Understanding, Even though It's Wrong, Makes It Write.

I was in the office earlier this year, at the Ithaca Times, and overheard the newspaper’s Arts and Entertainment Editor, Natasha Pickowicz, correct an intern when he responded to her polite, passer-by inquisition of “How are you,” with an I’m-excited-to-be-here response, saying “Good.” She replied, “Good is a question of morality.” As to say, a respondent has to have helped a nun cross the street, before entering the office, to use that answer. I thought about this brief conversation on and off for a few weeks after. More importantly, I considered, over and over again, what’s the importance of such word-choices in daily conversations. Did the young intern receive his overt-correction justly? Or, was he unknowingly correct.
A common understanding...must be met
The answer is embedded in a core communication concept, shown in the Shannon-Schramm Communication model. I selected this model because of its inclusion of the “Fields of Experience” sections. These fields include languages, age groups, races, culture, etc. Furthermore, these and other factors contribute to the way people interpret the, ostensibly powerful, spoken word. The point is that people’s backgrounds determine how a word is understood.

Now, the purpose of communication is either to inform or persuade. To accomplish these goals, a common understanding of what is being said must be met. Right?

Well, since we can understand others based on similar backgrounds, there is no reason to worry about proper word choice, as long as both parties correctly understand the message.

Others might argue, “oh, but, we need to have common understanding of a word to communicate properly.” I say, take a close look at the Idiom. It’s meaning is determined by background similarities between the communication’s participants.

In retrospective, the young intern was deserving of a different response from his talented criticizer. Because he, although not aware, was correct. Furthermore, Pickowicz must have know what the boy wanted to say in order to correct him so quickly. Thus, the purpose of the communication was fulfilled. Read More!

Oh, How the Gap Has Shortened

Shuffling through the mass of research on Pew's internet research site, this presentation - although not especially visually arresting - stuck out. A few years prior, many adults considered the internet and its social networks a bane. Now, there are almost as many adults participating as there are youths.

It’s Personal: Similarities and Differences in Online Social Network Use Between Teens and Adults
View more presentations from PewInternet.

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Add Features, Add Value?

In marketing, we ad features to a product or service to create value for the customer. This makes everyone happy. But is there a limit? When does that wrench that is ethics get thrown in to the marketing machine?

The "Goth Kitten" that were sold on ebay set precedent for these unethical practices.

Holly Crawford, from Pa, put a 14 gauge studs through this pure black kittens ears and a submission ring through the back of it's neck. And advertised this little guy as a "Goth Kitten." But, what seems whacked is the $400 price tag.

She was arrested for cruelty to animals and expected to have charges pressed against her said Animal Protection Officer, Carol Morrison.

But, why is this unethical. Because she was selling it on ebay? Marketing it as a "Goth Kitten"? Or because she pierced it?

Animals for sale are nothing new. Pure breed Irish Setters can sell for over $500 and Newfoundland pups cost almost $1000. Some, even on ebay. So, it's legal to sell animals.

People doc tails and and crop ears of dogs all the time. These practices are completely legal and ethical. PETA doesn't even object. If it's OK to alter an animals body by chopping off parts, why is piercing a whole raising issues?

This is one of many situations when marketing has been questioned about ethical behavior. And, under certain circumstances, I agree. However, before passing judgment take an objective and critical approach to analyzing the marketing efforts.

Blog post dedicated to Alana Verminski Read More!

Faster than a Speeding Bullet: It's New Media

Clay talks about the New-Media landscape and it's importance. Pay attention to the contrast between how two countries react to this new media, it's general stuff but freaking amazing.

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Minorities in Advergames: Fanta Integrates Brand and Audience's Style & Values

Fanta UK’s does a phenomenal job with creating a brand identity which connects to the young Hipster culture taking over pop culture, using Advergames. Fanta.com has two games, Fantasize the World and Merv’s Crunk Off. This company has assimilated this young group's style, values and diversities into the games design. However, they only characterize two Hipsters segments: the Hip Hop and the Hip Hipsters. Hip Hop’s dress like 1990’s B-boy’s and listen to a mixture of music from the ‘90s and some contemporary too. And the Hip Hipsters dress more kitschy, incorporating styles from various other genres: skaters, European punks, etc.

