Machinarium

Sunday, November 15, 2009 by , under , , ,


An intricately and beautifully crafted 19th-century-czechoslovakia-inspired-steam-and-junk-world. An out-of-the-ordinary tale. A little robot. This is the premice of Machinarium, a wonderful adventure game created by Amanita Design, a czech republic independent games developer. If you're a web-based adventure game aficionado, you might know them from independant successes such as "Questionaut" (a point-and-click game developed for the BBC), or the widely acclaimed "Quest for the rest", developed for pop-rock band Polyphonic Spree.

Machinarium is among the winners of the 2009 Independant Games Festival, claiming an award for Excellence in Visual Arts, and not without reason: the game is a pure delight for the eyes, with a subtle blend of humor and adventure, it's suited for kids and adults alike looking for an original tale and an addictive game.

Only 20$ will buy you the full version (mac or pc), and trust me, it's a *very* good bang for your buck - some games selling at 60$ on popular consoles and computers wouldn't even compare at offering the level of "virtual vacation" Machinarium delivers.

Try out the free demo at www.machinarium.net. Like me, you will fall in love.



Links to this post | edit post

Short Movie Monday™: Alarm

Monday, November 02, 2009 by , under , , ,

A nice 3D treat for you this monday morning: "Alarm", a masterfully rendered animation directed by Jang Moo-hyun from the independent team of MESAI. You will be drawn into it because of its soft visuals and life-like environment rendering. You'll be stuck to it because of the compelling storytelling. You will be caught by your boss, procrastinating and drooling over whatever you were doing. You can thank me later.

Alarm from Meteorix007 on Vimeo.



Links to this post | edit post

The Cat Piano

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 by , under , ,

Your little morning comic, courtesy of Ari White and Eddie Gibson, narrated by Nick Cave. Enjoy.



Links to this post | edit post

How To Shave Your Groin, by Gillette

Saturday, August 08, 2009 by , under , , ,

Dear readers, you're in for a royal treat. You know how we're into this trend of communication authenticity and how consumer-brand conversation is now ever important. Well, I guess after many "conversations" about the matter, the nice people at Gillette decided to finally let men in on "how to properly shave their groins" -- quite the edutainment, I'm telling you. I don't know about you, but I think it's great. I think they have balls (hah!). Whomever came up with the idea and actually had it produced, you're my hero of the day. Let's cut (wee!) to the chase and view this historic piece on the art of trimming your front yard.



Links to this post | edit post

Google Classic

Thursday, July 16, 2009 by , under ,


Brilliant.



Links to this post | edit post



Nice TV ad for Evian's Live Young Campaign, directed by Michael Gracey and created by agency Euro RSCG. Music is "Rapper's Delight" by Dan the Automator.

Check out the Live Young website at http://evianliveyoung.com/

(Hey you people at Euro RSCG, let me know more often when you have good stuff like that! Write at latenightdave@hotmail.com).



Links to this post | edit post

Vuzix IWear AV230 XL+

Tuesday, July 07, 2009 by , under , , ,




Folks, this is the kind of product that truly will propel you into...TEH FUTURE *insert echo here*

(and yes, I always say it this way. It provides somewhat of a dramatic yet slightly ironic tone to my tech news).

Discover the Vuzix iWear AV230 XL+, a lightweight pair of stereoscopic glasses which provide the same experience as watching a 44-inch screen viewed from 9 feet.

Short of getting yourself a $3000 flatscreen complete with THX sound or a $50,000 full-on VR headset with touch feedback, these glasses might provide a pretty awesome gaming or movie-watching experience. As mentioned on the site, the dual displays provide "crisp images and vivid colors through optics aligned to military specifications", and the glasses feature removable high-quality stereo headphones (altough when a product description features the words "removable" and "high-quality" in the same sentence, I always tend to read "removable quality". But that's just me. I like alphanumeric naming. Feed me XTX-2000 bran and nut flakes anytime, I'll feel like a superhero.)

I haven't had the chance to actually review these goggles yet, but I like the premice this new model offers, just from description. Just so you know, past reviews about these type of glasses featured rants about "annoying scan lines" affecting picture quality, average sound and tired eyes -- all for a steep price. But it seems the good folks at Vuzix heard the cries of our people, and came up with this product retailing for less than $200 bucks while providing a kickass-end experience.

