Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pictures of Lily, Lily of Lily

Just found out about Lily, a Firefox add-on that enables users to create rich, complex applications within the browser. You create Lily applications by connecting functional modules that they call "externals" inside a document (program) called a "patch". Each object serves a single purpose, such as adding two numbers together, displaying an image or providing interactivity like a button. By connecting the output of one external to the input of another, it becomes possible to quickly build complex programs that do what you want. External objects are written in JavaScript (like Lily itself) and it's simple to write your own external to do whatever you want.

The Lily team have already built in over 180 externals objects:
- web service modules for APIs like Twitter, Amazon, Flickr, Wikipedia, Yahoo;
- UI modules that wrap web components from YUI, JQuery and Google Maps as well as the browser's built-in UI elements;
- modules that offer access to the network, SQLite storage, TCP sockets or the file system; modules to interact with the browser;
- modules to send and receive Open Sound Control messages or talk to the Arduino physical computing board;
- and, graphics modules that encapsulate the browser's SVG functionality and multimedia modules for playing sound and video.

Hello World from Bill Orcutt on Vimeo.

Now it's possible to use a browser-based program to make web or desktop mashups, allowing people with basic skills to visualize and animate data, modify webpages, play music, or connect to world outside the computer.

Another neat aspect is that your programs can be shared with other Lily users as text files or they can be run by anyone as Firefox add-ons or standalone XULrunner applications.

Math from Bill Orcutt on Vimeo.

Lily is free and open source, released under the MIT license. Lily runs on Mac, Windows or Linux, just like Firefox.

Find out more or get started at the Lily site -

The project is now available on Google code (recent change) -

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Invisible Man

Lou Bolin becomes the Invisible Man with no Photoshop or camera tricks - just stillness for a moment and some very careful paint work.

These images were emailed to me and I have not been able to attribute them as of yet.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Fragmentation of Aggregation

Over the past few years, we have witnessed the emergence of a new trend that is ultimately driven out of the need for more consolidated access to data records, integration between disparate systems and the goal to provide users of systems with single access points that can share profile data across different service types.

As we as users move to aggregate our feeds and integrate our desktop experiences, the emergence of new services vying for attention simply means we have an inverse trend of fragmentation pulling us away from the hard work of getting everything aggregated.

I call this the "fragmentation of aggregation" which will most likely precede a phase of aggregating the fragmented tools, signs of which we have seen through increased usage of OAuth, single client apps that support multiple IM services and more, but these are the exception currently, not the norm.

Everyday I log into 15 or 20 interfaces all of which bear news for me to read. But I still read or source all of my news through Google and the Google reader. Yes I visit around 50 or so sites a day, but only as a result of the hard work done by my services to gather me relevant information and bring it to one of the few screens.

The challenge in this situation is setting the strategic goals of a new application or service with regards to its output, resource directory, login/account information and ultimately its share-ability. How do you determine which services to support? How do you know where your audience is clicking in from today? How do you manage the three screen experiences separately and effectively.

We are thinking about this on the enterprise level as well. Multiple apps with data storage, document storage, back-ups, online storage, and then multiple apps for reading and processing documents and the need for remote workers, secure access, timed access and more make for complex business process management that needs to serve multiple sources and multiple output points with varying degrees of controlled interaction.

In the web space we simply put the emphasis of choice on the end user, but in the enterprise we typically need to remove the burden of choice and systematically make selection based on rules. We need to find the user, observe the rules, investigate the request and then return the right stuff, and hopefully do all of this at the speed of 'Google'.

Do you have examples of the fragmentation of aggregation? Perhaps you would share where it is impacting you in a negative way, or even better, where you think someone or something is doing a great job of sorting all this out.

Update: Google Fast Flip launches providing yet another example:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Social Media Measurement: I stopped on slide 27...

