Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Radical Porosity - a vendor example

Today, I received notification about the journey of a small parcel of goods ordered yesterday, in the UK made in the Netherlands and shipped via Germany to my home.

I did not know that the product originated in Holland.

In order to deliver the product, UPS disclosed to me the location of the manufacture and it took me  a few seconds to locate the company using Google.

This is an unintended consequence of USP's transparency system but is evidence of how a vendor can contribute to Radical Internet Porosity.

Is this a PR issue?

Does the manufacturer want such third party systems to affect them? Of course, UPS is very aware of the dangers of intercepts and has ways of limiting exposure (here is the system) but others are no so well organised.

Is such disclose a good thing ?

How do we prepare management understand about the significance of Internet Porosity? Is it inevitable? How can it affect reputation and what can we do to prepare for the big Nobel Award leak which one day will happen?


  • Updated: 29/01/2014 7:06 Eastern Time
Wednesday, 29/01/2014, By End of Day
Bristol, United Kingdom, Wednesday, 29/01/2014

Additional Information

1.10 lbs

Shipment Progress

LocationDateLocal TimeActivity
Bristol, United Kingdom29/01/20147:25Out for Delivery
29/01/20147:15Arrival Scan
Castle Donnington, United Kingdom29/01/20144:45Departure Scan
29/01/20143:02Arrival Scan
Koeln, Germany29/01/20142:40Departure Scan
Koeln, Germany28/01/201423:46Arrival Scan
Eindhoven, Netherlands28/01/201421:15Departure Scan
28/01/201417:45Origin Scan
Netherlands28/01/201411:55Order Processed: Ready for UPS

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chaos theory and radical transparency and organisations


In a chaotic world organisms try to create order. This is true from the basic amoeba to the sentient human. In the case of the human we developed the idea that organisations are the preferred form of organisations. Tribes, governments, companies, associations, regulators... all are organisations to help provide order.
 Organisations have boundaries They built the intellectual property wall.

Then came the internet. A form of competition evolved when radical transparency was used as a weapon. Declaring the price of a product online was good for selling products to customers but also told competitors the complete list of inventory retail prices, bargains and even slow moving stock discounts.

As transparency developed it became more extreme and there was more overt, covert and accidental transparency.

Today, it is possible to identify a high percentage of employees by name in LinkedIn and the relationship between a person's Twitter account, Facebook comments and friends across most of the nation. With such intelligence big data analysis shows up all the employees and their interests, friends, fears, motivations and much more. The organisation is thus radically transparent. It is no longer an organisation. At best it is a coalition.

The order that the living organism, the human being, sought is now subject to a myriad of variations.

Organisations are now chaotic and subject to more variables than at any time in the existence of mankind.

The internet profiles of organisation are sensitive to the actions of its employees; the actions of employees can be in any form online and affect offline as a matter of course and the range of effects of actions is very dense.

Organisations are now facing a future that is chaotic.

Such thoughts are significant for PR theory.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Spying or gaining commercial intelligence

The Edward Snowden fallout over what the intelligence services can or can't do with our content is an issue for PR.

You see, the PR industry is already at it. We are collecting information from newspapers (clippings) and processing them. Of course, we have done this for a very long time. Interpreting the news has been part of the PR job forever. But now, its not quite so civil and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations has to come to grips with the new environment.
Interpreting content
We can dig much deeper and, we are digging quite deep already.

Very gently, we are sliding into an area where ethics and best practice will collide.

The programme shown on the left is a nice representation of numbers of citations, pretty pictures of the community, some graphs and a word map.

Pretty innocent huh!

But hang on a minute. The pretty pictures are of people. Did they give anyone permission to have their photo in a business report?

Then there is the information about location. Who said I wanted to have my home address included?

So far pretty innocent. But now we come to the intelligence bit. I see that a number of people I know are associated with other people I know in the circle. Did these people  really want to make it that obvious?

The  graph on the right represents my contacts in LinkedIn. It shows clusters of people who are active in different spheres and I have highlighted one person who has links across a number of areas of my life. This graph is about me. LinkedIn do not allow you to create a network about, for example an organisation or several organisations. But... yes you guessed it, this is not hard to do. Within four hours I can have people from locations as far away as the Philippines and Bolivia who have  all the software available to do it and they cost so little it's embarrassing.

Yes, again, did the actors in this graph realise that they could be used as pawns in such representation. Is it good?

This is only the first step. I have tested a number of companies to find out what proportion of employees have a LinkedIn profile. 88% is not unusual.

