Tuesday, 30 January 2007

In-Disposable Identities

All kids love to play dress up. Test it yourself. Throw some old clothing into a pile in the middle of room and watch what happens. Within seconds, like throwing themselves into leaves during Autumn, they will dive right into the centre and start to try on different outfits.

Look at me I am a butterfly!
Look at me I am a princess!
I am a spaceman!

Trying on different identities and seeing the fun you can have is just part of growing up.

Readwrite web had a post on throw-away identities which speaks to this very point. But I think that while kids manufature some identities, at the same time they have a deep rooted desire to have a core of people who they are always “themselves” with. Today, that’s manifested in instant messenger where kids don’t allow their 8000 myspaces friends to join, but rather keep it to their 100 closest mates.

And make no mistake about it. This network while larger than any generations that has come before it, will become crucial to help them navigate the ever-changing world around them. They will ping this hive to help find a job, they will reconnect from all over the world and they will use this network as their help network.

Richard McManus suggests that:

“As these teenagers mature, I would imagine they will settle on a set of identities and focus on building a reputation around their chosen identities.”

I think kids have already settled on their identities. There are the transient ones that fleeting as the advertising that is served to them, and the one that matters most, the 'in-disposable digital them' that is associated with their help network.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Joni Mitchell All Sides Now

I have always loved Joni. When I heard that she had given up a baby when she was a teenager, I went over to my moms and asked her to come clean and admit that I was adopted and in fact, was Joni Mitchell's daughter.

Well, even though that turned out not to be true (or so my mother says), I still have her music. Today Joni Mitchell is being inducted to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Check out the great tribute to her on the cbc site.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Conversations From The Edge

Kate had a post called Who Is Your Blog For? Not For Whom Do You Blog the other day referencing my earlier conversation on Web Standards. John made a great comment that I wanted to highlight because I think it speaks to a really important point. He said,

"Personally, I find that I read more and learn more from blogs than I ever did trying to force myself to read industry publications and such. Sites like MarketingProfs.com are full of good ideas and insightful content but I almost never read them. That's because I'd much rather hear the same idea from a real, flawed human being--even if it may not be as well expressed."

Edge conversations and content are only at the earliest stages of their importance. As the Web continues its process of decentralization, we are going to see more and more control go into the hands of the users. This fragmented dynamic will start what I think will be an entire new world of Web content and Web services.

What will be interesting is to see how this impacts the centre. If marketingprofs as John points out in his context, as a ‘portalized’ conversation (i.e. marketing hub, where 'experts' only can participate) are no longer holding their value, and that value continues to bleed to the edges, what will marketingprof become?

Will sites like this disappear or rather will they morph and change to provide a new value to their audience that is unique and different from the edge?

Thursday, 25 January 2007

The Evolution Of A New Literacy

Pre Web:
Read, Write, Remember

Early Web:
Look, Link, Think, Try Again

Web 1.0:
Look, Link, Think, Experience, Try Again

Web 2.0:
Look, Link, Think, Experience, Participate, Try Again

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Christian Gerard 1970-2007

I decided to wait until there was official notice from the family to post the sad news that Christian Gerard, the founder and ceo of Webfeat here in Toronto died last Wednesday.

There are times in ones career and life where you meet someone for whatever reason who just makes a strong impact on you and you aren’t even really sure why.

Christian was like that for me. He was one of the kindest people I had ever met with a passion for life and business that was absolutely infectious. He used to greet me with a hug and we would always have amazing and engaging conversations about ideas, marketing, and the world. He was what I like to call a square peg in a round hole, who never followed the trends but smartly navigated the ups and downs of the digital world to have an incredibly successful interactive agency that many people didn’t realize they were losing business to on an on-going basis.

The last time I saw Christian was over a year and half ago now. He had dropped by my house and we had a great chat. I saw him to the door. He was a big guy who had a little moped. He gave me his signature hug, threw on his very goofy looking helmet and plopped himself on his wee seat and gave me a big over exaggerated hand wave. It was classic Christian. It seemed to me that business for him wasn't about just making money, it was about connecting with people. He was a pure heart who did things for the right reasons and did them the right way, and he will be missed.

