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  • agencyg1r1 1:43 am on April 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    The Philosophical Enquiry of Data Prostitution 

    Media_http3bpblogspot_bbexx

    I was at an Eloqua conference today. Indeed, I may have been the only person at the conference who wasn’t actually using Eloqua. Some of the presentations covered technical, product-specific information, better suited to those Eloqueens and Elokings, but overall I thought it was a really well-planned / organised day. I gained valuable insights into a powerful platform and met some genuinely interesting people… with superb banter.

    We had “break-out chats” throughout the day, with a couple of provocative trains of thought for me:

    1) Permission and privacy – it has taken me this long to discover Canada’s laws on opt-in messaging are much more relaxed than the UK’s, which may explain the increase in “huh?” moments, where I don’t recognise a subscription and immediately flag it as spam in Gmail. 

    2) Infographicism – somebody asked the question “what makes great data for an infographic?”, which irked me because I thought “just ask your audience!” Sometimes I think we marketers passify (is that the word I’m looking for?) our “audience” by focusing (to excess) on systems and processes; forgetting that we’re still communicating with real humans. 

    Now I may have been too quick to judge the question since the conversation evolved into a more meaningful discussion on the RoI of creating interesting data to visualise, versus recycling stats that are already out there in cyberspace. I raised my hand and pointed out that the OKCupid blog does an awesome job of visualising/illustrating data. I like it because they mine registrant data from their online dating service, but they SHARE it right back as insightful blog posts. I daresay OKCupiders don’t even think about “infographic” or what makes a great infographic, because illustrating their data as dialogue has become second nature. They don’t care about what’s cool…. they already possess “un certain… je sais exactement quoi”.

    Which brings me to data trading… or the idea of data as a dialogue…. or data as currency that consumers own or share.

    In the past, I’ve proposed in various strategies that instead of secretly harvesting information on users / customers to apply stealth promotion techniques and flog stuff more efficiently – we SHARE our insights with these audiences. We start public conversations like “our web traffic shows ladies who love X, are more likely to X” and see where the comments take us. We’re open about the data we capture and involve our people in discussions around the database – should they choose to take part. We encourage people to be aware of what’s being captured about them, but most importantly we stress that every individual is their own stakeholder and instead of passively relinquishing control of our privacy, we can each license our own data and even profit from this.

    Something along the lines of young Tim here here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/18/tim-berners-lee-google-facebook

    Not simply because it’s our moral right, but because there’s additional value in each of us making an effort to define and measure our own value too.

    A bit like organ and blood donation, but with privacy… We say who, we say when, we say how much! 

    It would leave the consumer and the company exposed to a degree, but it’s a platform that openly grows intelligence on both sides.

    Now I need to caveat at this point, that I haven’t completely thought this through, but I wanted to blog about it, just in case the thought drops out of memory and I never reach the conclusion, which is very possible.

     

     

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  • agencyg1r1 8:09 pm on April 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Twitter please sort Posterous out 

    It’s really annoying.

    Though to be fair Posterous has always been a bit flakey.

    Then again, so has Twitter.

    I tried to leave this comment on this post: http://phildearson.com/what-is-gamification

     

    “Logging into Posterous today –  this was the first post I saw and there’s nowt like an insult hanging in the air to get attention. 

    Get the frustration around marketers over-amping stuff to such a degree that worthy developments get inflated with hot air. By the time we realise how far off the ground we are, it’s too late to worry who had the parachute.

    Have been reading a book called “The Art of Game Design: a Book of Lenses” for a couple of months now, a few pages each night and it’s genuinely thought-provoking stuff. Wasn’t sure if it was fair to slate a term or movement. Surely it’s the crowd that’s irritating…? Whether its Gamification, SocialMedification, Pinterestifiation, Appification or Whateverthef*ckification – ideas can and do get recycled to death on the Internet, arguably creating something worse than bullshit…. cynicism, as well as saturating attention.

    This article from the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/mar/31/why-kids-should-be-taught-code talks about what could be useful to teach kids, but actually thought this section….

    “Kids need to know about: algorithms (the mathematical recipes that make up programs); cryptography (how confidential information is protected on the net); machine intelligence (how services such as YouTube, NetFlix, Google and Amazon predict your preferences); computational biology (how the genetic code works); search (how we find needles in a billion haystacks); recursion (a method where the solution to a problem depends on solutions to smaller instances of the same problem); and heuristics (experience-based techniques for problem-solving, learning, and discovery).”

