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Marketing Gone Bad · In this month’s Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view, The Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Revo­lu­tion smells like con­cen­trat­ed essence of evil; an uniron­ic paean to the take-over of jour­nal­is­m, and pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion, by mar­ke­teer­s ...
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SEO Still Sucks · My eye was caught by Scoble’s re­cent 2010: the year SEO isn’t im­por­tant any­more? I thought most of what he said made sense, but the fact is that they’re still out there and what they’re sell­ing is most­ly bo­gus ...
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First-Class PR · I was hav­ing a beer in the bar at SFO wait­ing for my flight home, sit­ting next to this thir­ty­ish wom­an, ex­treme­ly well-groomed and well-dressed. I saw on her board­ing pass that she was trav­el­ing Ex­ec­u­tive Class to LA. We got to talk­ing and it turned out she was in Public Re­la­tion­s. She most­ly worked, and her cur­rent Bay Area trip was about, rep­re­sent­ing new iPhone app­s. I start­ed feel­ing cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance; first of al­l, I thought that we were in the kind of eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion where you wouldn’t want to fly your PR peo­ple around in first class, and any­how, aren’t most iPhone apps be­ing built by low-rent gueril­la op­er­a­tions? So I asked a few ques­tion­s, and it turned out that the apps she rep­re­sent­ed were most­ly from big com­pa­nies; their names were ex­treme­ly Web2.0-ish gnarls of un­like­ly con­so­nant com­bi­na­tion­s, and they did un­sur­pris­ing things. It’s dawn­ing on me that the mobile-app space is go­ing to be dif­fer­en­t.
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OSCON and Marca · I’ve got a gig at OSCON 2008 do­ing a mini-keynote, fif­teen min­utes en­ti­tled Lan­guage In­flec­tion Point. This was in my mind when I stum­bled across Marca’s Public speak­ing ver­sus blog­ging. I think he’s re­al­ly wrong ...
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Kindle PR · As re­gards the pro­duc­t, I have noth­ing to add to Mark Pilgrim’s The Fu­ture of Read­ing (A Play in Six Act­s). But the big meta-news sto­ry here is: PR Tri­umph. The pro­duc­t, it’s Yet Another E-Book Read­er. It got on the front cov­er of Newsweek and was fea­tured by more or less ev­ery­one in the mainstream-media tech­nol­o­gy beat. It bloody well got on­to the front page of my home­town Van­cou­ver Sun. Maybe the prod­uct will soar, maybe it’ll flop. But this is ob­vi­ous­ly the crown­ing PR achieve­ment of our young cen­tu­ry. I bow my head in awe.
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GlassFish V2 · It’s out to­day. Now, I don’t work with app servers that much, and I’ve hard­ly ev­er touched GlassFish. But this is in­ter­est­ing any­how, for two rea­son­s: First, GlassFish is an ex­am­ple of a soft­ware prod­uct that was strug­gling in the mar­ket, and is do­ing im­mense­ly bet­ter af­ter mov­ing from closed to Open Source. Smells like the fu­ture to me. Se­cond, check out that launch point­er: a blog clus­ter, with the mar­ket­ing ba­sics and a ton of highly-technical de­tail. I just don’t think there’s any oth­er sen­si­ble way to launch a mod­ern soft­ware pack­age whose users are de­vel­op­er­s.
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People-Ready Elephant · Every­one has heard about the People-Ready con­tro­ver­sy by now. John Bat­telle, sit­ting at the cen­ter of the stor­m, takes up the is­sue and sounds a de­fi­ant note: “But to sum up, I refuse to de­clare con­ver­sa­tion­al mar­ket­ing a bad idea be­cause of one storm.” ...
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Bad PR · We have the 2010 Win­ter Olympics com­ing. This is a big-bucks big-politics big-business op­er­a­tion, half the city’s be­ing ripped apart, and thus very news­wor­thy. To­day we learned that the Or­ga­niz­ing Committee’s CFO had quit af­ter 18 months on the job. I sub­scribe to the Van­cou­ver2010 RSS feed, and thus saw the press re­lease ...
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Advertising · I spend a main­stream amount of time read­ing mag­a­zines and watch­ing TV, and a more-than-mainstream amount read­ing the Net. Of all the teem­ing bil­lions of dol­lars poured in­to ad­ver­tis­ing on all these me­di­a, es­sen­tial­ly none of it speaks to me. This was brought home yes­ter­day when I was im­pressed by two ads in one day. They were run­ning this TV ad for Sub­way (the sand­wich shop) that was just in­cred­i­bly sim­ple and lin­ear: “Unlike McDon­alds and the oth­er­s, we make our bread fresh ev­ery day in the store”; with a pic­ture of the oven. I haven’t been to a Sub­way in decades, but the next time I’ve got hun­gry cranky kids to wran­gle, that’s maybe a good ar­gu­ment for giv­ing them a try. The same evening, I was look­ing through my news­feed­s, and in The Economist’s ex­cel­lent Free Ex­change blog (yeah, dust off your knee-jerk right-silliness fil­ter, but stil­l) feed, one of the en­tries was an ad; a sim­ple one-paragraph squib say­ing there was a spe­cial of­fer for new sub­scriber­s. I al­ready sub­scribe, but you couldn’t imag­ine a bet­ter way to pitch a sub­scrip­tion. Two in one day? That’s the first time that’s hap­pened in years.
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More Economist Trouble · You know, if I didn’t care so much about The Economist, I wouldn’t be giv­ing it grief here. If the word “journalism” means any­thing, it should mean qual­i­ty; I ex­pect that my (ex­pen­sive) sub­scrip­tion buys me a mag­a­zine that I of­ten ex­pect to dis­agree with but which is thought­ful, well-researched, well-written, and well-edited. I don’t want to aban­don jour­nal­is­m, but these guys are drop­ping their end of the bar­gain ...
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Blogstitution · Some­one named Vaspers asks What will kill the bl­o­go­sphere? and thinks the an­swer is var­i­ous forms of marketing-driven cor­rup­tion ly­ing in the di­rec­tion that PayPerPost is point­ing. [Up­date: Good com­ments; pile on!] ...
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The Morning After · Wel­l, that was quite a par­ty. Here­with a few notes on com­mu­ni­ca­tion­s, re­ac­tion­s, and names ...
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Oh My Goodness Gracious · In a re­cent piece on the new Pro­ject Black­box, I used some coarse lan­guage, in an id­iomat­ic way, not giv­ing it much thought. The con­se­quences were sur­pris­ing ...
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Thumper Marketing · An email went around the in­ter­nal bloggers’ list say­ing “Hey, you might want to point to the Thumper con­test”. So I went to have a look and, yeah, it’s an in­ter­est­ing pro­mo­tion. But... does any­one else find the no­tion of us­ing YouTube to de­liv­er a fair­ly stan­dard cor­po­rate mar­ket­ing piece just a lit­tle weird? It’s con­ve­nient that ven­ture caps are back­ing star­tups that burn kazil­lions of bucks on band­width so that large pub­lic com­pa­nies can de­liv­er video ad­ver­tis­ing for free. Is it sus­tain­able? Weird­er things have hap­pened, I guess.
 
