Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Working Style

People have very different ways to work, and this is mine:

When going to college, I had to earn my living. I worked for some time in a bicycle shop as a mechanic, and I had to pedal 12 mile on a bike each morning to get there - and 12 miles back later.
We built bikes from scratch, custom made or custom mounted, and I did everything except soldering: tapping, furnishing with spokes, assembling, calibrating and testing.The garage had a metal roof, concrete floor and just an old oven for 2000 squarefeet to warm up in winter. It was fun, especially in spring and fall when there was no immediate danger of a heat stroke or freezing my toes off.

One day, I was working peacefully in my spot as my boss approached me and told me he would have to cut my pay if I would not be able to increase my working speed. I was very surprised as I could see my output compared to others, and it seemed more than ok. He got a bit into detail, told me I was not moving fast enough, stopping sometimes, and even sitting down for a moment while working on a lower bike part. You just don't do that in a garage.

So, I told him that my impression was very different, and I was actually much faster than others. Soon he offered me a small contest: He, being the main mechanic and owner of the store, would build a similar bicyle at the same time as me, and he would show me how much faster that could be done.

(Warm memories coming back right now :-)

We started. And he was going back and forth, doing things, grabbing parts, greasing, attaching them, and so on. I, on the other hand, read my list of parts, collected everything, unpacked, cleaned and prepared the parts, decided on an assemby order to attach them and then began to build the bicycle. I am sure it looked very slow. About 1 hour 45 minutes later I was done. I had a small coffee break to worm up my fingers, couldn't move them for the cold by that time), and then went back to work on a different bike.

2 hours and 30 minutes after we started, 45 minutes after me, my very surprised boss was done as well. We had a nice chat and (we are talking about an EXCELLENT boss here) I ended up not having a lower rate per hour but earning a bit more than before.

I kept on working hard and fast and planning and thinking tasks through first, and my boss and I were pretty happy with the outcome of this little competition.

Friday, September 25, 2009

missing part in Google Sidewiki (google toolbar)

There is huge potential in this, but I think there are essential features missing.

As a webmaster for several sites, I need the comments in a format to download. Guess, I have 1MM visitors on a page per month, and several hundreds of pages. Can I handle this and sort out reasonable requests or ideas to change? Only if I can get that somewhat different, i.e. in a google.doc spreadsheet or per api. Api is better for bigger companies, spreadsheet for smaller companies and non-techie private sites.

A bulleted list with certain criteria might be reasonable (trustworthy / usable / authentic / original content / etc...) as well as a search through comments.

Sorting the comments would be very helpful too, by verified / not verified user, by classification of the comment perhaps (criticism, praise, change request, enhancement, ...).

If this just stays as it is online now, I don't think it will be very helpful for improving user experience or customer experience via feedback. And commenting might be nice, but should we not try to improve?

in reference to: Google Sidewiki (view on Google Sidewiki)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thinking with type

I usually use my brain to think, so the book 'thinking with type' from Ellen Lupton caught my eye. After having finished the 'Smithsonian Book of Books' (Michael Olmert, Smithsonian) I was looking to deepen my knowledge on typography. My research soon pointed to this little treasure, and some Amazon reading list helped a great deal as well. This 2004 book has the subtitle 'A critical Guide for designers, writers, editors and students' and gives a brief, concise introduction into the fields of 'Letter', 'Text' and 'Grid' as the main design areas related to typography. As Lupton states it: "This is not a book about fonts. It is a book about how to use them."

'Letter' explains what makes a distinct font, talks about font families and print and screen fonts. 'Text' delves into kerning, tracking, spacing for print and web.
'Grid' talks about the relation from typo and text to the surface of pages or displays. The 'appendix' is a little compendium on what to do as designer, some common mistakes and traps editors and designers can fall into and 'Free Advice'.

The book includes graphics and examples on nearly every page, sometimes two, three pages in a row. They are always commented upon, exceptionally explained and put into context. Short explanations on the text pages are examplified with text showing various densities, spacing, grids, fonts, layouts.

There are several things about this books I find especially remarkable:
1. It is short and concise, being used to read on the web this is the way to address me.
2. This is the book that has the best connection from illustrations to copy (and I've seen a lot).
3. It is one of the very few books ranging from ancient rolls to modern screen typo and design, and I can support everything she says about web from my experience, spanning many webs in many countries.

