Google Me and Metamee

The rumors are swirling around that Google may be working on a Facebook killer (code-named Google Me).

If they’re smart (and they are smart over there at Google), they’ll be designing something far more ambitious and far-reaching than the walled garden over at Facebook.

We need an entirely new way to approach on-line networking. And Google already has a lot of the bits and pieces (Blogger, Voice, Buzz, Profiles, Gmail, Maps, commerce solutions, etc.) to pull it together.

What could this master portal look like? I sketched out a series of ideas in some blog posts two years ago (One Interface to Rule Them All) that generated a good bit of discussion. To date, no-one’s come close to building this (code-named Metamee):

Links to the entire One Interface to Rule them All series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

plus…The Ideal Social Media Interface

Google Me, meet Metamee. Make this and I’ll throw everything else out the window. How about it?

[Note: it appears that Cliqset is taking some steps in the right direction with a brand new version...]

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Three Network Realities Nobody’s Going to Stop

For companies being “disrupted” by the new networked communications culture we’re entering, it can all seem like a major threat.

It’s an opportunity. Better still, it’s a fountain of opportunities – if you look forward and not backward.

Pandora’s box is wide open, and we’re in the midst of a revolution. Continual disintermediation. Unlimited self-expression. Bottom-up community-building. Personal control.

This is not just social media. It’s the tide of technology driving point-to-point, peer-to-peer, person-to-person real-time access.

Here are the three realities to embrace, which will shape the way we do business:

1. Connecting opens up new opportunities

2. Collaboration creates bigger pies

3. Communities (co-operations) will become the new corporation

It’s time to stop thinking about “companies,” and to realize that the new, more organic, more human and evolving structure will be the networked organization, in whatever form(s) that takes.

I, for one, welcome it!

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Out of the Bud, into the Flower

Just out my window, red maple leaves are beginning to emerge. What were buds in my yard just a short time ago, now are becoming full-blown flowers and leaves and canopies of beautiful shade.

As it should be. The bud phase is meant to only last a brief moment, to be a quick transition to the real goal.

Musing this morning on Geoff Livingston‘s post explaining the end of his blogging tenure at the Buzz Bin, I saw the process at work. As Geoff put it so pointedly, “I have run out of things to say…I feel like I am repeating myself.” In other words, social media as a topic in and of itself has pretty much run its course. The bud phase is over. Time to move on.

While it is tempting to mourn the passing of anything that has been new and shiny and exciting, in reality, we’re on the threshold of the really good stuff. In the nascent days of computers, or of Web 1.0, the early adopters were (rightly) excited about the technology itself. But it was never about the microprocessor or HTML code, not really. It’s about what we can do with it.

Passion for new technology skyrockets, then wanes, in order to make room for the real passions that matter – how we can transform people and society and business using new tools and approaches. I have been (and still am) quite passionate about social networking. But I no longer much care about re-tweets, Ad Age rankings, or follower numbers. My genuine passion has emerged – building deeper, more purposeful Opportunity Networks that will help change how we do business for the long haul. The “corporation” as we now know it is an aging model. I’m gathering a core of like-minded folks who want to explore how to create the new “co-operation.”

Social networking and technology tools are a big part of this vision. But there’s enough information out there now about how to be part of the conversation, how to go viral, how to write blog headlines, how to build a wide audience. That’s the bud. What’s your flower? How are you going to use all these good tools and connect with smart people to make whole new movements and organizations and impacts?

It’s springtime, friends. Buds are great – but only because of what they promise. We’ve talked social media and made lots of connections and sought to introduce it to the rest of the world…all good and necessary. But now let’s transition from early adopters to long-term architects. Summer’s coming!

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Needed: Virtual Tweetup Platform

I’ve been experimenting with a group of folks in my “inner circle” with the idea of doing virtual tweetups on-line.

Do you know of a platform that works well for this?

We tried TinyChat – great concept, but significant issues with audio quality and access.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

- Ability to host 6-12 people at once, with webcam video and VOIP audio (or maybe dial-in audio). Note: not one-way video, but everyone able to see each other simultaneously.

- Ability to support both Mac and PC without problems (maybe even Linux?)

- Easy ability to setup private discussion room(s) with simple login procedures

- Simple invitation management would be a plus

- Web-based: no download/installation preferable

- Free (or, perhaps a company with a paid solution would like to gain exposure by sponsoring a growing group of influencers?)

I figure the best way to find a solution is to crowd-source – so, what solutions do you know of? Any ideas? -please add your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!

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Enlightenment in 4 Slides

OK, I’m sure that headline is overstating it a bit…!

Nonetheless, those of use who believe that social networking is transforming business have an ongoing challenge: helping people who are most familiar with traditional business communications “get” what is happening with social media, and understand why it will touch all areas of business.

