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Twitter vs CB Radio: What Makes These Mobile Services So Popular

Cb_radioSince its debut 14 months ago at the SXSW conference, Twitter has grown by leaps and bounds. Twitter aims to be an everyday communication utility: you use your phone or PC to share short updates about your daily life.

Businesses are starting to use Twitter for customer service. Business Week tested nine companies by sending a "tweet." Seven responded within an hour and H&R Block was the leader.  HR&Block said this program was instrumental in repositioning the company as being "more responsive".

The challenge for Twitter is going to be its ability to scale. CB radio was a lot like Twitter: in the late 70s and early 80s, millions of people bought these radios initially because it allowed them to communicate with each other to locate cheap gas and to notify others of speed traps. But it fell victim to its own popularity: because of the millions of users jamming onto the grid, channels became incredibly noisy and communication became next to impossible. Once people started to use their radios less frequently, it opened the door for a competing technology: the mobile phone.

Twitter needs to avoid this problem. It has changed its engineering team and its former lead architect Blaine Cook has left the organization. Founder Biz Stone is reported to say that he projects growth to "...grow by a factor of 10, maybe 100." I think this is low...they may be underestimating potential growth once it truly becomes a public phenomenon.

The problem is when you have sudden floods of information. I blogged earlier how New York City's 311 number went from 43,000 calls a day to 65,000 when there was a blizzard. What happens in, heaven forbid, an earthquake or hurricane? Or once the NFL or FIFA seasons begin, what happens when they start getting the same type of traffic as the major sports sites?

The reality is that each one of these crises is an opportunity for Twitter to prove naysayers wrong. If it can

If you don't know what Twitter is, here's an introduction put together by Common Grounds:

ConnectMe Blog, Now with Video Comments powered by Disqus

Seesmic_logoWe've just added video comments.

Some people may prefer to fire off a quick video rather than typing out a response. While my personal preference is to type out comments (for better or worse), I do see tremendous value in encouraging people to participate in whatever way they feel comfortable.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Robert Scoble uses these examples: "...(it's useful) when we have something visual to talk about: Want to see what my kitchen looks like? Want to learn how to cook a meal? Want to see the injury my kid sustained and you're a remote doctor? Heck, wanna see what my kid looks like right now? How about can I show you my new cell phone's UI? Want to buy my car based on only my text? How about that piece of art hanging on my wall?"

Thanks, Seesmic and Disqus!

DNC Announces Bloggers for Denver Convention

Dncc_logo_dnc2008_1_500The Democratic National Convention Committee announced the blogs selected to participate in the DemConvention State Blogger Corps during the four-day event in August. There were over 400 applicants.

We're working with a growing number of housing providers, local restaurants, companies and transportation providers to support DNC press and bloggers. We'll provide a live concierge through the 5STRZ short code and ongoing updates on events via a Twitter backchannel. Our goal is to provide the blogosphere and mainstream media with the 24x7 support they need to provide continuous coverage of the convention with minimum hassles. This includes getting housing and transportation to and from the convention.

If you're a blogger or member of the press attending the DNC in Denver shoot me an email at dnc (at) connectme360.com and we'll get you on the list. 

The selected bloggers are:

ALASKA - Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis - http://divasblueoasis.blogspot.com

ALABAMA- Doc's Political Parlor - http://www.politicalparlor.net

ARKANSAS- Under The Dome.com - http://www.underthedome.com

ARIZONA - Ted Prezelski - Rum, Romanism and Rebellion - http://www.rumromanismrebellion.net

CALIFORNIA - Calitics- http://Calitics.com

COLORADO -SquareState.net - http://squarestate.net

CONNECTICUT -My Left Nutmeg - http://myleftnutmeg.com

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA- DCist.com - http://dcist.com

