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Phil Gomes
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When I talk to people in the communications, marketing, and public relations fields about the relevant implications of blockchain technology, I ask them the question "What do you think you and your stakeholders could do with a single, permanent, shared and survivable version of digital truth?" To be honest, this question scares nearly as many people as it excites, which is usually a very good sign of an imminent, important shift. It then becomes necessary to connect the dots between cryptofinance and storytelling, the latter of which is a lot closer to communications professional’s skillset. This is not only essential for explaining the core concepts, but it helps someone open up to the communications possibilities for this technology and movement. Transactions as Narratives When Alice, with $15, gives $2 to Bob (with $5), his cash is raised to $7 while Alice’s is lowered to $13. Bob may now take $6... Continue reading
So, I suppose this was inevitable. The mainstream press, joined by the odd technology publication that really ought to know better, has been quick to chronicle the impending death of bitcoin with an odd level of told-ya-so triumphalism. With it, you have plenty of FUD around blockchain technology or even the distributed ledger concept itself. The triggering event for this latest sustained wave of negativism (and we have seen a few) started when noted bitcoin developer Mike Hearn gave his rage-quit to The New York Times as an exclusive, rather than just posting it to Medium like it seems everyone else is supposed to do these days. The article was brilliantly timed for maximum effect alongside a Brookings Institute panel on distributed ledger technology, where Hearn’s new bosses at the R3 consortium made absolutely sure that everyone knew about the NYT piece. Then, scaling issues that have resulted in protracted... Continue reading
(Versions of this piece originally ran on Medium and LinkedIn.) As of today, I will have been writing about the promise of blockchain technology for corporate communications for exactly a year. I’m not a technologist, but I’m definitely tech-informed, passionate about open source, and I do know a thing or two about public relations, corporate communications, and reputation. As I set out to write what has become the first draft of my industry’s explorations of this topic, I thought it best to do my thinking in public; Cunningham’s Law suggests a powerful, if humbling, paradigm for progress. Looking over the various pieces I’ve written, this anniversary marks a good opportunity to look at what I got right, what I got wrong, and what still shows some great promise. “The Future of Trust is Decentralization” Since 2012, the [Edelman annual Trust Barometer survey] has pointed to “A Person Like Yourself” as... Continue reading
(A version of this piece appeared on LinkedIn.) One of the trends that I have been following involves how emerging social network experiments are applying economic models to determine how to surface and present user-generated content. Here the term "economic" is very different from merely "money changing hands for paid amplification." At its very bottom, economics is the science of the choices you make and how you manage scarcity. In this instance, the scarce goods are 1) meaningful participation in a social network and 2) attention. Today, I'll offer three such ideas. DATT Standing for "Decentralize All The Things," this is a project from Ryan X. Charles, a former Reddit employee who was originally hired to figure out Reddit's cryptocurrency strategy. It turns out that Reddit didn't need a cryptocurrency strategy as much as it perhaps thought it did, so out went Charles and the DATT concept was born. It... Continue reading
I Suspect That Public Relations Largely Dismisses Blockchain Technology Because of Its Strong Association with Bitcoin. This is a Mistake. In 2000 or so, I was introduced to the concept of the “weblog” by Dan Gillmor, then a columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. A new world opened up to me at a time when I was looking at my day-to-day work as a PR person in Silicon Valley and asking “Is this all there is?” In August 2001, I started blogging and writing about these and other developments. The rest of the story should be familiar to most of the people who read this; for everyone else, there’s LinkedIn. Suffice to say, it’s been an amazing time to be in this line of work. Of course, a lot of innovation on the social web has happened since, to say nothing of the new and different ways companies continue... Continue reading
As it becomes increasingly obvious that regulators cannot address the Internet Age with tools forged during the Great Depression, stakeholders may demand that the promise of self-regulation take the form of smart contracts. Continue reading
A Truly Peer-to-Peer Online Environment Will Test How Good We Really Are At What We Do (To catch up, check out my previous pieces “Blockchain, Inc.” and “The Future of Trust is Decentralization.”) I have been in the public relations field for nearly two decades. In retrospect, I’ve noticed that the most notable milestones during that time have had less to do with the evolution of the trade but, rather, moments that mark its sclerotic resistance to same. Most often, the problem lies with our industry’s reluctance to let go of comfortable, familiar hierarchies. What does this mean? Changes in how programs and platforms use the Internet mean that, sooner than we think, meaningful hierarchies that communications professionals can reliably appeal to will be rare. Companies whose success in communications and reputation management largely depends on mastering those hierarchies will find themselves somewhat adrift. By way of example, here are... Continue reading
