Sunday, 31 December 2006

Happy New Year 2007

"For without belittling the courage with men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men...have lived...A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality.

- John F. Kennedy "Profiles in Courage"

Saturday, 30 December 2006

HealthCare 2.0

Bumped into Sermo the other day. Sermo is currently only for Doctor's, but seems like it is the beginning of what might become an onslaught of social networking healthcare sites. They say:

"Why consult with one colleague when you can consult with thousands instantly?"

and offer functionality such as reviews on prescription meds as well as voting systems.

And their consumer side is coming soon. It should be interesting to watch healthcare get into the game and see if the network collective intelligence is something that ends up being a positive thing for average people trying to get a handle on the already confusing world of treatment.

I have a bunch of Doctor’s in the family, I am going to see if they can get into it (being from Canada and all) and give me more of a poop.

Friday, 29 December 2006

Hottest Blogger Dudes of 2006

For those of you who haven't seen it, there have been some recent blog posting about the most beautiful women bloggers. The first by Amit and then a second by gizmodo (note the comment from Amit at being first…gizmodo, you big copy-blogger!)

So I thought I would do my list of hottest blogger dudes of 2006.

Malcolm Gladwell: Well the picture is a bit disappointing as he doesn't show enough skin, but common - the hair, the intellectual air! He's a hottie.

Rick Mercer: We all know that women find humour absolutely irresistable and therefore who could leave Rick Mercer off our list. The John Stewart of Canada with a bit of height,this Newfoundlander makes the grade. Love the picture of him in army gear...yummy!

Mathew Ingram: Who says that nice guys finish last? Mathew, a father of four, a tech writer and all around nice guy. Had to make the list. (hehe, i can feel him blushing as we speak)

And finally, George Cloony: Well, Ok, he wasn't REALLY a blogger, but his little flog non-posting to the Huffington Post was all the rage for at least a week. Funny George. Funny playful, sarcastic, joke around with your best pal Brad by placing really expensive Ads about each other in the local LA papears, and why not? Your George. Come back to the Blogosphere George, but this time for real. We need you.

Now I think I'll email Kate as she has been blogging for way longer than me and might have some hotties to add that I missed...

Kate's Picks:

Ken Schafer
.. founder of One Degree and VP Marketing at Tucows.

Sulemaan Ahmed
... digital marketer extrordinaire for SearsTravel and blogger at the CMA's blog.

Michael Seaton ... Director, Digital Marketing for Scotiabank. He blogs at The Client Side.

The Long Tail of Customer Service: The Niche Market of One Pissed Off Customer

Xmas time always reminds me of what ends up being the best and worst about customer service.

Years ago I ended up in a "discussion" with customer service over @ Amazon when I downloaded one of their ebooks and I couldn't get it to work (and that was even after downloading Microsoft Reader!). I needed the book for a 'work on the weekend thing' and ended up having to buy it at the local bookstore. To make a really long story short, net net, Amazon refused to give me my money back even after I wrote Jeff Bezos and email (a business hero of mine). I was even sent to a seemingly more important customer service person, and was still told that it was their policy that if the book was downloaded according to their computer system, it was mine regardless of the fact that I couldn't get it to work.

Well, I did the only thing I could do. Emailed my network of friends asking them to send a note to Jeff to "give Leigh Himel her $10.00 back or we will never shop at Amazon again". At around email 12 I think it was, I got a lovely note from the customer service lady saying that they had reconsidered and while were not changing their policy, they were going to make an exception just for little ol' me, gave me my $10 bucks and a coupon for another $10 bucks which i have never used (While still admiring Jeff and Amazon, I now shop for books at Powells)

Now I can't imagine how much it must have cost from an OPs perspective to answer all my friends individually (which they did) but I can bet you it was FAR and AWAY more than the cost would have been to credit my card the $10 bucks immediately. But more importantly, one pissed off customer can do a lot more in the networked world than we ever could before.

So that’s why I say, probably one of the most ignored niche markets, the pissed off customer. Make that long tail happy and watch it wag it's way all the way to your bank account. If you choose to ignore it, do so at your own (and their networks) peril.

Thursday, 28 December 2006

New Product Idea of the Day

I look forward to anyone who might know of something that can do this:

1. A bookmark saver tool that on one click will let me save all my open tab windows in firefox but only for a specified period of time - say 2 days. I always end up with all these windows open with these great articles i want to read, but then something comes up and I have to go. Leaving them all opened is annoying - bookmarking them when i only want to read rather than save is annoying....I need more an in the moment and then self-destruct kind of bookmarking tool.

The Texture of Memory

The Texture of Memory by James Young is an amazing book. While it primarily focuses on holocaust memorials, the book is filled with brilliance about memories, history and our perception of events in the past from multiple perspectives. As one reviewer put it:

"...the author reminds us, [that Memory] is never neutral or value-free. We do not have instant recall--direct access to the facts as they were. Thus it is not just the future that brings change: the past, too, is always being altered, caught between an originating event and the impossibility of ever recapturing it."

And yet now we have these networks of intertwined memories. How will this change our ability to have a collective interpretation or claim some form of objectivity in the future looking back on our past? Do we now, as we might assume, have direct access to the facts, or is it the opposite with our ability to manipulate the facts that much greater in this networked world?

