Friday, 29 June 2007

Networked Research: The Power Of Comments

When I first starting to seriously use blogs as part of my research mix, I tended to focus in on the postings. When printing, I used to get annoyed that I ended up with sheets and sheets of user comments wasting a lot of paper.

Strange thing though, I started to notice a change. Great postings elicit great feedback and great comments that often network me to even more interesting research, blog posts and more great comments.

Now the only question is how to appropriately cite blog comments in the footnotes! ;-)

Ps. Before anyone chides me for my old school ways of printing my research, let me just say in my defense that while I know it’s very old school I also don't know many people who can go through the amount of research I can, in the same time period I can, so don't knock my methods until you have tried 'em!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

New Feature Idea

Ok it's really an old feature idea but can someone do this soon please? A 'printer-friendly' button on all blogs.

More and more blogs are being used for news and research (by the way i must owe Zoli at least a few thousand dollars for great quotes and insights just made for keynote/powerpoint) the ability to print without having a ream of paper attempting to print out side columns and pages of comments would be very helpful and good for trees.

Blogger product development? Anyone? Help?

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Money Can't Buy You Community: Lesssons From Yahoo

I have complained for a long time now about what i call "Yahoothanization". What is it? It's what Yahoo does to perfectly good companies that they buy. They Yahoothanize them. Meaning, they attempt to force a whole bunch of Yahoo rules (the first of which starts with the old 'you must get a Yahoo ID') onto whatever community they have purchased.

And there in lies the problem. Yahoo thinks they have actually have purchased those communities.

These non-networked businesses who continue to have a top down command and control business approaches will keep running into the same issue until they get it. We only have to look at the transition of myspaces to Rupert's spaces to watch the phenomenon in action (Facebook anyone?)

Jeff Jarvis has a great post on the Yahoo subject and an even better quote:

"We debated for decades whether content or distribution was kind but it turns out that neither is. The community is the Kingdom."

So there you go. The only thing that is getting Yahoothanized these days is Yahoo but there is an important lesson here:

Technologies can be bought and sold, but communities can't.


Waste Away

Walking the dog this morning, it occurred to me that retailers should just give away yard waste bags to their customers. I mean every third house had either a Home Depot or a Canadian Tire yard waste bag/billboard sitting on their front lawn.

I wonder what the media value of that would have been had they had to pay for it?

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

New Blog Strategy: Just Link To Marc A

Lol. So come on. Really the rest of us should just go home. Mr. Smarty Pants (aka Marc Andreessen) has another great post today on why NOT to start a start-up: Part I.

His closing metaphor from Star Wars is great - but leaves two questions in my mind:

Who does Princess Leah represent? and
When Han goes into the hole for protection and that safe-haven ends up really being the throat of a big monster - whose the monster?

(For the record from now on when I am too busy or too stupid to think of anything smart to write, I am just linking to him)

Friday, 15 June 2007

What Business Are You In?

"What business are we in" is one of the most fundamental questions that companies rarely if ever ask themselves.

If you haven't read the white paper by Mark Federman on this very subject go read it now. If you haven't read it in a while go re-read it.

Great reading and may just inspire you to go back to the office and get the conversation started

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Letter To The Editor

My mom and I were discussing an article in the Globe and Mail the other day (yes she still gets a paper every morning) and at some point she said to me

"you know what, you should write a letter to the editor"

Letter to the editor? What's that?

It's funny that in her world blogging doesn't mean anything to her. She is 68 and the only blogs she reads are when i forward her something of note and then to her, it would be the same as getting any website url. It could be the Globe and Mail online or it could be Joe Schmo's blog. It pretty much looks the same to her.

So I laughed (with her, not at her - she's my mom after all) and said, yeah mom, those are called blog comments now.

Reminds me of when my daughter saw an old electric typewriter on the side of the road in a garbage pile and asked "what’s that mommy?"

Letter to the editor. Soon to be a thing of the past.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Innovation Nation

Report on business (and CBC and the Star etc etc.) are talking about a new report that gives Canada what is tantamount to a failing grade in innovation:

"This country is doing dismally in the critically important area of innovation," writes the board's president, Anne Golden. "And the implications of that failure ... show up in the absence of creative policy and investment decisions across all the other domains."

"Canadians are complacent and generally unwilling to take risks," the report scolds. "This culture holds Canada back."

Risk adverse is exactly how I would characterize the Canadian environment. In the tech sector there is no question that living in Canada is a detriment. I talk to entrepreneurs all the time and all of them say the same thing – getting funding in Canada is a longer and more difficult process compared to the US or Europe.

Hopefully reports like this will actually get some action going. There are so many great innovators here and its clear that lack of support actually impacts our economy.