...and realized, Beth Harte is right - we really have to throw away the current model of how we think about lead generation, selling and loyalty. And of course the other slides about having a plan are great too (if you like that kind of hard goals thing-y :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

k.Tel (#songsincode > 100) ;

Python, javascript, cobol and more - good, bad, ugly syntax and all - jumped to the forefront of entertainment for a few hours today as the #songsincode hashtag on Twitter shot up the charts. I see some folks hating on it already, so that proves its gone over the top. Just so I don't have to drill through all the spammers everytime I want to look at them and love them all over again, I am putting some of my favorites here, attributed to the awesome Tweeters who made them possible.

In no particular order...

John Zeitler from Pittsburgh contributed several good ones -

public void reality() { try{ if( this.realLife()||this.justFantasy() ) { throw new Landslide(); } } catch (Landslide l) { this.reality() } }

public void timeWarp() { this.jump(left); this.step(right); this.thrust(pelvic); this.timeWarp(); }

if( me.has(you) || !me.has(you) ) { /*this won't happen*/; }

if( > 1000000 ) { house yourHouse =; you.give(yourHouse); }

djbigdaddy from NYC tips in -

cometogether = [] cometogether.append('right now') cometogether.append('over me') for i in cometogether: print i

import stalker stan = stalker() if like him) == 'yes': stan.girlfriendintrunk()

m = 'Makes us harder, better, faster, stronger!' x != 'kill me': x + 1print 'Can only make me stronger, %s' % (m)

Here's a few from Tallahassee's Ben Clark -

$ = !$madame.ask($self, 'dance'); do { $madame.mood('charming', 'gentle'); } while ($ == 'continental');

$alive = ($you['location'] != 'by my side') ? array('afraid', 'petrified') : TRUE;

$self = trap($purgatory); destroy(new Object()); while (not $reprisal) { wait(1); } $others.acquire(DEATH); $sky = '#FF00000';

Geoff Longman adds some variations

require 'barenakedladies'; if >=1.million.dollars; Realtor.find_house(:nice) end

puts 'We are DEVO' if we.are_not_men?; %(D E V O).each {| l | puts l } if we.are_not_men?

assert me.is_a?(Girl) && World.find_by_type('Barbie') && == :plastic && == :fantastic

Adobe's Ryan Stewart weighed in with some of my faves -

itsyBitsySpider.upWaterSpout(); new Rain(); itsyBitsySpider = null; new Sun(); rain = null; itsyBitsySpider.upWaterSpout();

it_array.push("bulls","blood","dust","mud","boots","chaps","cowboy hats","spurs","latigo","ropes","reins"); rodeo = it_array;

$ = !$madame.ask($self, 'dance'); do { $madame.mood('charming', 'gentle'); } while ($ == 'continental');

crazy:Crazy=new Crazy(); crazy.feelingLonely=true; objMe=crazy; crazy.feelingBlue=true;

Josh Buhler from joined the fun -

if (myLife.contains("you") == false) { = true; }

if (you.want == Want.DESTROY_SWEATER) { while (you.holdThread()) { this.x++; } }

if (elevator.brokenDown) { while (currentFloor < abletorock =" false;">var whatYouGet; if (Math.random() > .5) { whatYouGet = whatYouWant; } else { whatYouGet = whatYouNeed; }

if (friend == @ryanstewart) { friendsInLowPlaces = true; }

var bottlesOnWall = new Array (99); while (bottlesOnWall.length > 0) { var b = bottlesOnWall.pop(); passAround(bottle); }

Jude.makeBetter(sadSong); while (studioTimeLeft) { trace("na"); }

Not to be outdone, mesh (Mike Chambers) joins in -

var brothers = new Array();i=0;while(i <>queen.dead = true; limb.lonely = true; while(limb.on) { life.lonely = true; } if(you.lonely) { life.long = true; } = "Jonas";my.carry(wheel);for each(var a in you.haveShownUs){a.thanks()};my.feel = this;

(Mike correctly pointed out that at this point worldwide developer productivity was in serious decline for the day)

Canadian Trevor Squires chimed in -

self.boat? && self.go_out(:on => Ocean) { self.pony? && self.pony.ride(:on => self.boat) }

(1..3).map { "a lady" } &&

Some other notable ones I found:

