Saturday, June 26, 2010

Advertising, Income, and Time


The first article shows what looks like a not-ideal trend in what content providers get from Google's AdSense. After showing what seems to be happening, Brett Prince writes this:
"...This isn't the greatest news, but it's meant to inform people of what's going on with the AdSense program rather than scare people off...."
(Brett Prince (June 25, 2010))
He suggests that folks with focused blogs or websites could consider making deals directly with advertisers. What he doesn't discuss, as far as I saw, was the additional effort - and time - it would take to manage advertising accounts.

Interesting, though.
A tip of the hat to BrettPrince, on Twitter, for the heads-up on his articles.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sense of Touch Affects Decision-Making? Maybe Not a Crazy Idea

When I read this article's headline and first paragraph, I was ready to dismiss the whole thing as silly science: the sort of thing that folks with letters after their name do sometimes, to increase their own status or push some political preference. Or maybe because they don't know any better.

Anyway: here's that headline, a link, a citation, and a few excerpts from that article

"Sense of Touch Shapes Snap Judgments"
Wired Science (June 25, 2010)

"Sitting in a hard chair can literally turn someone into a hardass. Holding a heavy clipboard leads to weighty decisions. Rubbing rough surfaces makes us prickly. So found researchers studying the interaction between physical touch and social cognition.

"The experiments included would-be car buyers who, when seated in a cushy chair, were less likely to drive a stiff bargain. The findings don't just suggest tricks for salesman, but may illuminate how our brains develop.

" 'The way people understand the world is through physical experiences. The first sense they develop is touch,' said study co-author Josh Ackerman, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology psychologist. As they grow up, those physical experiences shape how people conceptualize abstract, social experience, he said. 'Later on, you can do what we did - trigger different physical experiences, and produce changes in people's thoughts.'..."

"...Other research shows that the brain doesn't always have different structures for different functions, but often uses the same systems in a variety of ways. And given the importance of touch, it's easy for developing brains to use tactile associations - heaviness requires effort, roughness leads to friction, hard objects are inflexible - in understanding social situations.

" 'Those connections that people have, between physical experience and mental understanding, don't ever disappear,' said Ackerman...."

"...For those fearing exploitation by marketers, Ackerman noted that tactile suggestion's effects diminish when people pay attention. 'It's when you're distracted, thinking in a shallow fashion, that you get hit by these cues,' he said...."
The sort of research described in the article is in a relatively new field called embodied cognition.

The parts I left out describe - briefly - how the experiments were done. It seems to me that if the researchers were careful about procedures and crunching statistics - they're probably on to something here.

I was particularly impressed that they had a working hypothesis to explain the apparent link between our sense of touch, and how we're inclined to interpret social data.

Apart from the practical business angles - like 'no hard chairs for the clients' - there's some really interesting science going on here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Twitter's Fail Whale: Here's a Cake

Another morning, and I see that Twitter is moving along with business-as-usual, pouring resources into interesting new features; and alienating their users by failing to maintain their boring old infrastructure.

I don't have a window into the Twitter offices, but my guess is that it'll be fun while it lasts.

Let's face it, fixing an existing system, or doing due diligence for acquiring new servers or other infrastructure isn't all that much fun. In fact, it can be downright dull.

Which may explain Twitter's decision to keep the Fail Whale appearing so often.

Twitter's Fail Whale: Good News, Bad News

The Fail Whale's regular appearances isn't all bad news, though. Someone memorialized Twitter's inadequate service: by baking a cake.

(from, via Webuser, used w/o permission)

I don't see, in the two sources I read, that anyone's thought of marketing Fail Whale Cake - but if Twitter keeps ignoring its system and its users, I think there's a business opportunity here.

Think about it: Fail Whale parties, Fail Whale novelties.

It's got possibilities: as long as Twitter keeps shooting itself in the foot.

