Culture is our Business and Social Media is the Method of Communicating It.

It’s been a while since my last blog post. Let’s just call is year end and holidays shall we? I must admit I have also been busy observing the effect of social media on Canadian Culture through the lens of #idlenomore. As a social media specialist I would have to be living under a rock not to see the hash tag trending many times over the last 42 days, and yet, oddly enough, I see very few of my “fellow” social media” peers in Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto mentioning it at all in any way, shape or form. I find it a bit odd but then again I often wonder what they think it is to be engaged in social media communications as an “expert” for businesses. For now, I have to assume that like the status quo of Canada, they choose to ignore Idle No More, thinking that it will soon go away. For now, anyhow, it’s  just business as usual.

Which makes me laugh as that idea of Business as  Usual has already been shattered by Brian Solis in his book “NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL”. This title makes clear the effect of Social Media on the culture of Business.


I was educated in Canada’s finest Art Colleges and then did what I consider to be my Masters of Business Imagination by hanging out at the McLuhan Centre for CULTURE and Technology at the University of Toronto for several years in 1993-94 while working at the Art College as a Corporate Fundraiser, as part of team that raised one million dollars, to create the First New Media Lab at OCA — so I am attuned to not only Canadian Social media and business but Canadian Art and Culture.

As McLuhan said “Culture is Our Business”. For all those so called social media specialists in Alberta, Toronto and Vancouver who have not mentioned or weighed in on this movement, which is now a part of  Canadian “pop” culture – here is some advice —go back to school and study McLuahn, his Laws of Media along with studies in art and culture. These provide a foundation for critical thinking.

For those who think that culture is not our Business and who instead think that the business of the white European Settler, of our grandparents, including my family who settled in PEI from Scotland four generations, that is over 100 years ago along with the fathers of confederation and who signed those treaties with the First Nations of Canada. Those fathers included men from the British Crown, the Scots and the Irish. If you think for one minute that they were not focused on their own self interest in the form of European philosophy and culture over that of the diametrically opposed collective culture of First NATIONS  — please do me a favor and update your consciousness as soon as possible. There is a reason that McLuhan chose the pirate eye patch to be worn by the white business man on the cover of his book Culture is our Business.


While the effect of Idle No More has yet to be felt in the Canadian business community per say —it’s effect on Canadian Culture will be with us for decades to come. As First Nations move steadfastly towards updating Canadian Culture on the importance of their inherent treaty and collective rights —- business, aka the corporate body—- in Canada remains, at present, cool, calculating and unchanged. Ironically it is social media that has now imposed the elephant that will dominate the board rooms for decades to come. Lucky me I happen to work through this new communications channel and have my ear to the ground, it affords me to remain informed on the new and the NOW.

One day, many moons from now, I look forward to an open conversation with my peers on this matter, until then I will keep my left eye and ear open to the winds of change and try not to get blown away down here in Lethbridge, Alberta by the total lack of media & cultural literacy that has faced me every day since my return home to Alberta from the “big smoke” of Toronto over one year ago. Even though I was born and raised in Alberta the only word that comes to mind with respect to this attitude is one I learnt in art school. The word is “provincial“. A dangerous place to be for more reasons than one.

Re-Imagine. The Power of the Personal Brand.

Let me begin by saying that I love the new WordPress blog interface that I accessed via the new home page. Sweet. Looks and feels alot like Tumblr and yet I am glad I do not have to post only in that totally crazy mad world of the Creatives – I can still remain respectable and hire-able by posting to Word Press. 🙂 Thanks WordPress for being cool and creative and for still seeing the creative writing on the wall!

It has been a busy summer. mostly doing websites and managing some social media properties. As of late I have been away on yet another one of those client journey’s. It was the classic scenario. To begin they love that I am so creative and want to know what I think—even went so far to claim that they are “obsessed” by me. Not a good sign as obsession leads no good… but hey for the first few weeks I felt like I had just won a shot at the Olympic good metal round in Fencing, my favorite sport, and that someone was actually listening to what I had to say!  Then suddenly the honey moon was over and I am assigned to what feels like the position of “employee” as all my creative ideas are swiftly, with no explanation, swept under the carpet and we return to BUSINESS AS USUAL — even though we have not signed anything to that effect and I have from the start been no other then what my Twitter Profile states.

