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.

(This is a train of thought that started last week, not sure where we’re headed yet…)

Dip ahead...I used to make video games, and one of the bug-bears of that industry is the rampant software piracy on PC. Thousands of development hours get spent creating more and more complex forms of software encryption, only to have them broken days if not hours after the games become available. It is a losing strategy as you are always pitting a handful of developers in a single room against a worldwide army whose only interest is breaking your encryption as fast as possible.

In the case of PC-gaming, many developers are moving to fixed hardware like the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and the Wii. They don’t solve the piracy problem, but they do significantly raise the barrier to entry. The issue of piracy though is a vexing one for software development, I have generally found (and I think most industry folk would agree, whether or not they admit it) there is as much piracy going on within the industry as there is outside it. When developers are as guilty of the crime as the guy on the street, you have to start wondering whose behaviour you’re trying to curb: someone else’s or your own?

Image courtesy of Tod Rydquist, 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.

This is a bit of an admin post (1, 2, 3 – “Boooooooring!!!”). Marketing Magazine have added RSS feeds to their site for particular bloggers (including me). So, if you’d like to subscribe to my posts on Marketing Magazine you can now do so.

Additionally if you don’t subscribe to this site currently but would like to, please go right ahead! It is free, easy and guaranteed to do many ill-defined and vague things.

No experts allowed!My esteemed and learned friend Julian Cole just put me on to a fantastic blog, Talent Imitates, Genius Steals. Written by Faris Yakob who heads up planning for Naked Communications’ New York office. I’ve just read a post from Faris talking about a new t-shirt service a friend of his has started, in the same post he references a campaign going on for Orange in the UK called Balloonacy, which I seriously heart (and would be playing if my platform of choice was more customisable – look for a move to be made shortly in this space).

This is a great idea for one of the same reasons I love the Orange Balloon Race that’s running at the moment…it understands that the web is the platform and that from here on in, identity is distributed.

The web is the platform! I’ve been thinking this for a while, but for some reason it only just made sense. In the ye olde days people created work based on the limitations of the hardware, we’re now creating work based on the limitations of the software. In addition, while Moore’s Law may be running out of steam in the sense he was talking about traditional computing, it did not allow for the rise of mobile computing, and I’m more interested about the evolution of the handset than I am about a slightly faster laptop.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but I’m excited!

Image courtesy of macwagen, with thanks to compfight.

Marketing Magazine has just broken a story on Net-X’s Melbourne office being closed. The company, whose headquarters are in Sydney, was bought last year by CHE (part of BBDO) was acquired as part of a move by Clemenger in Sydney to quickly add a digital offering to their services. Unfortunately for the Melbourne office, Clemenger here already had a digital arm, Blue, and thus Net-X Melbourne was left to languish with no clear directive.

It looks to be another example of a worrying condition now known globally as IGW, or Integration Gone Wrong. The formula’s pretty simple:

  1. Large agency realises it needs digital on its rate card.
  2. Large agency is confounded by the amazing culture at independent digital agency – all these people appear to care about what they do, and even enjoy their work. Strange.
  3. Large agency buys independent digital agency and promises not to change the culture.
  4. Large agency then imposes elephantine corporate structure and converts full service digital agency into soul-crushing banner ad sweat shop.
  5. The culture that made the independent digital agency so attractive is smothered like a cashed-up pensioner with a pillow, talent at the agency leave, and the agency eventually dies.

This process seems to be the model for integration adopted by many large agencies, but clearly it’s poisonous.

In other words…
Clusterfuck accomplished

Image courtesy of We The People, with thanks to compfight.

Barrier to entryLong-time listeners-first time callers would be aware I was included in a top 50 list of marketing blogs in Australia recently, put together by Adspace-Pioneers and Marketing Magazine (#17, thanks very much). Eschewing “It’s an honour just to be nominated” dribble, it was a great chance to check out some of the other writers and marketers that exist in this space. There’s a tremendous amount of value out there and it’s well worth everyone’s time to take a look at the other sites comprising the list.

One key aspect which had been over-looked on a lot of these sites though was the choice of technology employed. There are three main blog platforms – WordPress (which is what this site is), TypePad and Blogger, all of which have their own pros and cons, but perform the same base functions.

Contrast this with Vox, a site I hadn’t heard of before until I visited Lexy Klain’s blog (#29 on the list). Lexy does a good job of providing thought-provoking content, I actually went quite far back into her archives to get a sense of her thought process. Satisfied, I went to comment on a post, and to congratulate her on making the list, and that is when the fun stopped.

Vox requires you to register if you wish to comment, something I abhor. Having spent yesterday afternoon at the Melbourne PubCamp event being bored to tears by folk who do not yet understand for some God-forsaken reason that open beats closed, I was surprised to see a blog site pursuing this tack.

By choosing this platform, Lexy opts out of a raft of conversation provided by comments. Fred Wilson often says the comments on his site far outweigh the value created in his blog posts. This is a participatory medium, and we need to make the barriers to entry for everyone as low as possible.

Lex, five stars for the wealth of thought you’re providing, but I can get it elsewhere. And if I can’t interact or am put off by the barriers placed in front of me, I won’t return. Those who haven’t read it should brush up on Forrester’s POST methodology for more on this.

Image courtesy of moniker, with thanks to compfight.

A blue freeway...get it?A couple weeks ago Bluefreeway stock resumed trading. Actually that’s a bit misleading, as “trade” implies both selling and buying in fairly equal measure, and with 6 million shares hitting the market at once thanks to Macquarie bailing out, nobody was going to scoop up that much stock.

Last week Simon Chen caught up with Rick Webb, one of the founders of Bluefreeway. The chat was completely off the record, though Simon is of the opinion now that the other side of the story needs to be told.

As of Friday the share price sat just above 7 cents, which makes it worth less than a third of its former value when the stock was initially suspended from trading so auditors could figure out how deep the rabbit hole went. There are new management initiatives being put in place to try and save the company, but when they include companies buying back their own equity at the original sell price, you have to wonder how long this flight of fancy will continue to run.

Image courtesy of kathycsus, with thanks to compfight.

This is a brief sojourn from an otherwise blog-free weekend. I have both The Age and The Australian here, plenty of coffee, but all the stuff I want to read is online. Umair Haque’s proposal for new forms of media, Mark Earl’s look at EMI and how the record business is just gambling, even the five months of Penny Arcade I have sitting in my reader. But I’m sick of staring at a screen, hunched over and negotiating with a format that doesn’t allow me to lie horizontal on a Saturday when I’ve sat upright and alert for 60 hours during the week.

Yes I know there are bigger problems in the world, but I’m talking about the wealth of information that is available and making it easier to consume, something that benefits everyone. That can be a better written article, but it can just as easily be a more manageable medium.

Image courtesy of aloshbennet, with thanks to compfight.