October 26, 2008 by Colin
It’s time for the economists to rend their garments and seek forgiveness. Econ Journal Watch is preparing a compendium of personal narratives on the subject of preference falsification: that unusual circumstance where scientists, researchers and, of course, economists, express views or attitudes in public that contradict those they hold in private.
In his or her essay, the author should clarify the kind of preference falsification in which he or she has engaged. For example:
- Building models one does not really believe to be useful or relevant.
- Making simplifications that obscure or omit important things.
- Using data one does not really believe in.
- Focusing on the statistical significance of one’s findings while quietly doubting economic significance.
- Engaging in data mining.
- Drawing “policy implications” that one knows are inappropriate or misleading.
- Keeping the discourse “between the 40 yard lines” so as to avoid being outspoken; knowingly eliding fundamental issues.
- Tilting the flavor of policy judgments to make a paper more acceptable to referees, editors, publishers, or funders.
- Disguising one’s methodological or ideological views, such as by omitting revealing activities or publications from one’s vitae.
- For government, institute, or corporate economists: Having to significantly play along with things one does not believe in.
h/t to Marginal Revolution
October 13, 2008 by Colin
September 25, 2008 by Colin
Make Users Happy For 5 Minutes A Day
Ben Huh from I Can Has Cheezburger discusses the site’s growth and popularity – from Web 2.0 Expo NY
h/t to Dino
September 25, 2008 by Colin
Know what the best part of the “I Am A PC” ad is?
“I am a PC, and I SELL FISHH!”
As Faris points out, this ad tries to reframe our collective perception of Microsoft as a company and as a tool manufacturer – highlighting its prevalence and utility around the world.
Nevertheless, it still feels like the third of twelve steps in a recovery program.
Speaking of tools, at what point will Justin Long’s agent tell him to drop out of the Apple campaign? As people slowly grow tired of the comparative ads, he runs the risk of being tarred as the face of a smug and elitist campaign.
There’s more than a little touch of agism in that reaction – if one of my daughters came home with a foppy haired douche that behaved that way ….
August 22, 2008 by Colin
It’s a childhood staple, it’s amusing, it has many vibrant colours that catch and engage the eye. The storyline is simple but engaging.
And it really reminds me of walking past the roadside food stalls in Delhi – sensing adventure, anticipation, surprise, but also fearing potentially disastrous consequences.
For a lot of illustrators, authors and marketers, Green Eggs and Ham provides a common point of reference for their images, stories and unique selling propositions.
As Faris points out, borrowed interest can be a useful tool across all these applications.
Emerge from your marketing coffee klatch with the goal of developing something “viral,” and borrowed interest becomes a lot more appealing.
After all, the appeal of borrowed interest means that someone else has done all the creative heavy lifting. Whether through artistic style, lyrical quality or appropriated cultural properties, the work of the marketer is simplified AND magnified.
That all to say that the effort by Yobi.tv, Spam I am, Or A Different Sort of Beginner Book: A Viral Marketing Story Suitable for Bedtime, caught my attention.
In a “hey, this book could be about me” sort of way. It’s a viral effort designed to speak to people who spend a lot of time thinking about viral efforts.
In the annals of Green Eggs and Ham appropriation, however, I prefer the Moxy Fruvous treatment. A great live band, they don’t seem to place much emphasis on developing an online presence (their website still brags of being Y2K compliant). The best I could find was a fan video:
August 3, 2008 by Colin
A former television repair centre, found on a backstreet here in Ottawa. The sign hangs over a roll-up steel door. This was personalized and convenient service, allowing you to drive your car or truck right into the service bay so your oversized television console could be brought in for repair with relatively little fuss.
The font choice is remarkably clean and modern for a business so obviously rooted in the 1960s and 1970s.
Let’s remember: when we used to talk about “portable TVs,” we meant bulky and heavy 13″ units, often with a built-in VCR. And rabbit ears.
Those units, as the sign notes, you could drag around to the side door yourself.
