Category Archives: engagement

Humanising the product

I ordered a book from a US online book retailer who redistributes used books in decent condition at a reduced cost compared to new books.

Besides a noble act, recycling, using some of the profits to support global literacy and reducing landfill, they also communicate on a very human and personal level, so that when the book is ready to be shipped, the book (!) writes you a letter. As below.

==============

Hello Joseph,

(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note – it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)

Holy canasta! It’s me… it’s me! I can’t believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I’ve got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can’t believe I’m leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already – the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge – so many memories. I don’t have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it’s time to see the world!

I can’t wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Jane Eyre (drama queen) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Jane was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol’ brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?

I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I’ve had, I’m ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn’t take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I’ve found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.

But hey, enough about me, I’ve been asked to brief you on a few things:

We sent your order to the following address:

Joseph Ortenzi
123 Your Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
AU

Order #: XXXXXXXXXXX

We provide quick shipping service to all our customers. You chose International Mail shipping, your book should arrive within 10 – 21 business days. Some shipments may take slightly longer to arrive.

At this time, we are not able to offer tracking on our International Mail shipments.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email my friends in Customer Care at help@betterworldbooks.com. If you could please include your order number (XXXXXXXXXXX) that would be very helpful.

Eagerly awaiting our meeting,

Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation

===============

One way of personalising an otherwise impersonal service, with a very human voice.

Nice

What this election lacks

This is one of my favourite scenes from one of the ten top films of all time.

Fantastic story, brilliant script and a cast that grits and grumbles through a film that will leave you drained. There’s no high-speed fight scenes, no time/space/body-shifting heroes, no fantasy land; but since 1976, Network feels as modern a story as it did then. It informs us deeply about the world we live in, the machinations of the powerful and the television that dominates our lives now. Crammed with intelligently written scenes, full of a richness of meaning and purpose. Not to mention a very embryonic form of  social media.

The full scene, below, is brilliant if you have the time, but the clip above gives you the meat of the argument.

Apologies for the  French subtitles as everyone else only shows the truncated scene. Only the French understand mise-en-scéne and the second clip above captures the drama and operatic scope of the scene, from Howard’s lonely, determined, rain-soaked march to the thunder and passion of the entire city screaming into the night.

If only the current Australian election were able to elicit passion on this scale.

NIDA Teaching Session

Updated: 05/9/09

Cultural Antropology

An antropological introduction to YouTube

mwesch you tube channel

Copyright and Neworking

Creative Commons Australia

LinkedIn.com

Free technologies

Youtube.com.au

vimeo.com

flickr.com

WordPress resources:

wordpress.org

instantshift.com

Slideshow plugins

shadowbox JS

Free wordpress themes

ashford.turtleinteractive.com

www.freewpthemes.net

www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/08/100-excellent-free-high-quality-wordpress-themes/

wordpress.org/extend/themes

Some Photo-blogging themes

Standards compliance

validator.w3.org

www.totalvalidator.com

Domain registrars

netregistry.com.au

melbourneit.com.au

Hosting companies

wordpress.org/hosting

www.bluehost.com

www.wordpresshosting.com.au

wordpress.ausweb.com.au

Coders, Templates, HTML from PSD

w3-markup.com

xhtml.pixelcrayons.com

www.getafreelancer.com

To the moon, and beyond

People of my age remember watching men walk on the moon, on our television sets, when we were young kids.

I have no doubt, it shaped us profoundly and irrefutably. Practically, in the way we viewed the world & humanity, and spiritually, in how we saw our fragile breed, riding this blue marble.

in the 40 years since that landing, I probably thought about being an astronaut a million times, I’m sure. I’m not alone among the people who abandoned sporting and historical heroes to replace them with the riders of rockets to the unknown; with heroes of the future; with the scientists and engineers who made things happen, as much as with the rocket pilots themselves.

Millions of people will write about what the anniversary of the moon landing means to them. I won’t add to it. Instead I’d just like to say “thank you”.

