Introducing The Conversation Sphere

Posted on August 20, 2008
Filed Under Culture & Technology |

Recently, Web 2.0 partygoer, photographer and PR guy Brian Solis introduced the Conversation Prism to the world.

Calling it his “contribution to a new era of media education and literacy,” Solis explains the importance of the Conversation Prism:

The conversation map is a living, breathing representation of Social Media and will evolve as services and conversation channels emerge, fuse, and dissipate.

Conversations are taking place with or without you and this map will help you visualize the potential extent and pervasiveness of the online conversations that can impact and influence your business and brand.

As a communications or service professional, you’ll find yourself at the center of the prism - whether you’re observing, listening or participating. This visual map is the ideal complement to The Essential Guide to Social Media and the Social Media Manifesto, which will help you better understand how to listen and in turn, participate transparently, sincerely, and effectively.

How New Age.

Although I’m not “deep into” the Web 2.0 “game,” I’m not completely clueless as to Web 2.0’s “major players” and the current happenings.

So I couldn’t help but observe that at least half of the logos contained within the Conversation Prism were foreign to me. And I’d venture a guess that they’re probably foreign to most individuals outside of the Web 2.0 party trail as well.

For all intents and purposes, Solis’ Conversation Prism looks like a “diversified social portfolio… of penny stocks” as Strumpette’s Amanda Chapel referred to Solis’ “Social Map” as.

Of course, Solis responded, “Value is in the eye of the beholder and even penny stocks can deliver value when invested in and cultivated wisely.”

Advice to Solis: stick to your Web 2.0 “sociology” and “anthropology.” Your bank account will thank you.

But I digress.

When I look at the Conversation Prism, I can’t help but wonder - just what conversations are taking place and why are they more important to Solis and Web 2.0 kool aid drinkers than, say, the conversations that take place every day in coffee shops, schools, churches, workplaces and the hundreds of other venues where people come together and interact in real life?

Sure, technology plays a very prominent role in the way many of us communicate today (and, of course, not always for the better), but does the Conversation Prism really provide an accurate depiction of the online locations where the majority of the population is congregating to engage in meaningful “conversations”?

Of course not.

Most individuals are not sharing their knowledge on a Wetpaint wiki, streaming their life on UStream, posting their photos on Zooomr, keeping track of their bookmarks using diigo, accessing the news through Digg, publishing their thoughts on Blogger, participating in the BlogLog community, posting their “activity stream” through FriendFeed, creating videos for Viddler or reviewing restaurants on Yelp.

At the end of the day, while Solis and his Web 2.0 comrades run around trying to keep up with all the meaningless “conversations” and all the trendy but marginal online services that supposedly foster them, people living in the real world are having real interactions with each other in the Conversation Sphere.

Yes, our planet is very 1.0ish, but when it comes right down to it, it’s pretty damn hard to beat.

I’ll take the pyramids of Giza over a Flickr photo gallery, a phone call over a tweet, a nightclub over Facebook, a library over a wiki, a personal recommendation over a Yelp review, a shared experience with a friend over a FriendFeed “stream,” a concert with a date over and a personal note sent to a family member over a blog post “broadcast” to everyone in my “social graph.”

I’ll take each and every one of these things over their Internet counterparts because in the Conversation Sphere, people are actually interacting with each other. In the Conversation Prism, people are interacting with computers and “services.”

Frankly, I find that the best and most meaningful conversations take place without the interference of “services” and machines.

Given that, I hope Solis and his “friends” some day experiment with Conversation 1.0. They just might like it.

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4 Responses to “Introducing The Conversation Sphere”

  1. Grendel on August 20th, 2008 12:39 pm

    I dunno… I’ll take a computer virus over intestinal parasites…

  2. Brian Solis on August 20th, 2008 1:07 pm

    I can’t say that I disagree with you. My first goal in releasing the prism was to get the purported “social media experts” to stop banging the facebook and twitter drum as the be all end all strategy for participating in “the conversation.” At the end of the day, it comes back to the social sciences associated with all of this. People are populating and defining online communities and cultures. It’s changing how *many* people communicate with each other and it’s also bringing insight, ideas, and information from the Web to the real world and vice versa. If I wanted to reach you for example, chances are, I’m going to do so directly, either on your blog, via email or the phone. I’m not going to bother connecting through a social graph. And, that’s the point. Any brand would be short-sighted and irresponsible if it neglected any of its communities online and offline for the sake of being 2.0.

