[Contributor] New Content: The Future of the Internet

By | Blog, Facebook, Google, Media, Old Posts, Platform Building, Social, Social Media, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Twitter, Twitter, Website
Alexander-Plate_Contibutor_Photo

Contributor – Alexander Plate
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexanderBGault

It’s no surprise that the internet has drastically increased the amount of content, of any kind, that people with access to it consume.

In the past 2 years, 90% of the worlds’ content has been created and shared via Internet based platforms. That means that every book, movie, and television show from the nascence of humanity to 2013 accounts for only 10% of the worlds’ content today.

Who is taking in all of this content?

Where is all of this going?

There are many platforms, and nobody can really know what they all are. New platforms are created and revised almost daily, and so many come and go without a real following that they’re only a memory in someone’s server banks by the end of their first month.

Here, we will talk about 3 main platforms: YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Youtube is a Google-owned video sharing website, where people upload self-made videos to their “channel”, or profile, and gain “subscribers”, or people who will get updated on the videos posted. YouTube has proven to be one of the most important platform for internet content ever created, and this is shown by how much content is uploaded to it.

There are 300 hours of video content posted to YouTube, on average, per minute. That content comes in the form of vlogs (video blogs), original music, short films, and personality-driven videos and channels. YouTube has become, to the new generation, what television was to the older generations.

Now, instead of sitting down to one 45-minute show with four commercial breaks, people sit down to multiple 6-8 minute videos with only one ad per video. This actually has increased the visibility of advertisements to these watchers, as now, instead of only four or five commercial breaks where people lose their focus after the second ad, if that, now people are seeing a shorter, more interesting, advertisement, and there is only one per video, two or three for the longer 40-50 minute videos that sometimes appear.

YouTube’s gives viewers a sense of connection with the content creators, because in most circumstances, the video was written, filmed, edited, and advertised by the person performing in it. There are very few channels with multiple people, and those that do have multiple people generally have all of them in front of the camera lens as well, giving a sense of familiarity between the viewers and the creators.

The next big platform we’ll talk about is Twitter. Twitter is referred to as a micro-blogging platform, in which people create text or image based content and share it to an ecosystem of other people doing the same exact thing. Twitter has power by virtue of its simplicity. You don’t have to create and design a personalized homepage, there is only one design that everyone, from the most followed person on the platform to the newest person to make an account.

Twitter allows posts of at most 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation, so most posts, or “tweets” are somewhere between one and two short sentences. The image side is relatively similar, and the max amount of photos you can post is four. The platform has power as a connection agent between a creator and their audience, and is used by every popular YouTube creator with an active account. Presidential candidates have been using it since, in the US, the 2012 election, and individuals use it to connect with their friends, but strangers as well.

While the older generation likes Facebook for its long form capabilities, and its basis on connecting people to their already-existing circle of friends and family, the younger generations enjoy Twitters openness, as anyone can see an account and its tweets, unless that account owner has set their account settings to private, and its short-form simplicity.

Finally, there is Tumblr, known as a social blogging site. Tumblr functions similarly to both Twitter in that it is a blog platform where those that follow you are not necessarily people who know you. Twitter rounds out the group of content types we have listed here. YouTube functions for video, Twitter for short text, and Tumblr works very well for images and longer text. Through a system of tagging posts, where you give a searchable subject to a post that anyone can find, and reblogging, where one blog decides to post your content (appropriately sourced) on their own with the click of a button.

Tumblr is not as popular as Twitter or YouTube, however, and in some ways is exclusionary. Many blogs on the platform are very progressive-thinking, and more traditional individuals occasionally find themselves as the target of abuse on the platform for fitting into the “patriarchy” or being “cis-normative”, or unaccepting of those individuals that to not identify as either male of female only. Despite the faults of a relatively small, but very vocal part of its user group, (which exists on both YouTube and Twitter, but with far less success), Tumblr is a powerful way to connect to your niche groups, and appropriately tagged posts on the platform can reach millions of eyes.

