canada 3.0

power shift from hording to sharing

At the Canada 3.0 conference, I met a headhunter.

He asked me how social media helps him

My first thought was “you’re in the networking business, how can you not get how social media helps”? But fortunately, i paused long enough to ask another question of him. “Do you use linkedIn?”, I asked.

“Yes, sort of ” he says, “but I’m afraid that people will see my contacts and steel them”.

Oh – fear. Now that’s something that I can understand and relate to.

So I asked him if he could see other people’s contacts. What if its sharing and not stealing? I asked him if that could make him the “go to” guy and if he’d see that as a good thing.

I started my spiel about information sharing replacing information hording as the new source of status and pride.

And then he asked the key question. The KEY.

He said – “Once I empty my little cup of knowledge for someone, what value do I have left?”

He nailed it. The source of Social Media fear.

I did my best on the spur of the moment to answer his question with sensitivity and wisdom (not sure how good my best was, but I tried), so here’s what I said, and perhaps a bit of what I should have.

Information has some value.

Insight has more value.

Capability even more.

The  ability to reliably  find any of the above is perhaps most valuable. So a headhunter should be near the top of the food chain. But he did not see it that way.

So – how can someone like my smart, but worried friend move forward in this world? He’s got 2 key things he needs to do.

1. Become more familiar with Social Media in a non-threatening way. Take little steps that don’t feel high risk. I recommended some a while ago.

2. Start to think of himself in new ways. If he was useful when he horded information, he can be more useful, more influential when he starts giving it away. Just ask google. When people know that you’re the one with the info, they go back, they listen, you get an audience.

My new friend is worth much more than his rolodex.

More critically the point here, if I failed to make it yet, is that information isn’t the treasure, its how you got it and what you’ll do with it, and Fear is the only thing keeping you from discovering your post information, insight-economy value.

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canada 3.0

Canada 3.0 – a quickly organized conference designed to bring together canadian government, students and tech industry to get some excitement flowing around the new Stratford institute for digital media- a joint venture between waterloo university and Open Text.

Beginning  a great conversation –  It forced an initially awkward close-quarters interaction between people who would normally never meet –  interesting to watch. It also brought a lot of people who hadn’t a clue about social or digital media together with people who did.

I didn’t get into most of the track talks, as I was working the show floor, but I got to speak to a pretty wide assortment of the highly varied attendees – everyone from students to government ministers, retired school teachers, consultants and analysts.

Canadian Keynotes – they all had a  strong theme of canadian nationalism – the message  – that if canadians want to lead, all they need to do is step up to the plate. The government, the institutions of higher learning, industry – they’re ready to do what they can to enable it.

a couple  things could have made it more valuable, I think.

1. An intro to digital media track. we could have given the people new to the industry more of a vocabulary to work with thru the rest of the camp. We from otex used it as a place to showcase our wares – which was fine, and many people, I believe were excited about it. But it could have been an opportunity for us to talk about what digital media and social media is, what some of the ideas of the future are, and given more people a truly interactive way of learning about it.

2.  More interactive, please – there was a lot of presenting – even people (gasp) reading their speeches – this community is still learning what listening is – and it does take some getting used to. but after attending a few unconference, barcamp, startup weekend events, I can attest that the quality of the conversation that emerges is very impressive.

An advantage –  it was much less self-referential than many of the events in the U.S. since this is an emerging community there was less of the “we’re all experts affirming one another” thing going on than you sometimes see when the same cast of characters shows up time and again at various events. This is a great chance to develop a community with its own distinct personality and objectives.

Website done fast, well and in real time –  very slideshare, twitter, hash tag, youtube enabled, and updated with content in real time.

Key take away – its the beginning of a potentially awsome thing. we all know that this type of excitement fades fast. And in reality, they could work on building up the participation and excitement Should have been thousands there. That said – it was a solid beginning, and, if followed up fast and tangibly, could add up to something big.