We appear to trust the network and trust the memory of the network almost more than our own individual memories and that is likely to grow as more and more of us document bits and pieces of ourselves over our lifetimes online.

In a larger context, it means that events begin to be interpreted by the network and it becomes not just something said by one person but by a 1000 or a million and soon it becomes our memory whether it be necessarily so or not.

It will be interesting to watch what the longer term affects that this age of user generated content (or whatever your buzz word you choose to describe it) might have on history and our later historical interpretations of our collective memories.

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Fresh Blood: oponia opens a Califonia office (well sorta)

I still haven't recovered my brain quite from the night before, but things are slowly getting back to normal. Since it is almost the new year, I thought I would welcome our new man on campus, Mark Petrovic to oponia. He will be the managing director of our California office (otherwise known as his house) and working hand in hand with Vanessa on the tech side of things. (We now have a Phd in physics to go along with our nuclear engineer...hum.....)

Mark is a total gentleman, informing V and I he likes to send a polite IM good morning in the am not to bother anyone, but to make sure we all stay connected. We all hope oponia goes well, so that we not only get to continue to work together all the time, but as well, we might even get to meet one day. Until then, we will continue to have Mark represented at our events through his likeness that Vanessa printed out and glued onto a piece of cardboard.

To find out more about Mark, go to OReilly here or his blog here

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Messy When I Bake? Bah Hum Bug

Homemade chocolate truffles anyone? Can you believe I get accused of making a mess while I bake? (tnx to Anastasia for the lovely photo). Next up, I will give away the secret to making a brilliant Pavolova - a Himel holiday dessert tradition!

Friday, 22 December 2006

Me During the Holidays

Think I am going to take a mental vacation from thinking too much for a few days. Too much baking and cooking going on with rellies from Cambodia and Australia coming for the hollies. So postings should be all about fun, food, music and relaxation. And on that note, meet the Batti's Placentero Chair. Curl up and be one with the womb....ahhhhhhh.....

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Adam Sandler's Channukah Song

I love Adam Sandler. I wanted to put his video of the Channukah song up here for those that hadn't seen it, but when i went to go get the YouTube video of it, all i got was this lousey t-shirt, i mean message from universal. *sigh* and I was going to go buy the thing from iTunes - now somehow, I just don't feel like it.

So instead, go here to iFilm and watch it for yourselves.

Blackberry Etiquette 101

There seems to be a lot of kurfuffle these days about people using their blackberries in meetings and whether or not this constitutes proper etiquette.

I think our American friends can learn a lot from the North since we have had the blackberry etiquette issue for a long time now. Let me tell you about the first time I encountered it. And, it wasn't pretty.

I worked on the Rogers Communications account here in Toronto. The first time I was giving a presentation to the Wireless clients, I got a rather strange surprise. There were about 20 of them in the room and every one of them had a blackberry. Now this was at the time where blackberries were not common and if people did have them, it was usually the Senior mucky mucks. But at Rogers, EVERYONE had one. And from the second I started the presentation, their thumbs were manically moving to the point where I was almost dizzy at the watching of it while trying to be engaging and sell them a communications plan. But you couldn't help but find the humour in it. They didn't think they were being rude, they just had a problem.

They were crackberry addicts. And I don't mean just run of the mill gotta glance down and politely type on those babies. I mean completely extension of their arm, kinda like breathing, gotta get more and shoot themselves up 100% obsessed.

Thumbs were flying, blackberries were buzzin’ and every once in a while someone would loudly gafa. There was clearly more than one conversation going on at the time, and as their Agency planner person I had two choices: 1. Get all pissed off, or 2. just go with the flow. Well, I am much more the flow goer so I thought; if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em. And with that attitude, they hooked me up and I shot myself up with a new blackberry and haven’t looked back ever since.

Now can I say that I don’t get annoyed from time to time when I am presenting and someone is multi-tasking rather than listening to me? Sure I am human. But I just figure, I better try being more compelling and start to talk to that person directly.

But if your the kind that really really can't stand it, try this and see if it helps. Before you start the meeting, dig into your purse (or briefcase) and say, “Oops, forgot to turn off my blackberry. I would hate to be so rude as to have it go off while I am in the meeting with you.” That usually gets the mild addict to turn his/her off.

But what about the serious addict? I am afraid you can’t help them and you certainly can't blame them. You should feel sorry for them.

Oh and if that doesn’t work to get your ire down, while you are presenting just imagine them naked.

update: blackberry orphans and how to kick the habit

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

2 New Product Ideas

1. The "Doh" Detector:
An email client that would automagically know when you wrote an email referencing a link or attached document but forgot to actually put in the link or attach the document

2. Skunk Smell Begone, No But Really....:

I would pay almost anything if I was told that something would get rid of this damn smell (for the record, having your dog skunked is WORSE than your child getting head lice)

Can Fallen Trees in a Forest Be Compared to Fallen Code on the Web?

