hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

October 27, 2005

Flashback: Dear Whitman College graduates of 1993 (Part Deux)

NOTE: Another flashback entry. This time, the second letter (part one can be found here) asking former Whitman College students to return to Walla Walla for a five-year reunion. Yes, I know, you wish you received letters like this from your former schoolmates. If you want to pretend we went to school together, I'd be happy to send you similar missives. Original publication date? June 1998.

Howdy,

Yes. It's another inane letter from your reunion committee, so kick back, relax, and listen to us whine about your much-needed attendance on the weekend of September 25-27, 1998. (Don't forget, Kirsten and I are getting paid by head count).

Last time we spoke, Kirsten and I tired to convince you that you have some interesting stories to tell, regardless of what you may think. Many of you responded with tearful admissions of inadequacy that would have made Oprah proud. I'm glad we were here for you. Now, knock it off. We've changed our phone numbers. Quit bothering us with your purported "problems." Just show up. We'll have a big group hug or something.

Some of the people with whom we've chatted have mentioned that attending a reunion of any kind is simply not worth their while. To this, we responded, "You spent $80,000 on an education and one measly trip to Walla Walla isn't worth your while?" To this, almost all of you responded, "That was my parents' money. We're talking about MY money here."

We'll concede that point.

So, it now falls upon Kirsten and I to make the trip to dear old Whitman worthwhile. To lure you to campus, we have been planning some activities that will provide more worth than you dreamed of having in any sort of while. Here's a smattering of the activities we're proposing:

1) "Hook-Up with Old Flame Night." Remember those evenings of fumbling, dorm-hopping passion? Ah, halcyon days. They can again be yours. Sure, your old sweethearts may have wrinkled a tad and put on few pounds, but isn't that just more of them to love? Come hook up with your old flames, like you used to do time and time again when you were a student. We'll even have your old roommate walk in on you, just for old time's sake. (Flames from Class of '93 only, please. Leave the current students alone.)

2) "Lost & Found Auction." Sure, you were forced to buy 3 of those embroidered Whitman sweatshirts because they kept "disappearing." Your favorite mug got swiped at the SUB. And what about that David Hasselhoff poster your freshman roommate said was "stolen by strange women"? Heck, even the stop sign by the SUB was pilfered. While you've longed for your former possessions, there's no way to get them back. Or is there?

Dry those eyes, gentle reader. We've shaken down a few of the kleptos in our class (All right, so I had the majority of the stuff in my trunk. The statute of limitations has run out. You have no recourse.) You can have it all back. Or you can swipe someone else's if the price is right. You'll be bidding on stuff you used to own, trying to recoup lost memories, while Kirsten and I make a buck. (Don't say Whitman didn't teach us anything.) No price is too low. We've lost our lease. Everything must go. (We even have about 3,000 intramural blue shirts, but we may just give those away.)

3) "Dance Like an Early 90's Fool." Does DJ Smelly Smell frown when you ask him to play old Madonna tunes? Do people see your rendition of the "sprinkler" or the "lawn mower" and shake their heads sadly? Tired of yawning as the rest of your fellow ravers are just getting started? Well come on back to where it all began: the Barnaby's dance floor. Let it all hang out with people your age who still think that MTV's Party-to-Go defined a new age in dance.

4) "An Evening of Ice Breakers." M&Ms, toilet paper, clever name games... whatever it takes to get you to open your heart and your mind to those around you. For the particularly adventurous types, the evening will be topped off with a round of "pinging" and the singing of the Whitman Hymn.

These are just some of the ideas in the works. Of course, all are pending approval. So, please don't come back with the "not worth my while" excuse. With activities like these, a weekend in Walla Walla will seem like the most important thing in the world.

So, make you reservations now. Remember, you're from the "Kick-ass Class of '93."

Don't forget, you were always our favorite person at Whitman.

Love,

Kirsten & Rick


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Flashback: Dear Whitman College graduates of 1993 (Part Deux)

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October 26, 2005

Skip hypocritical today; discover Whitespace

I was all keyed up to post, today. And then I read Paul Scrivens post on brand over at Whitespace.

And, for once, unselfishly, I decided I'd bow my pen for the greater good. No, I don't plan to make this a habit.

So, please, pretty please with cream and sugar on top, head over there and read Paul's post. While you're reading that and learning something for a change, I'm going to spend some time working on the next version of hypocritical.

I could have said it worse, but I couldn't have said it better. Go. Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Are you still here? You're interested in my views? Aw, I'm touched. Okay, well go read:
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October 25, 2005

Typepad trackback ain't

UPDATE (October 27, 2005): Mena Trott, co-founder and president of Six Apart, offers an open apology to Typepad users. See how she addresses the problem. And see how she handles it far better than Google did when Blogger was suffering a similar fate.


ORIGINAL POST

As I've mentioned before, I use Blogger to compose this blog. Cheapskate? Yes. But it also has to do with the fact I started with it too long ago, and I feel some morbid allegiance with the tool. It's too hard to explain.

And yet, there were things missing. So I found ways to compensate. Like the way I compensate for my lack of confidence by berating companies on this blog.

For example, one of the contemporary blogging features that Blogger never seemed to have was trackback. (But we have backlinks, now. Wah wah wah. Too late.) So I started using Haloscan to support my trackback and comment needs. I've been satisfied and am willing to pay for this service. What a happy ending.

Not so fast.

You see, lately, the happy-go-lucky world of trackback pings has been a complete hair-tearer. And for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why.

So, I immediately blamed myself. It's me, isn't it? I'm not good enough for a trackback ping. My post wasn't good enough. That's it isn't it?

After wiping away the tears and taking a few deep breaths, I decided to rely on something more than my own self pity to provide some insight.

So, since I use Haloscan for tackback pings, I decided I would get mad at Haloscan. I've been posting these errors for weeks. Haven't heard anything from Haloscan to the contrary. I'm going to blame them. And I'm going to continue to believe it is Haloscan's problem, because they're not telling me that it's not.

Why won't Haloscan fix this problem? Don't look away when I'm talking to you.

Turns out. It's not their problem to fix.

It's Typepad. All the blogs I was trying to ping that were giving me an error were Typepad blogs. Some of my favorite bloggers use Typepad. Some of my most trackbackable posts want to reference those bloggers who use Typepad. But trackback ain't happening.

And--as my ego breathes a sigh of relief--I'm not the only one encountering the problem. I also see reports of errors here and here.

And who knows? This may be some way of preventing trackback spam. Or maybe it's a way to prevent spam blogs from sullying trackback and comments. I don't know, because I don't hear anyone saying anything.

Know what would have helped this whole problem? Some communication.

And for that, I can blame Haloscan. Yes, there's a discussion taking place on their forum, but they really could have done more.

What, you say? I'm glad you asked. How about these for starters:
  1. Post something on the Haloscan blog about the issue. New layout? a) Not really and b) Who cares? There are errors abound. Look, I realize it's not your problem, but your users are the ones dealing with the problem. Haloscan needs to clearly communicate to their customers about the problem and propose the resolution.

  2. Put something on the homepage. I couldn't care less about the number of members you're serving. I care about me. So take down that promotional graphic and tell me what you're doing to solve my problem.

  3. Put something on the "Send Trackback Ping" page. A simple message to the effect that "We are currently experiencing technical difficulties when pinging Typepad blogs. If your trackback ping URL begins with 'http://www.typepad.com' you cannot ping that post. We will alert you when this issue has been resolved." Throw in a "not our problem" for all I care. Just communicate.

  4. Write an intelligible error message or at least decipher the error message you're receiving. Instead of telling me "Pinging http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/... Problem: Server said 'Server IP is too far away from source URL IP'" which means next to nothing, give me something I can use. Provide a translation for me. Tell me what the error means. And better yet, tell me what you're doing to resolve it.

Typepad? Same goes for you folks. You should be alerting your users that a problem exists. Instead of waiting for them to come to you. Aren't you one of the leaders in this whole blogging thing, SixApart? For shame, for shame. I would have expected better of you. But maybe you're too busy arguing with 37signals about whether bigger is better or less is less.

And so where does it finally come back? Me, of course. Me me me. I can't trackback what I want to trackback. So I can't show everyone how smart or well-read I am. I can't brag or spew pithy retorts. And that's what really makes me mad. Because it affects me. Me.

So Seth? Steve? Don't be mad, please. I've been meaning to trackback the posts I've referenced. But I simply can't. I know, I know. We've worked to build the circle of trust, but it's not my fault. Please, don't let this tarnish what we have. I'll try to do better. Be mad at the tools. Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's a little low. The software tools.

Typepad? Hello? SixApart? Someone? Someone fix it. And please fix it now. If this is Customer Service 2.0 of Web 2.0, I think we're in dire need of a service pack.


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Typepad trackback ain't

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October 24, 2005

Maybe you're not the target market

UPDATE (October 25, 2005): If you jump way down this post to the area where I finally start getting to my point, you'll see my little treatise on the egotism of the target market. You can always leave it to me for the cynical viewpoint.

But leave it to Tom Peters and Seth Godin to take a positive spin on that same topic. Turn that frown upside down by reading the converse of my argument in Are you tired? Busy? and The Days of Our Lives.


ORIGINAL POST

So, I admit it. At times, I just comment on other blogs. Sure sure, I hear you trying to go to bat for me. "You're just continuing the conversation, Rick," "You're the reason blogs work," "You're a good-for-nothing slacking lazy bas..." Hold up there, tiger. I think we have a winner.

Honestly? You hit the nail on the head.

As a general rule, I only tend to comment when I'm interested in a topic but too lazy to write up a post at hypocritical. Sometimes, they're trying to irk me. Sometimes, they're trying to draw me out. But, even then, I'll usually retreat to my happy place and spend a good deal of time writing a blog entry about it. Then I'll send out a trackback, as sort of a salvo, letting the author know that he or she has struck a particular note, or maybe even a chord. Perhaps an archipelago.

Oh wait, that's group of islands. Sorry, I just liked the meter. Anyway, you get my point.

Why do I do this? Fear of conversation? Partially. But I usually come back to hypocritical to blog about things because I'm too exceedingly verbose. Because it usually takes me far more room than a comment to vent my spleen on any particular topic.

I mean, seriously. Try reading some of the posts here. Now try doing it without a) Getting up for a restroom break or b) Falling asleep at your keyboard. It's not easy. It's not easy. Believe me. I'm in love with the sound of my own writing, and I can't even make it through most of these posts. (Want to know a secret? Sometimes I even fall asleep writing them. Don't tell anyone. That's just between you and me.)

Those of you who do make it through the posts here deserve to be commended. By someone else. Not me. I don't cotton to that kind of behavior, you masochists.

Sigh. When, oh when, you ask, eyes beginning to bleed, will he ever get to the point?

Funny you should ask.

So, I was drawn out the other day. And I commented on a post over at Brand Mantra. I don't know why this one caused me to comment. It just did. Maybe it was because Jennifer had recently updated her photo. I don't know, I tell you. I commented. But it didn't really satisfy me. So, I commented again.