This is an easy to read, fun and educational book. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Database Nation - The Death of Privacy in the 21st century

Yes, I know, this is not an especially new book, but after finishing reading it, I can only say: it is still worth reading it.

Some things regarding privacy and data security are quite surprising and scary at times, from data leaks and stolen credit card information to unwanted mails, surveillance camera on youtube or stolen identities. Simson Garfinkel explained in his book from year 2000 some background, shows in detail what can become out of that - some things became reality in the years from publication to now - and makes a very strong case for more privacy regulation and engaged customers and citizens.

Sure, I looked up what else he wrote (a lot similar stuff) and what he is doing now (his page) and I just love his RFID Bill of Rights (PDF) and his very similar Smart Card Holder Bill of Rights (PDF).

I think he actually missed one important point. Some of the things happening right now with data collection and publication of relationships, believes, pictures and statements. I am sure, some of the uses violate current law like discrimination based on gender, race or age. Still, this will be very hard to prove, if ever possible, and question is, if this can be prevented or limited by regulation or oversight.

And there is so much more to come. Just combine that someone tagged you on facebook and Google's face recognition program in the image search. If someone would look for andreas.wpv in the google image search, they might check if there is a picture on facebook, and then search similar pictures on the net... and a very complete profile might be build around that picture. If a company includes own data from surveillance cameras, they might actually see if I visited certain places and so on - convenient with a combined search with and the internal google search appliance. And this is not under my control at all.

Where does this lead us to? I think, the most important question is not if this is good or bad, but if this is the same for everyone, or if there are groups excluded. Another important question is, who can use this data to what purpose, and who can control or oversee that.
Can contracts for insurances be modified, based on what pictures show on the net? Dangerous sports, smoking, body type are indicators which might be useful to change risk assessments. Political statements might be used to see a 'non-fit' for an employment. And I can see the case for all this, but still we need to discuss publicly - IMHO - if we want this and how much of it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wave might become the outlook and exchange killer, portal challenge

Google announced the communication platform wave. According to this article from Cnet, Google will open up the possibility to run servers decentrally. A company could actually run a wave server inside a firewall and connect to the 'wavenet' of google (or not).
(Did I just coin the term 'wavenet'? Will this article be cited in coming centuries?-)

Now let me just run some ideas on this post to imagine what could happen:

This wave might wash the exchange - outlook combination away
With the internal combination wave client and wave server a company or organization could substitute exchange servers and outlook, internal blogging, social media tools and Microsoft office or other office packages. Integrating Gmail, google docs and a social media and microblogging with their performance, ease of use and online and offline integration will give Microsoft a hard time. The integration of docs and sites is nice already, picasa might become part of the set too. What else do you need for 80% of what you are doing? Just some special applications for geeks like me, but they might become integrated too, so it is easier to share.

Microsoft is still just reacting, not acting
IMHO, Microsoft is still lagging years behind with the integration, and although all single tools are much more powerful in many aspects, integration and collaboration are not easy. The two aces Microsoft owns, the power of the applications and that users privacy and copyright seem better protected, are not played in this game or don't weigh enough.

How about financing? Will company waves be part of ad-networks?
I am curious if the internal wave servers will be free for use, if companies agree to be part of the Ad- network. This would be very interesting for B2C, but an even bigger leap for B2B.

Some interesting uses popping up in my head, how about advertising for a restaurant close to the location, car insurance with a price reduction, or - not very nice - job ads at a competitors wave.

Next step - enterprise employee portal software washed away by Google wave
Just combine the wave server with an internal Google search server, add a nice API library to integrate some company specific information easily and wave will become a portal software killer too, at least in companies up to a certain size, which cannot afford the classical tools or their implementation.

And the possible scenarios become even more impressive, when I imagine that a company builds a network of specific waves. Another interesting deveopment would be if a company starts a wave at a higher hierarchy level and builds a network with connected companies like carmaker, parts manufacturer, unions, car dealerships and so on.

Datamining next level with Google wave
How about diving? Diving could be some datamining on waves. Compare posts on various platforms. Depict communicating patterns and locate communicative hubs with 'the magic wheel'. Endless.

And what will people make out of wave?
Messages or viruses riding on the wave? People surfing a wave instead of tweeting? Does dropping a message become a new meaning?

Monday, May 18, 2009

News and media sector likely to shrink and focus

TV, radio, newspapers, all need to go digital to compensate for advertisement revenue losses. And all will try to be a dominant player national, local or in a topic.
Folks, that might get tight in some spots! I see quite some competition, with a lot of downsizing in many areas. I guess TV will loose most as they have the biggest revenues right now and prices are the opposite of online prices.

