Friday, October 31, 2008

Monitorng the World Wide Web

Check out the size of these markets! What I will argue next is that the Web is quickly moving towards Social Publishing. Could it be the fulfillment of the promise of the web?...easy to create web pages, wherein all those who join can edit and contribute based upon whatever it is that interests people.

comScore MediaMetrix (August 2008)

  • Blogs: 77.7 million unique visitors in the US
  • Facebook: 41.0 million MySpace 75.1 million
  • Total internet audience 188.9 million

eMarketer (May 2008)

  • 94.1 million US blog readers in 2007 (50% of Internet users)
  • 22.6 million US bloggers in 2007 (12%)

Universal McCann (March 2008)

  • 184 million WW have started a blog 26.4 US
  • 346 million WW read blogs 60.3 US
  • 77% of active Internet users read blogs

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Past, Present and Future of the Web

Introduction
Where have we been with the web? Where are we now? And where are we going? Some people would answer that in the first phase, we were in Web 1.0, and that now we are in the second phase or Web 2.0. But what does the transition mean to Web start-ups, “brick & mortar” companies, and consumers? These are the questions this paper will try to address.
By understanding the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, we may also improve our capability to see what we should be doing now in preparation of the next phase of the internet. What are we to make of Web 3.0 or Semantic Web 2.0 or Pragmatic Semantic Web? But let us begin with the promise of the internet.

For many, the promise of the World Wide Web has always been to create a virtual society in which web spaces are the residents. It has promised to make the access of information, communication with others, and commerce much easier and perhaps more enjoyable. When we think about a virtual online community, we think of the “real” world in which we live, but we expect for all of our activities to be more productive – taking less time and effort. According to a Pew Research Center study in 2000, people are “goal oriented users.” A Zatso Survey showed in 2006 that finding information, communication, commerce, managing finances, and being entertained were the key activities on the web.

So how does the virtual world of the Web work? When you think about it, web pages are like people. They have a personality. Just like people, they have different capabilities and competencies. Hyperlinks are the way that web pages relate to each other. But this is where the comparison begins to breakdown because for most of the web, the services are only reactive. People are interactive. But as the Web evolves, services will become more active and proactive, mirroring our human experience. This is when we begin to see where the Web is going next.

Web 1.0 – The beginning

In Web 1.0, web pages were for people to read and be informed. In the first generation of the Web, the majority of hyperlinks were manually assigned by webmasters. In Web 1.0, the pages contain only reactive functions or services.

Web 1.0 pages could not deliver messages back to their creators. If webmasters looked for feedback from readers of their sites, they had to keep a block of "Contact Information" on their web pages. Otherwise, no messages could be delivered back to them.

The hyperlink model of Web 1.0 was also manual, and when it was ended, it terminated completely. In the world of Web 1.0, human interactions were required by nearly all valuable web operations, and most of these interactions were controlled by a small group of webmasters and IT professionals.

In the early days of the Internet, e-mail provided one-to-one communications until the advent of the “cc” and mailing lists. The advent of HTML and the Web ushered in the one-to-many publishing era, and wikis and weblogs took things to the next level by adding a framework for collaborative authoring and publishing, while RSS creates the vehicle for distribution and syndication to a large number of sites. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let's understand how this "one-to-one" has moved to "many to many."

Web 2.0 – The rise of the Social

The worldwide web has been a success, but its first generation made more promises than delivered results – for consumers and for businesses. So what should we make of Web 2.0? How has it improved upon Web 1.0? How has it evolved? Honestly, many of the elemental concepts of Web 2.0 already existed in Web 1.0. Computer Scientists argue that there is basically no theoretical advancement in Web 2.0 from Web 1.0. But there are new technologies such as AJAX. The success of Web 2.0 lies on the success of two technologies: blogging and tagging. Though there are numerous Web 2.0 companies that provide various services, almost all of them stand upon these two technologies. In addition to the two, they add their specialties. For example, YouTube adds videos and Flickr adds photos. Essentially, blogging enhances the character of content, and tagging enhances the character of link. The blogging technology extends the update of content from personal activities to social activities. The tagging technology enables the creation of hyperlinks from tedious, individual behaviors to handy, collaborative behaviors.