Here is my “first draft” attempt to distill it down to 4 slides (on Slideshare). How would you express it? Add comments or link to your own Slideshare/blog post!

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Computer Bigamy – welcome to the ceremony!

I’ve used PCs since the days of dual floppy drives and DOS 2.x. Not out of great levels of emotional commitment, mind you, but simply out of business necessity – that’s what was used in my work environments. Shotgun marriage, don’t you know.

Apart from a brief, temporary fling 20 years ago using a Mac for a while with Quark, I’ve stayed faithful to the PC all this time out of necessity and intertia. We’ve been through a lot of hard times together – upgrades, crashes, viruses, etc. I never did take a final binding vow “for better or for worse,” I just knew that for a season there’d be a lot of worse.

I’m about to become a bigamist.

The family PC is wheezing, with one disk in the grave, and frankly, I’m tired of Windows and all the headaches that come with it. So today, a new iMac gets set up. And what is always important to me is initial user experience – how intuitive is a system to set up and use?

Being thoroughly spoiled by the iPhone, the bar of my expectations is high. So here we go – you’re invited to peek in on the ceremony as I take the veil off this new system everyone else praises.

10:15 am – De-packaging. It’s all in one (attractive) box, which is a nice first impression. First glance inside – wow, I see simplicity. The all-in-one screen (27 inch diagonal – awesome!), a power cord, and a box with (I assume) keyboard and mouse. I’m so used to a jumble of stuff with every new computer…! Look, I realize this is external beauty, but…what a gorgeous white wedding dress!

10:20 – Set-up of keyboard and mouse – brainless (mouse cord a bit short for my tastes). Powering up screen, and now I want to see how far I can get without instructions. Because I’m a guy, and because that, to me, is an important litmus test of usability.

10:30 – Welcoming and opening screens – awesome. After establishing my language and country, it IMMEDIATELY did a wireless network scan and setup. Then, asked for my Apple ID. Recognizes me right away, coaxes to take a picture to go with main account, wants to now link with my MobileMe account. Done. Setup by 10:37. Painless. Umm…this is awesome, folks.

10:40 – Downloading new iTunes version. Speed of download is fantastic.

10:50 – Setting up user accounts – just slightly cumbersome, but not bad. Nice sets of controls.

11:00 – OK, I don’t need to write anymore. Getting this thing all configured, without once looking at documentation. I’m sold – I’m a Mac!

I guess I’ll to wait awhile to retire the other 2 computers, but I think I’ll eventually divorce these common-law PCs. For now, I’ll be a half-happy computer bigamist!

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ROI in Social Media – Where Does it Belong?

What’s the ROI of Social Media?” I hear that question all the time, and it drives me crazy.

What’s the ROI of your cell phone? What’s the ROI of using a computer? What’s the ROI of breathing?

At one point, it was legitimate to think about the ROI of, say, a cell phone. But no more. It’s simply an assumed part of doing business, and living. You might think about the return on a specific model or plan, but you don’t wonder any more if you should use a cell phone or a smartphone. It’s about as much a question mark as getting dressed in the morning.

Networked communications – social media – is now a part of life. We’re past the stage of wondering if people are going to communicate and do business via these mechanisms. It’s just a matter of how we, as individual people or businesses, are to engage. Computers, internet, texting, cell phones, social platforms – they’re all networked communications, they’re ubiquitous, and they’re growing in influence.

People breathe. They drive. And they communicate in networks. Period.

That’s why it’s silly to ask, “What’s the ROI of Social Media?” Instead, we should ask, “what’s the potential ROI of this or that specific social media tactic or campaign?” Because you don’t measure the ROI of an assumed cost of doing business.

You don’t ask for the ROI of a medium. You determine if that medium/channel/approach is going to be a viable and potentially profitable place to be. Then you create a strategy. Then you look at the harder metrics of ROI over time on a tactical level, while also seeking to measure “softer” and, when possible, harder $$ returns on the use of that medium over the long haul.

Social Media/Networked Communications are a fact of life. And, there are some things we do because we know that, in the long run, they make business better. What’s the ROI of honesty and transparency? Don’t look for some short-term dollar figure – look at the long-term reputation value. What’s the ROI of getting closer to your customers, of improving communications, of putting a human face on your business, of being part of the marketplace dialogue, of creating strategic serendipity? What’s the ROI of creating opportunities through people-connections? When something is the right thing to do, you do it, knowing that in the long-term, it’s good for business.

That’s why we should instantly dismiss the question, “What’s the ROI of Social Media?” It’s exactly the wrong question. Should companies be involved in networked communications? In every way that makes sense, yes – because it’s smart, it’s right, it’s where the people are. Now – what specific strategies are best, and what measurable tactics should be employed? That’s when we move into ROI territory (and that’s when you start reading The Brand Builder on ROI…).

