September 9, 2003

  • Thought

    Boxes and Arrows: Natural Selections: Colors Found in Nature and Interface Design:

    “From complex web applications to informative “brochure-ware” sites, naturally occurring color combinations have the potential to distinguish (by helping create a more memorable website), guide (by allowing users to focus on interactions), engage (by making page layouts comfortable and more inviting), and inspire (by offering new ideas for color selection).”

    The article offers some great ideas on getting out of the “techno-color” rut. I particularly liked that the author used compelling photography as the foundation for a naturalistic color scheme. To a certain extent, this is cribbing colors from photographers instead of graphic artists because the photographer is still deciding on what is photographed and how. Still, this technique should be very useful.

  • Thought

    Not exactly a response, but PaidContent is watching response to Shirky’s article:

    “Clay Shirky writes another article on micropayments which is bound to create huge ripples in the industry…the last one he wrote practically killed the industry in its infancy.”

    Instead of detailed analysis, Rafat points to other people’s analysis.

September 8, 2003

  • Thought

    Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox: Misconceptions About Usability:

    “Misconceptions about usability’s expense, the time it involves, and its creative impact prevent companies from getting crucial user data, as does the erroneous belief that existing customer-feedback methods are a valid driver for interface design.”

September 6, 2003

  • Thought

    The Seattle Times (Dan Gillmor): Latest wave of newsreader software beats e-mail:

    “Every morning I learn the latest from a variety of news organizations, Weblogs, newsletters and other online information sources. But I don’t use my e-mail program or go surfing from Web site to Web site.”

  • Thought

    Clay Shirky: Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content:

    “Free content is thus what biologists call an evolutionarily stable strategy. It is a strategy that works well when no one else is using it — it’s good to be the only person offering free content. It’s also a strategy that continues to work if everyone is using it, because in such an environment, anyone who begins charging for their work will be at a disadvantage. In a world of free content, even the moderate hassle of micropayments greatly damages user preference, and increases their willingness to accept free material as a substitute.

    Furthermore, the competitive edge of free content is increasing. In the 90s, as the threat the Web posed to traditional publishers became obvious, it was widely believed that people would still pay for filtering. As the sheer volume of free content increased, the thinking went, finding the good stuff, even if it was free, would be worth paying for because it would be so hard to find.

    In fact, the good stuff is becoming easier to find as the size of the system grows, not harder, because collaborative filters like Google and Technorati rely on rich link structure to sort through links. So offering free content is not just an evolutionary stable strategy, it is a strategy that improves with time, because the more free content there is the greater the advantage it has over for-fee content.”

    It will be interesting to see if Rafat Ali has a response.

September 5, 2003

  • Thought

    SEMPO — Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization:

    “The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) was formed to help spread the good news about search engine marketing (SEM).

    SEMPO exists to fill the gaps in awareness and understanding of SEM, including educating marketing managers worldwide about what SEM is and how properly implemented SEM programs can provide some of the highest returns on investment possible in the marketing world today.”

  • Thought

    ClickZ: “A Really Simple Content Solution?”:

    “Marketers, publishers, even online newsgroups, list services, and some companies, are considering adding RSS to their online toolboxes. Is it time? There are pros and cons.”

  • RSS Will Be An Essential Part Of The Online Marketing Toolkit

    Jonathan Lane, a fellow AIMS member, just posted the ADL (AIMS Discussion List) asking for people’s thoughts on RSS. Here is the reply I submitted to the Moderator (June Macdonald):

    Hi all,

    Thanks to Jonathan Lane for introducing RSS as an ADL topic!

    I’ve been working with weblogs and RSS for a few years now and it is an essential part of my online experience. Many ADL readers are probably still in the dark about what RSS even IS, so I’d like to offer a few pointers to get people up to speed:

    1. What is RSS? Hand’s down the best explanation of RSS and why it is important is here.

    Another summary is at www.mnot.net/rss/tutorial/ and of course Googling RSS will get you pretty far.

    2. How can I stay on top of RSS news? There are tons of RSS resources popping up. Once you get a feed reader, you’ll be able to keep up with ALL of them! I’d suggest starting with Lockergnome’s RSS Resource Page and I’d also (humbly) point you to my blog as I’m posting most things I find on RSS as a marketing tool.

    3. How does RSS impact e-mail marketing? Steve Outing published a great article in Editor and Publisher on RSS vs. e-mail marketing. Highly recommended.

    4. What feed reader (aggregator) should I use?

    There is no clear winner in the race to build a better reader, so you’ll need to do some research on this one. I’d suggest newsgator if you really like working in MS Outlook and FeedDemon if you want a standalone reader. My guess is that a year from now there will be three clear winners in the feed reader race (one web-based, one integrated into Outlook, and one standalone).

    I look forward to some solid discussion on this topic in the coming weeks.

    Personally, if I was picking initials to bet my future on, I’d take RSS over SMS any day.

