Category: Web

Nick Seguin

show me the [digital] money

May 24th, 2010 by Nick Seguin

i am notorious for not carrying cash. im not so notorious for not carrying a credit card, but i’d like to be.

over the course of a recent week, i participated in transactions between me and one of my friends (or my bank) in the following ways:

1. – wepay is an uber-convenient web app that “helps groups easily collect, manage and spend money”. i ski every year with friends i lived in europe with. we use wepay to distribute invoices to the group, collect money and pay the chalet.

2. – the rad little contraption that a recent issue of TIME just named one of the top ten inventions of the year. it pops into the top of your [iPhone, iPod touch (2G+), iPad, Nexus One, Motorola Droid, Motorola Droid X, HTC Droid Incredible, HTC Evo, HTC Hero, HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy S series, and the LG Ally ] and allows you to swipe a credit card and dump straight to your bank account. businesses and individuals are utilizing this and, i think, it’s going to transform retail (and what can be/where retailed). a recent meal with 12 friends rung up on 1 friends credit card, and before we left the table we had all ‘squared up’, signed with our finger and were even.

3. – i am generally not able to get to the bank when it is open. while i know you can deposit checks via ATM these days, i just don’t trust it. my dad taught me to always deposit with a teller. so while this is a digital mechanism (and not a teller) i get an instant response and verification, so im down with it. also, its in an iphone app so it’s extra cool. the already great chase iphone app was significantly enhanced (at least for me) when they began allowing me to snap a picture of my checks and deposit in that manner. saves me a trip!

4. – for some reason, my friend who owed me money didn’t want to use square. so, we opened our iphone paypal apps, were obviously in the same proximity, and ‘bumped’ to transfer. the transfer was immediate, and i proceeded to dump from my paypal into my bank account. a cinch.

12 months ago – this stuff wasn’t happening. what will 6 more months bring? what are people’s expectations on banking and money transfer in general? is the sector prime for upheaval? i tend to think so. im keeping my eye on , who are looking to shake up our notion of an actual bank and atm network, along with a few non-bank mobile-based account groups to enable lower-income individuals to keep and spend money without going through banks.

Nick Seguin

what the F*ck is social media? (a year later)

May 28th, 2009 by Nick Seguin

the first preso was fantastic

but the second one, with new perspective and learning, is just great. key point here – not about tools. about behaviors, patterns, psychology… all that good stuff.

Nick Seguin

like the tools or not, the results matter

May 23rd, 2009 by Nick Seguin

I, like many others, get sick of hearing the (at this point) age-old quip “but I don’t care what you had for breakfast

” specifically in reference to , but also to the use of social tools and social web behaviors in general.

So, for all of you naysayers, let me paint a picture for you…

Tehran, Iran – circa June 2009

Let me explain.

There are many questions to be asked regarding the “election”, not the least of which may be whether or not it matters who is president in a supreme-power theocracy. However, it is the events surrounding the recent happenings which are intriguing – a convergence of global social behaviors, technology, now-web and modern web application development practices and theory. In short, the techy geeky “stuff” which you presume to be a fad, isn’t. It is communication now; it is communication of the future. The results are profound.


Global Social Behaviors

– We live in a global economy and society. If you don’t believe that, please crawl back under your rock. It’s not just about multi-hemisphere conglomerates and international relations anymore, though. As is the common theme these days, it’s about the individual. Social technologies have connected the Common Joes of the world and they are genuinely interested in listening, talking, sharing, teaching, helping and learning from each other. From Bengal to New Hampshire they are participating in each others’ daily lives and having trivial(?) conversations.


– It’s cheaper, more powerful, more accessible and better mastered than ever in history. We all know a computer as powerful as my iPhone used to be the size of an entire room… blah…blah…blah. The amazing capabilities of technology today, IMHO, are not so much computational, but connective combined with the ease by which they can be applied. You can connect almost anywhere. You can connect with almost anything… and that’s the point… YOU can do it.

The mobility of technology is also a key component. Mobile phones and smart-phones are of the utmost importance.

