Sunday, July 31, 2011

Confessions of a social media strategist

I have taken two different tactics in practicing social media. One is to pursue connections and the other is more organic, allowing connections to find me and after they do, following an established a set of criteria to determine if they truly want a conversation with me or uncover if they are just trying to boost their numbers.

I am more curious about what makes people want to click my 'follow' button, so I enjoy the observation mode more than the pursuit, but you can learn from both.

For my personal research, I have two Twitter accounts. One is focused on writing and publishing connections. I have used that account to see if I can drive the follower count with various tactics that do not require purchasing followers or purchasing advertising. The answer is yes. It works best when you work in conjunction with a second party. I'll probably teach a class on this, so I won't release all my conclusions. The short path is to find someone with an average follower count (not a celebrity), follow the people they most interact with and create conversations.

The second account began as a way to test how the work environment could take advantage of Twitter and watch those interactions develop. That Twitter account grew into a something much bigger. That one is my observation account.

It is time to come clean.

There is one place I apply no science.

It's LinkedIn.

Pre-dive bombing into social media, I had received various emails from people stating, "I'd like to add you to my professional network." That just sounded like the dumbest thing I'd ever heard. Most of the invitations came from people I either did not want further connections with, or they were so far a strewn from my daily business interactions I had no idea what would be gained.

When I finally joined LinkedIN it was more of a surrender to the media. Someone from work helped me understand the statistics portion of LinkedIn and unfortunately (for me), I noticed that they had better stats then I did. My competitive nature kicked in (former salesperson) and I began a pursuit to improve my numbers. As soon as I beat the co-workers stats I found someone else to beat. Once I beat his stats, I was hooked. My circle of trusted professionals leapt past 500,000 and closed in on a million.

Be still my ego.

As I watched the ticker rachet up I wondered how many people in my master database are actually on LinkedIn. In an attempt to find I out, I uploaded a vast list into the system. Instead of being able to review who's in the LinkedIn database, I was directed another direction. I hit the button that sent a behemoth pile of LinkedIN invitations out.

I hopped and jittered all over the keyboard attempting to go back, to log-out, to somehow undo what I had done: intiated a bagillion annoying LinkedIn invitations to people who barely knew me. Bestselling authors, people at my daughter's school, emergency contacts from the neighborhood, people from boards I serve on, and an ex-employee I would have had to of fired if they hadn't quit all received, "I'd like to add you to my professional network."

That created a personal and public relations nightmare. If too many people click, "I've never heard of her," LinkedIn would determine that I was a spammer and would cut me off. I would lose the option to send invitations to anyone. How to stop this? Perhaps a follow-up email. How do you think you would have reacted to my proposed email?

"I'm sooooo sorry, I didn't mean to send you a LinkedIn invitation, please ignore."

After careful consideration, I decided it would confirm I was an idiot or disclose that I didn't really value their association.

What to do?

I decided to ride it out and accept my fate.

The emails began trickling in, picked up steam and my stats grew. Currently, my group of trusted professionals sits at 5.2 million.

What's new in your social community?

Carol Doane on LinkedIN
Carol Doane on Twitter
Carol Doane on Facebook

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tatoo artist accesses YouTube to 'game' job opportunity

Having been the interviewer for open positions too many times to count, I was always impressed with the candidate who did their research, knew what our company was about, and could offer compelling information that would illustrate whey they were the best candidate for the job.

Erin Michael Vondrak illustrated her desire for a job by really using illustrations.

Her YouTube account and website,, serve up highlights from her resume:
I was raised in southern California. In 2007, I graduated from the University of Redlands with honors in Photography and a Bachelor’s degree in Design in Various Platforms of Media. I have worked for Apple since 2007. I enjoy drawing, tattooing, doing stupid animations in Flash, and making people laugh. I love animals, computers, meeting new people, and exploring the world around me. I currently reside in Seattle.

The video tells us she is desperate to leave Apple and work for the Bellevue, Washington entertainment software and technology company Valve.

I hadn't heard of Valve before. They sound like they might be worth investing the time Vondrak has shouldered to compose an original song and create hundreds of illustrations to populate a YouTube job plea. According to Valve's website they have an incredible "98% retention rate." I'd like to know what makes it so high, and I'll confess, I'm a little curious about the two percent who don't make it.

If you're interested in a job at Valve, visit their jobs page, which states, "We're always hiring for all positions. Seriously."

Personally, I think Vondrak should be on their marketing team. Her video has been shown 89,401 times. That is an incredible amount of PR in three days
Uploaded by  on Jul 27, 2011.

I learned about this first, on Geek Wire, "an independent technology news site and online community based in Seattle, Wash. — covering the people, companies and innovations emerging from and impacting the Pacific Northwest."

It's nice to know there are other people who love Washington State as much as I do.

What's the craziest thing you did to go after a new job?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fav quotes of the week: hope and wonder

Here's some fun from the last week. 
In the last seven days, what's the best thing you heard?

