September 24, 2002

  • Double Opt-out?

    Many e-mail marketing experts recommend “Double Opt-in” as the best approach to building your e-mail marketing list. Double Opt-in means that the subscriber must respond to a confirmation e-mail before they are put on the list (i.e. you sign up at a site, get an e-mail saying “confirm subscription”, and only if you reply to that confirmation e-mail do you get put on the list). This is done to ensure that there is no abuse of an open e-mail list (for example, some people have been known to sign up enemies to lists they know they will hate — like baptists on the Barbie Fetish list.)

    Yahoo seems to have taken this to some perverse extreme by introducing “Double Opt-out”.

    I just unsubscribed from the Tom Tom Club mailing list (don’t ask), and got this reply from YahooGroups (where the list lives):

    Subject: Please reply to unsubscribe from tomtomclubnewsflash

    Hello,

    We have received a request from you to unsubscribe from the

    tomtomclubnewsflash group. Please confirm your request by

    replying to this message. If you do not wish to unsubscribe from

    tomtomclubnewsflash, please ignore this message.

    Regards,

    Yahoo! Groups Customer Care

    Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/

    While double opt-in is good because it keeps consumers off lists they might not want to be on, double opt-out is bad because it keeps consumers on lists they clearly want to get off of. Another move by Yahoo! that shows that they just don’t get the ‘Net anymore. Very sad.

    (And the pop-up ad for a casino on the Yahoo!Groups homepage didn’t help much with my opinion either.

September 22, 2002

  • Thought

    The world’s favorite statistic about phone use is no longer true. Clay Shirky debunks the myth that 50% of the people in the world have not made a phone call in this short Wired article.

September 19, 2002

September 18, 2002

  • Thought

    This article from the Washington Post (via BizReport) talks about another effective use of the Net I don’t see covered much — micro-commerce sites. By focussing on incredibly small niches and keeping costs tight, a small company can build a nice business online. Instead of thinking about e-commerce as producing the “next Walmart”, I think it is more interesting to look at its potential to create the next “corner barbershop”. i.e. a nice business for two or three people to profit from that serve a specific need of a community.

    Of course, online, that community is not defined by the neighborhood they live in, but more likely by an obscure passion.

    Here’s a quote:

    “In many ways, the very same aspects of the Internet that benefit the largest global marketers can also offer benefits to the smallest outfits,” said Dan Hess, vice president of ComScore Networks Inc., an Internet research firm. “It offers an unmatched, unparalleled ability to reach niche groups of consumers. There is no other medium that can do that.”

September 14, 2002

  • Thought

    I always find Clay Shirky’s writing insightful.

    The posting on his site called Broadcast Institutions, Community Values talks about the problems that publishers can get into when they start hosting communities. Communities look like natural extensions of what publishers do, but they live by different rules, and this is what Shirky points out.

    For example:

    Media people often criticize the content on the internet for being unedited, because everywhere one looks, there is low quality — bad writing, ugly images, poor design. What they fail to understand is that the internet is strongly edited, but the editorial judgment is applied at the edges, not the center, and it is applied after the fact, not in advance. Google edits web pages by aggregating user judgment about them, Slashdot edits posts by letting readers rate them, and of course users edit all the time, by choosing what (and who) to read.

    This also applies to blogs which seem to be to be like online communities without an organizing body or software of any sort.

September 11, 2002

September 10, 2002

  • Thought

    I rather sheepishly did something today in the AIMS ADL that I don’t normally do — point people to my own site.

    In general I’ve preferred to keep my personal opinions out of my moderation of the ADL as much as is possible (which is not entirely of course). But I included a post about blogs in this issue and I felt that my blog was a good example because it IS NOT the perfect blog. I don’t get to it nearly as much as I should to make it a really vibrant and living thing. And I don’t feel I’ve found a definitive “voice” for it (although you may hear it when you read my /opinions).

    In any case, if you got here from the ADL, thanks for following my humble link. And if you didn’t get here from the ADL, here are the links I provided in my post:

    Articles on Weblogs

    http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/javascript/2002/06/13/megnut.html

    http://www.macromedia.com/desdev/logged_in/ekrimen_blogs.html

    Weblog Examples:

    Glenn Fleishman

    Megnut

    oddblog

    Dan Bricklin

    AIMS Newsblog

    For those of you now hooked, you can read Chapter 8 (Weblogs in Business) from the book “We Blog” here:

    My questions to the ADLerati out there:

    Do you Weblog? If so, why? Business or personal?

    Do you see business advantages to Weblogs?

    Do weblogs replace or supplement other communications?

August 24, 2002

  • Thought

    Many people focus on the personal and journalistic uses of blogs. But they are also very useful for companies to use to enhance (or establish) communications between themselves and their customers.

    A great example of the power of weblogs in business is Oddblog by Oddpost.

    Oddpost itself is an amazing company that I’ve mentioned before, but I found that I loved them even more after finding their idiosyncratic blog, which on the face of it tells you about bug fixes, but in reality, if the personification of their brand.

    Cupcakes!

