Sunday, September 28, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: The Seduction of the Interface by Chris Fahey

[Chris Fahey put his Powerpoint presentation up on the Web 2.0 Expo site here. So I've reworked my summary to serve as an accompaniment to his slides, each of which I've indicated in brackets.]

The Seduction of the Interface by Chris Fahey [slides 4, 6] (blogger at and works at - a web design firm) [slide 5]

Fahey began with a question: How many believe in "love at first sight"? [slide 2] Even when it happens you need to work through it -- that is the meaning of seduction. Think of the fad of mixtapes to impress an amorous venture: you had to do work of compiling the recording, which could be considerable.

Now think of the web: We need "interaction designer," or "user experience designer." They know the secrets of seductive with regards to web design.

Rethink merchandising [slide 7]: It's not about that extra click nor about market strategy but rather about web-centric design.

What is merchandising versus marketing? [slide 8] Merchandising is a subset of marketing. But forget about them. It's not about branding. [slide 9]

Marketing [slide 10] is creating business relationships with partners, and is manifest in advertising, delivering messages, retail environments, immersive advertising. [slide 11]

Merchandising [slide 12] is the strategy and implementation of how a product is presented to customers as they decide whether or not to purchase it. There are three tiers [slide 13]:
  1. Selling context
  2. Packaging
  3. Products that sell themselves.
1. Selling context [slide 14]: It's the design of retail environment, the design of marketing, or a planogram. [slide 15] [slide of a shelf in the Apple retail store in New York City.) It's how we shop. The lesson to be learned: the consciousness of the psychology of shopping. [slide 16-17 - shows the deliberate planning for an Apple store]

E-commerce is about selling contexts [slide 18-19]. We're still learning how to optimize automated recommendations, wish lists, product reviews, etc. (so that accurate recommendations are revealed and tied to users' preferences).

2. Packaging [slide 20]. It's about the presentation of an object before you open it - part of the user experience (on Flickr people take and post pics of their unpacking of an object). [slide 21 - think about the success of the L'Eggs panty-hose campaign of 30 years ago.] [slide 22 - an Apple laptop about to be unpacked] Is packaging like a selling contest? [slide 23] Today the box and the store are now the same. For example: Basecamp. [slide 24] The product markets to you directly once you're in the website. [slide 25-26 - from Fahey's] So don't think of your product's box. [slide 27]

3. Products that sell themselves. [slide 28] The seductive qualities must be built into the product. (This subject is discussed in Henry Dreyfuss's book Designing For People.) [slide 29]
Again a definition of mechandising [slide 30]. But we must go beyond merchandising. [slide 31] It's a metaphor for designers. Marketing and design have always have bumped heads with each other. Today they are each other [slides 31-34]

In the Web 2.0 world designers are now responsible for marketing. [slide 35] Think of the product as a vehicle for continuous seduction. Today the new equation is marketing equals design, where design equals all aspects of the user experience.

Web-centric: [slide 36] the broad category of services that are on the web but can exist elsewhere. For the web-centric - the user experience must be about pleasure. [slide 37] It must appeal (if possible) to all the five senses. [slides 38-39; a joke: Homer Simpson's sensory experience] It can be achieved in other ways: through psychological pleasure, e.g. "attractive things work better." (See Don Norman's book Emotional Design [slide 41] and his website as well.) When something pleasures you it primes your mind for more creativity and effectiveness. [slides 42-44]

You don't see web services advertising web companies. On Google? nada, nothing. You don't see TV advertising for faccebook. It goes purely by word of mouth. In traditional mediums, the market has to convince the user that it's great. But in Web 2.0 [slide 45] the user experience is everything.

How the design of the Web 2.0 user experiences changes how products are marketed. [slide 46]

The conversion: [slide 47] An example from yesterday's method of seduction: Think about all that junk snail mail one received from Publishers' Clearing House [slide 48] - their campaign was about submission [slide 49] - that maybe some people would answer their packets.

But today it's not about submission. [slide 50] Seduction is about making someone fall in love with you. [slides 51-54] The conversion method is obsolete. [slide 53] Rather: today's method is connection.

Seduction. We want users to fall in love with us. [slide 55] There are three stages:
  1. inspire their attention, interest and desire
  2. draw them in
  3. capture their ongoing devotion
1. Inspire their attention. [slide 56] Choose your victim. [slide 57] (Look at Robert Greene's book The Art of Seduction - website and on Amazon.) He has these methods of seduction [slide 58].

Look at Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson's book The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes [slide 59].
Think of users as distinct personalities - You can't do that if you think of them as marketing segments. That's a different way of coming up with ways to communicate and design.

Yahoo's Competitive Spectrum outlines these characteristics: caring, collaborative, cordial, competitive, combative [slide 60).
You can make up your own criteria that will help shape the design process [slide 61). Also think of "user personas" a nd personal useage guidelines [slides 62-63]. These are tools for allowing designers to generate ideas.

Techniques for seduction:
  • You need to make the first move!! [slide 64). Use moton, words, video. careful with audio [slide 65].
  • Create a sense of mystery [slide 66] (example of upcoming product with ambiguous web front - slides 67-69].
  • Appear desirable [slides 70-72], because nothing draws a crowd like another crowd. Present testimonials - not user media testimonials, but real user testimonials, too.
    Flatter them [slide 73]. Assume that they're slightly more sophisticated than the marketing data says.
  • Tempt them [slide 74].
Stage Two: draw them in (lead them astray) [slide 75]. Dazzle them with wonder [slide 76]. Fahey cited Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent [slide 77; I think his point was the effectiveness of the title, since the book was devoted to the specious claim that comic books promote juvenile delinquency.]

Seduction is not just about love but also abandoning responsibilities to one's childlike desires - indulging in products like a fantasy. [slide 78: note the entrancing nature of this bookstore with an entrancing name.] [Slide 79 shows examples of types of victims from Greene.]

Have a sense of humor [slide 80]. Why not spice up the cancel button? How about this slide [slide 81] which suggests "just kidding - i remember my password now."

Be stylish [slide 82]. You can redesign based on style since don't want to be out of date.

Affordances of desire [slide 83]. You imagine a website as part of your life. Think of Or Dopplr [slide 84) where you can share your travel itineraries.

