When he arrives at 1600 Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama will have not just a political base, but a database, millions of names of supporters who can be engaged almost instantly. And there’s every reason to believe that he will use the network not just to campaign, but to govern.
There is a pressing need for more businesspeople who can think quantitatively and make decisions based on data and analysis, and businesspeople who can do so will become increasingly valuable.
Many would like us to believe that privacy is dead. Yet, privacy is a societal choice — it is only dead if we allow it to be.
Being constantly connected has changed our behavior: we simply expect the right information to be at our fingertips.
With London 2012 come three, totally minimal olympic sites that leverage rapid development to celebrate this fleeting worldwide event. They’re the collective antithesis to nbcolympics.com, covering granular information with an unfettered layout devoid of audio clips, listicles and even ads. They’re also a sign of current web technologies.
Some view it as a scandal that the CEO of J.P. Morgan "knew" about the risky trades long ago. Or that the Bush administration knew "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.." Or that the average cell phone customer can know when they're roaming, and yet still be surprised by the data charges from vacation, whether it's $100 to upload a photo to Facebook, or $62,000 for downloading Wall-E. What is rarely mentioned is the amount of information that lands on the desk of a CEO or a President, or every single one of us, every day.
Is Google's Public Data Explorer the first step toward a universal data format?
How a tiny piece of software created by a few Google engineers is ushering in the mobile revolution and reshaping the fortunes of the world's biggest tech companies.
Journalists are coping with the rising information flood by borrowing data visualization techniques from computer scientists, researchers and artists. Some newsrooms are already beginning to retool their staffs and systems to prepare for a future in which data becomes a medium. But how do we communicate with data, how can traditional narratives be fused with sophisticated, interactive information displays?
Elizabeth Warren has begun her leadership of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") with calls to top bankers and a meeting to begin developing new mortgage disclosure rules. She explained her mandate at the mortgage meeting: "It is no secret to this group that consumers need good information so that they can make good decisions, and that's what this undertaking is about. It's about how it is that we think about what information consumers needs, and when they need it, to make the best possible financial decisions." Good luck with that.
We are fascinated here at ReadWriteWeb about Hadoop. It can be used in so many ways. It gives you that sense of excitement that shows how big data can open up all kinds of possibilities. So we got a tad excited tonight when we ran across a post by Mike Pearce about "10 Hadoopable Problems: or in other words, 10 things you can do with Hadoop. But excitement turned to disappointment when it reminded us of how limiting we can be when thinking about big data in standard terms. We won't go into detail about each of the 10 ways Hadoop can be used. You can go check out the post yourself. Instead, we'll highlight a few and provide our own little view about big data, the failings of geek culture and the role information plays in our interface culture.
Google really did just change the game in search today with the introduction of Google Instant. While Google execs at today’s event emphasized how much faster it makes search, Google Instant is really about showing you more search results. And this will have very interesting implications for consumers expectations of what they want from search, search market share, and how sites try to game search through SEO tactics.
Looking to tap into Web surfers' privacy concerns, new companies are popping up to help people browse the Internet and send messages anonymously. But these companies face a major challenge: getting people to pay for Web-privacy software. The majority of Internet users remain unaware of how visible their Web behavior can be to marketers, identity thieves and others, say executives at Web-privacy companies. And those who are concerned about privacy are often reluctant to trust an unfamiliar company with their information, they say.
On Thursday Google boosted an attempt to make the Web real time by launching a dedicated engine that locates content on Twitter and Facebook -- but social media expert Brian Solis said such efforts could prove futile. Context rather than content has become king -- and consumers will find the most valuable engines and social media sites have the ability to index for relevance rather than real time. Traditional search, real-time search and social search remains disconnected from social media, Solis told a packed room at an event Thursday night hosted by Linked OC, an organization for Orange County, Calif. business professionals. And because he and millions of others can't spend time searching for information in more than three places, the future of search becomes contextual and lives in semantics, matching results not only based on the "likes" of the person searching on the Web, but also those of socially connected friends.
In my last Search Insider, I took you on a neurological tour that gave us a glimpse into how our brains are built to read. Today, let's dig deeper into how our brains guide us through an online hunt for information.
If you surf the web, congratulations! You are part of the information economy. Data gleaned from your communications and transactions grease the gears of modern commerce. Not everyone is celebrating, of course. Many people are concerned and dismayed—even shocked—when they learn that "their" data are fuel for the World Wide Web. Who is gathering the information? What are they doing with it? How might this harm me? How do I stop it?
Facebook announced a new Places product Wednesday evening that will let users check-in from a mobile device, see who is around them, let friends or the public know where they are, and find interesting, new places. The announcement extends, yet again, the reach of the immensely popular social network, in hopes that the new service will convince its 500 million users to feed more information as they move around in the physical world.
It's culturally incorrect to even suggest that the open and incessant sharing of information isn't a wonderful thing. We know more the more we know, or so the conventional wisdom goes, and not only should anything be everyone's business, but it should be provided without charge. History is a dialectic about information struggling to be free. Freedom of information evangelists call this "radical transparency" and label it an absolute good. Others might call it chaos. I worry that most of us live in the gap between this theory and reality its pursuit invents.
Facebook has just announced Places, the long-awaited feature that brings location-based functionality to the most popular social network in the world. Whether you’re a developer with a great app idea, a business with an interesting location marketing plan or just a regular Facebook user who wants to get involved with Places, there are a few details to note before you start using Places. The feature is fascinating, but it still has its limitations. And our guide isn’t without caveats, especially for users. If you’re ready to start playing, here’s what you’ll need to know about Places.
When Peter Eckersley recently clicked on to one of America’s biggest online job sites, he was not alone for long. Using software to monitor programs running on the page of CareerBuilder.com, the researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group, saw data identifying his computer being whisked off to at least 10 outfits that track where people go on the internet. More troubling was his inability to tell what the companies did with the data. His experience goes to the heart of a battle that could shape the future of life on the web – while also having very real knock-on effects in the physical world. The digital dossiers that companies are building from the browsing, searching and other habits of ordinary web users are becoming increasingly refined. At the same time, a deluge of personal information has been unleashed publicly on the web, with Facebook’s 500m users at the forefront. With rapid inroads on both fronts being made into many traditional expectations of personal privacy, the results could prove explosive.
