How We Will Wave

Here's the question. I was watching this video:

... and I was captivated by the part where he says "this is probably only 3.5% of what Wave could do." The fact is the official Wave interface is just one front end to the engine - there are completely open APIs underneath Wave that we could all interface with in different ways - via blogs, IM, mobile, who knows. Think of how we used to use Twitter through web, and while many still do, others (like me) have taken off to advanced interfaces like TweetDeck or Seesmic.

So stretch your brain for a bit - the question might not be how are we gonna use Google Wave, but what will it enable?

  • Collaborative online newspapers
  • Student crowdsourced notes for a course
  • The first collaborative comic book
  • Owners' Manuals written by the owners, as they use the product
  • Community based support by Wave, rather than by message board or email

And think even further - if they get the media managment systems worked out, we could be mixing music via wave (like http://www.indabamusic.com/), or designing art via wave, or testing a beta product through Wave (while it's in beta!). The mind boggles.

(Big nod to the latest episode of This Week in Google, which provided some of these ideas and further sparked this concept for me!)



Trimming. Edging. Weed-whacking. Call it what you will - this has basically been the bane of my lawn-work existence ever since I got $20 from Dad for doing the yard on my own. Why is it that when it's time to evaluate whether you're ready to do the Youth Group fundraiser thing and mow someone else's lawn, the question is "can you edge with a weed-whacker?" Sure, it's tricky, but is this the ultimate measure of landscaping ability?

But I digress. My trusty instrument in the weed-whacking world is this one you see here - that's right, a GAS trimmer. And no, I don't mind it. In fact, I'll gladly trade the foibles of a two-stroke engine for having to lug around an extension cord capable of reaching Utah. Yes, it takes some work, and no, it doesn't always start immediately. But it's cordless, powerful, and ultimately reliable. But the agony starts near the business end of this thing: the ever popular "bump head" for advancing more weed-whacking line.

Now, I'm fairly good with things mechanical. I even understand how this bump head is supposed to work. I can wind the line on it properly, and I can get it to work... ONCE. I'm convinced this thing was invented mainly to increase the level of cursing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, because it CERTAINLY wasn't a way to make the process of trimming more efficient or speedy. I've literally broken the handle on this thing slamming the head into the ground trying to get a millimeter of line to spit out. So if you're like me on this issue, you need to find what I have: the Fast Loader.

This thing is the God-send of landscaping. Instead of working with a whole spool of weed-whacking line, you're using individual 10" pieces. Push one into each cam-gripper system, and you're off to the races. Burn one up on a particularly stubborn flora? Pop it out, put another one in. Bullet-to-the-brain simple, and doesn't slow you down a bit.

Now the catch is how to get those individual pieces of trimming line. Sure, you can buy them - they sell little tubes of about 10-12 pieces each, but you pay for the pre-cut material. Just like a chicken breasts in a bag, you're paying a markup for not starting with the whole yourself. And while that may be a fine trade on your favorite poultry, don't bother here. Just buy a regular ol' line of weed-whacking line and a utility knife. Spend 5 minutes cutting your own 10-12 pieces of line before you start and you've saved yourself a lot of money. And it'll be smooth sailing through the rest of your yard, on your way to a beautifully manicured suburban masterpiece.


The 25 Random Things.

There are 25 things here. About me. Yes, I've taken the plunge, no matter what the NYT may say.