DELAWARE – TommyWonk - http://tommywonk.blogspot.com/

DEMOCRATS Abroad - Democrats Abroad Argentina - http://www.yanquimike.com.ar

FLORIDA - Florida Progressive Coalition - http://flaprogressives.org

GEORGIA- Tondee's Tavern - http://www.tondeestavern.com

GUAM - No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro - http://minagahet.blogspot.com

HAWAII - iLind.net: Ian Lind Online - http://www.ilind.net

IOWA - The Iowa Independent - http://iowaindependent.com

IDAHO - 43rdStateBlues.com - http://www.43rdstateblues.com

ILLINOIS- Prairie State Blue - http://www.PrairieStateBlue.com

INDIANA- Blue Indiana - http://www.blueindiana.net

KANSAS - EverydayCitizen.com - http://everydaycitizen.com

KENTUCKY – BlueGrassRoots - http://www.bluegrassroots.org

LOUISIANA - Daily Kingfish - http://www.dailykingfish.com

MASSACHUSETTS - Blue Mass. Group - http://www.bluemassgroup.com

MARYLAND - The Center for Emerging Media - http://www.centerforemergingmedia.com

MAINE - Turn Maine Blue - http://www.turnmaineblue.com

MICHIGAN - Blogging For Michigan - http://bloggingformichigan.com

MINNESOTA - Minnesota Monitor - http://minnesotamonitor.com

MISSISSIPPI - The Natchez Blog - http://natchezms.blogspot.com

MISSOURI - Fired Up! LLC - http://www.firedupmissouri.com

MONTANA - Left in the West  - http://www.leftinthewest.com

NORTH CAROLINA - BlueNC.com - http://bluenc.com

NORTH DAKOTA - NorthDecoder.com - http://www.northdecoder.com

NEBRASKA - New Nebraska Network - http://www.NewNebraska.net

NEW HAMPSHIRE - Blue Hampshire - http://www.bluehampshire.com

NEW JERSEY - PolitickerNJ.com - http://www.politickernj.com

NEW MEXICO - Democracy for New Mexico - http://www.DemocracyForNewMexico.com

NEVADA - Las Vegas Gleaner - http://www.lasvegasgleaner.com

NEW YORK - Room 8 - http://www.r8ny.com

OHIO - Ohio Daily Blog - http://www.ohiodailyblog.com

OKLAHOMA - DemoOkie - http://www.DemoOkie.com

OREGON - BlueOregon (blog) - http://www.blueoregon.com

PENNSYLVANIA - Keystone Politics - http://www.keystonepolitics.com

PUERTO RICO - Jusiper - http://jusiper.blogspot.com

RHODE ISLAND - Rhode Island's Future - http://www.rifuture.org

SOUTH CAROLINA - CracktheBell.com - http://www.crackthebell.com

SOUTH DAKOTA - Badlands Blue - http://www.badlandsblue.com

TENNESSEE - KnoxViews/TennViews - http://www.knoxviews.com

TEXAS - Burnt Orange Report - http://www.BurntOrangeReport.com

UTAH - The Utah Amicus - http://utahamicus.com

VIRGINIA - Raising Kaine - http://www.raisingkaine.com

VIRGIN ISLANDS - Democratic Party of the US Virgin Islands - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/democratvi

VERMONT - Green Mountain Daily - http://greenmountaindaily.com

WASHINGTON - HorsesAss.org - http://www.horsesass.org

WISCONSIN - Uppity Wisconsin - http://www.uppitywis.org

WEST VIRGINIA - West Virginia Blue - http://www.wvablue.com

WYOMING - Hummingbirdminds blog - http://hummingbirdminds.blogspot.com

How It Really Happened: The Hypocrisy of MySpace's $234 Million Judgment

Sanford_wallace_spam_kingMediapost writer Wendy Davis reports on MySpace's legal victory against Sanford “Spamford” Wallace and Walter Rines, who targeted members of the social networking site by stealing passwords through "phishing" scams, then emailing other MySpace members to induce them to visit other websites.

