From Ossobuco to Afghanistan

[cross-posted on Fresh Influence]


I remember back in 2005-6, when I worked at Nokia, an anecdote that blew people away was something along the lines that Nokia was the world's largest manufacturer of digital cameras. It didn't take much imagination to picture a world with billions of photographers, capturing and sharing images in near real-time. That's obviously happened. Every day we're bombarded on Facebook, Twitter and blogs with images of Ossobuco; chubby-cheeked little babies; cats - lots of cats; keg stands; post-card sunsets; and new Manolos. To each his own.

What I couldn't have imagined back then - though I'm certain many did - was the profound impact the democratization of digital photography would have on our ability to tell touching, funny and impactful stories. Furthermore, that particularly adept creators would marry mobile photography with readily available technology to convey complex narratives in a way that feels so accessible and genuine. On that note, I recently stumbled on a project called Basetrack that embodies what I believe is the best of this new storytelling. As Basetrack describes itself:

This is an experimental media project, tracking the deployment of 1/8 – 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines, throughout the duration of their deployment to southern Afghanistan. A small team of mobile media operators is embedded with the battalion, transmitting their reports and reflections from Helmand province as they travel across the battalion’s area of operations.

Check out the site (and their mindblowing Flickr stream)- there's an newsfeed for stories related to the war in Afghanistan; a Twitter and Facebook aggregator; and a killer interactive map where you can scan a map and timeline to find photos, videos, blog posts and stories from the 1/8.

It is what the 'embed' model was meant to be.

A few of my favorite photos are below (courtesy of Basetrack's Flickr stream) - most of them shot on an iPhone and filtered with Hipstamatic. Pretty stunning.







A simple exchange today reminded me that dealing with people - personally and professionally - takes perspective.

I was stopped at a street corner next to a woman, both of us staring at a window cleaner suspended about 10 stories up.  We were both shaking our heads in disbelief.

Me:  Would you ever do that???

Her:  No.  I hate cleaning windows!!

Earner's Guilt?

Since the day I started this blog I've measured ROI not in terms of $$, but rather connections made, new things learned and overall personal fulfillment.  Noah Brier describes it perfectly.

But on Sunday night, during an NCAA basketball game, I saw a commercial for Guitar Hero, featuring Metallica and four legendary college basketball coaches.  I thought it was funny, found the link on YouTube and threw it on my blog [see it here].  I didn't give it much thought.

Over the next 24 hours I saw a 500% increase in my normal daily traffic, nearly all of it driven by some variation on this Google Search [that's me in the top spot]


Which got me thinking ... would it be so bad if I had included an affiliate link along with the video?  Using fairly conservative estimates I'm confident I could have covered the annual costs of running this blog [which are very nominal] from that one post.

I never considered ads on my blog because I never intended to make money from it [and quite honestly never had a large enough audience to make it worth anyone's while].  But I might start experimenting with affiliate links every once in a while.  And if I do, it will drip with transparency - I never want to feel guilty or like I've misled someone for a buck or two. 

Any advice or caveats as I consider this?

Net-net ... I can't help but feel this little guy staring at me as thousands of potential Guitar Hero buyers pass through my humble little blog.


QTip v Questlove on Twitter [Celebrity Tweet-Off Round 2]

In a recent post I compared the Twitter habits of Shaquille O'Neal and Lance Armstrong.  Both received high marks for their transparency and embracing of new technology.  In the end I gave a slight edge to Shaq because he's less polished, relatively engaged with other Twitter users and is pretty amusing.

Round two is a hip-hop battle for the social media age.  Q-Tip, the leader of A Tribe Called Quest versus Questlove (according to Wikipedia, also known as BROther, ?uestion, Brother Question and ?uestlove), drummer and producer extraordinaire from The Roots.  Using the same criteria as Shaq v Lance ...

  • Q-Tip has 7,568 followers and follows 3,127 [a ratio of 2.5:1]
  • Questlove has 9,594 followers and follows 289 [a ratio of 33:1]
  • In the week of Jan 18-25, Q-Tip Tweeted 51 times; Questlove ... well I stopped counting at 200 [the man is prolific and was clearly inspired by the inauguration]
  • 32 of Questlove's last 60 Tweets have been @replies; versus 18/60 for Q-Tip.

