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Musing, marketing, and meaning in the connected world.

Of Elephants and Planes

TED  just launched its first-ever short film (30 sec to 3 mins) contest  - with winners to be shown at TEDIndia this November. The TED Blog is taking the opportunity to feature some of the short films that played live at the conference in recent years.

Brands in Public: The End of the Conversation?

It was just a matter of time: “With brands turning into curators of conversations about them and brand value increasingly determined by the value of aggregated content, third parties might be inspired to hijack these very brands by offering curated conversations on their behalf,” I wrote in early July.

And now Seth Godin and BzzAgent have done exactly this. The marketing guru and the marketing agency have launched a portal that aggregates conversations about brands and presents them in a unified public-facing dashboard that gives brands the chance to lead the discussion. Brands in Public translates the Get Satisfaction business model (a portal for public-facing aggregated customer support) into the broader realm of brand management. It aggregates the aggregation, if you will, and centralizes what Modernista, Skittles, and Crispin Porter Bogusky did on their own sites.

Are Writers Selling Out to Marketers? Alain de Botton’s “Heathrow Diary”

For one week, Swiss author Alain de Botton was living the life I’ve always wanted to live. As the first-ever writer-in-residence of London’s Heathrow Airport, he was working on his new book on site, observing, documenting, and philosophically charging the emotions and motions of the two arguably most interesting things in life – people and planes – in transit, in situ.

The Science of Re-tweeting

Hubspot viral marketing scientist Dan Zarrella has examined 5 million tweets and 40 million re-tweets over the course of nine months and just published his study on the factors of re-tweeting success: What does/does not get re-tweeted, and for what reasons?

frogs in London: TED Salon, design mind Unveiling, London Design Festival

Several frogs are in London this week to unveil the special TEDGlobal issue of our design mind magazine in a very special TED Salon on Monday, with the title "More Substance of Things Not Seen." The event will be co-hosted by frog and TED, and moderated by Sam Martin, editor-in-chief of design mind, and Bruno Giussani, European director of TED. More about that soon.

It comes in handy for the frog delegation that this is also the first week of the magnanimous London Design Festival, an eclectic assembly of design-related programs, exhibitions, and parties all over town.

The Great Healthcare Debate

While the rest of the developed world looks at the controversy over healthcare reform in the US with a mix of embarrassment and disbelief, Americans have experienced a raging debate this summer that was to a large part driven by word-of-mouth online.

MotiveQuest, a research firm, has evaluated the healthcare chatter bouncing around the Internet. It pulled data from more than 100 health and political forums and blogs, representing more than 2,000,000 posts and 110,000 people in the average month. Categorizing the debate’s language into thematic groups (treatments, payment methods, doctors/patients, and the uninsured), it has tracked how the online conversation evolved over time.

View the results

(via WOMMA)

The Future of News: Hyper-Distribution or Hyper-Branding?

Jeff Jarvis, who’s admirably trying to prevent the news industry from becoming the next music industry, recently wrote an interesting blog post in which he heralded “hyper-distribution” as a valuable new business model for news organizations. Responding to some industry pundits who propose embracing shrinking audiences as an effective means of consolidation and audience loyalty, Jarvis argued:

“Since when did it become OK for media people to shrink their audiences? Since they gave up on the ad model, that’s when. But I am not ready to surrender to the idea that advertising, which has supported mass media since its creation, is over. Yes, ad rates are lower; welcome to competition. That’s all the more reason why publishers must attract larger audiences publics – make it up on volume – as well as more targeted and valuable communities.”

To grow audiences through hyper-distribution, Jarvis proposes that news outlets utilize readers as distributors and embrace the very hyper-fragmented forces of the social web that might pose the most existential threat to them: reverse-syndication, “embeddable paper” formats, APIs, specialization, and engagement on social networks.

These are viable concepts (and some of them are already used, i.e. by the New York Times, the Silicon Insider, and others) but, if you were to be cynical, you could also view them as belated means of catching up to a new media reality in which the traditional notion of an advertising- funded news market is no longer valid. While hyper-distribution may provide formats for the post-article era, it still clings to the idealistic assumption that the world needs professional news organizations. But what if it doesn’t? What if the student who famously told the New York Times a year ago, “If the news is that important, it will find me,” doesn’t really consider news media to be trusted sources of news anymore, no matter how good they are in deploying social distribution channels to push them to him? What, in fact, if news brands don’t really matter anymore to Gen Y – as sources of news, trusted or not?

SOCAP09 (Social Capital Markets) Conference Brings Together Social Innovators from Government and Business

The Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) Conference, a landmark gathering of top business and government leaders creating market-based solutions for social impact, is taking place September 1-3, at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center.

SOCAP brings together a unique mix of the world’s leading social innovators – traditional investors, impact investors, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, new media, NGO’s and non-profits, wealth managers, development agencies, venture capitalists, MBA students and other groups interested in the growing opportunities of social capital — who are catalysts of change across the globe.

Power to Prezi!

Is it a presentation tool? Or a visual storytelling tool? Visualization software? Or a zooming editor? Budapest-based Adam Somlei-Fischer, founder and lead designer of Prezi, and Peter Halacsy, founder and CTO of Prezi, were interested in soliciting feedback on their product’s category when they visited frog design’s San Francisco studio last week and demoed their tool. Having marketed mind-mapping software previously in my career, I felt sympathetic: At the time, we went through a similar exercise, and after endless discussions and focus groups we ended up with a label only a committee could come up with: “enterprise productivity software.” Yawn. One must not be concerned that the Prezi guys will get trapped by the lowest common denominator – they’re too smart, too opinionated, and too small (ten people).

Vote for the INDEX: 2009 People's Choice Award

To help expand the global conversation about design to improve life, INDEX:, a global non-profit network organization based in Copenhagen, is partnering with Facebook to promote the online voting for the INDEX: 2009 People's Choice Award and enable an online discussion during the live stream of the awards show on 28 August.