Tracey Kensing
if ( i != 'colorblind') { $world = 'black and white' } try { keepAnOpenMind() } catch(Exception $e) { cantSleepTonite(); }

Zach Moazeni
(!Elephants.treated_unethically? || Elephants.count == 0) { assert Humans.count == 0; self.binary_solo! }

if self.location == "boat" { self.yell "I'm on a #{"mother effin " if rand(2) == 0}boat"; self.find_mermaid.deflower! }

Leandro Ferreira

Alex Sanchez
while(true){cliente.habla("buenas, tiene madalenas?");panadero.habla("muy buenas!");

Micah Craig
me.job[policeDept].quit()&&me.job.add(steady); try{; her.steal(); her.rob(); }
catch(CannotRob cr) {;}

Sky.Describe(Me); if (PERFECT_DAY) {PerfectDay.LayAfter(); while(We.Opacity > 1) We.Opacity--; We.CreateWorld();}

if(name == "Lola" && isShowGirl && hair.feathers.color == "yellow" && dress.cut) { merengue(); chacha(); }

10 LET n=1 20 IF n<>13 THEN PRINT n,", ",n+1,", ",n+2,"oclock,",n+3,"oclock rock!":LET n=n+4:goto 20

if ("you_want_my_body" == TRUE && "you_think_im_sexy" == TRUE) { baby.cmonletmeknow();}

say_to_you = New.array[]; say_to_you[0] = "Da doo doo doo, de daa daa daa"; end; I.want = say_to_you[0];

function check(){if (timeHasCome){document.getElementById("theButton").click;}else{setTimeOut}

Jeff_Lamarche = sheriff; // = deputy; self.selfDefense = YES;

class ParadiseCity(){ public static const grass="green"; public static const girls="pretty";} me.take(new ParadiseCity());

$i = new Istanbul; $c = new Constantinople; $i = $c; $i = $i; /* !$c */ $c->why_works = $you.turk ? $ : $you.nunya;

if($tickets_to_paradise == "2"){ $packyourbags=true; $leave='tonight' }

Nathan Blevins
var BuyStairWay = Lady.IsSure() && All.ForEach(x => x.Glitters = "gold") ? True : False;

Stuart Sharpe
function start(x) { if (day.isNiceDayFor("White Wedding")) start("again"); }

satisfaction.addEventListener(IOErrorEvent.IO_ERROR, noNoNo());

There are tons more...I had to add my own as well.

girl.OnceHadMe(); var NorwegianWood = good; switch (timeforbed); do laugh.SleepinBath while girl = workMorning };

I would appreciate people posting any really good ones to the comments here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Object-Oriented Approach to Design (OAD)

OAD is a wireframing and specifications technique for documenting complex business logic and interactions authored by Nick Iozzo of TandemSeven. As it says on Nick's blog, "OAD allows the designer to decompose a screen in a manner that reduces complexity. Even if the screen has millions of variations, OAD can document the design in just a few pages."

Below is a presentation from the talk Nick gave at Interactions 09 in Vancouver. The talk was specifically on methods of documenting wireframes for RIAs and complex business logic.

Reading this as someone who gets caught up in this process all the time, and struggles to effectively communicate to all levels of affected parties in a complex project, I find this kind of thinking and research is a refreshing look at how to stay inspired through the process by using the right tools and methods.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

@bitpakkit Inc.

Made the decision to go 100% independent a few weeks ago and have started working for two clients on long term engagements now. Both are very interesting projects and both have very clear value in their respective markets and promising technology already in place. will continue to be mostly a blog, but the site is being worked on to showcase my work from the past years and the blog will simply roll up onto the homepage. Those of you who know me well will know that I have been working on smaller side projects and a few big ones, on the side, off and on over the past ten years. This has progressively become more and more of a focus for me and I am pretty excited to be going into it full force.

I will be supporting both local (Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa) and international businesses and I will update on the projects here when I launch the new site. Disclosure: I will also investing in a few of the smaller projects (really ideas at this point) I am looking into in order to help them get off the ground and flush out the potential.

