Archive for March, 2007

Instant Messaging Ruins Friendships

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Conversation BubbleYup, it’s true. It seems counter-intuitive and paradoxical at first, but upon further analysis, there is a case to be made.

Most people assume that IM clients bring people closer together and solidify personal and family relationships. I would agree to some point. But what people fail to see is that instant messenging may unknowingly ruin friendships, as relationships are often taken for granted.

I’m not saying this is the case in all situations, but I would wager it happens more than we care to admit. If you are lost and do not understand what I mean, ask yourself if this sounds familiar:

  1. You add a friend or family member that you haven’t chatted with in awhile.
  2. You chat with them for the first couple times they sign on.
  3. Conversations quickly peter off and chat topics become dry.
  4. They become yet another name on your huge IM list.
  5. You glance over them as you check your list daily.

Sound familiar? It does to me and many others I know. Many friends and family members that I used to love bumping into on the street or enjoying the odd phone call with are now just names. The anticipation and excitement lags. My willingness to connect with them languishes.

Obviously, the longer your IM list, the more likely you can relate. In my case, I have over 150 contacts. Names become intermingled and diluted among the sea of emoticons and aliases.

What I am trying to say is that we take things for granted when they are at our disposal. If communication is easy, we put less value on a conversation with that individual than someone who is hard to get ahold or whom we never see. It’s as simple as that.

In a sick and twisted way, you can compare this phenomenon to buying new clothes. After you buy a specific piece of clothing, you are stoked to wear it for the first few times. Then it is just another piece of clothing in your closet.

Now don’t go running out and deleting all your friends and family from your IM list. Just think about the time and energy you put toward these online relationships. If you feel you are taking them for granted, perhaps you need to message these individuals more often. And if all else fails, delete them. Surprisingly, you may very well be building stronger connections and relationships.

Note: Obviously, many will not agree with me. But from my experiences with various IMs, friends, and family, there is a lot of validity around the argument.

Is The End Near? Are We In A Bubble?

Monday, March 19th, 2007

About six months back, there was a lot of talk as to whether the ‘web 2.0 space’ was in a bubble. I didn’t believe it was. And just to set the record straight, I still don’t believe it is. However, things aren’t the same as they used to be. Is the end near? I hope not…

It just seems that the energy level around new start-ups has faded. The glory days of TechCrunch seem like a thing of the past. Recent trends I’m seeing with respect to blog posts include lack of enthusiasm, re-hashed stories, and uninspiring material. I just don’t hear the same types of conversations as I used to.

Furthermore, the Alexa rankings on a lot of the big web 2.0 blogs are dropping like flies. Perhaps this lack of enthusiasm in centered more around the blogosphere itself than the start-up world. Perhaps bloggers are getting burnt out. Is there a blog bubble?

Or maybe, just maybe… nobody else feels this way and it’s just me…

Like I say, I’m not convinced that the entrepreneurial/start-up world is engulfed in a bubble necessarily. We still have yet to see the ridiculous financings, IPO’s, and huge influxes of liquidity, as witnessed during the tech boom and bust of the late 90’s.

To top it off, most of the high-flying major players of the web 2.0 revolution have been acquired. In other words, the concept of growth and leadership has been blurred by integration and management. I’m talking about such companies as YouTube, Flickr,, and Skype to name a few. Instead of organic entities, they have morphed into building blocks which form the basis for these gigantic, bureaucratic Internet monoliths. This is also where passion and company morale begin to fade…

No, I’m not in a pissy mood. It is not that ‘time of month’. Yes, it is Monday, but that has nothing to do with this. My negativity simply stems from what I am seeing around me. The current state of the blogging landscape is not what it used to be. I’m not suggesting Armageddon is near, but I do believe that a catalyst of some sort is needed to spark new growth and enthusiasm.

Your thoughts and beliefs are much appreciated…

YouTube + Viacom = Lawsuit Fun

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

YouTube logoWell, it was only a matter of time. Viacom is the first major player to drop the bomb, but expect more than just the infantry to attack. This ‘big’ news did not really come as a shock to myself (or many others). I expect others to follow suit in the near future.

Can you see it? A tear is running from my eye. The days of visiting YouTube to find absolutely everything may be numbered. This copyright-infringing fortress’ walls may come crashing down very soon.

Here are some of the numbers and facts:

  • U.S. law allows damages of $750 to $150,000 per copyright violation.
  • Viacom claims over 1.5 billion views of 160,000 Viacom clips.
  • Each view is a potential copyright violation.
  • In other words, Google could face a potential lawsuit of up to $225 trillion if Viacom’s numbers are correct (and I can do math, pffffft).

Some ugly math for YouTube and Google to swallow. And all of a sudden, $1 billion seems like a steal… Though Google does have $10 billion in the bank, paying out lawsuit after lawsuit is only a short term fix for longer, larger-scale problem.

