Archive for January, 2007

Houston Public Library – Moving with the Times

Houston Public Library

Here is an “underpublicized gem” that Houston residents can enjoy (please check your local area for availability).  The Houston Public Library offers a huge collection of Downloadable Audiobooks for easy access with your current library card. Here are the details:

  • Your HPL PowerCard is required to download the audiobooks.
  • The audiobook files are in Windows Media Audio format (WMA).
  • Checkout period is 3 weeks.
  • Users can check out 6 titles at a time.
  • To listen, download the Audiobook to your PC and use your audio player.

I like that the library is using WMA files, as they seem safe at the moment and seem to work well with liscensed content. Also, a three week period, 6 books at a time, etc…. all seem quite fantastic. Pass this around, I would like to see the service continue.

Also, I expect that this will be a growing trend that may span to movies, documentaries, etc. It is good to see a library expand with the times. They have terrific content, but when is the last time you went into a library? Online visiting is a good fit. Kudos to the library.

January 30, 2007 at 3:09 pm 1 comment

Are Journalists Brain Surgeons?

The Panel at the AAF District conference Luncheon

At the AAF District 10 Conference last week, I got the chance to listen to an interesting panel of media experts. The list included: George Anders of the Wall Street Journal, Matthew Comstock of Yahoo, Patricia Torres Byrd of LAT-TV, and two other men – but I can’t find their names.

The panel answered questions regarding the way their media has changed and all said that their newspapers, radio, TV, journals, etc. were experiencing economic growth inspite of the “horror” stories of traditional media that we read fairly often (some commented that the internet is part of the upswing). Here is a report on MSN about trouble in traditional media.

I did get the chance to ask the panel if they “had plans” or if they “currently integrate” any “Citizen Media” into their companies content. LAT-TV and Yahoo answered “yes”. The others had no plans for citizen media.

George Anders said the Wall Street Journal allows comments and feedback with success but they don’t integrate Citizen Journalists because they aren’t up to The Journal’s standards.

One even commented that, “We go to college for this stuff…. and would you let a citizen perform brain surgery?”

Standards are great, so I think that is a valid reason to maintain journalistic integrity. But brain surgery? Richard Scoble isn’t a journalist employed by a newspaper or major publication yet I believe that he is an amazing source of news. Dan Gilmore and “We the Media” would definitely disagree that you had to be an “in the club journalist” in order to be heard.

I didn’t think the analogy was appropriate at all. Here is why Citizen Journalism should be taken seriously: Citizen Journalists are the source fo the news. They are the voice itself.

I want to hear a companies story from the man in the trench (example: Bob Lutz). I want to hear the Dallas Mavericks story from Mark Cuban. I want to hear about the Mazda 3 door safety problem from someone that really likes cars and understands the industry.

My favorite advertising news site is http://adarena.blogspot.com/. Adarena is created by Michal Pastier, a student of Marketing communication department of Comenius University in Slovakia. I like the content better than Ad Age.

Just because you can kick my ass in gramar – doesn’t mean that my thoughts aren’t important. It actually makes you arrogant. You might miss something good by hanging on to “worth associated with style” instead of “worth associated with meat”.

Just a warning. Don’t be arrogant. Being a journalist doesn’t make you a brain surgeon or rocket scientist. Being arrogant makes you dumb.

January 29, 2007 at 10:26 pm 2 comments

Maybe he should call in the trappers

John K. sounds pretty bitter about Hollywood executives and their treatment of talent. The kind of comments below make me feel good that I work at Schiupl. Also John’s tone is very one sided – all executives are evil and normal people suck:

John K said: No one would spend their own money in such a shameful wasteful way. Executives spend the corporations’ money to amuse themselves and hire their friends, not to make money for their companies.

And this comment below makes me sick…. I don’t believe the average person is an idiot or that great ideas only come from creatives and I don’t believe that anything needs to be “dumbed down” to make people feel smarter. Just look at online culture. People are smarter than you think.

Matt Greenwood wrote: Think of the millions of fat idiotic Americans sitting in their living rooms not wanting to think or see anything too smart or it’ll make them feel dumb. I think executives know how to please these idiots and make a load of cash from them.

Of course I’d love it if TV shows and films were a process purely done by the creative people, but then look what would happen, creative people are smart, they’d come up with too many good ideas and where would that leave the majority of idiots?