For anyone who wants to make a donation in remembrance, his family asked that we contribute to the following charities that meant the most to Christian:

Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario – Peer Support Group
The Heart and Stroke Foundation

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Down With Web Standards, Up With Disruption

In response to Vallywags widget rant by Nick Denton who stated unceremoniously that AVC’s use of widgets are "a violation of blog principles", Fred Wilson replied:

“I'd like to see where those principals are written down, because I missed them and want to know what other principals I am violating.”

Enter the socialmediaclub whose mission in part is:

“for the purpose of sharing best practices, establishing ethics and standards”

Got me thinking about why I believe we don’t need non-technical standards on the Web (you can alternatively think of this list as the reasons I have always hated usability guru Jacob Neilson)

1. it’s too early to say there is ONE way to do anything or there’s a RIGHT way to do anything
2. it crushes creativity
3. it crushes innovation
4. it creates hierarchy
5. it doesn’t take into consideration developing technologies
6. it manufactures experts
7. it creates false Gods

Monday, 22 January 2007

I Want This On My Wall At Home: Perceptive Pixel

From the Fastcompany site, Percpetive Pixel.

"Perceptive Pixel, Inc. was founded by Jeff Han in 2006as a spinoff of the NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences to develop and market the most advanced multi-touch system in the world."

Sunday, 21 January 2007

For Sale By Owner - Meet Myrealty.ca

Peter and I recently bought a house in Toronto (woot). What a nightmare of a process from start to finish. But I did discover a new site that if we ever sell anything will definitely be a consideration. Myrealty.ca.

If you try to sell your house on your own, you know that it can be a really difficult process. There's the decision which site/s to list your house with (and no Zillow hasn't made it to Canada) and then you soon realize that not having your house on the MLS in Canada is tantamount to asking every rude real estate agent in the city to call you and try to get the listing. As one homeowner put it to me, "Agents would call me and they were angry about the fact that I was trying to sell it on my own." Huh?

Enter myrealty.ca. A company out of Vancouver, they offer minimal services including having your listing on the MLS for a cut of 0.5%. They don't have a lot of Toronto listings right now, but the service is new and it's probably just a matter of word of mouth. Consider this my contribution.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Restaurants As Training Ground For Business

Rick segal had a story on his site that reminded me of one of my own.

One night, I had dinner at this crazy busy restaurant on Bloor st. The waitress absolutely rocked. You know the kind who never got frazzled, took all our annoying requests even though she was busy, proactively offered us water the whole nine yards.

At the end of the meal I gave her my business card and told her that if she wanted an entry level job as an account person for an ad agency, I would interview her. She thought I was nuts. Unfortunately, she never called, but the truth is if you are going to work in any form of business that involves customer service you absolutely should have worked at one time or another in the restaurant business. Why? Here are some similarities.

Waitress: The kitchen is behind on orders and everyone is hungry you have to make nice with the customer

Account Person: The creative team is behind on their project and the launch date is overdue and you have to make nice with the customer

Waitress: You are the only one in today as Tuesday's are never busy, but a busload of tourists decided to stop and only have a 45 minutes to eat

Account Person: You have won 5 new pieces of business but the CFO won't let you hire anyone to help you because it's not the end of the quarter yet

Waitress: The person orders a Caesar salad and denies it once you bring it to the table.

Account Person: The client assured you that you didn't need to worry about the fact that you didn't think the project was on brand, and then later denies it.

Oh I could go on and on but I think you get the drift.

The Widget Is The Message

Vallywag was vallywaging (or as they put it 'hypebusting') about widgets:

"A widget is an affiliate marketing program, no more, no less; the maker is entirely dependent on the tolerance of the page's owner or a network such as Myspace."

Are they right? You do the math....

Your company's brand on 100 billboards across the US = $$$$$$
Your company's brand as displayed as a widget on 100 blogs = free

Vallywag goes on to state:

"Any widget maker that tries to sneak in their own advertising -- and most of them entertain such fantasies -- will be swiftly slapped down."

Seems to me that if your business model is the widget itself, sure maybe they have a point. But if your widget is a way to drive brand recognition, drive traffic to central service and/or provide an incremental value (ala gapingvoid on my site) to your community, seems just like very smart (and very free) advertising to me.

