Extrastatecraft, the Game of Go and Digitalization as an Oxymoron

In “A Thousand Plateaus”, in a chapter entitled “Treatise on Nomadology: The War Machine”, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari utilize the model of the game Go to illustrate the dispositions of the “war machine” – an array of conflict that is “exterior to the state”.

What might be the implications of this notion when it comes to the infrastructure of the internet?

Any infrastructure is a setting that controls our lives to a certain extent.

“Microwaves bounce between billions of cell phones. Computers synchronize. Shipping containers stack, lock, and calibrate the global transportation and production of goods. Credit cards, all sized 0,76 mm, slip through the slots in cash machines anywhere in the world. All of these ubiquitous and seemingly innocuous features of our world are evidence of global infrastructure. – In the retinal afterglow is a soupy matrix of details and repeatable formulas that generate most of the space in the world –“

So begins the dystopian story of the infrastructure of our time, “Extrastatecraft” by Keller Easterling. This epic book describes the prevailing conditions of the global digital and physical capitalist system.

In this book, Easterling sets out to analyze the current situation via the themes of “zone”, “disposition”, “broadband”, “stories”, and “quality”. The approach, case studies and perspective in this book are very leftist, but will carry relevance to anybody interested in these topics.

As reflected upon by Easterling, the sociologist and anthropologist Bruno Latour has written that networks and infrastructure are composed of both social and technological actors. Think about the most popular social networks. According to Easterling, they may be “conglomerates of many surprising sets of agencies”.

Whichever corporations control the algorithms of these conglomerates, however, have rapidly taken over the framework and infrastructure where we operate in our daily lives.

I would argue, in the spirit of Easterling, that the algorithm of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, for instance, are very powerful ones, in as much as they control our current social lives and actions online.

As Easterling describes, for Deleuze and Guattari, “the war machine conquests operate in the “smooth” space of Go, instead of the “striated” space of chess.” The main distinction here is that whereas chess offers hierarchy, and each game piece operates via established hierarchical routines, Go only allows areas of black and white stones to move on a grid as each attempts to conquer ever-changing territories.

What are the implications of this notion for the 21st century and the digital industries?

Coming back to algorithms, and taking the algorithms of our most powerful social media tools as example, any attempt to run an agile and successful software company should be based on the game Go, rather than the game of chess.

My next question, then, is, how to make the algorithm appealing to masses, and  what might then be the driving values that eventually make successful companies with this operating system, as these must matter as well? Or do the values matter?

Digitalization is an oxymoron in the sense that it implies to a change, whereas now it seems that in our current economy it only adds a layer of infrastructure upon it.

I firmly believe now more than ever any aspiring startup entrepreneur must consider the social and global impact of their service and product, and play a game of Go.

Get “Extrastatecraft – the Power of Infrastructure Space”, 2014, by Keller Easterling on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Extrastatecraft-Power-Infrastructure-Keller-Easterling/dp/1784783641/

or

Get “A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia”, 1987, by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari:

https://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Plateaus-Capitalism-Schizophrenia/dp/0816614024/

On Personalization and Generating ROI Online

According to the recent Salesforce “State of Marketing” report that surveyed 4 000 marketing leaders worldwide, by 2021, around 75% of marketing budgets will be spent on digital marketing efforts.

So what kind of marketing efforts are the most effective when it comes to online marketing?

This, of course, depends on the customer segments you reach out to, and the desired return of investment of each channel. Mobile is becoming increasingly important, of course. But I will give a few pointers more.

It is a well-known fact that standard display ads are not actually viewed by anyone online in around 50% of the cases. According to many sources, the average click-through rate of a standard banner ad is around 0.12-0.14 %. As the use of ad blockers is on the rise, it is gradually becoming even more difficult to deliver relevant ads to potential and returning customers online. This is one reason why the app industry is so big now.

Around 30% of all Finnish people currently use this kind of software, with the same figure now being over 50% among Finnish youth. I use this kind of software myself, only occasionally turning it off for any site.

