Google Docs will soon be supporting uploads of up to 250MB, in all file types.
Google's Docs and Wave products are starting to look like a real collaboration solution, especially for loosely allied or ad-hoc teams which may not have any need for a real infrastructure of their own (I work with a shifting coalition of collaborators, in just such a scenario).
Does that mean that workflow or asset management within an organization is no longer necessary? I don't think so - I see Google as a better solution at the fringes, where organizations interact, and where the greatest communications difficulties typically are.
In other news, YouSendIt is looking a little green around the gills...
Guy Kawasaki points us to AppMakr - a simple widget builder that creates an iPhone app, with your RSS feed as the content.
You distribute the resulting app through the iPhone App Store - either under AppMakr's account, or your own Apple Developer Account, if you have one.
Be sure to visit Guy's article - from now till Monday, he's got a promo code that lets you build your app for $49 instead of $199.
If you can handle the academ-ese, here's a journal dedicated to online advertising.
Fortunately, they have an RSS feed, which streams abstracts to your reader - and these may perhaps be a bit more readable than the full articles.
At the very least, sticking a few pages of this sort of thing in your consulting report will handily keep your customer from actually reading it, and help ensure that they take your word for whatever conclusions you've drawn:
Advertising value provides an overall representation of the worth of advertising to consumers (Ducoffe 1995). Existing literature suggests that consumers view advertising's ability to supply information as a primary reason for approving of it (Bauer and Greyser 1968). Research in online advertising also shows that advertising can offer value to Internet users in the form of more relevant information (Ducoffe 1996). When online community members possess a distinct group intention about the need for advertising, they should be able to internalize the notion that advertising benefits the community. As a result, these members should be more inclined to develop favorable evaluations of the advertising. We also hypothesize that they perceive a higher degree of value of advertising in the community:
H6: Group intentions to accept advertising in online social networking communities relates positively to perceived ad value in community sites.
Finally, cognitive studies of associative links suggest people tend to regard relevant information as more accessible in their attitude formation (Rodgers 2004). The more community members perceive advertising as relevant to the community themes, and thus more relevant to community members, the more likely they are to find such information useful, which should result in a higher level of perceived ad value. In turn,
H7: Perceived ad relevance relates positively to perceived ad value.
Come to think of it, slogging through this stuff is how I earn my rate.
Journal of Interactive Advertising
I've always intuitively felt that all-nighters and such lead to poor performance - ever since high school actually. So it gives me a small thrill when I find some scientist waving around studies that support the idea.
In this case, Psychology Today's Kelly McGonigal shares findings that show how cognitive function is disrupted by irregular sleep patterns - not just not getting enough, but not getting it regularly can, apparently, severely inhibit performance.
Here's the executive summary:
Getting enough sleep, on a regular cycle, may make us a better version of ourselves. And even though my greatest wish is usually more time in the day, I'd rather feel good and perform well than get to be a crankier, impulsive, sick version of myself for a few extra hours a day.
powdermonkey brings us the welcome news that the US Department of Defense has positively OK'd Open Source software for use in its projects.
Here's the opening statement:
To effectively achieve its missions, the Department of Defense must develop and update its software-based capabilities faster than ever, to anticipate new threats and respond to continuously changing requirements. The use of Open Source Software (OSS) can provide advantages in this regard.
The memo's attachments outline a cogent case for OSS, which all software customers should take to heart. Here's a list of key points:
There are positive aspects of OSS that should be considered when conducting market research on software for DoD use, such as:
- The continuous and broad peer-review enabled by publicly available source code supports software reliability and security efforts through the identification and elimination of defects that might otherwise go unrecognized by a more limited core development team.
- The unrestricted ability to modify software source code enables the Department to respond more rapidly to changing situations, missions, and future threats.
- Reliance on a particular software developer or vendor due to proprietary restrictions may be reduced by the use of OSS, which can be operated and maintained by multiple vendors, thus reducing barriers to entry and exit.
- Open source licenses do not restrict who can use the software or the fields of endeavor in which the software can be used. Therefore, OSS provides a net-centric licensing model that enables rapid provisioning of both known and unanticipated users.
- Since OSS typically does not have a per-seat licensing cost, it can provide a cost advantage in situations where many copies of the software may be required, and can mitigate risk of cost growth due to licensing in situations where the total number of users may not be known in advance.
- By sharing the responsibility for maintenance of OSS with other users, the Department can benefit by reducing the total cost of ownership for software, particularly compared with software for which the Department has sole responsibility for maintenance (e.g., GOTS).
Hugh Macleod, of Gaping Void fame, has this short post on "Rudy's Bar-BQ Sause", illustrative of how brands can become meaningful part of their customers' lives. Here's a bit:
Too many brand managers ask the question, “What message do I have to craft in order to get people to buy my product?” It’s a dead end. A far more useful and profitable question would be, “What can I do to make my customers’ lives more interesting and meaningful?”
And “Meaningful” always has a social dynamic. We find meaning via our relationships with our fellow creatures. “People matter. Objects don’t.”
A bottle of barbecue sauce isn’t going to instantly change anyone’s life for the better. But that 4-hour-long conversation with an old friend, sharing a plate of ribs and brisket, with some Shiner Bock… Well, that might. So you want your product to be there when it happens; you want your product to be around during your customers’ significant moments.
Macleod calls a product like rudy's a "Social object", in the sense that what's really being purchased is a way of connecting with others (in this case, via a backyard recreation of the experience of a Rudy's restaurant).
