Archive | April, 2010

“The Power of Print”

25 Apr

Like This!

Happily flipping through my (ever-increasing) stack of magazines on my coffee table this weekend, I couldn’t help but notice an intriguing ad in both InStyle (published by Time Inc.) and the New Yorker (published by Conde Nast):

Hmm…magazines…advertising about magazines in…magazines? In direct competition against the Internet? Fascinating.

Taking out two full page ads is no small (or inexpensive) undertaking. I investigated further and came across the official press release from March 1, 2010, that announced the “Magazines, The Power of Print” advertising campaign. The top five magazines publishers — Conde Nast, Hearst Magazines, Time Inc, Meredith Corporation and Wenner Media — have joined forced “to promote the vitality of magazines as a medium.” According to the release, the campaign will launch in the May issues (or April 5 issues for weeklies) in nearly 100 magazines and on each of the publishers’ websites. The campaign will run for seven months and reach 112 million magazine subscribers. The release lists several objectives for the campaign:

  • Target advertisers, shareholders and industry influencers
  • Seeks to reshape the broader conversation about magazines
  • Challenge misperceptions about the medium’s relevancy and longevity (emphasis mine)
  • Reinforce magazines’ important cultural role

While emphasizing these messages, the release also includes statistics about magazine readership. Most interesting to me is that magazine readership has increased 11% since Google launched 12 years ago. Yet the campaign is employing headlines such as “We Surf the Internet. We Swim in Magazines” and “Will the Internet Kill Magazines? Did Instant Kill Coffee?” The latter slogan is a deliberate play-on-words, implying that the instantaneousness of the Internet — while legitimate — does not replace the quality or importance of magazines.

Here is another version of the ad:

In this video, the five publishers discuss the ad campaign:

Clearly, the print industry feels that the need to promote itself is crucial. Ironically, the ad campaign is not print-only — there is a strong digital component (see YouTube video above) and even the press release has downloadable photos. I think the magazine titans are correct in that the industry isn’t going to completely disappear, despite their claims of journalistic integrity against the millions of bloggers (myself included — I don’t claim to be a journalist by any means, nor do I hope my opinions will be referenced as anything other than a blogger’s single opinion). However, the industry MUST CHANGE in order to keep up with the Internet and mobile devices. All of these magazines already have iPad versions in place or in preparation. So I believe this campaign isn’t as much about magazines COMPETING against the Internet as much as COMPLEMENTING it as a different medium.

Personally, I love magazines. The tangible feeling of flipping through pages cannot be duplicated (no matter how cool the iPad is). Even though I may be able to read the same articles on the web for free, I will keep my subscriptions. I read magazines while I’m drying my hair. I read magazines on the plane, at the coffee shop, waiting for the doctor, while getting mani/pedis. These are rituals that I will not give up. And I didn’t need an advertising campaign to tell me so.

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Please fill out my survey!

23 Apr

Ayeblog (not so) shameless promotion:

Please fill out this short survey for my grad class. It will take less than 5 minutes, the answers are completely anonymous, and you will forever have my undying gratitude (as well as my professor’s).

https://usc.qualtrics.com/SE?SID=SV_1BWOrhQlL1V56p6&SVID=

Thanks in advance!

10 Things I Like About the Internet: April 14th, 2010 Edition

14 Apr

Here we go again. Week 3 of my Top 10 List. As always, lots happening online, particularly on Twitter (check out #9).

1. This Week’s Viral Video: Sarah Palin Network. Tina Fey reprises her classic role as Sarah Palin in this week’s SNL.

2. Location, Location, Location: CauseWorld

I know the net is buzzing with changes from Foursquare, though I wanted to give a shout out to a new check-in based location service that does good for the world. CauseWorld, an app for the iPhone and Android, allows you to check in and get “karma points” to donate towards a variety of charitable causes. According to ReadWriteWeb, the mission of CauseWorld’s parent company Shopkick is to bring virtual and physical shopping worlds together. In addition to checking in, CauseWorld allows users to scan products for extra karma points. What a great amalgamation of brand marketing, local communities, social media and philanthropy.

