I think we are in a fundamentally sound place when a nation of people all have a fair shot at accomplishing their dreams. Kickstarter is exactly that; one of the fair shots at doing something meaningful with your life; something that you can be proud of. It’s a website that allows the artistic or creative community to come together and pitch ideas that others may or may not be willing to support. It’s putting everything on the line and saying, “Here’s what I want to do, if you believe as I believe, help me accomplish what I’m setting out to do.” It’s boldness, it’s faith. It’s a lot of things rolled into a communal support group, but what is most appealing and most innovative about it, and the real essence to what this fundamental notion of a website is; it’s an idea.
If you know anything about Zappos.com, it’s probably the big deal about them offering $2000 to their trainees at the end of training to quit. What an offer, right? Well, less than one percent of trainees who make it through the program actually take it, and the reason for this is culture, according to the article Your Culture is Your Brand. Zappos doesn’t want to be about their product, or their customer service; they have bigger fish to fry so to speak. They want to be known for their wow experience in this age where a company could literally be consumed by a bigger and better company overnight.
Industry is changing, and it has become more competitive than ever. But the upside to that is that it is a whole lot easier to break into if you have the right vision and heading for your company. This is what Zappos describes as their culture. The encompassing whole; the big picture; the spectrum of their entirety that allows them to thrive in this changing industry.
Oh boy. What were those five stages of loss? Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Alienation, and Acceptance? Yes indeed, and I think Blockbusted, I mean Blockbuster, has rode rough shod through each and everyone of them.
Why? Truthfully, I believe it’s good ole Darwin’s – accompanied with Herbert Spencer who I believe actually coined the quotable phrase – theory about survival of the fittest. Blockbuster failed to adapt. Speaking of blockbusters, in the Dark Knight Rises, Anne Hathaway’s character Selina Kyle is quoted saying, “A storm is coming […] and when it hits, you and your friends are going to wonder how you could ever live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” Metaphorically, that storm devastated Blockbuster and now they’re sitting around wondering how they could be so foolish as to allow the innovators [i.e. Netflix and company] to scrape enough crumbs together to sink the Titanic.
The digital era is doing naughty things to the pretenders who held the thrown for far too long, and unfortunately, I believe that Blockbuster let this new technology slip right under them for someone else to snatch the rug. Okay, that’s enough of the analogies. Point blank, Blockbuster wasn’t ready for change when it came. I would argue that they had plenty of time to see a new age coming, and plenty of resources to beat Red Box to the punch, but chose not to. They figured that they could mosey about as they were and expect to compete in an industry that takes no prisoners.
Now Blockbuster’s CEO claims that the company is a lot like Apple, who actually ushered in a good deal of the digital technology in use. Apple has been in a similar predicament, so I’m going to give Blockbuster the benefit of the doubt here. Honestly, their situation looks a bit hopeless, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. So I’m going to root in their favor because I do believe that they still have a chance, despite the fact that they appear to be down and out. They need a miracle. Apple once needed a miracle and they created the iPod instead.
So maybe Blockbuster is simply buying their time, waiting to unveil some secret strategy that will blow the roof off of the movie biz. Hopefully they do. Because this world needs a few more companies like Apple who give us products like iPhone’s.
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When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose. Or at least that’s how Apple saw their situation post-iPod invention. “Hey, we’re facing multi-million dollar net losses, our stock is growing more and more worthless as we continue through this meeting, not very many people view a job at Apple as a positive career move; know what? Let’s put out one of the greatest products ever re-invented.” Yeah, that’s probably how the conversation went when the Apple enthusiasts began work on the iPod.
In 2012, we all know what that invention led too, iPhone’s and iPad’s most notably, but back then who would have thought that such a company could literally change the technological world with so immense an idea? People always view things from the present perspective, forgetting context, and thus fail to realize how enormous a business move it was for Apple to think so largely.
Today, that company [Apple] is known as one of the most innovative, revolutionary, and prosperous companies in operation – most of us remembering that brief point where Apple had more cash on hand that the U.S Government. And why? Because they know how to think big.
In the article How a Team at Apple Made the iPod Dream Reality the differences between goals and dreams are clarified and it is explained how Apple led the way in dreaming up a new era. Anyone reading this is a personal witness to this dreams implementation as Macbook’s, iMac’s, iPhone’s, etc., now reign as the most popular technological devices in the world. If you own a cell phone at all, I think it’s pretty safe to say that you know what an iPhone is at least, even if you don’t own one. I couldn’t pick out Samsung’s Galaxy whatever the hell it’s called from a random outdated phone that happened to be lying right next to it, because honestly, I have no idea what the damned thing looks like. Unless you’re a person who strives to know cell phones, in which case it better be your job or something or else you’re just weird, you probably couldn’t identify a lot of the cellphones on the market. But there is one that anyone could pick out blindfolded and gagged with a dungeon master yelling crude insults about violating you; the iPhone. In said scenario, you should probably use it to call for help.
The same goes for most iPod’s as compared to the miscellaneous mp3 players that those other people put out. Even if you don’t know the difference between a iPod Nano and an iPod Touch, you would be able to tell just by picking it up that it is in fact an iPod. How many other mp3’s are on the market that have that kind of notoriety? Very few my friend.