Style & Diversity
Event though the characters are racially ambiguous, several are different races with unique styles as well. Merv appears Asian. His style is unique, rocking a T-shirt under his blazer, a yellow stripe in his hair and a Hipster mustache (The mustache is making a comeback. I’m working on one myself). Also, Marco, having Hispanic origin, is rocking a soul-patch, wearing a band jacket (e.g. high school marching band) and has his own unique hair style. As demonstrated with these two, Hipsters use their hair to define themselves. Next time you see a Hipster notice their hair, it’s wild. Fanta did go over the top, giving Marco a pit-bull with a spiked collar is not a realistic attribute of Hispanic Hipsters. The other characters can be identify as Hipster by their matted hair, flamboyant clothes and a one has a keffiyeh.

Values & Interests
As much as diversity, Hipsters value their radical behaviors. Many of them tag graffiti on tunnel and building walls with little, if any, concern for potential prosecution. They view the legal system as a means of limiting their creativity and fight this authority at times. Fantasizing the World is centered around this malicious concept. Each stage challenges the player to overcome obstacles, which in someway emulates overcoming authority: dodging a robot, defeating authority, breaking signs. The sign and the faux cop in this picture is a great shot, representing authority in the game.

Branding & Design
Fanta’s logo and drink consist of a specific shade of orange, which saturates both games. Other colors used are grays, blacks and whites. This dominating orange is used on clothing, in hair, when the player wins a level or round. Grays and blacks are all but venerated among Hipsters. A great deal of this subculture’s members dig designs that have some mixture of Grays, blacks with an accent of green, pink or orange, and others too.

The game also employs more direct branding. Fanta bottles are placed throughout Merv’s Crunk Off. The Characters are seen drinking it at times and Logo’s pop up in the loading windows, when loading pages.

Creating games which employ racially and ethnically diverse characters has potential to target minorities and increase their interaction with the product. Celestine Arnold spoke about representing minorities in games and it’s marketing potential. She believes minorities are underrepresented in video games and including them can open up new avenues for revenue. Arnold didn’t speak of Advergames, but the concept still applies. Despite the stereotypes in the game, I think Arnold would agree that Fanta’s Advergames should be a model for others. Read More!

William McDonough's Presentation at Ted

Dr. McDonough's presentation is certainly sticky. His visuals are presented in a powerful juxtaposition with a strong verbal backing. However, he isn't the greatest overall presenter. Read More!

Samsung: Getting the Dirt out of Clothes

I get the concept, but wow.

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Lynda.com: Putting a Price on Education

A friend of a friend has a project and needs a specialist to oversee its implementation. You haven’t worked on the exact type of project before. Are you going to turn it down this opportunity to make some extra cash? Of course not! You’ll say “Hell yea I can do it,” and then teach yourself what needs to be done.

So, now you’ve got the job and need to figure it out. You jump on the net and go to Lynda.com, a subscription based infomediary site, offering learning tools for software and design topics.

Lynda.com offers online courses and video tutorials on software, such as Indesign, Photoshop, search engine optimization, animation, HTML and a large number of others. These products are taught with over 35,000 videos and 544 online classes, according to Lynda.com.

Video tutorials

The tutorials has several chapters the user can choose from, each similar to a classroom lesson plan. Also, they can be watched in any order the user wants. After making a selection, the video pops up in a separate window. The videos uses a short power-point style intro, then segues into the main lesson, using a visual of the software in-use (if learning software) and a voice over explaining the process.


“you'll find some of the preeminent experts and authors in the fields covered,” said Michael Castelluccio of Strategic Finance magazine.

Myriad authors are hired by Lynda.com to design the learning modules, giving the users the chance to build author preferences. The site's search engine allows the user to search the author's bios, learning about their history, connection to Lynda.com, and past projects.

Some of Authors included on the site are Maria Giudice and Nigel French. Giudice is CEO/founder of Hot Studio, a graphic design company for interactive and print design. Her bio on Lynda.com’s site mentions her accomplishments as a writer and consultation work. Furthermore, French’s bio points out several of his accomplishments as a writer, graphic designer and fifteen year history as a graphic design professor.