 I figure that John’s only course of action is to call in the “trappers”.

January 26, 2007 at 3:58 pm Leave a comment

Future Man of IABC Houston

Andy Hines IABC Houston

Today at IABC Houston’s Luncheon I got a chance to listen to Andy Hines of Social Technologies.

Andy was a very entertaining speaker (I have heard other futurists, but so far Andy has been the most anlytical) and he gave me two things that were very valuable:

  1. One of the most clearly defined factors associated with the success of blogs, myspace, youtube, social networks, etc.

    The factor? Self expression. We spend money on clothes, cars, educations, electronic equipment, etc. that give us a sense of self expression. Blogs especially are another arm of self expression. We find other people’s expressions interesting and valuable as well. Group expression drives social change. So the technology may change, but we need to allow people to express themselves (crazy as they may be).

  2. The second valuable find from Andy was reemphasizing the importance of mixing in variable X into your daily thought pattern.

    “Variable X” is something that is outside your “echo chamber” that helps you learn a new perspective. I used to do a mindmapping exercise for my “Storyboard” class when I tought animation at the Art Institute of Houston. I would make the kids start an idea from a random word, like: fishing, shoe, smoke, glue, applesauce, etc. If they through in an element that was not in their familiar thought pattern they came up with ideas that were better and original. If they tried the same thing on their own, the results were “flacid”.

So, thanks Andy for the presentation.

January 25, 2007 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

Ms John Soda – Solid Ground

January 24, 2007 at 11:39 pm Leave a comment

640 Comments. Is this real? Does it work? Is it Illegal?

Read the comments here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMzbwa6PvEE

There is much passion about this video.  The conspiracy guys are going wild:

Kubilius (6 hours ago) This is illegal not becouse it’s hidden, it’s illegal couse the 25th frame advertising does stuff to your brains. You should read why after Coca-Cola experiments it was prohibited. McDonalds is breaking the laws and ethics by doing this. This is why noone in Europe would ever eat at McDonalds. McDonalds in Europe stays alive only becouse of Americans and Russians, who love fat unhealthy food wherever they go 🙂

brigidfitch (17 hours ago)  Jonny–I said subliminal advertising is legal. As recently as 2000, a couple of Senators from Oregon & Louisiana complained to the FCC about a Republican election ad that flashed the word “Rats” for 1/30 of a second. (The group responsible for the ad later claimed that it was supposed to flash “Bureaucrats”, but the first part of the word somehow went missing during editing).

Vaishino (17 hours ago)  A state of hypnosis and standard consciousness are two completely different circumstances. James Vicary was the guy who originally put forth the idea of using subliminal messages as an advertising technnique. He falsified his experimental data, and later admitted that he did, and no controlled experiment to date has been able to make subliminal advertising work conclusively.

It is pretty heated and fun to read. I am not sure I believe that it is real. I would have had to see the broadcast in the “non internet” context. Does that make me a conspiracy theorist?

January 24, 2007 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

Don’t forget to wash your hands

This Guerilla Advertisment for WashYourHands.tv is pretty creative:

Wash Your Hands

January 24, 2007 at 7:16 pm Leave a comment

Star Wars Re-enacted in Hands

January 24, 2007 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment

Weird? What do you think about Terror-Free Gasoline

January 23, 2007 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment

Webkinz – Have you heard of them?

Ad Age released a report that Webkinz has sold significantly higher than 1 milliion “pets” in the last year.

Webkinz

My kids have 16 total Webkinz animals.

And they went into a”frenzy” when we were near a store that had them this last weekend. So, I of coure let them buy one. In my oppinion it is the best $11 you can spend for a elementary school kid that has access to the internet.

In the Webkinz world, the kids can play games for money, spend money on clothes and housing for their pets, feed and doctor their pets, and have conversations with other kids that are in the Webkinz world (Social Networking). It teaches computer skills, some responsibility, is pretty fun… and is far superior to anything I have seen.

If you compare it to The Littlest Pet Shop you will see that the pet shop site is focused on more toy sales (what is missing from your collection) and the Webkinz site is focused totally on the “child’s” experience. The sales just come naturally. I believe you will find other toy creators with online communites firing up every where. This is a natural fit for fanatic audiences and word of mouth marketing. So far Webkinz is strictly “word of mouth”. Also, any store that carries them has an audience that is willing to “drive a little out of the way” just to get them.