Web 2.0 webmasters (typically blog owners) play a more important role than before on updating web pages. Once web pages have been created, Web 1.0 webmasters often only update them occasionally and slightly (such as updating daily prices). Web 2.0 webmasters, however, often significantly update web content (such as adding new blog posts). Also, through the activity of tagging, Web 2.0 webmasters teach their own web pages (which could be such as blogs, or YouTube's personal account web pages containing individual lists of favorites) new knowledge of web facts. Shared tags thus construct implicit hyperlinks among varied web pages. Most of these links could not have been created within the frame of Web 1.0.

By tagging a Web 2.0 page (such as a blog), it allows machines to recognize the content of the page. Web 2.0 evolved from 1.0 in the use of collaborative tagging with the use of common language. This has been labeled folksonomy. This system is much less formal than the subject indexing of Web 1.0. Collaborate tagging in Web 2.0 does not rely upon deep hierarchical structures. Their structure is often flat and broad. Moreover, the inter-relationships among folksonomy concepts is very casual. This is the current status of Web 2.0. By clicking tags, a Web 2.0 page can automatically re-direct web readers to "relevant" pages, which share the same tags. In fact, however, many of these "relevant" pages may not be so relevant.

Blogging technology enhances web pages with the important capability of mediation between webmasters and readers. Neither webmasters nor readers need to publish their private contact information (unless they are willing to do so) to join a communication. In fact, one could argue that this development is the first sign that World Wide Web is going to be independent of the human society. In the next evolution, the current blogging technology for humans could one day be enabled for machine agents. When machines start blogging to each other, the participation of human users is not necessary.

But for today, the practical application of blogging and tagging is to bring people together who have a common interest. Web 2.0 uses both features to build social networks. The blogging behaviors directly bring readers to the publishers. The tagging behaviors create more tags. By sharing common tags, different Web 2.0 pages are also linked. Unlike the manual and hardcoded hyperlinks in Web 1.0 pages, these Web 2.0 links created by social activities are hard to be removed because they are objective.
Another dynamic element of Web 2.0 is the “mashup.” In Web 1.0, users did not create unique services for their web pages by combining data from disparate sources. Web 2.0, however, encourages its users to build interesting and personalized service components, such as web widgets. The spread of web widgets leverages mashup applications, like Wii Seeker, Zillow, iGuide or Radioclouds.

Additionally, Web 2.0 begins to realize the theory of collective intelligence with the rise of wikis. A wiki is a web page or collection of web pages which can enable anyone to who accesses them to contribute or modify content. This is the first step towards collective intelligence. What is most exciting about wikis, is that they are yet to really catch on. The initial promise that “everyone can contribute and edit” with Wikipedia has fallen short due in part to the intimidation people feel with the programming language, PHP, built upon the MySQL database. While true that anybody can contribute, there is still a hierarchy. There are “stewards,” “bureaucrats” and “administrators. Many contributors are identified only by IP address, while others use screen names. Several hundred administrators have the power to delete entries and block IP addresses to keep vandals from changing content.

As wikis become easy to use for everyone, then the convergence of technology and information content will continue to challenge the formerly hierarchical flow of content from creation through use. This is “Social Publishing,” and it is the latest step in this disintermediation of the hierarchy, enabling authors to publish and organize content for viewing and comment by anyone with access to the Internet. The principal content creation and management tools used in social publishing are weblogs and wikis (tools for creating and linking Web content). And really simple syndication (RSS) is the main tool for syndication and distribution. In the very near future, the majority of web sites will include all of the attributes discussed in this posting. Further, I believe that high order software systems that take stock of this entire landscape are going to be in high demand. I also believe that acquiring completely separate software systems to implement each of the patterns is more costly and risky than using a unified system that handles all of the patterns well. That will be true for individuals and for businesses.

Some legal history

Have you ever wondered where "Trial by Battle" or "Throwing down the Gauntlet" came from or "trial by ordeal" or "trial by jury?" My good friend David Guenter provides a source.

Here is some insight from J.H. Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History...