August 23, 2002

  • Thought

    Hit Charade — The music industry’s self-inflicted wounds by Mark Jenkins is one of the best articles I’ve read on the problems with the music industry these days. As a former music industry insider, this all rings true. One of the main reasons I left the music business was the anti-fan, litigious nature of the industry’s approach to the business. Hopefully there is something that can do for the modern music malaise what MTV did in the early 80s.

August 17, 2002

  • Thought

    A good New York Times article on the foibles of voice recognition.

    For example, here is a list of “wordos” that author David Pogue’s software created (some quite funny):

    bookmark it -> book market
    Motorola -> motor roll a
    modem port -> mode import
    a procedure -> upper seizure
    and then stick it in the mail -> and dense thicket in the mail
    movie clips -> move eclipse
    I might add -> I my dad
    inscrutable -> in screw double
    hyphenate -> -8
    suffocate -> Suffolk 8
    a case we summarily dismissed -> a case we so merrily dismissed
    or take a shower -> Ortega shower
    the right or left -> the writer left
    oxymoron -> ax a moron
    ArialPhone guy -> aerial fungi

    Still, I can’t help thinking that voice input is inevitable — as are translation errors. I wonder if it is possible that humans will modify pronunciations to accommodate the machines. This would be analogous to Newton failing in writing recognition but the Palm succeeding because it used “Graffiti” a made up alphabet. It was easier for the humans to learn to deal with the ambiguity than the machines.

August 13, 2002

  • Thought

    “Eight by Eight” looks like it is going out the window.

    This NPR audio stream counters pretty much every myth about water that you didn’t know was a myth.

  • Thought

    Jim Sterne, who is always a great read, has an article on Boxes and Arrows called “Customer Experience Meets Online Marketing at Brand Central Station.”

    The only weak thing about the article is the title. Jim starts out discussing branding in general:

    “A brand is the culmination of all of the interactions that all the people in a marketplace have with the firm.

    He then goes on to talk in more detail about how this plays out online and what measurements you can use to judge your effective you are at reaching those overarching branding goals.

August 10, 2002

  • Thought

    More reasons to love the Internet:

    “Silophone is a project by [The User] which combines sound, architecture, and communication technologies to transform a significant landmark in the industrial cityscape of Montréal.

    Located in Montréal’s old port, Silo #5B-1 was built in 1958 and has been cited by Le Corbusier as a masterpiece of modern architecture. The structure, constructed entirely of reinforced concrete, is 200 metres long, 16 metres wide and approximately 45 metres at its highest point. The main section of the building is formed of approximately 115 vertical chambers, all 30 metres high and up to 8 metres in diameter. These tall parallel cylinders, whose form evokes the structure of an enormous organ, have exceptional acoustic properties: a stunning reverberation time of over 20 seconds. Anything played inside the Silo is euphonized, made beautiful, by the acoustics of the structure. All those who have entered have found it an overwhelming and unforgettable experience.

    Silophone makes use of the incredible acoustics of Silo #5 by introducing sounds, collected from around the world using various communication technologies, into a physical space to create an instrument which blurs the boundaries between music, architecture and net art. Sounds arrive inside Silo #5 by telephone or internet. They are then broadcast into the vast concrete grain storage chambers inside the Silo. They are transformed, reverberated, and coloured by the remarkable acoustics of the structure, yielding a stunningly beautiful echo. This sound is captured by microphones and rebroadcast back to its sender, to other listeners and to a sound installation outside the building. Anyone may contribute material of their own, filling the instrument with increasingly varied sounds.”

    Can you imagine explaining this to someone 10 years ago?

  • Thought

    Tessa Wegert disagrees with me on the iVillage pop-up ban in her ClickZ article “Why Nix Effective Formats?”

    I think the reason to “nix effective formats” is to preserve the long-term value of the iVillage audience. If iVillage keeps going against the strong disapproval of over 90% of their audience they won’t have much of an audience before too long.

    The problem here is that a lot of things that work for marketers (at least in the short run) are not good for the Net (in the long run). We all need to work on ways of making money online that let the Net work well for all concerned. I can’t see how Intrusion Marketing will fit into this (in the long run).

July 31, 2002

  • Thought

    O’Reilly Network’s article “What We’re Doing When We Blog” by Meg Hourihan is a great overview of what makes Weblogging different from having a personal home page. I appreciate people who are getting back to “deep thoughts” about what we are doing online. It seemed over the last few years that new ideas and analysis of them had fallen out of fashion.

    My guess is this will be a heavily linked to article (I found the article via Davenet)

July 30, 2002

  • Thought

    A great article on ClickZ by Vin Crosbie called AOL Time Warner: It’s a New Media, Baby hits the nail on the head. The Internet is different than other media, primarily because it allows people to communicate with others and explore niche interests.

    Most big media companies miss this entirely.

July 29, 2002

  • Thought

    iVillage is doing the right thing.

    Pop Go Those Blasted Pop-Up Ads, iVillage Decrees says the New York Times.

    It’s good to see one of the original niche content sites setting a positive trend and formally moving away from pop-up ads:

    Now, iVillage, a network of Web sites for women, says it is heeding its readers’ complaints and plans to eliminate most pop-up advertising by Sept. 30 on all its sites.