  1. I've read your 25 things. Yes, even if you didn't tag me. You tagged enough of my friends that it popped right up on my "Home" feed, and what can I say, I'd like to know more about you.
  2. That New York Times article makes it sound like doing this will give away the last vestiges of your privacy. But I don't see it that way - I live in this online world, and I even make a living from it. I'd much rather be a part of the conversation than sitting out because of fear. That being said, you can't have my SSN.
  3. I love slippers. I wear them all the time when I'm home, and even quite a bit while I'm out - except for the hottest days of Summer. I choose very shoe-like slippers, so I can easily get away with wearing them outside. Can't stand it when my feet get cold.
  4. I'm really behind on those LinkedIn recommendations people have asked of me. I'll get there, guys, I promise!
  5. I think my wife and son are made of pure, liquid amazing.
  6. I'm fascinated with the sociology of the mall Play Place, especially since I spend more time there these days. All of those kids manage to (mostly) play well together despite being different ages, races, upbringings, shapes and sizes. A lesson for us all.
  7. I have immense respect for other religions. Even as a Protestant Christian, I think you'd have to be a fool not to see the beauty in others' faiths. I hope some day I can have the discipline of a Muslim, the mental clarity of a Zen Buddhist, and the understanding of God's grandeur like a Catholic.
  8. I was up to 14 things before I had to restart my browser. Now I've gotta remember what those were, or come up with something better. Stink.
  9. I don't know what's so bad about Target clothes. Sure, they're not the most expensive stuff in the world, but I think they do a fine job.
  10. I often love bands and singers that have been around a long time, and I usually like their late-career work more than the original stuff. For example, you've gotta be insane if you can't love The Eagles' "Hell Freezes Over", or Fleetwood Mac's greatest hits album from when they got back together, or even some recent Kris Kristofferson.
  11. I've recently rediscovered The New Yorker as an excellent source of some insightful reads. Originally started checking them out for Malcolm Gladwell's essays.
  12. Speaking of Gladwell, I'm beginning to think the white guy 'fro might be coming back.
  13. There are some movies in this world that, even though I know they're going to suck, I almost feel honor-bound to see.
  14. I think we should all just stop the insanity and just call tomatoes a vegetable. I know they're not - strictly speaking, they're a fruit - but come ON. You're not gonna put tomatoes in your Fruit Salad, are you?
  15. I told my mother-in-law that my brand new HDTV could not show anything playing from a VCR. Because it would cry in agony.
  16. I'm not perfectly certain, but I think there might actually be TWO works of man inspired by God: The Bible and Dr Pepper.
  17. I don't wanna be a superhero, I wanna be a JEDI. There's a difference.
  18. My wife is totally addicted to anime and manga. Which I'm totally on board with, because those are MUCH better than soap operas and reality TV.
  19. I'm a Sudoku addict. I usually have a puzzle I'm working on in my notebook I take to meetings at work. And yes, I must admit some times that I'm looking at the numbers more than the notes.
  20. I think some parts of Texas are as gorgeous as anywhere else on Earth.
  21. Polarizing foods I actually like: cilantro, bleu cheese, and lima beans. Never have liked green beans, though - ever since I was a baby.
  22. I couldn't work at an office that didn't let me wear jeans whever I wanted to. I'm all about dressing nice for clients and interviews, and I dont' even wear jeans every day. I just want the option.
  23. I'm not putting hyperlinks in these later tidbits because I'm getting lazy and I'm ready to finish this thing.
  24. I'm a David Letterman/Craig Ferguson kinda guy. And I LOVED Craig Killborn.
  25. I think 25 is the new 10.


ESSAY: Meme Marketing

Just finished the piece below - not for any writing contest this time, just wanted to write this up. Let me know if you enjoy it or show it to others! -E


The Marketer is caught in a unique paradox: we want to give our clients the benefit of our years of experience; countless research studies; blood-with-sweat late-night wordsmithing; messages honed with scalpel-fine sharpness. We want our clients to tangibly feel the incredible effects of our work as near as a heart palpitation with a Memorex-like impact. We want them to squeeze every positive adjective (even the made-up ones) into that glowing email to us the day after the campaign launches - we want them to believe that we are capable of nothing less than MAGIC.

Just one problem: we don't want them to see the Man Behind The Curtain. Marketers NEED that level of mystery in their work, because it's the element that keeps Clients coming back time and time again. We don't always want to show them how to fish, we just want to keep them happy with lots of halibut and looking to us for more. And somewhere between the Words and the Wizardry, we came up with this new spell that would keep the Client enraptured for the new Millennium: Viral Marketing.

