Author Archives: Brian Solis

About Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

Source: Cafe Press

According to a press release published today by the Oxford University Press, the 2009 New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year is “unfriend.” Yes…as in “I’m unfriending you because I can’t keep up with all of the TMI you publish online.”

Just to clarify, the official definition is as follows:
– verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” notes Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program. “In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year. Most ‘un-’ prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar ‘un-’ verbs (uncap, unpack), but ‘unfriend’ is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of ‘friend’ that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!). Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”

Word of the Year Finalists:


  • hashtag – a # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets
  • intexticated – distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle
  • netbook – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory
  • paywall – a way of blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers
  • sexting – the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone


  • freemium – a business model in which some basic services are provided for free, with the aim of enticing users to pay for additional, premium features or content
  • funemployed – taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests
  • zombie bank – a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support

Politics and Current Affairs

  • Ardi -(Ardipithecus ramidus) oldest known hominid, discovered in Ethiopia during the 1990s and announced to the public in 2009
  • birther – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s US birth certificate
  • choice mom – a person who chooses to be a single mother
  • death panel – a theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed
  • teabagger – a person who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773


  • brown state – a US state that does not have strict environmental regulations
  • green state – a US state that has strict environmental regulations
  • ecotown – a town built and run on eco-friendly principles

Novelty Words

  • deleb – a dead celebrity
  • tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

Notable Word Clusters for 2009

Twitter related:

  • Tweeps
  • Twibe
  • Tweetup
  • Sweeple
  • Twitt
  • Tweepish
  • Twitterati
  • Tweetaholic
  • Twitterature
  • Twittermob
  • Twitterverse/sphere
  • Twitterhea
  • Retweet

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As I covered last week at PR 2.0, Twitter is slowly rolling out its Beta feature network-wide. Seems that I was included in the next wave of account updates. Here’s a screenshot of what you’ll see…(above)

The text reads as follows:

Hi there, you’re part of a beta group receiving this feature, which means you may start seeing retweets in a new way. People who don’t have this yet will see your retweets prefaced by “RT”.

As described by @Biz, co-founder of Twitter:

Retweet is a button that makes forwarding a particularly interesting tweet to all your followers very easy. In turn, we hope interesting, newsworthy, or even just plain funny information will spread quickly through the network making its way efficiently to the people who want or need to know.

The plan is to see how it goes first with this small release. If it needs more work, then we’ll know right away. If things look good, we’ll proceed with releasing the feature in stages eventually arriving at 100%.

The new retweet feature is particularly interesting as it organizes your experience directly at much in the same way third-party clients such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic have offered all along. Unlike these desktop applications however, remains as the pervasive interface for engaging on Twitter. For example, your lists, real-time search results, DMs, Twitter stream, and now retweets are key pillars to the personal experience at For most users, the new retweet functionality, combined with important, cached searches (including your username), the need to stray from Twitter’s online hub begins to dissipate. And, the timing couldn’t be better…

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Dell is releasing the new Adamo XPS today and I was given an exclusive opportunity to shoot it prior to the official launch.

It is a work of style and elegance.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story…

To see additional photos of the Dell Adamo XPS see my Flickr album.

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From PR 2.0

Source: Shutterstock

Prior to leaving Forrester to join Altimeter Group, Jeremiah Owyang, along with Josh Bernoff, Cynthia N. Pflaum, and Emily Bowen, published a report that attempted to bring the future of the Social Web into focus. If we viewed the content of his research as a social object, the conversations that would transpire could in fact expedite the development and implementation of the most valuable predictions and observations contained within.

The first part of the report observes the state of the Social Web and summarizes its direction:

Today’s social experience is disjointed because consumers have separate identities in each social network they visit. A simple set of technologies that enable a portable identity will soon empower consumers to bring their identities with them — transforming marketing, eCommerce, CRM, and advertising. IDs are just the beginning of this transformation, in which the Web will evolve step by step from separate social sites into a shared social experience. Consumers will rely on their peers as they make online decisions, whether or not brands choose to participate. Socially connected consumers will strengthen communities and shift power away from brands and CRM systems; eventually this will result in empowered communities defining the next generation of products.

