Posts about reboot

Title help, please

I need your help, dear readers, with the title of what I hope will be my next book. I won’t summarize the whole thing but the essence of it is this:

There are three responses to change: (1) Resist it, which is futile. (2) Complain about it, which is unproductive. (3) Find the opportunity in it. That is the only sane response. I’ll be writing about the fundamental and permanent change brought on by our shift from the mass, industrial economy to what follows, a new economy based on knowledge and abundance. Entire industries are collapsing — automotive, newspapers, banking, huge swaths of retail, and others will follow — and they will not rise again after a mere financial crisis. So I’m looking after the destruction to the opportunity to see what can be built and on what principles it will be built. I want a title that imparts the imperative and inevitability of change but the opportunity and optimism I see in it. (UPDATE: Since I see confusion in one comment and one blog post elsewhere, let me make clear that I’m not talking about all change, of course; I’m talking about this specific change from the industrial, mass economy to what is emerging now; there’s no stopping that.)

We’re stymied. That’s in part, I think, because What Would Google Do? was a bell-ringer. It’s also hard to get across that dual notion of destruction and optimism. And we don’t want to be tied to the current “crisis”; this is about something more, something bigger and more forward-looking.

I hesitate to list ideas for titles, because I don’t want to prejudice you and cut off any grand inspiration. So you may want to stop reading this post now. In any case, if we end up using a title you suggest, you’ll have (1) my eternal gratitude and admiration, (2) full credit in the book, and (3) a great lunch. I mean it, so please identify yourself with your name so I can thank you.

UPDATE: Here is a list of some of the titles I like so far from the comments and also Twitter and email (though comments are the best way to leave suggestions):

Damned if You Don’t – Alison Black (a favorite)
Doomed to Succeed – Karl Pearson-Cater (another favorite)
The Phoenix Paradox – John C Abell
Next – Steve Baker
Atlantis 2.0 – Joy Fulton
Ch-ch-ch-changes – Joy Fulton
Change is Good – Joy Fulton
The Future is Now (inspired by hers: Future Now) – Joy Fulton
The Leapfrog Economy – dlawless
Return on Innovation, the new ROI – Allan Hoving
Shift Happens – Cem Basman
Shit Happens – id withheld
What Will You Do – Heather Staines
Yes You Can – Philipp
Bring It On – Howard Poon
From Grave to Cradle – Adam Eland
Clean Slate – Dean
The Dawn is Inevitable – Nikos Anagnostou
Renaissance 2.0 – Dan Brian
World 2.0 – Morten Langkjaer
Another Day, Another Way – Aalia
Apocalypse Yesterday – Laura O
Embrace! – Microkultur
Colbert – Kevin (pretty funny way to get publicity)
When Everything Changes, Change Everything – Wendell Wittler
From Ashes to Action – Steve Gorelick
Mind the Gap – Weltenweiser (pity it’d work only in the UK)
Break on Through to the Other Wise – John Grimes
Profit of Doom – (inspired by John Grimes)
Year Zero – Javier Z


My working title was Reboot, but that feels inaccurate (rebooting only restarts what was before). I suggested Grave Dancer but, gee, my editor and agent didn’t like it. Wonder why. Other, more serious candidates — and if you like any of these, please come to their defense:
* Resistance is Futile (this is probably the leader at the moment)
* The Great Restructuring (title of my posts, where the book has been germinating)
* The Upheaval (thanks, Ben)
* The Day After (Will that mean as much to people too young to remember the movie?)
* The Phoenix
* Rise Like a Phoenix
* The Leap
* The Wrecking Ball
* The Link Economy
* What Follows the Fall
* The Rise of the Next Economy
* Stop Whining, Start Building
* Prophet of Bloom
* The Dawn After the Destruction
* The Day after the Destruction
* Build, Don’t Bail (Catchy, but probably too short-term)
* Building the New Economy
* Optimist Amid the Rubble
* Cause for Optimism


I love it when people speculate in public about taking the tenants of What Would Google Do?, to a greater or lesser degree, into their worlds. A few recent examples:

* With nonprofits, Marc Sirkin does some incredible brainstorming (he laments that I didn’t cover nonprofits; so do I; it was because I didn’t have the experience and good ideas he has):

In any case, those same traits and behaviors that Google uses are polar opposite of how many traditional non-profits operate. Like most traditional business models, many non-profits have are caught in an odd spot – it’s clear that something big is happening, but there hasn’t been a forcing function like Napster demolishing the music business for example that has created a need for massive, fundamental change. Unfortunately for many large non-profits, I believe it’s about to happen and is going to really surprise and destroy a lot of well known and traditional institutions.

