Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The end of print media is coming

“We have the luxury — the opportunity — of making a leap that most newspapers will have to make in the next five years.”

-- John Yemma, editor of the Christian Science Monitor, on their discontinuation of their print publication (from the New York Times, 10/29/08)

If one belongs to a smaller (especially non-profit) journals, one has seen this coming. Most newsletters and smaller print publications have already (or are in the process) of discontinuing their paper editions and moving to an online-only format. Many magazines have either folded or have limited the number of issues they print in a year.

This represents a huge change: in less than 5 years, I predict most average-budgeted periodicals will move to an online-only system. Any publisher that's a non-profit or that works with a low budget will similarly feel impelled to give up on print since it is too expensive.


"Almost every study of performing arts institutions in the United States reports that dynamic artistic leadership is the most crucial factor in energizing companies and attracting new audiences."

- Anthony Tommasini, At City Opera, Concern Over a Visionary Whose Eye Seems to Wander (Oct. 4, 2008)

I may want to believe otherwise, but clearly personality is a (the?) driving force behind institutional management. Some leaders may prefer to be quiet, but those people who are extroverts will probably be able to do more (certainly in
areas usually seen by external forces, such as fundraising).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Museum 2.1

Now that I've finished summarizing the sessions I attended, I'll mention one social/networking aspect of the Web 2.0 Expo. There were plenty of opportunities for networking and socializing, from the various lunch venues and the waiting areas in the Javits Center that allowed one to plug in and charge one's batteries (literally - if your laptop was dying).

One of the lunches was a bit more scripted - and it was much better than just an open-ended meal. Tables were labeled based on mutual interest and one could sit down at the table of one's interest. In cases of excess interest, additional tables were created. I could have gone to the big choices (marketing, media, programming), but instead found something more in tune with my work: "Museums 2.1" as they called themselves.

It turned out to be a great lunch - not for the food, but for the interesting conversation. Most were staff of a variety of museums, as well as a staff member of Apple and 2 representatives of commercial firm (whose name and function I forgot, but who were interested in talking about what museum folks were doing).

Unfortunately the majority of what I remember was how we were all lamenting how difficult it was to get coworkers and bosses "on board" with recognizing the importance of the Web 2.0 world. I think all of the museum staff at the lunch table were greatly impressed and inspired by the Web 2.0 Expo. The problem most faced was communicating our interest in the value of Web 2.0 it to others at our institutions.

The people from commercial firms asked several interesting questions about how we deal with information/metadata about our materials. I remember we mentioned TMS - The Museum System as a way that many museums deal with their holdings. I remember seeing that some of the commercial firm people were surprised at the amount of metadata we had to use to create records of our holdings, and we tried to give reasons on why so much was needed (e.g. to distinguish between slightly different samples or manifestations of objects).

At the conclusion one of the participants collected everyone's name and email address and send us all a message so that we could keep in contact.

It was a very nice lunch experience. I wish more conferences and meetings would do this. It would be a great way to enhance networking among participants.

Web 2.0 Expo: Tying It All Together: Implementing the Open Web by Joseph Smarr

The final talk I attended at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York City was appropriately titled Tying It All Together: Implementing the Open Web given by Joseph Smarr of Plaxo. [See also his blog and his Plaxo page.]. His PowerPoint presentation is here.

Being on the staff of Plaxo, one would think he'd promulgate Plaxo as the answer to everything - but he didn't (and that was welcome). Although Plaxo was clearly present in some of his slides, his goal of achieving a broader topic was what made his talk very good. He really believes that we are close to wiring the web to become the social web, so that information people have filled out on social websites can be easily transported to others. As usual, I take any responsibility for any faulty transcription of his talk.
There is an important fundamental change going on the web: The entire web is going social and the social is going open. Here are some of the open Social Web building blocks: OpenId, Open Social, Jabber, microformats.

How does it all fit together? What will new Social Web look like?