Businesses work with suppliers, across divisions, and with distributors. In the age of relationships, when the art of conversation has made a big come back, and more and more people have access to search and publishing tools, the answer to the question "who are your customers?" may not be as straight forward. Break any one of those connections, make it less than smooth, and you have a hard time servicing the end customer. The answer never was straight forward, it just got easier to see inconsistencies.
Google not only concentrates on holding on to search market share gains, but share of mind, as well. On Friday, as reports of Apple's Steve Jobs press conference on the fix for antenna and reception problems on the iPhone 4, Google quietly announced the acquisition of Metaweb. The San Francisco-based startup, a semantic Web and real-world database company, aims to improve those search results Google doesn't do so well, such as finding information about topics that might have two meanings.
Rob Tannen is an expert in designing products, interfaces and systems that accommodate the complexities of human behavior and capabilities. He has researched cockpit interfaces for the U.S. Air Force, designed trading floor order systems for the New York Stock Exchange, and created touch screen applications for consumer appliances. Rob is Director of Research and Interaction Design at the product development firm Bresslergroup. He has a PhD in Human Factors and is a Certified Professional Ergonomist.
Facebook Inc. announced an ambitious plan to get its tentacles further out into the Internet by better linking people, places and things, as it looks to turn a massive audience into a pool of well-understood consumers.
Launching its universal "like" button, Facebook extended its tentacles across the internet today, setting up pipes to gather user data from anywhere on the web. And now that users can add what topics, products or content they like to their Facebook profiles, the social-networking site is sitting on a data treasure chest. At the F8 developers conference today, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a platform that aims to connect the entire internet through the social network. With those like buttons appearing on major publisher sites directly after the announcement, users can thumbs-up individual pages with one click and publish that to Facebook. Meanwhile, that Like is stored for later.
Today at Facebook’s F8 conference), Mark Zuckerberg laid out his plan to turn the Web into “instantly social experiences.”
For decades, shoppers have taken advantage of coupons. Now, the coupons are taking advantage of the shoppers. A new breed of coupon, printed from the Internet or sent to mobile phones, is packed with information about the customer who uses it. While the coupons look standard, their bar codes can be loaded with a startling amount of data, including identification about the customer, Internet address, Facebook page information and even the search terms the customer used to find the coupon in the first place.
AOL has unveiled Advertising.com Ad Desk, a new campaign management platform aimed at mid-size agencies and advertisers. The new Ad Desk will allow display advertisers to take a more active role in their online ad campaigns. They’ll be able to access information (such as demographics and audience size) on AOL’s various properties, and make decisions on how and when campaigns should run -- without having to go through AOL’s own sales force.
It's the trillion dollar question. Justin Fox, in a recent post here, put it this way: "I don't think anyone has come up with an argument for or description of better business behavior that has anything like the elegance and power of the economists' 'incentives matter.' As long as it remains possible to get rich via less-than-upstanding behavior, and enjoy those riches, a lot of people in business will choose that path." I call it the egocentric question: "Why is doing good in our self-interest?"
Journalists are, by nature, crafty folk who are wonderfully adept at stalking — I mean, finding sources and relevant information for various and sundry stories. Well, the advent of social media has made the process of reporting all the more nuanced, and has served as a vital channel for everything from finding leads to contacting sources to sharing and furthering one’s brand.
Wolfram Alpha may not call itself a search engine — rather, a “knowledge engine” to process questions that can be answered with objective data and computation — but it faces a similar challenge to wannabe-Googles that want searchers to come to their destinations. Simply put, Wolfram Alpha needs users. And so the wonky company, under the leadership of new managing director Barak Berkowitz, is now moving from polishing its product to getting people to actually use it by changing up its distribution strategy.
I used to think that the problem of information is that it turns homo sapiens into fools — we gain disproportionately in confidence, particularly in domains where information is wrapped in a high degree of noise (say, epidemiology, genetics, economics, etc.). So we end up thinking that we know more than we do, which, in economic life, causes foolish risk taking. When I started trading, I went on a news diet and I saw things with more clarity. I also saw how people built too many theories based on sterile news, the fooled by randomness effect. But things are a lot worse. Now I think that, in addition, the supply and spread of information turns the world into Extremistan (a world I describe as one in which random variables are dominated by extremes, with Black Swans playing a large role in them). The Internet, by spreading information, causes an increase in interdependence, the exacerbation of fads (bestsellers like Harry Potter and runs on the banks become planetary). Such world is more "complex", more moody, much less predictable.
Trying to control, or even manage, your online reputation is becoming increasingly difficult. And much like the fight by big labels against the illegal sharing of music, it will soon become pointless to even try. It’s time we all just give up on the small fights and become more accepting of the indiscretions of our fellow humans. Because the skeletons are coming out of the closet and onto the front porch. We’ll look back on the good old days when your reputation was really only on the line with eBay via confirmed, actual transactions and LinkedIn, where you can simply reject anyone who leaves bad feedback on your professional life.
The Web, as virtually everyone who uses it knows, is a great way to research and find people; it is without doubt unprecedented in its utility. While preparing Thursday’s article about the best strategies on using the Web to find long-lost friends and relatives, I came across one obvious fact: when looking for people you’ll come across loads of misinformation and scams. Nothing new there, of course. But after you’ve exhausted the information you’ve found on Google, can you increase your chances of finding the person you’re looking for by using one of the fee-based services that offer access to millions of public records?
Recently Edelman Digital launched a brand new web site, which features rich insights from across the organization as well as interviews with different people inside and outside the firm. Definitely check it out. One of the cool things we're running are interviews. For one of the first installments, my colleague, Blagica, conducted an interview with me on some of the latest trends
So, it's official. The answer to every possible question about the marketplace is a click away and free to one and all. The internet is choked with information and advice. Who is doing what and why. What works and what doesn't. Trends and predictions. 10 steps to this, 6 keys to that, how to, how not to, when to, whether to, and on and on and on.
Gary Flake demos Pivot, a new way to browse and arrange massive amounts of images and data online. Built on breakthrough Seadragon technology, it enables spectacular zooms in and out of web databases, and the discovery of patterns and links invisible in standard web browsing.
All these examples tell the same story: that the world contains an unimaginably vast amount of digital information which is getting ever vaster ever more rapidly. This makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.
