I’ve been listening to the 30-Day Challenge, and they’ve turned me on to Flock.
I’m learning how to post from Flock. (This might look like dogfood – we’ll see.)
By Greg Churilov on January 14, 2009
I’ve been listening to the 30-Day Challenge, and they’ve turned me on to Flock.
By Greg Churilov on January 6, 2009
The way it works, apparently, is that as millions of users around the world search for health information online every week, Google tracks flu-related searches.
The folks at Google say that they’ve found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms.
By Greg Churilov on January 5, 2009
If you listen to Chris Anderson, FREE is the new business model to adopt. Chris’ article on Wired! magazine used the Gillette story to propose an age where movies would be distributed free-of-charge to the consumer, and theaters would only make money on the concessions. He mentions Gmail as a free offering from Google, and uses the example of Radiohead giving away their music on their site.
Is FREE really the way to go?
In some ways, Anderson may be right. In the dating-sites arena, Match.com is more popular than their more effective and more thorough competitor eHarmony.com simply by costing less. And OkCupid.com is wildly popular by virtue of being FREE (mind you, it also has an awesome algorythm and an excellent approach to customer service. How’s that for “you get what you pay for”?)
Two reasons why Anderson’s vision is onto something:
a) The birth of the Internet has spawned an “entitled” generation, a generation that believes everything should be free, open-source, readily available for download. This is the generation of filesharing, Torrentz, pirate DVD’s, free porn – the generation that attacks as “evil” any organization that clings to the seemingly archaic concepts of intellectual property rights. If you seek to woo this anarchistic, nihilistic crowd, FREE is the way to their hearts and minds.
b) The advent of demand-driven publishing, demand-driven manufacturing and downloadable (NOT packaged, NOT transported) music, movies and books heralds an apparently needful change in the way we think of marketing all these items. The consumer’s perception of value, based on the effort to produce, package, transport, shelf and sell each of these items has been shattered. We seem to be needing a new paradigm for value, a new way to convey to the consumer the initial cost, the idea cost, the R&D cost, the inherent risks, etc. and convey this in such a compelling way that the consumer is with us, not against us, when purchasing from us. We need to break free of the antagonistic consumer relationship and free of the grudging consumer model that currently plagues every sale of music CDs.
However, not everyone is readily bowing to Chris Anderson’s war cry.
Enter Hank Williams, of Why Does Everything Suck. Hank is not thrilled with Chris’ views. Hank makes a very relevant point about the potential impact to our economy if the trend is to pay nothing for digital, intellectual property and pay only for hard goods – which are typically manufactured overseas. Of course, those embracing the flattening of the World would probably love this, but those speaking out for the American worker wouldn’t love this.
One example Hank gives is Microsoft’s Halo vs. Pong:”The fact that you can play Breakout or Pong for free does not cause Microsoft to need to sell Halo cheap. Halo’s marginal cost isn’t any higher than the marginal cost of Pong. The reason it is expensive is because it has unique entertainment value to people.
I believe in this debate there are two key factors to bring to the debate – two factors that neither side is addressing:
a) FREE is not free.
In almost every case of a FREE distribution model, the item being promoted is not without some type of consideration to the item owner. Be it the consumer’s acquiescence to Permission Marketing (See Seth’s book, and give him permission to email you more info), be it the consumer’s enrollment into a data-feeding machine (Gmail builds databases based on our emails), be it simply adding to the numbers of people who use a product (building market-share, which in itself gives the product prestige, legitimacy and thus market value) the fact is that FREE is not equal to “no value to the originator.” (Hank, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this specifically.)
b) Author Shrugged?
If we keep expecting the authors of books, music, software, entertainment, ideas, philosophies, diets, etc. to give us all their ideas, all their thoughts, all their THINKING for free, then we are precipitating a Brain-strike the likes of which could shake the World. Ayn Rand wrote about a similar crisis in Atlas Shrugged.
People deserve to be compensated for their efforts. Genius should be rewarded. Talent should be rewarded. Sure, shrug off the moochers and middle-men who have plagued various intellectual-property industries, hiking up the cost to the consumer while not adding value to the originator – BUT: respect the creators. We need the creators of ideas to keep THINKING. How many iPods would you expect in the future if we all did not proclaim our love and admiration to its creators with our wallets and credit cards?
I’m thinking FREE may be a good model when it means NO CASH OUTLAY to the consumer but it ALSO means contribution of some other type for the product or service’s creators.
What are your views?
Post a comment!
