Response #3: If your pants on are fire, being a liar becomes less important.

This week we are going to study Threadless.

Don’t know what this is?

You’re probably one of, hmm, maybe 11 people in your zip code who aren’t yet sniffing the glue this company is making.

Get on that, Elmer.

First, some background: check out this great article from 2006 (gasp! aging like Coke Zero!) on 7 reasons why Threadless rules.

(*Note- I cannot garner praise and acclaim for the phenomenal title to this post. Killertoothbrush, aka Leuke, can.)

*Note- this blog doesn't condone lying. It does however, appreciate the humorous application of stating the obvious.

Threadless. Actually, more threads. Here’s how it works: 1) you come up with a great idea. (I’m contemplating the glue sniffing reference, or “we knew Jason Campbell pre Donovan.” 2) You submit it to the threadless team. 3) The “community” (see weekly post #7) then votes on the design. 4) Should your design be selected for print, you receive $2k in cash, and a signficant amount of bragging rights.

Per the article, Threadless is a beautiful business model, in my opinion. And the essence of entrepreneurship, somewhat edited. There are two main ideas that I think are most important (so if you didn’t read the above, here, CHECK OUT THESE CLIFF NOTES)

1.) It’s playful.

Come on, when was the last time you logged onto crateandbarrel.com or bankofamerica.com or even a clothing retail site like Neiman Marcus. Not too much “playful” activity going on here- mostly straight forward, purposeful shopping. Threadless is kinda like a puppy that never grows up- it just maintains it’s enthusiam.

2.) It’s Quality and DIY.

Again, to the consummate entrepreneur, this is SOP, but for a t-shirt website, their product quality gets high marks. And, it’s do-it-yourself. No deadlines or time crunching. Feel like submitting? Go for it. Not this week? No big deal.

More to follow, but for now, I’m still putting off the knitting adventure. These threads are way cooler.

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Weekly #8: Are you building a football team or a strip club?

Here’s the whole point of this class- in each class we’re going to take something that you think you know about and blow it to pieces and show you what it’s really about.”

That’s how last class started.

I’d argue, that’s how I’ve felt after each class this semester, as well.

Care to know about the rise of crowd sourcing?  Check the definition here. But, basically, it’s taking something normally done internally and opening it up to the world. Small risk: you don’t know how people will participate or who will participate or what the task will become.

Remember outsourcing? Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003. The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D. We often think of crowd sourcing as “free labor” – if we crowd source everything, we won’t have to do anything.What’s at the heart of crowd souring is that you’re not just looking for labor, you’re looking for wisdom.

So, what defines a crowd?

A group of people united by space- where people are brought together and defined by common purpose or set of emotions. This undefined group prior to that event, and then disperses. We don’t care who’s in or why, and it’s the sense of interpersonal isolation that unites the crowd.

For example, a riot or a political rally come together for an expressed task and disperse afterwards with no lasting effect.

There are big short comings to a crowd: including isolation and the “elevator” feeling- don’t care who’s on here, just get me to my floor so I can get off of it. Kind of like Amish Barn raising – come together once a year and build a barn. Hard to assemble repeat crowds

As Paul Harvey would say, “And now, for the rest of the story…”

Analogy: football teams and strip clubs.

Sorry Jason, time to roll.

A shout out to Jason Campbell. Tear.

(It’s rated PG. Promise.)

Teams grow together because they have a vested interest improving each other’s abilities. Contrast this with a strip club, where there is little incentive to get better at their task, in fact helping someone else can negatively impact you (um, less “sales” let’s say).

A football team is not a crowd, it’s a community. Strip club is a crowd- the “workers” come together, but there is no sense of community or reason to come back again. A group that comes together for a shared purpose is a community.  As with the Shirky example, using the stolen sidekick example- this is a crowd, not a community.

What’s a community? A sustainable, organic, adaptive group.

We talked about Meridian 59 as great example of a community- the community cares so much, that they have outlived the brand- the game doesn’t exist anymore. Selena is a great celebrity example, more popular after her death than before- their community is even stronger

So…..

The question: Which does your brand impact crowds or communities?

The point: Wikipedia is both of these at once.