Then again, you can always take comfort in the return on doing nothing

(Update: Because I kinda jumbled several lines of thought into this one blog post rant, I decided to create a little video to try to clarify some ideas. Thanks to all the commenters and twitter-folk – esp. Olivier Blanchard – who contributed their thoughts to the discussion. Feel free to keep it going! And while you’re at it, read this common-sense social-media-in-business perspective from @jasonfalls – great reality check! Then check out Shannon Paul’s recent musings on ROI. And, if you want to get beyond the narrow ROI/tactical issues into future business design, check out this forward-looking post by David Armano)

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Google’s Sidewiki and Pharma – Uh Oh.

Take a look at the screen shot below, from Pfizer’s homepage. Believe it or not, I, or anyone else, can now leave comments “on” any website (such as Pfizer.com) using a new tool (currently in beta) from Google, called Sidewiki.

PfizerSidewiki2

Game-changer? You bet.

While the use of Google’s Sidewiki has ramifications across the entire web, for every type of site or industry, I’m going to focus here on the pharma industry. Because in pharma, it’s all about controlled messaging via corporate sites, and by and large, the idea of people being able to freely comment on (just about) anything is anathema.

The locus of control has just shifted. You can turn off comments on websites and blogs, but now, people can have their say, and the comments are accessible right there via Sidewiki when people come to your site.

How does this work? Google is not the first to try to allow user-generated commentary on any site, but they are certainly the biggest and most sophisticated. All you have to do is have a Google account, download the Google toolbar for your browser (currently IE and Firefox), and activate the Sidewiki capability. That’s it. More detailed explanations of how it works and how to get started are here and here.

MackSidewiki2

I decided to go to fellow pharma blogger John Mack’s site and leave a Sidewiki comment there (above). Now John allows (and welcomes) comments, of course, but with Sidewiki, that is irrelevant. And even for those sites where comments are reviewed before approval, Sidewiki allows commentary completely apart from the intervention or approval of the site owner.

How will this change the game with regulatory issues? Well, it’s a big monkey wrench. A pharmaceutical company already cannot control what people say about it, or its products, on various sites. But now people can express themselves with annotations that are, in essence, sidebarred on company sites! Can a company be held liable for, say, off-label discussions that happen on Sidewiki in association with a product site?

It’s a good thing that the FDA will hold hearings in November about the use of social media/Web 2.0 in pharma communications, because we now have a new issue to put on the table. How does industry and its regulatory bodies view user-generated content that cannot be controlled, yet exists in conjunction with company-sponsored sites?

Some question whether the adoption rate of Sidewiki will be significant enough to make a huge difference. It’s a fair question, but I don’t believe that’s the point. The really important thing is: the wall has been breached. I’m not sure there’s going to be any going back as this kind of (pretty much inevitable) approach evolves.

The rules of the game just changed again.

UPDATE: Fellow industry blogger Phil Baumann was thinking about the same theme today! Read his valuable thoughts.

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Tivo Records – and Listens

As part of a major household digital upgrade late last year, we finally entered the 21st century and acquired a TiVo box. I love it – the user experience crosses the threshold of Easy, and we record a whole variety of programs that we can pull up when it’s convenient for us.

One thing bothered me, however, on the TiVo.com site – there was no immediate option on the home page for TiVo users to login (you can select programs you want to record right from the website, which is a great feature). An immediately visible home page login link, to me, was a no-brainer  – users of the service should not need to go one level deep before being presented with that option. Netflix, Amazon – all the cool kids do it that way. Yes, it’s a “mixed” destination (for users and for potential customers who are investigating the service), but it seemed like a design flaw to me, because users who are scheduling recordings should be the biggest source of traffic.

So I did what many of us increasingly do – just threw it out there on Twitter.

And I was surprised to get a rapid response from a TiVo customer service person (that would be you, Shanan) on Twitter who agreed with the input, and passed it along to the development team.

And there it sat, for months. Now I know a bit about web development, and while it may seem like a simple thing to move a link, when you’re dealing with a highly visible and functional site, you don’t make interface changes quickly. A month or two back, I was assured that the input wasn’t forgotten.

It wasn’t. Today, I saw this:

tivosmIt’s a subtle change, and many might not even notice it. But I, for one, appreciate it. And more than that, I appreciate the fact that TiVo was monitoring Twitter, responded promptly and enthusiastically, and eventually came through with a small but important fix.

Customer service lesson: Listen, respond, act. Bread-and-butter basics, I know. But even though it took a while to see this change, I have nothing but praise for the TiVo team for making it happen. Which I don’t mind sharing publicly here!

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Product: Winner. Name: Loser.

(fade in to Toshiba’s boardroom, where a product management meeting is taking place)

“Looks like we’ve just come up with the best netbook out there! Power, features, great user design – now all we have to do is name it and sell it!”

“I know! – let’s call it the PU-875-0988b!”