It all started when somewhere between a YouTube video and a PowerPoint slide we saw something happening. Something we'd never seen before. Consumers - our audience - were taking our commercials, our ideas, our concepts and passing them around in these new "social networks." It was almost unfair. Here we had just produced a :30 special effects product placement explosion, or had just gotten our client on the most watched morning show in the country, and now some person named DrPepperLvr156 was passing out our Moment in an "unauthorized" channel. Friends and acquaintances and cool-mongers were commenting by the hundreds, all without us seeing a dime of commission or even a tiny trophy. Then the remixes and mash-ups started appearing, and our beautiful flower of a concept had officially left the walled garden we'd created for it: now it was fighting for its life in the social equivalent of the Amazon rainforest.

Some Marketers, seeing this disaster of diversity sought to game the system, to insert a seemingly “natural” or “amateur” idea into this ecosystem, hoping to entice unwitting consumers into passing on an idea that has a hidden trap door: a dotted-line connection back to a brand and back to a purchase. After all, if a low-budget film gets millions of views, the ROI is motivation enough - even if the purchase-to-conversion rate is microscopic. They thought these “great” ideas would be passed on almost involuntarily, with the same uncontrollable network effects of… a virus.

It worked the first few times – successfully, even. Network effects were leveraged, and marketers got to sample the intoxicating drug of media impressions that nobody paid for. But soon, these gifts from the Community came fewer and further between as the consumer evolved a new level of brand-detection skill. This formerly fertile soil had become effectively inoculated against our efforts, and would only let the “genuine article” take root and thrive. The spread and growth potential were still there, but it seemed like we’d lost the chance to do anything in this space that still met a Client’s bottom line. Marketers today really have to unpack what we thought was viral marketing to reach down to its true potential and see that self-sustaining campaign effect once again. Our first strategies for leveraging this concept were really based on the symptoms of the Idea Virus, crafted without understanding how it works – its true DNA.

Viruses (of any sort) are built with one goal in mind: to reproduce. When the virus is a cold, all we notice is how bad we feel and how the tissue boxes stack up. But for the virus, your misery is the result of successfully finding a fertile environment, gaining a foothold, and reproducing like crazy. Every marketing campaign designed to “go viral” has to do the same things as your favorite illness AND turn an ROI – connecting those people reached to a purchase. It’s not impossible, but it’s not near as accidental anymore. In fact, great work in this space isn’t just Viral Marketing. It’s Meme Marketing.

Memes are the ideas, symbols or practices that naturally spread throughout a culture. From the Greek word for “mimic,” these thoughts are the things that just seem to “catch on” – whether it’s coffee houses, doing “The Wave” at a sports event, or tightrolling your jeans back in the ‘80s. In a 2007 interview with Spike Jones, hip-hop sensation Kanye West said “What the hula hoop was to America, I want my music, my pieces of art to be that.” This is the new ground an idea competes on – whether a song, a toy, or a marketing campaign.

Memes that make it resonate for a specific audience. If the new currency of social media is recognition, your concept – metaphorically – needs to be money. Something that members of this Community you’re targeting will want to pass around, because it elevates their own status within that Community. When one member can unearth or create something that others within the Community want to copy, they’ve expanded their influence. If that idea belongs to your Client, then you’ve successfully meshed their brand with that Community.

Memes that make it create a connection. It’s not just about being the loudest car commercial on TV, or the most offensive idea imagined. These things can grab attention, but they’re ignored just as quickly. Great memes are noticeable, memorable, AND actionable. Some of the best solve a problem – whether practical or just a cognitive dissonance. The arch, for example, spread across the world as an engineering meme because it solved the problem of how to span long distances efficiently. But it was also something easy to see, remember, and put into practice when you got back home.

Memes that make it are easy to reproduce. YouTube isn’t the #1 source of streaming media because they’re technologically advanced. In fact, many other sites use a more advanced codec or provide more features. Their fulcrum is in that little box of code labeled “embed.” I can take a video clip and replicate the entire viewing experience on my blog or Facebook or MySpace. And in doing so, I’ve validated that meme, because the people watching it on my blog know ME. If they want to pass on the meme in the same way, all they have to do is copy-paste.

Meme marketing is an engineered idea infection. It’s difficult, rare, and powerful. But most importantly, it’s deliberate. The next generation of successful marketers will be able to craft these memes, seed them into a receptive Community, and they’ll watch them spread like… a virus.