Monday, April 30, 2007

Hunting cool online

Marketers, especially the online variety, and anyone else chasing what's cool, will want to read the new Amacom book Coolhunting by MIT Sloan's Peter Gloor and Scott Cooper. There's two interesting things here: their advice for coolfarmers and a software tool, developed by Gloor, that tracks and analyzes online networks.

Coolfarmers, according to the authors, are people who facilitate the emergence of new ideas by tapping swarm creativity thru COINs (Collaborative Innovation Networks). Ben Franklin and VC John Doerr and Linux's Linus Torvalds are examples. Their effectiveness is based on four principles:

  • They gain power by giving it away.
  • They seed community with new ideas.
  • They create intrinsic motivation.
  • They recruit trendsetters.
If you want to track coolfarmers, trendsetters, and emerging coolness online, the authors offer a software tool called TeCFlow (Temporal Communication Flow). This program, which you can download free for non-commercial use, enables you to visualize and analyze online COINs by mining their communication logs. So, if you're a marketer, for instance, you could use TeCFlow to identify the topics that most interest the online communities that use your products and services or you could target those people who are trendsetters or you could become a coolfarmer yourself and create your own next best thing. Cool stuff.

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