Announcing · To­day, we an­nounced some faster server­s; I’m not a big-SPARC guy so the one that makes my heart go pitter-pat is the new Ul­tra; I just spent a week liv­ing on a year-old Ul­tra and while it’s damn fast, I man­aged to make it breathe hard with both JRu­by and the Gim­p. What’s more in­ter­est­ing is the PG&E re­bate. Check it out, but what’s even more in­ter­est­ing, to me, is that there are three ways you can read about it: Jonathan’s blog, the Sun.­com page, and the of­fi­cial press re­lease. The blog is the most in­ter­est­ing, with the Craigslist ref­er­ence and and the highway-rules con­tex­t. If you want de­tail­s, the Sun.­com page is OK, with some sam­ple cal­cu­la­tions and so on. Which leaves the press re­lease. It seems to have been care­ful­ly de­signed for un­read­abil­i­ty, its me­an­der­ing sen­tences stud­ded with com­pa­ny chest-pounding and its stilt­ed, committee-compromise quotes (even those from smart, gen­uine peo­ple like Dave Dou­glas) that no hu­man voice would ev­er ut­ter. Hav­ing said that, the press re­lease con­tains some use­ful facts that aren’t in ei­ther Jonathan’s write-up or the Sun.­com page. We (the world I mean) need to do mar­ket­ing bet­ter.
 
Scoble & PodTech · I wasn’t go­ing to write any­thing about this be­cause so many oth­ers have, and I don’t know the first thing about PodTech. But then this morn­ing they spammed me. Any email that lands in my in­box that’s writ­ten in marketing-ese and I don’t know who sent it, that’s spam. I con­clude that PodTech needs some help; there’s some­thing deeply, um, what’s the word I’m look­ing for here, to de­scribe an­nounc­ing a move in the blog­ging space by spam­ming press re­leas­es? Let’s use “wrong”. Some ex­cerpt­s: “PodTech.Network Inc., a lead­ing emerging-media com­pa­ny ... ‘Robert Scoble is a glob­al brand and we are thrilled to have him as a mem­ber of the PodTech team’ said John Fur­ri­er ... pro­vides a me­dia plat­form of Fresh Voices™ that ig­nite the pow­er of con­ver­sa­tion among com­pa­nies, their cus­tomer­s, and part­ners ... His me­dia ex­per­tise and vi­sion is in align­ment with PodTech’s busi­ness strat­e­gy and ex­ten­sion of our de­vel­op­ing me­dia platform.” For their sake, let’s hope that Scoble rep­re­sents a Clue­train tick­et.
 
