Thursday, 30 November 2006

Bill Clinton Foundation: Saving The Children of Africa

Today there was an amazing annoucment that is a first step in the treatment of HIV/AIDS in the Third World.

In the words of the always brilliant Stephen Lewis,

“What you’re doing with this announcement is keeping hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of children alive who would otherwise die,” Lewis said in a telephone interview from London. “That’s the simple truth of it.”

Clinton Foundation Broker's AIDS Deal

It's Not About Aggregation It's About Congregation

On Om Malik's site today, Jordan Mitchell had a great comment....

He said:

"With the explosion of content on the Web, it’s not at all about aggregation, hyper-aggregation or even hyper-mega-aggregation. It’s also not about the echo chamber formed by the 1% of users who actually contribute.

It’s about congregation. The content that’s important to me is the content that is important to other people like me, determined passively not actively."

Now in truth, aggregation and congregation can be used synonymously however, I think there is an important nuance to what Jordan is trying to say (or I could be completely wrong and doing some over analytical girl thing.....:-).

It is a myth that technology simplifies our life. In fact, often times it makes it even more complex. More information, more to do, more ways to do it, more to keep up with. Active can be a beautiful thing because it implies a certain degree of your own control which is always a good thing. But on the other hand, what I think Jordon is eluding to is the fact that by now, shouldn't technology be at a point where it becomes smarter for me? Can't it passively do things for me without me having to do all the work?

I think it is amusing to note, if not a bit depressing, that ad delivery systems seem to get smarter and smarter by the second. I mean when i think about the resources thrown towards making ad delivery smarter it pretty much baffles the mind. I betya if that much money was thrown at a medical problem, we might have solved the whole cancer thing by now. So maybe it is naive for me to want people to put that same effort into passive delivery systems that i actually benefit from (vs. someone else's business model....) but a girl can still hope can't she?

Regardless, I like where Jordan is going. Like the song lyrics from Oliver say, I think I'd better think it out again.

Let It Snow: AKA This Rain is Hurting My Head

oh man did i wake up with a head ache this morning (and there wasn't enough red wine at dinner to make that the problem...).

It's raining like crazy which for this time of year which is just not right, not up here in the North anyhow.

Peter's best friend Kenny is going to be visiting with him Mom from Australia. She has never seen snow. She'll be here in a couple weeks so all i can say is let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Here is a picture back from Oct 14th. A wee bit of snow. How difficult should that be?

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

The Little Room In My Mind

I bought Anastasia a book called "First Words: Earliest Writing From Favorite Contemporary Authors" edited by Paul Mandelbaum who was kind enough to direct me to since I refuse to shop at Amazon.

I couldn't help but peek into the book before I wrap it and make it holiday ready. Thought I would share something fantastic from Amy Tan at the tender age of 8.

"My name is Amy Tan, 8 years old, a third grader in Matanzas School. It is a brand new school and everything is so nice and so pretty. I love school because the many things I learn seem to turn on a light in the little room in my mind. I can see a lot of things I have never seen before."

I just love the way 8 year old Amy has described it. A little room in my mind. It's kinda how I feel about writing sometimes. It's kinda how I feel like being a Mom and watching this amazing being that is my daugther grow up.

I think it doesn't matter if you are 8, 28 or 80, it is still the same thing. The amazement of discovery...something unknown and wonderfully unexpected.

Have I Been Under a Rock? Walmart's Fake Blog

During the panel discussion today, the whole Walmart/Edelman fiasco had been brought up and discussed. I thought it would be rude to interuppt since everyone seemed to know what it was to say, doh - huh? could they make such an obvious and stupid mistake? I totally disagree with Mitch Joel in our panel today, he said something about even bad PR is better than no PR. That's kinda like saying "it's just business". I don't buy it anymore.

Enjoy the posting below, cuz it pretty much sums it up for me.....

Walmart Gets Caught With Its Pants Down

Off to a Conference

I am off this morning to participate on a new media panel. My panel is called

"It's in their Hands: The Impact of Changing Consumer Trends and User Generated Media on the Communicator's Role"

(side bar note: I hate that word Consumer. I have been using the word "Prosumer" in my investor presentations but i hate that word too. The whole notion of defining people by how they contribute to our economy is strange. I just haven't come up with anything better yet)

I will probably have something to say when i come back from it, but in the mean time, enjoy Mitch Joel from Twist Images thoughts on the first day of conference which i missed.

Wish me luck....

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Closed Ecosystems Will Die: Shouldn't Someone Let the Cell Phone Companies Know?

oponia has some great applications that could be applied to mobile devices. But we haven't put it on our immediate radar for a number of reasons the least of which is articulated really well in David Cohen's Blog posting about his start-up failure iContact.

