February 29, 2008 by Colin
I had a chance to speak to a passel of Canadian government communicators about social media yesterday, and I promised them I would post a number of useful links to help them work around implementing social media in their workplaces.
So here goes:
- How the Social Web Came to Be, Part 1 and Part 2 and a linear time line in pdf
- Social Media Marketing vs. Social Marketing, via the Church of the Customer blog
- Network of Public Sector Communicators – a New Zealand blog written by a govt type
- 26 free tools to monitor buzz and online conversation. This is a must read, folks!
- Blog search tools: Google, Technorati, Blogpulse, IceRocket, Bloglines,
- E-government and Web 2.0, from Cisco.
- Introduction to Twitter (via KDPaine and Jeremiah)
- Big Brands and Facebook, a Forrester presentation
- the Three Types of Government Blogger, by me
- Four Tenets of the Community Manager, by Jeremiah, and even more detail and advice from Jake McKee
I’ve obviously missed a lot of resources, and I encourage my readers to mention more in the comments, so I can pass them along to the more disadvantaged.
February 28, 2008 by Colin
I think we’ve all noticed a rush to Facebook as a source for journalists, especially when someone under the age of 25 suffers an untimely death.
In Europe, sites like Bebo are providing similar information.
Which is why the British Press Complaints Commission is looking into how journos use social networks and content found online in their reporting. The essential question is: when can information and media posted online be repurposed by journalists (and others)?
More information can be found in an interview between BBC reporter Chris Vallance and the head of the PCC.
The indicators of Facebook addiction are easy to spot. The first article reporting the tragedy usually includes:
- a candid low-res photos of the victim, bylined “Facebook”
- quotes from several of the victim’s friend
- some mention of the victim’s aspirations
- a reference to a recent trip, party or getaway with friends
Subsequent updates often mention group and school affiliations, reference to rememberance sites on Facebook, and favourite bands. Oh – and speculation from “friends” about the role of substance abuse, inappropriate or ill-considered behaviour, or school group dynamics in the death.
In short, all the personal detail and reaction that reporters have always found hard to get – and mainly by doorstopping a grieving family minutes after they learned of the death.
February 25, 2008 by Colin
In-store television channels are not a new development, but I will grab an opportunity to riff on a tactic wherever possible. Kroger has just announced that they have built a television network (KTV) to serve the internal communications needs of their central division.
“… Each store has two servers with storage capacity and on-demand video, Kroger spokesman John Elliott said. Programs will include anything from quarterly financial messages from the company president to safety instructions for meat cutters …” (Rockford Register Star)
This may be some programming you could expect on similar channels:
- The 5 Second Rule and the Safe Handling of Meat
- Your 401(k) and Your Future: We’ll always have hours on the night shift
- Wax on, Wax off: Entry Level Jobs
- Channeling Bob Ross in Bathroom Decoration
- Creative Accounting in Determining Expiry Dates
- Our New CEO is Better Than Our Old One
- Cashier and Stockboy: A Story of Forbidden Love
- The Grocer’s Chiropractor: One Box Too Many
- How To Spot A Mystery Shopper
- My Barbie Oven is My CoPilot: a Food Sampler’s preparation guide
- Bleach and Ammonia: A Shortcut to the Cemetery
- How to Detail a Buick – your manager’s Buick
- That Market Analyst Is A LIAR
- One Lick Too Many: One night shift employee’s mastery of Guitar Hero 3 – and resulting unemployment
[tags] in-store tv, internal communications, grocery [/tags]
February 21, 2008 by Colin
Forget beta testers in Russia, India and Iowa. Forget launching a 0.6.3 version with only 10,000 users. Here’s an excerpt from a 1981 market research report on the first version of the arcade classic Centipede:
“… Although test results from these locations should still be valid, the CENTIPEDE games tested at the Mountain View Time Zone, the Cloverleaf Bowl, the Albany Bowl and the Ice Cream Dock are not identical to the production version of CENTIPEDE …” (Atari documents, pg. 26)
What names! You can imagine each of those locations, down to the placement of the snack bar and the stoners hanging out in the back. Here’s some more insight from Atari Marketing Management:
“CLOVERLEAF BOWL: This location does not seem to have a large base of highly skilled players. The clientele is similar to a typical street location in terms of the level of game play. The average age of players seems to be 9 to 16, with a fairly high ratio of female players.