Still, no dice.

Which brings us to today's post.

And what, praytell, was the stimulating topic, you say, that caused me to comment, comment again, and then still decide that I needed to blog about it?

Well, it was about tortillas. That's right, tortillas. And I'll tell you. The post got me thinking about my ego. And the ego of the average consumer.

You see, we as consumers, find ourselves in a pre-Copernican market universe. We, we believe, are the focal point of any product we happen to buy. That we are the target market. That the product better satisfy us or it is wrong. Because it was designed for us. Because, really, for whom else would it be designed? I mean, we bought it didn't we?

I fall into it all of the time. "This is a stupid show. Who would watch this?", "Who uses this site? It's horrible.", "I'll never eat at Carl's Jr. because their inane commercials insult my intelligence." Oh, I'm sorry, did I begin naming names? My error.

But here's the thing: For most of those, I'm not even the target market. Yet, I think I should be. I think everything should be about me.

You see, in these days of (false) entitlement--I, in fact, like to call it the "Age of Entitlement" because I smugly think it makes me sound smart, not to mention it's a rather ironic pun on "elightenment." Oh my, how proud would my English professors be to hear...I'm sorry, where were we? I got wrapped up in lauding myself again.

Oh yes.

In these days where we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it, we begin to get more and more egotistical about everything. And pretty soon we're swimming in so much hubris that it clouds our vision. Oh, I mean my vision. I didn't mean to lump you in with me, because I'm sure you're on objective observer.

And that, my dear marketing friends, is something we must keep in the back of our mind as we develop our marketing campaigns, and our products, and our communications. Because everyone who consumes the message, or uses the product, or purchases the services will believe that it was designed especially for them.

So despite all the efforts to target. To hone. To revise. We're still addressing the market at large.

And that's kind of the direction I went with my comments. To wit:
Comment #1: As always, you got me thinking. Now, admittedly, I'm likely lacking in self-confidence (ahem), but the thought that often crosses my mind in an instance like this: maybe I'm not the target market.

Perhaps, Mission thinks they stand to gain more ground from a different market (one of which you're not a part)? Maybe they're concerned about the environmental market who doesn't like those little slipsheets? Or maybe the conjoined tortilla market is larger than the separatist tortilla market?

In any case, just because we don't like something, we can't always assume that we're the target. I don't especially like speed metal, but I'm not going to tell any of those musicians they're playing the wrong music. Mostly, because I'm afraid they'd hurt me, but you get the point...
Comment #2: Always great to see responses to comments; thanks for responding to mine. To continue the conversation...

I'm assuming the tortilla selection in your neck of the woods may be a little more diverse than the selection here in the Pacific Northwest, so I'll coalesce to your market research on the slipsheets. I don't get those up here with the ones I buy, but maybe the rain keeps tortillas from sticking.

Most interesting thing about your comment to my comment? Whole Foods as environmental. Good positioning there, in so much as your associating that chain with environmental tactics. I'm not sure how environmental chains of that size can be, but they've done a great job of proffering themselves as more eco-friendly than the other big markets.

Who knew that sticky tortillas could ignite such an interesting conversation? Oh wait. You did.


So why, did I have to post this post here at good old home sweet home? Because the worm continued to turn. And that got me to thinking: You can't please all of the people all of the time (Even though, as a Libra, I'll desperately try, if only to ensure that people like me.) Which finally got me to this:

If you continually mitigate risk with your marketing, you may have the widest appeal. Or you may fail miserably.

Maybe good marketing is risky. Maybe you have to risk upsetting some folks to get in tight with other folks. Maybe you have to focus on your target so tightly that you forego all other opportunities. Maybe the value of marketing is in the inherent friction.

Maybe?

And that's why I had to post this. Because my comments didn't cut it. Especially as I continued to think and almost, almost, reversed my own argument. It got me thinking. And even though I've subjected you to this longwinded explanation, I still don't have any payoff. I still don't have an answer.

Circumlocution? Amen, brother and/or sister.

But I'm also still thinking.


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Maybe you're not the target market

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October 23, 2005

Flashback: Dear Whitman College graduates of 1993 (Part 1)

NOTE: Yet another trip down memory lane to highlight the fact that my writing style has always been as deplorable as the content you're forced to read on a regular basis. I believe the original publication date of this piece is sometime around early 1998. For those of you who ever have to write a "come to our reunion letter" or any direct mail for that matter, please feel free to steal. However, there is a second letter that's actually much better than this one, so you may want to wait for that one.

Dear Whitties of '93:

It's a new year. It's also almost five years since you graduated. Yes, this is a reunion letter. Ah ah ah! Keep reading. (Right now, as you pour over this letter, we know your mind is working feverishly to come up with enough excuses to allow you to skip the reunion. Don't forget, we went to school with you. We know how your mind works.) Well, it's Kirsten's and my job to keep you from skipping the reunion, so we'd like to dispel some of your concerns.

Let's keep it simple for the first letter. (That's right, there will be more.) Your chief and primary concern (by means of average, individual results may vary) is that you have no interesting stories to tell.

Hogwash.

Okay, all right, let's be honest. You probably didn't accomplish what I did in the past five years. I mean, it's not everyone who gets MTV's Real World (Real World, Portland) pulled, mid-taping. Sure, I was little over the edge (even Puck called me "rude" and "loathsome"), but I thought that's what they were looking for. Have I got some stories to tell about the so-called "Real" world, and it's payment practices.

Come to think of it, Kirsten's life may be more interesting than yours, too. I mean, who else could take their love of throwing rocks, sweeping, and walking on ice, and parlay it into a career as the first American to break the Canadian-dominated ranks of professional curling? Olympics, fame, money, back bacon, and cheddar cheese? Hear the tales from the trenches of professional curling as can only be told by the master storyteller, herself.

See what you'd be missing if you skipped the reunion? The point is: you'll never truly know what everyone is doing, unless you show up (and convince them to show up, too).

I know, I know. Some of you really don't want to go. Well, buck up, little campers. There comes a time in all of our lives when we think about not doing something, we're forced to do it, and then we're glad we did. (Like, writing this letter, for instance. It was supposed to be in your mailbox at the beginning of the year.) Sometimes we need some motivation. (e.g., Kirsten paid me five bucks to write the letter.)

So here's the deal: Show up to the reunion. I don't care how boring your life has been in the last five years. Kirsten and I will sit and listen to each and every one of your lives, detail by painful detail. We'll nod and smile at appropriate times. We'll even sprinkle in a few "How interesting"s and "No kidding"s. (Kirsten can almost make you believe she's interested in what you're saying.) Plus, if we deem your story "The Most Heartbreakingly Boring," we'll award you a trip to Ireland or Barnaby's, whichever is closer.

Put the letter down. Contact the alumni office. Let them know you're coming. Please, don't force us to write, again. You have been duly warned.

Take care,

Rick & Kirsten

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Flashback: Dear Whitman College graduates of 1993 (Part 1)

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October 22, 2005

Take my RSS feed... Please (my apologies to Henny Youngman)

Good thing I read other blogs. Kathy Sierra reminded me that I too have failed to highlight the fact that these works are protected by Creative Commons.

One other thing that I continually fail to mention is that you should feel free to use hypocritical content as you need it. Quote it, link it, whatever you like. If you're building marketing oriented sites, intranet or otherwise, please feel free to syndicate hypocritical content, directly. (Since the content I create here is protected under Creative Commons license, a reference would be appreciated.)

Just take it and run with it.

"How?" you say.

Well you could use a service that compiles the hypocritical RSS feed into Web content. Or, you could just use the following code provided by the friendly and helpful folks over at FeedBurner:
<script src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/hypocritical?format=sigpro" type="text/javascript"></script>

<noscript><p>Subscribe to RSS headline updates from: <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/hypocritical"></a><br/>Powered by FeedBurner</p> </noscript>
Just think. A few magic clicks of your mouse and you could be hosting such previous gems as:But that's not all, act now and you'll get all the lame posts, too. At no additional cost. Hearken back to the times we all groaned when I wrote:So, have at it kids. Hopefully, someone will find a use for this stuff, or I'll just have to tuck it away in my sock drawer. Or use it to keep my digital fireplace burning.

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Take my RSS feed... Please (my apologies to Henny Youngman)

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October 21, 2005

Want comments on your blog?

UPDATE (October 24, 2005): While I seriously doubt that my post was any influence for this, Paul Davidson of Words for My Enjoyment delivers a poignant and well-written post on the topic of comments. Clearly, it does the post below one better... and gets comments to boot. Great deal of time on your hands? Continue reading my post. Interested in something that deals with the topic and has an eye toward brevity? Read Today's Post Will Have More Comments Than Ever Before.


ORIGINAL POST

There has been a great deal of talk about "blogs as conversations." And yet, by and large, the professed "conversation" is really just a cacophonous multitude of soliloquies from so many digital Hamlets holding their Yorick skulls and whining.

Which leads me to stroke my chin and stare toward the heavens as I wonder why it is that so very few bloggers have mastered the fine art of eliciting comments from their readers. Why, oh why, is this proverbial conversation, for which we all seemingly thirst, really not taking place?

Because most bloggers don't really want comments. They're not interested in having a conversation.

I'm a prime example. Read practically any entry in hypocritical and you'll see. I take a certain holier-than-thou, professorial-lecture tact with my blog entries. I drone on and on and on, waxing philosophic on all sorts of topics. Exploring the depths of my intellect and wowing you, gentle reader, with mind-bending leaps of intuition that I seem to think could only be conjured within the sugar walls of my superior brain. On and on and on, I drone. While you, trying to patient, continue to slog through, trying to find a point.

Yet, with utter disrespect for your time or interests, I continue to revel in the power of my bully pulpit. Broadcasting my views. Asking you to hold your questions until the end of my lecture. Smirking smugly as I make oh-so-witty comments, here and there.

And then, finally, when I've finished my sermon, I patronizingly ask--meaning practically beg--you for your opinions, condescending or otherwise. Suggest some topics for you to discuss. Give you some leads for the starts of your comments.

But do I really want you to comment? No. No, I don't even want you to think, really. What I want is to have you tell me how smart I am. How I've somehow plumbed the depths of the subject in new and exciting ways. How I'm a genius who has shared such intellectually stimulating insight that you can die a happy person. That I've somehow touched you with the healing power of E.T.'s glowing appendage.

But I don't really want a conversation. I want praise. Or rejection. One or the other, perhaps both. But I don't want a conversation. I don't actually want to engage or disagree.

Why would I subconsciously choose to write this way? Because I don't really want to have a conversation. Or start a debate. I simply want you to like me. To like what I write. And to come back and visit from time to time. Maybe send me a card during the holidays.

I don't want to discuss or converse. I want to lecture. And the lack of comments here show that. This is never going to be a heavily commented blog, because it really has very little edge. It takes very little risk. It just pontificates and postulates. To put it bluntly, it ain't got no teeth. It's a creative writing exercise, with some insight thrown into it, every once in a great while.