  3. Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins on August 20th, 2008 2:17 pm

    Drama, you’re once again demonstrating your amazing ability to talk past the point in an attempt to refute it. By your analysis here, we might as well all give up because any tool used to expedite or make more efficient anything in life, be it conversations of information gather, will never be as good as the analogue component.

    I’m always left with the same questions once you post your anti-technology screeds: if you hate all of this so much, why do you use it?

    “Social media blows,” he said on his blog.

    If it sucks, why put your trust in it as an effective means of communication? If it’s just to let us all know how doomed we are, why bother? Just let us all be doomed.

    You say: “I’ll take the pyramids of Giza over a Flickr photo gallery, a phone call over a tweet, a nightclub over Facebook, a library over a wiki, a personal recommendation over a Yelp review, a shared experience with a friend over a FriendFeed “stream,” a concert with a date over and a personal note sent to a family member over a blog post “broadcast” to everyone in my “social graph.””

    I say: And that’s why you’ll be left behind. Technologists always win over Luddites.

  4. Drama 2.0 on August 20th, 2008 3:41 pm

    Mark: you’re once again demonstrating your amazing naivety.

    I’m all for making things more expeditious and efficient when expediency and efficiency are needed.

    Unfortunately, “expediency” and “efficiency” are not what I’m looking for in my personal interactions with others and I’m sorry that these are things you apparently are.

    Let’s get it straight: the services in Solis’ Conversation Prism are “social” in nature and are used by most people as sources of entertainment.

    I know that may be hard for you to grasp seeing that Web 2.0 keeps your bills paid and staying on top of every new niche service catering to Web 2.0 first-adopters is crucial to your job at Mashable, but please don’t mistake your experience for that of the average consumer or Internet user.

    When it comes to interacting with others, I don’t think there’s anything “social” or “entertaining” about sitting behind a computer 24-7 and broadcasting my life, browsing through pictures of places I could have gone or events I could have attended, chatting with people I don’t know, etc.

    This isn’t about being pro-technology or anti-technology - it’s about recognizing that technology doesn’t always make your experiences richer and more meaningful.

    I use technology where appropriate; I don’t let technology dictate my lifestyle.

    Let me ask you several rhetorical questions:

    1. Would you rather look at pictures of wonderful places than visit them in person?

    2. Would you rather catch up with a friend via a video chat than catch up over coffee?

    3. Would you trust a recommendation from a restaurant that came through Yelp over a recommendation from a friend who took the time to call you up and tell you about it because they thought it would be to your liking?

    4. Would you rather browse pictures of beautiful women on a social networking website than attend a party and talk to them?

    5. Would you rather share your musical interests with a family member using than go to a concern with a family member?

    If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, I’ll make it simple - you’re substituting the real deal for a poor impostor.

    You seem to have a warped view of technology and innovation. Web 2.0 is not technological innovation.

    While you’re playing around with trendy Web 2.0 tools thinking that you’re at the forefront of technology, you’re being left behind because individuals and companies are working on real technologies that have tangible impacts on the real world.

    A final set of rhetorical questions. Which is more innovative:

    1. Facebook or a company whose technology dramatically improves the results from the extraction of bitumen from oil sands?

    2. Twitter or a company whose efficient energy recovery products significantly reduce energy consumption at desalination plants, making seawater desalination more cost-effective?

    3. Wetpaint or a startup that has developed an efficient means to produce hydrogen from electrolysis to serve as a supplement to the combustion of fossil fuel in an internal combustion engine?

    4. or a company that develops a cost-effective closed containment system for aquaculture?

    You might want to consider that there’s a world much larger than the small world of Web 2.0 and that you’re limiting your definition of “technology” (as well as your experience).

    That said, call me a luddite. I don’t mind. I think it’s safe to say my portfolio of real technologies (through interest, involvement and investment) is leaving your diversified social portfolio of penny stocks behind.

    Finally, I’ll let George Carlin answer the question “if you hate all of this so much, why do you use it?”

    If you should have any cognitive dissonance about the fact that I do commercials for 10-10-220 and still attack advertising, well, you’re just gonna have to figure that shit out yourself.

    In other words, thanks to social media, bottle service doesn’t come out of my regular income.

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Drama 2.0 spikes the Web 2.0 kool aid by providing critical analyses of Web 2.0, its people, its startups and its impact on the world of media. Other topics are explored when Drama 2.0 has been drinking too much 1975 Dom Perignon. Read more about the Internet's version of Keyser Söze here.