Archive for the ‘Conversations’ Category
The exterior of the Spaceship Earth ride at Disney World’s Epcot park is perhaps one of the most recognized landmarks on Earth. Housed in the giant geodesic sphere that serves as the gateway into the Future World section of the park, the ride is one of Disney’s finest examples of audio-animatronic magic. Created in 1982, this ride takes the traveler on a journey through the history of communications technology starting with cave drawings and ending with Disney’s vision of 21st century communications. After 25 years, the ride was updated this past February but its amazing to to consider how accurate the original vision of the future was.
The final scene of the old ride depicts two teenagers talking to each other; not on the telephone, but over an audio/video link using a computer and flat panel display. The kids are neighbors of sorts, although in this future view, they are part of the same “global neighborhood”. One is apparently in the US; the other in Asia. They can see each other and the computer is translating their words into each other’s language.
In 1982 when the ride first opened, this idea must have seemed fantastic, but in the last few years, the technology and bandwidth have become generally available to enable this type of interaction. The realization of the future really being now hit home this afternoon as my family was sitting outside enjoying a warm October afternoon. As teens like to do, mine was pretty much ignoring her mom and I, and was instead, having a conversation with three friends. Of course, teens no longer tie up the landline phone for this activity like they did back in 1982. Mine prefers to use her computer and social sites like BlogTV which enables video streaming. The friends she was talking to were neighborhood kids. Global neighborhood kids to be more accurate; from Norway, Sweden and Austria.
Consider the implications of that for a minute. What was considered part of a fantastic future just a few years ago is now an everyday activity for teenagers. Soon, they will be starting their careers, building families of their own and generally running the place. How fast will their ideas and trends travel as the distance and barriers between different cultures becomes smaller and smaller? How much will they begin to see and respect one another for what they have in common instead being fearful of differences?
Spaceship Earth image courtesy of Jeff B
Marketing is not my profession, but it is something that I am keenly interested in and enjoy discussing. Last Spring, I started following the blogs of some pretty insightful marketing professionals. About that time, two of those professionals came up with a very innovative idea: the creation and publication of collaborative business book entitled The Age of Conversation (buy it). AOC began as a challenge between Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton but ended up being a highly insightful collection of essays from over a hundred marketers, writers, thinkers and creative innovators. AOC was also a testament to the power of community AOC raised more than $10,000 for Variety the Children’s Charity and was listed among Advertising Age’s “Books You Should Have Read in 2007.” If you aren’t already familiar with AOC, you can get read about it here.
One of my big regrets for 2007 was not joining in that particular conversation. I’m not going to repeat that mistake this year because Drew and Gavin have decided to do a sequel and I have already signed up. Once again, it will be a collection of writings from more than one hundred authors. So what’s going to be different this time around? Drew and Gavin have decided to let the community decide the topic. They have proposed a short list of topics (Marketing Manifesto, Why They Don’t Get It, and My Marketing Tragedy) and are asking the community to vote for the one they’d most like to see as this year’s theme. By the way, if the topics seem a little vague, you are very perceptive.
So do you want to join the conversation??? — send an email to Drew and let him know. If you don’t plan to write for the book, we still want you to help us decide what the topic will be so go ahead and take the one question survey here by January 31. I’ll be providing updates as the project progresses.
(image courtesy of Greg Verdino)
My new Twitter friend Justin Kownacki wrote a great post last night on the subject of criticism. Justin talks about the role of the critic and the impact they can have on an an artist’s success. He also makes the point that everyone is a critic and challenges people to consider our own personal motives for recommending or trashing a book / movie / TV show / song.
“Is a critic’s primary function to be a guide for the audience or the artist? Should a critic support the work of an artist who has the potential to become great, even if that work isn’t yet fully commendable, because the risk of smiting that dream too early might mean the absence of new work that could someday change the world?
Or, should a critic be exceedingly harsh and unrelenting, fostering an environment where only the strongest survive?”
There are a number of excellent comments addressing the question. Here’s my take:
There’s an interesting take on the question “What is a critic” over at filmreference.com.
It says that the people who write about the latest release in papers are “reviewers”. They may call themselves critics, but the write to deadlines and their primary goal is to entertain, which drives their writing style. They are concerned with recommending the things they review (or not) to a readership assumed to be primarily interested in being entertained. Like you said, they know their audience and don’t tend to stray too far from what the audience will agree with.
To the point of your question, I believe “critics” should be guides for the artist. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. What we have in our high-consumption, instantly-disposable culture are “reviewers” who, by necessity, are guides for an audience that doesn’t have the time or patience for serious discussion.
You point out that we all have the opportunity to be “critics”. I would add that we can also be (and often are) “reviewers”. The next time you write about something “critically”, are you going to be a “critic” or a “reviewer”?
I’m in Washington, DC this week getting new hire training from IBM. As fate would have it, three of my favorite on-line friends were also in town to speak at the Era of Conversation event. Last night, I had the opportunity to have dinner Geoff Livingston, Valeria Maltoni and CC Chapman. After dinner, Geoff suggested that we make an impromptu video, so we did. After an awkward couple of minutes trying to decide what to talk about, Geoff asked if the word “Conversation” had become cliché. Here are our answers:
USAirways sent me an email message this week asking for my help. The message was titled “Show Your Support for Our China Service”. It seems that USAirways would like to offer a Philly to China flight, but needs the US Department of Transportation to award the route to them. The DOT is apparently influenced by public opinion so USAirways would like me to “Get Involved” by signing their petition. From the email:
We need your help! The DOT heavily considers public support when they award new service. Please take a minute to sign our petition — it’s quick and you can do it online. We have to submit these petitions by August 2 and every signature counts.
