brian solis

The World Wide Mind

The world is made of stories, not of atoms. – Rukeyser

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THE PRISM OF STORIES: Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism is the “eye in the sky” at this time. If one wants to peer into the World Wide Mind, no better microscope is needed than the Conversation Prism. The networks and social sites within this Prism are both social and interest focused. The Prism is a living image that pulsates with our conversations, relationships and potential. And our mysteries.

THE MYSTERIES WITHIN THE PRISM: If one peers deep enough through the Conversation Prism, the resulting transparencies AND mysteries are truly profound for the individual, the community and humanity itself. In fact, one finds that transparencies (what is revealed) tend to invoke even deeper mysteries. In the words of the great and current mathematician, Grigori Perelman, “Emptiness is everywhere and it can be calculated, which gives us a great opportunity.” It could be said that the white space, the “dark matter”, the shadows within AND between the social properties in the prism offer the MOST potential. Tools like Research.ly and Recorded Future are helping humanity plumb these seemingly “empty” spaces.

THE HUES OF OUR GLOBAL MIND: I have identified one property from each shade of the Prism. These are first layers of an onion: the conscious level of our World Wide Mind, our collective psyche. The next layers are found through the conversations discovered when one searches one’s interests, customers, competitors and questions WITHIN the World Wide Mind.

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QUESTIONS DEVELOPERS SHOULD ASK THEMSELVES: Developers should ask themselves what new apps, new social properties and new functionalities lie BETWEEN these existing social properties. Which of these social properties should “mate” one another? What does a conversation between Quora and LinkedIn sound like? What does a love affair between Technorati and Disqus look like? Are there categories that have yet to emerge? Can the Prism be even more finely divided?

SOCIAL BOOKMARKS: STUMBLE-UPON presents only web sites suggested by other like-minded Stumblers. Think: Bookmark. Not all those who wander are lost. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

COMMENT AND REPUTATION: DISQUS builds active communities from comments at your website, blog or web portal. Think: Debates & Innovation via Conversation.
It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it. ~Joseph Joubert

WISDOM OF THE CROWDS: REDDIT is a source for what’s new and popular on the web. User’s vote content up and down. Think: Democracy. Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. ~George Bernard Shaw

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: QUORA is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. Think: Question Answered! Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much. ~Francis Bacon

COLLABORATION: BASECAMP is the leading web-based project management & collaboration tool. To-dos, files, messages, schedules, & milestones. Think: TeamWork. Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. ~Mattie Stepanek

SOCIAL COMMERCE: GROUPON negotiates huge discounts—usually 50-90% off—with popular businesses. Think: Coupons. A History of Coupons Infographic. -http://bit.ly/history_of_coupons A History of Groupon. –http://bit.ly/history_of_Groupon

BLOG PLATFORMS: POSTEROUS lets you post things online fast using email. You can attach any type of file & POSTEROUS posts it to your POSTEROUS blog & social properties along with the text of your email. Think: Writers and Authors. It’s not what happens to people on the page; it’s about what happens to a reader in his heart and mind. ~Gordon Lish

BLOGS/CONVERSATIONS: TECHNORATI tracks the authority and influence of blogs AND provides a comprehensive & current index of who & what is most popular in the Blogosphere. Think: Bestselling Authors. One of the biggest challenges is how do you make that content more easily discoverable, easily consumable, easily digestible. ~Fortune Tech

SOCIAL CURATION: PAPER.LI organizes links shared on Twitter and Facebook into an easy to read newspaper-style format. Think: Journalism. Curation itself isn’t new; it’s just the way that some of us are doing it online that’s fairly new. The tools have evolved, but the goal of capturing a story and turning people’s attention to it isn’t. ~Andy Carvin (http://twitter.com/#!/acarvin)

SOCIAL CURATION 2: SPOT.US enables the public to commission journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories. We are an open source project, to pioneer “community funded reporting. Think: Journalism. We no longer look for news, it finds us. ~Lee Mikles