3. There’s an App for That: A Site for Apps

I love my Droid, and now I love the user-friendly site 101 Best Android Apps that lets me search the 101 most popular apps by time frame (today, yesterday, this week, this month, and all time) and by subject matter (business, education, entertainment, etc). As opposed to lists that are published weekly by Gizmodo, Mashable, Techmeme, etc (which are incredibly helpful), this is a dynamic site that changes daily.

4. Exploring Online Communities: Lostpedia

This is neither a new site nor one that implements any novel technology, but I have to give a shout out to Lostpedia, the user/fan-generated wiki for LOST, one of my all-time favorite television shows. The site is an incredibly comprehensive encyclopedia of all things LOST, from detailed episode, character and actor synopses to literary references, trivia and mythology questions.  I recently added my own two-cents for a new LOST episode:

“Penny asks Desmond to meet her at a coffee shop on Melrose and Sweetzer in Los Angeles. There is no coffee shop on Melrose and Sweetzer. However, there is an antique shop called ‘Thanks for the Memories.'”

I’m not a World of Warcraft gal, but the WoWWiki is also a fabulous community resource.

5. A Stumble from StumbleUpon: Mark and Angel Hack Life

I found this helpful, informative and fun blog written by a married couple who write lists about practical tips for practical living. While these are their personal opinions, I like the authenticity and personality of their blogging voice. I was particularly drawn to their blog because of this post. I’ve only read 1/3 of these…better get cracking.

6. Apple News: iAds

Also known as “Mobile Ads with Emotion,” Apple this week announced iAd, its new mobile advertising platform, part of the new iPhone OS 4.0. The platform will be built directly into the iPhone OS interface. Steve Jobs claims that iAd differs from Google Ads in that the ads will keep users within an app, rather than redirecting users to a browser window. TechCrunch provided detailed play-by-play from Jobs’ iAd demo, and emphasized that both ad agencies and app developers will be able to create interactive ads for Apple.

7. My Geek Factor: Penn Olson Infographics

Following my love for all thing beautiful, informative and cool, below are some relevant infographics from digital marketing consultant Penn Olson about various aspects of social media. These are just a handful of neat statistics — on Google Facts and Figures and Social Media Demographics — this site provides in graphic form:

8. Online Legal News: The FCC Loses Ruling on “Net Neutrality”

A federal appeals court denounced efforts by the FCC to create standardized rules for the Internet, claiming that the agency cannot require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic. Edward Wyatt writes in the New York Times that “the decision will allow Internet service companies to block or slow specific sites and charge video sites like YouTube to deliver content faster to users.” The court ruling, which came after Comcast asserted that it had the right to slow cable customers’ use of BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer services to view free streaming of shows and channels normally relegated to paid subscribers. The principle of “net neutrality,” in which Internet providers must provide the same speed to everyone who wishes to access whatever websites users wish to see, is central to maintaining an open Internet. Austin Schlick, General Counsel of the FCC, said the ruling would affect it’s plan, announced in March, to connect 100 million homes to broadband by 2020. TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb and Big Think provide good commentary on the court’s ruling from a tech industry perspective, highlighting a general consensus that the laws regarding telecommunications need to be updated to reflect the current state of the digital age.