Why should I do this? What has USAirways done for me lately (ok , ever). In the message, they list four reasons why I should support them:
- With service to , we can grow internationally and offer you even more destinations
- We’d have a connecting flight from Charlotte to for more choices for the southeast U.S.
- We’re the only major U.S. airline without service to
- Today, there are no nonstop flights between and
Clearly, these reasons primarily benefit USAirways. They offer no other tangible incentives for me to support them. I’m sure there are rules prohibiting that sort of thing anyway.
This is the first time that USAirways has ever asked me to help them. Perhaps, if they had been engaging me as a customer, asking for my input on ways to provide better service, this request wouldn’t seem so self-serving, but they haven’t and it does. Perhaps USAirways should have taken the time to target this request to people who might find it valuable; perhaps people who have flown USAirways to other international destinations.
Email marketing is cheap, so companies might have a tendency to simply blast a message out to every address in their files. I don’t remember the last time I flew USAir and I have never used them for international travel, so why did they think I would be interested in helping them get the China service? Instead, my opinion of them went down just a little because they want my help without offering anything of value to me in return.
Did you get the e-mail? What do you think about this case?
I began writing this blog a little over a year ago as an outlet for my passion for subjects like customer experience and innovation. Like a parrot, I found people who spoke about these things and I attempted to do what they do, although typically without the same level of authority. Through this experience, I have made friends with many of those people who I look up to and have had the opportunity to engage in some very rich, thoughtful and entertaining conversations, which after all, is the main reason for getting involved with social media, is it not. I see myself as a student and many of them, my teachers.
This past weekend, I was honored to be given The Thinking Blogger Award by one of my favorite teachers, Becky Carroll. Becky is a Customer Experience passionista with some serious credibility. She also pens a fantastic blog on CX called Customers Rock. It’s at the top of my blogroll and should be on yours as well.
Back in February, 2007, Ilker Yoldas started the ball rolling by highlighting blogs that he felt were truly “meaty” with great content. He started the Thinking Blogs Award to help publicize great blogs. In keeping with the rules of the meme, I will now share five of my favorites with you. Following the path back from Becky, I see that many of my favorites have already received the award, so I’m going to attempt to throw some new content into the mix.
Dominic Basulto – Endless Innovation: Dominic’s aptly named blog covers innovation on all fronts. He brings stories of great innovation to the conversation and consistently challenges readers to think about approaching innovation as an evolutionary process.
Michael Urlocker – On Disruption: Disruptive shifts within industries are frequently followed by a changing of the guard in terms of industry leaders. Businesses that aren’t sensing and responding to disruptions that impact them will invariably find themselves struggling. Michael’s blog is one of the best sources out there for analysis of the disruptions that are occurring right now.
Greg Verdino – Greg Verdino’s Marketing Blog: Greg has his finger on the pulse of new media channels and is a great source of information about their evolution. He always shares his perspective and opinion on a story and consistently challenges readers do the same.
Katie Konrath – getFreshMinds: I just met Katie (virtually) last week. She visited NextUp after seeing Becky’s award to me in her feed reader. I’m glad she did, because it allowed me to discover her blog about “Ideas so fresh…. they should be slapped”. Really great stuff.
So there you go. If you aren’t already familiar with these great blogs, do yourself a favor and check them out.
A few weeks ago, there was considerable buzz about the Delta Airlines Twitter page. There were initial hopes that Delta might actually be behind it. In the end, it appeared to have been a Delta employee, but whether he/she was acting alone or for the company is not known. The page has been quiet for 2 weeks so one can assume that the experiment is over. That said, It looks like Delta is trying some new ways of connecting with their customers and adding value to the travel experience.
Today, I was invited to check out their new microsite: Siteseer Travelcast. It contains short video travelcasts of featured destinations presented by delta employees. Think about the air travel experience. It’s generally unpleasant. You do it for the destination. When you are traveling to an unfamiliar place, its great to get suggestions from people who have been there on what to do, where to eat, etc. Does Delta have untapped assets that they could use to provide this guidance to their customers? You bet they do! Flight attendants, pilots, ground crew live in most of Delta’s featured destinations and know the landscape. Now I am not naive enough to believe that there isn’t some “paid for” placement of advertising for the shops and restaurants presented in some of these videos. Nevertheless, I’m getting some really useful information presented with a human face, and that helps me to engage with the brand.
Siteseer is only one element of Delta’s new customer focused approach. On their website is a link to another microsite that discusses all of the innovations they are currently testing. Things like zoned seating, language lessons, RFID baggage tags, restaurant buzzers, etc. It also has a place for you to leave your ideas or travel tips and the plan is for the site to evolve into a truly collaborative forum:
Delta.com/change represents a whole new way for Delta to connect with the global community and, ultimately, redefine the travel experience. Out of the gate, this site will serve as an informative tool, tracking all the exciting changes going on with us and showcasing travel tips and ideas from people like you.
Very soon, though, it will evolve into something truly collaborative—truly revolutionary.
We envision a forum for open, honest dialogue between airline and air traveler. A place where your ideas may very well influence how we operate in the future. And a stockpile of user-generated tips that will make travel more enjoyable and sane for us all.
All of this is really good stuff and I applaud Delta on the steps they are taking. From a Sense & Respond standpoint, they are really reaching out to Sense what their customers want them to be. The challenge will be for them to consistently deliver all of these great new innovations while at the same time, getting the basics right. I have not flown on Delta in over a year. Perhaps you have. Have you noticed a difference in Delta?