Ordeals involved an appeal to God to reveal the truth in human disputes, and they required priestly participation to achieve this rapport with the Deity. Several forms of ordeal were recognized by the early Christian Church, but in England they usually took the form of fire or water. In the former, a piece of iron was put into a fire and then in the party's hand; the hand was bound, and inspected a few days later; if the burn had festered, God was taken to have decided against the party. The ordeal of cold water required the party to be trussed and lowered into a pond; if he sank, the water was deemed to have 'received him' with God's blessing, and so he was quickly fished out. There was a prolonged intellectual debate about the legitimacy of the ordeal. It was not clear how man could expect God to answer human questions; might He not, for instance, choose to absolve men who had broken the law but had repented? And what if He decided not to interevene at all, but to leave the matter to be settled by His ordinary laws of nature? Could one be sure in a given case that He had intervened? There is some evidence that those who administered ordeals, perhaps because of such doubts, began to feel a responsibility to facilitate the result they considered right: for instance, by letting the iron cool in cases where suspicion was weak, or by interpreting a burned hand liberally....In 1215, the Lateran Council, after discussing these problems, took the decisive step of forbidding clergy to participate any more in ordeals. This led in England to the introduction of the criminal jury trial.

A jury was a body of men sworn to give a true answer (veredictum, verdict) to some question....Its prominent place in criminal procedure was a direct result of the decision of the Church in 1215 to stop ordeals. Judicial combat was not affected by that decision; although the Church disliked it, the procedure was less mystic and required no clerical participation. Battle therefore remained available in appeals of felony; but it was distrusted by complainants and judges alike, and it soon went out of general use. Battle survived also in writs of right; but there too demandants were driven to alternative remedies to avoid it. Its disuse enabled battle to survive in retirement until the nineteenth century; it was abolished only after a gauntlet was thrown into a startled Court of King's Bench in 1818. [FN 10: Ashford v. Thornton (1818)....The last previous wager of battle in a writ of right was in 1638, but the fight was stopped at the last minute...In 1985 a defendant in the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland tried unsuccessfully to wage battle against the lord advocate, claiming that the 1819 statute applied only to England.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trends that I see for 2008 and 2009

Personal Technology
  • Mobile video
  • Interactive television
  • iPhone/Google Phone Applications
  • GPS real-time, and location based services
  • Tiny and cheap laptops
  • High tech tooth brushes
  • Virtual currency

Entertainment (Television and Movies)

  • Hottest shows are on cable, and have surrealistic themes (Vampire, Serial Killer, Drug Dealing Mom...CSI and SVU)
  • Hottest movies also dealing with far-out content (Dark Knight, No Country for Old Men)
  • Nostalgia comes back (Mad Men, Life on Mars)
  • Anti-US and conspiracy films do not payback (Stop-Loss, Lions for Lambs, The Kingdom, Body of Lies)
  • Gossip Reality wanes in favor of Competition Reality (Survivor 17 versus DWTS)

Music

  • DRM is Dead...Don't pay for anything
  • Megastars are out, niche is in (Mexican Indie, Indian Punk, Western Mambo, Exotic and Global)
  • iPod is cool, but so is Zune...and both should watchout for phones
  • Everything is wireless
  • Ringtones are over
  • You will get more free stuff with downloads (lyrics, art, photos)
  • Labels are losing as bands go direct to consumers

Fashion

  • Bold Bright Colors (Purple)
  • Flowers and Garden themes (nature)
  • Art - Brushstrokes
  • Military
  • Americana (stripes, checks)
  • Accessories -- skinny belts, big sunglasses, small handbags
  • Jeans -- Skinny, and 1970's influenced Kick Flares and Wide Legs (Warehouse, Pueblo, Hannah and Berlin are hot brands)

Home Decoration

  • Eco Chic (reusable and bio-friendly building materials and solar panels)
  • Back to Basics (nature themes decoration; crafts; plants)
  • Cosmo Luxury (mixing Asian, Near East, Old West collectibles and art)
  • Technology integration (digital photo albums, 60s and 70s futuristic furniture, steel/wood, straight lines)

Travel

  • Luxury hotels and destinations at bargain prices
  • House swapping (exchange for vacation

Secrets of Success for Web 2.0 Start-ups

I have been working with Web start-ups for the past year, and there are several lessons I have learned:

1. Do not be a loss leader. Too many start-ups assume the business model, "we lose a little on every deal, but we'll make it up in volume." To be successful, a business model needs to have a positive variable margin. Yes, the amortization of R&D can be excluded, but it is important for customers to pay for what you sell...from the start!
2. Whatever it is you do, do it well. Do not go too broad too fast. You can have a roadmap to be broad, but you need to make certain that each step is on solid ground. Insure you have great technology, and a true advantage in the first step, then the second, and so on. Having a suite of average products will not succeed.
3. Do not overlook B2B. One truth is that businesses must spend moeny to make money. If your ultimate ambition is B2C, that's fine. Whatever you are doing to attract consumers will also be attractive to businesses trying to reach those consumers. Said differently, every B2C web app is a potential B2B app.
4. Think beyond Advertising and Search. This is related to my first point, but I want to over-emphasize it. I believe if you added up all the web start-up business plans in the US, you would find that they assume advertising revenues that are 100-200 times what is actually spent in the market. We can call this the "Me Too Google" phenomenon. Here is some advice, "Go meet with someone who buys advertising from the client side." Go straight to the brand, and skip the agency. Just ask them if they would spend money with you...theoretically. You will then get a grounding in reality.
5. Make certain you are building capability for social networks, publishing and media. But be a student of what is going right and wrong with MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, et. al. This is the right place to be, but no one has figured out how to serve customers with services for which they are willing to pay.
6. Related to point 5, make certain that your web app can become a widget and be included in social network sites, portals, and yes, mobile phones. Having a great mobile and widget version is a great way to scale and learn.
7. Make certain you have an expert in public relations, non-web customer acquisition, and channel/partner management. You will need a connection to the "brick and mortar" world, or you are missing serious business opportunities.

If you are interested, I can help with all 7 of these points. Call or write. bell801@gmail.com or 425/577-8673.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Did I have an impact at Microsoft's Xbox? Let the Annual Report decide!

Hey everybody! Here is a direct excerpt of Microsoft's annual report. Thought I should capture this for posterity.

Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operaitons

"Fiscal year 2008 compared to fiscal year 2007

EDD revenue increased primarily due to increased Xbox 360 platform sales. Xbox 360 platform and PC game revenue increased $1.7 billion or 41% as a result of increased Xbox 360 console sales, video game sales led by Halo 3, Xbox Live revenue, and Xbox 360 accessory sales. We shipped 8.7 million Xbox 360 consoles during fiscal year 2008, compared with 6.6 million Xbox 360 consoles during fiscal year 2007.

Fiscal year 2007 compared with fiscal year 2006

EDD revenue increased primarily due to increased Xbox 360 platform and Zune sales. We shipped 6.6 million Xbox 360 consoles during fiscal year 2007 as compared with 5.0 million consoles during fiscal year 2006. Xbox and PC game revenue increased $650 million or 19% as a result of increased Xbox 360 platform sales, partially offset by decreased sales of the first generation Xbox console and related accessories and video games.

__________________2008 2007 2006
Revenue_____________$8,140 $6,069 $4,732
Income(Loss)_________ $ 426 $(1,969) $(1,339)"

Very proud of these results. Proud to be part of this effort and success.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jeff's Plan for America - 8 key steps

Dear readers:

This is my 7 point plan (with an eighth point added by Doug Heuck) to make the United States of America a better place for everyone. The comments after each element of the plan come from Doug Heuck and David Guenther. The opinions expressed here are entirely ours, but we remain convinced that if the nation followed our plan, we would all be "better off in four year."

1. Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government -- I have found that this happens best in business when you cut spending....tends to focus the mind. Every element should have a measurement of "impact to the citizen intended to benefit" as a percent of total spend. This is how charities are measured and how they avoid bureaucratic bloat.

Doug: An excellent point -- which has sent me into another chapter of cost oversight in the business and the family, which will no doubt find consternation reigning in both places.

Dave: SPENDING HAS TO BE CUT SOMEWHERE.

2. Once we have a metric for efficiency, we need to focus in on efficacy. What is it that the Department of Energy is trying to do? How about EEOC? What's up at the Treasury? How about international aid? When any part of our government cannot articulate 3 key areas of betterment of society, then there are either none or too many to matter. In his autobiography, Clarence Thomas outlines how he ran the EEOC like a focused business (and he did not even support the concept of the agency initially).