For the first 2-1/2 weeks CENTIPEDE was placed near the bowling lanes. The game was then moved near the front entrance of the bowling center and seemed to pick up slightly in earnings …” (pg. 29)
In case you’re wondering, the game made between $210 and $260 a week.
“… ICE CREAM DOCK: During the fourth week [of the beta test] the ASTEROIDS CT game was robbed, which resulted in an artificially high percentage of gross figures for the other three games…” (pg. 31)
Here’s some statistics on the Mountain View Time Zone:
“… There are a total of approximately 87 games … with a mix of about 75% video and arcade pieces, and 25% flipper games. Berzerk, Gorf, Pac-man and Rally-X are the newest videos in the location…”(pg. 37)
This from the “lessons always repeated, never learned file”:
“…The most frequently mentioned negative attribute of CENTIPEDE was the trak ball… [34% did not like it]” (pg. 39)
And, finally, an observation from focus group tests:
“…The older group discussed cabinet styles [between the "upright" and the "cocktail"]. A strong preference was stated for the standard upright cabinets over the shorter versions because it gives them a feeling of control and allows “body english.”
You just KNOW that their “body english” was accented by tight jeans, headbands and maybe even mullets.
h/t to Banner Blog
[tags] video games, 80s, Centipede, bowling [/tags]
February 14, 2008 by Colin
Those are all things that white people like, described in detail on Stuff White People Like.
I’ll tell you one thing white people like: McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit to owning issues 1 through 6 of McSweeney’s.
And … as much as I hate to do it … the new music superblog, PopDose, is cornfed white. Abba and Mambo #5 featured in the same week?
But seriously, PopDose is a fantastic blog, drawing from the talents of Jefito, Jeff Vrabel, Jason Hare, Py Korry and many others. But it’s still Wonder Bread spread with Cheez Whiz and the crusts cut off.
January 29, 2008 by Colin
…but The City Desk, a blog about a fictional urban centre, is pure genius.
A piece from last year reeled me right in, with a mix of nearly believable retail history, technological confusion and urban conspiracy: The Permanence of Gillard’s Electric Typewriter Service
“…All large cities feature that staple of stand-up comedy, the retail storefront which seems to change hands every few weeks, and our own is no exception. The left-center unit of the Pioneer Square strip mall, currently S.E. Huang’s Kenpo-Karaterie, was a Spanish-language tax preparation service catering to the South Street area’s large Ecuadorian population as recently as last November- and, in the summer of 2006, it was a boutique specializing in salsa-related merchandise. Lot 47 in the Galleria at Woldman Heights is particularly infamous in this regard; in the last three years alone, it has been a Wittman’s, a Sunglass Hut, a Gap for Seniors, a Dobbins Farm Dairy outlet store, and a shop where one could commission tailor-made potato chip varieties….
Then the suggestion that actor William Atherton, who I remember most as the EPA inspector from Ghostbusters (“It’s true. This man has no dick”), was in the running for mayor.
The City Desk is magic. It is the paper of record for every neighbourhood you have ever lived in. It’s so familiar, so accurate, it makes you realize how foolish urban life and obsessions can be.
[tags] urban life, city paper, neighbourhood journalism [/tags]
January 19, 2008 by Colin
If you were challenged to describe the spirit and atmosphere of your home town, could you single out a palette of colours that would immediately seem familiar and evocative?
