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7. Digital Media Strategy proposal for OrangeCone

Final Project Description: a Digital Media plan for the launch of OrangeCone

Information is power. Accurate, real-time information with applied big-data tools can drive significant change in response times, fund and personnel allocations, and stakeholder satisfaction.

All of that is great to know. However, what’s not great is that there is a huge gap in this capability at the governments that affect our day-to-day lives the most – the State and Local Governments.

This causes a communications gap in between voting cycles, protests, combing through websites for the appropriate point of contact, and the old-fashioned letters to our Congressman and Mayor that my grandfather used to send…repeatedly. There is a lack of the ability to easily communicate your public-sector needs to the public-sector officials that need this information the most.

I’ve developed a tool to fill this communications gap with a useful, intuitive solution via a web- and mobile-application in a product I call OrangeCone. In the next six months, I will go continue development of a prototype mobile application and web application, test this prototype, redesign it to a Beta-level product and soft-launch it in a small market.

This Beta-level soft launch will likely be in a relatively small municipality in order to identify usage patterns, behaviors, and likely issues with the application. A difficulty with my application is that I seek to serve a two-sided market – both citizens and State and Local government officials - and therefore a well-thought-through launch plan is essential.

The POST Method:

At the heart of The Groundswell, there’s a structure that will be particularly useful for my Digital Strategy, as well as for my prototyping efforts. The POST Structure, with its focus on People, Objectives, Strategy, and Technology will ensure that my product is developed for those that will use it, and deliver data to those in need of it in a manner with which they can best use it. A description of the structure follows:

(P) People: My product OrangeCone will be designed for two users, or maybe three, depending on how you look at it.

The primary users are the citizens of a locality inputting the information regarding a problem – so, I’d define this user as a “Citizen”. The other primary user is the city or utility worker who would be on the fulfillment end of the issue – the person routed to this newly identified issue with the task to actually fulfill the issue.

An intermediary role may also be utilized, which is my potential third user. This intermediary role is the information “quarterback” at the city level, and this position may reside within the Mayor’s office, or potentially within a call center, or within a city department’s personnel routing center.

These three roles listed above are the roles at the core of the application – issue reporting drives data to OrangeCone, issue routing to and use at the correct city worker will allow an issue to be fulfilled. This core fulfillment process will drive continued use and increased app usage.

Beyond this, more users may follow: nonprofits that would like to monitor particular issues in particular  geographic areas, media that would like to monitor all issues and trending issues are only two other potential customers.

(O) Objectives: My objective right now is fairly general: source information from concerned citizens and deliver it to State and Local governments for issue fulfillment.

I will charge State and Local governments a subscription fee for usage of my service. I expect that State and Local government workers will have my application on their devices, and I expect that all concerned citizens will have this application on their mobile devices. I also expect that there may be a way to incorporate utilizing a text-messaging format for this as well, but that optionality is far down the line.

I intend to run promotions of several months in length in order to entice State and Local governments to sign up for utilizing this product.

Pricing for this product will likely vary by user. I predict utilizing price points that vary based upon the size of the state or local government, or whether the subscriber is a nonprofit or commercial entity.

(S) Strategy: This section will determine how the relationship of my product OrangeCone to citizens and subscribers will be different as a result of my Digital Strategy.

 (T) Technology: In my current understanding of this framework, I will select appropriate Social Media technologies based upon the People, Objectives, and Strategy findings.

 

DRM

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6. Follow the Rules

The Entrepreneurial Mindset of Michael Anti

The impact of the entrepreneurial mindset – the mindset of just making things happen, no matter what (Entrepreneurial Rule Number One) - seems to pervade the activist set within China, which heartens me about the state of future cultural and political affairs.

At a certain point in the life of an entrepreneur he or she learns from their experience that the things they care about are not appreciated by others enough; I see much similarity to the gradual enlightenment of Michael Anti in his personal struggles with cultural identity in China. This realization is powerful, and motivating.

For Michael Anti, his transformative process from CPC shill to advocate was, in my opinion, an amazingly complete one. In crisis, his movement began at losing his self-perception and finding a new religion – an actual religion, as well as developing technical skills and improvised techniques to counter Chinese Public Security Bureau restrictions. Anti became empowered by his newfound skills and was knowledgeable enough to share them, thereby pushing out his sphere of influence by becoming an advocate and spreading the word.

