RE: Blogger Sees Red Over StarTribune’s Lack of Citation

As if I didn’t have enough reasons to grumble at the STrib – a reporter doesn’t credit their sources. Coincidentally, on a story covering questionable ethics.

“Come on, Jackie. You called me about this on Thursday afternoon. We discussed the story, I pointed you to sources where you could find more info, including the email of one of the sources you quote. You told me you’d mention The Deets in the article.”- Ed Kohler

BTW – Ed’s story hit my radar first.

ELSEWHERE:
The Wege hauls everyone back to their own corner:

“Just to be clear, the Strib clearly screwed over Ed Kohler at The Deets, and he has every right to complain. My issue is with the piling on. Bloggers steal. Period. I try to attribute but I also have a two and out rule: anytime I give credit to a blog twice in one day, I’m entitled to steal any other links I like from them without giving credit. Others have different rules, but hardly anyone gives credit for EVERY link every day. If nothing else you don’t plug Atrios because you chose to read his take on today’s Krugman before going to the NYTimes and reading it for yourself.” – The Wege

Podcast Advertising Not Working for Me

1. The (second) battery in my 3G iPod is dying and I want to buy a replacement. A while back, an iPod battery replacement company was running ads at Dave Slusher’s Evil Genius Chronicles. But that’s all I remember.

At the time the ads were running, I didn’t need an iPod battery. Now I do and can’t find the name of the vendor by searching Dave’s site. Am I going to arbitrarily re-listen to the archive of clambakes just for that one bit of info? No, I’ll probaby buy from whoever’s selling them on Amazon.

Extend this to dynamic-insertion technologies (not that Dave uses them) and even if I found the epsisode, and re-listened, the same ad may or may not be there. Unhelpful.

2. Limelight Networks has been a long-time supporter of ITConversations (or whatever they call themselves today). Yesterday, I received an unqualified, unwanted, and frankly spam message from Khoi Nguyen, Limelight’s Biz Dev Manager, it included phrases like:

“My main objective is to gain a better understanding of how you are currently delivering your content out to your end-users while discovering a solution that will help to improve delivery while reducing your cost.”

“So your users are happy and they will marvel at the speed of your media. Your videos will start in ‘real time’ so it is truly a media grade experience.”

I’m not the right person for this message, and if I was, I don’t want to be talked to like that. In fact, after reading Nugeyn’s message, if I have bandwidth issues, I’m more likely to call up Swarmcast than Limelight.

UPDATE:
Dave says it’s iPodJuice and the last clambake they sponsored was Mar 6, 2006 – 17 months ago.

There’s a interesting marketing strategy conversation in there. Feel free to explore it in the comments. Thanks.

UPDATE 26 Nov
Just placed the order for the new battery from ipodjuice.

Unsocial Networks

The Head Lemur digs into Ning’s terms of service (similar to Flickr’s and YouTube’s, et. al) highlighting the problem: in exchange for free services “members” grant rights to their stuff to promote the “network”.

“None of these sites are created for the people. These are, to the last picture, file, and pixel solely created as businesses to make money for the plantation owners….People flock to these things like the little kid in the room shoveling horseshit, and exclaiming, “There HAS to be a PONY Here!!”

Sorry boys and girls, No Pony.
It is just another room filled with shit. They place ads around your stuff, and deliver eyeballs to advertisers in the electronic version of valpack coupons and junk mail.” – The Head Lemur

I don’t think it’s a fair trade either – it assumes that my stuff isn’t valuable in it’s own right unless it’s wrapped in AdSense. I wonder what one of these “social networks” would look like that places a higher value on their members’ stuff than on monetization.

Initial thoughts:

  • Members pay a non-trivial amount for access
  • Members can import, remove, and export all of their stuff easily
  • Members can kill their account easily – say, by not paying
  • The network considers members’ stuff private and won’t use it for self-promotion

From that list, I’m thinking BaseCamp or Joyent Connector are the closest things we’ve got.

ELSEWHERE:
Mike @ TechDirt says:

“Peer production only works when it creates value for the ‘peers’ involved. When you increase value in one place, there will always be somewhere else where that value can be captured monetarily….The mistake is thinking that just because peer production doesn’t involve direct payments that the overall value isn’t increased and that there isn’t a way to later capture that value monetarily.”

Yes, but, AdSense (and advertising in general) is an admission that the value is misunderstood.