I have created a profile to provide some information about the services I am offering:

To contact me regarding projects or to discuss this:
bitpakkit [a] gmail [dot] dom

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Skip iPhone. Proceed straight to Android.

Update: I am setting up the Android now.

I may be slightly late to this game but I still feel like an early adopter. I have decided to bite down and buy an
Android so I can deploy and field test applications on actual hardware without relying on the SDK emulator or access to T-Mobile service. Plus its a pretty cool phone - definitely faster and more typist friendly than it's Apple flip-flop wearing cousin.

Thanks to a little windfall, some fateful events and 'devigner' inspiration I have bitten the $25 application fee for the Android Marketplace and then purchased the device directly from Google for $399.99 (US). I can run it on a Roger's SIM here in Canada and a separate AT&T one in the US. You can join me as a late early adopter and grab it here now. Update: With duty, taxes and shipping it tips at close to $600.

Two notable features that sealed the deal for me were the completely unlocked GSM/UMTS hardware and an unlocked bootloader for development access to hardware and unrestricted deployment of unsigned apps. Routers aside, I honestly haven't touched firmware since that bizarre Microsoft moment we had years ago with Smart Personal Objects Technology, or SPOT (I have a couple and the devkit for them actually - make me an offer).

For more great ideas on ways to use a dev version of Android, check out PhoneGap and some stories. That way it won't matter that I don't have an iPhone ;-)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Big, huge even, but with a healthy side of practical

Austin makes great ribs. Huge ribs. Generally speaking the ones that come on paper plates like Sam's BBQ or styrofoam like Ironworks are the best, and the simple addition of a slab of white bread to lap up the sauce is pretty much all the trimmings you need. In uncertain times, while discussing uncertain things, that is a comforting thought. And it just may be the last vestige of great and huge.

SXSW was great. SXSW was huge. But you had to be there.

The technorati and their entourages partied late into the wee hours every night, never failing to make their morning sessions or open the trade show floor. While there was not a lot of unbridled optimism on the future of ad-driven models for UGC, there was a lot of practical thinking around "free-mium" models and a healthy dose of "we'll have to see what happens" that indicated to me that the practical and pragmatic will survive. Inflated valuation, especially the kind that grows between the ears, is losing its soapbox in a world of free technology and land of too many options. Sure the big brands were there, but with the exception of the obvious few stalwarts of desktop domination, the showboating and glam has given way to a more practical approach of "lets do business" and "together we are stronger".

Highlights for me were:
  • tweetup with Guy Kawasaki, about ten of us hanging out on the tradeshow floor
  • Microsoft BizSpark - some brilliant ideas (we were the honorable mention in video)
  • Chris Anderson being grilled on why his book wasn't free
  • blogger lounge (sparks flying as the grinding wheel sharpened the wit and pens)
  • a session on crowd-sourced recommendation engines with the bookmarking labcoats
  • meeting about 200 Twitter friends in in person
So many great chefs in the kitchen, well refined recipes for success, and the knowledge that being successful going forward is going to be all about great products, great experiences and value creation. Sure there are still a few "YouTube killers" floating around in the minds of serial entrepreneurs, there always will be, but the technologies that seem poised for profitability and persistence are the ones lead by practical thinkers that are focused on well-cooked, good old-fashioned "how this helps you-ness" and rubbed down with the unmistakable flavor of reality.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TV of Tomorrow

Halfway through the first day of TV of Tomorrow in San Francisco and the 'conversation' is very vibrant, varied and thought provoking. Tracy Swedlow and the ITVT team have done a great job of pulling together more than 100 thought leaders in the interactive, television, media and advertising space to talk about where the industry is going.

Some great discussions this morning on the Future of Broadband Advertising, a panel I was part of along with folks from Fox, IPG, Volo Media and Klickable hosted by Bill Neiemeyer. The panel after that focused on the convergence of addressable and interactive television (I think its safe to use convergence in that context) and was eye-opening in terms of the maturity of the space and the similar issues faced by the various players, including Canada's, Backchannelmedia, Navic, Time Warner, Invidi, Visible World and Think Analytics.

