Language Is the Transit of Conversation

Some musings, fundamental stuff for most of you I imagine, but still, background on the noodling I continue to do around my shadow next book, over at the Amex site where I'm contributing some thoughts from time to time as part of an FM brokered marketing program. From it:…

Some musings, fundamental stuff for most of you I imagine, but still, background on the noodling I continue to do around my shadow next book, over at the Amex site where I’m contributing some thoughts from time to time as part of an FM brokered marketing program. From it:

At its core, the Web is a network of computers. As businesspeople, we’ve been in dialog with computers for some time now. But back in the 1960s and 1970s, computers were hulking machines meant for the back offices of Very Large Companies, not small businesses. These machines had a very particular interface – a command line into which you were required to type an arcane “computer language” to get anything done. The number of people who spoke this language were understandably low, and therefore, the number of people in the world who were having “conversations with machines” was also quite low.

In the 1980s, we all got “personal computers,” and thanks to the graphical user interface – “GUI” – millions of us starting talking with computers. But the conversation was hardly fluent. I call this the “hunt and poke” era of computing – we used a mouse to navigate a representational desktop; when we found something we wanted, we poked at it until it came alive for us. This gesticulative interface – not unlike what the wordless signals we employ while in a foreign land in need of the bathroom – is a step forward, but it sure doesn’t scale.

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Udi On Search

I've always been a fan of Udi Manber, late of Yahoo and Amazon, now at Google. Popular Mechanics has an interview up with him. From it: I’ve noticed, anecdotally, when watching people search, that they will rephrase their query over and over again until they get a proper answer….

I’ve always been a fan of Udi Manber, late of Yahoo and Amazon, now at Google. Popular Mechanics has an interview up with him. From it:

I’ve noticed, anecdotally, when watching people search, that they will rephrase their query over and over again until they get a proper answer. To what extent can that be fixed on the search engine side?

Many ways. First, we take that into account. The results we show you are based not only on what we know of the Web, but also what other people have searched for. Second, we are developing more tools to allow you to refine your queries—at the bottom of many pages, you’ll see query refinements. These are suggestions from us about what your next query should be. And we put it at the bottom because that’s where you run into problems—you tried to read the page, you didn’t find what you want, you may need other suggestions. Plus, we’re working on many other ways to help you with this process. [Search] is clearly a process.

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The Alive Web

I find this concept very interesting, and important as we move from our current navigation/UI to new forms. New Scientist's coverage: SITES that evolve as if they were living organisms are making their way onto the internet. This ability to adapt without human intervention allows sites to stay up…

I find this concept very interesting, and important as we move from our current navigation/UI to new forms. New Scientist’s coverage:

SITES that evolve as if they were living organisms are making their way onto the internet.

This ability to adapt without human intervention allows sites to stay up to date with changes in their users’ tastes and can result in designs that are more user-friendly than anything a human designer is likely to come up with. Evolving sites might also allow web designers to home in on the features that work best for users.

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Pre-Registration for FM’s Second CM Summit, This Time, In NYC! (Searchblog Readers Only)

Last September my company, FM, hosted the first ever Conversational Marketing Summit in San Francisco. I wrote about it here. The event was a hit – sold out, good buzz, great speakers and attendees. I was proud (and very nervous about hosting our first event). This year it's back,…

Cmsummitynyc

Last September my company, FM, hosted the first ever Conversational Marketing Summit in San Francisco. I wrote about it here. The event was a hit – sold out, good buzz, great speakers and attendees. I was proud (and very nervous about hosting our first event).

This year it’s back, and we’re doing it twice. First, in New York, the capital of brand marketing. That will be this June 9-10, as part of New York’s Internet Week (official site). Then we’ll do it again in SF this Fall – more on that event later.

But first, to our June event. If you read my rant on ad networks a few days ago, you know I’ve been thinking a lot about brand marketing, the online world, and conversational media. So it should not come as a surprise what the theme is this year. We’re calling it “New Brand Way”, and in our two days of conversation, we’re hoping to move the needle a bit on some sticky issues in marketing and media.

Logo 2

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What’s This Fascination with Ad Networks? (Or, the Online Media Business Will Be About Brands First, Technology Second)

Back a year ago, I wrote a three part series on the future of the media business. It began as an attempt to think out loud about a topic with which I had become obsessed, and it ended up becoming a manifesto of sorts about conversational media and marketing….

Rc ColaBack a year ago, I wrote a three part series on the future of the media business. It began as an attempt to think out loud about a topic with which I had become obsessed, and it ended up becoming a manifesto of sorts about conversational media and marketing.