“Nah, I’ve always been inclined toward the UmmWillatriBBle 876. It just rolls off the tongue!”

“Wait – let’s call in our engineers! They always come up with the most imaginative names…”

NetbookAnd now, introducing the Toshiba NB205-N310. As reviewed here by the WSJ, a nice entry into the Netbook marketplace. Yet once again, horribly named by the What, me Worry? school of product branding. Sexy. Memorable. Gotta go out and tell all my friends about the NB205-N… NB2o M16… AB365… never mind.

When will these people learn???

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Progressive Publishing

This idea’s been brewing for about 5 years, ever since I spilled out some proto-ideas on a train ride with a pharma training professional (who has urged me to “follow the light” on this one – thanks, Susan!)

We all see how the new on-line/social networking tools have radically changed publishing. Here’s where I think it COULD lead:

Context: The bits and pieces

We used to see published materials as somewhat static: a daily newspaper, a monthly magazine, a completed book. There were authors, there were bloggers, there were journalists, there were speakers (with some overlap among them). Media came to us in various formats and from various scattered sources. Often these publications had with a short shelf-life (expired relevance) or a long shelf-life with little ability to update (books with second or third editions).

Current: Multi-channel and Evolved communications

Now, with blogging (especially), we see that people can publish immediately, iteratively, collaboratively, and build an audience over time. Some authors are launching blogs in conjunction with books, or, increasingly, using their blog to build a platform and audience which makes publication of a traditional book more successful. We’re living in a transitional period where “fixed” published media is becoming “mixed” published media, and the mix is getting richer (printed words, blogs, micro-blogs, pictures, videos, etc.) Chris Brogan‘s blog, speaking engagements, and upcoming “Trust Agents” book is a prime example of this approach, as is Greg Verdino‘s upcoming book.

Ahead: Progressive Publishing and Personal Subscriptions?

SubYouWhere is this heading? Here’s what I think. We’ll no longer think of blogs and books and YouTube channels as distinct and discrete entities. Let’s say you have been writing on a specific topic on a blog for years and there is traction there. Your blog pre-builds your audience, which is enhanced by a YouTube channel with brief videos, Twitter blurbs, etc. Then you decide to write a book, but here’s the deal: for the ($22.95) price your customers not only get a copy of hard-back book, they have access to a private network where you progressively share new, updated, and enhanced content – the publication is now a progressive process. Yes, there is free stuff out there to continue to hook new customers, but people are no longer buying a fixed entity (this edition of this book) – they’re buying progressive thought over time. Including, perhaps, the thoughts of others in the community built around the publication.

Information is moving too rapidly to remain in fixed formats. That’s why I think progressive publishing is inevitable.

What does evolve into further? Personal Subscriptions. Let’s say I think Chris Brogan (or Ann Handley, or Valeria Maltoni, or David Meerman Scott, or…) is worthy of being “followed” as one of my inner circle of advisors. I now pay to subscribe to that person (not just buy their product), and with enough subscriptions, that person is now free to crank out, progressively, a ton of great content and advice in multiple formats to their own growing community. Keep up the good work, the subscriptions continue and grow. Falter, and people vote with their dollars annually. The music industry may very well head in this direction as well.

None of these concepts is particularly new or earth-shattering – a lot of this is happening in various ways already. It just seems to me that it’s moving inexorably toward a different publication model, one that is person-centric rather than product-centric, one that is progressive rather than fixed or staccato.

Your thoughts? Would you pay to “subscribe” to key thought leaders? What new models of publishing do you see developing?

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Crashable Mashable

firefoxcrashA few weeks ago, I noticed a behavior that I had frankly not seen before – my Firefox browser started to crash. Firefox has always been stable in my experience (note: using a Dell laptop) and I found this to be perplexing.

I noticed that it happened just after I clicked links in Twitter, and furthermore, after some days of observation, it became evident that the crashing only happened in conjunction with links from one site - Mashable.com.

Now I’d never had problems with the Mashable site before, and always enjoyed the updates from there. But I began to have a nervous tic when I’d see Pete Cashmore’s avatar in my tweetstream.

I put out several tweets over the course of a couple weeks about this problem, wondering if the Mashable folks had perhaps added some widget or other such on their site that would cause this. I had not added-on any new Firefox extensions in recent weeks. Then the issue seemed to resolve itself after upgrading to Firefox 3.5. Nice. Case closed. Except for one thing…

To my surprise, I heard from Mashable’s CTO (through LinkedIn for some reason) asking for whatever information I could give to help figure out “what wasn’t playing nice.” Now I don’t know anybody at Mashable, and I’m not a particularly important person, but I was quite impressed that Frederick reached out directly and tried to help. Since the upgrade seemed to resolve it, I’m not sure I can troubleshoot any further, but I’ll put a big check mark in the Win column for these folks, for “listening” and following up. And, I’m glad to have no more nervous tics about clicking on interesting Mashable links!