Maybe the Government will actually take some steps. I can think of two areas they might want to start with – overhaul IRAP (what a nightmare getting a wee grant there was) and create tax policies that actually encourage greater investments in high risk areas.

Innovation isn't the issue here in Canada. But supporting it is.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

It's 1950 Again

Looks like in an effort to force people to watch TV ads, Garmin and Jay Leno are doing an in-show spot.

"...the shtick for the 30-second spot will have Jay Leno's announcer, John Melendez, appearing in a lab coat to discuss how Garmin devices can be the cure for "direction disorder," an ailment that prevents men from asking for directions."

Wow don't wanna miss that! (I'll let you know how it is ;) But just so we are clear, I draw the line on this blast from the past if it means that someone is going to expect me at some point to wear a poofy dress and look happy while holding a bottle of cleaning liquid as Wally and the Beav go past to cause trouble....

Monday, 11 June 2007

And Who Told You Writers Earn A Living?

What's with the entire 'monetization of blogging' conversation that continues to go around the Web like a rat on a wheel. I just don't get it.

I have read probably every book there is on writing (it was my own special way of procrastinating writing my novel). Almost all of them say the same thing:

1. If you want to write, put the book down and write (Doh....)
2. Don't quit your day job. Almost no writers make a living writing.

I mean even Margaret Atwood still takes Canada arts council grants. So why should blogging be different?

There will always be those that are at the top of their game, that have thousands of readers and a whole bunch of companies willing to pay them for speaking or consulting gigs.

But for most people, writing is about expressing oneself, and/or having an opinion. With blogging i would also add for me it's about connecting with people who I wouldn't have otherwise connected with.

And let’s face it, that is way more valuable than the .50 cents you make on Google

Friday, 8 June 2007

The Problem With LavaLife's New Beta

So the problem with Lavalife's new beta exclusively for Boomers?

According to my online dating friends, Boomer men want to date Gen X or Y women.

(apparently no matter how unsuccessful and unattractive they are either ;-)

I'll Never Trip Again....WiTricity

This is totally cool

The MIT researchers who developed the "WiTricity" wireless power technology haven't set their sights on global broadcast power just yet, but the team is already envisioning wirelessly transmitting power to laptops or cell phones across an office or inside a house. Because the power stream can be consistent, the devices would not even need batteries.

Assembly Line Vs. Couture Technology

I still have one foot in the agency world and one thing that amazes me is how many ad agencies are outsourcing their tech to countries outside of Canada (India, Columbia, China etc.).

I want to talk about how wrong I think this is and maybe not for the reasons that immediately come to mind.

Interactive communication is an art.

Let me use an analogy. If I were going to manufacture T-shirts that were all the same design and only really varied by size and colour, out sourcing that manufacturing based on price would make a lot of sense.

However, if i am making a one of a kind piece that would mean changes on the fly, a bunch of fittings with a model and having an intimate relationship with the sewers who were part of the creation team, i would have to work with people who i knew could solve problems.

And that is what great technologist do. They solve problems. Uniquely, elegantly and in a million different on the fly ways.

The amount of times that we have had a usability problem and our tech team and UX team get together only to find an amazing solution that no one had previously thought of, continues to astound me.

Innovation doesn’t happen on the assembly line.

My 2 cents? Be careful what you ask for, because in the end you just may get it. With digital becoming more and more important in clients marketing mix, it's not the cheap solution they are looking for, it's the right solution. And by not having the right technologists on your team, you will only ever have half of an answer.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Technology And My Aging Biology

My technology is becoming my memory.

I realized it today. I couldn't remember the url of a blog I go to all the time and had to go to my feed reader to find it. I do this with phone numbers too. I used to know all my friends numbers off by heart. Now my blackberry remembers them for me.

I used to trust my biology. And now, I am increasingly trusting my technology instead.

We Are The Network

Cross-posted from the official oponia networks blog

So Vanessa starts talking to me about this idea of wanting the Web to be end-to-end. She was going on about nodes (huh?) and how I am not a node (wha?) and then she started to furiously draw a bunch of pictures where the Web was represented in all its glory as something that looked pretty much like this:

I loved her passion but I didn’t know wtf she was talking about. And after about a half an hour of her mad technical genius, I said, yeah but what does that mean?

V: It means you could publish stuff from your laptop without anyone in the middle.

And that’s where it started. Getting rid of the middle man and giving yourself a presence on the Web that was totally and completely your own. In many ways a simple idea, but once you wrap your head around the implications of it, an extraordinarily powerful one as well.

As for the product we created on top of the oponia networks platform?

