Monday, 29 October 2007

Social Media Divisions: Kinda Like Breathing

I think I missed (missed, dismissed, tomato, tamatoe) the launch of a new social media division over at DDB called Radar. Wow. I sure seem to repeating myself a lot lately. I get what they are TRYING to do BUT....

Isn't have a social media division just like have a division where the focus is understanding breathing? IMHO this doesn't make sense unless you are using it as a metaphor for everything. I actually made this point to Craphammer at a lovely lunch we had (that's Mr. Crap to me)..if it's all becoming digital, isn't it all going to be social?

In the words of my friend Mathew,

"To my kids, it's NOT media UNLESS it's social"

Like I said, kinda like breathing

Would They Have Bought Friends? Or NBC? Or Comcast?

Digital has changed the rules but does anyone even know what the game is? It has struck me that all the purchases and mergers seem to say more about what's not happening at many of these companies (tight well thought out strategy) than what is (complete reactionary chaos).

If we consider the rise and fall of so many trends on the Web, do we really think throwing a kazillion dollars at the latest one is really a good idea? SKYPE anyone?

Some might say, social networks aren't going away. I'll be a radical and say, connection on the Web will never go away and what we are calling social networks today will rise and fall and get reinvented in ten years under a new name that will spark a new buying frenzy (it’s amazing the way I go out on these limbs).

Peter had a great point the other day and asked the question whether or not any of these companies would have bought Friends at the height of its popularity. Or (just in case y'all start yelling the platform word at me) NBC or even the Comcast?

Business doesn't seem to be able to re-organize itself in an networked world. When new ecosystems pop up that gain momentum, companies want to buy communities as if they are an ownable commodity. I don't think it's going to work. I have trouble seeing what many of these businesses are going to gain.

Feel free to enlighten me....

ps. If you tell me data, i don't believe it. Most companies don't leverage the data that they ALREADY have including behavioural data on their own websites for goodness sake. And they get that for free.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Blogosphere Pile-Ons: Isn't That Just Called News?

It occurred to me this morning as I went to Techmeme and saw this:

that the blogosphere has turned from interesting perspectives, insights and new ideas into, well, news?

It makes sense. Someone usually 'A' list or webified traditional media property (interchangeable now on the Web in my mind) gets the first hint that something's going on they without hesitation write about it and since it's "news", other reporters (aka bloggers), well, report it?

Sure does it suck that 80% of the stuff that's on Techmeme isn't new ideas? Great conversations? Well, let's all be the judges. Let's look at Technorati's technology section today.

I dunno. Personally, I think my feed reader does a better job at interesting. Bottom line, I don't think it's a pile-on anymore. It's just news.

update: and because it's news, Chris Messina leaves Techmeme

It's Official: WPP Buys Blast Radius

“With its focus on creating interactive experiences with the customer at the core, Blast Radius will add a unique expertise to [WPP & Wunderman's] digital platform.”

For more read on.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Feminism Needs A New Name: We're Thinking Something Web 2.0ey

I managed to get Kate to squeeze in a breakfast for me this morning as she is in town on some Petro Canada business (who recently launched a new blog) and for the CMA digital marketing conference.

We were talking about a recent experience of mine when a friend, say in a generation behind me, proudly told me how she wasn’t a feminist and when I looked at her funny - she with wide eyes open said "you're not a feminist are you?"

Uh, by feminist we mean equal pay and equal opportunity for women.

Of course the problem is the fact that the term has somehow gotten go opted to mean man hater. (oh where to put the blame on that one, let me count the ways).

This is a bit concerning because it presupposes that things are equal when in fact, they still aren't.

Kate and I think that we need to re-brand feminism. And in a way that it can't be turned into something dark and ominous. So we'll need a new name. We need to get rid of hard consonant like IST and replace them with a word that has more "o"s in it. Something bubblier and maybe more web 2.0ey?

Suggestions anyone?

Monday, 22 October 2007

Can We PLEASE Not Make Facebook A Verb...

Howard Lindzon Get's Facebooked

No really I mean it. Please?