(Above: My home office. L-R: Korean-made Gibson Explorer knockoff purchased by my Dad for my fourteenth birthday in the basement of an athletic shoe store in Cascais, Portugal; Bobby Rattlehead in pre-Halloween storage; custom Peavey Tracer with rendering of the banned flyer from my college radio show) I'm proud to say that, starting the week before Halloween, I will be delivering unto this world probably one of the scariest things imaginable: In addition to my Edelman duties, I will be teaching an online master's-level course for Kent State about PR and digital communities. Basically, this is the closest I've yet come in terms of building the kind of overview course on this topic that I've always had in my head. It will be an exploration of online communities in all of their "best, worst, and, above all, most vital forms" to quote Katie Hafner's wonderful story about The WELL. (A... Continue reading
Public relations certainly had its teething issues while dealing with the advent of the Internet and, later, the social Web. Getting it to understand this highly transparent, massively distributed environment – and the movement that inspires it – will be full-on jaw surgery. Continue reading
My latest post at Edelman.Com manages to somehow tie together the firm's annual Trust Barometer, cryptocurrencies, and my current favorite open-source project, Twister. Since 2012, the Trust Barometer has pointed to “A Person Like Yourself” as among the most trusted individuals. Now, perhaps a new line of inquiry could be exploring the degree to which one might trust “Vast Numbers of People You Don’t Even Know and Might Even Hate If You Actually Met, United by Peer-to-Peer Technology.” (Okay. Bear with me. I’m still working on the name and the above seriously struggles for an acronym.) Sound outlandish? Technology is making the latter increasingly more trustworthy. More over at the day job. Continue reading
Remembering One of Metal’s Greatest Guitarists, Ten Years After His Murder It’s difficult to overstate the impact that guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and his band Pantera had on the music industry in general and the health of the metal genre in particular. Pantera steadily built up a following during the 1980s and, by 1994 (when heavy metal was deemed a hopeless musical anachronism), delivered the first extreme metal album to debut at #1 on the Billboard charts, Far Beyond Driven. Today is the tenth anniversary of the guitarist’s untimely death at the hands of a deranged fan, who charged the Alrosa Villa stage with a handgun during a performance of Dime’s post-Pantera project, Damageplan. As I reflect on where I was when I heard the news the next day (a notably cold morning in my drafty living room in Alameda, Calif.), here are lessons that I feel Dime teaches us... Continue reading
From the day job: Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the annual summit for one of our clients, Project Lead the Way. PLTW is the nation’s leading provider of learning programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), which not only includes K-12 curricula but professional development for teachers as well. My talk focused on what I felt were five defining forces that make now a critical moment for STEM education. More over at Continue reading
Sound dramatic? Well, before I get into what this means for communicators (and inevitably convey spoilers), take a short break in your day and watch the eleven-minute film. Continue reading
PR Leaders Today Affirm a Commitment to Abide by and Evangelize Wikipedia Community Norms Continue reading
At Edelman.Com, I have a post that speaks to my latest passion: bringing the hacker ethic into public relations. When it comes to the value of expertise versus authority, hacker ethics (as developed over time by students at MIT and Stanford several decades ago) double down on the former and strongly resist the latter. This code, in fact, posits several recommended behaviors that I believe are central to the evolution of public relations. For the sake of compression, here are three. This is the latest in a series of posts related to my talk "Hacking Public Relations." In previous pieces, I've outlined the general concepts and talked a little about the importance of thoughtful disintermediation. Image by William Grootonk. Continue reading
Ronnie James Dio, Even In Death, Has Plenty to Teach Communicators and Business Leaders Continue reading
PR Professionals Who Base Their Value Solely on Staying Between an Audience and a Company/Client Will Eventually Lose Both. Continue reading
I have a new article published on my employer's site about Internet freedom in light of Sir Tim Berners-Lee's proposed "Internet Bill of Rights." For staunch supporters of Internet freedom, Tuesday delivered evidence of one of the most satisfying self-inflicted injuries yet observed in U.S. politics. Senator Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate chamber to accuse the Central Intelligence Agency of secretly searching the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers. Senator Feinstein, notably, is the chair of that very same oversight committee and has played a pivotal role supplying the legislative air-cover for the computer surveillance practices that so vexed the likes of renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden and others. (Mr. Snowden is enjoying his own uniquely earned schadenfreude. Of course, the CIA denies wrongdoing.) Against this backdrop (and such fortunate timing), Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee called for an Internet “Bill of Rights” the next day on the occasion of his brainchild’s... Continue reading