The internet of today offers more ways that one can count to give and receive content. Individuals can use it to boost their own careers and build a brand, and companies can use it to revolutionize their methods of advertising and reach a whole new audience. But to effectively use these tools, you must recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, and optimize accordingly.


Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his schools newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault.


 

[Advice] The 10 Year Overnight Success IV

By | Blog, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Marketing for Peace Builders, Old Posts, Persuasion, Platform Building

We laid out for them, at one point in the meeting (a meeting that we had scheduled for, pushed for and planned for, by the way) all of the projects in which Human Services Consulting and Training is currently involved.

Overnight_Success

When we were done talking, we admitted to feeling—and thinking—that we have been in a bit of a long-term dip, since last October.

They (the other party on the other side of the table) laughed and told us that we had been “very busy” for being in a dip.

In another interaction we had, we were talking with another up and coming podcaster. We were talking about how long it takes to create a blog following versus creating a podcast following, versus creating a video based following.

We talked about how you need at minimum, 1000 raving, dedicated fans, gathered from the long tail, to make this work in the long-term.

Our fellow podcaster raised his eyebrows and said something to the effect of “It takes ten years to become an overnight success.”

Someone else, about a year and a half ago, said the same thing.

Stories of success (and the pornography of failure stories) litter the Internet, entrepreneurship, small business literature and, the truly American section of the local bookstore, the self-help section. But what is never pointed out in those stories, is that for at least a decade before you read the story on the Internet, became a fan online, watched a TV show with a “shark” in it, or even picked up that self-help book, the people that made that were toiling away in anonymity, just like you.

The path to both success and failure takes a decade of commitment and consistency, trial and error, tears and joy. Dizzying heights and terrible dips.

And whether you’re building a product, a service or some weird, wonderful hybrid, you better be willing to commit to a ten year long journey of ideas that might not work, people that might not like you all the time and projects that might fly, or crash and burn.

What separates the employees, from the risk takers, and the owners from the entrepreneurs is the willingness to go on a ten-year long walk.

Just keep walking…

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Advice] Content Commitment

By | Advice, Blog, Entrepreneurship, Marketing for Peace Builders, Old Posts, Platform Building, Social Media, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity

The thing that destroys most content creation efforts is not lack of talent, ability, or innate skill.

3 Easy Pieces

The thing that destroys most content creation efforts is not lack of resources, lack of time or lack of money.

The thing that destroys most content creation efforts (from live streaming via Periscope and Meerkat all the way to writing a blog on a daily basis) is the lack of a will to consistently commit to a course of action.

Whether it works, or not.

Whether it attracts attention, or not.

Whether it scales, or not.

The lack of a will to commit to the process, regardless of outcome, seems foolish and pointless when stacked against economic metrics that have dominated content production for the last 100 years.

We still run into professionals who either own businesses, who have built projects, and who are accomplished at wringing a profit margin out of the world, who are shocked that we blog every day, or that we have a podcast with only one advertiser–at this point in its development.

Then they are even more shocked that we plan to do more things that do not produce revenue right away.

By doing things that do not produce revenue now, enable us to do all kinds of things that will produce revenues later on.

If more thinkers, builders and doers would adopt this mindset (by the way, it is the only mindset that works in the world of the digital, the automated and the algorithmic) the long tail would become fat, the economic value of consistency and commitment would experience exponential growth, and the level of the quality of content being created would increase.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Strategy] Access to the Means of Production

By | Blog, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Old Posts, Platform Building, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity

There is a growing chorus from the progressive parts of the US economy, concerned that many historically marginalized race and class groups may not be benefiting from the fullness of the revolutions occurring in high technology, economics, and communications.

This chorus centers in the world of high technology startups of Silicon Valley and their media/opinion outlets. Ironically, this call is coming from a world that has historically been dominated by the mostly male, mostly white (or Asian) and the mostly highly educated.