Distract them from their responsibilities [slide 85].
(I forget what was the point of the two slides, 86-87, showing 43 Folders and a thought about redirecting one's energy.]

Stage three: Capture their ongoing devotion [slide 88].

Continually grow [slide 89]. Create an endless cycle of continuous seduction. Fahey showed the example of how Nike has created website [slides 90-91] for runners where probes are placed in your sneaker and iPod, to allow you to create charts of running progress which you can share. Of course, there are also widgets for you to put on your blog.

The design process [slide 92]: plan it out: goals, scenarios, and paths [slides 93-94]. Remove obstacles - users know what they want [slides 95-99].

Plan for delight [slide 100]. Plan for these enjoyable user experiences.
Evaluate with psychology and emotion [slide 101].
Understand yourself [slide 102]. What kind of seducer are you? [slides 103]. Perhaps you're one of the 30-second seducers [slide 104] - from 30-Second Seduction by Andrea Gardner.

Closing thought [slide 105] seduction is: [slide 106-111]
  • Is about love, togetherness, enchantment and pleasure.
  • is user-centric. not victimization.
  • is a journey
  • is proactive
  • and nothing to be squeamish about!
Seduction is no longer the responsibility of the marketing people. It's a design job. So do it! [slide 112]. Thank you. [slide 113]

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Designing for the Internet(s) of the Future with Genevieve Bell

Thursday afternoon, Sept. 18 at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York had one of the best speakers: Genevieve Bell, who works for Intel. Though it might have eschewed the technical, the talk was fabulous for opening our eyes to other peoples and cultures that use the Internet. As always, my words should not be accepted as an accurate transcription of her talk and I take responsibility for any errors of transmission.

Bell introduced herself as an anthropologist. Her desire is to tell stories as a means of understanding people and their thinking and to recognize it may be different from the way we think.

She told one story of a bar in Adelaide, Australia (her home country). From this bar, the closest Internet connection was 100 kilometers away - in a McDonald's. When asked, a person inside the bar questioned his need for the internet -- he has a TV and a cellphone. "What more did he need?" So for a person like that, what kind of value does the Internet have? (Apparently he thinks he's not missing anything.)
Genevieve made us question issues such as democracy, transparency, openness. Though we may be used to them where we live, they are not necessarily universal truths. They can be politically influenced. For example, if you're in a country that lacks a town hall, a virtual town hall will be meaningless.
What do we do next? We do it by calling on social behaviors that are universal.
The Internet goes feral. It has gone from domestic to wild, and is available on all sorts of different devices (not just computers, but cellphones, games, etc.).
Thus the Internet is transformed by the medium on which it is delivered, e.g. TV, phones, computers.

We have to realize that this transformation of the Internet means that it may not be first encountered on a computer, and recognize that makes a qualitative difference. People don't want keyboards on the sofa. In Africa (for example), one's first encounter with Internet is on the phone. In that case it's a highly transactive medium where people are looking for specific data.

Genevieve then proceeded with the story of another person : A woman who claimed to use the Internet. Yet she's living in a house with no electricity, she's illiterate, and has no computer in the house. So how does she access the Internet? She told her son to send a message to her daughter who lives far away. The son went to cybercafe, sent a message, went away, then returned to receive the daughter's response, and then reported it to the mother. So that's how the mother uses the Internet. She didn't need to have electricity, a computer, or anything. For her, the Internet meant she can reach out to family that lives far away.

It makes a very different experience of Internet and how to design it.

Talk about language: Chinese has now exceeded English as the most prevalent language of communication. Undoubtedly the use Chinese (and other non-English languages) on the Internet will continue to increase, so that English will never again regain the dominance it had. What does this mean? Think about the rise of these languages, particularly those that use different alphabets. Each language implies a different culture and a different set of cultural practices.

For example, take
Mandarin: It's idiomatic, visual, and carries subtext. So its characteristic form of communication is not about what is being said, but what is NOT being said; it's also what the words you're hearing relate to. In Chinese there are plays on words. To provide an example, Genevieve mentioned the Australian colloquial word for friend is which is "plate." While the surface meaning may be obscure, the derivation brings clarity: There use to be the phrase "China plate." This rhymes with "mate" and thus provides an understanding of why a plate can be a friend (mate).
When dealing with language issues such as these they move us beyond hypertext into metasubtext. How do you encode these things on the web? Think about the situation that exists in many countries where people read the news for what is
not said as much as what is said. How can we and do we think about what is NOT said or written?

With so many languages, and so many different characteristics, there is an inevitable incompatibility. Now, multiply this issue out when you consider that each language (at least) will bring a whole different set of cultural references among the users of that language.

Some examples of unusual cultural traditions making their way on the Internet: From Beijing, there are state-sponsored online shines for one's deceased ancestors. In South Korea there is Cyworld (here is the Cyworld US version ): There has been the practice of dressing oneself in actuality based on the appearance of one's avatar.

How do we search for things when they're not in English? How do work the Internet when the reference points are profoundly different? A Chinese search site (for example) is tagged with terms filled with cultural references.

There are different models of connectivity. Video content requires more bandwidth. Different payment structures are evolving.

The Internet is about the value it has for us - whenever we need it. But different modes of satisfaction yield to different payment structures.

How can we explain the popularity of cybercafes in some countries (whereas they seem to not be popular in the US).

Think of the growing size of material that people download. No doubt we'll see an increasing numbers of caps (i.e. maximum size and rate) for downloading, and probably it will become more frequent in future. Think of the United Kingdom and how they are pondering out to fund the upgrading of their Internet connectivity.

The future: you can't expect to rely on the current structure of the Internet (without extra charges for increasing demands on service). Sometimes there is prioritization: the government of India decided that water is a higher priority than the Internet, and has put resources into getting everyone clean water.

Regulating the net: Who else is going to demand a seat a the Internet? Bell told a story of how the Maori of New Zealand have traditionally received a portion of government assets, but with the rise of the Internet, have put out a claim for that too (which the government disagrees about). This story makes a link between citizenship and a right to technology.

