Archive for March, 2007

Mar 31 2007

Whereaboutsweek of 4.2

Published by under Travel

4.2 – Easter – Cotuit

week following Beijing

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Mar 30 2007

LibraryThing | Catalog your books online

Published by under Reading

LibraryThing | Catalog your books online

“LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth.”

I like LibraryThing. I like it a lot. You catalog your library and it compares it to other libraries. Reviews, tags, 200 books for free. $10 for unlimited. $25 for an unlimited lifetime. The T I will try to do a widget out of it to the sidebar to show what I’m reading.

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Mar 30 2007

Erg Blogging — by the numbers

Today I completed 30 minutes and broke the magic 7,500 meter mark, an indication that I can keep my splits under 2:00 for a sustained piece, which in turn is an indication that I’m getting back in shape.

Rowing is all about the numbers. I divide the stroke into a four-beat count of: catch, drive, finish, recovery and the Concept2 PM3 monitor tells me the rest: strokes per minute (I am most comfortable at a 24 rate, racers sprint at 34-36 spm), heart rate (my resting rate is 70, I need to calculate my basal, or waking rate, but while rowing I usually hang in the 150-165 bpm range with a finishing sprint in the 175 bpm range), watts, calories per hours,  meters elapsed, meters to go, projected finish time, etc. etc. etc.

In short, rowing is for number geeks. This is not a pleasant experience of watching the river bank slide by. Eyes in the boat, upright carriage, chin lifted to keep an open airway, and total focus on the balance of the boat. Well, on the erg it’s worse. Sit up right, try not to flail, don’t let your head roll around in agony, and ignore the sappy James Taylor song that comes on the iPod during the ultimate sprint.

My targets now are around weight loss, that means long pieces — like 10,000 to 15,000 meter sessions over 40 to 60 minutes — at a low rate, low effort, keeping my heart rate down in the 120 range. This is the definition of tedium. No challenge. No competition. Just grinding along letting my metabolism cook off fat cells. Hence I have graduated from the acclimation rows of 5000-6000 meters (20-24 minutes) to a half-hour, and after a couple weeks of consistently finishing the 30 minute piece (my favorite training distance and conditioning maintainer) I’ll graduate to the 10K.

So, getting there. Still too embarrassed to disclose my gross tonnage.

Sidenote: I received word from my agent that an actual royalty check for the Book of Rowing is on its way. Amazing that is still in print.

3 responses so far

Mar 30 2007

Pat McGovern on IDG and the InterWeb

Published by under Journalism

MediaShift . Digging Deeper::InfoWorld Leads Way as IDG Goes Head-First on Web | PBS

From the I-Can-Dream-Can’t-I? Department:

“With speaking fees and book royalties you could be making $500,000 or $600,000 a year, and the poor journalist is making $70,000 or $80,000 a year working as an employee. So there are a lot of people who are realizing that there’s a lucrative career making a name for themselves instead of being an employee.”

Pat McGovern — my ex-boss at IDG from May 2005 to January 2006 — is the subject of a great interview by PBS’ Marc Glaser, former columnist for the spectacular IDG-backed flame-out of flame-outs, The Industry Standard. [Full disclosure, I tangentially came to IDG after trying to revive the Industry Standard domain and archives in discussions with then honcho Kevin McKean, and ex-Indy Standard-InfoWorld web GM, Matt McAllister. Those discussions went nowhere].

IDG, or rather InfoWorld, received a huge amount of buzz this week when the news came out that InfoWorld, a stalwart print brand for the IT world, would cease printing and go online-only after its next issue. With a lot of bloggers and media critics watching avidly for a sign that the world of mainstream print media is toppling, there’s no surprise that the InfoWorld news had the legs it did.

