Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Loooooooong Tail

Though I have seen the graphs which depict the typical shape of the "Long Tail," I can't help but to think of a sperm swimming around in cyberspace whenever I consider this theory. Perhaps I relate it so much to cyberspace based off of the key example of this model, Amazon.com. The theory itself, which is based essentially off of supply and demand, seems to be much more applicable to the cyber-world where the goods can be stored in warehouses as opposed to organized in a creative and appealing marketing-manner on bookshelves. Jon talks about this in his response where he counter-argues Julia's point about which medium recieves more benefit from said model.

My main grasp of this theory almost reminds me of the backbone of democracy. Even though there may be a few big-shots that seem to be running the show, it's when enough of the "little people" come out from underneath and manage to not only make their voices heard, but get something done about their needs. In relation, for companies such as Amazon which benefit so much from the Long Tail, it is because they sell, though in small amounts, enough of those smaller, little books that it manages to compete against the larger/competing stores. Be it 5 million new Tom Wolff novels, or 5 million random, hard-to-find books, they have successfully managed to turn their business around.

After reading through my classmates' blogs, I almost fear that my following example is going to be cliche, but due to the obvious applicability (in this one instance, let's consider that to be a word), I'm going to use it. The cliche which I speak of is, of course, Netflix - which I am a loyal user of. Alexis gives a good explanation between the benefits of such a company, which orders as you order, as opposed to Blockbuster, which focuses mainly on the "Blockbuster hits," aka, new, major releases. Which company is able to successfully appease a broader audience? Hmmmm...

One of the main issues with the Long Tail via the internet, is that even though these websites and companies are great because of their ability to zero in on a specifc niche, the average internet user isn't always willing to spend the time searching for them. The answer, which is the savior to new up-and-coming businesses/sites? RSS feeds, and essentially, blogs! Who knew? Just as with iTunes and Amazon.com (not to be redundant), they can essentially recommend other sites and services to you that you may not have found/thought of on your own. I feel as though this is the most logical way for companies to access the power, so to speak, of the long tail (after all, they all want in on the sperm!)

Aside from that alone, by keeping a level-head on their business strategy and not being afraid to try something new, especially with all of the technology available today. Keeping a constant track of their buyers and sellers and paying attention to the smaller niche markets that they have neglected in the past appears to be the key to a higher level of success and gains entry into the tail. Who would have thought that Harry Potter would have blown up the way it did? Well, maybe that example doesn't really apply, but I know that I was able to pre-order my Harry Potter VI months before it comes out. They know how to satisy the audience at large while fulfilling the needs of the little people at the same time. Kudos to them, and all those lucky enough to follow in their footsteps!

Friday, May 20, 2005

For Comm 250-02, This Has Been Lyndsay Elkins, Signing Off...

I have taken away more valuable and useful lessons from this class than perhaps I have from any other. Having a basic understanding of how the internet and web work, as well as how the people who use it operate, has been helpful in not only my academic and professional life, but my personal life as well. I especially appreciate the knowledge I have gained from our ArtMobs final project. Throughout this project I have participated in numerous ways.

From the beginning, I was part of the brainstorming team with Kelly and Lauren, and once our ideas were straight (to personify the works of art), I attended the MoMA with Kelly to try and find the pieces of work in which we would use. Once the art was chosen and the actual recordings began, I did not play all that integral a role as I am not an actor and/or producer, in any sense of the words. I was, however, in charge of the museum and gallery portion of our marketing blitz. I was able to mail out a total of 23 press releases and cover letters ranging from The Guggenheim to The Community Art Center to the head of the Art Department at Syracuse University, who plans an annual museum trip to NYC every year.

The world of blogs, and Org Comm in general I suppose you could say, is a fascinating one. Without this class I may very well have never managed to stumble into it, so I would just like thank you for a great semester and for having shared your knowledge in a manner which inspired me to learn.

Oops!

As I have stated in previous blogs, technology is not exactly what one would consider to be my fortay. Though I considered, after reading my classmates' responses to this assignment, essentially borrowing their words, my conscience got the better of me. I do not have an original response to the Walmart documentary that you gave to us in class because I wasn't able to view it due to, what I'm assuming, the rather large scratch which somehow managed to find it's way across the back of the CD. Because I procrastinated with this assignment I realize that it is too late to obtain another copy...my apologies.

Considering that I'm not going to fill the 500 words, I will at least make note of the fact that Chris's response actually made me rather upset that I wasn't able to view it. The old lady wanting her check direct deposited to Walmart? Scary!! I found Jennifer's response, as well, to be of particular interest. I felt almost as though I had just watched the documentary!

