Showing posts with label Robert Scoble. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Scoble. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 21

Kindling The Future: Amazon Kindle


“What’s a record? A cassette tape?” — my son, 2007

“What’s a magazine stand? A dust cover?” — his son, 2037

It might look clunky at a glance, but it’s the first generation sneak peek of the future. And like most technological breakthroughs that shock the system, the Kindle, a pricey and apparently improved e-reader, is no exception.

There were 3,200 posts and counting, just yesterday, equally split between positive and negative opinion. There were 398 reviews on Amazon, delivering a divided 2.5 stars. And while Seattlest jumped with comments that included “I wouldn't use it if someone gave it to me for free,” Barnes & Noble saw its stock drop 5 percent.

All because of hyperbole before the first Kindle could ship. Yet, very few people even mentioned this fact. It was too late, with just one more example of how bloggers follow media. Social media chimes in on any story when it seems especially hot. If they don’t, their readers will be discovering new blogs, maybe better.

Here are some highlights that struck me yesterday.

"This is a disruptive approach, the sort of thing only a market leader could pull off. It changes the world in a serious way." — Seth Godin with the marketing perspective.

“It’s not going to revolutionize the industry overnight, though it sounds like Amazon is going to take this business seriously and continue to invest in it.” — Joseph Weisenthal with the tech perspective.

“Whether this will be the death of print concerns me less than if it will be yet another slow down in reading complete books -- the physical or digital kind,” — Valeria Maltoni with the human perspective (my favorite kind).

“That Jeremy is probably right. I’m excited about the new reader to be sure. But getting geeks like me excited by a new “shiny toy” is pretty easy. Getting a large market excited? That’s a LOT harder.” — Robert Scoble with the geek predictor perspective.

“So unless you live in a dark cave (without Wi-Fi) you know that the Gadget News of the Day was Amazon's release of its eBook reader called the Kindle.” — Danny Dumas, with the recap perspective, including Jose Fermoso’s roundup of eight more opinions.

Did anyone notice the media has already embraced this? They’re on the subscription list. It makes them relevant; expect many more articles ahead.

So there you go. Maybe it will be Kindle and maybe not. But there are truths inside the truth because this is playing out much like the iPhone. There was a split decision a few months back. A lot of people came out for and against it. It was all kind of silly.

But today, all that conversation is irrelevant because Apple sold 1.12 million iPhones last quarter, representing 27 percent of the smart phone market in the United States and 3 percent of the overall cell phone market.

Not bad for Apple’s first phone.

Unless there is a serious technological flaw, like charging you to put your own content on it (oh right, there is) you can expect the same with Kindle or the second generation reader that someone is already busy working on. But I don’t want to play guessing games. Instead, I’ll offer two observations.

The hyperbole is real.

Sometimes social media gives permission to craft a runaway opinion for the sake of having one. And there is nothing wrong with that. Opinions are like bottoms and everyone has one. In the age of glass bathrooms, full moons are not only invited, but some say they’re required.

The future is polar.

The Kindle aside, the technology behind it represents an opportunity to educate everyone on the planet (once there is a price point drop), giving them access to the best books ever written. And, it also represents an opportunity to enslave humankind by filtering future content and killing the last refuge of reader privacy at the same time.

“Cool,” some say. “How can I list my blog and get paid?”

Good night and good luck.

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Saturday, September 29

Nothing But Buzz: Hey! Nielsen


Hey! Nielsen, a new opinion-driven social network from the leading provider of television audience measurement and advertising information services worldwide, is in public beta. Beta is the operative word.

It’s not The Nielsen Company’s first foray into the Internet. It also has BlogPulse, which is an automated trend discovery system for blogs and powered by Nielsen BuzzMetrics. BlogPulse is not the most used Internet measure, but its trending tools are well conceived.

BlogPulse is the reason I had high hopes for Hey! Nielsen despite fan efforts to change the failing rating system. Instead, I’m not sure what to think.

