You can now find me & my blog at http://www.erikcecil.com.
Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) is to business organization & operation what Internet is to society: deeply fractal fragmentation of power and it’s inevitable migration towards the foundation of all economies: single, solitary, unique, restless, creative, and hard working human beings who reorganize and revalue it. Interrelatedness matters as does uniqueness. Thus the corporate world’s drive toward banal uniformity undermines the very value it seeks to create.
The Internet, by contrast, provides a ready environment for the creation and maintenance of individual and unique value, but with all of the consistency of purpose, execution, and legality that the corporate world was first established to provide.
What this means is corporations will continue, but they will start smaller but grow and dissociate more quickly across a broader geographic and demographic categories.
As a result, the study and ongoing perfection of VRM will be as critical as the conventional study of law, business and technology is today.
Now that Twitter’s growth has reached explosive levels, folks are concerned about the number of folks they follow versus the number who follow them. For example, if you look at my profile , as of today, I’m following 454 people and followed by 265. 454 is a lot of people; it’s a lot of tweets. Moreover, it’s a ton of relationships to manage. Some, like President Obama, have hundreds of thousands of followers; they certainly cannot follow back. At the same time, for those of us in everyday world, there’s a point where you feels as if you cannot possibly follow back. This is a challenge as the appeal of twitter is, in particular, it’s ability to allow for 1:1 as well as 1:many conversation. And most of us want to be polite and take care of our networks.
While I don’t yet have a firm rule, here’s how I approach it: I follow just about anyone following me with a reasonable profile, and particularly if they have a blog. I do look at each and every person who follows me and follow back where I think we can make a connection in terms of mutual interest or some other commonality, which includes entirely new things I want to explore. I avoid the scams or the clearly commercial things, though I will follow where there is a stronger connection – e.g. my local pizza parlor.
CONDUIT VERSUS COMMUNITY
Here’s what personal experience is teaching me: I value community – whether of interest, profession, background, or some other form of connection. Conduit – in the form of more information, yet another advertisement, or pure “look at me / this” is typically less valuable.
TWITTER WORKS BECAUSE IT IS A COMMUNITY ENGINE
Simply put – twitter *is* community. While the platform itself is 2-way and multi-way (both 1:many but also many:1 in the sense that any 1 can respond to any followed tweet), it is Twitter’s ability to foment community (this is particularly enhanced with the direct tweet feature – kind of a private call b/t otherwise public participants) that drives the growth and the value of the platform.
WHAT ABOUT CONTENT?
There is no content without community. Think about it. Unless and until someone perceives my utterances – whether written or spoken – they are nothing more than meaningless shapes, sounds or colors, just hanging out there in space. At the moment of perception, there is almost immediately meaning. In other words the reader and the text create the meaning just as a tweet is nothing without not only a follower, but one who cares enough to read it.
COMMUNITY MAKES CONTENT MORE VALUABLE
Twitter, therefore, has the power to enhance the value of content by enriching the community experience. The more you get to know someone; the more interrelationship there is, the more meaning, depth and richness you will accord their communication – their content. In a world overflowing with content, it is community – relationship – that defines the value of content. This is the power of Twitter.
No one tool is good or bad in and of itself. Like content, a tool’s utility is determined by it’s use; by its relationship to the things it affects and needs it may or may not fulfill. In other words, how a tool relates with and among it’s environment determines its value. In that regard I find “Friend or Follow” a fascinating tool that seeks to serve the CONTENT:COMMUNITY value equation. It allows you to determine of those you follow who follows you back. It is, in other words, a tool that takes at least begins to measure how much community is possible among your Twitter community. Sara Evans recently wrote a good piece that goes right to the fact that we value COMMUNITY over CONTENT OR CONDUIT: “HOW TO: Build Community on Twitter“. She sees, intuitively, that community is the reason we’re on Twitter.
CONCLUSION: COMMUNITY NOT CONTENT, NOT CONDUIT, DRIVES VALUE
Community, which I define for purposes of this piece as the inter-relationship between individuals (or groups) with content via conduits (web, telecom, Internet), drives value. More deeply, content and conduit are the tools of community; they are the inputs. Accordingly, as this nation faces the question of how and where to invest in infrastructure, let us ensure that the money serves the highest value: Community rather than assuming that by pouring it into content or conduit, we have invested wisely.
