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I’d been umming and ahhing about what to do with this URL and site for a bit as it was out-growing its location. A day off work on Friday turned into 24 hours of r&d, getting under the hood of WordPress a little bit more. When the dust had settled I had migrated all of the content over to a new URL where phase two of this sometimes mis-guided but generally alright social experiment will continue.

For those receiving this in a reader, this link will give you the new RSS feed, please re-subscribe, I promise to make it worthwhile. Also for those who’d prefer, you can now subscribe via email.

There are still a few kinks being ironed out in the CSS (look & feel) which will be taken care of over the next few days. For now though thanks for being with me over the past 7 or 8 months, where we go to from here is anyone’s guess. I hope to see you over at Creative Is Not A Department in the not too distant future.

All the best,

David

Image courtesy of pbo31, with thanks to compfight.

Innovations are just gimmicks you happen to like.

I thought that was an interesting statement to make. I don’t know if I agree with it or not, but that doesn’t stop it from being interesting.

Now…as you were.

I left open beats closed out of my marketing mantra the other day, largely because the 5 points circle around it anyway. On the back of that comes a couple items which illustrate it perfectly.

The first is from Fred Wilson, who writes while vacationing with his family in France:

If you look at this picture of my son Josh catching up on his favorite TV shows this morning before breakfast, you’ll see a flat panel display in the upper right of the picture. And yet Josh is watching on his laptop. That’s largely because we are in europe right now, where the shows he likes are not available on the local cable channel but are available “on demand” on the Internet.

Yes it’s true that Hulu and ABC.com and other web video services block IP addresses outside of the US, but we were able to hack around that pretty easily. Yet another form of DRM that won’t work, can’t work, and will eventually be removed by content owners.

Couldn’t agree more. On the flip side and very open is Garfield Minus Garfield, a comic which appropriates Garfield strips, removing the cat and…well…see for yourself:

Garfield Minus Garfield

Garfield Minus Garfield

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb.

Happy Monday everyone.

Yesterday the inimitable Scott Drummond came to my rescue. Scott is my musical educator, always throwing me new tunes and genres to check out, in addition to being an amazing friend and weekend brunch buddy. He hit me with a world of great stuff, but I want to talk about one artist in particular, Girl Talk.

Girl Talk is a DJ who mashes up everything he can get his hands on. It is absolutely not for everyone, but I can’t get enough and makes it Saturday night in my heart when the calendar says Tuesday morning, so for this I am grateful. Scott hit me off with a link to a live bootleg which is absolutely off the handle (and on this Friday July 4th exactly what you need to get the party started).

The model he is going with selling his latest album though is perhaps more interesting than hearing Roy Orbison laced over gangsta rap, spun into Nirvana with Salt’n’Pepa over the top (in my ears right now).

Head to his MySpace page and you’ll see the below:

Buy Girl Talk\'s new album!

So the “pay what you want” thing in music isn’t new, agreed. Click-through though and you’ll be taken to a page which displays the purchase options:

any price grants the download of the entire album as high-quality 320kbps mp3s
$5 or more adds the options of FLAC files, plus a one-file seamless mix of the album
$10 or more includes all of the above + a packaged CD (when it becomes available)

Additionally below that it says the album is released under a Creative Commons licence, the same licence under which all the images I use on this site are licensed. Attribute the creator, don’t profit directly from the work, and you’re welcome to do as you please.

Now here’s the trick: you punch in the amount you would like to pay on that page, and then the files are available on the next page with a separate link off to PayPal to make a payment. The entire system is based on goodwill and honesty, as I punched in $5 and started downloading the tracks before the payment had gone through. I’m happy to pay as I really like what he does, but I’m wondering how many people will reach that page, grab the tunes and take off?

The ironic thing though is none of it really matters. If someone wants your music for free, they will take it for free. A model of a dollar is better than a model of no money, and by putting your music out under Creative Commons people can remunerate you based on the value you provide while giving them access to your music without the shadow of illegal downloading coming into it.

