Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Send me your junk

I have been doing a lousy job blogging. Amongst all of my friends, there is growing consensus that we really don't want to hear how "busy" anyone is so I won't cite the b-word for why I haven't been doing the b-thing. Instead, I'll just tell you about my Gramma.

Without my Gramma (Betty), I wouldn't be here. Not the here here that every grandkid can say about their grandparents but the here in the story-line of "I got my start at Apple as a teenager" here.

When I got the invitation to meet John Sculley (my then hero) before he gave a keynote speech at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in May of 1993, my parents were just going through a divorce and we couldn't afford the cost of going to California.

My mum borrowed money from my Grandma (not a wealthy person by any stretch) and on May 15th, 1993, it all got going. I met Sculley, we exchanged cards, I met most everyone else in Apple's senior management team and the next year, I had a job offer.

Fast-forward to today: My Grandma is now 89 years old and has recently moved from independent living into a care-home. She is - understandably - not at all happy.

One of the things she had to give-up with her loss of independence is something I'm hoping you can help me with: She used to collect used stamps and soda-can "tabs" to send to the BC Guide Dogs Society. She displays a picture of a Guide Dog that the money made from her used stamps and soda-can tabs helped to train. It's already sad that she shares a room with two other women who are basically catatonic, and the loss of this ability to contribute to one of her favorite charities just exacerbates an already crummy situation.

So I called the BC Guide Dogs office because I was a little unsure of whether they actually wanted used stamps and soda-can tabs. In fact, not only was I unsure but I was entirely skeptical. I left a message in the very early morning (about 630am) on BC Guide Dogs' main phone-line and by 11am they had already called me back!

The person I spoke with told me that they make a thousand dollars a year or more from the soda-can tabs and stamps that they receive. What's more, the stamps are processed by visually-challenged people.

Here's what I'd like to ask of anyone reading this blog: Cut-out the top right-hand corner of your envelopes that you receive and send them to me along with any soda-can tabs. Mail them to me at 45 Dunlevy Ave, Suite 230A Vancouver, BC V6A 3A3

If I can collect enough of them by July 31st, 2007, there's a good chance that the folks at BC Guide Dog Society might bring one of their dogs to my Gramma's care home for a visit with her and all of the other residents.

It's such a simple request. It can help a great charity and bring a lot of joy to the residents of this care home, especially my dear Gramma.

I'll be checking my mailbox daily.

Have a great Canada Day!!!!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Show me the money

Peter Deitz wrote an article for TechSoup today based on a survey conducted amongst GiveMeaning, ChipIn, Firstgiving, SixDegrees, and,

We each gave our own data and Peter then created a composite of "average results" which is a great first-step at providing more knowledge to those contemplating money using group-fundraising campaign services like what GiveMeaning provides.

I'd like to see further studies sub-segmenting by cause and even "outcomes" because I believe our (and I mean all of my colleagues services too) services serve specific types of appeals very well and others not so much.

Peter, I hope TechSoup compensated you for this effort, otherwise, we'll need to throw a group-fundraiser just for Peter to continue this kind of output!

The one thing I think missing/misleading from the analysis in terms of recommendations is that it's not a simple CAMPAIGN GOAL / AVERAGE CAMPAIGNERS * AVERAGE AMOUNT RAISED formula.

Appoint an "Online Campaign Chairperson"
I think in order for a group fundraising campaign to be fully-functional, the organization needs to appoint a group fundraising chairperson and that person should actively on Facebook/LinkedIn/MySpace or all of them and contribute regularly or at least semi-regularly to a blog.

Work with the chairperson to identify "best campaigners" within your org.
They should be identified by a combination of their ability to evangelize the campaign in their own words, have a big social network, and also be on one major social network and ideally be posting a blog as well.

Feed your campaigners a steady stream of "fresh" content
The campaign chair should be organizing meet-ups, and online group chats and be sending fresh "tidbits" for each campaigner to blog about. If you have a ChipIn widget on your blog but the blog isn't talking actively about the campaign, your donations are going to reflect that.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007


Jess and I are about to move and we wanted to use the opportunity to de-clutter. In preparing for the move, we used some of our time yesterday to be mercenary in identifying stuff to throw away and give away. Within a few hours, every room was full of bags to dispose of. Problem was, we were identifying SO MUCH JUNK and couldn't dispose of it in our apartment's bins.