Link sites, while at least more terse than the oodles of fluff that choke this site, aren't much better, to be quite honest. Like hypocritical, they're built with the hope of impressing. With the hope of being the first to find the cool site. Or at least holding the honor for being the first source to inform you of the cool site. Or give you the insight on the latest gadget or Apple toy.

But are they looking to load up the comments? No, because there is really nowhere to go. What's the comment? Ass-kissing? "Great link," "Wish I'd found that link," "You guys always find the best stuff."

In reality, the link bloggers aren't really seeking anything more than what I'm seeking. They're looking for an audience that likes them and that keeps coming back. An audience that trusts them and wants to continue reading what they write. Or listening to what they say. Or lauding them for work well done. But they don't want a real conversation any more than I do.

We're kind of like stand-up comedians or op-ed journalists. Just like us. Don't talk back. Don't heckle.

So now that I've lectured you, yet again, perhaps it's time to actually get to my point.

How does one get more comments on their blog? How do you start the conversation with your readers? How do you get the trackbacks and the comments and the discussion rolling? How do you get those double-digit--maybe even triple digit--numbers that will impress your dates or your spouse?

Not too get all on Ockham on you, but what you do is this: You actually start a conversation. You take a position. You take a risk. You express an opinion. Contrary or otherwise.

Staying short and to the point doesn't hurt either. Don't look to explain the intricacies of your reasoning. Don't back up the argument with all the thought behind your postulate. Just state it. Throw the first jab. And then wait for the audience to engage.

It's quite simple really.

Imagine, for example, you're at a cocktail party. With other people I mean. Not the private cocktail party you have while trying to make it through another one of these diatribes. A real one.

Okay? Are you there? Are you doing the hustle?

Now, think about it. Would you rather stand and listen to some egomaniac like me drone on and on about some subject on which he thinks he's an expert or would you rather go talk to the person who asks you a question and waits for you to respond? The person who says "This is stupid!" or the person who wants to prattle on about the naivete of those poor saps who succumb to the stupidity?

I think it's pretty obvious.

So how do you get more comments on your blog? Converse with your audience. Take a risk. Engage. Stir up some controversy. Cover a topic that might not be "safe." Assume that you're right. Have some confidence and make a decided point.

But do it briefly and with a clear opening for the audience to respond.

If the lecture bloggers are the stand-up comics, then the conversationalist bloggers are the performance artists. Down there in the trenches, mucking it up with the folks.

They may still ride a holier-than-thou high horse, but they'll get down off that horse to mix it up. They'll argue. They'll disagree. They'll incite and instigate. Because it makes good conversation. And it keeps the conversation from being dull. And keeps it from becoming an awkward silence.

What's that? Examples? But, I already gave you hypocritical as an example. Oh examples of conversations? Well, there are some folks who do this exceptionally well, but I would recommend the following blogs. Why am I recommending them? Simply because I am always amazed at the number of comments that they have on any given post.

These blogs are truly "blogs as conversations." All of them with comments comments comments: And, of course, after reading the list and looking at the blogs, you'll notice the chicken-or-the-egg quandary about these sites. You'll say I took the easy route. You'll whine and moan that all of those sites have huge traffic. But did they always have huge traffic? And did they get the huge traffic by starting the conversation or are they able to start the conversation by having such a huge number of readers? Why don't you start exploring the conversationalist technique and see?

So, to summarize, if you want to converse, converse. If you want to lecture, lecture. But don't expect your blog to be a conversation if you're just talking at someone. It just won't work. It requires a specific tact. And most of the blogs and bloggers out there don't want any of it.

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October 20, 2005

RSS feeds: Can't we just all agree on a common home?

Dear Proud Parent of an RSS feed:

I'm sorry to be writing to you again. I had hoped that our last correspondence would have given you some motivation to resolve the problem at hand. Apparently, you've had better things to do. And to be honest, my suggestions must have been rather weak, as they really haven't helped solve the problem.

I fear that the problem is even larger than I first thought. And I'm generally such a fervent pessimist that I don't underestimate failure. Chalk one up for surpassing even my worst expectations.

The problem? It seems that I'm still having a difficult time finding the RSS feeds on your site.

I mean, yes, that 36 pixel by 14 pixel chicklet is really helping to draw my attention. And the gigantic 80 pixel by 15 pixel button you're using to highlight your feed? What a mediocre and moderately effective technique. I'm duly impressed.

Not to mention the fact that you've taken the liberty of grouping at least 20 of those little buttons all together in one sea-sickness-inducing column of gifs. I must admit, it makes me a but nostalgic, like spectrum of some ill-begotten Web awards from 1997.

Yes, you've certainly come up with some compelling ways of trying to draw attention to the availability of your RSS feed. And for that I must commend you. Thanks for trying. I do appreciate the effort.

But I have another idea.

You know how you've learned to navigate to Google News by typing news.google.com into your browser? Or how you visit Yahoo! Mail by typing mail.yahoo.com? Well, that gave me a little bit of idea. And it's a little radical, but stick with me. Please. I said, "Please."

What if we decided to standardize on that same sort of thing for RSS feeds? Just you and me. We don't need to make a big deal of it. I'll do it. Then you do it. Then maybe someone else will do it. Who knows? In a few years, maybe 10 people would be doing it. It will start a little slow. I don't want to get our hopes to high, but it could happen. It could catch on.

Now, I know the server and directory settings to establish something like rss.yoursite.com could be a little difficult. That's not something I'm looking to do. And I'm most certainly not asking you to get the IT department involved. But what about something like this? What about if you and me, the dynamic duo, decided to do something like this, today--right now:

http://www.hypocritical.com/RSS

And what if we tell everyone that they could access any RSS feed on our site by typing that kind of URL into their browser? And what if we lied and told them that you could do that for anyone's site? That if you add "/rss" to the end of any domain URL that has an RSS feed, you'll get the RSS feed?

What's even more crazy? What if that actually worked? I mean, how great would that be if you could access any RSS feed from any site by simply adding "/rss" to the end of the domain name? I think we're talking close-to-ecstatic occurrence here. Weeping for joy in the streets. Cats and dogs living together. You get the idea.

Now, stop it. I can already hear you whining, "But I don't know how to redirect to my RSS feed. Wah wah wah." I can even see the little sad-face emoticon.

Well, turn that frown upside down, junior. Here are some examples to help you along your merry way in 3 simple steps:

  1. Create the "/rss" directory

  2. Create a default page for that directory (default.htm, index.asp, default.php, whatever)

  3. And now your choice of options for the third step...
    • Go old school by adding this meta tag to between your head tags:
      <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;url=YOUR FEED URL">

    • Or use ASP and add the following to the very top of your page:
      <% Response.Redirect "YOUR FEED URL" %>

    • Or maybe you use PHP. Try this:
      <?php
      $URL="YOUR FEED URL";
      header ("Location: $URL");
      ?>

See? That wasn't so hard was it? Wipe away that tear and get to work. If I do it, and you do it, then maybe other people will do it, as well. And then, maybe someday, as our grandchildren are browsing the World Wide Google together, we'll all know that adding "/rss" to the end of any domain will get us directly to the RSS feed we're seeking.

No more searching for chicklets. No more digging through source code for the oh-so-ironically-named RSS auto-discovery code. Just a simple straightforward concept for finding the RSS feed on any site.

The "/rss" directory. What a concept. Sometimes I impress even myself.

Will you join me? If you do, feel free to trackback your blog, or comment, or whatever. I'll list your blog here and give you a little more exposure just for being a good citizen. And that and $2.40 will get you a quad con panna at practically any Starbucks.

Until then, I remain...

Your best friend,
Rick (Rick Turoczy, jeez)

P.S. Please return my rake. I have leaves piling up in the yard.

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RSS feeds: Can't we just all agree on a common home?

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October 19, 2005

Millions of software developers begin mining suck.com for product ideas

With all the Web 2.0 talk and the online office applications, sometimes it's nice to take a look at what we thought the future might hold, 9 years ago.

Like this piece from suck.com on Wordprocessor.com, "HotMail meets Microsoft Word." Interesting how closely this resembles the recent offerings from 37signals, Writely, and Zoho.

The upside? This gives me hope that maybe, decades from now, some of the cockamamie ideas that I've started here will actually be developed by much smarter and capable people than I.

(I tried to do as much "hoax busting" as I could. This appears legitimate, according to the Wayback Machine.)

 

Millions of software developers begin mining suck.com for product ideas

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October 18, 2005

Bloggers read bloggers (or Hey BlogOn, let my traffic go)

My traffic is a bit down this week. And, of course, this sent me into a catatonic fit, because, as we all know, I'm only venting my spleen on a regular basis for the sweet sweet traffic. Otherwise, I would be saving my tantrums for my co-workers.

And then it dawned on me. A glimmer of hope. I stopped rocking frantically back and forth, removed my thumb from my mouth, and uncurled from my fetal position. I kept whimpering, but you must understand that I whimper most of the time.

I figured out why my traffic was down: I blame BlogOn.

You see, bloggers read other bloggers and then blog, which creates blog content that is read by other bloggers, and so on, and so on, and so on. It's really quite incestuous. All this commenting and trackback and whatnot in our own little microcosm. Fanning the flames of our own egos with the irrational exuberance of inflated self-worth.

But, you see, a bunch of the and-so-on-and-so-ons in that chain are at BlogOn. Selfish lot that they are, focusing on their own blogs instead of mine. I mean, really. And they get so busy. It's crazy. All absorbed in these blogging a grassroots media discussions. So absorbed, in fact, that even Suw Charman, one of the bloggers blogging the BlogOn event admits "I got so busy yesterday I didn't get to blog much..."

If the blogger blogging BlogOn ain't blogging, then I'm fairly confident that the rest of the lot isn't. And if they're not blogging, they're likely not reading blogs. I mean, why would they? They're getting a live warm Podcast directly from the bloggers... Why are you looking at me like that? What's that? Oh, speech. I was talking about speeches. Warm podcast? Whoof. Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in the jargon, trying to be cool.

Anyway, back to the rant.

And if they're not blogging (and a Technorati tag search shows it's likely they're not) and not reading, then my traffic suffers. Or maybe my dwindling traffic stems from the fact that I just write self-absorbed marketing fluff.

No, silly. BlogOn. It's definitely BlogOn.

So what's the marketing point in all of this? Well, I think it's pretty straightforward. There are two points actually:
  1. Know the social habits of your market.
    If you focus on a certain group, know when their events hit, know when the critical times are for them, know when they have time for you, and know where you need to be to be in front of them. Because as important as you think you are, you're really not. And sometimes it's just good timing that helps you cut through the clutter.

  2. Blogging, as we all know, is a conversation.
    And when you're just one hand clapping in a vacuum, you don't make much noise, or get much traffic. You need to both participate and be, um, participated. Or, be one with whom others participate. However you want to say it. All the marketing in the world is for naught if there is no audience listening for that tree to fall.


(Yes, I know sometimes the depth of my marketing insight is only overshadowed by the number of fragmented platitudes I can shove into a sentence. It's a gift really. Never even have to think or try. It just happens.)

