Will Jamie Lee Curtis blog about her experiences with the Honda FCX – I hope so!

June 18, 2008

I hope you had a chance to read this article which I found on CNN Money this week about the new Honda FCX that is going to be released to the “public”.  Stew on that word “public” for a minute because I think that you will be surprised.

Honda expects to lease out a “few dozen” units this year and about 200 units over three years …

Move a bit further down the article and you see that some of the “public” people who are going to be receiving the “leases” (highly doubt Jamie Lee will be paying anything for this).

  • Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Christopher Guest (Jamie Lee’s husband)
  • Laura Harris (actress from the show 24 on fox)
  • Ron Yerxa (producer for Little Miss Sunshine – and others)

With only a “few dozen” which probably means 25 cars going out to the public I hope people like Jamie Lee and Laura Harris understand their responsibility as fuel cell car owner “community leaders”.  They are the community – I know – but their publicized success with these cars can lead to good things._L4A5119a_lg

Just driving one of these around town to all of the Hollywood happening spots is not going to make these things sell.  True community leaders use tools on the Internet to connect with their peers and discuss their experience and help others understand things like benefit and value. I know these two ladies aren’t being casted in every upcoming movie – but I am sure they won’t be driving it as much as I would.

Now if only Honda would release some of their information on a social network site like YouTube – they may see that the audience they are trying to reach is completely obtainable today.  There is an amazing opportunity to solidify a brand and a product in the younger generation. Those who will tell their grandchildren that they actually drove a combustion engine once.

Interesting Facts

More Info:


How long will your old marketing prowess last?

June 7, 2008

No doubt things are changing – the question is really has it changed?  Did you spend the last 4 (or more) years of your life studying a field that just did a complete flip?  What types of companies are looking for marketing “geniuses” whose college pedigree reads “Graduated 1995”?

I posted this on Twitter a few hours ago and I could not get it out of my head:

“If you are in marketing and you don’t use FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and/or you don’t blog – get out. The field  will be passing you by soon”

There is still time (I think). When I see companies like the Undercurrent popping up it makes you wonder what value traditional marketing brings now a days.  Undercurrent is hiring “mavens” to spread messages with a virtual interview through a blog post asking you questions like “How would you spread a viral video”.

When I think about this I get scared.  Not because I don’t think that these types of things are cool (because I do) – but because there are a millions of marketing professionals out there who are going to lose their  jobs.

Remember door to door Encyclopedia Salesman (great book about that by Herman Miller – Death of a Salesman). Yeah – if your dad was one of those back in the early 80’s you know what I am about to ask – “Where is he now?”.  Replaced that’s where.

Tree falls in the woods…

How about the “Million Dollar Homepage” – do you remember that?  Here is the significance of that “experiment”- if you did not hear about this before it was posted on CNN, Time Magazine or any other mainstream media – it probably meant that you were already out of the picture.  This is the funny thing about where we are right now – there really will be an “in” and “out” crowd.  The reason this will happen is because there are information flows on the Internet that travel virally and if you aren’t near anyone that catches it (understands it)- you won’t even know it happened. In this case – a tree will fall in the woods and those near it will hear it and unless you talk to them you won’t know.

So when you think about the people that heard about the Million Dollar Homepage through non-traditional networks you begin to see where things are.  Those people have been entrenched in networks where information like this travels and they are essentially 2 years (plus) ahead of you – seriously.  This is how people like Michael Arrington has made his recognition – he is in the know – in an unfathomable way – point in case.

There was a great post today by Jeremiah Owyang which addressed where most corporations are on Social Media.  If you have not come to terms with what Social Media means and you have not come up with a plan to work that into your marketing plans than you better get a move on.  That 20 year old 1st year marketing college grad is suddenly looking a bit more attractive than you.

So for those that don’t have your bearings – here are some terms that your competition are going to be very familiar with shortly:

  • Viral Loop
  • Viral Networks
  • Double Viral Loops

There is still some time – if you hurry.  Good thing this is all documented and you understand the basics.  Good luck.


Managing the unmanaged links

June 4, 2008

I got into a very interesting conversation with someone yesterday (I so wanted to write this last night but…) regarding the way WordPress and CommonSpot manage links.  I have been using WordPress for my blog for over a year now and I have to say that one of the most annoying things in WordPress is linking.  I am certainly not in the position of managing many pieces of content but I can say I much prefer the link management process in CommonSpot.

 

The Argument

(liberally paraphrased)

Content owners should not care that the link is managed – or to put this in context – if I need to link from one page in the CMS to another I should simply open the page I want to link to – copy the URL and paste it into my content.  The content management system should take the link and manage it automatically (e.g. perform normal link management duties).