The gender/sexual discrimination case of Ellen Pao and her plight as CEO of Reddit, has brought the issue of “women in technology” to the forefront of tech Twitter. Missing in this discussion (or maybe floating around the edges of it) is the fact that discussions around the core issues of class and racial advancement and economic development continue to employ the language of the past to define problems of the present; and, to frame discussions of the future. This framing (or storytelling, if you will) has to shift in three areas for there to be more participation from those currently existing exclusively in the space of the historically discriminated against:

Access to technology, content creation mechanisms, and the knowledge of how those systems work (and why) needs to be framed as a social justice issue, rather than as a technology/economic issue.

The challenging and uncomfortable question that no one asked (not the NYPD, not the Mayor of New York’s office, not the multiple variations of protestors, not the progressive pundits) about the entire Eric Garner incident is: “Why was Eric Garner on the sidewalk, selling “loosie” cigarettes, and having continuous issues, run-ins and arrests with the NYPD in the first place?”

Think about that question for a moment and then think about this, equally challenging question: “If Eric Garner had sufficient access to technology, content creation mechanisms, and the knowledge of how those systems work, would he have had to be on a sidewalk at all, or could he have fed his family, from his home, by using those mechanisms?”

These are two questions that need answers, advocacy and more noise behind them, because access to the means of production is the social justice issue of the 21st century—regardless of race, culture, class or creed. And let’s not even get into dissecting the background of other lives and how they could have been positively impacted by a greater knowledge and access to technology that could bring them—at minimum—the beginnings of an income and a better life.

Creating (and co-creating) rather than constantly consuming as a means of understanding how new technological and economic systems will work in the future.

Even with 1.5 million pieces of blog content being created every day and 175 million blogs being out there (along with all the videos on Youtube, live streaming, podcasts and other image based content) there is still a dearth of quality, meaningful content. Particularly, content that reflects the lives that are lived by people other than a thin stratum of wealthy, North American and European peoples.

As the Internet expands globally, many young, African Americans run the risk of being left behind on a global web, full of aggressive, young focused content creators. Understanding the how and why of content production allows people to co-create their lives with others. This is an idea that’s an easy sell when a culture leapfrogs the desktop computer; less so when a subculture is historically marginalized and suffers from the results of educational disparities for a wide variety of reasons.

Changing mindsets around the possibility of owning and building something requires telling a different story about what risks matter—and which risks don’t matter.

As the risks that used to matter begin to matter less and less, appropriate preparation through role modeling and education is important for everybody in the US culture. However, for those people who will be left behind as the perceived security of employment becomes more and more a thing of the past (“In my experience as a black entrepreneur, I saw the majority of my family take the government job route, while I always had the itch to pursue a self-made career.”) there will be no gentle landings as circumstances change. Just sudden, violent bumps.

As the Singularity eventually arrives, the solution is not to ameliorate the impact of these bumps through the creation of Universal Basic Income systems, or micropayments and micro-lending schemes. These are band-aid solutions at worst, and recipes for negative social disruption at scale at best. Instead, the long-term solution is to begin to teach future generations what the real risks are. The mindset and attitude that causes success to have many fathers and failure to be but an orphan, still reigns in many sectors of this economy, but that shouldn’t prevent our society from investing in education about the risks that matter: emotional labor, collaboration, and building credibility and trust through the long tail, rather than relying on the short mass.

In the end, there are disruptions that have to happen in education, economics, finance, real estate, and other areas, not to level the playing field—this is an impossibility—but to create new fields, with new rules for new participants that may have been historically disenfranchised by the past.

Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. But teach a man to build and sail a boat, and he’ll go to the furthest horizon and teach someone else. Isn’t it time for us to advance the access, technology and discrimination battles past the language of 20th century battles, and frame them instead in the language of the 21st century, that we’re already 15 years into?

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Opinion] Ok…So Ad Blocking is Here…

By | Blog, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Google, Marketing for Peace Builders, Media, Old Posts, Platform Building, Privacy, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Twitter, Website

Ok…so ad blocking is here….