In his seminal pop-book, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argued that people are happiest when they can reach a state of "flow." He talks about performers and athletes who are in the height of their profession, the experience they feel as time passes by and everything just clicks. People reach a state where attention appears focused and, simultaneously, not in need of focus at the same time. The world is aligned and everything just feels right. Consider what it means to be "in flow" in an information landscape defined by networked media, and you will see where Web 2.0 is taking us. The goal is not to be a passive consumer of information or to simply tune in when the time is right, but rather to live in a world where information is everywhere.
The New York Times brings this story of an economist who has been predicting - disconcertingly accurately - the medals tally for the last few Olympics. Daniel Johnson - the economist in question - is currently in the news for his predictions for the current Winter Olympics. The strange thing about Daniel's predictions is not that they have a record of 94% accuracy with actual medal counts. It is his methology. Rather than basing his predictions on individual athletes, the events or even any knowledge of sport, he bases them on something far more removed.
A national survey, conducted by Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University, found that an overwhelming majority of reporters and editors now depend on social media sources when researching their stories. Among the journalists surveyed, 89% said they turn to blogs for story research, 65% to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and 52% to microblogging services such as Twitter. The survey also found that 61% use Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia.
We're at the beginning of a major shift in how we find, consume and interact with information. If the 2000s was the Google decade, then the 2010s will be the Facebook decade. Already, you can see the writing on the wall - pun intended.
Yesterday brought the news that Google has officially purchased Aardvark, a small San-Francisco-based social search startup that happens to have been created by former Google employees. The timing, coming just two days after Google unveiled Buzz, can't be coincidental--but what can Aardvark do for Google? An awful lot, as it turns out.
What does your search engine say about you? Well, if it's Bing, you're probably an early adopter, but you also visit, shop and ultimately make purchases from Walmart more than other search-engine users. Google searchers, on the other hand, are partial to Target and Amazon, and Yahoo searchers have a strong preference for wireless service from AT&T and Sprint.
It all began with a coffeepot. A coffeepot that was connected to the Internet (before it was even called the Internet) and which provided information about its status (long before there was Twitter). In 1991, researchers at Cambridge University shared a single coffeepot among several floors. The researchers were frustrated by the fact that they would often climb several flights of stairs, only to find the coffeepot empty. They set up a videocamera that broadcast a still image to their desktops about three times per minute — enough to determine the level of coffee in the glass pot. Several years later, that coffeepot had become one of the first Internet web cam sensations, with millions of hits worldwide. That coffeepot was a proof of concept for today’s networked objects and the Internet of Things.
In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin published a paper titled Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Search Engine, in which they outlined the core technology behind Google and the theory behind PageRank. Now, twelve years after that paper was published, the team behind social search engine Aardvark has drafted its own research paper that looks at the social side of search. Dubbed Anatomy of a Large-Scale Social Search Engine, the paper has just been accepted to WWW2010, the same conference where the classic Google paper was published.
The rate that things happen online tends to influence the rest of our world. It began when instant messaging on PCs made a move to SMS text message on mobile phones, giving friends and lovers instant access to each other whenever and wherever, as long as both were in an area with cellular service. Now, Twitter and Facebook status updates on Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo real-time search let us know the moment someone goes to the bathroom. You get the message.
Creating a definition of the word brand seems to be both the easiest and perhaps the hardest thing to do. The challenge is not that the existing definitions aren’t correct (or more accurately weren’t correct). The challenge is that the environment in which brands live is inherently Darwinian. As the environment changes brands must adapt. Once brands have adapted enough then what you get are effectively new species - entities unlike what have gone before and that must now be defined in completely new ways. This has been a constant process over time, but I think we could now define ourselves as being in the third age of brand.
Though Google’s social strategy has been catch-up at best to date, the company does have a master plan — at least according to engineering director David Glazer, whom I spoke with last week at Google HQ. He said across a variety of products, Google wants to make it valuable and easy to harness social information. In 2010, Google plans to expose and elicit more of the social network built into the tools that many of us already use — Gmail, Google Talk, etc. If you use Google products, the company already knows who your most important contacts are, what your core interests are, and where your default locations are. Glazer said to expect many product and feature launches that start to connect that information in useful ways.
The term “real time” has become such a part of English that we have forgotten how unreal it sounds. Earlier this month, Google announced it would be adding real-time information to its search results, and we already expect real-time information about all sorts of other things: traffic, weather, stock quotes, flight tracking - for some reason, we feel we need to know about all the boring hassles of our lives with split-second precision. But when we’re telling stories, when we’re sharing personal, emotional information, we rely on “unreal times.” We want times that relate to experiences, not to abstractions.
I can remember when I first thought seriously about Twitter. Last March, I was at the SXSW conference, a conclave in Austin, Tex., where technology, media and music are mashed up and re-imagined, and, not so coincidentally, where Twitter first rolled out in 2007. As someone who was oversubscribed on Facebook, overwhelmed by the computer-generated RSS feeds of news that came flying at me, and swamped by incoming e-mail messages, the last thing I wanted was one more Web-borne intrusion into my life.
OK, I have to add my two cents to the prediction business and label what I think might be an emergent, if not important trend for brands and marketers in our nascent new decade: we're going to see the return of paid commercial speech. Yup. I don't know what we'll call it yet -- whether advertising, marketing, or something new altogether -- but it'll be a stark contrast to the Conversational School that has dominated the, re, conversation about marketing for the past few years. It'll probably have little use for the term "content" and revert instead to older, more descriptive terms, like "information" and "messages that actually matter to someone." And my bet is that it'll possess qualities that have proven utterly ellusive to the most celebrated marketing campaigns of the 2000s.
In my last blog, I argued that people don't care enough about their information environments to prevent overload. This week I am focusing on a related behavioral change that has important implications for companies that produce information products and services: As information grows in quantity, consumers of it are willing to accept lower quality. I call this willingness satisficing — being satisfied with sacrificing quality.
In the 19th and 20th centuries we made stuff: corn and steel and trucks. Now, we make protocols: sets of instructions. A software program is a protocol for organizing information. A new drug is a protocol for organizing chemicals. Wal-Mart produces protocols for moving and marketing consumer goods. Even when you are buying a car, you are mostly paying for the knowledge embedded in its design, not the metal and glass.