Found Source    Quote   
July 22
Twitter "Forty is in my rear-view window, honey. It only gets better." Mary Rarick
July 23
Blog "QR codes can deliver e-coupons right in the store."  Maryanne Conlin
July 24
Blog "If I'm already here, why are you discounting your product?" Carol Doane, in response to in-store QR codes
Mon, July 25 Blog"Good research does involve imagination" Ted, from bookeywookey
July 26
NPR"Everyone can change — everyone." Patrick Lundvick, former drug hustler, ex-inmate, and new job-seeker
Wed, July 27 Twitter"I'm full of it...heading to Home Depot to buy 2 new toilets. Who's with me?" Noland Hoshino, on remodeling
Thur, July 28 Twitter"Last night, I dreamed I made a death metal band angry, and I spent the whole night trying to fix the relationship." Bill Cameron

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When is it time to put the laptop to bed?

A thumb brushes over the keypad while a finger clicks and  flicks through the multiple tabs of the favorite browser. Eyes burn and stare at the 15-inch screen. The gaze grows fuzzy as the eyelids droop and the head lolls.

Suddenly, the eyes fly open and the head bobs.

Is it time to set the laptop aside and go to sleep?

On my reading list: 
OnStar FMV Hits Best Buy; Ad Campaign To Support
New marketing campaign to sell On Star in Best Buy using prime time, cable, network and social media via a Facebook page.

Altimeter Group Is Growing Like A Weed | SiliconANGLE
Former journalist Tom Foremski has soft spot for consultants with a mission to educate corporate America about the value of listening and engaging with customers.

Savvy BTS shoppers using smartphones, social networks to score deals
Inflation-related concerns will prompt back-to-school shoppers to use tactics such as smartphone and social network use, to save money.

Craigs List
Everything under the sun...

What's your bedtime reading?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Keyboard vs the pad, which one wins

For tactile people, keyboards offer intense relationships. Musicians spend hours on electronic or acoustic keyboards tickling the 'ivories.'

Typists are no longer clerks or secretaries, they're CEO's,  they're IT administrators or web developers.

I fit somewhere in between.

I started playing the piano at age five, learned html some years later, and managed, not a complete company, but a sales department along the way.

All those activities required being intimate with a keyboard.

Today, I am attempting to navigate without a keyboard. I received a Kindle for Christmas and have spent more time searching for and downloading free books than I have actually reading any of them. I have, however, completed two books, but I read both of those my Droid, the model with a keyboard. (I had downtime -- I was standing in line somewhere).

The office has an iPad. It bounces around the media group, mostly boomeranging back to me. It works best when I want to show a client a video the team has produced, or I am presenting and using it for notes, but I haven't been able to dig down deep, and know it intuitively to use out to do work.

It doesn't replace my laptop.

So, why are people purchasing these keyless electronic devices if they don't serve their purpose -- to help us pack 200 books in our bags, or help us get more work done, easier, faster?

According to a June 2011 Retrevo study, 48 percent of consumers buying pad devices, do so because of price, low price.

I now have a new mission. I will invent a new electronic device with a short, catchy name with an awesome slogan (probably not that necessary; can anyone remember the slogan for Kindle or iPad, quick now, no looking it up), price it so low you can't bear to live without it. Then I'll do my own study (Retrevo is a shopping site focused solely on consumer electronics), and get curious people to tap into my awesome site which not only sales electronics, but blogs about them and offers free manuals of whatever you can't figure out how to operate.

I love marketing. Maybe I'll learn to love the iPad as well as my notepad.

What relationship leap are you trying to make?

READ MORE from Marketing Charts
Low Price Top Tablet Features
Tablet Shipments to Exceed 80M in 5 Yrs
Advertisers Believe Tablet Users Open to Online Ads

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who rescues the graduates from failure?

Only 1 in 4 entering high school will graduate, began the NPR audio show. The example they used to illustrate their story on All Things Considered was former gangbanger, Patrick Lundvick. He's a dropout. He hustled drugs. He ended up in jail.

Today, he isn't willing to completely give up the drug-world friends of his old life, but he is willing to chase a new life that includes a job.

On the drive home from the office, the interview played in the background as I mentally reviewed the day. I caught snippets of it -- it detailed the stats for drop outs, half are black, most end up unemployed, unemployment crises leads to jail time. When the show introduced Alternative Schools Network, a Chicago-based recovery program to get drop-outs back on track, my attention perked up.

Whose creating programs in my own community to help dropouts, I wondered. Can they really alter the course of their life?

I was riveted when Lundvick said, "Everyone can change — everyone."

I believe that. I believe even I can change. I watched it happen. I lived it. Lived through it and came out the other side. When I started managing I told my staff, "You can't make a mistake I haven't already made." For the newbies I would add, "If you make a mistake, no one dies. It's not the end of the world. Learn from it and move forward."

"Everyone can change — everyone." Patrick Lundvick

As I continued the drive home I wondered how many managers make it, 3 out of 4? Half? Or are the stats closer to the 4 million students starting ninth grade this fall from which 1 million will eventually graduate?

I considered the challenges of changing, how difficult it is when given the same scenery day after day. We have to give up something to change, the status quo, the 'bad known,' preconceived beliefs, friends who have undue influence over us and even the job itself. At one job, I went from the backseat complainer and criticizer to the pro-active employee that said if it needs to be done, I'll do it. I stopped picking up the banner for everyone else's cause. It wasn't easy. Even Patrick Lundvick was having trouble separating his drug life from the one he wants.

During the course of the interview Lundvick stated, "I can't say I will not hang out with the people I know, 'cause some of the people that are in that life, have saved my life."