Doug: Paul O'Neill sought to make Treasury more cost-effective and effective, and he was booted. (He also spoke too plainly for the Bush Admin and told it like it was, which the admin saw as a liability) With business, having too many costs and not being effective enough means going out of business. So there's always a present threat of non-existence. That leads to a level of vigilance and concern that govt. can only hypothesize about, never really feel. And it's also conceivable that, while govt. should clearly be cost-conscious and effective, it is also in a realm that's different from biz in some respects -- such as national security and the welfare of the people. If you make big enough mistakes there -- guns or butter -- your govt. can "go out of business." and both of those threat areas require, arguably, erring on the overspending side. And with the scale of both of those portfolios -- and with employees not motivated by increased income but by public service, it's difficult to achieve the level of cost-effectiveness and efficacy that biz can achieve in its "narrower" field.

Dave: AGREE THAT EFFICIENCY MAY HAVE TO BE MEASURED DIFFERENTLY, AND MORE SUBJECTIVELY, FOR GOVERNMENT, SINCE CLEAR NUMERICAL METRICS LIKE EBITDA OR NET INCOME ARE NOT APPLICABLE OR EVEN IF THEY WERE, MEANINGFUL, SINCE GOVERNMENT HAS DIFFERENT GOALS. HOW DO YOU MEASURE GOVERNMENT (IN) EFFICIENCY (OTHER THAN SAYING, AS WITH OBSCENITY, THAT WE KNOW IT WHEN WE SEE IT)?

3. Keep taxes as low as possible. You cannot have #1 if you raise any taxes anywhere. Taking pressure off politicos and bureaucrats will not work. I even see in business that the wheat is separated from the chafe when times get tough. Lots of people thought they were doing a great job when a huge domestic economy was growing by 5% per annum. Now zero growth (or 3.3% last quarter) has exposed people for "riding the wave" rather than "being outstanding." There needs to be a very clear understanding of all taxes by our national leader -- federal, state, OSADI (Old Age, survivors and disability insurance), and yes, property. The whole cost is what citizens see! Let's quit talking just about federal income tax. As an addendum, the Wall Street Journal for 9/10/08 had an editorial which commented on the Congressional Budget Office's report on our government spending. Our spend is now 21.5% of GDP (highest since 1992). Interestingly, our debt is 3% of GDP (in line with average of past 30 years), and military spending (including Afghanistan and Iraq) is 4.5% of GDP (above Clinton's 3%, but below 1970-1990 6% average). The key quote is "the substantial increase in spending, which is on an unsustainable path is in the two years that Democrats have run Congress." The article (with its fiscal conservative bias) goes on to saw, "As they contemplate their choice for President, voters might want to consider which of the candidates is likely to be a check on Congressional appetites, rather than a facilitator."

Doug: The other side of taxes is what a govt. does with them. Some places have high-tax cultures -- Wisconsin, Minnesota -- but a history and culture of delivering excellent service. And, there is the Aristotelian idea of tax fairness -- distributive justice, seen by some as "Marxist." But fairness of the tax burden is inescapable. General Maxim: raising taxes is good and fair as long as it's raising the other guy's taxes.

Dave: AGREE ON CUTTING TAXES -- I BELIEVE THE DATA IS NOW IN THAT TAX CUTS ACTUALLY GENERATE HIGHER TAX REVENUES (REAGAN'S "VOODOO ECONOMICS"). AGREE ON ARISTOTLE AND "DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE", WOULD SIMPLY ADD THAT HE DOESN'T CALL IT "RE-DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE" FOR A REASON. NO COMPARISON WITH MARX.

4. Clearly articulate and legislate an Energy policy. Develop all petrochemicals possible that we control by 2015. Invest in all alternative fuels (solar and wind) with 25% of our total powered therein by 2015. Build 30-50 nuclear power plants by 2020. Reduce emissions by 50% by 2020 with these actions (including fuel cells in all cars, and a massive public transit initiative).

Doug: Total agreement. The reason I have favored Obama is that I believe he can be more successful in promoting a "Space program" for energy. A national initiative -- a war effort -- to both save energy and create and promote new sources.

Dave: I DON'T SEE A FACTUAL BASIS ON WHICH TO CONCLUDE THAT OBAMA COULD BE SUCCESSFUL IN THAT EFFORT. THAT BEING SAID, I TOTALLY AGREE THAT WE NEED RADICALLY NEW ENERGY POLICY NOT BASED ON PETROLEUM.

