October 9, 2003
New York Times: With Friends Like These, Who Needs Book Agents?:
“The site, which has attracted such novelists as Caroline Leavitt, Ayelet Waldman and Katharine Weber, is readerville.com. With close to a million page views per month and nearly 10,000 registered users, Readerville has become a robust writers’ community.”
New York Times: Getting a Bead on ‘Buzz’:
“Marketing executives worry much more about word of mouth today than they did a couple of decades ago. But even companies that consciously do ‘buzz marketing’ do not necessarily know how buzz works. Word of mouth is hard to track or measure. After all, most conversations are private and ephemeral. Nobody keeps a record.
Unless, that is, the ‘conversation’ takes place in an Internet forum. To see how word of mouth might affect new TV shows, Professor Godes and Dina Mayzlin, a marketing professor at the Yale School of Management, tapped this recorded form of conversation. Using online archives, they tracked postings in Usenet discussion groups at the beginning of the 1999–2000 TV season. (The paper, now under review at the journal Marketing Science, is available at www.som.yale.edu/faculty/dm324/papers.asp.)”
October 7, 2003
ClickZ: Hub Media Strategy:
“Hub Media is the notion most or all non-digital communications in a plan should drive a person to the Web for a larger payoff. It’s supported in this research by data suggesting the Millennial Generation multitasks at extraordinarily high levels. The one medium almost always present in the multitasking equation is the Internet.”
October 3, 2003
VentureBlog: Much Ado About Email:
“It suddenly seems fashionable to predict the death of email. Ray Ozzie thinks that it’s about to be replaced by workspaces for important tasks. Joi thinks it’s broken. Hornik believes that it’s the end of the web as he knows it (but he feels fine).
There’s too much at stake. Email’s too important to die, or even change in any significant way, and tens of billions of dollars in entrepreneurial capital and hundreds of millions of votes can be brought to bear on the spam, noise and virus problems.”
October 1, 2003
Good Experience: Four Words to Improve User Research:
“But most websites are a strategic representation of the business. How can you presume to know how customers relate to the business, unless you ask them first? If your test moderator has a healthy case of ESP, or can bend spoons without touching them, by all means, define the tasks beforehand. Otherwise, try the listening lab method.”
Jakob Nielsen provides a makeover of AOL’s home page in Fast Company’s AOL, You’ve Got Problems!
More on dugg.ca via the Globe And Mail: Chatbot talks way into marketing arsenal:
“To produce dugg.ca, the Marketing Store worked in conjunction with Oddcast Media Technologies, a New York firm that produces computer-simulated voices and avatars.
McDonald’s reports that since the television spot debuted on Sept. 4, dugg.ca has attracted more than 85,000 unique visitors. Of that number, 11,000 have filled out the contest entry form. Mr. Sweetman is unimpressed by the numbers.”
“Mr Sweetman” would be Bill Sweetman of Kalixo.
Lockergnome’s RSS Resource: How do you track your feeds?:
“The question remains in my mind as to what is truly the easiest method to track RSS feeds. I have tried a few ideas with mixed results. I am interested in hearing how you folks track your feed readership.”
“These are some of our favourite marketing — and advertising — related virals and e-clips from around the web.”
September 29, 2003
Technology Review offers us Bruce Sterling’s “Ten Technologies That Deserve to Die”:
“Technologies die rather routinely — seen a Conestoga covered wagon lately? — but it’s rare for them to be singled out and righteously put to death. Some technologies, however, are so blatantly obnoxious that the human race would rejoice if they were obliterated. A wise society would honor its young technical innovators for services rendered in annihilating obsolete technologies that are the dangerous hangovers of previous, less advanced generations. Let me offer some candidates.”
September 28, 2003
Following up on Jon Udell’s “Mechanical Memory” post, I submit this quote from deep in a Globe And Mail article on Slow Schooling:
“U.S. developmental psychologists Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek’s book Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn — And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less hits bookstores next week. Prof. Golinkoff, who has spent her career understanding how the human brain works, decried the ‘roadrunner society’ that tells parents to accelerate children’s brain development.
Some earlier research has been misinterpreted, she added, to produce the notion that ‘if you don’t pour it in by the first three years, your kid is doomed. Your kid will never see Harvard.’ This idea that children must be constantly at work, she said, is folly: ‘We don’t need people who can spit back facts. We’ve got Google.’”
Jon Udell: Mechanical Memory:
“We all like to joke, nowadays, about how Google has become humanity’s collective memory, and we’re properly grateful not to have to remember a lot of things that we know we can just look up. We’ve gone through this before, of course. Pre-Gutenberg, we routinely memorized vast amounts of verse. Then we learned to offload chunks of memory to print. Now we’re learning to offload a whole lot more memory to the Net. I’m not saying I’d have it otherwise, but sometimes I wonder about the tradeoffs we’re making.”