(oh and Howard, I hope this means I am not kicked off Team Canada...I encouraged Ingram to try out too)

Random Acts Of Customer Service

I can sometimes really get ranty about customer service issues. Sometimes I just rant to my friends and family, sometimes I use the power of networks to get my way (give Leigh her $10 back Amazon!) and now I also use my blog.

Companies are of course struggling with this as they find their disgruntled consumers "opinions indexed in Google right next to the evil corporation that just screwed [them] over and other scenarios familiar to anybody who has read the Cluetrain Manifesto."

Naively I thought I would ask the question this morning as to why more Corporations are not doing random acts of customer service? The truth is, most of us usually only attempt to index issues that have really pissed us off. I mean those incredibly dumbfounding moments when you find yourself speechless at the complete ineptitude of how you have just been treated.

Why wouldn't we want to blog about the reverse? An act of kindness. A program of good will. An unexpected surprise that delights one enough we can't help but blog about it.

Thought of the day: Less bad shocks, and more delightful surprises. Random acts of customer service - maybe someone should give it a try.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Who Will BeThe Engagment Strategist Of The Future?

It's interesting to see this Grip ad requiring the services of a Director of Engagement Strategy. If I didn't know better I would think they were looking for a "convergence" person (the dirtiest word since synergize). This is the fourth agency i have heard of in the past month who have all hired someone for this type of role. In two cases they wanted media planners, in one case they hired a copy writer/CD and in the last case they were considering a traditional insights planner.

It's a tough thing trying to strategize in a networked world. When everything is connected to everything else, to try and think in traditional marketing planning ways can make even the sanest person a little nutty. I get what the Agencies are trying to do, I just question the way they are doing it.

For example, are media media planners are the right people for these types of roles? I mean even if the people in question who apply have done online media, most of the experimental stuff we did at the agency was usually our creatives coming to that media folks with an idea and collaborating on execution.

So are creatives the right people for these roles? The only problem is that truthfully I only know one 'creative director' who can actually bridge the marketing communications gap and even he would admit that he needs someone more on the business end to play with.

There's certainly the route of going with a traditional planner, but then they usually are focused in on insights for the creative brief and don't tend to think across mediums strategically and as well, are lacking in digital experience.

It definitely shows that there is a conundrum here and a huge hole for a new breed of digital strategists and planners. My personal POV is that they aren't going to be coming from one particular background or another....It's a networked mindset that can intersect worlds and it’s collaborative at it's soul. And when those people do start to rise to the top, they are going to be hard to find and worth their weight in gold.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Cultural Studies (and personal blogs for that matter) Attacked By The National Post

When we get to the point as a society that the value of cultural studies research is getting evaluated by journalist media types, who let's face it, salaries are paid for by Kraft on some level, I think we all need to take a moment and consider the path that we are going down.

I wanted then to bring some attention then to the homophobic and frankly somewhat stupid article Lex Luther hearts Superman Your Tax Dollars At Work by Robert Fulfred in the National Post.

And then the response of the accused, Dr. Jess Battis' which is found here on his blog.

To give you the nutshell of Fulfred's argument, he thinks our tax dollars are being wasted on the study of Leave It To Beaver and I Love Lucy. Of course, his arguments are inflammatory but also show a lack of understanding of these types of media studies in general. Worse however, in my mind, is also the journalists dismissive comments about Dr. Battis, based on the fact that the Dr. has a personal blog that Mr. Fulfred thinks is mock worthy - in his words:

"...Battis, who chronicles his life through a blog, comes across as gormless, in the sense of foolish, lacking sense and discernment. He chatters endlessly about difficulty negotiating the New York subway and fills us in on his liking for chocolate soy milk and cornbread muffins: "I need nothing else to survive."

Yep those stupid blogs. Those same stupid blogs that will likely cause Mr. Fulford to eventually lose his job at the post as more and more people choose to get information not necessarily sponsored by Coke.

As someone who believes in the ever growing value of cultural studies in our always on 24/7 media hungry world, certainly the last thing we should accept as Canadians are those very studies to be judged by the same media the academics often critique. It's an imbalance that is unacceptable and politics should play no role in the delineation of federal funds for things like SSHRC.