There is a good side for marketers, falling ad prices. And targeted marketing should become better then ever with a lot of truly specialized platforms.

Now we just need a platform so marketers can easily compare the offers of various platforms for
  • target group
  • reach
  • variety of contact points (aka media types involved)
  • covered topics
  • local targeting
  • advertisement rates
Yes, I know about x-media marketing platforms, but I have not seen the last point - prices of ads - in there. The closest to this from what I have seen comes Google with adsense, but especially the integration of various advertisement networks would be interesting. (If you are going to build this, let me help you market it!-)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

User friendly terms of service

There are good terms of service, and I think I can show you a good example. Why not use it as best practice?

Yes, I admit, I regularly take a look at the terms of service, and I have never regretted it. Some of them, like Facebook, are just unbelievable, outrageous.

Take a look at the terms of service for, especially Chapter 3:
"Yuku does not claim any ownership rights in any Content that you post to the Service. After posting your Content to the Service, you continue to retain all ownership rights in such Content, and you continue to have the right to use your Content in any way you choose. By posting any Content on or through the Service, you hereby grant to Yuku a limited license to use, modify, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce, and distribute such Content solely on and through the Service. Without this license, Yuku would be unable to provide the Service. The license you grant to Yuku is non-exclusive (meaning you are free to license your Content to anyone else in addition to Yuku), fully-paid and royalty-free (meaning that Yuku is not required to pay you for the use on the Service of the Content that you post), sublicensable (so that Yuku is able to use its affiliates and subcontractors such as Internet content delivery networks to provide the Service), and worldwide (because the Internet and the Service are global in reach). This license will terminate at the time you remove your Content from the Service. The license does not grant Yuku the right to sell your Content, nor does the license grant Yuku the right to distribute your Content outside of the Yuku and its sublicensees Services."

(May 11, 2009, bold for what they offer, and italics for explanation, both just examples of many more, highlighted by me.)

This seems completely just, fair, what they want, and it is even limited to the time you have your content up there. AND they really help understand it. And they add several contacts and even a legal contact on the very same page.

Where is the hook? I did not find one. I am not a lawyer (so please, if you really want to make sure, ask one), but as I read all of them, this is one of the best.

I am not giving away my privacy, my intellectually property or - as it sometimes feels, my life.
They offer to work with me - as a partner. This is how it should be. Thank you so much for a fair treatment. Thank you, and whoever is responsible for this.

(And no, I have no personal interest in yuku or any of its services except as a regular user since today, when I saw this first.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Information on social net and law, hiring

With internet, social net sites like linkedin and facebook, there are many legal things not clear when it comes to using them professionally. I wonder if someone could help me?

HR departments and hiring managers are more and more relying on online sources like facebook, linkedin, twitter and others, I can tell from my personal experience. Lets take a look at some scenarios.

1. Trapping HR.
Imagine, just imagine, someone has not such a superior education and experience as I do and has to make a work history up or modify it to get a job. So someone modifies their profile on linkedin. Do companies check what current or former employees write there? No. Do they send requests for changes? No. Do future employers check the data? Do they compare with the resume they get? I doubt they check details at least. Linkedin space is very limited, so a resume can never have all the details, and people leave out information all the time, so no one will even wonder about that. How much do you pay for a reference? A beer, being a neighbor or just being loveable? Are they any proof you’re really that good? I have my doubts. Is there any legal obligation to stick to the truth? I doubt. Even if it should be in the fine print of these platforms, people would just violate a contract, not a law. As most people are on facebook as private persons, the information they write about their persons would not fall under the regulations requiring non distorted or false information to customers - from companies.

2. Discrimination 101
You want some nice white guy in his early twenties, nice and open for shaping his mind? Easy. Just check facebook, filter out all other races, filter out old people, and the people openly not sharing your religion. Facebook does not show you? Well, search for it and find old yearbooks, look up addresses on maps to check out if they live in a neighborhood according to their income….Where does this go? I understand that the hunger for information of companies is huge. How is the legal situation? You cannot send a picture with an application because of discrimination laws, but HR personnel can check facebook to do the same?

