November 30, 2007
November 28, 2007
Here's a funny story from NPR about "scam baiters" - those seeking revenge against the email con artists who flood our in-boxes with promises of great fortune.
You can read more about scam baiting and the email scams themselves at this very complete entry on Wikipedia.
November 27, 2007
Have you done it yet? Have you Googled yourself?
If you have, you're probably not alone. Potential employers. Your dates. Business competitors. They are all using Google and other search tools to research you.
Message board posts, blogs, photos, old jobs, MySpace pages, LinkedIn profiles - all kinds of information, some not even posted by you, can come up in searches and provide specific information (or misinformation) about you.
Employers are "Googling" potential employees for a possible checkered past. Executive job and networking firm ExecuNet found that 35 percent of executive recruiters have chosen not to hire applicants because of information found online, up from 26 percent in 2005.
College recruiters are even taking a peek in Facebook to see what they can find.
Any time you meet someone new, depending on the uniqueness of their name, you can often Google them and find out where they work or where they went to school, organizations they may belong to or even photographs of them on vacation.
So think twice before posting those racy photos or that controversial opinion. The Internet is not an anonymous playground. We all need to be cognizant of the digital tracks we leave behind and protect our online reputations.
November 26, 2007
I highly recommend a visit over to the TED website for some incredibly thoughtful and interesting webcasts. TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is an annual conference that brings together many of the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers. The presenters are challenged to give the talk of their lives, in 18 minutes.
Here are two to get you started: John Maeda on simplicity and Larry Lessig on creativity and copyright law.
November 21, 2007
So the new issue of "New Thinking" arrived in my in-box the other day. New Thinking is a great free e-newsletter from web content guru Gerry McGovern.
In this latest issue, Gerry tackles the issue of the evolution of the modern customer: Today's customer, empowered by the web, is more cynical, more informed, more jaded and less loyal than past versions. He is resistant to "marketing speak" and prefers facts over emotions. It's a thought-provoking piece on how some of the traditional marketing tactics no longer work on today's customer and how the modern world requires "New Thinking."
You can read Gerry's latest e-newsletter here or catch up on past issues, organized by topic.
November 19, 2007
Here's a fascinating article from Newsweek about The Future of Reading.
This week [Jeffrey] Bezos is releasing the Amazon Kindle, an electronic device that he hopes will leapfrog over previous attempts at e-readers and become the turning point in a transformation toward Book 2.0. That's shorthand for a revolution (already in progress) that will change the way readers read, writers write and publishers publish.
It seems the revolution will be digitized.
November 16, 2007
The Screensaver: Not Dead Yet
Remember the popular screensavers from 10-15 years ago? You could make your computer screen look like an aquarium, outer space, or a fantastical world where toasters flew. My favorite may have been Johnny Castaway.
Well despite no longer technically needing a program to save our screens from phosphor burn-in, the screensaver lives on. Smashing Magazine put out this nice list last month of some of the coolest ways you can still decorate your computer.
Technology and graphics have come a long way since the days of flying toasters. Some modern screensavers are even integrated with websites like Flickr so they display new pictures every time they run. But if you're like me and you miss Johnny Castaway and wonder how he's doing on that island, I found him here.
November 15, 2007
Interesting insight here and here into the creative process involved in the huge (and much-needed) MSNBC.com redesign that launched last weekend. Having been involved in a few large redesigns, I can only imagine the immense amount of time and effort that went into this.
The new site nicely integrates news with photos and videos, allows for some customization of the site by the user and provides a cleaner yet more comprehensive look at the news. It's interesting to note, however, that they chose not to include other popular avenues for user participation (story ranking/social networking/comments, etc). Paraphrasing the design team, they were able to redesign without needing to reinvent themselves as a "social news site" like Digg or Newsvine.
I'm still absorbing it, but at first blush the new site is a vast improvement over the old MSNBC site and a better effort than the recent redesigns from other news sites.
November 14, 2007
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season in the United States. It is typically one of the busiest shopping days of the year as stores have big sales that attract throngs of shoppers. Many regard the day as the "Super Bowl of Shopping."
In the "old days" of the last century, we used to have to wait for the delivery of the Thanksgiving Day newspaper and get all the ads to see what bargains were available and at what stores. Well no more.
Several websites have sprung up to offer information about Black Friday specials up to a month in advance. The information is either leaked by insiders or intentionally released by large retailers to give consumers insight and allow them time to plan their Black Friday Attacks.
Black Friday 2007
November 13, 2007
Free is the new black
Radiohead. The New York Times. Google Docs. Photoshop.
The unifying thread? Free is a business strategy.
More than ever before, companies are finding new and innovative ways to get their products into the hands of the consumer. Often the easiest way to do this is to give the product away. The thought is the business will make their money in other ways. (i.e. Radiohead will sell more concert tickets and t-shirts; The NY Times will sell more advertising due to increased traffic.)