Creativity Reawakened

I used to take a lot of pictures.

When I was single, and in the days of marriage before kids, my camera (a 35mm SLR for those old enough to remember pre-digital days!) was a regular companion. I delighted in nature photography, often using slide film (farewell, Kodachrome!). Did some experimentation with black-and-white, and some macro stuff. It was a hobby, a creative outlet, and what developed was “the eye” – I’d always walk around thinking about how some scene would be composed as a photograph. I’d look for pictures.

All that changed once the realities of career and children set in.

Sure, I would now take pictures of the kids, and, on trips away, the creative urge might re-awaken. But by-and-large, the impulse to see and create photographs was submerged. I missed the outlet, but I was immersed in other, demanding priorities.

My cameras mostly languished, little-used, as the creative drive was temporarily replaced by functional picture-taking. And my ventures into video ended up the same way – it was a lot of work to bring equipment, set it up, download and edit, etc., and usage was mainly functional.

When digital photography came on the scene, the remarkable immediacy and ease of use help bring about a brief re-awakening. I remember well the day after the birth of our last son over 7 years ago, when a glorious morning led to a flurry of lovely pictures in the scenic lakeside area that is between our house and the hospital. Nonetheless, the demands of life kept the creative fires burning low, and the quality of digital cameras still had a ways to go – especially as cell phones began to make picture-taking and sharing drop-dead simple.

Fast forward to spring 2008. A first generation iPhone in hand, I began to fall back in love with taking pictures. It was all-in-one, it was convenient and sharable, it had crossed the threshold of easy. Most of my pictures we were more on the level of friends-and-family, however – quick shots to share. Because the quality was good but not exceptional, and there was no ability to focus. The camera did not inspire an artistic and creative sensibility.

PurpleFleur smAll of that changed with the new iPhone 3GS.

For all of the many new and improved capabilities in the device, the most surprising effect, for me, has been a burst of photographic creativity. The camera is now higher quality, and allows focusing and close-up shots in an astonishingly simple interface. It now allows video capture, again with great simplicity and pretty good quality. And best of all, I now suddenly find myself walking around with “the eye” engaged, not on rare occasion, but every day and everywhere. Because I can compose quality pictures (and video) using an always-ready device, edit and share with ease and immediacy, and now I’m back to viewing the world the way I used to when I was a young buck with his Nikon.

I’m seeing pictures again. Eye and mind and heart are re-awakening to the world around me, which can be captured and viewed with a creative impulse unhindered by preparation and process. I get up in the morning, and often wander out in the yard, iPhone in hand, wondering again at dewdrops and flower buds, at shapes and sun and shadow. It’s not just an increase in technical capabilities. It’s a boost in happiness.

I knew I was getting a better iPhone. But I didn’t anticipate getting back something very important that had gone drowsy. A reawakening of creativity.

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Good-bye, Social Media – Hello, Networked Communications

So, today Steve Rubel announces that he is done “blogging”, and now is fully committed to a more full-faceted path called “lifestreaming.” His post is titled So Long, Blogging, Hello Lifestreaming!

What he’s doing is, in fact, not that radical – we’ve been moving rapidly in this direction for a while. Because the fact is – the real issue isn’t whether we “blog” or “micro-blog” or “Tweet” or “Facebook” or whatever. Those terms and brands are temporary labels we have for the early-on way we’re now using technology to…share. To express ourselves, and connect with others.

We’re evolving rapidly in ability to share, not just via long-form formats (books, blogs), but also quick thoughts, pictures, videos, music, and whatever else. Each of these things ended up with their own terms, and have been ranged roughly under the moniker “social media.”

I’d like to adapt Steve’s title to say good-bye to social media. The term, that is; which really isn’t adequate to describe what we’re doing. For some professionals, the term “social” is an immediate turnoff. And we’re sharing more than media – we’re communicating/connecting/collaborating in multi-faceted ways. There is a social element to it, of course, and media is part of this gig. But the term isn’t scalable.

So….hello, Networked Communications. That, in fact, in all facets, and no matter how it evolves, is what we’re doing, on both personal and professional levels. Whether it’s community-building, tweeting, sharing media, marketing, lifestreaming – it’s all networked communications (which, by the way, includes the off-line component of how we relate to one another).

We’re going to burn through existing and new platforms over the coming years, and they’ll get more sophisticated in their abilities to let us network and communicate. Whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Posterous, blogs, Flickr (perhaps even my dream platform, Metamee) – the bits and pieces  don’t really matter, they’ll evolve and converge. Each of them is an Expression and/or Connection Engine, all enabling our brave new world of networked communications. Which is same world of networked communications we used to have, amped up on tech steroids.

We’ve always communicated. We’ve always had and built networks. Now we have quickly-evolving tools that will let us more effectively express ourselves and connect with others, for marketing, for fun, for socializing, for enterprise efficiency, for help…for whatever we do.

