Monthly Archive for September, 2007

inspiration: typographical art

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A collection of typograhical art or letterforms, that use the letter E as the conceptual starting point. E is the most commonly used letter in the English language, & denotes a natural number (2.71828). in Justin Quinn’s work, E has become a surrogate for all letters in the alphabet. it replaces the other letters & becomes a universal letter. its substitution denies written words their use as legible signifiers, allowing language to become a vacant parallel Language & a basis for visual manufacture. Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, a story rich in theology, philosophy & psychosis provides a roadmap for the work of the abstract compositions of E.

via Information Aesthetics

New Product Development

John Maeda, has written an excellent piece entitled “The product is the message; the message is the product“. namely that communication itself is becoming the primary core of consumer products.

In it he describes how consumer products are now being developed with communication at their heart. Whereas in the past technology would drive a product release, now the emphasis is on the software that comes with the product and the ability of the consumer to communicate easily using that product.

The message is the product

…and he doesn’t just limit these products to technical gadgetry. Another example he cites is Webkinz. Webkizs are cuddly toys that have a ‘unique secret code’. Once this code is used to access the Webkinz World online, they can create virtual versions of their pets which they look after online, answer trivia quizzes and play exclusive games which can earn kinzcash, chat with others via kinzchat and enjoy a plethora of other content.

It’s this content, accessed via the Secret Code, and not the toy itself which is driving demand for this toy in the US.

It’s exactly the same with technology. Give me an average phone that uploads basic photos to Flickr or videos to Youtube easily and syncs with my address book seamlessly and I’ll value that phone more than one which has a 5 mega pixel camera and video slow-mo but no way of easily uploading and sharing those photos with my friends.

France Telecom 1st major Telco to support OpenID

What’s OpenID?
1st major Telcom to support OpenID
Reaction on Techcrunch.

What France Telecom (and Orange) needs more than anything is a consumer-focused marketing strategy as to why OpenID is useful/beneficial. Right now it just yells ‘so what’, but with its customer base of 40million users, all of whom can be verified as real people, France Telecom is going to have quality OpenIDs, with billing addresses, likes and dislikes and spending patterns.

Google Analytics in AIR

google_anayltics_in_AIR

This unofficial AIR version of Google Analytics delivers the functionality of browser-based Google Analytics but with greater
usability and a richer experience. If you haven’t heard of AIR (once named “Apollo”), it’s a platform developed by Adobe that enables web developers to deploy their web services outside of the browser so they function more like traditional applications.

This is the first AIR program that I have tested that really gets me excited about the platform. As a beta program, it’s not perfect (I ran into a few errors), but overall it has been executed very well. It’salso nice to see such a fully-functional program.

Check out Google Analytics AIR beta. If you don’t already have AIR, you need to download it to use any AIR-base applications (as with Flash).

Both Adobe and Google are involved in this project now. Adobe has included the application in its Showcase program, and
Google product managers and engineers are providing him with feedback and helping him make it more secure.

The beta 2 of Google Analytics AIR will focus on improved international support and the integration of AdWords.

via Techcrunch

niche social networks : Etsy.com

Ning will cross a sizeable milestone this weekend: 100,000 user created social networks
on the platform. That’s up from just 30,000 in February when they launched a new version of the service. The company is also saying that page views have been growing 40% month over month over the summer.

One of their featured communities is We Love Etsy, a social network for people who love Etsy.com.

Etsy.com is “Your place to buy & sell all things handmade.”

What I find really inspiring about what’s happening within the WeLoveEtsy community is the experimentation.

Ning is a free service. Anyone can create a network using Ning. What’s really difficult is creating a community.

Etsy have managed to create a community of 1,300+ by listening, reacting and experimenting.

Etsy is in the business of buying and selling handmade products. There’s a natural desire by the people involved to come together and discuss improving the marketplace in which they make their money. Having a community site set up in which to do this makes complete sense. But it doesn’t make Etsy unique. All forward thinking brands should be doing the same and experimenting.

On WeLoveEtsy there is a news section, they’ve got a blog which aggregates every users own blog (just like the news feed feature on Facebook, but with steriods), over 90 groups have been formed within the WeLoveEtsy network and they have an incredibly active forum. Over 10,000 pictures and 36 videos have been uploaded by members.

When you create a profile on Ning you get a very basic profile page and you can view your messages and friend requests.

What’s cool about Ning is that each network you join offers you a unique profile for that network. On WeLoveEtsy’s community profile page each member gets:

  • A unique profile image for that community
  • The opportunity to edit your page’s theme
  • To add a blog post
  • The ability to invite friends
  • Your own comment wall

Sellers are encouraged to enhance their profile with their products. Kenneth Rougeau is one of the most active members of WeLoveEtsy, but there are many other active participants.