In other words, the widget IS the message.

update: apparently Fred Wilson agrees

Thursday, 18 January 2007

A Project Manager Takes the Fall

This is HILARIOUS...an interactive shop in Belgium were creating their new website and didn't make the launch date and instead put up this (go now because they will probably have their new website soon ;-)

Communities of Practice CoP

I found this interesting academic paper on “communities of practice” which I have never heard of before although it has existed since 1991. Wikipedia says:

“CoP refers to the process of social learning that occurs when people who have a common interest in some subject or problem collaborate over an extended period to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations.”

CoP are often divided into 5 groups

* Communities of Action
* Communities of Circumstance
* Communities of Interest
* Communities of Position
* Communities of Purpose

Lerner the man behind CoP, believes that many people actually create their identities through their social participation in these communities.

It’s interesting to note, that recent research found that many teenagers have multiple identities online and often build them around the community that they participate with. If Lerner is right, I wonder what longer term affects the ability to create multiple personas for one individual might have on them in the long term?

Kids I speak to laugh this whole idea off. They travel between their real life and virtual personas all the time. And that doesn’t mean offline and online because they don’t make that distinction. They know which parts of their identities are real and important and which one’s are disposable and part of their theatre.

I am guessing in our multitasking world where on any given day we have to change our hats fifteen times, maybe it's just part of our new and necessary education process. They say the generation before me only had one or two careers, whereas I will have six, and my daugther could have over ten. With so many lives, and so many roles to fill within our families and work life, maybe the network is playing its part in supporting our on-going evolution.

And maybe as parents, we shouldn't fear but embrace this as it may be as necessary as calculus (ok bad example because who the heck needs calculus but you get my drift).

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Up Your Butt With a Coconut

Howard Lindzon had this video on his site this morning. I just kept thinking as I watched it over and over again, I sure could have used this when I worked in advertising....(oh and warning, for the rest of the day you ARE going to be singing up your butt with a coconut)

And Another Thing: Music Industry Rant Part Deux

Got all riled up after writing that posting on the music industry. After talking with Fonzie and Leslie yesterday, they both separately had the same conversation with me about how no one makes it easy for us to BUY media.

Case and point my daughter’s video ipod. One of the reasons I bought it for her was that she flies in-between Greece and Canada at least three times a year (cross-continental divorced parents). She has been doing this since she was 8 and her only beef (well not her only beef) is the plane ride. So I thought getting the video ipod and putting her favorite movies would help the process. So first off, I go to the Canadian iTunes store. Wow. You can see our movie options.

Pixar short films

Let's go to the iTunes US store and see if I can shop their instead. Good actually have more than one option. Ok so let me go and buy something.....WAIT! Canadians can't buy from the US store.

At this point I have two options. Either send her home on the plane with no videos on her video ipod and her belief that the present was stupid. OR download a program that will rip her DVDs (that we already bought) and turn them into MP3 video to use on her ipod.

So i tried to do it the right way, and found nothing but problems. It's part of the DNA of the network, if you create obstructions, it goes around them.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

The Edelman Trust Barometer: Their Kidding Right?

Did everyone know that Edelman did a study in conjunction with Technorati on Communications in the age of personal media? You can download it here.

A couple exerts:

Why the Revolution? A Trust Deficit

"Even as technologies are enabling the democratization of communications, public trust in major institutions is eroding.".....

"...Corporate communications must change. At the most strategic level, communications must work to identify and cultivate the most credible, trustworthy, and passionate evangelists within a company. Teh key issue is trust - a company may sacrifice a great degree of control over its message, but gain incredible insights into its relevant communities."

I have met and worked with people from Edelman in the past and they always seemed like a smart bunch to me. But lately of course, they have fallen off the wagon a few times. Hey, maybe they should go to their own website and read their own study eh?

Offer What Piracy Doesn't: A Rant About The Music Industry

Found a posting on the music survival guide.

It is a recording academy project that was meant to create a dialogue between music makers and their fans in order to shape the future of digital music.

One of the projects recommendations struck a ranting cord with me:

#6: Offer What Piracy Doesn’t

“So how can companies drive illegal file sharers to legal Web sites? This is something many are struggling to figure out, and there is not one clear answer or solution. However, if legitimate Web sites and online companies want to continue to grow, they must offer what piracy cannot.”

In my early twenties, I took half my bat mitzvah money and bought a stereo. I got a component based one with a NAD receiver that was made in Japan and kick ass speakers. My older brother Jeff who is a music fanatic helped me pick it out. The stereo rocks. The sound rocks. I later added a Harmon Kardon CD player. It rocks. And I still have it. And when no one is around, I BLAST my music and pretend I am still an annoying teenager.

