Should You Hire A Chief Conversation Officer?

Kevin Marks (IndieWeb), Deborah Schultz (
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Businesses realize that they need to be part of the participatory, real-time web. Unfortunately, companies big and small, ignore the new framework needed in this new context. The participatory world requires both new thinking and a renewed focus on human skills and behavior.

Tummeling describes the art and science of engaging and collaborating in a networked age. In a world that no longer operates in a command and control hierarchy how do you connect and create a world that puts people at the centre of business, technology and culture. and encourages participation?

The key to success is to have a Tummler play the role of catalyst within a group, to welcome newcomers, rein in old hands and set the tone of the conversation so that it can become an alive and robust space. The communities that fail, whether dying out from apathy or being overwhelmed by noise, are the ones that don’t have someone there cherishing the conversation, setting the tone, creating a space to speak, and rapidly segregating those intent on damage. We don’t have a English name for this role; they get called ‘Moderators’ or ‘Community Managers’, and because when they’re doing it right you see everyone’s conversation, not their carefully crafted atmosphere, their role is often ignored. However, it is a properly Tummeled site that leads to the success of many of the companies we all aspire to mimic.

This perspective of enabling the customers of your business and the audience of your site to be a core part of your business implies a different approach to design and to business processes. Superficial ‘real-time’ or ‘gamified’ approaches fall down without a real commitment to conversing with customers.

This session will be a Tummeled conversation with the audience on how these skills can be cultivated through human, business and technical means, drawing on the year of conversations held at, and guests who have shared their experiences in building sites up to millions of conversing users through successful Tummeling. In this session we will focus on:

  • How can I get people to help my site grow?
  • Why is there no activity on my site?
  • What do I do to engage users with the site and each other?
  • Stop looking for ‘influencers’ – amplify good contributions and enable connections
  • Can you stop saying ‘viral’ ? Being a disease is a goal for you?
  • Outline the organic, structural and often hidden approaches that focuses on emotion over data.
Photo of Kevin Marks

Kevin Marks


Kevin Marks is the founder of Proud To Pay. Over the last 20 years he’s moved between giant companies and founding startups – BBC, The UK MultiMedia Corporation, Apple QuickTime, Technorati, Google, BT, Salesforce. The common thread has been working out how people, computers and media can complement each other, and solving the engineering and social problems where they meet. He is one of the driving forces behind microformats, and indiewebcamp. He is an advisor to the Open Rights Group. He wants you to remember that URLs are people too, and his URL is

Photo of Deborah Schultz

Deborah Schultz

Deb is an Internet industry veteran and open-web advocate who merges expertise in design, technology and innovation to bring fresh approaches to business. She is widely recognized for her understanding of the social web and its impact on society, culture and business. Her current work focuses on open-innovation, real-world experimentation and the new human dynamics required to succeed in a hyper-connected world. Deb is founder and co-host of and a Senior Fellow with the Altimeter Group. She consults and advises Fortune 50s, startups and VC’s and serves on Procter & Gamble’s Digital Advisory Board.

One of her proudest accomplishments was launching the Downtown Info Center, a community center & online hub to revitalize her hometown of New York after the attacks of September 11th. As a self-described “practical utopian,” Deb has a strong idealistic streak partnered with an understanding of the realities of human behavior in the digital world. Deb can be found in SF, NYC, or Tel Aviv. But wherever she is, she’s always connected.

  • Bundle
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • .CO
  • Serve (amex)
  • Tagged
  • Berlin Partner
  • IBT
  • OpenSRS
  • PR Newswire
  • RIM
  • SoftLayer
  • StrataScale Inc.
  • TokBox

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