If you own a pair and would like to give me your impressions, go ahead and let the readers know!



Links to this post | edit post

Emily

Thursday, June 11, 2009 by , under ,

I've introduced the incredible work of CG company Image Metrics in a past blog post. But I've recently stumbled across this incredible CG feat on the web: meet Emily: The Tech Demo. She's entirely 3D. Threeeeee-D, friends.

Watch and be amazed.



Links to this post | edit post

So You Think You're A "Social Media Expert"?

Monday, June 08, 2009 by , under ,

Author and "personal brand" evangelist Dan Schawbel wrote a thoughtful piece about "Why you shouldn't brand yourself as a "Social Media Expert" on his blog, a mandatory read for anyone trying to figure out social media and giving themselves the title "expert" as they do it.

Read it here.



Links to this post | edit post

Inspiration Wednesdays™: Nick Bertke

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 by , under ,

Yeah I know, it's usually "Inspiration Tuesdays", but this was so good I couldn't wait 'til next week to share.

Introducing Nick Bertke, some guy I discovered off YouTube. It appears our friend Nick is a natural talent at producing genius music and films, and if he keeps going at it, might make a decent living being a superstar. Scrounging inside some old Walt Disney animations, Nick came up with delicately crafted, otherworldy mellow tunes. Something Björk-like, with a hint of sweetened Chemical Brothers but with its own smooth flavour. Being a musician myself, I'm no music critic but I know talent when I hear it.

I first got blasted off by this page I stumbled upon, moving on to YouTube where I discovered his other productions. Homemade sights and sounds copyright Nick Bertke. Here are some of my favorites (keep reading after the break):





Nick also has excellent flair for storytelling and film photography. Take your eyes on a ride with Out With It (see at end of post), a short movie about a guy, a girl, and something real bad happening. M. Night Shyamalan could be red with envy on this one, if it was only pursued into a 2-hour flick. I know I was sucked into it instantly.

I don't know of Nick's other talents, but I truly hope he gets discovered by big cheeses - something great might happen. Check out Nick's work on YouTube: search for Fagottron (interesting choice of nickname), and look him up on Last.Fm as well. Google him, for all it's worth, things are getting interesting for our friend. I do expect this guy to get his 15 minutes of fame sometime soon.

Good luck with that, amigo.



Links to this post | edit post

Discover 1000+ web applications you've never heard of

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 by , under ,


I just discovered Go2web20.net, a great place to discover some truly cool web 2.0 applications that'll change the way you use the web. Happy browsing!



Links to this post | edit post

Need a change? Create something.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 by , under ,

Being creative is about generating new opportunities for yourself, and for others.

Every day should be a new, empty slate allowing you to make use of your own creativity: Whether it is as about finding a new or better way to do your work, daring to go someplace you never would have in other times, inventing something you think could generally change your status quo.

It can be big, it can be small, but you never know how far an idea could go in creating some "new" in your life, generating new goals for yourself, and making you feel in charge.

Creation is change. And in the words of Winston Churchill: "Change is the essence of life. Be ready to surrender what you are, for what you could become."



Links to this post | edit post

Social Media: Right Now, It's Still All Talk.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 by , under ,

If you've been following marketing circles on Twitter recently, you're likely to admit there's a lot of talk about social media in business communications. I can't count all the "10 tips for this", "Tools for that" tweets, or various miracle uses of tweet-related 2.0 apps that abound in the worldwide nest.


It seems like the discussion around using social media in business has garnered more attention and spilled more digital ink than its actual use. Influent marketing Tweeters have taken upon themselves the responsibility of evangelizing their followers; said followers are on a del.icio.us bookmark craze on the subject; Bloggers flourish in profound studies and in-depth analytics on the phenomenon, and one doesn't have to look far to find a plethora of so-called social media experts on LinkedIn -- fighting to deliver the next great piece of insight.

Everyone's on the hunt for the great Social Media marketing ElDorado. And it's particularly true within marketing circles on Twitter.