In an effort to cheer myself up I set about to read some good inspirational stuff on my iPad about what I do best  –which is communications. Early this am I came across a post that lead to an app for a guy who claims to be a MEDIA Futurist. Excited not so much by what he had to say, I am sure I have heard it all before after all I have been in this game for a hell of a long time now, both on the technology, creative and sales side and adore McLuhan but rather by the his method of engaging me I proceed to the Apple Store for a download. For me McLuhan, is still my main media man for 100 years after his birth he is one of the few intellectuals who gave credit to artists saying “I learnt everything I know from the Poets and the Painters”.   AMEN.

Anyhow, I downloaded Gerd’s app onto my ipad so I could experience my first personal brand app, that was the coolest part and I made mental note to blog about it later as it had the same mind blowing effect as a good cranial adjustment — waking up some nerve endings which have fallen asleep in the race to please offer appeasement.

So the guy is named Gerd Leonard — not an American as one would expect but a European – as all white people are anyhow…..a German actually – who lives in Europe, who of course, lived for some time in the United States and advocates – god forbid, some green solutions– probably a fan of that guy who wrote the book called The Solar Economy back in the day.  Thankfully, in the video I watch on my ipad app Gerd talks only about Media Ecology so I don’t have to worry about the thought police knocking at my door…

Alas I am trapped in Canada, a nation of bean counters, who simple don’t get what it is to be Creative when it comes to business —-even though they do try on occasion, which typically means paying lip service to some tired old ad agency in Toronto who still advocates a mix of media even as Gerd speaks to me via his personal app loaded onto my ipad in a You Tube Video posted at his channel about “The Future of Technology”.  He is cool school and apparently advises large fortune 500’s in Europe about change and employs 25 “Change Agents”. While I do feel a connection with him thanks to social media my ipad craps out half way through his talk due to a bad Bell connection.  While feeling uplifted I am quickly forced to go back to the reality of the day, one spent in a country where the dominant network does not know the works of Marshall McLuhan little lone some dude named Gerd who has his own ipad app and recommend that we all  “RE-IMAGINE”. One can only re-imagine what that means for the Future of Canada,eh?

UPDATE: Just went to like Gerd on FB and see that three of my Facebook Friends also like him. Surprise, one is Canadian – Don Tapscott, whose own writings are greatly influenced by McLuhan.

Social Media Shapes Society

Thrilled to find an article today on the release of another of the One to One Marketing book series. I began my serious study of marketing back in the late 90’s when I read the book “The One to One Future” by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers. It really inspired me and opened my eyes to the possiblities of a new way of marketing.

The title of their newest book is The Marketing Century: How Marketing Drives Business and Shapes Society. In the UK they are marking 100 years of Marketing. I am celebrating 100 years of McLuhan. If we place the two timelines side by each I am sure that we could see that it is Social Media that is the greatest force on shaping society today.

Watch the video below in which Martha speaks about the skill set of a top sales person in the age of relationship marketing where the skills of sales expertise, creative and analytics are big factors. What she says really resonates with my experience of the last decade as a Sales and Marketing consultant while touching on the new position that I have adopted.

Tribal KLOUT is in Full Effect

The backlash against measuring influence on Social Media is rising. Before you get up on your soapbox and rant however, I suggest you step back and look at the BIG picture in an attempt to “understand media” and the role that this tool and tactic plays in the evolution of Social Media. As usual I will refer to that 100 year old master of communications – Canadian Marshall McLuhan – born in Edmonton, Alberta under big blue skies and next to a deep river valley, which he said, gave him a perspective on what it is to be human in relation to nature: a dot on the horizon.

Further, I will remind you that these new measures of influence are based on algorithms designed by some programmer and has nothing to do with what you know yourself to be. Then again our entire ECONOMIC culture is based on similar concepts – your credit score for example. This is the tyranny of numbers divorced from the spirit and wisdom of ART. This has been the history of the world for the past 500 years. Get over it.