3. False Identity
How do companies make sure they get information about the right person? My online trademark is andreas.wpv and I have reserved that in quite some places and platforms, but far from all. What if someone else uses the same acronym and is into something better not published while looking for a job? Sexual preferences, crimes, online and offline behavior could kick everyone out of an application if it is hefty enough for that job. I read about someone who has a brother whose name starts with the same letter – and has violated some law. Good luck with your jobsearch! Do HR departments use the necessary carefullness to not fall into these traps?

I think there are some scary scenarios - especially for hiring managers and companies. It might be very difficult to prove the discrimination, but there is a chance for lawsuites. And similar, hiring underqualified personnel can be very expensive.

P.S. I wrote this post last night pretty late, and this morning I found this here on twitter (author ecommercejobs) "TRUE OR FALSE: Companies CAN use candidate information gleaned from social networks to influence hiring decisions:". This link is highly interesting. The 'Amegy bank of Texas' nixes the use of social sites for their hiring process, according to this article, and they are thinking about the use of linkedin.

I am curious how this will affect social net sites in the future, lets say after the first lawsuites.

(Just to make sure, I try to be as honest as possible with my online data and prefer to publish as little as possible, because keeping everything up-to-date is already a lot of work and keeping up lies would be even more work - and I prefer to use my time for other things. )

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Data Visualization

Just finished reading “Envisioning Information, The visual Display of Quantitative Information”, from Edward Tufte (first edition I just realized, got to check the second edition!)

Tufte shows how information can be condensed, transformed, made visible.
From 3D environment to 2D picture, from n-dimensional arrays to 2 dimensional maps, envisioning the other dimensions becomes a crucial task for designers.

The book

It is a book full of wonderful maps and graphics showing different, unique ways to visualize data. The chapter titles are an indicator of the main categories:
  1. escaping flatland
  2. micro/macro readings
  3. layering and separation
  4. small multiples
  5. color and information
  6. narratives of space and time.
From complex train schedules from espionage to regular maps, from lists to dance pattern manuals, Tufte picked a wide variety to show what is possible in envisioning quantitative data.


I am missing some digital information, some more technical displays. How about oscillation, how about the interactive displays with mouse overs on the net or with flash? Might be difficult to show in a book, but this is a strong limitation. Would be great if there could be an "interactive 2 D envisioning" addendum on the net to this book.

Application in Web Analytics

Sure, I had quite some ideas how this could be used for web graphics and especially for the display of data in web analytics.

Just one example. Why not make a real map out of the sitemap?
  • map=sitemap
  • country=pages
  • rivers=paths
  • hight=pageviews
  • population=conversion
There are quite some analogies and it might be helpful to users to depict it in a pattern each of us learned to read in school. On top, it might give us insight into patterns we cannot see looking at plain 2D maps or data tables.

The book:

Tufte, Edward R., Envisioning Information, subtitle The visual Display of Qantitative Information, 1990. More details and some pictures from inside from the author.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Google Analytics (GA) Improvement Idea

One of the ultimate questions web analytics is supposed to answer is ‘what do I have to do to earn as much as possible with my site’, or close to that. This is a possible, viable outcome of e-commerce and shop analytics already. I have not seen or read about similar clear results for non-shopping sites.

Cause and Effect

For information, entertainment and brand sites the most important step is to simply (Hah!) connect what happens on the web with what happens on the site in a cause-effect relation.

Combine Calendar with Analytics Reports

So I asked our team to key in major site updates and PR releases into a Google calendar (many freelancers). Then, when checking the reports, we could compare these calendars with what happened on site and were able to connect some movements with a likely cause. Sometimes this was very clear, sometimes more vague. Especially on sites offering high value services or products where a direct connect from campaign to sales is not possible, there are many other things to factor in and from offer to contract can take more than half a year.

Still the calendars were a great way to start thinking about cause and effect. Just knowing, remembering what happened in a 300 project per year environment helped to distinguish between seasonal changes and campaign effects.

Google Analytics (GA) Improvement Idea

Now we just need GA to integrate that calendar into the GA view. As a first step, just a very plain view would be helpful like in the screen.

Later on, it might be great to be able to add some more data like budget or estimated traffic into the calendar, and get some calculations back with analytics. Best would be if GA could find connections between calendar events and site effects by itself!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Everyone is meeting

Don't you? Some weeks only leave one morning hour for the early bird and one very late hour to do some hands-down work. Meeting is important, but most meetings are not. Many do not have a clear purpose like presentation, mutual information, decision preparation, decision making. So we meet and meet and chit and chat and hurry from one to the next – but who is going to do the work?