According to Contently, however, data-driven marketing efforts lead to revenue increases for over 50% of the marketers, and over 75% of marketers generated positive returns from content marketing.

As often cited, content is still king, and in the online kingdom, it seems that context is queen.

Creating original content that will be displayed in the relevant context matters, and so it will in the future too. This is where search engine marketing and optimization via keywords and metadata come in.

In case your team still has no segmented content strategy, I think you should definitely create one soon.

Personalizing online content drives revenue, and this is evident based on this year’s Salesforce report.

The Salesforce “State of Marketing” report breaks the marketing teams surveyed to three categories: underperformers, that are “slightly” or “not at all” satisfied with their current marketing outcomes, moderate performers, that are “very” or “moderately” satisfied, and high-performers, that are “extremely” satisfied with their marketing outcomes. Of the 4000 teams surveyed, only 18% fall into the last category.

According to this year’s report, 83% of the high-performing marketing teams worldwide use customer data to segment or target ads. 79% of these teams currently employ some form of predictive intelligence in their marketing, with 49% of these marketing teams reporting extensive usage of online personalization.

This is what high-performance inbound online marketing now and in the very near future is all about.

Asking to subscribe an email newsletter or registering in order to download original content makes all the difference. An easy-to-find, easy-to-fill, concise contact form with questions on some basic demographic information is needed, of course, in order to get a segmented, up-to-date customer register together.

I find the increasingly common pop-ups asking to supply any information really annoying, and would thereby recommend that the contact information or registration form is included at the very front page of your company, or alternatively, appearing right next to your most popular pieces of content.

A/B testing different landing pages with a contact form is a very useful technique to ensure, that the bounce rate and churn rates are kept to a minimum, and you are getting people to sign up and stay.

It is paramount to collect behaviour-based data as well.

Google Analytics will deliver detailed reports on website visitors, as long as the Tag Manager is utilized to its full potential, and aligned with the selected attribution models of monitoring the customer journey.

When optimizing and personalizing, it is good to keep in mind that the majority of any first-time website visitors, especially those that are browsing the site mobile, are unlikely ready to be your customers – and it is likewise unlikely that they will ever convert, if the initial call-to-action is missing. So there must be something easy-going for these visitors to do besides making a purchase. Liking or sharing website content in social media are examples of such actions.

And naturally, returning visitors are likely be more satisfied, if you can target them with some form of optimized content. If and when the conversion happens, this should, of course, also be acknowledged – for example by a simple “Thank you” note and by simultaneously giving the customers a chance to give immediate feedback on their experience. In the ideal situation, after the initial conversion happens, the customers are also offered some relevant, personalized content in the newsletter and at the website.

I found this infographic on the online marketing environment below in a SlideShare presentation – the size of each circle is representative of the approximate ROI of each channel. This image was created in 2014. I firmly believe we will observe a significant increase in the SEM and SEO & Content ROI over a few years.

digitalmarketingbw

Read the article “Your Content Is Outstanding But Is It Standing Out?” by Sanjeev Nambudiri:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/your-content-outstanding-standing-out-sanjeev-nambudiri

With BuzzSumo, you can find out about today’s content trends and see how your content is performing: http://buzzsumo.com/

Website Grader, powered by HubSpot, is a nice, free tool for rating your website’s overall performance: https://website.grader.com/

Reconsidering the Priorities of Museum Practice

The question I ask myself every now and then, is – as Michael Edson put it, visiting Helsinki last autumn – if there exists “a bias” in the museum industry of “getting a person in front of the artwork” in a museum setting? And if this is true, should we reconsider and revise the priorities of current museum practice?

With the fabulous new HAM (http://hamhelsinki.fi) re-opened and a brand new art museum Amos Rex (http://amosanderson.fi/en/lasipalatsi/) soon to be constructed directly opposite to the Kiasma – and moreover, the annual museum card gaining in popularity – well, the industry seems to be blooming here in Finland. The Finnish National Gallery alone attracted well over 500 000 visitors last year.

