Down & UP in the Magic Kingdom!

Put this in the quirky memetic banter file …

So here is the clan, Thomson 9, Sydney 7, Sister Paula, my Dad and wife Andrea on the mandatory pilgrimage to Disney World in Florida.

https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/111927785652617267633/albums/58538080096…

You can see the whole album here: https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/111927785652617267633/albums/58538080096…

It was fun. I can’t help it.

But for those of you who share a uneasy awareness that Disney owns not only a place in our childhood life cycle, but also a place in our parent’s life cycle (this was a trip on Grandpa’s bucket list!) … here are a few tid bits that may entertain you in a quirky kind of way:

Highlight of the trip for me was reading Cory Doctrow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom while staying in the Park: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_and_Out_in_the_Magic_Kingdom

This might make me a terrible Dad, but this “fantasy destroying” moment made me proud of my children. Watch as we realize that they are being shunned by Minnie mouse! My son is embarrassed that we should have been more socially aware. Sydney makes the decision that the line up is not worth it. https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/111927785652617267633/albums/58538080096…

And finally, Walt Disney believed in a big canvass! Shaping hundreds of acres, materials and our common perception to his vision. He changed the world. I hope that you find it refreshing to realize that there is always a bigger canvass.

Context for this shot, we are stuffing our faces with ice cream, in a mecca of consumerism that is Downtown Disney: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/downtown-disney/. Veal calves.

The big brand bonanza, including LEGO land, is “disrupted” -

https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/111927785652617267633/albums/58538080096…

Have a great weekend everyone!

Why fairy tales are immortal. Jack Zipes.

How do you tell your fairy tale?

“A vibrant fairy tale has the power to attract listeners and readers, to latch on to their brains and become a living force in cultural evolution.

Certain fairy tales resemble memes, a term coined by Richard Dawkins to represent the cultural evolution and dissemination of ideas and practices.. These tales form and inform us about human conflicts that continue to challenge us: Cinderella (abusive treatment of a stepchild), Little Red Riding Hood (rape), Bluebeard (serial killer), Hansel and Gretel (child abandonment), Donkey Skin (incest). In fact, the memetic classical tales and many others have enabled us – metaphorically – to focus on crucial human issues, to create – and recreate – possibilities for change.”

Read the full piece on the Globe and Mail site.

Or sit back and enjoy this discussion involving Jack Zipes, Maria Tatar, Roger Rahtz, Donna Jo Napoli, Mark Lamos and Ann Cattaneco.

List of things to buy Michael for Christmas …

Why Fairy Tales Stick (2006) by Jack Zipes.

Word of Mouth Advertising, Credibility and Learning in Networks

Date: 2010
By: Chatterjee, Kalyan (Department of Economics, The Pennsylvania State University)
Dutta, Bhaskar (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)
URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:wrk:warwec:941&r=soc
Social networks representing the pattern of social interactions - who talks to or who observes whom- play a crucial role as a medium for the spread of information, ideas, diseases, products. Someone in the population may struck with an infection or may adopt a new technology, and it can then either die out quickly or spread throughout the population, depending possibly on the location of the initial appearance, the structure of the network - for instance, how dense it is. The dynamics of adoption -the extent to which individuals are in uenced by their neighbours, the impact of “word of-mouth” communication- also plays a role in determining the speed of diffusion. Given the large range of contexts in which social learning is important, it is not surprising that researchers from various disciplines have studied processes of diffusion from a variety of perspectives.

This nep–soc issue is ©2010 by Fabio Sabatini. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, it must include this copyright notice. It may not be sold, or placed in something else for sale.
General information on the NEP project can be found at http://nep.repec.org/. For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at < director @ nep point repec point org >.

