often asked questions like, how can you feel connected to someone you've never met? How can you trust someone you've never seen? These concerns are understandable given the newness of this medium and the flow that determines these sorts of relationships. Oh there are dangers too - the pretence borne out of anonymity, the addictions, the spam and scams, the paedophiles, the pornography. And still, when I meet up with blog buddies all over the world, how can I explain the amazing level of comfort I feel!

I single out blogs here as throwing up a whole different social system than do virtual worlds and social networking sites. Detractors say, online you can be whoever you want to be and nobody cares. That may be correct, yet, if you try and fake things too hard, you most always are found out, and can be verbally beaten. My belief is that people tend to act more like themselves online than they like to admit. It is much more difficult to hide away who you are when you are blogging. I've found myself revealing things on my blog about myself that I would find difficult to talk about face-to-face. Ugly things too.A picture named tehel.jpg

And yet, I found myself trusting myself as I began trusting people I met through this medium. There is a fine line between the public, private and secret self, and the boundaries blur sometimes. At others there is a conscious effort to keep them apart. In a physical world, our lives are compartmentalized, you have different sets of friends for different needs, and meet in different physical spaces as a result. My blog is one space where I connect with friends, potential clients, strangers, acquaintances, even spammers and trolls. It is entirely up to me what I want to share of me and when, at my blog. And, I have found, the more I share, the more others do. It's just an extension of basic human needs for connection and community."

This issue is carrying a special on youth and the internet. I see some bloggers I know like Dilip, Rashmi, Neha, Patrix and Shivam of course, who have made some neat contributions there - and as I glanced through the articles, I felt Shivam's done a good job of getting a mix that does not perpetuate stereotypes the media usually portrays netizens to be.

7:45:25 PM    comment []  trackback []

MapMyName is a project started by a couple of students, who are aiming to assess how many people use the internet all over the world. They hope to achieve this within a month by spreading the mapmyname meme. Brave attempt!!

Currently, I'm the only user from Mumbai listed on there - and I think the only one from India too.

Spread the word by clicking here to map your name! Link via Euan who tweeted about it on Twitter.

12:53:31 PM    comment []  trackback []

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sachi and Lee LeFever are doing a series of "paperworks" educational videos. From Lee's email:

"In my opinion, RSS has been too geeky for too long. I have friends who use the web as much as I do and have no clue about RSS. It's a minor travesty. To help remedy this situation, Sachi and I created a video called "RSS in Plain English" that is aimed at turning-on the non-geeks of the world. It's in a format we call "paperwork" - I think you'll see what that means. We're just getting started and hoping that you can help spread the word (it just went live couple of hours ago). Obviously, there is room for improvement - any feedback is welcome. We're planning to do more paperwork videos as part of The Common Craft Show."

And it is! Even my mum would get it. Watch it here.

I'd love to see something similar on ROI of blogging - its a concept I find most difficult to communicate to organizations and I do believe a Paperworks demo will be great!

9:53:21 AM    comment []  trackback []

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

According to a report by Accenture, the media and entertainment industry feels user-generated content is the top threat to their businesses:

"NEW YORK; April 16, 2007 -Media and entertainment executives see the growing ability and eagerness of individuals to create their own content as one of the biggest threats to their business, according to results of a survey released today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

In its annual survey of senior executives in the media and entertainment industry, Accenture examined the growth strategies of companies across the landscape of advertising, film, music, publishing, radio, the Internet, videogames and television.

More than half (57 percent) of the respondents identified the rapid growth of user-generated content - which includes amateur digital videos, podcasts, mobile phone photography, wikis and social-media blogs -- as one of the top three challenges they face today. In addition, more than two-thirds (70 percent) of respondents said they believe that social media, one of the largest segments of user-generated content, will continue to grow, compared with only 3 percent of respondents who said they view social media as a fad.

"This is just the beginning for a rapidly changing landscape where the media content environment grows more fractious and the user gains more control and power," said Gavin Mann, digital media lead for Accentureís Media & Entertainment practice. "Traditional, established content providers will have to adapt and develop new business and monetization models in order to keep revenue streams flowing. The key to success will be identifying new forms of content that can complement their traditional strengths."