    IVillage said a survey of its readers in March indicated that “92.5 percent of iVillage women found pop-up advertising to be the most frustrating feature of the Web.”

    It seems that more and more these days, publishers’ desperation to make an ad dollar is turning them into carney hucksters, using any tactic they can to foist whatever product they have on an unsuspecting public.

    Hopefully, other publishers will follow iVillage and we will see the emergence of more contextual, likable advertising online.

July 27, 2002

  • Thought

    Ooh, it’s 1998 again!

    I thought I’d taken a ride in the way-back machine when I read this InternetNews article (Miller Launches Branded Calendar)

    Here’s a quote:

    “Miller Brewing Company is extending its brand to a free online entertainment calendar that it’s hoping will become a central part of consumers’ social outings.

    … the Miller Time Network online calendar offers local information on music, bars, clubs, sports, food and movies. The calendar also lets users download local maps, buy tickets for events or send invitations to friends.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad idea — it just seems that the appetite for these funky branded apps has decreased considerably. Hope it works for them so I can brush of my “misheard lyrics” site business plan.

July 25, 2002

  • Thought

    Fascinating article in the New York Times on the increasing elusiveness of privacy in a world that continues to move online.

    Here’s a quote:

    These days, people are seeing their privacy punctured in intimate ways as their personal, professional and online identities become transparent to one another. Twenty-somethings are going to search engines to check out people they meet at parties. Neighbors are profiling neighbors. Amateur genealogists are researching distant family members. Workers are screening co-workers.

    In other words, it is becoming more difficult to keep one’s past hidden, or even to reinvent oneself in the American tradition. “The net result is going to be a return to the village, where everyone knew everyone else,” said David Brin, author of a book called “The Transparent Society” (Perseus, 1998). “The anonymity of urban life will be seen as a temporary and rather weird thing.”

July 19, 2002

  • Thought

    For you “data junkies”, After the Dot-Bomb might be worth a look.

    Here is the abstract of the in-depth article that follows:

    In the excitement of the “dot-com” rush of the 1990’s, many Web sites were developed that provided information retrieval capabilities poorly or sub-optimally. Suggestions are made for improvements in the design of Web information retrieval in seven areas. Classifications, ontologies, indexing vocabularies, statistical properties of databases (including the Bradford Distribution), and staff indexing support systems are all discussed.

July 17, 2002

  • Thought

    This Wired article offers some good advice for getting people to respond to your e-mail requests — don’t cc, but rather send the message to one person.

    The problem seems to come from people a) overwhelmed by their inbox and to do lists, and b) a feeling that “someone else will deal with it”.

    Once stated this is pretty obvious, but I still receive (and send) messages to groups of associates expecting individual action.

    Lesson learned.

July 16, 2002

  • Thought

    Watch you mouth! At least if you want to make sure your e-mails get to the intended recipients.

    Strom has an article about the perils of on-the-server spam filtering to the free flow of conversation. Note that they couldn’t even spell out the word “viagra” in full in this article that originally went out by e-mail because the message would likely have been filtered out of many inboxes.

July 14, 2002

  • Thought

    By the way, the entire redesigned site is less than 200K! I know some homepages that are larger than that. Here’s to less.

  • Thought

    I should have been outside enjoying the sunshine today, but inspiration hit and an entirely redesigned website is the result. Enjoy.

January 31, 2002

  • Thought

    Have you Googlewhacked? This News.com article points to a new online sport — “Googlewhacking” — which is the art of finding search terms that give a “1 of 1” result on Google.com.

    Here’s one I just did “meatball rangerover”.

January 25, 2002

  • Thought

    This E-Commerce News article called “E-mail Campaigns: From Trash to Cash” is brilliant. AMR Research did an indepth analysis of what is happening in permission-based e-mail marketing and came up with some answers that we’ve been saying all along.

    Here are some highlights:

    1. “The world of e-mail marketing is constantly changing,” the report said.

    2. AMR concluded that the outsourced model is the best choice for at least some, if not all, of a company’s e-mail campaign needs.

    3. AMR found that response rates to targeted campaigns are seven to 12 times higher than response rates to mass mailings.

    4. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported response rates of 11 percent or more when mailing to in-house lists, while just 26 percent said they had the same level of success with purchased lists.

    5. Unfortunately, what works today will be old by next week. The word “free,” for example, used to result in high response rates. Now, unless it is coupled with “shipping,” it is a surefire way to make sure the e-mail gets trashed, according to AMR.

    6. “Marketers need to make sure the e-mail systems they choose can not only send both types of messages [HTML and text], but they must also be able to detect what format the recipient is capable of receiving. This functionality is known as sniffing, and it should be a key criterion of your selection process,” AMR said.

    (Internet.com did a good article on this study as well. Similar story but some different quotes and stats make it worth a look.)

  • Thought

    November 17th? How did that happen?

    Pardon the two month gap in postings. I doubt we’ll get any insights from that time online anytime soon.

    Such is life.

    We now resume regular transmissions.

November 17, 2001

  • Thought

    Those of you with a technical inclination might be interested in Scott Rosenberg’s discussion of the inside story on Salon’s move to paid content.