The caveat (and/or “big idea”): The idea of having a culture that honors requests for corrections (this is what gets Wikipedia out of lawsuits) the whole point of Wikipedia is that it’s editable; therefore you have not just the ability but concurrently, the responsibility to fix the content.

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Response #2: “Truthiness” and YouTube

Loose change… I’m not sure how I’ve missed this for the past 10 years or so, but it’s deserving of an hour and 20 minutes of your time.

In my opinion, it’s hard not to watch and question everything about 9/11.

Technically for responses blogging, the assignment is to further articulate thoughts on articles posted on our delicious feed. And, respectfully, there are some great articles that are in our feed.

But, I’m not going to do that.

This video has my utmost attention, so I’m going to expand here.

During the terror attacks of September 11, I was a senior in highschool. My highschool, mere long blocks from the Pentagon, as were many other government and non-government buildings during that week, was on lockdown mode for the rest of the day when the attacks occurred.

Watching that video brought back fleeting memories of sheer fear – in students, in teachers, in nuns and parents frantically trying to capture the sounds of their children’s voices via cell phone or physically scouring the school looking for them.

Here’s what struck me also: no one really paid attention to the “events.”

Follow me for a second:

You can probably remember what you wore that day (for me, uniforms makes it starch-ily simple to recall), or what kind of car you drove, what even was going on in your life around that time.

But, the fear and emotion of the day’s, week’s and month’s events – the human nature of the absurdity and outrage of the events- I argue made people less and less aware of the details of what actually happened.

Before I’m condemned or snubbed for guzzling the “loose change” kool-aide – ask yourself those above questions. And only if you’ve already watched the video- come on, that’s the premise.

(If you haven’t: stop reading. Go watch it. Mad Men is on re-runs, I promise.)

What’s amazing to me about this video is the application is serves not only as a social media tool, but an aggregate of news information that is arguably more potent in “real time” video format. Think you would have gotten the same level of digestion from a blog post or radio clip? Perhaps a filofax (they still exist) of news clippings? No. The video format is compelling- the author’s voice realistic and the music (aside from a DJ Skooly reference that made me question taste a touch) all in all, it’s impressive.

I’m not a magic bullet theorist, though I question the assassination of JFK thanks to 8th grade history class, but there are some details and points that are hard NOT to question. Who’s Marvin Bush, for one? How can all of the scientific evidence be questionable?

All I’m saying is question the truth, and count your change.

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Weekly #7: Wikipedia: To Trust or Not To Trust?

Trust. That’s a mighty big word.

It implies dedication, honesty, forthrightness, and commitment. Relationships are built on trust. Lack of trust shatters business transactions and friendships. Here’s how wikipedia defines “trust.

A recent article on read write web discusses wikipedia as a veritable (breaking) news source. The intro is what grabbed me:

Most any journalism professor, upon mention of Wikipedia, will immediately launch into a rant about how the massively collaborative online encyclopedia can’t be trusted. It can, you see, be edited and altered by absolutely anyone at any moment.

I buy it. Continue.

According to Moka Pantages, the communications officer for the WikiMedia Foundation,

“I absolutely believe Wikipedia is a good, trustworthy source for contextual news and information and should be used by everyone, including students, as a resource. When I was asked during the panel whether or not Wikipedia should be accepted as a source for college papers, it was my opinion that, just like any other encyclopedia, I don’t think it should be cited as a reference source. However, I do think it’s a great starting point for students to start their research and begin to understand the topic or issue they are writing about.”

Pantages made this comment at the global conference by event-media-festival-planning-company, South by Southwest last month, (note to self, get there one year) where this topic was discussed at length.

Part of my questioning lies in her last sentence- “I do think it’s a great starting point for students to start their research and begin to understand the topic or issue they are writing about.” I tend to agree, if not taken too literally (what 9th grader do you know that wouldn’t weave content that “sounds” appealing into a paper somewhere, for a better grade, without literally fact checking?)*

So, then the article continues, what about using Wikipedia for breaking news?

That’s another can of worms.

What’s “breaking news” today anyway? I argue with colleagues daily: CNN’s breaking news emails slant ever so often to the incredibly “non-breaking” in my opinion.

Pop Quiz.