Good-bye, “social media.” You were a nice first love. You’re not going to die, you’re becoming bigger and better. But with upgraded capabilities come better titles. I’m moving on to Networked Communications. ‘Cause that’s what we do.

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Free eBook: Getting Started with Social Networking

The Morning After – First Impressions of iPhone 3GS

RestoreinProgress2Yesterday, the long-awaited iPhone 3GS arrived at the front door. I loved my first-generation iPhone, and after accidentally causing its early demise a month or so ago, I couldn’t wait for the newest version. But would the upgrade experience be a pleasure or a nightmare? I was a bit apprehensive.

So let’s start with the “get it in the front door and up-and-running” user experience. Ordering the new phone on-line was zero-hassle. Delivery was on-time and as promised. Syncing the new iPhone with my existing account and iTunes setup was…FLAWLESS! It. just. worked.

I realize that other users have had issues, but kudos from this address to Apple and AT&T for making a plug-and-play process that required very little intervention.

Now, for the device itself:

1. Speed – yes, indeed, thank you VERY much. Bear in mind that I was used to the 1st gen, and skipped over the 3G. This puppy rocks, from bootup to e-mail delivery to everything else. 5 out of 5 smiles.

2. Camera – awesome. Great resolution, very crisp video, and amazing simple and intuitive on-screen controls. These Apple people know user interface. I wish it could zoom, but hey. 4.5 out 5 smiles.

3. Audio – very cool. The new Voice Memo rocks – great graphic/on-screen interface, dirt simple, crisp audio, one-click forward to e-mail if you want. I’m going to use this a lot for thought capture. 4.5 out of 5 smiles.

4. Form factor/feel – sweet. Very compact, rounded edges, no problems here. It’s like a t-shirt from a brand you love – you just want to show it off. 5 out of 5 smiles.

Social Media app interfaces continue to impress. I get TweetDeck up and running-and-sync’ed with my desktop (with a little help from my Twitter friends – thanks, Amber (@ambercadabra)!

I have not yet had a chance to dig into a lot of the capabilities and subtleties, but for this user’s first impression-level experience – just plain awesome! I’m not easily impressed. As for now…I’m both impressed and delighted!

And THAT is how you create word-of-mouth evangelists…

Someone Create this People Finder…Please!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a smart, semi-automated way to find interesting people on-line?

What I’m about to describe exists in bits and pieces scattered throughout various apps. But it would sure be useful to wrap it up into one platform.

You (and all other participants) describe yourself in three areas: Personal/Social interests, Professional Interests, and Demographics. In each category you rate/describe yourself via check boxes, sliders, and keywords. You also indicate the types of people you’d like to connect with by similarity to you, or perhaps by differences.

You also put in (if applicable or desired) your blog address(es) and Twitter handle, and the top blogs/twitterers you follow. The system can apply some artificial intelligence to further mine your interests (topical and people) by analyzing your themes and your followers.

The platform sorts through all participants and finds people according to your expressed desires/interests – maybe presenting them in rankings, and according to interests (e.g. – Personal/Social: another wine lover. Professional: Java programmer. Demographics: graduate from your college, or resident of your town). Perhaps an e-mail comes each day with several top suggestions, including the Twitter handle and blog URL so you can easily check out the person and subscribe/follow. Whatever levels of integration with more proprietary networks like LinkedIn and Facebook would be a big plus, of course.

None of this is ground-breaking, and it exists on some levels in app-specific ways (finding similar Twitter people, for instance), but increasingly, we just want to find people who happen to be in the on-line community in whatever capacity, and who want to built networks with other people. It would be a nice evolution to get away from thinking about who blogs, or who is on Twitter, or who is on Facebook - we just want to make it easier to find each other.

Very naturally, the idea of ranking and commenting comes to mind, but there be dragons there…probably would create more problems than it would solve.

Make sense? Other additions or suggestions? Who wants to make it so??

Five in the Morning 030409

From WSJ: Social Networking goes Professional. How focused professional communities are using social networking tools to better their work.

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (yep, not a misprint) gives us 32 Ways to Cut Costs in Business. And while you’re at it, this post from TPE on How to do Everything is also pretty good!

Matt Dickman - the Techno//Marketer – gives us the scoop on Radian6 with one of his patented thorough semi-geekish reviews. If you’re not reading Matt’s blog regularly, what are you thinking?

Shaping your blog’s brand. Good stuff from Darren Rowse over at Problogger.

Jon Swanson reviews two books on success. Which one was more life-changing?

PLUS: Tom Peters recommends a new book from Steve Farber, called Greater than Yourself. As I recall, Drew McLellan speaks highly of Farber, so with those 2 witnesses, it must be good!

AND: This was just too funny not to include. Really. Just click. Thanks, Jaffe!