Modern Web Application Development Practices and Theory

– Non-technicals stick with me here… there are a few crucial aspects of how people and companies develop web applications these days. Namely, the primary focus is on the engine – the core functionality. Many developers build and release (SDKs), most commonly (APIs), for their applications. These tools, libraries, protocols and services allow other developers to leverage the engine in unique ways – pulling, pushing and mashing up data and interfaces. If you’ve ever seen a in it, you’re seeing the result of an API. Users and developers find new uses for applications and engines all the time. Google is releasing it’s APIs for it’s new project – – to developers around the world long before the application will be accessible to the public. The idea is that thousands of progressive and diverse minds will help to finish the product, find new uses and make it better. So, applications are being released “unfinished” and “wide open”. *Note -Ownership and monetization are another story!

Still shrugging and saying ‘so what?’, huh? -

Tehran – People are trying to mobilize, trying to tell the world what is happening, but communications are being shut down. Traditional media are being . Sites are being blocked. But remember – people around the world are watching, people around the world want to help, people around the world care. Technology is accessible, connective and collaborative and our good friends at Twitter are aligned with the API-empowered web community.

What does this mean?

This means that because Twitter has an API, is not the only access point to the engine. It means that there exist 1000s of 3rd party applications through which people can read and publish tweets. Tehran can’t block them all, they don’t even know about them all. Fantastic! The masses with their mobile phones can be anywhere, communicate with each other, organize, assemble, and keep the rest of the world up-to-date while foreign journalists are being “controlled” and ().

Well, what about connectivity? Internet access? If you can’t connect, you can’t tweet. Tehran certainly has control over access, right? Yes and no. Enter software engineer in Oklahoma who is interested in the situation and wants to contribute. He configures his laptop as a and whala – people in Tehran can connect to TwitterFall through his computer and communications resume. That is, until Tehran finds him, and blocks his proxy. But then, another pops up in the UK, in Florida, in Singapore… you get the picture.

So let’s summarize that. People in Iran can communicate with each other and with the rest of the world while their government is scrambling to block things as quickly as they can because they have mobile technology, the global community cares, is interested, can facilitate connectivity, and because modern web applications focus on the what, not the how/when/where.

Does it matter? I sure think so. A major geopolitical occurence was consumable in real-time and not only that… but it was MADE POSSIBLE in real time because of this convergence. Still not convinced it matters? Well, the State Department decided it did too… – a small group in a loft in – and asked them not to go offline for scheduled maintenance because… well… Twitter was contributing to democracy.

How da ya like DEM apples?

Nick Seguin

Why is Twitter Transformational?

May 18th, 2009 by Nick Seguin

Today a good friend, Chris () who is a Startup Specialists at , tweeted something interesting. Funny thing – I saw it come through on Fwitter ( :-P ) – and responded.

Here’s what he tweeted:

“wondering does the world really need another social network platform?”

Now Chris is a startup specialist – that means that his job is literally to read business plans and work with entrepreneurs to develop them into something that can be a sustainable business and most often attract a funding round. Considering the popularity of (we’ve all seen the #s lately – FB=220mn users with 3+bn minutes/day spent on. is 34+mn actives. grew 1,382% yoy in feb… cough-monetize, all of you-cough!) social networking and the noisy coverage major media outlets have given them of late, it’s not surprising that Chris is seeing the next Facebook, Twitter, and so on every single day.

That said, here’s what I responded:

“maybe. depends if its just an augmentation or if it’s actually building on a communication pattern we havent considered digitally yet. e.g. twitter was transformational and not a replication.”

Another of Chris’ friends responded to me:

“How is Twitter transformational? It is clearly unique in the style and model of communication. From a usage perspective, it has been incredibly successful. Not that I disagree, I just don’t


see how it is transformational.”

And I again responded:

“access, at least in current (read early) users. user-base is incredibly flat. from what ive seen, the brevity-ubiquity combo has allowed thought leaders to interact without breaking stride.

mass real-time. very very transformational. completely different than google/facebook (thus recent FB activity)

additionally, the idea that the technology at its core (not the implementation and scaling which is indeed complex) is simple and the


real value comes from what can be imagined and built off of a wide open API.”

I think Twitter is transformational for these 3 reasons (I’d postulate more but with a deadline looming, I’m just going to get these out so I can get work done) and here’s a bit more rationale:


– the nature of twitter – brevity and ubiquity – truly allows access while maintaining the context of a conversation. I’ve had the pleasure of actually accessing thought-leaders in the fields I’m interested in. In fact, it’s what my following (who I follow) is composed of – thought leaders in economics, strategy, web, angel and vc. Because keen users employ non-invasive tools to consume and produce, busy people making important decisions can quickly and easily reply, even converse, without breaking workflow.

