Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crowd Computing and 6 steps to make it work for you

I have a lot of people coming to me for advice on their websites. Here is my personal philosophy on the topic and what drives my advice to pretty much everyone these days.

First of all, websites as we generally think of them, are dying or dead. The idea of a static page with some sharp graphics, perhaps a fancy flash logo animation etc. has largely become irrelevant to most people in the past few years.

I like to correct people and say web presence instead of website. Web presence means just that, your presence on the web, in all forms. Your emails, your facebook pages, profiles and groups, your blogs, your pages on other social networks like, linkedin, twitter, second life, myspace, wikipedia, and your AIM/MSN/Yahoo chat handles. That list seems to be getting longer and longer, but essentially its all just where you're at on the web.

It may seem intimidating to have all these things out there and feel like you HAVE to be on all of them. The good news is, you dont. You only have to participate where you feel most comfortable, and where you get the most "bang for your buck". Buck in this case translates to time and effort.

I watched from the outside for 10 years this blogging and social networking phenomenon, really staying out of it and focussing on my job of building dedicated flash applications for online training. I stayed out because what I saw was millions of people with what I would characterize as a very shallow web "presence" in a wide range of media. I would call it spamminating, or just dipping your toe in a lot of different pools. That sort of thing didnt mesh well with my personality. I like to get into something and go very deep, explore it to as far as its limits, and master it, THEN move on to the next thing.

As the technology evolved, I did too. With the advent of more and more cross linking between them, badges, open application architectures, and flexibility, I saw a new opportunity to dive deep. With all the cross linking done automatically by things like badges, you can now write once, publish everywhere. That exicites me.

I read this line in a book called What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis that talked about how linked in disseminates the hundreds of millions of photos by using algorithms that monitor the cross promotion and cross talk between members about photos, and basically could use the wisdom of the crowd(crowd computing?) to determine interestingness.

Now, like the new ad companies, my audience gets my content not by how good my SEO skills are, or my raw willingness and lack of social life to post to thousands of networks all day, rather...and this is important so I'll bold content automatically goes to people who are interested in what I have to say.

This is game changing. I've always thought that the internet was the dawn of a collected conciousness, but now with vastly more intelligent search thanks to google and the like, everything we say can and will be said to the people who need to hear it.

It effectively turns everyone's brains into one giant brain, with computers as the connectors between brains.

For now, we have to post our thoughts in writing to things like blogger, but eventually I think thanks to voice recognition, our every thought, our musings, will bring us kindred spirits to develop those thoughts either into new thoughts, learning journeys, personal catharsis, and evolution.

Crowds have always been feared by people, as angry mobs with pitchforks, but in What Would Google Do, Jeff Jarvis talks about the wisdom of the crowd. If properly analyzed and understood, a crowd is vastly intelligent, it is the sum of all its parts. If you take an individual neuron, its not capable of much, but put them all together and you have the most complex thing in the known universe, the human brain.

For the first time in history, sites like Flickr and Google have begun to speak to the crowd in its language (or even give it a language for it to articulate itself) And its talking. It has a lot to say. Democratic ideals have always tried to make this a reality, but voting never really captured the true meaning of what the crowd wanted, only grunts and warbles. With AI and computing however, the crowd now can finally talk with unprecidented precision.

What will we say to the crowd? More specifically what will you say to the crowd? Here is where we get out of the clouds and return to earth with actionable items:

1. Make sure you have and control your personal brand on as many social networks as you can find. This means own your own domain if you can. Own your company name, etc.

2. Create a facebook fan page for your product or service. Get everyone you can to join. If there already is one, become an active and leading participant. Always Give Value in everything you do.

3. Create and own your facebook profile, before someone else does. Facebook is used by 150,000,000 people as of this post, and by default is quickly becoming the defacto identity source. If you dont own your facebook profile, you are wide open to someone else taking it for you. And that is still legal.

4. Create your profile on everything else.,,, All these can be more or less empty but just grab and own them.

5. Now that you've experimented with all these things and learned all these new skills... :) Pick which one you like the most and dive deep. In linked in, get all your friends in there, find new contacts, find opportunities, recommend people you respect. In facebook, post funny and entertaining things to your status, make people smile daily. Tell people things they can use, share your ideas, your concerns, your hopes.

6. Watch the comments roll in, tweak what you are doing based on them. If one thing you do gets no fans or comments, but another thing does, do more of the other thing.

That is how you can, right now, capture the wisdom of the crowd.

Good Luck!

Posted via web from sdn's posterous

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