Credit 2.0™ Where It’s Due · James Gover­nor grum­bled at me about re­peat­ed­ly cred­it­ing Hal Stern for the “Web 2.0 = Write­able Web” meme, specif­i­cal­ly point­ing out Read­/Write Web by Rich McManus (which is ex­cel­len­t). He’s got a point, but if we’re go­ing to start down that road, we’ll end up with Tim Berners-Lee, who has re­peat­ed­ly made it clear that he al­ways thought of the Web as a place to write, not just read. And if we’re go­ing to talk about prac­tice not the­o­ry, you’d end up look­ing at Dave Win­er, who pushed RSS in everyone’s face and, more im­por­tan­t, proved that a fast-writing ornery geek could gath­er an au­di­ence and wield in­flu­ence by, you know, do­ing it. And as a geek my­self, I’ve al­ways liked James Snell’s chmod 777 web. Un­til this min­ute, I’d thought Hal was the first to nail the 2.0 con­nec­tion; but now I think that James got there first (May vs. Oc­to­ber 2005).
 
Web 2.0™ · As some­one who’s had a lot of re­spect for O’Reilly, the per­son and the com­pa­ny, for a few years, and as some­one who’s run small busi­ness­es and who knows how hard it is to take a va­ca­tion, I feel bad about this one. Be­cause while you may not al­ways agree with Tim, he’s not stupid, and an at­tempt to lock down the term “Web 2.0” at the same time as you’re build­ing thought lead­er­ship around it, that’s stupid. So I’d urge the world to cut Mr. O’Reilly some slack till he gets back from va­ca­tion. I al­so sus­pect that the val­ue of Web 2.0™ will be unim­paired; it’s re­al­ly on­ly used se­ri­ous­ly by VCs and mar­keters and prog­nos­ti­ca­tors who are by and large un­per­turbed by the lawyers’ view of in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, not by the ac­tu­al hands-on de­vel­op­ers who build what­ev­er it is we’re talk­ing about; and for that, I still pre­fer read-write Web.
 
MARS · Eek! A new acronym! Some­thing our pro­fes­sion prob­a­bly can do with­out, and (blush) I seem to have in­vent­ed it. I have to say, though, the T-Shirt is OK. [Later...] And thus a micro-meme: MADD (and from its com­ments APPS, MADR); MAUDE (com­ments: FIDPAM, with none oth­er than Mårten Mick­os propos­ing MARTEN); WASTE; HATE; and PAID (where the com­ments are out­ta con­trol, I tell ya, out­ta con­trol: LAPD (“It Beats All The Other Frameworks”), MAID, PADL, RADKAWNP, POWNED, GLAPOD, “we're all gonna get Lin­ux, Apache, In­ter­net, Django!”, PDL, and PADD). I think it’s time to put a stop to this.
 
ETech — Good Pitches · This is just a pot­pour­ri of pitch­es, specif­i­cal­ly the ones that were good and mem­o­rable. In­cludes rare com­pli­men­ta­ry re­marks about Mi­crosoft tech­nol­o­gy ...
 
ETech — San Diego Trolley · It’s a nice enough town, but it’s out of the way and, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, not that easy to get around in. The ho­tel was sold out when I tried to get in a cou­ple weeks ago (but some last-minute ar­rivals got in fine, hrumph). Any­how, I end­ed up at a Dou­ble­tree at a place called “Hazard Center” which is bit of a ways out, but when I was driv­ing the rental in I no­ticed some­thing that looked like a train sta­tion across the street. Sure enough, the San Diego Trol­ley will take you from there to the con­ven­tion ho­tel in about 20 min­utes for $1.50, which beats strug­gling through the traf­fic in the car and pay­ing at least ten times that for park­ing. Oddly, the peo­ple on the train were few in num­ber, and they all seemed well-dressed, well-fed, and well-rested; a typical-California eth­nic mashup, and most were read­ing book­s. This isn’t like pub­lic trans­port in oth­er places. On the oth­er hand, when you want to go home af­ter ten at night, the trains run less of­ten, and many of the peo­ple are nei­ther well-dressed, well-fed, nor well-rested (y­ou can tell be­cause they’re asleep­). But the trains aren’t crowd­ed then ei­ther. All in al­l, it seems to be a fine sys­tem.
 
ETech — On Attention · The con­fer­ence blurb said “It’s time to build The At­ten­tion Econ­o­my”. What’s that, I won­der? The shindig was cer­tain­ly equipped with lots of peo­ple hold­ing forth on the sub­jec­t, so this was my chance to find out. I took to ac­cost­ing to­tal strangers in the hall­ways say­ing “What do you think about this whole ‘Attention’ thing?” ...
 
ETech 2006 — Generalities · I’ve been here at ETech since sup­per­time Mon­day, and I thought I’d just let my re­port grow as I went along, which is dum­b, be­cause it flies in the face of the medi­um, and the piece grew tumer­ous­ly to a re­al­ly un­rea­son­able size. So I’ll break it up in­to a bunch of fo­cused frag­ments. This one is on the con­fer­ence it­self, and whether you’d want to come to it ...
 
