Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Four Words I Never Thought I'd Say

I like Los Angeles. I'm here for a few more hours as we wrap up our team meeting, and I've found LA to be a surprisingly cool place. It's an essentially American city in that it's one massive piece of sprawl where the term "using space wisely" means nothing. It's about conspicuous consumption and being seen. It's a place where you go to "make it" that isn't New York, but one gets the sense can be just as harsh when you fail. The weather is great and the girls look good.

I remarked to a coworker last night that I can see the appeal of LA, and I never could before. He told me later that LA has no soul; that may be true, but the absence of a soul isn't necessarily a bad thing - in contrast to Las Vegas for example, a city whose soul is so filthy and corrupted it shows in every gilded edifice.

Now I just need to kick this cold and get a good night's sleep back in my own bed and I'll feel like myself again.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Only Winning Move

In my office's breakroom, CNN is running footage of Russian president Putin comparing the US' missile defense shield plans to the "Cuban missile crisis." The article on CNN.com seems less hyperbolic, but having a former KGB agent in charge of a Russia that's increasingly resembling its former communist self in all but name is scary enough without tossing around the closest we've ever come as a species to setting our clocks back a couple hundred thousand years.

Just in case our leaders are reading the Puppet Show (or if any of you Puppeteers need reminding): the only winning move is not to play.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It Finally Arrived!

It's not often I anticipate a book, but I've been waiting patiently for the Hobby Games: The 100 Best since it debuted at GenCon and there was a package waiting for me when I got home with my copy neatly tucked inside. I haven't opened it yet, but it's waiting for me by my bed when I finally turn in tonight. I'm cleaning, and cleaning, and cleaning getting ready to sell this stupid house. I don't think I'll ever be done but in less than 48 hours, I have to be.

But I digress. Hobby Games is shipping, so if you haven't ordered your copy, why don't you try the link in this post. It's good karma.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Who Watches the Gurus?

I read on Mashable the other day about Gooruze, a "Digg for Marketers." Intrigued, I checked out the site which isn't so much Digg for Marketers as it is a specific Linked In / Facebook combination for New Marketers. I'm a little wary of new social networks - I'm on MySpace and Facebook and that's it - but I thought I'd give this one a try and I'm not sorry I did.

Gooruze has a lot of good things going for it. Pretty standard fare like your own blog and the ability to comment and rate other people's content, but you can contribute in three main different ways: asking a brief question to the community, writing an article for the community, and sharing news with the community. All of these can be commented on, and there's an entire Groups feature I haven't even begun to delve into yet. The interface is still a little wonky, but considering the site just launched on Wednesday the 17th I'm not surprised it's still in a 1.0 UI phase.

The value I'm taking away for Gooruze is threefold. On the most selfish level, participating in conversations there has affirmed a lot of my thoughts and feelings on blogger engagement and "PR 2.0." It has also lead me to a lot of blogs I probably wouldn't have discovered before and given me a lot more reading material and food for thought. And third, it's the closest to any kind of professional organization and network I've joined, and seems far more valuable than any "association" you join and pay monthly dues to so you can sit around and sip cocktails in some hotel ballroom every sixty days. Which is to say, it's the kind of networking and collegiate atmosphere I'm looking for.

I predict use of the site is going to explode and then level off with the good content starting to simmer to the top. I've encouraged my coworkers to give it a try, it certainly seems like a good thing to get into, even more so if you can get in on or near the ground floor.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Signs You're Getting Old

When "Jurassic Park" (one of the greatest movies of all time) is on American Movie Classics.

Jesus, I remember when I hid a copy of the book in my 8th grade science textbook so my science (yeah, science) teacher wouldn't get mad I was reading it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My New (Other) Blog - A Yankee In London

I've created a second blog that may interest you - A Yankee In London. I say, old chap, what an odd name for a blog! It's almost as if it will chronicle an American's journey to and experiences in London!

And you'd be right. As I mentioned before, Elizabeth was offered and accepted a job in London, and we're moving there in a couple of months.

Here's a Q&A that should address queries you might have about this:

Q: When?
A: Between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.

Q: Where?
A: We're not exactly sure yet, but we want to be near one of the major Tube lines in the outlying parts of the city.

Q: What will you do with your house and car?
A: Sell them both. We're not renting our house out from the UK.

Q: What about the cats?
A: They are subject to a six-month quarantine, but will be doing that here with our friends rather than over there in an animal shelter. They'll fly in and join us later.

Q: How long?
A: Two years minimum.

