The mesh08 Suggestion Box

One of the smartest things we did for mesh07 was ask you to give us your comments on how we can make mesh better in 08. We got a ton of really useful comments and emails that made for great reading in the days after mesh07.

Now, as we get going on mesh08, we’re going through them again and thinking about possibilities, and once again we’d like to ask you for your thoughts. First, if you didn’t get a chance to comment on mesh07, here’s the original post – leave us a comment if you have any suggestions. Second, we’d like to hear from you on specific panel or workshop or other session ideas for mesh08. We’ve made it pretty far on our own by just speaking with people here and there, but we wanted to open things up further and get your input right here on the blog – if there’s a speaker or a topic or something else you want to see at mesh08, please speak up and let us know what you think. We can’t promise that your idea will make it to mesh, but we do promise to take every suggestion seriously and to do our best to make mesh08 worth your while.

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35 Responses to The mesh08 Suggestion Box

  1. How about getting Tara Hunt to come speak? She’s an online marketing professional and strategist.

    You can read her blog at: http://www.horsepigcow.com/

  2. I think that THE pressing issue is metrics and measurement for social media. We cannot duck the ROI questions any longer. Corporations and other organizations have dived into social media with vigour. Now, we must find ways to assess the results of the social media programs. Do we measure results by conversions? By engagement? By something else? And what algorithms can we agree on.
    A panel on Social media metrics and measurement would be a worthy agenda item for Mesh08.

  3. Here’s another suggestion: the convergence of advertising and PR in social media. When I attend events like CaseCamp (advertiser driven), I hear people talking about programs that assemble databases and drive conversions. When I attend events like Third Tuesday (PR driven), I hear people talking about longterm relationships, trust and community.

    I think that advertising and PR start out from very different perspectives. Will they converge in the social media space? Can we agree that participation is marketing?

  4. OK. Here’s one more. The culture clash between social media and organizations. Social media is about peer creation and sharing. Organizations are about hierarchy and control. How can organizations manage the tension between these different mindsets in order to realize the benefits of social media while maintaining the discipline and focus necessary to be effective?

  5. One final comment: I like Melanie Gallant’s idea of asking Tara Hunt to speak again. I know that she spoke at the first mesh. But she wrote a great post on the gift economy – what Shel Israel has called the cult of generosity. It would be fantastic to have her talk about the necessity to keep the gift economy at the centre of social media.

  6. Nav says:

    I think we should ask Joseph Thornley to come and speak – he’s full of good ideas ;) (Oh, I’m only teasing…)

    Personally, I’d be interested to see some sort of discussion around how current online trends are shifting how we think of and relate to cultural artefacts – has ‘the screen’ changed how we think of reading? has the constant intermingling of media produced new genres of music/film etc. that are a result of links etc.? what is the effect on minority cultures when their access to ‘their own culture’ is greatly expanded. I know we’re well past discussions of ‘hypertext’ and other such ideas, but it’d be nice to have some very smart character help position and frame the epistemological change of which we are merely at the cusp.

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  8. Leigh says:

    I was speaking to an Exec. producer from NYC last night – when i asked her how Web was affected her flow of work (she does both webisodes + trad TV) she said

    Oh for clients, Web is just another euphemism for cheap…

    So how about a real discussion about the bulk of budgets, what’s holding people back, is online the panacea, what it would take to have it change yada yada….(the ‘are we just kidding our selves panel) and maybe you can get that guy who wrote that controversial book about UGC ruining the Web to come…

  9. Paul Dowman says:

    You guys have done a great job with the first two conferences and I’m looking forward to Mesh 08! I have two suggestions:

    First, I’d really love to see Nick Carr speak ( http://www.roughtype.com/ ). He’s a great speaker and the subject matter would be really relevant to the mesh audience.

    Secondly, I’d like to see more speakers, rather than panel discussions. I felt that some of the panels last year felt a bit less focused than the individual speakers have been.

  10. I, too, would like to hear some discussion on metrics and measurement of social media campaigns. Currently, I tell clients about the intrinsic value of relationship building on-line, however would be interested to see if others are using quantifiable means to justify marketing dollars.