What is behind this social media information-sharing craze in the Tweetosphere? Is it truly driven by the noble search to better serve one's clients, or rather by the need to build a personal brand? I guess the latter is the hidden truth. Twitter is about the need for one individual or corporation to stand out. Talking to a mass of followers. For marketers, Twitter is social media's social media.

Twitter is composed of thousands of individual mass mediums (the Tweeps) adressing their own communities of thousands, who most often are passive listeners. There's nothing truly "social" on Twitter - it's actually more like a cable TV of people selling their personal brand on their own channel. A lot of TV shows. By creating or hunting for information, these "show hosts", are trying to generate critical bits of information to use them as perceived advantage, contributing to building their own individual mass media potential, their own personal brand. The success of their daily show.

Which is to say that the current social media tweeting trend among professionals seems to be biased. It isn't really about "Social Media And How It Does Miracles For Your Company's Marketing". It's about "Social Media And How Talking About It Empowers Your Professional Credibility".

When Marshall McLuhan said the "medium is the message", he probably didn't realise how social this notion would become.



Links to this post | edit post

An Incredible Recyclable Trash Design

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 by , under ,

...and a ton of other BRILLIANT ideas you wish you had, available at http://www.inewidea.com/



Links to this post | edit post

Twitalyzer

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 by , under ,


"Measure your impact and success in Social Media".

In other terms, a fantastic tool for discovering if you're an influent twit, or not.

http://www.twitalyzer.com



Links to this post | edit post

Social Media in Plain English

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 by , under ,

The simple vanilla facts. A repost from an earlier blog post that disappeared (?), back by popular demand.



Links to this post | edit post

The Hunt For Gollum

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 by , under ,



Tolkien fans, you will go crazy on this one. The Hunt For Gollum is an entirely independent movie created by (very technically adept) fans and directed by writer-director Chris Bouchard. And this one will keep your stomachs full until (unafilliated) Peter Jackson goes crimson with envy and creates three more.

Production began in early 2007 when Chris started adapting the script from the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, and was released on May 3rd for public viewing *entirely free* (most probably with the hope that some huge distributor will notice and buy the distribution rights).

I've watched it. It's surprisingly well done. All along you wonder, for every element that comes on scene, "will they get it right?". Well for an indepedent short that, as for every indepedent short, usually deals with limited budget and rests on the talent and passion of its makers, trust me, "they get it right". It hits the spot much more that anything George Lucas recently made, if I have to make the sorry comparison.

You be the judge. Click here to watch the movie for free.



Links to this post | edit post

New LinkedIn Policy Penalises User-Made Groups

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 by , under , , ,

An open letter to my Social Media Marketing group on the LinkedIn network, from group moderator Michael Crosson (a typical user, not a LinkedIn employee). If you're on LinkedIn and are using groups, this concernts YOU. You be the judge.

"Hello, everyone - I am using a new feature on LinkedIn to contact you about something very important to all of us - social networking. I'm sure you joined in order to find information and resources, get feedback and network with other people interested in Social Media Marketing.

But LinkedIn has just made some policy changes that have severely restricted what group managers can do and makes the functionality of this group much more limited.


What they have done:


1. Taken away my ability to send you the monthly email newsletter that I have produced in the past. I can no longer access the group's email list.

2. Taken away my ability to send you individual welcome letters or direct correspondence. I can't even view who is a member of this group, it is limited to seeing only 500, not the entire 15,000+.

3. Forced advertising onto profile and other pages - but the group managers do not profit. There is no revenue share. I don't make a dime from any of the work I put into LinkedIn. [Note from Ed: This is just like you creating a web page, and some company putting web banners on your page without you getting any money from the advertising. Cheap.]

4. By disabling the email list download, I now have ZERO visibility into group performance reports that I used to have through my email management system. I can't tell how many people are unsubscribing, how many undeliverable emails there are, etc. etc. LinkedIn has NO reporting capabilities whatsoever.

They claim they had to do this because some unscrupulous managers were building lists for spam. Their response is penalize all the legitimate group managers for the actions of a few bad apples. There are far better ways to deal with this issue.