By Greg Churilov on September 8, 2008
Recently Bloggingstocks collected a number of “ads gone bad” – ads which contained (or even centered on) objectionably or inappropriate content (see also: MIT lab for brand cultures.) In some of these cases it’s actually hard to know if the faux-pas was intentional, a way to wink at the audience or create buzz – or if it simply was one of those “unclear on the concept” moments at some ad campaign meeting.
One great example is how McDonald’s segued from “I’m loving it!” – an excellent concept and a great campaign – to its evil twin, “I’d hit that!”
iMockery came up with some great parody ads for it, including “I’d hop on that like it was prom night” and “I’d get my freak on with it!” – but you gotta see the ads iMockery made, my words don’t do them justice:
It put me in mind of the “eat meat” bumper stickers put out by Carl’s Jr. somewhere near 2002, which of course degraded rapidly into “eat me” on cars all over San Diego.
Anyway, BloggingStocks’ survey results point to “monumental gaffe” rather than “savvy marketing” – what do you think? (I’m not going to run a redundant poll over the one already at BloggingStocks – but I welcome your comments!)
* Photo from CarbonNYC’s photostream, at Flickr
By Greg Churilov on September 7, 2008
You got an invite to Hi5. You got an invite to Plaxo. You got an invite to Friendster! A friend wants you to follow her on Twitter. You coworker tells you to check out her MySpace. Your wife put your kids’ pics on FaceBook. An old friend is on eConozco, and another just got on TeeBeeDee.
“I don’t have that many hours in a day!,” you say.
How many do you join? How many do you actively participate in? You hate commitment! And you were never much of a mingler at parties! What to do, what to do?
Social Networks are a fad.
They are. There, I’ve said it. Sorry to burst your bubble, guys.
Look, don’t get me wrong. Social Networks are great. They let you stay in touch with friends and family. They create fun activities for us to do. They help us get a job, find a lover, get a date, meet someone coming to town, and more.
Then, how come I’m so exhausted, you ask? Check this out:
See? You’re not the only one going nuts. It’s just too much! I mean, getting a sheep thrown at you on FaceBook may be fun, but now you’re getting virtual gardenias from your friend the tree-hugger, political jokes from the Nader fan, constant notices about which movie your brother-in-law wants to see, and twits upon twits telling you that your former roommate is at a concert, thinks NIN rocks, driving to the beach and getting lucky, that dog.
Meanwhile, here you are trying to quickly read your email before going to bed, won’t these people just leave you be? (And secretly you wonder, “am I being antisocial?”) (And secretly you ponder, “how come my friends have such interesting lives and I’m bed, watching some leggy transexual sing opera on ‘America’s Got Talent’?
The naked truth about Social Networks
First of all, let’s understand what brought the phenomenon to us in the first place.
Late Nineties: Web pages
Once upon a time, some of us coded html. We slapped together things called web pages. When there was a business need, these pages would be professional, branded, and would assemble into a cohesite Web site. When the need was more informal, it was “anything goes.” And a thousand free hosting services invited us to put our content on their pages (as long as we don’t mind the ads that is.) Remember Geocities?
Still, this required coding skills – so many of us felt left out of the party – and your nephew the geek was not always around to update your pictures or add another rotating exclamation point.
Have no fear, blogs are here
With the advent of blogging, the average person could now create a blog and start blabbing about their life, ranting about their views or talking to… well, to anyone who would listen. And, was anyone listening? In many cases, not so much. In a blogosphere numbering in the millions, it became harder and harder to get one’s voice heard!
Newsgroups, Forums, Yahoo Groups and Google Groups
Some people were already doing social media a LOOOONG time ago. A friend of mine was using Newsgroups before I knew what “email” meant. I have a friend in Argentina who, when asked about his excellent English and amazing grasp of U.S. pop culture, smugly replied “online gaming forums.” I belonged to over 100 Yahoo Groups back in 1999.
These groupings enabled people to connect remotely with those whose interests were similar to theirs, share tips and ideas, argue, debate and learn.
Still, keep in mind that many, many people were able to go on their daily lives without blogging about them, without discussing things in a Yahoo Group and without posting in a forum.
A collection of technologies brought us the next leap forward. In 2003, MySpace came on the scene, offering kids, teens and less than web-savvy adults an opportunity to stake their claim in cyberspace, and connect with other MySpace users. This was mega-blogging, bloggretation, an exploding blog-blob. The main difference from a blog is that you pretty much had guaranteed readership through congregation.
FaceBook came on the scene in 2006, aimed first at College students and eventually opening its doors to non-students everywhere (though it still retains a ‘college campus atmosphere.’)
But, just like bullet-time in the Matrix, the technology was copied, and soon we saw similar stuff everywhere. Today, there’s a new Network trying to gain new users every day.