Over the past seven or eight years, it has become ridiculously easy to buy and set up a 42″ television – by yourself. I still remember a time when, as you were moving into a new house, you had to decide where the television was going to be placed – because it took two burly movers to put it in place, and it would never be moved again.
July 23, 2008 by Colin
- Want to see how the New York Times designed the GUI for their new iPhone app – in about 200 words? Felix Sockwell sheds some light.
- Slinkachu is the artist behind Little People – A Tiny Street Art Project that poses miniature people, furniture, vehicles and features in real-life streetscapes. He also prepared a piece for a gallery show in Stavanger, Norway that featured the gruesome and indiscriminate death of a 10 mm high businessman. Oh, is there no miniature God????
- Somehow, Steve Portigal and Dan Soltzberg are discussing the act of observation when they intertwine observation, design and Repo Man.
“… In fact, in Repo Man, Harry Dean Stanton’s character makes a comment about this very phenomenon—something like, “You’re thinking about a plate o’ shrimp, and then suddenly someone’ll say ‘plate o’ shrimp’ out of the blue….” And of course, through the whole movie, signs for “plate o’ shrimp” are everywhere. …” (AIGA)
- Al Gore may know how many napkins you take, but Chuck Norris will make sure you never sneeze again.
July 9, 2008 by Colin
- The tribe of underground surreptitious train sketchers. There may be a quick but quality portrait of you sitting in someone’s portfolio. (Los Angeles Times)
- How the Sonic Guys ad campaign came to life. (Kansas City Pitch)
“… To make the point that Sonic doesn’t nuke its hamburgers in microwaves, T.J. and Pete asked a competitor’s cashier to microwave a bag of popcorn for them. “They would be like, ‘We can’t microwave your popcorn. We’re busy microwaving burgers,’” McKay says. “The smarter, more strategic stuff, that’s when we knew that it was bigger than a prank or a Jackass-kind of thing. That’s when we knew it was good.”
Pete and T.J.’s antics became brasher and more irreverent. In a traffic-jammed drive-thru lane, T.J. called the restaurant and asked if the restaurant could use a hand in speeding up the line. …”
- Tom Watson, British MP and Minister for E-Government, is BLOWING MY MIND with his twitter use. (And Hazel Blears, the Minister for Communities, started blogging and twittering today)
- Jack Kerouac, from the original scroll of “On the Road” in Memehuffer:
“People aren’t interested in facts but in ejaculations“ (journal entry, December 1949)”
[tags] Sonic Drive In, ads, Kerouac, egovernment, Tom Watson, subway artists [/tags]
June 22, 2008 by Colin
I’m pretty sure that, in the western hemisphere at least, every focus group participant alive is fully aware of being monitored, either by camera or from a neighbouring room.
Key to the onsite observation is an adjacent room that offers a donut’s eye view of the focus group and its activities. For some reason, the focus group participants must be kept ignorant of the executives and public opinion specialists hidden behind the smoked glass.
I’m not sure why. What focus group will be swayed by a bunch of white folks in suits and pollsters in sweaters?
Leaving aside that skeptical outlook, Steve Portigal made an interesting observation while visiting one focus group facility – they had outfitted the overhead light switches with outdoor outlet covers.
I bet that touch of ingenuity was actually the product of one – or more – slightly embarrassing moments.
Here’s the top 19 signs your focus group is quickly collapsing into abject failure and will be completely unusable for consumer research, message testing, product verification or concept formulation:
- From an arriving participant: “Hey! I used to be a 1-900 operator for this place!”
- The clients hold up the session waiting for the muffin plate to arrive.
- The recruitment coordinator works from the bus depot.
- A fantasy sports fan hijacks every idea with a poorly thought-out sports analogy.
- I’m not saying it’s a bargain basement facility, but the viewing room has an electric blind that has to be fed quarters to stay up.
- Your moderator shows up, and he’s in a Leafs jersey.
- The participants are handed Hello Kitty knockoff pens and notepads.
- There’s more than one socially conscious teacher at the table.