    …. would be a great start for many of us in the industry…?

    Not-not arguing the hype around Gamification isn’t bullshit, just clarifying/questioning whether the real issue is with trending? Perhaps we need a Klout feature that subtracts points if you excessively hype a topic after a certain point, that would make people think twice from preaching the emperor’s new clothes….”

    But kept getting this message:

    Screen_shot_2012-04-04_at_15

    Which made no sense since I was logged in from a Posterous account and posting to a Posterous blog.

    Sort it out please. x

     

     

     

     
  • agencyg1r1 7:12 pm on April 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Less brand more brain please: marketers… looking beyond our own reflection 

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    A couple of weeks ago I was asked the following question in an interview:

     “What brand would you LOVE to work on?”

    I gave the following answer:

    “I don’t have one”

    I received some flack afterwards for apparently not being more focused in my response and have thought a lot since whether I should have answered differently. 

    The truth is I only ever really consider “brand” when I’m refining a solution for a client. For example when I’ve done all the research and data analysis I need to do…then I will apply a brand filter and reframe the relevant insights as brand direction. At no point does the brand influence the “exploration”, unless it’s specifically for “brand research”.

    Such indifference to brand seduction may be in part because I don’t have a T.V, which is arguably more successful at bonding with the Subconscious: messages don’t gain traction. When brands do check into my Conscious, I have to say the experience has been disappointing. Having been persuaded by a friend to try Clinique, a brand that has such a strong reputation in the cosmetics field, neither the sales assistants or actual products met the expectation. I also recently bought some headphones by Philips, but the ergonomic fit of the earpiece itself is awful and I wouldn’t buy them again.  As a consumer, I just haven’t had great consistent brand experiences, sooner or later they let me down. Even Apple on occasion. <Cue shocked hush.>

    Brands are largely just sets of rules and I honestly don’t mind which brand I work on as a planner, because the interesting aspect is the brief and the problem that needs solving. The rules of the brand simply mark out the boundaries of the territory to explore. A brand is merely an intangible outcome of a series of successful decisions. 

    Advertising folk get all hot and bothered about CPG/FMCG brands because they are born out of rapidly evolving industries where ideas [can] seed quickly, budgets [can] be lavish and attention centre-stage; all necessary in a medium where we refresh our attention every five seconds.

    Even working on life insurance and pension products, the projects were often more interesting because the products and associated problems were more complex. You learn about legislation, regulation, investment, niche markets. You research behaviours that go beyond your immediate experience as a consumer.

    I recently read the question in the latest copy of Strategy magazine: “How does a customer feel after interacting with a brand?”

    And I thought – they don’t…? When does a customer ever consciously reflect on interacting with a brand? They get exasperated when queues are too long in the store, or excited if the packaging looks expensive or if they get a good discount on an item. They may weigh up the necessary lifespan of a product: does it need to last or would they just replace it in a few months? They may wonder if a product will make them look cool. But I doubt (and happy to be proven wrong) that they ever think about how they feel with a “brand”. That’s just marketing-speak.

    In exploring definitions of “brand” by other strategy folk, I came across a quote by a worldly chap called Jerry Holtaway:

    ” “Brand” is a proxy for numerous confusing and often conflicting ideas, practices, beliefs and theories.

    To prove this, simply stop using the word “brand” and substitute the company, product or service name – or by simply not saying the b-word.

    So something like, “The IBM brand represents…” becomes, “IBM represents…”. IBM’s “brand personality’ simply becomes “IBM’s personality” and their “brand advocates” simply become “advocates”.

    For me this strips away an unnecessary layer and relates thinking to the real world, rather than this mythical, nebulous concept known as ‘branding’. I also believe it helps business people (executives who feel they have nothing to do with the “brand”) to see that a proposed idea isn’t just “for the brand” but for them.”

    http://www.focus.com/questions/define-brandwhats-your-definition-brand/

    Which I really liked.

    And then I found one from good old Seth… (and I didn’t seek him out specifically, it was Google)

    “Here’s my definition: A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer. “

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/12/define-brand.html

    Historically I’ve argued that my role as a digital strategist was to humanise technology, but maybe it’s about humanising marketing instead.

     

     
    • Phil Adams 8:58 am on April 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      My new favourite quote is by Paul Adams, currently Facebook, ex Google and author of the excellent Grouped.