According to cbc radio this morning, forestery managers and experts in Burnaby B.C. are debating is as to whether it is right to clean up the fallen trees that are littered through Stanely Park after a recent big storm. The park ranger says it's a matter to safety that the trees be removed as they are a fire hazard. Some profs at UBC on the other hand say, no a forest is a dynamic ecosystem and the fallen trees should be left in their natural state to become part of that ecosystem.

Hum....well, if social networks are ecosystems, then what does this mean for fallen social networking sites, programs or features? Google is a great example with the recent demise of Google Answers. Should these programs be removed to keep a cleaner and less chaotic Web? Or should we leave them there, keep most of the funcatinality in tact and see if something new emerges from the fallen code?

Can't think off the top of my head....Are there any examples where fallen code has been left to rot and turned into something that became part of the network later on?

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Fake Blog of the Week: Sony

I am hoping that I won't need a once a week posting for this - anyway, what's to say really that hasn't been said by someone else. Go see what Mitch said on Dec 12th when he discovered it....enjoy

My Network is My Search Engine

In the last post from Charlie Leadbeater for 2007, he refers to an argument he had with what he calls the "very articulate Baroness Susan Greenfield"about whether or not social media is bad for kids. She, a neuro-scientist says yes and gives a whole bunch of reasons, that I think could also have been applied to TV in my day (Sing with me: Roadrunner! Coyote Catches You!) but what I found really interesting is where Mr. Leadbeater starts to talk about one's ability to trust user generated content and the cacophony argument as he calls it, of information overload and how sites like Wikipedia, etc. all are starting to address this issue.

As networks become more and more decentralized, and our personal trusted social networks become more solidified, we will look to that network to help us parse the gazillions of bits and bytes of information that we are confounded with everyday. Why should I try keeping up on the latest tech trends, when my friend David Chant lives and breaths the stuff? I should be able to leverage his knowledge and connections as I wouldn't even know which resources to trust.

Technologies such as Google Co-Op are in the beginning stages of what this could become, and it will be interesting to see how it could get even more robust and smarter over time.

Now, if only I could get my Network to become my spellchecker.....

Monday, 18 December 2006

The Thing I love About Ted Rogers Even Though I Don't Think He Should Start A Blog

I read a question on a blog that I thought was interesting. The question was posed "Is it ok to ghostwrite a ceo blog."

My 2 cents? As a ceo you have to have integrity. In this day and age of transparency and authenticity, people want to know that the individuals behind the companies they buy from and essentially support, deserve their business.

Does this mean that ceo's should blog? How about Ted Rogers, founder of Rogers Communications for example?

One thing I have always loved about Ted is that he always seemed to me to be someone who was actively involved in his company. I mean on some level you gotta respect a guy who goes to the trouble of actually reading all the ads his company produces and actually circles the ones he thinks are bad and pins them up in Sr. Executive's offices. But could I see Ted blogging? I think that would be a PR nightmare (I'm just guessing).

And what if the ceo can't write?

Personlly, I think if they can't write, they shouldn't. But similarly, they certainly shouldn't get someone else to write it for them. It defeats the entire purpose of it as a way to get to know the ceo personally and ends up being yet another communications vehicle in the most traditional sense of media.

So what is a ceo to do?

I believe that if the ceo (or his/her management team more likely) thinks it's important to blog for business, then they should just get the head of communications to write the blog and disclose that. The ceo could be a guest commenter from time to time so people know they are out there but whatever they do, they shouldn't pretend.

It won't be long however, until things like blogging just becomes part of the job if it isn't already. As brands get closer to customers, and customers to brands, being able to get to know the chief executive officer will become mandatory. And those officers are going to have to expose themselves like never before. Soon there will be no where to hide.

Maybe instead of doing executive MBAs, what ceo's should really be doing is taking writing courses? Just a thought....

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Solar Powered iPod Charger: Happy Holidays to Me

We have an island in-between Sudbury and Timmons with no electricity and last summer my iPod kept running out of power. Can't do the Yoga on the deck without music! And the men folk were less then impressed when I wanted to strike up the generator just to power up my iPod and boot up the Krishna Das MP3s, that no one can stand but me on a good day.

The solution? The solar powered iPod charger. Not only is it pretty, it works (or so the young lad at the Apple store told me). I couldn't resist, I got one for my daughter to go along her Video iPod, one for my nephew for his iPod and of course, one for me for the island.

This is the coolest gift ever.

I can see myself in the canoe in my minds eye.


Friday, 15 December 2006

Meme Maddness

In the words of Mathew I

I hate these blog-tag things. But I don’t want to be a poor sport, so here are the “Five Things You Don’t Know About Me” (thanks a lot, Vanessa):

Ok, not including the bits and pieces about myself I already covered, 5 new things about me:

1. I went to private Jewish dayschool with Giller Prize nominee Micheal Redhill. In fact, his brother Mark was my very first crush.

2. I have been watching the Young and the Restless since I was eleven years old. Damn that Victor Newman!

3. When I was twelve, I beat out a future Canadian National Swimming Champion in the 50M butterfly and 100 IM

4. My grandfather was the Estonian National highjump champion and was suppose to go to the 1940 Olympics

5. I cried the first time I saw the Johnny Cash video for his NIN cover "Hurt"

Save Like Scrooge & Give Like Santa

Mark Evans has a post that talks about the then (doc com boom) vs now (2.0). While I agree with some comments that it's not all about the furniture (which i don't think is what he was trying to say) I do think that the mentality of most start-ups these days have changed on both the save and spend side. Some of the insights we have garnered over the last year are found below.