The irony is that MySpace itself was built, thanks to marketing methods that we know today as spam. Trent Lapinski over at Valleywag.com writes that "Myspace is Spam 2.0", and goes on to describe the company's real history:

  • CEO Chris DeWolfe, who from October 1999 through March 2001 acted as the VP of Sales and Marketing at Xdrive Technologies, Inc., a company that offered millions of users large amounts of free online storage during the dot-com bubble. He learned all about the business of "free," and more importantly, "...that people will sign up for almost anything that they find useful, and they could care less about the fine print."
  • Tom Anderson, the eventual face of MySpace, was originally hired as a copyeditor in DeWolfe's marketing department at Xdrive. He later became the friendly face for the PR campaign.
  • DeWolfe's new company, ResponseBase, was purchased by eUniverse on September 9, 2002. This date was the actual moment of birth for MySpace. In August of 2003, eUniverse CEO Brad Greenspan received and accepted an invitation to join Friendster from Chris DeWolfe, who had been a member since June 2003. Recognizing Friendster's potential, a plan was hatched to quickly mimic the appealing features of the site, re-brand it as MySpace, and then out-market them using eUniverse's resources.
  • According to internal emails and documents, MySpace 1.0 was ready within ten days. As part of the internal testing and promotion of the site, the company held a contest to see who could sign up the most people. The hope was that if all 250 eUniverse employees brought on 10 friends, they would have a starting user base of 2,500. Even self-proclaimed loner Tom Anderson took part, stating in an email, "I am as anti-social as they come, and I've already got 20 people to sign up."
  • After the 250 employees spammed their friends, and those friends spammed their friends and their friends' friends, MySpace went on to become the marketing juggernaut it is today.
  • DeWolfe's original business model was to sell accounts to MySpace, but it was Greenspan who proposed to keep MySpace free and to make profit through advertising. Greenspan believed in the concept so much, he even cannibalized his other assets, such as dating site CupidJunction, which at that time was a top dating website with over 3 million users.

As tawdry as this may seem to some people today, it will be interesting to see how historians judge this medium. After all, when you compare the early history of MySpace to daily newspapers (which, according to some accounts, were created "...to spread defamatory reflections"), Brad Greenspan's intentions seem downright benevolent. 

When Getting Away From It All is the Ultimate Amenity


The W Hotel San Francisco just installed a couple of MetroNaps EnergyPods, as twittered by Jeremiah Owyang earlier this morning.

These things are great. You get in, and the EnergyPod shields you from all of the ambient noise that assault our senses. (I wonder how long it will be before someone tries to add video commercials.)

The guests at the W are heavily skewed towards business and conventiongoers. Compare this to the Crowne Plaza Sleep Advantage program, which sounds like the same type of bedding as say, The Heavenly Bed plus an audio CD. As I've blogged before, bedding has become not only the most competitive front in the hotel industry, but it has signalled the hotel's ascendancy as a premiere sampling medium.

Now that hotel guests have started to sample this experience, how long before it finds itself in a spa near you?

Comfy Shoe? Or the Next Media Giant? Inside Crocs 'Cities By Foot'


Does advertising work?

Not when every consumer is overwhelmed by magazines and images that all pretty much look the same. So, to cut through the clutter, Crocs' director of marketing Ed Wuensch set out to engage their consumers by offering a service, not an ad. They just launched "Cities By Foot", which was designed and managed by Denver agency Red Robot. One of the most interesting things is that the site features some 70 videos of different destinations, all two to three minutes long, and all owned by Red Robot and licensed to Crocs.

(It kind of reminds me of how the first soap operas were paid for by Proctor and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Unilever...but ended being the basis for powerful television empires that we know and love today. By the time they figured out the opportunity they had missed by not taking an equity stake -- well, it was too late.)

MySpace Opens Up: Introducing Data Availability


Marc Canter of Broadband Mechanics fame alerted me to the news that MySpace is allowing third parties -- among them eBay, Twitter, and Yahoo -- to access their information.