      “This is how we want the world to work because it makes our jobs easier.” He makes the point that many examples of marketing shorthand like “influencer”, “community”, “viral” may make life easier but they actually make it less likely that your work will work.

      I guess “brand” could be another one of these double-edged shorthands.

      I actually think brand is a useful concept, but only if you know what you’re doing with it. I absolutely agree with you, though, that brand is often the least useful and least interesting part of digital problem solving.

      Constructive criticism allowed? I think your headline is letting this post down. It’s clever at the expense of being clear. Check this out – http://deanhunt.com/how-to-write-great-seo-headlines-put-yourself-in-their-shoes/.

      As featured in this – http://philadams.co/2011/12/headline-writing-for-seo-learning-from-roald-dahl/.

      Really enjoyed this Rach.

      • agencyg1r1 6:09 pm on May 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Will I ever learn to check WP more regularly?

        Thanks Adams.

        Confess I’m still wrestling with the idea of building a personal brand versus simply being one. Never think about optimising myself online because my person brand always seems to fluid – too unsure of myself! The pressure to create a creative portfolio and document my thinking also gets in the way. Your direction is noted and appreciated. I hope you continue to send thoughts my way.

        Coincidentally regarding the previous request to gather evidence – if you ever get less busy and manage to do this, great, but don’t worry. The opportunity that was attached to such instruction has passed (which is fine) and as time goes by and the distance grows between my work at Blonde and what lies ahead, I’m working hard to create my own digital projects here. It’s almost entrepreneurial and rarely polished, but whatever a strategist’s creative portfolio looks like…. it’s going to be different to that of a designer.

        Anyway, any silence on my part is sheer steely determination to navigate my way through uncertain times.

        Really do hope to catch you for a pint or two at some point later this year.

  • agencyg1r1 1:48 pm on March 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    For the Moms and Mums of Digital Professionals Everywhere 

    I’m writing this post for three reasons:

    1. My parents still don’t understand what I do as a profession
    2. It’s a role that intrigues and baffles people in conversation
    3. I’m interspersing freelance planning work with searching for full-time digital strategy roles which vary across agencies
    4. Having absolutely decided no more side-stepping from accounts to strategy, I felt I needed to affirm my position and desired fit

    Here is my story.

    I fell into digital strategy/planning as an account manager who enjoyed interrogating data and spent way too long art-working presentations.  In terms of data analysis, I spent a lot of time thinking about stuff, sometimes too much. Questions were important and if they sprung to mind, I had to ask them. Once they were out there, I felt compelled to try and answer them.

    With regard to articulating such questions and answers, agency presentations have many roles to play, including:

    • Defining a landscape (what’s going on in the world)
    • Explaining next steps on a project (A, B, C)
    • Illustrating and rationalising strategy (this is where you need to be in 2013 and this is how we’ll get there)
    • Reporting progress (this is where we should be, this is where we are)
    • Justifying an investment (you should invest $X here to reach X% of your target audience, increasing sales by X%)

    But they are also about inspiring clients … theatre, giving clients a brief vacation into a world just beyond their expectations. I spend an equal amount of time thinking about how to inspire people!

    Digital agencies are still relatively young, though many fly very successfully on their own now. As such, most of my planning roles have emerged in agencies. Digital didn’t come with a manual and though digital strategy positions have often been well designed, they have rarely been strategised. 

    So what is a digital strategist?

    Well, for non-industry people (our mums/moms) I have two analogies…

    Firstly I describe myself as a detective because digital strategy first and foremost is about solving problems. It involves the investigation of the world around a problem (competitive landscape, macro-environment, micro-environment) and then of course the interrogation of the problem itself. It involves profiling the stakeholders of a project, interviewing them, capturing motivations (critical), evidence (necessary to support assumptions) and feedback to identify anything we didn’t know we didn’t know.. Sometimes as feedback emerges, a digital planner must cross-reference it and then gather people into a room to report back on progress made. 

    Secondly I describe myself as a personal shopper with Digital as the supermarket packed full of web, social and mobile products. As a personal shopper, I’ll often walk a client around the store, asking them what they’re looking for and for whom they might be shopping. I might point out what’s in fashion and I’m likely to ask them what they would like to spend. They might come in raving about an outfit they’ve seen on Pinterest, but if it doesn’t suit their shape, I’d advise on outfits to suit them specifically.

    Finally, if you remember nothing else…  “I help companies invest their marketing budgets online to get the best possible return.”

    Still too woolly for you?