Related posts:More:
  • "Twitter Fail Whale cake tempts hungry Tweeters"
    Webuser (June 23, 2010)
    • "With the England v Slovenia game prompting a huge flood of tweets, the Twitter Fail Whale seems to have taken up permanent residence this afternoon...."
  • "Fail Whale Cake for Twitter Fans" (June 22, 2010)
    • "...The Twitter Fail Whale cake is created by Mariana Pugliese, a cake designer from Buenos Aires. From the images, we can see the famous whale designed by Yiying Lu a Chinese illustrator...."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Twitter is Over Capacity: Decisions?

"Twitter is over capacity." No big surprise there. I've been seeing the 'fail whale' quite a lot in recent weeks.

I've posted about this before.

I also try to give people and companies the benefit of the doubt. And Twitter has been growing a lot lately.

Just the same: I wish that someone in Twitter would decide to put more effort and resources into making their service work - and less into creating and introducing new, spiffy, nifty-keen features.

I use Twitter to communicate with other people. Groovy gadgets are tubular - or whatever - but useless, unless the basic service WORKS!

I'm not abandoning Twitter yet: but at this rate, I may have to. I simply don't have the time to wait around until the 'fail whale' goes away for a while.

That's not the sort of decision a service company wants to force its customers into.

Sort-0f-related posts:

"Gold Rush in the Gulf:" a Guest Post

Get the oil back and boost the economy of affected regions at the same time. Advertise an all hands on deck approach to the American people, enlist their help, and create a "gold rush in the gulf". BP has an opportunity to turn its stocks around, retain customer loyalty, and be a driving force in economic recovery in a time of devastation.

It's my humble understanding that it doesn't take a lot of talent to pick up oil. And there seems to be economical solutions for doing so. The problem with many of the solutions is that it takes an army of people to make a difference. Recruit an army, and pay them commission on each barrel of oil they collect.

With a bounty plan it would inspire entrepreneurs to set up EPA licensed distribution centers for collection materials. Those who want to collect must go through a training process for the specific area they will clean. Hotels would be booked solid, the tourist industry would be temporarily replaced with oil workers, and entire industries would pop up over night, thus restoring the real-estate market to a more manageable level.

No plan is a perfect plan but a plan that empowers people to help and gives them hope creates a win situation for everyone. It might be a sticky situation but let's not make it a hopeless one.

Aaron McWilliams
Executive Producer Oasis Productions

Related post:


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Well, That's Interesting: Disclosure Policies for Bloggers

I'm a blogger: obviously. I've never been paid to write a review of some product or service, but that could happen. In fact, I've been looking into how to set a paid-review situation up.

On the other hand, I couldn't be paid to write favorably - or unfavorably - about something.

That's where "disclosure" comes in.

As far as I know, "disclosure" like that isn't required in America yet: but there's a chance that it will. Either way, I think it's a good idea.

You have the Right to Remain Scuzzy

Outside of parts of the entertainment industry and some political subcultures, there doesn't seem to be much room for sleazy people. Not at the 'success' end of the pool, anyway. Anyway, I don't want to be the sort of disreputable person who'd take a few bucks to say good things about a shoddy product.

Part of that disinclination is what I suppose you could call my self-esteem. Part of it's simple self-interest. I plan to be around a few years from now, with folks reading what I write - and that's not going to happen if I earn a bad reputation.

So, even if it's legal (for now), I'm looking at developing a disclosure policy.

'I Read About it Online'

I found what appears to be a pretty good guide to developing a disclosure policy after reading a Tweet on Twitter, which led me to a blog post, which - - - the links in that chain are at the bottom of this post.

Here's a pretty good rationale for doing "disclosure:"
"...By disclosing the purpose of a blog, bloggers are letting readers know more about the information they'll be reviewing. Bloggers retain the freedom to write original content, as well as select which advertisers they will represent in exchange for gifts or money. Any ethical concerns will remain where they've always been - on the individual level. Because it is a blogger's freedom to select which topics will bring them payment, he/she remains responsible for his/her own reputation...."
Works for me. has a simple, one-size-didn't-fit-me, easy-to-use set of forms for generating a disclosure policy. Here's what I got, after filling it out:
This is not my disclosure policy!

It's a sample. Not a real policy.
This policy is valid from 19 June 2010

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact Brian H. Gill at P.O Box 93, Sauk Centre, Minnesota 56378.