Ignoring the technical difficulties of taking a web URL and mapping it back to a relational database link storage facility, lets dissect the process of finding a link:

1.) I need to know where I want to link to
2.) I need to find the link
3.) I need to insert that link

Since the web/usability and the like are interested in “clicks” here is how I would link to an existing post in WordPress vs. linking to an existing page in CommonSpot.

WordPress

1.) Open a new browser tab and go to the home page of my blog
2.) Enter text into the Search field and click “Search”
3.) Locate the post and click the post URL
4.) Copy the content of the URL into my clipboard
5.) Go back to my post
6.) Highlight the text I want and then click the “link” indicator
7.) Paste the content into the URL field – choose my options
8.) Click finish

CMS

1.) Highlight the content I want to link and click the “link” icon
2.) Choose “Link to existing page”
3.) Click Next
4.) Click Page Finder
5.) Choose my criteria and click Search
6.) Click the link that I want
7.) Click finish on the link dialog

(To be honest I had no idea which was going to have the most clicks before I started this)

My main argument is that the link finding process in WordPress seems less intuitive and more complicated then that tools provided by CommonSpot.  This assuming that WordPress had some of the same Link Management capabilities as CS then you would be left with this question:

Would users really like an interface similar to WordPress for locating links or is the abstract link finder in CommonSpot better?


Automated or Connectimated

May 28, 2008

I guess I am really looking for here is an answer to a question that a lot of people are asking these days.  One that had become all to real to me recently: Is it better to have automated services or people backed services.  I am not talking about Robots doing the work – but more about the real life situations that we get ourselves into where we rely more and more on dysfunctional technology to help us.

Even though, Google is an amazing search engine, it still has it’s faults.  Searches on “Locksmiths in Springfield Ma” returns great results on the front end – it is the intricate details that it cannot.  For instance, if you call all of those results from Google you will soon find out that you are in luck with almost every major car brand except Volkswagen (one of the prices you pay to drive the best car ever made =).

So, unless someone lists on their website (more than half of the Locksmiths in the Springfield, Ma area don’t even have websites) that you specialize in Volkswagens – Google can’t help you.  It is beyond the technology leap – you need some level of human intervention.

If you are tenacious enough however, to continue to search for locksmith’s and you start calling them – most of them will tell you the dealer is the only place (who intern tells you to wait until Tuesday – not good when you are stranded 120 miles from home on Friday before a long vacation weekend) that can make Volkswagen keys.

If you happened to call 24 Hour Locksmiths in West Springfield they would have told you to call A & J Locksmith and when you talked to Johnathon at A & J he would have told you to call and ask for Paul at “Scott’s Locks” in West Hartford – and he would have called Scott (Paul’s partner) who would have called you back 3 hours later to tell you he could do it.  But that only goes for the tenacious few that have nothing better to do than to stare at all of the people having fun at Six Flags while calling every locksmith in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Flashback to earlier today: I was traveling to D.C. to work with a client and arrived early to my hotel in hopes I could get some work done before my 1:30 demo with a prospective client.  During my trip down from the airport (40 minute drive) I contemplated the possibility that the hotel would not have a room ready for me when I arrived at 10:30.  Quite possibly, I would have to find a place to do some work with a descent (cheap – if not free) Internet connection.

Ok – so here is my second scenario for “Connectimated” – I would have liked to have been able to connect with a few people in the area (more than likely people I have never met before) and ask them where a good place would be to get Internet access for a few hours in a quiet place (that was not Starbucks or Borders).  Preferably somewhere where I can get a Dew and sandwich.  My new “Connectimated” service application would essentially ping a bunch of people in the area asking them if they wanted to help an incoming traveler with a service request.

Sites like Mahalo and Spock have begun to challenge the “Automated” response system that is Google.  Each offering services which are either aided or centralized around Human interaction.  These systems are critical because I think that the automated services may never get to point where they can understand true human interaction.  Even Google is testing “User generated content”.  You can see it in search results using Google Maps.

What I see is a combination application like Twitter, Brightkite (or the like) and Mahalo.  A platform with which to communicate on rather than building a platform with all the answers.  A crowdsourcing style approach may be just what we need.

Maybe we are pushing too hard and maybe we need to use systems to be smarter at connecting people who can help each other and not providing the help beyond capabilities.  We live in a complex world and it is unlikely that we will ever teach systems to understand us – truly.  Why try?