Given David's experiences, it doesn't surprise me to read about YouTube's deal with Verizon which was criticized as lame on Fred Wilson's blog.

I put the issue to Vanessa just earlier this week to investigate further with her developer community at large to see what type of issues people ran into when developing software for mobile devices. The responses back were pretty consistent. They included:

- This is indeed nasty ground
- One buddy of mine pines quite angrily about dealing with many of these carriers that got to great lengths to stop you from using their networks and the ability to install 3rd party software
- Some carriers may not provide access without first doing a deal (i.e. "when hell freezes over"

Where Vanessa netted out for now was "sounds like a crap shoot and will be a painful process (well ok, that not exactly how she put it but you get the drift).

While we aren't giving up on wireless applications yet, it is a bloody shame that the cell phone makers and carriers don't make this an easier process.

Some lessons from ecology - closed ecosystems at best have slow growth and in the worst case, they die.

Quote of the Day

Funny quote of the day as heard on O'Reilly on Advertising on CBC radio. (The show is great by the way so try to catch it sometime. It has so many insights into marketing, advertising, culture and our society in general)

From the jingle writer of I heart NY

"Whatever you don’t tell my mother I work in an advertising agency -
she thinks I play piano in a whorehouse."

Monday, 27 November 2006

I am the network

A subject close to my heart - decentralization.

Berasheet....In the beginning...

Let the decentralization begin....

The move to desktop computers

The birth of mobility

And more mobility....

The change from i utilize the network

To I am the network

I think this visual retrospective can also be applied to how we think about the Web today.

Afterall, we are at the earliest stages where centralization is king, and decentralization is only beginning to happen. I have my bets as to what the future is going to look like. And at the core? Decentralization.....

Before You Commit: Essential Relationship Questions

I was following the trail of some blog postings about Apple vs. Microsoft this morning and it got me thinking.

Here is my essential list of questions to ask BEFORE you get into a committed relationship:

1. Mac or PC?
2. iPod or one of those other players?
3. Hellmans Real Mayo (I also include President's Choice Mayo cuz I swear its really Hellmans)or Miracle Whip?
4. Crest or Colgate?
5. Dog or Cat?
6. Coke or Pepsi?
7. Canoe or Car?
8. And for those of you who live in Toronto, West End vs. East End?

If anyone has anymore, let me know. I'll add them to the list!

Friday, 24 November 2006

That's Not a Clown Mommy....

When my daugther was two and half years old, we were hanging about at Dufferine Mall on a wintery Saturday afternoon wasting some time.

"Oh look Anastasia, there is a clown over there" And I pointed out to her a life sized plaster clown on a wooden bench.

"That's not a clown Mommy" she said,

"That's McDonalds."

They say the average kindergartner can identify 300 logos. And, according to one study reported in Affluenza, “while the average Americans can identify fewer than ten types of plants, he or she recognizes hundreds of corporate logos.”

One of my biggest struggels as Anastasia becomes more and more obsessed with the Web, is how to help her understand the motives behind so many of the websites that she wants to 'join'.

"You know they just want your email Sia. They are building something called a database."
"oh I know Mommy, but I really really want to win that digital camera and how can I do that if I don't give them my email address?"

Damn! What am I to say to that?

And then there is the whole public and private issue. Kids (and even some adults) still don't understand that if you site is PUBLIC, that means ANYONE can see it. A friend of mine who is a career advisor at a university was flabbergasted when one of her students was shocked that a potential employer had "googled" him. He had a blog that had highly inappropriate postings about his sex life with his girlfriend. He actually asked my friend "can they do that? is it legal?"

I am not sure how I should deal with this with my own child, but I do know this. More needs to be done formally in educating kids about the fast paced ever changing digital world that they now live within.

Uch. I guess this just means more homework!

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Mr. Hooper: Do The Right Thing

Friend of mine's brother did this short film parady on Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. If your the sensitive type, just know big bird says the "f" word....

Visit it while you still can as the copy right people should be on them shortly....

The Distance Between Blog "me" and Company "me"

The whole network effect thing still amazes me. It really does. I am still in the middle of reading LINKED and had a real world example of it today.

Mathew Ingram the tech writer for the Globe and Mail, read my first blog posting and ended up linking to the part about my brother Dave.

So here's where it gets interesting. I go to the Globe site and get distracted by Mathew's other posting about the whole dragons den debate . (*for the record, I think it was a draw between who was the bigger jerk/s, the Dragons, or the prof from Ryerson)

From there I linked to Austin Hills site. who Mathew mentions in the piece.