Etsy haven’t limited themselves to just Ning either. It has 51 groups, 18 events and 2 apps on Facebook, but nowhere else does it have anything like the presence it has on Ning.

For what it’s worth, the Etsy Facebook apps are a great way to show your handmade goods to a wider audience:

Esty shop which lets sellers show their most recently listed items on their profile page and MyEtsy – a great way to show off handmade goods from Etsy to the Facebook community. These can either be your shop or your personal favourites.

Etsy have also created a widget, EtsyMini, enabling sellers to place their items on their own blogs and sites, outside of any social networks.

It’s clear that Etsy is a very forward thinking company and is using social networking the way it should be used, as a laboratory and platform to offer improved services and functionality to its core community of users.

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simplicity vs. complexity

There’s a fine line between simplicity and complexity. That line is mindset. Let me explain.

In my daily work I strive to ‘make the complicated simple’, yet as humans we always strive for more complexity.

John Maeda, Associate Director of Research at The Media Lab, gave a TED talk in March 2007, which has only recently been uploaded to the TED website. In it he talks about Simplicity in terms of human nature and ends with one simple insight:

“Simplicity is about living life with more enjoyment and less pain”

Watch the talk to understand fully the above statement.

I think it’s a fantastic talk and illustrates why John is at the top of his field.

Back in May(?) I visited his first solo exhibition in London in a tiny gallery just off Berwick St. Alot of the humour he showed in his art also comes out in this talk.

Back to the point though. What struck me about his talk was how it related to another insight I read recently. David Armano, author of Logic+Emotion, re-posted an article titled ‘Navigators, Explorers, and Engaged Participants’.

In it he discusses the same topic of simplicity vs. complexity – but from a different angle. David highlights the different mindsets of people’s interactive experiences.

In it’s simplest form, when you’re making a payment online you want the process to be uncomplicated and straight forward (Navigator). If you’ve got some time to kill then you might enjoy stumbling around, not really caring how you get from point A to B (Explorer). Lastly and most uniquely, if you engage with an experience online you can invest some time in creating something with the pay- off being the ability to share it, such as uploading a video to YouTube (Engaged Participant).

google announces launch of gadget ads

Google has been running a private beta to a select number of advertisers since May. Today they announced the limited launch of Google Gadget Ads, a new interactive ad format that will run on their content network. Unlike Google AdWords’ existing array of text, video and graphical ads, Google Gadget Ads are designed to be interactive, can be built using HTML or Flash, and support both cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-impression (CPM) pricing models (more specs here).

Designed to act more like content than a typical ad, they run on the Google™ content network, competing alongside text, image and video ads for placement.

They support both cost-per-click and cost-per-impression pricing models, and offer a variety of contextual, site, geographic and demographic targeting options to ensure the ads reach relevant users with precision and scale.

Gadget ads are also built on an open platform, allowing anybody from individual advertisers to agencies to set up and run ads on the Google content network, the world’s largest global online ad network. Plus, gadget ads will not command any serving or hosting costs.

Feedback from preliminary beta participants, including brand advertisers such as Pepsi-Cola North America’s Sierra Mist, Intel, Honda, Six Flags and Paramount Vantage, has been overwhelmingly positive.

Here’s the rundown on Google Gadget Ads:

  • The ads are interactive
  • They can be both HTML and Flash based
  • Google Gadget Ads can incorporate real-time data feeds
  • Different targeting options – contextual, site, geographic, and demographic
  • Built on an open platform – open to anyone
  • They can be placed on any web page, including iGoogle
  • Detailed interaction reports – track dozens of actions within each ad unit

Here’s an example from Honda:
honda_google_gadget
and here are the specifics of the campaign.
(More Google Gadget Ads examples here)

via Marketing Pilgrim

new music strategy

Twenty-five years ago the route to musical success was fairly well defined: practice in someone’s bedroom, do some local gigs, record a demo in a local studio, send the demos on cassette to major, London-based record labels and hope they picked you up.

It rarely worked, but it’s what pretty much everyone did – when it did work, the band had invariably added the two extra steps of having their demo pressed onto vinyl and had got it reviewed by The NME, but we were never clever enough to realise that at the time. Obviously, everything has changed these days, and I’ve spent some time trying to work out exactly how to go about making and promoting music in this modern climate of disruptive technology.

The best info on the subject I’ve found has been Andrew Dubber’s blog new music strategies and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who’s starting out or who wants to learn from someone with alot to give.

Parkour on a motorbike

facebook: flyer pro

Facebook has introduced a new ‘flyer’ advertising service on its platform

The new Flyer Pro offers much more targeted potential to the advertiser and is an excellent and cost effective way to drive people from specific networks and with specific interests to that advertisers product.




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