I took a peak at the “GI Joe” site just to see if they were experimenting with user communities. So far there is no hollistic community like Webkinz. They have some games and other interactive tidbits, but that isn’t good enough to allow fanatics to network together, like Webkinz. The future of toys is here – Allowing kids to play together (virtual playdates) when they are inside there homes.

Let the kids tell toymakers what kind of toys want… and make it easy for them to do it.

Viva la Webkinz. 

January 23, 2007 at 4:30 pm 2 comments

Some Companies Refuse to Listen

Autoblog reported that Mazda has a problem with its Mazda3 that allows easy access to people that want to break-in and get your stuff (ipods, purses, wallets, etc.).

Canadian website MobileMag.com got the skinny from an anonymous Mazda dealer that if one hits the passenger door hard in just the right spot it will affect the lock assembly mechanism and unlock the doors.

Now the problem is bad enough…. but it is the response of Mazda that is the “real problem”. They are not calling the cars back to get the problem fixed. They only offer some folks that have been targeted to have a “reinforced lock” installed, but are also not offering to fix the dent.

Target ignored the “online community” and ended up getting drug through court and also suffered horrible PR at the cost of ignoring the “handicap”. Will Mazda need to go that far? They have ignored this problem since October. Also, there are articles all over the internet telling people about the vulnerability. So this isn’g going to go away.

We do understand that it is a “break-in”, but the convenience of the break-in probably places this “beyond common sense safety” from the manufacturer. I like Mazda cars, so hopefully they won’t have to have sales drop before they figure out that a voluntary callback is necessary.

Fabrizio Pilato posted this on MobileMag:

Greg Young, Director of Corporate Public Relations for Mazda spoke with me this morning. He acknowledges that Mazda has been aware of this issue since October 2006, they have been working on the situation with some degree of considerable effort and expertise. Mazda is studying it, and they have made a countermeasure in components from Cars that have been built in January 2007 in Japan. This countermeasure is to prevent this specific type of break-in. There is no defect in the product; the countermeasure produced will make it more difficult or not possible to break-in to the vehicle in this specific way. However, as any vehicle is susceptible to a break-in, normal precautions should be taken.

January 22, 2007 at 6:57 pm Leave a comment

Eyecatching Advertisement

Anorexia Foundation

January 22, 2007 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment

How do you feel today?

January 22, 2007 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

Passion fuels online communities

I posted earlier in the week, some comments from NATPE, like this one from Lydia Loizides:

If you fundamentally look at the organisational structure of myspace or youtube, there are niches and enclaves of fans of particular topics. We keep thinking mass, mass.. but the world is a group of tiny little parts that come together as a jigsaw puzzle.

So what drives a “fan base”?

Here is an online link to 412 fan videos of “Barbaro”. If you look at it closely you will find the tributes and passion of devoted Barbaro followers. (Barbaro is a horse that came up short of the “triple crown” due to injury).

I think this is about a personal connection between the audience and the fight involved in heavy competition. That fight installs emotionally involved feelings that let us feel the fight of winning too. In this case it may also show a little extra enthusiasm by having the “betting dollars” of fans riding on the success of the horse. This gives a more personal and real connection to the win for the fans.

In addition Barbaro is trying to work his way back. What is more amazing to behold than someone that failed and fought back? Failure is innevitable. The fight back is not guaranteed. That takes heart.

So, what do you put your bets on. Where are you emotionally involved? What fights have lead you to come back from failure?

Here is Barbaro’s fight:

(Thanks Boing Boing)

January 20, 2007 at 9:33 pm 3 comments

“Listening requires genuine interest in what that person is saying and a willingness to change as a result of what was said.”

Thanks Ed for the great post: 

Beth Kanter made a great post about “listening” and specifically it’s importance to “non-profits”. So I won’t repeat what was said, but I do want to say that she listed an enourmous collection of tools to help you listen better.

I think the value of listening is apparent. Now that there are free online tools that make listening possible in a fashion it wasn’t before, I suggest you try it out. My favorite, of course, is RSS and Bloglines.

Here is a link to something “very cool”!!!! It is a link to a “score” for you to determine your ego according to the online community. It is called “Ego Points“. Try it on yourself. I did not do to well…. so if you listen to me, help spread me a bit. Please? At least it is an honest look at your online pressence.
Ego

January 20, 2007 at 7:35 pm Leave a comment

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