Once at Austin's site, I read his post on the Dragon's Den and then read the comments (I am a sucker for the comments) where I see a comment by a fellow named Rob Hyndman. So I link there.

Once at Rob's site I see his posting on the top 10 geek girls. I link to it.

There I read the comments again, where someone talks about a list that Tara Hunt of Citizen Agency did on Women of the Web: The Risk Takers.

Vanessa emailed me about that site the other day because apparently we had been put on that list and there is a link to our company url oponia networks.

So turns out there are 5 degrees of separation between my blog and my company website. How great is that?

Language of Exclusion

A story I have been thinking about lately. A friend of mine did her Phd in sociology and gave it to me to have a gander at. Her area of study was all around the use of language in our society to create exclusion. Now the ironic part is that I could barely get through the first ten pages. Why? Because I did not have my degree in Sociology. So I had to have a dictionary next to me and look up every second word to try and decipher exactly what it was she was trying to say in sociology language.

These languages of exclusion are created all the time. In my work for oponia, I feel I constantly have to learn new vocabularies. That of lawyers as an example or investors. The funny part is that it isn't really all that complicated when you get right down to it. It just takes a while to cut through all the BS.

I already fired one law firm for this very reason. They simply could not answer any of my questions in a meaningful way that I understood. There were always these long complicated emails that went around in circles with terminology whose only role was to make me feel stupid and them smart. Then they would charge me for their brilliance.

Yeah, I don't think so.

Common languages are what bring us together. It's why I love the Web. New types of universal conversations that are being created on an on-going basis. And those conversations are not usually expressed only in traditional text. They are dimensionally linked, visual enhanced and experiential. And most of us get it regardless of traditional barriers that would create exclusion such as formal education, economic background, and country borders.

Now, if only the technology patent lawyers could get on board with that... ;-)

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Is it just me, or does this photo of Steve Jobs from 1984...

Kinda look like that annoying guy with the bowtie from a couple of seasons ago on the Apprentice?

The Importance of Memory

Biologists suggest that memory has a role in all complex systems including ecosystems because the past can inform the present.

Marshall McLuhan recognized this as part of his tetrad theory that attempted to illuminate the effects of technology on society. He called it the Laws of Media and they are comprised of 4 questions:

1. What does “it” EXTEND or INTENSIFY?
2. When extended beyond its limit, into what does “it” REVERSE or FLIP?
3. What does “it” OBSOLESE?
4. What formerly obsolesced form does “it” RETRIEVE from the past?

I bet you McLuhan might suggest that having answers to these questions are far more important to predicting the use and success of a technology innovation than the traditional problem/solution model. After all, you can’t really predict the future by looking at the past.

The past however, and more specifically, our memory, has everything to do with the present. It informs how we view the world.

Let’s think about Coke for a second and the now classic (oh there I go with the puns again) example of blind taste testing for new Coke. While new coke succeeded in testing it failed miserably once launched. Some say it was because they didn’t take into consideration the flavour of Coke alongside the brand association. I would agree with that, but as well, I think that our memory associates our old experiences and bridges them with the new. Particularly if our old experiences were positive, we find ourselves longing for that past feeling and look to find it in other things.

So back to the Laws of Media. Here is an example that I found online using the tetrads to look at the Internet.

So when you are creating a new innovation and disrupting the world, don’t forget to think about how memory plays into it. Think about what your product retrieves from the past. It could be important.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

The Red Wiggler and Bubble 2.0

Talking to potential smaller investors, the question of the current investment environment in technology and the Web as "bubble 2.0" keeps coming up.

Here’s why I don’t think this is a bubble or if it turns out to be a bubble, why it shouldn’t be.

People (and not just the kids) are spending more and more time online and yet, still the amount of media dollars proportionately isn’t even close to the traditional mediums of print, radio and TV. It is still painful to get clients to consider online media and when they do, often times they only think about text ads or banners.

It’s a weird generation gap in the marketing community that will need to be bridged and fast -- and when it finally does get bridged? Watch out.

When I was at MacLaren McCann in Toronto (that’s McCann Erikson to you Americans out there), I left the Interactive division and spent a year at the main Agency. There, I worked on a TV commercial that cost 1.2 million dollars. 1.2 MILLION! Built the brand. Won lots of awards, had a cool director, etc. But here is the thing.

Do you know what I could have done for 1.2 Million dollars in the interactive division? I could have conceived and built YouTube for goodness sake.

Peter (Munck) had actually suggested to the Agency in the early days that MacLaren do the first Canadian search engine. He wanted to call it the “redwiggler” (I love that!). What was their response?

What’s a search engine have to do with an Ad agency?