It's hard to disengage when the connections go deep. I considered the strength of character it would take to rub shoulders with friends closing $75K cocaine deals while you dog a job at Kinkos. It's all about choices and where you want to end up.

I wondered who rescues graduates who get jobs, but who drop out mentality or emotionally, for any number of reasons. Who reaches out to managers who let them fall through the cracks? A recent e-newsletter from Tibor Shanto said, "Many get into a routine, one that perhaps delivered some level of success for some time, and they stick with it, no matter what is going on in their world." It seems like we could all use a wake up call. A gentle nudge to look at the world from where we want to end up, not where we've been, or who we've been.

All of us could use better job skills. And maybe a rescue. Who pushed your career the right direction?

RESOURCES | School's Out: America's Dropout Crisis, quote at 3:35 in audio
The Pipeline | Removing The Barrier From Sales – Sales eXchange – 107

Consequences of Dropping Out of School | Press Release (PDF);
Executive Summary (PDF); Report (PDF).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Smart is the new sexy, but is this smart?

The newspaper industry decided to take their 'career' into their own hands.

Instead of allowing everyone else to tell them who they are they took control and are telling us via a new slogan.

For decades, I worked for a newspaper and never liked any of their marketing slogans. The first one I endured, was, "Hey, Clark County, we've got you covered!" The mainstay of the campaign was billboards touting winners of local bowling 'tourneys' announcing you could read their achievements in the paper.

First of all, no one I knew called a bowling tournament a tourney. And who wants their community portrayed as a bunch of bowlers? Lastly, any slogan that starts out with 'hey' needs to be retired to the pasture.
Lastly, any slogan that starts out with 'hey' needs to be retired to the pasture.

A more recent and more memorable slogan was, "It's your paper." For me, that conjured up images of the board of directors pointing fingers at the readers and trying to convince them they were the owners. If it's yours (or did you mean mine?) then couldn't I (the reader) tell you what to print? Not really. So, in reality, it felt like the paper was driven by the directors.

Yours, ours, mine. The pronouns are all fairly confusing in a slogan. But the fact remains, newspapers have never been confused about their role in the community as a source of information. They continue this mission into the present day, which has delivered not a competitive landscape but a devastating landslide of losses. External forces pummel the industry -- competition for potential readers' time, complete decimation of the classifieds, disruptions in acceptable modes of delivery, rivals or even non-rivals siphoning talent away from every department.

Amid the challenges and chaos, newspapers have organized around a central rallying point, agreeing they need to protect their content, monetize it, build a presence in the mobile marketplace, and communicate their value to the potential audience. That communication comes in a the form of a new marketing campaign.

Talk to anyone in the sales or survival departments, and they'll flood you with stats. The local newspaper reports 1.7 million pageviews. That is awesome.


There isn't ONE advertiser who receives 1.7 million pageviews. That's right. Newspapers have exerted a lot of effort over the years to tout how much better their stats are over any other media, and now they have an astounding online audience. But it's their audience. When it comes time to buy advertising, the pageviews are portioned off into smaller dollops that may or may not reach the advertiser's preferred target.

This campaign is less about numbers and more about perception. The newspaper is throwing the numbers to the sidelines and getting cozy with a new slogan that tells us  staying informed is smart and smart is sexy.

I'm having a hard time imagining that tactic will grow their audience.

Let me rephrase it and illustrate why I think that.  "Read my blog--stay informed--you'll look smart--everyone will think you're sexy." What do you think? Will it grow my audience? Maybe as much as dying my hair green like the illustration above.

Good or bad, what is most irksome about the slogan is that the concept is neither unique or original.

It's not original to groups. There is a Facebook 'Smart is the New Sexy' page with 100 plus members. I actually think it is incredible there are 100 people who want to promote themselves that way. How do they prove it?

It's not original to websites. 'Smart is the new sexy' is the subtitle of Max Kaizen's website.

February 2010, it was used in a YouTube video.

September 2009, devilishly handsome, attorney Adel Tamano was said to have coined the phrase.

As cute as he is, Tamano can't own the phrase. It was already out there in an April  2009 YouTube video.

And even farther back to August 2007, where the phrase was used in a blog post, Smart is the new Sexy! (The evolution of behavior and the brain).

If you truly love the phrase it can also be purchased on a zazzle t-shirt.

Bottom line, the critic has the advantage every time. We can punch holes in the concept, but can we come up with a better slogan? What do you think -- how would you save and sell the concept of newspapers?

Editor & Publisher ® | The Smart and Sexy Story of Newspapers
Redoing Media | Smart, sexy, stupid…or shameless? You decide

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have nothing against bowlers. My daughter participated on her high-school bowling team, and I like her a lot.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Addicted to technology or addicted to distraction

As we sit down to dinner in a restaurant, I hear the same phrase repeated quite often, "Put that away."

A few too many times, I have checked-in on Foursquare and checked one last piece of gmail before setting my smartphone(s) aside and engaging in polite dinner conversation. I have even glanced back occasionally to see if the green, red or blue light is blinking and sometimes haven't felt guilty.

I've tried to distance myself from the phone. We banished our land-line after being drilled by too many telemarketers, and currently, our household has roughly1.5 phones per person.