Anti’s leadership development, advocacy, and thoughts in his “Manual for New Journalists” led others through the most critical parts of his leadership development process, enabling the viral spread of advocacy in China, like ripples from drops in the pond of Chinese self-expression.

As an entrepreneur, I can learn broad strokes from his progression.

The Business of Oppression

I am disturbed by the role of business and certain electronic products in government regimes that seek to target individuals and oppress them, and imprison, torture, or murder them.

I can see a role for policy and governance here. It strikes me that certain nuance should be employed likely at the State Department, or whomever regulates the Export Controls. If there was a clear risk for data collection capability, data or person tracking, data analysis for matching persons with accounts, or the like to  historically repressive non-democracies, I would recommend to the decision-makers that these countries be put on the no-sell list for products that generate and manage this kind of data.

So you know, I guess we need Engineers at the State Department.

The Business of Freedom

This knife of the open Internet cuts both ways, however.

Honestly, I’m not sure how to feel about the excerpt regarding the Chinese Parliament’s E-Parliament, simply due to the other activities of the Chinese CPC. However, it’s interesting, and good – how could it be anything else? – that the e-Parliament is group-sourcing their ideas for future policy suggestions from the public. This is kind of shocking to me, because it seems to be the only proactive way that I’ve ever heard of the CPC listening to the Chinese people.

So what’s the rule for democracy-supporting companies in non-democratic countries? The rule for when business should engage or not in non-democracies is a difficult rule to develop because the issue cuts both ways.

The closest I can get is: there’s always a way to try to do it right.

(Entrepreneurial rule Number Two.)

DRM

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Maximizing the Present, Shifting the Future

Politics and Get Out The Vote

The two greatest revelations to me recently to put in my box of power tools as a businessman and future government leader are the A/B test, and the ability of Online activities to drive Offline actions. Interestingly, the recent past has produced some great examples in political campaigns of how to be successful, and also how to not be entirely successful, with these tools.

A/B Testing the Future of Business

The impact of my new knowledge of the utility of an A/B test is huge, due to its applicability across business and government visual communications channels.

Although our readings did not mention it, the A/B test tactic is broader than the internet, even though it originated online. Essentially, it’s a utilization of very granular marketing metrics. Online, it’s possible to utilize very granular indicators such as open rates, email forwards, new and dropped subscriptions, and money contributed.

But which one really matters? While practitioners such as Nicco Mele and Zephyr Teachout of the Howard Dean Presidential Campaign push the broader applicability of email beyond utilization simply as a money-generating tool, if limited to simply this consideration, the A/B test can be pushed offline and utilized on Television Ads and the corresponding most essential metric: money contributed, and numbers of people mobilized to online and offline events from television-generated advertisements.

The broad rule that I will take with me is that everything having to do with an online business can be A/B tested, and optimized for profit. In addition to this, the broad applicability of these metrics indicate they could easily be utilized both online and offline for a profit-making entity.

Implications of A/B Testing the Future of Government

Be afeared and forewarned, however! The above optimization comes at an opportunity cost: the cost of the paradigm-shifting strategic decision that changes your business and the market in a manner that alters the rules for your business and other businesses in your market.

The rules dictating this opportunity cost are simple: if you are always optimizing what currently exists, you are not creating the next best business model, product, service, or engagement method.

Therefore, leaders should seek to move beyond simple optimization through A/B testing, which could easily be considered tactical change.

Leadership is about strategic vision and change that shifts our current paradigm and the rules of the game, therefore leaders should maintain the vision to look beyond the day-to-day problems and tactics to changes that actually “move the needle”.

Online engagement driving Offline Activities:

Online communications generating Offline Activities is the key marketing conversion – be it in business, government, or politics. Communication generating interest, engagement, two-way communication, and a corresponding offline action is the manifestation within politics of something called The Experience Economy.

The fact that Obama’s political team adapted this concept to a political campaign in 2008 is quite interesting, as this business concept was born in 1998.

By 2008, this concept was pervasive in the marketing and positioning of many business organizations and brands. A critical hurdle was cleared in the 2004 – 2008 time frame that enabled technological communication tools to mature to the point necessary to drive deep engagement within a tolerable ease-of-use of a majority of the population. Another critical hurdle cleared: adoption of necessary online communities, and self-education of the internet of all ages.

To see this in metrics, Internet usage in the United States was 64.76% in 2004, and 74.00% in 2008, according to the International Telecommunications Union.

Meanwhile, Obama’s margin of popular vote win was 7.2%.