Even the Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation seems to have a vested interest in the Finnish museum-going people, as well as the steady flow of tourists visiting Helsinki (http://www.guggenheimhki.fi/en/).

However, my question, regarding the possible bias is, how can museums best reach out to new audiences, besides “the regular crowd” visiting the museum’s collections and intriguing exhibitions at the physical site?

A few years back, the Rijksmuseum, located in Amsterdam, Netherlands, transferred well over 100 000 high-resolution images of the artworks in their collection in the internet. In conjunction, the museum also created the Rijksstudio, where the general public can create their own collections of images and edit them. Furthermore, the collection data of these artworks can now be downloaded free of charge. An unprecedented online buzz resulted.

As the most feasible way to reach people besides those visiting the museum site is to upload quality content, for example, images of and information on artworks on the internet or social media, many museums around the world are starting to embrace open data.

In the book “Sharing is Caring – Openness and Sharing in the Cultural Heritage Sector”, Merete Sanderhoff describes the current online and offline practices of the Statens Museum for Kunst, located in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Last week, Sanderhoff also visited the Finnish National Gallery, giving a brief talk of her work in the SMK.

What makes the current practice of the SMK really groundbreaking is that the staff of the museum, on all levels, is now deeply involved in facilitating sharing, reuse, sampling and remixes of the digital resources.

Some prime examples of the facilitation of image reuse are the extensive community projects that have been undertaken by the SMK staff. These involve getting a group of local youth to meet the staff once per week, to brainstorm and carry out projects where the artwork images are appropriated to the cityscape, as well as handing over control of the museum space to artists and creatives for an arts hackathon.

In her talk, Sanderhoff emphasized that acting as a catalyst for creative ideas of the general public or other creative people is now a practice permeating the organization of the SMK.

Last year, the FNG conducted an extensive research on its audience’s preferences regarding art museums. For this research, 500 people from Finland were asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding their views on art. This questionnaire included 18 sample images of the artworks of the collections of the FNG.

This research clearly indicated, that in addition to viewing art in a museum setting, the majority of Finnish people who replied to the questionnaire would also like to see artworks elsewhere – for example on the streets of their cities, or when visiting shopping centers – or even when using public transportation.

I think the FNG’s recent collaboration with the Lux Helsinki light installations festival in the beginning of this year makes for a prime example of contemporary art reaching out to new audiences, of art integrating to the cityscape, as well as of art becoming a topic of various conversations on the internet. By collaborating with the festival, the FNG attracted numerous new visitors in the Ateneum building, while the beautiful images of the colorful façade and the various light installations inside spread online during the festival.

The results of this type of collaborative projects can be very rewarding for all parties involved.

Art can substantially enhance the look and feel of the cityscape, and our everyday environment. And besides the museum site, given a chance, art can also thrive online and generate a buzz online and in social networks.

In order to better address their long-term strategic objectives, will art museums be making this kind of collaborative and community-based practice and reaching out to new audiences online their top priority in the future?

A Contrapuntal Framework

So it was winter solstice yesterday, and next year is getting close.

Last year, around this time of the year, I was involved in working on my first Finnish National Gallery project that was to be online by my winter holiday in Mexico.

This year, I have been working in the Finnish National Gallery in various other projects. We have co-created the Flockler site Kanvas, http://kanvas.kansallisgalleria.fi, and I have been responsible for creating the platform for the research publication FNG Research, http://research.fng.fi.

My main task in the FNG, however, has been different.

The project kicked off for my part after my holiday.

One of the resulting documents was a roadmap for the digital services development of the FNG for the ongoing and upcoming two years. This roadmap suggestion for the Board of the FNG was the refined result of a consulting company’s output. They had been interviewing a few of our personnel in brief and had held a planning workshop for some of our experts as well.

The results of the consultancy were found useful, paving the way for the future developments.