I couldn't go back and live without a cellphone. I think I could go back and live without a smartphone. But the notepads, calendars, pens and pencils required to keep our schedules and lives in careful balance would be a huge deterrent.

With that said, I have yet to see a piece of tecnology that actually saves me time, as in, now I have time to do something I really want to do, like sit and relax and read a book. I am convinced, with or without a dishwasher I would have the same leisure time. I am convinced, with or without a blender, Cuisinart, bagel toaster, convection oven, or microwave, I would estimate no differently when I hungrily peered at the wall clock and predicted what time dinner would be ready.

Technology has bought me nothing except distraction.

I gave up television to truly bond with a portable keyboard. Now, because I spend exactly zero hours watching tv and many hours on my laptop, marketers are trying even harder to connect with me. In her article, "Moms Can’t Wait for QR Codes" Maryanne Conlin states that over 60% of moms have the ultimate portable keyboard: a smartphone.

That does not give me comfort.

That's 60% of the female population who is tempted to text while driving, tempted to interrupt their conversation with me to take a call from their kid, and are very inclined to over indulge their internal photography beast and dilute the Facebook stream with home movies that will never make it to America's Funniest Home Videos.

But so equipped, moms with smartphones become a target for the latest technology feature and the simplest one on the horizon is the QR code. It will save us time, the marketers will preach as they push links to websites, as they paste blobs on billboards, as they plunder our inbox with e-coupons for designer food as we enter the grocery store to buy bread or milk.

I can see it now. We'll enter a new restaurant and be greeted with a buy one, get one QR code. It'll be a natural step for businesses, after all, they need to use the latest technology to hook us. But as a marketing person, I will have to ask, "If I'm already here, why are you discounting your product?"

Then I'll wonder how they can use QR codes to speed up the ordering process, and wonder why it's not saving any of us any time.

Since the post, these references have popped on QR Codes:

July 20, 2011 Festival organized in Korea, will take place July 21-31 anywhere where there is internet access, smartphone users and access to the film festival poster. Link provides event's QR Codes:
World’s First QR Code Film Festival


UPDATE 7-24-11

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The 'new' software concept: books

A major news media posted a story that invited us to "Meet Barnes & Noble, software company."

I had to read the sentence twice.

My usual inclination is to think of Barnes & Noble as a book store.
Perhaps, I should have known better.

What we were is not what we will be.

We are rocketing into today where libraries shrink or, with pioneer style spirit, open a new five-story community library.

We live in a present-day where:

In January, experienced book buyers at Barnes & Noble were downsized. The influence a book buyer can exert on books is monumental. The maven of book influence is Oprah Winfrey. She no longer needs an expensive television show to wield power over books. She can post her reading recommendations on the Oprah's Book Club website.

This must free up millions in overhead.

For a fraction of the cost to produce and syndicate a television show, Oprah can duplicate herself online. Contest giveaways and clever questions will draw viewers over and over again to Once there,  Google ads and NOOK promotions that look so pretty they no longer look like ads are slipped in, not inserted into the content with glaring disruption like a 30-second television spot.

Then there's Amazon, a Washington State business, that delivers books wirelessly to Kindles, or delivers stand-alone books with actual pages via one of their massive number of booksellers. They were one of the first ones to 'get-it,' that there were other ways to build a business model. Hot on their heels is Apple, who is partnering with publishers.

And didn't Google announce a Google eBookstore with resulting copyright infringement lawsuit and settlement?


I completely forgot Walmart and Costco. Two behemoths wielding immense influence on the book buying public with their seemingly good prices. I say seemingly, because for the same price I could have bought the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell from Amazon for my Kindle, new from Costco, or used from Powells. ALL AT THE SAME PRICE.  But, which seller offered me the most choices, the best shopping experience, the smell of coffee...

Where did I purchase Blink? I'll let you guess -- leave your choice in the comments section and after five inquiries I'll post the answer.

Of course, I could have checked it out free from the new library downtown. I'm not sure I want to get to fond of that place, though. It may disappear into the electronic fray. I suspect not too far into the distant future, we'll be downloading our books from the library's website leaving the new building to scout for alternative uses. At this point, I suggest a community center, with regular author visits which can be announced on the library's future smartphone app.

We'll show up, shake hands with our writing-idol and have them email us a 'personalized' electronic signature.

After all, didn't our mothers teach us not to write in books?

Resources: Barnes & Noble Focuses on E-Books

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Forgot passWARD?" and other quotes of the week

Here's some fun we encountered this week. 
In the last seven days, what's the best thing you heard?

Found Source    Quote   
July 15
Twitter "It was a great day, my son was born, William Joseph Bunch." [picsJeff Bunch
July 16
Blog "Is experience really the best teacher? ...experience more heavily anchors (us)...into past modes of operating." David Burkis
July 17
Website "Focus on what is truly important or else we'll lose sight of what matters." In reference to Groupon earning a billion and losing half of it; Augie Ray
Mon, July 18 Twitter"I just learned that I was the 212,517th user to join @foursquare. I'm no @dens, but I think that makes me an early-adopter, right?" Michael Perozzo
July 19
Blue Oregon"Pay what has to be paid first." Article on Elizabeth Warren by T.A. Barnhart
Wed, July 20 Riding in the car"It's amazing that 5,000 of you fit in this one person." Referring to her mother  Kailynn Doane
Thur, July 21 INMA Website"Forgot PassWARD?" INMA Website

Thursday, July 21, 2011

If I win, do you lose?