Q: What are you going to do for a job?
A: That's still up in the air right now, but I'm looking at several options.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I haven't been posting much recently - because this has been a logistical obstacle course and nearly every waking moment I'm not at work has been spent getting the house ready to sell.

In the end, it will be worth it!

Buy My Stuff: A Zombie Story

So I finally sat down and forced myself to use Lulu.com's e-distribution tools to try them out. The result is that a short story I wrote a couple of years ago, Some Side Effects May Occur, is now available to purchase as an e-book for the low, low price of $1.30. It's a 6400 word story, so it's a steal at $0.0002 a word! I dare you to find a better deal for zombie fiction / social commentary anywhere. If you do, I'll promote it here!

Warning (for my mother and any other family members reading this) - this story is pretty gory and is intended to be disturbing.

Oh yeah, and I'm not crazy about the cover image but I didn't have any pictures to use so I went with one of Lulu's stock images.

Here's a nice button where you can buy my story too: Support independent publishing: buy this e-book on Lulu.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Viral is Not a Strategy, It is an Outcome

"We want you to make a viral video!"

If I hear this one more time, I think I'm going to slap someone.

To paraphrase Me2: viral is not a strategy, it is an outcome. You don't make viral videos, you make videos that become viral. You may want them to become viral, but there's no magical spell/potion/Harry Potter wand that turns a viral video into the next LOLcat.

That is all.

Just Checking In To See What Condition the Blog is In

I haven't been updating regularly, and I apologize. As some of you already know, my wife was transferred to London (and she's going over in late November) so every waking moment I'm not at work has been devoted to getting the house on the market to sell. Which is why there hasn't been anything in this space recently.

I'll hopefully remedy that soon, so stick with me.

Friday, October 05, 2007

My Picture on a Surface

My Picture on a Surface
Originally uploaded by BrotherMagneto
(Transparency: I work for Edelman representing Microsoft Surface.) I had my Surface demo today, and that's a picture of me and my coworker on the device, after the gentleman doing the demo took our picture and put the camera on the table to pull our picture off. Absolutely amazing. Sorry for the crummy cameraphone quality.

Monday, October 01, 2007

London by William Blake

    I wander thro' each charter'd street,
    Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
    And mark in every face I meet
    Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

    In every cry of every Man,
    In every Infant's cry of fear,
    In every voice, in every ban,
    The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.

    How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
    Every black'ning Church appalls;
    And the hapless Soldier's sigh
    Runs in blood down Palace walls.

    But most thro' midnight streets I hear
    How the youthful Harlot's curse
    Blasts the new born Infant's tear,
    And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

It's All About the Content, Baby

A big buzz-term in the Web 2.0 community is "user-created content." By this, people are typically referring to things that online communities create themselves that demonstrate their passion towards something. This blog post is an example of "user-created content."

The New Marketing people were quick to seize on this, and "user-created content" quickly became something quite desirable within New Marketing circles. In this slightly more cynical case, the content they're referring to is something that users have created to show their loyalty to or excitement about a brand or product. A good example would be the "PG version" of the 300 trailer that came out right before the movie. The YouTube video (embedded below) has more than 4.5 million views, and while the users did basically overdub the source material a few times, it was enormously popular, and New Line played along because it's basically free advertising (a trick many companies haven't quite figured out yet.)

I was thinking today about the push towards user-created content, and I think it's a great goal, it's something that's exceptionally hard to create organically unless you specifically give the community tools to do so. But even if you were to allow users to create their own car commercial and share it (as GM did a couple of years ago), will all that have the same effect as one humorous video that's an overdub of the official trailer? It's hard to tell. There's a reason there aren't more Lewis Blacks, Dave Attells and Jon Stewarts out there: doing something funny and relevant, with a wide audience appeal, isn't easy. Empowering community members to do so is great, but one shouldn't expect each video created to be another "300 PG."

Rather, I think New Marketing should focus more on user-chosen content. Empower me to take the things I want and put them in my own space. This blog is a fine example: the content you see on the right nav is either static (the blogroll) or chosen (Google Reader, my Gamertag and its accompanying RSS feed) content. Facebook is an even better example; the entire site is at its heart a colossal crisscross of RSS feeds all picking from and talking to each other. Aside from blog posts and "wall writing" (Facebook's comments), most of the rest of the content there is generated by RSS, and the user chooses what, if anything, is displayed on their page.

The iGoogle landing page is much the same way. It's now so infinitely customizable that there are website contests devoted entirely to who has the best iGoogle landing page. That's powerful stuff, and I suspect we're only beginning to tap the potential of user-chosen content.

That's my thought for a Sunday after a busy weekend.