This is part of the social regulation side of the Internet. It magnifies social concerns. Researchers at Cornell University found that 100% of those participating in a survey lie about something. Also social "regulation" and "stalking." For the Chinese, the idea of trashing people's reputations is a very serious matter.

Imagine the Internet as not "all that is good" in society, but rather a part of our society: People can be anxious about things unnecessarily. New questions arise: What's the state of my reputation, what's my accessibility, etc. Questions of authenticity, issues about ownership, piracy, and cultural health in general. The question arises: Is the Internet destroying local culture? Bell doesn't believe so, but people still worry. The Independent (UK newspaper - see the picture above) asks: "Does the Internet know too much about you?"

We need more info about ex-users or non-users of the Internet. We need information about those who never used it or stopped using it. Some of this issue is money, but what about other issues?
There are people who want to buy their way out of technology. Vacation destination where it's not possible to connect to the Internet are becoming very popular with people who want to "get away." What is the future of net: We possibly might find those who want to be connected, and those don't and finding how they achieve that.

At the conclusion of her talked, I asked about her position - clearly that of a cultural anthropologist, yet working for Intel. She responded that Intel felt it a necessity to be connected to the rest of the world now and see what's happening in it.

As I look back on the Expo, Genevieve Bell's talk was the best because it stretched our thinking and forced us to look beyond ourselves. Brava, Genevieve!

See also her blog entry:
The revolution will be televised and then switched off (April 10, 2007; Blogs@Intel)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo New York: Trends and Technologies in Where 2.0 by Andrew Turner and Mikel Maron

Trends and Technologies in Where 2.0 presented by Andrew Turner and Mikel Maron.

[At this point in the Expo, nothing looked interesting to me, so I went to this presentation. So much of the information was new that I wasn't quite up on it, but it was a fascinating session anyway, jam-packed with lots of interesting information. Since GPS and mapping is not at all my area of expertise (or knowledge), many of my notes are just transcriptions of their slides. Use them together to come up with explanations. At least you can follow the links to see what kinds of programs they're talking about.]

They've been nice enough to post their presentation promptly:

Part 1: The state of the geospatial web - presented by Andrew Turner.

Trends in the geoweb - what's really going on locative media and technology. web aligned - KML, etc.

Open data what's building the geoweb. People can gather data on their own. Asides from infrastructure data, every web service is adding geography, even on Flickr - namely Geocodr. It's continually being created [many cellphones and camera include geotagging].

How do you gather all this data together? Mapufacture - mapucommons. Finder.

The speakers felt that user-generated geospatial content is a key to more creation. They noted example of submissions for Hurricaine Katrina.

Another trend: mobile devices have GPS tagging.
Socialight - placemarking with cellphones or other mobile GPS data.
Resulting devices thanks to Google's Android Developers Challenge innovations: Wertago, Life360

Software such as Omnifocus for the Mac, iPhone app: ambient location info can tell you what needs to be done near byou

Urbanspoon can provide you with nearby restaurant recommendations. They hope to understand users more by soliciting reviews.
Mapvertising - geolocation advertising (ways to monetize this new info).
Geomods - urban mapping.

Privacy issues -- geoprivacy? On Flickr - there is casual privacy, and ways to control it to an extent.

Some other developments in geography and the web:
Yahoo's Fire Eagle Platform (here's a press release from PC mag ) - a "trusted location broker," an arbiter of trusted locations.

NeoCartography - company that develops mapping applications. - focusing on data on top of street, rather than the street. - render maps for bicycles, car, etc. seeking accurate depictions of roads
Geocommons maker - project (to launch soon) to help you design your own map.
GeoAnalysis - environmental database management.

Part 2: Technologies - presented by Mikel Maron.

Case study: mapping the 2008 Burning Man event which is "a blank canvas on which to dream and create anything." A single week long social experiment.
They thought it was a good test of Where 2.0: open, collaborative, amateur, cheap, iterative.

Tools for amateur remote sensing:,,

GeoDjango - platform city layout (django is a platforM)
MapWarper - for rectifying online maps
Mapserver - open source tool kit for map making [site was a little buggy when I tried it]
OpenLayers - allows to put a dynamic map on any web page.

In the future:
  • Pinax for networking [probably means PinaxProject ]
  • BRC media artifacts are socvial objects
  • city layout and camp planning tool
GPS mapping and people tracking
mkgmap: osm to garmin maps or cGPSMapper

vehicle tracking


..."our new tools will allow us the leverage to pull ourselves up from the ashes and build ourselves anew."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Man Versus Machine: The New Conundrum of Web 2.0 Advertising Automation

Man Versus Machine: The New Conundrum of Web 2.0 Advertising Automation
A panel discussion by David Kidder, of, Max Kalehoff of, Jim Barnett of, Mike Kelly of Clearmeadow Partners, Tim Hanlon of Denuo

The first session on Thursday, Sept. 18 of the Web 2.0 Expo here in New York was this session on automation. [i.e. It's recognized that automation is needed to capture information about people's behavior when interacting with the web; the question asks how it should be done.] Since it was a panel discussion there were plenty of digressions which made it difficult to follow the train of thought. These are just my notes and should not be taken as a totally accurate transcription of the session. I'm not sure it makes a coherent picture, but that also would be a reflection of the session.

In the world of Advertising 2.0, what does automation mean? Automation is looking for different criteria that changes advertiser to advertiser - media planning. The media company is looking for yield, which is difficult to forecast accurately.

How to improve inventory without conflicts and how to automate it?

A new industry is built on top of this -- necessary due to its complexity.

Are machines replacing people? Complexity is in the nature of companies. It's time to question these traditional models of advertising. And it's impossible to use traditional methods of planning and assessment. One needs to augment staff with MIT programmers. It's not a replacement but enhancement.

How to go about moving into a 2.0 world? Automation is about performance and response. We're overwhelmed by the volume and diversity of content. How do you manage thousands of sites? One company focuses on search [and others on other specific aspects]. This makes it simpler and drives efficiency.

Where is the greatest friction in the market? Too many factors can defeat you. Marketplace = incumbencies. Additional hurdle: compounding. user experience. behavior.
Bringing simplicity to where the frictions lie. We're on a march toward transparency. The environment becomes clear to seller and buyer whether a marketing technique works or not. Up to now,agency business has been traditionally opaque.