Free Throw update from Court Crandall on Vimeo.

What always seems to divides us is a line. Sometimes the line is a border, a property boundary, a perceived sense of difference between co-workers, ethnic or religious groups, or sometimes it's as simple as a free throw line.

Eight high school students stood at the line. They threw their hopes in the air and took a shot at one $40,000 college scholarship.

According to Rob Kuznia's article, Free-Throwing His Way to College, any high school senior with a GPA of 3.0 or better at Compton High in Compton, Calif. was eligible to enter the competition. Out of approximately 500 seniors, only 80 qualified. The original 80 had been boiled down to eight who lined up to get out of Compton.

I don't blame them. Compton High would not make my list of 'schools I want to send my kids to.' reports that on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, Compton scores a three on when it comes to test scores. In 2008, only 69% of the teachers were fully credentialed, and more than half the students were eligible for free or reduced price lunch programs.

Yet, despite these challenges eight Compton high schoolers had been accepted into college. They just didn't know how they would pay for it. For them, the line was drawn between sad reality versus unlimited potential — if they could only out shoot their biggest competitor, who had also qualified, Allan Guei the basketball captain.

They took their best shots.

Then the basketball athlete stepped up.

It wasn't all doom and gloom. By showing up and trying, each one of them had automatically earned at least $1,000 towards college. But $1,000 is not $40,000 and college isn't cheap.

Sure, they had a chance. But really the basketball star?

Court Crandall, one of the owners of Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener, a Seattle/Los Angeles advertising firm conceived the contest, produced the event and subsequently the documentary that will be shopped at places like Sundance.

"I thought the free throw is a good metaphor in a world where there's a bunch of lines that are kind of dividing us," mused Crandall.

He was right, the free throw line rallied the students behind a common cause and like every bad contest it divided the winner from the losers. The winner in this case was indeed, Allan Guei, the basketball captain.

Guei sounds like a good kid. The columnist who wrote about this, Rob Kuznia, reports that after winning, Guei said, "Today was an exciting day. Last night, me and my parents, we prayed about it. We just left it in God’s hands.”

In this case, God's hands are as intriguing as Guei's. Three months after winning $40,000, Guei opened his hands and released his winnings. He's not dividing it, he's giving it all away. The students who competed with him at the free throw line will split it. The rest of the story is that Guei received a full ride at Cal-State Northridge, he felt blessed, it led him to share.

Like a mom who winds up to warn her kids about choices and regrets, I worry that something bad will happen to Guei, and he'll wish he hadn't done that. But I don't want the documentary to end with regrets. Nor do I want to be cynical about the acres of press this has generated for the marketing firm.

I want to say, sometimes the lines that divide us can be as artificial as a line drawn on the floor. I'd like to muse that when a co-worker steps up to the line to perform, if they do a good job and shine, it doesn't leave the rest of us tarnished. I want to banish our fear that if someone else 'wins' we lose. I want to applaud the kid who started with so little and had his plate of blessings piled high, but didn't take all the winnings home.

We need to fight against self-interest and be a good team member or at least a good sport. If we're going to compete, we need to compete with ourselves to be the best simple, human being we can be.

Who knows what will happen when we cross that line.

Read more:
Student splits 40K in winnings runners-up 
Free-throwing his way to college

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brain atrophy. Can the internet be blamed?

Embedded in the city of Oxford in England is the University's Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences dedicated to research. Deep in their neuorology halls they document, debate and decipher brain changes.

One of the methods employed is called SIENA (Structural Image Evaluation, using Normalisation, of Atrophy). SIENA uses 'brain extraction' tools, along with others that don't sound quite as extreme.

I stumbled on this research after reading an article by Nonprofit Tech 2.0 called 11 Nonprofit Websites Designed for the Social Web, and from there tried to find more out about the conclusions they made. The nonprofit article noted that social media is not only changing how we communicate, but it's also "changing how our brains process information."

Nonprofit Tech encourages their readers to use this information to change outdated concepts of website design, stating, "design principles of just five years ago no longer apply." They propose that websites should have less text, more images, more video, and larger social networking icons. Progressive sites would employ simple navigation, offer ease of subscribing to e-newsletters, and make it obvious how to "Donate Now." The resource they quoted came from the Nominet Trust.

I reviewed the Nominet Trust documents they sourced. Nominet states that our online well-being comes not only from protecting our online privacy, but also understanding how digital technologies effect our OFF-line life, as well.

What do we do with all this information?

The Nominet report exhorts parents to monitor online use by younger children and monitor older students use of instant messaging. Online is basically a massive distraction that causes the brain to atrophy.

To combat this, they made some sound suggestions, kids should get more sleep, more exercise, and  schools should take action to teach about overuse of online during learning hours. The report also noted, "More research is needed in a number of areas, to help evaluate the risks."

I'm wondering if common sense could give us the same understanding.

I'm less cranky when I get a good night's sleep.

I'm less irritable when I actually accomplish something versus wandering aimlessly around online, only answering an occasional email, but not enough to actually clear out my inbox.