The Analysts and the Elephant · In re­cent weeks there’s been a lot of talk about the role of an­a­lyst firm­s. Let’s be hon­est; the way the busi­ness work­s, pret­ty much no­body likes these or­ga­ni­za­tion­s, but many (in­clud­ing me) think they’re nec­es­sary, and since Gart­ner is clos­ing in on a bil­lion dol­lars a year of rev­enue, they’re ob­vi­ous­ly sell­ing some­thing that peo­ple will buy. Here­with a sur­vey of the dis­cus­sion, some per­son­al anec­dotes about the re­la­tion­ships be­tween ven­dors and an­a­lyst­s, and some thoughts on the fu­ture ...
 
Free Computers (ouch!) · If you fol­low Jonathan Schwartz, you will have ob­served a lit­tle flur­ry around our of­fer of free-trial (and maybe free-for-keeps) T2000 server­s. If you read the com­ments, it’s be­come ap­par­ent that our sys­tems for sup­port­ing this kind of mar­ket­ing pro­mo­tion, uh, need some work. I’m re­al­ly glad that Jonathan did this, be­cause I know from bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence how bad we are at of­fer­ing hard­ware free­bies, and this will force us to fix it. Par­tic­u­lar­ly right at the mo­men­t, it seems to me a no-brainer that scat­ter­ing a few of our Opteron and Ni­a­gara box­es in the di­rec­tion of some wor­thy OSS projects and start­up com­pa­nies would be about the most cost-effective mar­ket­ing imag­in­able. On lots of oc­ca­sions I’ve gone run­ning ex­cit­ed­ly to the prod­uct groups say­ing “Hey, it would be re­al­ly great if we could get XXX a serv­er to try out!” and the re­ac­tion is along the lines of “Well yeah, but how would we do that?” It turns out that when you’re a big pub­lic com­pa­ny, if you have a de­fined pro­cess in place for do­ing some­thing, it’s easy and ef­fi­cien­t, and if you don’t, you’re in SNAFU ter­ri­to­ry. Lots of oth­er good stuff in those com­ments too, check them out. In par­tic­u­lar, I hap­pen to know that Wikipedia al­ready has one of the free-trial T2000 box­es, and that’s a very in­ter­est­ing ap­pli­ca­tion, so we’re go­ing to work with them see how fast we can make it run on that box. Sun is full of Wikipedia fan­s.
 
InfoWorld Goes Off the Rails · I got this email, sub­ject “Enterprise Serv­er Spotlight”, that was sor­ta kin­da from In­foWorld, and it took me to a Web page that was sor­ta kin­da In­foWorld, and the whole se­quence was very dis­turbing. [Up­date: In­foWorld re­spond­s; “Never as­cribe to malice...” as the say­ing goes.] ...
 
Viiv Jive · A few weeks back, I raised my eye­brows over Paul Otellini’s no­tion that In­tel would find suc­cess by “communicating clear­ly what the tech­nol­o­gy can do for consumers” be­cause “you can’t just talk about the bits and bytes”. On an air­plane, scan­ning through a New York­er, I ran up against the first ev­i­dence of this; a glossy four-page spread try­ing to build their “Viiv” brand­ing. I got­ta say, they’re try­ing to do just what Otelli­ni said they would, but it’s kind of puz­zling ...
 
Real People · A few weeks ago I was talk­ing to the peo­ple at the Sun Devel­op­er Net­work and they asked me what I thought of the site; I looked and it seemed like a de­cent developers’ site, but un­for­tu­nate­ly dec­o­rat­ed with the usu­al lame stock pho­tos of hand­some young men and wom­en, carefully-balanced as to skin colour, so I grum­bled at ’em. To­day they pinged me again and said “Check out the Net­work Chan­nel page” and what do you know, now they have pic­tures of ac­tu­al Sun de­vel­op­ers on there. Still race/­gen­der bal­anced, but you know, there’s noth­ing ac­tu­al­ly wrong with that. And the ac­tu­al re­al peo­ple look way bet­ter than the stock cat­a­log mod­els to me. Dear world: use re­al peo­ple on your web site. Now I guess I’m on the hit-list of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ethnically-Diverse Gener­ic Bright Young Thing Model­s.
 
Marketing Truth · I get peeved at Ni­cholas Carr some­times, but he’s done a su­perb piece of work push­ing hard on SAP and Or­a­cle for us­ing statis­tics in their ads in a way that is at best non-transparent and at worst, well let’s not go there. It’s got to the point that when­ev­er I see a quan­ti­ta­tive claim in an ad I as­sume it’s a lie. There should be penalties; pub­lic ridicule feels ap­pro­pri­ate.
 