...For Better or For Worse

Folksonomies play an integral part of the natural evolution of the web system which we have created. As the various contributing authors of Cluetrain pointed out, the internet is quite possibly the most amazing tool available to aid in finding and loudening, so to speak, your voice. The key piece of success in modern business is now the companies ability to communicate with their customers (look at the increased success of Microsoft in association with Robert Scoble's blog) Fact may be stranger than fiction, and perhaps because of this, it's the truth that now sells the products.

As the Wikipedia definition of Folksonomy points out, this neologism (what a cool word), broken down, essentially stands for people's classification system. The beauty of the folksonomy is that it is against the standard hierarchical structure where the common-folk, if you will, have little or no say. If it is confusing to you, well, you can e-mail tech-support or hope like hell that you figure out in relatively sane amount of time. In a folksonomy, however, you have say as to how the information is compiled, and what information is included.

Wikipedia, a site which I have cited many a time in other courses as well, even offers you the link right there to add your input into the combined definition. These definitions, therefore, represent the web at its fullest potential. Not only is it spreading a voice, it is spreading the combined and joined voices of innumberable individuals from any point around the globe. It holds the possibility for not only the sharing of knowledge, but the ability to understand a global statement.

I find myself questioning, though, whether folksonomies would be better for the common-folk, or the business-folk, or perhaps both. I agree with Deanna and the beauty of them being of the people and for the people. Hell, I'm a red-blooded American, let freedom ring! But then again, Chris holds a valid arguement in his response that Organizations, specifially because of their ability to get the word out to a mass amount of people, may be able to benefit more from such systems. A valid attempt at making more marketable to people can be found at Consumerpedia (which, in short, is Wikipedia for products). I, however, found the setup and information to be slightly more confusing than helpful. Too bad...

Regardless if it is more convenient or makes more sense for the producer or the consumer, or the techie or the everyday internet-user, I feel that the folksonomy is the only logical step to have been taken. Everyone wants to be a part of everything now, and what better way to dive in?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Talk May be Cheap, But Your "Voice" is Worth Your Weight in Gold

In having taken a brief break from the readings, I must say it was rather refreshing to come back to the author's take on the various media present on the internet. Though much of this chapter could be considered common sense, at least it was spit back out with originality - I did, in fact, make it through all 18 pages with no major complaints.

Perhaps my favorite part of Rick Levine's chapter is in the very beginning, where he discusses the art of business. I must say I never really considered much of the technical aspects of the business world to pertain to any sense of creativity. Web design and other areas of the sort, obviously. But accountants making their spread sheets? Hmmmm. "Artists have a stubborn faith in their ability to create newness from next to nothing." As can be said, as with art, god is in the details. Levine has the ability and has taken it upon himself to look at the often overlooked details...

The idea that he touches upon throughout the whole chapter, but especially in the Chat and E-mail portion, is that people find their voice and express it more freely via this medium than they do via real life, or in-person. I work in a fairly upscale restaurant where we have quite a few regular customers who are there multiple times per week. There is this one married couple that I see at least three times a week, if not more. In their early 30s, both very successful and very pleasant with all of us there. I bring them mimosa's, on the house, every time I see them. They're able to hold down the standard small talk with me, "Crazy weather we're having..." But I can't help but to notice that it is an extremely rare day indeed to see the two of them, when sitting together, to exchange more than 2 or 3 sentences, or words for that matter, in one sitting. She, however, without fail, will always have her little cellphone/Blackberry/microscopic portable computer in hand, and whether reading/writing e-mails or text messaging with someone much more personable than her well-to-do husband, will smile and giggle randomly, while staring at the screen, throughout the entire meal. He just sits there, mostly staring at his eggs, occasionally out the window, rarely making eye contact with his wife. I once saw them both sitting there typing away on their handhelds, neither smiling nor showing any emotion, and I wondered if they were talking to eachother...but that would go against Levine's openness theory.

As Chris has articulated in his response, one of the greatest things about the internet is its' immediacy. As Read Schuchardt points out whenever he speaks of the current generation, he has lonvingly adorned us with the nick-name The Microwave Generation, because we are so used to having things done not in a matter of hours, such as with ovens, but in a matter of seconds, as with microwaves. Having come of age when the internet hit it big, the math plays out.

Though I started this response with a rather egotistical statement that the majority of the chapter was common sense, I did find myself slightly puzzled with some of the terminology. After having read through some of my classmates blogs, I was happy to know that I wasn't the only one who had never heard of webzines or e-zines, turns out Pamela hadn't either, and saved me the work of having to look up the definitions (she has provided useful links in her response!)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Shakespeare Said It Best...