The new landscape offers opportunities as well as challenges, according to the study, as two-thirds (68 percent) of the respondents said they believe that within three years their businesses will be making money on user-generated content. Sixty-two percent said they believe their companies will make money through advertising and sponsorships of social media. Other sources of profits cited were subscriptions (21 percent) and pay-per-play offerings (18 percent). However, a quarter (24 percent) of respondents said they do not yet know how their businesses will profit from user-generated content.

The study included interviews with industry giants like Roger Faxon, chief executive of EMI Music Publishing; Leslie Moonves, chief executive of CBS; Doug Neil, senior vice president of digital marketing for Universal Studios; and Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group PLC."

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Heh .. Johnnie .. I'm with you in feeling ranty! As a response to this, a stopcyberbullying community is nice, comments policies and guidelines are ok if you believe you need them, but a Bloggers Code of Conduct???

What will it achieve - perhaps nothing. What will you do if someone violates the bloggers code of conduct - delete their comments, report them - that's something you can do without such a formal code isn't it? Who will enforce this Code of Conduct across blogs? Will bloggers that do not share this 'code of conduct' be ostracized? Will not this 'moral' responsibility grow to have legal ramifications? Will spammers and trolls and death threat issuers from non-US countries be prosecuted? Will you be able to stop them? Will you only encourage people to look for different and more sophisticated ways of piling on their vile - it is after all a human condition, and not a blog condition.

It seems to me, culturally, it is a very North-American thing to think up. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love some aspects of North America and have met some of the finest folks there - but this operating out of 'fear' is one aspect I have written about earlier, that I find goes beyond protection. Perhaps it's the phrasing of it that gets to me - 'Code of Conduct' implies rules and regulations, implicit in this is that there is only one way ahead. I don't like that.
It will make us guard our words. It will give credence to the power games played out in the blogworld by providing yet another weapon to divide those who have it and those who don't. It will foster a culture of fear. In the worst case, it will breed litigation, insurance, liability.

Why formalize something we're doing anyways - if you're proud of your space (your blog in this case) you'll protect it the way you feel best. Banning anonymous comments for instance, is a personal choice - in my case, I have deleted comments that are vulgar, lewd and allude to physical threats. The others, I prefer to debate with. If others do not wish to, ignore them or take the 'fight' to your space, or theirs. There is a strong self-regulating aspect to this medium, and the recent events are proof, with different angles and facets to the story emerging.

My biggest fear in having a 'formal' code of conduct is it will take some of the 'human' out of the blog. It will raise entry barriers to participate in blog conversations, where few exist. It may even force more bloggers to shut down all conversations in comments, because a few are violating their freedom to comment. It will defeat the self-regulatory and self-correcting nature of this medium. One of the delights of blogging is it so reflects human behaviour - it gives us the space to share freely our humility, our pride and our infallibilities, our opinions and counterpoints, our failures and successes, our rituals and dreams, our conflicts and resolutions. It lets us debate and converse with others freely and intuitively. It may reflect our professional views, but it is as far from 'corporatization' as any medium is today. Will not shared standards and practice bring about 'corporatization' in some form or other?

There's my long rant! Unlike Johnnie's pithy post.


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Monday, March 26, 2007

Maggie Fox has a neat post on How Social Media is Changing Everything

"If you've ever wished you had the budget for a focus group, now you do. All that's required is reaching out to a couple of key individuals and asking them if they would be interested in testing your product or process and letting you know what they think, or posting about it, if they like.

Blogs in particular and social media in general can offer incredible insight for a relatively small investment (your time is another matter!). When I speak to clients about investigating a corporate blogging strategy, I often refer to it as "low cost market research", something Iím sure weíd all like to see a little more of!"

Belonging to the qualitative research industry, this resonates big time with me. Blog Influentials, in July 2005 had called blogs the 'market research of the future'. Again, way back in 2005 I had said:

While nothing beats face-to-face contact, blogs can be a great space to have conversations with customers - Scoble does it every day. In other cases, customers are the ones encouraging marketers to engage in conversation - SkypeJournal is a great example of heavy users of Skype providing constructive feedback both positive and negative, observations and ideas. They're even writing poetry in the form of a Skypku :)

Are marketers listening and engaging in dialogue? Maybe. Maybe not. Are marketing departments afraid of this? I think they are.