I spent a lot of money on that stereo. And subsequently I have spent a lot of money on music and everything associated with music. Just last year, I spent over $200 bucks for scalped Radiohead tickets (and if you want to hear how the concert was Vanessa has an incredible write up here)

Here’s my point. With all those smarty pants over there at the labels, can they really not find something I want to pay for? Should they go and read The World Is Flat to find a new way to do business? UPS is fixing Toshiba laptops. What are they doing? Enough is enough. They are a bunch of whiners who want to sue kids to make a point no one cares about anymore. They stopped digital tapes from existing, they are trying to legislate their way out of this mess and it’s not going to work.

I am the newly digitally empowered consumer. I am willing to give you my money. Now, get all your executives together in a room, figure it out and I promise you I’ll listen. But this time, your offer better be good. In the words of Clint Eastwood, "go ahead, make my day."

Monday, 15 January 2007

The Future Of The Music Industry: Meet The Wiggles

My friend Rob's son, Andreas, love the Wiggles. Wiggles music, wiggles concerts, wiggles everything. It didn't surprise me then to see the figures given by Paul Kedrosky on their money making empire.

According to Paul's blog,

"The Wiggles grossed $45m Australian dollars in 2004, up from $14-million in 2001"

We all know music is no longer about distribution. Where the greatest value can be found is in live performance as it's not a commodity that can be replicated and distributed for free. Of course there are also the brand extensions that are then built through that relationship including merchandise and unique in the moment items. For example, someone told me of a show they went to where they were sold a limited version CD of the concert that they just attended as they were walking out the door. That's what it is all about now. Different, special, original. One of the few. Collectables. It's all part and parcel of how digital has redefined that business.

So meet the Wiggles and enjoy. They are the future of the music industry (god help us all).

Question: What Does oponia Mean?

I often get the question as to what oponia (the name of a software company that I co-founded) means.


1. From the spanish oponer: to oppose

2. From Russian Folklore, Oponia (Опонь): a legendary land of great wealth and purity at the edge of the world. "There are no deeds of violence or robberies or other deeds contrary to the law"; "they have no secular government; the spiritual authorities govern the people and all men"; "there is no limit to their gold, silver, precious stones and very costly beads"; "they have war with no one"

I especially like they have war with no one part....

Digitally Empowered Consumer: Peter's Rant

this is an oldie but a goodie from Peter:

"Digital customers are technology empowered schizophrenic kids in a self serve candy store. Customers from hell! They are discovering the euphoric experience of being able to indulge an ever increasing number of benefits enabled by digital communication technologies and they like it…… It saves them time and money, it seems smart, it enables them instant access to whatever or whoever they want, and only when they want it. Their loyalties are fickle, their expectations high, their attention is hard to get and they want everything their way. They know their information, attention and loyalty has a value and they want to know what you are prepared to do for it. Their loyalty is based on the degree to which, information, product quality, price and personal; service are designed to provide the most convenience for their needs."

- Peter Munck 1999

Unfocused vs. Customer Focused: Finding the Right Balance

Fraser had a post this morning about a book he was reading on "too much choice a negative thing" in product development.

All I can say is that feature creep is a sickness that needs to be carefully controlled - the Sars of product development really.

For oponia, we find starting with what our brand stands for and using that as a filter is very helpful. We also created a philosophy around design and all agreed to use the human brain as our metaphor. We all use around 10% of our brain so we figured we would be build to the 10% that most people will use (well ok, maybe 15% but we want to be one of the smarter ones ;)

It's all about finding the right focus cuz as I commented to Fraser, you might think you're being customer focused, but instead you become unfocused very quickly.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Product Development Quote of the Day

Alfons our UX design director said this (to me who unceremoniously grabbed his mouse without permission)

"Don't scroll, you'll ruin everything!"

It's the Zune Phone Man....