Mass real-time

– were I Google, I’d be scared! (side note – beyond their own hardware coupled with android, <- old story but still real implications) Ok, I wouldn’t be scared if I were Google, but seriously – cached/indexed results are the way of yesterday…today annnd maybe tomorrow (for a while). Think about this – I and I find out what’s trending NOW. Who’s mentioning my search term now…. and now… and now… (you get the picture). This is INVALUABLE and Facebook is beginning to understand that. It’s transformational in that it’s real-time data, it’s accessible to anyone anytime, and the data is FREE to be used as you please (which leads me to my next point…)

Simple and open – The input-output for of twitter is simple. It’s short, the interface isn’t complex. Data is relatively flat. Things get interesting with a usable . I look at it like I look at the Google Generation – the data/answers are out there. You can find them in .027 second. You can probably find 10,000 answers. It’s not about finding it or rote memorization anymore. It’s about application of the data/answer and the context. It’s what you DO with it. (note to teachers – application not memorization). The interface and technology are simple. I’d say they are so simple they are enabling. The real power is being able to step into this room, get your bearings in the midst of this huge conversation, extract VALUE from it and then do something with it. The ability is there (access to said data = great revenue point, dontcha think?), the key is thinking critically about what should be gathered, why, and how/to what it’s applied.

An augmentation of Facebook, Delicious, Digg, even Twitter, isn’t interesting to me. Fundamentally I consider these to be tools facilitating a more . It boils down to communication and each major player has understood (and perhaps shaped a bit from there) a key characteristic of how we communicate on which it has built. Twitter, most recently, has succeeded in facilitating time and space shift, forcing a distilling of communication, connected, and given us the opportunity to turn our signal which, blended can be noise, back into signal right NOW.

What do you think? Am I wrong? What makes an app transformational versus ‘just another’? Does Twitter qualify? What’s next?



Chris will be facilitating April 3-5 @ TechColumbus. We have over 100 people signed up already. , held last summer, boasted 130+ with 2 companies being formed that are still in operation today.

That same weekend I’ll be facilitating (April 3-5). It’s the first time the event is being held in the Windy City. The event is at TechNexus and I invite anyone in the area to attend. We’ve got plenty of space. I know the city has many other tech-related events including and , but this is a unique event focused on building community and promoting innovation, creativity and critical thinking. is the local organizer and is sponsoring.

Nick Seguin

i have a hammer, someone taught me how to hit a nail… but why am i doing it?

May 14th, 2009 by Nick Seguin

A (some might contend THE) business periodical in Columbus, Ohio put together a “Social Media Bootcamp” this summer aimed at small-medium businesses. The goals (quickly paraphrasing here) are to introduce social media and a number of tools for use.

I’ve got some good friends who are presenting as part of the summer-long series. These friends, unlike many, are legitimate digitals – concerned with strategic deployment, measurement and bigger picture.

However, their presentations are focused on specific tools and networks (because this is what the camp is aimed at).

I’m not opposed to the introduction of and education on tools. It’s important.

However, I think that this camp, and SMB in general, with regard to the approach to ‘social media’ is off-target, or at least putting the cart before the horse.

1) Stop calling it social media. Start calling it social web. Web is the platform, and tools, behaviors, expectations and technology are socializing it.

2) Before you pick up your hammer and swing, let’s talk about why you’re doing it. Will the picture you’re hanging balance the room? Will you be moving it later in the month when you remodel? Are others hanging pictures? Do people even want to see this picture? Is it the right one? or does it completely throw off the theme you’re going for?

-Straight up – small and medium (even large) businesses are hip to the hype – they hear “twitter” “social media” “linkedIn” “money money money” and think “my god I’ve got to get into this!”.

Ok – maybe.

I’d like people to take a step back and understand their environments in more detail before running to learn about tools.

1) Understand your business/industry environment. Who are you serving? Who should you be serving? What is your brand? What is the industry doing? etc etc. Often, when we engage clients and work through our process, we find the standard discovery is eye-opening in that the questions we are asking have never been asked (or at least haven’t been asked in a very long time). Before you run to broadcast to the world, to engage clients and activate advocates, don’t you think you should be pretty solid on who you are, what you stand for and what you want to achieve? Else, you’re creating a spike – something that’s not sustainable and won’t have lasting impact.

