Today was a very special day. It was more than simply watching history in the making. Change became more than just a saying on a button. In many ways we are not just ushering in a new President of the United States of America, but we are ushering in a new way of thinking and of doing business. It's time for everything to be more open.
That was the feeling and there was a deep seeded message about both Government and Business in the sub-text of the inaugural speech and the visuals we all experienced. If we are to believe the presidential rhetoric, it is not going to be "business as usual," and for things to change - specifically when it comes to the economy - all of us are going to have to embrace the idea of being more open.
Facebook became more open.
While Facebook is, without question, the leading online social network, the general flow of it is very linear. Unlike the quick-bite snippets you can grab in a Twitter feed, the Facebook status updates seemed pretty pale in comparison. However, their deal with CNN to broadcast the big day by having the status updates run alongside the live streaming video from Washington was a game-changer. The ability to see what your "friends" were saying and being able to switch to see what everyone else was saying enabled us all to get beyond the fishbowl. It was an amazing blend of traditional mass media reporting and everyone's individual point-of-view collected in one location. Opinions, emotions and even contrary perspectives were public, available and accessible. Plus, if you had something more to add (relevant, idiotic or different), all opinions were equal.
CNN became more open.
Along with allowing all Facebook commentary to run alongside of their broadcasting, they even demonstrated Microsoft's amazing photosynth technology (if you have never seen photosynth in action, you can see it here: TED - Blaise Aguera y Arcas - Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo). People who attended the inauguration were encouraged to send in their photos. The 11,000-plus pictures were dumped into photosynth to give an entirely new photographic representation of this special moment in time. CNN did not stop there. Throughout the day, there were constant references to not only the online channel and conversation that was taking place online, but also the many ways in which the public could share this moment with the world.
The White House website became more open.
The big news on both Twitter and Facebook was that as President Obama was being sworn in, the White House website had already been updated. Even more interesting is how prominent The White House Blog is on the website (granted, there's not that much there just yet). Companies still grapple with whether or not they can handle having a Blog and being that "open." The answer is: if the White House is trying it, why can't you?
Open is good for business.
Maybe your business is still struggling to understand these many new channels. Many businesses still have a more traditional work ethic. If I saw one thing today, it was that all of these more traditional institutions either tried to open up just a little bit more or partnered with someone who would help them open up. Guess what? It worked. People liked how CNN flowed. They were thrilled to see a new White House website. It was memorable to share this moment with your Facebook friends from around the world. It was nothing complex. In fact, it was pretty simple.
If we really want change to happen, opening up just a little bit may well be one of the better ways to see what happens. How will things change? Well, there's word that the President will keep his BlackBerry to stay more "connected to the people." One might argue that this also makes him more accessible... more open. What if you opened up a little bit more? What would happen to your marketing? What would happen to your business?
Just how open do you think things will get?