From browsers to mobile hardware, the drive is on (whether from the creators of ad blocking software or just from us all talking about it now) to empower consumers of content to block advertising they don’t want to see via software based means. This advertising, small and large web publishers argue, is part of a fundamental principle of mass media, going back at least a century. The principle comes down to a deal, which—like many deals—can be renegotiated and changed to reflect shifting values and principles:

We (web publishers) create content without charging you for the creation of that content, and in exchange you (the content consumer) give us attention and we charge a third party, the advertiser, to put ads in front of, and around, our content.

This same deal drove the development and growth of platforms, such as television, radio and newspapers, and the development and growth of content on those platforms, for the last 100 years.

But, the Internet was supposed to be a different content delivery platform.

Right?

Apparently not.

Now, consumers—instead of just choosing to ignore interruptive ads like they always have (and because measuring audience engagement is difficult (but not impossible) there are more intrusive, interruptive ads, not less)—content consumers are choosing to block everything.

Seth Godin wrote with hope fifteen years ago about permission marketing. Cory Doctorow writes with abandon about the anarchy of the web. But both of those writers and thinkers assume a fundamental point about most content, whether it’s on the internet, on the radio, on television, or in a magazine or newspaper, that must be written down and repeated out loud:

Most content on any platform isn’t good enough, interesting enough, relevant enough or entertaining enough, to act as the glue binding the audience of content consumers to the content creators in a “revenue for value” exchange based relationship.

This is why there are millions and millions of cat and baby videos on Youtube, but only a few breakout “stars.” This is why Vogue magazine (or Burberry on Instagram) will be fine with ¾ of their magazine content (or their social distribution feed) being ad space, but Mother Jones or The National Review might just wither and die with ad blockers. This is the reason there are 152 million blogs on the Internet, publishing 1.3 million pieces of content a day, but no blogger has risen to dominance on the web in 15 years.

Thus advertising.

There are a few ways out of this bind, but before we get to that, the question of “What kind of internet do we want to have?” must be answered. We (and we are including ourselves in this group as a content consumers) have not answered this question in any kind of meaningful way. Content consumers have to be a part of the conversation before the endpoint of plopping and advertisement in front of our eyes is reached. Content consumers (to build trust and get their permission) have to be engaged in the building, creating and disseminating of a product from start to finish—or not at all.

The first way out of this bind is by crowdsourcing content development. There are some sites on the web that do this well; there are many more that do it badly, or not at all. Crowdsourcing journalism, entertainment, and other forms of content may lead to less ad blocking—and higher revenue—rather than more by content consumers who feel emotionally invested in the product.

The second way out of this of this bind is by creating more subscription-based platforms. For subscriptions to work, there must be a consideration (and a careful one at that) by the web publisher about what kind of content is being created. Long tail philosophy should be ruling with brand-based content, but many are still stuck in the 1950’s. By the way, this is the only way that data gathering, analytics and implementation based on the data is useful as a tool for content creators and publishers, as well as the incorporation of micropayments via cryptocurrencies. Don’t believe me? Ok. What’s in your Netflix queue right now? And have you paid for a reSnap recently?

The third way out of this of this bind is by rethinking distribution systems. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google and Apple are going to war with each other to decide who controls the ad space of the mobile phone screen and the app walled garden. This war has to be fought (I guess) but thinking of these platforms less as content delivery systems, and more as content broadcast systems, would free many creators from the false choice of “Do I or don’t I put an ad in front of my content?” Email and RSS feeds circumvent broadcast systems and go directly to the audience content creators want. This is also the reason that creators on Meerkat and Periscope who are live streaming events (and their lives) are going to have trouble monetizing their content if the platform ever has to respond to the vicissitudes of Wall Street shareholders.