I pride myself in moderating and managing this group to the best of my ability. For almost a year, we have grown at 25% a month. LinkedIn overall has grown almost at much. The fact is, it is groups like ours that makes LinkedIn successful. But now they are biting the hand that feeds them. My ability to interact and network with you as individual members has been completely hamstrung. This is the only way to reach you individually.

I URGE YOU TO TAKE ACTION AND VOICE YOUR OPINION. Ask them to rescind this heavy-handed and totally unnecessary tactic. Send an email directly to the Founder, Chairman and CEO of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, directly on his LinkedIn page: http://snipr.com/eke5g

Thanks for taking the time and for participating in Social Media Marketing. Let's keep growing and improving it, and that means growing and improving LinkedIn, too."

Comment away.



Links to this post | edit post

Lost Generation

Monday, March 16, 2009 by , under , , , ,

Powerful video about change, created by a Chicago student for the American Association of Retired Persons's U@50 challenge (it placed 2nd! I'd like to see what came first...). It was based on "Recrear", a message created by agency Savaglio\TBWA that won a silver lion in 2006.

But that's besides the point: the adaptation is simply outstanding. Well chosen, and well done my Windy City friend -- you chose the right vehicle to get a powerful message across.

Enjoy. (Thanks, Virginie!)



Links to this post | edit post

Sexy Motion Graphicky Goodness

Sunday, March 15, 2009 by , under , , ,


Delicious homemade promo by motion graphics and 3D mighty house Buzz Image, here in Montreal. Enjoy!

Way too sexy... lipdub from Buzz Image on Vimeo.



Links to this post | edit post

Awesome

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 by , under , ,

(Thanks, Personal Branding Blog!)



Links to this post | edit post

Inspiration Tuesdays: 512k.net

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 by , under , ,

Inspiration Tuesdays are back! To start off easy, I want you to see these guys: 512k.net

I'm not sure what they do exactly, because my Japanese skills can be summed up in my ability to politely request an adequate lunch at the nearest sushi bar. My guess is they are a regroupment of flash motion graphics experts, able to create eye-catching presentations in a 512k file. Or maybe a public challenge, requiring flash artists and normal people to shell out their best flash animations in a 512k max file.

At any rate, they held my full attention for the complete showing of this:

http://512kb.net/flash5.htm


Enjoy.



Links to this post | edit post

Social Media: Lots of Talk, Not Enough Walk

Monday, March 09, 2009 by , under ,

Scouring the web these days you can find a plethora of blogs, tweets and web sites on which marketing consultants tell you how to "optimize your campaign using social media", or how "Twitter can be a great complement to your integrated advertising campaign". And AdKrispies is no exception. The search for the next great way to market to consumers has spilled much digital ink.

But while this is great from a theoretical point of view, I still fail to see concrete applications of social media inside actual campaigns. Companies are still tip-toeing in social media and emergent communication, and on rare instances will you actually see an actual campaign that's entirely wrapped around social media.

I'm not saying I find this disappointing, but I'm honestly getting a bit fed off with the fact that the hunt for social media information seems to be more important than its actual application. People seem to be on a Twitter craze, posting and reposting everything they find on the matter.
As I mentioned before, blogs are eloquent on the matter. There are five to ten 2.0 social media startups sprouting everyday on the web, "helping me better connect to people and places".

Well, it seems the more I spend time getting connected to people, things and places these days, the less I actually see them. My time hunting for social media is taking too much time, and not generating enough money. If social media is going to be an important part of the communications business, well it should start acting as such.

Monetize, don't just theorize.

Edit: I personally congratulate the people at Skittles for coming up with their new website and its brilliant use of social media. Bold move, yet full of win.



Links to this post | edit post

In my last essay about this subject I've introduced the possibility of the User Prerogative Factor, or UPF, as an important constraint to take in account when trying to monetize an existing online business or social media.

As a reminder, the UPF (high or low) is the notion that a user's web usage habits always override the value of a website's contents. Hence a previously free, high-UPF site before will be very hard to monetize, while a previously free, low-UPF site stands better chances.

Now, we're going to look at solutions towards keeping a low UPF, or in other words, we'll try to discover what could possibly get users to adopt your service without being able to own it -- the key to any successful online venture.

