Monthly Archives: January 2008

Superbowl and Internet Advertising

A writer from the local paper, The Daily Item, emailed my department asking for background on something about superbowl advertisers doing more with the internet.

Here is what I gave her back. It will be fun to see what gets used (if anything.)

“The mingling of the new kid on the block- Internet advertising- with the old (and big) kid- Superbowl advertising, crystallizes important shifts in media use and consumption in America. First, the Internet is no fenced off. Second, the Internet is more and more the Everyone-Net.

The Internet is less and less a privileged or partitioned media for commerce and advertising. The fence is down. Some researchers estimate that 10% of all ad dollars will go to Internet advertising by 2010. Meanwhile, live TV viewership declined 10% in 2007. What is more striking is how much citizens trust the Internet given how wary of mass media and generally information-saturated they are. Recent research from the Annenberg School for Communication found that by 2007 80% of Internet users rated the Internet as an important source of information, much higher than TV (68%), radio (63%) or newspapers (63%). Consumers seeking information appreciate authenticity, and they find it more and more in cyberspace.

These effects are magnified by the increasing adoption of the Internet and especially broadband which has surged from 5% to 42% of households since 2000. We are watching the extension of the Internet to the Everyone-Net. Internet penetration is up to 75% of American households (the most of any country, however many other countries have more intense Internet use per wired household. Israel is first at 57 hours per month. The US is about 32). Ten years ago there were clear race and class divides in in Internet use. Those have narrowed considerably (but persist for broadband connectivity). Among college graduates, the difference in White, Black, and Hispanic internet use is almost zero. The digital divides are now along education and age lines and narrowing progressively.

But those are only the tip of a big iceberg. Consumers are far more savvy about information sources and products. Cyberspace is becoming a destination for entertainment, community, and commerce. The logic of the Internet is not one-to-many, like print or broadcast media, but many-to-many. This is a fundamental difference whose significance can not be overlooked. As advertisers shift, they will have to learn how to navigate the mixture of entertainment, community, and commerce online. They don’t own the stage like they have with big production Superbowl ads. They will have to learn that the audience mingling amongst themselves is the only show in town.” anything).

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Filed under Business, Information and Communication Technology, innovation, Media

Thoughts on SL Banking ban

I know I’ve talked to people about virtual worlds and when they point out that it is “odd” or somehow “wrong” for people to adopt other identities, I sometimes repsond that the ability to do so, or at least, the ability to do anything meaningful as your alter ego, will be limited by how porous the boundary between virtual and real wrold is.  moreover, that barrier is getting more porous in most cases.  As virtual worlds develop, what people want to do in and iwth them will bump against the very real world of durable identity and the need for regulation

So, the fall out from the banking crisis as described in his WSJ article seems to affirm my point.

First, only in SL  :>):

Cheer Up, Ben: Your Economy Isn’t As Bad as This One –
On Sunday night, the female character was wandering topless through the virtual lobby of a Second Life bank called BCX Bank, where a sign said it was “not currently accepting deposits or paying interest.”

I still don’t get very well what these banks’ business model was?  What is their loan portfolio?  How could they possible deliver 100% returns?  The answers are not clear.  I suppose partly it is speculative dynamics around land.  Do the bankers know about Linden’s plans to control land supply?  Would that constitute insider information?  Or, through fast growth SL business; this was the story behind Ginko Financial which failed last summer and was purportedly investing in gambling in SL (another story of regulation).

For example, how can this guy say the ban will not effect his business?

Cheer Up, Ben: Your Economy Isn’t As Bad as This One – WSJ.comSteve Smith, who runs BCX bank under the avatar name Travis Ristow, yesterday said depositors — who are owed a total of $20,000 — will be able to get their money back next week. The bank, which had promised to pay depositors more than 200% in annual interest, is now allowing only small withdrawals.

“This won’t affect us long term. It’s just a short-term difficulty,” said Mr. Smith, 40 years old, who also has significant land and real-estate interests in Second Life. He said he retired from the real-life mortgage business to devote his time exclusively to his Second Life enterprises.

Finally, there is one mention that one bank was arbitraging Linden-US exchanges to the tune of $15,000/year in profit. and

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Filed under Banking, Business, policy, Political Economy, Second Life, virtual worlds

Search for Social Physics (keynote from INSNA)

Keynote Address
By soft science we mean, science conducted on phenomena that don’t tend to come with numbers already attached. And by hard science we mean science that has been around long enough to have acquired the ability to have numbers already attached.

That  is a pretty clear definition of hard and soft science.    This is from INSNA’s keynote address about ten years back.  One of the two speakers, Peter Killworth, just passed away which I learned from the INSNA list-serv, SOCNET.

The address looks like its worth reading.  Of course one is immediately struck by the very INSNA-y approach of having a physical scientist and an anthropologist.  That kind of deeply interdisciplinary work seems to be often the hallmark and honey (attractiveness) of research that attracts netheads. (Did I just coin that?  An off shoot of orgheads?)