On Intel · I was read­ing the big Busi­ness Week sto­ry on In­tel, and it quot­ed CEO Paul Otellini: “He lays par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on mar­ket­ing ex­per­tise be­cause he thinks the on­ly way In­tel can suc­ceed in new mar­kets is by com­mu­ni­cat­ing more clear­ly what the tech­nol­o­gy can do for cus­tomer­s. ‘To sell tech­nol­o­gy now, you have to do it in a way where it’s much more simple,’ says Otellini. ‘You can’t talk about the bits and the bytes.’” This seems deeply wrong to me on a whole bunch of lev­el­s. Peo­ple al­ready know what com­put­ers and game con­soles and tele­phones and all the oth­er things with CPUs in them can do for them, and if they don’t, it’s not Intel’s job to ex­plain, that be­longs to the peo­ple who build the box­es that the con­sumers slap down their plas­tic for. Once the buy­ers un­der­stand, they care most­ly about price, ex­cept for bleeding-edge gamers and oth­er CPU hogs, who per­force do care about bits and bytes. Intel’s re­al cus­tomers are Ap­ple and In­tel and Dell and HP and IBM, and I guar­an­tee those guys care about bits and bytes (and wattage), and even more about dol­lars per unit. So it looks to me like Intel’s charg­ing off in the wrong di­rec­tion with Vi­iv and Core and so on. Hav­ing said that, I sus­pect the In­tel en­gi­neer­ing tribe is ma­ni­a­cal­ly fo­cused on catch­ing and beat­ing AMD, and I wouldn’t want to bet against them in the long ter­m; so they’ll prob­a­bly do OK.
 
That Kind of Christmas · Be­ing a pho­to­graph of a poster glued to a lamp-post out­side my of­fice ...
 
USPTO, v-Fluence, Lameness · I got this email from the USPTO five days ago (t­wo of them, ac­tu­al­ly, to my two main ad­dress­es) and I thought I’d wait till I was less ir­ri­tat­ed be­fore I wrote about it, but you know what, that’s not work­ing. The ti­tle was “Yes, the USPTO reads blogs! USPTO Small Busi­ness Pro­tec­tion Web Site” Read­ing the first phrase, for a mi­crosec­ond I thought “Hey, they’re get­ting a clue?” but no, it’s a just a va­pid PR pitch for two of their “Stop Fakes” web­sites, which are full of mar­ket­ing bumph with two mes­sages: “Get Pa­tents Now!” and “The Ad­min­is­tra­tion is Great!” And the email it­self? Here’s a sam­ple: “Can blog­gers help? Yes! The USPTO is well aware of the im­pact blog­gers have and the im­por­tant role they play. As an on­line opin­ion lead­er you can help small busi­ness­es pro­tect the in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty of small busi­ness­es in one of sev­er­al ways: Write about the site in your blog...” (I’ll spare you the rest). Oh yes, and across the bot­tom: ***This e-mail was sent on be­half of the Unit­ed States Pa­tent and Trade­mark Of­fice (USPTO) by v-Fluence In­ter­ac­tive Public Re­la­tion­s, Inc.*** So, let’s put this sim­ply. Dear USPTO, you’re ly­ing. If you ac­tu­al­ly read blog­gers you’d know that the few who write about you think you’re part of the prob­lem, not part of the so­lu­tion (most re­cent­ly, no less than Irv­ing Wladawsky-Berger). Dear v-Fluence: You’re spam­mer­s, which means you’re filth. And, Dear World, please don’t give any more busi­ness to v-Fluence, they’re abu­sive in­com­pe­tents.
 
PR Week · My The New Public Re­la­tions piece has pro­voked a ton of re­al­ly in­ter­est­ing com­men­tary and I will do a follow-up, but I think I’ll wait till af­ter this Thurs­day, when I’m join­ing in a We­b­cast for PR Week, billed as Guide to cor­po­rate blog­ging. They tell me that they’ll have hun­dreds of peo­ple there; my goal is to learn more from them than they learn from me.
 
The New Public Relations · Cur­rent­ly, trade jour­nal­ism and Public Re­la­tion­s, as we have known them, are be­ing blown up and re­built. This is an at­tempt to write down a the­o­ry of what we’re try­ing to build. [Pro­voked by smart re­marks from Russ Beat­tie and Steve Gill­mor, a re­al­ly wrong, but provoca­tive, phrase from Steve Rubel, and a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion with Big Phar­ma.] [Up­date: Tons of feed­back; my fa­vorite is from Scoble.] [Up­date: Gosh, some PR peo­ple are ir­ri­tat­ed; I’m shocked... shocked!] ...
 
No Solution · Our com­pa­ny vi­su­als are be­ing re­designed, see Martin Hardee’s write-up; looks good. But as a side-effect, I looked at our front page and it still con­tains four in­stances of that vile word “solution”, plus more in the menus, plus it in­fests the rest of the site like aphids on a rose-bush. Bah. Dear world, take it from me: at Sun we sell ac­tu­al re­al com­put­ers and net­works and con­sult­ing and in­fras­truc­ture ser­vices and soft­ware sub­scrip­tion­s; you can safe­ly ig­nore the marketing-speak. It’s not just us; here’s a quick high-tech home-page “solution” sur­vey, on­go­ing is all about quan­ti­ta­tive re­search: CA leads the pack with 9, SAP trail­ing with 7. BEA has 3, IBM, Mi­crosoft, Novel­l, and Or­a­cle all have 2, Adobe, well it’s hard to tel­l, 1½ vis­i­ble but lots more hid­ing in pop-ups and so on. In­tel, Cis­co, and HP have but one. Con­sumer plays like Ya­hoo and Google are hap­pi­ly “solution”-free. [Up­date: And I thought they were so clue­ful! It turns out that, de­pend­ing where you’re com­ing from, some ver­sions of Google’s front page have a link to “Business Solutions”; thanks for the point­er to Will Fitzger­ald.]
 