This isn't really new - beer and spirits sales have been driven by the nuances of social interaction for decades. Think about it - does anyone buy a particular beer based on how effectively it'll get you tanked? I think most beer and spirits sales are driven by the kind of person you want to look like, and the kind of people you want to be with.
But what would it mean to apply this thinking to, say, curling irons? What if your product could become a social object? How would you make that happen?
Following up on the news that whitehouse.gov has been migrated to Drupal, Tim O'Reilly comments on the O'Reilly Radar site.
Among other things, O'Reilly points out that having a high-profile target like this using OSS software validates the long-understood advantage of open source in the security arena. But there's more:
More than just security, though, the White House saw the opportunity to increase their flexibility. Drupal has a huge library of user-contributed modules that will provide functionality the White House can use to expand its social media capabilities, with everything from super-scalable live chats to multi-lingual support.
In many ways, this is the complement to the Government as Platform mantra I've been chanting in Washington. When you build a vibrant, extensible platform, others add value to the foundation you establish; when you join such a platform, you get the benefit of all those features you didn't have to develop yourself.
So is the White House actually creating a user community around their website, in the best Web 2.0 fashion? Well, not yet - right now there's no interactivity to speak of on the site, and no indication as to what the plans are.
AP news release, via Huffington Post
Drupal lead Dries Buytaert's comments
Our friends at Brainloaf, a development shop specializing in Marketing Technology, posted on the subject of integrating tactical technologies with a more comprehensive strategic view - something that is surprisingly lacking in online marketing today.
Here's a key point:
The explosion of possible channels for businesses to reach potential customers has made it difficult to know which will be most profitable. In order to manage multiple, fragmented media channels, you need to have a clear plan on how you're going to spend your money, where to place your media and how to measure your results. All too often in our new fast paced media world, the driving focus is to move and do something immediately. In Social Media, there is a low barrier to entry, that companies approach it as a low cost channel that will yield huge profits. As a result there are many poorly designed and executed ideas. You need to set goals. You need to create a strategy. Then build a plan of tactics to execute that strategy. Did I mention you should have goals and a strategy to reach them?
Not that any of this isn't quite obvious to anyone looking at online marketing today - but when was the last time you heard a programmer talk about strategy like this?
Not for nothing, the main Brain at Brainloaf, Mike Rogers, worked with Seth Godin in a past life. Now THAT makes for an interesting skillset.
A cute post from Gerry McGovern, illustrating the fallacy of flooding website visitors with information when all they really want is to get something done:
It took time. Lots of counseling. I had many relapses. The doctors told me that I had spent too much time with too many web teams who didn’t live in the real world. These web teams built websites full of information without any real understanding of what their customers actually wanted. These web teams thought people came looking for information, when in fact people had specific tasks that they wanted to solve. Information was only a means to an end. It was not the end.
Squidoo's user-created pages are called "Lenses". This is a pretty good metaphor, since the page essentially gives visibility to content around a topic, pulled from all over the web: Amazon titles relevant to the topic, news feeds from related sources, etc.
Here's my lens for Xinet (the Digital Asset Management system, not the Unix internet services daemon): http://www.squidoo.com/xinet. Note - I haven't touched this page in a long time, as the Xinet user's group has dissolved.
While it's not a full-featured social networking portal, it does empower ordinary web users to create a location around a topic.
So what if that topic is your brand? Or, for that matter, what if the Squidoo lens is just a small part of the discussion about your brand on the web? (This is likely to be true!)
That's where Brands in Public comes in. Here's Seth's précis:
You can't control what people are saying about you. What you can do is organize that speech. You can organize it by highlighting the good stuff and rationally responding to the not-so-good stuff. You can organize it by embracing the people who love your brand and challenging them to speak up and share the good word. And you can respond to it in a thoughtful way, leaving a trail that stands up over time.
Over the last few months, we've seen big brands (like Amazon and Maytag) get caught in a twitterstorm. An idea (one that's negative to the brand) starts and spreads, and absent a response, it just spirals. Of course, Amazon can't respond on their home page (they're busy running a store) and they don't have an active corporate blog that I could find, so where? How?
Enter Brands In Public.
Squidoo has built several hundred pages, each one about a major brand. More are on the way. We'll keep going until we have thousands of important brands, each on its own page (and we'll happily add one for you if you like). Each page collects tweets, blog posts, news stories, images, videos and comments about a brand. All of these feeds are algorithmic... the good and the bad show up, all collated and easy to find.
Of course, these comments and conversations are already going on, all over the web. What we've done is bring them together in one place. And then we've made it easy for the brand to chime in.
If your brand wants to be in charge of developing this page, it will cost you $400 a month. And once [we build] the page, the left hand column belongs to you. You can post responses, highlight blog posts, run contests or quizzes. You can publicly have your say right next to the constant stream of information about your brand (information that's currently all over the web--and information you can't "take down" or censor). You can respond, lead and organize. If a crisis hits, your page will be there, ready for you to speak up. If your fans are delighted, your page makes it easy for them to chime in and speak up on sites around the web.
If you have the tools and wherewithal to build a page like this on your own site, you should consider that. The challenge is getting it done, regardless of where the page lives.
I sincerely hope the ease and convenience of doing this sort of thing enables marketers to get past the wallflower-like shyness that has kept many out of the public forum thus far. Really, it's time to get up and dance, folks.