Reflections on the Next Phase of the Social Evolution

June 9, 2012

The social media revolution came fast and furious over the last 5 years, and I believe that we’ve entered a new era over the last year. I wouldn’t call it “post-social”; while we are definitely past the heady days of early adoption, there are in my opinion still boundless opportunities in the social sphere. To use a financial analogy, with some big stocks like Microsoft, Apple and Google, if you had jumped in early, you could have become insanely rich and if you got in a few years later you’d only be very rich.

In my experience, social media is about social (connecting/community) and media (content). I’ve now been blogging for 4 years (I was on Facebook in ’07, Twitter in ’08, Tumblr in ’08, and WordPress in ’09), and it’s humbling how many connections I’ve made and how many people have read content that I’ve created. I’m a big advocate of getting people to share via blogs and Twitter (I just passed my 10,000th Tweet), so thought I’d share some thoughts on what most of us already know: there’s a big difference between just doing something and doing it well, but too often there are competing pressures or processes that get in the way of doing a great job.

Here I am with James Urquhart and Christofer Hoff at Cisco Live 2009, we were all Tweeting on our Blackberries at the beginning of this video. SQUIRREL!

First on the social side, I consider myself a people person and am active in a number of communities (lots of IT, innovation, social media). I read as much as possible, share what excites me and try and add to the conversation. Feedback through social interactions encourages me to put in the extra effort to write more or interact online (the Twitter retweet or Facebook comment provides the same dopamine ping that we used to get from email beeps in the ‘90s before email volumes became ridiculous). It always helps to understand the target audience for what you’re creating and being active in a community will give your shared items the network effect.

On the content creation side, in addition to blogging and Twitter, I enjoy giving presentations and recording videos that we do in theCUBE at conferences. Research, preparation and hard work separate a good presentation or interview from a mediocre one. A strong narrative or storyline help an audience to connect with both types of presentations. An audience can tell the difference between someone that is prepared, really knows the subject and can feed off of the passion of the presenter. As an example, readers of my blog will be familiar with my FCoE work and likely the YouTube video I did 4 years ago. The format was standard for EMC, there are 100’s of EMC whiteboard videos, yet that particular video has orders of magnitude more views. First of all, it was great timing (I was a non-Cisco person explaining a relatively “hot” technology–brought to market by Cisco–that spanned across storage, networking and virtualization). Second, it was a technology primer, not a product or company pitch. Third, I had seen lots of whiteboard videos, knew what I liked and didn’t as a viewer and worked hard to have a short, focused presentation (I try to follow Mark Twain’s advice – if I had more time, I would have made this writing shorter). Finally, once it was launched, I had the boosting of social media and the internet: I blogged about it, it was picked up and embedded by other blogs and news sites, and it was posted on Good preparation, execution and follow-through are not easy, and my going “viral” isn’t something that I could ever hope to explain.

I work on many of the Infographics that Wikibon creates, and we strive to fuse strong data points, a good narrative and attractive design (we work with creative teams) so that we’re not putting out “Infocrapics”. Design is very important, as Dan Pink said in his book A Whole New Mind, those who can fuse right-brain and left-brain solutions together (Apple engineering + design is a classic example) can thrive in the economy where commoditization and globalization are disrupting so many industries.

Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) said at a conference that we make our own luck by looking out for opportunities, trying and persevering on things that pop up that others would likely ignore. I got on Twitter because PR asked for help, did that YouTube video to help marketing, and started blogging thanks to encouragement from the social community. I try to say yes to most requests to share information; time spent with journalists looking for information or participating in podcasts or videos is always rewarding. There’s an insatiable demand for good content in the world. And while I’m a small fish in the blogger world, I know that it’s relatively easy to get connected to some very important people through engagement and sharing of ideas.


Stu Miniman


Some questions for the next phase of social:

As social adoption grows, is your network an echo chamber?

How do you keep community and fun in social so that it doesn’t become un-social and irrelevant?

Between Today and What’s Next

April 22, 2012

In writing about technology, I believe that there is always a never-ending demand for more basic, “101 level” information. Too often, we can forget that while end-users might be interested in hearing about the next big thing, they often aren’t even buying the brand-new version, but are working to optimize their legacy environments. If the chasm between the “future vision” and the customer’s reality is more than a few generations of product, there is a real chance that the terminology and operational models will be so foreign that it will scare off those all but the most aggressive early adopters. I try and explain the gap between the vision of where things are going and how customers can move towards adoption of new technologies.

People have different ways that they prefer to consume information; so to reach a broad audience, you should use multiple media methods. I’m excited that I have a couple of upcoming presentations at industry shows to add to my mix of writing and videos. Presentations require a lot of work, but I have fun with them and enjoy sharing the material (and when allowed, I post them to SlideShare). Here are some recent sessions that I recorded and upcoming events that I will be at:

I was a guest on Mike Laverick’s Chinwag podcast. The audio and video of the discussion are available here: Topics of the conversation included flash storage, convergence solutions, desktop virtualization and more.

I also participated in the first Cisco Data Center Virtual Symposia. A panel consisting of Omar Sultan, J Metz, Stephen Foskett, Greg Ferro, Ivan Pepelnjak and me had a 3-hour in-depth conversation about FC, FCoE and iSCSI. Full details and replay of the session can be found here:

I will be at Interop Las Vegas the week of May 7th. I’m sitting on a panel with Mike Fratto, Stephen Foskett and Howard Marks on Tuesday 11:30am-12:30pm PT: What’s Next in Storage. On Wednesday at 3:15pm-4:15pm PT, I will be presenting:

Big Data? No. Big Decisions Are What You Want. Both sessions are part of the Storage Track; details are available here.

I’ll be back in Vegas the week of May 21 for EMC World – I can’t believe it’s my 10th year at the conference. SiliconAngle and Wikibon will be broadcasting live video with theCUBE. I will have a presentation on Converged Solutions near the Blogger’s Lounge – I’ll update this post when the time/date is available. UPDATE: My BUZZ Talk at EMC World “Data Collision: How Virtualization is converging the Enterprise” will be 2-2:30pm on Mon, May 21st – details here.

I expect to be at a few other shows this year (including Dell Storage Forum in Boston and VMworld in San Francisco). As long as my schedule allows, I’m always happy to do podcasts, videos or simply chat about technology and/or social media. I’m easy to contact here, on Twitter (@stu) or through Google+ (stuminiman).

Finally, a big thank you to VMware for naming me a vExpert for 2012 (my second year) – see the full list here.

Mass Adoption and the 1% of Social Media

March 17, 2012

Internet participation inequality from

When I first jumped into social media activity almost five years ago (back when we just called it Web 2.0), I was looking for tools that could help collaboration and innovation as part of my job in an enterprise environment (what Andy McAfee dubbed Enterprise 2.0). A Jive community space, Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter turned out to be great tools not only to collaborate internally, but helped to connect me to a small, but growing community of technology enthusiasts. While the general rule for Internet participation is the 90-9-1 rule where 90% lurk, 9% participate some and the 1% are heavy contributors (the Occupy movement now brings a different 1% to mind) that create over 90% of the content. Bloggers are almost always in the top 10% of participation and they made up a lot of the early Twitter community. Over the last five years, we’ve watched social media go from the early adopter crowd to more of the general population and it is also impacting traditional media.

While having discussions through social media is great, it’s even better when you can meet those people in real life (IRL) at events or when travelling. For comparison at how fast the communities are growing, compare Stephen Foskett’s list of storage people on Twitter in 2008 with the 2011 VMworld Las Vegas Twitter list. With the expansion of Twitter users (and slow decline in blogging), it seems to me that Tweetups have lost some of the excitement that they had a couple of years ago. As I wrote back in 2009, I prefer gatherings where I have already started the connections online. As traditional media and brands increase the usage of social media, more users simply consume the streams rather than engage and create new content and conversation. This week I had some fun participating chatting with the Run! podcast (follow link or click play below, total length is 33 minutes) where we discussed the interaction and differences between mass media and social media. I had fun with the discussion and there is a good mix of viewpoints between Marc Farley, Matt Brender, Roger Strukoff and me.

Like many bloggers, I’m a little concerned that as mass media and mass adoption of social media picks up, there may actually be less active and constructive conversation and more polarizing rhetoric controlled by too few people. Social media holds the promise of democratizing communication and most traditional media usage falls back to a one-way broadcast of information (as Roger pointed out on the podcast, reading questions or comments off of Twitter doesn’t count as being engaging).

Be part of the active Internet 1% and don’t let the media (controlled by the other 1%) rule the social webs.

Thanks Marc, Matt and Roger for having me on the podcast. Also, thanks to those who read and engage in the conversation on this blog, Twitter and everywhere else.


Ron Lloyd: Song, Science and Humor

February 25, 2012

Today I attended the an amazing memorial for a friend and former coworker, Ron Lloyd. I had the pleasure of working with Ron for a decade at EMC. When I started at the company in Product Management, Ron was my most valuable resource for understanding the technology and culture of the storage industry. While I would regularly call on his knowledge and connections for many projects, it was his unfailing positive outlook and wicked sense of humor that made him a great friend. His passions of music, science and sports made for great lunchtime conversations. Ron showed me that it was possible to have a good work/life balance. He was active singing in the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and with the Boston Pops. I saw a beautiful Brahms performance (see Nanie, Opus 82 below) at Tanglewood and went to the Pops holiday concert a couple of times. His memorial service fit Ron, a mix of humor (a George Carlin reading and stories from friends and family) and music (amazing live singing from the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Assabet Valley Mastersingers). Despite having a serious heart condition for the last 25+ years of his life, Ron was fearless. A story that I shared at his memorial was that a few years ago, Ron and I were at Universal Studios for EMC World. We went on The Hulk, one of the fastest and best steel coasters. Before we went on, I asked Ron if his heart would be OK and he just laughed. While many riders come staggering off the coaster a bit wobbly, Ron just turned to me and said “the restraint was a little tight against my pacemaker, but let’s go again”.

Ron was a great friend who I shared some great times with (we went to the Superbowl together) and introduced me to some great music. I was so impressed that in his retirement over the last two years, in addition to spending time with his grandsons, he volunteered teaching science and math (with the Boston RE-SEED Center). He lived life to the fullest and those who spent time with him would always be more knowledgeable and happier.

Distilling how to get an edge in business

October 5, 2011

The World Business Forum brings over 5000 business leaders together to hear from thought leaders and luminaries. Some of the big themes across many of the speakers are: people (not companies) leading innovation, digging deeper and looking outside of our own view of the world. As conductor and author Ben Zander said, it’s not about motivational speeches, but looking for transformations that can stay with you the rest of your life. Here are a few quotes and thoughts from Day 1:

Entrepreneur and NBA owner Mark Cuban talked about how there are inefficiencies in the marketplace; if you can give yourself an edge in knowledge or out hustle people, you can succeed. Real estate mogul, Barbara Corcoran said that the first thing that she looks for in hiring is passion, which can not be taught. Bill George (former CEO of Medtronic and author) said that most people only give 30% effort in what they do; only delivering what they are told to do since they are not engaged and working on things that excite themselves. George also said that the size of an organization is inversely proportionate to the propensity to take risk. 21st century leadership isn’t about titles, but rather helping people find the sweet spots where strengths and passions can connect.


Photo by

Malcolm Gladwell said that taking risks is at the core of leadership; need people to innovate and be creative. The problem he points out is that as humans, we are hardwired to seek the approval of our peers. It is much easier to take massive operational risks but not social risk. We see this in teenagers and it was a major component of the recent failures on Wall Street. Leaders can withstand the ridicule of peers. [BTW – Gladwell is working on a new book, he discussed it with a small group of attendees and Dan Rockwell captured some good notes]

There were similar themes at the BIF-7 conference last month. Whitney Johnson, co-founder of Clay Christensen’s investment firm and writer for Harvard Business Review called on people to disrupt themselves. She told her story of the challenges that she faced leaving a Wall Street analyst firm to go to a start-up focused on disruptive innovations. She summed lessons from her personal path to disruption:

  1. If it feels scary and lonely, you are probably on the right track
  2. Be assured that you have no idea what will come next
  3. Throw out the performance metrics you’ve always relied on
  4. Your odds of success will improve when you pursue a disruptive course; targeting a new market vs existing will deliver 6x more success and 20x greater revenue
Process and creativity/innovation are opposing forces at companies. Companies need to create spaces for people to try, fail and iterate.