Measuring What You Can’t Automate

“[I] think how much better it would be if we could just measure how much people care.” – Dave Slusher

Like Dave, I don’t understand the fascination with measuring downloads. Well, I take that back – I understand it for producers trying to woo advertisers. I don’t understand why advertisers would want to base their ad buy on download stats. Downloads don’t equal listeners, fans, or impressions.

Requests for downloads are not full downloads.
Full downloads are not plays.
Plays are not listens.
Listens are not engaged.
Engaged are not customers.

And as Dave points out, download requests can be automated.

Kris Smith’s CastLock application provides unique feed urls and could be spun out to deliver a custom, complimentary ad (or other) message to individual subscribers – based on some measure of engagement (i.e. some bastardized quantification of caring).

As early-stage as it is, it still provides more useful metrics than download stats. Mapping individual listeners to customer purchases still needs some work, but the gap would be shorter.

The real question is – what’s the Effort/Engagement ratio of a publication like a podcast or weblog. I’m glad you’re reading this, and I’m glad you know who I am. That’s return enough for me.

ELSEWHERE:

“Any website that attempts to improve time spent on every page (or pageviews for that matter) is just wasting time. What matters is intent. Permission. Action. Retention. Likelihood that ideas get spread. Clickthroughs.” – Seth Godin

When Not To Do a Holiday Logo for Your Software

Earlier this week, graphic designers everywhere swapped out regular logos for Halloween-themed ones. Google, MacUpdate are just two I bumped into within my browser.

Outside of my browser – TextMate – also changed it’s normally non-descript logo earlier this week to a glowing jack-o-lantern.

The difference is huge.

Each day, I ignore Google’s logo microseconds at a time. It’s out of the way and I’ve been trained to use their page layout and CSS to identify ‘Google’. Same, but to a much lesser degree, goes for MacUpate. Web services can mummify their logos, because they’re like name tags at a conference. Nice to have, but after a while – completely useless.

Changing the logo on my paid-for, always-on, desktop software impacts my productivity. It actually slows me down by requiring me to think longer about what I’m doing rather than just do it.

Questions I’ve asked since TextMate changed their logo:

  1. Is TextMate open?
  2. Where is TextMate?
  3. What’s this pumpkin application?
  4. Where is TextMate?
  5. When will the icon revert?
  6. Why hasn’t the icon reverted yet?
  7. Man, this is annoying.
  8. What was I doing?

All of these questions take attention from what I’m doing, and put it on TextMate. I’m on the Mac to eliminate applications begging for my attention. Speaking of Apple, if you’ll recall, iTunes has tweaked their icons nearly with each new version – the extent of this change: a different color musical note.

Update 2 Nov 2006: [REVISION 1324] made it all better. Thanks TextMate.

Fast Forwarding Through the Funny Parts

“What’s the value of that laugh to someone selling something associated with that laugh?” – Ron Bloom

I’m all for commercial messages in podcasts. I’m all for companies using podcasts as part of their ongoing marketing efforts. Done right – along the lines of what Whirlpool is doing – it’s a great way to reach customers with more on their mind than you. Directly. More deeply than any other medium allows – aside from living with a product.

When it’s expensive to publish (traditional media) marketers have to fight for column inches with real news… or at least the society pages. In the mind of the reader, the advertisements are noise and the column inches are signal. For the marketer – it’s flipped.

Today, it’s cheap to publish. For pennies a bit you’re reading this now. There’s no reason for editorial and advertisement to be delivered in the same package. Delivery is cheap, time is expensive. When I want commercial messages I’ll ask for them. When I don’t – get out of my way.

How many times have you gone to a website hoping for a specific banner ad to be there so you could click through?

Right, you’d just go to the marketer’s site. Directly. Duh.

Chances are someone in your organization is podcasting in their off-hours – might even be a customer.

  1. Find them.
  2. Pay them to produce your company’s podcast.

This is smarter than advertising on an existing podcast for three reasons;

  1. If your product isn’t interesting enough to talk about for 20 minutes why are you selling it?
  2. Your customers are not the same as anyone else’s.
  3. Everyone has a fast forward button.

Thanks to Dave Winer for the pointer to the Business Week podcast. If you listen to it, I recommend Mark Ramsey’s conversation with Douglas Ruskoff as a chaser.