Long story short, which never helps after I've forced you to read through all of this, know your market. And know that you're not the center of the universe. Realize that there are other factors that influence them. And know that 99% of the time, they're thinking about things far more important to them than your product, or blog, or article, or whatever. The other 1% of the time, I believe, is dedicated to thoughts about cheese. I think I have a citation for that somewhere.

Well, well, well. Look who's here. How was BlogOn? What's that? Well, why haven't you been by then? I've been waiting. I even wrote this entry just for you, and you alone. Serious. What's that? Okay, well come back again and I promise I'll write one just for you.


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Bloggers read bloggers (or Hey BlogOn, let my traffic go)

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October 17, 2005

Stephan Spencer shows blogging builds brands unless, of course, it's hypocritical

Sometimes, I blather on and on and on, making the grossly negligent assumption that you, gentle reader, happen to be fully immersed in the context of RSS-this and trackback-that. I realize it's a shortcoming. Work with me.

Sometimes, it actually is the case. Sometimes the people slogging through the posts here are savvy to the blogging that's so popular with the kids these days. In fact, two of the three folks who admit to reading hypocritical have actually started blogs. I'm not sure about the other one. (Mom, seriously, get with it.)

But mostly there are those folks who stumble in here, desperately wanting to become loyal readers if only I would quit speaking in mumbo-jumbo and actually start making sense.

Fat chance, there.

That's why I'm glad there are folks like Stephan Spencer. Apart from being a rather intelligent bloke, Stephan possesses a laudable ability that I inherently lack: the ability to speak clearly and succinctly to his readers. Case in point, a recent article in All About Branding entitled Blogging Builds Brands.

Stephan does a brilliant job of defining blogging, outlining some of its benefits, and giving readers some pointers for blogging. Whether you're an old-hand at blogging or a relative newbie just trying to wade through the aforementioned indigestible fluff, I highly recommend you quit reading this drivel and head over there to peruse it.


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Stephan Spencer shows blogging builds brands unless, of course, it's hypocritical

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PLAYMOBIL Security Checkpoint: Sign of the times

"Awww," I can hear you saying. "It is sooo cute when he pulls the traveler aside for the full body-cavity search. Just adorable."

Again, the PLAYMOBIL Security Check-in raises the quandary: can versus should.


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PLAYMOBIL Security Checkpoint: Sign of the times

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October 16, 2005

Do you hear what they hear?

So I encountered something interesting, today, that brought me back to thoughts of Martin Lindstrom and BRAND Sense.

You see, my sleeping schedule is decidedly off from the rest of my household. And because those dear members of my family are usually the ones going to bed while I stay up and milk my insomnia, I do a great deal of late night television watching. Usually movies on one of those "premium channels," which shall remain nameless, but should really think about wedging a few more movies in between the 15 different series it has going. But that is a blog entry for another time.

And, as is per my wont, I've gone down a path of giving you context that, truly, is of no great consequence to our story. It's merely to elicit feelings of empathy from you, my attentive audience, for my sad, sad life. Now that you are sufficiently bored, I'll quickly change topics, in hopes of keeping your initially rapt, but rapidly becoming weary, attention.

With apologies to my vegetarian and vegan readers, let's get to the real meat (or roughage), shall we? Come along.

Because everyone else in the house is asleep, and because our house is not a sprawling mansion, I tend to watch these movies with the television muted. Completely quiet. Captions provide the dialog. It's as if every movie were a foreign movie, except the plots are generally less enchanting and they all have happy endings of one kind or another. But, again, I digress. Point being, I tend to watch a number of movies without a critical component of the movie experience: sound.

And generally, this doesn't detract from the experience. I can add the sound of explosions or gunshots or laughter or whatever. I can assume what the sound of wind rustling through the trees sounds like or what sound a laser makes.

But in every practically every movie, there are those montage or non-verbal scenes, where there isn't actually any dialog anchoring the scene. Instead, you get music. And here's where it gets interesting.

These movies fall into two categories: ones I've seen and ones I haven't. For the movies I have seen, I can generally remember the mood they were attempting to evoke. Like let's say, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Seen it a few times. I can pretty much hear the soundtrack in my head. For the ones I haven't seen, I like to think that I've seen enough movies in my day that I can generally guess what the music will be. Now, it gets even more interesting.

So, I add the soundtrack to the movie, in my head. Incorporating who-knows-what music in an attempt to fill in the spaces. I, for lack of a better analogy, write my own soundtrack based on what's happening, the feel of the movie, and the characters. So, I've got a concept for what the movie should sound like.

So, today, as I was saying, that kind of changed. I finally saw one of the movies that I had originally watched with no sound. And the music was completely off. I mean, it was the real music, but it wasn't the music I had imagined in my head. And it was effective, but it wasn't as effective as the music I had chosen, when I had my own private soundtrack.

And that made me think: We are always filling in the gaps, based on our perception of the brand. And then I started to think some more, as a cold sweat started to build on my brow. If we are not defining the elements of our identity to inform that brand, then the market will improvise, defining their own identity elements. And then, perhaps worst of all, it hit me. If we allow the market to intuit components of our identity based on their perception of our brand, and then we, as marketers, eventually step in to supply an identity that is incongruent with their assumptions, we're going to lose that market.

Brand damage through attrition. Brand damage by what you don't do. And irreparable damage inflicted purely by lack of planning, consciousness, and timing.

Which brings us back to Martin Lindstrom and his BRAND sense concept. There are a variety of elements that are missing from the majority of identities, every day. Most identities live on a look-and-feel-combined-with-voice subsistence. There's no audio. No touch. No smell. Not from a marketing department perspective.

But there is from a market perspective.

And unless we, as marketers, pay attention to all those elements of identity, all of those elements that are contributing to the formation of the brand in the market's collective mind, we're going to disappoint a good chunk of our market. Because they'll fill in the gaps. And when we guess, we'll guess wrong.

Am I doing it correctly in my day-to-day? Nope, but that's never stopped me from casting wide sweeping aspersions on the rest of you lot before. That's the beauty of writing for a blog called "hypocritical," friends, the joy of taking flights of fancy by finding fault with everyone else.

What sense-ible elements are missing from your identity? Has your market already closed the gaps with their own assumptions?


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Do you hear what they hear?

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October 15, 2005

Blog networks are news wires in waiting

So I got into a conversation, today, that had me both reminiscing about, and rethinking my prognostication from An Immodest Proposal: Where blogging and RSS are headed (or everything old is new again). No worries, true believers, I still believe that I'm on the right track. I just have some revisions that justified more than an "update" to the original post.

To save time for those of you who haven't read the original post, I generally postulate that the blog world will continue to mature much along the lines that the world of journalistic publishing has matured.

(My assumptions and intuitive leaps have seemed to convince me that I understand the evolution of the media world. Feel free to point out flaws in my oh-so-brief history of the wire service. But here's how I take it...)

The world of reporting began with individual journalists writing and publishing papers about news and happenings. Soon, they discovered that they could join forces and consolidate all of their articles into one publication, streamlining production, alleviating some artistic pressure, and increasing distribution. Then, some of these publications discovered that other publications were often calling on them for stories. So often, in fact, that they started a "wire service" that published the stories for syndication in other publications. Soon, these wire services stopped supporting their printed publication and became a pure wire service, attracting more and more journalists to write for them, and continuing to increase their syndication by supporting innumerable publications through their efforts. Today, most newspapers you read on a daily basis are largely the results of wire service and syndication efforts.

Right or wrong, I have to assume that it happened something like that. If you don't like my take on it, read the history of the Associated Press, specifically the beginnings. Or simply write some libelous insults in the comments. Either way.

But enough with the history lesson, back to my take on the future. Ooooooh, the future. Ooooh. (Sorry, that was for effect. I can't really write a dramatic pause, and in my vast library of MIDIs, nothing seemed quite right. Work with me, won't you?)

So in the previous piece, I had theorized that the Bloglines and Rojos and Plucks of the world might be best equipped to become the wire services of the future. They would become the entities that aggregated content and supplied syndicated content via RSS feeds to which organizations could subscribe to build out there publications. They had the access to all of the RSS feeds and the bulk of the content. That's what I thought, way back in March 2005. But, as always, times change.

Now, I'm thinking that the feed reading organizations might be just as overwhelmed with information as everyone else. Too overwhelmed, that is, to begin organizing and categorizing the content to make it into a service worth selling. They only folks poised to manage that feat, in bulk, would be Google. And maybe that's where they're going with the Google Reader? Or maybe that smart bunch over at FeedBurner could handle it? Who knows? I'm just throwing this stuff out there.

Okay, so now we have self-doubt in my own prognostication and doubt in the abilities of others to deal with the massive glut of RSS information out there. What finally caused the scale to tip?

The growing popularity of blogger networks.

I had originally focused on Weblogs Inc. (recently acquired by AOL), Gawker, and even ORBlogs, a collective of bloggers throughout the state of Oregon. They were good examples. Seemingly unique in their construct. And I wasn't sure exactly what would become of them. Were they just the next MiningCo/About?

But these days, there are more and more springing up, every minute. More, I must admit, than at which I can shake a proverbial stick. Or a real stick for that matter. Which reminds me, I should get out there and start raking those leaves. I bet there are a bunch of sticks out there too...

I'm sorry. Where was I? Oh yes.

Now, there seems to be a new blogger network every time you tune into to your favorite feed reader. There's 9rules, Seth Godin's Squidoo, Jeremy Wright's b5, and the Web 2.0 Workgroup to name a few. The list keeps growing and diverging everyday. They're rapidly coagulating around specfic topics of interest or sites that hold a certain journalistic aplomb or display artistic merit or simply publish on a consistent basis. Sometimes, they're just grouping to be, well, part of the group.

And these are the places where this might happen. This may be where the idea of the wire service can take root. Where the "subscription for syndication" could work. These blogger networks have focus. They have journalists churning out content in a format that is easily syndicated. And they have management that could help the authors realize the power of their collective think. So, when I originally categorized these entities as "publications" like magazines, newspapers, and things of that ilk, I think I may have been a bit off. Now I'm shifting.

I think these blogger networks may very well become the wire services of tomorrow. The AP, UPI, Reuters. The new generation of those entities could be within our midst, either as the individual organizations or as a collective power that may topple the old guard.

What an interesting time.

What do you think? Do you think I'm off my Nostradamanian rocker? Or do my Quatrains, as they were, hold some water? It would be nice to hear from you. I realize you're busy with all the work and the friends, but it wouldn't hurt to drop me a line every once in a while, would it? I made cookies. I thought about sending you some. But only if you're willing to comment.


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Blog networks are news wires in waiting

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October 14, 2005

Presentation Zen on Steve Jobs' conversational presentation style

Just a short entry tonight.

If you're in marketing communications, if you ever come anywhere near the vicinity of Microsoft PowerPoint files, if you've ever been put in the position of coaching other folks on how to present, then why oh why have you not been to visit Presentation Zen? Please quit reading this useless blog entry and go there, now. Thank you.