From Christopher Carfi the Zune Phone

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Top 10 Reasons Why I Won't Be Getting an iPhone

1. Apple's customer service SUCKS. I bought my G4 about a month before the new version of Tiger came out. They said, fax this slip into Apple once Tiger is released and they'll send me a free copy. Ok, so i kinda forgot. Shit happens. I ended up sending in my fax a day late. Guess what? They refused to give me my free copy. I mean REFUSED! I even emailed the head of marketing of Apple Canada about it who completely ignored me

2. I already have a crackberry addiction

3. I can't see tapping 80 words per minute on the touchscreen like I can on my blackberry

4. It will only work on Rogers GSM network.
I have a Bell phone because Rogers only works well in the city and I go back and forth between Toronto and Shelburne

5. There will be no user installed applications Nuff said

6. I will drop it. My blackberry is almost invincible and I have tested that. Other than the time I actually dropped an early hand held one accidentaly in the toilet, oh and also the other time I accidentally flung it across a road smashing the screen, it has survived me. The iPhone screen definately is not going to take my beating

7. It's gonna be really really really expensive. And While Paul Kedrosky might not find it that expensive, but he flies between 3 cities and has 7 computers so his opinion doesn't count (sorry :)

8. Other people will be able to spy on me. Ok this sounds strange, but the screen is so big and so clear I could probably read your private text from across the table. In business this is bad bad bad...especially if you have some nosy woman like me in the room (and yes I will look)

9. The battery life. I can only find speculation about this, but most people are questioning the batter life of the iPhone. I talk on my phone ALOT and my blackberry can have me gabbing away for hours.

10. The final reason I am not buying the iPhone is because...well i can't. It won't be here in Canada until earliest 2008


Are You The Next Google?

Haahahahhhahahahhahahhahahha....loved this (gapingvoid is my morning laugh - oh just noticed they have widgets). Reminds me of the time I saw a whole pile of kids playing in their front yard with a huge box. "Is that your pirate ship?" I ask... They look at me like who the hell are you and reply "no it's a box."

Oh, also go read the posting by Hugh McCloud that went along with it. It's good.

Living in the Moment: Lessons from India

My cousin Julie has started a blog on ramblings, rants and revelations on creativity. She had a post on her site that I loved called Stressing Out. She recounts a story from our yoga instructor and friend Nitya all about living in the moment and not concerning yourself with things that "might" happen in the future.

Taking the leap to do oponia (and at this late stage I laugh sometimes, I mean, I am turning 39 in March!) has taught me some valuable lessons. Focusing in on what I have to do today and not worrying about the things that may or may not happen tomorrow is one of my daily struggles. I am getting better at though, have to say. Nitya's story will be just another back of my brain reminder to me.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

What If The Community Had Created the iPhone?

A while back there was a video that went around that asked the question "what if the iPod had been designed by Microsoft". Well, if you haven't seen it, go here, it's hilarious.

I was reminded of this while reading Nick Carr's posting about Steve's devices.

In his post Carr says

"Jobs, in fact, couldn't possibly be more out of touch with today's Web 2.0 ethos, which is all about grand platforms, open systems, egalitarianism, and the erasing of the boundary between producer and consumer....It's a happening staged for an elite of one....In Jobs's world, users are users, creators are creators, and never the twain shall meet."

I saved a post by the folks who do the headrush blog. And before you say anything, I don't think that the collective is suppose to be about brilliance. So think about this question while you read their list below: "what would the iPhone have looked like and been like if it had been created by the Community? Collective intelligence, or the dumbness of the crowd?"

What's the difference between Collective Intelligence and Dumbness of Crowds? A few examples:

"Collective intelligence" is a pile of people writing Amazon book reviews.

"Dumbness of Crowds" is a pile of people collaborating on a wiki to collectively author a book.
(Not that there aren't exceptions, but that's just what they are--rare exceptions for things like reference books. I'm extremely skeptical that a group will produce even a remotely decent novel, for example. Most fiction suffers even with just two authors.)

"Collective Intelligence" is all the photos on Flickr, taken by individuals on their own, and the new ideas created from that pool of photos (and the API).

"Dumbness of Crowds" is expecting a group of people to create and edit a photo together.

"Collective Intelligence" is about getting input and ideas from many different people and perspectives.

"Dumbness of Crowds" is blindly averaging the input of many different people, and expecting a breakthrough.
(It's not always the averaging that's the problem it's the blindly part)

"Collective Intelligence" is about the community on Threadless, voting and discussing t-shirts designed by individuals.

"Dumbness of Crowds" would be expecting the Threadless community to actually design the t-shirts together as a group.