Let me finish up with the last paragraph of Battis' response for Fulfred:

"Thanks as well for drawing more attention to my teaching, which currently focuses on gender and sexuality within television cultures. Since far more youth watch Leave It To Beaver rather than reading the National Post, their global engagement with television is one of the most crucial areas of media scholarship today. Incidentally, what are you watching on TV at the moment? I love The Wire. It's about media surveillance, racism and homophobia. You should check it out."

Nuff said.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

From The Law Of God To The Law Of Networks: The RIAA In Perspective

After reading the post the RIAA is trying to pull the plug on Usenet it struck me of the historical implications.

Since the creation of the phonetic language, there has been a consistent struggle of power between those that see themselves as the owners of language and those that pose a threat to that control.

It started with the Catholic Church whose priests maintained order over the huddled masses in part by controlling the written word. But with movable type, the ability to create a bible went form 20 years to 2 years thereby allowing many more people to have the word of God and therefore their own interpretation of those words.

Ironically, the emergence of the individual came with the posting of Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses on the 1st bulletin board challenging the Church.

From the rise of the middle class to the acceleration of the digital networked world our cultural has been shaped by a shift of power from the power of God, to the law of networks.

And yet, here we have the RIAA, who continues to attempt to have a few control the masses through legal means (and laws that frankly have not been able to socially and culturally catch up to the very system that they attempt to protect) by attacking one of the greatest electronic bulletin boards, usenet.

The RIAA is playing a losing game. If we think about in historical terms, the RIAA would be the equivalent of the monks up there in their monasteries attempting to throw some rocks in order to stop the printing press. Like going into Russia in the winter, it just isn’t going to work….

New Product Idea

A Swiffer for eye make-up.

You know when you get those little blotchy spots when your putting on eye make-up because you do the unthinkable, blink....

Instead of a QTip which smudges it more and pulls your skin, you could have a thin eye make-up swiffer stick that gently gets the tiny spot off without taking your make-up off.

I bet you we could get that lady who started Spanx to invest. Talk about brand extension!

There's Data, And Then There's Medical Data....

From the Wikinomics blog, "Sermo, a social network for physicians, has announced a partnership with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to give its members access to “up-to-date information on Pfizer’s products.”

Wow. Gotta tell you...I don't like where this is going. I had bumped into Sermo back in December, and had discussed it with a number of Doctors I know. Of course all the concerns were voiced...already a great deal of misinformation out there and frankly, most of them would be a lot happier to connect to traditional medical journals and data bases online. That being said, the notion that one could get collective intelligence working in one's favour when it comes to treatment feels appealing for me.

But how am I to trust something like Sermo now? Maybe that is one of the problems with these type of sites. When it comes to my health, I want my sources to be unbiased and not thinking about how to make a buck but rather focused on health. And I get that a lot of Doctor's take fun trips with the pharma companies and get free drugs and presents so maybe this is just making that relationship more transparent.

I still contend however, when it comes to social networking site business models, there's data and then, there's medical data. And I don't think from the healthcare customer's perspective, they are even close to being the same thing.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Come Join Me @Toronto Geek Girl Dinner October 17th

I have been asked by Maggie Fox and Jenny Bullough to speak at a relatively new event, the Toronto Geek Girl Dinner. What is it?

"Toronto Girl Geek Dinners are an offshoot of the London Girl Geek Dinners, started by Sarah Blow. The goal of these get-togethers is to make technology accessible and interesting to all age groups and all people, particularly women.

These monthly events are aimed at providing a welcoming atmosphere and a platform for learning in an informal environment. They are always held in pubs and bars, and there is usually a speaker or three who talk for a short while on a chosen subject for the evening."

Very cool and about time Toronto had one of these so how could i say no?

The deets can all be found here and they also have a wiki where you can sign up.

I haven't decided what to speak about just yet. Kate (who is the one who put my name forward) suggested I talk about why I decided to go from advertising to start upping. I also was thinking maybe I should give a "if I knew then what I know now - the things I wish someone had told me" talk....But I am open to any other suggestions.