The fourth way out of this bind is by rethinking all the assumptions underpinning the web. The Internet has moved over the last 25 to 30 years, from being a niche communication channel to a worldwide, glorified telecommunications delivery system. What if the Internet shifted from being a global mass bullhorn, to being an individualized, personalized content delivery system? Mobile phone, tablet and app development is pushing the Internet in the direction of this development, but frankly, not far enough. Which is where blockchain technology really comes to the forefront.

The fifth way out of this bind is for content creators to make conscious choices—and stick to them—about how and where to monetize their content with ads. We are not naïve enough to think that advertising will disappear; there were ads broadcasting the services of prostitutes painted on the walls of buildings in Pompeii and Ancient Rome. However, when everyone can publish (but not everyone will publish) everyone has the choice to run a Google ad (or not) in front of specific content, they produce. We run ads in front of The Earbud_U Podcast, but not on the HSCT #Communication Blog, for a reason.

Ad blocking will not be the end of Internet publishing, nor will it serve as the death knell for advertising on the Internet. By defaulting to the opposite of these five alternatives to advertising on the Internet, many content creators will wither away, and die, on the web.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Opinion] On 9/11

By | Blog, HIT Pieces, Old Posts, Social Communication, Truth

14 years ago today, out of a sunny blue sky, two planes hit the towers at the World Trade Center.

Since then, the United States has fought two wars—Iraq and Afghanistan—and, as of this writing, a third war might be ramping up to start against Syria.
When an event of the magnitude of 9/11 happens, the typical, talking head tendency is to wax poetic about “what ifs,” “might have beens,” and to mourn the victims while also demanding endless cycles of vengeance.
What tends not to happen is the asking of different questions about the event, or the placing of the event in a geopolitical and historical context.
We in the United States tend not to stop and consider the nature of events that happen to us context, because our nation, for good or for ill, consists of the multi-generational descendants of immigrant populations that had a strong desire to exist outside of history, politics and the past—and to escape those ties that bind by coming to these shores.
But, as a conflict engagement consultant, I believe in two things:
  • Sometimes war—or conflict—is the answer. It just depends upon what the question is that has been asked.As for the violence and bloodshed that war produces, along with the political, cultural, historical, emotional, psychological and spiritual disruptions, well violence is never inherent to conflict, though managing disruptions is key to navigating toward successful resolutions.
  • The sins of the past revisit us over and over again in the future until we figure out new ways to resolve them. The 16th, 17th and 18thcentury pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial sins of the British and French Empires toward the Ottoman, African and East Asian Empires, have yet to all shake out and everything that has happened in the first 14 years of the new Millennium is proof of that.
Let us honor the dead, keep consideration of the living and work toward positing more questions that can be answered with peaceful conflict instead of the violent kind.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Future] Unbundling Value 11: Micropayments for Macrovalue

By | Blog, Old Posts, Persuasion, Privacy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Website

The value add of emotional labor has never been fully quantified in the open market.

Un

Think about it.

How often does American culture put a price tag on a mother’s hug? It can be argued that when a mother nurtures a child, rather than rejecting it, in aggregate, those positive interactions build over time and allow the child to experience all the glories that adulthood has to offer. In addition, it can be argued that nurturing a child encourages productivity and adds to the positive economic growth of the overall economy.

The opposite can also be argued. A mother’s rejection, in aggregate, over time, can lead to a loss of productivity in that individual when they reach adulthood, and a net negative on society and culture in the form of increased conflict, increased likelihood of incarceration and other social pathologies.

Oh, if it were only so cut and dry.

The fact of the matter is, mothers are people and sometimes they hit the mark, sometimes they miss the mark and sometimes the child becomes an adult and does whatever they want, independent of the particulars of their upbringing.

The trouble with monetizing all of those possible outcomes is that there is no clear line to guarentee surety of outcome. The kind of lines that economists, public policy researchers, and politicians like which are simple and make for good sound bites or quippy image quotes. The kind of lines that make for good stories on the nightly news of triumph and tragedy.

What if there were a way to monetize that emotional labor?