On the "SAVE LIKE SCROOGE" side:

1. Find as much "Free Money" as you can
Gov't grants like IRAP and tax programs like SR & ED will garner us in total about 100K, which are crucial monies for a start up our size.

2. Get a high interest savings account
We have the bulk of our investor money in a high interest account and only move money into our operating account the day before payday. It might not be huge money, but it’s the kind of cash that allows you to hire the extra help when needed or give a little holiday bonus money to your staff

3. Find programs that are there to help entrepreneurs

We have our offices at the TBDC which saves us rent, gives us access to services we couldn't afford on our own and puts us in an environment that is full of like minded start-ups

4. Choose your law firms wisely

Our greatest expense after labour is law fees. I actually think this one is so important, I am going to write a posting on the weekend about it. So I'll leave it simple for the moment.

5. If you can DIY, then DIY

Mark talked about the Aeon chairs of the .bomb era. I had to laugh because we actually built our workstations at our office ourselves with 2 by 4s and industrial opaque plastic glued on as dividers. Total cost $400.00 for 6 workstations (not including chairs) and they look pretty great if we do say so ourselves.

6. Define criteria for yourselves for "must have" vs. "nice to have"

This might seem obvious, but it gets really blurry really fast. Ask yourself this question on an on-going basis but remember, if it impacts the product or your deadline, it's a must to have.

That segways nicely into my "GIVE LIKE SANTA" Side:

1. I repeat, define criteria for yourselves for "must have" vs. "nice to have"

As the keeper of the purse strings I am probably the worst for scrimping when I should be spending. Our first Alpha release was late and shouldn't have been but I was more concerned about dollars than sense. Lesson learned.

2. Some furniture shouldn't be DIY
I laughed at the comments in Mark's post about programmers and chairs. This was the one area we didn't DIY. If you don't want the staff at home on Robaxacet, buy them decent chairs.

3. Ahead of your burn rate? Bonus, bonus, bonus
Large companies don't usually do this so why should we? Everyone who works with us has taken massive pay cuts to be here. They believe in what we are doing and what we are trying to accomplish. If you managed to save money on your burn, you probably did so because your team did some jobs that were beneath their skill sets and worked their asses off during the year. They should be rewarded.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Schools Without Borders: Donate Your AirMiles Today!

I have recently gotten involved with an organization called Schools Without Borders.

It is run by some incredibly dedicated and passionate people, including Chris and Julian, and has been doing some revolutionary learning programs here in Toronto and abroad. In May they created a partnership with AirMiles that allows people to donate their AirMiles points to help disenfranchised youth participate in SWB programs that encourages youth to change their own lives and their communities for the better.

Go to their blog to find out more and watch the video below. SWB Where Real Learning Happens.....

Provide the WOW in WOM Conversations

According to Buzz Canuck, there are 30 things important in ensuring the "art of word of mouth conversation"

My personal favorite is #14:

#14 - Provide The WOW – the 2nd, 3rd and 6th most important reasons why people engage in word of mouth about products is to hear about stuff that is innovative, exciting and new. Average stuff is boring, answer the question - what’s so different about your discovery.

Maybe Googlers Have All The Answers They Need

Google Answers, one of the first services that Google engineers Andrew Fikes and Lxi Baugher worked on, is being shut down.

While no more questions will be accepted, they will still let you browse through the archives for the last four years.

Personally, I don't really need to know why you really shouldn't drink water emitted by your air conditioner, but some people obviously did.

So adios Google Answers and let's hope Googlers have been able to ask all the questions they wanted to know about already....

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Digital Disobedience

I bumped into an event called Digital Disobedience and Culture Jamming that reminded me that I meant to write a post about millionaire Shawn Hogan.

According to the EUCAP blog and an article in Wired, Shawn got a call from a lawyer at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) where he was accused of downloading a film off BitTorrent. He was given the usual warning that he had to cease and desist or else he would be fined $2500.

But Shawn, unlike so many before him, wasn't intimidated by the price tag. Whoops! Turns out Shawn is a millionaire and has put aside 100,000 of thousands of dollars to fight it in court.

The music and film industry just doesn’t get it. They're the one’s that created this problem in the first place with CDs that cost over twenty dollars a pop.

The issue has been and continues to be that the world has changed but their business models haven’t and rather than innovating they prefer to continue to try and sue school children in an effort of sillyness and intimidation.

That’s why I love what people like music producer (and friend) Jody Colero are doing at places like Orange Record Label.

Listen to their mission statement:

“The Orange Record Label is a progressive, twenty-first century music entertainment company in Canada, a company that utilizes cutting-edge Internet strategies, while establishing uncompromising principles.”

The go on to say:

“After the death of Timothy White, Van Dyke Parks quoted him, saying that Timothy had a dream....:

"The dream that the record industry continue to diversify in repertory and improve its contract practices to a survival level for the common good."

