One day several months ago, David Alston said to me at a conference something like this: “I just realized that there are two conferences going on here. One is in this room, and there are people with note pads writing feverishly and chatting with their neighbors. The other is out on the web, and we’re all Twittering the conversation out to others who aren’t even here.” That’s part of why we did the Twebinars, was because David and I were talking about how events need to stretch beyond the physical world now.
I’ve recently started using BrightKite again, specifically because of the iPhone application. The application is reasonably simple: map your GPS coordinates to a specific location and then allow you to annotate that area with text or a photo. So, I can be visiting a place like St. Petersburg, Florida, and I can check in. I might take a snap of the hotel where I’m staying, and I might add a note like “the coffee here is horrible, but there’s a Dunkin Donuts a few blocks west.”
Someone else in the area who is using the same application might now see this update and realize two things (depending on my privacy settings): 1.) I’m nearby. 2.) That the coffee at the hotel stinks. In both cases, this information is only available through the use of this software.
But it’s like glyphs. There’s a whole sense of meta information that is passing between people that you might not know is there. (William Gibson covers this beautifully in the not-science-fiction book, Spook Country.)
How Does This Impact You?
Services like Twitter and FriendFeed and Flickr and Facebook and LinkedIn and more are hosting conversations around you that might be of value to you. You can’t always tune in, but if you don’t even opt to build a PORTAL into these areas so that you can learn what’s being said, you’re missing out on information that might add to your business needs.
If you’re not using services like Yelp and BrightKite, (and you could name several others), you’re missing some of the glyphs and warnings we’re leaving on the landscape to tell you about the way things are versus the way things are marketed. You’re missing chance encounters. You’re missing stray opportunities.
Again, you don’t have to get involved. It’s just that we are, and we’re passing many more notes than you can imagine.
Participating in the Annotated World
There are many projects here. There are many ways to add to this body of work. If you think about it, we are helping a web of human information exist and think. We are directing warm information to where it’s needed when it’s needed without a core leader. It’s quite a project, if you think about it.
Here are some ways to feed the network:
- When you’re somewhere new, snap photos and post them to Flickr.
- Take photos of people at events and post the good ones. Add their names and companies to them.
- When you post photos in Flickr, when you can, add contextual information about where.
- Write reviews for places and services in Yelp.
- Use Twitter at conferences.
- Add hash tags to events. (We used #nms08 at the New Marketing Summit. It just means type #SOMETHING at some point in your twitter post for tracking purposes.)
- Add hash tags to specific presentations if you think Twitter will enhance it.
- Provide information about places. I tweet traffic jams.
- Build human networks to feed information through. Find people who share like interests. (There are 40 groups listed on Facebook for “cartographers.”)
- Participate in wikis and shared information building projects. The rewards of such projects are better community. (Look at what Colin Browning has started at Constructing Social as a tool for mapping social media resources, for instance.)
- Share the good stuff. When you see great blog posts, tweet about them, reblog them, pop them up into Delicious and StumbleUpon so that people might see them and benefit from them later. For instance, I’m collecting social media case studies. I’d love more of those. When you find them, and if you use Delicious. just add a tag that says: for:chrisbrogan , with the colon in there. Pow. It lands in my box and I can add it to the file.
There are conversations – rich dialogues and information sharing experiences – happening with or without you. Several of them have business value. Many can impact your life. Get in the habit of using Twitter Search to find out about places and events and people before you visit. You’d be amazed what you turn up.
Is this making sense? Do you get where I’m coming from? Are you already participating? Or does this scare the poo out of you to consider?
This is related but not. It’s a fascinating book worth checking out of your library:
Thanks for your thoughts. Trust agents are attuned to these glyphs. I just want to share the premise out further.
Photo credit, CosmoPolitician