DemoCamp3 Follow Up & Toronto Web 2.0 Conference Ideas

Thanks to David Crow, the folks at Tucows and all the presenters. DemoCamp 3 was great. I made it to the bar this time too, and it was nice to add a more social dimension to the event and meet some sharp locals.

Okay – so I mentioned that Mathew Ingram, Rob Hydnman, Mark Evans myself are putting together a conference this May – date & location are being finalized now and we’ll have a website up in about 3 weeks with all the details.

What’s different about this conference?
First off, this is a grass roots thing. Basically the we are enthusiasts and we recognized that Toronto needed a little Web 2.0 injection from real thought leaders. Our goal for this conference is to put on a quality (read top notch keynotes included, plus catered meals) two day conference with a grassroots feel.  It will be a paid conference and include panels and workshops as well as the keynotes, and we’ll have some bargain basement pricing for 50 or so students.

Why should you attend?
Everyone is wrestling with the change going on online today – let’s call it Web 2.0. You need to be able to understand the trends and see your way through them to be able to take advantage of them and strategize carrying forward. With those goals in mind we are going to cover four streams of content:

– Effects on Media
– Effects on Marketing
– Effects on Venture/Financing
– Effects on Social/Political Spectrums

So…given all of that, we are hoping you can help us by telling us what you would like to hear about within those four streams. There is a lot to discuss, so please sound off by posting your comments below. We’ll take your feedback into account as we invite more panelists and design workshops.


Brand Murder – Did I Mention We're Killing Off Our Brand…?

Did I mention we are going to murder our brand?

Here is an exert from a post that will be heading to the Brand Murder RSS feed in about one hour’s time:

Podcast 1

Here is our first in a series of podcasts that will accompany the brand murder mystery.

Click here to download the podcast (episode 1).

These podcasts will be interesting because this whole thing is literally evolving right before our eyes. For example, we decided to do this on Feb 2 and released it on Feb 14. No doubt we will have useful ideas that bubble up between now and the completion. For example Daniel just said, “We should make the podcast more exciting by telling people we want to get 1000 email signups and 1000 RSS feed signups before we’re done”. Great idea Daniel, let’s do it! So, we want to get 1000 email signups and 1000 RSS feed signups before we’re done. We are currently at 36 feeds and 60 email sign ups. If you can, please help. 

You can Digg Brand Murder here.

You can bookmark Brand Murder in here.

I think these podcasts will be interesting because they will constitute a live record of a very organic campaign. The campaign is founded in sound business principles which we will share in the podcasts. Things like, “why are you doing this?” Answer: “re-branding is costly on a number of levels. We’re trying to mitigate those costs”. The podcasts will also include:

– an account of our progress (we spoke to a reporter Wednesday)
– the legal issues surrounding online contests
– the tools we use to create and track the campaign so you can try it – or at least understand it

… and of course, much much more.

We will keep them brief and I think there will be some useful hype such as, a strategic approach to selecting a new name and how we did it.

Quick Contest leaders Update is in the lead for the most referral traffic, but we were just Digged.

We hope you Stay Tuned for more!

Hope you’ll join us.

Tags Suck – Here's Why

I’ve been neglecting my blog this week – things are crazy busy.

I was inspired to post a quick rant though.  Here it is:

Tags suck.  On every blog I go to and I see technorati tags. They suck. Tags that is.  Why?

Basically they make you type more.  I’m not so much lazy as too busy.  If I can do without something I will do without it.  Tags make me type more.  They TAKE my time.  It’s my time.  Don’t make me tag my site on my time.  Search it like Google. Leave my time to me.

I think the mass market will feel the same way.  I could be wrong. 

Will tags be here in 2 years? 3 years?  If so, will your boss be using them on the blog he is probably not keeping if he is a boss in the non tech world…? I doubt it.  Does that matter?  Not sure yet, but probably.

Thought of the day: if you don’t need it and it’s hot, it won’t be more than a fad. At least people made money from Pet Rocks.  Isn’t that yahoo!…?

—end rant

NOTE: this post was made without tags.

AJAX…62% Good?

I remember when FLASH was the big thing.  I was a freelancer and it was 1999.