Genius. I'm serious. Go. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Still here? Still need more convincing? Argh. Times a wastin'. Okay, well, I'm continually impressed by the posts, and the deconstructions of presentations. And who better for you to cut your teeth than the master, Steve Jobs? I'm serious, go read this: Presentations as conversations.

Not a too distant leap from the "blogs are conversations" viewpoint, I realize. But that's what's so interesting, dear reader:

Any effort at communications, marketing communications or otherwise, is a conversation.

Ah ha! Now we're getting somewhere.

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Presentation Zen on Steve Jobs' conversational presentation style

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October 13, 2005

What does hypocritical look like?

As a marketer, I often get to sit on the other side of the desk. The side where you get to sit in judgment. The side where you stare sternly at the client (internal or external). Nod softly and say, "It will be difficult, but it's really the best thing to do."

There I sit on my holier-than-thou high horse. Judging something that someone else has created or sweated over or built from scratch or dragged kick and screaming from the depths of anonymity.

"It's time for a change," I say. "You'll see how much better this can be."

But it's not often that I have to sit on this side of the desk. Sit here and look at something that is not only difficult to use, but not as purty as I once thought it was.

No, not me. Jeez. Rude. When did we start devolving into personal attacks? I swear... No, I was talking about the design of the hypocritical site.

Now, if you're reading hypocritical via its RSS feed, then you are probably better off. You get to read the site in a form that suits you and your needs. But for the untold millions who flock to the site day after day, hour after hour, the reading here on the site can be a little more difficult. And I admire those brave individuals for slogging through it.

Small gray on a blue background. What was I thinking? Illogical navigation constructs? Oy.

So now, I have to sit on the side of the desk where I need to admit that it's time to tear down something of which I was rather proud. And I have to ask myself the same questions that I ask my clients:


  • Who is your primary audience?

  • How do they use the site?

  • What do you believe will keep your audience coming back?

  • What are you hoping to accomplish with the site?



Most of the answers, I believe, center on legibility and usability.

I may preach and complain and whine about poor design with the best of them, but the look and feel of this site really starts to undermine my already fragile credibility. And despite the fact that I rather enjoy the irony and inherent hypocrisy of the design, it's time for a change.

So, I've started doing my research. Looking for concepts and constructs that could make the site more usable, more legible, and more useful. I mean, the writing is so good, it deserves an appropriate showcase right? Or perhaps, slogging through the diatribes is so taxing that the readers deserve something that's a bit more easy on the eye. Either way. You won't hurt my feelings.

So, I'm starting the process. And as such, you might see some random changes flicker in here and there. I'll blog about them as they happen. So you can throw your slings and arrows. Or keep your slings and throw rocks. But please just throw the arrows. It makes them easier to dodge.

Because, honestly, when it comes right down to it, this site is as much for you as it is for me. I get my catharsis. I get to vent my marketing bile. And hopefully, you manage to make your way through all the roughage to find some small kernels of wisdom, here and there.

Not in every post, mind you. But here and there.

Redesign is coming. I can't promise it will be good. But it will be different.

Technorati tags: Marketer, Redesign, Blog, RSS

 

What does hypocritical look like?

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October 12, 2005

WebEx and Live Meeting absolved of guilt, charged as an accessory

In the world of tech marketing, you see a lot of software demos. A lot. Sometimes, it's your product being demonstrated; sometimes it's some other company demonstrating software to you. And more and more, these demos take place over the Web, through interactive meeting spaces. Online meetings. Whatever you want to call them.

Generally, these online affairs fall into two camps: WebEx and Live Meeting. Yes, yes, I realize that there are a plethora of other options out there for hosting online meetings (Adobe / Macromedia Breeze, for example), and no doubt some of those companies will flock to the site screaming "heathen" and "heresy." If I'm lucky, they may even choose to highlight the superiority of their solution in the comments, below. (Please do. The products are not my concern.)

But, per usual, I digress.

Inevitably, I'm sitting in a large meeting room as I sit through these demos, a sickly pang of dread gnawing at my gut. On my right, sits Mr. Live Meeting and on my left, Mr. WebEx. Both full of ego and confidence for their chosen solutions. Both, like renegades from Highlander inexorably convinced that "There can be only one." Both assault me with huffs of disdain, buffeting my hair with their exuberant scoffing. "That wouldn't have happened," they say. "If you were using [insert favorite online meeting product here]!"

And there was a time when I would have agreed with them. Back near the turn of the century, I was working for a company that was a fairly heavy WebEx user. And it would crash. It would hang. It would black out. And we would complain complain complain.

"This demo is horrible," we would say. "Can't someone present a decent software demo online?"

But, slowly, surely, the technology got better. The bandwidth became more abundant. The platforms became more resilient. Our reply?

"This demo is horrible," we would say. "Can't someone present a decent software demo online?"

But, you see, gentle reader, there is the kernel, the glimmer, the faint hint of understanding that the errors, the disdain, the mediocrity of the demo lay not in the presentation format, but in the demo, itself. Because, truthfully, the software being demonstrated and the foundation used to host the demonstration were never truly the culprit. The culprit was, in fact, the software demo.

Software demos are horrible, by and large. They are very difficult to deliver and very difficult to target. The only feedback the demo-giver tends to receive are loose mutterings of disembodied voices, grunts of acknowledgment, nervous tittering giggle. And the demo-receiver is no better off. Lost in a blur of features and clicks that make little to no sense, they are generally unable to formulate intelligent questions beyond, "Could you go through that part again?"

When you have seen a good software demo, you know it. Flat out. It's obvious. I think. I can't say that I've ever seen one. I certainly know that I've never given a truly decent software demo myself. And I've demonstrated more pieces of software than I either care to, or actually can, remember.

I repeat: Software demos are horrible. Plain and simple. And yet, who gets the blame for them being horrible? The WebExs and Live Meetings of the world. Because they are the ones serving up the demos.

So now we get right down to it. And the truth of the matter is that the platforms, themselves, are fine. And truly, not all that different from one another, in this day and age. A bell here. A whistle there. It all comes out in the wash. The real question is: How do we make software demos better? Or more specifically, how do we teach people to give a decent software demo? And better yet, where would they learn those skills? And on the converse, how do we learn to be better audiences for software demos?

And there, my friend, is where the WebEx folks and Adobe / Macromedia folks and Live Meeting folks are missing a huge opportunity. You see: The only way for those companies to truly show the brilliance of their technology is to teach people how to give compelling demos.

Why aren't the doing that?

If one of them could teach me to demo... If one of them could give me a resource to send to people who try to show me demos... If one of them could teach me to coax a better demo out of a presenter... Then we would be talking.

Why aren't these online meeting companies supporting a portal for learning how to demo software? Why aren't they calling in the best presenters to give tips and tricks? Why aren't they funding blogs like Presentation Zen that actually help people become better at presenting what they're trying to present? Why are they satisfied to shoulder all the blame and let all of their products take the heat? Why don't they get out in front of the problem and fix what's really broken?

That would be doing something for the customer. And, given that all of the technology is rapidly becoming exactly the same, that would set them apart.

So that's what a blog entry looks like. If you click that little comment link below, it will spawn a new window. Spawn? Oh, it means open. Anyway, that new window will allow you type a comment about this post. Just type your name... ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Technorati tags: WebEx, Livemeeting, Breeze, Demo

 

WebEx and Live Meeting absolved of guilt, charged as an accessory

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iLounge live-blogging the Apple launch

UPDATE: And here they are. The new iPod with video capability, and the new iMac G5 with built in camera. As always, tres pretty. And as always, I'm drooling.

If you can connect (which has been a little difficult due to a glut of traffic), iLounge is blogging the Apple media event (currently underway) as it happens.

An interesting application of blogging and real-time media. Even if you can't connect, live, it would be worth visiting to see what happened.

Technorati tags: iLounge, Apple, iPod, iMac, G5

 

iLounge live-blogging the Apple launch

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Technical difficulties (appear to be) resolved

I greatly appreciate your patience. Hopefully, everything is corrected now.

It's this kind of thing that makes me little leery of Web 2.0. What if, instead of useless drivel, that downtime was an application I needed to access?

Food for thought.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled cynicism.

 

Technical difficulties (appear to be) resolved

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Experiencing technical difficulties

Just a note that my host seems to be experiencing some difficulties with the server. Hopefully, it will be resolved soon.

 

Experiencing technical difficulties

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Flashback: Preparing for the future in October 1997

NOTE: As readers of hypocritical are aware, I tend to do a lot of digging through old files, electronic or otherwise. I've built up a great deal of content over the years, and some of it is rather interesting from a purely historical perspective.

Digging through some old files on one of my old machines, I came across this gem. The original composition date? October 1997. Eight years ago. The more things change, the more the stay the same. Are the difficulties facing blogs and RSS really that different from the early days of email and the Web?

For context, Diversity was a small marketing agency for which I worked. Needless to say, they didn't really "embrace" the direction I proposed.

Enjoy.


Obviously, in order to capture two more clients that are sizable and create the revenues to pursue existing and developing technology, we must devote time to marketing. However, this must be focused marketing. As a small shop, we wonít find profit by the ďshotgunĒ marketing approach. We can rely on ďword of mouthĒ business for our ďdo one job and get outĒ clients.

Now, we must dedicate both time and resources to researching potential targets and making a focused effort to acquire them as clients. Our targeting VND was a perfect example. We must dedicate that same sort of time and effort to several larger corporations. Granted, it hurts in the beginning, but it should pay off in the end. This will give us the financial resources necessary to support Diversity, as well as our combined one-year and three-year visions.

Second, we must possess marketable knowledge and resources. For a long time, Diversityís ďselling pointĒ has been sheer knowledge. Recently, a selling point has become our joining of knowledge and technology. We must begin to use the technology we currently possess. We must exploit its possibilities. Once weíve mastered what we currently possess, we must make a concerted effort to ďmove ahead.Ē

To this end, I have already begun using my position as Network Administrator to push the limits of this technology. One of my first ďstepsĒ here at Diversity was pushing the idea of using e-mail for internal communication. From that, the use of e-mail grew to incorporate the purchasing of Exchange Server and our own domain name. I think we would all agree, it would be difficult to ďgo backĒ or ignore the use of this technology now. It has simply become a vital means of our office dynamic and our client relations.

Now, Iím concentrating on using all of the ability we have gained with our recent purchase of NT and Office97. It is my hope that I can increase my own knowledge and teach others in the office the benefits of this technology.

I feel I must continue pushing the available technology, regardless of the people I have to drag kicking and screaming into the future. Why? Because I feel we are at a time, much like publishing found itself 10 to 15 years ago. (In 1983, ďdesktop publishingĒ was almost unheard of. Now, try to find a printer that concentrates on waxing and running PMTs. It just doesnít happen.)

Print media is about to make a jump again. Itís going to make a jump from static to active content. And, if Diversity is to continue ďcommunicatingĒ with these people, we must be willing to forego some of the bonds of safety found in our print world.

