Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MobileTribe: One Way “Unified Communications” Becomes “Unbridled Collaboration?”

So. This whole “social media” thing. Hmm.

I mean, I get it on a personal, visceral level. But for business, only a little so far. Not so much. I keep waiting for things to move forward a bit further.

I think as good a map as any is the blog post “10 Ways Social Media Will Change in 2009,” by Ravit Lichtenberg, founder and chief strategist of, “a boutique consultancy focusing on helping startups succeed,” according to the founder herself. I'm particularly focused on the following ways cited by Ms. Lichtenberg (although I agree with all 10 of them and urge you to read them all):

2. Creating Meaning and Value;
3. Enabling Convergence;
5. Creating Relevant Social Networks;
6. Innovating in the Advertising Space;
7. Helping People Organize Their "Old" Social Media Ecosystem; and
10. Making Money.

I believe that those companies and services that focus on the above imperatives will not only help me to understand more completely what all the fuss is about, but will actually make money and deliver value. And I believe there are candidates already among us.

One matched pair of such candidates is the combination of iSkoot and INQ, featured in a clear and well-written article by Marguerite Reardon of CNET News on Mar. 11, 2009, the two companies are working together to enable inexpensive mobile telephones to access Web-based social media and collaboration features akin to those supported by more expensive “smart phones” and monthly data plans. iSkoot will supply software development tools and support to incumbent telephone-makers, while INQ focuses on delivering new, low-cost phones incorporating the iSkoot features, according to the article. Since iSkoot pioneered bringing the low-cost Internet-based Skype telephone service to mobile phones, I'm at least guardedly optimistic here.

Another worthy candidate, and my personal favorite to date, is MobileTribe. The company just announced version 2.0 of its software, which now supports access to Facebook, Google, MySpace, Orkut, Plaxo, and Yahoo! collaboration and social media features via a single application. And since MobileTribe can re-format (or “transcode”) streaming content on the fly, users can share pictures and videos from, for example, YouTube or MySpace through that same application. There is even integration with the JaJah Web-based telephony service, for inexpensive voice communications with your consolidated friends. (I've played with the MobileTribe 2.0 software, and the user interface is pretty nifty – it's easy to switch from one service to another, and to select among address books, blogs, e-mail, friends, pictures, and videos.)

MobileTribe currently supports BlackBerry devices and a growing range of smart phones. Also, I'm told that support for more business-oriented social networks such as LinkedIn are coming. I'm thinking that a “business class” version of the software focused on consolidating business users' access to FaceBook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, other so-called “professional networks” and perhaps internal corporate networking and collaboration features has got to be in the offing as well.

MobileTribe may represent the most advanced current vision of how that long-desired Holy Grail, “unified communications,” actually works and makes money in real life. As new advertising and other revenue-generating models join the party, users should increasingly gain new abilities to decide with whom, how, and when to communicate and collaborate, from wherever they are, using the devices most convenient for them at the time. This is the kind of unified communications that can enable the broadest possible range of ad hoc, yet well-managed collaboration choices, for the broadest range of users, business and otherwise.

Might even make me get this whole social networking thing...and finally break down and get one o'them smart phones...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 Government Accessibility, Responsiveness, and Transparency, By the People, For the People!

I've embarked on yet another little project I feel is a great emerging example of how modern technologies can enable new and better collaborations -- such as those between government and the governed. The relevant news release appears below. Please visit and participate!

Edison Innovations Launches, a Web-Based Platform for Creating Better Government

Public “Wiki” Designed to Enable New Government Accessibility, Responsiveness, and Transparency Seeks Content, Ideas, and Funds

KENWOOD, Calif., March 2009 – Edison Innovations, a company focused on delivery of “innovation as a service,” announced today an open testing and collaborative development initiative for its project., an evolving online resource designed to help build new, citizen-controlled bridges and communications channels linking government with the governed, in any locality and nation-wide. is a public “wiki” for which any interested citizen can contribute, edit, or comment upon content. is much like Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, and is based on the same supporting technologies and principles. Citizens, employees of government agencies, politicians, and others interested in increased government accessibility, responsiveness, and transparency are invited to visit the Web site (at, and to contribute to its features, development, and support.

“Wikipedia has evolved from a Web-enabled experiment and curiosity to perhaps the preeminent collaborative information source in the world,” said Michael Dortch,'s chief evangelist and 30-year information technology (IT) industry veteran. “Similarly, modern 'social media' tools are evolving into essential enablers of communication and collaboration. will leverage these technologies and trends, to provide new connections between and among those in government and those they govern.

“Our situation as a species, as a nation, and as distinct communities has changed and requires new models for the relationship between our civil servants and the civic body,” said Cliff Figallo, an Edison Innovations and advisor and a founder and coordinator of SociALCHEMY, an expert network focused on transforming how groups think and the media they use to do so. “Governments and the citizens that elect them must be more communicative and coordinated about who takes responsibility for what actions, because there will be more to do than either can do alone. is not an adversarial play – it's a collaborative play.”

“With, we can bring the wisdom, experience, and creativity of millions to bear on solving the problems President Obama is so clearly bringing to the forefront of our collective consciousness,” said Larry MacDonald, founder of Edison Innovations. “These resources have always been there, but almost never well utilized. The ability to collect and focus them is America’s secret weapon, and one with global reach. Just as America played a major part in ending World War II, it will do the same with this economic war, thanks to, a strong example of the types of needs-driven, opportunity-rich projects Edison Innovations pursues.” is open now to any and all interested contributors of content, funds, or ideas. Functionality will be expanded during the next few months, as user input is received and integrated. For more information about, contact Michael Dortch at or at (US) +415/310-6480.

About Edison Innovations, Inc.

Edison Innovations is a company that combines unique intellectual property, real-world experience, modern technologies, and the intuition of crowds to provide smart solutions to address significant market needs. The company provides “innovation as a service” via outsourced research and development (R&D) services, focused on identifying and selecting high-potential market needs and pains, then developing and bringing to market solutions to those pains. Founder and CEO Larry MacDonald, founder/CEO, brings strategic direction, innovation and vision to the company, based on 40 years of experience across multiple industries and services. Larry hosted the world’s first online entrepreneur’s conference for ten years. More information is available at, or through, or at (US) +707/833-2280.