We at the Orange Record Label believe in that statement whole-heartedly.”

It's companies this, with new approaches and new ideas that embrance networked culture and attempt to create new value that are going to be the success stories.

As for Shawn the millionaire? I for one will definately be watching to see what happens.

A Way More Inconvenient Truth

*gloomy post warning

The recent film an Inconvenient Truth has finally come to video. Thought those of you are who interested in the subject of Global Warming might find something else of interest.

A brilliant man whom I have a lot of respect for James Lovelock, came out with some way more inconvenient truths than Al Gore did.

James, the creator of the Gaia Theory, has written a new book called The Revenge of Gaia: Earth's Climate in Crisis and the Fate of Humanity.

Basically the news isn't good. James says it's too late, we can't stop it and now what we really need to do is prepare for it including preparing for the massive migration from the lowerlands to the North and all the starvation and chaos that will come with that.

Might be time to ask for a survival guide for Xmas.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

The FTC Weighs in on the Word of Mouth Morality Debate

Hot off the presses,

"Endorser must disclose link to seller"

FTC Moves to Unmask Word of Mouth Marketing

Well this should make the debate over network morality and payperpost THAT much more interesting....

Networked Morality and the Speed of Change

Traditionally, it often takes a generation for the morals of a society to change. From the way people dress, to what is considered acceptable behaviour and language, there has always been a timeline that for the most part, we as a society, seem to be able to absorb and keep pace with.

I referred to something I called 'networked morality' in some of my recent postings below. It seems to me that ‘networked morality’, like many things on the Web, occurs at a much more dramatic pace than we have been traditionally used to. The network effect with word of mouth and now user created content, can create a new social norm within months, weeks or even days. Something that might have been ok in the past, gets rejected in no uncertain terms as the network discloses, discusses, debates and determines what the new norm will be.

How will business change to adapt to this or even can they?

I was told a story recently about a Sr. Executive who made some "joking" remarks that could have been misconstrued about a co-worker from S.Asia. The jokes were all on video and the individuals boss, an even more Sr. Executive, threw it up on to YouTube for 2 days not even considering the potential impact that it could have had to their brand.

Does 'networked morality' exceed our societal ability to keep pace with it? What are the longer terms affects and how will they manifest themselves?

I don't think we have a clue what this could all mean yet. I am interested to know what other people think.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Craving a New Set Of Filters

Jon Pareles has a great article on the NY Times called 2006, Brought to You by You in which he has the following quote:

"All that free-flowing self-expression presents a grandly promising anarchy, an assault on established notions of professionalism, a legal morass and a technological remix of the processes of folk culture. And simply unleashing it could be the easy part. Now we have to figure out what to do with it: Ignore it? Sort it? Add more of our own?"

and goes on to say what people will really crave is

"a new set of filters".

That was Google's strategy the last time around, and who knows? Maybe 2007 will be exactly that. The year of the filter.

Entrepreneurial Morality - An Oxymoron?

Paul Kedrosky poses the interesting question "is there such a thing as entreprenurial morality?"

A lot of the debate (see post below) surrounding payperpost seemed to have two camps on the subject. The "this is ethically wrong" camp and the "this is just business" camp.

And there in lies the rub. Who gets to decide what is morale and what is not? In Paul's case he refers to VCs who won't give money to gambling sites or porn even though they are clearly good businesses. When I started working at telepersonals (now Lavalife) in '89, all my friends were sure I was somehow involved in something illicit and ethically challenged even though I was clear that it was not (I was just ahead of my time ;-)

In the case of payperpost, if customers find it offensive that brands are trying to manipulate the blogosphere (and let's remember the reasons behind blogs becoming so popular in the first place - in part as an alternative to the Corporate Webosphere), then I have no doubt they will make their displeasure known.

At the end of the day, everyone has their own line - what's wrong vs. what's 'just business'. And the wonderful thing about the Web is what's considered right or wrong does not becomes the decision of business executives, rather it becomes the decision of the network.

If the network says thumbs up, then all good. If they don't, well, I guess you won't really have a businesss, ethically challenged or not, for long.

Sunday, 10 December 2006

The 6 Stages of Grief: A Review of the Payperpost Saga

Stage #1: Denial
See comment #5 from Shan to blog posting payperpost chronicles their amorality.

"My view is still this: People need to be honest. If they are honest about their opinions, then there is no ethical problem. That responsibility falls on the blogger, not on PayPerPost. ...Besides, blogging is not some holy sacrosanct as it’s being made out to be. It’s information, it’s personal discussion, it’s ideas, and honesty is important....They’re amorality, wow, that’s a pretty big accusation."

Stage #2: Anger
Shel Isreal (referring to Ted from payperpost) says that the seemingly nicest people are the most evil

Stage #3: Bargaining
It's just business, Mark Evans weighs in. Can't we all just get along?

Stage #4: Depression
Tim Berners-Lee has an opinion too:

"what you actually see when you look at the Web is pretty much a corporate broadcast medium"

*oh ok, the quote is not about payperpost and its taken from 1996 - sue me

Stage #5: Acceptance
payperpost gets some competition that one ups them with some disclosure!