But the task of creating a proper strategy implementation was still lacking completely after the project by the consulting company was over last spring.

My major task this year has been to facilitate strategy implementation. I have been a member of the Digital Services Steering group since I started out. This year, I have been organizing implementation workshops for the other digital services and communications personnel of the FNG. The first one was a workshop on social media last spring, and the other two workshops on digital services development this autumn.

Before the first workshop, I was struggling to pick the best ”contrapuntal” framework, so to speak, in order to get everyone’s harmonius input together, as well as different perspectives on the implementation out. The balanced scorecard method seemed appealing and useful, and to me like the best planning tool.

The FNG wishes to triple its unique online visits. With these kind of tools, with having the BSC and by keeping on updating it, I am confident that it should be relatively easy to reach that goal.

Now, with the BSC and other documentation together, it’s time for me to move on. I enjoyed the project! Looking forward to next year…!

About the Game of Content Creation

The average attention span of a person online is around 8 seconds. This calls for bite-sized, innovative, relevant and valuable content in any online service. Content is still king, since it is what inbound marketing is all about. So what does it take to succeed, when ”the king” is involved?

With content marketing having become an onbnoxious buzzword and with the amount of content online being massive and ever-growing, there is a sense of fatigue involved. However, compelling content remains exactly what is driving more and more people from the audience online into the sales funnel and some of these customers eventually towards being brand advocates.

Having a proper content strategy is paramount, but I think it matters even more who and how many the people in your organization involved in content marketing are.

In an ideal situation, there would be various different personas around.

First of all, you need several crafters of content – these are the people who will draft the relevant content. These people would have to be capable of authoring and co-creating interesting content, and preferably creative. The content crafting team may also consist of people working with many other tasks in the organization. If this is the status quo, the team needs to devote weekly meetings and daily working time for content creation.

So you got your team of innovative content creators together? That’s great.

Content drafted by the team may still need some tweaking, so having a content editor or two helps in keeping the message consistent.

Before publishing, you would also have to hire a designer to make sure that all the content being created and taken online is visually consistent as well as possibly a developer to oversee technical functions. These tasks can of course be outsourced, but should never be overlooked.

Moreover, you would also have to employ a person to put together a promotion plan for the great content that the content creation team has produced. And on top of that, you would also need an analyst to follow the key metrics of success and to drive search engine optimization.

The conclusion is that successful content marketing always calls for the input of a team of several people from various backgrounds, even if these employees were to be multitasking talents.

Once the content management team has been established, and the target audience defined, it should be no problem to create and publish enticing content as well as follow up on the results and return of investment.

Without a court ”the king” may not rule.

Further reading on content marketing:

http://www.business2community.com/content-marketing/content-marketing-trends-2015-weve-seen-01369898

http://www.content-loop.com/the-top-10-marketing-trends-that-will-define-2016/

Applying Agile, Lean and Scrum Methodology

I recently wrote in this blog about the current digital transformation in the museum industry, and emphasized the need for any organization attempting to thrive in the digital world to create a holistic digital strategy.

However, not all industry experts agree that strategy is that important.

Michael Edson, Web and New Media Strategist at the Smithsonian Institution, says that strategy is overrated.

In a SlideShare presentation entitled “Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast: Digital Strategy in a Changing World”, Edson lists ten reasons why:

In his opinion, strategy is over-glamorized, it is too inward-looking, it is too slow, it is too static, it overlooks crucial activities, it is incomplete, it has the wrong audience, it is dishonest, it fails to inspire, and, most importantly, strategy almost never succeeds.

In his presentation, Edson quotes Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electrics: “In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.”

The main issue here is that the implementation of the strategy “almost never succeeds”.

Why is that?

And more importantly, what, if anything, is there for the organization to do in order to not fail in the implementation phase?

Edson suggests that the common issue here is the methodology is flawed. As a potential solution for this problem, Edson strongly recommends implementing agile methodology.