All about niches
To carve themselves a name on the wall of social media, wannabe Social Networks competing with FaceBook and MySpace claim a specific niche. Kayakers, travelers, cat-lovers, you name it. TeeBeeDee is especially geared at those over forty, for example.
Now that you have a bit of context, let’s try and figure out how to use Social Media effectively.
Tips for using Social Media effectively:
1. Know who you are
Do a little self-reflection. Understand your own habits, patterns, hobbies and social needs. Based on that, develop a Social Media vision for yourself, which will guide your Social Media strategy. For example, are you looking to land a job? Or are you facing three more years of college and your main goal is to be popular on campus?
2. Know what Networks are out there
Before joining a bunch of networks willy-nilly, get familiar with what’s out there and join based on your likes and dislikes, your age group, geographic location and the life stage you’re living.
Are you a College student? Then of course you’re likely to be on FaceBook – but you might also consider Uloop and RateMyProfessor. A professional looking to network, looking for a job or negotiating your future career jumps? Try LinkedIn and Xing – and of course Monster (while not really a Social Networking site, its new functionality really help potential employers connect with would-be hires.)
How about your career path as a guide? There are Social Networks for lawyers, interior designers and all kind of occupations. I’m sure you could find a Social Network for morticians if you looked hard enough!
Another good approach would be to select your hangout based on what you want to get done. ReadItSwapIt and PaperbackSwap are great for trading and swapping used books. A traveler on a shoe-string budget might consider Couchsurfing; to hit the nightlife in your city, you’d better get Going.
Not to mention other great stuff you might just stumble upon.
3. Skip redundancies
One key point to consider: Are you trying to make new friends, or stay in touch with existing ones? Xanga and Wasabi are probably great places to participate in groups and develop online contacts, but you need not send invites to all the friends and family members already in touch with you through FaceBook. If you’re already connected to a business acquaintance through LinkedIn and you’re already sent them a Xing invite, they might find your Plaxo overture a tad over-reaching.
4. Etiquete and common sense
As you migrate your social life into online Networks, you should bring with you the same set of manners, common sense and etiquete you’ve been using in email, IM, forums and offline, at parties, phone calls and business parties.
Don’t throw a sheep at an acquaintance on FaceBook just because you can! Your sister might find it funny, but your brother in law might raise an eyebrow at a super-poke from you.
I plan to write a whole separate post on LinkedIn etiquete – but suffice it to say that spitting out invites at strangers willy-nilly will likely get your account frozen.
5. Mold your Social Networks to match your life – not the other way around.
Do what you would normally do! Just, you know, online.
If you would normally get together with your brother and his girlfriend once every two weeks for dinner and you have not been able to do so since he moved to Vancouver, you can use Skype, FaceBook and Twitter to keep the wanted level of closeness.
Would you normally act goofy, play scrabble and discuss movies with your Aunt Millie? Then get her on FaceBook and get the right applications (Super-poke, Scramble, the Flixster app) and let the fun begin.
Again, I’ll write a separate post on FaceBook do’s and don’t's – but be attentive as you sign up for FaceBook applications, you don’t want your friends to get annoyingly frequent spurious updates for every time you changed something in your profile, joined or left a group, etc.
6. You don’t have to do it all!
It’s perfectly ok to draw the line. And realize that all your friends and acquaintances are being barraged with Social Networking choices. If you’re already really active in one network and a friend is just getting started, encourage her to connect with you on your preferred newtwork. In fact…
7. Evangelize your choices
Send a mass email to all your friends inviting a discussion on this. Tell them the networks you belong to and why, and seek a concensus. That way you don’t have to join 20 of them, maybe just 5 or 6.
And most important of all…
8. Don’t drop your offline Social Networking!
Don’t let your new online connectivity to interfere with the high-touch, altogether warmer and more human approach to Social Networking – the way our granpa and grandma used to do it! Throw a party, hug a friend, send a letter (remember those?) or a postcard. Go biking with your friends, take your family to the park for a picnic. Call your mother.
By Greg Churilov on September 6, 2008
I think it’s brilliant. Why?
Well, for one thing, it’s got everyone talking about it. It’s got everyone trying to figure it out. People are bewildered! It makes no sense! Why are they talking about shoes? What’s with the showering dressed crap? And for pete’s sake, what’s with the churros?
That’s how you spend 300 million bucks, folks.
Point: No mention of Apple’s ad campaign or new offerings.
My view: What could you possibly gain my mentioning the competition.
Point: No mention of Microsoft’s own recent offerings.
My view: After the whole “The Wow starts now” thing, and the subsequent negative buzz that Vista has received, the last thing Microsoft should be doing is further chest-pounding and braggadocio.