First, let's look at some of the motivations to use an online service:

- Self-improvement (possibilities of)
- Proximity (or convenience)
- Anonymity
- Connection (to communities)
- Entertainment
- Control (of actions, of information)

Now, once users have benefitted from any of these advantages for free on your website, the High UPF factor brought therein means it'll be quite hard to bring anything new on the site that would be offered in payable form, because you're already fulfilling the basic usage motivations of users with your service.

Now, two important steps towards a solution. First, you must:

- Examine current usage of your services by users, and extract some insights. For example (something that's close to me, in this case): Employers currently examine a job candidate's Facebook profile before hiring. That's a usage insight. How could Facebook take this insight, and monetize it?

- Turn to your userbase, and ask them what they think, what they do. Most online businesses spend tremendous amounts of money in research to come up with the next great idea to raise the value of their online service. Why do so, when they could just ask users what they want instead? If you have a community, use it. Chances are all your answers could be there.

Once you have two or three basic usage insights in hand, you have real precious info. You now have to find out how to convert these insights into products or services that raise web usage habits one notch up. Sounds hard? Nope. The thing is, you don't necessarily have to twist your brains to find innovation on the web: thousands of brilliant and revolutionary 2.0 startups abound.

The idea is to learn how you can integrate these ideas with your own, creating a whole new service. That's called a mashup, and it's the future of the web as we know it.

I strongly believe that, once we're passed the "scattering of innovations" that's standard currency on the web nowadays, we will witness the regrouping of these innovations inside broader integrated services. Facebook is free. Yellow-pages are free. Should an application that mashes Facebook and Yellow-Pages together be free? Would people pay for that? What's an acceptable value for such a service?

What's for sure, your new mashed-up service could certainly bring user interaction on your site to a whole new level. But still the question remains: will people pay for it? Which form should my new offer take? Should it be a freemium? Should it be subscription-based? Paid by advertising?

To be continued.

In the next article, we'll look at options to integrate payment into your new service. In the meanwhile, please comment on my essay at will, add your ideas, and don't hesitate to criticize!

_______________________________
Summing things up, we've seen:

- Gathering insights from site usage;
- Gathering information from your community;
- Convert these insights into tools, products of services by blending in other 2.0 services: Mashing Up.



Links to this post | edit post

Honda: The Power of Dreams (4)

Friday, February 20, 2009 by , under , , ,


Iwantmyflashtv.com is to my knowledge, the only place where you'll find animated shorts *entirely made in flash*, and of *very high quality* while you're at it. Boy will you see talent in there, trust me.

Now, about the "entirely made in flash" and "you will see talent in there" parts of my sentence: Yesterday evening I was struck by flash genius, while at the same time, being struck by animation genius. And while getting maimed by all that striking, I was also struck by storytelling genius, and music genius. Now either that's real bad weather, or I have fantastic genius conductivity.

The source of all that thunderous striking? A short movie titled Honda, The Power of Dreams, by Michele d'Auria Animation Studio. Basically, the story of Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motor Company. Told for the first time. And entirely made in Flash only.

Watch it now. And wear some protection.



Links to this post | edit post

15 Conceptual Designs You Wish Existed (0)

Friday, February 20, 2009 by , under , , ,


An awesome post by blog Creative Closeup, a place I love to visit when I feel like getting schooled in innovation and creativity. Your reactions will be (in sequence):

1) Man, that's just awesome! I want this!
2) How come this has never been made? How can a manufacturer not see the genius behind this?
3) Makeitmakeitmakeitmakeitmakeit. Now.

You can't say I haven't warned you. Now go check it out.



Links to this post | edit post

"What is the value of my service? How much should I charge? Can I charge (without feeling guilty or being scolded by my userbase)? Will users be willing to pay for it? Or will they think it's not worth the value or worse, the effort? A lot of these questions are racing around inside many an online entrepreneur's mind.

Chris Anderson, in a recent article on the realities of the online economy (read "The Economics of Giving It Away") summed up the problem into one sentence: "For the Google Generation, the Internet is the land of the free.".

How very true. You can't count all the major services, widgets and apps that are emerging online, that struggle at finding a way to monetize themselves, yet offer brilliant, well-planned and worthy products that are used by millions. Major names among these include Meebo, Twitter, Facebook, Friendster, Joost -- all of them, barenaked free.