Moving the Experience Economy into Politics via the Internet can only be described as a strategic paradigm shift.

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The Changing Face of Journalism

Well, now I want to go and fix journalism. These articles got my blood up.

I can’t read these article about journalism without my MBA brain engaging with the business model thought problem to try to find a way through.

While feeling apologetic about the fact that I am writing this blog response to blogs, speeches, and company research attempts to re-define business models and journalism from a soap box at the Ivory Towers of Harvard in a class directed exactly towards the main opportunities and problems of media, I also feel that at least some of resources of these institutions should have been directed towards more entrepreneurial attempts to drive their well-curated content to the masses.

Journalists like to deal in facts, so here’s one: old media had it coming to them.

(Obligatory Harvard movie line: How you like them apples?)

Why did they have it coming to them? Ok now I’m going to pick on the New York Times, as a microcosm of old media, and as we saw, the New York Times Innovation Report 2013 was published on March 24, 2014. Among other things, it contained these facts:

Fact: the New York Times was surpassed by Buzzfeed in 2013.

Aside: BUZZFEED!! Who are you kidding, New York Times? To be honest, the whole of this New York Times Innovation Report just makes me angry, as an entrepreneur.

If I was on the Board of Directors or the Management Team, I would take some of this anger out in a way that should have occurred years ago – I would break the current processes and rebuild them. There were clear indicators that the business model and system were broken years ago, and it’s the business processes that support and reinforce the system.

Here’s proof that the system and processes were broken:

1.       If your systems are a time-suck, they are disabling rather than enabling, and there is proof that the Times Content Management System was exactly that. If a critical tool is a hindrance, I guarantee you that the operators of that CMS system, including almost every reporter on the news floor, knows this. This means everyone knows it’s a hindrance, and management did not create an enabling solution.

Let me rephrase: New York Times management did not recreate their hobbling Content Management System in a business that is based entirely on content! How does that make sense?

Recommendation: Purchase Vox Media, if that’s the only way to gain access to Chorus. If not, license it from them, merge with them, or hire away Vox Media’s developers to create a next-generation Chorus. You have to invest money to make money.

2.       The New York Times is an institution with a huge amount of history that it adds to and documents each day. How do you as an institution not attempt to catalog and categorize that on an ongoing basis, and put in an effort to diving into your historical record to deepen and widen the perspective and value you deliver to your users?

Let me rephrase: there is no reason historical articles cannot be re-delivered for color and historical purposes with current articles on the same issue

Recommendation: the New York Times should bribe its users to do tag old articles for them with the right incentives. The Times could trade access to content for a particular amount of time to users that categorized some historical content for them in a Wiki format?

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Wikipedia page analysis

My Wikipedia User Page is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Drmm131

The article I selected is entitled “Benedictine Military School”, my high school in Savannah, Georgia. I selected it because over the past 5 years, the article has been in varying states of disrepair. This Wikipedia page started as an 18.9K byte entry, but the article had a heavy athletics leaning, particularly towards the Football team. Recently, the article has been improved and does not lean as heavily in an athletic direction. It is currently 20.3K bytes large.

What is Missing:

Taking the articles of Phillips Exeter and Phillips Academy Andover as the gold standard in high school articles, the article of my high school is clearly lacking. When compared to Exeter and Andover’s articles, the article for Benedictine lacks the following:

-Academics: teaching methods, off-campus study, there is no description of non-military faculty.

-Student Body: there is no description of the student types

-Finances: there is no amount quoted, and there is no talk of the size of the endowment

-Campus Facilities: there is no description of academic facilities, or athletic facilities

-Athletics: there is a description of historical opponents

-Student Life: dress code, extracurricular activities, Residential life

-Emblems: there is no description of the school seal, or the school ring

-Notable alumni: there are more that aren’t listed

-Other academic programs and sports programs, such as sports camps: there is no description

-The school fight song: there is a prose description, but there is no audio recording

-Visuals: Visuals are missing, as there are no maps indicating the location even though there are geographic / GPS coordinates. There are no pictures of the school, of the students, or of the campus grounds.

-Traditions: It covers some traditions, but does not cover “Ring Day”, which is a Junior year rite-of passage and leadership-change tradition.