Looking at the stats I have to give the edge to Questlove, mainly for his frequency and relatively high @reply ratio.  Unlike my previous post I'm not going to get into the subjective stuff ... I'll leave that for you to decide. 

But I must say that more often than not I breeze through Q-Tip's Tweets while I try to actually read most of Questlove's.  Below are a few favorites that show a funny, conflicted, self-deprecating man ... not unlike many of us.  As I said in my previous post, I really give both these guys credit for opening themselves up like this ... I suspect their fans truly appreciate it - I certainly do.

Questlove Twitter  
So who do you think wins this one?  Any other celebs doing it well?

Shaquille O'Neal v Lance Armstrong ... On Twitter

Comparing Lance and Shaq in terms of their professional abilities is difficult since they play such different sports [can you say with any confidence that Lance is a better cyclist than Shaq is baller?]. But Twitter is even ground for these giants, and I think it's time to compare celebrity Tweeter @lancearmstrong v @the_real_shaq.

Read More

Marketing Your Agency

[Via Creativity]

The London office of ad agency Mother has let its creatives produce a quarterly graphic novel that is being distributed as an insert within Time Out magazine.

Mother creative Stuart Outhwaite said, “It’s an opportunity for all writers at Mother to come in and have a go; relief for the frustrated creatives who want to do things other than advertising.”

The swap is that the agency is reducing the fees it charges the magazine for work it does for it, and the magazine offers the pages for the agency’s project. The agency hopes to publish all the installments (three more are planned) as a graphic novel that can be bought.

I think this is a very clever idea.  Mother's management is smart to position it as something they are doing for the good of their creative team [talent attraction and retention], when it's also clearly a new business development tool.


Only 1,700 Claim "Million Little Pieces" Refund

According to an AP story [full text here] only about 1,700 people asked to be reimbursed for James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" - which Frey admitted to be full of fiction.  Either everyone is lazy; the amount of the refund wasn't worth the trip to the store; or - and I suspect this is the case - nobody really cares if it's true [well, besides Oprah and about 1,699 others].

I hope Frey's next book, "Bright Shiny Morning," is a best-seller.  Not because I'm a fan of his work [I never read "A Million Little Pieces"].  Rather, because I thought a lot of high-and-mighty talking heads made Frey out to be a criminal of epic proportions.  What is it about glass houses?  I would love a peak at the tax returns for every commentator who chided Frey for lying ... think I'd find any inconsistencies on par with Frey's bending of the truth?

I Hope This Post Does Not Seal My Fate ...

To quote Adfreak:

Gorbachev_lv New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer today took a closer look at this Louis Vuitton ad with Mikhail Gorbachev (running on the back cover of this week’s issue) and promptly soiled itself. Apparently, the reading material sticking out of Gorbachev’s fancy bag says something like, “Litvinenko’s Murder: They Wanted to Give Up a Suspect for $7,000.” (Another site translates it as, “Murder of Litvinenko. Treason for $7000?”) Alexander Litvinenko was the ex-Russian spy who died of radiation poisoning last year, possibly at the hands of the Russian government. No one seems to know what the cryptic message means. Gorbachev was asked about it on a Danish talk show last week, but refused to shed any light. Whatever the explanation, it’s certainly the biggest Louis Vuitton ad mystery since people looked at this photo and wondered, “Why on earth does she have a shoe on her head?”

Page Six Expands to Meet Advertising Demand

From the New York Times [June 18] ...

"On Thursday for the first time, Page Six — which no longer runs on thesixth page of the paper, nor on just a single page — occupied three pages. Along with the column’s usual fodder (a photo of Britney Spears getting out of a car, an item about the singer Kelly Clarkson firing her manager, details on the divorce of a Hollywood power couple) were advertisements for Coach bags and for a sale at the upscale clothing chain Searle."

Gossip is not a 4 letter word [but it is a 6 letter word].


Inelastic Demand

Front041407_2 Seems a good old-fashioned price war is on between the NY Post and the NY Daily News.  $.25 one day, $.50 the next.  Hard to keep track.  But in any case my demand for the Post is nearly 100% inelastic regardless of price.  Why [especially non-New Yorkers might ask]?  This cover from April 14 says it all ... NJ Governor Corzine depicted as a crash-test dummy and called a "Buckle Head."  It's simply the most entertaining 20 minutes of my day.