[tags] Pantone, Ottawa, Falkowsky, Walrus [/tags]
January 7, 2008 by Colin
Just finished ginning up a new headshot.
Thought I would share it.
Note: there is an iconic Canadian design detail hidden in this photo.
January 6, 2008 by Colin
On the east end of Long Island, there’s a 1,000 watt radio station that’s extremely local:
“…Mr. Tria’s morning show, “The Dawn Patrol,” delivers a style of local radio that is nearly extinct on Long Island: a neighbor’s lost dog, a birth or death in the community, and news from the schools, the police and Town Hall. It is a slow-drip blend of slow-paced life that seems meant to waft into kitchens and mingle with the smell of bacon. (NYT)
A Ford dealership in a small California town has been bought out, a reaction from hq in Detroit to declining market share and a surplus of dealerships in the region. But not for a lack of trying:
“…All the while, Norwalk and southeast Los Angeles gradually became more Latino — 63% in the most recent Census data. Stutzke says he adapted, becoming among the first car dealers to advertise on Spanish-language television. Families poured into the dealership on Saturdays to watch the making of El Show de Keystone Ford. (USA Today)
Looking for some heartwarming stories of big box chains and international brands failing? Reason magazine tells us that the little guy CAN win – and has an eighty year history of beating the big guy. It’s a good read with a lot of historical context:
“…By understanding local tastes, Newbury Comics, Phoenix Coffee Co., La Flor De Broadway Café, and Kansas City’s Broadway Café demonstrated that localization, customer care, and authenticity are far more effective means of fighting larger rivals than agitating for anti-chain legislation.
Had Broadway Café owner Jon Cates initially looked at historical precedent, rather than petitioning city hall, he perhaps would have understood that David slays Goliath with encouraging frequency in the history of American business.”
[tags] community, audience, brand, retail, radio promotion [/tags]
December 30, 2007 by Colin
Didja hear? The traditional enclosed mall is in decline. Apparently, someone told The Economist, because they’ve run a long piece on the original enclosed mall, Southdale Mall in Minnesota.
In Rise and Fall Of the Shopping Mall, we get the magazine’s well-written and comprehensive look at mall culture – especially as it developed under the imagination of Victor Gruen, Southdale’s architect.
“Gruen got an extraordinary number of things right first time. He built a sloping road around the perimeter of the mall, so that half of the shoppers entered on the ground floor and half on the first floor—something that became a standard feature of malls.
Southdale’s balconies were low, so that shoppers could see the shops on the floor above or below them. The car park had animal signs to help shoppers remember the way back to their vehicles.
It was as though Orville and Wilbur Wright had not just discovered powered flight but had built a plane with tray tables and a duty-free service.“
I thought that analogy was worth a mention, but there has been much more written about Gruen and his impact on the culture of North America. Ten years ago, the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages wrote about the “Gruen effect” and the “mauling of America.”
In a 1957 interview with the New Yorker, Gruen recognized that urban populations need common spaces (the precursor to the “third place”?) – and also fingered merchants as the guiding force in the development of North American culture.
… Mr. Gruen grumbled that “planning” has become a dirty word in this country. “Almost as bad as if Lenin had invented it,” he said. “The fact is no city was ever planned enough. Planned and replanned. Here in New York, we’re like a big family that’s all dressed up with no place to go. Wherever we turn, it’s jostle and bustle and frayed nerves and bad tempers.
In Detroit, six or seven thousand people make their way to Northland on Sunday afternoons. The stores are closed, so what are they doing there? Looking for open space. They window-shop and stroll through the gardens and sit on benches and soak up the sun and enjoy the fountains and sculpture.
What Northland teaches us is this—that it’s the merchants who will save our urban civilization. ‘Planning’ isn’t a dirty word to them; good planning means good business. Besides, any improvements they make are tax-deductible. Sometimes self-interest has remarkable spiritual consequences. As art patrons, merchants can be to our time what the Church and the nobility were to the Middle Ages.”