Last week I sent an email to Googlers about the meaning of "open" as it relates to the Internet, Google, and our users. In the spirit of openness, I thought it would be appropriate to share these thoughts with those outside of Google as well. At Google we believe that open systems win. They lead to more innovation, value, and freedom of choice for consumers, and a vibrant, profitable, and competitive ecosystem for businesses. Many companies will claim roughly the same thing since they know that declaring themselves to be open is both good for their brand and completely without risk. After all, in our industry there is no clear definition of what open really means. It is a Rashomon-like term: highly subjective and vitally important.
Nielsen will continue to make live viewership data for local TV viewers available in the wake of a furor from media buyers who argued that removing such information would leave them paying for inflated audiences who often skip past ads by using digital video recorders. After saying just a few weeks ago that it intended to stop making available easily digestible data showing the size of live local audiences, Nielsen said in a preliminary draft of a letter to be sent out to clients that it will now keep that data available for an interim period while also measuring viewers who watch shows on a live-plus-same-day basis. The plan, which Nielsen is expected to announce shortly, is set to go into effect on Jan. 7, 2010, and stay in place through March.
The average American consumes about 34 gigabytes of data and information each day — an increase of about 350 percent over nearly three decades — according to a report published Wednesday by researchers at the University of California, San Diego. According to calculations in the report, that daily information diet includes about 100,000 words, both those read in print and on the Web as well as those heard on television and the radio. By comparison, Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” contains about 460,000 words.
Many organizations are pressured to do the seemingly impossible: Increase quality and affordability, and expand their customer base — all while keeping tight control on costs. These would seem irreconcilable tradeoffs. Not so, judging by a high flying subset. They see their competitive predicaments not as being imposed by the limits of physics and chemistry, but rather by the limits of their current understanding. Call it improvement, innovation, or discovery, their self-imposed challenge is recognizing where they are not good enough and learning how to get better. They understand what customers truly need, configure products and services to meet those needs, and design and operate systems that produce and deliver those offerings.
Since free information is abundant, finding a way to sell knowledge or monetize content can be a challenge. Los Angeles start-up Knowledge Genie aims to offer a solution, allowing users to centralize their knowledge on a particular topic and present it in a customizable, tutorial-style package—a 'Knowledge Genie'—that can be shared for free or sold for a fee.
Twitter turned on its long-awaited Geolocation API today, meaning that users can opt-in to having their messages annotated with their exact locations. The significance of this is made clear by comparing it with last week's release of 500 million time-stamped Twitter messages for analysis. "You take this data, mash it up with any other very large corpus of data with timestamps," Flip Kroner of data marketplace Infochimps told us, "and you've got a web app." Today's announcement of the availability of location data means the same thing: you take this data, mash it up with any other data with location information and you've got an app. From Digg or StumbleUpon for your favorite coffee shop to political and disease tracking - there's a whole lot that's possible.
In the World According to Twitter, giving away access to information rewards the giver by building followers. The more followers, the more information comes to the giver to distribute, which in turn builds more followers. The process cannot be commanded or controlled; followers opt in and out as they choose. The results are transparent and purely quantitative; network size is all that matters. Networks of this sort are self-organizing and democratic but without any collective interaction.
New start-up Factery Labs is launching its first service on Tuesday, a technology called FactRank that can tear through Web pages and collect what it calls "facts." These are bits of information from each source page that Factery Labs' algorithm then organizes into an order of importance. What this means for you is that developers will soon make use of the technology in third-party search engines or on Web pages to very quickly deliver reading summaries. This cuts out most (or all) of the parts you don't care about, while organizing the bits you might. It also manages to do all this in real time.
Social media is a humbling topic, one that I do not approach without deep study and reﬂection. On the surface, social media has democratized content, placing the power of publishing in the hands of every day people. Peeling back the collective layers, we realize something more profound however; social media has democratized and equalized inﬂuence and the ability to inspire action and establish vibrant and dedicated communities around a sense of purpose and belonging. Whether we’re consumers or brand advocates or both, we have been given a powerful gift in the form of real-time, uninhibited access to information and intelligence and the people who share their insights—the new inﬂuencers. It is how we choose to embrace this gift and as such employ it and also interact with new inﬂuencers that deﬁnes our presence and stature within the social landscape and in turn, the real world. Indeed social media is a privilege and with it comes great responsibility (and accountability).
This weekend, I went to the local Lego store here in Silicon Valley (Hillsdale) to see a practical version of Augmented Reality. I was previously briefed by Metaio, the technology vendor that empowers the software for the Augmented Reality kiosks called, Digital Box. This store, outfitted with a kiosk with a screen and webcam gives instructions on how to show the contents of any box assembled in real time. Not all of the boxes were equipped (I tried the Star Wars line with no available) but was able to grab this lego kit of a bus, hold it in front of the kiosk. You can see that the contents ‘assembled’ on the screen, and came to life as a pre-set animation, as I rotated the box, the virtual animation would move with it, giving the illusion that the bus was actually moving over the box.
Jack Balkin invited me to be on a panel yesterday at Yale’s Information Society Project conference, Journalism & The New Media Ecology, and I used my remarks to observe that one of the things up for grabs in the current news environment is the nature of authority. In particular, I noted that people trust new classes of aggregators and filters, whether Google or Twitter or Wikipedia (in its ‘breaking news’ mode.) I called this tendency algorithmic authority. I hadn’t used that phrase before yesterday, so it’s not well worked out (and I didn’t coin it — as Jeff Jarvis noted at the time, Google lists a hundred or so previous occurrences.) There’s a lot to be said on the subject, but as a placeholder for a well-worked-out post, I wanted to offer a rough and ready definition here.
I recently attended the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco hosted by Tim O’Reilly, John Battelle, and TechWeb. One of the highlights of the conference was a discussion between Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and FM Media’s John Battelle. It was a revealing and enlightening examination of the rise, state, and future of a social network that has been nothing short of transformative in its few short years of existence. What appeared pervasive with every question, answer, and observation is that Twitter’s success prevails in spite of its obvious hurdles, limitations, and absence of clear direction and vision. Twitter is a wondrous marvel and rare phenomenon whose surge to profound cultural prominence has completely transformed how people communicate, share and discover events and information. Its success is one that cannot be retraced.
