Friday, February 16, 2007

Butts in Seats

As I trudged through several inches of snow and the bitter cold of a Chicago Winter this morning I started to think how ridiculous some companies are when it comes to working at home. I've worked for a lot of bosses who demanded "butts in seats" and a few who couldn't care less where the team was as long as they got the work done. Currently my job requires my butt in my seat in my cube at our headquarters.

The nature of my job is such that I can pretty much work from anywhere, whether it's my home, a Panera, an airport, wherever. If I can get an Internet connection I can be at work. So why am I taking two trains and walking two miles every day to get to work? Because someone above me is old school and doesn't trust people he can't see.

The good news is that these types will eventually retire.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Creating a Brandtastrophe

One of the divisions of the organization I work for decided to build their own prototype for their section of the Web site. They sent it to us (the Web team) and said this was what they wanted us to build them. We had already prototyped their section for them, staying of course, within our own Web site and branding standards. However they apparently felt that their level of "specialness" extended beyond our brand and therefore required a new, bastardization of our brand. What they sent us I can only refer to as, a "brandtastrophe."

Brandtastrophe: The bastardization of an organization's existing, established brand to suit the needs and preferences of a subgroup of an organization.

We've all seen this a thousand times, from the department that creates its own letterhead by smashing the organization's logo into a piece of Microsoft Word Wordart to the division that works with an outside contractor to develop a piece of collateral that has the organization's logo, but bears little resemblance to anything else from the organization. Perhaps it also has some myopic messages that were put together by the division's director during a brainstorming meeting but that no one else outside the division has ever even seen.

Brandtasrophes suck the life out of a brand and muddle the public's perceptions of it. At their worst, they effectively vandalize the organization.

Digg Zealots Suck

I saw on Threadwatch how Digg zealots are attacking various Yahoo! properties who use a voting system similar to Digg. These people are true idiots. What I find amazing is that many of these Diggers also espouse how the Internet should be free and they should, for instance be allowed to post copyrighted content on YouTube or share MP3s and other intellectual property freely. But if anyone "shares" the idea of a voting-based content system they attack like a bunch of old biddies with their bloomers in a bunch. "You stole Digg's idea!" "You aren't cool enough to be like Digg!" Then they swarm the Comments sections of these "thieving sites" and prevent anyone else from enjoying them.

I've got news, Digg zealots: The Internet is about sharing—sharing ideas, sharing what works, sharing conversations. Who came up with the idea of a search engine? Should they have started attacking everyone else who put a little field on a page with a "Search" button? I know Digg wasn't the first site to come up with a "vote for this" model.

In the larger scheme, zealots of anything suck. Whether it's Digg zealots, Mac zealots, religious zealots, sports team zealots, or whatever, please, just stop. Can't you be a fan or follower without being a blinder-wearing, crazed lunatic? You like the Green Bay Packers. I get it. Do you have to start fistfights in bars because someone else in the bar isn't? You like the iPod. I get it. Do you have to openly mock anyone who has something else, repeatedly boast about how wonderful your iPod is, and canonize Steve Jobs? You're a Jehova's Witness. I get it. Can you worship with your congregation in peace and stay away from my front door? is a nice site, I'm a member. I think it's still got some serious issues, most of which are human/idiot-based. People successfully game the system for profit or glory instead of using Digg as it was intended. The technology itself is fantastic. So instead of attacking everyone else who uses a voting system for content, why don't you focus on making better?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

No Linking Allowed in Belgium

So apparently linking is now wrong. I can understand there being a concern about Google's cache containing archived stories that are normally charged for by the copyright holder, but what is all this other piffle about Google News using material without consent? So no one is allowed to link to free content without the linkee's consent? Is Belgium on the planet earth?

Court rules that Google breaches copyright with news service-News-Tech & Web-TimesOnline

Widgets Deliver New One-to-One Opportunities

An informative post from Chad Stoller at ClickZ about getting into the branded widget game. He makes some good points about how to ensure your widget is sticky (sticky widgets?) Namely, make them simple and uber-functional. I haven't seen a lot of articles like this and it's nice to see widgets being taken seriously and not just as toys.

As mentioned previously, I do use a few branded widgets, notably from Acura and Not to mention the Yahoo! branded widgets. With Windows Vista, I think Widgets will explode in the next year. That's, of course, contingent on Microsoft getting people to buy it.

Widgets Deliver New One-to-One Opportunities

WIRED Blogs: Listening Post

Great discussion of DRM and the effect of switching to a no-DRM system on It's nice to hear all the arguments for and against. No one can really predict exacly what will happen, but with enough discussion like this I think we can come up with a close approximation. Will the artist lose money? Will the customers ever get what they really want? Will the record companies diminish? Hopefully those are all "Yes."

WIRED Blogs: Listening Post

Will Widgets Kill the Webpage? (Exclusive Netvibes video). (Erick Schonfeld/The Next Net)

I was discussing widgets with a friend recently and they thought widgets were to complicated for most casual computer users. I think if anything, they're easier. They focus on one thing and leave out all the other impediments to finding and using information.

Check out what NetVibe's founder thinks:

Will Widgets Kill the Webpage? (Exclusive Netvibes video). (Erick Schonfeld/The Next Net)