I am finally getting what I once thought wis.dm was going to give me

May 27, 2008

I was once a member of the social networking site wis.dm – back before it changed it’s platform from a link sharing format to the current question/answer format.  I wrote about the site a few times and at the beginning was very interested in the content that I had amassed there – and the relationships that I had begun to build.

What I thought was great about the previous format of wis.dm was how easy it was for me to build my own community.  Instead of the masses of communities available in Facebook, you could create “groups” which were essentially “tagged” with topics. When people shared links (similar to what you do in del.icio.us) you could notify your “group” and engage them in conversations.  Since you could create your own groups I likened the experience to a “research group” – similar to those in college around a project or a specific class.

In these “groups” we could share links and add comments and weight responses – with the promise being that I could categorize my community:

– Who in the community knew the most about advertising

– Who had the inside track for latest fads

– Which group member had the best knack for interpreting analytics data

As a specialized group – each with our own goals – we could lean on each other and create a close nit community designed to educate us all – faster and better.

Talking with your community through Social NetworksI have begun using FriendFeed and joined a room (group/community) called “Social Computing Strategist” (thanks Jeremiah).  It is filled with people who want to talk about everything that I want to talk about.  And the nice thing about this – is instead of sharing links we share everything:

  • Messages – directly to the group
  • Blog comments – from any blog that supports “Disqus
  • LinkedIn profiles/changes
  • Posts to Digg
  • Posts to StumbledUpon
  • Heck – Link posts to every linking network known to man
  • Twitter posts
  • Flickr photos
  • Posts to Blogs

With every post (whatever it is) you can add comments.  The information is endless and what you get out of it (in a very chaotic sort of way) is a new way to talk.  A new way to find information.  It is sort of like Mahalo meets Wikipedia with a twist of RSS.  Very interesting.

Happy am I that I know have filled the void left by wis.dm – to bad they did not have the wisdom to see the possibilities with their original platform.


Twitter: @locksmith:springield:ma

May 24, 2008

I would like to add the following API to twitter or to have a service that would have made it easier for me today. I have to tell you a short story to set up the situation I was in today.

My wife (Shannon) and I decided to go to Six Flags Great Adventure today to get in some thrills and excitements before the beginning of the holiday weekend. It was to be my first real vacation day of the year (no computer, no cell phone, no work). We dropped the kids off to school and made our way to Springfield (actually Agawam but Six Flags is mostly referred to as being in Springfield).Superman Ride of Steel

We arrived at the park at 10:45 parked the car, took just what we needed (wallet, money, sunglasses, cell phone: wife’s only and the keys) and made our way into the park. We felt like we should have had on our “Hockomock YMCA Band Camp” t-shirts – wholly $hit was there a ton of kids there. Digressing a bit – sorry.

We got our season passes and were drawn inward. No real plan we just started walking as we passed the old wooden rollercoaster and the “free fall” we saw what we had both been anticipating since the day we decided to take this trip about 3 weeks ago: “Superman – The Ride of Steel”. 200+ foot initial drop 77 miles an hour and an amazing feeling of weightlessness at the top of every hill. Naturally I was stuck with everything in my pockets – including the sunglasses.

As we took the first deep everything felt good – wicked fast – wicked scary. We then approached the second hill – “way to fast” I am thinking – “dude we are going to launch off the top of this hill like a rocket” (note: this is where the feeling of weightlessness comes in) – as we were sucked down the backside of the hill I now knew that this ride, the one without the shoulder harness – just the bar and a sealtbelt, did not need any loops – just steep turns and many hills with which to launch off. After hitting all the major humps and feeling weightless about 5 times you head into the “slow-down” area for most coasters – accept this thing is still cranking.

The ride comes to the close after two small humps that still produce the feeling that your shooting out of a cannon – when it happend.

Shannon: “What was that” (sounded more like a yell than a statement)

Me: “I don’t know”

I didn’t. Just as we came over the apex of the last hill a little black thing flew in front and landed in the car in front of us. It was moving too fast to recognize.

Shannon “Your key”

Me: “No”

Clearly the key was nestled deep in my pocket along with every other valueable I collected from the car. My broken sun glasses (casualty of the Superman Ride) should have been proof enough that it couldn’t have been the key.

Alas, after I checked every deep pocket I had – it was no where to be found. The only key to my 2003 Volkswagen Passat – had been eaten by the Man of Steel. So – here we are (after visits to Guest Relations and hearing countless times that they would not be able to search for my key until the end of the day) at the need for my service.