For example, in the international aid and micro-lending space, organizations like Kiva have been literally exploding out of the woodwork, using business models that traditional aid agencies either can’t or won’t embrace create massive shifts in how donors think about, and interact with both the institution and the recipient of their donation! . . .

New Relationships: Give people control

Over and over I’ve seen it happen. Donors say to a non-profit, I’ll give you money but you need to focus on this or on that. The non-profit’s response (rightly so in the “old world”) is we’ll take your money, but we’re the experts on what we fund, not you. Sorry. . . .

In a “Googley” non-profit, the organization would open up and let folks have a say where their money is going. Non-profits could start by allowing patients, researchers, donors and more rate and rank what is being funded. As Jarvis points out, this doesn’t mean they give up total control, but it does mean that the non-profit starts listening closely. In the future, someone is going to listen, and that’s where I’ll (and everyone else) will donate. Think Yelp, but for what to fund, what programs to create, etc.

How else could non-profits give people control? How about in fundraising? It already happens organically and primarily offline, out of site of the “brand police,” but why not allow donors to create, publicize and promote events that they create, run and manage on a technology platform that supercharges these small, long tail events. . . .

New Architecture: Be a Platform

. . . [S]ay you have a great volunteer in a remote location where you do not have a chapter or an office. Why not empower that donor (with proper training of course!) to use your platform to serve the local community? . . . . Think CafePress or Blogger.. or hell, for volunteers to create, manage and run their own “chapter” on your behalf. Chaos? Nope, that’s what we call trust baby!

Connect the dots like Best Buy does with their Blue-shirt nation, or like the Red Sox do with their online community to provide guidance, collaboration, support and the help they need to help you succeed. Can you imaging a site like Starbucks or Dell’s idea site that allows both internal and external folks to help redesign everything from structure, policies to fundraising campaigns? If you work in a traditional non-profit, I bet you can’t.. but you’d better.

Radical? I think necessary. . . .

New Society: Elegant Organization

Non-proftis can use community for just about everything under the sun. Here are a few ideas off the top of my head…
* Testing ads with mission affected patients
* Collaborating with donors on how to raise more money
* Collaborating with patients on how to best deliver services locally
* Talking openly with families about policies and program services
* Connecting patients to other patients in similar situations
* Connecting families to families
* Allowing patients and families to rate hospitals, doctors, treatments and more (gasp!)

One more… Get Out of the Way

This is a big one for me and is at the heart of why I think non-profits are headed for big trouble in this new world. Non-profits, like many traditional businesses and business models live for control. They love controlling messaging (you MUST breast feed!), and because they aren’t last I checked under CAN SPAM laws, love spamming and blasting out direct mail, email and more. They rely on controlling the event experience at walks, runs and dinners. They simply think that because they’ve been successful in the past, that they know best.

Those days are over. It’s time to flip things inside out and let your true fans help redesign your organization from the ground up. Have you really talked to donors, patients and families about what they think about those controversial policies? Have you asked your event participants to collaborate with you on how to make the event suit them better? Have you done anything that would indicate that you are actually listening?


* User-generated health care:”Doctors repeatedly say that patients are one of the most valueable sources of information. Yet the gathering of information from patients is typically restricted to the 15 or so minutes you get to discuss your situation.”

* Short-term social networks (like the Twitterflight) built around hospital stays: “Patients might enjoy meeting others in the same hospital for companionship or finding support from those with similar diagnoses. . . . Or those patients being treated in academic medical centers could find others with similarly rare conditions across the country. ”

* A remade cartoon gallery.

* Will PR replace advertising?

* Making buildings Googley by making their data transparent.

* WWGD shipping. This one’s beyond me, I’m afraid.

Meanwhile, I hear from companies like Best Buy and 3M and Wowowow that they’ve discussed how to implement some of the ideas.