STREAMS: TWITTER – The ultimate source of Interest-related information. Everything and anything is being messaged about 24/7 here. TWITTER is THE golden key to discovering INFLUENCERS. Think: Giant Rivers of Information. Twitter is a tool for “anarchic learning and peer support”. ~John Davitt

NICHEWORKING: YAMMER is a tool for making companies & organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: What are you working on? Think: Walkie-Talkies in The Factory. Anyone in a company can start their Yammer network and begin inviting colleagues. The privacy of each network is ensured by limiting access to those with a valid company email address. ~Yammer HQ

DIY + CUSTOM SOCIAL NETWORKS: JIVE is THE social business solution delivering features of popular social networking, community, collaboration, and content management software in a single highly secure enterprise platform. Think: Social Business. Business Process Management (BPM). Jive enables businesses to engage with their employees and create environments where ideas can be shared, knowledge can be shared, and expertise can be shared, to create efficiencies and help unlock value. What’s missing is businesses understanding how to organize for that collaboration to occur, and how to integrate those tools to allow collaboration. ~Jeff Dachis, Founder and CEO, Dachis Group

SOCIAL PHONES: SKYPE is a software application that allows users to make voice calls and chats over the Internet. Group calls, file-sharing also. Think: Telephone
The acceleration of Skype. http://bit.ly/skype_stats2011

SOCIAL NETWORKS: FACEBOOK is THE BIG-ONE. You dream how you want to do it and you can do it here via a dizzying array of apps and methods of communicating. Think: The Ocean/Universe. There’s lots of stuff none of us have ever seen before. That’s good in some ways, but limiting in other ways. ~Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook

LISTENING & TARGETING: RESEARCH.LY allows users to build “on-the-fly” communities based around any interest. Non-branded Interest-Graphs built with RESEARCH.LY provide one of the BEST sources of real-time collective intelligence. Think: Market Research/Focus Groups
Jodee Rich, Founder and CEO of PeopleBrowsr, talks about Research.ly – http://bit.ly/about_researchly_2011

BUSINESS NETWORKING: LINKEDIN is a networking tool to find connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts and business partners. Think: Career Building/Networking with Colleagues. See Twitter and Quora as golden keys to LinkedIn. Data will be the platform of the next era of the web, of Web 3.0. This is where some massive innovation will happen that will transform our lives. ~LinkedIn Founder and Chairman Reid Hoffman

ATTENTION/COMMUNICATIONS DASHBOARDS: HOOTSUITE is a web and mobile social media dashboard that helps individuals and organizations spread messages, monitor conversations and track results across multiple networks including Twitter and Facebook. Think: Thread & Needle (this is a tool for “knitting” communities). “HootSuite was created at a digital agency called Invoke where we experienced the problem of managing multiple social accounts on multiple networks for multiple clients,” said Community Marketing Director Dave Olson. “So we set out to solve this problem elegantly. We created a comprehensive social media dashboard allowing you to manage multiple networks & profiles from one place, plus share access with teams without compromising security.”

REVIEWS & RATINGS: YELP is a hyper-local search network and app where you find restaurants, hotels, bars and TONS of other types of businesses. Think: Reviews.
How Yelp got its name from the CEO: http://b.qr.ae/yelp_name

LOCATION: FOURSQUARE gives you & your friends new ways to explore your city. Earn points & unlock badges for discovering new things. Think: Social Compass.
What do users want in a location-based app? http://b.qr.ae/users_locationbased_apps

VIDEO: YOUTUBE is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos. YouTube is the dominant provider of online video in the United States. Also the world’s 2nd largest search-engine. Think: TV. YouTube to spend $100 million on TV shows. Plans to create online TV ‘channels’. http://bit.ly/YouTube_TV_100milliondollars

sCRM: SALESFORCE is a collaboration suite for the enterprise to connect and share information securely in real-time. Think: CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Why did Salesforce.com succeed? http://b.qr.ae/salesforce_success2011

DOCUMENTS & CONTENT: SLIDESHARE is an online slide hosting service. Users can upload files in the many file formats. It is also amongst the World’s Top 10 tools for education & e-learning. Think: PowerPoints. White Papers. Dissertations. Professional Writing.
How to Maximize the Value of Slideshare for your business? http://bit.ly/maximize_value_of_slideshare2011

