Last week I was invited to join my long-time friend Larry Magid and a few other folk (Robyn Logan and Derrick Sorles) on Insight on Coaching, hosted by Tom Floyd, and we had a good time talking about Web 2.0, social networks, and the impact that they’re having on the coaching industry.
Tom just emailed me that you can listen to – and even download – the podcast from his site (just click the graphic on the right) but he also sent out a transcript of the entire show too, which is a very cool move on his part.
Rather than drown you with the entire transcript, however, I’m going to just post the portion where I was talking about my take on Web 2.0, but if you have the time, it’s an hour well spent listening to all of us share our experiences and insight.
Please read on for the transcription excerpt…
Well, Dave, I’d like to start with you. To set the stage can you build upon the Forester definition of what web 2.0 is and give us a little history with things like, what it is, how did it get started and why has it become such a hot topic over the past year especially.
Sure, thanks Tom. I have to say that I kind of laugh and cringe simultaneously every time I hear the phrase web 2.0 because no one really seems to know what it is and I’ve heard so many differing definitions. I think perhaps the best way to characterize it is that it represents a higher level of interactivity with on-line applications.
If you go back maybe five or six years ago and look at things like say the original hotmail. Everything you clicked on generated a new page and it worked, but it certainly wasn’t something that was flashy and you didn’t look at it and say, now this could replace my major applications.
But if you look at things like Google maps. I think Google maps is probably an unsung web 2.0 application in as much as it’s very sophisticated behind the scenes and there’s a lot you can do with it and really I don’t know anyone that actually runs a mapping program anymore because the web based applications are so sophisticated.
And not just data, but I mean in the way you interact with them. I think that that’s an evolution that’s been happening over the last at least five or ten years as the need for internet based interactive applications has increased. I go back far enough that I can remember when there wasn’t any network at all.
And things have definitely evolved from there.
But it’s really been just in the last couple of years that web 2.0 and if you will, social medium have collided. And I think that it’s the social media. You know, you hear that it’s citizen journalism for example. I know Larry talks about this a lot. I think that’s really where this has become very interesting.
When you look at things like FaceBook or MySpace or blogging or podcasting, all of these things are basically ways where the common man and the common woman get a voice. And from a company perspective, it’s something that is fairly terrifying because what it means is that you, as a company, have lost control of your message and you no longer own your brand, you no longer own how the market perceives your product.
You go back, I don’t know, 10, 20, 50 years and a brand was defined by the advertising and PR agency. That’s no longer true nor relevant. And for a lot of companies it is absolutely critical that they recognize that this isn’t something they need to get involved with, this is something they need to have already gotten involved with because it’s already happening, even if they are not willing to acknowledge it.
Do you feel like more companies are taking it seriously? I thought it was interesting in some of the information from Forester and some said well this isn’t really on our agenda for this year. Are you starting to see that change, though? It got my attention when you said they are losing control of their message, for example and their brand.
Yes, and I definitely think that it’s changing and in fact I would go back and go to people like Charlene and Jeremy over at Forester and challenge them to ask these companies exactly what they mean when they say it’s not something they are planning on doing in the next year.
Because I will bet all of those companies have someone, somewhere on staff that, for example, watches Facebook to see if there are any groups that come up that are related to their product or service. Or to see if bloggers have mentioned them.
Or go to trade shows and even just something as simple as how do you determine which trade shows to exhibit at, that is something that is a function of modern social media, just as much as it is the PR agencies that are promoting those events.
And do you think that we’ll even start seeing positions and things like Facebook analyst wanted or things like that where people are starting to actually have job roles to find around, specifically marketing towards some of these specific media?
I would say that that’s exactly what I do. I might not call myself a Facebook analyst, that just sounds a little ominous.
I just made that up by the way.
It’s not bad, it just sounds a little, a little analytic. But, in a lot of ways if you think about companies that say well gosh we have this major chain of car dealerships and we know we have a website, we’ve had that for years, but now we have to get involved in the conversation going on, on-line. That’s a whole another ballgame. We really don’t know how to do that and we really need to have someone help us get started in the right way.
Because this is also, like going into a really popular party on campus is you go in and you say the wrong thing or you act stupid or you dress poorly or something, and that’s going to be something you are going to have to wrestle with for the next six months. People are going to say, oh aren’t you the guy that came in with that pink tie on.
So like weren’t you the guy that had that terrible blog and completely handled the entire thing wrong.
Right. And there are companies that are doing just that. Like Dell, for example, is still struggling with trying to figure out how to be consistent to the vision of someone like Michael Dell and to also embrace the fact that there’s a much higher level of chaos and noise in the on-line world, but you can’t just turn away from it.
And then you look at companies like Apple and Apple refuses to even partake and it’s a fascinating thing that they are as successful as they because really by a lot of measures they should be very unsuccessful because they don’t blog, they don’t get involved in all these social media, they don’t have a Facebook page, they don’t even like to have Apple employees participate. But they, I think, are an anomaly for most.
I thought it was interesting what you said too, where I’m not liking the term web 2.0. I actually feel that way myself at times. My first response was, what is that? And it seems like in both my professional and personal circles that people still struggle with that too.
So in terms of what we are talking about kind of, if that’s an umbrella term, some of the categories that fall within that, another definition that I saw “broke web 2.0��? technologies into four categories. So one category was content productions and things like video sharing, blogs, podcasts, Wiki’s, another was social networking so on-line social networks and virtual worlds. A third was web services, things like mash ups and on-line applications like My Yahoo and Google docs. And fourth one was collaboration pools.
So mobile services like Helio and on-line video communications like scape. What are your thoughts? Are those kind of the four major categories, is there anything that you would add there?
This just makes me think of the word folksonomy. I don’t know if you’ve bumped into that one, Tom. But, you know what a taxonomy is, right, it’s what you just did. It’s someone trying to take a large thing and categorize it into sub elements. And a folksonomy is a community generated taxonomy and what makes me sort of amused by this is that if you really look at what you just said, what you really said was anything that’s been written in the last five years. It’s like going into the library and saying, hmm, how do we organize all of these millions of books into some sort of coherent organization?
I can’t help it, okay, I always want to organize things all over the place.
Yes, but you know maybe we should just call this web 2.3 beta or something.
The program continues with some great points from Larry Magid and the rest of the guests. Listen to the entire program by clicking on this link: Insight on Coaching [mp3 file]. Thanks again, Tom, for letting me come on your show!