Amazing. A lawyer’s dream text toy: http://www.wordle.net/ made possible by the diversity enabled via the Internet. Interstructure rocks.
At noon eastern time today, we the people, we the nation, we the world, were reborn in a new administration, a new light, and a new hope. We are a new nation. After eight years of suffering through the worst of what we could be, we awaken from the darkness of greed, fear, jingoism, and hatred to step up to that higher more compassionate place: the bedrock of this Nation’s greatness: the freedom to interrelate within, among and between the vast differentiated multitude that we are. We are united in our individual uniqueness; we are alive in our diversity, we are strengthened by our differences. Again, we are one. Again, we are united in our diversity. Again, we are free. Prosperity welcomes us. It begins right here, right now: celebrating the abundance of differential creativity and the infinity of interrelationships its celebration creates.
God Bless this Nation, God Bless it’s new President and God Bless all leaders and all people of all nations. Thank You God for diversity of viewpoints, backgrounds, and political approaches delivered us to this moment.
FROST: Doc Searls tonight posted some great photos of frost forming on his windows. He mentions they look like fractals forming. This is synchronistic. Just last night I watched “The Day After Tomorrow”, where giant storms cause a new Ice Age. The fractal image came to me just as the center of this storm hit New York City. With temperatures colder than Paul Bunyon’s worst winter (words froze; spring thaw was noisy), deadly frost races down buildings into every nook and cranny. The fast forming frost looked just like a fractal.
FRACTALS: Looking at Doc’s fractal photos, I am reminded of two things:
1. Fractals teach us about relativity – one fractal’s size is relative only to other fractals, but because the pattern is infinite, there’s always one bigger or one smaller.
2. As a result of 1, each fractal is simultaneously small and large, but in a worldly sense this implies that one fractal can grow and another shrink regardless of which one moves.
TWITTER: Twitter in many regards is a fractal platform. Each connection is built upon an individual basis. A single 1:1 connection, however, can lead to an infinite number of patterns – new connections, new relationships, or deepening of existing relationships, or the opposite of any of these things. It may very well be the tiny, incremental nature of Twitter – it is “micro-blogging” after all – that powers Twitter. It is small, easily replicated, readily incorporated into numerous other platforms, while providing users a rapid, flexible, and mobile communication interrelationship platform. And people are not phone numbers either; they are people.
FAILURE: It is not without some interest, and perhaps a sense of the ironic, that I read a Forbes story reporting that European corporations were unwilling to use or even consider Twitter (“Why Europe’s CEOs Should Twitter“). The article mentions that all sorts of European companies are not interested in Twitter. Nevertheless, the platform continues to grow with amazing speed; it is also incredibly efficient at creating the sorts of 1:1 relationships savvy marketers and Chief salEs Officers crave, on a worldwide basis, and for free. So while the Twitter fractal grows, European corporations remain stationary. If relativity works in this sense, perhaps the large is also becoming small.
Obama rolled into Union Station today speaking of a new Declaration of Independence. It was a beautiful trip, particularly because he traveled with his family, with friends, and at Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Baltimore stopped to give speeches to throngs of supporters.
The enthusiasm and beauty of today’s journey, however, is not rooted in Independence; not this time around. We’re a different nation now, more different than we know. We are different because we are humbled, but in that humility, we are freer.
Our new freedom, our new independence does not arise from some belief that Obama is going to help us triumph over evil outside. It arises from Obama’s implicit recognition, and our explicit joy of being recognized, that we are intERdependent. We, the people, all of us and each of us, matter.
Obama understands interdependence. He exemplified interdependence in his astute choice to leverage the Internet’s near-infinite power to enable individuals to create and value relationships of their choosing. We were given tools to create our own campaign organizations. Even through the post-election transition process., the invitations came: talk to us; formulate policy; relate with us and with each other.
IntERdependence is the engine of democracy; it creates the nanostructures of new economies. People lined 137 miles of railroad track, therefore, not to see some new Hercules. They came to see in their new President a reflection of their individual importance reflected back to them in the President they just elected. He not only moved the power of democracy to the edge, but opened the path back to the middle. Reverberating throughout the crowds was the music of interdependence. Let the new freedom ring.