Today the Social Web is broken: we have to register anew for each site. We must re-establish our relationship, our profile, etc. It's a pain (and disuades one from trying out new sites). Current social applications have limited options. At least more and more people have the same info somewhere on the web (in various sites).

But we know how to make things better. The new building blocks of social apps can establish important identification of people and their relationships. Here's how. There are thee significant ways to define yourself in relation to the Social Web:
  1. Who I am
  2. Who I know
  3. What's going on
1. Who I Am. You create create a lasting, portable, durable online identity. For example, OpenID allows you to link profile data between sites.

Then consolidate your online identify with me-links: rel=me (XFN)
You can use Google Social Graph API to see what your users said about themselves.
In Plaxo it's called the Pulse Stream - a stream of all your contacts and what they're doing on the web.

2. Who I know.

You build and maintain real relationships. Sometimes it's just a way to keep in touch with already known people. Traditional ways of friending people can now give way to these techniques:
  • Contact APIs (ex. find people from your address book), and leverage previously established relationships (learned from address books)
  • OAuth - share private data between trusted sites.
  • Friends-list portability - to create continuous discovery across multiple sites. (Most robots just scrape just once.)
Some examples: Flickr and Gmail - allows one to import your address books to set up network of existing friends. Dopplr also has a unique way of doing this.

3. What's Going On

Staying up-to-date with people you know. OpenSocial -- You can build apps that can run anywhere. Aggregates activities all over the web - brings all feeds together. Examples: Plaxo, Friendster, Orkut, Hi5, Myspace.

RSS/Atom -- open standard for aggregating open events. one can syndicate activity with others.

Jabber - XMPP - real-time update stream between sites.

Imagine a picture of how it might be: You want to interact with many different websites. So there's an emerging service layer between you and the sites.

The Social Web Ecosystem:

Who I am: Identity providers
Who I know: Social Graph providers
What I know: Content aggregators

Social Graph (i.e. Network) Providers will be emerging.

The virtual cycle of social discovery: John checks out a new site, finds people he knows there (using his address book/friends list), then creates some content and shares it on the site; his friend Joe then discovers that content and site and continues the cycle.

There are hurdles to overcome:
* How does friends list portability work?
* Tell the site your Social Graph Provider: XRDS Simple (discovery tool) + OAuth (access - method to interact with protected data)
* Site fetches your data to find local friends (no standards way to do this yet)
* Site lets you connect to people you want - can periodically look for new matches

The missing link: Portable contacts.

Currently there are efforts underway to standardize contact schema, discovery/auth, and common operators. There's a focus on ease and speed of adoption with active involvement from large and small players

For more info see http://portablecontacts.net (one of Smarr's projects)

Picture of how it will work:
* User signs on with OpenID
* Site tries to get contacts with API - no go
* Site sends user through OAuth flow to grant access
* Users now access users' contacts data via API+

The future of the Social Web will really be where all interconnections will work smoothly.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Enhancing Engagement and User-Experience Beyond the TV Screen: Some Lessons Learned from a Transition to web 2.0

Enhancing Engagement and User-Experience Beyond the TV screen: Some Lessons Learned from a Transition to web 2.0 by Tony Carbone of VH1.

His PowerPoint presentation is available for download in this zip file.

This presentation was good, but somewhat disappointing compared to most others. Most speakers understood that they had to look beyond their specific corporation and look to the abstract ideas that are behind Web 2.0 and make them extend their reach. While this talk did include some of that, most of it was focused on VH1 - to its detriment. But the speaker was good.

Tony Carbone began by talking about viral video brainstorming games. Then asked: What were the two or three most memorable viral videos that you recall seeing in the last 6-12 months?

The lesson is that viral videos increase metrics.

Wikipedia definition of web 2.0:
Web 2.0 is a term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies…Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users utilize the Web.”

Tim O'Reilly has said:

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry cause by the move to the Internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform."