  11. Fully support the idea of metrics and measurements. Some case studies. Some explanations of the sort of business objectives you are trying to achieve with online activities, why you need to have a different framework from reach and frequency that is used in many other places.

  12. Nathan Rudyk says:

    Four suggestions:

    - Advertising networks. A been-there-done-that person who could talk to advertising networks that harness the long tail – to give the people who are/thinking about launching a community a path to monetizing it. There are a lot of solid networks like BackBeat Media, and a lot of bullshit artists. Maybe there’s an analyst-grade person out there who can break this down for people/point them in the right directions.

    - Facebook marketing. Alec Saunders gave a great talk at BarCamp Ottawa a few weeks back on what he’s learned about FB after he swung iotum’s VOIP tech over to that marketplace as a FB app. Bet he’s learning more right now.

    - Social media’s role (or rather, sad lack thereof) in government. I did an interview for a government CIO magazine recently and was shocked to learn that the Government of Canada banned Facebook from civil servant desktops. So … cut off the people who have to service us with information from one of the biggest information phenomena on the planet – HAHAHA!!! Like the equally idiotic debate the Feds had in the early-90s about banning the Web/surfing. People under 25 commonly send me messages not through IM or email but through Facebook. My son went on his first date via FB contact. So we keep government workers in the dark about the primary mode of communication for 15-25 year-old Canadians? And of course there’s the wicked culture clash of hierarchical/command-and-control thinking in government that is antithetical to social networking styles of managing/participating. The Feds are in a HUGE crisis with half of their workers set to retire in the next 10 years. And they’re going to attract ANYONE to their tired ranks (remember there’s an overall labour shortage looming out there as the boomers mercifully die off or just get out the damn way finally) by banning/staying ignorant about the power of wikis/blogs/social networks? HAHAHA!!!

    - Snag John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, to give his social networking elevator pitch (which is also a of course a clever thought leadership overlay to selling a lot of Cisco gear). He and his management team decided to embrace social networking/anti-command-and-control a few years ago, and he speaks very well to how and why it worked, up to and including Cisco’s 9-figure market cap vs. his main competitors’ market caps wallowing in the low 8 figures. We produced a podcast of Chambers doing his thing and you can follow the bloggy path to that here.

  13. I’m looking forward to another Mesh!

    In terms of format, I agree with Paul – I’d like to see fewer panel discussions and more great speakers that inspire, supplemented by a few interactive “workshop” formats where the audience can become participant.

    Topics like metrics are really important to some people, and worth a deep dive in a workshop format with a smaller group. Metrics, social software design, community management practices are all good workshop topics.

    Big ideas to inspire, signals from the future. We need them in this town, where our vision sometimes is a little short-sighted. Adam Greenfield (ubiquitous computing) and Lee Bryant (enterprise 2.0, collective intelligence) would be great.

  14. Rob says:

    Awesome contributions so far, everyone – many thanks for the time you’ve taken to comment.

  15. Michael Herman (Parallelspace) says:

    My suggestion is to get this website updated with the 2008 dates and registration information. …or is Mesh 2008 not happening?

  16. Samuel says:

    Hi, I don’t have any speakers to suggest but I have a lot of questions about the web that interest me:

    * Can mashups make successfull business models?
    * Extending the web to the physical world using sensors, actuators and automation. What could be the impact impact of the convergence between the web and the physical world?
    * The arizing of the noosphere. Will our great-grand-children look at the present era in their history book as the time when a common thought emerged throught connectivity?
    * Are we in bubble 2.0? What is the difference between now and the late 1990′s?

    I really enjoyed the ’07 edition as well!

    When will the information about sponsoring MESH be available?

  17. KDPaine says:

    I think if you’re going to have “measurement” as one of the topics, you need to be clear about what you’re measuring. There’s measuring eyeballs — i.e. what the IAB and Comscore are arguing about; measuring volume — what BuzzMetrics does, and measuring engagement which is a multi-faceted appraoch. Forrester has the best framework thus far, but I’ll be presenting a paper on the subject in March at the IPRRC in Miami so stay tuned.