EVENTS: MEETUP helps groups of people with shared interests plan meetings & form offline clubs in local communities 
around the world. Think: Circles of Interest. Mapping the genome of groups may help us understand ourselves as we behave within a broader collective. ~http://bit.ly/the_value_of_groups

MUSIC: LAST.FM lets you effortlessly keep a record of what you listen to from any player. Based on your taste, 
Last.fm recommends you more music and concerts!Think: Music Community/Social Radio. THE social property that allows one to mine the subconscious psyche of the community via music discovery. There is so MUCH hidden gold here in this endless and tapestried symphony of artists. ~Ladydust

WIKI: WIKIPEDIA is a free encyclopedia built collaboratively using wiki software. Think: Encyclopedia. A history of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

VIRTUAL WORLDS: WORLD OF WARCRAFT is currently the world’s most-subscribed Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) with more than 12 million subscribers as of October, 2010. Think: Dungeons & Dragons morphing into actual economies and battlegrounds. Virtual Currencies. Virtual World Master List (flipped sideways so download this PDF and rotate clockwise: http://thesocializers.com/VW_masterlist.pdf)

LIVECASTING: USTREAM allows you to broadcast video LIVE to the world from a computer, mobile or iPhone in minutes, or watch millions of live OR pre-recorded shows. Think: Social TV. Social TV platforms and research: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_television + http://bit.ly/future_of_socialTV_report2011

PHOTO: FLICKR is the largest and best online photo management and sharing application in the world. Think: Photo Communities. About image retrieval via tags – http://imageclef.org/2011

RESOURCES: The demographics and statistics on useage of specific social networks 2011 report by Ignite Social.

Managing Global Social Communities for Enterprise-Level Brands: An interview with Eleftherios Hatziioannou

NATHANIEL HANSEN, CEO OF THE SOCIALIZERS INTERVIEWS Eleftherios Hatziioannou New Media Manager of s.Oliver and former Social Media Manager for Mercedes-Benz Global.

This is the English version of a feature interview I submitted to Marketing Week Magazine in Greece. The article was published in the May 1-5 2011 issue. The Greek version may be found here.

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1. How do enterprises handle the 24-7 nature of online social communities?

This is indeed one of the big challenges businesses have to deal with in a truly globally connected world where people get more and more used to non-stop real-time interaction. When Europe goes to bed Asia rises. There is a 24/7 stream of information and conversations going on which can be of interest for brands and businesses. But business can handle it! How? Like in real life it is all about defining some kind of a rhythm to manage the information and issues. Once you have set up the processes, roles and tools, you just need to be disciplined and do your work day-by-day. And never forget: What counts in real life counts for the social web as well. Over time you create a culture and people understand when to expect an immediate answer and when it can take some time. Communities are smart enough to understand that even a community manager needs a break. I suggest to everyone involved in social communities to be really open about what they can offer and what not. One solution could be defining a “netiquette”, which includes basic rules and guidelines about what people can expect from you and when. Like the “old school” signage at the doorstep of your shop.

2. What criteria do you use in discovering technical solutions for social campaign management and internal facing social solutions?

It depends on what you are looking at and in which phase of your social media engagement you are in. It is an evolutionary process after all. Let’s have a look at “web monitoring”. I suggest that if you are just getting started you do a lot of manual work: reading through comments, searching for tweets related to your company and also creating lists of the blogs which are interesting for your business and subscribing to them. You could organize relevant blogs with tools like Google reader for example. There are a lot of other free tools, e.g. Twitter search, to start with.

However, once you grow and start doing more activities it makes sense to look into professional monitoring tools in order to manage the amount of topics and also being able to analyze and report to your management. I recommend looking at different tools and deciding which one fits your needs best. It doesn’t mean that the expensive solution is also the best. What I definitely prefer are tools which allow you to not only have a “radar” system in place but to work with your findings by transferring them into your internal collaboration space. Think about reading a critical or false statement in a blog which you want to share with your PR colleagues who decide whether to make an official statement or not. The more you open up for the online dialogue the more you want to assign tasks with just a few clicks. Other than that simplicity is king! You want to make it easy for your co-workers to embrace the “change”.

3. What goals are realistic when managing social communities and how do excellent community managers succeed?

Behind every blog, account and profile there is a human being with basic needs: The need to be heard. The need to be appreciated. The need to be part of something greater than himself/herself. An excellent community manager understands these needs. He acts like a real friend. If you want to be a good community manager just think of how relationships and friendship works in normal life. He is the “real deal”. He is not faking anything. He is like a bridge between the inside and the outside of the company translating the language and culture in a way that it can be understood in both directions. He is a strong communicator with excellent social skills. A real champion talks with and not to the community. He filters topics according to their relevance for his audience and balances between company’s and the community’s interests. And last, but not least, he always keeps his promises and openly corrects mistakes. Belive it or not: Communities forgive when you are open about your mistakes. And who’s perfect by the way?!

4. How would your strategy differ when managing social media outposts and a branded community?

The biggest difference would be that in a branded community – which is more of a private thing – you can do more and dive deeper into user engagement. People sign up – with all the data you need to know to be safe- because they really want to be in touch with you. In general it is more of a “trusted” environment where you can engage on a deeper level. Look at it like a VIP lounge in a club. Members feel special but also expect a more “exclusive” treatment. It is more difficult to reach a broad audience if you are not a company like Apple or Google who managed to build huge audiences and communities around their excellent products and services giving special benefits to loyal users, e.g. like testing new devices first or using services before the official launch. I like the concept of branded communities especially in the B2B space where you want to have a certain level of confidentiality or privacy.

It is a different story to build and manage a community on a open and massive platform like Facebook for example. There is definitely less control. People “like” you on the go by simply clicking one button. The same applies to leaving your page again. It is a much faster game and you need to really make sure not to overload the community with your contents and tasks. This applies to formats, tonality as well as lengths of post or videos,etc. related to your communications.

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5. What types of insights are most valuable to you from business intelligence gathered via social network analysis? How can such insights also be applied internally in fomenting culture change?

All insights are valuable. The more you know the better you understand the game. At least in this stage of the social media evolution. What is interesting though that in the beginning you appreciate growth in quantitative aspects. “We grew by 1000 fans in Facebook over the past week”, “we have 500 new followers on twitter this month”, “we served 1.000.000 impressions with our campaign”. This numbers definitely help creating awareness and build momentum in the beginning because we were used to measure success in such facts (e.g. CPM – cost per mille). However, I find it much more important to look into the qualitative aspects as well. And in this regard we are still at the very beginning! There are no broadly applied KPIs yet which make your performance comparable. But anything is possible: Why not measuring service levels based on the amount of complaints coming in in relation to problems solved on Facebook? Why not comparing ratio of positive mentions to negative mentions on twitter in comparison to the last month to understand customer satisfaction levels? I guess it is pretty clear what I want to say. Social media is more than just a growing number of fans. Social media is all about real conversations taking place. And there are tons of valuable data available. Think about customer feedback or suggestions related to your product or service. The question is how to handle this inbound stream of information and learning from it?

6. What are your favorite online communities? Why?

My favorite social network is Facebook. I created my profile back in 2006 when I was helping a friend after work to build awareness for a social learning network among students. And back then Facebook was still a platform mainly for students. So we thought it would be the right place to promote this startup.

If I look at Facebook today it amazes me how much they have done right in the course of the past few years. The speed of action. The level of continuous innovation. And of course the massive growth in users and usage. They also managed to hire a lot of talent. I love Facebook for allowing me to connect with my family and friends around the world. They are far away but still so close. I know what`s happening and I can choose how public I want to be. But the social web offers more than Facebook: Think about blogs and how they democratized publishing. Think about twitter and how fast we learn about news in the world today. Or think of the new rising stars who built their audience on YouTube. I find it really amazing to see how technology allows human beings to thrive!