 

The “Quick Facts” section lacks the following:

-Average class size, and student to teacher ratios

-Campus acreage

-Average SAT / ACT scores

-Endowment

-Tuition

-Sports: there is no description of which sports are going on which seasons

 

Sourcing:

The sources for this article are weak by any standard I can think of. One is a reputable news source – a local TV station, WSAV. Most sources are sports related, like baseball-reference.com – therefore, not very high quality. Of the ten citations, one is a local news station mentioned above (WSAV), three are sports statistics related, and three are the school’s own website.

Relative to what is currently available, the quality of these sources is not very high. No published book, Magazines, Documentaries or Scholarly journals are cited.

As a local high school, Benedictine is in the local newspaper – the Savannah Morning News – frequently. I searched today, and though many of the articles therein are reporting sports scores, several more are reporting happenings at the school that are not currently included.

 

Neutrality, Illustrations and Manual of Style Considerations:

The article is relatively neutral in tone. The article is readable for the most part, but a large part of the article is titled ‘Organization”, underneath the “Academics” section. This section does not describe the organization of the school, and is therefore poorly titled. It describes the organization of the school’s Corps of Cadets, the JROTC (Army) portion of the student body. Further, there is no description of the Faculty’s organization, or of student clubs and interest groups.

This article is not properly illustrated, because there are currently no illustrations. Ideally, I would include a map with a pin dot indicating the location of the school in Savannah, as well as some pictures of the grounds and different academic and athletic facilities.

This article adheres general to the Wikipedia Manual of Style, however some of the information could and should be sub-divided further for readability purposes.

 

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Filter Bubbles, Net Neutrality & Social Networking

Filter Bubbles and the First Amendment

The effects of the Filter Bubble on Social Networking and Search portends both a First Amendment collision and subsequent coming of age.

As described in Pariser’s TED Talk, and Stray’s article “Are we stuck in filter bubbles?...”, we each construct our filter bubble by creating online accounts, and then simply completing online transactions as simple as clicking through web pages; clicking “Like”, “Share” or visiting particular pages and friend profiles on Social Media; viewing particular provided ads, purchasing online, and at its most basic level, interacting with on the internet in almost any way.

I appreciate that this particular approach works in an astounding fashion – by generating massive amounts of data and then utilizing business intelligence tools, many interesting insights can be made, and many marketing opportunities can be identified. But don’t these tools only look at the past?

This question, I believe, punches to the heart of the big data issue – if you are selling to the market of today, are you enabling or disabling the markets of tomorrow? Theoretical historical example: If you only liked written mail and someone creates electronic mail, and there were ‘cookies’ strongly indicating that you liked written mail – wouldn’t you just keep getting sold stamps and envelopes, instead of being told to join America Online? I’m not certain there are great triggers for future purchasing or interests that are too great a leap from current purchasing patterns – products and services that are transformative or vastly different from the current market may be a difficult stretch with this usage of data.

The collision of big data and individual preference is upon us. Wouldn’t it be better to allow users to pro-actively indicate preferences through toggle switches or periodic surveys? As users continue to be put into their own tidy boxes, bubbles, and customer segments by continually creating their own data, I believe users who become more bubble-aware will desire with greater frequency and motivation to break out of these boxes due to a perception of a type of censorship.

What censorship? If my interaction with all data online is through a filter I cannot proactively influence, isn’t my view of this information based upon a third-party’s perception of me actually censoring my experience? We Americans aren’t usually big fans of being told what to think – emotion around this phenomena can be seen each time public schools declare which books will be included and excluded from school reading lists.

 Allowing users to indicate their preferences for different subject matter via “Filter Anchors” (a brand new term for you, Nicco…I just coined it) in a particular way would allow their particular filter bubble to push out at these anchored responses, creating a kind of “Filter Star” (also new). Perhaps this Filter Star eventually fills out into a larger-than-original filter bubble – by users interacting with a wider variety of items on the internet – in the same way that user may interact on Social Media with their “Weak” connections, as described in Stray’s article.

And, perhaps this serves to grow markets and interests, instead of only reinforcing loyalties to particular markets in which you already have anchoring data.

Without an ability to voice our interests, do we really have Free Speech on the Internet?

The Entrepreneur’s word on Net Neutrality and Social Networking

As an Entrepreneur, I read Timothy Lee’s article in Vox with great interest, because I would like to not have government regulation or additional fees be the thing standing between my products and the largest possible consumer base. However, I am kind of torn – because I realize that part of the reason for the argument over what’s happening on the internet is the Tragedy of the Commons: some users are utilizing the internet more and not paying any more. This being said I recognize the other part of that argument is a profit margin one. The only apparent way to escape the Tragedy of the Commons is differential pricing, or taxes, from what I understand – though I did enjoy most of the suggestions for the Last Mile between these two extremes.