Well, fifty years on I would be willing to debate the value and quality that a merchant-based culture has brought to our society. I guess that’s what being po-po-mo is all about.
Ten years ago, the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages touched on the “Gruen effect” and the “mauling of America.”
“…Kalamazoo, however, adopted only the pedestrian mall from all the recommendations of the plan, as many other cities would do with their Gruen plans. Fresno, California would build a downtown pedestrian mall in 1964, based on a 1958 Gruen plan; Honolulu, Hawaii would also convert two blocks into a pedestrian mall in 1969, three years after commissioning a Gruen plan.”
Malcolm Gladwell wrote about Gruen three years ago (which I blogged about).
There’s also a book about the man, and how about an academic analysis of his work: “Victor Gruen and the Construction of Cold War Utopias“?
[tags] Victor Gruen, Southdale Mall, suburbia, pedestrian mall, retail, mall [/tags]
December 22, 2007 by Colin
Melanie Villines was hired by Kraft to write an in-house history of innovation at the food giant. “The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Cheese” was the result – but it’s not available publicly.
The Chicago Reader, however, offers us a few details to snack on. Like this nugget:
“There were about 200 people who said they invented Miracle Whip.”
After all, victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan, especially in the world of food product differentiation.
Oooh. All that creamy edible oil goodness. Lathered on brown bread and topped with lettuce, tomato and a nice crisp piece of bacon.
Or, if you’re Belgian, squirted out on chips.
December 22, 2007 by Colin
There will be pretty pictures. There will be enigmatic pictures. There will be badly composed pictures. But the idea is fantastic. Two minds quite capable of making the leap between diverse subjects, disciplines and concepts have cooked up a competition to identify the World’s Best Urban Places and Spaces.
I like the idea because it is so loosely defined. Sifting through my memories of my favourite places, I can sort memories and images according to the effect of space, weather, feelings elicited by crowds, an absence of others, or my reaction to a conscious attempt by some smarty-pants architect or artist to define the place.
Here’s Russell’s description of the project:
“We’ll leave you to interpret ‘best’ ‘urban’ ‘space’ and ‘place’ as you like. Could be anywhere or anything; bus shelters, buildings, bombsites or benches. Rather than wait until we’ve got enough for a book (which, of course, may never happen) we’re planning instead on doing a series of pamphlets. We’re going to try and persuade some top designers to do them for us. There’ll be a free one as a pdf online and lovely specially printed ones for everyone who contributes and/or who’d like to buy them.
Obviously we’ve not really worked out all the details on that yet, but will let you know when we have.
Does that sound interesting? I think it might be. Pile in, if you’d like to.”
You can find the Flickr pool they’ve set up, either to contribute or simply to gawk. Consider the submissions according to your own criteria, or to explode in Photoshop looking for naked ladies and other privacy violations.
[tags] World’s Best Urban Places, urbanism, place [/tags]
December 20, 2007 by Colin
Broken Social Scene and Feist are local, quirky, imaginative and “independent.” Of course you remember independent music? Long tail before it got a cool name?
Perez Hilton is grasping, global, an aggregator but derivative and highly dependent on the craziness of others. (But still highly popular and influential)
If I base my comments on a scant 100-odd words, it seems that Feist is well aware of the influence of celebrity bloggers – and their fickle nature.
Perez Hilton has certainly been kind to you this year.
Yeah! When will that dime turn? You know Dragonette? I was having drinks with them in London, which is where they live now. And Dan Kurtz actually produced my very first record in ’98. So we’re old, old friends. So I went out for a drink with him and Martina [Sorbara] and they had some friend there and we’re all just hanging out. And after about an hour I said to the friend, “Hey, what do you do?” And he said, “Oh, well, I have this blog, this gossip blog.” And he asks me what I do and I say, “I’m a singer, I’ve got some records out.”
