Transparency and Engagement

By chuckpeters | January 3, 2009
An example of a social network diagram.
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Starting the new year with new energy to make C3 happen.  Why C3?  While covered before, the essence is:

If each individual in the community has exactly the information they need, when and where they want it, and can develop stronger relationships with those in their defined communities, each of those communities will be stronger.

“Exactly” means relevance and context.  And, the particular community of interest to an individual, whether geographical, relationship or affinity, has to be expressed by the individual, not packaged by a committee.

So, when I saw Valeria Maltoni‘s recent post on Real Collaboration, I was struck by passages such as :

With collaboration we can make that change more expansive and at the same time better focused; more responsive and less cumbersome. Collaboration also leads to community. To build a community we need to be willing to educate and connect individuals, and have the desire to take action at the appropriate times. …

Can there be mass collaboration? Only when each individual self-interest is served through making that very same choice.

She reminded me of Roy Greenslade’s blog of last year, where he also call for a new mindset among journalists:

When we journalists talk about integration we generally mean, integrating print and online activities. But the true integration comes online itself. The integration between journalists and citizens. Of course, there should be no distinction between them. But journalists still wish to see themselves as a class apart.

We have to open ourselves up to a new thought process. There is no us and them. I had a sudden thought to end this posting with a Marxist-style call to arms: “Bloggers of the world unite”. But it is the lack of unity that makes blogging so vibrant, so critical and also so self-critical. And, of course, so revolutionary.

So, we need a new mindset, characterized by open, transparent, collaboration; a new organization, focused on creating information in the first instance with a set of social media tools; and engagement from those people involved, both within and without the media company.  As Seth Godin puts it:

It’s more important that you be passionate about what you do all day than it is to be passionate about the product that is being sold.

Give me someone with domain expertise and the passion to do great work any time. Belief in the mission matters (a lot!), but it doesn’t replace skill.

Best of both worlds: someone who has passion (and skill and insight) about their task and passion about the mission. The latter can never replace the former.

As Jay Rosen has noted, this has created a tremendous cultural turning point for professional journalists:

The professional news tribe is in the midst of a great survival drama. It has over the last few years begun to realize that it cannot live any more on the ground it settled so successfully as the industrial purveyors of one-to-many, consensus-is-ours news. The land that newsroom people have been living on—also called their business model—no long supports their best work. So they have come to a reluctant point of realization: that to continue on, to keep the professional press going, the news tribe will have to migrate across the digital divide and re-settle itself on terra nova, new ground. Or as we sometimes call it, a new platform.

While the platform may be new, and the changes significant for traditional media companies, we are talking about enduring human relationships, the fundamentals of which do not change, as noted by Sue Murphy:

My point is – social networks have existed as far back as we can imagine. Today, we are fortunate to have this new, amazing layer of technology to help us scale it from our tiny communities to the entire world. This global scale means that we hold a great deal potential in our hands. We now have the power to do great things not only for the success of our communities, but ultimately for the success of humankind.

Having this amount power a the click of a mouse is huge. But, it doesn’t mean we have to act any differently or be anything else other than what we already are as human beings. Success in a small town not dependent on the latest tools, tricks, or techy toys, and success in social media is not any different. Like in small towns, it’s only really dependent on two things – strong leadership and a thriving network.

As 2008 comes to a close, and so many of us are eagerly anticipating all the amazing possibilities that the new year will bring, considering how we are operating in our social networks and where all this social media stuff is headed is vitally important to our progress.

All of this has major implications on how we create the “elegant organization” called for by Jeff Jarvis to create the information in the first instance with mulitple authors, commentators and platforms in mind, and how we present that information in context.  More on that later.

What do you think?

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4 Responses to “Transparency and Engagement”

  1. stevebuttry Says:
    January 3rd, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Credibility is an important part of transparency and engagement. We need to develop a network that helps participants evaluate the knowledge and self-interest of those who engage. When journalists are working effectively, we show the flaws in thinking of honest but ill-informed sources and we reveal the self-interest of well-informed sources who aren’t completely candid. The C3 network needs to use community as well as journalists to improve credibility.

  2. Chuck Peters Says:
    January 4th, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Steve -

    Absolutely. As noted earlier, if we lose the trust of the community, the network is worthless http://cpetersia.wordpress.com/2008/12/21/relationship-attention-x-trust/

    However, I would modify your comment only slightly to “when the network is working effectively”. In my view, anyone should be able to see the source of the comments, track record, user comments on that source, etc, which means that all sources of content are subject to review.

    For more on the trust issue, see http://www.conversationagent.com/2008/12/trust.html

    Thanks for commenting!

    Chuck

  3. Geir Stene Says:
    January 4th, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Hi Chuck Peters. I work in the internet industry in Scandinavia, as a consultant. You might want to have a glance at my blog and see if you get some interessting thoughts. One guy you might be interessted in is Charles Leadbeater (former advisor of the Prime Minister inthe UK.

    Keep up the good work!
    http://gstene.wordpress.com/

  4. robbrood Says:
    January 8th, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    An interesting point made by Geir Stene on his blog Is content King or is connecting King Kong “Content is King” is an old statement, that I don’t always agree on. Communicating the core of the business in all you do, and making sure that the quality of the content is superb is of huge importance, and I mean not only the writing – but also the visual text. (semiotics states everything is Text). The new(ish) idea that “Connecting is King Kong” has the same challenge, connecting people is not always enough, you need to let people have an environment where there is a meaning in the connection that you provide for them.”

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