What Blogs Are Made For · John Gru­ber ruth­less­ly de­con­structs the Mac­robe marketing-speak. There’s a word for what John’s do­ing here: Truth.
 
Forbes in Trouble? · I’ve nev­er liked Forbes mag­a­zine that much; their gen­er­al wor­ship­ful­ness about busi­ness seems both less use­ful and less en­ter­tain­ing than some of the oth­er mag­a­zi­nes. Re­cent­ly, some­one who claims to be the pro­duc­er for the “Forbes Radio” chan­nel on Amer­i­can Air­lines is spam­ming me sev­er­al times a mon­th, of­fer­ing a three-minute puff piece for $4,995, a spe­cial dis­count from $11,990 for any­one lame enough to an­swer spam. Would Forbes be lend­ing its name to this sort of pa­thet­ic silli­ness if it weren’t hurt­ing?
 
Search Optimization (Low-Rent) · In Van­cou­ver, as in most cities, the poles that hold up the traf­fic lights and street­lights and, well, any­thing, are plas­tered with posters ad­ver­tis­ing soon-to-be-famous rock bands and tarot read­ers and, well, any­thing. Search Engine Op­ti­miza­tion, too ...
 
People Are Not Design Elements · David Wein­berg­er point­ed to BlogEx­plo­sion, which seems like a de­cent enough idea, but it’s clear­ly not for me be­cause, based on the site’s front page, it is de­signed for use by peo­ple in sun­ny cli­mates who have lots of hair. In fac­t, now that the in­dus­try has moved past time-wasting Flash­tur­ba­tion in­tros, my number-one gripe about cor­po­rate web sites is the use of anony­mous bright shiny hap­py peo­ple (care­ful­ly bal­anced as to race and gen­der) as de­sign el­e­ments. This en­try was go­ing to be a snarl about the clue­less big cor­po­ra­tions who do this, so I thought I’d start my ex­co­ri­a­tion with the For­tune 500, but of the first fif­teen, not one is clear­ly guilty. Lots of them have pic­tures of peo­ple, but they are clear­ly ei­ther em­ploy­ees (even, as with IBM, iden­ti­fied by name) or cus­tomer­s, de­pict­ed as such. Most of the sites seem to be pret­ty no-nonsense, some even rea­son­ably lightweight, de­signed to get you where you’re go­ing. Some even man­age to be nice-looking, too. The world got a bit more clue­ful while I wasn’t pay­ing at­ten­tion; neat.
 
Listen to the Lark · Andy Lark that is, Sun’s VP of Glob­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tion­s, who’s on-stage for earn­ings an­nounce­ments and Mi­crosoft truces and so on. A con­ven­tion­al mar­ket­ing pro’s con­ven­tion­al mar­ket­ing pro, you’d think, right? Wel­l, maybe not; he’s got a home­stead on the bl­o­go­sphere where you can read Tri­an­gu­la­tion Of News, a clear-eyed take on the way the wind’s blow­ing. I won­der how many VPs of Glob­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions out there get it like this? And what the world’s go­ing to be like when they all do?
 
JIS on Commodities · Nor­mal­ly, when I point to pieces by peo­ple from Sun, I try to fo­cus on the ones who are just get­ting go­ing and per­haps could use a lit­tle ex­tra traf­fic. Wel­l, Jonathan Schwartz is al­ready well-established; on­go­ing gets more traf­fic just from be­ing on his blogroll than from a Dave Win­er flame. So I’m flab­ber­gast­ed that Jonathan’s piece on com­modi­ties hasn’t been ei­ther slash­dot­ted or writ­ten up in the Wall Street Jour­nal, or both; how of­ten does the Pres­i­dent of one of the tech industry’s big play­ers drive a stake in the ground and shout “This busi­ness is like the rail­way busi­ness, and that’s good”? Go have an­oth­er look.
 
Syndicated Ads · Every so of­ten, the sub­ject of ad­ver­tise­ments in syn­di­ca­tion feeds bub­bles to the sur­face; here are some re­cent re­marks by Win­er and Searls. Dave Sifry has a riff on this that I’ve heard him give a few times, but the more I think about it, the more I think there’s ma­jor po­ten­tial in do­ing this right ...
 