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Five in the Morning 012209

From Mashable - By the Numbers: Inauguration’s Impact on Social Media. Enlightening stats and graphs. Wow! “The social web flexed its muscle yesterday with Twitter reporting five times the normal tweet volume, and Facebook/CNN showing mind blowing engagement.”

David Henderson offers a free e-book: Media Savvy in the Internet Era.

I’m Not your Catcher. My most recent MarketingProfs Daily Fix post. “For a while, I was enslaved, under contract, and you could pitch whatever you wanted at me. I would wear the mask, put on the glove, mutely make signs; but whatever signals I gave you about what I wanted, you simply ignored. You pitched what you wanted…”

Like wallowing in others’ mistakes? The Superlist of What NOT to do in Social Media has been updated! This link is full of amusing stuff.

On the other hand…Getting Great Testimonials, from Andy Sernovitz. Some excellent advice here, with a couple of very creative ideas drawn from two sources.

Social Media Marketing an Hour a DayLee Odden interviews Dave Evans, who wrote a book by that title.

–I guess I can’t count. That’s six, not five. Oh well, why not toss in one more…

AND, just for fun – Making friends in Social Media. Amusing cartoon from our friends at Hubspot.

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Five in the Morning 012009

5yellowSince it’s Inauguration Day in the U.S. we’ll start off with…

Obama, the new King of Branding (from Laura Ries). Barack Obama is not just our new President but a new type of leader, one like we have never seen before. Not only does he understand politics, but he also understands branding. Plus, she ties in the BlackBerry factor…

Don’t just dream. Do something. An inspiring story on William Arruda’s blog, about Mary McLeod Bethune. Sometimes we have a goal that for some reason or another doesn’t work and is not achieved.  Should we give up?  No!

Targeting the right…or wrong…social media influencers. Dead-on thoughts from Mack Collier at MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog. Can you name a few recent examples of companies using social media to embrace, empower, and excite their customer evangelists?

Where would we be without lots of lists! Small Business Trends gives us two for today: The Ultimate Small Business Twitter List (you may find some new follows here), and a Top Blogs List. Thanks Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends)!

The new Computer Science Corporation logo. I think the logo itself is pretty pedestrian, but the angled “projection” elements used in collateral materials is pretty decent visually. From that Brand New blog.

AND, just for fun – if you really have way too much time on your hands, every Super Bowl commercial ever shown. On Adland, via those Brand Flakes for Breakfast folks.

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Five in the Morning 011309

Jason Falls brings us an interesting list of the Top 50 Educational blogs, with links aplenty. Nice.

Busy, busy. Jeremiah Owyang has been cranking out great content on his blog. First, reflections on his 20-day holiday from Twitter. Then, for lovers of statistics, a collection of Social Media Stats for 2009. Then, a summary of Forresters Wave Report on Social Media Platforms.

In recent days, Fast Company has highlighted some cool technology trends and products. Such as tiny pico-projectors that can fit in your hand. Or electricity without wires. And how does Sony’s new mini video cam match up against the Flip?

Is there room for anyone else besides Twitter in the micro-blogging space? Louis Gray has an interesting analysis.

Doug Karr talks coffee, and the lies of packaging. It’s what’s in the cup that matters!

————- Come on by tomorrow to find out who is guest-hosting Five in the Morning!

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Five in the Morning 010509

elevator5Five in the Morning returns for 2009! I hope all of you had a restful holiday season – now it’s time to tackle new goals, embrace new opportunities, let the creative sap flow, and learn new things from our peers and mentors (and customers!). To that end…

Drew McLellan starts us off with a challenge to Grow or Die. I like the notion of seeking to grow better, not just bigger. He links to a helpful post by Jay Ehret (who, btw, also has a nice summary blog post here of his greatest hits from 2008). And, if you want still more Drew, plus 99 others, here’s a link to a free eBook on 100 Best Marketing Secrets.

One of these days I’ll actually have the happy privilege of meeting Kevin Dugan face-to-face, seeing how I’ve corresponded with him on-line since right about the time I started blogging here at StickyFigure. Anyway, he offers up some juicy summary insights from a Pete Blackshaw book on customer satisfaction (or dissatisfaction). “This book is designed to help marketers get what they’ve wanted all these years — a better relationship with their customers…”

Is Innovation dead? Paul McEnany points us to a thoughtful article on the subject with a provocative paragraph on his blog. Mini-quote: “To them, “design” is something their wives do with curtains, not a methodology or philosophy to deal with life in constant beta—life in 2009.”

Josh Peters on the long-haul commitment of social media. Amen to that. Once people understand that “social media” (I’m starting to prefer the moniker “Community Networking”) is not a mere matter of technology and messaging, but is centered on relationship-building, the mindset can be changed).