Glaser gets from McGovern the best expiation of IDG’s shift from print-to-web I have ever heard, including my one hour one-on-one with Pat during my hiring process as the online general manager for the CXO group. Without divulging any internal secrets, the plan in early 2005 was, as enunciated by McGovern, then CEO Pat Kenealy, and online/biz dev VP, Colin Crawford, to go to a 50/50 print/web revenue split as soon as possible …. meaning the crossover date wasn’t being predicted, but the strategic decision had been made and digested to put the IDG wood behind online.
I gained a lot of respect for my online GM peers, such as McAllister (who’s team which included Chad Dickerson and Jon Udell were the leaders in driving IDG’s thinking about RSS, death-of-the-page-view model, and other concepts which, at the time, were truly ground breaking for a traditional print publisher to embrace), Martha Connors, ex-COO of the MIT Technology Review who was the online GM of ComputerWorld, IDG’s flagship brand, (and an utter operational blackbelt when it came to rebuilding web publishing environments for total analytic/revenue/traffic optimization), and Kevin Normandeau, the online GM at NetworkWorld, who knows online marketing cold and is a master at lead gen and direct tactics. Me? I don’t know what I was good for, but IDG wasn’t a great fit for me … I thought getting back in online journalism was what I was meant for, but it turned out my heart was more on the business side of online.

Anyway, back to the Glaser interview of McGovern. What comes through for me, as someone who knew the strategy two years ago, is that IDG will probably position itself as an online-only publisher sooner than McGovern is estimating, and will look for ways to distinguish themselves through three decades of accrued brand equity around the ComputerWorld, PCWorld, MacWorld, and InfoWorld franchises into a stronger destination proposition for IT users. IDG’s biggest problem, in my opinion, is buried in its 10 corporate tenets — a mission that made it for years one of Fortune’s Best Places to Work — and that tenet is the devotion to decentralization that McGovern had to implement out of necessity when he was building the world’s first and most complex global publishing operation in the 70s. In that decade, pre-email, pre-fax, McGovern had to decentralize to put decision control in the hands of his country managers. Today, decentralization for IDG means redundancies, e.g. how many content management systems are needed? Web ops, at the lower levels of the IT stack, should be consolidated, and if IDG can get all of its brands onto a common platform it will at least be on the same footing as CNET and the printless competition.

Once on a common platform, the challenge will be to look at editorial redundancy. One of IDG’s secret weapons is its news service, which covers the breaking news of global IT very effectively. Does each brand need to cover a virus outbreak? A product launch? The editorial value at the franchises should move from providing check-box/fungible story oriented delivery to user content, community facilitation, and interactive services built around data assets — not reporting. Think tools, lists, and databases. It got Forbes.com out of the pack in ’95 and could do the same for IDG, particularly if it can leverage its secret weapon which CNET and Ziff don’t have, IDC, its global research arm.

Another key strategic differentiator for IDG — China. Pat McGovern was the first publisher to open up an operation there, his VC arm is very well connected, and IDG is a very well regarded brand inside of Chinese IT and web publishing circles.

If IDG is able to consolidate IT and reporting redundancies, continue the innovation path set by McAllister, Dickerson and Udell, capitalize on its shared databases — both industry and customer — and present a really strong global reach message to advertisers ….

They will do fine and make the transition without too much crying and broken dishes. The political-cultural shift has already happened, now its all execution and I suspect InfoWorld is just the first to be transformed. The company shifted senior management during my brief stint, bringing ComputerWorld CEO Bob Carrigan up to fill Pat Kenealy’s role as head of global publishing (Kenealy famously made the goofy call to ban deep-linking to IDG stories). Carrigan — who had been a Kenealy protege before following IDG investment Spinner to AOL — gets the online joke and brought together the online GMs into a task force that did quite a bit to break down the decentralization and inter-brand competition that traditionally plagued IDG.

I know Matt dinged IDG earlier this week with a “deer in the headlights” comment, which Colin Crawford took umbrage with. IDG was stuck in the middle of the road when Matt and I were there. He left a few months before I did, and we both were privately critical of the pace and urgency of the crossover.

But, rather than look at InfoWorld (and recollections of The Industry Standard) as signs of failure and pessimism in the print world, I remain a half-full guy and think IDG was being pretty ballsy to make the move it did on Monday with InfoWorld by going all into online with at least one of its franchises.

4 responses so far

Mar 30 2007

Town sinks oyster bag plan

Published by under Clamming,General

Klimm sinks oyster bag plan (March 30, 2007)
Victory for oyster-bag opponents, defeat for commercial clammers in Osterville.

“They ruin the view.

