Here’s my account of how the panel went, with added thoughts thrown in. Kevin thinks it didn’t work out due to technical glitches, but I can assure him the audience loved him. I’ll add more blog links once they come up.
It was exciting seeing Kevin on screen. At least it was better than our own Media Socialist video conferencing attempt a couple months ago, as he had backup systems (Skype and Twitter). I also met the other panelist, Stuart, who was obviously a very polished speaker. He was in the middle of conducting a course and stepped out just for this talk.
I was the first panelist to speak, on how large organisations and Government agencies could use Web 2.0. I didn’t think most of my projects were particularly sexy, so I didn’t go into details or plug my URLs. From my point of view, large organisations already had their Web 1.0-style media, such as corporate websites and digitised brochures. They have to adapt to a new mindset and not all are ready for it yet. Also, the sustainability of Web 2.0 applications was important and that was why we didn’t go ahead with all projects.
I was surprised to be boo-ed so early at this point by a well-known social media practitioner, but I hope I explained our reasons clearly. The specific point I was making at the time, was that while we already had other Web 2.0 projects like blogging and podcasting, we decided not to go with a Wiki to replace our health articles because of public safety reasons.
Judging from the pitches we’ve received to endorse dubious products and services (e.g. asking for our logo to be placed next to their ‘health’ products), opening up our health information to the world for editing may not be safe. Also, I noted that Wikipedia has over
900 3,950 volunteer editors making sure that unreliable information and sales pitches don’t stay on the site for long. If we can’t sustain a new Web 2.0 application that relies on crowdsourcing for information, then we shouldn’t start one until we’re ready.
Another point I wanted to add during the talk but didn’t, was that I’ve seen many cases of people jumping onto the blogging and Web 2.0 wagon, hoping to reap its benefits without fully understanding its impact. On one occasion I’ve even heard a criticism of someone else’s website as “not looking Web 2.0 enough”. Having glossy banners, big shiny buttons and large text is just a facade. In fact it is the mindset behind the operations that will prove whether something is really Web 2.0 or not. Is the organisation open to receiving criticism and taking the issue further, on its blog? Or will it only respond to newspaper forums and letters, as tradition dictates?
If you’re in a large corporation, try starting a Web 2.0 project. It will give you insights as to how open and collaborative your departments are.
And let’s not forget Web 2.0 is still a means to an end. We want to meet new people, or build on existing relationships. We want to share our photos and our videos. We want to share information or let people collaborate on our work. In the past this was harder to do, which makes the present more exciting. Web 2.0 is an enabler and a ‘flattener’ (to borrow the term from Thomas Friedman) because it breaks down some barriers to entry. That brings things down to the same level, and that’s when we realise that it is still the value of your content and ideas that will help you stand out from the crowd.
I started out as a dotcommer but have been in the public sector for the past 4 years. So when ‘monetisation’ came up as a question, I was wondering what I could say that would be of value to the audience! The only examples I could give were from my personal blog - the Thinking Cap I designed for Ivan, which garnered a few sales on Cafepress.com, and my Amazon.com Associates referral scheme which has garnered me several US$ in sales after writing some book reviews.
I understood Gurmit’s point, evil adman though he may come across as, because it is some people’s jobs to make money from Web 2.0, while the rest of us play about with it. It is not my job to make money from it as we’re suppose to disseminate reliable health information. However I’m sure many of us wouldn’t mind making some money out of our blogs either!
Stuart noted that to follow this model of putting ads on your site, you need more than 100 readers. This is where internet marketing comes in. But as Kevin pointed out, there’s also a social value from Web 2.0 and if the idea is good, the money will come later. He was rightfully applauded for that.
It was good to meet some of you at the talk today. I am bad with names but I see you on Twitter. Thank you for coming to our talk. Thank you November, NTT, Farinelli, Raine and Nick. Thank you also to Marcus, Ridza and the rest of the team for organising this event.
I would’ve liked to reveal more at the talk, but didn’t think it was appropriate in my capacity especially as I’m not a decision-maker and can’t speak for other agencies either. I am happy that Singapore may join the Creative Commons, based on what the Creative Commons folk at SXSW told me - they too have no definite idea. I think it is a great idea to improve one of our systems for vendors, and build a platform for the public to contribute info in emergency situations. Like I said, I can send these suggestions to the relevant folks. I hope something comes out of it.
To those who came, in the spirit of SIA I say: “Thank you for going to our panel. I know there are other social media events that you could have chosen to attend today.” :)