Dan Dennett on Dangerous Memes

Darwin’s Marketing Evolution by Balázs L. Szekf

Balázs L. Szekf June 10 at 6:38pm Report

Hello Michael, how are you? I like your memetic branding blog a lot. I am also teaching social media in a university here in Budapest. MC>> I LOVE Budapest.  Have a best story of my life there.
You mention a ppt about memetic branding but the URL is a 404 now.. if you still have the ppt I would love to take a look at it…  MC>> It is a slide show by @BenMack, I can’t find it now.

you can see our take on this at:
http://www.slideshare.net/szekfu/darwins-marketing-evolution
best
Laz

I can learn a lot from these guys …

Spreading a Globally Oriented Innovation Meme in Ontario: A Prediction Market?

UPDATE, October 2014: Good God. I have been dedicated to solving these problems for a long, long time. This month, I am proud that we have finally launched the Beta version of Cdling.com, working with a world class team of computer scientists in Italy and Advisors in Toronto, Silicon Valley and New York. We now have about 1800 users from 80 cities on the platform. It has been great to be recognized early by folks like the President of CrunchBase as part of a new class of startups but now it is crunch time. As startups onboard, will they each unlock our matching engine and recruit 10 to 25 of the best global experts for them? If so, investors will be interested in Cdling. We will be on a stable path to solving innovations problem in Ontario and Canada, by being focused on solving the root cause of a global problem - the social structure of low productivity in innovation.

UPDATE, November 29th, 2010:  Although I have not been actively pitching, a lot of people that I talk to have a point of view on the state of the venture capital industry and innovation in Ontario, so I end up sharing mine too (i.e. the ideas below).

Most provide feedback that VCs won’t invest in a start up to do what I have described below.  The VC model is based upon the notion that two or a few guys sit around a table making decisions with the belief (in cases, validated by success that has my utmost respect) that they are smarter than the market or at least ahead of it.  I agree with this feedback.  In fact the ideas below are based in part on observations of these kinds of structural challenges to innovation.

In any event, I have registered the domain www.cdling.com and tried to put a finer point on the ideas below.

UPDATE, April 2010 - I recently had an exchange about the idea below with John Delaney, CEO of Intrade and Russ Thomson founder of Meritology.  I have published that on this post.

UPDATE, Mar 2010 - This idea could easily be applied across Canada, in Silicon Valley … globally. I trust that readers can envision the edits that would be required below to adjust.

UPDATE, Nov. 19, 2009:  It seems that something like the idea below is being tested in an executive program at Singularity University in Silicon Valley.  Crowdcast points out that there are fundamental flaws with an idea market but it seems that they go on to explain how a prediction market may work for the application that I have described below.

UPDATE 2, Jan. 2, 2010: Was just introduced to Jed Christiansen’s Mercury Blog on prediction markets and innovation and found his simple introductory video.  I would love to have Jed’s comments on the post below.

Original Post:

Quite a while back I wrote a couple of posts over at www.socialcapitalvalueadd.com that provided some observations on the dangers of tightly knit social networks in Ontario’s business community and a request to the Ontario Government to focus any investment to bail out the troubled venture capital industry in this province on building global connections.

A year later the meat of these posts became a cocktail conversation at NetChange Week at MaRs.  The cultural irony in the air was noteworthy, having boot strapping social entrepreneurs gathered, talking about self starting, market driven enterprise while a concentration of Canadian establishment digital media execs and politicians were assembled in Stratford “defining Canada’s digital future” with a $10-million cheque, a declaration and the idea of a government led national digital media action plan.

Is it safe to say at this point that Ontario needs a change in culture to continue to enjoy the privileged position it has held in Canada and globally?  I think so.  There is a lot of quality conversation (like Research Capital’s effort & the exchange at StartUpNorth) and some money being thrown at the problem (by the Ontario & Federal Governments).

That cocktail conversation led to an email exchange that I have been meaning to dump into a blog post all summer.  I hope that you put this into the mix of quality conversation.  Perhaps if it drums up some interest, we can evolve the thoughts here from a rough set of cut and pastes into a viable plan?