The idea of social physics has come up before.  Harrison White and Duncan Watts more recently, at least in terms of their career trajectories.  Also, I recall one fo those grand daddy type sof social science (Comte? Sant-Simone?) said something to that effect.  Maybe I can check later…

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Filed under Networks, Research, Scholars, social theory

Union activism in Facebook had this story about union activism in facebook including the successful use of facebook tools to reinstate a banned labor activist (he’d been banned.)

  A few weeks ago I took a look at examples of unions using Facebook, partially inspired by Change to Win’s Smack the CEO Facebook application.  Over the last few days, a mini-revolt of sorts has rolled through the Facebook labor activist community, and I’ve got good news: our side won!

This seems relevant for the article about Organizing in the Network Society.  Usual questions: does the technology or the stance of the hosting company make it easier to organize?Is this a “new” kind of organizing orthe smae kind but with new technology?  who is calling the shots (who has power) in heavily privatized communication media like Facebook?

I need Brian to look at this and see what he thinks.  I need to finish post also!  D-oh!

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Filed under activism, Information and Communication Technology, Network Society, Politics, Power, Activism

Social Networking and Business

Peter Durand asked this question over at linkedin.

I thought to myself, “I should be able to say something about this.” Here is my first crack. I think its ok. Its helpful to have someone with a practical question ask it to get me to focus.

My initial response raises more questions (which I’ll return to at the end.)

What is the most effective way for a professional service firm to use social networking apps? (After all quantity of connections does not equal quality.)

(1) What are the business goals behind the use of social networking Web 2.0 apps such as LinkedIn, Plaxo and Facebook?
(2) As volume of connections increase, how can integrity and authenticity be maintained?
(3) And, most tricky, how can the business value of social networking apps be described to senior leaders who tend to operate on the other side of the technology gap?

Great questions. I need to have good answers for myself. Some quick hits.

1) The goal for any particular business must be part of an overall approach to customers and relationship management. However, if a given business seeks or has one way, firm to customer communication, they will find lots of conflicts because most SNS have reciprocity built into them.
2) Facebook is an interesting case. Due to its initial growth exclusively through college domain name emails ( college students flocked to it creating a “network effect.” A network effect is when a product becomes more valuable as the network of users increases. The value of a carrot to me is not affected by the number of carrot owners. The value of fax machine goes up as more people have them. But, now that Facebook has thrown itself open, will the attractiveness of network effects offset the negatives of the lower baseline trustworthiness of the average user. The second half of that sentence is the predator fear. On MySpace, due to its low threshold for authenticating users, I don’t know who is a predator so newbies are vulnerable and power users are wary.

3) Short answer: how do they feel about this: elevator pitch. If they feel threatened, don’t bother. If they feel invigorated, than explain that SNS are a way to have more conversations between you and any one of your customers/stakeholders.

If that seems like too much of a cop out, especially for decision makers who feel threatened by conversations but can be convinced otherwise, I might try this.

Markets are about conversations. Even when you don’t see or monitor those conversations, it is the most natural form of communicating. In a brand-intense, information saturated economy, conversations are even more important, and the new scarcity, the new value driver is “real” conversations. For more and more people, they are choosing to substitute many-to-many forms of communication for the older one-to-many. That is the difference between a radio ad and a blog, between mass media and wiki media. We are not “adding” SNS to our lives, we are building our lives around them, and adding TV, print, radio as we need or want to.

Peter’s Blog response.

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Filed under Business, Networks, participatory technology, Social Network Sites

Google and Legos

Today is the 50th birthday of legos!  hat  tip. (Searchenegine blog).

And Google is celebrating with this google logo.

Yesterday, Elijah made his first home movie with his Flip camcorder. The characters were all Legos and had funny names like Colonel Hamburgersstine.  Or something like that.

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Filed under Information and Communication Technology

Serious (and silly) Game “Get Good Karma”

Due to twitter, i stumbled into this amusing little example of a “good game.”  Good as in a game with an ulterior social goods purpose or message.  Serious games.  That is what othes call them.  Like here.

Get Good Karma. 

You wander around doing good things.  And you get points.  How big is it?  I dunno.  You can regsiter to save your progress.

Supposedly its supposed to encourage community activism and voter registration.  How, I fail to see.

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Filed under activism, Gaming, Information and Communication Technology

Recent Reads

Let’s talk about what I am reading these days.

Just finished Michael Chabon’s  Gentlemen of the Road.   Its a short novel about Jewish vagabonds/warriors with hearts of gold.  They have an adventure in a (I think) make believe kingdom called Kharzia.  I had heard of the author due to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.   The book was pleasant, but much of the conceit and the details went over my head.   Zelikman, the taciturn, melancholy, fussy surgeon-warrior of the pair was my favorite part.  He took offense at killing people more than one at a time since it was only possible to heal them one at a time.  Guess he never heard of a vaccine.  I never quite knew why I was supposed to find the whole set up amusing (hence my conceit comment above).   Was this a real historical context?  Is this adventure genrre one I don’t know so the wry, genre-based, meta jokes just went by me?  Also, lots of details seemed to me to be ether deliberately obtuse or simply inside references I am not privy to.  For example, various su-types of Jewish character are discussed knowingly without any exposition on who or what they are all about (Radanite is one).  Since he won the Pulitzer Prize for the other, maybe I should look for it.