So McLuhan said that everything he knew he learnt from the poets and the painters. Painting was my first area of study which gives me “klout” with respect to my perception of New Media and its evolution into Social Media…

Consider this:
Marshal McLuhan first noted the retribalizing effect of electric technologies; they collapse space to a point, effectively recreating the continuous, ambient (aural) awareness of the tribe. The tribe is completely connected. All of its members have direct access to one another; there is little hierarchy, instead, there is an intricate set of social relations. Everyone thoroughly understands one’s own place, and that position is constantly reinforced by the other members of the tribe. Tribal society is static, which is to say stable, over long stretches of time – at least tens of thousands of years.

A bit mind blowing eh?? McLuhan is not easy. What he said, to this day, does not sit well with those who do have a firm grasp on the “The Laws of Media”….

Now think about your presence in Social Media. I bet you have already connected with your “tribe” – your family and friends and those who “think like you”. But there is more to it than that, especially if you are conducting “commerce” within that space. Now you have to add the complexity of

1. Connecting with users/consumers who think like you or who might resonate with your offer
2. Building community around your product and or offering – which by the way – better share some of the core values that they hold dear if you hope to attract, engage and build a relationship that leads to a SALE.

Thank Q. Once you have “their” attention the usual social tribal nice-ities are in full effect. The masters of this tradition – our first nations people, in spite of their dismal position in our current economic system, are one of the best role models we have. Study their traditional ways and modern moves —- in which everyone has a voice, everyone can speak in turn for as long as they wish until they have fully expressed themselves….everyone is heard…and everyone is RESPECTED.

As a search and social media strategist I may or may not be asked to show “social proof” of my skills. My knowledge of Media is not consider important – the average Canadian business client wants to know how much it will cost. Typically, they are not even aware of how many fans I have on my fb page, the type of posts I make, how many followers I have on twitter or what I tweet about. They then say in no uncertain terms that they are “too busy” to find out. My response? Time waits for no man or woman. If they choose to ignore the fact that Canada is one of the most connected and media literate cultures on the planet so be it. Their loss both financially and socially….

How can you assign a price to something that you do not even have a value for? The “tribe of Canadian business” owners has not assigned a value to “social media” for the most part they are still trying to figure out search. Further, they do not get the connection between sales and marketing and online world of mouth….still stuck in the idea that they can get referrals from neighbours that they don’t even know…who may be running a credit card fraud operation down their street in their own “nice middle class” neighbourhood…

In the interim, I continue to try to connect to my “tribe” – the CREATIVE and Media Literate. Best described by Derrick de Kerkhove in his book Brainframes as fast paced, flexible, informed, perceptive, ethically aware, technologically aware, environmentally conscious, knowing more than one culture, speaking more than one language, thinking globally, acting locally, ALL with Total artistic perception.

The role of the artist is to update consciousness. It is not a state that most enjoy. Change is uncomfortable and analysis of what that means with respect to big picture factors is not for the status quo. Give them another five years and they will be all on the bandwagon bragging about how much influence they have in their online communities. Human Nature being what it is, not much changes in the hearts, minds and egos of men and women.

Tribal Revolution 2.0

Tribal Revolution 2.0

The “REALITY” of the Camel Special vs Virtual Social Media platforms

Back to Reality

Back to Reality

Here is a great shot of the “camel special” I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. No disrespect to the camel by the way….it simply serves to deliver the “REALITY” of the Egyptian Regime in the form of a thug who hangs on to do battle against those empowered by virtual networks possessing exponential growth. Unless the earth shuts us down the collective consciousness will rise. Even if the Earth shuts us down spirit will rise!
Long live the City of the DEAD.

I am a SociaL Media expert, OK, so now what?

SEOmoz Social Media Marketing

View SEOmoz’s Social Media Marketing Guide

Over the past few days I have been having a twitter conversation with @AEB_IT regarding the requirements for calling oneself a “social media expert”. He quotes some guy who says it takes 10K hours to be an expert in anything…..