7. You’ve spoken in interviews about culture change internally. Often a period of “cleaning up the organization” prepares the enterprise more fully for social engagement. Speak to the challenges of doing this and also the specific obstacles in a country like Greece.

Change is never easy and you have to make sure that people understand what it is all about. This means that you first have to understand where people are standing right now and what their values are. A colleague in HR in his late 50 with no Facebook profile needs to be addressed differently than a 30-year old colleague in the Marketing team already reading blogs about marketing related issues. What I find valuable is to use the concept of “storytelling” for internal change. Create relevant stories related to the values and challenges of your opponent and also make time to look into and explain the social web. Ask your CEO to “Google” himself or do a live demo of mentions about your company or products. This will work magic – trust me.

Finally, really take your time. Change does not happen over night. Spread the virus, talk to as many people as you can. Walk the talk. You cannot preach change without living it yourself. So spend a lot of time sharing links and information related to social media. Create working groups and inform people about the latest stuff and news. In short: Evangelize and keep walking!

8. Forward looking, what developments in technology do you believe are most relevant to where social communities are headed? How about in relation to where internal corporate culture is headed?

A really interesting question. What is happening right now is that we are going through a complete transformation of our communication and information behavior based on the technologies available and the development of infrastructure (networks, devices, prices for data plans). If you look at the younger generations (digital natives) you see that using various media simultaneously is a normal thing. They got used to real-time information, easy sharing of information, collaboration with friends and all the other technology-driven advances. It has become a natural thing to them. Now, imagine what this means for the “workforce” of tomorrow. Do you think they will come and work for companies which are stuck in the past? Working on ancient soft- and hardware? You cannot expect that they come into the office and forget about all the great tools and features they use in their leisure time.

So besides the cultural change in terms of opening up for online dialogue, embracing social media as a driver for business excellence and stronger customer relations we need to answer the following question: How does the workspace of the future look like? How do we learn from social media about better collaboration? And how can we make work being a playground again for more creativity and innovation? How can we empower our teams to excel?

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Eleftherios Hatziioannou (1), Babis Mavridopoulos (2), Nathaniel Hansen (3) and Peter Economides (4) at the Intercontinental Hotel, Athens, Greece. March 2011.

9. What’s your favorite spot in the world?

Generally speaking I love the sea. Especially the Aegean. I guess it has to do with my origin which lies on Rhodes, in the Dodecanese, where my family lives. The deep blue colour, the sandy beaches and the lovely sun in August/ September are truly amazing and work magic if you want to re-charge for business. I will be back in May or June.

Add’l resource: Brian Solis interviews Eleftherios Hatziioannou on Solis TV here.

What is real-time social business intelligence?

What is real-time social business intelligence?

Real-time social business intelligence provides, amongst other things, (a) the right vantage point(s) to observe the “river of news” from; (b) a scuba-suit to dive INTO the river and scour its depths; (c) an informed assessment/report of volume, content AND context over time; and (d) targeted frequent alerts on specific findings for the sake of staff who have other things to do.

A superior social intelligence report includes, amongst other options, the following sections:

1. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS (Should be accompanied by data-rich infographics that distill findings into a digestible format). Here is a PERFECT example of what the a final product would be: http://jess3.com/go-green-go-public/ Includes the classic 5 W’s of Journalism plus a few more, as outlined here:

• WHO? Who was, is and will be involved? We are able to see a vast amount of material in the social properties based on our current CRM databases.

• WHAT? What happened in the past, present and future? Yes, the future! With tools like Recorded Future, we can refine our knowledge of what is coming up around any vertical or entity.

• WHERE? Where did it take place in the past, Where is it taking place now and where will it take place in the future?

• WHEN? When did it take place in the past, when is taking place NOW, and when will it take place in the future? We can map this very precisely now.

• WHY? Why did it happen? Why is it happening NOW and Why COULD it happen in the future? This has A LOT to do with accurate contextual and sentiment analysis. Temporal Analytics play a part in future analysis. We also get to prove our campaign idea(s) BASED upon both quantitative AND qualitative measures here.