In “The Agile Manifesto”, the main points of agile methodology are listed as follows:

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • working software over comprehensive documentation
  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • responding to change over following a plan

For Edson, this ideology of strategy implementation translates to “Think big, start small, move fast”.

In this context, Edson also recommends applying the lean startup model.

The lean startup model is based on the “build-measure-learn” feedback loop. This model is useful in developing a so-called minimum viable product, just to set in motion the feedback loop and the process of learning. What Edson recommends here, is to attempt to create an open, iterative workflow in the organization.

This, in his opinion, is a key factor in creating a healthy balance between “planning” and “doing”.

Ok, so your organization is now implementing the strategy via agile methodology and the lean startup model. But how to measure success?

In his presentation, Edson quotes Jim Collins, and concludes, that “What matters is not finding the perfect indicator, but settling upon a consistent and intelligent method of assessing your output results”.

I couldn’t agree more on this one.

What I would add to Edson’s suggestions is applying scrum workflow.

That would translate into having a sprint planning session, preferably applying daily scrum methods, and having sprint review and sprint retrospective events in the digital project development team as well as on the organization level.

I am very curious to see if the Museum Industry will find these methods useful in achieving strategic goals in the near future.

On the Digital Transformation in the Museum Industry

We are, all of us, living increasingly digital lives.

Many art institutions are now examining digital culture and its impact and making use of various digital media, digital platforms and digital technologies to connect to new audiences and to engage in a dialogue with existing ones. According to the “JWT The Future 100” trend report, this is one of the major global trends of this year. In the same report, it is stated that consumers, especially the so-called Millennials, are now taking good design as a given when it comes to digital services and other commodities. How do these developments affect the museum industry?

First of all, for any art institution or museum organization to be able to create a strong, meaningful and comprehensive presence in the rapidly evolving digital world, it – like any other organization attempting to thrive there – needs to create a holistic digital strategy, preferably with measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals. Add service-specific roadmaps and action plans, and keep updating the strategy as well as the related documents annually, and the organization is ready to start creating digital revenue.

As with many other projects, the best way to get started in creating a digital strategy is by benchmarking.

And when it comes to benchmarking the digital dimension, in the museum industry, one better get started with Tate.

Last year, Tate attracted almost one million unique visitors in its website per month. That makes almost 12 million online visitors per year.

What’s more, Tate has also conducted several in-depth surveys on who these website visitors are and what content they visit, and published the research results in the Tate website. Tate has also published numerous white papers on its digital projects online – including its digital strategy document.

Having a digital strategy is definitely a contemporary prerequisite for success in the web and the rest of the digital world.

But to build a truly digital brand, what has Tate done differently, compared with many other institutions?

Meet John Stack.

In order to achieve its goals in the digital world, Tate recruited a Head of Digital Transformation.

It was Stack who was the visionary and the architect of the Tate’s “fifth gallery,” its new online presence. Stack’s main task when collaborating with others on the digital in Tate was raising important questions about organizational structure, marketing strategy, product and service design, and return on investment, and asking, what would it take for Tate to be a truly digital organization?

The concise idea that Stack and his team eventually came up with was crucial for Tate’s success. It still forms the basis of Tate’s digital presence. That is the idea of “digital as a dimension of everything”.

I think this idea can be applied to any contemporary digital strategy.

According to Tate’s digital strategy document for the three-year period of 2013 to 2015, Tate’s audiences will have digital experiences that:

  • increase their enjoyment and understanding of art
  • provoke their thoughts and invite them to participate
  • promote the gallery programme
  • provide them with easy access to information
  • entice them to explore deeper content
  • encourage them to purchase products, join Tate and make donations
  • present an elegant and functional interface whatever their device
  • take place on the platforms and websites they use
  • minimise any obstacles they may encounter

Read more in the Tate website, see the SlideShare presentation on Tate’s digital transformation by John Stack, and check out the article on “finding the motivation behind a click” by John Stack and Elena Villaespesa: