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 FCoE.com. 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.

Cheers,

Stu Miniman

https://blogstu.wordpress.com

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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: http://www.rtfm-ed.co.uk/2012/04/18/chinwag-with-stuart-miniman-episode-73/. 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: http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/introducing-data-center-virtual-symposiums/

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 useit.com

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.

https://blogstu.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/run_episode_2_.mp3

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.

 


Tools controlling communication

July 15, 2009

As a continuation of looking at the internet era through the lens provided by Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, I’ll start with email – what Jeremiah Owyang called the “first and largest social network“.  If television is amusing us to death, email is either boring us to death or burying us alive.  At first, email was an extension of letters and office memos, but as the technology allowed connectivity to the entire world, most office workers find themselves sorting, filing, responding to and deleting emails.  Some of the problems with email:

  1. It becomes the primary method of communication when more personable (phone call or in person) or less obtrusive (IM, wiki) options might be more appropriate
  2. Expectations of how fast email should be responded to vary greatly.  Many treat all email as Urgent & Important (see my discussion of where Twitter falls on Covey’s 4 quadrants).  In the mid-90’s when it could sometimes hours (or “next day”) for email to get from one company to another, now some people feel obligated to answer in minutes.  Email is not geared well for real-time communication, nor is a worker efficient if they have to pounce every time new mail is arriving.
  3. Workers can become inundated with the volume of messages received since they are often subscribed to too many lists, or are in the middle of too many conversations (GMail’s interface provides threading, but Outlook handles threads very poorly – sort by subject and hope you can follow what is going on).

As Neil Postman said, the tool tends to shape the communication, and email use can go even further by having workers spending their days doing nothing but sending and receiving emails.  Now I’m no suggesting that we should get rid of email (nor would I claim that  email is dead or even that you should take a day a week away from email), rather like PowerPoint, it should be used when necessary and with consideration to the intent and audience.  The challenge today is that no single tool is best for all communications.  Hutch Carpenter wrote a nice article describing how Google Wave gives a “Beautiful Potential, Faraway Dream”; until the dream is realized, you can either stick to using email or try and leverage a number of tools.  I use a mix of email, instant messenger, Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, wikis, and blogs/RSS (not to mention phone, videoconferencing and when ever possible IRL).  Most people aren’t going to want to learn or toggle between so many tools, but if you can efficiently add just a couple of options, you can take control of the communication rather than the being constrained by the tools.

When all you have is a hammer…

Do you see the email issue getting better?  Will we just need to wait until the large enterprise tools have this functionality built in?