Using the Old Social Network to Create a New One

The subject line of the email from Alan Toman was simply, “Your Perspective.” The email explained that he was on a mission to speak to at least 100 people over the course of a couple of weeks, so he could directly ascertain the state of the economy, understand how various market segments were doing, where the prospects for growth were, etc. He didn’t want the filter of the media to cloud his perspective on these important topics. Our conversation that followed his email lasted for close to an hour and was quite enjoyable.

A few weeks later, I was pleasantly surprised to find another email from Alan summarizing the conversations he had. He had gathered and synthesized a wealth of information from people who are employed in many industries; from mobile, Internet and advertising to education, energy and finance; from entertainment, non-profit and software to VCs, IT and PR. Over half of the people he spoke to are CEOs, presidents, founders, partners and other senior executives. He also spoke to sales reps, managers, designers, developers and engineers.

His fifteen nine-page document was comprehensive and represented hundreds of hours of work. Although Alan’s background as a marketing innovator, an entrepreneur and executive has given him interesting challenges, he explained that he had never embarked upon a project quite like this one. In the course of his discussions, someone mentioned that what he was assembling was WOOF – Wisdom Of Observant Friends.

In keeping with the common thread of so many of his conversations, he then developed a web site; the WOOF Factor. One cool thing about his web site is that, like tens of millions of other sites, he is using WordPress as his content management platform. The interactive nature of WordPress is allowing him to extend the conversation he started with so many of us this past July. The nice thing about the open source WordPress (even the name has been given to the non-profit, WordPress foundation) is Alan will be able to control the content and won’t be subject to the whims of 3rd-party.

I am sure Alan will continue to keep the site updated with the old social network (e.g. the telephone) and inject that feedback into his posts. Because it is based on WordPress, it is easy to join and/or observe the conversation by simply subscribing. 

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