Of course you can't complain about this openly without being touted as a capitalist pig. Because the web was built as a place for freedom and democracy in the sharing of information. Or was it?

Well, that's the whole question. It seems the basic rules of "offline" commerce, when applied to "online" businesses, become obscured by the powerful influence of installed web culture, a phenomenon which I call the User Prerogative Factor (UPF). I believe this factor to be an unavoidable presence to consider when building or improving (read 'trying to monetize') an online business.

Basically, the UPF could be given the following definition: "Web usage habits always override the value of a website's contents". Which is to say that, to a generic user, your website's product or service offer is always worth less than how the web is being used at the moment. Not following? Here are short concrete examples:

- Chat Communities were 'the thing' until MySpace came.

- MySpace was 'the thing' until Facebook came. People's usage shifted.

- Facebook was 'the thing' until..? Who knows. But they're coming.

Because these online entities weren't imagined to be pay-per-use from the getgo, they have generated a "for free" usage habit within consumers. As time passed, this usage habit came to dictate the value of their contents - zero. Now that the Facebooks and Twitters of this world are looking at ways to monetize themselves, their are left trying to fight the User Prerogative Factor -- or, trying to find how to create "new usage that is worth something, because it moves the current web habits up a notch.

While "paid or free" could be a UPF, you might also have the "private or public" UPF, or the "static or animated" UPF, and so on.

A High UPF index would mean that people would not agree to lose the prerogative they have gained over common usage, while a low UPF index would mean that people wouldn't mind losing their prerogative in favor of something better -- for example, a product or service which hasn't been democratized yet, or with added features, or which is very niched.

High UPF example: Twitter
Low UPF example: FireEagle

A freemium would be low UPF, because the core principle is to provide "paid-for" added value that is niched within an already "free service". People would consider paying because it brings their usage habit up a notch.

Twitter giving companies money to sell their premium-content tweets and taking a cut from sales, would raise a very high UPF -- people are currently doing this for free, regardless of content.

In summing things up: are you doomed if you extra-popular site has a high UPF? Of course not. (Google knows something about that). But it means you have to dig up a lot of usage insights about your service, in order to find solutions that will lower your UPF.

We'll talk more about solutions in the next article. In the meanwhile and as always, let me know your thoughts.



Links to this post | edit post

Eyes have value (0)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 by , under , ,

"We're sorry, this content can only be viewed by residents of the United States".

Being in Canada, this is the phrase I got when I first tried to view Hulu.com content.

It's there because understandably, media moguls have signed agreements with Hulu to control distribution. They've known since the dawn of mass communications that eyes, or "views", have value.

Now a lot of web 2.0 startups have great community-building ideas, but fail when it comes to monetize the value of these communities. However, a lot of people in these communities would readily pay for the content if it brought a certain level of "value" to their eyes.

How can the two meet? Is it possible to bring the notion of pay-per-view in web 2.0 content? Would you pay minute amounts of money for viewing Facebook profiles? Would you charge people 99 cents to view your corporate Tweets?

Can something belonging to the information category be monetized in this web 2.0 era? Or is entertainment the only thing which holds real value on the web currently?

UserVoice (see below post) seems to have found a model in selling "subscriptions" to their service right off the bat, because the product they're offering provides ROI to its benefactor.
However, people giving feedbacks inside the application, aren't paid to do so: they're doing it voluntarily. This being said, they do get something back in the long run because they get free active participation in making something they're using much better.

Would they pay to provide the feedback? No. Could they get paid to provide their ideas and insights? Yes. In UserVoice's current model they're not, but still it doesn't mean that their feedback doesn't have individual value. That value is a notion in itself which was certainly used by UserVoice creators in evaluating the average cost of a UserVoice package.

Now, isn't content found within a web application like LinkedIn of equal value? Doesn't it provide you with ROI because of the contacts you make and the businesses you develop? So why isn't LinkedIn taking advantage of this and selling this service?

Is "eye value" an applicable notion to community-based services? Are there ways that can be found to monetize or otherwise generate return from this eye value, without ruining the authenticity and efficiency of the community itself ?