Anywho…Hope to see you there. And be nice. It's nerve racking to speak especially in front of your peers (with clients I can always hide behind my power point!)

Tag And Flow: Connecting The End Points

For oponia, we had a planning session with some really great ideas that came up for the enterprise space. Since we don't plan to focus our efforts there I thought I would put up the ideas in hopes that they spark some thoughts for other people developing applications.

The basis of the concept was merging tags with the concept of flow. What am I taking about?

Traditional business works hierarchically. We create project folders. And yet that mode of working doesn't necessarily help work flow across projects. How does one then accommodate enterprise 2.0 concepts of viewing things by ideas? Or type?

What if project folders automagically created tags? What if files did the same? What if people in your network automagically were tags as well? Couldn't you then search by project (if that's what you wanted) or also then across projects by idea or type? You could then even search by person.

Alfons liked the idea so much he put some initial screens together. One is the search screen and the other is the results. Of course, if everyone on the network is a node (which is the basis of the ucaster concept) we can do some things that others can't right yet.

Conceptually though the idea is that you can create a results page that is centered around a project (trad style), centered around an idea (enterprise 2.0 style) or centered around YOU (always the best style).

We still plan to implement some of the cool parts into the consumer product when we can get to it. I'd be interested in what people think.

update: R/WW has an intersting post on what the big players are thinking. Check it out...

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Lorne Feldman And My Brother: Separated At Birth

How weird is this? My brother Dave and Lorne Feldman of 1938 media - I think they were separated at birth. Must be some sort of Jewish guy over 40 thing.

Anyway, Dave now has a blog about vintage leather jackets. And if that doesn't impress you, there is always his old and let me say, very entertaining video on turnhere about Kensington Market

One brother now blogging, one more brother to go.

The Sad Truth About Digital Music

Vanessa is totally bummed about the new Radiohead Album. It's not about the self-service. She paid what she’s felt the download was worth and paid more than Fred “AVC” apparently (10 pounds to his 2.45) only to realize that there was going to be a "real" CD released later next year.

Why does she care? Well it's a question of quality. So for that, she went to our friend Gary who not only being an awesome digital ACD is a musician (was in an 80's band and most recently a blues band called Catfish). Here is the sad truth about digital music from Gary's perspective when asked:

"Ok, here it comes, straight and simple, answer
....nope, there will be no love there.

Here is the long answer: after many, many layers of
compression (from actual mastering of the CD to the
final mp3 format)lots of nuances are lost forever. I’ve downloaded mp3s
that are 320kbps, and although the sound is much
better on my iPod, it does nothing for my speakers at
home. No audio space.

The file format just does not compare to your usual
AIFF which is what is on the CD. Even the Apple
lossless... none of that is meant to be heard on
Boston Acoustics, or Meridian or Vandersteen...
speakers (you can tell I’m a bit pissed about it)
But then again, I grew up in the era of audiophiles...
and LPs, so maybe I’m a snob.

So, if for nothing else but the convenience, I burn
CDs of my mp3s and play them in the car.
If you are looking for the beautiful sound experience,
you’ll be disappointed."

Hum...In Vanessa's own words "Damn, I shoulda paid 'em less”.

Who knew, maybe Fred the VC knows something about valuations, even micro ones, that we don’t. ;-)

From Healthy To Heartbreaking: Digital Business vs. Personal Self-Interest

Ever find yourself sitting there questioning why it is so many users are fine with building other people's online businesses?

Don't they question what's happening to their data? Is free really so appealing that we are willing to give/trade anything for it?

It all comes back to fundamentals of economics. Everyone works in their own best interest. And only they can determine what that best interest is.

From the customers perspective, as long as their self-interest is being served, (be is 15 minutes of fame on youtube, life streaming on Jaiku or creating a social network on Facebook) they are unlikely to question what it is that the digital business is up to.

But there is a tipping point. We are more fickle than ever and while you have a few digital businesses acting like the cable monopolies by raising fees whenever they feel like it (EBay anyone?), many of the more recent entrants are going to have to quickly find the balance between what their users self interest is and their own.