P.S. I will be writing more about interdepence in several respects, whether from the necessity for new legal and regulatory framing, to behavioral economics, to how we rebuild the infrastructure of this country, to things like Twitter. And I’m depending on your help.
SPARK. EXHALE. Also know as inspiration. Over the past 24 hours, dear friends, mentors of mine – my wife, children, folks I regard among the nation’s finest corporate lawyers, legendary heads of law firms, but web sites too, and a very dear friend -whom I sometimes call MotoHepCat, a Mind Jazz virtuosos, gave me a tremendous gift today. They gave me a wake up call. “Get with it and do your thing.” OK. I hear you. Thanks for your love and patience. Here I go.
MOTION. I’m going to think out loud, taking the wraps off stuff I’ve published or discussed only in closed circles for a very long time. Now that I’m freed, at least for now, from the constraints of in-house corporate law practice, litigation, and all that comes with it, I’ll share or create insights, thoughts, deconstructive creativity, and paradigm shifts that I sincerely believe make this planet and it’s noisiest sentient species a bit more sustainable, adaptive, workable, kinder, gentler, and happier.
IT’S NOT INFRASTRUCTURE. So my next post will be on something I’ve been working on for a very long time: how to solve the seemingly intractable mess that’s the Internet. Funny thing is the Internet – in and of itself – is fine; it’s the inputs into the Internet that are – using a word uttered in a corporate meeting that I just love – “horking” it all up. The inputs however, are not limited to the gear you use to make the thing work. They include the law. But, in essence, the inputs are the very assumptions we as a society bring to things like “communications networks”, “telecommunications regulation”, “market”, “dominant / non-dominant” “carrier” and so on. Without spending too much time on the why or how we got here, but jumping right to the point, what was true of technology, society, economics, law, regulation and the planet 130 years ago is true no longer.
NEW FRAMING. Doc Searls is one of the smartest lawyers I’ve ever known. It’s probably because he’s not a lawyer that he’s such a damn good lawyer. He’s good because he Gets It. “It” are the details that matter. Truth is, very few details ever really matter; the rest is noise. Blogshpere and the Internet is, in many respects, detail replicating itself utterly out of control without much in the way of meaning, reflection, creativity, authenticity, humiliy or love. Yes. Love. It matters. Doc sees the things few others see; he sees what I only began to see after taking on the machine in 100+ days of hearings across 30 or so states pitting the innovation engine (and sometime echo chamber) we call the Internet against “the way things have been.” He clued me in to the power of framing. I can tell you from a regulatory litigator’s perspective, having tested this for about a dozen years before the FCC, every single state public utility commission in the nation and in many federal courts, there are few things that I care about more than framing. Basically, if your framing is superior you win. Period. Great lawyers get this. And so does Doc Searls.
NEXT: I’ve got a new frame coming. I’ll post it shortly. By way of utterly shameless self-promotion Doc likes it. But that’s way more than good enough for me, though I’ll let you be the judge. And, just to spice things up, I’ll post things like the Singularity Physics of Litigation, which is a sub chapter in a presentation I gave to a Continuing Legal Education seminar in Denver awhile ago, though it was nothing compared to the supernova that Chris Savage unleashed. I’ll see if Chris will let me post that here & you can decide for yourself.
ONWARD. With that, we’re off and running. So, shortly – and “short” is coming from a guy with the world’s greatest wife – she rocks; five children, a couple of big dogs and no end of reptiles and other creatures – in other words, it’s an experiential measure. My life is intense enough that several hours can pass in seconds, like when my twin boys unleash a hose in the living room after unloading the refrigerator and running their Tonka trucks through the resulting mud track.
OFFER. Whatever I do with this, I will sincerely strive here to be honest, articulate, check all of my facts, but leave my ego – at least as much as any attorney can bear to part with – at the door. So keep me honest and I’ll do the same for you, with kindness, compassion, and, to the best of our abilities at the time, in service of something greater than any of us here. It’s how we make the next world: together, one moment, one decision, one thought, one action at a time.
ACCEPTANCE. In this final regard, this blog is no more “mine” than yours. Until read, it’s nothing; just symbols on a page. The reader and the writer together, create meaning. I welcome your participation and will do everything I can to make any journey we take worthwhile.
CONTRACT. Giddy Up!