- The moderator starts off by saying “Most of you know the drill …”
- The viewing area for agency types is behind an old patio door. From a mobile home. With a “Texas Kixass” sticker on it.
- Five words: retiree with a hearing aid.
- The testing facility uses old pieces of drywall for whiteboards.
- At the end of the video clip you’re testing – at great expense – more than one participant refers to “the money shot.”
- Participants who answer in complete sentences are handed Wal-Mart gift cards.
- More than three instances of someone saying “I’ll tell you what I think …”
- Your moderator’s Steve McClaren (for the Brits among us).
- “I know this product! I think my stepmama’s suing ya’ll!”
- In the facility’s waiting room, you can make an extra ten bucks with only “a twist of the wrist.”
- One of the participants asks who will sign for her high school volunteer credit.
[tags] focus group, public opinion research, moderator, popular opinion [/tags]
June 6, 2008 by Colin
This farm grows high efficiency creatives in direct marketing, gaming, design and other specialties, which are then juiced in a hydraulic press and shipped across England to power the creative industry.
Video from the South West Creative Growers Association. (which is, of course, a creation of the industry)
[tags] creative, advertising industry, inspiration [/tags]
June 5, 2008 by Colin
You know what the problem with the social media news release is? It’s still an artificial product. It’s still a filter imposed upon an actual event, an actual decision with real impact on people’s work, careers even lives.
And it’s a filter imposed by public relations and marketing types.
Sorry folks. We’re good at telling stories, and drawing attractive and engaging analogies out of our clients, and at connecting clients with transmitters like journalists, influencers and community connecters.
But does that filter really produce a document appealing to the end user – the reader?
Yesterday, there was an announcement at the Perimeter Institute, a standalone research institute in Waterloo, Ontario dedicated to research in fundamental physics. It’s largely been funded by Mike Lazaridis, one of the founders of RIM (to the tune of $100 million). A few years ago, he twisted the arms of the Ontario and federal governments to cough up some money.
Yesterday, he ponied up another $50 million. (Here’s the boring but fact-filled news release)
Perimeter is an unusual research institution – it spends a lot of time creating public events for the people of Waterloo. For example, yesterday’s announcement was followed by a public lecture by Nobel Prize-winning physicist William Phillips. A lecture where he wore a Star Wars tie and played with lasers and liquid nitrogen to reach within infinitesimal levels of absolute zero – in a Waterloo high school auditorium.
Using this example, here is what a social media news release should look like:
- full webcast of the event, archived for posterity (provided by Perimeter)
- photo of the guy signing the cheque, and just him (provided by Perimeter)
- several factual paragraphs on the funding announcement and its consequence to the institute (from the Perimeter release)
- one factual paragraph on the outreach award given to Lazaridis by the federal government (instead of the template release)
- unguarded comments and asides from the participants in the news conference (provided by the live-blogging of journalist Paul Wells)
- links to the history of the Perimeter Institute
What’s missing from the public record of the announcement?
- video of the science demonstration – including crowd reaction from the ordinary (but science obsessed) Waterpudlians in the audience
What is not needed:
- pictures of the MC
- pictures of hangers on (otherwise known as partners and stakeholders)
- quotes from hangers on
- messages from people NOT at the event
I know. There isn’t an announcement or an event in the world that doesn’t include a passel of stakeholders, partners, government supporters, local economic development officials, politicians and others whose favour has to be maintained if financial and political support is to continue.
Doesn’t mean I, as a consumer of news, have to be interested in their participation – unless they have a concrete role to play in the actual activity.
Maybe there should be a link to all this info on a separate page.
To give you an example of the spirit and tone a social media news release should really bring to the record, look at this excerpt from Paul Wells’ blog:
“…Rob Myers, Perimeter’s interim scientific director, is wearing a suit. This is a change because I saw him at Perimeter today in a polo shirt, so you know he’s making an effort. Myers is reminding everyone that Lazaridis launched Perimeter nearly a decade ago with $100 million of his own money. “That’s a one with a whole bunch of zeros,” says Myers, demonstrating a knack for science.