    I’ve developed digital marketing strategies for a range of companies and the digital planning process can vary based on a company’s budget, culture, objectives and timescale. Below are some of the stages (springing consciously to mind) that support a digital strategy:

    • Brief (what we think is the problem)
    • Project audit (review of scope of problem, identification of key stakeholders, secure all background information)
    • Company audit (if there are gaps from previous stage, internal interviews and surveys at client company to help define the problem we’re trying to solve)
    • Campaign activity review (analyse marketing activity over the past year – what worked, what didn’t work, existing social platforms, website  – in terms of user experience design and analytics, performance of online ads etc)
    • Competitor profile (who does the client believe to be the competition?)
    • Competitive landscape (benchmarking competition in broader environment. Are there are any forms of competition or challenges we might face that haven’t been identified?)
    • Social landscape (if social monitoring software subscriptions are available. These can be expensive and as such, smaller companies may not access them and larger companies may have limited license use)
    • Social landscape review will also reveal what existing channels and platforms exist to survey specific audiences, such as a client’s CRM (customer relationship management) database
    • Survey (survey design is critical to get the best response)
    • Survey analysis (identify patterns/data clusters, gaps, questions) = largely quantitative research, with small amount of qualitative feedback
    • Form sketch personas
    • Use gaps from survey analysis to build questionnaires for telephone interviews and focus groups  = qualitative research
    • Design questionnaire
    • Test questionnaire
    • Complete qualitative research
    • Use insights to develop full personas
    • Collate all data and discuss findings with client
    • Develop strategy
    • Prototype
    • User testing

    Many companies already have a reasonable amount of demographic information on their customers, but often less information about their digital behaviours. So when I research an audience (usually a client’s customer base), here are some of the things I’m trying to find out:

    • The websites they use
    • The social networks they belong to
    • How they use such social networks, 
    • The type of mobile phone they have
    • How much they use their mobile phone
    • What sort of apps they download 
    • How long they spend on different websites and apps

    My friend’s mom looked horrified when I explained this recently, but of course commercially aggregated – this data is anonymous. Saying that, there are a number of tools now which profile conversations across social networks. If you’re tweeting about how much you love or hate Pepsi or Nike, you can bet that your comment has been sucked up for sentiment analysis. Every time I publish photos on Flickr, the website logs whether these photos were taken with my SLR camera or iPhone4S. I set my location on Twitter. Do I have privacy concerns? Sometimes, but I also hope that in building up a better picture of me, companies will learn to send me more targeted promotions, in the most convenient format, at a sympathetic frequency. And to a degree… if you work in online marketing, you sign a pact to sell some digital soul.

    Once I understand a client’s audience(s) – typically the group(s) of people who buy the product(s), both in terms of a demographic profile (age, gender, geography, household income etc) and digital behaviours, I can then build the relationship between a client and digital channels. These insights pave the way for hypotheses on how and where customers will be most responsive; influencing the design of websites, mobile optimised sites/pages, mobile apps, Facebook Pages, Facebook apps, display advertising, Search advertising, Search Marketing (how to improve your listings on Google pages), Twitter profiles, the content of tweets and much, much, much more… Most importantly, the knowledge I draw as a Digital Strategist helps me understand the relationships between all of those different digital channels listed above. Only by connecting these dots can we amplify the response, benefit from the sum of the parts and generate the best possible return on a digital investment. We call the sum of these digital channels  – the ecosystem and each property in the ecosystem should have a meaningful influence on everything else. 

    Basically, we’re a different species away from our days where we took our printed leaflet and we put it online. For those of you who’ve never considered the cost of such things, it is REALLY EXPENSIVE to develop a website + mobile + Facebook app + the management of a Facebook Page and Twitter + advertising.  Given so many people are online now, this makes Digital a very viral medium. If companies handle Twitter and Facebook badly, word gets around very quickly. If they develop a badly designed mobile app, the best case scenario is that people will complain about it. Worse case – a company gets minimal feedback, misses a great announcement opportunity and the app gets lost in the appys of mobile mediocrity.

    For non-industry folk, perhaps you still see Digital as the Internet…. the World Wide Web. A sea of websites and laptops. Still, I know I’m not the only ambassador to defend Digital as the invisible force that now underpins every single touchpoint between a brand and human being, because both Web and Mobile are simultaneously diverging and converging. A more elegant expression of such phenomenon can be found in “Design for the Real World. Human Ecology and Social Change.” by Victor Papanek and on page 193 there is a section which goes a good deal of the way to explaining some of the complexity we find and face:

    “If the industrial revolution gave us a mechanical era (a comparatively static technology of movable parts), if the last 100 years have given us a technological era (a more dynamic technology of functioning parts), then we are now emerging into a biomorphic era (an evolving technology permissive of evolutionary changes).