As you may recall, I started that last set of posts with the observation that major media companies – Time Warner, NewsCorp, CBS – had all fired or parted ways with the long time managers of their digital assets, opting instead for insiders or traditional media folks with whom they were more comfortable. Out were pioneers like Larry Kramer, Jon Miller, and Ross Levinsohn. In were people with whom the bosses were more comfortable – folks who, in the main, came from television advertising sales backgrounds, the very medium that built those selfsame major media companies. Not surprising – in fact, it kind of made sense. After all, brand marketers were starting to talk about moving serious dollars to the web (following their customers, who had already moved). Best to have folks in charge who have great relationships with brand advertisers, right?

Well, a sequel of sorts is brewing. And this time, the main characters aren’t the major media conglomerates, they’re the majors of the online world (minus Google – more on that in a second). They are the RC Colas, the Tabs, and the Pepsis to Google’s mighty Coke: AOL, Microsoft/MSN, and Yahoo.

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LiveBlogging Jerry Yang and Sue Decker At IAB Conference

Jerry Yang had the grace to not cancel on the IAB keynote interview today, not sure I would have done the same were I in his shoes. We spoke briefly before he went on, he seemed in good spirits, though clearly the reality of Yahoo's situation sat heavy in…


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Yang Iab

Jerry Yang had the grace to not cancel on the IAB keynote interview today, not sure I would have done the same were I in his shoes. We spoke briefly before he went on, he seemed in good spirits, though clearly the reality of Yahoo’s situation sat heavy in the air.

He and President Sue Decker (that was a surprise) took the stage together, and Jerry spoke solo for a bit. Notes:

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The MySpace Platform

Facebook, watch out, the big guys are in the house…having MySpace launch a platform means real competition, and that is good for folks who were worried about Facebook changing the game on them once revenue became a reality….

Facebook, watch out, the big guys are in the house…having MySpace launch a platform means real competition, and that is good for folks who were worried about Facebook changing the game on them once revenue became a reality.

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Respect Talent, No, Wait, Screw That, Talent Wins

Dave Winer has a good post about how talent – in particular, writers and "content creators" – have forever had a raw deal from corporations who profit on the back of the creators' work. Dave posits that this is about to change, thanks to many trends, including the commoditization…

Dave Winer has a good post about how talent – in particular, writers and “content creators” – have forever had a raw deal from corporations who profit on the back of the creators’ work. Dave posits that this is about to change, thanks to many trends, including the commoditization of distribution, means of production, and audience aggregation (well, I may have added that last one).

I certainly agree change is in the wind, and started FM on the premise that independent creators of great sites on the web deserve not only the majority of the revenue fostered by their work, but complete control over their intellectual property to boot. Well said, Dave.

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Mail That Baby, Baby

I was going to wait to post this till the start of a mobile posting campaign that Microsoft is very kindly launching, but I just can't let it wait (for those who might care, Microsoft is going to underwrite a bunch of FM authors, including me, posting mobile stuff…

I was going to wait to post this till the start of a mobile posting campaign that Microsoft is very kindly launching, but I just can’t let it wait (for those who might care, Microsoft is going to underwrite a bunch of FM authors, including me, posting mobile stuff like photos and maps and voice posts). Anyway, I was in JFK airport and I saw an arresting image in a Pitney Bowes ad.

Dumb Baby

Now, what does Pitney Bowes do? Well, turns out I have some knowledge in this area, as my father, ever the itinerant entrepreneur, tried to compete with Pitney in the 80s by creating a better postage meter. He didn’t get very far. Pitney is the Microsoft of postage meter companies. They own the market.

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Memo to the Writers Who Want To Start Their Own Company

Guys, it's a great idea. But don't make the same stupid mistakes your bosses made and claim you need $30 million to do it. Did it cost $30mm for Ninja, RocketBoom, WebbAlert or Diggnation to make serious money? Nope, it did not. Don't take VC money and fail. Do…

Guys, it’s a great idea. But don’t make the same stupid mistakes your bosses made and claim you need $30 million to do it.

Did it cost $30mm for Ninja, RocketBoom, WebbAlert or Diggnation to make serious money? Nope, it did not. Don’t take VC money and fail. Do it smart, lean and right on the web. In short, don’t do it in a packaged goods way. Do it conversational.

Update: I know that these guys want to make traditional movies, but there are so many new ways to finance movies as well. You don’t need to finance the company to the tune of $30mm to do it…

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