Art isn't made by committee.
Great design isn't made by consensus.
True wisdom isn't captured from a crowd.

I Am Now A Member of the Penguin Club

I knew I had seen this somewhere. Club Penguin. Ken Cooper has a posting about it on his site familywebwatch.com. (he says he is down with the Penguins so it's all good). It sounds a bit like second life for kids. Anastasia and I had a deal because she was giving her email address out all over the place, which I am NOT comfortable with. So she now signs up as me, I get the email and then forward it to her.

Hey, there is a new product idea – a Identity 2.0 type product where the parents spoof their identity for their kids to use on websites so these sites never have any real kid info, but the kids can still get emails, win contests etc. (this has probably been done already but I just haven’t seen it yet)

Anyway, I hope I get to be a cute penguin and I don’t do anything I would be embarrassed about over there in the club.

My Kids Gonna Think I Am The Coolest Mom: Glowing Egg Trick

I'm gonna do this on the weekend for Anastasia. From the Undeniable Facts blog the glowing egg trick

Geek Love ooooooooohhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhhh: The iPhone

Mark kills me. I am so glad he is part of oponia not only for his programming talents and his ablity to drive to Pal Alto to visit the JXTA crew, but more importantly, his sense of humor (and that's humor without the 'u' since he lives in the US of A and all). He sent me this photo of a *x* in a box (let the YouTube paradys begin)

and his comments:

"My God, you'd think the thing in the upside-down bell jar was

a) a piece of the True Cross
b) a vial of eternal life, or
c) a beautiful woman"

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Who Cares About the iPhone: Introducing The Zip Lock Big Bag

Found here. Man, this is sooo cool....

update: Top Ten Reasons Why I Won't Be Getting An iPhone

iPod Breakaway Brand of the Year

According to a new study in by Landor iPod was the breakaway brand of the year and Viking as in the upscale appliances brand was second.

Some very interesting tidbits from the study:

1. Coke didn't get on the list. Their study approach is about 'growth' brands meaning how they have fared in the past 3 years. While Coke is one of the biggest brands in terms of awareness, it has basically been completely stagnent. Not good news for the marketing folks over there.

2. According to Hayes Roth the CMO for Landour, ""Today it's all about trust, community, and creating a dialogue with your customer that shares real knowledge,"

3. Landor says "Social networking sites fail to connect. Brands like MySpace.com, eHarmony.com and Facebook.com were all ranked losers in 2006 – a year where being able to create and distribute user generated content ruled – as exemplified by YouTube and Yahoo!" This one is a bit confusing as the Fortune article talks about people under 18 weren't included in the study so the jury is still out whether or not social networking didn't connect or the study researchers didn't connect but I still think the distinction of 'social network' vs 'distributor' is an interesting one.

Apparently I Am Too Passive: Blog Writing Tests

I passed the cliché finder test (*whew) but completely failed when it came to the Passivator. Looks like my active outlook is a bit weak. Of course, I took the Passivator’s advice and went to the NYTimes and noticed that the professionals aren’t much better than me. Hey more argument of the gap closing between bloggers and journalists.

Julius Caesar vs. Steve Jobs

Ftrain.com has a Romanly amusing comparision of Julius Cecasar and Steve Jobs. Just my little Ode du Steve as we await his keynote speech today.

Monday, 8 January 2007

Ad Agency of the Year: You or More Reasons For Clients To Think....

Ad strategies and creative is pulled out of Ad Executives ......Well you get the idea. From Adhack this news:

AdAge votes you the consumer, as the ad agency of the year.
Apparently you just can't stop creating TV ads for big named brands.

Frito Lay

Home Depot
Rogers Yahoo

What do you think your Agency competitive advantage is?

(client to insert $$$ saved here ____ )

Wikipedia's Chopping Block: Medieval or Digital Times?

I have now bumped into two blogs that have mentioned the potential demise of their existiance from Wikipedia. That must be a self-esteem kick in the ass. I mean, having to say, no please don't delete me! I am a person/business/blog of note! It would be like trying to explain to the popular kids in Jr. High why you should get invited to their parties.

I read the guidelines to what is considered notable and while I am not a lawyer, they seem pretty vague to me. I am not sure about Xplane but i think Tara Hunt should definately be allowed to stay. I mean Steve Rubel and Om Malik co-speakers at Mesh in 2007 are there why not Tara?