Links to this post | edit post

Today's market is made of conversations.

Managing and participating in these conversations is not only a great way to build a relationship with the public, it's also a great way to help your brand or product innovate.

Discover UserVoice, "the fastest way to turn feedback into innovation" as they put it themselves, but moreover -- a damn brilliant 2.0 application.

What UserVoice does is very simple. It opens up a channel for people to give feedback on your company's product or service, offering ideas and improvements. Just like you had your own little private (or public) customer management tool.

The UserVoice creators put it this way (from the UserVoice website):

"On other projects we were left frustrated and overwhelmed when trying to grasp what our users really wanted. Unorganized inboxes and clogged ticket systems ruled the day. Forums were awash with duplication, user support was impossible to determine, and valuable ideas were lost in the shuffle."

And this great insight led the way to a very flexible online application. The system is pretty much a cross between Digg and Twitter, but applied to feedback usage -- which is one heck of an idea in itself. People can rate the submissions, a function which helps you recognize which parts of your product or service are worth improving first, or down right changing completely.

UserVoice was created less than a year ago, has its roots in lovelay California and is led by a team of 6. They have a very interesting and scalable subscription model , which starts from *completely free* moving up to *more bang for your buck*, and have already been subject to a number of articles and praises from the online community.

If you want to see an example of UserVoice in action, take a peek at TweetDeck's UserVoice (TweetDeck is a standalone Twitter aggregator application in its beta phase). I'm using TweetDeck and had a few ideas for improvements, and was trying to email TweetDeck directly to let them know. Upon landing on their page and looking for contact info, I decided instead to click their "TweetDeck Feedback" button, and I was directly sent to their UserVoice account -- that was 10 minutes ago, and also the reason I'm now blogging this post. You'll get the idea pretty quickly, and like me, you'll probably by amazed by the idea.

This is one of the best 2.0 ventures I've seen in awhile, and a potential massive success we'll be hearing about shortly.



Links to this post | edit post

Awesome mini-turntable mixer 1

Thursday, January 29, 2009 by , under , ,

Get mini-scratching those mp3s with this mini turntable speaker/mixer, which can connect to your iPhone or mp3-playing device.

Great fun at the office when you wanna show off your mad skills. Available at your local crazy Urban Outfitters.

(Thanks, Notcot.org!)



Links to this post | edit post

Mobile Marketing: Righting The Wrong (0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 by , under

Did you happen to hear about Deloitte's latest TMT Predictions for 2009? Every year since 2006, Deloitte produces this interesting study debrief on what movements to expect in the fields of Technology, Media and Telecommunications -- and their impact on canadian businesses. It's usually very insightful and well-documented, and indeed -- as they say -- it "...provides a diverse selection of views and thoughts that challenge, inform and engage industry leaders and executives."

Well, case in hand, they truly did challenge me. A friend of mine posted a Tweet that attracted my attention on point 8 in their “2009 Canadian TMT Predictions” PDF : "Mobile advertising finds its meaning: cellphones are the new billboards". Wow. I read on with more attention, making sure I wasn’t distracted by all the dinosaur roaring behind me. I read on, thinking there had to be a deeper thought or explanation hiding somewhere in the body copy.

“Monetizing the screen you look at 50 times a day. (...) But higher smartphone penetration, higher network speeds, better mobile operating systems and, in some cases, a better understanding of the medium means that mobile ads are likely to be the only category of advertising that grows in 2009."

Are you for real? This prediction is no better than what we've been hearing for the last 5 years or so. Once again this is an analysis that's only based on media sales numbers, much more than qualitative research. That's not what I call a prediction, it's a historic account of failed hopes.
In Canada, mobile marketing is still in its infancy. Worse, it hasn’t really been born yet. Advertisers are still at experimentation level with the media, and haven't really bought into it enough for anyone to come up with such a prediction for 2009. Indeed, mobile marketing represented less than 0,4% of all advertising investments as recently as 2008, as Deloitte reports themselves. I don't see a sudden boom happening this year, and frankly, I especially don't see "cellphones turning into virtual billboards".

So what's happening? Why such a low investment in the medium?