But, more importantly, Barnstable Town Manager John Klimm decided yesterday, the bottom tackle under the floating oyster bags in West Bay are a potential navigational hazard to recreational boat users and other fishermen who use ”one of the most pristine and scenic waterfront residential areas of the town of Barnstable.”

3 responses so far

Mar 29 2007

DoubleClick Sale Could Risk Publisher Exodus

DoubleClick Sale Could Risk Publisher Exodus

News from ClickZ that DoubleClick is in play and could be sold — something we knew was coming after they were snapped up by a private equity outfit. MSN and Google are mentioned as contenders. Ad serving is the central nervous system of display advertising and integrating the data stream that comes out of an ad server’s cookie logs is crucial to an advertiser like me trying to correctly assign revenue recognition to specific campaigns. Thinking back to the old days of NetGravity at Forbes.com (which was acquired by DoubleClick), to the hell-on-earth known as ad ops at CIO.com (ad ops is the unwanted step-child of online publishing), to the potential of behavioral optimization, dynamic creative, and mid-campaign retrafficking …

The story is right, it’s a “Stale World,” but one I get worked up about after a couple beers.

“The stale world of online ad serving just got interesting again, as a possible acquisition of ad management firm DoubleClick was floated yesterday. According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft or another buyer may grab the ad serving colossus soon. If a deal with Microsoft does become reality, it would boost the firm’s online ad capabilities and make for readymade relationships with advertisers and agencies. However, it could put DoubleClick in hot water with its publisher clients, including AOL, which would be loathe to let the company access user data flowing through DoubleClick’s DART ad serving system, and which compete directly with Microsoft’s MSN for ad dollars. Indeed, AOL could be a potential buyer, some believe.”

One response so far

Mar 29 2007

Web ad spend overtakes newspapers

BBC NEWS | Business | Web ad spend overtakes newspapers

“Spending on UK internet advertising surged in 2006, overtaking newspaper ads for the first time, a report says.Online advertising expenditure jumped 41.2% to £2.01bn during the year, the report by the Internet Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers said.”

2 responses so far

Mar 28 2007

Acts of aviation contrition – JetBlue rocks

JetBlue knows how to dig out of a hole. I just received this email from them, out of the …blue.

“Thank you for flying with JetBlue Airways on flight #1001 from Boston on March 26, 2007. We apologize that the DIRECTV® programming was inoperable during your flight.

As a gesture of apology and goodwill, we have issued each customer on your flight a $10 JetBlue electronic voucher.”

I didn’t complain. Heck. I don’t even watch the TV but use the time to take a machete to my inbox while listening to the opera (Vox) channel on XM. But, someone did and JetBlue took the time to email everyone else on the flight with a make-good.

Amazing how a little gesture can go so far. Amazon sent me something once, like the first year they were in business. I forget what the gift was, but, ten years later, I can still write about it. Peet’s just sent me a cheap travel mug-thing. I love Peet’s, their French Roast drip grind is my main vice. JetBlue just moved into legendary category with their make-good for a mistake I didn’t know about.

6 responses so far

Mar 28 2007

Machiavelli works at Waggener-Edstrom

The Long Tail: The Microsoft Memo: Some choose radical transparency, some have it thrust upon them

A good buddy and former journalism colleague called and said, “Dude, check out TechMeme, and look at the b.s. being slung about the Microsoft memo.”

Here’s the elevator summary: Chris Anderson, Wired’s editor, blogs about how Microsoft’s PR firm, Waggener-Edstrom “inadvertently” sent an internal memo discussing how Wired’s reporter, one Fred Vogelstein, was working a story; in fact the current cover story on the new trend towards corporate transparency.

Two points and then I’ll shut up.

1. PR firms are paid to profile reporters, anticipate their questions, know their biases, and study them like E.O. Wilson studies ants. The “oh my” reaction to this practice is complete naivety. This isn’t J. Edgar Microsoft.
2. Coincidence that the company that now personifies corporate transparency because of the ground broken with its corporate blog policy, Channel 9, and the ineffable Mr. Scoble, would happen to be the one “inadvertently” releasing an internal PR memo on that same story? I think not. Look at the buzzfest and I have to send a huge attaboy to whoever came up with the move … I salute you.