Jennifer Leggio (@mediaphyter) has a thoughtful piece from way back in 2008 (OK, it was only a few days ago) about how Twitter popularity does not equal business acumen. Good discussion here, including some interaction with thoughts from Mack Collier (who, by the way, put up a post on Jan 1 about “Know Thy Traffic” which was quite interesting).

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Five in the Morning 121808

Blah blah blah Sponsored Blog Posts blah blah blah. OK, this horse has been flogged pretty heavily over the past week, but what I like most about this post by Ron Miller is the series of comments underneath. The discussion. And one important take-away is this: as we all learn, evolve, and try new things (like a fully-disclosed sponsored post) in social media, let’s allow our preconceived notions to be challenged a bit, instead of jumping down each others’ throats with knee-jerk Right/Wrong pronouncements…in this light, I also think Shannon Paul has some very interesting perspectives (The Tao of Social Media).

Peter Kim gives a very helpful 22-point list of social media tools (with usage examples for each), joined with an encouragement to just get started!

Speaking of tools, Jacob Morgan lists out Tools and Metrics for Monitoring Social Media Success. Nice.

Ten Advertising Words to Avoid. Actually, this is a very good reminder for a lot of writing, even blog posts. If you want to be free to be that which you really can be, take the opportunity to consider the synergy of drinkability and you’ll be a better writer, guaranteed!

Matt Dickman discusses a Best and a Worst new-ish Twitter service. I agree with his assessments.

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Illinois: Blags-to-Riches FAIL

(Chicago, IL) The ongoing investigation of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich took a startling turn today, when it was revealed that his original intention was to “sell” Senator Barack Obama’s Senate seat to a prominent blogger, thereby creating the first “virtual senator” in American history.

Blagojevich Corruption Probe“I was jealous, OK?” snapped the Governor, when confronted about the Blags-to-Riches scheme. “Obama had so much success with social media, that I figured I’d one-up him by sending – well, sort of sending – the first virtual legislator to Washington.

“Who cares about Illinois? This is about legacy, man!”

Rumors circulated that Blago had narrowed his choices down to well-known liberal blogger Arianna Huffington, and Instapundit’s conservative Glenn Reynolds. Bidding was fierce for the seat, including Arianna’s Lear Jet, a llama farm, and the entire University of Tennessee system (excluding the football them, as that might be a conflict of interest with the Fighting Illini).

The scheme unravelled when spurned blogger Andrew Sullivan leaked word of the bidding after his PayPal account was maxed out and his candidacy fell by the wayside.

Informed by the Chicago Tribune (whose bid was also thwarted by a chapter 11 filing) that nominating a candidate from another state that would only cast votes via Twitter might actually be against the rules, the Governor looked back blankly and said, “Rules? You mean there are rules?”

(Previous StickyFigure spoofs)

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Five in the Morning 120908

Negative PR in advertising travels fast! Just ask Dr. Pepper (from USA Today – hat tip to @prsarahevans)

Will MLM kill Twitter? What do you think so? I doubt it, but some interesting points made nonetheless. From Karl Long.

Fun - Superlist of what NOT to do in Social Media. Courtesy of Robin Broitman at IIG. On the flip side, Lee Odden shares 26 tips on being Social Media Smart.

Thank you very much for the link, Mike Sansone. Now THIS is how to search for that perfect image in Flickr!!!

How do you compare with other Twitter users? Jeremiah Owyang brings out some very interesting stats from HP Lab’s research on Twitter use.

BONUS – As a rule I don’t watch long videos on the web, in particular not 15-minute ones. Yet, very late one night, when unable to fall back asleep, I stumbled across this one on Cheryl Smith‘s site, and it captured my attention. The message continues to resonate in my mind and heart. It may seem hokey the first few minutes, but stick with it. You may need, as I did, a reminder about the importance of Validation.

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Five in the Morning 120408

If you Twitter, you’re probably wondering about some of the potentially “corrupting” trends. Here, Paul Chaney opens up a discussion about Twitter automation – as you’ll see in the comments, I am not in entire agreement. What do you think?? (btw, if you’re not following Paul, you should be: @pchaney)

Want to do free press releases? Dana Willhoit has the list of sites that do just that for you!

Tom Peters recommends two books on Design.

Robert Lesser talks us through Lead Generation using Web 2.0 approaches. From MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog.

Demogirl – now this is a cool service, pointed out by Greg Verdino. Quick, distilled “how-to” screencasts. Good, basic, useful implementation.

Extras – today only! Click before midnight and get 2 links for the price of 1!!!

Say – what does Steve Woodruff/@swoodruff/StickyFigure actually sound like? Find out! Four bloggers share in the latest AOC2 podcast.Thanks to Jay Ehret, @themarketingguy!

Hot off the blog presses – 40 Ways to Deliver Killer Blog Content. From Chris Brogan. Here’s my #41 – Aggregate Information that People Want.

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