New BlogHer Community Launched

In case you are irretrievably out of the loop didn’t see the news, the new BlogHer community launched yesterday, and was ushered in via a fine, fine shindig at the Thirsty Bear.

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A couple of things are notable:

  • This is an incredible example of bottom-up creation of something significant. The idea behind BlogHer did not exist twelve months ago. It’s gone from concept to conference to community in just over a year.

  • This is not a walled garden. There are over sixty editors covering every topic imaginable…and they are sending readers out of the BlogHer site to individual blogs. Smart.
  • There are no ruts. For example, I know Toby Bloomberg best for her amazing work at DivaMarketing and our shared work over at the Corante Marketing Hub. Toby is an editor on the BlogHer network…covering Food and Drink.

A great idea, well executed. Nicely done.

NYTimes: RSS Is Like An Email Newsletter

A timely article in the travel section of today’s Times, entitled “There’s a Popular New Code for Deals: RSS,” (grab it before it rolls behind the registration wall) shows how travel company marketers are using RSS to supplement their existing email newsletter campaigns with RSS feeds.

The interesting thing about this article is that it introduces yet another metaphor for RSS : “it’s like an email newsletter.” (We were just talking about “better” metaphors for RSS here.) While this utterly trivializes the technical aspects and capabilities of the technology, it’s a neccesary step to enable “true” mass adoption of the technology. The intricacies can be explained later, when needed.

It’s certainly a better turn-of-phrase than “RSS is like an API for content,” which is another contender.

Their elevator pitch:

“[T]hose willing to spend a few minutes to create a personalized home page on Yahoo, MSN, Google or other sites now have a useful alternative. Recently, these sites began allowing consumers to populate their home pages with similar information they’d find in e-mail newsletters, with two added benefits: all the relevant information from multiple sites appears on one page, instead of multiple e-mails, and the information is often considerably fresher, with several updates a week – or even a day.

What’s more, the most recent information is there whenever you’re in the mood to check it, not when your e-mail tells you to.”

Read the Times article if you have the time to do so. After the headline, it has to invest seven paragraphs of background before being able to make first reference of “RSS.” That’s way too long. We need to keep making this easier, and this characterization is a good start.

The Social Customer Manifesto Podcast 27JAN2006

click here to subscribe

Summary: Leif Chastaine and Christopher Carfi discuss the American Marketing Association’s “Ahead of the Curve” session in Chicago, the marketing challenge for RSS, Salesforce.com taunts and tempts Siebel employees, launch of the “Healing Space” health and environment blog, and this week’s RIM/BlackBerry Supreme Court decision. (33:32)

Show notes for January 27, 2006

The audio file is available here (MP3, 32MB), or subscribe to our RSS feed to automatically have future shows downloaded to your MP3 player.

00:00 : Intro

01:10 : Recap of the AMA’s Ahead of the Curve session: High Tech Trends in Marketing

02:40 : What is RSS?

Metaphors:
Google search for RSS metaphors (n.b. and yes, actually these are “similes” and not “metaphors,” we know, we know…)

“RSS is like an API for content”
“RSS is like selling dogfood over the internet”
“RSS is like Tivo for the web”
“Explaining RSS is like explaining sex. You just don’t get it until you do it.” (also here)
Dave Winer

11:45 : Salesforce.com to Siebel employees: “No Future

19:30 : Healing Space health, wellness and environment blog launched

25:15 : Supremes won’t intervene in RIM BlackBerry / NTP dispute

33:50 : Wrapup

Links:

Bill Flitter, Stowe Boyd, Randy Moss, Michael Sevilla, TheCradle, Salesforce.com, Siebel, Paul Greenberg, Todd Pesek, EarthHealers, Naturaleza Foundation, eco-tourism, Craig Williams, Howard Bashman, Research in Motion, BlackBerry, Ross Mayfield, Davos, BlackBerries a matter of national security

Business Blogging At IBM

Julie Alterio at The Journal News has a decent article up on the scope of blogging initiatives within Big Blue and other organizations. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM’s VP of technical strategy and innovation is quoted as saying:

“We absolutely recognize that blogging, just like the Internet, World Wide Web, Linux and open source, is a major initiative in the marketplace that we should be part of. This best way to be part of it is not to observe it passively but to do it actively.”