Point: We’re not being bombarded with features/benefits
My view: Watch this YouTube on a hypothetical iPod brought to market by Microsoft.
Point: It’s just two guys -one in jeans, one in dress slacks- engaging in small talk
My view: The perfect counter-attack to the archetypes dealt by Apple in their Mac vs. PC ad campaign.
Point: But it makes no sense!
My view: Which is exactly how you generate viral buzz. It will be talked about for weeks.
By Greg Churilov on September 6, 2008
Do you share your computer with a roomie? Do you loan you laptop to friends? Without going into too much detail about your personal life, let’s just say that you might not want everyone to see every site that you’ve ever visited.
You wouldn’t want an acquaintance to start typing in the URL bar and have it pre-populate with “friskybunniesdoingnaughtythings.com” or such. Nor would you want your boss to see Monster.com in your browser history! It’s none of their bees’ wax where you’ve been, you won’t tell them and they can’t make you! Problem is, your browser is likely to narc you out.
But have no fear, Chrome is here! The new browser just hatched at the Googleplex comes with an intriguing new feature: Go incognito! The browser winks at you encouragingly. Go undercover! Pull that blanket over you and let them even try to find you. Funny, come to think of it – the guys that built an empire around your ability to go seek now gives you the ability to hide.
Once you submerge in the twilight world of Chrome’s new feature, you’ll be met by the following welcome:
You’ve gone incognito. Pages you view in this window won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close the incognito window. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved, however.
Ah, the tingle of getting away with something. Where shall we go! What objectionable, NSFW website will our giddy little fingers enter in that URL bar? Oh the possibilities. You know where I went? No you don’t and you won’t either.
Going incognito doesn’t affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of:
- Websites that collect or share information about you
- Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit
- Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys
- Surveillance by secret agents
- People standing behind you
Be wary, my friend. It’s a dangerous world out there, so don’t go running with scissors. Just today I was reading Ryan Narayne’s article about phishing bandits and the dangers of pissing them off.
Hey, maybe that’s something I could do with Incognito! Piss off some phishing crims. But then again, let’s not and say we did (see what Joe Stewart of SecureWorks says on the topic.)
But Chrome’s Incognito sure gives me an added sense of security, and what I love the most about it is that I happened onto it casually, by accident. Typical minimalists, those Google folk. Promise less, deliver more.
Here’s some more from the Google site:
For times when you want to browse in stealth mode, for example, to plan surprises like gifts or birthdays, Google Chrome offers the incognito browsing mode. Webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito won’t be logged in your browsing and download histories; all new cookies are deleted after you close the incognito window. You can browse normally and in incognito mode at the same time by using separate windows.
Browsing in incognito mode only keeps Google Chrome from storing information about the websites you’ve visited. The websites you visit may still have records of your visit. Any files saved to your computer will still remain on your computer.
Example: If you sign into your Google Account on http://www.google.com while in incognito mode, your subsequent web searches are recorded in your Google Web History. In this case, if you want to make sure your searches are not stored in your Google Account, you’ll need to pause your Google Web History tracking.
Color me happy. I love finding hidden features, especially when, delightful irony, they are made by a company based on finding things.
By Greg Churilov on September 5, 2008
It came from nowhere. Or at least that’s how it feels – I had not heard any buzz on Chrome, the new browser from Google. Maybe I live under a rock? But other bloggers seem to be caught just as much by surprise as I was – even Neil McAllister admits being blindsided by the launch in his great article at Infoworld.
Still, it’s Google, and my reaction is par to the majority of Mozilla Links voters – I can’t wait to take it for a spin (54% of 660 polled at the time I checked in said “definitely will have to try it” and an additional 14% go a step further, “I guess I have a new browser.”)
Why do we need a new browser? Neil McAllister’s metaphor is upgrading from a gas-guzzler to a sleek hybrid. Google’s Sundar Pichai, at a briefing in Mountain View, CA. spoke of a simple user experience and a modern browser that can handle today’s applications.
As a web developer though, I groan. The simple days of bowing to the erstwhile almighty IE are gone, and we go back to cross-browser compatibility. Ah well, I’ve never been much for advocating a monopoly. So, give a big warm welcome to the new kid on the block, born September 2, 2008.
And, for a Giggle, take a look at the intro comic strip those Google rascals put together (not quite as riveting as Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise, but still a fun read.)
See Mountain View briefing on YouTube:
What impresses me about Google is how they stay true to their word. Chromium is open source. And as you install Chrome the user’s preferences carry over from IE or Firefox, bringin over your search provider of choice, etc. (What a sharp contrast from other marketing approaches out there, the predatory ones – such as the loathed RealPlayer, etc.) Even today, Google’s “do no evil” policy holds.)
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