2) Understand the web environment. Being able to Google something and having a Hotmail account does not mean understanding the web environment (no offense to anyone there – it helps us stay in business). The web environment is not LinkedIn & Twitter. It’s not generating leads and broadcasting (read: shouting). The web environment is a combination of light, flexible, adaptable technologies, psychological and sociological factors, time and space shift, combination and recombination, human and NOW. Business-speak: the web environment is consumer empowerment and pull-model. It’s customization, comparison, 24-7, conversation and individual. The web environment is access, value-add and trust.

If you can’t understand the web enviornment, the , then tools which exist there are useless. Time put into them is useless. Lasting value can’t be generated.

Small business or large, regardless of end-goals for implementing social web in a business environment, a failure or inability to understand the landscape and fundamental parameters often means an attempt at a quick fix and an outstretched hand at dollars instead of value.

What do you think?

Nick Seguin

Consequences of Positive Acquiescence Bias in Enterprise/Internal Social Networks and Social Business Design

May 7th, 2009 by Nick Seguin

I read an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal entitled “”. In it, Geoffrey A. Fowler and Joseph De Avila note that the “average grade for things online is about 4.3 stars out of five”. This may be a surprise to many (or at least it was to me) as a good part of the criticism I hear about web – especially social web – is in regard to the capability and aptitude of people to write/speak negatively. We hear about the ability of one negative experience-turned-review to snowball into a train wreck begging for disaster relief (see Pete Blackshaw’s Tell 3000


Grade inflation (Positive Acquiescence Bias – thanks ) seems to be prevalent across the web – YouTube and Amazon are both reporting it, and averages are higher in the UK (4.4) than the US.

While I don’t see any critical problems with positive acquiescence bias on the public web (buyer/browser/analyst beware & get smart), it made me think about the manifestation of this behavior on internal social networks – especially as more organizations are exploring and deploying mechanisms and/or re-engineering for some degree of social business design (, ).

Significant capital outlay for technology, change management, HR moves and more means that social business design is an investment. The investment is worth it, according to , but as companies push deeper into the space and begin to rely more heavily on information and insights gleaned from digital environments, I think we need to be aware of patterns and possible skews.


Because connecting a workforce is proving valuable: real-time feedback and data mean fast learning, course correction and innovation. applied to knowledge, resources, and options can quickly gauge a global and disparate organization’s sentiment and needs, allowing for informed business decisions… ‘informed’ being the operable word here. If feedback is inflated (one way or another), organizations need to be wary of making decisions based on it. The opportunity to gather and act on data is certainly there. It’s the qualification of that data, per the tendencies being reported in similar environments, that must be remembered.


As says, “sample sizes and % participation and correlated results from different data sets are key to interpreting these kinds of things” but I’m also wondering – Do we design against/for it? Do we coach against it? I’m not even close to an expert on reputational systems (again, see )) and haven’t researched inflation results beyond the WSJ article, but it made me think:

  1. Are grades inflated?
  2. Are there reputational system design considerations which can be made to combat or normalize this behavior or the data?
  3. Is there group behavior coaching or leadership that can modify this these patterns?


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Nick Seguin

attention and network are spent before cash

May 5th, 2009 by Nick Seguin

i said something a while ago that i thought had some value. so, i put it up on my .

we live in an economy where the currencies of attention and network often need to be spent before the currency of cold hard cash is.

i repeated this idea in an article that i recently submitted to to be published in one of their upcoming newsletters (not sure exactly when it’s coming out).

we’ve experienced a redefinition of value and a realignment of the engagement cycle. value comes in education and legitimization and engagement starts far before purchase, at least for those who are winning meaningful work and building sustainable relationships.

an educated buyer dictates engagement and has more access than ever before. a value transaction must begin immediately as your targets assemble profiles and self-educate, removing a portion of your previous Pokies contact [in-person opportunity] with them.

i know i refer to seth’s blog a lot, but validated my position on all of this. i echo his sentiment when he says that we need to begin building trust and permission before we can ask for money.

digital is one (very important) medium when it comes to a) this broader continuum of engagement and b) the marketplace in which these newly important currencies are spent.

Design by Phil Franks. Programming by Bobby Whitman.
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