Micropayments, crowd funding, micro-lending and other ways of passing along money, whether in the form of a remittance, a direct payment, or through being involved romantically in a story, all allow the valuation of something that has never been valued (monetarily) before. The labor that matters—not the idea labor that James Altucher talks about or even the manufacturing labor that politicians talk about once in a while, or the digital labor that seems to be hot right now—is the labor of the heart. The micro interactions (positive and negative) that happen between people and lead to small, interpersonal conflicts that mean more than whatever is going on in whatever country “over there.”

Technologies that fund the unbundling of value from labor—such as blockchain—can serve to fundamentally reshape the value of the emotional labor that matters on the open market. This idea is harder to accept than universal basic income, or any other idea that seeks to unbundle work from being paid for that work.

Valuing emotional output has always been a struggle in a capitalistic, Protestant work ethic based culture that exists in America, but our technologies have brought us to the point where we can begin to build—and honor—that emotional output, rather than merely continuing to ignore it.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principle Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Advice] Live Streaming for Peace Sakes!

By | Blog, Facebook, Marketing for Peace Builders, Media, Old Posts, Persuasion, Platform Building, Social, Social Media, Strategies, Strategy, Technology

Live streaming video apps such as Periscope, Meerkat, Blab.im and many others are hot right now.

As part of the long unwinding of television as a content delivery mechanism, they are a way for audiences to feel primacy at a live event as well as to feel as though they are a part of the event.

We quoted Woody Allen in a previous post, who said, “The audience has to know that they are the audience,” but with the advent of streaming and the rise of streaming personalities who blur the line between performer and engager this may no longer be true.

The real core of streaming is co-creation: Streaming video gives the audience the opportunity to create—along with the performer—a shared experience and produce shareable content for a micro audience. This is why sporting events have reflexively banned live streaming apps from their venues (MLB, NHL, US Open, etc.) and why concerts are thinking about it as well.

There are two things for the peacebuilder to consider when using mobile live streaming apps to build their marketing:

  1. Conflict engagement is all about co-creating solutions to the issues, concerns and conflicts at hand with the parties. Many peacebuilders take this to mean that they fade into the background inside of the conflict process itself, allowing the parties the autonomy to do as they will to get to resolution. However, when the peacebuilder (with the participants consent) live streams the proceedings, then everybody involved attains a level of micro-celebrity.
  2. Conflict engagement is also about being open with processes and procedures in order to educate and edify not only the participants, but also the public (the audience) at large. One of the reasons that many peacebuilder’s struggle with marketing and sales, is that both of these areas require openness and transparency around the product—peoples’ problems—in order to get more people into the room to solve their problems. This creates a level of vulnerability in the peacebuilder with which many professionals struggle. Live streaming used as a way to create “scheduled, must see viewing” opportunities (think of Oprah or Dr. Phil) creates more opportunities for vulnerability for the peacebuilder, not less.

Content co-creation with parties, audiences and peacebuilders is one of the many ways that live streaming video applications can advance the fields of peace, and bring more people into the engagement space around conflicts in their lives.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principle Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Strategy] Does Book Writing Still Matter?

By | Advice, Blog, Ebooks, Entrepreneurship, Marketing for Peace Builders, Old Posts, Platform Building, Strategies, Website

Do books, and book writing, still matter?

Book Reading Guy

In a world of free written content, indexed by Google and accessed by billions of people with Internet or mobile access, and a few keystrokes, what significance could writing a book possibly retain?

Let’s relate two stories that partially answer both questions:

I was at a conference earlier this summer at which I was the lunch keynote speaker. I had arrived early and was talking to the vendors who had lined up outside the hall to sell their products, services and processes to the attendees of the conference.

I stopped at several of the tables and eventually ended up engaging in a conversation with a sales representative from a company that specializes in engagement and recognition, two areas that I believe are critical to developing employees and keeping them at work.

In the course of the conversation, the person to whom I was talking mentioned that her organization had written a book about the core of their company’s focus and she wanted to give me a copy of the book.