After a call to the local dealership who stated the ONLY solution that I had was to tow the car to their dealership (I am 100 miles from my house mind you) and that they could get me a new key on Tuesday (the day I leave for Washington, D.C. – from boston at 7 AM). Uh… yeah right. In order to save my car and this weekends camping trip – I needed a locksmith.

This is how I would have liked to started my search:

Twitter: I am at Six Flags Great Adventure in Agawam, Ma. Lost my key on Superman ride – anyone in the park capable of helping me? @SixFlagsNE:help

The extra extension on the @SixFlagsNE would mean i needed help. There were thousands of people there that day. Why not connect us – all better. @SixFlagsNE:Line on Superman short, @SixFlagsNE:Batman closed, @SixFlagsNE:need locksmith.

Twitter + Brightkite.com equals locksmithI just signed up for Brightkite (still have 3 invites if anyone is interested) and I think that this is something that they may tack on to this – but for now this is for keeping in touch with your friends. I need it to help me when I lose my key on the Superman Ride. I can definitely say that we are headed to this communication level.

When I was at the park I could feel everyone in the park – and I am sure that there was probably someone that could have helped me.

Oh yeah and if you are curious – here is a link to the YouTube movie for the Superman Ride if you like roller coasters I highly recommend this and, If you look real hard at 1:31 of the film – I believe you can see my key – right below the track on the last hill. R.I.P switchblade VW key – I will miss you.


When technology changes rip out your bottom line

May 22, 2008

I was inspired by this great article in the only “paper” magazine that I subscribe to (Fast Company). The article is about the fall of AOL and how their tumble into obscurity was marred by general business mistakes which compounded with the eventual loss of the company’s largest revenue generator (dial-up).

I got a call about a month ago from my first tech employer (small ISP in Rhode Island called NetSense). The president of the company and I still remain in contact – he informed me that he was selling off his last PRI line (used to handle large amounts of dial-up customers). Lucky for him dial-up wasn’t his largest revenue generator (his hosting revenue is king).How will new communication channels effect existing channels?

I then started thinking about some of the other services that we use whose days may be numbered. I came up with one rather interesting service: cell phones.

As I have talked about before (here and here) communication is changing. Not only are the ways in which we communicate (Web, IM, E-mail, etc…) changing the channels in which we communicate are also changing (Blogs, Wiki’s, Facebook, Twitter etc…). I think about the ways in which I communicate with people. More and more of that communication is done digitally. I use IM and Twitter exclusively when I want to ask brief questions or touch more than one person at time.

Additionally, VOIP and software programs like Skype are making strong cases against traditional cell phones. Remember the tustle between Apple and Cisco – it was essentially over “who owned the connection”. Once cell phones started adding Wifi and services like Skype became more and more reliable – a traditional “phone number” and the services that companies like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon offer are becoming less valuable.

What I see happening is you will no longer need to “call” someone or send someone an “e-mail” you will simply say to your device (which will be tethered to the Internet) I want to communicate with Ron. Wherever I am and whatever services I have available (Skype, Twitter, IM etc…) we will be connected. I don’t see anyone needing a single number (except for the people that only have cell phones). Our children will be connected in ways we can only imagine and it won’t be with a phone number.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cell phone and right now I use it for a lot of my communication. What the article made me think about was this:

If you are a cell phone company today (or an investor in a cell phone company) what you should be doing is learning from AOL’s mistakes and should begin planning for the day when they begin to lose subscribers. Are they going to use their channels to deliver new services so they can keep their subscribers or are people going to be sick of paying $45 for a phone and $50 for connectivity services when they would only really need the $50 service fee to have connectivity for their communication applications.


Noise filter: “On”

May 19, 2008

I have to agree with Robert Scoble on the fact that “I love the noise”.  I am referring to Scobleizer’s post about Noise vs. News and why sites like Google News and Techmeme don’t have any noise:

First, let’s do a little definition of the difference between news and noise. The noise examples were pulled off of Twitter in the past few minutes.

NEWS: tens of thousands dead in China quake.
NOISE: BrianGreene: some pirate is playing old radio nova tapes on 92FM dublin, with old jingles and old ads. adverts for rent a 20″ TV 48p a day (48 pence!)

NEWS: Janitors go on strike.
NOISE: flawlesswalrus: @craigmod Iron Man’s fun times. Enjoy!

NEWS: Facebook blocks Google
NOISE: dmkanter: organizing my igoogle homepage

So, how come services like Twitter and FriendFeed have so much noise? Who likes the noise? Who likes the news?