  • Thought

    EEVL has created one of the best overviews of RSS I’ve seen yet: “RSS — A Primer for Publishers and Content Providers”:

    “This document is aimed at publishers and content providers with the intention of introducing & explaining the concepts behind RSS and addressing some commonly expressed concerns. It is primarily intended for a non-technical audience who require an overview of RSS in order to allow them to make decisions regarding the possible use of the technology. However, the guidelines do provide recommendations for good practice, case studies on RSS production and links to tools and specifications which will provide useful starting points for those tasked with actually producing RSS feeds.”

    If you are just now trying to figure out what this all means, this is definitely the place to start.

  • Thought

    Church of the Customer: Rip Van Record:

    “For years we’ve heard the recording industry blame everyone but itself for the drop-off in CD sales. Overly protected and coddled, the industry is so dysfunctional that its best answer to declining sales was to sue its customers. Rather than focus on improving technology and delivery platforms, the industry sent its high-priced lawyers and lobbyists after customers, and the intimidation lawsuits continue to this day, further alienating an already disenfranchised customer base. Because of this, the recording industry was a charter member of Customer Hell.”

September 4, 2003

  • Thought

    Google Weblog: “Big News! New Google Operator”:

    “Today, Google introduced a new advanced search feature that enables users to search not only for a particular keyword but also for its synonyms. This is accomplished by placing a ~ character directly in front of the keyword in the search box.”

September 3, 2003

  • Thought

    Up2Speed provided commentary on amazon.com’s latest patent in “Amazon Patents Order Forms”:

    “Amazon.com Tuesday received a patent for using existing customer records to accelerate the purchase of something online by filling in details, like billing information.”

    Maybe I’m not reading this and the original CNET story correctly, but it seems that Amazon has patented pre-filling forms on websites with known user information. Can this be? This is standard operating procedure for websites that follow best practices — must we all start paying royalties to Amazon?

September 2, 2003

  • Thought

    Great response by Ross Mayfield to a Jimmy Guterman article in B2 on blogs:

    “I believe what Jimmy is saying is that there isn’t a consumer market for blogging and that it isn’t essential for businesses to address it. The problem is we are at the very beginning of a technology adoption lifecycle. Some serious companies have forecasted this market to grow and made their bets accordingly. Every time a journalist tries to wrap themselves around the existing market, what’s visible are early adopters. What stands out are the leaders in using blogs for publishing, who benefit from preferential attachment as the earliest entrants. And if you take the innovator dialogue too seriously it looks like a one-ring circus.”

August 29, 2003

  • Thought

    Emerging Technology: Built-In Spam:

    “To date, most software applications have been designed with one basic principle: to make it as easy as possible for the user to do what he or she wants to do. The emphasis on ease of use isn’t free of commercial interests, of course. Software companies know people are more likely to buy programs that are easy to use. But when commercial transactions insinuate themselves into the applications, the equation changes. Suddenly, the software companies aren’t making money simply from sales of the application; they’re also making money from sales generated within the application. Apple even gives away its iTunes software, so all the profits from the application are coming from the store.”

    (via Tomalak’s Realm)

August 28, 2003

  • Thought

    Fantastic article on RSS vs. E-mail Publishing in “Editor and Publisher” called With E-mail Dying, RSS Offers Alternative:

    “Many e-mail publishers today remain afraid of RSS, suggests Pirillo, but there’s little to fear. He points out that the business model of e-mail publishing doesn’t really change using RSS. Readers still see the same ads, and the same content and design/layout that they would in receiving an HTML newsletter — assuming that they find your site’s headlines and blurbs worthy of clicking on to see full content.”

    (via PaidContent.org)

August 26, 2003

  • Thought

    Seven Deadly Sins of Web Writing:

    “The general quality of writing on the Web is poor. The way you write has a major impact on what people think of you. Avoid these common mistakes, and you will achieve more with your Web site.”

  • Thought

    Another article on the prospect that SoBig is being created as a money-making scheme: New York Times: Spam-for-Money Plan Suspected by Expert on E-Mail Viruses”

    Still, there is no evidence given as to why they think this is commercial in nature. The closest the article comes is:

    “There is some evidence that he’s been tied in with spammers,” said Bruce Hughes, director of malicious code research at Trusecure. Although many companies blacklist Internet addresses that are the sources of spam, a strategy that used computers commandeered by the SoBig program would be almost impossible to defeat.”

    Of course “impossible to defeat” is hogwash. Blacklisting would be useless in this case (which might be a good thing since it is largely a failed strategy towards stemming the flow of unwanted messages), but Bayesian mail filters like Cloudmark or SpamBayes would have no trouble with this.

  • Thought

    Great article from Technology Review called “WhereWare”:

    “The idea is to make cell phones, personal digital assistants, and even fashion accessories capable of tracking their owners’ every movement — whether they’re outdoors, working on the 60th floor, or shopping in a basement arcade.”