Blogs may be one such tool available to us - there are so many more that can reveal and understand the motives and the process of emergence in conversations as they manifest in conversations between marketers and users. I met Jim McGee in Chicago last year and we had a lovely discussion about how blogs might change the nature of market research and how the notion of oral culture in organizations might help explain the relatively slow take up of blogs in the firewall. From his post after our meeting :

"In the marketing research context, blogs are a disruptive technology. Instead of having to generate data by way of surveys or focus groups with whatever artifacts the process introduces, blogs provide direct visibility into customers. Instead of having to connect potentially artificial samples back to the actual market, now you have to filter real market behavior, interpret it, and make sense of it. That presents two challenges to market research functions. First, market research staff have to develop new skills. Second, management of market research needs to spend some quality thinking time what to do with access to this new kind of market data.

The opportunity that blogs introduce into the marketing research equation is to create the opportunity to identify and run multiple micro-experiments in the market. Those that succeed get the resources to scale, those that fail to generate some useful data are quickly shut down. There are challenges, of course, especially given how quickly ideas spread in a connected world, but that should be offset by the speed with which experiments can be identified and run. Worth thinking about."

Almost a year ago, I had recruited participants for some usability testing focus groups through my blog. Am now working with some clients, where we are building news aggregators of target audience blogs. And involved currently in a project where we are evolving a sms-blog research interface as a research tool for participants, in the Twitter convention. And we even have proof of concept now .. a recent article in the Economic Times talks of how blogs are boosting sales of bikes. Keeping track of blog conversations replacing traditional market research survey methods! Giving rise to a new breed of blogo-pologists and the field of netnography!

"What started as platforms to share passions and frustrations of bikers are now being tracked by corporates to fine-tune their offerings. Instead of tedious market surveys and data crunching, companies now get reviews within hours of product launch, courtesy blogs. ìThe first review of our latest Pulsar was on our table within three hours of its launch in Chennai thanks to bloggers,î Bajaj Auto VP (marketing-two wheelers) S Sridhar told ET. A dedicated team at Bajaj Auto now regularly tracks discussion-boards and review section of blogs and online biking groups and provides feedback to companyís marketing and product development group."

Much better than having professional respondents in a conventional focus group or unwieldy questionnaires which are filled up so superficially isn't it?

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jon Husband of Wirearchy and Lee Bryant of Headshift, have recently put in a lot of thought on Enterprise 2.0 ...

"Will we see more written about what will probably come to be called Management 2.0 ? No doubt. Will there be massive struggles with this new set of conditions and ongoing resistance to coming to terms with these dynamics ? No doubt. Will resisting and ignoring and denying work? Maybe for the short term, but these new conditions are not going away ... and I posit that the issues engendered by linked interconnected bottom-up activities will necessitate significant amount of unlearning and re-learning, notably in the enterprise setting." Jon Husband

And Lee, building on Euan and Dion Hinchcliffe's recent posts on Enterprise 2.0 writes:

On the technical level, the integration challenges are non-trivial:

  • identity / Single Sign On (SSO);

  • internal application integration;

  • legislative obligations for data retention, privacy and audit; and,

  • availability.

But the integration of people, practise and (dare I say) process is even harder, with challenges such as:

  • devolving responsibility and promoting a DIY culture;

  • encouraging people to grow their own internal and external networks;

  • stimulating conversation and debate by overcoming fear of exposure; and,

  • for many people, simply overcoming the idea that any form of online communication beyond email is "not part of their job."
Related to these, is this neat post by Hugh Macleod on Corporate Blogging calling for "humanification" and "smarter conversations". And Britt Blaser, always sharp, talks about the People Law trumping the Power Law - I see this relevant to the conversation as well, as enterprise needs to realize the value in People Power.