Here’s what Mr. Anderson wrote:

“…Yet the old company culture is not gone, as evidenced by an executive briefing memo from Microsoft’s PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, that Vogelstein was inadvertently sent in the body of a scheduling email. At nearly 6,000 words, it’s an amazing document and a telling counterpoint to the laissez-faire spirit of the open blogging initiative. Because it so aptly illustrates the parallel open vs. closed cultures that now exist at Microsoft, as in any big company trying to evolve a command-and-control messaging process to an out-of-control age, we decided to post the whole thing online in the spirit of transparency.

The memo coaches the executives on what to say and what not to say. It talks about Vogelstein’s interviewing style and possible biases (also how he’s “tricky” and “digs for dirt”–the memo cautions the executives to avoid certain paths and to watch out for traps). Here’s an example (emphasis in the original):

“”He is digging for tension where it does not exist. We have to be hard core on this point and communicate in no uncertain terms the level of executive commitment and support for Channel 9 and 10 [Microsoft’s videoblogging efforts]””

On a personal note, it’s kind of freaky to read the memo describe how I was wooed (even manipulated, if you want to think of it that way) into commissioning the piece”

On another note, Fake Steve Jobs is demanding outraged nerds flock to their local newsstand and buy up all the copies of this issue to protest the placement of a nekkid lady on the cover.

2 responses so far

Mar 27 2007

Rob O’Regan on InfoWorld

Published by under General

Magnosticism
“I will never have as much fun as I did in the PC Week newsroom during the late ’80s and early ’90s. It’s too bad that the leaders of great publications like PC Week and InfoWorld let new competition (CNet), new media (the Web) and a paryalyzing unwillingness to embrace new publishing models pull the rug out from underneath them. The writing was on the wall for print rags like InfoWorld long ago; look for others to follow.”

Amen. I am tempted to disagree with the “never have as much fun” part — Forbes.com in 1995 did that for me. But Rob is dead on, PC Week vs. InfoWorld was a classic war between newspapers.

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Mar 25 2007

InfoWorld ceasing print publication?

Published by under Journalism,Technology

So says Sam Whitmore at his MediaSurvey [registration required], where the homepage headline says:

“InfoWorld to Fold its Print Edition
Online is now king. The announcement is due Monday.”

No details available, and I’m too lazy to phone Sam to find out on a blustery Sunday, but if true, it’s not a big surprise, nor, does it mean anything especially dire or negative about the ongoing strength of the InfoWorld franchise online. I was at IDG two years ago, I knew its managers and editors, and the plan at IDG was to go hard in the direction of online at all possible velocity. Print is superfluous — only a delivery medium, nothing more — and seeing the cessation of one delivery medium for an emphasis on another is more a nostalgic thing than anything else, but I concede, a big piece of news nevertheless.

Jim Forbes, an ex-InfoWorld reporter and former colleague of mine at PC Week, delivers a great paean to one of the greatest names in tech journalism, home to legends such as John Markoff, former McKinsey-colleague Paul Freiberger, John Dvorak, Stewart Alsop …

“InfoWorld, which is owned by IDG, has a storied history. In its more than 20-year life, this magazine has been the launchpad for several notable computer journalists including Stewart Alsop, Maggie Canon, John Dvorak, Jonathan Sacks, Ziff Brother’s Investment counselor Michael Miller, PBS’ Mark Stephens (who left InfoWorld with the name of the magazine’s fictional field editor and gossip columnist, Robert Cringely) as well as New York Times technology journalists Laurie Flynn and John Markoff.”

In February IDG’s Colin Crawford, who coordinates the company’s online strategy, wrote these prescient words:

“In the US, our online revenue now accounts for over 35% of our total US publishing revenues. Next year, for many brands online revenues will be greater than print revenues, if fact they already are at some of our key brands and by 2009 – approximately 50% of IDG’s US revenues will come from online.

To drive this change and to focus on online revenue we’ve changed the business mission of our organization away from print. Going forward IDG Communications will define itself as a web centric information company complemented by expos, events and print publications.

The brutal reality that we’re facing today is the costly process of dismantling and replacing legacy operations and cultures and business models with ones with new and yet to be fully proven business models. However, we face greater risks if we don’t transform our organization and take some chances.”