• HOW? How did it happen in the past, how is happening now, and how will it happen in the future?

• Is it WORTHWHILE intelligence? There’s a LOT of junk out there. Filtering out the wheat from the chaff is an essential aspect of our work. Does the content fit in the context we expected or would like to know about.

• What’s the WOW! factor? How much buzz is this keyword or that entity gaining.

• Develop ACTIONABLE items from the intelligence. Single, punchy commands about what, where, when, why and to whom one MUST message.

• GET SOCIAL! Foster AND WEAVE community with the intelligence.

• ON-GOING: Outline a plan for responsible and consistent follow-up and on-going intelligence gathering that dynamically moves WITH the brand, product/service.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR SOURCES AND METHODOLOGYfor the report as a best practice.

3. PROVIDE RANKED KEYWORD DATA SETS Be sure to include data from Google and Alexa here, as well as other important historical and current data from social property insight/analytic panels.

4. IDENTIFY INFLUENCERS WITH REACH + AMBASSADOR ARCHETYPES (These are suggestions of candidates that represent ideal Community Managers or Brand Ambassadors for a brand/product/service).

5. SHOW SEASONALITY OF PRODUCT/SERVICE (When is the BEST time of year for the various messagings about your product/service?).

6. SHOW TIME OF DAY PRODUCT IS DISCUSSED IN GENERAL IN THE SOCIAL PROPERTIES (When is the BEST time of day for the various messagings about your product/service?)

7. ASSEMBLE REAL TIME BUZZ PANELS (Your view into the “river of news”) One format would be like THIS: http://bit.ly/real_time_buzz

8. CREATE A COMPARISON of size of clusters/categories of conversations around specific product/service features.

Transparency yields evolution to the good ol’ boys network

Transparency yields evolution to the good ol’ boys network for the simple fact that Gen Y seeks meaning where Babyboomers emphasized Opacity to protect Tradition. The value of Transparency IN SOCIAL NETWORKS to the Babyboomer is a fresh audience for ageless products/services. The value for all is deeper intimacy.

EVERY parea wishing to be hospitable to its audience should study this graphic and ask itself HOW will we transition from the blue arrow type TO the white arrow type of business: http://bit.ly/hospitality_behaviorgraphics.

PR could be the MOST appropriate division of the business realm in guiding social media projects due to its focus on harmony and reputation.

A lot is at stake in the eco-system of corporate business, both internally/organizationally AND externally/customer-facing. Social business shows us HOW intimately related our internal culture is to our external messaging.

On Seelesorger "Soul Carers": The Leaders of the emerging single interconnected civilization

A Seelesorger is the German word for a Soul Carer, one who nurtures the inner person. In the current age, our civilization needs and cries out for experiences which create soul enrichment and cultivate the inner life of the individual. It could be said, in fact, that all of humanity is on a soul searching quest VIA the social fabric of the internet through relationship building and identification with tribes closest to one’s heart and personal passion. Again, social networks are fostering a deeper experience of our humanity on a daily basis for the individual and, increasingly, for the corporate entity.

A NEW MODEL OF COEXISTENCE: Vaclav Havel, first president of the Czech Republic from 1993-2003, spoke in 1994 in Philadelphia upon receiving the Freedom Medal (given the previous year to Mandela and DeKlerk). In his speech, he commented on the giant upheaval within human civilzation:

“The distinguishing features of such a transition are a mixing and blending of cultures, and a plurality…of intellectual and spiritual worlds. These are periods when all consistent value systems collapse, when cultures distant in time and space are discovered and rediscovered…[For us] the artificial world order of past decades has collapsed and a new, more just order has not yet emerged. The central political task of the final years of this century, then, is the creation of a new model of coexistence among the various cultures, peoples, races and religious spheres within a single interconnected civilization.”