Again – like news but I love the noise.  The noise on sites like Twitter allow you to make your own news or to read “news” before it happens.  Twitter is really the only place for people to break it open. It is a completely viral process and since it is a new medium it favors those people that can not only interpret the noise but those than can control it.

I have been listening to the noise for a long time – it helped me get into the Internet (which is pretty much filtered noise).  If you could look at all of the information flowing through the Internet at anytime you would first get a wicked headache – but you would then be the smartest person alive – but only if you can handle the noise.

Let’s take a few things that I have posted to Twitter recently:

Following the Star Wars movie up with Lego Star Wars the Complete Saga on the Wii reinforces the use of the force. Training young well I am

To an untrained eye this would seem like noise – clearly – who cares what movies I am watching – there are millions of people out there watching millions of movies every day.

But to a trained eye – this information may be interesting.  Look at this information from a different angle or compare this to what may be a trend.

Take this marketing issue for instance: How do we know that the video games that follow movie stories enhance the movies storyline and improve brand recognition.  Surely if they both make a lot of money you could make an inference but you may not know for real.

If you could comb all of the conversations on Twitter where people talk about movies and video games you could prove the theory.  Additionally, you could engage those users in conversations which will help enforce your theory.

This is the noise – and this is how you read it.  Robert is right – I love this!


Views on Nationalism

May 12, 2008

The US flag

Referring to the recent suspension of three teenagers for not “standing” (yes standing) for the pledge of allegiance. There are a lot of different angles you could come at here.  You could play the whole religous role – since the word “God” is in the pledge of allegiance maybe receiting this is offensive towards your religious beliefs. Or, you could take the freedom of speech approach (the very thing our country is built on).  These students have a right not to say the pledge of allegiance.  Well I am not going to take that angle either.

What about the message itself. The message that we believe in our country, our heritage and for all of those people that have (and continue) to fight for our freedom.  That is a very strong message and I think that it gets lost a bit in the current rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance.  If you were not aware – the pledge of allegiance has changed a lot over the last 150+ years.

Maybe we need to change the words a bit.  Update them so that our youngsters can understand them better.  I propose changing from this:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation, under God indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

to this:

“I am wicked proud of the country I live in. All my peeps and I are a member of at least one of the groups found on Facebook when searching for ‘United States of America’.  We aren’t too fond of war but we respect those that fought and ioho we are as thankful as our non conforming minds will allow.”

On a more serious note: My true belief here is that a student in the US today has the “right” (and I use this term loosely) to not recite the Pledge of Allegiance (you should think twice about either leaving or running for office as soon as your turn eighteen) – but you are required to at least stand and show respect for the rest of us that believe in and love the country we live in today.


Blogging – opening the door to sales

May 10, 2008

Blogging for money may be a dangerous use of resources but what about ‘trolling’ for money.  Today I came across this awesome blog post by Jeremiah Owyang (Senior Analyst for Forrestor) – someone that I follow on Twitter and a blog that I enjoy reading.

The post (entitles CMS Horror Stories, and Your Soon-To-Be ‘Legacy’ Community Platform) is a real good read for anyone who is in the midst of a CMS selection.  In his post, Jeremiah asks to very key questions:

1) I’d love to hear from you about your CMS horror stories, feel free to leave a comment below, go ahead, vent away.

2) Are you deploying a community platform for your web strategy at your company? What are you doing to plan for the long term 5+ years impacts of this system in regards to the rest of the enterprise web strategy?

I work at PaperThin (makers of the CommonSpot Content Server) and I have to say that Jeremiah opened my eyes with this post to an amazing sales opportunity.  One that I am sure smart people are deploying (and we will be shortly as well) – and that is ‘Blog Trolling’.  A quick search on Technorati for CMS returns over 22K results.  Each search result a Blog with some information about Content Management Systems.

One of the most difficult thing to do in the world of sales is to find your target market.  What better way to find a customer interested in a CMS then on a blog post (an open communication channel) that is discussing pains or issues with their current CMS.  In solution selling this would give us the opportunity to “Recognize the pain” – for most of the people who post comments on Jeremiah’s post they are admitting their pain publicly.

Best thing about comments on a blog – since most people are constantly trying to sell their blog to readers of other blogs, they include the link in their comments (just click on the persons name).  Can’t fault a sales person from e-mailing or calling (most blogs extend contact information) you and saying:

“Hey, saw here that you were having difficulty with your current CMS and that you feel like it is ‘inflexible’.  Give me a half hour and I will show you how flexible our application is …”

In all honesty, when you post comments on a blog you are openly asking someone to contact you.  You are begging for it.

Note: More on his second question (about your Community Platform) a bit later.