The Emperor's new clothes?

The excellent Brendan Cooper has posted a compelling piece de-bunking at least three of the Holy Grails of social media: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, The Long Tail by Chris Anderson and Blink also by Malcolm Gladwell.
For the full post go to Blink: It's the Tipping Point for the Long Tail.
Brendan has discovered some compelling "scientific" data and commentary which rather debunks some of the concepts which first propelled most of us to jump of this bandwagon in the first place.
Before you decide to have a go at Brendan he does point out that he is simply the messenger and having discovered some rather vigorous research on the matter which undermines the thoughts and anecdotal narrative of Messrs Gladwell and Anderson.
For my own part I am always rather suspicious of these sort of self-help, philosophical, business books. I read them of course and become convinced that they are right. But a couple of days afterwards I am always puzzled and struggle to remember what the hell the are talking about and whether it does stand up to reality.
I've attended many conferences over the years where the key note speaker has been a so-called "business guru". You sit there with the rest of the delegates, listening open-mouthed as the build their proposition, thinking: "My God! This man is a genius!"
Afterwards, less than ten minutes later, you discuss his speech/presentation/spiel with fellow delegates and realise you can't remember a damn thing he said. Nor have any of you taken anything concrete away from the performance that you could apply to your own business etc.
It's simple entertainment. All style over content.
If I could recommend two books about what real business is about they would be Liar's Poker and Barbarians At The Gate. Enjoy!


Some thing to think about


Local newspapers: Use them or lose them

I took a phone call from an old newspaper colleague a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to know if I could help a former work mate find a job after being made redundant by a major regional newspaper publisher.
I seem to be getting a lot of these calls recently - and this issue was neatly addressed by Peter Wilby in today's Guardian.
Since 1989, circulation is down 51% to 12,549 for the Birmingham Post; 49% to 70,028 for the Leicester Mercury; 43% to 50,256 for the Northern Echo (I used to work there); 62% to 32,874 for the Argus in Sussex; 38% to 38,844 for the Echo in Southend; 38% to 36,516 for the Herald in Plymouth; 49% to 20,976 for the Oldham Evening Chronicle; 46% to 19,956 for the Halifax Evening Courier. North, south, east, west, large, small, morning and evening, the story for Britain's local papers is one of unremitting gloom.
Obviously, blogs, the internet, YouTube et al are having a huge impact on regional newspaper journalism and they are not going to go away. The main problem is that, certainly with the dailies is that they are pretending to give local, regional and national news.
But parochialism is everything - and regional newspapers seem to have forgotten that. In my part of the world, what makes news in Bradford doesn't make news in Leeds (ten miles distant).
Indeed, regionalism may have been deemed dead in some respects certainly at a local political level where people are not interested in what the councils of Hull, Leeds, Bradford or York have planned for their citizens. In spite of this I still love the Yorkshire Post and buy it every day. Similarly, as a resident of Barnard Castle I bought the Teesdale Mercury every week when I lived there.
Local is so important in regional newspapers. Back in the day when I was still a journalist - that meant covering the Women's Institute meeting, the Parish Council and the local art competition.
Curiously, I was in Alnwick in Northumberland a couple of weeks ago to grab a meal off the A1 on my way to meet with friends in St Andrews, Scotland. In the car park I found a purse. It obviously belonged to a lady of more mature years and, touchingly had a picture of her husband and about £22.00 in it. It had a receipt from the Post Office and that is where I handed it in.
Later, after our meal, I headed back to the Post Office to buy the local newspaper. The woman behind the counter recognised me and informed me that the lady had retrieved her purse and informed me: "She didn't have your phone number because you wouldn't give it to me. But she said she was going to write a letter to the Northumberland Gazette about it."
Bless! That's what local, regional newspapers are all about.


Next Bradford Open Coffee

Following the success of bmedi@’s first two OpenCoffee events held in May and June, bmedi@ are running another event on Thursday 21st August 2008. Full disclosure: I am a non-executive director of bmedi@
The emphasis of OpenCoffee is very much on the internet and new media industries. The free events are informal and see a range of technology entrepreneurs, designers, bloggers, developers, geeks, investors and anyone else who’s interested in digital media and technology exchanging ideas and striking up relationships that would otherwise never have flourished.
The philosophy of OpenCoffee is very much of an Open House of ideas and people.
OpenCoffee Bradford(Shipley), is being sponsored by the YoYo Bar & Restaurant.
Bradford’s third OpenCoffee event will take place on Thursday 21st August at YoYo’s Bar & Restaurant (Shipley) from 10am to midday. Alas I am holiday so won’t make it.
The event is open to anyone who is interested in the region’s digital, creative and new media industries. You’re welcome to enjoy the coffee, the cakes and the good company. To book a place just e-mail or go to Upcoming and register. We look forward to networking with you.

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