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THE SINGLE INTERCONNECTED CIVILIZATION: Mr. Havel, the single interconnected civilization you spoke of in 1994 has arrived in the form of the internet, accessed from ports near and far, North, South, East and West, liberal and conservative, animated and static, mobile and hard-wired. Humanity has woven through the social fabric of the internet an image of itself, with all persuasions and orientations present and full of voice in images, video, music and text. We are weaving this tapestry, this fabric, together for the good of our children…as a kind of patchwork-quilted net for them to rest in and communicate through…to one another for the good of the planet and the future. The projects to save the eco-system, the economy and our very existence as humans have become multitudinous and far reaching.

Some of our projects are listed here, Mr. Havel:

http://bit.ly/crowdsourcing_examples_innovators

EVERYONE HAS A PLACE BY THE FIRE: We concur with Aaron Kipnis, who writes, “You belong. You are welcome. You have magic. You don’t know how to use it yet. You will learn. There is a place for you by the fire.” This statement by Kipnis applies to the phenomenon of what Clay Shirky meant by titling one of his recent books “Here Comes Everybody”. Mr. Shirky wrote recently in an essay entitled “The Shock of Inclusion” that “…the Internet could easily become Invisible High School, with a modicum of educational material in an ocean of narcissism and social obsessions. We could, however, also use it as an Invisible College, the communicative backbone of real intellectual and civic change, but to do this will require more than technology. It will require that we adopt norms of open sharing and participation, fit to a world where publishing has become the new literacy.”

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In this single interconnected civilization of the social fabric of the Internet, the time has come when single voices will reverberate through carefully woven and connected networks to penetrate the soul of humanity and inspire needed change. The quality of this change contains a mystery so deep and enlivening one can hardly find time OR energy to plum its depth.

TRACKING THE GODS: James Hollis, in his book “Tracking the Gods: The Place of Myth in Modern Life”, writes, “Paradoxically, never have humans been more free. Yes, the loss of mythic grounding has tossed souls on the high seas and left them neurotic, addictive and adrift. Yet the threat of the abyss also brings a radical openness to the experience of being. Ironically, to experience this life in new ways it is necessary to recover what myth has represented historically.” I would submit to the reader that the building of social networks is truly a deeper group delving into the collective unconscious than mankind has EVER experienced or participated in. We truly have the opportunity to track the gods in this medium. But it takes an ability to listen and read between the lines. It takes a psychological and spiritual mindset.

LISTENING TO THE ORACLE: Dianne Skafte, author of “Listening to the Oracle: The Ancient Art of Finding Guidance in the Signs and Symbols All Around Us” writes, “I understand now that oracles never really left the world. They went on speaking through the cries of birds, the patterns of light upon a wall, and the thousands of other little signs showing us the way…It is we, carriers of modern culture, who have turned away from the oracles. Bird calls mingle with the airplane roar overhead, but we pay no attention. Strange coincidences urge us forward or caution us back, but we see no meaning in them. Our society harbors a great fear of anything that ushers the mind into dark, unknown regions of psychic life.” I submit to the reader that the Internet and our accessing of it and use of it HAS ushered in a possibility of spiritual renaissance, the likes of which we cannot begin to comprehend. At the forefront of social business best-practice, the number one action IS to listen, listen, listen. The amount of listening tools that have come onto the market at the advent of social business is truly astounding: http://bit.ly/listening_tools_news Using these tools to not only discover an audience for one’s product and service BUT ALSO for one’s own heart goal…to discover one’s tribe and their conversations…this is the REAL potential in these tools.

BRIAN SOLIS, author of ENGAGE, writes, “Gathering intelligence to inspire meaningful and actionable social programs is priceless.” The art of listening is re-emerging and this is a crucial entrance point to spiritual experience and life. The path of meditation is just one spiritual practice wherein the individual hears himself/herself and then the world around AND within. Deep listening is a vital activity in all realms and the basis for weaving humanity together through understanding. RACHEL NAOMI REMEN, Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine and one of the early pioneers in the mind/body health field, has said of listening, “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.”

To repeat, for many individuals and even corporate entities the social networks are fostering a deeper experience of humanity and the soul on a daily basis. A single interconnected civilization is emerging and its missions can be seen in group activities called Crowdsourcing or Crowdfunding. There has never been more potential for humanity to act as a group to accomplish a single unified task than the present.