  18. Samuel says:

    I’d like to see Bob Young, founder of Red Hat and Lulu.com.

  19. Rob says:

    Thanks, Samuel – Bob was at mesh 1.0 in ’06 – and he was terrific. Thanks for the suggestion!

  20. Rob says:

    Some might say that metrics are essentially still voodoo – unreliable even for what they purport to tell you, but more importantly, not useful indicators of the kind of engagement that really matters.

    To those who’d like to hear more about metrics, what do you have to say about that? Is there a useful conclusion to that discussion? Would we be coming together merely to disabuse people of the myths of metrics or do you think there are other useful takeaways?

  21. Rob says:

    On the question of speakers vs. conversations, we’ve tried to avoid the “talking head” format at mesh so far, and the only exception to that as far as I can recall was Michael Geist at mesh06. Michael presented for about 15 minutes and then we had a conversation after that about the topic.

    The presentation format is obviously very popular at some events – TED, IdeaCity, and so on – but it often falls flat at others, and to us it’s generally seemed to be missing the engagement that one gets from interaction.

    What’s missing from the conversational style – or the way we’re presenting it – for you? Is it challenge? Provocation? Excitement?

  22. Colin McKay says:

    Hi guys.

    What about a “talking head” or a panel discussion on how technology and social patterns are affecting the development and understanding of your “online identity”?

    For example, how do your “lifestream” or online networking activities contribute to the online perception of your personality, performance and professional capacities?

    I don’t mean this in a negative way – more as a chance to take a step back and see where our daily decisions to adopt new technologies and manners of communication are leading our social development.

    I’d be happy to offer up the participation of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada or a senior representative of her office.

    Colin McKay
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Privacy Commissioner

  23. Rob, you said: `Some might say that metrics are essentially still voodoo – unreliable even for what they purport to tell you, but more importantly, not useful indicators of the kind of engagement that really matters.` You are bang on.

    We don`t have reliable, broadly accepted metrics about what is really important. And we need these.

    So far, the best discussion I`ve seen about social media metrics and measurement was contained in the white paper Jeremiah Owyang published after a round table on the issue (check web-strategist.com).

    I think that we can`t duck the issue that we must be able to agree on some basic measurements. And a discussion at mesh about what is important to social media and how we might measure it would be well worthwhile. IMO.

  24. I found that many of the people I spoke with at Mesh07 had just launched (or were about to launch) a new website. The most important aspect after creating a website is usually how to make money, and how to promote and get visitors to their site. I would be interested in seeing the following topics discussed:

    Growing your site: Very few of the top 50 websites in the world use traditional media to advertise. There is a reason for this. So then what? Banner ads? Text links? Blogs? Strategic partnerships? Customer service? Word of mouth? Viral campaigns? PR? What results can a website actually expect from these?

    Making money: As mentioned above by Nathan, I think the topic of how to monetize your website needs to be examined. Now that you have a website, how many visitors are you going to need to make money? I notice that sneakerplay.com has banner ads and support ads. Do these cover their costs? Techcrunch uses a variety of different advertisers (google ads, ads-click, text-link-ads…). Does the “advertising driven-free content” model work? And at what level of visitors does it break even? Specific numbers, such as approximately X visitors per month will get you X dollars from google ads. What is the cost/time benefit of using an ad provider such as 24/7 vs. trying to sell your banner ad space directly to specific companies?…

    I’m looking forward to Mesh ’08!

    William

  25. maggie fox says:

    I like KD’s idea – what exactly are you measuring? As Joseph Carrabis pointed out at the SNCR symposium in Boston in early December – you cannot measure interest based on how people interact with content. Interest is a cognitive event, it happens in the brain, and all the metrics we have right now are pretty much just well informed-ish guessing.

    I’d also like to see a high-level panel that takes a step back and examines the WHY of social media/web 2.0/whatever you want to call it (we’re all terribly focussed on the how) – there’s lots of research into why people are so drawn to these platforms and why their expectations have changed so dramatically over the last few years. Do the skeptics and confused a favour – bring it all together to explain that it isn’t a fad/lay out the facts.