Iím not saying, ďprint is dead, letís move to electronic media.Ē I am saying, letís prepare Diversity for the revolution that is surely coming. We should be well prepared to make the leap, when we see the appropriate time to leap. Letís not push the cutting edge, but letís not fall behind the learning curve.

The most exciting part of this whole thing is: if we continue to keep pace with technology, weíll get to incorporate all the things we love about Diversity. Weíll get to do the creative, the video content, the audio content, and the copy. And, weíll get to put all of it together into one comprehensive deliverable. Granted it will be more of a challenge, but in the end, it will also be more rewarding. Whatís more important than all of that? It will keep Diversity a current a viable communications firm. We have to evolve and adapt to remain successful.

 

Flashback: Preparing for the future in October 1997

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October 11, 2005

My holiday card suggestion might not make the cut

As many of you in the corporate world know, the holidays come pretty early. Like right about now.

It's not even Halloween, yet, and we have to start thinking about the corporate holiday cards. Given that the spirit of the season has not even come close to beginning to warm the cockles of my cold, cold heart, it's a little difficult to get in a festive mood to pursue this effort.

But it must be done.

And who doesn't love the "find a compelling quote that's not offensive to anyone" technique of creating the perfect holiday greeting?

I revel in it. Hours and hours of combing through Bartleby, looking for that perfect passage. That small glimmer into such a beautiful vision of humanity that it causes the reader to weep, ever so slightly, upon reading it.

So after much turmoil and heartrending work. I have finally come across the combination of a heartfelt quote and an equally compelling salutation. And, in my not-so-humble opionion it may capture the essence of the holiday spirit as no other creation I have had the opportunity to... err... create.

How do I capture the spirit of the holiday season, so vividly yet so early in the year, you ask? It remains an enigma of my own making that staggers even me. And I tend to be pretty over impressed by myself on a regular basis.

Be forewarned, it may fill your heart with such joy that you'll start yearn to start your holiday shopping. (If it does, please feel free to leave this site and head directly to Amazon, where 5% of your purchases will come back to the person who shared such warmth.)

Now, I know this is good, but please be honest in your assessment. Tell me if this fills you with the joy of the season:

Exterior:
In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.
- Friedrich Nietzsche


Interior:
That's why I always tell you to go to hell.
Seasons Greetings!

 

My holiday card suggestion might not make the cut

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October 10, 2005

One of the many reasons I'll never use Monster to find a job

Melanie,

Thanks for your message. Although, I must admit, I'm at a bit of a loss. What portion of my , exactly, leads you to believe that I would be interested in a sales position with your company, or any company for that matter?

In fact, the more I consider this query, the more perplexed I become. Is it hot in here?

Had I known that more than 10 years of branding, marketing, and marketing communications experience was going to serve as the foundation for garnering a sales position, I would have never engaged in such foolhardy pursuit.

Although, I must admit, not having to take calls until after 9 AM does have a certain appeal.

Wow. I feel like a bit of a rube. What was I thinking? In fact, if you'll excuse me for a moment, I think I need to stop what I'm doing this instant, take a few moments, and seriously reconsider my career path. I'm feeling a bit disoriented. Do you hear a high-pitched whine?

Okay, I'm back.

Please advise as to what portion of my resume said "salesperson" to you, so I can correct this misnomer and save others from further confusion.

I'd appreciate any advice you can provide.

Thanks in advance,
Rick


--- Monster wrote:

>
>
> I saw your resume and have an opening on our sales
> team that you may be
> interested in. Annual first year average $40,000 to
> $85,000+ depending on
> performance.
>
> I'd like to learn more about your experience and
> answer any questions you
> may have about the position. I'd possibly like you
> to come in for an
> interview this week.
>
> Please call me after 9am at [site] to discuss
> scheduling an
> interview. You can check out the website at
> [site].
>
> Sincerely,
> Melanie
>

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One of the many reasons I'll never use Monster to find a job

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Let me sign up! I'll BETA test anything

UPDATE (October 14, 2005): I felt a little bad that I failed to list Seth Godin's Squidoo as I was rattling off the submitting-your-email-address-to-participate BETAs. Lucky for me, you can still sign up.

ORIGINAL POST

Is it just me or has the concept of the "pre-launch" replaced the concept of the launch? It seems that every other Web page or great idea about which I hear, lately, is accepting requests to be added to the "pre-launch group," that secret legion of people "in the know." Their sites taunting me with that oversized text box, longing for my email address.

Here comes with its thin come-hither san serif. Or , screaming at me in easy-reader type, daring me to submit my email. Or good old who suddenly makes me forget that I've already started blogging so I want to sign up. Or even the kids who are expert at this craft, getting me to sign into any text box they put on their site.

And that's just the start of it.

I mean, don't get me wrong. Let me sign up and I'll BETA test anything. Let me be part of that chosen few (million) who are alerted to the top-secret review site. I want to be part of the club. I want to be in the know.

I must sign up for 20 different products, a day. And I keep signing up. And crossing my fingers. Maybe they'll like me. Maybe they'll appreciate the email address I submitted. Maybe they'll recognize my name.

And then I start worrying. What happens if they all hit? I'll have to quit my job and stop blogging just to be a free BETA tester for all of the companies that want to give me the inside track on their new, world-changing products. I mean, these people are letting me into their secret layer. They're entrusting me with the keys to the kingdom. Hoping that I, Rick Turoczy, BETA-tester supreme and usability guru extraordinaire will deem their product worthy of my oh-so-qualified opinion. I can't let them down. I can't break their hearts. They're relying on me.

Once I've signed up, I've got skin in the game. There is not turning back. And, there simply aren't enough hours in the day.

But still, it never fails. It's like some strange addiction. Some temptation I cannot resist. Put a huge text box asking for my email address on your home (and only) page, and I'll sign up. No questions asked.

Why? Because I want to belong. Because I want to think I'm special. Because I want to feel like I know something that no one else knows. Because I want fodder for my blog... err... Because I want to make the world a better place.

It's no wonder the concept is so popular. It's a huge tug on the target-market ego strings.

And, like playing the lottery, it's got a certain amount of risk. Will I be chosen? What will I have to do? Will my feedback be critical to the success of this product? Will have I to log long hours documenting my success and failure with the soon-to-be-released product? Will I be expelled from the BETA pool for my counterproductive views? Will I finally, officially be recognized as one of the "cool kids"? Who knows?

I just want to be picked.

But do I ever get picked? Rarely. Why? Because I'm inferior. Or stupid. Or I used an email address from a provider that they hate. Or they recognize my name. Or something. At least, that's what the response (or lack thereof) leads me to believe. It's as if I've been taken again by some loosely concocted confidence scheme designed to bait me into paying attention to a soon-to-be-released product. I've become part of the press list. Part of the general populous. I'll know when everyone else knows. Woe is me.

But those few folks who do actually let me in? I'm hooked. Like or like Yahoo! Publisher Network. They let me into their testing grounds. And look! They're getting a mention at the very, very end of my blog, where most of my ever-so-faithful readers will never see it because they've stopped reading long ago, fell asleep, or have started bouncing around the Web signing up for their own BETA testing experiences. Lucky, those folks are who let me into their lair. Lucky and reaping untold rewards, no doubt.

So, keep it up, you hard-at-work Web 2.0 types with your AJAX-y goodness waiting behind those closed doors the inside of which I'll never glimpse or partake. Keep taunting me. Keep extending my suffering.

I can't resist your text-box-and-submit-button sweetness. I'll keep signing up and waiting patiently by my keyboard for the email to arrive, another lowly data point for your pre-launch numbers game.


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Let me sign up! I'll BETA test anything

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October 09, 2005

Google will know what this headline should be

UPDATE (October 10, 2005): Apparently, I wasn't the only one feeling this way, this past week. Unfortunately, I think this may be a wee bit optimistic in terms of how long it's going to take to get there. (I got the Orwellian reference. I'm not that dense.) Given the leaps Google has been able to make in the past 7 years, this functionality is due sooner than even 2014. Then my advertising dollars are really going to go to work.


ORIGINAL POST

Maybe it was the launch the Google Reader. Maybe it was one too many late night viewings of EPIC 2014. Maybe it was my guilt about not having finished The Search. Whatever it was, I started to think about Google. And think. And think. And I spiraled a bit.

It was kind of like that time I started thinking about all the radiation I absorb on any given day. You know what I mean? I mean there's the sun and radio and TV and cellular and my computer screen and my microwave and my baby monitor and airport x-ray machines and my Bluetooth and my keycard and probably some radioactive isotopes under my house. And who knows what else? All I know is that that's just me. It doesn't even take into account the radioactive jet wash through which I'm walking on a daily basis.

No wonder my blog entries are so disjointed.

Alas, I've slid a bit off topic. But not really. You see, what I'm interested in pursuing in this little entry has to do with radiation, as well. Only this time, I'm talking about the radiation I emit. I'm talking about my clickpaths and usage tracks within the world of Google.

Join me, won't you? It's an average day. I roll out of bed, get ready, roll to work, and plug in. Hello, Google. I begin to radiate:

And that's just me. (And I'm not an especially heavy Google user. I mean, I'm not addicted. I'm more like a Google "party smoker.")

And that's not even mentioning the people who find or interact with me or my name via a Google entity.

Click, click, click.

Our little databases over at Do No Evil, Inc. are gathering a rather detailed portrait of me as a user, from my news tastes, to my RSS feeds, to my email, to who is seeking me, to my blog. And it's not only the things I click. It's the things I don't click. They have both sides. On blogs, especially, they have me coming and going: what I publish and what I read.

And the marketer in me is drooling at the potential of that information. Literally. Even in aggregate the potential of that data is pretty phenomenal. Don't even get me started on individual use patterns.

But the user in me is sweating, just thinking about how many data points Google consumes on any given day.

I'm torn. I mean, I'm like that annoying Mr. Mini Wheat character. (NOTE: I would have linked you to the Kellogg's site, but the whole thing is such a useless piece of marketing drivel that I spared you the time.)

Now, I'm not that intimidated, because the algorithm to comb through my mess of clickpaths and various tools to deliver any truly leading data would be pretty complex. And I'm not really all that convinced that anyone wants to pay that much to develop something of that nature that would allow them to market directly to me.

But somebody might. And if anyone is amassing the brainpower to figure it out, it's that group of kids down there in the Valley.

And one part of me is looking forward to that day. When they've acquired a few more major entities, broadcast networks, and what have you. I'm waiting. Waiting for the day when the ads are actually targeted specifically to me. When the last thing I clicked provides a data point for the next thing I will click. When Google knows more about me and my behavior than even I recognize.

And maybe when they serve up those ads I will buy. And I will be happy. At least -- if they do it correctly -- I won't ever have to see that smug schizophrenic cereal pitchman, Mr. Mini Wheat, ever again.

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Google will know what this headline should be

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Flashback: Manufacturing synchronicity

NOTE: I was digging through some of the "drafts" I have sitting in my blog folder. Some of them are half-baked ideas (like this one); some of them are just snippets or links. Given that the draft folder is currently much larger than the publish folder, I'm going to start releasing some of these for consumption, warts and all.