The brain research will continue in England. Brains will grow and recede. Before mine completely dissipates, I'd like to get to the bottom of this.

Let's you and I cut to the chase. What does your personal research tell you — are you happier online or offline?

Read more:
Copy of the Nominet Trust study, download pf a PDF:
The impact of digital technologies on human wellbeing.

Since the post, these references have popped on brain and the Internet:

July 22, 2011UC Berkeley research on 24 adults determined viewing content on stereo 3D display hurts eyes and brain. Eye constantly adjusts to both distance of physical screen and that of 3D content, reaction to placement of sound is different for iPhone and movie screen. End result is visual discomfort, fatigue, headaches.
3D Hurts Your Eyes (and brain)


UPDATED 7-24-11

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Key to the internet? Being able to read

Looking up the wall on the first floor of the NEW Vancouver Community Library
The first key to the internet is literacy. What are you going to consume if you can't read? The community I live in holds a high value on literacy. It voted to increase taxes to support a new central library, and built it!

Sort of.

Here's what really happened — we voted three times. It almost didn't happen.

In 2004, the library received 56% yes votes. Not enough to pass the bond.

In 2005, the library received 59.4% yes votes. Not enough to pass, but enough NOT to give up.

In 2006, someone threw in $5 million of their own money to back the library's efforts. Another generous community member threw in premium property valued at $2 million to build on. Everyone crossed their fingers and another vote was cast. The results came incrementally closer, 63% yes votes.


The funds built a fabulous structure on the east side of town, the Cascade Park Community Library, and was the starter package for the main branch downtown.

Happy ending? Almost.

In 2009, the library district went from being conservative to ultra-conservative. Faced with the same economic downturn as the rest of the community, they eliminated 10% of the staff and the equivalent to one day a week of service.  The message was clear, we're good stewards of your investment. They also didn't give up.

Executive Director of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library, Bruce Ziegman says, "In the hopes of restoring the hours and improving our book (and other things like e-books, downloadable audio books and music, etc.) budget we ran an operational levy in 2010."

Yes, undaunted, the library went after a levy following 3 bond measure attempts. If successful a 50-year old structure would not only be replaced with a new, more useful, more relevant resource, but it would be stocked and staffed.

People read the ballot. People voted. Other people read the ballots to count them. The outcome of the election remained in doubt until every last mail-in and absentee ballot was tabulated. The local newspaper wrote about the election for a week. The tally teetered and tottered between pass-fail:
August 17  Library levy trailing, but margin 'razor' thin
August 18  Election update: Library levy fate unknown
August 19  Late ballots push levy to 400-plus vote edge
August 20  Library vote nearly a lock
August 22  Reflections on Tuesday's showdown
What happened? Literacy won.

Cascade Park Community Library
Beginning April 1, the library restored hours and started buying new reading and listening materials that had been promised during the campaign for the levy.

"Now we have new libraries in Cascade Park and downtown Vancouver that will be better stocked and serve our communities for decades to come," says Bruce Ziegman.

Fifty years into the future I'm not sure we'll need all that space for books. We'll probably be teaching classes at the library facility on how to repair your Kindle. We'll probably be checking out "Everything You Need to Read in Grade School" as an electronic device the size of your credit card that will project book holograms any place there's airspace.

Hopefully, we'll be consuming more books in whatever format we invent. For now, there's five floors of wi-fi, an in-house coffee shop, and miles and miles of words to, as the new library's interior details (pictured above), to dream, discover, contemplate, enjoy, question.

Of course, with all that wi-fi, the internet wins, too.

In the meantime, I'm happy to pay these taxes.

Photos by Kailynn via flickrSLiDR.

Read more:
New library wows crowd | The Columbian
Library is open invitation to discovery | The Columbian

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hedge fund purchases paper, what are they betting on?

A hedge fund recently purchased a newspaper that had pulled itself out of bankruptcy. The York City-based investment firm, Alden Global Capital, apparently first came on scene after the newspaper filed Chapter 11 with a small investment in the company.

All debts 'paid.' Alden purchased the paper.

The paper is the Journal Register located in Philadelphia. In order to increase the chance of viability, it made significant strides in expanding its digital presence, moving from emphasis on print to emphasizing online. This re-positioning ignited the belief in the investment community that this newspaper will survive.

Could the belief in newspaper survival happen closer to home? If that concept sparks you. You have the opportunity to take it to the next level.

The Vancouver Voice is an alternative paper in Southwest Washington. In September 2010, it threw out a life line and expanded into North Portland. It was more of a flare gun shooting into the dark than an arrow fired at the bull's eye of good sense.

Their next big decision was to put the paper up for sale.

For $75,000 you can sit in the publisher's seat and drive. Where you would take the publication seems up to speculation. Local discussion on the content is not necessarily flattering. Response from advertisers is that it's cheap, not necessarily that it works. To survive the business needs consistent content and advertisers who understand they should buy what adds value not what seems like a good deal.

Here's your chance to add value to the community.

Save a newspaper. Buy the Vancouver Voice.

But first thing I'd recommend is negotiating the asking price.