Please keep them coming. I’d love to hear more – about what works and also what doesn’t work, testing the ideas in reality.

The new news

Josh Young writes a fascinating and nicely written essay about the shape of news and competition around it in the Google (read: internet) age, but I think it badly needs a clear lede summarizing his point to prove his point.

So I’ll summarize: He’s saying that Google is causing news to be reshaped so it can be found, now that it has been unbundled from the products we used to have no choice but to buy: our newspapers. He says that news is an “experience good” we can’t really know until we taste it. He says we need a new experience of news and it ain’t Google. I will argue, though, that this very post, the one you are reading now, is the antidote to what he sees, for I experienced his essay and I recommend it to you without Google while also giving you the search-engine-and-browsing-friendly summary – a reason to read – that we now expect before investing in content online. And there’s my point.

Young argues that Google causes the structure of news to change. We agree about the change but we disagree about the cause. Even I don’t think that the all-powerful Oz Google is behind everything that happens on and because of the internet.

In fact, news is one of the areas where Google has little influence – despite the wails and whining of newspaper people – for Google is bad at current content, at the live web, at news. It needs content to ferment with links and clicks and context before it can figure out what it is. There’s no time for that in news. And GoogleNews itself isn’t an answer for it only makes the vastness of news vaster. We don’t find the latest news through search. We find it through recommendations, still, either from editors (going to a packaged site, a [cough] or from peers (in blogs and RSS for years now and more lately in Twitter; this is why Twitter matters and why Google recognizes that it complementary).

So I’ll argue that we already have the beginnings of the news experience Young wants. Through this quote (which comes at the end of Young’s essay but would have been better as his lede, I think… I often find that to be the case when I write a post), please replace the word “search” with news, for “search” has become synonymous with Google and that’s not what we’re talking about. Young writes:

“We need a What we need is a search [news] experience that let’s us discover the news in ways that fit why we actually care about it. We need a search [news] experience built around concretely identifiable sources and writers. We need a search [news] experience built around our friends and, lest we dwell too snugly in our own comfort zones, other expert readers we trust…. We need a search [news] experience built around beats and topics that are concrete—not hierarchical, but miscellaneous and semantically well defined. We need a search [news] experience built around dates, events, and locations. We need a search [news] experience that’s multi-faceted and persistent. Ultimately, we need a powerful, flexible search [news] experience that merges [automation] and human judgment—that is sensitive to the very particular and personal reasons we care about news in the first place.

I think we’re seeing the beginning of what Young wants in blogs, Twitter, aggregation, better automated targeting, geotagging, and the move to human curation and I hope we’ll see people build other pieces of it in the ecosystems of news that will replace the papers that die (or don’t). I’m working with folks who are trying to build that now – with beats and organization and social recommendation – associated with the New Business Models for News Project. It’s just starting to come together, I think, and Young will be glad to know it’s not from Google; Google’s only a part.

Something like that, Young and I agree, will be the structure of the experience of finding – searching, broadly defined – and using and spreading news. As I said, we also agree that the structure of news will also change – but not just because of Google.

I argue in this post and in slides 6-11 here that the basic building block of news will no longer be the article – a creation and necessity of the means of production of newspapers – but instead the topic or the flow with many elements: process (think: blog), updates (feed), snapshot of current knowledge (wiki), perspective (comments, links), curation (links), and narration (the article still has its place). Yes, it is SEO-friendly. And, yes, Marissa Mayer gave a similar vision to John Kerry’s Senate hearings – of a “living story” that is updated at a permalink – but that doesn’t mean she decreed it. The greater functionality of the internet is shifting news to this structure because it is also link-friendly, blog-friendly, Twitter-friendly, feed-friendly, conversation-friendly, distribution-friendly….

If we invented news today – and we are – this is how it will look, not because Google replaces paper as the medium but because we are not limited to either.

(By the way, I’m probably wrong about Young’s lede. Even without it, because his essay was so deftly written, I read through to the end and took the trouble of reacting to it and recommending it to you here. I’ll also confess that I found it through Google search but only because Young kindly linked to me and mentioned my book. So the link was human, conversational, contextual, targeted, everything Young wants. Google just helped.)