9. Getting Excited For…The Future of Twitter

Lots of big announcements about the future of Twitter on the heels of Chirp, the Twitter developer conference in San Francisco. Besides declaring some major milestones, there’s already drama brewing between Twitter and developers. Twitter’s impressive growth indicates that social media is not only growing more powerful technologically, but also as a business tool and cultural phenomenon:

  • Twitter Statistics from Chirp: Twitter has over 105 million registered users, receives 180 million unique visitors per month, 75% of Twitter traffic comes from third-party apps, and there are 600 million search queries on Twitter per day.
  • Promoted Tweets: Twitter’s much-anticipated program for making money off advertising, Promoted Tweets will show up when Twitter users search for keywords that advertisers have bought to link to their ads. Although Twitter argues that this program differs from ads, Twitter users seem to be confused about the value and nature of promoted tweets. What do you think — are promoted tweets equivalent to spam?
  • Library of Congress To Preserve Twitter: In what I personally think is a very cool move to that validates new media as important cultural literature, the Library of Congress has announced that it will digitally preserve ever public tweet since the site launched in March 2006.
  • Twitter Acquires Atebits: In its third major acquisition, Twitter acquired Atebits, the start-up that develops Tweetie apps for Mac and iPhones.
  • TweetUp: A new venture that aims to make money by allowing Twitter users to bid on keywords to give their posts top ranking. The service will organize posts according to popularity as measured by how often readers retweet and click on links contained in the posts.
  • Points of Interest: Twitter’s new feature that will use geo-tagging to identify physical places. The feature will show a map and a stream of Twitter activity nearby: a real-time view of what’s happening at a particular place at a particular time.

10. Just For Fun: Create Your Own Google SearchStories

I absolutely loved Google’s SearchStory ad that aired during the Super Bowl. Now, YouTube has a channel where you can create your own Search Story. Can’t wait to play around with this!

Crowdsourcing: The Past, Present and Future of Online Behavior and Business

6 Apr

What is a crowd?  Dictionary.com offers 14 variations on the definition of crowd (both nouns and verbs).  My favorite – and most relevant to Jeff Howe’s Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business – is #7:

“noun. Sociology. a temporary gathering of people responding to common stimuli and engaged in any of various forms of collective behavior.”

Why is it important to discuss crowds in relation to business, the Internet and online communities?  How do crowds act online, why should we pay attention, and how can businesses effectively capitalize on crowd behavior to promote participation and loyalty among consumers?  And what is “crowdsourcing”?

Originally defined by Howe in a June 2006 Wired article , crowdsourcing is a revolution that involves “cheap production costs, a surplus of underemployed talent and creativity, and the rise of online communities composed of like-minded enthusiasts” (5-6).  Or, as Howe defines it on his blog, crowdsourcing is “the application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software.”  In the book, Howe does an excellent job of explaining both the history of and theories behind crowdsourcing.  Using examples of how certain companies (Threadless, InnoCentive, Etsy, Wikipedia, iStockphoto) became successful while employing business models that engaged the online consumer, Howe notes crowdsourcing is the “antithesis of Fordism” (14).  Online communities, where collaboration and commitment are their own rewards to users, are at the center of crowdsourcing.  “Crowdsourcing accelerates the globalization of labor and economic dislocation we see in outsourcing.  Like the Internet, crowdsourcing has no boundaries” (17).

Section I, How We Got Here,” is dedicated to describing the evolution of crowdsourcing.  Howe argues that four fundamental developments made “crowdsourcing not only possible, but inevitable” (18):

1. Renaissance of amateurism: The gap in knowledge between the experts and the rest of the populace is shrinking.  The Internet makes it more difficult to restrict information, so amateurs and professionals alike have access to the same information.  Where once professionals reigned, “the self-organizing community of amateurs shoulders a significant degree of the labor” (32) in various industries (ie, iStockphoto for photography).

2. Open Source software movement: Howe strongly argues that the Open Source software movement provided the blueprint for crowdsourcing.  There are three components to the open source model of production (62-63):

  • an enourmous task is distributed across a network,
  • there is no limit on the number of potential contributors,
  • the work is broken down into small, discrete tasks (aka “modules”).

Howe notes that open source works efficiently because “a large and diverse labor pool will consistently come up with better solutions than the most talented, specialized work force” (54).  He discusses the evolution of Wikipedia as the perfect example of crowdsourcing based on Open Source software principles.