The Second Lesson From Las Vegas

Sam and I checked out the grand opening of the Shoppes at Woodbury Lakes last week. Yes, it is a Shoppes at Arbor Lakes for the east Metro. Same developer.

A couple years back, I did a deep dive into urban planning books and one of the texts Lewis Dijkstra recommended was Robert Venturi’s Learning from Las Vegas.

The biggest thing I remember from the book; giant signs, visible from miles away, indicating giant parking lot moats around the building they’re marking.

At Woodbury Lakes (and all other modern shopping lifestyle centers), the exteriors of the buildings are somewhat different and fake. Fake windows on the fake second story. Fake brick veneer on fake pillars. Yet the interiors are identical. Just like in Vegas – the exterior of the casinos fights to be more unique, more interesting and more attractive than the next. Once inside, each casino is an identical warehouse (in a post modern twist Turtle Lake’s St. Croix Casino looks like a warehouse from the outside).

But then again, how else do you go from a vacant lot to bustling shopping village in fewer than 11 months?

I don’t remember if the the different-on-the-outside/same-in-the-inside lesson was in Venturi’s classic book. Should be.

How Not To Hire Someone

A while back, Fast Company published Keith Hammonds’ Why We Hate HR. Like myself, I’m sure you have some remarkable ‘Everything was going great, then HR…’ stories. Whether it’s ridiculous, time-wasting hoops (asking candidates to complete an application even though you have their resume) or just not doing a simple Google search on a candidate (Microsoft Recruits Eric S. Raymond). Both of these examples betray a dysfunctional disconnection between HR and the rest of the organization.

This excerpt from the letter ESR posted exemplifies HR arrogance (emphasis mine):

“Your name and contact info was brought to my attention as someone who could potentially be a contributor at Microsoft. I would love an opportunity to speak with you in detail about your interest in a career at Microsoft, along with your experience, background and qualifications.”

If this was a cover letter, the candidate wouldn’t have a chance. A complete boilerplate message without any thought or tangible specifics as to why it was sent. Yet, not only is the recruiter unfamiliar with candidate’s qualifications and background (otherwise this letter would not have been sent), they take for granted that the candidate wants to work at Microsoft. Plus, it’s exactly opposite how Google is recruiting.

With company benefits continually cut, employees having to supplement employer-based health insurance, and staff directories as fluid as football rosters, this assumption can’t be made.

Until organizations can again provide the stability and security they once promised, it’s a seller’s market or a Free Agent Nation as Dan Pink calls it.

Here’s an example of a low-risk, mutually-respectful hiring process

  1. Ask existing employees who they’d like to work with
  2. Do Google search for those people, make sure they have a presence online. Read their blog’s archives.
  3. If it looks good, bring these people in for a couple of smaller contract projects or invest an equivalent amount of time getting to know them.
  4. If it’s still looking good, understand how you as an employer can improve their situation. Sometimes this is money, sometimes it’s about everything else in the compensation package.
  5. At this point, you’ll both know if it’ll work or not.

A few years back, the company I worked for described their hiring process, similar to this, as “deliberate.” That description stuck with me. It was one also of the best places I’ve worked for.

This is what Seth Godin means when he talks about dating your prospects. Give the audio from Seth’s London Marketing Soiree a listen for more. Thanks Hugh

Even the Almost Perfect Customer Experience Takes 15 Years

I bought a car last week. We’ve been looking for another one for some time and not been real happy with what’s available (anything under 20 mpg just seems irresponsible). My father-in-law has a fantastic, nearly 15 year old relationship with a dealership. He’s purchased every car I’ve ever seen him drive there. When Jen and I wanted to buy our first car, we went there.

Jen found our new car online. We’d been looking at imports and this was a domestic. We were looking at cars twice as expensive. This was exactly what we were looking for and it was at this dealership. She asked her dad to check it out. He calls back with the whole story, everything sounds good. All we need to do is drive the 4 hours to pick it up.

Perfect.

Then, like the story Christopher Carfi quotes, the warranty salesperson got involved.

We don’t know him. We know the car salesman, we know he guys in the shop. We don’t know the warranty guy. More importantly, he doesn’t know us.

He doesn’t know the kind of drivers we are, what we find important, or that we wouldn’t be there without the aforementioned 15 year old relationship. Then he attempted to sell us an extended warranty for a car we all knew would be fine for as long as it mattered.

Everything else about buying the car was perfect.