Category Archives: Usergenerated

A Checklist for Kids Virtual Worlds

In February I  was honored to be part of a Panel on Virtual World development at Engage 2010 at the NY Toy Fair.

In “The Tactical Perspective:  A Best Practices Checklist” we discussed the process of migrating brands online, including a typical product development roadmap and timeline.  At a high level we covered the different phases of production as well as engaging an audience, building a brand, operations,  moderation and driving ROI.

Engage Expo was great to work with and has generously shared the recordings of the session:

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Yelp! needs Help?

Yelp and GoogleYelp has been growing at a good clip and in the last couple days touted how well they were doing. This growth was probably a big factor in Yelp’s rumored $200 million valuation on its fourth round in February. A lot of this growth has been fueled by the excellent SEO that they receive as a result of a partnering arrangement with Google.

I noticed recently that Yelp isn’t as prevalent in my searches. Where Yelp used to show up almost every time I Googled a restaurant, instead it looks like Yelp competitor Citysearch is Google’s new review partner.

We haven’t seen a press release yet, but if Yelp has lost its relationship with Google this could lead to a downturn. While they may have the best reviews, that will mean little if people can’t find them. Could Yelp’s recent crowing be a scramble to paint a pretty picture before the decline?

The Free Economy

Internet GrowthIt comes to no surprise to many that I am an ardent follower of the economic trends and business models that are evolving online. Among other things this affords is a perspective on what happens when you take traditional media and services and move them online where the cost of production and friction for consumption starts to approach zero.

When we amortize most work over millions of consumers it becomes practical, and sometimes more profitable to make the product “free” and support it through advertising or ancillary sales. Because of this trend there is a growing expectation among some people that all content should be “free”.
Continue reading The Free Economy

Getting It

Blind Men with Elephant“It” is a paradigm shift. A concept that may be elusive, visceral and something that we need to understand completely to be part of the conversation. We see the symptoms in sales statistics and market reactions and try to understand it in terms of what we already know.

The changes happening to the societies of the world due to the advancement of Moore’s law and the Internet into every facet of our lives represents this on a titanic scale. The problem is that this paradigm shift does not fit in the box we understand. In order to understand it we frequently have to look for the things that change on a macro level. What are the currents that are shifting the sands? Where is that sand going?

To come up with comparisons we have to look at the telegraph/telephone as a precursor and realize how profoundly it changed the world. We then realize that even that shift pales in comparison to what we are experiencing today.

Getting our feet under us in this whirlwind of currents is difficult. In order to start understanding we have to examine the foundations of enterprise, social interaction and even assumptions of why we do things in our daily lives. We track the currents and try to predict where the next wave will hit.

This is an interesting time we live in, it can be a lot of work keeping up, but it can also be a lot of fun. Part of the fun is running into other people who get it. These meetings are often a fervent exchange of ideas and feelings as we negotiate a common understanding of the most exciting thing we have ever witnessed. We challenge each other and grow. Stitching together what is happening is in an imitation of blind men trying to describe an elephant.

There is a patchwork of understanding, a mosaic picture of convergence that is coming into focus. The world is changing and the new shape is just starting to emerge. The only constants are change and our basic human needs. To those that are awake to the possibilities this represents opportunity. The world has become a canvas for us to paint on.

Moore’s Law vs. Dunbars Number

Johnny MnemonicMoore’s Law wins.

In a recent twitter conversation Jeremiah Owyang asked the question, ” Did we break Dunbar’s Number of 150 members per social network? Or are tools more efficient?”

The reality is that we have been pushing Dunbar’s number since we first invented the little black book. By offloading much of the social context data into long term storage we can maintain much more meaningful social interactions with a larger number of people. We can also pick up stale relationships and rekindle them much easier.

So what does Moore’s Law have to do with any of this? Our mobile phone and Social Network contact lists are this generations black book. We may not quite be up to the level of Johnny Mnemonic, but the reality is that we are already augmenting ourselves. For now the interface is our eyes and keyboard/pad.

Some of us are already living in the future…

Who is the Long Tail?

Long Tail BookWe have been making a lot of noise about the long tail for a while now in our little world of Web 2.0 and it struck me this morning while reading a post by Gordon Haff that we don’t really talk about where it comes from.

The long tail has many forms, some obvious ones being older and niche music as well as practically all of the blogoshpere. I disagree with the idea Alex Iskold posted that, because the individual content contributor isn’t making money, the long tail is in trouble. Making money is not necessarily first and foremost for many of the people producing content for the Long Tail.

I just finished reading Moneyball where Michael Lewis relates that Billy James was ecstatic at having sold 64 copies of his first Baseball Almanac. This was done out of passion and a need for recognition, not greed. This type of attitude is pervasive in the Long Tail.

The Long Tail is real and here to stay not because the people creating the content for the long tail are making money, but because someone else has figured out to monetize access to it as part of their service. The Long Tail was always there, and is growing because the internet makes it so easy to share content and get positive feedback.

I know that I do not have a large audience, but blogging still holds value to me. Even if the numbers are low its still a fun to look at Firestats and realize that other people are getting what you are talking about.

We are the Long Tail.

Truemors and Guy’s clay feet.

Truemors
From time to time I have read Guy Kawasaki’s blog. It was usually engaging, informative even if I didn’t always agree. It also exposed sides of the venture beat that I wasn’t familiar with. I came to respect Guy and still do.

When Guy started his new project truemors.com I was stunned. Truemors was pitched as a place to post inside scuttlebutt. In effect a place to post rumors and gossip. This was the last thing I would have thought Guy would get into.

This shock prompted me to email Guy to quench my curiosity. To my surprise Guy started to correspond and I started to get the feeling that what had transpired was only partly a change in Guy.

After some reflection I realized that a big part was the crumbling of a personal mythology that had developed around Guy’s blog. When we expose parts of ourselves on the web others develop a mental picture of who we are as people. The higher the signal to noise ratio (more quality/less crap) the more respect and expectations.

In this instance I had developed respect for Guy that was tied to the perception of Guy as a VC and analyst. A perception that he had such insight as to be able to see the forest for the trees. Truemors struck me as trivial and fluff. An idea that I would have discounted and rejected.

Of course the reality is that trivial and fluff with the right twist can be more viral and successful than something that took years to develop and millions of dollars. In many ways the paradigms have changed and it truly is the little guy in his garage that can come up with the next great thing for very little money. Throw it against the wall and see what sticks.

Spam?

When I added Guy on Facebook I received a message to try Truemors. Mind you I get messages from time to time from other developer friends who are developing Facebook apps to tryout their wares and don’t think anything of it. Once again I apply a double standard for Guy.

I told myself that it was because Guy wasn’t commenting on others work or talking about the next great thing he was involved with. Guy was selling Truemors to us. In my mind he had violated a trust. The critic is not allowed to be a promoter.

In my mind Guy was now trading social capital for the success of this enterprise. The earned respect and myth being traded for a chance that you might try his application. That it might be enough to help put Truemors over critical mass.

So of course I send Guy a message, what gives? In Guy’s reply he asks “I have to do what I have to do, right?”.

Guy was right; you do have to give it your all. He wasn’t being any more spam than my other friends, he was simply promoting again. I once again realized that it was my perception that was coloring all of this. I had been affronted when he dared stray from my preconceptions. Guy was simply using his assets to help his investment succeed. This was business.

In the end I have to thank Guy for an education. Once again (as has happened many times before for me) I have learned that people are people. Putting someone on a pedestal clouds our vision of the real person. I would rather know the person than the myth.

One more thing, Guy, good luck with Truemors.