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Whose Conversation Is It Anyway?

Markets are supposed to be conversations, according to the Cluetrain. But does anyone own that conversation?

I started thinking about the question earlier in the week when the 37Signals Get Satisfaction spat kicked off. Who owns all those critical or positive questions about a brand anyway? IS it really Get Satisfaction? Or perhaps its Twitter? Here is Google selling Adwords to Intuit through Twitter? Confused yet?

Does RedMonk own mentions of RedMonk? I would said of course not! But what if that mention included a RedMonk logo? Ah that’s a little more difficult… then.

To be honest my problem with Get Satisfaction is a lot more prosaic, if certainly related to the issues above. You see there is a guy called Steve Ivy, nicknamed redmonk. When we launched the firm I decided that the nickname was Ok, given he trades under Monkinetic, although his URL is redmonk.net. Steve is a really nice guy. I have tried at various times since 2002 to stop calling himself redmonk, but its of course his decision.

That said as business and personal have increasingly intermingled on social networks, things are getting more and more uncomfortable. That is- Steve got @redmonk on twitter first, which is Ok. A little more annoying, when I first tried to use Get Satisfaction it quickly became apparent it wouldn’t work for us, because any perception and mention crawling engine was going to throw up an awful lot of false positives. It doesn’t help that Steve is interested in a lot of the same open source and development issues we are.

I think our RedMonk is bigger than Steve’s redmonk (well there are four of us after all!), and Google basically concurs, but the twitter thing does make me uncomfortable. You’re probably chuckling at this point – those guys at RedMonk think they are *so* smart, and they didn’t even get @redmonk…. well I am guilty as charged.

But nicknames, brands and tags are all converging. The whole notion of IP protection becomes ever more complicated. Our answer is to look for friendly ways to deal with stuff. Clearly many brands have a different approach.

A while back I said if markets are conversations then twitter is money. You can see why Facebook doesn’t want Google spidering its users’ sentiments. Twitter is more open, which is a powerful position, but also allows for embrace and extend tactics.

Don’t even get me started on the Terms of Service that allow these web apps to think they own what we say and do. But I am increasingly wondering whose conversation is it, and whose money?

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Comment Feed

20 Responses

  1. whose conversation is it anyway? http://www.redmonk.com/jgovernor/2009/04/03/whose-conversation-is-it-anyway/ [pimp tweet]
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. James Governor’s Monkchips » Whose Conversation Is It Anyway?: Markets are supposed to be conversati.. http://tinyurl.com/d4wvsl
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. thought provoking post by by @re… no @monkchips :) .. “Whose conversation is it anyway?” http://hex.io/jg9
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  4. “if markets are conversations then twitter is money” – http://bit.ly/12JYoS – by @monckchips
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  5. nice post from @monkchips http://tinyurl.com/d4wvsl; he raises some important issues
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  6. got seriously name-checked (and a bit bitch-slapped) by the other RedMonk (aka @monkchips): http://bit.ly/f2HGH
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  7. re: http://bit.ly/f2HGH — some days i seriously consider dumping @redmonk everywhere for this very reason – but it’s personal to wife & me.
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  8. Perhaps the brouhaha this week has reopened the can of online ownership worms. “Whose Conversation Is It, Anyway?”: http://bit.ly/19vHG0
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  9. James Governor’s Monkchips » Whose Conversation Is It Anyway? http://cli.gs/4da3nt
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  10. If markets are conversations then twitter is money. http://tinyurl.com/d4wvsl
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  11. Hi James. I think it is an interesting question – but I’m a little worried by how easily you dismiss the service provider’s ToS’s that claim ownership… they’re more accurate than most would like to believe.

    The truth is that while you “own” whatever it is you write (at least in the US and other Berne Convention signatory nations), you can easily grant a license (of varying nature). So posting on FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and even on some blog services (if you don’t host your own), could grant the service provider a very open license to whatever you write. So while you can retain “ownership”, the license could be perpetual – even if you remove your original writing.

    But this is a different argument than name ownership – and gets even more tricky when you start talking about trademarks. And given the additional issue of you being in the UK and Steve in the US (and the fact that neither of you seems to have registered ANYTHING with regards to the use of the term redmonk), well, I’m supposing that’s because of your “answer is to look for friendly ways to deal with stuff.”

    The reality though is that IP isn’t going anywhere – so if you don’t want to avail yourself of the currently available options, then you can’t complain too hard when something like this happens.

  12. James Governor’s Monkchips » Whose Conversation Is It Anyway? http://tinyurl.com/d4wvsl
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  13. Reading and Tagging an interesting article by @monkchips on “who owns the conversation” : http://bit.ly/iGZUw
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  14. Convergence of Brands, tags, nicknames.. @monkchips Whose Conversation Is It Anyway? http://bit.ly/f2HGH #bananapeel
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  15. Jeff- ToS are “more accurate”. i disagree. they are generally over-reaching, surprisingly ambiguous, and are rarely tested. Providers accept no liability, consumers suck it all up. Reminds me of a bailout. And while you say they are “accurate” – i don’t believe we have seen many legal test cases around IP ownership. If Facebook actively tried to claim ownership of one of my blogs, say, just because i posted something on its service I think they’d really struggle to make it stick.

    often the ToS asserts over-arching rights not because the service actually wants to assert them, but because they are “necessary for running the service”. i have seen this patterns again and again and again. vendor is always surprised someone “read it like that.”

    And finally I am clearly *not* complaining too hard. i wrote the piece because i think the issues are important. The question of redmonks was included to help explain the issue.

    James GovernorApril 6, 2009 @ 11:45 amReply
  16. @monkchips a great post – and why there can be only one RedMonk — Whose Conversation Is It Anyway? http://bit.ly/f2HGH
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  17. @wendyslea how to be awesome: help weed out false positives (people vs businesses) http://bit.ly/VVZ3F got your @name from a @jowyang tweet
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter



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Continuing the Discussion

  1. [...] manager, mentioning a post I had recently written on the subject of customer influencer clouds, Whose Conversation Is It Anyway? Scott is very savvy and real time clouded me by simply saying: “I just read it.” All [...]

  2. [...] Then Twitter came along. And Steven Ivy registered the username RedMonk. Before we did. Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth from yours truly. But Steve had every right to register any name he wanted. Things got even worse when GetSatisfaction came along. You see GetSatisfaction is a web service that tracks mentions of your company, so you can offer customer service to the conversations around your brand. Its a place for people to talk about brands they’re interested in. It can be useful for corporate FAQs and so on. But “RedMonk” kept throwing up false positives. I wrote about the issue in a piece called Whose Conversation Is It Anyway. [...]

  3. [...] in 2009 April 7, 2009, 9:32 am Filed under: trademark Prompted by an interesting post by James Governor on the subject of IP ownership of brands, names and even posts made through social networking sites [...]