    Most of what I’ve seen on this topic has focussed on location-based advertising (as in “The Gap can beam discount coupons to you as you pass their store!”). Most of this is uninspired hogwash that serves companies well, but not people. Some of the examples in this article speak more to personal use (finding out if a loved one is on their way to meet you or hopelessly lost, walking directions, etc.).

August 25, 2003

  • Thought

    Respectfully, the people profiled in the NYT article “Former Dot-Commers Are Adjusting, Painfully” were part of the problem. Most of the folks in the article where senior executives of large corporations who jumped to wacky dotcoms right before the bust. Of course they jumped right back when dreams of options turning to gold vanished.

  • Thought

    The New York Time’s Technology article called “Evite’s Day of Atonement” runs the body of an apology e-mail the company sent. It runs without commentary from NYT:

    “Dear Evite Newsletter Subscriber,

    Yesterday we mailed a newsletter to our subscribers with incorrect dates for three important holidays. Please accept our sincerest apologies for these errors and note the following corrections:

    Labor Day, September 1st

    Rosh Hashana, September 27th

    Yom Kippur, October 6th

    In addition, we also wish to apologize for having listed Yom Kippur as one of our ‘Reasons To Party.’ We understand and respect that Yom Kippur is a Day of Atonement, a day to be taken seriously to reflect and fast, and as such, one of the most important Jewish holidays in the year.

    Again we deeply apologize for the error and thank you for allowing us to make this correction.

    Very Best,

    The Evite Team”

    Let’s put aside for a moment how the original message was sent out in the first place and focus on the mea culpa. If you make a mistake, the best thing you can do is admit it, openly and candidly. Too many companies want to hide from the error, hoping no one will notice. Or they blame someone else. I think Evite did a very good job on this. The only thing I would change if I was running evite is I would have signed the apology and offered an e-mail address where users could contact me.

  • Thought

    As a modern variant to Godwin’s Law (“As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”), I would submit the following:

    “As blog comments grow longer, the probability of someone being called a “spammer” approaches one.”

    Does this mean that spammers are the new Nazi’s? Will we see spammers looking the other way while bloggers storm the prison camps to free newbies?

  • Thought

    The BBC announcing that they are going to post their entire archive online is big news.

    Danny O’Brien’s Oblomovka provides some good insight:

    “Now, ask yourself: why is it called the Creative Archive? Could it be something to do with a series of talks Larry Lessig gave to the BBC earlier this year? Conversations that continued in San Francisco with Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive?

    I hope so. If it is, the public domain (or at least, the domain of the freely distributed, freely available content) is about to get a very sizeable grant. Eighty years worth of radio, televisual and film content, from the General Strike to World War II to the era of Benny Hill and the world of the Hitchhiker’s Guide . From Richard Dimbleby and the Coronation to David Dimbleby and Donald Rumsfeld.”

    (via Boing Boing)

    I wonder if the CBC is watching and planning. Has Lessig been invited to the Great White North?

August 22, 2003

  • Thought

    silicon.com — Sobig update: Organised criminals marry spam and viruses:

    “Sobig smashed all the records in terms of pure numbers, but that’s not nearly the whole story,’ said Simpson. ‘This is the sixth in a series of controlled experiments. This isn’t about some kiddy writing viruses in his bedroom — this is really a very sophisticated example of organized crime.”

    I’m not sure about this statement. Clearly, Peter Simpson, manager of ThreatLab at Clearswift, benefits from fear, uncertainty, and doubt about viruses and spam given Clearswift’s business.

    Is there any proof or corroboration of this assertion?

August 21, 2003

August 20, 2003

  • Thought

    This is interesting.

    The Guardian will be publishing a column in the “real” (print) newspaper from Jason Staines, who posted some comments to their blogged items. From comment poster to columnist in a few short days:

    “Eilan (aka Jason Staines), who has contributed to our discussion here on weblogs over the last week, agreed to pen this week’s Second Sight column in the newspaper. We thought he did a much better job of proposing a downside to the blogosphere than many of the higher-profile critics who have been having a go of late.”

    The comments that got him the gig are here.

    Update: Here is the column he did for the print and online version of the Guardian.

August 19, 2003

  • Thought

    My first reaction to Randall Chapman’s article “A Marketing Definition in Six Words” was that his six words were too general, and therefore less than useful.

    His definition of Marketing is:

    “Marketing means solving customers’ problems profitably.”

    But as I read the article, I came to agree that this is as good a definition as any. I’m not sure the “we’re all in marketing or we shouldn’t work here” argument will play well in larger companies, but it probably should. Too many people confuse advertising as equalling marketing.

    Then again, I think you could make an equally solid argument that:

    “Business means solving customers’ problems profitably.”

    or

    “Sales means solving customers’ problems profitably.”

August 14, 2003