Read more:
Biz For Sale: monthly alternative newspaper, Vancouver Voice.
July 14, Times Union report, Albany New York.
July 14, Times Union Blog, Albany New York.
July 15, Times Union report, Albany New York.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Build a world in 7 days? 'Social Statistics' does it overnight

According to a recent e-newsletter from Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, a new website to track Google+ statistics was built on a Sunday and launched on a Monday. At the end of the week, the site, Social, boasted 300,000 unique visitors which produced 1,000,000 pageviews.

Success was measured in the fact that the servers didn't go down.

Kind of beats God's stats. It took him a week to build his world and he only had two unique visitors at the end of his seven days.

If nothing else, that should illustrate how fast our current world is moving.

I sat in on a recent planning session where a dedicated, enthusiastic co-worker pitched the idea of bringing in 50-100 community members to assist in researching a new release. My neck snapped back. That would work if we were NBC and launching a program that might require an investment of a cool million. But we're talking about a small start-up partnering with local talent willing to trade resources to create relevant, useful content. Our partner brings in the expertise and resources. We deliver it packaged in high-concept videos.

Win for us. Win for the talent. Win for the community.

Why wouldn't it work?

The people who sat around that table were as smart as any 50-100 random folks plucked from the street.

Aren't you?

For a company our size, the idea of making a big investment in research only makes sense in a pre-internet world. But we live in the world where you can talk about it, fine-tune your idea, dig in and produce something cool, throw it up and let the audience vote with their pageviews and social media broadcasts.

If the idea bombs, don't throw more resources at it. Learn a lesson. Throw something else up.

If it really bombs. Reformat. Change your 'wavy-buzzy' name. Try again.

Isn't that what we learned from Google?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Favorite quotes of the week

Digging around the internet uncovered these brightly polished gems.

Among the sparklers are the wit of women and the memorable quips of men, and a few that could stand further buffing, but all offered for your browsing pleasure.

What's the best thing you said this week?

Date Source    Quote   
July 10
Google+ "So...this is Google trying to redo both Buzz and Facebook?" Lilith Saintcrow
July 11
 (launches w/ click)
"Lord help us, if we don’t have a conduct policy.” Tim Leavitt
July 12
Blog "I love outlets..." Tyler Presnell
Wed,July 13 Google+"I'm pretty sure the video for Rock the Casbah was the inspiration for every Beastie Boys video." Bill Johnston
July 14
BlogWebsites can be amazing sales tools.  They don’t get moody or need to be fed." David Leonhard
July 15
Gmail "P.S. If you don't wish to receive emails from us anymore, please click here" Wishful Thinking

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can a good dinner change the world?

The path of our lives and our successes may be based more on the place where we are born then on our talent or skills. Dining for Women is organized around the concept that those of us born in places of opportunity can change the world when we share with those with no opportunity.

Once a month, women around the United States gather at tables and create a potluck of pre-packaged  or homemade dishes. The beverages run the gamut: water, coffee, herbal tea, wine. The table conversation isn't focused on jobs and careers so much, as shared experiences of family, friendships and neighborhoods.

The people the potluck invests in are the people most likely to change the course of their own family life, most likely to support their neighbors, and ultimately change their country.

Dining for Women invests in other women.

I attended a local chapter of Dining for Women last night. My entrance fee was an easy potluck dish: spinach salad with mandarin oranges, hydroponic tomatoes, and candied walnuts. The money I would have spent, had the dinner occurred in a nice restaurant, was instead donated to fund another woman's future.

In addition to the local Dining for Women gatherings, trips to these faraway places are organized to open our eyes in a hands-on way to the needs of others. Women who take these journeys return as project champions, bringing home the message that this concept is working. Keep dining. Keep donating.

A woman who sat at my table, Josie, took one of those journeys. She shared her experience traveling to Peru to learn about INMED, a program that rescues children. Another woman, Tina, took us on a virtual trip to Sri Lanka where we 'toured' the shelters of Emerge Global and learned how creating jewelry changes lives of abused girls.

Emerge Global supports Sri Lankan girls, ages 10–18, who have been removed from their homes due to abuse. To date, Emerge Global has transformed the lives of more than 170 girls who, despite tremendous obstacles, are now building houses, running businesses, and supporting other young women with the skills and resources they developed through Emerge.

The jewelry is sold around the world and can be viewed on etsy.

It's not welfare.

It's learning a trade. It's using what you have – hands and time, to create your own therapy while you wait to testify in court against your abuser.

Girls emerge when they stand up with courage to confront the family and communities who have physically or sexually abused them. Girls emerge when they embrace business practices by learning budgeting and banking skills, and learn how to save for education or a house. Girls emerge when they allow their creative spirit to awaken and spark their confidence, and discover they can change their world.

Sri Lankan girls have the right to believe in their own power. The woman who champions this message, is the founder of Emerge Global, Alia Whitney Johnson.

“Ultimately though, it’s about a girl. Just one. One human being." wrote Alia Whitney Johnson to Tina, last night's program presenter. "I took her hand when she cried and she took mine when I thought I’d break. And our story is far from over. But with a dedicated team, an ever improving curriculum, and more kilos of beads than I had ever imagined, we are slowly building a reality where she, and many others, can truly emerge into her own,” 

In six months, the local Dining for Women group has raised $6000. That money is dispersed to the far corners for good.

Yes, a potluck can change the world.

And just like the girls in Sri Lanka, you and I have a right to believe in our power.

Are you ready to emerge and change your circumstances, help your neighbors, and change your country?