Stage #6: Disruption


Friday, 8 December 2006

Word of Mouth: Good News Travels Fast

Man, marketers love to throw the whole word of mouth marketing thing around.

"let's create something viral!" is a typical client request (other wise known as, can we do something with an media placement budget of 0?)

Blech. I hate that term.

So the communication team gets forced to sit around and think about something we *think* people will want to pass around. And most of the time, the ideas are pretty dumb.

A friend of mine told me of a classic story of an agency pitch for a office supply company. The suit in the room who shall remain nameless suggested doing a targeted campaign towards office managers. After all they are the ones who order the products. Here's where the smarty-pants viral part comes in. The concept was a micro site where the target market would watch some brand/product experience and in return would get a coupon for dinner at some fine chain food restaurant. And the strategists pièce de résistance was the suggestion to include a viral component where the person could link to a "send to friend" feature thus also giving their little site more exposure by means of viral marketing....

Wow. That's smart. Target office managers and what? Hope that the friend they send the site to is also an office manager? Cuz we know that office managers have their own association and can often been found on Friday evenings drinking together and wildly discussing the latest sale on photocopier paper. (her comment to this concern was to have a 'survey' so that the non-office managers would get something other than dinner - oh good cuz we know pple don't lie and wouldn't figure THAT out)

The rule to viral is pretty simple. Good news travels fast. Look at what happened to Amazon. They were giving away really cheap Xboxes and so many people found out about it that they crashed Amazon's servers trying to get one. And trust me, if there is a special Radiohead concert that secretly gets announced (um...and yes please send me an email to my address), the tickets will be sold out in 5 minutes flat.

Whether your good news is about a great product, a deal, a special event, a really funny commercial whatever, the key here is it has to be good. And heck, if you are going to be good, why not go all out and try for great?

And, if it's great? You can bet, I'll be telling my friends.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

The Things I Like About MyBlogLog and The Things That Freak Me Out

So on the recommend of more than one person, I joined Mybloglog to track how few people actually read my blitherings.

First impression was that I love it. It was really simple to use, it gave me useful information etc. I thought the "personal" email that I got from Eric the ceo was very smart and when I logged in for the first time, there was Eric as my first new friend with this friendly message.

Pretty seemless experience and I enjoyed it.

But there are a couple things that kinda freak me out. Now in part my freak out is my own fault. I did something I almost never do and I uploaded a photo to my avatar as I have a personal problem with how I look in photos. But, I noticed everyone else pretty much does. I also noted that many people seem to add real pictures of themselves and if this helps people get to have an idea of who I am (especially because so many people I get in contact with have never met me) then I thought, why the heck not. Time to get comfy with me.

But then the freaky part. I started to see "me" everywhere.

I saw me here on the homepage of mybloglog

And then, I went to visit the 20 sites that I visit every or every other day and realized at some point that for the people that use mybloglog, I actually ended up with that stupid photo on their site too -

and here....

and I am sure that this is probably good for getting some sort of readership on my blog that no one knows about. As someone who is in marketing maybe I should be ok with all of this.

But really, it just kinda freaks me out. *note to self - read about the service before you use it. *second note to self - log out of everything after you finished using it.....

That's it I can't take it - I am getting rid of that picture and replacing it with a picture of my dog.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Virtual City Rocks

I have been looking for a house in Toronto for about 6 weeks now. I could start complaining about the market and the process (what did one person say to Peter, in the Toronto market 5+1=8)but there is one thing that I have found that I love. It's a new start up company called Virtual City

So here's how I use it. I get my MLS listing and/or address from my agent, and before I decide to go see the house (time is always an issue) I go pop the address into Virtual city and voila! I get to see the street, the other houses and the view around my potential future home.

Very cool.

They don't have all areas done yet and it seems that it might be a pretty manual process of taking pictures and loading them into their system so I am not sure how quickly it can scale, but on my usefulness for buying a house meter, it rocks.

Here is an example picture below of the first house I ever owned. *sigh* I do miss that park view.....If only i could afford to buy back my own house!!!!

The Portal is the Network

This morning, Peter and I were discussing a post by Fred Wilson on the deportalization of the Internet.

Personally I think Google has been building a portal in reverse. With all the different services they are adding on to their main search function, Google should look like a better designed Yahoo in no time. Now of course, they are smarter about it because they are not trying to centralize the eyeballs, but as long as they are centralizing all the data, it doesn't really matter does it? As Fred puts it
they have "introduced a monetization system that existed off its own network".

Peter furthered that thought and noted that what is happening is just a redefinition of the whole notion. While portal used to mean an entrance point to MY websites, now portal has opened itself up as any good healthy ecosystem should, to the Web in general. It is a starting point to discover the network.

In Peter's words, "when you are as pervasive as google the network is the portal"

The Devaluation of Interactive Media

When I worked at a large Ad agency, one of the many challenges we faced being in the interactive division, was trying to convince the powers that be that digital media was going to be their bread and butter in the future, that TV advertising was in a state of decline and one day, the world was all going to be viewed through a digital screen.