Her assistant went to her car and 10 minutes later, I had the book (a hardcover) in my hands. I looked down at it and turned it over. Then I asked “How much do I owe you for this?” She looked at me and started laughing and said “Don’t worry, I’ve got an entire case of these books in the back of my car.”

The book—all that research, content, packaging, distributing, publishing and marketing—was $25.00.

In the second story, I was talking with a friend and colleague of mine in another industry. He and I were having lunch and discussing many topics, and in the course of our conversation, I brought up the fact that he recently had a book published. The topic of his book is on leadership and it represents his second book in several years.

He talked about how he was struggling to get attention for the book’s topic and how he had only sold one book at the time that we were talking (hopefully, by this point he’s sold a few more, but I haven’t followed up with him lately).

His book is around the same price point $25.00 as the hardcover book in the previous story, but he’s also offering workbooks, e-pamphlets and other “freebies” to sweeten the deal and make the price point more palatable. After all, there are hundreds of books on leadership published every year.

Do books, and book writing, still matter?

Some stats that show that it does. In the first half of 2014, books sales were up by 4.9% over 2013, accounting for $5,023,800 with adult nonfiction accounting for $3,310,600 of that total. [link here] In the business area, where leadership, engagement, employee motivation and entrepreneurship make their mark, there were 16, 604 [link here] books sold in 2014, up by 7% over the previous year.

In the year 1440, the printing press was invented and Johannes Gutenburg could barely monetize it, dying broke and forgotten until he was remembered almost 100 years later.

Why bring Gutenburg up?

History is littered with the bodies of failed inventors who were either too early with their innovations, too late with advocating for their work, or who got greedy, got in bed with the wrong people and died thinking of themselves as broken failures. That probably won’t happen to Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, or Sergey Brin and Larry Page, but books matter, because, after 600 years, we have finally gotten the format, the feel and look of book right. We have figured out how to monetize it and the technology to make it, sell it, market it and distribute it has experienced global, explosive exponential growth.

Authors (and many potential authors) hold the internet, content creation, free online content, and e-commerce responsible for the overall reduction in the number of book sales. Our new technology and delivery systems are blamed for the difficulty that many authors (in unpopular or “boring” genres) have in marketing and selling their books to niche audiences. Finally, the development of the social web and digital distractions on a platform initially dominated by the presence of the written word, is credited for the loss of concentration and focus that audiences appear to have in an age where the greatest product of the printing press seems to be being supplanted.

Do books, and book writing, still matter?

The savvy conflict engagement professional should write, because content matters. But the kind of writing that is done for a blog (like this one) does not have to differ entirely from the kind of writing that would be in a book, or even an e-book. The frustration comes with the fact that the categories in which peacebuilding has its roots (psychology, business, sociology, legal), have never been “bestseller” categories for the general, book buying public. The other frustration for peacebuilders comes in the fact that we are, at a human level, transitioning from one technology (printing press) to another technology (the Internet) and the rules are not set, as they will be 600 years from now.

Book writing still matters for the peacebuilder, but there are three suggestions for moving forward:

  • Write for a narrow niche and deepen it through working with your network that you have built offline and online. Selling a few hundred copies of a book through connections and networks is possible in a world of fractured attention spans. However, without writing for a narrow niche, all the giveaways and sweeteners won’t move units.
  • Use the disciplines that you’ve developed through writing blog posts, engaging with social content, creating marketing efforts and connecting with people, to sell your book. This is the most daunting piece of the process. It is like having a small start-up inside the business you’re already developing.
  • Set your expectations for what “success” or “failure” looks like for you. The savvy peacebuilder is savvy because they set their expectations around outcomes at a level that matches the length of their network reach. If you have worked for 4 years to build a network of 1300 people on Twitter, and you know that only 40 of those people are in the market for your book, Twitter may not be the tool to use to promote your book. However, if you only want to sell 40 books, those 40 followers may be your best customers.

Do books, and book writing, still matter?

Yes. Now more than ever.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principle Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
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