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Good Writers, Good Readers, Good Publications

Good Writers, Good Readers, Good Publications

Do you read “the paper” (or just read?) just so you can bump into mind-altering articles? To have your perceptions and values tested? To grow the vitality of your mind?

Here’s an article that makes me appreciate liberal arts — the major and/or the orientation:

What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD?
An unexpected bond between damaged birds and traumatized veterans could reveal surprising insights into animal intelligence.

Here’s an excerpt:

Nearing Serenity Park’s exit, I decided to turn back and step inside Cashew’s quarters for a moment. I had only to nestle close to her perch and she immediately hopped on my back. Crisscrossing my shoulders as I had watched her do with Lilly Love, she stopped at one point for what I assumed would be the parrot equivalent of a kiss. Instead, she began to clean my teeth: her beak lightly tapping against my enamel, the faint vibrations strangely soothing. Immediately afterward, she took a brief nap in my shirt’s left breast pocket — it felt as if I’d grown another heart — then re-emerged and crawled to the top of my head. She strolled about there for a time before plucking out one of her own deep blue-green feathers and then descending to gently place it on my left shoulder. I have it still.

Papers were (are?) great because they were multi-disciplinary: the different sections speaking to different audiences and serving different function.

Lonely, Lonely Bloggers Don’t Despair

Lonely, Lonely Bloggers Don’t Despair

I’ll own up to this fact: I subscribe to the New Yorker for the comics.  Looky here:

blogging with no comments

Need I say more?

Maybe it’s funny b/c I’m a social media junkie… and here’s proof of that:

The funniest thing about this is that blog comments are almost extinct. That’s mostly good — but there is a downside. Either way, this comic is out of touch or this was drawn 3 years ago!

Mostly Good

The conversations that are happening in response to an article or sentiment are happening in the social channels — and that can be either through sharing or through social plugins. This is way better for content — content wants to get bounced around and go viral.

The Bad

What’s great about the time when all comments happened at the foot of a blog is that search engines had an easy time delivering to you great search results from the comments of blogs — they used to be a treasure trove of nuanced thinking branching off from the h1 tag– but now, comments are scattered, splintered and strewn about the (social) universe wily nilly.

I think Googlebot is probably panting like an old dog by the time it gets back to its house.

Last comment: it’s quite possible that a “follow” is the most salient and compact participatory event in the content space. Is it a comment? Dunno. Is it an affirmation? Sure thing! And, of course, dare I say: it’s desperate to be monetized.

Ok, it’s late and there are more questions pouring into my head than answers. Here’s a biggie: it seems like blogs are going to be extinct — lead by a fleeing of the comments (and feedback). But how can blogging really go extinct — we desperately need longer-form writing!

 

Brands 2.0 – Transparency, Not Mythology

I’m new to Douglas Rushkoff, but I’m digging what he’s saying over on FastCompany about the state of ‘brands’ and the future (now!) of marketing.

In short, ditch the inflated and created ‘branding’ that takes place at your org–just be transparent and really good at what you do. BTW: One good example of this is MailChimp.

Rushkoff On “Brands”

[But] it’s not about creating a mythology around the way a product was created, so it’s no longer “these were cookies made by elves in a hollow tree.” That’s not the value of the brand. The value of the brand is where did this actually come from? What’s in this cookie? Who made it? Are Malaysian children losing their fingers in the cookie press or is this being made by happy cookie culture people? At that point, all these companies come to people like me saying, “We want to become transparent. We want a transparent communication strategy.” And I’m like “Well, are you proud of what’s going on inside your company? Are you proud enough to pull up the shades and let people see inside?” It’s that easy.

Every company has a social media strategy whether they know it or not. You can have your dedicated social media person chasing down consumer complaints, but your real social media strategy is how are the people who work at your company and the people who buy from your company and people who supply to your company, how are they talking about you in social media? The way to make them talk about you [favorably] is by walking the walk of the thing that you do. And that’s so hard for so many of these companies because they’ve become so abstracted. They’ve become so distanced from the core competence of their industry. The job of a communicator–or someone like me–is to go in and say, well, just do something. Don’t outsource one thing and then make your company about that.”

Rushkoff On Marketing

In response to: “What will marketing organizations look like in the future?”