    We have been taught that the machine is an extension of man’s hand. But because of enlarging scale even this no longer holds. For 5,000 years, a brickmaker was capable of making 500 bricks a day. Technology has made it possible for one man with the right kind of backup machinery , to make 500,000 bricks a day. But biomorphic change obsolesces both the man and the bricks: we now extrude building skin surface, i.e. sandwich panels that include heating, lighting, cooling and other service circuits.”

    In a recent interview when I explained how many tech meet-ups I go to, I was pressed on “why?” and challenged for detail. Below is my answer, with a little extra crafting from hindsight:

    • Generally I prefer hearing stories to reading them. I get a lot of energy from people
    • As an aspiring geek, I use these spaces to improve my TIQ (tech intelligence quotient)
    • At art college (many moons ago), we were encouraged to document our own thinking and expose ourselves to the musings and reflections of others. At the time, we did this through paper log-books and I often included anything that could be physically taped down on paper (including a salt-dried frog). Now I do this through documenting thoughts in notes on my iPhone, Pinterest, Posterous, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter
    • Who knows where the Next Big Thing is going to come from… but I’m not convinced it will be from Twitter, Google or Facebook, or that Mashable will get there first. As we navigate this “biomorphic era”, digital opportunity may not come from the angle we expect

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  • agencyg1r1 6:22 am on February 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    More calling of Awesome, come in Awesome… 

    Calling Orson…  Calling Awesome.

    Yes it’s a poor introduction. Hell, you probably don’t even remember Mork and Mindy.

    Four months ago (or so) I joined the Toronto Awesome Foundation chapter. We’ve funded some awesomely awesome projects including:

    Flamin’ rainbows, Alex Leitch’s vision of a fire-breathing unicornocerous

    http://awesometo.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/december-winner-flamin-rainbows/

    Guilt-free chocolate. Erm, sort of. You know what they say, a moment on the lips, a lifetime in love with chocolate.

    http://awesometo.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/october-winner-chocosol/

    FISH TACO MAN! We know what you’re thinking… How can something so guerilla be so fish? How can something so underground be overground?

    http://awesometo.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/september-winner-guerilla-fish-tacos/

    But we hunger for more. MORE!!! [Licking of lips and cackling]

    1) We crave volume. We want more ideas. We need more ideas! Think of us as idea vampires constantly lusting after fresh awesomeness.

    Screen_shot_2012-02-28_at_01

    2) We need you to benchmark your awesome against our awesome, which is broadly defined here: http://awesomefoundation.org/blog/2011/07/10/what-is-awesome/

    3) Pitch your idea first, that’s actually what we’re most interested in. 

    4) Then tell us why you’re the person who will make it happen AND 

    5) How you intend to spend the money.  Applications that say things like ” to buy a computer” or “pay a PR team” are likely to under-awesome. We need to know the money will make a significant difference to the life of your project, specifically could it start  [and complete] without Awesome funding?

     

     

     

     
  • agencyg1r1 8:36 am on February 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Why LinkedIn needs to get into bed with OKCupid 

    Last week was Social Media Week (SMW) and I was involved as a volunteer photographer, aka “voluntographer“. As Fate would have it, most of my photography missions for SMW were around social media and enterprise, including one solely devoted to LinkedIn. Now in case you don’t know, LinkedIn and I don’t have the best history together. As a result, I’ve described the network as a hangout for people of a certain age who aren’t comfortable with Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps a little simplistic and certainly more than a little harsh, but I just haven’t got much out of the groups and the notification architecture is kinda clunky for how you opt in and out of groups, threads, exposure and invites. The most exciting thing about LinkedIn is the potential to reinvent LinkedIn.

    I don’t dispute  the fact that many businesses have made a lot of money through relevant leads on LinkedIn…. that people have found their dream jobs and that recruiters revel in the opportunity to swiftly and silently mine people’s professional backgrounds. Yes, that’s all useful stuff. Perhaps I might never have questioned the validity of LinkedIn, its 1980s business manner or its role in the devolution of self-promotion, but you see, two weeks ago I met OKCupid.