I'd like to add another dimension to this conversation, which was triggered by presentations and comments I heard at the IAMAI Digital Marketing Summit last week in Mumbai. All pointing to the fact that there is immense potential for web 2.0 or social media (call it by whatever name you wish) in Marketing. In particular, I liked what Ajit Balakrishnan of Rediff had to say - here's the gist ... I may have missed a few words:

"Bloggers are our new gatekeepers of information. Journalists are hesitant to write up stories, unless bloggers are already talking about it. We get real news from the bloggers -- everything else is a press release. Smart marketers need them"

Rajiv Dhingra, who it was a pleasure to meet, summarizes the summit:

"The conclusion was similar to all the previous discussions and in fact this is to be noted - Marketers are now asking other media and medium what is the ROI!

...and thus concluded the IAMAI Digital Media Conference 2007.

I wish there were more marketers and especially FMCG product brand managers who had attended this conference because itís the offline world which needs to know that it is time to start switching online."

It's encouraging to hear marketers talk of blogs and social networking and building communities online, however, like Rajiv, I heard many unspoken doubts on Return On Investment (ROI) from such engagements. Its a question I raised at the summit. Is the industry doing anything to develop metrics to measure impact? Are they talking to bloggers about it? Simple answer - NO.

I know ROI is an obsession with marketers, and we would fail in our jobs as consultants in this area, if we did not address them. We've done the first part of our jobs by getting the words 'blog' and 'online communities' into the lexicon of marketers. They have some sense of what these can do. We can talk of benefits of corporate blogging, evangelism, influence on brand perceptions, using these tools to empower your customers to become your marketers. We can hold their hands on how to set these up for their companies. There's been some good thinking by Charlene Li at Forrester in October 2006 on ROI of blogging.

But do we have a model in place yet? Are we giving them more tangible, quantifiable metrics, the equivalent of or alternatives to GRPs and cost-per-clicks? Are we doing enough, in the area of showing them ways to manage risks involved ? How are we helping them 'market' social media internally to their VPs and CEOs who often tend to be older, more rigid, more in fear of giving up control.

Leaps of faith aren't always easy to achieve from organizations without any estimation of how it can affect bottomline. Bottom-up or top-down, as much as we want 'them' to speak our language, 'we' need to speak their's too. I was chatting with Veer and Rajiv at the summit, and I do believe it is time to get bloggers and advertisers/marketers together into a discussion on how this can come about. This isn't just an India issue, I know many of my blog buddies in other parts of the world are grappling with these concerns too.

Any takers? Suggestions?

Update: [link via Dave Winer - Nicholas Carr talks about two studies that provide some data on adoption of six prominent Web 2.0 tools - blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, social networking, and content tagging. "Although Forrester didn't break out adoption rates by tool, it did say that CIOs saw relatively high business value in RSS, wikis, and tagging and relatively low value in social networking and blogging." Read more at Nicholas Carr's blog.]

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oh in my earlier ranting, I forgot to mention, go on to the 50 million missing page at Flickr if you don't mind having to go through the process of logging in using your Yahoo id. Its a neat way to share your empathy with and register your protest against this human injustice.

"About 50 million women are currently missing from India's population. Through rampant feticide, infanticide, and the murder of young women by their husbands and inlaws for dowry, India has managed to invert its population ratio from 10:9, women to men, as is normal for any population, to 9:10. Further more India has also warped the gender ratio for 1/5 of the entire human population.

It is the HOPE of this website to have as many possible of the 50 million missing represented by a photograph. These can be of Indian women or girls, of any age, and community represented as portraits or shown as engaged in various activities -- which is life. It would help very much if there is a small personal commentary with the photo about the girl or woman so we can reverse the process of dehumanizing Indian women. This is India's silent genocide -- and it is time for it to stop."

12:41:43 PM    comment []  trackback []

I got a pointer to this Flickr Group .."About 50 million missing (photos only of Indian women and girls)" from Peter this morning, and when I went to Flickr, I was asked to sign in using my Yahoo ID. That's a huge pain. I have many different Yahoo IDs and most are defunct. Ever since I started using Skype and Gmail, Yahoo IM has taken a real backseat. Because I love Flickr, I forced myself to get a new ID .. and I found dina.mehta available and grabbed it.

