05/10/30 Shame and uncertainty
05/10/16 Viral marketing revisited
05/10/11 Site update
05/10/09 Site updates, unrelated linkage
05/10/02 A friend of a friend died on Thursday, links, novel progress #53
Today: 11 die in detention centre.
On Thursday, at least eleven asylum seekers died in a fire in a detention centre near Schiphol airport. They were illegal aliens, waiting for their embassies to provide travel documents for their return to their country of origin.
This case pushes a lot of buttons, over here. First of all there's the uncertainty whether the authorities had done enough to make the detention centre safe, and to rescue the inmates once the fire started. There's also the general uneasiness about the way asylum seekers are treated. The police, the public prosecutor's office and several governmental organisations that are responsible for various aspects of public safety will be investigating.
BBC News: Detainees killed in Dutch blaze
More Dutch politics and current events:
Dutch politics in 2005
Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory.
American Scientist: Being stalked by Intelligent Design
(via Ask Metafilter)
Intelligent Design shouldn't be taught in schools.
The panda's thumb: Waterloo in Dover - the Kitzmiller vs. DASD case
ACLU of Pennsylvania: Speaking freely
Evolutionblog: The Dover trial
(via Ask Metafilter)
Programming isn't art.
Idle words: Dabblers and blowhards
Bookmouth: Simple things you can do to get the word out about your independent project
(via Ask Metafilter)
Today: another look at viral marketing.
Two weeks ago I linked to a story about viral marketing - a weblogger who wrote about how he spoke to his estranged father for the first time, and found himself an unwilling participant in a marketing campaign for Cillit Bang cleaning products. Here's a follow-up.
What happened next: the first follow-up on the Plastic Bag weblog, where the Cillit Bang marketing people apologise for their inappropriate actions.
Plastic bag: An apology from the Cillit Bang team...
BBC's Weblog Watch gets in on the action.
BBC Weblog Watch: Bang blast
Now, let's take a step back and look at what viral marketing actually is. Apparently there are six fundamental principles: use stealth and subtlety to convey your message, give stuff away free up-front, exploit peer-to-peer networks to spread the message, make the message memorable and 'sticky', exploit the strength of weak ties, and work to reach a 'tipping point'.
Fast Company: The virus of marketing
(via Dave Pollard)
And, for those who want the nitty-gritty details, here's a research paper on the subject.
Jurij Leskovec, Lada A. Adamic, Bernardo A. Huberman: The dynamics of viral marketing
(via Smart Mobs)
Viral marketing, though perhaps without the 'stealth and subtlety' bit, has always been part of life on the Internet. Weblogs, like this one, depend on it to find a readership. It also played an essential role in building a market for innovative products like ICQ, various Google tools and the Opera and Mozilla browsers.
To a marketeer, the wealth of peer-to-peer networks on the Internet will appear like an opportunity waiting to be exploited. There is, however, a down-side. (Isn't there always?) Within Internet culture, honesty and trust are core values. If a viral marketing campaign leaves people feeling cheated they're going to resent it, and they're going to use those convenient peer-to-peer networks to tell the world exactly how they feel.
Let's say you're a marketeer, and you want to avoid this pitfall. What you need to do is adding a seventh principle to the six mentioned above: respect your customer, and respect the people you're involving in your campaign.
First of all, know your market, and make sure you're offering them something that they may actually have a use for. Products that facilitate and enhance Internet use (like the aforementioned Google tools, browsers and RSS readers, ICQ, podcasting, blogging tools, tools that support DIY music production) have a real advantage here. People who frequent peer-to-peer networks are likely to want to read about these products and discuss them, even if they don't intend to use them in the near future. In fact, if your product falls outside of this category you may want to reconsider your approach. What you need to do in this case is to look for specific networks where your product may fill a need (if, for example, you're selling cleaning products over the Internet, a small peer-to-peer network of rural housewives is likely to offer better possibilities than a much larger network with a non-specific user base). If that fails, your only remaining chance of success is making your viral marketing campaign so bloody brilliant that it becomes popular in its own right. However, 'bloody brilliant' is hard to achieve. And even if you succeed, you may end up with a wildly popular campaign and a product that nobody wants or cares for.
And, secondly, be honest about what you're doing. No, really.
I know it sounds so easy. Just create an on-line persona for yourself, and you can start posting away to the peer-to-peer networks about how Cillit Bang cleaning products are 'da shit', right? Wrong. The problem is, everyone knows how easy this is, and as a newbie coming out of the blue your credibility will be zero.
There are two ways around this. One way is, to have your on-line persona gain credibility by gaining a reputation. This requires time and effort, and it also requires adding real value to the on-line communities that you're participating in. One example of someone doing this successfully is Joss Whedon, creator of the Buffy, Angel and Firefly TV series. He uses the peer-to-peer networks that he participates to promote his various products, but he also adds value by posting inside information about his activities that isn't available elsewhere. The other way is, to get people who do have a reputation on-line to endorse your product. You may achieve this by giving them free samples, e-mailing them and asking them or by paid advertising (many weblogs and virtual communities offer this option). Dishonest means, like comment spam on weblogs, may seem to work in the short term but will come back to haunt you in the end.
Today: new article added to the site.
This is the 12th article in a series of 14. I think I started the whole thing some time in the late 1980s, though at that time it was on paper rather than on the web. I really need to get this finished.
Earth and fire
Today: site updates and unrelated linkage.
I'm growing tired of those bevelled, textured background images so here's something different.
And: I added a new article about writing.
(I'm trying to think of a one-liner to put here, and failing.)
BBC News: African migrants 'left in desert'
Why bloggers write.
Plastic bag: A weblog in negative space...
Shauny: Spare room
K5: The joy of conkers
Filming with Gilliam.
Toronto Star: Polley recalls trauma of Gilliam set
Those were the days.
Omodern: Eurobad '74, an exhibition of Europe's worst interiors of 1974
Today: a friend of a friend died on Thursday, unrelated linkage, and novel progress.
A friend of mine e-mailed be earlier this week, to let me know that a friend of his who I had met a couple of times, Jaap Jan Lind, would be ending his life on Thursday. Lind had cancer, and his suffering was becoming unbearable.
Jaap Jan Lind was a member of Dutch Mensa, which is how I first met him some twenty years ago. We didn't know each other well but whenever we met at some Mensa function he seemed pleased to see me, possibly because he was glad to see another old-timer among a room-full of unfamiliar faces.
Since December last year Lind's son Vladimir had been in jail in Russia for a protest against Putin. Diplomatic efforts to enable Wladimir to see his father one last time have failed, but according to the newspapers the authorities did allow them to talk on the phone for one minute.
Moscow Times: Foreign ministry rejects plea to see dying father
Being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Guardian: Suspicious behaviour on the tube
Blogging in dangerous times.
RSF: Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents
Plastic bag: On Cillit Bang and a new low for marketeers...
Making customers happy.
Creating passionate users: Listening to users considered harmful?
(via Signal vs Noise)
FUH2: Introducing the official H2 salute
One new episode in the past week, 621 new words, 68,532 words total.
Introduction and start of part 3
After the war (102)
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