As you can imagine a rather tough sell, particularly to agencies that have a business model based on a percentage of traditional media buys. Let me give an example that pretty much says it all. We had a meeting where someone from the US brought us a new tool created for 360 media planning. What you were supposed to do is use their process and plug in a whole bunch of variables. The tool based on some really really smart mathematical calculation, would automatically generate a media plan; specific percentages allocated to specific mediums.

So being the cynical pain in the butt that I am, I took the tool and started plugging in a bunch of different things. What was hilarious, is that NO MATTER what i did, whether I said our target audience was grandmas from Alaska or ten year old kids from NYC the result was almost identical. 80% TV and then divide up the rest between a whole bunch of "other" stuff.

This just reflected a business model and frankly a mind set that didn't understand the changing fragmented media landscape and the importance of digital.

But it gets worse. One of the biggest struggles we had was in our pricing models. Because the interactive division was not usually on a retainer model based on a media buy like the main agency, we had to bill on a project basis at least for production. While a typical print ad would see itself in the say 10K and up range depending upon photographer, we were under constant pressure to have online advertising fall around 2-3K (of course stock photography only). Even when it came to micro sites, which on a good day would be the equivalent of 30 print ads dimensionally connected to each other in full graphic motion, we would be under pressure to keep them under 25K. The argument always went the same way.

Yeah but the client says they have 2 kids in their basement who can slap a website together for cheap. How come we are so expensive?

The traditional agency account people reflected that of their leadership and continued to undervalue and support the notion that the interactive divisions were over priced.

I just read this morning in marketing magazine, that Canadian online advertising is to pass 1 billion dollars. This still a fraction of the overall media spend in Canada.

As the TV budgets start to falter and the media shifts to online, I wonder how the Agencies are going to fare?

All I can say is that its a damn shame they didn't see this coming...(i mean, who knew?) and spent all that time devaluing the skills and efforts and therefore appropriate margined budgets required for interactive.

At the very minimum maybe these new media numbers will get a bunch of people re-thinking their business models.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Thought of the Day

Ok I think this is a poor reflection of the day I am having but a little wisdom i learned today -

If you don't like the answer you are getting, change the question.


Is Journalism Gonzo?

Our continued discomfort to how the Web shifts our mindset when it comes to media simply amazes me. While music and videos have been at the forefront at the debate for a number of years, the recent news that the Huffington Post has gone and gotten itself some big funding to hire some real journalists has gotten some people talking.

On this article Are Blogs the New Newspapers, Cynthia Brumfield says that the move to:

"hire "real” journalists only further blurs the boundaries between newspapers and blogs"

and that it:

"raises an interesting question about the difference between blogs staffed by top-notch journalists and newspapers staffed by top-notch journalists. The question is: what’s the distinction between those two?"

She then goes on to quote Mark Evans who left the National Post to join B5 media a blogging network about the changing fast paced world a blogger lives in vs. the old traditional newspaper reporter.

The strange thing is, when I read Mark's description of the blogger, it strikes me that other than the actual quantity of postings, the world of the blogger journalist seems to sound a lot like that of the Gonzo journalist.

I mean isn't Hunter S. Thompson the world's perfect blogger (other than the fact that he's dead)?

- He mixed fact and fiction
- He was part of the story
- He didn't believe he had to be objective (as he said, how could one be objective about Nixon?)
- He was sarcastic bordering on caustic (I think a mainstay of bloggerdome)
- And the movement he created was actually part of what was called the "New Journalism" movement of the 1960s (how perfect is that?)

I think we just need to stop all the comparisons and get back to the real debate which should be about accepting that Journalism online is ‘Gonzo’ and figure out a new name for it….

Blongzo anyone?

Choosing Between the Bitch Kyoto and the Pussy Cheddar

The Liberal leadership race ended this weekend with the surprise election of Stephane Dion as the new leader. Now everyone is trying to figure out, can Stephane beat out Stephen Harper to become Prime Minister of Canada in the next election?

This is a troubled time in Canadian politics. We have had minimal choice, usually getting to vote between dumb and dumber and hoping that whoever gets in isn't as corrupt as the last guy.

And what about their pets? Pets say a lot about someone. Especially at this time of year when we get to see them with their pets as they all gather around their fireplace for the family friendly holiday photo.

But rather than Liberals vs. Conservatives, it seems to me that this really has become a dog vs. cat thing. Now I may be wrong, but I think the Harper supporters seem very anti-dog. And if this turns out to be the case, is this going to be good for International relations?

Why anti-dog you ask? Firstly, there is the fact that Stephen Harper has a rescue cat named cheddar and is focused primarily on, you guessed it, the rights of cats. And if that in of itself doesn't say anti-dog there was also the now infamous comment of Conservative MP Peter MacKay, calling his ex-girlfriend Belinda a dog. Add onto that the comments of Mr. Spector, a conservative leaning radio personality, calling the same ex a bitch.

So what do we think? Will Cheddar the cat be able to get along with George W's dog Spot?

On the other side of the issue is Stephane Dion who has named his dog Kyoto. And while we know the Bush family has a history of doggie family members, they are all named appropriate middle- American names like Millie or Spotty. Given the controversial nature of Stephane's pooch, Will George W. allow Dion's dog Kyoto into the White House after rejecting the accord so many times in the past?

Who do you think is the better bet?