I had seen the ads for 1-800-Got Junk and knew that it had been rated as a great place to work and that it's a great local success story but had never used the service. First of all, the online booking process was incredibly elagant. Within minutes, I had booked an appointment for them to arrive a few hours later.

Instead of having to wait around all afternoon, we were given a two-hour window and a promise that we would receive a phone-call 15 minutes before they arrived.

We got a phone call an hour before, giving us plenty of time to go about the rest of our day.

The two guys were great! They were friendly, funny and professional. As they finished loading a lot of the stuff faster than we thought, they caught us going over old sentimental stuff that we were unsure of whether to let go. Recognizing the sensitivity of the situation, they left us alone to decide what to do.

Finally, unlike any comparable service, when we were in danger of being slightly over one price category, they worked to squeeze us in to the cheaper category. In doing so, they've only made me more of a fan.

It's so rare that a service lives up to its brand promise but this is the one that did.

I know this post is so evangelical that it sounds like I was paid to write it. I assure you that other than some "Junk Bucks" the guys left with us as an incentive to use the service again, I haven't nor don't need to be paid to promote their service.

My friend Michael Garrity wrote a post the other day about some service pretending to be a consumer-information service but instead is just propaganda for certain clients. And of course, there's the ongoing debate around PayPerPost and other services. What I liked about what Michael said is essentially great products don't need spin/propaganda.

You want to "engineer word-of-mouth"? Simple! Build a great product/service, invest in ongoing quality assurance, hire good people, infect them with enthusiasm for the company, treat them well, deliver outstanding customer service..repeat.

I'm a HUGE FAN of 1-800-Got-Junk. Organizations of any kind can learn from what these guys are doing.

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Wii - More than you thought

wii 2
Originally uploaded by mattclark79.

Haven't blogged in several days.. So much going on...
I found this picture on Digg today. It's of a young man, born with cerebal palsy, who is unable to walk or talk but able to play video game baseball against his little sistir with Nintendo's Wii. His face says it all.

Jess and I went to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's Soul2Soul show last night. They opened with a cover of Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars." It was a fantastic night!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Okay then, how about Web 2.5.1?

Forgive my nerdy joke and my continual need to push the topic of "versioning" the web. I come from the good ol' days of 1.0.1a not just alpha, beta, gamma, omega. While Web 2.0 has certainly become a marketing jargon, let's respect that if we don't keep versioning past Web 2.0 (whether as marketing or real practice), we're saying we're not evolving. Web 3.0's real definition will likely be in a re-infastructured web, not in any particular application or technology. But back to the topic of reputation....

The first breed of aggregators (MySpace, Friendster, all of those b-2-b niche communities etc) tightly controlled the terms of use and looked at their membership as their asset. They built closed systems and governed their communities hierarchically. They decided what to show, what to promote, how to allow, and acceptable codes of conduct.

Two of the most successful community sites - Digg and Facebook - are both communities who have lost control of their community. Digg saw a mass revolt around what the community perceived as censoring but what Digg saw as prudent risk management. Most amazingly, Digg vowed its fate to the community, a noble if not dangerous move. Facebook experienced its own revolt (though not around an issue of legal liability) where mass protest around privacy issues led to watering-down and in some parts removing new functionality. Now with f8, they have truly opened up their site to 3rd party applications. Some of which (like those that allow monitoring of who has browsed your page) are contrary to the spirit and philosophy of the Facebook value-set.

The problems with being open or too open are:

The Wisdom of the Crowds isn't often wise: Have a look at the front-pages of Digg and YouTube. Count how many of the pieces of content most voted for by the crowd are of interest to YOU!
Community power is exploited: I have it, you want it. eBay sellers refusing to assign feedback until they get seller feedback first. Digg members selling their ability to rank a story. etc.
"Co-upping" is common. You and I both know that in order to thrive in a community, I need reputation. So we agree to mutually confer respect. It's not earned, it's negotiated. I don't know if I've just invented the term co-upping to refer to this common community practice but it's sufficiently descriptive.