I went to so many web sites. Almost all of them were a let down.  Questionable content presented in frustrating ways.

People got caught up in FLASH.  Everyone was a Flash developer.

At the time, FLASH (or at least 90% of the implementations I saw) did not make sense to me.  I advertised myself as someone who made “subtle use of Flash”.  To me that meant “practical” use of Flash.

AJAX is the big thing right now.  AJAX is pretty cool.  I really like that the BIG THING with AJAX is NOT the wow factor, it’s the improved usability – at least that’s the big thing in my books.  That said, there will be lots of sites that get caught up in the WOW and lose sight of the usability.

We use AJAX on 2ndSite now and we will use it more.  Our use is so “subtle” you may not even realize we use it.  We use it to enhance performance (page loading).

Flash is 99% bad is  a concept I heard about Friday.  It stands for 99% bad implementations.  I’m curious to see how people use AJAX and what the implementations turn out to be.  There are a lot of browser compatibility issues with AJAX.  The “Back” functionality is problematic.

I’m a glass is half full kind of guy.  What do you think?  Ajax is 62% good?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

I am an Advertising Agency Killer

What’s in my head will kill Ad Agencies.  Seriously.

I was out last night with a friend who is the advertising account manager for several large consumer brands.  I asked about her online strategies and she said they had been planning for six months and they are just about ready to hop to it.  I said, “So what is your strategy?”  She said, “reinforce key messages  … blah blah” I tuned out after the first three words.

“Reinforcing key messages” is an offline advertising and PR strategy.  Online it totally wastes opportunities.

Online you want to build a relationship.  By the time someone is on your site, they are looking to participate.  Help them – don’t waste your breath telling people how you are better.  Start a relationship and as it grows, seed those messages.

I asked, “What Metrics will you use to measure the success of your online campaigns?”. *Black stare*. “Maybe our design guys know.  I’ll ask.”

I asked, “Are you using a special URL to track your various print and TV ads.” *Black stare*.  “Not sure.  Good Idea though.  I’ll ask my creative guys.”

Fortune wrote some great articles about Madison Avenues fears of going online (could not find them…read them in print. Sorry).  They fear it because you can track EVERYTHING.  No more, “Spend 5 million on 30 second spots” with no way to track results directly.  Ambiguity is gone.  Fear is building. 

What’s in my head will kill Ad agencies.  Seriously.

Does Product Quality Finally Matter Most?

Dave Winer just released a great post concerning how the market for software products, and the marketing of them, has changed.

One of the things he said is this:

“But none of that means that I can’t find enough users for my aggregator, and you for yours, to be able to continue development and influence the market, because we don’t have to convince the editors of PC Mag and PC Week that our products matter. When the big dinosaurs, Microsoft, Lotus and Ashton-Tate, and later Borland, wanted our market, the publications had little choice but to give it to them. Now I am a publication myself. I can communicate directly with users. That changes everything.”

This suggests two interesting things to me.

1) Perhaps the time has come when QUALITY of product will matter more than STRATEGY.  I’m not sure the time has come for this yet, as history has clearly shown that strategy can trump quality (think MAC vs PC).  But maybe for the first time a quality product will be able to SURVIVE and not die off the way many have in the past (think ATARI computers).  Part of the reason for this is #2.

2) Distribution Channels no longer mean the difference between success and failure.  Until the last 24 months or so, to get your product into the hands of consumers you HAD to have a distribution deal (think Quickbooks in BestBuy).  Using the web, you don’t need that anymore – 2ndSite is proof of that.

More About Clutter

I know I am kind of obsessed with the concept of clutter online, but here is a great post on the subject.

Clutter is going to continue online. User attention is finite. Recommendations will help useful “things” “break through”. I foresee a whole class of applications/services springing up that help cut through the clutter…not unlike or epinions, but perhaps more and more niche.

Anyhow, one other money point in the article is you don’t try to change people, you just try to help them get done what they are already doing – better. I know we’ve had success with this.

More on clutter to come.

Tip of the day: make it easy for people to recommend you.  There are many levels to that statement.  All of them matter, but putting a simple mechanism in place (i.e. tell you friends email) is vital.