Thursday, April 06, 2006

At least they were honest...

Many, many things to talk about this week, but I only have a minute since I have to leave for Boston in 6 hours. This article on CNN about the Muslims protest over the launch of Playboy in Jakarta is a telling tale of the deep value conflict between the our different perspectives. Many of the hardliners, such as those from the Islamic Defenders Front, are still protesting and threatening violence even after the magazine debuted with much tamer content than is displayed in the local tabloids and other magazines daily.

As reported by CNN
group spokesman Tubagus Muhamad Sidik. [said] "Even if it had no pictures of women in it, we would still protest it because of the name."
Trouble is this is the same problem that we have between our use of different names for the power/being in whom we faithfully believe - for the entity that proves there is meaning and purpose in this life, a reason for being and a reason for all things. The belief that someone is in control, it is of course the word I believe in who is in control. For you disobeying the one I give this name to, you will be punished - I will punish you. We fight over the many different names we have for the same idea, in this case, the blind faith in a higher power we call God, Muhammed, Jesus, Abraham, Yahweh or even within new age circles, "The Light".

I obviously disagree with people who take to violence in light of calling the same thing a different name, but at least he is honest, which means there is just the sliver of hope that we can learn to get along with one another not only in spite of our differences, but because of them. We really need to get past that sort of reaction to the things we dont have in common and see that the people around us are all people - the ones in the ivory towers and the ones in the streets. Respect of our fellow man and a love for them just 'because' they are people, regardless of their beliefs, their looks or their station in life is the real shift we need to make to energize our society.

What we give to others, we get in return. Give a peaceful smile, share it with everyone. See what happens as the world lights up around you.

On a lighter note, this is very much similar to some of the disagreement around calling the new new, Web 2.0 and the meaning of Marketing going on over at Burning Bird, where I have more to add tomorrow...

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Chevy Embraces Creatives: watch out for those sharp teeth!

Tara has a great article on Chevy's 'create a commercial contest' for the Tahoe brand of ubersized SUV's that serve little purpose other than to take over the role that Jaguar once did for those with fears of inadequate equipment. The story is a must read for everyone, as is watching the actual user created commercials which are over on news.com

On top of it all, her post contains all the right elements of an exceptional blog post that people can look to as a case study.

1. It is informative - she told me something I did not see elsewhere
2. It is entertaining - she was clever with her delivery and the story itself is actually quite amusing
3. It is engaging - I wanted to share it with you and talk about it
4. It is educational - her advice for Chevy to embrace the vitriol rather than hide from it is spot on

In response to her earlier call for suggestions to rename "Pinko Marketing", I wish it could just be called "marketing", but that term has been tainted like a used car salesman in a loud suit. In a very real sense, she is really talking about "Cluetrain 2.0" through the lens of the Web 2.0 era. I don't honestly know what is wrong with simply referencing the original Cluetrain Manifesto, other than marketing the 'New' "New". Don't get me wrong, I respect Tara immensely for what she has done and she fully embodies the core principles of the Cluetrain in her blog and her work, but I am in the camp with those who don't think Pinko Marketing is the right phraseology for helping more people to "get it".

It feels a lot to me like the original statements Chris made about "Open Source World Domination" before he changed it to the more powerful "Liberation". I just don't see anything remotely "Pinko" about it, it feels more like "Real", "True", "Authentic", "Genuine" or "Honest" might be most appropriate. Steve Wrubel calls it "Open Source Marketing", which may be accurate, but is not simple or fun enough to catch on - or perhaps it is, we will have to wait and see.

This reminds me of what I have often told people about the 'marketing' of BrainJams - "If you mean to say that I am trying to reach those people who will get the most benefit from what we are doing, than yes, we are marketing. If you mean to say we are trying to sell our ideas to more people to just get better numbers, than no, we are not marketing." Unfortunately, for too many people, marketing has come to mean the latter, rather than the former. As I have been telling people through my work on "The Communications Strategy", the goal is not to get sales for the sake of sales (though this is what is still taught at most business schools). The real goal is to find customer's who can obtain the right value from what you are offering and deliver that value while creating a reasonable profit to sustain and grow the organization. The job of marketing is to identify the unique needs of those specific customers and be of service to those needs.