Sound advice.

And, although the article is primarily about the view on business blogging from within IBM and other large companies, Dave Sifry gets into the act as well. And NAILS his line. Way to go, Dave…

“In the world of the Internet, you don’t own your brand. Your customers and your users own your brand. You’re lucky if you get to shepherd it.”

Firsthand Blogging Accounts Of Healing and Conservation, Live From The Rainforest

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My amigo Dr. Todd Pesek has just set up his new blog, Healing Space. His first post is here.

Denise and I have been helping him get it set up and launched. It’s kinda like what Hugh did with English Cut, but in the rainforest.

If you’re interested in health or conservation, Todd is someone who should be on your radar. Got his M.D. from the the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Founded his company Earth Healers to do eco-learning tours and to find ways to bridge the gap between standard “Western” healing and things that have been learned by indigenous cultures over the past few millenia. Is a director of the Naturaleza Foundation, which concentrates on global health/wellness, sustainable agriculture, education and cultural awareness. And is, in general, a helluva guy.

He’s also a listener and a learner. (At the risk of gross generalization, I’ve known plenty of people with similar credentials who were certain they knew it all, regardless of the topic…just ask ‘em! Todd is not one of those people.) As such, when we were setting up his blog, he wanted to be certain that he would be able to engage in conversation with folks who came to the site via his comments.

I assured him that the blogosphere was not shy.

So, anyone up for going on a learning trip to Machu Picchu? Getting on a plane to Belize to find out firsthand about surviving in the jungle? Going on a biodiversity retreat in Guatemala? If so, give Todd a shout.

(Subscribed. His RSS feed is here: Healing Space.)

Salesforce.com’s Latest PsyOp Against Siebel

“To seduce the enemies soldiers from their allegiance and encourage them to surrender is of special service, for an adversary is more hurt by desertion than by slaughter.”Vegetius, ca. 390 A.D.

It appears that Marc Benioff and his minions are up to their new/old tricks, this time in San Mateo, CA. Through utter and sheer coincidence, I happened to be driving through the intersection in front of Siebel’s offices today, and what do I see? Not one, but TWO Salesforce.com billboard trucks circling the building on two-minute intervals (it’s not a very big block).

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The text on the trucks reads (click the pics to enlarge):

Suffering from post-acquisition syndrome?

[circle-slash through “FUTURE”]

Change your future.

http://www.salesforce.com/myfuture

(This harkens back to SFDC’s “picketing” of past Siebel events, and Benioff’s continued unhealthy fascination with both Tom Siebel and Larry Ellison.)

On one hand, this kind of stuff evokes a chuckle. On the other, Paul Greenberg had two great posts on this type of behavior that is increasingly endemic in the industry. The money quotes:

“Its time to stop this crap now – at least with me. I truly don’t care if you have some gloating piece of information on “you’re better than they are because they suck at this.”

I think that its about time for the On Demand crowd to recognize they are a major force in the business world now and they have to act like it.

Or maybe they are acting like it.

All I know is that I find the “tactic” of demeaning ones opponent rather than competing on the merits and value of the applications or services or products to the customer dismaying and disgusting.” – from here

and

“I’m going to reiterate something I’ve said before. The On Demand world needs to stop this ADD [“Attack, Demean, Degrade”] offensive. It is deeply offensive because it is just so damned childish.

What makes this dangerous is that On Demand will be the dominant force in CRM without a doubt very soon and will be the dominant platform for the customer experience over the next few years. Do you want your customer’s experience run by an industry that loves to spit bile?” – from here

Louis Columbus also chimes in with a gem: “Denigrating competitors is a sign that companies doing the slamming don’t really and truly have enough faith in their own applications to sell on the value they deliver. Taking the low road of celebrating a competitor’s misfortune makes you wonder how a company feels about valuable, yet sometimes difficult customers pushing the limits of applications and services…”

Despite the brief amusements they provide, “vendor sports” (a term I believe Doc Searls coined, more refs here) really do, ultimately, hurt the customer. Why? Because the combatants are investing their time, energy and creativity in tasks that ultimate are nothing more than the Silicon Valley equivalent of chest-thumping and locker-room comparisons instead of focusing their scarce resources on the things that improve the customer experience.