IS IT A CUZ SHE'S A GIRL??? (ok calm down, I am just kidding on that one...sort of...)

Getting Through Your Relationship Pain, User Content Generated Style...

I have no idea how I found this (no I haven't broken up), but what a concept. The museum of broken relationships:

"Museum of Broken Relationships is a project which proceeds from the assumption that objects possess integrated fields - "holograms" of memories and emotions. With its layout the museum intends to create a space of 'secure memory' or 'protected remembrance' in order to preserve the material and nonmaterial heritage of broken relationships."

You register, and then you donate your digital memories be they emails, photos or sms messages. You can even lock them for a period of time if it's too much for you for now.

I personally couldn't imagine contributing my pain, but there is something in their idea of "collective emotional history" that I really dig. Maybe that's what Web 2.0 should have be called. Our big fat collective emotional history...

Sunday, 7 January 2007

You're Fired! Here, have $210,000,000.00

Fraser sent this Dilbert Cartoon to me a as an Xmas gift cuz he knows my bias against Six Sigma (an Ops guy at a company i did consulting for wanted to make the marketing and communications department follow Six Sigma HA!). I was reminded of this as I read about the firing yesterday of Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli, his failed Six Sigma strategy and subsequent massive payout.

You know at some point, someones gotta wake up and start putting a firing CAP into these guys contracts. I mean if sports teams have salary CAPS why shouldn't CEOs have firing CAPS?

Have a read for yourself over at Business Week and at Seth's Blog.

Friday, 5 January 2007

CBC Has Cool Stuff In Their Store - Who Knew?

grrrlmeetsworld had the cutest CBC baby jumper photo on her site so i went on over to the cbc store and who knew?

So much cool stuff.

Check out this David Suzuki Rhetro "T"

or a Rhetro 70's CBC belt buckle

or the "Hockey a History" Long Toque

...And YES I am officially procrastinating....(could you tell?)

Design Philosophy

taken from a Henry David Thoreau quote,

"Our life is frittered away by detail...Simplify, simplify."

Some links about complexity and simplicity:

simplicity can be overrated

laws of simplicity blog

Meeting Philosophy

love this (although i would prefer a canoe).
Find out
how spaces can improve creativity
why meetings are toxic and
the anatomy of great meetings by 3M

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Customer Service as Brand Conversation Centres

Listened to a great podcast on customer service by Jon Udell with Paul English who started the website gethuman.com. Paul had apparently gotten a bunch of press in the States for his IVR cheat sheet where he helped people get through the mire of IVR systems to speak directly with a customer service rep.

Having seen the inner workings of how large corporations deal with customer service, it's pretty easy to see why and how we get the service we get. Ops is completely separated out from marketing and in fact, view the notion of Brand as witchcraft that has no inherent value. This leads them to provide little value in building that brand as they are not bonused on satisfying customers and building relationships (because how could you measure that anyhow?), but rather reducing call volume and shaving seconds off per call.

This age old problem of customer service centres being viewed as cost centres has to change. In this day and age of brands and their customers becoming more intertwined, these service centres should in fact be looked at as brand conversation centres, where brands have a unique opportunity to directly communicate with their customers. Customer service agents could then be seen as they should, not the evil face of the company you are ready to do battle with, but brand officers and ombudsmen who you come to as 'agents of the consumer'.

Slightly off topic but worth quoting, Paul's own companies service solution which is making his engineers directly responsible for customer service. According to Paul it has:

"done wonders for the software development process. Because they’re on the front lines dealing with the fallout from poor usability, they’re highly motivated to improve it."

Hum....wonder if that could apply to Operations executives as well?

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Defining Time: 10X10

It's funny that I don't bump into more creative projects like this but for some reason I just love them. My friend Mark Federman mentions this site, called 10X10 on his blog. The concept is very cool. In their words:

“10x10™ ('ten by ten') is an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time. The result is an often moving, sometimes shocking, occasionally frivolous, but always fitting snapshot of our world. Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time.”

What you get is a simple interactive experience that literally grabs bits of history and creates a visual mosaic that becomes an representitive collection of that moment in time.

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Amazon's Technology Leadership: The Long Tail of Web Services

Vanessa has a must read post on her site talking about the technology leadership of Amazon vs. Google and the The Long Tail of Web Services.