Regarding Social Networks, the most interesting insights Christakis and Fowler provided me is the illustration of how the telephone – a social technology – enabled an increased level of community engagement. My company’s first product is intended to increase citizen engagement by allowing users to easily report local issues to State and Local governments, so understanding the “New Societal Norms”, especially those of Enormity, Communality and Specificity will allow me to better create a user interface that incorporates these norms.

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Here Comes Everybody - Blog 1

Synthesis:

The group-sourced, rapidly shifting paradigms that brought us to our current seats firmly within Web 2.0 are fascinating to read about … and, to hear about, courtesy of the Vanity Fair article.

Perhaps not so oddly, I see a parallel between the actual creation of the Internet and the early collaborative efforts with the current microcosm of collaboration, Wikipedia. On some level, my interpretation of the intentional invention and innovation promoting unpredictable leaps forward in technology seems like a very human thing. Why?

Because only through the usage of the technology by actual humans, can it be possibly to enable humanity in a certain way – and the readings seem to indicate that no matter how innovative an individual or product is, it seems terribly hard to discover where that humanity-enabling value is.

Because some, or rather a lot of what I’m seeing are things that were developed for one specific purpose, and yet through use were discovered to be more useful in a different application; or, the accidental convergence of clear engineering talent, a concept, and simply fielding it for use and the close observation of its use. Examples:

The Internet writ large as military communications: it was designed for this, then it was put into use, and through simple use the purpose of the general user evolves

 Nupedia to Wikipedia: a product that does not really work generates an idea that does work, and management is smart enough to see that and shift strategic effort to support the clear success

Blog posts: Originally designed as a journal, but can be used for organizing people and communicating on a many-to-many model

The overall innovation pattern I’m seeing is:

Conceive of a useful technology for a target user or market

Field it to that market, but also to a broader audience

Survey the usage reasons of the entire audience

Use observations of all users for continued, iterative product innovation

 

Summary:

CHAPTER 1:

17: When we change the way we communicate, we change society.

21: The old model: We haven’t had all the groups we’ve wanted, we’ve had all the groups we could afford.

Chapter 1 Analysis

From the missing cell phone example: couch something in terms that are universal – such as something that everyone can relate to, instead of as something relevant mostly to only one individual, are most powerful

 

CHAPTER 2:

26: the Birthday Paradox: in a group of 35 people, there is a 80% chance of 2 people having the same birthday.

52: Society’s way of dealing with the tragedy of the Commons:

Elimination of the Commons: transfer ownership to individuals

Governance, or “mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon”. Taxes are usually involved.

Chapter 2 analysis:

The birthday paradox was very interesting, when considering / trying to get my brain around the power of networks. It’s an interesting example – kind of akin to a compounded interest effect of an exponential value growth.

 

CHAPTER 3:

61: Mass Amateurization: old industries are running afoul of this idea and being re-formed by it.

Effect on ideas: amplifying effect

Effect on laws protecting media: prevented Federal legislation

 

CHAPTER 4:

 86: Communications shift: from one-to-many for broadcast television to many-to-many for online /  social media

 96, great quote: Esther Dyson: “When we call something intuitive, we often mean familiar”

 104, another quote:. Love motivates people to bake a cake and money motivates people to make an encyclopedia.

 

CHAPTER 5:

Radical assumption: groups of people who want to collaborate also tend to trust one another.

Scaling: starts small and slow, and grows: ‘once an article exists, it starts to get readers. Soon a self-selecting group of those readers decide to become contributors.’

122-125 POWER LAW DISTRIBUTION: explains the imbalance of participation thru application of a widely-seen social science data distribution.

Chapter 5 Analysis

Imbalance driving large social systems: like the ‘long tail’ applied to participation.

Interesting counter to the Tragedy of the Commons – the community has all contributed, and now they retaliate en masse if their work product is torn down or destroyed.

 

CHAPTER 6:                 

149: Rue the day that you do not realize that the play of the game haven’t changed, but that the game you play has

·Application of many-to-many communication

Chapter 6 Analysis

The Catholic Church in Boston: brought a knife to a bomb fight. They were playing the same game in the 2000’s as in the 90’s, but didn’t realize that the actual game was on an entirely different field.

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