Today our social rules seem to have been overloaded by our always on, always connected culture. Behaviours developed for the industrial age simply cannot cope with the new possibilities for information sharing.
Narratives are a staple of every culture the world over. They are disappearing in an online blizzard of tiny bytes of information.
To me, these seem like the key components of a good infographic / data visualisation / piece of information design: * Information needs to be interesting (meaningful & relevant) and have integrity (accuracy, consistency). * Design needs to have form (beauty & structure) and function (it has to work and be easy to use).
Does Twitter have a T.M.I. problem? And, no, I don’t just mean the Twitter users who share too much information about their lives, social, medical or otherwise. Simply put, there is way too much information on Twitter — lately, it defies navigation. In January, there were 2.4 million tweets a day, according to Alessio Signorini, a researcher at the University of Iowa. By October, he reports, there were 26 million tweets a day. Why should we care about information overload at Twitter? Isn’t Twitter about the individual experiences — a Tweeter and her followers — not the totality of millions of Tweeters around the world?
Data mining and the proximity of the internet to most of what we do is changing the proximity of proof to decision. Now, you don't need to do a lot of research, the data is just a click away. What are you going to do when your hunches don't match the data that's now pouring in? The data shows, for example, that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk. It doesn't feel that way, of course, but will you respect the data and stop, cold turkey?
What's the first thing that goes through your mind when someone says the word "data"? For many of us, the first image is line graphs, pie charts and spreadsheets with columns and rows full of numbers that leave you bleary-eyed and a bit dazed. But what if someone were to say data can also mean what you post on Facebook and Twitter, the ratings you gave a restaurant, the photos you uploaded to Flickr or even, perhaps, what you feel. A bit of a reach? Not anymore. An emerging set of tools is making it easier than ever to track and compile all sorts of "data" and display it in a way that's relatively easy to understand.
I spend a lot of time gazing into a crystal ball that I know is going to be cloudy half the time. Lately I have been pondering Facebook's future. Facebook is clearly on a roll and is knocking on Google's door as the biggest site on the web. Will it continue to dominate or see its lead slip? Here are two potential outcomes.
There is no denying that Twitter has had a huge impact on how marketers are thinking about using social media tools for marketing. One thing that is most interesting about it, however, is how the site has managed to avoid overcomplicating itself with more features. Twitter is simple, and it just works. Of course the one overused word that has been used recently to describe Twitter is that it is a "firehose" of information, shooting out at a speed and volume that has threatened to make it unusable for many people. So when I had a chance to try out Twitter's new Lists feature (which I had been looking forward to seeing for some time), I was not only surprised, but also excited about what this will mean for all of us who use the site. Here are just a few reasons why I think lists may revolutionize how you use Twitter.
As my original career was in biology, when I started working with stories I naturally wanted to consider the natural history of stories, including their life cycles. Now this is a much more difficult thing with stories than with tadpoles or mushrooms, because stories mingle and morph in ways that creatures can't. But here is try at it, based on my experiences and what I've read. I've been pondering this cycle for a long time and playing with it in mind, and this is what I've got to lately. Of course this cycle will be nothing new to anyone who thinks about stories, and it's obviously a greatly simplified metaphor, and I'm merrily making up terms as I go. But this sort of thing can provide a scaffold for discussions about helping people tell and share stories to attain goals.
As consumers, I think you’ll agree, prior to making any decision purchase, most of the time, our journey begins with a combination of online search and real world conversations with friends, family and peers. As the Web matures, a greater volume of our attention and focus continues to shift from other mediums to the Web for not only purchase considerations but also for content discovery. It’s how we learn. It’s how we stay connected.
Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over. In its place, a new generation of services is starting to take hold—services like Twitter and Facebook and countless others vying for a piece of the new world. And just as email did more than a decade ago, this shift promises to profoundly rewrite the way we communicate—in ways we can only begin to imagine. We all still use email, of course. But email was better suited to the way we used to use the Internet—logging off and on, checking our messages in bursts. Now, we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.
In case you haven't heard, teenagers have officially abandoned all means of traditional media. Television? Done. Radio? Forget it. Newspapers? Who reads? OK, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. In fact, a Nielsen report published just this past summer suggests that TV watching is actually up with teens and Internet use is actually lower in teens compared to adults. Hmmm ... so does that mean that, as rEvolution's VP of digital marketing and youth culture, I should start looking for a new job? I don't think so.
Although a bit late to the party, CNN has made a decisive entry into the mobile news space with a well-designed iPhone app with that costs $2 to download, nothing to use and makes it easier for citizen journalists to file their own video news reports from the field. And in choosing a middle ground in the free/fee debate CNN is carving out a niche that extends their free online offerings to the fast-growing mobile platform while charging something for the work that goes in to developing for the iPhone platform — and there are ads too.
Information overload dates back to Johannes Gutenberg. His invention of movable type led to a proliferation of printed matter that quickly exceeded what a single human mind could absorb in a lifetime. Later technologies – from carbon paper to the photocopier – made replicating existing information even easier. And once information was digitised, documents could be copied in limitless numbers at virtually no cost. Digitising content also removed barriers to another activity first made possible by the printing press: publishing new information. No longer restricted by centuries-old production and distribution costs, anyone can be a publisher today. In fact, a lot of new information – personalised recommendations from Amazon, for instance – is "published" and distributed without any active human input.
I received my first Lenovo News email last week, telling "Dear Sir/Madam" that "information can be 'the' critical factor in establishing a competitive business advantage,"so I could look forward to having "a direct pipeline to the latest Lenovo and hottest PC industry news." Only the email doesn't contain any news. It's spam. CRM gone amok. A sales message sent without even the presumption that the recipients are anywhere near even considering the possibility of buying. What a missed opportunity.
Augmented Reality is certainly in it’s infancy, and we know that at best, is experimental. I’m new to this space but am watching, and learning from Robert Rice and Dave Elchoness to see how it develops. While a few years out, see the proposed Hype Cycle, let’s spend time thinking about what the future could hold. I’m in intake mode. Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched as many augmented reality youtube clips as possible, reading blog posts (as there are no real articles yet from mainstream) and talking to smart folks. What I’ve noticed? Many videos are folks excited about the toys –yet with little reference to how it impacts business. I’ve also been experimenting with Yelp’s monocle, which is sub-par at best, it’s really early days. My biggest challenge? I’m in the wrong country. The innovation and adoption with these tools will come in Europe and Asia –not the tethered American market.