This came up a while back in a blog conversation I was having with a person named PAW on the Buzzmachine post My Space Or Rupert’s Space.

His/her point was that once a larger organization buys a Web 2.0 company, they then have the right to do whatever it is that they want. My point back was that when your business IS your users, I don't think that applies the same way it would in a traditional business context.

While people are happy and you are serving their best interest, it's all good. But, it only takes one bad executive decision (myspace widget decision being a perfect example) to have that tension between digital business and customer personal self-interest turn from healthy to heart breaking.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

If It Quacks Like a Columnist Then Maybe It Is...

I really liked when Tom S. in a recent blog comment referred to Tim O'Reily as a 'host'. And it got me thinking.

Hosted Blogs: Interactive conversations where the person who blogs not only accepts and encourages comments but as well, participates in the discussion.

Columnist Blogs: Journalistic webpage that is formatted like a blog but is a broadcasted opinion.

I find that I am much more discriminating about the columnist blogs i read. If they don't accept comments, and aren't going to even read or respond to them themselves, then I feel they better be damn fine writers - having someone fact and grammar check the work (since they won't have wikinomics working in their favour) - making sure that all their references are on the up and up etc.

After all, if they write like a columnist
and quack like a columnist
then probably they’re a columnist.

And maybe they should be required to live up to the same standards as one as well...

Friday, 5 October 2007

Unfriending Your Ex?

If being stalked by your family wasn't bad enough what happens when you make the poor decision to make your Ex your Facebook friend?

Then all of a sudden, you get to hear about their weekend. You get to see all the pictures of them with their new girlfriend and your old friends who chose him and not you. And when you send them a message to say hi just because you are feeling weird about the whole thing, they simply ignore you?

Unfriending in most circumstances seems unfriendly but in this particular case I can't help but think, my friend in question is definitely doing the right thing.

Unfriending your Ex. Awkward but utlimately sometimes, just simply the right thing to do.

Tech Bloggers Strive To Be Mean Girls?

Recently, I have been using Techmeme more and deleting echo chamber like blogs from my feed reader.

Why? Reading my feeds takes time. And more and more I am noticing that people are simply taking headline stories and reiterating the same facts in a similar way. Mark Evans posted on this subject and I have complained about it in my long titled post 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.

The advantage of Techmeme IMHO is that it shows me the co relationship between postings in a way that Bloglines, which is linearly alphabetically ordered, simply can't.

But many are concerned that this is just making people echo even more (really, is that even possible?) And besides, do i care if people try to spoof Techmeme and get on some leader board which seems to be causing such a kerfuffle between so many tech bloggers?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The tech bloggers who are all ranting at each other seem to me to want to be grade 7 girls. Being all being mean and fighting with each other spitting evilness back and forth - talking in front and behind each other's backs.

So just in case this is all really about grade 7 girl envy? Let me tell you all right now. I hated being a grade 7 girl. It sucked. Being a mean popular girl for a while sucked. Falling off the podium sucked. The psychological games and mental torture play time sucked. It all sucked. So really, don't be jealous. And maybe, also, stop being mean to each other.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Protection Good....Lack Of Service Bad....

Glad to hear Ebay/Paypal are trying to do something about the myriad of Phising scams.

However, as a user, I have to say, I was pretty pissed off earlier this week when PayPal suspended my account to ensure that I was verified as a 'real' user.

Now why did this happen? Because I am an idiot. I sent a Phising scam email to PayPal to their Next thing you know I have three verification things I have to do, the last of which tells me that until i get a letter IN THE MAIL I will not be able to use my Paypal account.

The mail? What the hell is the mail?

Argh. Well anyway, once they fix this problem if they could only move on to fix the problem with their ridiculous fees. ;-)

Quote Of The Week

On discussing a trend that we see happening on the Web, my friend Bryce said

"Well, historically speaking - and by historical I of course mean, in the past month…"

Of course. :)

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Radiohead Isn't Having A Conversation Except Maybe, "Fuck The Man"

At least one marketing blog seems to think that Radiohead is having a "conversation" and that Radiohead are "trusting" their audience. I don't know about that. Sounds more like Thom and the boys probably laughing their heads off while they scream "fuck the man" And really who can blame them. After all, the man is a bunch of silly record executives and a guy named Steve who don't get what they do.

