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Archive for the ‘Fan-Generated Content’ Category

The Ramifications of Google’s Sidewiki

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Google just released a new service called “Sidewiki” that has some pretty huge ramifications.  Essentially it’s a tool to comment on websites; if you have it as a feature installed on your browser (it works as an add-on for Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox – curiously though not for Google’s own Chrome browser) when you surf to a site, it lets you see text other users have highlighted and comments they’ve made.

WHILE you’re on that site.

Let me repeat that: you can see comments from other users about a particular site while you’re ON that website. Read more…

Leggo my Logo

September 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Any organization of a decent size invariably wrestles with divergent interests within itself, which can be a challenge as one tries to maintain and enhance that organization’s brand identity.  Where I work, those conflicts seem to manifest most often in the form of logos.

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t notice a new poster, webpage or T-shirt on campus that bears some attempt to create a unique identity for a particular department, project or event.  A great many people have convinced themselves that having their own distinct logo is the single most important component of a promotional campaign.

Guarding against logos can be tricky because what defines a logo can sometimes be how a particular graphic will be used.  It’s a lot like Judge Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography; one knows it when one sees it.

A graphic on a poster may not constitute a logo by itself.  However – if one removes a particular visual element from that poster and begins printing it on T-shirts, window clings and uploading it to a departmental website – it can become a logo because it lacks the surroundings of the original context.  This is an important point to consider in the era we now live in.

The transparency enabled by the web means that it’s difficult to separate “internal” communication from “external” communication.  It is increasingly likely that your stakeholders are coming into contact with content (including images like logos) from your organization that has been stripped of its original context:

  • Think mobile devices: the clipped versions of pages that appear on mobile web browsers (like those on the iPhone or Blackberry devices) do not display your site as you originally intended.
  • Think search engines: it’s likely that a significant chunk of the traffic to your site (if not the majority) is being delivered by search engines that may drop a user on a random page buried within your site, as opposed to having walked through the front door.
  • Think aggregators: when someone searches Google Images or Yahoo Images for your organization’s name – what images appear?
  • Think social media:  it’s almost a certainty that if there are any Facebook or MySpace groups created about your organization, not all of them are using your official logo.

All of this makes it more important than ever to be careful about what visuals your organization creates and publishes.  That’s not to say that you should stifle creativity and rule with an iron fist, rather be deliberate and judicious in your use of symbols and icons.  You won’t be able to control every form of expression related to your institution, but you can enhance the coherence of your message if you can articulate the benefits of a unified identity.

The Dangers of Pay-for-Play in Social Media

August 12, 2009 Leave a comment

I was troubled by a recent story in “Counsel” the publication of the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (an organization for marketing pros at two-year colleges) that discussed Colorado Mountain College’s practice of paying students to blog on behalf of the school:

“By far, the best marketing money Colorado Mountain College has ever spent is a small budget for student bloggers.  For about $25 per week per blogger (plus a hoodie and coffee mug), the college has purchased content far more powerful than anything it could dream up.  Even a high-powered agency couldn’t come up with this stuff.  The student bloggers write about what they do when they’re bored, have a conflict, or get crazy with a group of friends.  In turn, the college gets rich content – and credibility.”

Read more…

Entertainment and the Crumbling of Barriers

May 28, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s an exciting time to be a fan of music; the barriers to producing one’s own work have come crashing down. The technology is inexpensive. Social media connects artists to their fans. There are a plethora of low-cost options for outsourcing the commerce aspect of the business. Combined with the collapse of the terrestrial radio music industry – that means independent artists are on almost equal footing with the oligopoly of major record labels in terms of being able to create work, connect with fans and earn a living.

If this fan-generated Green Lantern trailer is any indication, the same will be true for movies sooner rather than later.

Robert Rodriguez already sent shockwaves through Hollywood when he produced Sin City at his ranch in Texas for $40 million on a digital backlot. Inexpensive digital cameras like the Red One are putting gorgeous digital images that rival the warmth of analog film even closer within reach.

The major hurdle to an explosion of diverse, fan-generated content is the thicket of intellectual property (IP) legislation the major entertainment companies have bought by lobbying congress for decades. We need a comprehensive rewrite of IP legislation so that creativity can thrive and the cabals of giant conglomerates that control the entertainment industry can’t keep watering down artistic works so that they appeal to the broadest audience possible for (perceived) maximum profitability.