The bitch or the Pussy?

Monday, 4 December 2006

Things Advertisers Have To Worry About Around Holiday Time

I love to save quotes I overhear or emails or blackberries that I think are particularly funny. Here is an absolute classic that was sent by someone at an Ad Agency to the Interactive client about a production issue involving Christmas Elves. Here the Account Executive is explaining to the client why they aren't going to get the photo assets in a timely manner. Enjoy...

"Now it is almost the 4th. We awarded the job to a production house this morning – the 3rd and made Elf casting, wardrobe/styling their first priority. ….Casting happens simultaneously but it also takes time. Even if we take any little person from Toronto and use in stills only will save us half a day at best. Making costumes, hats, shoes, prosthetic ears, eye brows and whatever else elves need will take us to Friday. What complicates things is that little people don’t come in regular sizes, and we will have to tailor make their wardrobe. We cannot pick them off a rack. We can’t use stock, as the stock elf will look differently from the TV elf and that defeats the purpose of having elves for visual candy campaign glue. Styling TV elves after the stock elf may rob our elves of their unique personality and make them generic, boring and invisible in the crowd of shoppers drug mart and furniture warehouse elves which is completely unacceptable. I hope this explains the issues to you to your full satisfaction."

Build A Product You Want to Use But Don't Forget...

To also create a company you would like to work for. One of the reasons I decided to go out on my own and give up the big salary and the security of a full-time job was to create a different kind of company. I call it responsible capitalism.

What are some of the characteristics of this kind of company?

1. There shouldn't be a massive gap between the least paid and highest paid in the company: Moreover, just cuz someone is the ceo doesn't mean they should get paid the most (and for now, I actually get the least)

2. Diversity should be a part of the companies DNA: that can be anything from women being in Sr. management roles (ok i think we have that one covered with Vanessa and I as co-founders), to ensuring the people within the company come from different perspectives rather than all being engineers or MBAs

3. A belief that company policies sometimes need to get broken (as any good rule) if the situation requires it: Companies are made up of individuals and should be treated as such

4. What makes 'cents' doesn't always makes 'sense': Short term financial gains can not be viewed in isolation of the bigger picture - as my bubie used to say 'sometimes you can't afford NOT to buy' (and this from a woman who once bought 4 cases of bananas just cuz they were on special)

5. Give back: This could mean something like the Imagination fund that creates standards for corporate social responsibility or it could mean creating a program to help others who might not have the same resources to help build their dream product and/or companies

And all of this can still be done while having a kick ass product and margins.

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Gotta Get a Monster

We have our offices in a place called the Toronto Business Development Centre. Not only do we get great rent (and i mean really really great rent) but there are some other benefits as well. We have access to a photo copier, large meeting rooms for presentations, a reception area and most importantly, we are in the same building as the brilliant Monster Factory.

They make all the Monsters on site, totally Canadian and totally brilliant. If you haven't gotten one for your kids yet, this December might be the season to do it.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Has This Happend To Anyone Else? iPhoto Update a Destroyer

I updated my iPhoto a few weeks back and look what happened!

It hasn't done this to all my photos but a whole bunch. I haven't had time to fix it with my backed up files yet, but I thought I would ask...Anyone know why this happened and how to fix it?

Man, if this was a Microsoft product I'd be really pissed about it.

Lotame Ad Targeting Scares Me

I had made a comment on a earlier post that if all the resources that went into ad targeting went into cancer research, we would have a cure by now.

And then I bumped into Lotame.

So what is it? According to their CEO Andy Monfried's blog:

"About Lotame™ (
Lotame™, based in Columbia, Maryland, serves publishers and advertisers looking to drive results from the media of Web 2.0. Its ad targeting technology includes an optimization tool that enables a Web2.0, or social network publisher, to automatically discover member communities and member social profiles that respond well to specific ad campaigns, for more efficient targeting."

I mean look at the language for a minute. Lotame serves publishers and advertisers. So who exactly is serving me? Who is looking about for my privacy concerns as I get behaviourally tracked and monitored?

How about Andy?...He's serving his clients ok, get that. But, is he worried about my privacy?

According to Liz Gannes

"Monfried insists Lotame data will be stored and shared only in aggregate, and strictly according to privacy policies."

Well if he isn't concerned should we be? I would suggest YES YES and YES!

Let me tell you a story about a guy I met once.

I still remember his name, Hank. Hank was a big wig up from the States to give us a presentation on new research methodologies for advertising. Hank, who thought I was a secretary (because really, what else would I be?), smiled and said honey and sweetie a lot. After thanking me with a pat on my head for setting up his power point presentation for him, he proceeded to walk us through this brand new research tool that his client was using that had consumers hooked up to electrodes to monitor and track their reactions to different products. They would then correlate that behavioural information to the other research that the customer told them, and voila! Perfect predictive models.

I have to tell you, seeing pictures of these customers all strapped up like they were ready to get a heart transplant just to monitor their pulse rates for advertising purposes scared the crap outta me.

I wrote on a piece of paper to the person next to me "*note to self: must get out of advertising"

So pardon me for not leaving my privacy in the hands of Andy.

In the words of Agatha Christie,

“Where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody.”

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