Media publishers now have no control over their inventory (because it's dictated by consumers). They're not sure what's going on. What transparency does to the old way of buying and selling: Transparency can mean different things to different people. Traditionally, supply leads demand. But in the current digital media: demand leads supply. Charging for scarcity of return.
talking about massive amount of non-premium inventory.
If you can find potential return of investment (roi) of inventory all way to impression level.

Transparency: customers want to be able to see performance in real time. You must be able to prove performance. [predicting in advance doesn't really make sense - can be unpredictable.]

What do I do to change my business to be responsive?

Automation. It's a new type of creativity.

Niche marketing is the prevailing view nowadays. You need to create multiple messages for multiple audiences.

Advertisers are no longer are satisfied with just TV reporting because they now see how the web is measured, and it makes TV report look crude. So we have to come up with new ways to measure TV.

We're on the doorstep of a new wave of creativity in understanding how to use the new medium.

Automation - how does it change personal relationships? It doesn't really. There's a diversity of content and variability of performance. To think that automation will take over everything is nonsense. Automation will take over tactical ideas, but not great ideas.

Relationships are still important.

Restructuring of relationships: less people, but smarter and more strategically used people. The down economic market will exacerbate and accelerate this. Classic media companies are disproportionally staffed up. We need fewer people and more systems (and intelligent ways to use them).

Ability to invest in digital assets. What kinds of investments will we see?
*cross-platform - more important.
*advertiser desktop solution - no integrated software that's good.
*display problem
*need investment in new talent models - leave old traditional models
*figuring out connection with agency and performance
*solve friction of finding all enterprise software - giving what client needs, saving time, allows them to do their job well.

Web 2.0 Expo: Web Analytics 2.0: Rethinking Decision Making in a "2.0" World by Avinash Kaushik

One of the highlights of the entire Web 2.0 Expo in New York City was Avinash Kaushik's talk (given on the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 17): "Web Analytics 2.0: Rethinking Decision Making in a '2.0' World." Filled with confidence (i.e. with loads of chutzpah), Avinash, a consultant currently engaged by Google, explained the idea behind web analytics. Again, what follows is my summary of his points which were flying too fast to be captured accurately. Do not take them as the absolute summary of his talk. I assume they are distilled in his book (free copies of which were distributed at the end of his talk.

In the traditional world, there was always a struggle to obtain more data. Today, there is more than enough data on user habits - in fact, so much, that we may not always know what to do with it. There is clickstream (i.e. recording the number of clicks on a web page) but this data does not give much insight into behavior. Why not? Because we don't have all the infomration we need from the interweb. Thus the birth of Web Analytics 2.0.

The aim of Web Analytics 2.0 is to measure more and different things from websites. All the current data is telling you what happened. But these tools are bad at measuring "how much"? Some explanations:
  • The what: clickstream
  • The how much: multiple outcomes analysis
  • the why: experimentation and testing, the voice of the customer (missing from the web today!)
  • the what else: competitive intelligence and insights
It's about competitive intelligence. If you're not using competitive intelligence data, it's as if you're driving in a car with opaque windows. At Google we use bounce rate. Search engines determine where you are going to enter a website. If you look at your top 20 pages you'll see which ones are the poor ones. It's a question of "sacrificing usability at the alter of sexiness." With Google Analytics you can understand what sends the top ten users and why lower traffic comes to a website. Traditional analytics are about collecting information whereas Google Analytics are about analyzing data and deriving meaning from it.

For example, take a comparison between the web and television: on television you can't track things. But on the web, a viewer's actions can be entirely measured. Indeed, this is how movie studios are producing movies - by seeing how people watch them on the web (as a product of web behavior, which is entirely measurable).

Let's talk about conversion rates. There is macro conversion rates (the transactions of an entire website) and micro conversion (transactions needed to create a action). These are ways to quantify value.

A website must have multiple goals and in analytics, must have many different goals. But you must track your goals. What about the metric of recency? Are you encouraging return visits? You can ask: Why do you exist? If you can say what yo uare trying to do with your website, there's no reason not to be able to measure it.

This gives you a way to understand "the why." It gives customers a real voice. The primitive way of doing this was with surveys - all of which had three questions: Why are you here, were you able to complete your task, and if not, why not? The goal was finding segments of discontent.

[At this point my notes are less focused - Avinash was going a mile a minute and it was hard to keep up with him, especially since I wasn't totally familiar with his terms.]

Avinash collaborated with iPerceptions to create a questionnaire.

Scalable listening. Experimentation and testing. Axiom: Hippos create bad websites. (Hippo = high paid person's opinion.)

Learn to be wrong. Or prove others wrong, fast.

It's irrelevant what web creators want. Let the customers tell you what works through use of analytics. Don't guess or impose - partner with them. Competitive intelligence will enable you to benchmark expertise. Instead of "ready, aim, fire!" you'll be able to say: "research, target, fire!"

Learn your targeted keywords. Study Google Insights For Search. But you need a holistic view to understand all of people's behavior with regard to a website. We're still far away from it.

Web 2.0 Expo: Web 2.0 and the Reinvention of Marketing and PR - Brian Solis

Brian Solis of FutureWorks had the last morning session on Wednesday, Sept. 17 of the Web 2.0 Expo here in New York City. Here are my notes of his main points (and not necessarily a neat prose rendition). As always, these should not be taken as an exact transcription of his words.

He pointed out that Web 2.0 is more of a dialog than a broadcast medium. He dared to ask rhetorically: "When was the last time a press release worked for you?" Web 2.0 has created a new era of tools, channels, communities, and methodologies to connect with and cultivate relationships and influence. (This has resulted in a realization: public relationships people aren't the most popular people in marketing. )

Web 2.0 is the social web where anyone can facilitate conversations. It's the democratization of information with the potential to transform people. Today, markets are conversations - read about it in The Cluetrain Manifesto. You engage them through conversation; if you attempt direct control, they remove you from their radar. Markets are not conversations and are cyclical. They're driven by the voice of the people. Controlling the message is no longer a goal, because every conversation with consumers is an opportunity.