Now an Ontario cabinet minister with a voice uncannily like Steve Paikin’s is introducing Lazaridis. Gee, what can a man bring to the party when he’s already brought a whole bunch of zeros?…”
[tags] SMNR, social media news release, news release, communique, science [/tags]
June 2, 2008 by Colin
While I like reading articles like this, I couldn’t imagine spending the time to research and write it.
Keep your eye peeled for the “rate of rouge adoption = rate of industrialization” argument:
“…Thus, overall the English lagged far behind their former American subjects in lipstick use. The first department store makeup counter opened at New York’s B. Altman’s in 1867. (128) That same year, Harriet M. Fish of New York patented a lip and cheek rouge pad colored with carmine, strawberry juice, beet juice, and hollyhock root.(129) Americans’ few previous qualms about lipstick lingered on, but Americans generally plunged ahead in using and developing lip rouge much as they pulled ahead of England in industrialization.(130)
This 87 page paper has 575 citations.
That’s right. FIVE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE.
May 17, 2008 by Colin
What if Carl Icahn turned his attention to the largest fast food chain in the world?
“… I am reminded of my long-standing hope that next on his list of takeover targets will be the McDonalds corporation. Because then, you see, every newspaper will do a headline saying “Icahn has cheezburger?“, and afterwards every newspaper will have to run yet another explanation of what a lolcat is (or by then was). And we can all laugh at them …” (Seamus McCauley)
May 14, 2008 by Colin
Blah blah blah. Bad people. Mistaken people. Not trained well enough. Not experienced enough. EVIL people. Quarantined people. Ostracized people. Blah blah blah. Blame the database providers! Blah blah blah. People admiring their reflections in their exquisitely designed glass houses.
“… If you’ve got a blacklist, I wanna be on it ..”
A blacklist represents an over reaction to a particularly irritating problem. It is also an ill-considered tactic that only serves to demonstrate intolerance and, often, a rush to judgement.
What sort of effect can blacklists have upon the list maker? Ask yourself how much news coverage you have seen of the horrible devastation in Burma. Five days ago, the world (as represented by the media) was up in arms about the poor response to the devastating crisis in Burma. This despite a wide-ranging ban from the Burmese government on foreign media and aide workers.
Today, the media is full of destruction, hope and recovery from China. The Chinese government knew to open its doors to honest and factual reporting, and to greet international offers of assistance with less gnarled and anger-ridden arms.
It’s a horrible observation, but true.
As for blacklists, I agree with Susan.
[tags] blacklists, Burma, China, cyclone, earthquake [/tags]
May 14, 2008 by Colin
- Band Get Out Clause can’t afford to shoot their own music video, so they pose and perform in front of 80 closed circuit cameras operated by various authorities around Britain, then demand the footage under the Data Protection Act. Enjoy:
- The faux crowdsourcing of business school cases, in which Yale attempts to argue that analysis from world-reknowned academics and subject matter experts is over-rated, and that the kids of today need to be drowned in raw data:
“…No longer linear, but instead lateral, in their thought processes, they seem to think in hyperlinks, assembling information from multiple simultaneous inputs. In the 1990s, scholars and teachers interpreted this lateral mindset as a kind of intellectual laziness, but now, my colleagues and I are increasingly of the view that the students of today are actually quite focused and energetic.
They are willing to devote considerable effort to wade through vast amounts of material from disparate sources; they may even work harder than students of a few decades ago. They just don’t want to focus on any one piece of material (say a 50-page article or a 20-page case) for a considerable period of time…’ (Yale)
- Lists you didn’t ask for: statutory rock edition, in which the lads from PopDose have an extensive discussion of rock songs that dwell far too long on the personal appeal of teenagers. A very funny post, especially as you dig into the comments.
- THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO! from Britvic Drench. These guys are either marionette geniuses or stop action dance fiends. (work hard + be nice to people)