Still, it is a real pain when such things happen. It makes me really concerned about issues around privacy too. I know many Yahoo users hide behind aliases, I have a few too! Am sure there would be hesitation in publicly proclaiming them, by attaching them to Flickr Accounts. So many, like me, for different reasons, would need to get a new Yahoo ID. How does that help ME as a user? How does it make my user experience any better? How does it make my life any better? Its just as stupid as someone saying they want to own all of you.

I had a similar experience when I wanted to blog at the Worldwidehelp group blog on Blogger when the recent earthquake in Sumatera, Indonesia occurred - I was asked to log in using my Gmail account instead of the old Blogger default, and then found I was unable to post at the blog. I pinged Bala and Ange .. and finally discovered that it works intermittently, after many tries.

I looked through my much under-used newsreader for others' views on this and found this gem of a post from Suw Charman, who so succinctly spells out all the issues around this. Now Suw got a letter from them .. which for some reason I didn't or missed entirely. And although I'm not a heavy Flickr user, I do go there off and on, and have never seen the notice from Yahoo to switch to Yahoo IDs as login. Thats really poor design, poor customer management, and it upsets me as a user. When I got onto Flickr and bought myself a FlickrPro account .. I signed up for Flickr and not Yahoo. I don't want to give Yahoo more access to me - it violates my privacy.

They have created dissonance in my mind now, and my perception of Flickr as a youthful, agile example of a Web 2.0 site that got it right has gone in an instant. It is soooo old skool. While I may even like the concept of having one login for everything, give ME that choice - don't force it on me.

So Yahoo and Google owns all of us now. One more corporate crack at the vision of a seamless semantic web. We know well enough what happens once a brand starts evoking negative perceptions - users can be an unforgiving lot!

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Monday, March 19, 2007

A picture named social media collective logo.jpgI was invited to be a part of the Social Media Collective, but I've been a lurker for a bit and not blogged there yet. Then I haven't been blogging much here either :(. The google group for the collective has lots of good conversations going. Note to self .. wake up Dina!

1:37:45 PM    comment []  trackback []

Social discovery, presence, "party-line", RSS for people with not much to say, potential for use in saving lives during disasters, publish on the go, ambient intimacy (link found in a comment at Ross Mayfield's post on Moodgeist, Skype and Twitter IM Overlay], the future of presence, push technology, keeping track of yourself and friends, a false sense of "I'm connected", microblogging and Twitter-only blogging, group or public IM system, swarming and smart mobbing, blogging on 'crack' ..... these are some of the words I've been seeing associated with Twitter in many blogs.

Om Malik links to WebWorkerDaily which has come up with a list of eight ways Twitter can be useful professionally. More mashups and applications such as Twittervision and Twittersearch would be useful. Here's a wiki on Twitter with a listing of comments and views, user stories, mashups and applications, complaints and wish lists too.

I wanted to share some of my feelings on Twitter .. and how for someone like me, I'd like to use it. This post isn't intending to join the hate it or love it debate, rather, to explore and share ideas on what applications and areas Twitter could be used for.

Yet I find myself hesitating to put up too much there, and I began asking myself the question, should I? Like danah, I feel perhaps it takes a certain type of personality to use it. While I enjoy reading updates from some of my closer friends, I find myself wondering whether people would really be interested in what I am eating or doing or feeling at different points in time during the day. My close friends may be, and its making me re-evaluate and 'select' and 'choose' friends more carefully than I do with other social networking sites. For fear of spamming those that aren't in my close circle.

I'd love to have layered messaging at Twitter .. where my messages can be sent out to a few folks, likewise, I receive messages from a few too. I couldn't be bothered to set up private groups for this .. I'd like that control with me.

I'd also love to be able to bring it into my own space, my social network, my own blog, rather than use it as a stand-alone service. I'd like to marry content I publish along with the 'what I am currently feeling/doing' stuff, rather than scatter them across URLs.

Twitter for me, unlike blogs is not so much about conversations. Its more about keeping in touch, or as Liz Lawley says, its about stories told between updates. Then, I do get these updates on the presence or status messages of my close friends on what they are doing, and where they are on my IM clients.

