[Week 9 Tute Preparation] Starbucks – Lessons Learned.

I’d like to start this week blog by discussing an example of a social media campaign held by Starbucks in 2009 that has gone sour (Brice 2009). The main idea of the campaign is to ‘leverage’ customers’ creativity to co–create new values for Starbucks (Brice 2009). Using the model of a ‘network’ provided by Knife Party in collaboration of Rayner and Robson (2010) in the video ‘Coalition of the Willing’, I would consider the Starbucks’ brand community a form of SOCIAL ORGANISATION whose key concept is participation and the end–goal is to create influence over larger organisations, i.e. the states (Murphie 2013, pp. 4). Starbucks’ idea of the campaign can be applied exactly to the notion of social organisation, where the commons ‘minimize harm and maximize authentic, sustainable, meaningful value’ (Bauwens 2011). Therefore, in the new social movement where the commons play a great role in creating and influencing values, capitalists appreciate the roles of social organisations in terms of providing from labour intensity to redefining social relations between the commons and the states (Sophie Ball, year not available, cited in Anonymous 2010). Such ideas may have been the drivers of Starbucks’ management decision to use the customers to generate new ideas for them.

As the video demonstrates, there are three main sites: the opensource reservoir, the idea generation room and the catalyst system (Knife Party, Rayner & Robson 2010). In this case study specifically, the first site includes new media tools, for examples, social platforms such as My Starbucks Idea Forum ( http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/ ) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/starbucks/ ). The ‘opensource’ is customers’ creativity. The idea generation room is where the customers contribute and discuss their innovative ideas. Finally, the Starbucks management team plays the catalysts who will analyse those ideas and make final decision.

It sounds like a great strategy.

But it seems like an open community does not function at all. Starbucks’ first mistake is mistaking normal customers with creators. Statistics show that only 21% of US adults has the ability to create while 35% are joiners who enjoy involving but actually useless (Forrester Research 2008, cited in Brice 2010). There are more than 50,000 ideas so far (My Starbucks Idea 2013), but how many of them are worth looking at? As Ostrom (2010) says, without any ‘shared norms’ and ‘rules’, or even institutions ‘to carry out their management roles’ (quoted in Korton 2010), the commons would be uncontrollable.

In short, the new government 2.0 opens many new possibilities for people to contribute to the community for its community–driven nature. However, this could not be mistaken as a non–government sphere. Ostrom justifies this as follows:

‘…[If] there’s conflict, you need an open, fair court system at a higher level than the people’s resource management unit. You also need institutions that provide accurate knowledge.’

(In Korton 2010)


Anonymous 2010, ‘Elinor Ostrom’, p2p foundation, accessed on 9 May 2013, < http://p2pfoundation.net/Elinor_Ostrom >.

Bauwens, M. 2011, ‘Book of the Week: Umair Haque’s New Capitalist Manifesto’, P2P Foundation: Researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices, 13 February, accessed on 9 May 2013, < http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/book-of-the-week-umair-haques-new-capitalist-manifesto/2011/02/13 >.

Brice, C.E. 2009, ‘Has Online Social Media Failed Starbucks?’, Social Media Today, 9 March, accessed on 9 May 2013, < http://socialmediatoday.com/index.php?q=SMC/78962 >.

Knife Party & Rayner, T. & Robson, S. 2010, Coalition of the Willing, online video, accessed on 9 May 2013, < http://coalitionofthewilling.org.uk/ >.

Korton, F. 2010, ‘No Panaceas! Elinor Ostrom Talks with Fran Korten’, Shareable, 28 March, accessed on 9 May 2013, < http://www.shareable.net/blog/no-panaceas-a-qa-with-elinor-ostrom >.

My Starbucks Idea 2013, My Starbucks Idea, USA, accessed on 9 May 2013, < http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/ >.

Murphie, A.K. 2012, Social Organisation, lecture notes distributed in the lecture session at The University of New South Wales, New South Wales on 8 May 2013.


[Week 8 Tute Preparation] Transparency – All things bright and beautiful?

In his article ‘Against transparency’, Lessig (2009) defines the ‘naked transparency movement’ as a new TRANSVERSALLY way to ‘liberate data’, under a government’s point of view, hopefully that citizens may understand political decisions ‘better, or at least differently’. Also regarding government actions, Styles (2009) suggests a ‘citizen collaboration’ model, in which the people have their voices towards public issues. It is almost a new way to govern, where decision making processes are influenced directly by the publics via the new media. Citizens have access to ‘government data’ (Lessig 2009). However, the question here is that is it the best change? Not really.

WikiLeaks is an example. In 2010, the footage of the 2007 Irag shooting video was released and caused enormous public concerns (Fishel 2010). One of the concerns is the credibility of video. Fishel (2010) quoted Capt. Jack Hanzlik’s words about the limited perspective viewers may have after watching the video.

‘It gives you a limited perspective… The video only tells you a portion of the activity that was happening that day. Just from watching that video, people cannot understand the complex battles that occurred. You are seeing only a very narrow picture of the events.’

(Hanzlik 2010 in Fishel 2010)

Here we are not arguing about rotten morality, but transparency and framing issues. WikiLeaks gave the publics data transparency, but it simultaneously framed our minds. By naming the video ‘Collateral murder’, WikiLeaks (un)deliberately shaped a negative approach towards the footage. What’s good in causing crisis among the public?

Taking a less political approach, what about the people’s privacy? Is it all right to publish all of our medical records, for instance? Will it limit the opportunities of people with disadvantages when it comes to job application? People always have their judgements. With overwhelming amount of data (which is made transparent), ‘no one has time to understand, let alone analyze’ (Lessig 2009). Moreover, keep in mind that we are being framed unconsciously, always, by the media and people around us. Because of that, data can be manipulated easily, just as simple as the way we stereotype others. Advertising and propaganda are classic examples of spin doctor as Mason says: ‘Therefore truth moves faster than lies, and propaganda becomes flammable’ (2011). There is too much data to process, so people will only pay attention to what is highlighted. Here, what is the point of transparency if we are going to be manipulated eventually?

In conclusion, it would be stirring that we are governed the way we want, where we all have a voice and everything is honest. It is true that the new media has somewhat redefined media event (Usher 2011) from something only happens on television or newspaper to something real, something that we can actually ‘participate’ with a little push from communication tools:

‘The situation is now in the real world and not in the virtual world. That’s where the developments are.’

(Usher 2011)

Yet, this is also a threat to privacy and social order. What will happen when everyone knows everything about you? Or when everyone has a voice in one matter? Which is the right place to invest our attention?


Fishel, J. 2010, ‘Military Raises Questions About Credibility of Leaked Iraq Shooting Video’, Fox News, 7 April, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/07/military-raises-questions-credibility-leaked-iraq-shooting-video/ >.

Lessig, L. 2010, ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.’, New Republic, 9 October, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0 >.

Mason, P. 2011, ‘Twenty reasons why it’s kicking off everywhere’, Idle Scrawls BBC, 5 February, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2011/02/twenty_reasons_why_its_kicking.html >.

Styles, C. 2009, ‘A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’, mking Manifest, 28 June, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://catherinestyles.com/2009/06/28/a-government-2-0-idea/ >.

Usher, N. 2011, ‘How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”’, The Nieman Lab, 8 February, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/02/how-egypts-uprising-is-helping-redefine-the-idea-of-a-media-event/ >.