I’d like to thank the millions of people who made it happen, from the astronauts themselves, to the parents of the factory worker who tightened any one of the thousands of bolts on the LEM, or approved the velcro strips as they slid past them on the quality assurance table. They’re all in there. They were all important.

The Apollo missions marked the age I was a child of, Aquarius, and influenced my era in ways we have yet to fully explore. And fortunately, we’re still learning from it, and still pushing the boundaries.

And to those who think it didn’t happen? Sorry. I don’t believe you.

Money where your site is

The web began as a communication and collaboration tool but soon evolved into much more when someone sorted out how to pay for stuff through it. A secure protocol and security certificates helped make it happen but ultimately it was coders and credit card companies who put payment processes online.

Today the most well known payment process is undeniably PayPal, helped in no small part by the boom of eBay a few years back. I generally had no problem with paypal so long as I kept feeding it money to use for me and people happily paid for my eBay stuff through it. However, problems started when I migrated to Australia from the UK and both eBay and Paypal failed to move with me. Perhaps because Americans think no-one leaves the USA by choice, to move countries permanently, and their view is a world view, that this was not something worth catering for. I have to say it was easier to open a new bank account in my adopted country than to get paypal or eBay to acknowledge my move. I was told that i could change my address, of course, just not to another country.  Neither would accept that I should be able to keep my account open but update it with new address and payment information for another country.

The only answer was to open up a new account in my new country (with a new email address I might add since email is a unique identifier, of course). So goodbye eBay history and PayPay previous payments, and hello newborn newbie accounts. I suffered through the awkward separation and divorce and settled into newly-wedded bliss. Problem was though, my old relationships kept popping out through the cracks like a horror film zombie, to haunt my new babe with my past discretions.

This manifested itself in occasional top level domain redirection (.co.uk from the .com or .com.au I originally typed) or the refusal to buy an item restricted to aus addresses, even though my address and ip address clearly show Aussie-ness.

It would have been OK if the excuse I received made any sense, that it is to avoid international money laundering. That would suggest the system is incapable of managing a decent log of transactions or monitor accounts opening and closing rapidly. But confusingly for me, I don’t understand why it is incapable of understanding a person’s history online is important to them and in many ways, their own property.

Hopefully it’s not an excuse to increase the account count.

So even though it may be off topic, these are the kinds of questions I will be asking at the PayPal Developer Day in Sydney on Monday.

Basically, what is changing in the pay pal interface to make it easier and better for humans to get their tasks done?

Social Media, what does it mean to you?

A Social Media Consultant, a PR consultant, two agency specialists and a client walk into a bar…..

Sounds like an 50’s style joke doesn’t it?

At Social Media Club Sydney two a few weeks ago (I know, I am soooo slack! I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now) the talk was “Do you need an agency to run effective social media campaigns?” and the point that interested me the most was that everyone had a definition for what Social media was but they varied wildly, sometimes based on what that person wanted from it instead of what SM was about intrinsically.

I later asked around the audience, and also got a wild array of possible definitions, some from Social Media users and others from “experts”, many of whom could remember who’s definition on the panel they liked or aligned themselves with but, ultimately, couldn’t remember the actual definition.

I remember the response from a student, uninterested in marketing or advertising, defining Twitter as a “marketing channel”, which really shocked me, although I wasn’t surprised in hindsight, considering the celebrities using it to keep them in the public eye and “sell” themselves.

Thankfully a few cool heads, both on the panel as well as in the audience, continued to press for the simpler and more engaging descriptions, which did not focus on sales, marketing or advertising but the more intrinsic communication, connection, engagement and sharing descriptions I prefer to lean towards.

I guess this is where I put my stake in the sand and tell you my definition. Fair enough! I think Social Media is something that is detached from platform, API, protocol and application, as well as detached from marketing message or advertising reach, although it can perform with those very easily. At heart, SM is a public conversation, generally around a topic, recorded. Ultimately it is about people, conversing and interacting.

Feel free to challenge me on this, and you can do so at the next SMCSYD, How Do You Measure Social Media Engagement, on July 20.