5. Define our role in the world. The isolationism of the Democratic Party is ridiculous (as it was when Republicans owned that issue). We are completely global. Our economy, our currency, our society is global. I mean, look at our demographics! Caucasians will be minority in 2042, and I say Hallelujah! We have been a bully. Yes, Jeff the Hawk says Bush has been a bully I want to be strong, but I agree with the criticism that we must "lead by the power of our example and not the example of our power." JFK was no dove, but he decided when to use force based upon a moral imperative. Every President has to not just believe that we are morally right, but actually check that we are. Bush just "knows we are" but does not check if he's right. Iraq will be won. The question is, "do we need bases and troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?" I question whether we need bases in Europe, South Korea and Japan. Clearly we don't need naval or army bases to extend our power. Hell, we didn't have any bases in the Middle East before now...didn't seem to stop us! :-) The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed piece by a former professor of mine, Fouad Ajami from JHU-SAIS. He articulates my point on definition, and to a certain degree, isoloationism. He says that since the end of WWII, there has been a "consensus over American exceptionalism and America's claims and burdens abroad." He states that Samuel Huntington articulated that America had three big conceptions in foreign policy -- "national, imperial and cosmopolitan. In the first, America remains America. In the second, America remakes the world. In the third, the world remakes America." Here the distinction is NOT that the world becomes states of the US, but rather democracy and capitalism are formed in each sovereign, but it IS the case that the rest of the world would gladly use American weakness to make it more like them. He argues that the "aloofness" of Mr. Obama is born from his background -- no military experience nor service, and an international rather than domestic upbringing. He states that "Obama offers a sharp break with the postwar consensus on American exceptionalism." As I have written to you before, I was concerned by the detached and spectator way Obama writes and speaks. Fouad goes further, "The Obama way is blig: It glides over the world without really taking it in." The risk is that "Obama proceeds from the notion of American guilt, and proposes to repair that by offering himself as a bridge." By contrast, McCain "shares the widespread attitude of the country that are not consumed with worries about America's reputation in foreign lands." I share this because at SAIS, one of my greatest teachers was Robert Tucker (Inequality of Nations) who said that "international law is ultimately governed by the executive, not the judicial branch" meaning that every nation is in it for themselves and themselves alone.

Doug: Power is an inescapable fact of the world. What is the most effective wielding of it? Machiavelli said better to be feared than loved. Perhaps at bottom, that's a necessity. But in a world of trade, the bottom line must always be just this side of being forgotten. IE, it must be accompanied by the moral compass. What is being great if not a force for good?

Dave: QUESTION OF POWER IS ALWAYS ULTIMATELY QUESTION OF HOW TO DEAL WITH THOSE BEYOND THE PALE -- THE "AXIS OF EVIL" THAT'S PRESENT IN MOST TIMES. ARMIES DON'T EXIST IN ORDER TO DEAL WITH REASONABLE PEOPLE. NARROWER ISSUE WITH MORAL COMPASS IS THEREFORE: DOES SELF-DEFENSE EVER COME INTO CONFLICT WITH BEING A FORCE FOR GOOD? THIS COULD BE SEEN AS MACRO-VERSION OF SELF-DEFENSE LAWS FOR HOMEOWNERS -- CAN'T USE DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY, BUT CAN YOU USE DEADLY FORCE AT ALL? IF YES, DO YOU HAVE TO RETREAT FIRST? DO YOU HAVE TO GIVE FAIR WARNING? WHAT IF YOU'RE WRONG? ETC. I SEE "POWER OF EXAMPLE" AS WEAK INSTRUMENT AT BEST.

6. Healthcare should not be nationalized, but it is almost there unofficially. The insurance and pharmaceutical sectors are like an official bureaucracy. There are no free market dynamics at work anymore, and that's why it costs so much. Serious reform needed here. The metric is not "how many are covered," but rather health of our people and the cost of the system. Doug: Have mixed feelings here. Doubt government's ability to deliver without fouling things up. On the other hand, there likely would be big savings in making the current system less complicated.

Dave: AGREE THAT SOMETHING RADICAL SHOULD HAPPEN, BUT ALSO DON'T TRUST GOVERNMENT TO DO IT. THORNY ISSUE. ONLY CONCEPTUAL BASIS I CAN SEE IS SOMEHOW ALIGNING RECIPIENT OF SERVICES WITH PAYER, SO THAT PARTIES WILL BE INCENTIVIZED TO KEEP COSTS DOWN. MAKE HEALTH CARE COSTS A TAX CREDIT?