"Groundswell: a social trend in which people use technologies to get things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations."
- from Groundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li

So, 2.0 means for:
  • Everyone: more creativity, more collaboration, and better access to information and entertainment
  • Users and consumers: Less reliance on traditional institutions
  • Traditional institutions: They have a lot of stuff to figure out...
The key is to define your attack plan, define your measurable objectives:
  • Increase user engagement, and increase brand and product awareness -- and figure out how to measure them
  • Increase revenue and leverage community (members' activities, talents, and ideas)
Lessons learned: You must be able to measure it
  • Define measurable objectives - recognize and realize the value of social media and social platforms
  • Don't cut corners on reporting functionality
  • Reporting and data should influence your technology decisions
  • Don't over report
  • Research and data are how you assess and meet needs of your customsers
  • If you can't measure it, you're only guessing.
Carbone then gave an example of a disparity between search data (for the star Lil' Wayne) and result of highest result of artists.
The fact is that Lil' Wayne went to become as iconic as any pop star or recording artist. So VH1 reached out to Lil' Wayne on advice on stuff.

You can do it: Effective user (activity) assessment = success.
Build your ideas around natural (quantifiable) activities.
Pay attention to the rules of social media and to what's been successful for others.

Embrace it!:
  • Sharing, syndication and ubiquity are good, measurable, and monetize-able things
  • Use research and data to prove or disprove hunches
  • Assess your audience, define your objectives, and execute.
Case study: VH1's Superpoke!Fest - a campaign whose idea is to send it to friends on Facebook and MySpace. Result: 2.500 branded Superpokes were sent resulting in 1,500 new fans for VH1.

Nobody owns the Internet.
  • In Web 2.0 everyone can participate
  • Communicate and enforce best practices
  • Integrate systems and technology
Invest in success (e.g. VH1 blog, Scandalist.com, optimized by posting items to Twitter and iPhone)

Is it working? Your objectives:
  • Increase engagement
  • Increase brand and product awareness
  • Increase revenue
  • Leverage the community
  • Recognized the value of social media and platforms
Carbone concluded by showing figures illustrating VH1's successful move into the Web 2.0 world.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: What Would Google Do? How Media Must Revolution Their Thinking

The second session of the Web 2.0 Expo in New York that I attended on Friday, Sept. 19 was "What Would Google Do? How Media Must Revolution Their Thinking," a panel discussion led by Jeff Jarvis (BuzzMachine.com), with John Byrne (executive editor of Business Week and editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek.com), Steve Adler (also of Business Week). Jarvis was the center of the show. My guess was that his points were taken from What would Google Do? his forthcoming book on lessons intuited from Google, taken to business world to see how these lessons work. He was a passionate and dynamic speaker, speaking to-the-point with these axioms below.

Google's rules:
  • Give the people control and they will use it
  • Dell hell [lessons learned from Jarvis's own experience with Dell]
  • Your worst customer is your best friend
  • Your best customer is your partner
We have a new architecture:
  • A link changes everything
  • Do what you do best and link to the rest
  • Join a network / be a platform
  • Think distributed
Additionally there is a new publicness:
  • If you're not searchable, you won't be found
  • Everybody needs a little SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Life is public, so is business
  • Your customers are your ad agency
We live in a new society: You don't start communities, they exist already. So the question is: How do you harness them? ou give them: "Elegant organization" - Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook)
  • Small is the new big
  • Maintain audience
  • Join open source - it's a gift economy
  • The mass market
Welcome to the new business reality:
  • Atoms are a drag
  • Middlemen are doomed
  • Free is a business model
  • Decide what business you're in
New attitude
  • There is a inverse relationship between control and trust - David Weinberger (author of Cluetrain Manifesto)
  • Trust the people
  • Listen
Google creates new ways of listening to people - us.
There are ten signficant things in our lives [this is evidently a pun on Google's corporate philosophy. Sorry, I didn't catch them all because he went way too fast].
  • Make mistakes well
  • Life is a beta
  • Be honest
  • Be transparent
  • Collaborate
  • Don't be evil
Michael Dell (co-creator of computer company) has these aphorisms:
  • New speed
  • Answers are instantaneous
  • Life is live
  • Mobs form in a flash
  • Be transparent
From this we derive new imperatives:
  • Beware of the cash cow in the coal mine (i.e. can blind us to strategic necessities)
  • Encourage enable and protect innovation
  • Simplify, simplify
  • Get out of the way