Several Package are available for the online training and tutorials for different customers with different needs. Each having 24/7 access, allowing clients to sign on and off whenever they like. The monthly package offers the least amount of commitment, costing 25 dollars per month. Next, is the Annual package which offers the same amount of access to site resources, with a longer time and larger price commitment. With the additional commitment comes, as with most packages, a decrease in price, costing 250 dollars for the entire year. With this plan the customer saves 50 dollars for the year. A Premium package, priced at 375 dollars per year, includes exercises with each lesson for an incentive to upgrade.

A business package is also available, obviously with a several differences in pricing and features from the end-user version, called the Multi-User Program. This is similar to the Premium package for end-users; however, the pricing decreases with bulk purchases. With the purchase of twenty licenses there’s a price break, 300 dollars per license for the year. And with 30, the price drops to 290 dollars per license. A license is necessary for each user in the school or business. The next feature is convenient for business or educators, tracking results. It tracks employee or student progress, titles used and a few more options. All of this gets reported on a graphing system.

The site employs a mix of Dynamic and Fixed pricing strategies. The upgrade from the monthly to the year package and the decrease in price for business/school’s bulk purchases are Volume-based, giving a quantity discounts (Fixed pricing). The Dynamic pricing facet is the different offers for businesses and end-user accounts. Read More!

Getting the Small Bytes: An Unique Business-Model Made a Million

In the mid-nineties, a new American dream surged through generation X and ended with the dot com crash in 2000. It didn’t die after those would-be businesses became unconnected. There are still visionaries randomly scribbling Napkin Plans down on their lunch hour.

Alex Tew is one of these visionaries. Twenty one at the time, he began dreaming up ways to finish his bachelors at the University of Nottingham with little of no debt. Five months later he was almost a millionaire.

Tew’s brainstorming session resulted in the beginning of the Million Dollar Homepage. A site dedicated to making money the old fashion way: selling advertising space. He sectioned off a 1 million pixel sized area on his newly created website, intending to sell every pixel for a dollar a piece. However, a one inch squared box contains about five thousand pixels; thus, one pixel doesn't allow the advertiser much room to create a meaningful message. In light of this, he sold the space in 10 X 10 “Boxes,” Tew said. The ads have an additional option to link the ad to a URL or landing page.

An advertiser buys space believing people will see their ad and react to its message by buying, visiting the URL or simply remembering the name. In order to facilitate this, Tew needed to drive traffic to the site. But why would anyone bother visiting his cluttered website? Popular Mechanics said, "There's no content. No cool graphics, giveaways or steamy Paris Hilton videos for viewers to salivate over.“ He relied completely on the novelty aspect.

With his first $1000 in revenue - received from the sale to a friend who owned a music site - Tew sent out myriad press releases to the British media. Following these releases, the BBC Online, The Daily Telegraph and other news media featured stories about the Million Dollar Homepage. He even appeared on national television programs to discus his story and vision. The coverage grew outside of Tew’s home country, into Germany, China and America, in publications such as Adweek magazine, the Wall Street Journal and on Fox News.

As a result of the world wide media frenzy, the website began to see a dramatic increase in page views. Inside of two months, Tew said the site received over 65,000 unique visitors, became the most "Digged" links of the week on Dig.com - a Pure Play known for ranking website’s popularity - and before the end of his first year he began receiving over 25,000 unique visitors per hour.

Professor Martin Binks, director of the Nottingham University Institute for Entrepreneurial Innovation, said, "It is brilliant in its simplicity ... advertisers have been attracted to it by its novelty ... the site has become a phenomenon."

Within five months Tew announced there were only 1,000 pixels left, and in high demand. As a result, he placed the surplus on eBay auctioning it off to the highest bidder. In a little over a week there were almost a hundred legitimate bids. Bids were placed at over $150,000; but Tew “Contacted the people by phone and turns out they weren't serious,” he said. Milliondollarweightloss.com - an online retailer of diet products - placed the winning bid for $38,001.

This final sale put Tew over his initial goal by $37,000 dollars. After donations, expenses and taxes, he said profits totaled almost $700,000.

For the advertisers, their ads will last for five years. Tew promised to keep the advertisers ads on the site until the end of this period. After that time, he will remove all the ads, but hasn’t announced any plans to sell the newly available space.