Here's an older interview of Thom Yorke talking about downloading from YouTube. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The New Trend Is The Untrend: Facebook Suicide

I had heard this from someone only last week. Facebook suicide is apparently the new term for early adopters who have had enough with social networking and can't keep up with their latest 5000 friends and decide to get off the Facebook grid.

And now a new blog posting that guides us all through the process of how to quit facebook.

Is this the latest trend? The untrend? Disconnecting from the network? Well, i doubt things will go that far, but it does go to show that once something has crossed the chasm, the window of cool doesn't last all that long. Now the real question will become whether or not that impacts Facebook's business models and/or valuation.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Hans Rosling Video From Ted - Brilliant

Peter showed me this tonight. You have to make sure to watch up at least until Dr. Rosling starts showing the global changes in population from 1962 until present day. Simply brilliant.

(i can't get the video to work in the posting so make sure you go to the url and watch it!)

If Content Is Not King, Then What Happens To The Kingdom?

For a recent consulting project I bumped into the brilliant Andrew Odlyzko's article Content is Not King.

I can't help but want to send the link to a few people over there at CBS (and a few other media companies as well) as they once again attempt to apply the mass broadcast model of content creation and dissemination (with advertising of course) to the phenomen of Web 2.0.

Ok so we know, consumers have become producers. But I think in the minds of the media companies, they have taken that very literally giving consumers the role of traditional producers and production companies. Consumers are now their content creation team while not controlled, certainly edited and filtered and of course, brought to you by product x, y and z.

What they are missing however, is the point. It isn't about content. Well, certainly it's not just about content. It's about new forms of communication and ones that use not only text, but pictures, icons, photographs, video etc. It is a new language that's empowered by digital.

Will media companies ever see it this way? I doubt it because if content is not king, then what exactly happens to their kingdoms?

Sadly, I never got to ask Andrew as the only conversation i was able to have was apologizing for being sick and my project deadlines were such that I was unable to engage him again. But I still wonder what he would have said about it. But my bet is that doubt he wouldn't have thought that CBS are on the right track.

Throwing The Digital Babies Out With The Media Bathwater

Online departments at major content providers appear to be getting the Ax...According to MediainCanada

"Claude Galipeau ended his brief tenure at Alliance Atlantis Communications on Friday, joining the exec-odus of new-media heads from CHUM, CTV, CanWest and Corus, which - in a wave of post-takeover belt-tightening - appear to be gutting their online departments"

One has to wonder what is going on? It reminds me a bit of when all the Interactive Divisions got merged into the Direct Marketing divisions at Agencies. Rather than well thought out strategies, it always appeared to me that these decisions were based on fear, reducing head count, as well as an inability to understand how to integrate new media into their companies overall business vision.

You can't just tack on new media to an org chart and expect it to be successful.

It isn't about a blog strategy or what new web 2.0ey social networking new thingymabob you can launch. It goes much deeper than that.

IMHO it more important to understand the impacts of the new networked media environment and customer and how that could RE-IMAGINE where you are going as a business. REINVENT how you interact with your customers. And RE-VISION who you are as a brand.

Until companies look at new media in those terms, they will continue to struggle and throw the digital babies out with the media bathwater.

Radiohead Offers Something Piracy Doesn't

As one commenter said on the blog post from Stereogum about Radioheads new album release In Rainbow

"I just shit my pants"

Radiohead, instead of whining about how no one buys their CDs waaa waaaa waaaa, MP3s are ruining their lives waaa waaaa waaaa, they actually go and create something we WANT to buy. And we are fine to pay ALOT for it. Sure there are the myriad of postings on Techmeme that are talking about how they will let their fans choose the price of the MP3s - but you have all missed the point. We are all going to pay for the £40.00 packaged version that also comes with the MP3s. Why? Because if you are a Radiohead fan, it's worth it.

As I said in a previous blog posting, stop whining and get marketing - in other words offer something that piracy doesn't.

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