My intent in yesterday's post was to say that we as community-builders and as aggregators and promoters of UGC must realize that we're now at a point where we must evolve or die.

Though I was about to go on to talk about what "real reputation management" should look like, it occurs to me that there is an interesting fix to the problem of Digg and YouTube. And it's already starting. Community aggregation services + Widgets * Facebook mediated-relationships = True Egocasting.

Michael O'Connor Clarke wrote a great post outlining some thoughts on a centralized infrastructure approach to reputation management. In his post, he said "When you "friend" me on one service, you're giving me a vote of reputation – saying, in effect, "this is one of the people I count among the good guys." This is only true when people are truly restrictive of who they count as friends. I can't actually vouch for many of the people listed as "friends" on Facebook. Just because I've seen pictures vacationing with their family, doesn't mean I know how they treat their kids.

But what I do know is what they like, what their tastes are, and to some extent their values (and no, this is not gleamed from what they entered in the "Religious views" field.

So with f8, each Facebook member can ego-cast what they find on the web to their semi-trusted network. They can do this because instead of trying to figure out and keep track of the fact that I'm weirdname07 at YouTube, literaryreference01 at Digg, etc, I know who you are at Facebook and it's there that you're broadcasting what you've found at YouTube, what YOU like there, to me and all of your friends at Facebook.

And this is the missing piece. I don't know if you're really my friend, but I know you're my go-to guy on brit-pop bands I'd never heard of. Most of your movie reviews don't disappoint and we actually have a relationship, established BEFORE you started sharing this stuff with me so I can razz you as opposed to trash you when I follow your advice to see "The Holiday". In fact, the whole pretext of the Facebook connection was that we somehow knew each other before we met again on Facebook. You're truly losing face to me and potentially our shared friends whereas if you're anonymous and unknown to me, you really have nothing invested in the relationship.

It's a bit of a departure from yesterday's post and I believe that there are some technological "holy grails" to pursue but in the meanwhile, a lot of this comes down to actually putting the commune into community. When reputation is an isolated number not an issue of real "face", the relationship will always be compromised.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Web 2.0 versus Web 3.0

So I think I can summarize why Web 2.0 is coming to an end and we're ready for Web 3.0

Web 2.0 was about opening up User-Generated Content ("UGC"). The barriers to create and propagate content (including entire websites) have dropped so low, that we're awash in UGC. We have a handful of sites that have become dominant aggregators of UGC and their focus must now be connecting their customers to the content they want in the most painless way possible. The role of aggregator and mashups have created a new relationship for all media. There was VERY LITTLE actual technology built in the Web 2.0 world.

Web 3.0 will be technology-driven and about creating reputation and order for UGC. eBay's purchase of StumbleUpon, our creation and subsequent licensing discussions of our new UGC reputation management system all speak to the beginning of Web 3.0.

Web 2.0 will continue to propagate content. But there will be very few new winners though the Web 2.0 establishment will crown many new "micro-winners:" Winners who rise to the top within specific sites.

But the new play is in Web 3.0. And it should be exciting and refreshing that the discussion is returning to real technology. At least for some of us.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

The art of Bullshit

Last week, while at Hollyhock, I was promoting the need for bullshit within the non-profit community. That statement is immediately controversial and that's my point. Too often, the starting place in change-agent conversation is centered around "this is what I believe and this is why." A bullshiter has to start the conversation figuring out what YOU believe before (s)he can learn how to sell you whatever (s)he is selling. And I specifically use the word bullshit because what I suggest is stepping a bit further outside your comfort-zone about what you will and won't do for your cause.

Take for example, the most tasteless piece of news this week. That a Dutch reality TV show was airing where a dying woman would award her kidney to a contestant in need of a transplant. It has now been revealed as a hoax designed to raise awareness around the fact that "200 people die annually in the Netherlands while waiting for a kidney, and the average waiting time is more than four years. Under Dutch rules, donors must be friends, or preferably, family of the recipient."

This is perhaps the extreme example. This hoax got worldwide attention and created a global conversation (if only for one week) on the issues facing those in need of organ transplants. At the same time, it also created a conversation around our standards for reality television in a very post-modern way.

I'm headed to the airport now for my flight back to Vancouver.

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