Here’s a piece of advance information from the Michelin guide for New York City 2010: 18 new stars will be awarded to restaurants. Michelin is rigorously tight-lipped about the information in its guides until they arrive in stores, and requires similar discretion from its reviewers, who are anonymous. But in this Facebook era, when privacy and anonymity seem like vestiges of a bygone time, Michelin is making itself a bit more accessible as it prepares for the New York guide’s fifth edition, scheduled to be in stores on Oct. 6, and San Francisco’s fourth edition, scheduled for Oct. 20.
This news might actually sway some of the executives left who still fear the use of social media for business. Research from Penn State found that a full twenty percent of tweets mention specific brand names or products. Out of half a million tweets examined during the study, one fifth were essentially free brand advertising. Those tweets contains a mix of requests for information about specific products as well as responses to those queries from people’s networks, giving companies an unprecedented window into the concerns and questions customers and potential customers have about their products.
Tweetdeck, the popular, free Twitter client, is expanding its reach to Facebook and MySpace. The new versions of the desktop and iPhone program let you post to all three networks and read feeds from all three, all within the same interface. The big idea here, according to Tweetdeck founder Iain Dodsworth, is to make Tweetdeck a more powerful way to keep up with everything — like a web browser for socially-distributed information, be it news, memes, photos, or whatever.
The web knows something, but it's not telling us, at least not yet. The web knows how many followers you have on Twitter, how many friends you have on Facebook, how many people read your blog. It also knows how often those people retweet, amplify and spread your ideas. It also knows how many followers your followers have... So, what if, Google-style, someone took all this data and figured out who has clout. Which of your readers is the one capable of making an idea break through the noise and spread?
It's become fashionable among a certain set to declare that RSS is no longer the foremost pipeline for news and information on the Web. Steve Gillmor and innumerable others have said they've abandoned their RSS readers in favor of Twitter. Twitter hiring Feedburner's CEO seemed to compound this trend towards dismissing RSS as old hat (though headlines shouldn't always be taken literally). The usual suspects, such as Dave Winer and our own RSS geek, quickly jumped to the defense of really simple syndication. But where was the data to back them up? And what do businesses think about RSS? The McKinsey Global Survey on Web 2.0 in business came out yesterday, and out of the almost 1,700 executives they talked to, 42% said they see a measurable benefit from RSS. That's 24% more than those who see any benefit from microblogging (i.e. Twitter).
While producing information costs money, information as such doesn’t necessarily carry monetary value; it mostly carries intellectual, social, artistic, practical value. And that’s why, historically, news has been commercially, publicly, politically and privately subsidized. That information is not necessarily connected to a physical good (paper) or a concrete service (the delivery), or a limited quantity anymore, making it difficult to measure its price. We have difficulties spending money for digital information because at the end of the transaction we neither save time nor do we hold anything concrete or limited in our hands. It feels like buying air.
Debra Shigley recently went to a CVS pharmacy in Atlanta and paid $25.39 for two prescriptions, a beverage and a roll of toilet paper. The cashier then handed her a receipt that was almost two feet long. "As long as my arm," said Ms. Shigley, a 30-year-old author who consults with women on careers and fashion. Many shoppers have noticed with chagrin store receipts getting longer and longer as retailers tack coupons, return policies, loyalty points and other bits of information and advertising onto narrow pieces of paper that are supposed to be a record of what you bought and how much you paid.
North of the Arctic Circle, a top priority for fishermen is to catch and dry enough char to last the winter. Fishermen near the equator race to market before insects and bacteria spoil their catch. Climate is the driving factor shaping these vastly different fishing practices. In many corporations, the same is true for marketing and IT departments.
It's Apple's fault I hate receipts. A few years ago, I grabbed some computer accessory off an Apple Store shelf and brought it to the cashier. I pulled out my paper-stuffed Costanza wallet and gave the cashier my card. Then he asked an unexpected question: "Do you want us to e-mail you your receipt?" I said yes and thus, unwittingly, began a crusade against the paper receipt—a slip too analog, too temporary, and too wasteful to be anything but superfluous. It is a relic of another age, when record-stuffed filing cabinets lingered in musty basements; when patriarchs sat down with a checkbook on Sunday afternoons while the football game was on; and when we expected to search for things for hours, not seconds. Apple had recognized and made explicit an anachronism of our times. We no longer need a piece of paper to tell us what we bought, just the information that's trapped inside it.
At the intersection of art and algorithm, data visualization schematically abstracts information to bring about a deeper understanding of the data, wrapping it in an element of awe. While the practice of visually representing information is arguably the foundation of all design, a newfound fascination with data visualization has been emerging.
Taco Bell, hoping to connect with more of its young consumers online and through social media, has selected R/GA, San Francisco and New York, as its digital shop of record. The chain said R/GA will begin by revamping the fast feeder's website from what the company calls an "entertainment portal" to a more user-friendly destination for information.
General knowledge, from capital cities to key dates, has long been a marker of an educated mind. But what happens when facts can be Googled? Brian Cathcart confers with educationalists, quiz-show winners and Bamber Gascoigne ...
Dawn Pabst hates the wait for a pizza delivery. So after she orders a pepperoni pizza from the Domino's website, she never waits. She tracks. The Air Force technician from Las Vegas tracks the second-by-second status of her pizza via colorful, thermometer-like gauges at Dominos.com. She's one of millions of customers who monitor everything from order accuracy to the moment their pizza is prepped, baked, boxed or sent for delivery. Pabst says she even tracks the name of the person who bakes her pizza.
Why should we fear Google? There's an easy, obvious answer to that, particularly if you're a media or marketing person: because Google is killing us. It is, duh, blatantly steamrollering the business models of countless business sectors, from Madison Avenue to print media. (Despite all the Bing hype, it appears that Microsoft's refreshed search engine -- er, decision engine -- isn't making a dent in Google's dominance.) Annoyingly, it's a cute monopoly -- with a cute logo, a cute motto ("Don't be evil"), cute executives and a cute corporate culture -- that bewitches a lot of people into somehow doubting that it's a monopoly, and prompts even otherwise cynical media people to be unnecessarily polite about it.