This chapter couldn't help but to remind of an elongated, ad-libbed version of Shakespeare's famous quote, "Life is a stage and we are all actors." As David Weinberger points out, being managed is just like playing grown-up; Something that, though we may dislike, we deem as necessary. This is where we lose ourselves - our identity, our nature, our voice. It is tossed out the window in return for security, guarantees, and of course, money. But have no fear, Weinberger is optimistic. With the longing for the Internet, aka, the Self, there is "...promise of voice and thus of authentic self." Though I *gasp*, may have actually enjoyed the chapter, I liked Alexis's view of him basically being overdramatic.

It has been argued, in numerous different forms, that the world we live in today is so completley commercialized and corrupted by modern technology that the authentic self, or even just originality, is an extinct charactistic of modern-day human beings. The clothing, the make-up, the accessories, the gadgets, the main stream, pop-culture Gap Baby. We're brought up to ignore that sense of self and go with the flow and jump on the bandwagon before we're left behind and deemed un-cool. Is Weinberger's optimism worth considering? Is it possible that this natural human instinct which has been stifled for so many years is finally re-emerging? It makes perfect sense, considering that his theory is that the Internet is our release, anda recent technology, at that, in comparison to the others that dominate our lives.

This chapter doesn't provide much new information to the reader. I'm pretty sure everyone knows how much they hate either their own job, or how much their father hates his job, their spouse their's, etc. The satires run rampant, and are almost always good for a laugh. Office Space, being quite possibly my favorite movie, is no exception. For this reason, it deserves the limelight for just a moment in this discussion. Humor is one of the oldest coping mechanisms known to man - so how do we survive our miserable existences within such mind-numbing companies? We make fun of it. I feel as though we are all well aware of what we subject ourselves and/or sacrafice in order to get the lives we so desire outside of work. Love it or hate it, at least we can mock it ;)

This release of self is helping companies to grow in ways they could have never predicted. The web is to companies as lego's are to the imagination. With just a few small pieces, you can connect them in a nearly infinite manner of ways and create whatever your deepest desire sets ablaze in your unconscious. Again, Weinberger's rediscovery of Voice, and the first step in ultimately building a new world.

All in all, as was said, I enjoyed the chapter and Weinberger's stance on the topic - it held my attention and made me think. If you had trouble following, or simply lost interest, Christina has summed it up pretty well in her response hitting each of the key notes he brings up, as well as throwing in some interesting points; ie "People can now even attend college right from their own homes. It has gotten to the point that people don't even have to leave their houses to go grocery shopping, you simply efficiently type what you want and have it delivered to your home. The internet has become a a necessity for people." Hmmm...

Clearly, according to Weinberger, the purpose of the Web is to find our voice, it is why we long for it...that, or free porn.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

...what's that I hear?

I can recall being a child and sitting on the sofa, pouting quietly to myself because my mother refused to give me money to go to the candy store with. In my mind, it made no sense that I couldn't just have the candy, why would they need money in exchange? If they knew I needed it, they should just give it to me, and then later on, if I thought they needed my doll, for example, I would give that to them. In my young mind the world would be a much better place this way...back to good 'ol trading, and good hearted people. For whatever the reason, The Cluetrain Manifesto has sent my mind spiraling back to that point in my life. Why shouldn't we all be allowed to go on the internet, and do whatever we like, essentially, with it? The benefits seem to be endless when incorporated within businesses, and the consequences few. As stated in the introduction, "The World Wide Web reinforces freedom." In a time when freedom is the buzzword of the world, or atleast our world here in the states (afterall, we should all be out spreading freedom, should we not?), isn't this the natural progression that business should be headed towards?

"Things change and change is often painful." However, change is also said to be the only constant that this world knows. One of the greatest characteristics of mankind is our ability to adapt to change, survival-of-the-fittest, if you will. It is nothing out of the ordinary for us to restructure this, or invent that in order to deal with ________. We adjust, we accept, and we continue living in what is often a better environment (compared to what it would have been had we ignored the troubling past events). We are only able to do this by communicating with one another, by brainstorming ideas and telling the person in charge their theory sucks and it would run much more smoothly this way...however tactfully you put it is obviously up to you ;) The modern world, at least in America, is not a tyranny, therefore business should not be run as such.

"Companies do not like our self-searching, metaphorical tendencies; these things cannot be enhanced by any type of product. Instead, they pervert our inherent fear and amazement of the inevitable 'END' by convincing us that happiness lies in tubes, bottles, boxes, and plastic packages." As Jennifer put so well in her response, it's as if we are taught to be slaves to these companies without ever knowing it. Enter the Internet stage: Caution, Freedom Ahead.