I would like to add to that 10K hours the following – an art/NEW MEDIA education investment of over 50K that spans three decades…starting at the bottom of the pit – so to speak – as a visual artist – mucking about with paint and paper…and going all they way through to classical animation and FLASH only to be kicked to the curb once again by the investment master of 3-D Animation -S. Jobs and locked out of the i-pad world- it never ends…(there is hope as RIM has its playbook on the way to save the flasher’s day…)

My take on it – is this….sure it is a new category – and there are no standards set – yet, and no real degrees being offered – but if one has a background in business art and technology with over a decade of experience in Sales and Marketing theory and has worked in the trenches and seen every kind of good and bad sales scenario while consistently holding ones head high and following the development of new media, the internet, its business models, mentors and heroes, read the NOW books and understands the process of creating and curating content from not only a digital advertising perspective but a down and dirty Wharholian STUDIO Factory …then, it is a pretty safe bet to say that from that knowledge BASE and or BANK – one could quite possibly have the wherewithal to develop “strategies” for Social media success…

If this “artsy” talk is all too much for you – allow me to give you a sports analogy. I am a fencer. I fence because it is a strategic sport. Why? Cause you learn the rules, train the body mind and soul and then faced with a million split second decisions you BUST a MOVE – lunge – and hit the target bang on!

Ironically I found the “badge” above on a site today where, in order to declare to the world that I am a social media expert it seems ALL that is required is the following:
1. Ability to cut and paste code
2. Access to a site or blog to post the copied code
3. Confidence to stand and defend one’s position as an expert just in case you get a call for work or get “called on it” …

Which, by the way – all boils down to SALES…..

You can call yourself an expert in anything but at the end of the day – you are going to have to sell that IDEA, service or product – in a very creative manner in order to engage your post modern technology driven cultural client and get him/her to trust you and believe that you are indeed an expert in said service, product or idea….

Here is the sting. Your client does not “get social media” – that is why they called you in the first place. They then ask for your ideas and because they are the BOSS they will try to put you in your place – cause they wonder “do those ideas really WORK, how can you prove it”? as if any one ever proved what half of the old school ad budget worked! But they are small biz they have always just relied on word of mouth – the problem is the “mouth has gone online, John and Joan…..” Then then tell you how it has always been done and how they want you to do it, even though they have NO IDEA what social media is all about. Now, if they were to followed your strategy their entire world would be turned upside down, that is the real fear factor…. just kidding….we take it slow….baby steps…..get a twitter page….a facebook BRAND page…….blah, blah,…

Chances are this potential client never studied NEW MEDIA or read the all time basic primer called The Laws of Media by Marshall McLuhan. but that is not their business….so they are forgiven…you on the other had are under the gun….
which is when I say the following –
“Try this logic –
People are social.
Social media is about people – not corporations.
It is a “people driven economy”.
People create networks.
Networks are cultures.
People create culture.
and the icing in the cake for social media experts like myself…

Study the graphic below, if you can figure out what Law the bottom right corner of the tetrad resides under you are on your way to understanding the sheer POWER of social media. That, however, is an “advanced” discussion, better left for at least another decade or so…

My Summer Saga I Pad Mega Media Adventure

“Well I actually think, behind the crisis is, the kind of the inflection point or the transformation point. If you look back at the two previous crises, and I’m actually writing a book on this, it’s called The Great Reset, hopefully you’ll invite me back to talk about it when it comes
out in April or May. But if you look back on previous crises, they’ve always been associated with the rise of new economic systems. So, the crisis of 1873 was associated with the rise of the first industrial revolution, and it gave rise to the second. The crisis of the 1930s was the rise of the second industrial revolution and these big steel companies and auto companies, and then we figured out how to make the society work.
This is really a crisis, not just of the financial markets and wanton spending and too much credit, it’s a tectonic crisis that’s associated with the rise of a new economic order.” – Richard Florida from HP interview today ……
It has been 4 months and the Crisis to which Richard speaks above has become for me – an ongoing EPIC adventure akin to that of Don Quixote.

Don Quixote

Love the media in the Don's hand, is it a long poking ipad thingy?

Armed with an Ipad, in the Spring I set out to take my business of sales and marketing consulting to the next level only to find myself filled with the creative angst of the Shakespearean query:  “To Be or Not to Be?”  which played out in spades over the spring and summer on a number of different levels with a number of different clients and their needs, wishes and demands. If I had the time or inclination to write down all the bizarre and laughable details it would be too much to believe, so allow me to speak in the sweeping terms of the times in which we live – and say that I have been off tilting at the windmills which represent old media vs new media while at the same time poking away at the Creative vs the Scientific, parrying between Male vs Female ways of thinking, engaging in left vs right brain processes and finally, lunging at LIFE and DEATH.
It all began April 20th with the BP fiasco which for me resulted in a long mediation on Modern Art and the Death of Culture
Death of Culture

Google death of culture and see who else has taken this subject on...