Everyone contributes to the definition of a brand. The perception of a brand is the sum of all conversations.
How do you define influence? You need new metrics for a new era of public relations. How Web 2.0 redefines the landscape: through curation, content creation, forums, blogs, social networks, new influences, events, and traditional media. Public relations is no longer defined by "hits' (on a website), because Web 2.0 creates many new opportunities. Now, the "conversation index" is the new form of measurement: videos, podcasts, tweets, etc.

And they're trackable: A conversation index indicates your placement, status, ranking, perception, and participation in social media.
The roadblocks are that some marketing people are perceived as "not getting it." They belong to the "sell rather than tell" school of thought. But today it's a new world of public relations and marketing. We're no longer the sole content creators, but should just be part of the community. It requires a new hybrid form of marketeer.

What are the qualifications for this new kind of marketeer? Empathy, market exposure, understanding the competitive landscape, relevant stories, benefits, true intentions, customer approach, observance of online cultures, and experience with social tools. This all sounds like common sense but should not be underestimated.

There are new rules for "breaking news." Be wary of bloggers, because they don't adhere to the same rules of traditional press. They want scoops. The rule guiding this landscape is: less is more. So identify a list of newsmakers and build relationships with them.

The Magic Middle and the Long Tail

Today we're in a world of social media, conversational marketing and word-of-mouth marketing. The key is people - they are what makes something viral.
None are rooted in old-style broadcast, i.e. one-way marketing. Who's responsible for participating? Everyone -- including you.

We must become sociologists in order to become participants. How do we listen? Through the conversation prism -- everywhere where conversations are taking place.

But how does this translate into delivering value to communities? You must participate, have conversations. Humanize our story (and beware of what not to do). Conversational marking is not a campaign. It must be done every day.

New elements are introduced into public relations for measuring return of investment and success -- web analytics are useful for this.

It's about how to change the way we are perceived. The public relations/marketing world of today is about less noise, and more listening. You are the brand: respect the communities and they will respect you. Ultimately, companies get the relationships they deserve.

After the main part of the talk, an audience member, responsible for maintaining decorum in his online community, asked how do deal with constant complaints. Brian retorted with a smart answer: "How does Batman sleep at night?" One does what one can.

Be a champion of your brand. Invite others to lunch in order to proselytize . Find champions in your company.

I was particularly taken when, at one point in the talk, Brian said: "Research librarians are better than marketing directors." (Meaning that their depth of knowledge is richer.) Bravo.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Viral Marketing 2.0 with Jonah Peretti

The second talk I attended on Wednesday, September 17 was “Viral Marketing 2.0” by Jonah Peretti. Little did I realize he is already a well-known "star" in market research and his talk was well attended. He went extremely fast and I couldn't capture any pics of him (his hair is brown or black, not red as in the Wikipedia photograph) or of his presentation slides which whizzed by.

The core concept of his talk: the Bored At Work Network (BWN). Some facts (as seen by Peretti):
  • Millions are bored office workers, ready to share media, blog post and instant messaging all day
  • The BWN is bigger than CBS, NBC, or any traditional media network
  • The BWN is a decentralized network that enables media to go viral if ordinary people enjoy sharing it.

The old broadcast model is simple and reassuring – broadcaster is at the center and decides what's important and what's popular. (Examples: television, newspapers, and similar one-way media.)

The new networked world is confusing, counterintuitive: BWN decides what is popular, so it’s a more complex thing to understand. (Perhaps even irrational.)

What can make something popular on the web? The key research is: Influentials, Networks, and Public Opinion Formation by Duncan J. Watts, Peter Sheridan Dodds (Journal of Consumer Research, December 2007). There are no movers and shakers, or “special influence people” who can make something popular. Rather, the network decides what is popular.

A network structure is more important than influence. Whether or not something spreads depends mostly on network structure. If a network permits diffusion, anyone can start something and if not, no one can. Some examples of diffusion: forest fires, early Facebook apps (the platform was perfect for spreading applications), blogs, embarrassing homemade videos, etc. Compare these phenomena to viral marketing. Why videos? Because of YouTube’s existence – it’s a platform that allows the spread.

Hindsight bias. Beware of people’s recollections of what happened:

  • after the fact, influential people seem like the key factor (aggrandizement)
  • East Village hipsters wore lots of ridiculous clothes besides hush puppies
  • Jeff Jarvis complained about many things on his blog besides Dell
The problem with hindsight bias is that it is not repeatable in the future. If not repeatable, then it’s less interesting because it means it's something one can do with consistency.

Key research: the music lab experiment:

  • subjects are shown a grid with mp3s from unknown bands
  • they choose, listen, rate, and download favorites
  • behavior is tracked in several different worlds to measure social influence.

The results of this experiment shows that people don't know what they like

  • different songs were popular in different worlds – no consistent hits
  • social influence increased inequality and unpredictability
  • best songs never do badly and the worst never excel but all other results happened

So the big problem is radical unpredictability (sounds like Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational)

  • the latest research shows that we can't predict who can make something popular or what will become popular
  • the web is confusing, counter-intuitive and unpredictable
  • So: how do we succeed on the web despite this?

Solution no. 1: Contagious Media

  • Make something that ordinary people want to share with each other
  • Make it easy to understand, easy to share, and include a social imperative
  • Make media perfect for the BWN

Examples: The New York Times’s list of articles most shared and most blogged – shows behavioral patterns of ordinary people.
Another example: Nike sweatshop email story

  • Nike offers to custom-print a word on sneakers, so Peretti ordered a pair of Nikes customized with the word “sweatshop” (i.e. so that the sneaks would read “Nike Sweatshop” – unflattering to company)
  • After some back-and-forth, Nike rejected Peretti’s request
  • Peretti then forwarded the exchange to a few friends – who continued to forward it until the email led to a viral cascade – and became legendary on the Internet.

Compare these: People dedicate their life to fighting for human rights whereas Peretti did not even know much about the sweatshop issue. In the first case people deliberately try, whereas Peretti didn’t even have to try and yet got more coverage.

Another example: Bogus website that nevertheless developed following of those who thought it was racist and those who didn’t.