I started my ad career working on an airline account – American. So like my first love, my first kiss and a host of other firsts in my life, American and the airline industry will always be special to me. Guess that is why it really irks me to watch them making such tragic mistakes. You can’t nickel and dime your way to profits.
If information is power, the first step to gaining power is to get the right data. The Obama administration is a big proponent of opening up government data and making it digitally available. Today at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City, the government’s new chief information officer Vivek Kundra announced USAspending.gov, a new site which launched today that tracks government spending with charts and lists ranking the largest government contractors (Lockheed, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, etc.) and assistance recipients (Department of Healthcare Services, New York State Dept. of Health, Texas Health & Human Services Commission, etc.). There is also the Data.gov project, which is attempting to digitize government data and make it available in its raw form for citizens and companies to sift through.
Steve Rubel, long a maven of PR and the new media, is now committing his life to digital memory. To the right, Steve's diagram of how various media will work to capture and communicate the fine details of his professional life. In a couple of centuries, this may make him our Samuel Pepys, a man who speaks for us all when someone comes to see what it was like in and around 2009.
Apple's "Wall of Applications" developed for its recent developer conference did more to demonstrate the breadth and scale of its applications than any single static ad ever could. It's a great example of the power of data as a compelling form of communication. In Apple's case, it's all about the scale of the information to signify the size of the ecosystem.
Today's marketplace challenges are not driven simply by the global recession and its affect on people's perception of "value." This new, new economy has been building for the past ten years. Evolving marketplace conditions have created a very particular consumer mindset; one which most marketers are woefully unprepared to deal with. Make no mistake; the economy is not the problem. It has simply exposed the problem, like melting snow exposes the mud beneath. Here are the five conditions that have inured today's consumer and confounded scores of organizations:
In today’s recession-racked economy, penny-pinching is a national pastime. But people are still opening their wallets for smartphones. Sales of BlackBerrys, iPhones and other smartphone models are rising smartly and are projected to increase 25 percent this year, according to Gartner, a research business. Widely anticipated new models like the Palm Pre, which went on sale nationwide on Saturday, will help fuel that growth. Meanwhile, total cellphone sales are expected to fall.
In March of this year, National Public Radio (NPR) revealed that by the end of 2008, 23.6 million people were tuning into its broadcasts each week. In fact, NPR’s ratings have increased steadily since 2000, and they’ve managed to hold on to much of their 2008 election coverage listenership bump (with over 26 million people tuning in each week so far in 2009), unlike many of their mainstream media counterparts.
"How should i change my marketing organization?" That's the most frequently asked question of members of the Association of National Advertisers. These are large, sophisticated companies. They're supposed to know what they are doing. So why are they asking the question?
It has never been easier to express yourself in public. Whatever you might want to say, the online tools to let you say it to a (theoretically) worldwide audience are innumerable. Say it long, say it short, say what you want, when you want and how often you want. As the title of a forthcoming book about blog culture puts it: “Say Everything.” You have the technology. The only thing the technology cannot do is solve this problem: What if you don’t really have anything to express?
What are the strategies we can use to deal with unrelenting transparency? Fight it. Accept it. Deceive it.
Companies are working fast to figure out how to make money from the wealth of data they're beginning to have about our online friendships.
It seems absolutely dumb to argue that while the quality of data used to make decisions is important, it is actually not that important to have the highest data quality.
Once again, the Internet is shifting before our eyes. Information is increasingly being distributed and presented in real-time streams instead of dedicated Web pages. The shift is palpable, even if it is only in its early stages. Web companies large and small are embracing this stream. It is not just Twitter. It is Facebook and Friendfeed and AOL and Digg and Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop and Techmeme and Tweetmeme and Ustream and Qik and Kyte and blogs and Google Reader. The stream is winding its way throughout the Web and organizing it by nowness.
Everything is information and information is everything. It’s the mantra of marketing in an age where people are constantly creating collectible data—all the things we do, say, use, buy, click and share are data points in the graphs of our lives. But in an increasingly visual society, pie charts and bar charts can’t begin to do justice to this wealth of information there is to digest now. Data visualization tools are helping to change the ways we look at information and audiences.
The world of communication and product delivery is changing as the Web evolves and new services are introduced, enabling us to gain faster access to information, download richer media more quickly, and rapidly voice our opinions and feedback near and far in a wide variety of methods, including text, voice, video and imagery. As customers become more savvy and in tune with these new tools, we are also expecting those offering products and services to adapt, and as such, I thought it made sense to put forth what I believe are key tenets of a new consumer manifesto for today's real-time world.
I participated in a sampling exercise last week, and really liked what I'd tried. But then there was no way to find out how to buy the stuff, no matter how hard I tried.
Every new online search service must face the inevitable question: “Is it better than Google?” WolframAlpha, a powerful new service that can answer a broad range of queries, has become one of the most anticipated Web products of the year. But its creator, Stephen Wolfram, wants to make something clear: Despite the online chatter comparing it to Google, his service is not intended to dethrone the king of search engines.
It’s time to get completely off RSS and switch to Twitter. RSS just doesn’t cut it anymore. The River of News has become the East River of news, which means it’s not worth swimming in if you get my drift.
According to a new study from Harris Interactive, 66% of consumers believe advertising agencies bear at least some responsibility for the recession because they “caused people to buy things they couldn’t afford.” Segue to AAAA's chieftain, Nancy Hill, who had this to say in our AAAA's leadership conference address in response to the above findings: "Now imagine that: Advertising agencies causing the crippling of the economy because we stimulate consumer desire and consumer demand. Who says advertising doesn't work?"
If it ain't broke, you can still make it better. How empathy helped a well-run disability insurance claims office do even better.
The question many marketers are trying to answer now, is “Who do people trust?” I’ve been spending more and more time pouring over data, medium usage, behavioral and preference data for clients, and am learning more and more about how humans behave on the web. So who do people trust? Three research studies indicate it’s peers, or people they know. And social clout from bloggers, or those with a lot of online friends ain’t it.
From the perspective of the luxury merchant and the wealthy consumer, what used to be a simple communication of social status has become very complex: There are more communicators (more wealthy) in more places (globalization) with more choices regarding how to communicate (luxury alternatives) than ever before. If luxury is the language of wealth, the luxury industry has become a Tower of Babel.
