Convergence

The verb “converge” means to come together as if to meet or join.[i] The adjective “convergent” means having the tendency to become similar while adapting to the same environment. The noun “convergence” is defined in Wikipedia as “ the act of moving toward union or uniformity; a meeting place; the intersection of three electron beams for red, green and blue onto a single pixel in a CRT (cathode ray tube); (Mathematics): the process of approaching some limiting value; (Physiology): the coordination focusing of the eyes, especially at short range; (Biology): the evolution of similar structures or traits in unrelated species in similar environments; convergent evolution; and the merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a unified field.

Clearly there is not one monolithic type of convergence. And convergence can apply to anything from spiritual to harmonic; political gatherings to festivals, music to literature, social sciences, computing and technology, natural sciences and under mathematics:- properties, theorems, notions, generalizations, applications and modes – yes, it is all there.

However the notion of convergence in business and in business profit models or business patterns is gathering popularity. Convergence in business causes “Frontiers (to) fall. The rules of competition change.” (Profit Patterns)[ii] They go on to say “competitive boundaries are evaporating. Previously solid competitive walls are disintegrating in industries as varied as materials, financial services, life sciences and retail. In the convergence pattern, competitors from previously distinct industries start competing for each other’s customers.”[iii]

Patterns exist everywhere, but they are not always exact replicas of themselves. Patterns are used in learning and in language. Patterns are certainly not new. Indeed we learn from experience by learning from patterns – what follows next? – Until we automatically know what follows… “Chess is a game of patterns; patterns about how the game has unfolded, about where the game stands at the moment, and, most importantly, about where the game is heading. In chess, the player with the best skill at pattern recognition has a critical advantage.”[iv] Our knowledge, our logic, our problem solving abilities and even our instincts, our survival are based on patterns and pattern recognition.

Patterns can be exact replicas (a carbon copy) and they can be similar, they can be fractional copies, they can be siblings and similar relate or be related to each other or they can be lovers in a relationship. Synonyms for pattern includes original, prototype, archetype, model, outline, stencil, tessellation, category, blueprint, mould, guide, cycle, example, precedent and similarity. Patterns shift and move around, they are neither always constant nor orderly, nor are they easy to read. Patterns can be obscured, hidden or simply difficult to spot. Hence it is the detail and the nuance of patterns that determine its value. It is the fine-tuning of the reading that adds expertise and that adds value. Just as the fortune-teller or tarot-ready is able to assess your life patterns, your cycle, your blueprint of what you have learnt and how your respond to the stimuli of your life, so can other pattern readers assess the pattern. And answer the ‘what’ questions – what is future, what is wrong with me and what is the weather going to do?

“Patterns open our eyes, our thinking. They give us clues. They tell us what signals to look for?”[v]

(Also posted on wtfmediaconf – the blog) For more on the conference http://www.wtfmediaconf.co.za.

[i] The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1991, 8 edn, Oxford University Press.

[ii] Slywotzky, AJ, Morrison, DJ, Moser, T, Mundt, KA, Quella, JA 1999, Profit Patterns: 30 ways to anticipate and profit from strategic forces reshaping your business. Wiley. Sussex, England.

[iii] Ibid p67

[iv] Ibid p 3

[v] Ibid p48

Living online

About five years ago I googled myself and there was not a single return. I was completely unknown in cyberspace. I was relieved that I had not done anything to generate publicity or media attention. I was below the radar and in terms of my parent’s life and etiquette this was indeed a good thing. My reputation was intact, my good name preserved. I did another search last week and the result was very different. There were 3’190 returns, (and the discovery that there was more than one of me around the world, alive and dead) substantive evidence that I am there, living in the public space, along with every other generation net. In fact, everyone on the web is living in the public space; my life is out there. I could be a celebrity, except for the fact that nobody is watching, listening or noticing. Everyone is more focused on doing their own thing on their blog/s, their social network, Facebook, Twitter, Fickr, YouTube and a host of other applications. But absolutely anybody could find me and find out all about me because I am living in a public space. (There goes my right to privacy.)