I will post more thoughts about where the TV of Tomorrow is heading after I get through the keynote by thePlatform CEO, Ian Blaine - so far it seems to be all about lengthening and strengthening the leash, and the obvious inability to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Which tube, you ask?

Monday, March 02, 2009

@bitpakkit @buckingham

I don't really vlog but I had a couple hours free and I walked from downtown London (the actual 1 square mile that is London) over to Buckingham Palace - bit of a hike - and shot a video. I confess I am being a bit tongue in cheek here but there's still serious message hidden in here, I swear.

You can click on some of the stuff in the video...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Press play. Make work.

I spend too much time pressing play. For the purpose of this argument, I will default autoplay into the same conversation. On the flipside, I spend too little time making it work. Not because I don't want to or because I don't try. It's just not really possible yet. Like everyone else I take videos, stick them on the internet and then tell people where they are.

I am not going to slide into the media fervor on video monetization models or the lack thereof. Outside of the fact that the economic pressure on the segment makes speculation nothing short of useless, I am actually more specifically concerned about making the playing itself work better.

For example, let's assume it is possible to create, recreate, share and repurpose web video into a more personal experience and that we are not really all that happy firing millions of bits of unwanted bouncing pixels into our retinas in a fire-and-forget fashion.

We want to benefit from deep engagement, we want sites and tools to understand how we use them, and we want them to improve their recommendations and results for us, but everywhere we turn content and site owners are forced to push semi-relevant or just plain old irrelevant messages into these emerging channels. All this serves to do is make a few dollars and unfortunately further alienate viewers. Short-sighted is as short-sighted does, even if it drives a few eyeballs hopefully in the right direction.

Increasing responsiveness to commercial messaging in online video through rich interactivity and powerful personalization is still emerging and while this holds promise there are still a lack of standards and a definite shortage of relevant data to realistically project how audiences will interpret, interact, share and extend these experiences.

Moving along

Companies in the space are also working to maximize traceability with the goal of understanding and exploiting usage patterns, but there is little indication or promise that this data will be used to enhance the experience or help the user towards their explicit goal. Ultimately this means that the promise will have failed every time, at least for now, to empower content and marketing teams by providing any meaningful rich insight into the way video is consumed. So, guess what happens, everyone just puts it on YouTube - at least they know people watch it there.

Compounding this issue is the way in which we have traditionally imagined introducing this new layer of interaction and engagement within the viewing experiences. The whole objective we have traditionally been focused on in advertising is to yank the viewer out of the wonderful experience we have decided to sponsor or support through getting them to click, to leave. Recently a publisher told me that they were not interested in building promotional experiences that drove viewers out of the site. Seems logical, and somehow I forget what made us (the collective industry us) think that the exact same interaction model as search or banner ads (click to visit, click to learn more) could ever effectively translate to engaged viewers in an on-demand world. The reason you change channels during commercials on TV is not really going to translate well here.

Or the alternative to just sticking your stuff out where the world watches currently seems to be a slippery slope of high investment, mass customization, expensive content production, and ultimately complex IT-centric integration to systems designed to handle text and images in order to arrive at a point where you are still going to need to drag the eyeballs in front of your new screen. I have spent a lot of time tripping through corporate channels and video areas, and unless the video is actively integrated into the content the views are disparagingly low in most cases.

I am not saying there are not solutions out there that solve this. I am simply pointing out that from a layman perspective, the incredible complexity and potentially high investment rate have not delivered a returns model that can easily translate to a normalized business decision making process.

Okay, so I've put the problem out there...what's the solution?

The first step is to unbuckle our collective, exhausted Frankenstien and let him out of the corporation video lab in order to make room for some cleaner R&D and fresh thinking to happen. While that happens, I don't expect anyone to stop pressing play, but I am willing to bet that clicks on the little X to close continue to increase. I will most likely never post 'my' version of the solution here until I have something to show but I will absolutely jump into any conversation on it.