Business Model

Tew employees the advertising internet-business-model to generate revenue and simultaneously attract visitors; however, the Million Dollar Homepage executes this tactic in a unique manner. Traditionally, advertising models pimp out sections of the site for a price, usually based on CPM (Cost Per Thousand visitors) or Click Through Rates, and attracts traffic to increase the sites value to the customer, as well as the price of the site. And the length of time allotted is broken down into months, weeks, etc.

Deviating from this model, the young entrepreneur’s version doesn’t sell space based on page views but by a set $1 per pixel. And he didn’t raise the price until auctioning off the last 1000 units. In place of the CPMs, he is creating interest and promising a potential for an increase in page views to create value for the customer. Even the ads run-time is part of the appeal, promising a five year stretch.


Determining the amount of success a website obtains can be complicated. Depending on the marketing goals and the business model, different evaluation metrics can be used to measure and evaluate how successful the marketing tactics have been.

Tew’s goals are clear: Make a million dollars by selling ad space, build awareness of the site and sell all the pixels. These goals can be placed into two categories on the Balance Score Card system of measuring effectiveness, a method created by two Harvard Professors. The system has four perspectives: Customer, Financial, Internal, Learning and Growth perspectives. The monetary goal falls into the Financial Perspective and the other three can be placed into the Consumer Perspective.

Measurement of the Consumer perspectives are straight forward and easily done. Once all of the pixels are sold, the goals are met. Building awareness can be determined through an analysis of the areas media has covered his story. Tew is very successful in this perspective. He obtained coverage in several countries, in print, online and on TV. Finally, his sales goals can be measure by the number of pixels sold. Additionally, a qualitative measurement can be derived from the increasing demand for the last pixel box. The amount of money advertisers were willing to pay reflects Tew’s success creating demand.
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Bloggers Beware: Legal Precedent can Limit your Content

Perez Hilton, a popular blogger, uses myriad celebrity photos to dramatize satirical opinions about celeb's well publicized habits, practices and mishaps. White marks and writing cover some of the photos: emphasizing tattoos, drawing glasses and questionable white stains sticking to the corner of mouths.

Several qestions arises because, well, Hilton isn’t a photographer: Where does he get his photos? And how much do they cost? Well, the smut comes from an online, freelance paparazzi company, X17. This fact isn’t apparent on perezhilton.com and has created an issue for X17, forcing them to bring a lawsuit on Hilton.

X17's litigation on Hilton, aka Mario Lavandeira, has the potential to effect bloggers and vloggers through out the United States.

Hilton has used over fifty copyrighted photographs on his young and flourishing site. “Pregnant Katie Holmes,” “Britney Spears Exposes her Derriere,” and Britney Exposes herself Again” are just a few which revel a great deal about the site's themes.

Ok! Markings and a sardonic spin on these photos protect Hilton under “Fair use” right? Then why is X17 suing him?

Brandy Navarre, Co-owner of X17 said, “[b]ecause he is stealing our images and costing us money every day.” They go on to explain they had to reduce the price of some photos by $10,000 to $15,000 dollars. The trashy magazines which buy their crap decreases usage because the photos were posted on Hiltons site.

This little fact is a serious issue and has potential to impacts Hilton’s defense.

Copyright law, based in Common Law, gives copyright holders several rights: reproduction, prepare derivatives, perform publicly and distribution, which protects only original works.

But based in the First Amendment, there are several uses constituting Fair Use of this material. Satire and significant alteration are the two, which Hilton claimed, protected him from infringement.

Fair Use’s is evaluated on several factors: effect on market value or potential marketability, purpose of use portion used and nature of the work. The Market value reduction, X17 claims, supports their position.

The case has been settled with an out of court agreement between the two. The settlement hasn't been discussed in public; however, Hilton has discontinued to used X17 photos on his site and removed all posted.

The out of court settlement is great news for bloggers. If the court ruled in favor of X17 "The effect would be to eliminate the ability to comment on and transform photographs under the fair-use exception to the Copyright Act," said Hilton's attorney, Bryan Freedman of Century City.

Despite the sophistication and vast history of copyright law, it’s application to internet law is young and underdeveloped. Cases like this will determine how the internet will be regulated and is a concern for all bloggers.
benton.org: A great source to stay current on internet law and other legal issues that affect our use of new media.
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