And so it was that I sashayed into a self interest course over the summer on “How to Die Well” thinking not of myself or those who I know but rather of our Culture as a whole, our Western culture which is now experiencing a deep grief and inability to come to terms with the loss of so much human, animal and plant life on daily basis due to its terrible inbalance which no man can correct. Indeed is seems that such a thing is impossible this late point in the game of western lifestyles, business practices and modes of thinking. I hoped for some reason to gain insight into what words I might be able to offer in the face of this ongoing  crisis. What ensued was a deep and often dangerous one sided discourse on life and death in the 20th Century lead by a leading expert who had failed to factor in …as they all seem to do….the effects of Media on the one hand and the natural balance of Life on the other which left me wondering, as usual, if my $50,000 art education investment was ever going to bear any fruit other than making me, once again, the OUTSIDER that Colin Wilson describes in his non fiction book on Artists.  Further, It left me grieving for the days when people still knew who McLuhan was in Canada. The expert heading up the session had attended Harvard and has worked in big Canadian Hospitals assisting over one thousand people in the face of their death. Still, like a fish in water what he was not aware of the environment that he lives – the Electronic Environment that McLuhan wrote of and how it that changed everything about our culture – including our response to Death and Dying…

As an artist, I have long embraced the concept that my Western Euro-Centric culture is on its death bed, a simple study of the works of the poets and painters shows this as a fact. What we see now are the final death throes of the demise of all our existing cultural institutions. For those who went to art school and studied the history of art this is not a new concept by any means. The absolute terror that this expert had seen over and over again by those facing death was the result of the TOTAL oblivion of their cultural memory which was delivered by the mercenary armies of the print bastards – armies who wiped out European Pagan and sacred culture and left all remaining scared of its monsters and demons and hungry ghosts and severely disconnected from any form of collective memory of ancestory in a matrix of disharmonic time which pits one race against another…

At one point the questions was posed as to why we were so terrified and disconnected when confronted with our own death or that of our family or loved ones. I tweeted out the word: “ARMIES”.

Buddy was completely taken back, shocked at the single keyword  which escaped my mouth like the a bird eating a small seed, quickly. The word came at him from what he thought was left field and he dismissed it as having no relevance to the rest of the conversation. All I can say is you cannot study the Media Theory of McLuhan for over 10 years and not know his theory on print and its relationship to citizen armies. If McLuhan is dry then try Bob Dobbs and the  “Print Bastards”. Same difference.

Greatest Salesman who ever lived!

The theology holds that “Bob” is the greatest salesman who ever lived, and has cheated death a number of times. He was famous for his SubGenius publication, SubGenius Pamphlet #1 (a.k.a. “The World Ends Tomorrow And You May Die”) (1979).

Whatever. If looks could kill I would have obliviated after that word “ARMIES” flew out of my mouth. From there on in I was cut off from an opportunity to expound on McLuhan or Bob Dobbs and had to listen instead to hours of discourse on Beuwolf, which incidently had been required reading prior to class.

I had googled the word Beuwolf and done the wikki check and found that it was some old english manuscript which made my hair want to fall out at the very thought of reading it so I got the equvilent of the Coles notes, reading the kids version which I picked up at Indigo. Before the class I scanned the book and looked at the pictures.

Shortly after my word was dismissed the history lesson began. I soon revealed my ignorance of British history by saying I did not know who Cromwell was. Back in my room later on I googled: Citizen armies on my IPAD and landed on the page below. The image says it all but the page honors McLuhan. DUH. Somewhere in a past I recall that I actually made an animated short on this concept — it is in storage somewhere…. Someday when I retire from this rat race or the world becomes truely aware of the environment in which we exist – and no, I do not meant the toxic slug of the old captains of industry — I will digitize my animated short and post it online…for now it is enough for you to study this picture and visit the link.

The Print Bastard

The Death of Western Culture