Who then does the work?
Sometimes I just have to sit down and work, write, read, structure, whatever, and no meeting will help out of that, just the opposite.When do people prepare meetings, when do the follow up? If everyone is expecting someone else doing the work, then it just moves around without actually being done.

Some companies and people just have a bad meeting-gitis, I think.

Important meetings
And then again, some meetings are very important and helpful, and according to my line of business, sometimes there are quite some of them. The meetings I could - and actually do - spare are the meetings to keep a huge number of people up to date who are in a project. The communication flow and the process owners are not always clear, and then everyone tries to get information from anyone else. . . in meetings, killing the last of the information flow :-)

Meeting or not?
So I try to limit meetings and decide on this first:

  1. What needs to be done, information, discussion or decision?
  2. Who needs to be in this action?
  3. Is there a timeframe for decision, info, discussion?
  4. What is best for the personalities participating?
  5. What helps this action best, meeting, email, several 1 on 1’s?

Go to a meeting or not?
And for my attendance I just ask myself, if I need to
  • meet a person (relationship)
  • be seen (politics)
  • ask something
  • explain a position
or if I would be fine just going through the minutes (which I regularly do, they are a great tool for many reasons).

Here’s a nice book on meetings for the ones among you speaking some German: ‘Sitzungen erfolgreich managen, Meetings als Kommunikationsmittel und Management-Instrument richtig nutzen’, Herman Blom, Beltz 1999.

(BTW, I did some multi-party meeting moderation some years ago, and it really helps to know about how meetings work and the various roles people can take.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Twitter as marketing tool

Yes, I do use twitter, professionally and personally. My experience is positive, as with most other tools. Key is to know what it is good for, and whom you are targeting. The cost per referral per twitter usually is very high, so the right target group is extremely important.

  1. I think twitter is good for 1 to 1 marketing. As I am looking for a new job, I try to connect via Twitter, addresses are easier to find not as intrusive as an email, a little personal ticker. Though this can be kept up only for a limited time and very few people with all the other things to do.
  2. Another way is to automate twitter and to just push out latest news, prices, bargains, and have a huge audience listening to that. After all the stats I've seen, I am not impressed.
  3. Next reason to twitter would be to ride the hype, been known as someone using 'social'. This means on the other hand, objective is to minimize your efforts. One way to do that is using your PR person to post daily news snippets on twitter, although in bigger corps that might be difficult and still time consuming because they often need a release by product manager and legal.
  4. A very different way would be to compare your disti (double opt in!!!) with twitter and then bridge the time between newsletters with a tweet every now and then or to inform them on a launch of a site or parts.

I am very skeptical about a good ROI, and I think for most use cases there are better ways to connect. But as can be seen here, depending on target group and objective there are some success stories, and I am sure there are many other good ideas and successful projects out there.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The portal is dead? The portal is back!

The old public portals are dead or weaning. New portals are popping up with bigger user involvement – one of the main ingredients to success on the internet.

Remember the Netscape portal? What was its name again? See what is happening to Yahoo? So, public portals are pretty much dead.

But, what is a portal anyway? A collection of news, information on a variety of topics, information bits, usually collected and put together for a certain target group representing a part of the online population. Portals usually link to the full articles and offer ways to give feedback and very often a personalization.

Or, here a bit more glitzy portal overview and description.

Does this description fit the non enterprise portal too?

Mostly, yes. Check it out: or

They connect what is happening out there, sometimes focused like intel did with this very smart move to use the in reference to their corporate color and the overall association to blue chips, and sometimes more generic like popurls and kosmix.
Sometimes there is a search and a login, and the portals are going to some length about integrating open-id concepts to give access to associated content via SSO, single sign on. Remembering these are independent platforms it is amazing how far this has come, especially compared to how difficult this seems for enterprise portals.

There are mainly three categories of sites

  • Aggregators like,,,,, flickr,, twitter
  • News generators like wired, huffingtonpost and nytimes.
  • News aggregators are like or
And connecting all this, there are the new portals like and, collecting all this information in one place and then linking out to the origins. An interestingly big part of these are using statistics to find relevance on the social aggregator sites, showing what seems important in the online community.

The aggregators are one very new component of these new portals, they give personal expression a forum and add to their power by making them more prominent then they have been before.

So what is the effect on traffic of the new portals?