One afternoon as an undergrad at Saint Mary’s College of California, I was racing to the campus radio station where I was running late for my afternoon air-shift. As I turned the corner, I overheard the wonderful Brother Ray Berta (RIP) regaling one student with his latest big idea at the intersection of mass media and culture. Brother Ray was not a quiet man (a distinct advantage for a speech professor, I imagine) and so I managed to hear some of his conversation even in my haste. “You see, the old pornography is just so-so,” he said. “But, now, the new pornography is…” Okay... It was an odd statement coming from a Christian Brother. A couple of weeks later, I asked Brother Ray what he was talking about that afternoon. It turns out he was specifically referring to talk shows like Jerry Springer’s, Maury Povich’s, and others of that ilk.... Continue reading
Here are my slides from the PRSA talk I delivered recently, entitled "Hacking Public Relations: How Understanding and Embracing Open-Source and Hacker Culture is Critical to PR's Future." Hacking Public Relations from Edelman Digital Continue reading
Anyone who has followed my work for five minutes knows that I'm a huge proponent of open source technologies and, more specifically, the philosophies that drive this important movement. This Sunday, I will be delivering my talk "Hacking Public Relations" at the PRSA International Conference in Philadelphia. There's a preview over at the Edelman Digital site: Everyone can agree that the complexity involved in public relations and marketing has skyrocketed in the past decade. The question is “How do we address this?” and “What can we learn from communities who have done so?” I believe that looking to open-source and hacker communities gives us the answer. You can also read the full text after the jump. Friday5: Let’s Hack Public Relations By Phil Gomes Oct. 25, 2013 This Sunday, I have the great privilege of delivering a talk at the PRSA International Conference that reflects both a personal and professional... Continue reading
Earlier this year, a professional organization included me on a bcc'ed cattle-call seeking volunteers to help deliver a long-form seminar on "culture-jacking" a la this year's Super Bowl and subsequent events. I responded that I tend to take a strategic and measured view of such things, so the organizers could absolutely rely on me to ensure that the session stayed meaningful and wouldn't turn into a rah-rah session. I didn't get a response. With a pitch like that and given the frothy tenor that often surrounds that kind of thing, I didn't really expect to. For the past several months, everyone has been running around trying to be the next illumination-challenged snack experience. Some will be good at it. Some will excel at it. Most efforts will sadly amount to tolerated digital vandalism, the result of "checkbox marketing." ("Yup! Our brand TwitPic'ed something during the Indy 500. Well, glad I... Continue reading
College is expensive. It's been the job-hunting license since the '70s or so. With tons of federal money flowing into higher education in the form of loans and grants, it is relatively unresponsive to competition and market forces. The universities get the cash, the student gets the debt. But what if there was an alternative certification that could send a signal to an employer that a candidate is just as smart/educated/qualified as one that went through a four-year degree? Recognizing that a GPA says more about a school's grading regime than the student's aptitude, a test meant to send such a signal is already available. The Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) presented by the Council for Aid to Education, a non-profit organization, seeks to test the critical thinking skills of college students. This spring, more than U.S. 200 colleges and universities will administer the exam to measure graduating students' worth... Continue reading
I have a new post up at EdelmanDigital.Com about the Edward Snowden case from a media perspective: “There are no secrets,” podcasting pioneer Adam Curry once said. “Only information you do not yet have.” Opinions vary widely regarding the case of Edward Snowden, the former contractor with the United States National Security Agency (NSA) who has leaked information about U.S. intelligence practices and operations. This has surfaced interesting commentary about the nature of journalism and media today, especially in a world where leaks and other high-profile events move quickly and have far greater impact than just a few years ago. Here are five of the many topics that the Snowden case has brought to the fore. Read the rest. Continue reading
Was sad to hear that one of my heroes, Doug Engelbart, passed away yesterday. NYT's John Markoff and TIME's Harry McCracken have the best articles on his passing that I've read thus far. I'm still going through the rest. For those who don't know, Doug is the father of modern concepts of human-computer interaction and collaboration. In 1968, he delivered what came to be known as The Mother of All Demos, wherein he ushered a world where humans not only interacted with computers in a practical way, but interacted with each other through computers. In the process, he showed hypertext, document/object linking, document collaboration and, yes, the mouse. He and his team received a standing ovation, which was highly unusual for conferences of that type. I was very fortunate to meet and talk with him several times during my five-year agency-side tenure with SRI International, where he undertook the work... Continue reading