The lessons he draws from this are:

  • The BWN trumps influentials
  • The BWN network creats its own influentials

The limits of contagious media: most things are not viral. Contagious media is usually silly, free, shocking, simple – for BWN. (For example: the Montauk Monster, or other things on

(See article: Viral Marketing For The Real World – by Duncan Watts And Jonah Peretti)

Solution 2: Big Seed Marketing

l small seeds lead to failure

l but subviral growth is still growth

l big seeds lead to successs

l examples; Proctor & Gamble, Oxygen,

(see article: )

Tide Cold Water campaign. by making it sharable and social, it increased penetration.

World of mouth without tipping points.

Solution 3: Multi-Seed Marketing

l try lots o creative ideas- no one can predict what will be popular

l test to see what's working using real data

l big seede the stuff that is worki9ng

l more data enables more creativity tracks these viral feeds

Solution no. 4: Mullet Strategy – (a mullet is a haircut cropped in front but long in back)

Businesss upfront, and party in the back - use this as a webstrategy

Example: Huffington Post: real news upfront, and crazy stuff in the back.

An editor's view of huffington post: you can analyze it immediately, know how many clicks and how often people visit.

The power of mullets

l the front always looks sharp

l no need to find influentials and predic thte future, just let good stuff bubble up

l other examples: YouTube, MySpace, Digg

Solution no. 5: personality disorders

The web is ruled by fanatics like Perez Hilton, Ron Paul, Apple fans, , blog commenters, animal lovers, and other crazy people.

Examples (a catalog of personality disorders in real life that inhabit the Internet):

histrionic/narcissistic personality disorder – great for bloggers!

obsessive-compulsive persoality disorder (wikipedia, online games,, etc.)

and so on.

If we had more time, we could discuss other disorders such as paranoid, schizoid, antisocial, etc.

Learn advertising from this humorous example: Jews vs. Mormons

While Judaism may be a quality religion, quality has nothing to do with it. Quality is extra constraint and liability. Instead, learn from the Mormons:

l quality is not a growth strategy

l make evangelism core of your strategy

l focus on the mechanics of how an idea spreads, not the idea itself

Conclusion: This is what is Viral Marketing 2.0

Contagious Media – make media that works for the BWN

Big-Seed Marketing – do viral marketing without needing elusive tipping points

Multi-Seed Marketing – try many ideas and optimzie on the fly (think of

Here’s another summary of the session:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Customer Service is the New Marketing - Lane Becker

On Wednesday, September 17, I focused on the marketing thread of the Web 2.0 Expo in here New York. The first session I attended was Customer Service is the New Marketing given by Lane Becker. (Again, this is just my subjected summary and should not be taken as a literal or accurate transcription of Lane Becker's words, although the picture above is him.)

He reiterated what's been said many times in reference to Web 2.0: it's all about customer service. And he should know: he's set up the website where anyone can talk about any company or any product (their motto: "People-Powered Customer Service For Absolutely Anything!").

He then proceeded to an example: the online shoe store From its outset this store has focused all its efforts on customer service. This is apparent at every level of the organization. At its core, it is focused on customer service. Most companies can't afford to throw everything into customer service. But at Zappos, new employees must have FOUR WEEKS of customer service training, and must spend one week in the "call center" helping customers. It doesn't matter what level of the organization you are: all employees, from bottom to the top, must have at least one week of customer service. This training when you are hired, and for at least one week every year.

Becker then brought up Maslow's Hierarchy of Customer Service:
The bottom line of this hierarchy is that one creates evangelism through meeting unrecognized needs. In other words, customer service = growth; customer loyalty = profits.

So - what kind of company are you?
  • Customer focused (like Zappos, Four Seasons, or Craigslist)?
  • Product-focused (e.g. Apple, Google, etc.)?
  • Infrastructure-focused (most telecommunications companies)?
What about the rest of us - what can we do? Becker's solution: Learn to be like a hotel concierge. Here are some of their secrets:
  1. Put conversations at the center of your business
  2. Reduce your sphere of control to increase sphere of influence
  3. Smash the silos that exist between your business and the world around it
No. 1: "Markets are conversations." This is the philosophy of the Cluetrain Manifesto. But normally we keep the customers out of the organizational conversation. There are limited channels for conversing with the public, because we've not developed effective ways to have conversations with them. In most companies, when you think of customers, you think of customer avoidance. Examples of how to kill conversations: outsourcing your call center (especially overseas or to a country whose first language is not English), FAQs (are they really designed to help people, or just relieve staff of answering questions), ticket systems (when someone has encountered trouble - most systems are aimed at getting rid of tickets, rather than genuinely helping people). Even on help desk phones: the aim is to reduce staff time on phone, not to really help people.

Rather, friction-free communication is the new norm. There are many venues of communications. It's easy to talk to friends, but it's hard to talk to companies.

Examples of the reversed trend: the company Timbuk2 - a San Francisco-based company that makes bags. They embraced the web and had one person charged with figuring out ways to talk to customers. That's what her job is entirely about. She set out to discover where are customers talking. She found a Flickr group called What's In Your Bag? It was a fad that caught on in Flickr where people emptied out their bags, arranged its contents on a table, photographed it, and uploaded it to Flickr. So the Timbuk2 staff member noticed a large number of bags were from her company! Thus she identified a valuable thing for her company. In fact, they no longer focus on professional photography but use examples from Flickr to show their products.

Becker had a cute story about a potential Timbuk2 customer wanting a diaper bag (appropriate for a nursing mother). They don't make such bags, but based on what other people had done, the customer service rep was able to advise the customer on how to accessorize her bag so that it would function for a a mother nursing a baby.

These stories exemplify reaching out and talking to customers. Understand the language used by the customers - the way they see it - and translate it. This avoids pushing business jargon on them.

No. 2: "Reduce sphere of control." Engage your evangelists. Reduce your sphere of control to increase your sphere of influence. The example of Comcast was cited, particularly the culture around the website and phrase of Comcast Sucks ( At one time they were avoiding conversations with customers.

Comcast thought: what if we took 5 people and charged them with customer engagement (giving them a name and a Twitter site: Comcast Cares). This is the work of Frank Eliason, to reach out and engage customers. He functions like the concierge. Frank can identify where traditional customer support channels are not working or where they are breaking down.