This goes back to what I was saying in my Life after the dip post:

Exposing what people want to engage with and burying the stuff they’re not interested in is key, and it is only an issue if your business model rests on the viability of the things people don’t like. Digital Rights Management for starters if a zero-sum strategy where nobody wins. I’m a big believer artists should be compensated for the work they do (indeed one day I hope to do nothing but), but in the interim we need new models that are malleable.

Seems to me this model is right on track

Ok everyone, on 3. 1, 2, 3!

1. Markets are conversations.

2. Conversations happen around social objects.

3. Social objects are products or services that are remarkable.

4. Remarkable is not just something special, but something worth being remarked about.

Ok, with this in mind, last night as my house mate and I stalked people on Facebook, my shiny, tiny god was in my room and having been for a run I was feeling very lazy, so I grabbed her obelisk of a laptop and logged in.

As soon as the page loaded I was greeted with the below screen – and apologies to anyone whose privacy has been invaded, particularly those who now are forced to acknowledge they know me in real life – advising me the browser I was using was IE 6 and my Facebook experience may be compromised by this fact.

Browser help in Facebook

Now, I don’t actually log in to Facebook all that often these days, it has worn a tad thin for me. In this though I thought there was a great point to be made about the things you can and should do for the people who use your services or products. It is so easy for Facebook to know what browser I’m using and to suggest upgrades or alternatives (for the record, I use Firefox on my own machine). WHat are the other ways service just happens because people no longer need to ask, they just do?

– The cafe across the road knows I only ever drink long blacks, so they just make them, they don’t ask

My favourite wine bar knows I don’t drink sweet wines, so they don’t suggest them when I go in

My favourite record store knows the music I like, but they also know enough to suggest things outside my radar

Those three examples rely on a human remembering and caring enough to act. So if you’re in a service industry and there are things you can automate, letting the technology take care of the service so you can do the things requiring a human, what is stopping you? Oh, I just realised I left one of the most important things off my list at the top:

5. Good customer service is the most remarkable thing you can offer.

Jacob\'s LadderI’ve recently jumped on a productivity bandwagon called Inbox Zero in an attempt to a) get more things done, b) get the right things done, and c) make myself a little better to work with for the poor folk who have to put up with me. Inbox Zero is a concept created by Merlin Mann who writes the productivity website 43 Folders.

The idea of Inbox Zero is there are only a set number of things you can do with email:

1. You can respond
2. You can delegate
3. You can be reminded of something you need to do
4. You can delete it

It also advocates checking email intermittently, say once an hour. Those of us in service industries may have to check it a little more often, though in the great video below Merlin compares checking it too often to working in Subway and not actually making anything to eat (“Any sandwich orders? Yep good, good to see. How about now? Cool, more sandwiches, excellent…”). It goes for an hour, but he’s a funny and engaging speaker, after that you will be primed to make the switch.

I should add I’m a fan of the labyrinthine filing structure he suggests to avoid, something I am eschewing reluctantly. To see my virtual filing cabinet disappear and be replaced with a single folder called “Archive” makes me feel very uneasy. To whom much is given, much is tested…

**Update** I snagged the below image from a friend’s laptop, he keeps a piece of paper stick to it to remind him…

Process to zero!

Top image courtesy of Dan Forth, with thanks to compfight.

Note: This is a continuation of yesterday’s thoughts.

Also note: not The Dip.

Capitol Records buildingIn the music industry’s case, they’ve spent the last decade attempting to bend consumer behaviour to their will. All the time and effort put into better encryption, DRM etc. only for it all to be futile, forcing people into a dead model. Think about that. Ten years of lawsuits, of bad ideas, of attempts to stall the forward march of consumer technology. Each writ issued was an extra nail in the coffin of a decrepit business model established to confuse value and price point and foist it upon the unwitting consumer. As one of my favourite writers likes to say, the epic, epic lulz. As a complete aside, anyone know how many lawyers the RIAA has? I’m just curious…

In the games industry’s case, budgets and teams are swelling, but this is not where industry growth is coming from. The really booming sectors are taking things back to small teams and games that take hours not days to play. Respecting people’s time and attention spans, you can spend five minutes doing something else entirely and then get back to what you are doing. It is a business model that is fluid, moving with the trends of its audience who are not the pimply teenagers with plenty of time on their hands anymore, they are developers themselves, they are in advertising, they’re lawyers and doctors and parents whose free time has not grown with their disposable income.