While we think we suffer unique hardship in Ontario, with power and money being concentrated in Toronto and Ottawa, while innovation is often highly distributed at the edges - disconnected from power, money & each other - it occurs to me that this is a well recognized pattern once you understand social networks.  Innovation - a new combination of information, insight & resources - often takes place when weak ties bring together the previously unassociated.  So we need solutions designed to improve these loose connections, not reinforce the status quo.

If you talk to local angel organisations you will learn that they are seeing more then 200 seed stage companies a year.  About 25 are getting funded at this stage.

VCs say that they need at least 50 quality deals to get through initial start up to have a funnel of activity that will produce enough home runs to float the domestic industry.

Both VCs & angels will tell you that one of the problems in Ontario is that they are not seeing enough quality deals.

Seed stage companies are full of risk.  So far Ontario doesn’t seem to have a Yossi Vardi who can successfully invest in 50 to 80 hungry entrepreneurs that he can believe in.

Most agree that companies that survive and thrive do so because of the PEOPLE!  I can not believe that there are not 40 or 50 promising people to back in business in Ontario each year.  Once you get going with a business relationship among good people, you might change the business model, you might change key players, go after different customers, etc but you are way more likely to come out with a growing business then if you take this crazy view that quality deals are divined by Angels. That is sort of the point.  World class Angels & VCs work with great people through the good, the bad and the ugly and still come up with a return on investment that keeps institutional investors coming back to the table.

So can we agree that Ontario would be much further ahead on the innovation file if we were seeding great business people?  So the question is … how do we seed 40 to 50 promising startups in Ontario every year? (i.e. funding under $500K).

Some thoughts to steer around (or through) …

- we don’t need to start something like MaRs that is GREAT, but money is needed in startups not institutions,
- we don’t want to give money to the same people (i.e. Ontario VCs, Ontario bankers) to solve this problem, they have their own problems to solve, pre-revenue startups are not an ideal focus for them and besides … startups are going to save Canada’s Venture Capital industry.
- we don’t want to put any team of experts (more people to pay instead of funding start ups), a bureaucracy or government in the position of trying to pick winners from losers in the start up world, too risky, too slow, too much same old “who you know” thing in Ontario.

So how about setting up a prediction market to select the companies that will get seeded?

I am told that if you are going to sit down with government, you should have some sort of ask in mind.

My ask would be this -

Use some dough out of the Ontario Venture Capital Fund and the Emerging Technologies Fund (since hardly any of this money has hit the street yet) or find new money to set up an Ontario Seedling Prediction Market.  Get Ontario VCs to partially fund or make some sort of commitment to this initiative since this is helping solve the quality deal flow problem that they complain about. Make the Prediction Market open and global but the companies vying on the market must be Ontario based.

Set up a standard corporate structure so that these seedlings are ready to scale and (if their promise warrants) take on a $10-million B round (keep founders in, but be big enough and compete with US early stage venture companies).

Get commitments from government and globally based investors (to bring competition and connections for later rounds) to provide the $20-million a year needed to seed 40 companies.

A couple of other upsides from a prediction market approach that come to mind …

a) A prediction market would orient seed companies toward a global market rather than a local closed network.  We all know how the Bell Fund, the NRC programs and other government programs (ACOA comes to mind) skew companies away from global business focus and turn their attention towards the special “screening”, applications and procedures required to win government favour.  Look out!  Here come a bunch of new consultants that local capital ends up paying to get their companies through the hoops (money that should be going into start ups!).  The relationships required to get funding from an Ontario government program are not aligned with the attention & relationships required to make it through a globally competitive B round (i.e. around $10-million).

b) A prediction market positions the Ontario government to champion the cause of early stage companies with global investors in an consistent, long term, sustainable way.  If the Ontario government hires a bunch of “experts” to pick winners (i.e. the typical role of partners in a VC firm or Angels or managers of a pension fund) they become accountable for the picks.  They will get evaluated based upon the performance of these investments.  Just ask local VCs and Angels how difficult it is to achieve positive returns by picking winners.  Have any of them achieved this yet?  The success of a prediction market would be a function of the kind of attention & engagement that it obtained from global, diverse markets.  The Ontario government could lead targeted programs designed to capture the attention of investors in Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, etc … all based upon the premise that obtaining the attention of these investors makes the prediction market function better and showcases Ontario innovation rather than a limited portfolio of companies caught in time by the rear view mirror of a few connected locals.