It will be companies that figure out how to communicate the non-fiction story of a company, so it’s going to look a lot more like a communications company than a creative branding agency. It’s going to look a little bit more like PR, in some sense. It’s going to be people who go and figure out what does your company do and how do we let the world know about that? There’s going to be a lot of psychology involved, except instead of it being psychologists turned against the consumer, it’s going to be psychologists going in and trying to convince companies that what they’re doing is worthy. It’s breaking down this false need in companies to hide from the public what they’re doing–except for the ones that do (need to hide).

We’re getting back to the basics–and I like it.

Do I Really Want To “Like” Bad News?

Do I Really Want To “Like” Bad News?

No. I don’t.

And this draws attention to a unique Facebook issue–on their mobile app.

Take a look:

In this circumstance, I would like to share this news–but it’s a bit creepy to “Like” it. You know, the other meanings of the word “Like”?

They’ve got it figured out on their web site–but when are they going to get to updating their mobile app?

Lesson: be on the look out for semantic snags or the linguistic impact of your UI elements.

I throw this in as a bonus (if Facebook happens to be reading this!): let me share with a subset of my friends not everybody. Google+ has got you here, FB.

Marketers Paint the Future

Epiphany:

Marketers are in the business of painting the future in such a way that using their company’s products look like common sense.

Now, if you’re peddling crapola for a company you don’t believe in then this is sheer torture—but if you’re fortunate enough to be inspired by the benefits your company’s services or products provide, then it’s creative, inspiring and lots of fun.

And if you’re Apple, then I guess you make products that change the future!

 

Go-To-Market Overselling?

It’s a pet peeve of mine when marketers go all pie in the sky and promise more than they can ever deliver.

In this case LevelUp is just jamming them in:

  • “Good things happen”
  • “Save Always”
  • “Use it Everywhere”

Can these things be true?

Is it a turn off to adopters?

The Reverse Newspaper, Groupon Style

It’s time for some radical thinking about your local newspaper.

Here’s the problem: my local paper is covering things that aren’t that relevant to me—and when it is relevant, it’s not covered exactly the way I want it covered.

What if we flipped the editorial function on its head? What if we employed the Groupon model or crowdsourcing intent from a community?

Specifically, I think it could work like this:

  • Allow readers to post story ideas
  • Readers could then vote on their favoriate ones.
  • Once a critical mass was achieved, the story would be assigned to a reporter.
Of course, the initial posting of the idea could include detail to provide a clear idea of what the story should achieve.
Isn’t this a way for a paper to always remain relevant to its readership? More importantly, isn’t this a way for a community to get what it wants?
I think it’s worth at least a pilot.
When I worked at a local newspaper, I served on the community relations board. It was a way for us to ensure we were serving the community better. This idea is soooo much better. It’s real-time, it’s democratic, and it’s transparent.
So, DailyLocal.com, what do you think?

Does Anybody Use the Word “Viral” Anymore?

It used to be that ‘going viral’ meant that people forwarded the s$#t out of some meme.

Today, you don’t really hear the word “viral”—”virality” yes, but more on that in a minute.

Here’s why:

In the olden days—4 years ago!—”viral” meant that a meme spread throughout networks as a result of many people working fairly hard/investing real quantities of time—most likely that meant people spammed their address book or fired off 10s or 100s of individual emails. It meant that the meme had overcome a relatively significant impediment to achieve ubiquity or success.

But today that doesn’t apply. Today, meme’s traverse an ecosystem that is fundamentally built to facilitate the success of viruses.

So today we use ‘virality’ to describe the relative success or value of a meme’s growth towards ubiquity—because everything is viral, isn’t it?

And “virality” isn’t even listed in Dictionary.com!

Twitter the Tool Rocks, Twitter the Product Name Doesn’t

I’m a big fan of Twitter. Really, I think it’s bonafide communication infrastructure—on par with the phone, tv, fax… Sometimes I say it’s RSS on steroids, your own personal multi-media channel… I have a lot of emphatics for it ( I just made that word up!).

But you know what would really help me out? If Twitter was named something else.

Most of the time when I’m trying to explain it, it really feels like I’m trying to defend it. The word ‘twitter’ just has so many negative connotations: insignificance, small, ephemeral, light, transitory, fleeting…

So Twitter product guys, what’s with the name?

I think with a name like Burst—or a utilitarian acronym—adoption rates could have been even faster. “Facebook”, “email”, “internet”, “SMS”… these are all much better names because they’re descriptive or utilitarian—not self-deprecating.

Product naming isn’t for the birds.