What would it take for you to step out in courage, right now?

UPDATE on Vancouver, WASH. Dining for Women: Educate a girl, change the world.

Connect with Emerge Global

Article from OregonianLive HERE.

Article from Columbian HERE.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The genius of Google +1

There is something genius about the +1 concept. The first time I saw '+1' was infront of the letters 'RT' on Twitter. It took me a moment to understand it meant 'I agree.' At that juncture in time, I surmised it was the lazy man's way to comment, and assumed the man responding thusly must be pressed for time, and likely all thumbs on a smartphone with a teeny screenpad.

I, of course, took more care with my RT's, laboring over witty responses to attach myself to good content and make us both memorable.

But why not respond like lightning and electrify good ideas?

Why not, indeed, and Google now offers us that opportunity in a full and official way by using the +1 button. By clicking +1, we concur. We vote. We promote content to higher planes.

When we click the +1, we also thrust ourselves into those higher planes, exposing more of ourselves, and not just to our Twitter followers, but in a real dynamic way that can be tracked and followed (by Google), and we share with even more people who we are.

Do you want to more about me? Maybe not, but Google does. And the more Google knows about me, the better opportunity Google will have to correctly identify my psychographic profile. As a marketer, I am keenly aware that serving up relevant advertising that consumers will respond to in a meaningful way (read: spend money), has great value.

Yes, Google is profiling me and using my interaction with you to know you, and to market to both of us.

Is this a good thing?

It's a genius thing.

If you own a search engine and you create the *bling* that makes the engine more interactive, and from there the engine tugs users through a more meaningful maze of the Internet, the '+1 Drazzle' (razzle-dazzle yet to be defined as positive or negative) is genius.

I like smart people.

I like Google.

The only thing that would make Google better for me would be if they were located in Washington State, because I am pro everything good for the local economy. Those things will get my +1's.

Oh, hey. Google is in Washington State! And they are advertising for administrative, general, technical, and sales people.

Now, that's going to be my first +1.

What's the first thing you +1'ed?

Watch YouTube videos on working at Google Seattle.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Last Week's Favorite Quotes

People say the darnedest things online. But apparently, no one said anything of merit on Tuesday.

Help me find something! Thanks :-)

Date    Source    Quote   
July 1, 2011 Twitter "If you want to achieve things in life, you've just got to do them!" Sally Sharp
July 2, 2011 ??
July 3, 2011 Blog"Fail at creating a culture of excellence and customer focus, and nothing else a leader does will compensate for that failure."
Augie Ray
July 4 2011 Blog "It is a mistake to believe that your offerings always provide an advantage against smaller competitors." Anthony Iannarino
July 5, 2011 Blog "If business is moving at light speed, and your prospect/client is busier and more distracted than ever, making cameo appearances won’t get you noticed dude!" Paul Castain
July 6, 2011 Blog"Rejection. It’s as much a part of my writing life as carpal tunnel syndrome, brain cramps, and a butt that looks best in a bathrobe." Carolyn J. Rose
July 7, 2011 Gmail "Compared to a year ago, websites have seen reduced pages / visit, average time on site, as well as bounce rate." Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter
July 8, 2011 Twitter "I'm going to bring the male curtsy in to vogue. Who's with me?" Matt Kinshella 
July 9, 2011 Twitter What? You can't make money online? :(
Melanie Sherman

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Google Analytics confirm declines in website visits

According to a recent Google email titled Analytics Benchmarki​ng Newsletter, visits to websites are experiencing an overall decline. "Compared to a year ago, websites have seen reduced pages / visit, average time on site, as well as bounce rate." The email included this data:

    11/1/09 - 2/1/10  11/1/10 - 2/1/11   Difference  
Bounce Rate
Avg Time on Site
Resource: Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter, 2011, Volume 1, July 2011

It would appear we, as a global community, are spending less time online. The information overload of the current environment may have exceeded our capacity to absorb material.  Or, perhaps the analytics are getting better. It wasn't that long ago when the ultimate goal of a website was to get as many 'hits' as possible until a 'hit' was discredited as a tool to measure anything of value.

 Either way, a key component for businesses and marketers planning is emerging.

Where are you personally in your online engagement -- more time online, less time online? How will that affect your website strategy if your users spend less time with your content?

Editors Note: Read the entire newsletter here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

More people spoke positively about kittens this week

Find out who the top kitten influencers via this SlideShare presentation on social media monitoring from Eric Portelance.

The presentation walks us through measuring 'engaged users' of a brand (engaged user=customer), and helps us identify if there is value in distinguishing between the volume of customer engagement vs. the consistency of engagement. For instance, is it better to listen to someone who tweets a lot about your brand for a concise period of time, or better to pay attention to someone who tweets moderately over a longer period of time?

The slicing of the information for the pilot study of Nikon encourages us to consider our own ardent fans, and to understand what they all have in common, i.e., are they iPhone or Blackberry users? Do they drink coffee or tea, and what are their preferred beverage brands, for instance are they Starbucks customers or more likely to plant themselves at the locally owned alternative?

Dig in. Learn what's more important, influencing or building relationships. BUT first, before you view the presentation, vote for one -- influencer or relationship builder.
Social Media Monitoring - Finding Relationships
So, tell me, what do you know about your best fans?