(note to Garrett and Mike: NOT A FAN of such blatant and unexpected validities of knowledge)

Which of the following does CNN determine is breaking news (i.e. deserving of a text/email to all who’ve signed up to be notified that the world is coming to an end)

— President Obama signs landmark health care reform bill into law.

— Man accused of trying to blackmail David Letterman pleads guilty to attempted grand larceny, sentenced to 6 months jail.

— Toyota boss Akio Toyoda says he accepts House panel’s invitation to testify in Washington next Wednesday.

— Serena Williams defeats Justine Henin in three sets to win Australian Open title.

— Jay Leno going back to late nights after disappointing ratings for his prime-time show, NBC says.

Answer: All of the above.

Really? Because the financial impact and devastation to my weekly TV programming clearly necessitates an interrupter to my day.

Here’s my thinking- somewhat utilizing concepts we’ve learned so far this semester. The amount of trust that you place in one source is dependent upon how how credible you determine the impact of it’s message is to a community of which you’re a part. I would argue that your preferences dictate your selection order, and that many of the sources we use (not too far from what Pantages statement implied) are a beginning to an end, not the end itself. You build multiple sources and layers of information that help you build your case or knowledge base.

Which is more trustyworthy- wikipedia or an encyclopedia? I’d argue- they’re about the same. Foundation of research.

By the way, here’s what Stephen Colbert says truthiness is. Because there’s a trustworthy source.

Not too dissimilar to how you build trust, or a house (or even a really bad bank shot during which your bracketology falls to pieces): brick by brick.

* Note, I don’t know many 9th graders, but I do remember myself as one. Tag- Janelle calls her high-school-self out.

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Weekly #6: The only game I know is Hopscotch, and that’s in my first life

Once upon a time, the best thing to do when you go home from school in the afternoon was to RUN not walk to the nearest playground, neighbor’s house or basketball court and meet your friends for camaraderie and fun. The only real challenge was how to best maximize your time before dinner and homework with hitting the jungle gym or playing soccer in the street. Before the readings for this week, these were the only “games” I knew.

I had no idea what I was getting into.

Our topic this week was something I can say with 110% certainly I knew nothing about, and about which I am still quite ignorant. Games, gaming and the industry of these activities is about as foreign to me as calculus, and likely for the a similar reasons: I just don’t get it.

Nonetheless, I joined SecondLife. Arguably the largest internet gaming platform, withe more than 12 million paying users worldwide in 2010, clearly a few people are interested. However, for someone who hasn’t seen the remote control in nearly 3 months and couldn’t care less about the difference between Playstation, Wii or Xbox, I wasn’t very excited about this new foray into another source of distraction, in my opinion.

Janelle Cliassi, my pseudonym, a striking brunette, navigated her way through the “world” of second life. The system allows you to connect with friends, purchase property- you can own a second home, build a booming business or even fall in love. I checked out the lands of Nemo, Moose Bay and tried to understand the Linden currency of this strange world.

As you might have guessed after 15 minutes, I was not only dis-interested, but disturbed. This is just too bizzarre for me- I have enough domestic, financial, and friendship issues to deal with in “real life”- why in the WORLD would I need to start again?!

To be honest, in thinking about gaming, something struck me.  Back in February, (2010) Michelle Obama announced a new campaign, Let’s Move, aimed directly at fighting childhood obesity and getting children to eat better, exercise more and, bluntly- get moving. In this Second Life, there’s no room for the typical activities- such as getting outside, for one, that so many (children and adults) enjoy. No matter how many properties, friends or dollars you amass in second life, you’re still in front of a computer screen.

About 4-5 months ago, one of my best friends’ husbands took the day off for the release of a video game. Duty 3: Modern Warfare. This blew my mind. Staying home for a VIDEO game?! What I couldn’t understand was the substantial part of his life that this particular activity took.

Although it’s not for me, after researching and studying this week, it does seem that long gone are the simple days of hopscotch. The future of games and gaming, in my opinion, focus on the interactive, socially independent, and realistically-unrealistic forms of entertainment online. Avenues for advertising aside, I do hope that those 12 million people don’t forget to actually get out sometime.

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Weekly #5: Hey, can you google the difference between bing and google? Thanks.