In the report, Forrester documents the evolution and direction of the Social Web in several distinct stages:

1. The era of social relations – Starting with AOL and others in the mid-1990s, this era witnessed the connection of people through simple profiles and friending features that served as the foundation for online conversations through connections.

2. The era of social functionality – Evolving from friending to platforms that supported social interaction through applications and infrastructure, facilitating communities through relationships locked within the confines of a particular network.

As I’ve said before, social networks are jockeying to become our individual online OS – a Social OS essentially. Facebook released its Facebook Connect infrastructure to allow us to traverse the social web with our Facebook identity and relationships in tow, bridging our updates back to the Facebook News Feed to share with our social graph. This is a monumental furtherance as it starts to demonstrate the power of an interconnected activity and profile stream and network that makes the Social Web a much smaller place.

However, what we really need is a “Facebook Connect” within every site, not confined to or benefiting any one network. This will create the segue-way to the era of social colonization as predicted by Forrester.

This need is of particular, perhaps even consequential, interest to brands as they will spend an insurmountable amount of time, resources, and money trying to engage in noteworthy conversions across multiple networks of interest.

3. The era of social colonization – Deemed as the next stage of social evolution, which will emerge as soon as this year, tools such as OpenID and Facebook connect will enable individuals to freely journey from network to network. Forrester believes that we will be able to do so with our social graph in tact, but I believe that the initial phase of social colonization will make a general identity portable between networks. The portability of corresponding data, social objects, and friendships we maintain in each network becomes the Holy Grail.

For consumers, surfing the Web is no longer a lonely experience. Forrester foresees the release of new browsers and frictionless, uncomplicated technologies that allow people to truly surf the Web with friends or see what they’re doing in real-time.

Like we’re already witnessing or hearing (depending on your status on the  invitation list), Google Wave represents the ability to centralize and aggregate user activities and collaboration across the Web and across multiple platforms.

Forrester also observes that this era of colonization will leverage the recommendations of peers within the communities where individuals are active. Brands can capitalize on this behavior by instilling and engendering advocacy through direct engagement, blogger relations in the magic middle, and also via sponsored conversations.

This will serve as the bridge to social context.

4. The era of social context – Starting in 2010, social networks and sites will recognize the preferences of users, but more significantly, they will also recognize personal identities and relationships to customize the experience based on preference and behavior.

While this technology already powers, at varying levels, dedicated networks such as Trusted Opinion and Yelp, this functionality will be inherent to future networks using technology similar to Baynote to leverage the Wisdom of the Crowds as it inspires the personalization of content for each individual. Baynotes believes that the Web, and sites in particular, can learn from collective intelligence to improve the experience based on the behavior of crowds over individuals.

In the near future, much of the content will be automated, but will still rely on the explicit express of individuals to improve the experience. As Forrester notes, “Portable IDs mean you’ll be able to flip a switch to tell Nike you’re a woman who runs 12 miles a week and immediately see the shoes that are best for you — along with input from experiences of your running buddies.”

I believe that the combination of semantic and collective intelligence systems will improve the content and overall interaction within sites and social networks over time.

5. The era of social commerce – In 2011 – 2012, social networks will eclipse corporate Web sites and CRM systems. Forrester believes that communities will become a driving force for innovation and as such, companies will be forced to formally cater to communities, signifying the trading of power towards connected customers.

The Dawn of SRM

While Forrester predicts the era of Social Commerce, the future of the social Web as I see it, starts to embrace a corporate philosophy and supporting infrastructure that migrates away from CRM and even sCRM to one of Social Relationship Management or SRM. This will usher in the fifth era as observed by Forrester. And, SRM is also acutely cognizant of and in harmony with VRM (Vendor Relationship Management). Championed by Doc Searls, Chris Carfi, among others, VRM is the opposite of CRM, capsizing the concept of talking at or marketing to customers and shifting the balance of power in relationships from vendors to consumers. As such, systems are created to empower consumer participation and sentiment and improve products and services with every engagement.