The Internet has changed consumers' expectations. We don't want to pay sales tax. Or shipping and handling costs. We want free phone calls, free music, and free classifieds.
Several newspapers now offer free print versions in addition to their free online versions. Software often comes with a free trial. Lawyers offer a free initial consultation. Tech companies offer free white papers.
Even when companies do charge for a product, they are finding creative ways to offer extras - free refills and WiFi at the coffee shop. Free shipping and gift-wrapping. Buy one get one free. And why not? People love getting things for free.
But it may seem scary to just give your product away. Many companies "give it away" without a clear definition of what success will look like. Think through your "free" strategy and figure out what you're trying to accomplish. Is it about business leads? Email addresses? Loyalty? Publicity?
The trick is to make sure the gift keeps on giving.
November 12, 2007
Knowing what to ignore
"An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgements simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore." Edward de Bono's quote pre-dates the Internet and the modern explosion of digital information. But it has never been more accurate.
As the amount of information available to us continues to mount, the skill of "content filtering" is becoming a business necessity. Effectively being able to separate the digital wheat from chaff requires a combination of intuition, skill, organization and technology.
Effective business leadership requires knowing what to ignore, and discerning what needs attention. Click below for more recommended reading on this subject:
Attention and sex
The Future of Ignoring Things
November 9, 2007
Add one part CliffsNotes, one part charades, and two parts SportsCenter highlight reel. Mix with bunny rabbits and clever animation. Serve fast and enjoy. The result is the "30-Second Bunnies Theatre" and it's deliciously funny.
Angry Alien features over 3 dozen popular movies like Pulp Fiction, Jaws and Titanic. The films are animated and condensed to just 30 seconds.
Warning: Just like their real movie counterparts, some of the bunny shorts feature language and images that make them inappropriate for work. Unless of course you're a longshoreman.
November 8, 2007
Justin has a clever post suggesting new company taglines that are honest. A few of my favorites:
PopTarts: Until you realize how disgusting they are, we’ll keep making them.
Samsung: Didn’t you mean to buy Sony?
Southwest Airlines: On your marks, get set, find a seat!
Ikea: One day you’ll be able to afford real furniture.
And one from the comments: Twitter: What are you doing? How about now? ...and now?
November 7, 2007
Mash up derby
At Wikipediavision you can watch as people around the world make updates to Wikipedia. Each notice includes a link to the subject where you can see what was just updated.
The concept is based on Flickrvision, where you can see new pictures as they are uploaded to the photo-sharing site. Pretty addictive.
These are both examples of Mashups. A mashup is when people take more than one application and mix them together. (Google Maps with Wikipedia and Flickr respectively in these cases).
Other examples of mashups include WeatherBonk, Pageflakes and the Wheel of Lunch.
November 6, 2007
Subliminal (read this!) advertising
I remember hearing about the famous popcorn subliminal messaging when I was a kid. But I never knew that it was an admitted hoax.
The great site Snopes says: As usual, the media (and thereby the public) paid attention only to the sensational original story, and the scant coverage given to Vicary's later confession was ignored or quickly forgotten.
So the country got panicky and worried about something that doesn't even work. CNN wrote a nice summary of the subliminal issue in 2000.
So at least we don't have to worry about that anymore. And we can move on to more pressing concerns -- like all those backwards messages in rock songs!
November 5, 2007
Marketing thoughts: Quoth the mavens
"The mass market has split into ever-multiplying, ever-changing sets of micromarkets that demand a continually expanding range of options." --Alvin Toffler
"The product is our most important marketing tool." --Phil Knight, Nike
"I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination." --David Ogilvy
"Almost no one goes home eagerly anticipating junk mail in their mailbox. Almost no one read People magazine for the ads. Almost no one looks forward to a three-minute commercial interruption on must see TV. Advertising is not why we pay attention. Yet marketers must make us pay attention for the ads to work. If they don't interrupt our train of thought by planting some sort of seed in our conscious or subconscious, the ads fail. Wasted money. If an ad falls in the forest and no one notices, there is no ad." -- Seth Godin
November 2, 2007
Friday fun, Halloween style
November 1, 2007
New words for a new age
From the always evolving Urban Dictionary:
Multislacking - doing multiple slacker-esque things concurrently (i.e. surfing the 'net, watching TV and eating).
Technolust - The constant desire to have the newest, flashiest, fastest, shiniest gadget available, even if the one you just bought is only two months old and still works great.
Mouse Arrest - Getting grounded from the family computer.
Nano Nap - An unintentional, seconds-long nap that you take most often in class or a really boring meeting. So short that usually nobody but you notices.
Typeractive - Someone who is overly talkative on emails or text messages.
Bluetool - A person who wears a bluetooth wireless earpiece everywhere they go to seem trendy and important.