Here’s a pretty good FAQ from an open prediction market platform called Inkling: http://inklingmarkets.com/homes/faq

Here is a NYT article about Crowdcast another start up in the prediction market space:  http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/start-ups-software-crowdsources-company-forecasts/ Google, HP, Warner Bros., GM and companies in media and pharma all trying out some variation of prediction markets.

In Ontario we really need government to take a lead on something like this because most of our companies are too small to take advantage of these new abilities to tap into emergence and make better decisions on innovation.

GE & Motorola use Consensus Point Software to manage internal prediction markets …

http://www.consensuspoint.com/prediction-markets-blog/

Take a look at The Industry Standard’s prediction market …

http://www.thestandard.com/predictions

Another thought to keep in mind, domestically, encouraging companies across the province to list on the prediction market would create broad awareness of government leadership on the innovation file and awaken Ontario companies to the need to oriented towards globally competitive innovation.  The prediction market would create a cross promotional effect (with no crazy spends on wasteful the kinds of broadcast advertising often use to raise awareness of government efforts).  As companies oriented themselves towards it, work towards announcing key customers, great products, highlighting great teams, all of their activities would demonstrate to their peers in Ontario what it takes to hatch globally competitive innovation.

A prediction market would cross industries better then common place business plan competitions and pitch  forums for start ups.

As some of you know, I have some recent experience with this.  My Social Capital Value Add method of linking social media to corporate value was a finalist among over 320 entries from 48 countries in a business plan contest held at the University of Miami by WeMedia in February. (part shameless plug, but this experience definitely pushed me beyond the idea of “democratizing” into learning more about prediction markets which deal with unequal distribution of information better).

Offering prize money only works when you are damn sure the kind of innovation that you want to incent.  For example, you could not spur innovation in cleantech and Web 2.0 with the same prize, although once you put a structure in place you could duplicate it in various areas of interest.

Most importantly, while prize money would crowd source desirable innovation, unlike a prediction market, it would not achieve the most important provincial goals which are to wake up all Ontarians to the need for an economy led by globally competitive innovation nor would it orient domestic companies towards global markets instead of a local prize while giving the Ontario government something that they can confidently promote to forge links with foreign markets that are critical to commercialization, marketing success and next rounds of finance.

By the way, a prediction market would not get in the way of Angels or VCs boot strapping early stage seed financing in Ontario.  They would be free to go after the same deals, co-invest, etc.  We agree that there are more then 20 or so quality groups of hungry, crazy people to invest in.  The current ETF approach makes the government a follow on investor, essentially giving this money to existing early stage (not seed) investors, relieving them of the responsibility of earning returns that attract institutional investors.  It is relief to existing early stage investors not start ups.

Feel free to read more about prediction markets:

IDC and The Industry Standard Announce Strategic Prediction Market Partnership

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/09/prediction-markets-as-collective-inteligence.html

The Farmetrics(R) Prediction Market https://www.farmetrics.com/
http://mashable.com/2009/08/31/pretweeting/

Did Intrade Predict the Resignation of "Green Jobs Czar" Van Jones?

http://www.daily-chuck.com/2009/09/did-intrade-predict-resignation-of.html

http://www.consensuspoint.com/resources/academic-research/Harvard_Consensus_Point_Prediction_Markets.pdf

Miro Slodki: The Measurement of Whispers

Doesn’t it happen to you?  Once in a while, you have the best of intentions about dealing with all of those things on your B-list of priorities and then along comes a blog post or a link to an article that hijacks your entire morning because it contains deep context for you.