September 26, 2003
New York Times: Do-Not-Call Listing Remains Up in Air After Day of Twists:
“The second ruling, issued today by Judge Edward W. Nottingham of Federal District Court in Denver, threw a more effective obstacle in the way of the list on the ground that it discriminates against for-profit businesses; the registry program still allows political and charitable solicitation calls to be made. Judge Nottingham ruled that by exempting the nonprofit solicitors from the registry, the F.T.C. ‘has imposed a content-based limitation on what the consumer may ban from his home.’
He added that ‘the mechanism purportedly created by the F.T.C. to effectuate consumer choice instead influences consumer choice, thereby entangling the government in deciding what speech consumers may hear.’ The burden on commercial speech was significant enough, the judge ruled, ‘to amount to a government restriction implicating the First Amendment.’
Because the ruling came on broad constitutional grounds the program’s future will probably not be settled in Congress, but in the courts.”
September 25, 2003
“Congress moved quickly on Thursday to reinstate a popular ‘do-not-call’ telemarketing list that millions had signed up for before it was blocked by a U.S court two days ago.
The House of Representatives voted 412–8 to give the Federal Trade Commission authority to run the national ‘do not call’ registry of phone numbers, which telemarketers would be prohibited to call. The Senate was expected to vote on a nearly identical measure later in the afternoon.”
“My name is Bruce Kasanoff, and I recently introduced a new service where I spend 30–60 minutes (their choice) talking to one of your best customers. As an objective and independent expert on business relationships, my role is to learn how they really feel about your services.”
Always On: The Blogger Revolt!:
“The bottom line as I see it is the original blogging community represents the early-adopters of a movement that will eventually radicalize the entire media industry. Some time off in the future, if major media brands do not open up their content to more participation, readers will just not trust them, and they will go elsewhere.”
Anthony Perkins faces his critics and makes a good case that Always On can work, whatever it is.
Globe And Mail: Will RSS kill the e-mail newsletter?:
“What does RSS mean to the content-rich e-newsletter industry? About three months ago, Ken Schafer, president of the Toronto-based Internet consultancy Schafer Group and a founder of The Association for Internet Marketing and Sales (AIMS), simultaneously launched an e-newsletter and added an RSS feed to his company’s blog. Though it’s difficult to determine exactly how many RSS users subscribe to a feed — marketers cite this as one of the few limitations of the system — he estimates that there are about 10 times as many people viewing his feed as the e-newsletter.
Mr. Schafer credits the concept behind RSS with the popularity of the program among his subscribers. ‘[RSS] feeds give the control back to the reader.’
As Internet content publishers, both Mr. Pirillo and Mr. Schafer believe that RSS could replace the need for e-newsletters.
‘It gives us everything we wanted from e-mail newsletters, and everything spam has taken away,’ Mr. Schafer says. ‘I would be surprised if in three years there are any e-newsletters left.’”
Seth’s Blog: Helping Jack with web design:
“You only have four paths:
1. get someone to buy something right now
2. get someone to give you their email address so you can build a relationship
3. get someone to tell a friend
4. get someone to go to another page on your site.”
Path Number 2 is the basis of most of Seth’s ground-breaking work on permission and viral marketing. But with the increasing pressure on e-mail as a commercial channel (spam filters, viruses, low-response, overload, consumer awareness of privacy and identity theft), I’m not sure that this is still a top priority.
It would be easy to say that Path 2 should be “get someone to subscribe to your feed so you can build a relationship.” Unfortunately, RSS Feeds are not yet ready for prime-time so we’re stuck at this point.
I wonder what happens to Permission and Viral marketing when everyone things that giving their e-mail address is the path to more spam and just stops filling in those boxes?
Seth’s Blog: The DMA steps in it again:
“More important, the Do Not Call list is the single best thing to happen to direct marketing since the invention of the catalog. Here’s a government-financed way of figuring out in advance who’s going to hang up on you.”
Editor & Publisher: Startups Offer Online Publishing Alternatives:
“RSS publishing is in its infancy, and only a small minority of technologists and publishers currently view it as a viable alternative to e-mail delivery of content. But that could change in the coming years, as a new wave of entrepreneurs grabs hold of the concept. The new applications and services being created are designed to overcome the shortcomings of current RSS publishing solutions, and offer a spam-proof publishing channel.
If this pans out, RSS content publishing could in time become as important as e-mail and Web publishing.”
The article spotlights some start-ups basing their services on RSS. The products look a bit old-school compared to something fairly earth-shattering like allconsuming.net, but still, good luck to them — the more the merrier.