What is this bing? All of a sudden, this ‘bing’ is pops up more frequently. Formerly known as Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search, Bing is the current search engine from Microsoft. Released in 2009, Bing has recently taken a larger presence, directly competing with ubiquitous, all-knowing Google.

One of the most discussed topics in The Search is the idea of the “Database of Intentions.” Sounds tricky. Really, it’s quite simple: Google has aggregated the results of EVERY search, EVER entered. All results from searches, and every option taken as a route from the query.

Let’s think about that for a second. In one day, let’s say a Thursday, how many times do you open google? Scratch that, let’s just do before lunch. Maybe 5-10 times, dependent on conferences calls and meeting schedules? Maybe you’re trying to find out the coolest happy hour spot, or figure out what’s going on this weekend, what cheap flights can get you out of here, or what movies make you want to stay in?

And that’s just you- one person, in one cube, in one office on a Thursday morning.

Imagine the archives of information, the aggregated data that can allow to be amassed. And Google’s not the only one doing it- Yahoo, AOL (or Aol, I guess) and MSN hold this massive about of data. This is a new form of history. Think about our kids and our kids’ kids looking through the Database of Intentions for information about our culture and patterns, instead of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Anthropology section.

So, which is better? Google or Bing? There’s a site where you can test your searches against each other, and see for yourself: www.bing-vs-google.com. I’ll let you make your own decisions, but I have to say: in my 10 test searches, I didn’t see too much of a difference in results, only layout. Bing prefers to give you a map result in many situations, but both engines provide images and how many results came up. Bing offers you a side tool bar with related searches that might peak your interest.

From a brand perspective, it’s arguable that at the rate Google gains speed, Bing will never catch up. Google’s massive amount of applications- who can live without google maps anymore? Has numerous applications, downloads and intel. Google is also the largest advertising agency in the world. It’s not my prediction that Bing, similar with Yahoo, for example, will continue to hold it’s own.

But, I do think as far as search engines go, the number 1 spot has been solidified. Google’s only competition: Google.

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Weekly #4: No Fishy Business Sweden, I want the facts

My life is chaos. Many times controlled, sometimes sporadic but consistently at 120mph, I tend to have my “aha” moments at extremely random times.

On 66, for example on the way to pick up my car from the dealership at 1130pm. For the second time in two weeks.

In my sweedish-engineered state of rage for the later part of a month (I don’t care Volvo, they’re not made like they used to be) especially on week nights between 10:30 and 11pm, when I realize I was going back to the dealership, again, I had a “moment.”

Here’s how it went. (I include the backstory, first.)

Earlier this week, as I’m sure many of you read on Monday morning’s with your latte in your cube, wondering why again, it’s Monday…there was an aritcle in the WSJ about the “Power of Print” – how Publishers of global magazines (henceforth, some would argue a decidedly dying breed) felt the recent uptick in advertising dollars and placements allows them to compete in the “Internet age”  and placed ads to comand attention to this cause.

(If repeat: if you haven’t read the article already, check it out.)

“The Internet is fleeting. Magazines are immersive,” says one ad, which is slated to appear in May issues of the participating publications. The first spread features a photo of swimmer Michael Phelps from ESPN The Magazine, with the headline “We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines.”

Really. The Internet is fleeting?

Like the 4th of July will one day not be a holiday? Or I’ll actually find a parking spot at Costco on the first nine tries round? Or, even better, Social Security will resurface one day?

Um, that’s a big NO inspector gadget.

As we’ve been reading in The Long Tail and Here Comes Everybody, the internet and social organizations happen. Whether we stand in the way, behind or scream from above, you can’t stop them. You can participate or you can go home.

Get to the “aha” Janelle, people are waiting.

Ok. Here’s the  reason I believe in social media. It provides you human relations and reactions that you can’t garner from typical sources. Por ejemplo, you see an ad in a magazine for a caterer. Great, food looks beautiful. But what if 9 times out of 10 that caterer has given people food poisoning? How would you know? Instant feedback and consumer ratings? Real experiences withough first hand comments? Sure you could call up past clients or get testimonials. But I would argue, it’s not un-biased.

The beauty of the online world is that everyone is an author- and you don’t have to pay to read it, post it, print it, or blog it. Even at 120mph, I’d rather have the “real” info, than calculated copy and creative that is not.

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