Google v Global Warming … Greenwash?

Google announced today that it will be investing tens of millions of R&D dollars through its philanthropic arm, Google.org, to develop clean energy technologies that are cheaper than coal. Google co-founder Larry Page thinks that solar thermal and wind energy is the way to go. Google is already working with eSolar, an Idealab company, and Makani Power, a high-altitude wind-energy company.

google green

It really does seem that green is the new black … but if Walmart is on the bandwagon maybe the trend has jumped the shark. (Three cliches in one sentence … a new record). I will await developments … this may be a PR stunt but I guess I have to applaud Google for doing something

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving

Edward Winslow wrote in a letter dated December 12, 1621:

Our corn [i.e. wheat] did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown.  They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom.  Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.  They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week.  At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.  And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

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Newspaper Ad Sales In Freefall …

I read today that newspaper ad sales are continuing their long, sad decline, down 7.4 percent in the third quarter. The shift to online is not going to save the industry. (And neither is the Kindle, says Techcrunch).

baby on toilet

While online ads keep growing … 21 percent to $773 million industrywide, it is not enough to make up for the decline in print ads. Print in the third quarter was $10.1 billion. That is $1 billion less than it was in the same quarter last year. Meanwhile, online newspaper ad sales rose only by $135 million. After six straight quarters of decline, print ad sales are at 1997 levels—lower if you adjust for inflation.

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Trolls are Human too…

Great piece on TechCrunch today. It talks about Trolling and the human psychology at play behind it. They break commenters to the TechCrunch site in to three groups:

1. Legitimate commenters, who have something thoughtful to say and/ or add to the conversation (for and against)
2. Link spammers who comment on the off chance they might get some traffic as a consequence of their comment
3. Trolls, who make it their business to criticize anything written and the people who wrote it.

Troll

Here’s a blockquote from the New Scientist:

Social psychologists have known for decades that, if we reduce our sense of our own identity – a process called deindividuation – we are less likely to stick to social norms…the same thing happens with online communication such as email. Psychologically, we are “distant” from the person we’re talking to and less focused on our own identity. As a result we’re more prone to aggressive behavior, he says.

Another factor influencing online communication, according to Epley, is simply the risk of miscommunication involved with text-based messages, which are inherently more ambiguous. At the same time, he notes, email “has the feel of informality – we just fire something off”, even though we probably ought to treat it with the same care as a written letter. And, as most people probably know, this can cause problems for both the sender and the receiver.

Like TechCrunch, I will leave the final word to the New Scientists’s Michael Marshall.

I’m not sure what we can do to minimize miscommunication and abuse online. But being aware that we’re not as good at communication online as we’d like to think seems like a good start. I know I often have to restrain myself from joining in.

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Papyrus … Guttenberg … Bezos. Introducing Amazon’s Kindle

Jeff Bezos has unveiled the new literary killer app (or rather, device) the Amazon Kindle. The rentaquote on Amazon reads thus:
“This is the future of book reading. It will be everywhere.” – Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and Liar’s Poker.

Kindle

The Kindle is being heralded as the “iPod for books” (not the iPhone I note!). Business Week has given five reasons why the Kindle is the next must-have gadget.

1. Solves real “problems” for consumers and readers
Kindle is the first ebook reader with its own cellular wireless connection to let you get new books anytime, almost anywhere when the mood strikes. It’s not wifi, you don’t need to find hot spots — it’s like a cell phone. What about periodicals? I want to get my newspapers and magazines quick. Wake up in the morning, grab some coffee and the paper. Kindle’s wireless connection puts them there before I wake up.

2. Moves the value equation in favor of consumers
Want to buy a digital book from Sony? It’s about the same price as in the book store — or MORE. Want to read Clive Cussler’s new thriller “The Chase” in hardcover? It costs $16.17 at Amazon.com or $21.56 at Sony’s ebook store. Ouch. What the heck? No paper or printing or shipping costs and it’s still more? Kindle books top out at $9.99 and many are less.

3. Smart design changes the existing product landscape
Kindle is filled with a bunch of smart design features, like a real keyboard to let you search in a book or document or page turning buttons on both sides of the screen. Another major decision will also help Kindle take off. It’s not hanging off your computer. You don’t need to sync it with a computer. Purchases are backed up online by Amazon so you can delete and recover any book you bought.

4. Bezos has an established track record as a visionary
Jeff Bezos packed it all up and moved to Seattle last decade to build his online superstore, beating out zillions of more (and less) established competitors. Amazon.com got many things right, including the important focus on reader reviews, cheap shipping and giant selection. Sure, not everything Bezos has ever conceived has been a hit. I’d say that puts him in Steve Jobs’ camp.

5. It’s cool
(!)

Says Bezos: “This is a 500 year old technology. We forget it is a technology. As readers we don’t think about this often. You print books 16 pages at a time or 32 pages at a time, that collection is called a signature that gets folded, the edged get abraded. the printing press has definitely gotten a lot more sophisticated since Gutenberg’s time. Gutenberg would still recognize a modern-day book.”

“Why are books the last bastion of analog. they have stubbornly resisted digitization.The book is so highly evolved and suited to its tasks that it is hard to displace. the key feature of a book is that it disappears when you read it. All of us readers know that flow state when we read,we don’t think about the glue, the paper, the stitching, allof that goes away. All that remains is the author’s world, and we flow right into that.”

Let’s just say I am putting one one my Wish List!

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Steve Jobs Doesn’t Sell Steak…

… but he sure sells the sizzle! OK bad pun, but I am making a (I guess) serious point. I am referring to Apple’s glossy marketing and oh-so-cool design which is somewhat at odds with their longstanding hardware quality and performance issues … notably with overheating batteries. (You see … “sizzle” … “overheating batteries”? Oh whatever …)

burning mac

I have never owned a Mac (I do own other Apple products, notably an iPod) and personally never saw the allure, outside certain outward design features. I have friends who work at agencies who have them, and I have always been mystified by their smug attitude to “PC people”, and dewy-eyed devotion to their “Mac”.

What is it about Apple that does this? I confess I have intermittently admired Apple marketing: I can still remember first seeing “1984” for example and some of their Think Different offerings were outstanding. (Not so the new iPhone ads!)

think different

Three things really stand out for me: (1) That Steve Jobs recognized digital devices were about entertainment not technology (2) The way Apple Stores have been leveraged and (3) The Apple Community.

And it is point (3) which intersects with my own universe. Say what you like about quality, Apple were really pioneers in Social Media … and you have to give them their props for that (hey, I could almost forgive the terrible Mac v PC ads …)

mac

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The Advance Guard

Recently, Crayon escapees CC Chapman and Steve Coulson rolled out their new company “The Advance Guard”. Refreshingly, they didn’t launch on Second Life, and even better they didn’t use Joseph Jaffe as their writer.

advance guard

I don’t know much about the company (or even who the other tw0 romantic -looking figures are) apart from what I have read on Facebook; but actually the one simple (BS-free) paragraph pretty much says it all.

“The Advance Guard is a new company focused on using social media and emerging technology to create radical marketing programs. It’s led by award-winning Podcaster CC Chapman, and digital advertising veteran, Steve Coulson.”

Maybe CC learned from the mistakes at Crayon, and the Advance Guard launched efficiently on Facebook and then came straight out of the gate with a client. More than that – a live campaign, with their work for Verizon’s MyHome 2.0. Talk about “show me the money!”

There seems to be a huge gaping opportunity for a “Web 2.0” agency and I think the Advance Guard could be the guys to fill it.

advance guard

One question though … who are THESE guys?

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