This would allow people to do things like find friends from MySpace on Twitter, switch effortlessly from Twitter to Yahoo! Instant Messenger and transfer Flickr photos easily to eBay. Dating services would change, and people may even be able to access Match.com profiles from the corresponding MySpace page.

MySpace also joins the DataPortability Group. As a member of the policy workgroup, I see comments where Flickr users have gone nuts over third parties creating photobooks out of their photos without asking first, or Seesmic users complaining when their videos are suddenly made available on Google search.

What a terrible surprise for those users!!

It will be interesting to see how MySpace handles giving people control about where their data can go, and to what extent they communicate the various ways uploaded data is, can, and may be used.

To see how something like this might work, CommonCraft did a great video on how social networks work in general. It's useful for thinking how networks that are today totally unrelated -- like, Gmail and LinkedIn users -- might use something like Data Availability to make connections with MySpace users and each other.

More Questions Than Answers: Rethinking the Web Video Business Model


Will Richmond of VideoNuze provides excellent daily coverage of the web video market. This morning was no exception as he recapped Digital Hollywood by asking three questions:

  1. What role will current video distributors play in an increasingly broadband-centric world?
  2. Is the ad-supported business model for broadband video going to deliver for all the content providers relying on it?
  3. What does all this mean for Hollywood?

Once upon a time, people couldn't imagine more than a few dozen video channels. Now, not only do we have niche channels for just about every topic imaginable, we have web video channels that cater to every variation imaginable.

While the video providers initially thought this was a great development, the problem is that Wall Street valued cable operators based on the revenue per subscriber. As the number of channels available increases, the number of channels watched actually remains fairly constant. As a result, IPTV and other new video providers have an uphill battle to get anywhere close to the lofty valuations of their satellite and cable competitors.

It is no secret that Will and myself are both huge believers in the syndication model, given our respective histories in cable television.  It starts with the premise that more distribution leads to less risk. For example, early cable TV was partially funded by selling so-called bulk accounts to hotels and apartments. While the revenue per room was less than a home install, the agreements were for three to seven years and were easy to maintain. In exchange, every hotel in the 1980s proudly proclaimed "free cable" or "free HBO" as a way to distinguish themselves from the hotels down the street.

It's my sense that similar types of arrangements are just around the corner. When people understand how video can be used as an amenity, to enhance an experience, then I think the boom times in web video will return again.

To Get Insider Knowledge in NYC, Ask A Local


While catching up on what NYC & Company had been up to in between my first and last post on them, I ran into this campaign.

Absolutely brilliant.

When you're traveling, you want the places that only long-time residents know about. You want to know where the good stuff is.

I think there is a perception that destinations are gaming their own reviews. Rightly or wrongly, to get this kind of a recommendation -- and to be able to link to more information -- seems more authoritative.

The Latest in Destination Marketing: Rethinking I (heart) NY

IheartnyGiven the general state of the economy, tourism groups across the nation are scrambling to promote their corner of the world. Take New York as an example: it was a pioneer with its NYC & Company effort  and DoITT, an aggressive 311 service that I blogged earlier. By organizing information about the city the way a mall would, the city was handling 43,000 questions a day.

So, it's useful for any destination not named Walt Disney to review New York's approach to tourism, which was unveiled earlier today.

First, following the trend to market cities as a collection of neighborhoods, New York is promoting the entire state as a vacation destination. They plan to use the powerful appeal of the city to woo visitors to other locales, using the phrase "The state with the heart of the city."

This is important given the trend away from two week vacations. The state vacation book that ran almost 200 pages is being replaced with a 40-page "Getaway Guide" which focuses on three- and four-day trips. The primary focus will be the 80 million people live within a three- to five-hour drive of New York State.

Video brochures will join search as a key component of their online strategy, as well as a user-generated content contest sponsored by the IFC television network which will ask consumers to create “I love New York” commercials. This echoes the findings of a recent PhoCusWright travel study, which indicated that people found rich media - particularly photos, maps and video - to be more influential than reviews.

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