Part of the APOC program at USC features guest speakers who come to our classes to share their triumphs, mistakes and lessons they learned in building their online communities and businesses. I think this is one of the most beneficial parts of the program as every one of these people has answered all of our questions openly and honestly and have given us perspectives that we wouldn’t normally have as we enter the social media/online communities space.

Entrepreneur Brian Norgard was a classic example of one of these people. He came to our Technology class on Wednesday, March 31, 2010, and I think I learned more about how to approach a business than from anyone I’ve met so far. Brian shared the following thoughts that I felt were invaluable as we approach our lives beyond graduate school.

He said that when you’re developing your own site and are building your business, the people you work with are the most important element. He said to seek exceptionally curious, vivacious people who have a different skill set from yours. Their skill set should compliments your skill set; know what you do well and what you don’t. He told us to value trust over skills.

There’s no such thing as protecting an idea. If you share it, the idea will get better and better with other people’s input. Talk to everyone about it – people will not only give you good ideas but will be happy to do so. He also said to go after busy people but be direct. State what you have and ask for what you want. At the same time, if people come to you for help, give it. If you help people, it will come back to you.

Brian also told us to read everything – you never know what you’re going to run into. This is very true. I’ve read more articles, blogs, stories and posts in the last three months than I’ve read in the last five years!

Another recent speaker was USC Professor/Author Henry Jenkins who came to our Social Dynamics class on Thursday, April 8, 2010. Jenkins wrote the book “Fans, Bloggers and Games: Exploring Participatory Culture” in 2006.  During the discussion, Mr. Jenkins shared that he had the most positive outlook on the media industry than any of our other guest speakers. He said that he doesn’t think that the demise of mass media will happen as fast as some of his journalism colleagues believe it will and that what will change the most are the distribution channels of content.

Jenkins talked about how the culture of Web 2.0 is taking aim at viral media and how we built our community by trading media back and forth. This ‘spreadable media’ had dwarfed the most popular most popular television show in the United States. He gave the example of the 2009 finale of American Idol when Kris Allen beat Adam Lambert. He said that over 43 million people watched the finale which was one of the most watched programs on television. When the video of Susan Boyle’s debut on Brittan’s Got Talent appeared on You Tube, it was watched over 200 million times. Then, Susan Boyle’s CD outsold every other artist in the United States in 2009. Jenkins says the reason is that Susan created interest in many different kinds of cultures including karaoke, mommy bloggers, science, fashion, realty TV, etc. Her video became spreadable media for all these groups, whose members developed a sense of ownership to Susan Boyle.  You can read more about Henry Jenkins on his blog:

And finally, I’d like to share with you a video of Jane McGonigal’s presentation at the TED Conference in February 2010. We are going to discuss developments in mobile, gaming and location based applications during our Introduction To Online Communities class on Monday, April 12, 2010. The video is about how we are currently playing online games about three billion hour each week. Her theory is that we can solve the world’s problems by playing 21 billion hours of playing games each week. I think she makes a pretty good case for it here.  Check it out: aDmAYR.

  1. […] Leave a Comment I mentioned USC Professor and Author Henry Jenkins in a previous blog post, Advice From The Experts, and his work in ‘spreadable’ media. He also penned another term that has been adopted by the […]

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