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A Lifehack For Those Who Fly On Southwest Airlines

Heh.

As I was getting ready to take the El to the airport today, I realized that I had a problem. Since I was flying on Southwest, the earlier the check-in the better, as a result of their “Group A-B-C” boarding policy. Yet, I was in my hotel room and did not have a printer…although I could check-in online, I wouldn’t be able to print my boarding pass, effectively putting me in a Catch-22.

If I didn’t check-in before I left the hotel, I’d be destined for a “Group C” boarding experience. But if I did check-in online, I wouldn’t have a boarding pass to get through security. What to do?

Then I remembered “the magic option” on the Southwest Airlines kiosks that I had seen when I had checked in for my outbound flight. That magic option? “Reprint Boarding Pass.” (I had actually needed to use this option when checking in for my outbound flight, as the first boarding pass had jammed coming out of the printer and had been ripped to ribbons in the process.)

Here’s how this little trick works:

1) Before leaving the hotel (or even the night before), go online and check-in for the flight. The southwest.com site checks you in. Then your browser shows your boarding pass, and puts you in the “group” you’re qualified for by virtue of checking in early. After you’re checked in, close your browser window. (In normal circumstances, such as at home or at the office, you’d actually print this out.)

2) Go to the airport

3) Find the nearest Southwest kiosk

4) Put in your ID, and up comes your reservation.

5) Press “reprint boarding pass” (in the lower right-hand corner) and retrieve your reward for being just a little more wily than the average bear.

6) Voila! “Group A” check-ins, nearly every time!

Live From The Gleacher Center

In the session at Ahead of the Curve.

Stowe just finished up a great overview on blogs, blogging and podcasting, and now Bill Flitter is just finishing his presentation. The big take-away for me … RSS is still too complex. It’s too complex to explain … too complex to subscribe … too complex to “show” what an RSS feed is … too complex to communicate how and why it matters.

Once we get beyond the early-adopter crowd, what are the capabilities and metaphors that are needed to enable RSS to become so ubiquitous that we don’t need to go through the nitty-gritty details? (In other words…I don’t want to know how the internal combustion engine operates, I just want to reliably get to my destination.) Back in August, 2005, Chris Selland wrote:

“RSS is still very much the realm of early adopters (which is why only early-adopter-focused companies like Audible, Woot and HDNet are using it). But as RSS readers become more powerful and more ubiquitous – and particularly as they become more closely entwined with e-mail applications – expect the use of RSS to dramatically accelerate – much of it at the expense of e-mail.”

This is still on-target.

Randy Moss is now up presenting the first part of the social networking discussion, and talking about directed apophenia, and leading into a group exercise. Everyone in the room is up at the front of the room, showing their connections to the others in the room, via past experiences, hobbies, hometowns, schools, products/brands they are passionate about, and the like. (By the way, Randy’s book recommendation of the day: The Hidden Power of Social Networks by Rob Cross.)

A social network visualization exercise at the Chicago AMA (American Marketing Association) meeting

Randy: “It’s critical for organizations to host communities. If a company does this, they’re the good guy, they are the one who is providing the network for individuals to connect.” (bravo!)

Michael Sevilla from Umbria is now presenting a state of the blogosphere preso. Now moving into a discussion of promoters and detractors, and is highlighting the Qwest’s Terms of Service flap. (Michael was affected by it.)

VERY interesting. Now going through things that one can do with OpinMind. For example, blog sentiment of Microsoft and Apple. (N.B. Kind of a neat tool, but it does not seem to have a deep listing of sources. Hopefully it’ll grow more over time.)

fin

(top photo: UChicago)