Saturday, March 08, 2008

Video from Austin (SXSW)

The team from The Conversation Group is on the ground here in Austin and filming all over the conference and all over town! Our goal is to bring you a taste of what it is like here at the SXSW interactive conference -- our partner Pure Digital provided us with the wonderful Flip video cameras and we have been putting them to good use on our new site, This is SXSW.

The lastest video, which I am just posting now, is a rundown on what happened this morning in the session on what teens want from their phones and from the Internet -- attendees couldn't get enough of these 16 and 17 year olds talking about how they are experiencing the world through all of this participatory technology. Check out Jim Hirshfield's summary --

Friday, March 07, 2008

NPR, Ken Stern, and the local stations

I was going to write a short blog post about why I no longer contribute to KQED (the local bay area NPR station) and why Ken Stern is right and the board who threw him out was wrong... but then Jeff Jarvis does such a good job:
Well guess, what, local yokels, hate to tell you this but… You’re screwed! You bet the internet is going to hurt you.
So, not today. Maybe not this year. But really soon now people in the economic bracket that traditionally has supported local public radio will all have the ability to get exactly the programming they want, when they want it, where they want it. And it will be integrated into our cars along with the traffic that is already there on the GPS.

Sure, it will actually probably take 5 years until the "tipping point" -- but why should any of us be supporting radio tower infrastructure? I want to directly support the programming, not the distribution mechanism.

NPR wake up or you will just be replaced by the creative destruction of the Internet.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Best comment of the evening (supernova)

Best comment on the evening during Jerry's discussion on Business in the Networked world for the Supernova mixer:

Advertising is transactional

commercial success is persistent

this creates a conflict

For me this offers a great insight into the potential hazard for marketing professionals -- excluding brand campaigns, a lot of advertising as a medium leads you to think about the transactional impact -- am I going to get more people to buy the product? But you can do so in a way that overlooks the long term -- persistent relationship -- aspect that ultimately determines commercial success.

I was just advising a client today on why NOT to do an email "blast" as part of his company's online marketing campaign. If you look at the activity from a purely transactional perspective you could conclude that if X number of people purchases from the email, the expense of the campaign is covered and the activity is justified.

But if you put the "blast" into the context of developing a persistent presence in a market and a set of relationships in that market, the negative long term effects of being perceived as spammer that sends unsolicited mail could have a much greater negative impact than the transactional value of those one time sales.

This certainly isn't an indictment of all transactional advertising -- but perhaps opens the door to an economic analysis that includes the persistent relationships that a company ultimately is dependent upon for its long term success.

Natural Cost (Supernova conversation)

Jerry Michalski just made a great point about looking at "natural cost" -

"The fear that Craigslist should be putting in the hearts of classified and Yellow Pages execs worldwide is: what if the "natural cost" of delivering local ads and fostering local markets is incredibly low? If you don't have operators on duty to transcribe (and misspell) ads and if you don't print on paper and haul it all over the place, you can afford to charge only one kind of advertiser -- say, companies placing want ads -- and have that pay for the rest and spill money out the other end.

And that's just classifieds. In Ads and Google we theorized about how Google might just be able to fund major communication infrastructure as a by-product of its core business (which, notably, is also self-serve advertising). What's the natural cost of telecommunications? Customer service? Other sectors?"

Supernova Wharton - Business in a Networked World

Jerry Michalski speaking at the Supernova Wharton San Francisco Mixer. The conversation starts with -- are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of these social technologies.

Good arguments on both sides -- interesting pattern of agreement that if we can't find information on people through social networks -- we worry. There is (for this techno-connected group) a red flag on people who do not have a healthy online presence.

Supernova Discussion at Wharton West

The Supernova Wharton San Francisco Mixer gets started in a little while but the starting point is a choice between two great talks and I am finding it hard to chose between them -- Jeremiah Owyang leading a discussion on Social Graphs and Jerry Michalski on Business in a networked world... I guess I'll pick Jerry and try to catch Jeremiah during the cocktails afterwards.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Kindle Comments (Amazon Kindle)

Yes, I did. I bought a Kindle (Amazon's e-book reader) and I love it. The other day, in the "sleep" mode, the kindle had a message asking for feedback and providing an email address. I sent my comments but never heard back -- so I don't know if my comments failed to reach a human being, or if they have no mechanism (human or otherwise) for responding... Rather than lose the opportunity to have a conversation with the Kindle team, I decided to post my comments as an open letter -- I'd also love to hear what other people think of their Kindles...

Kindle team:

Thanks for a great experience overall - I am really enjoying my kindle.

I doubt I will say anything that you haven't heard, but here goes:

1) A number of navigation elements are non-intuitive -- in particular the idea of forward and back -- in my mind on a device this is firmly routed in web browsing -- so I expect to go "back" to what I was doing, not the linear "back" of a page turn. For example, if I leave a document to look up the definition of a word, I then want to go "back" to where I was just reading

2) The lack of page numbers is frustrating -- it would be nice if there was some corollary in your book formatting to page numbers so that if someone says "look at page X" then I can get there even though the electronic pagination is different from print pagination.

3) If images are removed, it would be nice to see it noted in the text that in the original book there was an image

4) I canceled my subscription to the NY Times because it is too frustrating to read. Part of that is the news is too old (I am a web junky so last nights news is stale) but part of it is formatting. I hate reading an article and then going back to the list of articles from the beginning to start scanning again for something I want to read. I figured out the trick of jumping to a 'location' but this is an unwieldy hack, forcing me to remember to jump to "78" the entire time I am reading

5) I'd pay to read email on this... of course then I'd want to reply as well :-)

6) I haven't stopped looking for the clock. Why do I have to look at a different device to see what time it is?

keep up the great work!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

MSN Fakes It

MSN Fakes It
Originally uploaded by Ted Shelton
Who is the terrible advertising person working for MSN? Or the stupid people approving the ads? In this billboard ad (seen on the Bay Bridge approach in San Francisco) MSN announces "There's no way you can know everything. But you can fake it." I'm sorry, what is it that MSN thinks is a good idea? Being a know-it-all? Faker? Or is this self-descriptive? Google may have the best web index, but MSN does a good job of faking it? What does MSN even stand for anymore? Is it an AOL style walled garden? Is it a jumble of content destinations? Is it a search engine? An ad network? Actually, maybe they are faking all of these things.