Using the same capability it is possible to build up a picture of the departments inside a company and compare that with other companies. We can identify the comparative levels of expertise between organisations. It is possible to find out the skills base of Basingstoke and Brighton, Birmingham and Bristol (OK, anywhere you like - even, if you are a lobbyist, Grangemouth and all of the major employers in the area).

But now lets have a look at a picture of the people who tweet about a company and especially those who re-tweeted a report published by the BBC's Robert Peston (the cluster near the middle).

They are now a PR target. A PR person would know that these people are opinion formers and will know the precise subjects that interest them.

That sounds cool huh! Is it ethical?

But what if these data was about  a supermarket and drawn from tweets about the six competitors. Then the PR person can target the top most opinion formers, the really active customers or the people who continuously complain.

Does this mean that there is room here for some bullyboy tactics? Yes it does. Is that ethical. How is it to be managed?

But this is really not BigData analysis, this is SmallData analysis.

Imagine you wanted to finger the most potent political advisor's in the world? That would be big data and on issues like slavery, the environment, international trade and even war. Is it worth it?

It is absolutely possible to identify the build-up of skills being recruited and developed by organisations, industry sectors and much more. Is this how we can measure how the PR industry is gearing up to meet the demands of its client base? You see, this is a many sided debate.

So far, I have not mentioned photos and videos, location analysis or semantic inference capabilities (which Google uses all the time - but do you - can you?)

Neither the CIPR nor GCHQ are going to stop people putting stuff online and neither of them are going to stop people mining and manipulating this content and the data that is being extracted to gain political and commercial advantage.

The genie is out of the bottle.

What we have to do is know it is happening, create rules of engagement and certainly work towards an accord that will not disadvantage ethical practitioner or advantage those who would take advantage of the innocent.

I call on the CIPR to take a lead and at worst have a Commission to examine where it stands.

Friday, October 18, 2013

RTB Public Relations

We are used to automated bidding on the Stock Markets of the world.

Enter the same thing for advertising:

According to MAGNA GLOBAL research, programmatic buying of digital media inventory will reach $7.4 billion this year in the US, of which $3.9bn will be transacted through Real-Time Bidding (RTB), and another $3.5bn will be transacted through other programmatic/automated platforms (including social media).

This is obviously not something to worry the PR person is it?

Well, um.... yes it is. The gene is now out of the bottle. There was a time when there seemed to be a lot of trivia online and it did not count for much. Then two things happened. People like PR people started to churn out deep, rich and worthy content providing opportunities to create computerised semantic understanding and, almost at the same time, we discovered that using BigData techniques, even trivial posts had a shape and structure that gave us considerable insights into the authors when taken together (guess what, they start chatting at work stuff at 0800 on their way to work).

So, all of a sudden the content that is about conversations and interaction and, and this one is for Jim Grunig, issues becomes part of the digital landscape.

Now, we have content that can be used through a range of outlets just like advertising.

This is an area of PR that is around the corner but will be really valuable once we have worked out how.

Do I approve?


Thursday, October 17, 2013

What do Students Need - n'genPR

This post was inspired by a comment by Richard Bailey in which he suggested that students might do unsupervised work.

I asked if we are teaching a trade at university and go back to the last cohort I taught in the UK.

Rhetorically I asked:

  • Did I challenge thinking about privacy in a Big Data era?
  • What are the PR consequences of machine understanding in an age of semantic computing? 
  • Was the idea that the statements students make with their dress code are also a statement that their clothes could make to each other (Internet of Things doing PR)?
  • Is the idea of digital ghettos an issue for public relations as big as ethics in corporate affairs?

These are big questions for today's students because they will have to face the answers within five years after leaving university.

For the practitioners who want to see students coming to them ready made to stuff press releases into envelopes and tweet sweet nothings for a client, this is not good news. Neither it should be.
This is normal PR that is taught to junior practitioners with five 'O' levels. It is something the graduate learns in the her six week induction along with the fire drill.

 For the practitioner who wants an employees with an understanding of the rate of change in our society, then students need to have thought through 'next generation PR' (n'genPR) practice.

In writing proposals for a client this month, did you consider the influence of employees contribution to LinkedIn Groups? This is a very important media and you can find out how it signifies using semantic search.

You need Big Data PR to  find the right employees and then how to motivate them without being unethical?

Woah! Ethics, Semantic Search, Big Data, LinkedIn (a media outlet in its own right) what?

Now, this is not tomorrows' PR. This is this weeks' proposal and already you are venturing into so called n'genPR.

Ooops, now what about the same thinking applied to - the client's key constituent's umbrella - you know, the one that 'listens' to the weather forecast and tweets to be taken out on rainy days (and back again when its fine) and has your PR message on it? Hey! There you go, the Internet of Things PR.