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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Collected Human Intelligence

I listened to two podcasts this morning that gave two very interesting perspectives. I'm now trying to reconcile them.

First was On Point with Tom Ashbrook. It was an episode about the movie that premiered at Sundance -- The Linguists. They included the statement:

Most of what humans know isn't written down anywhere. It's simply in people's memories. (Timestamp - 6:30)
Second was Escape Pod with Stephen Ely. It was the most recent episode -- Artifice and Intelligence. A fairly standard story about an emergent, sentient AI with the statement:
He could create a convincing imitation of an artificial intelligence, with access to the sum of human knowledge online... Edgar believed a ghost driven AI could operate on the same level as a real machine intelligence. (Timestamp - 4:05)
Here are the questions that I'm wrestling with:
  1. How would an AI parse all of the conflicting information online to develop a comprehensive picture of 'human intelligence'?
  2. A machine wouldn't have access to all our daily offline activities that give our lives context. Even with all the information posted to the Internet, how well would an AI be able to converse with humans?
  3. Does the adoption of more 'conversations' mean we are providing more context for a future AI entity to learn how to be more human?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Segmenting the Twitterverse

GeekMommy makes some very good points in her rant. In fact, it's un-rantlike in that way.

Background: I have only recently gotten into Twitter but I've been part of online communities for many years. I was able to jump with without too much hesitation because I knew that I was experimenting with it. Reading the archives on her blog, it seems she's comfortable with jumping right in too.

Point: Twitter already has 'boxes' built into it's design. Time and Followers

Time: The context of the group is largely dictated by the time you have been around to pick up the context of the conversations. Especially in a place like Twitter that has so many things happening all at once. You can't try to go back and catch up on people's old tweets, it's both overwhelming and ineffective.

Followers: A first look at Twitter can be intimidating and demoralizing when you try to 'join the conversation' and only 5 people are listening to what you have to say.

Conclusions: I see Twitterpacks as an entrance for people that look over the Twitter landscape and see people with hundreds of followers having conversations that span long periods of time. While it's not difficult to get followers on Twitter (as most people will still follow back) the thought of putting injecting yourself that brazenly into a community doesn't seem like typical user behavior.

What Twitterpack made me wonder is if Twitter is needs more social capabilities. Like profile tags, built-in URL shorterner, categories for tweets, and other commonly used tools.

Update1: I want to clarify what I said above. I don't think that the boxes inherent in the Twitter design are exclusionary. They just create a barrier to entry for newcomers. (Personally, I stayed away from Twitter because I knew I would become addicted... I must really be an outlier.)

Update2: Chris Brogan made posted explaining his intention and asking for comments.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fall of the American Empire

Voters showing a darker mood than in 2000 race - International Herald Tribune Annotated

tags: america, community, politics


"Several writers and historians remarked on the psychological impact of such a jarring end to the Pax Americana, just as it seemed that victory in the cold war might usher in prolonged prosperity and relative peace (save the occasional mop-up operation). Its confluence with an era of unparalleled technological innovation had only heightened the nation's sense of post-millennial possibility."
  • This is a pretty vague reference for such a significant statement. The 'end of the Pax Americana' may be more meaningful to foriegn countries who view America as imposing our culture on the world but I don't believe the majority of average citizens feel awash in a post-millenial sea of shattered dreams and impotent politics. - post by jljohansen

  • I certainly haven't been feeling this impending sense of doom. Nor the collapse of the American psyche as our reign over the world comes crumbling down around our heads. I think this piece may be veering into a bit of sensationalism. Just a little.
    - post by jljohansen


Monday, January 21, 2008

When you're invisible, no one cares you're naked

One day I hope I'll look back at these numbers and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. I suppose that means I should actually start promoting my blog.

Why you don't want loyal customers

When marketing to an mass audience or demographic, you want to own them. You want to be top of mind, the first (and only) thing consumers think of and purchase in your category. You want loyal customers. If you can get someone to buy your product for the rest of their life, you've won the game.

Customer loyalty plans are one of the tactics companies use to achieve that victory. Airlines, the most prominent example, have defined what a customer loyalty program looks like. But, other industries have grabbed the idea as well. In this post, I'm defining loyalty in terms of these programs. In this model, customers are a mercenary force built on promises of future rewards for sticking by your brand. They may not like your stuff but they have an invested interest in continuing to use it.

In the world of social marketing, the keyword is community. Community is not a new marketing term for the old audiences and demographics. When marketing to a community, loyalty is not the goal. When marketing to a community, creating or attracting passionate consumers is the goal.

User-generated content is an sign of passion. Re-mixing content is a sign of passion. Starting a blog based on your product is a sign of passion.

Why strive for a passionate few over the loyal many when marketing to a community? Because communities that make it easy for people to be passionate will strengthen brands -- and provide a positive feedback loop on consumption of products. Rather than the company providing the incentive (aka loyalty program) the community itself encourages continued use of the products. even as individual members of the community change.

That's the easy question.

The hard question is: Why can't I have both passion and loyalty?

Wouldn't the ideal scenario be to have an ever expanding community in which the passionate customers continue to evangelize to to the swelling ranks of loyal customers until an uber-community is created that encompasses everyone possible (per the mass marketing model)? My answer is: No, that is not the ideal scenario.

Reasons why passion and loyalty cannot co-exist:
  • You can't please everyone. And when you try, you are rushing towards mediocrity.

  • Passion in an interactive environment like a community naturally engages some people and turns others off. In this case, you can hope the customers turned-0ff will just stop engaging but keeping buying stuff... I don't think I'd write that into a business model though.

  • Paying for people's loyalty isn't enough to make them say nice things about you.

  • Familiarity breeds contempt. While, that's a bit extreme, the more chance for contact that a customer has, the more chance they also have change their opinions about the product.
  • Communities must to change if they are going to survive long-term. This is an extension of the idea of giving up control of your message/brand.
Companies will have to give up the loyalty of their consumers as they build relationships through communities. And community members will come and go, bringing and taking people with them. And, that is OK.

Links tagged in Del.ico.us: no+loyalty