The bottom line is to understand that people are talking about what they are talking about and your company can't control the conversation any longer and you can't ignore what is being said when it is not favorable. Companies need to, as Pat Riley said in his book, "embrace the ugliness" and just deal with it head on. Either you take your stand in righteousness when others are misinforming the conversation, or admit you have a real problem and deal with it as Tara suggests.

With regards to Chevy, it will be interesting to see what there response is to this, and if any of the vaulted General Motors' Bloggers will respond. As of this moment, they are sticking with the contest.

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More on Web 2.0 Semantics

The other day I wrote a post on Web 2.0 as a state of mind, with it really being an attitude of openness that defines our era. Shelley Powers writes about this again in regards to Doc's thoughts on Business Morality. Since most blogs don't post trackbacks from Blogger (another reason to change platforms), I am cross posting my comment here.

While I still detest the phrase Web 2.0 myself, I feel forced to use it in order to converse with others about the nature of what is happening now and what is different about the emergent practices we are seeing. Shelly is right that there is no version of the web per se, and while the technology has evolved somewhat, I still think it has its place. The phrase Web 2.0 still represents the attitude of this new era as good as anything else I have heard thus far including what I have called it - The Open Web.

The difference that is really touched upon in Doc's post (though with terms I don't really like) is the nature of Open systems versus closed systems and human behaviour within those systems. Systems now really do put people at the core and these new systems are contextually aware of the individual's relationships with other people.

Yes it is still about communications as was the original promise of the Web being bantered about in 1994 after Mosaic's release. But today more then ever, it is about the ease with which we collaborate with one another within organizations and uniquely, in the commons. It is the spirit of openness that manifests itself as participation in services that allow us to more easily gaze into the collective consciousness that every so often gives rise to an insight from the collective wisdom.

For some the characteristics of the technology matter most, just as the numbers matter more to the accountants than the narrative does. For others like me, it is about the differences in human behaviour. The idea behind Web 2.0 is complex and changing and many people are still working to describe it from their own perspective. In the end though, I think Doc was right when he said "I think it's what we'll call the current bubble and the next crash".

Above all else, and regardless of the semantics, it is what we call the time we are living in today, no matter how much we like or dislike the term.


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Filling the Funnel - the shift that is fueling BrainJams

I had said I would put my BrainJams post here any longer and I meant it. Instead, I want to point out a pretty long piece I just posted there that really explains a big part of my thinking behind the transformation society is undergoing at this time. To put it simply, in the old competitive model of the world, people fought one another to "climb the ladder", in today's cooperative world, we are all helping one another to "fill the funnel."

Shortly after posting this to BrainJams, I visited Doc Searl's site and read about an idea that was posted over on O'Reilly's Radar that deals with this same subject from a slightly different angle, that of 'business morality'. Supported by our discussions on collaboration at the UC Berkeley BrainJams event, I think Doc is spot on with these ideas. I posted my comments on this over there, but I am really wondering if anyone has any better language to use for describing these loosely joined ideas that are the core of what is happening in our economy.

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See, US Airways does Suck

I don't want this blog to become a place that only complains about crappy customer service, but after reading this article about an annual survey on the airline industry, I wanted to share the bad news with you. While there were not major revelations in the survey, this particular nugget was satisfying at least, because it shows I am not alone in being treated poorly by them.
Southwest Airlines had the lowest rate of complaints, 0.18 per 100,000 passengers, while US Airways had the highest, 1.86.

JetBlue was of course the favorite (and I agree), but I was a little surprised to hear that AirTran was one notch ahead of Southwest. In the past, I have purposefully avoided AirTran, even when they were cheaper because I had thought they were not up to par. In the future, I will at least consider them, though my loyalty is now clearly to JetBlue, with American close behind because of my gold status and membership in their Admirals Club.

Unfortunately, this weekend I am flying US Airways for my Boston trip (actually America West planes). We need to be more budget conscious, and I had to use the $190 credit we had leftover from that little incident I wrote about back in November. I was grandfathered into gold status with them last year before our problems with them, so perhaps the experience won't be so bad after all.