Um…search results? -- Knowing what consumers want to buy? --Understanding purchase behaviour? Customer insights perhaps?

They didn’t’ get it. He got totally shot down in a ‘oh you funny creative visionary kind of guy, kind of way’. The unfortunate death of the RedWiggler.

I digress. My point? It’s not a bubble. People are living online now and marketers are way behind on this one. Traditional TV, with traditional TV budgets and a traditional way of thinking about brand, that to me is the bubble. Mark my words….

Monday, 20 November 2006

The Ecosystem Approach to Social Networks

In his novel 'Linked', Albert-Laszlo Barabasi states:

"The Internet, often viewed as entirely human invention in its creation, has become more akin to an organism or an ecosystem"

It is becoming more apparent that technology as biology is no longer a debate and is becoming an important school of thought that drives the way we think about networks.

Having worked as an environmental planner myself in a past life, I think there are many lessons to be learned from the environmental movement and in particular from environmental management theories.

Those theories saw enviornmental and social planners moving from traditional command and control models, to resource management approaches to more recently in the past 10 years, a theory they call the ecosystem approach .

I believe that we can apply the ecosystem approach to how we think about social networks. I am working on a presentation about this for a conference as we speak and when I finish it I’ll post it up here.

Friday, 17 November 2006

When is authentic, authentic?

We are currently doing a round of investment. We are looking primarily looking for Angel but many people have questioned my hesitation about taking VC Capital. After all, they are starting to change their previous ways, aren't the sharks they are portrayed to be, and are even starting to invest smaller amounts and taking less shares (well except in Canada where it has to be a min. 2 million dollar deal).

So being the open-minded entrepreneur that i am, i start to investigate. One company website i ventured to (aren't i punny?), was True Ventures. This is some of the copy they have on their website (look on the right hand side under “what it means to you”:

“We don’t like buzzwords. No, we really don’t. Be authentic."

"We work for you.”

Ok, sorry for being such a cynic. I mean they do have a nice picture on their homepage with the women who started meebo so that's a good sign. But the copy. They work for me? I mean, are they going to be my friends too?

What happened to being authentic? I don’t mind if they say, we want a partnership where both parties win (otherwise known in marketing land as the “win win”) but to say they work for me? Should I remind them of that when they give me my walking papers, “Hey, you can’t do that, remember you work for me!”

Your Google for Goodness Sake - Nuff with the "Beta"

OK! I know you get what you pay for and it's supposedly a Beta (so how long exactly should we as customers allow companies to pretend that they are in Beta just so they don't have to answer for a lack of product quality?), but come on - I am using this for the first time and this is what i get for ten minutes? If i could have done it offline, fine, but that..was just...annoying....

Some bits and pieces

Ok, so by way of introduction, some bits and pieces about me:

1. I can't spell. I used to rationalize to myself that there was many really smart people who also can't spell. I tried to find them in Google but apparently they don't exist.

2. I bought a CD player about 2 years after everyone else I knew had one. I was hoping that digital tapes would win.

3. I write fiction. I am still in the middle of writing my first novel, ‘Lessons in Breathing Underwater’. I am on page 77.

4. I have a really smart and beautiful daughter who i'll call CeeCee for this blogs purpose" who is ten and has already finished her first novel. I am humbled.

5. I was the first employee of a company called ‘Telepersonals’ where my brother did the original computer programming. It is now called Lavalife.

6. I get really really mad about customer service issues. I have a feeling I might end up with a category called rants.

7. I like to brag about my family. Some highlights include:

- Legend has it that my cousin Victor, an aerospace engineer, apparently invented the process for turning urine into water in space

- My brother Jeffrey who lives in Phnom Pen was a Cambodian national golf champion. He was not however, allowed to regain his title the next year because they made a law that foreigners couldn’t enter. He retired as champion

- My sister Susan was on the Nation Team of Canada for Rhythmic Gymnastics (which I thought was a silly sport myself but still) and ended up on a date with a famous Prince

- My other brother David is funny in this Dave's media star moment

- My Dad’s cousin Al is married to Suzanne Somers. She has no idea who I am and never remembers me when I see her once every 20 years at a family marriage or death ceremony (she always asks if I am the sister that did gymnastics – as if that isn’t annoying – no I am the other sister)

- I was in the North York Mirror next to our illustrious mayor at the time, Mel Lastman, as part of the North York Aquatic Clubs big yearly fundraiser (green with envy aren’t ya?)

- I helped my Dad start his blog and this is me trying to find an appropriate place to link to it in my blog! (It's a blog about urinary incontinence so it's been more difficult than you can imagine!) The Bladder Control Blog

I’ll stop there. Pretty much the Mel Lastman thing is a show stopper.

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