No More ucomics · For some time I’ve been read­ing Calvin and Hobbes on ucomic­s.­com. But I think I’m go­ing to have to stop, be­cause they are run­ning high­ly ir­ri­tat­ing ads that are com­plete lies. Check out this, but brace your eyes first. Even bet­ter, don’t: it’s a violently-flashing yellow-and-black GIF say­ing Win­ner! Win­ner! You just won a free dig­i­tal cam­er­a! Click here!. If you de­cide, as I did, that it’s worth flam­ing about and click there at ucomic­s, you dis­cov­er that it redi­rects to a ran­dom ad­ver­tis­er, many of which are “Page not found”, none of which of­fer dig­i­tal cam­eras, and which in­clude apparently-respectable firms like ValueClick. I won­der if these peo­ple know that of­fen­sive, ly­ing ads are be­ing used to link to them? (This piece was orig­i­nal­ly go­ing to be a flame at them for buy­ing this kind of ad, but then I clicked again). I won­der if re­spectable car­toon­ists like Pat Oliphant know that their work is be­ing dis­played next to this kind of trash? I won­der if it’s le­gal to run ads which are out­right barefaced lies? Would it be OK for me to put ad ban­ners all over the In­ter­net say­ing Free Beer! point­ing to on­go­ing? [Dis­clo­sure: no free beer here.] What am I miss­ing?
 
Bad, Bad IBM! · Tux has been re­placed by the Weird Blond Kid on the Route 101 F.Y.O. bill­board at Red­wood Ci­ty. This is cul­tur­al­ly dam­ag­ing and ba­si­cal­ly de­stroys IBM’s open-source street cred. Please bring the Pen­guin back! ...
 
On Execublogging · As you can well imag­ine, Jonathan Schwartz’s de­ci­sion to go on­line has in­volved plen­ty of in­ter­nal dis­cus­sion, and some anx­i­ety on the part of our le­gal and PR staff. But once you think about it, it’s not re­al­ly that big a deal; a guy like Jonathan is typ­i­cal­ly talk­ing to jour­nal­ists and an­a­lysts and oth­er out­siders ev­ery week, some­times ev­ery day; so this in fact is prob­a­bly a lower-risk ac­tiv­i­ty, since he’s not be­ing in­ter­me­di­at­ed by some­one who might have their own agen­da. Ob­vi­ous­ly he’s go­ing to have to be care­ful in the qui­et pe­ri­od around our earn­ings, but they learn about that in ex­ec­u­tive kinder­garten. We had a talk off-line and I rec­om­mend­ed that he write a few pieces in ad­vance of launch­ing, to give it some mo­men­tum. Jonathan said, “I’ve al­ready writ­ten nine, this is great, ev­ery time I think of some­thing that needs say­ing I can just say it!” I think that guy’s hooked. And for the first few min­utes af­ter launch, un­til the proof-readers got there, one of the point­ers on the front page was to a fa­mous jour­nal­ist, name mis-spelled. Now that’d be your world-class irony.
 
Supernova · I ac­cept­ed Kevin Werbach’s kind in­vi­ta­tion to his Su­per­no­va con­fer­ence lat­er this mon­th; I’ll be on the Syn­di­ca­tion Na­tion pan­el with Sifry, Boutin, and Houri­han. While I was Antarc­ti­ca full-time, I got out of the con­fer­enc­ing world, and that world has gone through some pret­ty se­vere changes; I won­der if I’ll still like it? Nor­mal­ly at these things I spend the whole time in the hall­way gos­sip­ing, but there are some ses­sions that look like they could be hot.
 
Making Sun Policy · To­day I’m post­ing the new Sun Pol­i­cy on Public Dis­course; this com­pan­ion piece de­scribes how we built it ...
 
Sun Policy on Public Discourse · Many of us at Sun are do­ing work that could change the world. We need to do a bet­ter job of telling the world. As of now, you are en­cour­aged to tell the world about your work, with­out ask­ing per­mis­sion first (but please do read and fol­low the ad­vice in this note). Blog­ging is a good way to do this. [Up­date: This doc­u­ment has an of­fi­cial home on the Sun Web­site.] ...
 
Office Doofuses · I guess we’re friends with Mi­crosoft now, and even though we’re di­rect com­peti­tors in the office-suite space, be­cause we’re friends I’m gonna pass on some free ad­vice. Please show your de­vel­op­ers and cus­tomers some re­spect and get those incredibly-lame Great Mo­ments At Work ads off the air. The mes­sage, in­so­far as there is one, is that peo­ple who work in of­fices are clue­less doo­fus­es, and that be­ing around Mi­crosoft Of­fice will en­cour­age poor groom­ing, ju­ve­nile be­hav­ior, and gen­er­al­ly com­ing across like a com­plete mo­ron. Mi­crosoft is a smart com­pa­ny, and smart com­pa­nies shouldn’t run dumb ad­s. It dis­graces our whole pro­fes­sion.
 
Yahoo Update · Not long ago I wrote a re­al­ly cyn­i­cal piece about Yahoo’s Paid Search pro­gram. Wel­l, I got some peo­ple mad at me, and follow-up is in or­der ...
 
Yahoo Paid Search, Translated · Via the in­valu­able John Bat­telle, a point­er to this Search Engine Watch piece on the ad­vent of Paid Search over at Ya­hoo. It con­tains some re­mark­able ex­am­ples of mar­ketinge­se, and I thought it would be help­ful to pro­vide a trans­la­tion ...
 