Once Jarvis was finished, the talk part of the program switched to how Business Week has embraced the Web 2.0 world and aesthetic. Byrne and Adler's Powerpoint presentation is here although it appears kind of cryptic. [I apologize for the brevity of my notes, and how they trail off at the end.]

How has Businessweek opened up? Through simplifying URLs, tagging stories, staff training sessions, more SEO-friendly headlines.
Now Google refers 38% of search traffic to Businessweek.com

They've create their Business Exchange: a place to relate to others - a user community optimized for search. It's "a more sophisticated digg.com" and helps people find what they want. User profiles can link to their profiles on Linkedin.
They've made a widget for bloggers so that readers can see what they're doing at that moment.

Today, content is no longer king; rather, context is king. Journalism is no longer a product but a process. questioning what are the rights of users.

In comparing the print audience to the one online, Businessweek found their online audience about ten year younger, smarter, more women, more global.

Web 2.0 Expo: Micro-Interactions In a 2.0 World by David Armano

(I'm still trying to catch up from the Web 2.0 Expo, but I'm sure my memory of these events are receding. Apologies if these are not as detailed as previous ones.)

The first session Friday morning was "Micro Interactions In a 2.0 World" given by David Armano, vice-president of Criticalmass.com. Read his blog at: http://darmano.typepad.com.

(David's Powerpoint presentation is here.) While many of the ideas we had heard in other talks, David's presentation of them was direct, and among the most forceful and powerful.

David recalled Randy Pausch's story. He went to Disney World and purchased salt and pepper shakers with Mickey Mouse ears. He broke them (and fully acknowledged so), and brought them back to the store. Unexpectedly, the Disney representative gave him new ones. Pausch estimated money he spent on his family trip was $100,000 – but his story explains customer loyalty to Disney. Was it a design issue? It was one tiny interaction.

So he asked the execs at Disney: "If I sent a child into one of your stores with a broken salt and pepper shaker today, would your policies allow your workers to be kind enough to replace it?" The execs confessed: probably not. This illustrates a new paradigm in the marketing world.

The idea of the marketing funnel - that is, where all consumer interest heads into one doorway - no longer exists. Consumer behavior is changing from passive consumption to active participation.

Social networking is now bigger than porn. This makes us more complex to understand. Companies have to understand us in our complexity. We are: users, consumers, communities, participants, producers, customers. The old marketing tactics don't work anymore.

Technology has changed too, from front/back ends to an endless fragmentation of services, services which can be mixed and mashed like melodies. You don't have to build from scratch, but can leverage. can create mashups.

The end result are touch points which seem infinite. The pre-digital age had finite touch points. The "digital age" had multiple connected touch points. But now, in the "post-digital 2.0" age, there are now infinite touch points.

We influence each other differently. It used to be that celebrities and public figures received all the attention, but now anyone and everyone received attention. We no longer depend on a hierarchical structure to society. We broadcast to each other all the time.

[Slide from Critical Mass - Always in Beta whose website carries the legend: We believe that creating great experiences for your customer is an open dialogue and a never-ending process. Always in Beta reflects our belief that the pursuit of excellence is an evolutionary progression that is never static.]

Lifestreams. Every time you create an online profile you create a stream of your life. People create multiple streams. Right now, we are overwhelmed by these streams. They intersect in junctions and aggregations. There are services like FriendFeed that aggregates all your feeds from acquaintances.

