So I’m forced to use Outlook during the day–but in my free time I use Gmail.
I proclaim: they are not even the same species.
Fundamentally, it’s about flexibility and rigidity. It’s about the way humans use things and the way Microsoft robots think humans use things.
Case in point: folders.
Microsoft: since when does an email only pertain to one subject (and have to reside in one folder)?
Gmail’s labels are intuitive, and they map pretty well to real life (and the way the brain works too): our mental organizational structures are not like Windows Explorer–they’re more like a web of relationships. It’s pretty clear that the more our tools resemble our mental infrastructure the more efficient we’ll be (or I should say: the easier things will be to do). Tools should make things easier for us to do–they shouldn’t be things that create mental work).
And don’t get me started on searching my inbox in Outlook (I use Google desktop search!).
No, that’s not a digital Zen koan, just a way for me to get you interested in white noise. I downloaded the Ambiance app and think it’s pretty cool.
Want a productivity boost: white noise through your headphones obliterates office chatter. Can’t listen to it all day of course!
Sure, I love user generated content, but can it ever pay the bills? I don’t think so. At least not in Yelp’s case. Here’s why:
Yelp caters to the wrong person. If you’re after advertising dollars, it’s not part-time, unpaid writers that you should cater to–it’s small business owners! And small business owners HATE free-for-all commenting on their wares or services. I worked a lot with restaurant owners while running WestChesterMenu.com and know they really want to put a hurt on the Yelpers of the world. Sure, they could police all the social sites and try to counter each negative remark–but anyone who knows small business owners knows they don’t have a extra minute in their day to cater to non-core activities.
Can there be a balance?
Maybe. But there would have to be two different sites–probably owned by two different companies. For example, there should be one site that provides factual info (name, address, phone, hours, pics, menu, directions, ‘official review’…) and one for reviews from the masses… and they could link to each other. Perhaps Google and Yelp can do that if they make up. What do you think?
It’s also crossed my mind that Yelp should focus more. Perhaps they should just be working on restaurants or just hair dressers or mechanics. Isn’t it easier to own expertise in a specific market rather than every market? Or, perhaps they can make Yelp channels… maybe hire some coaches to get folks to write more constructively… Just some ideas Yelp… in case you’re listening.
Folks, did I miss Web 3.0? If I did I’m sure it was technology focused. Well, I’ve had enough of technology advancements–when are we going to get better content!? Specifically, when are we going to get really good local content? For years, I’ve been assailing my friends–and pretty much anyone who would listen–on the issues in the local space (that there’s no good local content) and my wild ideas about how to solve it (given lots of capital). So what are the local issues?
- Local vendors are not all represented! And sometimes even if they’re on the web it might be impossible to find them.
- The quality of their sites is wildly variable–‘Is this a great business with a terrible site or a terrible business that has a terrible site?’
- The innumerable Silicon Valley solutions for local search are really annoyting. See Yahoo’s local listing for an example.
Let me back up for a sec.
While I’ve been in corporate marketing and product development for a bunch of years, my side passion is local. I just love the dynamics at play in the local space: hundreds of scrappy entrepreneurs with their sleeves rolled up trying to make a buck in a finite market, finicky consumers trying to get the best services and/or products, the lack of marketing sophistication… it’s really chaotic but lots of fun–and great stories. All this local appreciation probably stemmed from my short life as a reporter/photographer at a community weekly way back in the 90s. It was great fun to be out and about on a daily basis looking for great little stories. But I digress… Let me get back to my main thread.
So what are the solutions to these local problems?
- Provide each small businss with a free web designer, copywriter and marketer.
- Since that won’t happen how about intermediaries that can aggregate, organize, improve and present the local scence in a very focused way–that is until owners get more time and money to do it themselves.
Well, if you agree that this makes sense then check out WestChesterMenu.com. I built this about 4 years ago to see what if. What if I organized one type of hyper-local content and made it easy to find and easy to navigate? Would it work? Would it attract users? Would content providers participate?
The answer is yes.
WestChesterMenu.com took off like crazy–to the point that I was receiving unsolicited kudos from all types of foodies. Restaurant owners were willing to pay a ‘subscription’ fee to post their menus. Local business–those that sat in between restaurants–found the site compelling to advertise on. That’s when it dawned on me: my personal vision for Web 4.0 was a good idea AND it had a great rev. model:
- Aggregate local content and charge a subscription fee.
- Charge advertisers to be seen alongside the content
- Charge for premium access.
That’s diversified! It’s a model built to last.
So that was a quick and dirty intro into a pretty interesting topic. I’ll be writing more. Let me know what you think?