Blogs + MLM, Argh · There was this mes­sage on the phone want­ing to talk to me ur­gent­ly; which has been hap­pen­ing a lot since I’ve been job-hunting. It was a fel­low high up in EcoQuest In­ter­na­tion­al, who sell air-fresheners. He had a deal for me: he’s plan­ning a “Dealer Education” tour up here in Canada, and if I could drive peo­ple to some of his ses­sion­s, he’d put me up­stream from them in the MLM food chain. What’s old is new again. Or some­thing.
 
On TV · Last Sun­day, the whole fam­i­ly was over at Peter & Kim’s place to hang out, drink some left­over New Year’s Cham­pagne (Mumm’s yum­m), play with the new pup­py, but most­ly to watch TV. Be­cause we don’t have any (well, a de­cent lit­tle Toshi­ba for watch­ing DVDs) but P&K have a satel­lite dish and a high-end Run­co pro­jec­tor and 5+1 sound and gen­er­al­ly the whole tick­et. Wel­l, some of you may not have seen live sports on a good HDTV satel­lite feed with the 16:9 as­pect ra­tio and so on: Trust me, it’s an en­tire­ly new art for­m. Saw the KC/Indy game; The con­ven­tion­al anal­y­sis was that the KC de­fense col­lapsed, but I’d say it was sim­pler than that, the Indy of­fen­sive line shut down the pass rush and since Man­ning was on, that was all she wrote; but with that kind of pass pro­tec­tion I could have thrown some of those tight-end-slant com­ple­tion­s. Then Peter ex­er­cised the au­dio with choice cuts from the Con­cert for Ge­orge DVD; nice to see Ro­ry Gal­lagher lay­ing down some chops and if you didn’t shed a tear or two when Paul opened up Some­thing in the Way She Moves on ukelele well you need to get in touch with your feel­ings or what­ev­er. Any­how, the to­tal­ly bizarro part of the event was IBM’s weird Lin­ux ads fea­tur­ing this ug­ly blond kid who makes me think of the Real­ly Bad char­ac­ter in a Stephen King piece. Nar­ra­tive by Hen­ry Louis Gates and Kurt Von­negut and so on is pret­ty classy, but I’d still like the pen­guin back. Plus the ads on the IBM Web site—even the Quick­time versions—won’t play on my Mac, which is lame. What with the HDTV and DLP and so on, we’ve been think­ing about a satel­lite dish and big­ger screen; and while the foot­ball and the con­cert were great, watch­ing the com­mer­cials re­mind­ed me why we haven’t had TV all these years. Giv­en the com­pe­ti­tion, the weird blond kid was a high­light. Maybe that’s the point.
 
Buck 65 · A cou­ple of months ago, I got a plain brown en­ve­lope at the of­fice. It con­tained a CD by some­thing called Buck 65 along with a poorly-photocopied pro­mo blurb from Warn­er Brother­s. It got lost in the pa­pers in a cor­ner of the desk but just fell out so I stuck it in the Mac. Here­with a shame­less at­tempt to be­come part of the mu­sic mar­ket­ing food-chain, and the stuff isn’t bad ei­ther ...
 
On Hating Blockbuster · Nor­mal­ly when we want to rent a movie we go to the very good lo­cal Black Dog Video, but the neigh­bor­hood al­so has a Block­buster which gets the oc­ca­sion­al vis­it be­cause it’s handy to a big gro­cery store. I de­spise, loathe, re­vile, the place; a few notes on why and what that might mean for re­tail in gen­er­al ...
 
Moveable Text · NetNewsWire has a fea­ture where it will show you the dif­fer­ences on suc­ces­sive re­vi­sions of a sto­ry, which is in­ter­est­ing, some­times amus­ing, and prob­a­bly too em­bar­rass­ing for pub­lish­ers to live with. Here­with a cou­ple of sur­pris­ing ex­am­ples and a war sto­ry with a fun­ny look in­side Mi­crosoft ...
 
The Online Salesvoice · This morn­ing Doc Searls has a point­er to a re­al in­ter­est­ing at­tempt to use blogs to do vi­ral mar­ket­ing for a teen drink. They spec­u­late as to how big this might be. At the end of the day, though, we're all here to sell some­thing, aren't we? ...
 
Party Like It's 1999! · Quoth C|Net "...or be­come cor­po­rate roadkill", for­sooth ...
 
How to Sell Software · I've been en­gaged, more or less con­tin­u­ous­ly since 1989, in try­ing to sell soft­ware. It's tough, be­cause soft­ware is so weird - just a bunch of bit­s, you can make as many copies as you want for free - and yet so ex­pen­sive. Mi­crosoft knows how to sell soft­ware but most cus­tomers don't like the ex­pe­ri­ence and are be­ing care­ful to avoid get­ting in­to oth­er re­la­tion­ships like the one they have with Mi­crosoft ...
 
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