While some believe that relationships aren’t technically manageable, in the world of business and a vibrant and influential social Web, it is not a question. And for all intents and purposes, they’re still personable.

The Social Web is distributing influence beyond the customer landscape, allocating authority amongst stakeholders, prospects, advocates, decision makers, and peers. SRM recognizes that whether someone recommended a product, purchased a product, or simply recognized it publicly, in the end, each makes an impact on behavior at varying levels.

Therefore customers are now merely part of a larger equation that also balances vendors, experts, partners, and other authorities. In the realm of SRM, influence is distributed and it is recognizes wherever and however it takes shape.

SRM is a doctrine aligned with a humanized business strategy and supporting technology infrastructure and platform. SRM recognizes that all people, no matter what system they use, are equal. It represents a wider scope of active listening and participation across the full spectrum of influence mapped to specific department representatives within the organization using various lenses for which to identify individuals where and how they interact.

From Adoption to Sophistication, No Social Network is an Island

Forrester recognizes that the past five years of Social Media evolution have focused on growth and adoption, but anticipates that the next stage of advancement  is dedicated to improving social functionality. I would also add personalization and portability. The biggest opportunity for the expansion of social networks is to build bridges between these isolated islands to deliver a more fulfilling, meaningful and productive experience. As I see it, we will start to see a the social web not as a collection of distributed islands, but as one greater collective better known as a human network – a contextual and relationship-based network that consists of like-minded individuals no matter where their profile resides.

In the near-term, the future of the Social Web starts with our online identity.

Whereas in Social Media, content is still king, in the business of social networking, data is its currency. I believe that everything starts with empowering the individual with the ability to host one secure profile/identify online that would serve existing and emerging social networks across the Web. OpenID, for example, provides central and protect login credentials for users, connecting identities to other third-part networks including Google, PayPal, AOL, MySpace, among others. Perhaps the future lies with making data mobile while still providing value to the economics of social networks. is working with some of the most renowned networks to enable users to bring their identity, friends, conversations, files and histories with them, without having to manually add them to each new service. Each of the services we choose to use can draw on this information relevant to the context within each network. As our experiences and connections accumulate and change corresponding data, this information will update on other sites and services if permitted, without having to revisit others to re-enter or re-create it.

The future of the Social Web must begin with data portability to accelerate proliferation throughout Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation adoption system. The lack of it might serve as either the “chasm” that hinders mainstream adoption or the monopolization of user data by a few dominant players.

How do you envision the future of the Social Web?

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From PR 2.0

Over the years, Twitter search was plagued by an unbelievable flaw. Deleted tweets remained in Twitter’s search index and thus, would appear in the search results regardless of the conscious act of manually removing the tweets from your personal stream. Believe it or not, this problem remained constant much to the dismay of many power users. To my pleasant surprise, Twitter has finally rectified this problem and has officially removed deleted tweets from its index.

Now that Google and Bing are channeling Twitter search results, it’s widely suspected that Twitter had no choice but to remedy this enduring problem. Imagine if your deleted tweets ranked among the top results in Google or Bing? Obviously privacy is a primary concern and this is a step in the right direction. However, privacy on the social Web is an oxymoron of sorts. Once a Tweet is published for example, it is indexed by many other third-party services, networks and applications. And, even if you delete a Tweet, it still may reside somewhere else. For example, if you stream your Tweets to Facebook and Tumblr, obviously you’d have to delete the updates across multiple platforms. But, the other challenge is that there are several other services that pull tweets where they may also reside once deleted.

Either way, to officially have deleted tweets removed from search results is a welcome update that is way overdue, but valued nonetheless.

Oh, and make sure to check out Collecta for real-time search results…it not only indexes the live twitter feed, but also the social web to reveal activity around keywords as they appear online. (Note: I’m a tech adviser to the team.)

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