Prism of Self Promotion?

10 10 2009

The online, hyper connected world can be a scary place. This can be especially true when entering the fray from a business perspective, where the intent is to cultivate interest so that revenue generation can result to some degree or another. One tool that has received significant buzz online is The Conversation Prism. What is The Conversation Prism? The answer to that question is debatable, although the most clear-cut answer comes from its creator, Brian Solis, who says that it “helps chart online conversations between the people that populate communities as well as the networks that connect the Social Web.” What does this mean? How can we trust his perspective on this issue? I wonder about the answers to those very questions. Either Solis is a rather insightful individual regarding the social media landscape or he knows how to talk himself up very well online. This maybe particularly so when you consider he has established his career based upon this information visualization.

I think that the attempt made by The Conversation Prism to provide a level of basic understanding to communication relationships is a noble one, however I do not completely agree with it. One of the most glaring problems is the coloration used throughout the visualization. Several classmates noted this during classes this week, opining that the colors simply serve to dress up the diagram at the cost of diluting the message. Since the diagram roughly takes the shape of a flower, why is it that some “petals” are warmer colors such as red, orange and yellow while others are cool colors like variations of blue and greens? Do these stipulate differences in user interactivity levels of the mediums contained within these “petals”? Had I been in charge of crafting a similar model, while maintaining the general guise of Solis’ creation, I would have done away with the color pallet, instead vesting interest in a uniform neutral background for every portion of The Conversation Prism. In this sense, there would be little or no suggestion that one area of the Prism is more dynamic, active etc. than any others.

The Conversation Prism is an interesting tool but I think it has served most poignantly as a self-promotion lightning rod for Solis. In the world that exists today, change is constant. In turn, a visual such as this will not remain up-to-date unless it is changed constantly. There are much too many social media communication channels and tools to account for and summarizing their supposed relationships in one crafty graphic is not realistic. The Conversation Prism is a resource of note but should not be used as a primary representation of online communications today. A better grasp of these complexities comes from hard work and first-hand experience in your own field. Having a poster of the Prism hanging on your office wall may look nice but trust your gut when it comes to making strategic decisions in the online space.