Readers have come to rely on interactive presentations to understand complicated stories, using them to zoom in on periods of time and highlight areas of interest. Yet to investigate these stories, reporters often create what amounts to handcrafted investigative art: flow charts with circles and arrows, maps shaded with highlighters and stuck with pins. More and more, though, some reporters are using data visualization tools to find the story hidden in the data. Those tools help them discover patterns and focus their reporting on particular places and times. Many of the presentations, which can have rough interfaces or less-than-sleek design, are never published.
The first reaction many people have to Twitter is befuddlement. Why would they want to read short messages about what someone ate for breakfast? It’s a reasonable question. Twitter unleashes the diarist in its 14 million users, who visited its site 99 million times last month to read posts tapped out with cellphones and computers. Individually, many of those 140-character “tweets” seem inane. But taken collectively, the stream of messages can turn Twitter into a surprisingly useful tool for solving problems and providing insights into the digital mood.
Many people are intimidated by the abundance the digital world offers. There are all kinds of ways of categorizing these people, age and occupation being the two most common. While I think this is wrong, there is a spooky echo of my grandparents' contempt for long hair on men and color TV, my parents' contempt for rock music and flared trousers, my big sister's contempt for punk rock and piercings, in most boomers' (often very subtle, often subconscious) resistance to the new world. It all comes down to how you were educated.
Technology will shift the power from brands to people as they are able to control their own identity. As a result, the Social Contract between people and brands will evolve.
Qwest Communications International has launched a Twitter page to improve customer relations. Seven company reps take turns monitoring @TalkToQwest around the clock in a quest to provide prospective and existing clients one-on-one near real-time support.
Facebook talks about it, Twitter feels like it, but only FriendFeed has managed to pull it off. The web is moving to another gear, with the lifestreaming site founded by former Google workers launching the first truly real-time social media service today.
I suddenly realized my problem with aggregators. When I configure my feeds, I want just about everything.
Can transparency be a business model? Not, can it be good business, but can a business dedicated to transparency prosper?
When it comes to analytics, few know the space like Avinash Kaushik, which is why we took your questions to him. He's the author of "Web Analytics: An Hour a Day," a prolific blogger at Occam's Razor and Google's analytics evangelist, where he proudly claims the tagline "Data-driven decision making uncomplexified."
Imagine that a company set up a mall store where, instead of selling trinkets, it sold information about customer behavior. For a few cents, it could tell a saleswoman at Nordstrom that the person who was about to walk in had already stopped at Steve Madden and was looking for red shoes. That is the idea behind two new Internet companies, BlueKai and eXelate Media, which run so-called behavioral exchanges. They do not sell products or ad space, but information about Web site visitors.
If telecoms are to get $4 billion in stimulus funds for broadband that enables Facebook for farmers and netbooks for mountain men, then the feds must require the new networks to be open and nondiscriminatory, public interest groups told federal bureaucrats Monday.
What if one of the futures coming after our miracle of the Internet and the madness of our economics is a model of living and investing we last saw about a hundred years ago?
I have an open question for the people who complain about the potential of advertising networks to track your behavior on the Internet: What is a better way?
The last year's worth of financial news nonsense has got me thinking again about the divergent roles individuals and groups play in our lives. I'm torn between what, or whom, I'm supposed to trust. It seems like the more broad and robust my access to the world gets, the less I know or believe. I rely more on what is immediate and personal, and the things that I know are true get more simple and basic...just as the credibility of larger, more complicated subjects becomes hazy and elusive.
So Citigroup reports a profit, Bernie Madoff gets led away in handcuffs, and the financial markets spend a few days in positive trading territory...and everything is OK again? I think every financial brand you could name -- from brokerage firms, to insurance companies and banks, and to the markets overall -- is in dire need of an overhaul. No, it's worse than that. Who can trust anything they say? These brands aren't just damaged, theyre effectively meaningless, aren't they?
The State of the News Media 2009 is the sixth edition of our annual report on the health and status of American journalism.
Twitter, the micro-messaging service where users broadcast short thoughts to one another, has been widely labeled the newest form of digital narcissism. And if it’s not self-obsession tweeters are accused of, it’s self-promotion, solipsism or flat out frivolousness. But naysayers will soon eat their tweets. There’s already a vibrant community of Twitter users who are using the system to share and filter the hyper-glut of online information with ingenious efficiency. Forget what you had for breakfast or how much you hate Mondays. That’s just lifecasting. Mindcasting is where it’s at.
Meetings are marketing in real time with real people. (A conference is not a meeting. A conference is a chance for a circle of people to interact). There are only three kinds of classic meetings:
By the garbled reportage, I'd be guessing some of those kiwis were having trouble with my accent. Here are the verbatim remarks.
If you're in business to add value to people's lives, especially stressed out and time-starved people, you should think twice before adding even a drop more information into the fire hoses they're presently drinking from. Instead, help them synthesize transcendent patterns. Help them make sense. Help them achieve their goals and advance their agendas. What people really need today are ideas, not information. Ideas are the filters most people are so desperately lacking.
What's the bigger idea: social media as marketing stimulus or social media as a way to innovate business processes?
You deserve some great tools, so I’d like to share what I’ve been working on. You might have an upcoming presentation, or you might be looking to speak more at events. I have a few ideas for you. I want to share with you my current thinking on presentations, such that I hope you feel equipped to do more with your own work.
Something happens to parents on or around the time their kids turn 12. Most of us know intuitively that we are dealing with a different kind of sentient near-adult by this point, and the sheer terror of parenting a teen must kick in some kind of special defense mechanism. But the change is not only in the way we relate to our kids. Our children's move into that next scary stage of their lives also triggers different media consumption behaviors in us.
Yesterday was Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, and it has been about 150 years since he published The Origin of Species. And still, almost two-thirds of Americans alive today believe that life on Earth has either always existed in its present forms, or has changed over time under the conscious and direct guidance of God (thanks to a substantive barrage of research from The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life).
Google and Procter & Gamble are promoting their "innovative" collaboration to find ways to draw more online attention, having already done so for viewership of a video for Tide's "Talking Stain" commercial (which I thought was absolutely hilarious). So does it make sense to be hunting for the future of Internet marketing? Or should they be gathering?