7 responses so far

Mar 25 2007

Whereabouts week of 3.26

Published by under Personal,Travel

3.26 – RTP

3.27 – RTP

3.28 – Connecticut

3.29-4.1 – Cotuit

No responses yet

Mar 25 2007

Malfunctions on the wheel of pain

Published by under fatblogging,Rowing

Sunday morning erg piece was marred by a USB failure between the erg and RowPro — the software I use to log my meters and plan the workouts — so it was a straight up old-school, use-the-erg-monitor piece, but …

My iPod Nano was frozen and wouldn’t play, which meant for 19 minutes and 18.6 seconds I had to listen to the flywheel fan inhale and exhale along with my desperate wheezing. Afraid to get on a scale, but now able to handle over 20 minutes of sub 1:58 pace which is a good thing indeed. My lungs are opening up and my VO2 max is improving judging from my heart rate which is trending down into the high-150s.

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Mar 24 2007

Clamming Strategies

Published by under Cape Cod,Clamming

Today was an extreme tide — a spring tide I believe — so there was but one thing to do and that was clam.

March clamming is clean clamming — the water is clear, the nitrogen levels are low, the danger from red tide, fecal coliform, hepatitis, vibro and any other alimentary tract threatening clam induced illness is next to nil. It is also open clamming, meaning the department of natural resources hasn’t closed the back waters yet and its open season until May 1 for those spots that are off limits in the summer.

The old saw about only eating clams in a month with an “R” in it, is pretty much a good rule of thumb. I’ll clam into June, but July and August, even September clams … I pass.

This isn’t because of any recent threat to the clams, or any degradation in water quality, it’s just warm water clams don’t seem to taste as well as the cold water kind.

With new clam licenses in hand, and my son Fisher in his first pair of waders, we launched the boat and put-putted across the harbor to the island where we saw a baby harbor seal sunning itself on the beach. Well meaning people sometimes call the dog catcher or the ASPCA to say such beached seals are in distress, but usually they are not, and are just a new thing for people to deal with since they had all but vanished from our beaches before the passage of the marine mammal protection act. Trying to “help” a beached baby seal is evidently a very dumb idea, as the suckers are complete ingrates and will try to take your fingers off.

We dug our limit in quahogs (pronounced “co-hawgs”) with rakes, then hand dug our limit in steamers (aka, “soft-shelled” clams). Fisher was good with the bull rake, and took a turn with my Ribb rake, the best clam rake on the planet. We focused on cherrystones and littlenecks (referring to the relative size of the quahogs) for eating raw on the half-shell and broiling into Clams Casino. If I had been in a chowder mood then we would have focused on … chowder clams — big quahogs that generally see their shells turned into ashtrays. Extra-large steamers are known as “chokers.”

We then went to the super-secret wild oyster spot. This is a very big deal as oysters are delicacies (Cotuit oysters are world renowned, and indeed, are considered the best there are by true gourmands) and wild oysters, as opposed to farmed ones, are very, very hard to find. But we found them. Lots of them. Getting to them was a challenge as the extra-low tide exposed the extra-treacherous mud. This is Fisher reenacting the quicksand scene from Wages of Fear.

As we left, I had to take a picture of my favorite piece of rich people insanity, the security camera disguised as a bird house..

So … Clams Casino, cherrystones, and oysters on the half-shell tonight. Fried clams tomorrow night after the steamers have had a night to “de-sand” themselves.

5 responses so far

Mar 23 2007

The kind of day it has been

Published by under Weird

5 pm and I notice that my shirt is not only inside out, but on backwards.

This is par for the course. When leaving my first job, I was given clothing as a going away present. I consider a Swingline Stapler to be a perfectly good tool for hemming pants and dealing with dangling blazer linings.

8 responses so far

Mar 22 2007

Over-engineered

Dan Goodman at Ogilvy — the interactive guru — made a statement today during a discussion about metrics and optimization that made me stop, think hard, and then ask him to back up.

“Don’t over-engineer things,” he said.