One of the greatest things for me about the ucaster is how pervasive it has become in my life and how much I love to use it. I love our apps. I love one step publishing and having people from serious programmers to my mother use the same tool. I love how it's as easy to get stuff off the Web as it is to get it on. And I love the fact that if someone doesn’t want to use our homepage app or has their own java app (and even more soon) that they are perfectly welcome to do so.

And my favourite thing? The ucaster isn’t about us. It’s about you.

And that's as it should be.

Happy sharing

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Battlestar Galactica To End

I loved season 1 and 2 of Galactica. I mean really loved. Since Twin Peaks season 1 or the entire run of Hill Street Blues, I hadn't been so obsessed with a show. But season 3? Not so much. I mean it is called BATTLESTAR and for show after show all we got was some weird soap opera with no fighting scenes. What was with that?

Anyway, sounds like season 4 will be the last. Show producers decided it for themselves. Good for them. About frackin' time.

Favorite Google Search Term Of The Day

Brought to you by which tracks the comings and goings of people to my blog.

Search Term: "if you were to ask chris griffen who was in his closet, what would he say?"

And strangely, that got them here.

Things that make you go, hum.....

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Still Enamored With TV

Peter called me into the TV room last night because it turned out that my cousin Phil's place (for those of you in Toronto, you probably know it - best damn BBQ - Phil's Original BBQ on College st)was on restaurant makeover.

Now what is it about TV that makes me go, "oh look, Phil and Gloria are on TV! Cool"

I saw this when i worked at the Agency all the time. I am still convinced one of the reasons there is so much client money pumped into TV commercials is that clients love to go on shoots. The sets are cool. Food services! Lights, Camera, Action!

Yep, we are still enamored with TV. Well, at least a little bit.


A Friend Read A Blog Of A Friend And Then Wrote A Post And Linked To The Friend And Then A Friend Read That Post ...And Then I Fell Asleep

Ok long winded title, but Case in point, the bubble post by Mark Andreessen. I read about it first on Paul Kedrosky's blog during my morning scanning. Then later in the afternoon, I went to my feeds again, and I swear I bumped into a gazillion postings on the exactly same subject, citing the exact same articles only a few of which gave any new perspective.


clearly I have no diversity in my feed reader.

And the irony? while i have thought this for a while and it's been bugging me, I actually read a post on this very subject a while back called the Echo chamber where one person almost dared people to link to Julia's post. Well dammit, now I have.

ECHO! ECHO! ....zzzzzzz........

Monday, 4 June 2007

The Tallest Password In The World

From a blog posting from a 9 year old about Club Penguin:

"My penguin’s password has a capital letter and is the tallest a password can be"

I love the way kids minds work. :)

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Cambodian Atlas To Compete With Google Maps?

Just kidding! But there is a lot of interesting things going on below ground.

To that end, my brother's company Aruna Technology co-located in Cambodia and Laos, has just launched The Atlas of Cambodia by the Royal Danish Embassy.

According to the site, it "has been created to provide civil society, government institutions, Danida’s development partners and the public at large with information on the state of the environment and natural resources in Cambodia and related social and economic issues based on data collected during the programme period from a number of the Danida funded projects."

To get to the actual map itself, click on "link to map" in the top right hand corner.

My brother is also the only authorized distributor for Garmin Cambodia although he has yet to give me any cool toys for free (yes that is a hint Jeff ;-)

update: found a recently published article by the Documentation Centre of Cambodia that Jeffrey has written based on his thesis work at Cornell (the family is always last to know) - “Searching for the Truth,” which has made a welcome contribution to the understanding of the centrally-planned irrigation systems of the Khmer Rouge."

Saturday, 2 June 2007

New Product Idea

Company Name: Elgoog
Mission : To be a thorn in Google's side

Launch Product:

The Google Views Obfuscation System

A set of lasers that creates a bubble around your home that obfuscates Google Views from being able to broadcast your piece of the world. I am thinking our first niche market would be movie stars who don't want their comings and goings relayed to the various stalker elements out there.

Friday, 1 June 2007

And People Say Tech People Don't Trust The Biz People

So I asked for a change to something which made the guys all nervous. They hate exceptions to the rule because, well firstly, they love rules. Secondly all of them have worked with business people (yeah, ok, fine myself included) who promise it will be the ONLY exception ONLY to have a second and third (and forth and fifth).

lol. Eric (our very dry witted programmer/soon to be PhD in linguistics) said that he would only do what I asked IF he got it in writing that I wouldn't come back and ask for more.

Here is what i promised:

Leigh Himel hereby swears that this so called "exception" will be the only one. If she does what the usual business people do and goes back on her word then we only have to go to this message in our bug tracker software to mock her with, and then laugh as we refuse to execute any of her ridiculous requests.

(and the promise is now of course now immortalized forever on this blog post ;-)

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