Reason #1: no one could come up with a viable advertising model, hence announcers with cold feet and a small budget failed to see the possibilities.

Reason #2: The consumer receptivity factor. It's common knowledge that people just don't respond well to unsollicited advertising, and this is particularly true on their cellphones. I have yet to hear about a mobile advertising campaign success in Canada, that's didn't use "reach" but "sales" as its benchmark for evaluation.

So how can we be talking about potential "better understanding of the medium" when the rules of the game have yet to be written? And how can Deloitte attribute potential success of mobile marketing to technologies evolving, without even the smallest mention of a very mandatory condition: consumer behavior?

Kindly allow me to make my own prediction: In 2009, marketers will take some time to study people's mobile usage, and then come up with a viable mobile marketing model. Taking in account a context of economic crisis, we know without a doubt 2009 won't be a big year in terms of traditional advertising investment generally. Which means announcers will be quick in investigating the communication possibilities offered by emergent media like cellphones, and ad agencies should quickly turnaround and try developing communication models for these emergent media to generate conversion.

Having powerful technology at hand is one thing: making good use of it is another. Deloitte does have a much better take on this notion in their 2009 Global Media Predictions document. (See "Mobile advertising finds its meaning"), to the point where it feels like both documents have been written by different people with different opinions. But unfortunately it's still not quite there yet -- I find Deloitte analysis is too one-sided, speaking only of "the industry", "technology" or "understanding of the medium".

In my own early personal analysis, I came up with five factors to consider in building a viable communication model for mobile advertising. They're mostly thought-starters, but I feel nevertheless that they take in account more human realities:

1) Mobile marketing should not use traditional communication methods: This includes unsollicited text messages, videos or pictures, or anything that forces a "push" upon the consumer. Mobile marketing should not be a static "show and tell" media, but incite users to take action, whether it is playing, sharing, or talking.

2) We have to find out what the mobile culture is in Canada. In a little chat I had yesterday morning with Serge (Upperkut's president), he pointed out how Japanese users crave QR codes (Quick Response codes) , and we were left both wondering if it'd ever work here in Canada. Who knows? Could this be compatible with the usage we're making of our cellphones here? Is there something to be learned from this usage? There's a huge cellphone culture in Japan, France and Korea. But what's the cellphone culture in Canada? Is there any insight to pull from there, in order to help us construct relevant mobile marketing tools?

3) Mobile marketing should thrive on instantaneity: Cellphones are "hot publishing" devices. Satellite crashing in your backyard? Pic taken and posted on Twitter or Facebook within seconds. As marketers, we should take advantage of this "high turnaround rate" and indeed turn it to our advantage.

4) Mobile marketing should be generous: Being generous in marketing doesn't necessarily mean giving out rebate coupons on your next IPurchase. Generosity in marketing means giving a communication experience of value to the consumer.

5) Mobile marketing should empower online communities: Let's stop using mobile marketing as a message-generating medium. It should rather become a driving force to strengthen the bonds between users in a brand's community. With web 3.0 in the works, I have a feeling location-based social networks like Brightkite or FireEagle, or geocaching games will have an important role to play in providing engaging experiences with mobile media.

At any rate, I'd like to hear anyone's take on this. Do you agree with Deloitte's prediction or, like me, believe that it's misguided -- only taking media sales in account? While markets are conversations, don't you think that mobile marketing should concentrate on stimulating and encouraging these conversations?



Links to this post | edit post

The New AdKrispies (0)

Friday, January 23, 2009 by , under , ,

I've taken the time to finally move AdKrispies to the latest Blogger platform. About time you say? Heck yeah.

Hope you like the new platform. I should make good use of it in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading!

Yours truly,

David



Links to this post | edit post

Adkrispies undergoing a facelift (0)

Thursday, January 15, 2009 by , under

Yes folks, Adkrispies will be under maintenance for the next two weeks at least; since I can't really hide it from the public eye you'll probably be barging in as the actress is getting made up.

In the meanwhile, please take 5 minutes to subscribe to the community using the tab on the right, and check back older posts!

You regular kosmic krunchies should be back after the changes, in a newfound beauty.

Cheers,

David @ Adkrispies



Links to this post | edit post