3. Increasing availability of tools of production: The widespread availability and decreased price of means of production empower crowds to take part in a process long dominated by companies and industries (71).  Such tools allow amateurs the opportunity to be both a producer and consumer.  Corporations such as Google (YouTube) and News Corp. (MySpace) capitalize on user-generated content to make money off ad sales.  Electronic word-of-mouth, such as bands on MySpace, becomes a marketing strategy that doubles as a distribution strategy.  This is the democratization of media in action.

4. Rise of vibrant online communities organized around people’s interests: Howe defines the crowd as “the Billion” of people worldwide who have Internet access.  This is the size of the potential crowd who can contribute to crowdsourcing projects.  Howe emphasizes that community is the asset to crowdsourcing, and geography and common interests are potent forces in creating online communities.

Section II, Where We Are,” discusses how crowdsourcing currently manifests online and in business (or, at least in the moment the book was published in 2008.  Howe added a forward, published in the 2009 edition, which fully acknowledges that several of these current examples are already outdated).  The most relevant ideas from this section include:

1. Diversity trumps ability: Studies that show a large, diverse group of people will have an equal if not better ability to solve a problem than a small, homogeneous group of high ability.  Why?  Individuals each have knowledge or talents that, when shared with a community, create unparalleled collective intelligence.  A diverse array of approaches to solving a problem will allow the problem to be solved more quickly than people who all have the same knowledge and ability.

2. Collective Intelligence in action: Howe discusses “idea jams” and crowdcasting, which are efforts at customer collaboration to create solutions to problems that don’t exist yet (159).  Dell IdeaStorm, the Netflix algorithm challenge, and InnoCentive are examples of crowdcasting networks and prediction markets that utilize collective intelligence.

3. What the Crowd Creates: Here, Howe explains the role of the top 1% of contributors, or “creators,” in an online community, and how they are fundamentally changing how work gets done.  The crowd’s heaviest users need to have meaningful incentives for contributing – it’s not about the money (although it can be a welcome byproduct).  Creators need to have a sense of ownership over a site in a company’s transition from professional to community production.

4. Filtering the crowd: The 1:10:89 rule says that for every 100 people on a given site, 1 will create something, 10 will vote on it, and 89 will consume it.  (Think American Idol).  Communities don’t need to have a 100% active user base in order to be thriving and vibrant.  It’s the 10% who filter the 1% creators, ultimately determining what is valuable (and not paying attention to the crap) and thereby making the community and its information meaningful.  (Think Digg).

5. Crowdfunding: Also known as “social banking,” crowdfunding taps the collective pocketbook so people can finance projects they believe in on their own terms, on their own timetable.  The concept directly connects people with money to people who need money.  Kiva.org, the person-to-person microlending site endorsed by Bill Clinton, is a perfect example of crowdfunding.

In Section III, “Where We’re Going,” Howe posits ideas on the future of crowdsourcing and offers ten rules for effectively maximizing on crowdsourcing behavior.  Several of these rules reiterate the principles he discusses throughout the book and are useful “quick tips” for individuals and businesses looking to implement crowdsourcing effectively.  Here is a chart that shows crowdsourcing in eight steps:

However, Howe spends little time – except in the forward – discussing the potential downfalls and criticisms of crowdsourcing.  Clearly, the ethical and economic issues raised by crowdsourcing are debatable.  Certain businesses — Howe mentions the uproar over crowdSPRING and 99designs in the design community — denounce crowdsourcing because too many artists are providing free spec labor and not being compensated appropriately.  Since there are no written contracts in crowdsourcing, critics believe that contributors can be exploited, and it may be difficult to manage large-scale crowdsourced projects.  As Howe mentions, any successful crowdsourcing community needs to have a guide to organize the crowd — without two-way communication from the source to the crowd, users will leave or not contribute meaningfully.  While I believe that crowdsourcing is fundamental and crucial to today’s — and the future’s — online marketplace, there is no question that a company needs to provide a framework for the crowd to work successfully.