Getting to a top position in one of the aggregators can boost your visitor flow tremendously, I personally have seen small sites with 40% and more visitors coming in via ONE aggregator like digg or stumbleupon, even without being in a very prominent position in the respective aggregator.
With aggregators being this important, their power will be even more increased once a page makes it to one of the portals.
(Unfortunately there are no public user reports to be used to estimate the factor in quantity this makes, and let’s not guess today.)

Does it make a difference in opinion building?

Let us take a scientific stance: Getting information from several, best contradicting, sources is most valuable for building an independent opinion and informed decisions.

Collecting the most communicated news from a variety of sources then should balance views from specific user groups. Let’s assume lifehacker is mainly driven by techies and delicious by marketers or communicators. Theses aggregator sites are driven by the vocal public, the ones who have an opinion, who have a message to the world, are keen on to be seen active in the community out of whatever reason. Then, there are news sites like nytimes, huffington post, filled with content by journalists and hopefully backed up by research in the sense of scientific research (reproducible results). Wired is an interesting mix of professional technology journalism with highly opinionated statements, may be this is why they seem to be so popular.

The good...

So, over all there is a mix of a great variety of perspectives, news, opinions and topics on these sites, and from a political participation perspective this is very advanced and opens the chance not only to compare what made it into the official versus what made it into the in-official social news. It also opens the possibility to see a variety of perspective on the same topics and to gain a more balanced view.
From a user perspective it is very helpful, as instead of going to all the sites, a quick glance at these portals gives a good overview of what is happening online.

… and the bad ....

There are two flaws though, although they cannot be easily qualified or quantified.

First, a lot of people and a lot of target groups are left out of this information gathering and opinion building. How many percent of the populations are not online? How many of the online population have an account on one of the aggregators and use them regularly?

Second, the bias of these social networks, with that the bias of the opinion aggregators and by that the bias of these social portals seems to tilt heavily to the political left. Without taking a political position (this is not the place to lean to a party, I’d say) this gap is not helpful for getting a good overview. (Guess is, there is quite some overlap, but I don't know any reliable numbers here.)

...and the way out

Now I just need to figure out, how to build a portal page for myself, collecting the news like these portals do, but customized. Leaving out the noise I don’t want and adding the few resources I need additionally.

I am open for tips!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Does Facebook privacy and copyright disaster call for Microsoft counterstrike?

Privacy and copyright concerns skyrocket after the facebook privacy disaster made visible to everyone what is happening with terms and conditions, those huge long pages hardly anyone reads. The solution could be close – if only Microsoft would enhance Outlook (and IBM Lotus Notes) to a global communication platform where users can own and control all their data.

Need for a communication platform

Users want, perhaps need, to be everywhere: Twitter, Linkedin, facebook, live, Digg, reddit, plaxo, high5, stumble upon, you name it. People want to find and meet friends, colleagues, potential future employers, buddies and want to communicate easily. Contacts, calendar, mail, video, pictures and publishing are the main elements of a tool of choice.

All online platforms offer some of this ‘cross connecting’ already or are heading in that direction. GREAT, this really helps. They login to my email accounts and pull the data. Still ok. There are tools to publish across several platforms. Great. Calendar integration is on the way. So everything is fine, or not?

Privacy concerns and copyright disaster

Problem is, some, if not most platforms want to keep everything, analyse it, perhaps sell it or use it with other companies. Remember that facebook disaster? Use of my pictures, my mails forever? Use of the knowledge of my contacts and network forever? What happens, if Facebook fails or what if Google buys Twitter including all user data?

Proof is easy - just remember how often you can upload you contacts, and how rare it is that you can download them!

Does anyone want a possible employer to know everything about what they have done in private time? Just an easy example: Maybe someone is looking for a pharmacy marketer – and someone has marked something in stumble-upon saying this pill is bad, dangerous and there is a free alternative. Would they still hire that person? Or is it just a matter of time that this will find it’s way into the HR departments?

So what do we need? Requirements for a communication central

A tool needs to offer to:
• Maintain ownership and control over my address book and connections
• Maintain control of my own publications and posts
• To connect all mail accounts
• To connect all social networks, platforms, etc. and search for my contacts
• Connect people with other people, sort, group
• Post same content to different platforms
• Post different content to various platforms
• Get calendars and events for my calendar

Microsoft counterstrike? The basics

Take MS Outlook for a start. Using it for all mail accounts is easy. To integrate, group, separate contacts is good, too; not very handy, but manageable and completely in my ownership. Love that. A good calendar, some item tracking, some security features. Take the small business opportunity manager and there is a simple CRM tool to your use. Nice but solid basics.