This piece was originally written to be the "foundation post" for hypocritical. It is based on a "manufacturing synchronicity" speech I use to give every week or two. It also regularly appeared as an appendix entry for practically every marketing communications plan I wrote, until I got tired of people ignoring it. Enjoy.


Let me start here by laying a little groundwork. This is how I tend to think. But I will desperately try to prevent myself from subjecting you to this type of obfuscation on a regular basis. I don't really talk like the following passage. But I do think this way. And away we go...

The simplest definition of marketing communications is any communications effort designed to gain recognition in the target market. A variety of vehicles are available to provide this influence (advertisements, collateral, direct contact, Web site). And, repeated communications is the only means of solidifying a message in the recipient's mind.

Therefore, the key to succeeding with any cost-effective marketing communications plan -- especially for a company with little to no name recognition -- is trying to manufacture a feeling of synchronicity in the recipient. This is done by timing multiple projects for simultaneous, or nearly simultaneous, consumption by the target market. Which, in turn, allows the user to make the connection among the pieces, magnifying the perception and recollection of the organization. And maybe just maybe, helping us get the message across.

It's the "let them make the connection approach."

Intelligent marketing forces organizations to develop an underlying strategy for its efforts, ensuring that each marketing communications activity is supporting another. And, most importantly, that these efforts should look to leverage synchronicity to increase the value of each campaign. As an immediate solution for attracting suspects and transforming them into leads, organizations should use a variety of marketing communications vehicles to create a perceived connection in the recipient's mind, leveraging the most cost-effective pieces with the widest reach.

There are two ways to establish this recognition through repetition:

1) Use the same medium, the same way, consistently over time, connecting your company with a set of repeated messages. For example, run the same ad 5 times in the same publication in the same location

2) Touch the recipient with a variety of media within close succession, and let them make the connection

Since the value of any marketing communications activity increases exponentially when teamed with other pieces and the proper management of timelines and pieces can effect a feeling of synchronicity in the a recipient's mind or a company's collective intelligence, smaller companies and companies with limited budgets should strive to synchronize the end user's interaction with a variety of media as the most cost effective means of gaining mind share.

For marketing efforts to succeed, every marketing communications effort should be used as a means of supporting at least one other marketing communications effort. One-off efforts should be rejected as they can be severely detrimental to the value of the program and will decrease the return on marketing communications overall.

So, extremely long story short, no marketing communication activity will ever be successful in a vacuum as a one-off. Every marketing communication activity must be supported by a variety of other activities that enhance the perception of the main activity.

That's where this blog will be focused. Only, I won't be such a stuffed shirt about it. This was just to give you the high falutin' foundation. Disagree? Let me know. And please, try to find it in your heart to return.

 

Flashback: Manufacturing synchronicity

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October 08, 2005

Hypocritical doesn't really, really matter

Good news! While as blog may kind of matter. It may even really matter. It doesn't, and I quote, "really really matter." Nor is it likely ever to really really matter.

(As an aside, is this really the Ask Jeeves PowerPoint template? Oy. So many things become clear when you review someone's PowerPoint template. Truly a window into the company's soul. An ill-received butler is the least of their worries.)

Well, it wasn't likely to really really matter, until I created 50 accounts, so that I could subscribe to my hypocritical feed. Because, apparently, the only thing that gives a blog any particular worth is the sheer number of individuals who subscribe to it. Or, in my case, the grossly exaggerated perception of how many individuals subscribe to it. Not the quality of that subscriber base, Rubel, you silly goose.

Now? Now hypocritical really really matters. And now that it does, please feel free to partake in its really really important marketing fluff, random tantrums, and chewy nougat goodness.

 

Hypocritical doesn't really, really matter

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October 07, 2005

37signals & Google: A Tale of Two Launches

This week, the microcosm that is the Web world was treated to two much-hyped product launches by two of its brand darlings. One at the beginning of the week; one at the end.

"Why do we care?" you ask. "Products launch every day. I thought this was a marketing blog?"

Good googly woogly. Give me a minute.

Why should you care about a product launch? Because itís one of the most tangible representations of your brand. Every product you put into the marketplace influences your brand perception. And if you put a dud into the market, that tarnishes your image. If you actually hit the mark, your brand gains ground.

Better? Or are you still bored with my choice of topic? Look, I need to cash in on the Web 2.0 stuff, just like everybody else. So bear with me. And when gets the chance to sell out (fiscally, I mean; I sold out artistically ages ago, silly goose), Iíll make sure you get a little something special.

So where was I? Oh yes, the grassroots media darlings and their product launches.

Neither launch was terribly groundbreaking in terms of functionality. Neither was really a market-leading foray into new territory. Neither of them cost anything to use. Neither of them were advertised or promoted beyond some word of mouth, with the right words in the right mouths.

(Not to be completely derogatory. There were aspects of both launches that embraced the evolving tenants of Web-application development. And there were some thought-provoking bells & whistles to each. Don't get me wrong. This was not a non-event.)

One was put out by a scrappy small company. One was put out by a well-funded technical braintrust. One hit the mark. One was a dud. And you donít have to have an RSS reader wet-wired into your brain to know where Iím going. Iím talking about (winner) and Google Reader (loser).

Iím not going to review the products (please note: shirking another task). There are plenty of review out there much better than I could write. There are probably tons for Writeboard and soon there will be literally tons for Google Reader. No, Iím going skip the reviews. Instead, Iím going to focus somewhere a level or two down. Somewhere where it gets really interesting. Just beneath the surface. Just under that veneer that is the launch hype.

And, no, itís not about the pervading view that Google continues to reinforce, the "they still donít get it" reputation in the world of RSS. purchase, good start. Keeping a proprietary format like ATOM, well okay. Not making itís news accessible as RSS until long after others had, whoa getting a little slippery. Releasing a feed reader that doesnít really bring anything new to the table buy Googleís brand... You get my point.

No, Iím going to focus on the motivations for the development of these products. Or at least, what I perceived were the motivations for the products. And interestingly enough, youíll see that the successful product focused on your needs, Billy, and your needs, Jane. While the one that fell short focused primarily on the needs of the company that created it.

Was 37signals under the gun to develop a collaborative editing tool? No. Was Google under the gun to develop a feed reader? Not by the market.

So why do it? Why spend the cycles? Well, I have some theories.

For 37signals, they seem focused on the customer first and their own needs second. From my vantage, it appears that they were generally trying to solve two problems: 1) How could they use the influence of their brand and their "less is less" skills to make the copy-side of the creative process a little more bearable, just as they had done for project management, with (customer oriented), and 2) How could they drive more use of their product (37signals oriented).

The Google effort, on the other hand appears to be the converse. Google Reader solves Googleís problem first; the customerís problem second. From my perspective, Google Reader tries to solve the following problems: 1) How can Google continue to create keyword-rich content pages that provide millions of more pages for Google AdWords ad placement (Google oriented), and 2) How can they leverage their brand influence and reach to make RSS feeds a little easier with which to deal (customer focused).

In the end, 37signals delivered something that improved upon a concept and solved a need. Google, at least at this writing, didnít. And the market, subconsciously or not, understood. And because of that, Writeboard was heralded as another work of genius. Google Reader was sidelined as an also-ran, Johnny-come-lately. Which is a wee bit sad, given that, for so long, Googleís brand has been associated with, first and foremost, solving problems.

Which brings me to the point at which I take a few puffs from my pipe and cast a cocked eyebrow to the audience. You see, kids. All the money in the world and all the power of brand? It doesnít matter if you put the customer second. Because when it comes right down to it, thatís where your brand lives: with the customer. And all the money in the world, all the development resources in the Valley, wonít change that.

What do you think? Is Google rushing customer-oriented product to market? Does 37signals have some secret ploy to control all media by controlling the creatives creating the content? Iíd love to hear what you have to say. Comment away.

 

37signals & Google: A Tale of Two Launches

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Google releases Google Reader for RSS feeds

Google Reader for RSS feeds
I just caught wind that Google had released a feed reader. So, I tried to connect and tried to connect. Here's what Google Reader looks like for the most part.

More news if I am ever able to get it to work.

How does this change the landscape? Is Google a little late to the party or were they just waiting for the technology to prove itself? Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.


Okay, here it is.
Google Reader for RSS feeds

 

Google releases Google Reader for RSS feeds

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Yahoo! searches for RSS understanding, releases findings

Quick note with more analysis later. If I don't shirk it, that is.

Yahoo! has released a report on RSS awareness.

First blush? Steve Rubel provides a little insight. Me, not so much. What else is new? Quite frankly, I'd like to see a similar survey on what people know about public relations and the wire services that support that function. I think you'd find the understanding of that workflow equally shallow. As I've said before, it's all the same. (See "An Immodest Proposal: Where blogging and RSS are headed (or everything old is new again)")

 

Yahoo! searches for RSS understanding, releases findings

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October 06, 2005

Shirking the Edelman and Technorati blogger survey analysis

UPDATE (October 8, 2005): For those of you still following this one, Phil Gomes has released some more analysis, based on the raw data.

UPDATE (October 7, 2005): Wow. For a much more salient, intelligent, and engaging treatment of the questionable nature of the Edelman and Technorati survey and any analysis derived from it, I highly suggest you read Constantin Bastureaís posting on the topic. Stop reading this. Go there. Now.

ORIGINAL POST

So thereís a great deal of analysis swarming around the Edelman and Technorati blogger survey I posted earlier this week.

Now, Iím the first to admit: Iím not a statistical wiz. But hereís the one thing that sticks in my craw about this survey and any derivative analysis thereof: 821. Thatís eight hundred twenty one survey responses. 821. And you can round it to 820 for all I care, because my responses are no better than any of the things I write here.

820 bloggers.

In fact, there are, no doubt, a small army of folks like me, who when approached with a survey begin bouncing and chattering excitedly like a cage full of howler monkeys, thinking that someone, anyone, is actually interested in their opinion. Is our opinion valid? No probably not. I may have just answered the survey to get the results. Who knows?

So letís cut all those folks. Letís say that there are about 20 people in addition to me who were completely useless respondents.

800 bloggers.

Now, letís account for the bold faced liars, the wannabe influencers, and those people who take the Cosmopolitan personality quizzes with the intention of getting the answer they want. Thatís about 50 people.

750 bloggers.

Okay, thatís enough cutting of the survey respondents. Why? Because I said so. I could whittle it down to about 25 without even trying, so letís move on.

How does that number stack up against the number of active bloggers out there in the world of blogging? Technorati, one of the survey sponsors, claims to be tracking upwards of 18.9 million blogs. 18 million. I heard something the other day along the order of 80,000 blogs created per day. Thatís eighty thousand, kids.

For a point of reference, Iím currently tracking about 350 very active bloggers in my Bloglines account. So, roughly half of our survey responses could be people I read. Hmmm. Alas, I digress.

Now, granted, a huge chunk of those exponential blog numbers are the spammers gumming up services like Blogger and Technorati. Iíll give you that. So letís cut the Technorati real number to, oh, say 9 million. Cut it in half, right off the top.

