Peter Kim’s Hand Jive: To Infinity, And Beyond!

Peter Kim seems to be making a call for transformation of social media, but he’s not, really: it’s hand jive, designed to draw your attention away from what he’s really doing. It’s a foil to (re)announce the launching of yet another consulting business, using a Buzz Lightyear sort of rhetorical style that makes my teeth itch.

Let me dissect his ‘essay’:

  1. He digs up Steve Rubel’s old Lazysphere whining (“they simply glom onto the latest news with another "me too” blog post", etc.), which I disagreed with at the time (see Steve Rubel on The Lazysphere), where he blames Twitter, Techmeme, and Digg for screwing up blogging. Kim chimes in on the anti-Twitter rhetoric saying we should stop talking about Twitter, and quotes a number of other mainstream media follks who are sick of it, too. (By the way, this is another example of the ’War On Flow’ I have talked about for years, where traditional media types will state that our involvement in streambased communities is illegitimate, habit forming, bad for us, and stupid.)
  2. Then he suggests that marketing uses of social media are generally not getting much bang for the buck. He suggests that “social marketing” offers promise, but social media marketing “won’t change the world.”
  3. He throws out the statement that the Enterprise 2.0 term should be dropped, too, because it is too limiting. This reminds me of all the people that say the Web 2.0 is dead because we are in a depression.
  4. He says that social technologies “can transform the way we live and work.” Haven’t they already? He goes on to say our efforts need to “aim forward, not backward,” a sentiment I agree with, if I understand what he is getting at. He states:
    The end game should be an entirely social business. Not just point solutions to improve existing processes or programs – new ways of connecting and collaborating. Business modesl will change. Customer-centricity becomes a moot concept, as “us” and “them” no longer exist.

    Man, a lot of swirly rhetoric. But I am not sure I agree with the points, even if I believe we are headed to a time of “social business” – which I call the Open Enterprise, since I believe openness is a defining rsult of the adoption of social tools. What’s wrong with tweaking existing processes, Peter, exactly?

  5. He goes on to say that he is working on a new company (with Jeff Daclis and Kate Niederhoffer), and invites us to participate, but says he’s keeping the sensitive information secret because “social media isn’t socialism.” Ye gods, I had that argument with him a few weeks ago: why does he equate socialism with plagiarism or intellectual property theft? He lists a bunch of people, many of which I think are smart, who he thinks of of collaborators or possible contributors.
  6. He closes by saying “we have merely scratched the surface on the potential of social business.” Fine.

So, it seems to be a collation of various thoughts but not really an argument, unless you think of it as a marketing pitch.

The first bit – about the Lazysphere – really is an effort to discredit other thinkers who are focused on social tools and patterns of social media involvement of which he does not approve. Basically, an attempt to scare off enterprises who might ask those folks for advice: he is starting a consulting company after all.

The second bit – about the problems with social media marketing – is an effort to get into the strategic thinking of possible client companies, instead of dealing with the Director of Marketing Communications on a blogging and website project.

The third bit – about thinking about the whole enterprise all at once, not a process or department at a time – I read as setting his scope, and the price point of the sort of engagements he and his partners are interested in. Add another few zeroes to that check, Mr. CEO.

Then he reels off the names of a constellation of independents who may be aligned with his new company as possible collaborators, or just interesting “voices” on all things social. A number of interesting folks missing, like Clay Shirky, David Weinberger, Jay Rosen, Tim O’Reilly, Doc Searls, Stowe Boyd, and danah boyd: people who have been writing about social tools for many years, by the way.

So, in conclusion, I disagree with his ‘argument’ in most regards, except the sentiment that social tools will play a central tool in the reformation of business going forward. But Kim’s not making a real argument. This is just social media marketing, which as he points out isn’t very effective, in general.

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