    Okcupid-logo

    True, I’d heard about OKCupid a while back and remember a friend in Scotland telling me about the blog a couple of years ago. Fast-forward to January 2012, after a less-than-optimal user experience on another dating site, a friend in Toronto stressed I ought to try OKCupid. “Flippin’ AWESOME” he exclaimed and went on the validate his reasons:

    1. It was free (and fees with other companies can vary from around $20 to several thousand dollars each year).
    2. The way they mine people’s data is magnificent. Yes, magnificent. They mine data, then they evaluate it and finally they replay it in a truly engaging format on the OKCupid blog
    3. How the service profiles you and who (or indeed what) you’re looking for on the site is impressive. I’ll expand on this in a minute….

    “WAIT!!!!!” you rudely interrupt, “they talk about your personal, private data?” 

    Horror

    “Yes” I reply calmly. “But only in aggregate and obviously anonymously, unless they want to refer to a specific profile or profile element and then they ensure they have your permission.”

    Huffing

    And by now, you’re huffing and puffing about privacy and abuse of the user. But this isn’t LinkedIn. They’re not using my data AND trying to charge me for other services. OKCupid is completely free and the reason I don’t mind being so open with the site is because I actually think the way OKCupid is evolving is really effective. I don’t like everything about its platform, but it’s significantly more effective than other dating websites. Whilst I use the site, they actively mentor me in improving my own results, it’s gamification meeting edutainment. They share.

    “How so?” you ask skeptically, whilst pondering what edutainment and gamification mean.

    Skeptical

    Well… (and here comes the science, so listen carefully), this is the process I went through when I signed up:

    1) Entered a bunch of person details, including uploading some profile photos. OK Cupid then asked if I wanted to participate in a photo match survey, which is two-part: 

    a) A/B image preference test of around 50 sets of photos (two per set) where you are asked to select the most attractive person (of whatever gender you’ve specified) 

    b) Review of my own profile photos, using them in a similar photo match survey answered by other guys. This way, not only does OK Cupid build a picture of what I find physically most desirable in a partner, but it can also tell me which photos make me most desirable in terms of the guys I’m interested in.

    Make sense?

    2) The dating service is built on an extensive personality profiling platform, asking you a multitude of questions to refine potential “matches”. I answered 254 (!) questions to get a match potential rating of 99.6%. I kept answering questions, because I figured it was possible to get to 100%, but after an hour of doing this, cabin fever got the better of me and I just signed out. It surprised me enormously to find guys who’d answered more than 300 of these questions, evidently believing that they too could reach that magical true completion state.

    When I told my parents about this, my mum exclaimed “but what on Earth do they ask you?!!”

    Well…. there’s very little territory OKCupid won’t go.

    Personal hygiene habits, political orientation, religious beliefs, sexual preference questions – even delving into the nuances of specific scenarios such as staged rape, swinging and handcuffs. There were questions on whether the volume of sexual encounters mattered, views on homosexuality, did I like to argue, was passion more important than persistence? What would make me more nervous – interview or first date? There were IQ and culture questions and in each case you stated your answer, additionally specifying the importance of the questions, the importance of the answer and there was still room for additional comments if you felt the need to expand on your choice of answer. It’s fascinating stuff I tell you.

    Img_1038
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    One of the things I’d been struggling with on a previous dating site was the lack of interesting messages and also the really poor use of English, not only in terms of spelling and grammatical errors, but just general sentence structure and lazy use of language. I’m a busy lady and even with friends – I rarely idle the day away with messages such as “hi” or “wassup?” As much as I would love to meet that special guy, I need something more inspirational than “I liked your profile and thought I’d say hi.” Below are a couple of examples to which I didn’t reply.

    Screen_shot_2012-02-22_at_21
    Screen_shot_2012-02-22_at_21

    In addition to its profiling platform, OKCupid also has an interesting mobile [iPhone] app.

    Okcupid01

    Albeit, it offers this slightly freaky feature of telling you when relevant matches are checking you out in your vicinity, which was pretty surreal in Starbucks as I awkwardly caught a guy’s eye, iPhones in our hands, before immediately slumping back behind our Macs. 