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content may not always be identified. We are employed by or consult with: Oasis Productions. We blog about people to whom we are related. The most interesting such people are: Aaron McWilliams, Executive Producer at Oasis Productions. We have a financial interest in the following that are relevant to our blogging: quite a few businesses operating in the United States and around the world.

To get your own policy, go to has this good advice:
"We suggest that you place a text link marked 'Disclosure Policy' for your readers on the side or bottom bar of your blog in an area that can be easily located by your readers. This link should link to your disclosure policy on a separate page of your blog/site in a fashion similar to a privacy policy link."
Looks like pretty good advice. That boilerplate copy from their form has to be tweaked a bit, but it's a good starting point.

They've got a nifty couple of badges, too. Here's the smaller one:

A tip of the hat to "dragonblogger, on Twitter, for the heads-up on his post, which led to the rest.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Code for the Easy Griller

I've been (slowly) adding a new sort of ad to my Easy Griller website. No big deal: just using some of the white space at the top of one page, and making use of a couple of new features from AdSense.

That top-center ad will have company on other pages, as I go through the website, cleaning up and improving the pages.

Now that I look at the results, I may have goofed. Oh, well: it was a cosmetic error. No problem with function.

Twitter is Over Capacity: Again; Still

Updated (June 15, 2010)
A new PCWorld link, and a link added near end of this post. under "More:"
That's unfair: I've used Twitter quite often, and on average, it's functional more often than it's not.

However, the latest SNAFU with Twitter is big enough, and is lasting long enough, to make the mainstream news:
"Twitter users muted by maintenance woes"
The Sydney Morning Herald (June 15, 2010)

"Australian microbloggers were uncharacteristically mute on Twitter this afternoon owing to a fault that has taken down the site for almost two hours.

"The site has been displaying only its famous Fail Whale since 1.30 pm AEST after being restored very briefly at about 3 pm. In a status update Twitter said the fault had occurred as a result of maintenance work.

" 'We are experiencing site-wide availability issues due to scheduled maintenance. We're currently working to address the issues, it said.

"The latest outage follows a string of 'networking errors' reported by US news sources last week and includes no timeframe on when the site may be error-free again.

"It does however coincide with the launch of a new features today called Twitter Places that lets users highlight tweets around a given location...."
[emphasis mine]
I highlighted that last paragraph, because I think there's a lesson to be learned here.

If you're running a service business, and have grown to the point where you can't get the basic services to work correctly: THAT IS NOT A GOOD TIME TO ADD SOME FANCY NEW SERVICE.

The fancy new service may be something you like a whole lot, and something that your clients have said they wanted. But they probably want your basic service to work, too.

It Could be Worse

Take a hypothetical diaper cleaning service. It's been growing for several years, and now covers most of a country. The company has a keen new gimmick: lemon-scented 'thank you' notes, personalized with the client's name, with every delivery of fresh diapers.

Just one problem: Dirty diapers haven't been picked up regularly for the last year.

Think about it. What's more important: picking up the dirty diapers and processing them; or introducing lemon-scented, personalized notes to a system that's not working?

Sorry about the rant: I've had a frustrating night.

Vaguely-related posts:More:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gulf Oil Cleanup Idea: A Bounty on Oil

Here's an idea, for how to clean up that oil slick on the Gulf of Mexico. On British Petroleum's dime.

It's not mine, by the way. The idea, I mean.

Put a Bounty on Collected Oil

A whole lot of people live on and near the Gulf coast. Quite a few of them are looking for a way to make some extra money. BP has money.

Why not let BP pay people for petroleum glop that they've collected on the Gulf, and on the Gulf shores, where the stuff has run aground?

BP gets some of their oil back - plus some sand and seaweed; Locals get bounty money, which they spend - stimulating local economies; and we all get a somewhat-cleaner Gulf of Mexico.

Like I said, the idea's not mine: Thank Aaron McWilliams, the executive producer of Oasis Productions. Who 'just happens' to be my son-in-law.

Transparency, like they say these days.

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