The truth is, the internet doesn't save us from the enslavement of companies, but it does provide a safe place to exchange ideas with other consumers who have used the products and/or worked with or for the companies which make the products. We can now get truth, not PR. According to Locke, this is the crucial shift in the producer/consumer relationship. As, by now, we should all be fairly familiar with the name Scoble, I found myself skimming through his recent blogs just the other day. Conveniently enough, he provides a perfect example of this - where he is in the limelight not for all of the wonderful things he tells the masses about Mircosoft products and the company itself, but rather for his straightforward persona. "Workers have had it with repressive management that just gets in the way. Markets have had it with hyperbole-laden corporate rhetoric that's 99 percent hot air." After all, mother always said honesty was the best policy...

The author has also pointed out the advantages of the Long-Tail theory, with the smaller companies on the up side of the deal. If you're tired with all the reading and still want to learn a little more about this theory, where the few large, corporate monsters end up falling to the many tiny, garage-band start-ups, you can watch the 2001 flick, Antitrust. A cinematic masterpiece? Not exactly, but you'll be able to grasp the exaggerated Hollywood explanation of the theory while enjoying the occasional not-so-boring scenes, including, but not limited to, attempts of murder from sesame seeds...

Though I fear that my post is quickly taking on a rambling tone, I have to make one final comment before concluding this piece. I found Elena's response to be particularly interesting in her view of the beneifts of self-expression in the workplace via the internet. "Self-expression enables people to explore parts of their imagination that they conceal from their colleagues and it gives people an interactive outlet for several issues in the world." Well put, Elena :)

"The real point is that the Internet has made it possible for genuine human voices to be heard again, however different they may be from the cautious, insipid pabulum of mainstream broadcast media." The point being, "...word gets around, and on the Net, word gets around fast." So listen up...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Land of the Free...and Pathetically Dependent

Barry Lynn’s essay, Unmade in America: The True Cost of a Global Assembly Line, seems to me to echo what America has evolved into, and sadly enough, does not appear to be moving away from. What amazes me the most is that as the world’s leading nation, highest power, most successful economy – and the clichés could go on – how ignorant our leaders of past and present, alike, have been. However, as Lynn so tactfully points out from the get-go, “Out of site, out of mind.”

Perhaps with our success of global outsourcing we have effectively brought the budgets of big-name companies down by “…largely depending on other companies to do the manufacturing,” and provided speedier delivery of our super computers and 4-in-1 music player/camera/phone/planner, etc. to our doorsteps. But as a nation, however, is our greed really worth the sacrifice? As Lynn brings up in his article, our developing dependence on foreign nations is rather frightening. Laura has also brought up in her response her fear of our economy's addiction to smaller nations and the power we hand over to them to criple us at their will.

While looking a little further into the situations which Lynn had brought up, I found the Tactical Internet site to be a rather interesting read to follow with. Coincidenenntly, while reading through some of my fellow classmates blogs, Joy apparently had the same gut instinct as I did when she came across that page and linked to it in her blog as well. Sidenote - If you found Lynn's essay to be slightly on the lengthy side, I recommend hitting up Joy's page, she does a great job of summing up the key points that he makes throughout the article.

As seen in some print publications, “Offshore Outsourcing World is intended to be a daily news magazine focused on offshore outsourcing - or offshoring. This publication will explain the process of offshoring. Readers will learn how to select an offshore provider, what countries are leading the offshoring revolution, what business processes, in addition to software development, can be outsourced (BPO), and even how to help an outsourcing team perform at a high level.” Perhaps I am alone in this, but is anyone else slightly freaked by that? I feel as though it is a tutorial on how to lead your company into the ground...spreading the American way? or setting ourselves up for disaster?

All in all, this is a problem which has been built around ignorance and holds within it the capacity to cripple our economy...where our nation chooses to go from here will be a very interesting route, I'm sure, whichever way our leaders choose to bring us.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

...a little insight into some other sites

Ahhh, the world of blogs - amazing, really ;) I see them as providing an interesting segue into the lives of others that we wouldn't necessarily know/learn...or a fairly simple, annonymous way of stalking...Take it as you wish, clearly there is room for interpretation ;)

Within our class, I have come across quite a few interesting blogs. Whether it was created by a template or not, I applaud Dawn's choice for the colorscheme on her page. In the midst of a dreary New York winter, it was rather refreshing to see such bright colors :)

For all those who suffer from ADD, or just random fits of boredom (such as myself), Deanna's blog is a great one to keep open in the background while you're doing "research" for that upcoming paper ;)

...and last but not least, misery loves company. Poor Logan has really opened up with the class and informed us that she fell and injured herself the other day. If you have a sad story/experience you would like to share, I'm sure she'd appreciate it!