Despite this public space being overpopulated, third in size to China and India, it is incredibly easy to find me. Easier in fact on line that off line. There are roughly 940-million social network users worldwide. These are people and companies who have chosen to have a presence on the web, to use it for all things, personal or impersonal or a combination thereof. It might be worth remembering that 2002 was the year the first blogger (Heather Armstrong aka Dooce) was sacked for her online comments. There are now over 200,000,000 blogs, and 50% post daily or twice daily. Today the second largest search engine is YouTube, an online video service, which continues to be the playground of the young with 57% (20-35 year olds) and 20% teens which means music, bands and entertainment.

News ticker Twitter has 75-million user accounts, not all are active with 73% with less than 10 tweets. Only 15-million users keep up with Twitter, with almost 80% on mobile, which makes it instant and powerful. Any bad experience can be shared right now. Twitter reported 50-million tweets per day (Feb 2010). In 2007, the figure was 5,000 per day. Top of the Twitter rankings is Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) with 4,694,900 followers. In April 2009, Kutcher challenged CNN to a popularity contest stating, “I found it astonishing that one person can actually have as big of a voice online as what an entire media company can on Twitter.” Today CNN is 11th with 2,978,759. Twitter is a baby compared to the Facebook (400-million active users) community. Facebook’s stats are easy to find and kept up to date. These stats state 50% of their users log on in any given day, 35-million update status daily, 60-million status updates daily, and 5-billion pieces of content shared weekly. Interestingly Facebook, which allows most people to have a huge number of friends, has not made friendships meaningless. Despite accessibility, it would appear that the Dunbar number (top number of stable social relationships one person can handle is 150) still holds true. The average Facebooker has 130 friends and tends to interact with only five or six on a regular basis. (A little like the T-shirt pile in the cupboard, we only wear five or six on a regular basis.)

One of the original social networks Friendster (2001) with 55 million registered users and 33 million unique visitors per month, remains popular in Asia. Alongside Friendster (which inspired it) MySpace with its 8-million bands and pop culture demographic had, in 2007, 185-million users and 39 – 45-million page views per month. Another popular group is LinkedIn, a professional social networking site, has more than 60-million users (Feb, 2010) across the world and just introduced a faceted search to make it easier for their members to find the people they need to find. (And now having spent some time cobbling together these stats I find someone else has created a similar list has done a better job, such is the way of the WWW world.)

One of the biggest changes to the social media scene is the radical increase in mobile access (91% mobile vs. 76% desktop users). According to http://socialmediaatwork.com mobile access to Facebook increased by 112% in the last year to March 2010 (65-million users via Mobile) and to Twitter by 347%. Approximately 31% of the 57-million people with web enabled phones in the USA use the device to connect to the web. Facebook’s mobile browser audience overtook MySpace in February 2009. In South Africa we have reached the 10% (5-million) of population access mark for Internet penetration, (15% growth in 2009) while mobile access is approximately 34-million with over 50-million connections. This is not news to anyone that mobile access is the way of the future – it is easy, instant and convenient – but might be bad news to companies.

Companies are experimenting with, not using social media, to connect, nor to manage their reputation so they are a little behind in terms of hearing what is being said about them.

On a lighter note, here are some stats that you won’t find online yet. There is only 15 seconds of fame online, so don’t expect to hog the limelight. There is a lot of competition so just forget the 15 minutes unless you are SuBo(Susan Boyle) or Dancing Matt. Also 99% of what you want to know is on line. There is sadly almost 0% chance of being original; the competition is about 100,000,000% bigger than ever. Finally, everything you need to know, someone will tell you, but I don’t know much about Buzz yet! (First published on Memeburn.com, Now on wtfmedicaconf – the blog)

Why social media makes sense

Posted a blog on wtfmediaconf – the blog as to why social media makes sense.

It might be of interest to those who have the Cluetrain Manifesto and those who are following the BPGlobalPR commentary on the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

See Leroy Stick’s post on Street Giant as to why he co-opted BP’s Twitter presence (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leroy-stick/why-i-co-opted-bps-twitte_b_599283.html)