    Naturally the mobile app also has other more standard features you’d expect on a dating app:

    • Locals (OKCupideurs/euse nearby)
    • Activity (most recent updates – like the FB news feed)
    • Matches (OKCupid playing Cupid)
    • “Quickmatch” – rate different profiles
    • “Quiver” – suggested profiles OK Cupid believes are a particularly strong fit
    • Connections – people who’ve looked at my profile, people whose profile I’ve reviewed, “favourites” and “ratings; essentially any interaction through the service.
    • Messages
    • Questions – guess if you’re bored, you can answer even more questions to get to that elusive 100% match rating
    • “My Profile”
    • Edit Profile

    And of course it offers push notifications so every time someone messages/winks/favourites me or even check out my profile. OKCupid keeps me in the loop and even has a variety of ways to ask me for feedback on its services. This is agile evolution.

    I appreciate some of you, especially those loved-up and celebrating long-term anniversaries, find the role of technology in matchmaking a little weird. There’s a whole new culture that you can’t relate to…. unless of course you’re one of those married couples messaging me about threesomes (apparently Toronto’s a very kinky city).

    Anyway, this whole experience with OKCupid, got me thinking about OK LinkedIn, or at least what it means to find that great “fit” at work. If OKCupid got his little leg over LinkedIn, just think what could happen:

    • Alerts if you’re near a building or person that’s recruiting
    • Businesses and individuals can answer extensive sets of questions to ensure there’s a solid “fit” 
    • The questions are designed in a fun and engaging way, so as to gamify the process – with a format that can quantify data easily (analytics) AND include qualitative feedback that helps position a response (when the numbers don’t help)
    • Evolve a profile when out and about – filling pockets of time, thus reducing the need to spend hours in front of a laptop
    • User can answer IQ or industry questions on the fly, around town, which can be saved or logged for future searches by employers
    • LinkedIn can suggest employers or employees even if they’re not actively looking or recruiting. E.g. we can start to create a bank of favourite companies or potential employees even if the timing isn’t right and this is done automatically for us, rather than effort on our part
    • Review local postings for any given radius from a cellphone 
    • Favourite employers/companies/individuals – Pinterest for people!
    • Rate people without having to give long recommendations

    Acknowledge that migrating such features from personal to professional space comes with risks and complications, but I’ve revisited the LinkedIn and Bump mobile apps and they lack the addictive nature and human feel of OKCupid.

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    No doubt there are corporations which have little interest in exploring new channels or new techniques of networking or recruiting, but when the fit fails with an employee or client, the impact on the bottom line can be significant. Why should “consumer” apps get to play with all the intelligence and why should communication be less “human” because it networks as “professional”. LinkedIn is not the end of the road for professional networking. It’s a start, but I’m STILL holding out for a game-changer. 

    Li_arrow

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  • agencyg1r1 5:25 pm on February 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Designing a design process, part 2: dinosaurs, lasers and conductive felt 

    I wrote a post some months ago about the challenge of trying to get back into a creative mindset. Having made some New Year’s resolutions about spending more time sketching and making stuff, sitting down and doing this actually proved to be much harder.

    Documenting ideas has been something I’ve struggled with since art college. It’s infuriating to have everything so perfectly mapped-out in my head, only to have the detail tumble out on to paper, somehow dishevelled… disjointed… lacking glory.

    Still, just because it’s tricky, doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible and on the rare occasion that an idea makes it to the physical world without getting lost in translation, well… that’s a pretty awesome moment.

    Anyway, the journey has continued more recently by co-presenting a mini workshop on making conductive felt with the lovely Erin Lewis at Wearables Open Studio night.

    http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyEBa6z

     

    Sketching dinosaurs at ROM (apparently I was the only one over the age of six attempting this)…

    http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyEzzgp

     

    Playing with the 3D printer and laser-cutting machine at HackLab (thanks to Eric and Chris for help & training). 

    http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyEzayF

    The little black “connectors” were produced from the 3D printer and the blue and yellow bracelets – on the laser-cutter. Time and life permitting – would love to do a lot more here. Perhaps laser-cutting even more so because it’s so much faster. Ultimately it would be awesome to design a piece that co-ordinates production from both machines.

     

    And in terms of process, have I learnt anything from these recent adventures?