: LATER: Another neat essay today, this one by Kim Pearson, on bringing computational thinking to journalism. I think it stretches the point just a bit (I don’t see how slideshows are particularly compuational) but the larger point is intriguing.

The start of transparent government

The announcement of marks an important shift in government, opening up our data to us and enabling collaboration and creation with government.

Jake Brewer of the Sunlight Foundation also announces a contest to create apps atop the API.

I believe that in the future ecosystem of news, transparent government data will play a key part. It will enable us to have millions of watchdogs on government’s action.

I also hope that this openness starts to shift the conversation around government from get-the-bastards to collaboration and creation.

Brewer says:

New federal CIO Vivek Kundra and the Obama Administration have officially launched, which is the first-ever catalog of federal data being made freely (and easily) available to citizens.

Now, it’s unlikely the description of will send chills down the spine of anyone who doesn’t speak Ruby or Python or MYSQL, and if you visit the site, it’s unlikely you’ll be struck or know to be impressed by what’s there. But if you step back and take a minute to understand what you’re looking at, you’ll realize we’ve just taken an unprecedented first step into the Era of Big Open Government.

When information and process become free and participatory, markets get created (think about weather data), more people engage more deeply with their government (see: Obama’s online townhall), and ultimately, people care more about what their government does and how it serves them. …it’s nearly impossible for people to know more about what’s going on and care less.

Transparency is at the heart of destroying apathy.

The key with this new data, though, is that we do something with it. While opening up data is a beautiful thing in its own right, what will make this release truly great is when citizens actually take the information and create new, brilliant applications.

That’s why Sunlight Labs in partnership with Google, O’Reilly Media, and Craig Newmark of Craig’s List has simultaneously launched a contest with $25,000 in awards to incentivize the creation of said brilliance.

Apps for America 2: The Challenge

Eric Schmidt teaches the taught

Pardon me, first, for a moment of paternal pride but I watched Eric Schmidt’s commencement speech at Carnegie Mellon with extra interest because in a few weeks, my wife and I will be driving our son Jake (my secret weapon and webmaster) there to join a summer program for high-school students.

And so I listen to Schmidt talk about education itself in harmony with what I’ve been screaming, that education is built to prepare us all to give the same answers, not necessarily to invent the next Google. Education was built for the industrial age; indeed, when we visited CMU, we were shown one strange building on a slope that was designed to be converted into a factory in case this university thing didn’t work out for Mr. Carnegie. Now we need to reinvent education for the digital/knowledge/Google/creative age. Said Schmidt:

“To some extent you were penalized for making mistakes historically. Now you have to make them because mistakes allow you to learn and to innovate and to try new things. And that’s a culture of innovation that is going to create the next great opportunities for all of you as you come to run and rule the world and the rest of us retire.”

Schmidt also made many observations about the current Facebook and Google (his order) generation, some transcribed by TechCrunch‘s Robin Wauters, some by me:

“When I grew up, we had Tang, you had Red Bull. We used a programming language called Basic, you had Java…. We got our news from newspapers. You get yours from blogs and tweets…. We just didn’t tell anyone about our most embarrassing moments. You record them and post them to Facebook and YouTube every day. I am so happy that my record of my misachievements is not around for posterity…. We thought ‘friend’ is a noun, you think it’s a verb…. I did some research using my favorite search engine, of course. And the great depression spurred some incredible innovations: Rice Krispies, Twinkies and the beer can. You never would have gotten through college without these things. So good things happen in recessions….

“In our lifetimes… every human being on the plane will have access to every piece of information known on the planet. This is a remarkable achievement. God knows what these people will do….

“Don’t bother to have a plan at all. All that stuff about having a plan, throw that out. It seems to be it’s all about opportunity and make your own luck…. You cannot plan innovation. You cannot plan invention. All you can do is try very hard to be at the right place and be ready….

“How should you behave? Well, do things in a group. Don’t do things by yourself. Groups are stronger, groups are faster. None of us is as smart as all of us…..

“Trust matters in a networked world. Trust is your most important currency….

“In a world where everything is kept and remembered forever – the world you are graduating into – you should live for the future and the things you really care about. Don’t live in the past. Live in the future….

“You’ll find today is the best chance you have to start being unreasonable, to demand excellence, to drive change, to make everything happen.”