Why do we want to keep up with all these people? Because we trust people who are like us! Surveys indicate that consumers trust friends (like themselves) more than anyone else when recommending new products or services.

A brand is not what you say it is, it's what THEY say it is. For example: www.brandtags.net: "A collective experiment in brand perception. All tags are generated by people like you and do not reflect the opinions of the site owner or anyone else he knows. Have fun."

We are becoming more demanding about brands. We want fewer promises, and more actions. "Companies stage an experience when they engage customers in a memobrable way." It's not just the talk, it's the actions - it's what they do.

Where it's moving: to interactions which engage, interact, and empower the customers. This is rocking advertisers' world.

The 3 U's in the application economy: Usefulness, Utility, and Ubiquity

  • Usefulness: serves a purpose
  • Utility: fosters meaningful interactions
  • Ubiquity: effective across multiple touch points including social
Some examples: Craigslist. Nike Plus: it went from a brochure-like website to everyday experiences and interactions (Nike Plus - the jogging tracker - insures that you'll visit every day - it's a new experience). Domino's Pizza Configurator and Pizza Tracker - example of a brand that merges personality with utility. Similarly with the Vegas Planner Tool MyVegas.

Engagement [with the user] is the new sticky:
  • Borders: their website replicates a shelf that allows one to move things around just like a real shelf.
  • Fiskar's Fisk-a-teers - ordinary people made ambassadors, showing what they've done.
Your brand is the some of your interactions.

"We live in a world where the little things really do matter. Each encounter no matter how brief is a micro interaction which makes a deposit or withdrawal from our rational and emotional subconscious. The sum of these interactions and encounters adds up to how we feel about a particular product, brand or service. Little things. Feelings. They influence our everyday behaviors more than we realize."

Micro-interactions are the new thing. They are fast becoming the building blocks of Brand 2.0 (and Google is leading the way).

Interactions + Feelings = Brands

Extraordinary customer experience. Google got the basics right and then perfected it.

The five pillars: Useful, Usable, Desirable, Sustainable, Social [see slide 48 in presentation.]
Built upon 3 foundations: Users (emotional wants and needs), Business (measurable goals and objectives), Brand (core values and brand objectives)

Getting the basic rights means a willingness to embrace change.
We're going from websites to web applications.

Examples of positive interactions: Netflix, Google,

Thinking about things in multiple channels.

Users can't be restricted by their browser – loads of people use cellphones – each object has its own set of rules.

The social experience is composed of millions of micro-interactions.

Old style: the brand as broadcaster.
New style: the brand as facilitator (among influencers and friends).

Example of the new style: Jeff Jarvis (who publicized about his unfortunate experiences with Dell Computers) and Dell. Now Dell acts as a facilitator of their social network of users for user support. They were desperate, they had a senior person at top who gave their decision, and overrode their lawyers. Now on Dell's blog you can find 485 comments to one post.

Faceless companies now have faces. They get you help. Social networks amplify positive and negative social interactions.

Micro-interactions become especially important when brands stumble. Starbucks is a good example. Their stock began to slip, so they are looking at their roots and going back to their core values and what made it special. Now they have a social network: My Starbucks.

Social media is evolving. Twitter good example. It was never designed for what it has ended up being: a multi-touchpoint conversation ecosystem.

Brands are moving from being canned to live and direct engagement. Positive interactions lead to trust and loyalty.



Treat everyone like an influencer. Make every interaction count.

One of the post-presentation questions asked David to characterize the difference between mobile and fixed experiences. He said it was a matter of situational design. Understanding the context of how the device (e.g. mobile phone) is used and developing and creating right experiences with it.

Brands that don't invest in these (social) areas will never get it. But brands that do invest in them will put a lot in them. If you're doing it for the sake of public relations, you will not achieve it. And if you're going to invest in a social network, then put plenty of resources into it.