Just before Gentelmen of the Road,  I finished the Phillip Pullman His Dark Materials  trilogy.  I had read them three years or so ago.  I loved them then, and perhaps more so now.   I suppose the film coming out had something to do with it (The Golden Compass).  I totally love the free thinking theology quality to it.  Many of the characters seem a bit stiff.  Sci-fi often seems to have that problem: thought provoking, great premise, but not great characters.  Lord Asriel seems particularly this way.   Mrs Coulter too.  I just don’t care what she is up to, even though he tried to do something interesting in terms of writing her as a wicked villain and then having her evolve into something more problematic in the later books.  At the end of the day, the story is so intriguing that I quickly forgive the stiffness and hapily suspend all kinds of disbelief so they can get on with the titanic struggle against a myopic and authoritarian God.

Next up: back to non fiction.  Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow has had its spine cracked.  Deer Hunting with Jesus, by Joe Bageant looks interesting (especially since I read Whats the Matter with Kansas  a few years back).  And a thick history of America by Sean Willentz’ The Rise of American Democracy, is elbowing in for attention especially given the portents of historically profound  elections going on now.

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Filed under Books, History, Sci Fi

Virgin unveils spaceship designs

Elijah’s Godfather and my good friend Vishant sent me this little gem (hat tip to V).

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Virgin unveils spaceship designs
“I think its very important that we make a genuine commercial success of this project,” he told a news conference in New York.

“If we do, I believe well unlock a wall of private sector money into both space launch systems and space technology.

“This could rival the scale of investment in the mobile phone and internet technologies after they were unlocked from their military origins and thrown open to the private sector.”

here is a picture:

SpaceShipTwo (Original Name)

Well, as I said to V, all that incredible wealth generated for the top 1% since the Reagan revolution has gotta get spent on something. You can only bu so many handbags and islands, don’t you know. He seemed ticked. Like I was supposed to be thrilled that maybe my son (his godson) would get filthy rich enough to afford this little bauble. Course I am being pissy. Every little boy (an girl?) dreams of being an astronaut. Just seems like you should do it for scientific or nationalist reasons, not self-amusement.

Where is my jetpack? I thought I would have one by now. (See this book. and this song by Jill Sobule Jetpack (track 2). )

Who is going to regulate this new industry, or will it transcend the earthly bounds of economics and society as well as gravity? Unlikely, I think. There is flight paths, insurance, consumer protection, and, of course, security. Can Osama Bin Laden buy one of these?

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Filed under economic sociology, humor, innovation, Research

The Perils of Self Management (or, My Self Subsidized Sabatical [SSS])

I am almost a week into my SSS. My tenure track appointment starts in the fall, I have no teaching obligations, and no one is paying me for my time now. This is the ultimate mental retreat. Its a true sabbatical as most days kids are in school from 9-3 or 4:30.

I feel like a man walking out of a long tunnel into a bright beach. The sun is blinding, I hear waves crashing, sea gulls are crying in the distance. The ocean beckons, the sound of the waves on the pebbles like the sound of active melting, geologic time speed up to the audio range or mere mortals, dynamism made concrete. I sense all kinds of motion and activity in many dimensions, and, as my eyes,ears,and sense of smell adjust and parse the sensory overload, the next thought is uncovered.

What now?

This is the peril of self-management. Its endemic to being an academic. And I think my track record to date has been awful. How to take an ocean of noise and possibility and chart a course to somewhere. How to pierce its crystal surface and find a meal, something digestible.

I must become myself. I read in the Economist (don’t think I can link) about a Chinese scientist who was exploring the biochemsity of addiction. One line stood out- about how learning is fundamentally about growing neurons. So, to learn how to be a better writer it is not enough to think it or will it. One has to do it and in the doing there is mind over (self) matter.

Oh, It is linkable. Here is the line:

Several of them take part in strengthening the connections between nerve cells, which is the underlying basis of learning. Unlearning something by breaking these connections is hard.

“Them” are genes that directly relate to biochemical pathways. Like, instead of the genome, the scientist is identifying the biobehavioral-ome (all the genes that code all the proteins that code all the biochemical processes that code the behavior).

SO, I have a gift of time. It s like an asset I need to make the most out of. Not like, it is. And, like my seagulls cawing for mollusks, my interests are circling the pearl of this time, eyeing how to swoop in and get a piece. Here is an off the top of my head list of what I want to do. Continue reading

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Filed under life, Networks, PhD, Research, writing