I didn’t know who he was from a hole in the ground. I’d never heard his name before and he had never heard mine. But the next day, I heard from about 70,000 people going “Oh my God!” and all of a sudden I understood the context of who this guy with green hair was. And that was Perez Hilton, of course.
The next day, he did a blast saying “Check out this girl’s video,” and that was six months ago. I’m bemused and grateful that stuff is on some people’s radar. It’s certainly not on mine. But I can understand it means something to someone.
If I’m reading that last line accurately, that’s the “long tail” telling us that the “wider tail” doesn’t really play a large part in her daily life.
Independent is as independent does … and her decisions aren’t confined by the frames defined by a larger and more “popular” voice.
h/t to Large Hearted Boy
[tags] Feist, gossip blogs, long tail [/tags]
December 19, 2007 by Colin
As we approach Christmas, we can harken back to when towns had local or regional department stores, each decorated in a particular style for the holidays. As the comments on a photo retrospective at Labelscar note, the retail landscape has now been Macyated.
As Canadians do more and more shopping at outlet malls in U.S. border cities, we’re increasingly leaving all but our underpants behind as we head home.
“…When I tell them it’s the handiwork of a Rudy’s stylist, neither one asks if I like the cut. Instead, they want to know if I enjoyed the experience, if I talked to other customers, if the vibe was good.
It’s obvious that what led Calderwood and Weigel into the business wasn’t an interest in hair. Rather, it was the idea of injecting new life into ritualized social interactions that intrigued them. “Wade used to fly back and forth from London and would see these barbers in Camden Market and Notting Hill where they’d just set up in the middle of the market and cut hair for the day,” Calderwood says. “And I used to live near Sig’s Barbershop downtown, this tiny old shop that’s never changed. I’d walk by it and think, ‘God, how cool would it be to buy that and get younger hairstylists to work there.’”
Need evidence that they’ve succeeded in creating an experience? Check out these Yelp comments about the original Rudy’s in Seattle.
James Surowiecki on how the web has affected how we shop:
“…the wealth of online product reviews and commentary has made the cues that stores use to shape shoppers’ perception of quality and value far less effective. This doesn’t mean that consumers are impervious to retailers’ tricks, and plenty of us shop the way Homer Simpson orders wine: buy the second-least-expensive thing on the list. …” (New Yorker)
[tags] mall, holiday decoration, Homer Simpson, Rudy’s Barber Shop, retail experience, outlet shopping [/tags]
December 4, 2007 by Colin
Who knew you could spin a holiday shopping feature out of some basic information about the efficiencies of installing in-store guideposts and barriers?
It helped that the final story covered three hooks:
- business efficiency and cost savings
- customer frustration at long lines and poor cash placement
- a link to Curb Your Enthusiasm
That’s right. Money, emotion and celebrity. All in one tidy story about lineups in stores.
“…An episode of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” makes the company’s case: To make up for a bad deed, Larry David goes to a store to buy his wife’s favorite perfume and finds two lines. He chooses one line and then jumps to the other because it appears to be moving more quickly. David gets stuck behind a woman sampling fragrances and is unable to buy the perfume because another man — who got on the other line, behind David — nabs the last bottle. David goes into a rant, asking why the single-line system isn’t used everywhere.
“We’ve proven that the fairest and most equitable way of queuing is the single corral, as Larry was demonstrating,” said Nick Byrne, vice president of sales and business development for Lawrence…”
Whoever media trained that man (or ghostwrote the pitch) gets a prize!
But there’s more: clear advice for retailers designed to increase sales on high profit items!
“…One of Lawrence’s British retail clients filled bowls fixed to a Tensabarrier with lip salve, tissues and playing cards and found that sales of those items increased 400 percent.
“A lot of retailers make the mistake of thinking that it’s just more retail space, but it’s not,” Byrne said. “They need to clearly display prices. It has to be an impulse-buy item, and there’s got to be lots of it.”..”