    • Sometimes, it’s easier to abandon all pre-thought-thoughts and just play with a material. Ideas don’t have to start in the head, they can in fact reverse-flow from material to brain. Inspiration isn’t all in the mind!
    • The physical act of playing and making is much more liberating than struggling with an idea in ink, on paper
    • Combining design/craft techniques can be helpful in progressing an idea. For example – photographing the bracelets and those mini component “clusters” was as helpful as the process of making them, in terms of playing with light and shadow around the body
    • The bracelets were made from scrap plastic, so production in terms of material was incredibly cheap. The expense is in the time taken to learn how to use the machines
    • At the February Wearables Meetup, there were two fascinating talks/presentations from Rachael Kess (OCAD fibre student) and Ryan Taylor (goldsmith). What was great about them was their easy shuffle between traditional craft techniques and those using new technologies. Having met so many artists who shun new technology (“us versus IT”), it’s much more exciting to meet and work with people who look to the future with all the perspective of the past. Ryan particularly made the point that with certain casting  and rapid prototyping techniques – work can now be produced locally at a much more cost-effective rate, which meant for medium-scale work (possibly even large-scale), there’s less dependence on China for cheap production.

     

     

     

     

     

     
  • agencyg1r1 2:27 am on January 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Contemplating resigning from a social life in Feb and March, so I can get through these books 

     
  • agencyg1r1 4:33 am on January 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Ladies Learning Code: getting to first base with WordPress 

    So last Saturday marked my return to vaguely technical activity for about 12 years. I was one of the lucky ladies in Toronto who got on to the WordPress course provided by Ladies Learning Code. They had run about five of these courses to date in Toronto and such is the success of the project, that classes now sell out within minutes. My friend Caroline and I were literally logged on five minutes before tickets went on sale – constantly refreshing our browsers to secure tickets, how geeky is that!

    I thought the course was very well run, exceptionally well-catered and offered the nicest mentors in town (mentor to student ratio was about 1:5 I think). At times it got a little tricky negotiating local challenges whilst still trying to keep pace with the presentation, but really appreciated this introductory session and certainly inspired to explore further.

    Photos from the day are below:

    http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

     

     

     
  • agencyg1r1 5:49 am on January 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    At home with the Slate family and guests… 

    http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

    My neighbour, Robert Graham, is a musician and songwriter and is relentlessly passionate in his pursuit of building a career and community in Toronto. In short, he’s awesome. Through his adventures in TO, he has discovered many weird and wonderful music initiatives, ventures and events. 

    This Saturday, his pursuit of exploring musical talent and collaboration included Joanne Slate’s “at home” concerts… literally what it says on the tin: a concert in the living room of the Slate family home. I was fortunate enough to get an invite to the concert because Robert’s wife couldn’t make it and he knows I love live music. I had no expectations of the gig…..  it was just some woman in Toronto who used the format of an “at home” concert to showcase the talent of her grown-up kids. 

    Proud parents…. pah!

    So at first I paid little attention to the line-up…

     

     

    Gavin Slate:   

    Songs in movies and TV. 

    Played across Canada on CBC. 

    http://www.gavinslate.com

     

    Madeleine Slate: 

    Originally from Toronto, now based in Nashville.  

    Recent cut on Grammy nominated David Nail’s album. Carnival music artist/songwriter.

    http://www.facebook.com/madeleineslatemusic

     

    Stephanie Lambring: 

    Nashville via Indiana

    BMG singer/songwriter. Turned heads at our last house concert.

    http://www.myspace.com/stephanielambring

     

    Maia Davies: 

    Singer/songwriter from Juno nominated “Ladies of the Canyon”.

    http://www.ladiesofthecanyon.com

     

     

    As Joanne introduced them, I couldn’t help thinking what a gushy mother she was. Ya, ya, ya, whatever. They’re your kids, of course you’d say they were amazing.

    But I soon ate my own silent words when Gavin started singing. 

    Blown away….

    And now I’m gushing myself, but crikey…wowzers….shazdazzleness.

    Gavin’s superb voice and beautiful songs were equally matched by the performances of Madeleine, Stephanie and Maia. Stunning vocals, charming banter and songs written straight from the heart. I can’t say I favoured one particular performer, though now I’m going to investigate their music further and see what else I can find. Admit I was thoroughly absorbed in each song, even getting a little goose-pimply at times. Oh my!

    By the end of the show, I was feeling a little guilty at my initial skepticism. Joanne Slate has every reason to be immensely proud of her family and their friends.

    They asked for a $10 door fee as a contribution for the concert, with the proceeds equally split between all the performers. I gave an additional $10 at the end because it was all the cash I brought with me, but I would have happily donated an additional $30 (perhaps even more but not before payday!), which is what I would have paid for a commercial gig. 

    If I know these guys are playing again in town, I’ll definitely be first in line with my bucks.

     

     
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