Stu’s VMworld 2011 roundup

September 27, 2011

When I joined Wikibon, I expected that activity on my personal blog would drop; I hoped to put up about 1 post a month. While I did OK for the first 12 months (15 posts), it’s been 4 months since my last entry. The main reason that I haven’t posted here is that my day job includes lots of content creation (in my first year, I wrote 59 blog posts and was primary author on 27 wiki articles). In addition to writing for Wikibon, I’ve always been an active member in technology and social media conversations online and in person. While there are lots of good conferences to attend throughout the year (some with amazing entertainment), VMworld was once again my favorite tech show due to the very active ecosystem of partners and enthusiastic virtualization community.

Here’s a collection of my activity from VMworld [photo on the right is of my badge, I’m an analyst, a blogger and vExpert – thanks VMware!]:

VMworld was one of the busiest work weeks that I’ve ever had; getting to discuss topics with other vExperts and speak to lots of C-level executives and customers. I received great feedback at the show on Wikibon’s VMware storage integration research. The conversations at the conference also provided some data points towards some networking research that I am working on.

Next week, I’ll be at two conferences at the Javits Center in NYC:

For the tech crowd, Interop is October 3-7 and I will be debating with Stephen Foskett on iSCSI vs. FC, Thursday Oct 6 at 3:15pm – details here.

For a dose of innovation and business leadership, I’ll be in the Blogger’s Hub for the World Business Forum, hearing from a lineup that includes Malcolm Gladwell, Jack Welch, Seth Godin and Bill Clinton.

Comments, questions and feedback are always welcome. Find me on Twitter and Google+.


Stuart Miniman

Get a Dose of Innovation

May 29, 2011

I have had the great pleasure of attending the World Innovation Forum (WIF) in New York City the last two years. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the event this year (be sure to watch #wif11 on Twitter and follow the bloggers on June 7-8), as I will be in Las Vegas for HP Discover. At the HP event, I’m expecting a good dose of tech, good interaction with bloggers and I am very excited that Paul McCartney is the musical guest. HP’s history is tightly tied to innovation and they have also brought in Don Tapscott as one of the keynote speakers (I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Don twice before: at the first EMC Innovation Conference and also at BIF-6). Most companies list being innovative as a top goal, but after listening to thought leaders at previous World Innovation Forum and World Business Forum conferences, the question that arose was can large corporations innovate?

Two of WIF’s speakers that I have seen before give good insight into this question. Clay Christensen is one of the foremost experts on business innovation, and his books are a must-read for anyone in tech. Christensen’s material shows how companies can fail to take advantage of new innovations and find themselves disrupted by startups. Even when companies are aware of the new waves that are coming, the commitment to existing customers and inertia of legacy processes will cause most companies to fail to change as needed as the market demands. One of the most powerful weapons that a company can leverage is the passion of its people; this is the message that WIF participants can expect to hear from Tony Hsieh of Zappos. Tony has a powerful message (and excellent book) of how companies can deliver happiness to customers and employees. I tend to agree with a note that I saw on Twitter recently that said: companies can’t innovate, but they can get out of the way of employees who can.

My friend and former colleague, Steve Todd’s second book, Innovate with Global Influence, continues the discussion of how to be a corporate intrapreneur (see my write-up of his first book). Steve draws on teachings of Vijay Govindarajan, Gary Hamel and Daniel Pink (Steve and I saw Vijay and Gary at previous HSM events, Daniel Pink is at WIF11) to give a framework as to how employees can innovate, delivering results and working with teams around the globe. Steve readily admits that there is strong pressure by management to stay in Vijay’s Box 1 (Managing the Present, which is incremental improvements). Steve encourages employees to deliver on their commitments so that they can move to the journey of innovation in Box 2 (Selectively Abandon the Past) and Box 3 (Create the Future). One of my favorite parts of Steve’s approach is that he recommends indoctrinating new employees immediately in the innovation process. Employees who feel empowered to be innovative and who can be connected with a broad community with similar passions are more likely to be excited and happy with their work. I recommend Steve’s book to anyone who wants to grab some of the power of innovation and help make sure that your company doesn’t stop the passion of its workers.

There are plenty of ways to get a dose of innovation, whether it is hearing an inspiring speaker at a conference, reading a book or blog that makes you think or watching a video; the TED website and iPad app alone can keep you busy for a long time. What have you read or watched that has inspired you?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Innovate with Global Influence, but am under no obligation to write about it.

Stuart Miniman


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