Morgan Brown, director of marketing at TurnHere, said in this Advertising Age article, "Web video is its own medium. Authenticity and information are a critical part of ensuring that viewers aren't disappointed in their decision to view the video. Video advertising with poor production quality or uninspiring content creates a negative brand experience. To make a video truly actionable it must emotionally engage viewers, building the trust and familiarity that forms the backbone of return on investment."

Great points, but now that you have them emotionally engaged with that amazing story and appropriate level of production value for the web, what makes it actionable?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Twestival Ottawa

Clean water will eventually be a problem for everyone.

On 12 February 2009 175+ cities around the world will be hosting Twestivals which bring together Twitter communities for an evening of fun and to raise money and awareness for charity: water. What's a Twestival? Why a Twitter Festival, of course.

There are a lot of ways to get involved:

  • Attending one of the events detailed on the city sites listed on this page. The event I am producing is detailed below.
  • You can now upload or buy music at
  • Take part in the t-shirt design competition.
  • Donate to charity: water.

The Twestival is organized 100% by volunteers in cities around the world and 100% of the money raised from these events will go directly to support charity: water projects.

Ottawa Twestival kicks off tomorrow night at 7 PM at Suite 34, 34 Clarence St., Ottawa in the Byward Market.

Big shout out to our sponsor - Overlay.TV - for making sure we can donate 100% of the proceeds from the night by covering all the base costs for the event. Rob Lane, CEO, will be helping us pry your wallets open for this great cause so be ready.

Some great prizes were donated - check out the post below for information on the silent auction. More came in today and we will update the list shortly. Thanks to Ryan Anderson’s hard work the local traditional press has agreed to grace us with some coverage - Ottawa Citizen, the CBC and the Ottawa Sun (24 Hrs) have been working on their unique angles to the story. A few event attendees have also agreed to give their unique perspective on the situation - more on this coming soon.

For the night of the event we have now confirmed the logistics for a live video feed and our ability to pickup the feed from all the other participating cities. Having done several internet broadcasts in the past, I will ask you to bear with us in the event of us having any issues getting this part to function perfectly ;-)

We are expecting a full house now, so please be sure to get your tickets online if at all possible. If you cannot, please @bitpakkit or @sassymonkey your details to make sure we have tickets held for you in the event you are arriving late.

DJs confirmed - Ottawa scene-rs GrahamJ and DJ Plush are on the bill - more information on that below as well. Shaping up to be a great night - plan to hang out and have a few drinks, meet some people you may only know as avatars today, shake it up with the belly dancers, and help propel Ottawa into this unique global stage and ultimately make a difference in the life of someone who does not have access to the same clean water that we take for granted.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Brand evolved. Agency too...

The video above was produced by Scholz & Friends, a self-described network of friends that functions as an advertising agency, interestingly using the entire spectrum of communications tactics to deliver brand advertising for a broad range of clients. According to their website, their approach is a composite similar to that of a band where "we compose solos for individual voices and we design orchestrated campaigns which bring together a multitude of different instruments." You can explore all the different agencies in the group by country or by instrument here.

In their own words...

"Scholz & Friends ist das einzige europ√§ische Agenturnetzwerk deutschen Ursprungs und seit der Gr√ľndung 1981 eine der Top-Kreativadressen der Kommunikationsbranche. Als „Orchestra of Ideas bietet die Agenturgruppe das gesamte Spektrum der Kommunikationsinstrumente an: von klassischer Werbung, Public Relations, Online, Event, Promotion, Architektur, Dialog, Design bis zu TV-Produktionen."

The business structure is also a radical departure from traditional agencies even though as indicated above they do provide all the requisite services - classical advertising practice, public relations, on-line/interactive, event production, architecture, copywriting, design right through to TV production.  In 2003 the network was formalized, and a group of roughly 40 leading executives across the agency business became shareholders in this new agency format. Of that forty executives, 12 members were then selected to sit on the 'board', which is basically a revolving committee that has been mandated to discuss key issues across all subject areas within the network.

This is a very interesting approach to crafting an agency business model and distinguishing between the members. While it is perhaps similar to the "colors" of Dentsu, it seems less personal than the individual colors and somehow more practical in terms of defining expertise and value. I'm not saying it's better - but it is similarly unique.