Want more? Connect Outlook with ALL online platforms Bi-directional
1. First, please add connectors (Apis, tools, plugins) to connect with ALL online platforms, to check for existing contacts, to import and export contacts. (Don’t wait for others to do that, time is precious!)
2. Then add a way to integrate events from offline to online and vice versa.
3. Now add a tool to send messages to boards and platforms as well (like you had with the tool for publishing on news forums many years ago), and a way to keep track of that.
4. Then, give it a nice surface, to copy or move posts from one to another location per mouse. Drag and drop publishing.

Why not ‘new tweet’ or ‘new entry in facebook’ in the menu? Why not tweets as special kind of inbox message? Why not copy a picture from online platform to online platform via Outlook just per mouse click?
There is much more, but you get the idea.

Communication central with privacy control and content ownership

More then ever people are in need of a communication central, making the ever changing communication manageable. Online solutions may not be the best according to the terms and conditions with which they come often.
Microsoft – and a few others like IBM – have tools already, on which these platforms could easily be built. Please, don’t try to just copy what’s going on online, wake up and use your assets!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Some thoughts on semantic web

Found this interesting article about the semantic web:

Are you ready for the Semantic Web?
(From achieve market leadership)

Yes, I am!

And here is my estimate how things will change for marketers with the semantic web:

1. I believe content will still be king, perhaps even more than ever. Content to give answers to people’s searches and help them.
2. More than ever, focus on core competences will be important and relevant. Additional content will be the core competence of someone else and will be attached at the right spot automatically. May be for a semantic search engine one element to determine the right content and connections will be, if the content is in the core of the publishers authority.
3. We are on the way to prepare for the semantic web already with linking, tagging, connecting, blogging, and so on. These methods will - at least to some extent - most likely develop into the connectors we need to cluster the content.

(Same as over there, just fixed some typos)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Twitter Gadget for Blogger - watch it!

Wow. If I've seen that right there is a Twitter gadget I can include in this blog easily. And everyone can follow feeds here on the blog. Fine. Great.

And then, right under it, they smuggle in a small google ad into the gadget. Result is, I would include a Google Adword onto MY page and THEY make money out of it, perhaps even jeopardizing my own Adwords.

Bright idea for Twitter, nice for Google too - but I feel exploited.

Guess if I will use this 'generous offer'?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Social web favors Small Companies

Like Kevin points out in his excellent post 'small is winning' on his excellent blog, the way internet works right now it favors smaller companies. I agree to quite some extent, although brand can favor bigger companies quite some and this might be more important depending on product, brand and position in the sales funnel.

'Social web' does not help the big companies either, it favors small companies:
  1. Social web is expensive as it has very little reach per expense. External cost usually is not too bad, but internal effort is huge (think about your blogging time).
  2. There is no barrier hindering companies from entering this communication, means the investment to use social can be made by small companies too.
  3. The most likely affect is on brand receiption - but big companies have an established brand already. Small companies can brand themselves easily and inexpensive this way.

So SEO, social, Co-ops work in favor for smaller companies. Ads, brand, SEM work for bigger companies, as their performance is much stronger related to the budget accessible.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Twitter - learning by accident

Social web sites like twitter have something very spontaneous. You follow a bunch of people on twitter and every now and then there is something exciting, some news really helpful for you.

Learning by Accident
Let's ask for the ROI from a users perspective. How long do you have to follow tweets to get some really relevant translating in added value and not just satisfying your curiosity? Rarely. How much time can you spent to follow people over a longer time? How likely is it, that you see the relevant post right when you need it?

And even when you see something like that, it is never enough. At least a blog post, or one page on a site is necessary to really help, and the tweet has just a link.

How many hours of reading, sifting through feeds is necessary to find some gold? Would it not me more reasonable and goal oriented to do some research once a problem or question pops up?
Yes it is! Include twitter for sure, but following?

Yes, there are many uses for twitter
The other perspective, namely to use this to actively communicate is important, at least for some customer segments, I can see that. As I see the value of publishing rather than mailing information, no worries. And especially for building personas it is an invaluable resource of information.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ready - Set - Go

This is the blog to the web site It is the spontaneous part and the much less structured. Because of this, topics might occur in both locations, most likely referring to each other.
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