Although I come from an SMS-friendly culture, I had to turn off Twitter from my mobile phone ... I was getting too many updates there at odd hours of the night, and I often found myself not even reading them. Its also a pain to delete them all.

Then there's a practical problem .. I'm not sure how much I would be charged for an outbound Twitter SMS from India. So I find myself preferring using the IM client.

Still it has a strange fascination for me. Like Andy, I feel it could be a powerful tool during disasters.
Its also got the potential to increase sociality in groups of people working together. .. a virtual office or project space.

I also see it as having lots of potential as a research tool. Set up a private group, get real-time voices on a subject or topic. In fact, I'm currently launching into a qualitative research study with a client where we are experimenting with an SMS-Blog gateway to collect real-time updates and answers to research questions among a segment of youth ... and a private group on Twitter would have been just ideal, except the participants would be unwilling to pay for international outbound messages. I'd much rather get responses from participants in real-time, and within the framework of where they are and what they are doing than a cold questionnaire or a forced group situation. Add MMS to it, and you get much richer data. More agile and much cheaper than doing ground ethnography. With the potential to get large numbers in too for statistical validation for a quantitative research exercise.

I'd love to know, what areas or applications you feel it would be useful for?

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Monday, January 29, 2007

I've been quiet here, but have been blogging a lot at the Asia Source II blog. Its been fun facilitating the Open Publishing sessions - I've learnt so much myself! We've had huge challenges with connectivity - 120 of us sharing a 256 kbps modem; trying to get Plone then Drupal working and finally resorting to Wordpress for the live blog! Rather than writing it entirely, I've got lots of folks from different countries and tracks sharing their perspectives. Lazy me :)

What's the blog about ...
This blog is meant to capture the colours, flavour, essence and spirit of Asia Source II in Sukabumi, Indonesia. We'll be sharing our discussions from the sessions, lots of fun stuff, some serious FOSS wisdom, and even some poetry. We'd love it if you jump in and add your perspectives to the many conversations and exchanges we will have in this space. The Asia Source II wiki will have more detailed content and reports.

Here's one of my early postings there:

We're working in military tents!

There are four learning tracks for the morning sessions. Three of the four groups are working in military tents, fitted with 8-10 computers. The uber geeks have a classroom, where they can lock up all their cool gizmos like wireless transmitters.

smalldina275.jpg dina235.jpg


Here's what Track 1 on Open Publishing had as their objective for the Camp Blog they are running as one of their projects:

- to create a lasting online documentation of the camp

- to capture the 'spirit' of Asia Source

They've been blogging, learning how to resize and insert images today, tomorrow they go podcasting. Fun!

Go over to the blog and join the conversations there!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

I'll be in Sukabumi, Indonesia for the next ten days, at AsiaSource II. It really is going to be a camp, and am excited to be living fairly in dormitory style - takes me back to my college years! Its also an opportunity to meet an entire new set (for me) of folks doing some excellent work in the social media area in South Asia and South East Asia, as this is the first time I'm attending a conference in the Asian region.

There are four main learning tracks:

And the Afternoon Sessions promise to be really interesting.

When Sunil, who I met at the Global Voices Summit in Delhi, invited me to be a facilitator for the Open Publishing and Broadcasting track, my first response was how will I help - I'm not a geek. He then assured me that he was looking for someone who is a user .. and for someone who can help people explore benefits of the social and community aspects of this media. Apart from all the geeky stuff I am looking forward to immerse myself in, some of the conversations I'd like to encourage in this track are around:
  • risks in open publishing and managing risks
  • why organizations should adopt social media
  • role of social media/open publishing in disaster relief
  • communication, community, collaboration brought about by social media
  • open publishing is not just about blogging/wikis ... it is also about keeping track of conversations - session on RSS, trackbacks, social bookmarking, technorati, digg etc ... the entire ecosystem around blogging
I'd love your suggestions on other topics in this area you feel would be good to cover with NGO's and Small and Medium Enterprises. Do drop in a comment or email me.

I hope to blog my experiences while there!

Technorati tag: AsiaSource II

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