September 24, 2003
Michael Moore.com: Michael Moore responds to the wacko attackos:
“One thing you get used to when you’re in what’s called ‘the public eye’ is reading the humorous fiction that others like to write about you. For instance, I have read in quite respectable and trustworthy publications that a) I’m a college graduate (I’m not), b) I was a factory worker (I quit the first day), and c) I have two brothers (I have none). Newsweek wrote that I live in a penthouse on Central Park West (I live above a Baby Gap store, and not on any park), and the Internet Movie Database once listed me as the director of the Elvis movie, ‘Blue Hawaii’ ( I was 6 at the time the film was made, but I was quite skilled in directing my sisters in building me a snowman). Lately, my favorite mistake is the one many reviewers made crediting the cartoon in ‘Bowling for Columbine’ as being the work of the ‘South Park’ creators. It isn’t. I wrote it and my buddy Harold Moss’s animation studio drew it.”
Michael Moore gives a great example of using the net to clarify and support positions you’ve taken in other media. He does a good job of debunking many of his critics and only occasionally slips into name calling himself. It would have been nice if a few more of his facts had been backed up by links to official websites.
New York Times: Court Finds F.T.C. Exceeded Authority on Do-Not-Call List:
“In a victory for telemarketers, a federal judge in Oklahoma has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission overstepped its authority in creating a national do-not-call telephone registry, which was to have gone into effect on Oct. 1.”
“OceanStore is a global persistent data store designed to scale to billions of users. It provides a consistent, highly-available, and durable storage utility atop an infrastructure comprised of untrusted servers.”
There was a moderately interesting story on PlanetLab in MIT’s Technology Review that pointed me to this very interesting project. The goal of the project is to create “storage in the sky” — a service that would allow you to store/back-up all of your digital life onto a network of well-encrypted, loosely organized servers around the planet.
I’m going to watch this one.
September 23, 2003
CNET News.com: Google tests local search:
“Like many Google experiments, the new function may or may not be widely incorporated into the company’s well-loved search engine, but Google has hinted at its ambitions for geographically targeted search in the past. Local search and advertising is also pegged in the financial community as a massive opportunity for major portals and search providers.”
September 21, 2003
There is of course much talk in the US about blogging politicians. Ontario is having an election October 2, 2003 and I was a bit disheartened to see how Dalton McGinty, leader of the opposition Liberal party, is blogging on “Dalton’s blog”
Here is a stirring excerpt from one of the four posts since the blog went live in May:
“Most nights, there’s a rally. Tonight, there was a dose of reality.
With the campaign ads on the air now, reporters ask me if the attack ads bother me.
What I heard today, in Sarnia and Wallaceburg and Walkerton, bothered me a lot more.”
(via BonaSource’s excellent user experience review of the three major party sites.)
September 20, 2003
“I’ve taken the scans down. But I think they need an official online home. Here’s the mail I sent to Isobel McKenzie Price…”
“A fawning 1938 article by Homes & Gardens magazine about Hitler’s Bavarian mountain retreat remains widely available on the Web, even after the discoverer and original poster of the article took it off his site when the magazine demanded its removal.”
CNET News.com: System alert: You’ve got worms:
“Some media reports suggest that a few of the present crop of viruses differ from those that infected computer systems in the past. One difference, they say, is that these bugs can capture e-mail addresses as well as IP addresses that can later be used to generate massive amounts of spam. How real is that concern? While it’s tempting to wonder whether the latest viruses are being unleashed with a profit motive — and the goal of using computers to send spam — most people agree that it’s unlikely.”
This is a good opinion piece on viruses, with particular attention being paid to whether spammers are behind recent attacks (unlikely) and if moving to a non-Windows OS makes sense (yes, unless everyone else does too).
September 19, 2003
I’ve used Cloudmark’s SpamNet since it was in early beta. I think it is one of the best anti-spam products out there. In a typical day, I get about 150 spam messages and SpamNet removes all but 3 or 4 of these. I don’t have a spam problem anymore.
Well, as a consumer I don’t have a spam problem. But as someone who sends e-mail newsletters to people who have subscribed at my site, it is a very big problem.
Overaggressive spam filters continually block legitimate e-mail communications, primarily newsletters and other corporate communications which can look “spammy” even if they are not.
In fact, the only problem I’ve had with Cloudmark is that it traps a fair number of legitimate newsletters I’ve signed up for as spam. This happens because Cloudmark users “vote” on whether messages are spam or not and Cloudmark then uses Bayesian filters to block similar messages from other users’ inboxes. This works well until a bunch of people decide that news.com’s newsletters aren’t worth reading and they “block” them.
Cloudmark got one step closer to the perfect solution this week when it introduced the Cloudmark Rating System which is effectively a global whitelisting process to avoid the blocking of mailings from people who are willing to identify themselves.
“The breakthrough email reputation system solves the industry-wide problem of false positives, or good email getting caught in spam filters. In the race to stop spam, false positives are crippling email as a viable way to do business. Ferris Research estimates the cost of false positives to businesses could be as high as $3.5 billion. Consumers, legitimate e-mailers and ISPs are all becoming collateral damage in the war against spam.”
This is good news. Now if only we could get everyone to switch to Cloudmark we’d have this problem licked!