Providing them a clue to Web 2

Look at my blog picture. I’m a 28 year old technologist in the body of a slightly older guy (you gotta guess how slight by looking at my picture over there) and yet I’m stunned that others my age have zero understanding of the  tsunami of energy being poured into social software, online community, applications, connecting apps and creating mashups, content creation and consumption, and all the other touch points being pretty much driven by those under 35.

Maybe it’s because the control points are in the hands of people my age who are fairly out of touch with that tsunami and are instead laying on the beach looking at one another saying, “ Hmmm….wonder why the ocean is rushing out like that? Let’s go down there and pick up some shells.” Unless they wake up now, they’re gonna drown.

I’ve been wrestling with how to effectively communicate with the clueless and get better at providing them a clue to Web 2 (Web 2.0 that is…but using the “dot oh” ruins the rhyme). I can sell, persuade, market, engage in business development activities and generally convince even the most stubborn to at least concede that something is up — so how come it’s so hard to package something up and help people understand it quickly and easily?

*Finally* mainstream media is talking and writing about the things that are pulling people’s attention away from what their respective industries offer. Since those people presently clueless seem to be gaining most of their knowledge and information from that same mainstream media — I guess I should be a bit more magnanimous and kind in my thoughts about those just a bit further behind on understanding what’s going on.

Things are moving too fast though.

For the first time in my adult life, I find myself with almost no patience to handhold people and teach them. I’m too busy trying to reach reasonably far ahead and connect dots just a little bit out of my reach. I’m seeking thought leaders who are exploring and poking around the edges of community, consciousness, economic and value shifts, and other areas that are connecting us all in ways that empower, inform and enable us all to grow. Following the nearly 1,000 posts and articles in my news aggregator is the only way (and not terribly efficient as it turns out) that even I can stay on top of Web 2.0 stuff…let alone turn around and teach someone who still wonders, “What’s a blog?”

Though my patience is thin for training, one key weakness of mine is that I go out of my way to listen, consult and drag guidance and advice out of my brain to help people wrestling with their business issues. It’s also at the heart of what I do with my own business. It’s just that I gain energy from being around people who already are clue’ed in vs. spending my energy when around people who are currently clueless. (Note: I call them the ‘currently clueless’ since most people get it — or will get it — eventually).

Is Web 2.0 infrastructure, applications and use really that esoteric? If you consider yourself amongst the clue’ed in cognoscenti, how do you teach others without going back to the book of Genesis? People talk about Tim O’Reilly’s original Web 2.0 article, the participation culture meme as well as dozens of articles on Wikipedia as places to point people, but the depth and breadth of what’s going on with the internet makes the complexity of it difficult to quickly explain.

I think I’m going to give it a shot. It will be free and downloadable from this blog so stay tuned.

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  1. davis freeberg on August 16, 2006 at 8:20 pm

    Some pretty heavy stuff Steve, but right on. I’m not really sure what the solution is. To a certain extent, as new forms of social interactivity go mainstream, people will clue in, but I’m still amazed at the number of people in my offline life who don’t even know what Digg or Youtube is, let alone are able to stay ahead of the curve in understanding the social revolution.

    Some are going to be left behind and some will catch up, but I can understand how it’s hard to slow down and explain simple terms like tagging when you really want to talk about the fundamental differences of using traditional search vs. discovery through tags.

    In part the internet is a refuge because if you are blogging, there is a good chance that you understand where the dots are, even if you can’t connect them and other netizens can share in the conversation, but in terms of helping people in your real life, I’m not sure how you help them to connect to the opportunities that exist in a digital world. It’s been fun watching as some have led the way, but as more investment and more research is made into the social communities, I expect that we’ll see a gradual evolution amoung some of the more traditional thinkers.

    It may be that some will never embrace the online conversation, but I usually start by telling people to get an RSS reader and to subscribe to at least 10 blogs. If you can get them set up with RSS, they’ll be hooked for life.

  2. Steve Borsch on August 16, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks Davis.

    I get into so many conversations about this that I’m intending to collate my thoughts, resources I’ve collected, and put together something I can post for download. If you have any perspective that you care to share, that would be great. I’ll be posting thoughts as I progress.

  3. Davis Freeberg on August 21, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    I think my thoughts tend to be more on how to use web 2.0 (or are we at 2.5 now?) as a tool then so much as communicating with people new to the web, but what I’ve found interesting is that it seems that every single social community has a different language that they speak.

    In the blogosphere it’s about transparency, but it’s also about looking between the lines and searching for details. A mystery is a bigger story then the event itself. When I think of what’s gone viral it’s the speculation of if Apple will have wifi and not the the actual story. With Digg, it’s a different language, people almost want to argue and debate, they are also more interested in fun games and video then hard news. Low brow humor is encouraged. Newsvine is like Delicious for adults. I could go on and on, but I think my point is that for everyone there is a different social web that fits them. Maybe it’s that naturally some sites attract a different demographic or that the sites themselves create a culture that appeals to a different set of rules, but I’m very careful about what I refer my uninitiated friends to. I’d never send them to Slashdot (even though they have great stories) because I wouldn’t want them to be intimidated by the geekspeak. Instead I might direct them to a more mainstream site like Engadget or Boing Boing. The point being, how you match up the social community to the personality, as well as how you market to each community varies depending upon what your goals are and what your message is.

    My frustration comes in that I want to dissect these communities in an antropological way, but it’s almost impossible to do that with someone who barely understands the concept of blogging. You want to help, but there is so much to keep track of and so many different ways to look at the internet revolution that it’s hard to slow down and explain the basics. It’s frustrating to say the least, but I do my best to try and match up the personality to the right experience and then tell them to go check out Spout or Zooomr or Stumble Upon based on what I know about them. While it can be frustrating at times, it’s also very rewarding when my friends start telling me about news they just read even though I saw three days ago in a technorati filter.

  4. Steve Borsch on August 21, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    “…but I think my point is that for everyone there is a different social web that fits them.”

    That’s the operative phrase in your comment. I’ve often told people that I view personalized MySpace’s like I do my 18 year old daughter’s room: when I look at it I just shut the door since there are posters on the walls, stuff stuck on the wood, carpet has polish and stuff spilled on it, etc. (I’ll just keep the rest of the house pristine!).

    But that’s the point. Personalization and customization of my space.

    I have buddies that follow half a dozen sports bloggers. That’s it. They could care less about what “the cognoscenti” are doing in some field…let alone spell it. That’s not to denigrate them (they’re friends of mine after all!) but rather their heads are not there. Until something matters or hits them — and we talk about how they could leverage and/or use it themselves — it’s irrelevant to their lives.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.