While most people think of Amazon as a bookseller, or retailer in general, that really isn't what they have been up to underneath it. Similar to say a Walmart who might be a retail brand but has as much value in their supply chain processes, Amazon is becoming a leader in technology. I remember being surprised a couple years when a friend of mine who owned a small Web shop here in Toronto, lost a major retailer piece of business for building a dynamic content management and e-commerce site to Amazon. I had no idea that they were selling their process to other retailers.

When we consider the extent to which technology choices can become competitive advantages for corporations, and where the streamlining of business processes can impact and affect margin and profitability, it is easy to see Vanessa's argument that it will be Amazon that will emerge as the leader in the coming years.

And what about Google? Vanessa says:

"For Google to become the sort of web services platform so many people seem to expect, they'd have to radically change their business model."

Centralizing eyeballs or even centralizing the data around the eyeballs forces Google's technology hand while Amazon's are free and clear to innovate.

The Gift Giving Game: Big Media, Advertisers, Bloggers and the Marketing Machine

I just bumped into post number 30 on the whole Microsoft giving away free laptops to bloggers debate. Something is bugging me about this discussion. To me, there is a gift giving game going on but it ain't just about Microsoft giving free computers to bloggers.

Let's be clear. No one is objective, and similarly everyone in the product marketing food chain is affected in one way or another.

We all know media's revenues come from advertising and while most editors will talk a great game about holding their integrity when it comes to content, most will also tell you that the past number of years has seen advertisers become more and more powerful when it comes to affecting their editorial control. There was a great example in McLeans magazine a couple issues ago with a journalist who had written a story on how people are dressing their kids like tarts. When asked why there hadn't been more focus on this issue, she indicated that the major stores that carry the clothing that she was criticizing are also major advertisers for the media outlets that would carry such stories.

Similarly, media companies schmooze advertisers with gifts all the time. Ever been on the media-buying floor of an advertising agency around Christmas time? Sure it might not be a $2200 laptop, but I have seen DVD players, major sporting events tickets, concert tickets, golf balls, gift certificates, you name it (and I have got the Google blanket and Google mug to prove it).

And what about consulting gigs? Advertisers and their agencies often pay experts in the biz (many of whom had media influence either as content providers or contacts within that realm) for their ‘knowledge’ and ‘opinions’ as consultants. I mean if you potentially have the opportunity to get a well paying contract down the line for an advertiser, would that not somehow influence how you wrote a review?

Then of course there are the myriad of personal relationships, and business back scratching that come with doing business in a free market economy and playing golf at the same golf clubs.

I am not saying that disclosure isn't important. I just think however, that all the hoopla about Microsoft's free laptop is just the tip of a very large and very deep marketing ice burg and to suggest that this is somehow something especially ethically problematic seems a bit naïve.

What is comes down to is what is always comes down to: Integrity and trust. There are those that have it, and those that don’t. The audience isn’t stupid. We know what’s going on and sooner or later those that are doing it for the wrong reasons get caught. As for the others? A laptop or two won’t affect them. Besides, they are probably the one’s that gave it away to charity anyhow.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Power At The Edge Will Force Value At The Centre

The World of Ends by Doc Searles and David Weinberger...

My favorite part:

"When Craig Burton describes the Net's stupid architecture as a hollow sphere comprised entirely of ends3, he's painting a picture that gets at what's most remarkable about the Internet's architecture: Take the value out of the center and you enable an insane flowering of value among the connected end points. Because, of course, when every end is connected, each to each and each to all, the ends aren't endpoints at all."

As the edges become more powerful, does the value go out of the centre? Or is it simply a power shift forcing the centre to provide greater value to the edge?

2007 Unleash Your Creativity

I like to keep my new years goals simple. 2007 is going to be all about unleashing creativity. Whether that be solving new problems at work, finding better ways to utilize resources or continuing my long list of product ideas I don't have time to execute! What better way to start off 2007 than some great links that will hopefully inspire you to do the same...

Embrace Your Insanity says Dustin Walper

Get Happy says UCLA

Learn About Eureka Moments from a great article by U of T magazine

Cultivate Creative Passion at Work says Arun a self-proclaimed 'serial' creative

Know That Creativity is for Everyone

And finally read about how researchers are Uncovering the Secreats of Creative Thinking by Scientific American

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