It's an opportunity to reach into the business and manage the social mood of Comcast. But it also changes ideas about the way Comcast views itself. These conversations have the potential to change the company - don't underestimate the internal impact.

No. 3: "Smash the silos." Example of a silo: the internal company response: "It's not our problem." Becker brought the example of the day on Twitter that Nokia wasn't working. An incompatibility existed between Nokia and T-Mobile, resulting in a lost of connectivity. Nokia didn't diagnose it -- it was the customers who figured out what was wrong. They flooded T-Mobile and forced them to address the problem. On its own, Twitter would not have been able to diagnose and fix the problem as fast.

Take an open approach to customers - there are more of them than you. Let them harness applications to get a sense of what works and what doesn't work.

Customer service in the form of ongoing conversations is the way the world is going. Companies have to get on board. A good example: Apple, and its stores' "Genius Bar."

And always ask yourself: What would a concierge do?

Web 2.0 Expo: what's a librarian doing there?

If I may interrupt summaries of the Web 2.0 Expo briefly:

Regular readers (and colleagues) may wonder - what does all this have to do with librarianship? In my opinion this is all directly related to librarianship. We are a business like any other (the differences between non-profit and profit are disappearing fast). Everything at the Expo can be applied to us, to the way we work and relate to the people around us. Especially because I feel my employer could use more information on marketing, I chose to go to many of those sessions. Hopefully my reports will be influential to other librarians (as well as anyone browsing the web for the subjects or people I've covered).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Communities That Connect and Thrive

The first session I attended at the Web 2.0 Expo was Online Customer Communities that Connect and Thrive: Creating the Right Mix of Purpose, Passion, People, and Platforms presented by Lois Kelly (above right) and Fran├žois Gossieaux (above left) of Beeline Labs. They promised to post their Powerpoint presentation to under: The following is my summary of the session - any mistakes are my own and should not be assumed to be that of the lecturers without verification.

Three hours in length, their session had a mix of interactive break-out sessions and lecture sessions. After a brief intro, we broke up into groups - their method was to divide attendees by month of birth, so it was a good way to get to know people and break the ice. My group was the October, from which we informally selected Chrissie Brodigan (formerly of the Huffington Post) to faciliate and be our spokesperson. We brainstormed for characteristics of (online) social communities and came up with: sharing stories, having (social) purpose, community causes, support, dependency, community interests, effecting change, shared history, open communities, outlet, safety, belonging, collaboration, personal relationships. In the pic below, Chrissie reports on our brainstorming to the rest of those assembled. (Interestingly, not all groups identified the same characteristics; some were more aggressive in their attitude towards others.)

In learning to work with each other, Kelly & Gossieaux reminded us of Clay Shirky's comment to the effect of: "A group is its own worst enemy."

Each one of the groups summarized their characterizations of social communities. It was interesting to point out that not all saw perfect harmony among participants, and that some communities were based on an ongoing debate.) They referred us to Beeline Lab's Tribalization Report (one has to register on their website to see it).

They characterized the subject as "tribalization" and quoted Wikipedia: "Tribalism is the very first social sysmte that human beings ever lived in..." They characterized the motivations for socialization as:

  • People want to connect with people
  • People want to help and be helped
  • People operate in either a social framework, or market framework.

Further, they see 4 building blocks as part of the social network: content, members, member profiles, and transactions, and posited this interrelated axiom:

  • The more content you have, the more members you will get;
  • The more members you have, the more content you will get;
  • The better you match content and members to member profiles the more members and content you will get; and
  • The easier it is to do transactions the more members you will attract.

Among their top usage scenarios were "canary in a coal mine" and long-tail sales - kind of extremities of the market.

Who's in charge? was one of their questions. Most communities wind up reporting to the head of marketing. So they discussed several takeaway points:

Takeaway #1: The community delivers game changing results (example: Ebay's support communities resulted in their bringing in 50% more customers). It's getting the community involved in the processes. A community can amplify, increase effectiveness and decrease costs.

Takeaway #2: The changing role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). As example they cited Ducati which eliminated their CMO and left all marketing to be done by their online community.

Takeaway #3: The need for new management thinking. If there's a mismatch between community goals and what management invests in, things won't work. So management has to really understand what to measure. This goes against the dictum "Build it and they will come." They reject that, and suggest to start small and limited, to see how the community receives it.

The provided some case studies: first, Walmart Moms - how Walmart selected 11 mothers who epitomized use of their product. But then they spoke about Fiskars's Fisk-A-Teers - 3 "ambassadors" who serve as the generators and conduit to the rest of the community.

They spoke about the Tivo community which is entirely separate from the product Tivo, but that the product people were still listening and taking suggestings from the community about improving the product. Even Lilly in dealing (delicately) with their community chose not to refer to their drug as a cure for the disease, but rather portrayed it as a way to restore regular patterns of life while coping with the disease.

To get started use the SAM formula:
Strategize, Activate, Manage to scale
We then broke into our "monthly" groups again for about 25 minutes and each was given one of 3 projects to work on - an aerospace firm, a theater company, and a toy company. Our October group came up with the title Fundawhere - a fictional community where 8-12 year olds could share knowledge, reviews and other stuff concerning the toys their owned. It was a good exercises in trying to actualize what we just heard.

Once the lecture resumed, Lois and Fran├žois discused obstacles. (I'm not sure I them but they'll be on their Powerpoint presentation on Some additional notes are these: One should have "more McKinsey, less McCann" (referring to market specialists' philosophies). Be simple: show the data, the trends, and examples. Be frank about the challenges and readiness. Frame the values to business function of goals and aspirations.

Lois was particularly influenced by Rob Kozinets's article E-Tribalized Marketing. The five common obstacles marketers face:
  1. What's the business value? Lack of a strategy roadmap
  2. Appealing to all of our customers and prospects
  3. Fear of failure
  4. Who's job is it anyhow?
  5. What if you build it and no one comes? and (extra):
  6. What is the right tech platform?
They made an interesting point, that companies that seek to create social communities of their workforce are doomed to fail because: the workers are being paid to work; their not being paid to form social communities. (They referred to Dan Ariely's book Predictably Irrational.)

But they summed up by saying that the social and tribal behavioral movement is part of business strategy. Content matters more than technology (well, in this context). They predicted that most companies will have community groups associated with them in just a few years.