  26. Robin Yap says:

    I’m all for the “why”, as per Maggie’s point above. It would be good to have participatory workshops (ala the unconference portion at Northern Voice) and discuss the meta-frameworks behind all the topics that surround Mesh topics and/or social media/web 2.0/mashups/… in general.

  27. Phil Barrett says:

    Social media is migrating to mobile – it would be great to hear what is working & evolving in this space….like the Nokia MOSH network.

    I was at 3GSm last year and mobile social media was a big movement in other parts of the world not named North America :)

  28. Eden Spodek says:

    I would like to see:
    • Social media measurement
    • What’s next?
    • Some separate sessions for mesh/web 2.0/soc. med vets vs. new people
    • Repeat time slots for some of the more popular break-out sessions, archives are fine but they aren’t the same as live presentations.
    • In no specific order: Jeremiah Owyang, Tara Hunt (to help shake things up again), C.C. Chapman, Kate Trgovac, Britney Mason (panel on 3D-Web/virtual worlds) Susan Reynolds (Frozen Pea Campaign), Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson from the FIR podcast (together on one stage), Seth Godin, and the list goes on…

  29. Would love to see Doc Searles on Cluetrain 8 years later, or the Vendor Relationship Management project (vrmproject.org) at Harvard or other Attention-based discussions (highly relevant to the above Measurement conversation as well).

    Jason Calacanis would be interesting on business models, Web 2.0 startups and entrepreneurship in this space.

    Chris Anderson on the economy of Free.

    Would really like to see some more advanced, theoretical and forward-looking social media panels and discussions positioned at same time as the 101s. Would prefer streams organized by level of knowledge required versus topic or traditional job role (at least in this area, to Joe’s point, there is less and less distinction between PR and Advertising topics).

  30. I think measurement is important, but I feel that we should also be looking strategic vs. tactical (measurement is tactical and subjective — even the web analytics firms are measuring different things via the web and each campaign online starts in the strategy session to determine what metrics are important for the individual campaign).

    I’d like to see less celebrity (i.e. I don’t think spending $10k + for Godin to speak is worthwhile for a conference like mesh) and more strategic thinkers who may not be as well known, but are still valuable.

    I’d also like to get a few more tech folks involved — especially those who were involved in building the social tools we’re using and talking about. They had an idea… where did it come from? Why did they determine that Twitter (for eg.) was missing from the marketplace.

    Finally, I’d like to discuss the semantic web (the real definition of Web 3.0) and universal search, both which will have a huge impact on social media 2.0.

    And I echo the request for different tracks based on knowledge level. SES does this really well.

  31. Rob, you know where I stand on agenda recommendations. We need to start talking about monetization. Who is actually making money from the web and how are they doing it?

    If people want to discuss measurement, than revenue and profit have to be a vital component. The issue was just starting to bubble at Mesh ’06 when people were standing up and asking how to generate more than enough cash for a “cup of coffee per day”. It must be boiling over today.

    The problem is that we have focused too much on “cool” and not enough on “real”. If we don’t address this issue, people from other countries will and they’ll be the winners of tomorrow, while we stare at our Google Ads.

    The good news is that if we can get some of our brightest minds to focus on utility, we can disrupt industries, defeat international (US) competitors and create a new generation of wealth. AGORACOM and Freshbooks are examples of what is possible.

    I don’t know why we’ve shied away from the topic but its time has come…I hope.

    Regards,
    George

  32. Rob says:

    We definitely need to focus more on this issue, George – no question. I expect we’ll touch base with you again as we’re developing the idea.

  33. Rhonda Burke says:

    Is it time to have a discussion about customer centricity and the web?….who has succeeded in putting the customer at the center of their business model? how have they done it? what is their retention like? what are they doing that sets them apart from their competition? who is the “customer” when the user and revenue source are not the same entity? Jim Buckmaster touched on this subject last year but I think the time has come for a more focussed conversation.

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