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New ways of writing books (and some other thoughts)

Jeff Jarvis, the blogger and Guardian columnist has been writing a lot about books and how they will change/die recently.

An article in today's New York Times (oh bless you RSS, for I never read NYT in my life before Bloglines) has a great piece on the same subject. It also caught my eye because it mentions my current hero-thinker, Yochai Benkler and his book, The Wealth of Networks, which you can download for free.

The reason I'm linking to this is because of the fearless experimentation that those featured in the piece are embracing. That they are jumping into the giddying innovation that is possible and taking up the tools that are available to us all today and seizing of opportunities to try out new ways of doing things. I love it.

I was talking to someone about their strategy for social media today and it struck me how much need there is for two things in every organisation (that includes agencies, SMEs and especially big corporates):

  1. Long-term strategy on social computing
  2. Innovation / R & D

It's not enough for anyone to be saying "what should our strategy for blogs be?" or to just tack a bit of Web 2.0 stuff onto the edge of an existing campaign, or tick "draft corporate blogging strategy" off of their to-do list. Small tactics and small thinking will get you nowhere but lost today.

We need to pay heed to people like Benkler's analyses that tell us that everything in our societies and economies is being subjected to powerful, irresistible forces of change. We need to pay attention to the likes of Forrester when it says that "social computing will impact almost every role, at every kind of company, in all parts of the world" and Rupert Murdoch when he says that it is "difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and destroy - not just companies but whole countries."

When these people say "revolution", take it seriously. And that means stating clearly how you see the changes rocking the world affecting you, and what priority you are going to put on responding to them.

Equally it means ensuring that you are innovating in your communications. Not just waiting for the case study to show you two years too late what to do, but to start experimenting and trying ideas out for yourselves.

I say again, while many communications agencies and teams pride themselves on creativity, there are precious few that put their money and their billable hours where there mouth is when it comes to truly innovating.

Think big. Think really big, or your thinking is going be out of its depth really soon.

Rant over. Um, this post was going to be about books wasn't it... guess it touched a nerve. You can tell because I started italicising and hitting my keyboard too hard.

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