Is that how we experience information cascades?

Here is a post by Miro Slodki that hijacked my morning.  The links to research alone make his post a great book mark.

You will understand a lot more about how cascades work after reading it.

Check it out here.

Natural Selection in network emergence

I have also posted this with some comments over at www.socialcapitalvalueadd.com because it is a great discussion of how network thinking is emerging as a dominant form in the 21st century.

From about the 3:38 point in the video to 7:30 Barabási and Fowler have a focused discussion on the differences between social & tech networks and the role of natural selection in the formation & structure of social networks.

These are four highly recommended minutes for anyone working towards the understanding of memetic brand.

Hat tip to Valdis Krebs for sharing this item and these related links:

The genes in your congeniality:  Researchers identify genetic influence in social networks.

The PDF of the full paper.


Seedmagazine.com The Seed Salon

The transcript is here.

Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

Hat tip to Dallas Knight (perhaps an alias? UPDATE: not an alias, what memetically gifted parents!) also known as starpath for turning us on to this great video (being promoted) by fellow Canuck Michelle Hoyle aka Eingang.

UPDATE: Note from Martin’s comment below, who’s blog is called Ed techie, as in education techie: Actually it’s mine (see http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2008/10/a-twitter-love-song.html), not Michelle’s, she’s probably been plugging it for me though, and I used a lot of her tweets in the vid. Thx for the plug, I’d happily settle for 10,000!)

What do you think are the highlights or new insights from the video? Please jot them in the comments below and I will move them up into this post to flesh it out.

As I publish this, the video on YouTube has only been viewed 264 times.  I predict 10,000 views by next Monday time that I look.

Check out the rest of the Why Twitter Matters series that I have been putting together:

Why Twitter Matters #1: Follow me, Follow You on Twitter

Why Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos

Why Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter

Why Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Why Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Comment, Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

Twitter Matters #7: Twitter Bot Auto-Debate

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 - an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 - Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”

Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Okay, now seriously!  It is nice to have amusing examples like the one below of how a meme can spread via twitter.

Pointing out a memetic trigger like a “violation of viewing habits” is valuable to this idea of memetic brand building.

But check out this, perhaps more complex example, of twitter being at the heart of the development of shared perception.  Click here to see the whole discussion.

vibemetrix and JBordeaux could of had a discussion like this in person, over the telephone, via email or IM.  But they never knew each other until this conversation broke out.

a chat about social capital

a chat about social capital

That is significant in a number of ways.

1. Their Twitter use made their interests and expertise findable so that they could quickly and easily explore the idea together.

2. Twitter made their exchange findable by others, who could quickly add to the development of the idea or at least follow their thinking.

3. Many who were not trying to find the related discussion have been “infected” with the thinking because they are followers of the users involved in the exchange.  In this case, that may have added up to thousands, with little or no effort on behalf of the original thinkers.  Even though these two users are working at the genesis of an idea, they are thought leaders.

Whether observers accept or reject their thinking is one thing.  The cool point is that they don’t have to go through that thinking learning curve in the same way for themselves.  They have a memetic blueprint to work forward with.

I think there are many productivity breakthroughs to explore along these lines that we are only beginning to see the potential of.

I would be interested in hearing thoughts on why Twitter seems more exciting and/or useful than forums?  Forums also enable people to find topics and related discussions but they always frustrate the hell out of me.  I expect to find what I am looking for, but never can.

Maybe it is because on Twitter, I find what I am not looking for and it is related discussion?

Great comment below by Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America re: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

Update:

I have turned my evolving reflections about twitter into a series of posts.  Catch the other thoughts:

Why Twitter Matters #1: Follow me, Follow You on Twitter

Why Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos

Why Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter

Why Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Why Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

Twitter Matters #7: Twitter Bot Auto-Debate

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 - an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 - Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”