9 million. Nine with six zeros. Got it?

Now, letís all look deep inside ourselves and ask, ďAm I really a serious blogger?Ē, ďDo I blog as often as I should?Ē, ďDo people remember that I wore this shirt on Monday?Ē, ďAm I an active blogger?Ē

You, you, and you. Liars. Get out. You and you. You like to think youíre active, but once a month does not mean active. The rest of you, Iím willing to take at your word. Especially those of you who said, ďNo.Ē

So letís cut it to a third.

3 million bloggers.

Hmm. 750 respondents divided by 3 million potential respondents. Thatís about 0.025% of active bloggers who actually felt like wasting the time to respond to the call to provide feedback. That is, they didnít have anything better to do when the request arrived. Or they had bloggersí block. Or something. Whatever the case, I donít think that cuts it. In fact, I think it misses by a factor of 4.

So I had planned to do some analysis. But Iíve got nothing. Nothing with which to work, I mean. Itís obvious that I can talk for hours about nothing. Itís not the nothing thatís stopping me.

The best take Iíve seen on trying to extract something relevant out of this data is Phil Gomes swag on so-called ďauthority bloggers.Ē And Steve Rubel has a good take on what would be more helpful, using the results as a launching point.

Long story short: Itís not statistically relevant. And thereís only one thing worse than poorly analyzed statistics. No, itís not my writing style, gentle reader. Itís statistically irrelevant data being proffered as evidence.

What we got, was a hook for a press release and a way for generating buzz. But we didnít really get any good data. So toss it.

Think Iím wrong? 24.7% of the readers I surveyed generally do.

 

Shirking the Edelman and Technorati blogger survey analysis

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October 05, 2005

Partnering affects our brands too?

Back in the day. A long, long time ago. A time we use to refer to as the "dotcom" boom (although I now realize that I should refer to that time as Web 1.0, since that Web 2.0 talk is all the rage with the hip kids these days). Back then, we had a (horrible) theory: Partner with as many fabricated companies as you can and the folks on the street will think youíre worth more money.

Everyone was doing it. Partner partner partner. Similar business? Didnít matter. Partner partner partner. Figure out the details later. Channel management? Excuse me? We didnít have anything to sell, so there was nothing for the channel to do. A cleaner partnering strategy was hard to find.

Letís tell everyone weíre friends, we seemed to say, and then maybe everyone will like us more. And once weíre popular, weíll both get rich on the money they throw at us for thought-provoking ideas.

It all seemed like a such a strong house of cards until, finally, someone realized that it wasnít the quantity of partnerships you were able to acquire, it was really the quality of partnerships you were able to acquire.

Shocking, I realize.

To put it a different way: Partnering is as critical to supporting your brand as your logo or your positioning. Your partner strategy had better support your overall brand.

Does the partnership strengthen your brand or weaken it? Does the partner further your position or take energy away from you? Does the partnership make sense to the uninitiated? If not, can you make it make sense in less than 30 seconds?

Silly me, I thought everyone had figured that out. So, imagine my surprise when everyoneís media darling, Google, pulled an old-school partnering move with Sun, this week.

Oh sure, prior to the announcement, we were all a twitter. Was it going to be the Microsoft Office killer? Was it going to be the expansion of the Google desktop. Was there a merger? Rumors were swirling. And it was fun. Just like the dotcom days.

Whatís more it was great for Sun and Google. Was Sun finally being proactive? Was Google making a move to become more of a presence on the desktop. Our imaginations raced with the possibilities. And, in so racing, we spun up the respective brands in our mind. Bravo. Forward thinking. Taking on a challenger. Those young kids plus those crotchety Java-types really could have something.

But, then, you know what? Dotcom partnership. Java all over again. Ah, write once run nowhere, how my brain numbs at thee.

And unfortunately for everyoneís favorite darling, it was a hit. And when I say hit, I donít mean in the positive sense. I mean a hit as in a blow to the ego. Or more correctly, a blow to the brand.

You see, up until this point, old "do no evil" was a rock-solid, could-do-no-wrong brand. Everybody was all googly-eyed at every mention of, err, Google. People liked them. People wanted to hear about them. People wanted to revel in their winning. Revel in those smart kids making good and raking in billions of dollars.

So when we heard Sun, we all kind of virtually looked at one another. Gave each other reassuring glances. Google doesnít do anything small, we let one another know. This deal is really going to put them on the map. But Sun? Whine-about-the-guys-who-are-taking-our-lunch-money Sun? No worries. Itís the Google Office, Iím sure of it. Itís the Microsoft killer.

No dice.

And that, that dud, blew a small hole in Googleís armor. Not a Titanic-iceberg kind of hole, but a hole, nonetheless. It took some magic out of the Google brand, took some wind out of the collective sales. And, had it not been for all the Web 2.0 hype, this week, may have very well caused even more damage than anyone could have imagined.

Now, Iíll kind of have to second guess Google. And that makes me a little bit sad. (Especially because I'm in the midst of reading The Search by John Battelle. The saving grace here? He doesn't seem to see the magic either.) It's not that they're not allowed to make mistakes. Itís that I donít really want to know about it. And I donít want those mistakes to be the public kind of non-news hypefests that they were, this week.

Thatís not Google. Or should I say that wasnít Google. Now, unfortunately, we always have to assume that it is.

Were you caught up in the Google Sun hype? Has it changed your opinion of either organization? Are you super excited about the Java Google toolbar combo? Iíd love to hear what you think, so please comment away. Or just sit there and wallow in it like I am, Mudville. Mighty Casey struck out.

 

Partnering affects our brands too?

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AOL buys Weblogs Inc

Another interesting breaking news story. (Apparently, we're all hungry for news after being let down by the announcement.)

It seems only appropriate that Rafat Ali at (formerly of The Silicon Alley Reporter) has broken another big story. This time, it's about his former colleague, Jason Calacanis.

Get this: AOL is buying Weblogs Inc. Sure it's for an unreported sum. But, it's big news, nonetheless.

You can read about it at:

 

AOL buys Weblogs Inc

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Edelman and Technorati blogger study

The results of the and blogger study are now available, rife with purty pie charts and speedometers. Enjoy.

More analysis after a I get a chance to consume the content. I just wanted to get it out there for you to view.

NOTE: Technorati contacted tens of thousands of active bloggers via email, blog posts and the networks of discussion and links those posts generated. The survey generated 821 responses during the week of September 26, 2005.

 

Edelman and Technorati blogger study

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Sharing the folklore: Starbucks tribal knowledge

If you haven't visited Brand Autopsy lately, I'll refrain from criticizing you and politely ask that you take a few moments of your oh-so-precious time and head over there. It's not like I haven't asked you to stop by to visit them once or twice before. Is it really so far out of your way?

I know, I know. You have your high-powered job and the kids and the soccer practice. But really. You're not hurting anyone except yourself.

Anyway, there's a great series of articles on Starbucks Tribal Knowledge. You know, that stuff that kind of gets passed from peer to peer, person to person? What? That doesn't happen in your organization? Even more reason to stop by.

Okay, okay. The use of the word "" makes me a little squeamish, too. Just try to read past it.

I think it's interesting and informative. A thought provoking series, to be sure. And we all know what a fine judge of content I tend to be. Stop by anyway, hunh? Please, snookums?

 

Sharing the folklore: Starbucks tribal knowledge

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October 03, 2005

Web 2.0: The best kept secret in blogging

Update (October 11, 2005): It's official. Web 2.0 has now reached an ouroboros state. Apparently, "networks of bloggers" like 9rules and b5 weren't Web 2.0 enough, so now we have a network of bloggers dedicated to writing about Web 2.0.

Update (October 11, 2005): The inimitable Kathy Sierra reminds us that maybe all this amorphous Web 2.0 stuff isn't such a bad thing after all. I'm almost convinced. And I like how many times she manages to say "Web 2.0."

Update (October 4, 2005): Kudos (Yes, I said "kudos." Like you've never said kudos?) to Mike Rundle for picking up the slack by posting this Web 2.0 round-up. Why can't you be more like, Mike? Or better yet, be Mike 2.0? I may need to create a laundry list of those keeping up the good fight, shining a little light on the little-mentioned world of Web 2.0.

Update (October 4, 2005): I've just learned that Rick Segal (no relation) is mounting a counteractive strike, dissuading people from using the term "Web 2.0." Our time is at hand. We must redouble our efforts to make sure the meek voice of Web 2.0 is heard!

Original post

My heart is heavy. Heavy, for I pine to hear (read) those sweet words. Those magical words: Web 2.0. Ah! The best kept secret in blogging.

Won't someone please at least mention Web 2.0?

I mean, seriously. You'd think that no one had ever heard of the concept. You'd think that someone would use the words in their blog entry. Someone would decide to define their application as "Web 2.0." Maybe even someone would try to get a bit of a following and launch an event around it for heaven's sake.

C'mon people. Someone start talking about it.

I ran a search on "Web 2.0" earlier today and it only came up with 7,000-some-odd blog entries. Is that all, I say? I just ran it again, a mere 4 hours later and it's only increased to 12,466. Who knows where it will be by the time you click this: . All I know, is it won't be enough.

Please. You call yourself a blogger? Where's your Web 2.0 entry this week? How many Web 2.0 entries have you written, this month? That's what I thought, you charlatan. You should hang your head in shame. Tsk tsk tsk.

Unless I read Web 2.0 in every single one of the blogs to which I subscribe, I'll be severely disappointed. Get to writing people! What are your thoughts on Web 2.0? What have you developed that's Web 2.0? Where will you be when Web 2.0 comes to fruition? How do you pronounce it? Web two dot OH or web TWO dot oh? All important questions, to be sure.

What did Web 2.0 ever do to you?

Doesn't anyone want to talk about this concept? I mean, it seems to have a lot of power right? The 2.0 of any product is super good. Remember Internet Explorer 2.0? Whoof. Nice stuff there. Or what about AOL 2.0? Gold, baby. Pure gold. Or maybe even the Apple II. Hot. White hot.

I think that's why I'm so excited about Web 2.0 and and all that. I just wish someone in the world of blogging--besides me--would take the time to give it some press. Who didn't truly begin to live with Web 0.9, Web 1.0, Web 1.5, Web 1.7 Service Pack 3? Don't tell me that you haven't been waiting with breathless anticipation for Web 2.0? (If you say you haven't, you're a bold-faced liar.)

I'm not above begging. Or maybe even paying folks to write about it. As anyone can see, it needs much more hype and attention than it has received. But, you know me, I can never get enough of any . ? Blocking and tackling? Oh, I do so love them all.

Won't you, please, do your part to contribute to the hype? Pretty please? Follow Josh Hallett's example and move beyond Web 2.0 if you like, but by all means, please mention Web 2.0. It's really the lynchpin of society as we know it.

Are you still here? Get to writing. Web 2.0 needs your attention.

Technorati tags: Web2.0, Web2, Web20, web20workgroup

 

Web 2.0: The best kept secret in blogging

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