You can find more videos from them on their YouTube channel.

Twitter Timelines

One of the most interesting things about following thousands of people on Twitter at the same time is the topic clouds and the way topics can burst onto the 'Twage' and exit almost as quickly. One of the most interesting visualizations I have ever seen of this was done around Superbowl XLIII the New York Times Superbowl Twitter Timeline. Obviously, Cardinals and Steelers are very topical throughout the entire game, but scroll about halfway into the halftime show and all of America lights up Springsteen.

Very cool. I love data visualization and I love topic bursts in social media - put them together and you got me scrolling back and forth like it's a Tinkertoy truck and I'm five years old. You can also see the ads spring up as they run for the first time during the event.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Stand by Me

Bill Moyers takes us around the world mixing the voices and music of musicians from across the globe to a beautifully orchestrated and shared experience that transcends the original message of the song in a beautiful and compelling way.

This is very inspiring. I was also amazed at how many of the places in video I have stood in myself and perhaps that made it even more emotional to watch. Of the many places in the video I recognized specific locations I have been to in New Orleans, Moscow, Rio de Janiero, Venezuala, New Mexico and Amsterdam. Now I have a bucket list addition for a few more spots to get to.

Its a rare video that brings tears to my eyes, and this was one of those moments. Kleenex please...

I have overlayed the video with links to the Playing for Change website. Please visit and join me in supporting this amazing cause and idea.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Resolved to Create Value and Focus

This is a combination of personal objectives and an evolving downturn mantra written from the perspective of where things could do well or better with focus or change. 

I think there is a mantra here that can easily be distilled to - Create Value. Focus.  It might be obvious but I am sure we can all do 'more better'.   Hopefully you will find this useful.  

1. Constantly create value.
Pricing according to value - Look across all services and offerings and strive to define how to create 10x at least (why not go for at least two areas that can drive 100x in value).
Charge a premium price and provide an extraordinary value & experience in exchange.
Create recurring revenue from transactions.
Always have something else ready to add even more value when a transaction takes place.
Don't be a commodity.  It's not a good time to do that apparently.

2. Focus on who and what you know.
Reuse data intelligently.
Make sure existing customers and users are coming back. 
Work to increase your 'membership' and get members advocating for new members.
Coordinate the right time/right message for each person or segment harder.
Are your customers coming back?  Say thank you!
Are they not coming back?  Why?  (go to #4)

3. Be transactional.
Sell stuff. That's the idea.  
Remove roadblocks to transactions.  Remove all of them.
What are people buying that you sell?  Do that more.
What are you selling that people aren't buying?  Stop that.
Which customers really want to work with you and know it will help them?  Call them today.
Which customers are wasting your time?  Call them less.
Define and move on opportunity to work with partners where there is overlap in pipelines.

4. Fix and apologize.
Focus harder on overlooked / late / not-well-done areas that will generate revenue.
When  you fix stuff, let people know.  They might be waiting.
Help technical users more.  They complain more if you don't.
Deep focus on user and customer experience. Get feedback.  Do something about it.

5. Prioritize results.
Constantly force teams to focus on the 'critically few' proactive activities that produce exponential results. Don't get caught up in minutia.
Cut all superfluous activities and immediately backfill with quicker deadlines on other stuff or new things that drive the first four areas.
Eliminate all scatter-shot approaches - too hard to measure and quantify.
Focus on core strengths.  Work harder in areas that leverage these strengths.

6. Celebrate victories. 
Got it?  Got it.  Woot.

7. Get a life! 
Do you really need to update that status one more time - what else could you be doing to relax, rest and be ready to get the other 6 areas right.

In short this can be summarized as activities that will drive business, increase site usage, move sales and pricing up, fill the funnel, build out customer and user database and generate repeat business, and ensure you remain focused on defined transactional value.  And you get to have a little party when you kick ass and enjoy some downtime.  Sound good?

Okay - there's only 349 days left until 2010 - get moving!!!