In the physics/astronomy nerd category: The 2009 TED Global conference just wrapped up last week, and, on a fishing trip to see if they had posted any of the new talks yet (yes, I am a junkie), I found one from earlier this year with a short explanation by Brian Cox for why the Large Hadron Collider (the huge particle accelerator in Europe that we discussed here and here) failed. Thought I’d post it, even though his estimates for when it would be back online are kinda wrong.
And here’s a classic TED talk about dark matter and dark energy from last year’s conference by Patricia Burchat. I love this one.
After 10 years at Red Hat, I’ll admit I am a little bit out of touch with what the corporate world looks like everywhere else. But after a recent conversation with someone out there in the non-Red Hat universe, I thought I’d pass on a quick tip they found helpful on how to create a more collaborative culture in your organization.
The tip is simple. Default to open. Everywhere.
What does this mean? It means rather than starting from a point where you choose what to share, you start from a point where you chose what not to share.
You begin sharing by default.
A quick example. Our group was lucky enough to (thanks to our talented global facilities director, Craig Youst) have the opportunity to help design our own office space. As part of the space design, we determined that we wanted no offices– everyone would be in a large, open collaborative space.
Everyone had the same sized cubes, and it didn’t matter how much of a muckety-muck you were or weren’t. If you wanted to have a private conversation, the space design included a series of private alcoves, where you could go talk with your doctor, or yell at your wife, or whatever you didn’t want to do in public. But the key is that you had to actively decide when placing a call, do I want to take this in private? Which is counter than the old-skool office design where you had an office with a door, and all conversations were private by default.
Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know it is based on the simple premise that there are some things out there in the world that are pretty difficult to see or measure, yet these same things can often be the stuff with the biggest impact. The intro to the blog tells the full story.
In the world of astronomy, two of these things are dark matter and dark energy. Both hard to see and measure.
In the world of business, three of these things are brand, culture, and community. Also tough to see and measure their impact in the business world.
So while we constantly explore ways to better understand the impact of brand, culture, and community here at Dark Matter Matters, the world of astronomy is trying to better understand exactly what the heck dark matter and dark energy are.
Thought it might be worth taking a short break from our regularly scheduled program to give an update on how the astronomers are doing.
There’s a nice article out today on brandchannel.com called Build Your Brand from the Inside Out, interviewing me and Ashley Stockwell from Virgin Media on the role of employees in building a brand. Even Dark Matter Matters gets a plug. Thanks Morgan!
Books are important to me. Growing up, almost every free wall in my parents’ house was lined with bookshelves, some of them stacked two deep. I spent most of my pre- Red Hat career in book publishing, first working during college at The University of North Carolina Press. After college, I went to work for a literary agent named Rafe Sagalyn in Washington DC. Working for Rafe was a great experience because he built his reputation on big think/idea books and business books.
His first big book was the huge bestseller Megatrends by John Naisbitt back in the early 80s. When I was there, I personally got to work with, among others, Bill Strauss and Neil Howe on their great books about generational patterns in society (check out The Fourth Turning… very prophetic these days) and Don Peppers, author of some books back in the 90s like The 1:1 Future about relationship marketing that were the grandparents of today’s books on social media marketing.
I also got to play agent and author myself too. As an agent, I represented some of Tom Bodett’s work (yes, he is the Motel 6 guy, but was also a commentator on NPR) and sold a wonderful novel called The Frequency of Souls to FSG. As author, I helped Rafe write two “cutting edge” books about getting free and open access to government information (they have not aged well, I’m afraid).
Fast forwarding to today, Rafe actually was the agent for two recent big think books that I love, Authenticity and A Whole New Mind, so he is still making things happen.
After I left book publishing, reading became fun again. I read novels and travel literature for a while, nothing that made me think too much. But when I got to Red Hat, I relapsed and started reading the big think books like the ones I used to work on with Rafe. I thought it might be worth taking a few minutes to try to remember the books that have been the biggest influences on my thinking, and get them all down in one place, so here goes:
Without these ten books, Dark Matter might not even matter to me.
On a recommendation from Michael Tiemann, I got the book Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About by the folks at Sid Lee, who have done work for brands like Cirque du Soleil, Adidas, and Red Bull.
Michael had sent a note at Red Hat a few months back where he said this book helped him understand the “x-factors” that had allowed Red Hat to create a strong brand position at such a small, young company. Thought I should check it out.
In case you were wondering, that headline above is an example of Relevant Sensory Oddity, one of the topics they cover in the book. I thought I’d try it and see if it works:) I actually am wearing pants. Today.
The main thesis of Conversational Capital is that there is a more powerful way to get consumers engaged with your brand by “making your story part of their story,” creating stories or experiences that are meaningful to them. The authors turn their noses up at “buzz marketing,” equating it to style over substance, with no depth or continuity, all sizzle and no steak.
A Twitter friend asked me the other day if I had been doing any more thinking about open brands. Turns out I have. Two weeks ago, she and I had a conversation where we discussed how Red Hat had opened up the Fedora brand and the positives (tons!) and negatives (some) of doing so.
This week, on an plane ride up to Boston, I read the book The Open Brand by Kelly Mooney, which another friend had handed to me a while back.
The book is a eulogy for brands that are not willing to open themselves up, and an instruction manual for those that are considering becoming more open.
It was particularly interesting to read as a Red Hat guy, because the book is based on the idea that today’s single most powerful technology is “a mashup of the World Wide Web and the open source movement.”
The book opens with the question… “are you dangerously CLOSED?”
Whew… passed that one. But the book did make me think some about where the Red Hat brands fall on the spectrum of closed to open.
Have you ever been zooming in on a Google map, and eventually you zoom so far in that Google apologizes and tells you that it doesn’t have an image showing stuff that close? What do you do? You zoom back out so that you can see again.
When it comes to running campaigns, I tend to take metrics with a few grains of salt. How many times have you seen someone report metrics on how their campaign did, and they show that it drove zillions of leads and that converted to zillions of $$ in sales and was a huge success… but then you look around and can’t find anyone who saw the campaign, or heard of it. And the sales guys couldn’t ever even tell it happened.
Only about 4% of the total energy density in the universe can be seen directly.
About 96% is thought to be composed of dark matter or dark energy.
July 2009: See my update on the topics covered in this post here.
I’ve been intrigued by the idea of dark matter for a while. But it was actually hearing about this thing called the Large Hadron Collider that helped me make the connection between what I do for a living and this concept of dark matter.
The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest particle accelerator. It was built on the border of France and Switzerland and is about 17 miles long. One of the things that particle physicists hope to prove with this enormous project is that dark matter actually exists. As I understand it, the accelerator shoots protons at super high speeds around the collider, and, if these scientists are lucky, it eventually might produce a few wacky particles that will exist for only a few milliseconds and then disappear again. And these particles might prove that dark matter isn’t just a theory. Continue reading