Here are some current examples of crowdsourcing. Crowd: what do you think?

Google Product Ideas

Automattic

The Late Age of Print Open Source Audiobook

Crowdsourcing Cover Challenge

Open Innovators

Ever Use a Crowd to Learn Something?

10 Things I Like About the Internet: April 4th, 2010 “iPad” Edition

4 Apr

Here is the second weekly installment of my soon-to-be viral hit list of 10 cool things I found on the Internet this week. Bold? Ambitious? Why not! Bring it on, Internet! And bring it on, iPad!

1. This Week’s Viral Video: IT’S A TIE, with a theme. Boys Will Be Girls and He’s Not a Single Lady.

LMAO. The Ivy League comedy sketch troupe Harvard Sailing Team shows how Boys Will Be Girls. They had more than 600 new YouTube subscribers within a day after posting this video. The girl’s response is worth watching, though not as funny in my opinion.

And here, a boy cries because he’s not a single lady. Oh, if he only knew the tears of real single ladies.

2. Location, Location, Location: SimpleGeo

As the explosion of location-based apps continues, one of the coolest new startups that launched out of private beta this week is SimpleGeo. The service offers a suite of geo-data products for purchase and is positioning itself as the single access point of geo-data for app developers. Robert Scoble reported on SimpleGeo’s buzz from the Where 2.0 conference (the fact that such a conference exists for developers says plenty). According to articles on TechCrunch and Mashable, SimpleGeo will offer two products – the SimpleGeo Storage Engine and a Marketplace – for companies and developers who are looking to capitalize on the geo-data trend. SimpleGeo offers different pricing models depending on the API call usage. SimpleGeo’s founder Matt Galligan mentions in an interview that the products will also work with non-profit and business sectors. I’m looking forward to seeing the proliferation and different uses of geo-data across industries. Should be interesting.

3. There’s An App for…lots of things…on the iPad

There’s an overwhelming amount of news about yesterday’s iPad release. Gizmodo had a great app review marathon liveblog and also has a list of essential iPad apps. I was lucky enough to play with an iPad yesterday, and I must say that Plants v. Zombies and Marvel Comics looked AMAZING. The graphics are unbelievably beautiful. The only apps not readily available for the iPad? Microsoft Office. Surprise surprise. See #6 and #9 for more on the iPad.

4. Exploring Online Communities: GOOD and GlobalGiving

I recently signed up for a subscription to GOOD Magazine. I’m in love with GOOD’s mission: “a collaboration of individuals, businesses and nonprofits pushing the world forward.” The website is an incredible collection of articles and message boards where people can post and comment on ways to make “good” in the world, whether through government, business, art, design, education, green initiatives, etc. As an experiment, GOOD is offering people to “pick their price” of their subscription. Granted, they only offer two choices – $20 or $5o. Both offer one year subscription to GOOD magazine, full access to Good.is website (which can also be accessed for free), and a GlobalGiving credit in the total amount of your subscription. (With $50 you also get a t-shirt and your name mentioned in the magazine). Why donate 100% of the subscription fees to GlobalGiving? GOOD offers two reasons: “1) it’s smart business and 2) we believe in this.” GOOD acknowledges that most magazines don’t make money off subscriptions or newsstand sales. The subscription model reflects GOOD putting their “money where our mouth is and empowering people who are driving change in the world.” GOOD reflecting Good business practices in a 360-degree fashion.

What is GlobalGiving? It’s an organization that connects donors with community-based projects that need support. GlobalGiving has pre-screened over 700 grassroots charity projects and gives donors the ability to connect with these projects in a positive, transparent way. You can filter causes by issue (women, education, technology, etc) or location, and GlobalGiving ensures that your tax-deductible donation will be available to the project within 60 days, and donors have the option of covering the 15% administrative fee, after which the entire donation goes to the charity. GlobalGiving is a great site to list grassroots projects and have donors find you, and a great example of crowdfunding.