“Hey! Nielsen is more than just a new idea in opinions and social networking: it's a way for you to influence the TV and movies you watch, the music you listen to, and more ... all while making a name for yourself,” says the Hey! Nielsen page.

Buzz Breakdown

Wow. Someone crisscrossed the objectives. How can you accurately gauge fan buzz on the Internet if you are dangling “fame” in front of the people scoring the system? It adds the same kind of superficial buzz measures that are overshadowing Web metrics. And, it all takes place in a walled garden approach that people like Joseph Smarr want to rip down via Plaxo. (The interview by Scoble convinced me to check Plaxo out.)

Did I mention “beta” is the operative word?

It took less than a day for fans to see what Hey! Nielsen really is — a social network that asks “users” (a word that is well past its prime) to pile into the school gymnasium and have a shouting match. Those with the biggest lungs win. And those with the most outrageous comments get the most attention.

Jericho Fans

My hat is off to Jericho fans for dominating the Hey! Nielsen site and making Jericho number one on Monday and Tuesday before all those Supernatural fans showed up and Jericho settled into second place. Firefly is third. Heroes finished fourth. Veronica Mars, which I wrote about last week, is holding its own.

Beta Pains

But the most telling result in television is that Facebook was tied with Ugly Betty for eleventh place until today. (I didn’t even know Facebook was on a network; I better pay more attention.) Linkedin, in television rankings, still holds at 60; and MySpace is ranked 40. Again, that’s in television; never mind Internet rankings.

Worse, Supernatural and Jericho fans were recently accused of spamming the system. Huh? It’s not the fans; it’s the system.

Hey! Nielsen also tries to influence the influencers on their blog with Steve Ciabattoni writing: "Thankfully, those fervent fans are also commenting and giving opinions on more than just one topic while they're here, which is exactly what we want: Deep profiles, and a deeper sense of who's out there -- and from your posts, we can tell that some of you are really out there!"

Did I mention “beta” is the operative word?

Hey! Conclusions

The Hey! Nielsen team has some pretty bright people working on it. So perhaps from beta testing a real measure of fandom might emerge from the mob rules chaos that currently exists. As it stands, not much can be determined. Hey! Nielsen even ranks second in Internet rankings (on its own system).

I was also surprised to find Copywrite, Ink. in the mix (although I might tank after this write up). Thanks for the faith!

So here’s the bottom line from an end consumer (because I am not a tech guy, which can sometimes be a good thing). Hey! Nielsen has a robust, extremely fluid interface with tremendous potential. Where it misses is in providing any sense of real measure beyond mob rules buzz. The widgets are pretty solid.

Personally, I think Hey! Nielsen would have been better off setting the topics up, linking in media critic and blogger reviews to those subjects (with the reviews subject to review), weaving in some of its BlogPulse trending technologies, and asking people to vote and comment on that. It would have gamed it a bit, but not nearly as much as it is being gamed now.

If any fan groups deserve some extra kudos, it’s Jericho and Firefly. I’m amazed that both fan bases, with one show in stasis and another long ended, have quickly rallied and dominate the site. If we’re talking influence, there it is.

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Wednesday, August 15

Savoring Originality: Social Media Patrons

Kerry Simon is not as well known as Wolfgang Puck or Emeril Lagasse. His restaurant at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, Simon Kitchen and Bar, will never boast a billion served like some fast food chains. And yet, you might find Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, George Clooney, or any number of other stars enjoying what he calls casual American.

Even more astounding, you don’t have to be a star to get great service and enjoy an atmosphere that is similar to the menu — causally gourmet with a twist of modern imagination.

On one visit, Simon even took my surprised son into the kitchen to make cotton candy (gratis). On another, after not visiting for months, one of the servers remembered our drinks.

The food is remarkable; the meatloaf (his mom’s recipe) is the best anywhere; and despite earning the title “celebrity chef,” Simon is as approachable as ever. Is it any wonder, after the restaurant My Way (yes, Paul Anka was a partner) closed years ago, that Simon Kitchen and Bar became my personal favorite in Las Vegas?

Social media, blogs specifically, are much the same way. They are like restaurants, an analogy that came about last week when Geoff Livingston (The Buzz Bin) and I were having an open weekly discussion at BlogStraightTalk about content vs. connections. He referenced Robert Scoble’s post that theorizes blogs are dying.

Scoble’s observation concludes that “my friends who blog are NOT A-Listers are seeing their traffic go down (although Scoble’s is down too) … I theorized that was due to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce’s rise.”

Last week, I ran an unscientific poll based on the analogy between restaurants and social media. Fifty-one self-selected respondents (mostly bloggers) revealed enough to hypothesize a new theory.

Considering only 16 percent included Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce as places they go most often, it seems possible that Scoble infused his personal preferences into his theory.

Much more likely, it seems that competition from new and increasingly savvy bloggers as well as content shifts among some established B-List blogs are the reason that some of Scoble’s “B-List” friends are seeing diminished traffic. I’m not surprised.

Increased Competition. People can only keep track of so many blogs so as A-List and established B-List bloggers become more entitled or formulaic, readers find new favorites. There are more new blogs than ever before and some of them, despite being new, are better than the established.

Content Shifts. Once some established B-List bloggers are accepted by A-Listers, there seems to be a propensity to shift their content toward A- and B-List coverage as opposed to new ideas. This is where the term social media “echo chamber” came from and it is not likely to go away anytime soon.

Limited Conversational Service. As bloggers become more established, many have a tendency to hang out in the back room more often (or spend more time as quick service restaurants trying to promote pass through traffic). They become too busy to answer comments, other posts, or make new associates because the weather seems fair.

Given these three points, is it any wonder that the vast majority of bloggers and people who read blogs (but do not blog) seem to be looking for up-and-coming Niche Restaurants (B-Listers/67%) and Undiscovered Back Alley Bistros (C-Listers/57%). Is it any wonder that almost half visit places like BlogCatalog.com, StumbleUpon, and YouTube (41%), all of which continue to see increased traffic, to find these non A-List establishments?

What does all this mean? It doesn’t mean blogs are dying. It means that it might take a little more magic than simply serving A-List leftovers or quick fixes in the form of 140 characters. Sure, Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce can be used to serve a purpose, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon your purpose.

If you want a great blog, make your own blog. Whereas companies and professionals are best served by using social media as the 5-in-1 tool to help meet specific strategic objectives (we can help too); independent bloggers might liken it to opening a new niche eatery as original as any chef opening a new restaurant. If people like what’s on the menu, they’ll be back. And if they don’t come back, maybe it’s not because quick service is in fashion. Maybe it's your menu.

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Thursday, August 9

Rolodexing Disaster: Facebook

Ever since Robert Scoble declared Facebook the new Rolodex, everybody has been giving it ample attention. Forget the “bright shining object” syndrome that seems to have overtaken social media; when Scoble talks about Facebook and the end of e-mail, it reads like social opium with no thought necessary.

Well, he’s wrong. Facebook will never be the new Rolodex and e-mail is here to stay. Why’s that? Two words: Harry Joiner.

Joiner is a leading e-commerce recruiter who writes the popular Marketing Headhunter blog. He used the Facebook UI to “slurp up” contacts in his Gmail address book (all 4,600 names) and then sent them all Facebook invitations (much like similar platforms). He was banned for it without warning.

Plenty of people have weighed in while I’ve danced around the issue for a few days. Marketing Headhunter has captured most of those comments right here. So, there isn’t much more to rehash, except one thing.

Since Joiner is not allowed on Facebook, what good is Facebook to me if he happens to be in my Rolodex, electronic or otherwise?

Do I keep a second Rolodex just for Joiner and anyone else who happens to be banned without warning? Or what if I trust Facebook to be my new Rolodex and they decide to ban me? All my contacts will be lost, gone, stolen away?

Look, there really isn’t anything wrong with trying out the newest shiny object in social media. (I only do it out of self-defense because some clients have questions after Scoble and company make outrageous claims.) However, all of this reminds me of the stock market in the 1980s. Every stock seemed hot because the economy was hot. A few years later, we quickly learned that not all hot stocks had value. Neither do all bright shiny objects.

Maybe it’s time for boiler room shiny object brokers to have a reality check before they cause a bust.

The truth is that most (not all) social media folks only talk up the services they excel at because it makes them feel good to be on the leading edge of something, anything, and everything. It is not prudent to trust one online service application with all your contact information nor is it prudent to attempt to gain a foothold in all them all. Most people (even business people who aren’t ignorant or whatever social media experts call them) are still learning their way around e-mail and Google let alone knowing anything about social media beyond MySpace teacher scandals. And, as much as Scoble has something to lend, sometimes he cannot see the forest for his focus is on the trees.

As for Facebook, there is nothing wrong with it when it works as a social network in the fast-growing bubble of all social networks. But it seems to me that there is something wrong with it in its terms of service, enforcement policy, and its inability to see that it has created a minor crisis that will continue to grow as more members are banned without reasonable explanation. My Rolodex? I think not. Another tool? Maybe.

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Monday, August 6

Dining Out: Recipes For Social Media Success

After eating a late lunch at Claim Jumper yesterday, neither my son nor I felt all that well. As a former dining reviewer, it wasn’t hard for me to figure out that the food had waited too long on the hot plate before service; the same experience two other guests complained about before departing in a huff.

Social media can make you feel the same way sometimes. Undercooked entrees, poor service, or unrestrained comments leave you wondering why you dropped by to sample the menu (if there is one).

After following a link to Robert Scoble talking about the death of blogging (hat tip to Geoff Livingston’s take on content vs. contacts at BlogStraightTalk), I felt like I did after eating at Claim Jumper.

Sure, I like Scoble’s blog, but lately he seems to be serving up a different dish than what attracted me to begin with. And he hasn't been all that kind to some patrons either. As a “celebrity chef” of blogging, he might know better.

Rather than berate the point, maybe it would be more useful to remind everyone that like restaurants, there are several different culinary styles to social media. Whether you want it served up like fast food (social networks), hole-in-the-wall (undiscovered C-listers), established favorites (B-listers) or something gourmet (A-listers, while they are A-listers anyway), you can always find what you are looking for (and some days you want one more than the other).

But regardless of what kind of blog you have (ancient wisdom, tech and trendy, or fast and frenzied), the best bloggers, no matter what list they are supposedly on, always underpin what they have with some common sense. I could list a hundred or so who do it right. But rather than do that, I’ll share what Julian Serrano, executive chef at Picasso (Bellagio Hotel and Casino), and David Renna, then general manager at Renoir (The Mirage Hotel and Casino) shared with me when their experiences became the first Las Vegas restaurants to earn Mobil Travel Guide’s prestigious five star rating.

Julian Serrano, Picasso (2000)
1. Everyone must work hard and work together as a team. Everyone must think the same.
2. Everything must work together—the service, d├ęcor, and location—in order to give guests the best gastronomic experience possible.
3. You must have the best quality produce and products available. Nothing less will do.
4. Make each guest feel special and important.
5. You must provide good service, good food, and a good overall dining experience.

David Renna, Renoir (2000)
1. Surround yourself and your staff with the most talented people available.
2. You must have commitment from every member of the staff, whether it be the chef, waiter, steward or manager.
3. While it can often be a difficult and expensive task, producing the finest ingredients and wines from around the world makes a tremendous difference in the overall presentation and experience.
4. Service must be professional, and above all, personalized.
5. Every evening, every table, every guests. Create a seamless and hopefully flawless dining experience.

Now that is five-star dining (no wonder why I sometimes miss the assignments). And, not surprisingly, it also happens to be the recipe for social media success — surround yourself with talented contacts, make sure everything is working together, always provide the freshest ingredients, infuse some original content and ideas from around the world, and personalize the experience for guests as much as possible.

It seems to work. So much so that just like most restaurants, the ability to stay on top wth five stars (regardless of seating capacity) has a lot to do with serving substance over flash in the pan.

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