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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Organising conversations

'Markets are conversations'

In my view, that is the most powerful line in the Cluetrain manifesto. Markets have always been about conversations. People talk about stuff and exchange ideas. Traditionally however, these conversations are perishable i.e. once spoken, the conversation is gone. They are also restricted to face to face meeting.

Now with the web and the proliferation of services such as Twitter, Disqus, Backtype, the Facebook Status API etc, we are now able to do much more with our conversations. Ideas can now be stored and referred. Interactions can be searched. Questions can be answered regardless of time. Useful exchanges can be forwarded and shared. This simple fact changes the whole dynamics of conversations and in the process, of markets.

Conversations however creates attention problems i.e. too many people talking about too many things. Structured conversations on the other hand will unleash tons of value. Currently, StockTwit is the forerunner in creating value from organising conversations but that is only the tip of the iceberg:

- When will we go beyond merely aggregating conversations to actively seeding conversations, to alert people to relevant conversations taking place across the Web?

- When we will see the Twitter tags such as @, #, $$ etc being applied to the rest of the Web? When I can be alerted once people has tagged me?

- What other areas of conversations desparately needs organisation? Do we need StockTwits for health, sales, education, entertainment, dating etc?

- How can we better measure the impact of conversations? How can we see the velocity of conversations and the most affluence conversationalists?

There are many more areas left to explore and that is what makes organising conversations such a fertile area for startups.