Thereafter people asked questions for nearly 30 minues. Some of them:

Q. How to deal with trolls in the community?
A. Either a strong moderator/facilitator, or let the community cleanse itself of these disruptive people.

Q. Speak more about tribalization.
A. A focus on technology will not guide your community to success (they showed examples of communities that did not "take").

I found it a valuable session. A person I chatted with found it limited, as the speakers were speaking theoretically. She wanted to see the succcess they had with clients. Indeed, they did not mention any that they had.

Monday, September 15, 2008

IgniteNYC: intro to the Web 2.0 Expo

On Monday evening, Sept. 15, the reception IgniteNYC served as the kick-off for the Web 2.0 Expo. Never having been to one of these things, I wasted my time coming early and having no one to talk to. I couldn't even figure out who to talk to, because most attendees were attending the New York TV Festival -- NYTVF (you can tell from all the media sponsors's logos seen in the picture above). Part of the "social" aspect of the event was a cupcake decorating contest (you can see the "winners" in the lower left corner of the picture above).

This IgniteNYC post describes who gave talks in pecha kucha style: each person could have a maximum of 20 slides, running at 15 seconds each. Some seemed barely relevant to the theme of the expo, such as those dealing with cupcakes (come on, who can eat them, with such an overload of sugar?), magic at the Democratic National Convention (whatever my political leanings, what did this have to do with Web 2.0?).

But some of the talks were interesting. Raffi Krikorian's facilitates self-monitoring of energy consumption, Sam Lessin gave a wake up call to how we view our privacy in today's world, and Don Carli spoke about the carbon footprint of all our computer issues (making one realize that anyone who espouses "green" attitudes and uses a computer is a hypocrite). Some were amusing: Deb Schultz's "Alley vs. Valley" was a spot-on comparison of working in New York City versus working in San Francisco, Andrew Schneider's experimental devices for performance might really have a chance - maybe not the projection of lips on someone else (it reminded me of the 1960s cartoon Space Angel), but the sneaker devices that generated rhythm, not to mention the wrist things that could produce a variety of sound effects. (Broadway: watch out! Or maybe Fringe festivals...)

I found the most interesting talks coming from Audacia Ray and Jennifer Pahlka. Ray spoke about the relationship of pornography to innovation. She pointed out that porn was in part responsible for the adoption of VCR (over Betamax), since there was more porn available in that medium (despite Betamax's better quality). Ray characterized the porn industry as one that was run by the stakeholders, but that recent developments on the Internet - namely a more socialized world - had challenged that. Now there are a number of sites where users can upload their own porn stills and videos -- so who needs the companies that produce the stuff? In fact, she said, many people prefer to watch, comment, and interact with each other's porn through these websites than the impersonal ones of big companies. In this way, they are fulfilling the web 2.0 dictum of interrelating with one another. Watch for ongoing changes in this industry.

Jennifer Pahlka's talk was humorous and more. Entitled Technology Anxiety: Jello and Web 3.0, she used the metaphor of cooking for showing the development of technology. She compared utilitarian cookbooks of the post-World War II era to beginnings in technology. She showed advertisements that tried to portray stoves and ovens as new devices where one just pushed a single button that would create a finished meal - just like promises of technology. Continuing in this vein, she showed that a little bit of cooking knowledge could create some really awful confections from those who didn't know how to cook, just as it had in the technology world among those less creative or innovative. In speaking of the threat or fear that some have of web 3.0 (which was characterized as a world that would leave us out), she made a funny metaphor to Jello sculptures, where one could put in all sorts of food within the Jello and have it magically "work" simply because of the medium of Jello. She warned us about having such illusions in the Web 2.0 world. Very nice.

It would have been nicer if the presentations were vetted a bit more and were a bit more releavant, but I guess the mood was to party with beer (served on the house) and cupcakes.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Wikipedia and the community

Most people I know (including librarians) don't like Wikipedia.  Some people complain about the uneven quality of articles, while others even more vociferously object to policies which they perceive as bordering on facism.  There is a great deal of truth in both of these criticisms, and yet, loads of people use Wikipedia.  I use it as part of work sometimes, because it's a fast and easy way to find information which I know I can supplement with more authoritative sources.  (I also find there is lots not to like.)

Information Today has an article on the phenomenon, Putting the Library in Wikipedia by Lauren Pressley and Carolyn J. McCallum.  The authors go further than other writings I've seen.  They say we've got to embrace Wikipedia, because library websites are losing hits since no one suspects there to be much content on them.  Thus we should put our content on Wikipedia - and goes on to describe an abortive attempt with a lesson.

I've been a strong voice of the same feeling, not because I feel our websites are under-visited (although I'm sure they are), but because by getting ourselves entrenched in Wikipedia, we can better direct information about our unique holdings.  I've systematically put in entries for our many archival collections in the appropriate articles, and on a few occasions, have created articles so I can include mention of an important collection.  (While the individuals may not necessarily be important, what is important are the links to and from other articles.  That is what raises the significants of topics - just ask Google.)  Some of the information I've put there are the products of research done in response to reference questions.

Oddly, when I've tried to suggest engaging Wikipedia on e-mail lists of musicologists and music theorists I get either no comment, or agreement without any follow-up.  One anonymous Wikipedian began a WikiProject devoted to music theory.  Even though I announced it on the list of the Society for Music Theory, SMT-TALK, which has over 1,000 people interested in music theory (including many students), not a single one of them signed up.

Why the lack of interest?  I think it has less to do with the idiosyncracies of the Wikipedian community and more to do with the vacuum in which certain types of professions operate.  If I may resort to armchair psychology:  music people need to spend a lot of time just listening and thinking about music (not to mention practicing instruments).  It is not a profession that easily welcomes external forces.  So I suspect the lack of Wikipedia engagement reflects a more troubling aspect of the practitioners of the music profession.

I don't have enough experience serving the (non-music) academic population at large, but I suspect that this isolationist behavior is typical of many academic fields of study.  It's easy not bothering to look up additional sources or citations.   As librarians, it's in our interest to counteract this apathy and closemindedness by reaching out and populating places like Wikipedia.