5. A Stumble from StumbleUpon: We Are Hunted

A very cool site that tracks the 99 most popular emerging songs in the world. You can create your own chart of favorite songs and the links allow you to play full versions of the songs (as well as purchase them). There is also a filter showing the 99 most popular songs mentioned on Twitter and 99 most popular remixed songs in the world. You can also filter by genre and date (popularity today, this week, this month). A great new way to find music!

6. Apple News: Get Your iPads! Hot of the Presses! And at Best Buy!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock and/or without the Internet, the news, live blogging, discussion, discourse and overwhelming excitement over Apple’s iPad release on April 3rd was, well, overwhelming. Here are some articles I found informative and interesting.

New York Times Live Blogging iPad’s Release and a summary of the blogging

iPad By the Numbers: statistics on prices, percentages, and estimates for iPad sales

How Green Is My iPad? Op-Ed Chart in the New York Times. Let’s just say books are still in play.

Is the iPad Magical?

iPad Gets Half-Hour Product Placement on “Modern Family”. The show is really funny and worth watching, by the way.

Mega A-to-Z list of iPad Reviews

My favorite business idea for the iPad:

7. My Geek Factor: Things for Twitter

Now that I’ve figured out Twitter, it’s like a new toy. Here are some blogs, apps and info I’m exploring to help with my Twitter usage:

TwiTip: A blog to getting more out of Twitter

Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week from Mashable

5 Big Twitter Trends to Follow Right Now: how Twitter is shaping journalism, television, and business

MonkeyFly extension for Google Chrome: A client interface built-in to the Twitter homepage. Add columns to show @mentions, DMs, RTs, etc. MonkeyFly has customizable capabilities like TweetDeck or HootSuite, but you don’t have to leave the Twitter site.

Helpful people to follow on Twitter: @Twitter_Tips, @SocialNetDaily, @CleverAccounts, @kikolani, @jeffjarvis

8. Online Legal News: Google Earth to the Rescue!

So this isn’t real online legal news as much as an example of how online technology and social media are helping the legal system. Mashable reported how Google Earth helped a Deputy in Florida arrest a man charged with dumping his one-ton boat. The Deputy found an archived satellite image of the boat in question parked near the suspect’s house. Mashable also has a list of ways law enforcement uses social media to fight crime. While I’m pleased about the positive use of these applications, how “Big Brother” are we going to get? Where do we cross the line between safety and invasion of privacy with surveillance?

9. Getting Excited For…Subsequent Generation iPads

I was lucky enough to play with a friend’s iPad yesterday. It’s cool and beautiful, and certainly, the upcoming emergence of tablets will forever change personal computing. Personally, as much as I love Apple, I will never buy their first generation products. We all know that, within the next 6-12 months, a much better, faster, functional, cheaper version will be on the market. I understand the hype and excitement of being “the first” to have a new toy (though I wouldn’t wait outside starting at 3 AM to buy ANYTHING), but why not be patient and spend money on a better piece of a equipment with better software in a few months? Everyone who got the first generation iPod and iPhones were miserable in the long run (slow, short battery life, expensive, etc). The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over with the expectation of a different result. There’s no difference with the iPad. I will want one eventually, but I’m waiting it out. Cory Doctorow lists several reasons why he isn’t even interested in buying an iPad. Sure, it may be gadget of the zeitgeist, but it’s still cool.

10. Just for Fun: GroupÖupon Exclusive

With the plethora of online April Fool’s jokes, my favorite by far was from GroupOn, or should I say GroupÖupon, “an invitation-only, private sales site offering designer apparel and accessories to the consumer elite.” There is a place to “Assert your exclusivity” and the list of titles is just hilarious. Prospective members must supply documentation proving their net worth, along with other proofs of status, including sex tapes or domestic organizational charts. I’m not sure what a Dowager Marchioness is, but that would be a fun title to have. Good luck getting approved!