As the interactive marketing guy for the company that makes the best-engineered PCs, who is often the only non-engineer in most meetings; the guy who only passed algebra II because the teacher was his coach, who sat at a dinner last night in NYC and listened to the inimitable Uncle Fester from this blog’s comments tell my eldest son that his father “was a serious math retard …”

For me to hear an A-team interactive marketing guy tell me not to be over-weening in online advertising, behavioral targeting, multivariate testing, A|B analysis, demographic segmentation, continuous improvement`cycles, dashboards, NPV, E-to-R ….

Well, it made my day to hear someone throw a bucket of cold water and basically say, there’s so far you can take it.
The maddening thing about web marketing is it represents a collision of the logical precision of information technology with the creative chaos of media. Maddening because in theory one should be able to measure and improve with a high degree of precision. But in practice no one has enough, time, money or talent to get to the Valhalla vision that in theory, you know is possible.

As T.S. Eliot wrote in The Hollow Men:

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

That’s what keeps me grinding away in the online medium — the idea, the promise, the illusion that if you do it all just right, it will all start to swing along on its own. Integrating metrics with a content management system and an ad server, building a neat little closed system that sort of self-optimizes …..

The reality is fouled up insertion orders, weird metric tagging, site errors, and that big unknown … user behavior. Yet, I suspect every online operator — from the service providers, the agencies, the publishers, the bloggers, the vloggers, the podcasters — will, if caught in the right optimistic mood, express an idealistic hope that online media is the most perfectable medium ever known.

8 responses so far

Mar 21 2007

Association backs floating bags for aquaculture – UPDATE OPINION – The Barnstable Patriot – Cape Cod & Islands

Published by under Cape Cod,Clamming

Guest Commentary: Association backs floating bags for aquaculture – UPDATE OPINION – The Barnstable Patriot – Cape Cod & Islands

In the clam department, The Barnstable Patriot has a rebuttal by the president of the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association, Scott Mullin, to Three Bays and the anti-oyster bag forces.

I am trending towards a pro-bag position based on nitrogen reduction. Oysters are excellent de-nitrifiers. I also respect the navigation risk — being an in-shore sculler I stand a higher risk of running into a field of bags than most — but being made aware that there were bag systems used in Cotuit last summer, and not remembering their location, I can’t say they were an issue for me directly. I don’t know. More thought and study required on my part.

“In addition, the nursery systems provide positive ecosystems services in the form of removing nitrogen from the overlying waters. The consumed nitrogen, in the form of phytoplankton, is either incorporated into oyster tissue and harvested or is transitioned to the benthos where it is converted to a form that is unavailable for biological activity, i.e. a non-eutrophic form. In many areas of the country, large public programs, e.g. in Chesapeake Bay, and more locally in Mashpee, are focused on expanding oyster populations to counter the eutrophic conditions resulting from nutrient run-off from land-based sources. In the Three Bays area, local shellfish farmers are taking care of this program for you, at no cost to the public.”

2 responses so far

Mar 20 2007

Published by under General

Lenovo goes to the races

In which the Williams-AT&T Formula One car is mounted by a Red Bull

2 responses so far

Mar 20 2007

Me ThinkPad, it’s Sick

Published by under Colleagues

Two lines, one red and one blue, run vertically down the middle of the screen. doubtlessly caused by some screen carelessness on my part while travelling.

Then, just now, the active protection sensor just reported a malfunction. I didn’t know how much psychological comfort I received from knowing that feature was protecting my drive until it told me it was not feeling well.

Oh well, off to the service team for a fix. Best notebook I have ever owned — this X60s

4 responses so far

Mar 20 2007

Online branding — possible or not?

I am coming to the conclusion that building a brand online — in any interactive medium — by buying awareness, is a fool’s errand. Sure, there are some online only campaigns that have established companies — Vonage is generally cited. The X10 Web Cam pop-under was inescapable … but I am eager to find a brand that primarily built online, or, at the very least, changed itself through an online brand campaign.

I think one can change demand through online buys, but brand is a function of:

  • Citizen marketing: users telling other users whether a product/company is worth doing business with.
  • Search: the game changed with Google when prospective customers can work the consideration process with total recall and accuracy
  • Buzz: whatever buzz is, it seems to be activated online via viral, YouTube is an enabler, but buzz seems to be ephemeral and something you find, not plan.

If I were to invest in brand building online I’d pour my money into the social media side, not impressions.

5 responses so far

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