Now let’s look at this from a high level view: who really goes to YouTube to look at anything other than copyright-infringing material. My guess is 5% of visitors AT MOST (and I think I’m being generous here). Now If all this content gets taken down, what’s left of YouTube - UGC or user-generated crap. Sure, the odd clip is funny or informative. But for the most part, I don’t care about some 14 year old drop-out from Indiana who broke his skateboard.

Currently, YouTube continues to proclaim that it is taking a proactive approach to removing all illegal content. That statement alone is funnier than most of their clips. I can still find anything I’m looking for, no matter whether it’s copyright-infringing or not.

The premise of the lawsuit and all similar lawsuits is that the creators should be rewarded for their work. Time and money are put forth to create the content, so monetary compensation for its use should be mandatory. Seems pretty straight forward to me. But instead of working closely with publishers to form partnerships, YouTube has strayed away from the scene, opting for the “we’ll take it down if you ask us” approach.

Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting the site to find all my favourite copyright- and non-copyright-infringing videos. My hope is that if YouTube does plunge into obscurity like its audio predecessor Napster, some other video site will rise to the top and takes its place.

This trial will be interesting to follow as it sets a precedent for future trials between video sites and content publishers and owners. Either way the story ends, the eternal battle between the free world and content publishers will continue onward.

NOTE: If you’re bored or looking for more info on the story, read about it here, here, here, here, here, or here.

Twitter is Hot Sh*t Right Now

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Twitter logoWow, it seems like nothing is more popular in the blogosphere right now than Twitter. Everyday I see a new headline proclaiming the service. My feed reader is full of Twitter posts and testimonials.

All of this has happened in a relatively short period of time. I feel like an outsider, not being a user of the service (yet). But have no fear, I will try it out…

So what is Twitter and who cares? The concept is so friggen simple it boggles my mind. Yet its simplicity speaks volumes about the ingenuity and creativity of the people behind it. The front page reads:

A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? Answer on your phone, IM, or right here on the web!

Sounds novel, but seems like an easy concept to copy. It will be interesting to see how the company erects barriers to entry to protect against competitors.

What has me excited about the company isn’t so much the product itself, but the level of enthusiasm around it. It isn’t often that an Internet start-up garners such a high level of press and publicity. The only other recent example I can think of off the top of my head is Joost. This is due in large part (say 98%) to the previous success of the founders.

Another interesting facet of the company is its name - Twitter. When I think of the name, I picture a little kid running around the mall, yelling and screaming, i.e. a twit. In any case, I think the service works in much of the same fashion. Users are screaming/exclaiming/informing people as to what they are doing. It’s a very ego-centric type service when you think about. Users are assuming that everyone is interesting in what they are doing.

If you use the service, let me know your thoughts and your views… I am very eager and interested to hear tales from the trenches.

Pay-Per-Click is So Overrated

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Google AdWords logoA bold statement to say the least - considering it is the basis behind Google. But I think it should finally be proclaimed to the world. Pay-per-click (PPC) is overrated beyond belief. If big changes don’t happen soon, we may see a new advertising model take shape. Just don’t ask me what it looks like…

First, we know that as much as 30% of all PPC traffic is driven via click fraud. I would even wager that this number could be higher, but some might call me a conspiracy theorist. Nonetheless, this means that deserving businesses can immediately write off as much as 30% of their PPC marketing budgets, as they will produce no results or sales. This has a huge impact on Internet marketing ROI.

This brings on another interesting point. Who the hell clicks on those damn text ads anyways? I don’t know of anyone, personally. Therefore, an elaborate scheme of low-paid Chinese clickers and/or Internet bots (or some other form of click fraud) must be present. The only other possible explanation is that non-savvy Internet users mistake these ads as being part of a given page’s content or part of the organic search results, and naively click through. Once again, this usually results in no sales for the advertiser and a lackluster ROI.

Basically, I’ve detailed why I think PPC sucks and how quality of the incoming clicks are weak at best. So where does one turn to drive qualified traffic and a reasonable ROI? Search engine optimization (SEO)…

Now excuse my bias to SEO (I do consulting in the area), but this form of search engine marketing is highly underrated, yet super effective. So why is it so often overlooked? It takes time and doesn’t usually provide instant results. Furthermore, a strong knowledge of the area is necessary to maximize results and most companies do not have the in-house expertise to do so. PPC campaigns drive instant, ‘qualified’ (or as I like to say, fabricated) traffic.

All I need to say is this…

PPC: Paid, non-qualified traffic.

SEO: Free, qualified traffic.

I mean… this seems like a no-brainer to me. But companies continue to focus on PPC. Here is a startling fact: 90% of company search engine budgets are allocated to PPC as opposed to SEO. This boggles my mind to no end. It should be the other way around.

PPC just seems like the trendy thing to do. “Everyone is doing it so why not us?” Eventually, companies will open their eyes, re-evaluate their ROI, and embrace SEO in a big way. Until then, the short term traffic gains of PPC seems to mask the longer term gains of SEO.

Now I know PPC does work for some and I will get slammed for such a post. But for the majority of us (including companies), PPC is a wasted of human and financial resources. Time and money can be better spent on other marketing initiatives.