7. Immigration. This is another issue where the Republican Party is whacked. Republicans are pro-free enterprise (or were). You lose a major support for NOT raising minimum wage, and NOT guaranteeing employment, and NOT accepting that opportunity doesn't exist for the poor, WHEN you try and "shut down the borders." The Catholic Church is very supportive of treating illegal immigrants ethically. Me too, but I'd go further -- deregulate the immigration process. Yes, we need to guard against terrorists, but trust me; the Mexicans STREAMING daily across the borders want to build up this great land of ours. They want to live in peace. They want to prosper. They want to love this land. They come because it IS better than anywhere else they could go. Doug: Immigrants are and have always been a major strength and also a lightning rod among the "already arriveds." Closing borders is like tightening a tourniquet -- blood doesn't flow to and from the heart. Attempting to cut off immigrants is attempting to change the fundamental nature of the country and make it a different country. E pluribus unum to we've reached a satisfied old empire status -- "We're about the present and the past, not the future."

Dave: I'M IN FAVOR OF ALLOWING IMMIGRATION, FOR THE SAME REASONS, PROVIDED THAT (I) THAT DOESN'T MEAN PEOPLE SIMPLY STREAMING ACROSS BORDERS IN THE DARK, AND (II) IMMIGRANTS INTO THE U.S. STILL ACCEPT, AS IMMIGRANTS INTO THE U.S. HAVE HISTORICALLY, THAT THEY ARE COMING HERE TO BECOME AMERICANS. NO PROBLEM IF IT TAKES A GENERATION, EVEN TWO, BUT THEY SHOULD NOT EXPECT TO ESTABLISH PERMANENT FOREIGN ENCLAVES WITHIN AN ALIEN AMERICAN CULTURE.

8. Environment (added by Doug) Important to me. All should be done in context of being environmentally responsible. Both here and as a lead example for the world.

Dave: AGREE ON IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENT, THOUGH I'M NOT CONVINCED AS TO EFFICACY OF EXAMPLE. PROBLEM I SEE, FROM MY PLANNING COMMISSION PERSPECTIVE, IS THAT PRESERVATION INITIATIVES (PRESUMABLY WHETHER LAND, ENERGY OR OTHER) OFTEN CONFLICT WITH CONSTITUTIONAL PROPERTY RIGHTS. INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY RIGHTS (MANIFESTED IN E.G. ZONING) NEED TO BE BALANCED. FROM A PLANNING COMMISSION PERSPECTIVE, IT ALSO SEEMS TO ME THAT THE PEOPLE MOST HELL-BENT ON DEVELOPMENT ARE JUST AS OFTEN DEMOCRATS AS REPUBLICANS. NOT SURE HOW TO RESOLVE THESE ISSUES, OR IF BROAD CONCEPTUAL RESOLUTION IS POSSIBLE.

Jeff: I would argue that here the "example" would be in the form of innovation in development. I believe that the analogy would be that the Chinese did not install copper land lines for telephony, they jumped to wireless. In the same way, there needs to be advancement in industrial and agricultural development globally that avoids some of the wanton distruction and foolish mistakes of our own past.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The future agency model

How companies successfully engage with consumers is changing.
Web 2.0, experiential and social marketing are the new Buzzwords
But who is using jargon, and who is not just practicing but leading the new wave?
  • Large traditional agencies have always been a safe choice because of their experience and size, but these strengths keep them from succeeding in an consumer world driven by flexibility and speed.
  • Today’s consumers, especially younger audiences, don’t need or want to be TOLD anything. At a minimum, they want a dialogue, and for the most part, they want control. They want to tell YOU about everything, and they’ll tell everybody else too – they chat, text, blog, share with everyone.
  • Now consumers make the call to action, and they do it without having to use such ugly marketing words as “sale!” or “buy!” or “Offer expires 12/31/08. Offer not good in Michigan, Delaware, and Alaska. See rules for details.”
  • The new generation of consumers is more ambitious, brand conscious, peer-oriented and influential than previous generations.
  • Success is determined by the move from monologue to dialogue. It can be on the web, at the store, over the phone, with your product, anywhere. When you listen to consumers, they will listen to you. When you present them with a situation with which they can identify, which they connect emotionally, feel, embrace and affect, you’re not only giving them something truly interactive, you’re giving them something Tangible.

That is what the new breed of agency must be.