Exposing what people want to engage with and burying the stuff they’re not interested in is key, and it is only an issue if your business model rests on the viability of the things people don’t like. Digital Rights Management for starters if a zero-sum strategy where nobody wins. I’m a big believer artists should be compensated for the work they do (indeed one day I hope to do nothing but), but in the interim we need new models that are malleable. In the words of Seth Godin:

Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

If your goal is delivering value, then everything will be fine. If your goal is to keep the game unchanged, then we have a problem on our hands.

Image courtesy of maubrowncow, with thanks to compfight.

Can\'t Fail CafeI started writing this yesterday and I wasn’t quite feeling it, think this will be one of those ones where I have to put it out there before I realise what I meant…anyway….it got quite long, so I’m breaking it up over a series of shorter posts around the same idea, we’ll see where it goes from there. I’d love your thoughts along the way to help shape it, so leave a comment or drop me a line. For reference, I’m thinking about about processes that are inherently flawed and the businesses attached to them.

I’ve spent the last hour (plus at least one more last night) getting music off my iPod. I’ve had it for a bit over a year, and I’ve noticed it is starting to act a little funny (as opposed to acting a little funny). There are plenty of stories around about Apple building product break-down into their life-cycles, but I’m not really interested in that; I’ve derived plenty of value from it and will in all likelihood buy another when it finally joins the big circuit graveyard in the sky.

The thing about getting the music off it though is I don’t want to have to add it all back to the next device. That isn’t a good brand experience. But Apple couldn’t get the music industry on board without making it at least somewhat difficult to do, so we wind up in this middle ground where an industry who doesn’t know enough about the medium thinks they’ve got a good deal, and in the interim everyone who bought one has a hoop or two to jump through before getting what they want.

My thoughts here: If this was anyone other than Apple, they would be out of business.

The women going to work!Driving to work this morning I snapped this pic. I realise its not a great one, blame Blackberry not me (as a complete aside, how do you manage to put a measly 1.3 megapixel camera in your phone guys? Honestly! But when you’re capable of stuff like this, a lousy camera should be of no surprise…). Anyway…the car in front was advertising a female house-painting service called Women @ Work Painting. “98.5% testosterone free” apparently – whether they’re being cute or that is level of testosterone in the average woman I don’t know.

The service was apparently born out of bad experiences with trades people, they promise four things:

  • turn up on time
  • work on consecutive days
  • complete job by the due date
  • clean up after ourselves

This may be a generational thing, but I don’t give myself over to gender stereotypes. If they can actually guarantee that level of service, if any business could guarantee that level of service, then they would have me as a customer. I should add I don’t quite get the “work on consecutive days” part, I can only assume other tradies out there will spread jobs out and work on multiple houses at once, frustrating the clients they have in some cases.

The only thing I’m thinking on top of this though is if a business went around branding itself as “98.5% estrogen free”, I don’t know how well that would play…reminds me of a billboard I saw a couple years back, a massive rare steak on a plate and a tagline: Brisbane’s worst vegetarian restaurant.

Yesterday I got a call from a number I didn’t recognise. A few of my friends make a habit of ignoring those calls, but I’m always up for a new conversation (hence my details being freely available). I picked up and said hello in my usual fashion, and then heard some scuffling. I thought perhaps a friend had left her phone unlocked and accidentally dialed it form her hand bag, and then a song started playing.

Quite bemused I sat listening. It was a country-ish sort of tune, pleasant to the ear but I couldn’t make out the words. A couple times I heard the phone move, no doubt the caller checking to see if I was still listening. After a few minutes the song finished, and the person hung up.

Maybe I should find the whole thing a little strange, and to a certain extent I do. Whether it was a wrong number or a person trying to convey a message that didn’t quite reach me, who knows? They obviously had a fairly definite intent with what they were doing. We all at times make moves that seem so obvious to us, while others stare on completely bewildered.

Intent is a funny thing, and a world away from execution. Some days further than others.

Image courtesy of estherase, with thanks to compfight.