Now I’m a Apple advocate, for more reasons than they’re the name brand, so I know I’m a little biased. I’ve come to terms with that. After accepting that I am pro-Apple, I’ve actually found myself in fewer Mac vs. PC, iPhone vs. Droid debates because I just don’t care enough about the other product to get involved anymore. And if I do find myself in a debate, I often just quote a statistic unique to an Apple product, such as “the iPhone has sold over five million copies in its first weekend. What other phone did that?” and then leave it at that.
I think the real reason I’m so onboard with Apple is because of their vision though. They never put out a product and then call their work complete. It’s always “What’s next?” with them. I like that.
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I have a riddle for you: The man who made it sold it. The man who bought it, didn’t want it. The man who used it, didn’t know it. What was it?
Okay, bad riddle, but when it comes to marketing, generally speaking, you want your product to be appealing to the buyer so that they will want one for themselves unless, of course, you’re selling coffins – in which case, any old box will do. Right?
Anywho, a new trend has come along as an effective way of selling things that people don’t need, excluding coffins, in a way that makes them believe that they must have it. And that way is making it more human. Well, you’re probably thinking, “Cedric [I’m Cedric by the way, nice to meet you], how do I make a toaster more human?” Well, it’s simple really. You think of how humans probably view their toasters. What they want out of it. How they interact with it. What they probably say about it. Then you channel that into a marketing scheme that will make people feel like the commercial was directed directly at them because hey, we’ve all thought to ourselves, “Why doesn’t someone invent a clear toaster so you can see how toasted your toast is whilst it’s toasting, you feel me?” I digress.
In the article titled For Brands, Being Human is the New Black the humanistic propaganda that has emerged, most notably in the Old Spice, Domino’s, and Dos Equis Brands, is explored and discussed. Why is it effective? Why would a mega-company want to do it? I know that a political debate is ongoing about the question of whether or not business are in fact human, and entitled to human rights. I’ll leave that alone here in lieu of the presidential election that is upcoming.
But the point is that companies want to appear human because they’re marketing to humans. In the blockbuster movie Avatar, which just so happens to be the number one grossing movie of all time, director James Cameron was asked why the Avatar women had boobs. His answer: “because although they are alien people, this movie was made for human people.” Nail on the head answer.
It doesn’t really matter what you’re selling. If it doesn’t apply to people, why in the blue hell would people want to buy it? And the best way to appeal to people is to walk among them, as one of them. Because we all like a little familiarity in our lives. There’s nothing scarier than something that we haven’t seen before.
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Think about a massage parlor; personally, I’ve never been in one myself, so I’m speaking from a point of view of complete ignorance, which is often times a good thing; now, there’s probably some residual idea stuck somewhere in your head about the notions of happy endings, or you’re just completely unaware of social humor. Now chances are, it’s a rarity, not only because it’s illegal, but because it’s a terrible way to bring in business. Or is it?
Now, if we look at any other business a happy ending – no sexual puns intended here – would be a good thing. Anything that guarantees’ a positive customer experience could, in theory, be a happy ending, even if that is illegal. If you lead the alternate lifestyle, meaning that you make your means with business that isn’t strictly speaking legal, then you are going to want to guarantee that it was worth your customers time to take the risk. If you do play by the rules, you still want to use the same guiding principle because customer experience is what good business is all about.
Don’t believe me, in the article titled Start With Customer Experience we get a thesis, a title, and a video all supporting this point of view. But most importantly, the proponent of this theory is the late-great Steve Jobs, who is responding to a harsh challenge from a gentleman who claims Jobs knows nothing. If there was one thing Steve Jobs did know, it’s how to satisfy a customer. And be the head figure in not one, but two major companies in America (Apple being the obvious one, but Pixar being the latter), but that’s past the point. Apple’s fundamental rule is satisfying the customer and I’d say that the gentleman who claimed that Jobs didn’t know what he was saying was utterly, completely, and obliviously full of shit.
Of course, I’m looking from the perspective of hindsight, but the actual point of this whole shenanigans is best summed up in the words, “[…] you’ve got to start with customer experience and work your way backwards for technology.” And if you are not in the technological world, then product can serve as the replacement because a satisfied customer is ultimately your goal, otherwise you will have no customers, and thusly, no business. Or in other words, you have to give out happy endings to keep them coming back.
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Our society has become one massive trend. That may scare you, it may not. Unfortunately, most people see a trend of learning, clothing, entertainment, or lifestyle and either a) recognize that it is something they’ve seen before and criticize it for that fact or b) fail to recognize that they’re taking in or putting out vomited material that has already been eaten, badly digested and then forced back out through the mouths of unoriginals. Yeah, that just about sums up the world we live in.
Recently, however, journalism – and the study of such – has come under scrutiny as well, not only being a major producer in the lack of innovation, but a subject that teaches the very thing that most people shudder at: the story they’ve heard before. In the article This week’s 4 arguments against j-school, the topic of Journalism being an unnecessary school of higher education comes into the spotlight. As the title suggest, there are four major items under consideration as to why Journalism is a dying topic.
The first of these points is that “everyone is an editor in chief.” A valid point, seeing as how one of the basic courses that is required of collegiate studies is Composition, usually two course, specializing in grammar, style, structure, and a whole load of nonsense that most Journalists have to disregard anyways in order to cater to the Fourth grade reading level that a good percentage of Americans stagnate at. Editors are like table salt because everyone knows how to do it. Science majors, engineers, artists, you name it, they write it. So walking into a firm with the degree that says, “Hey, I got a piece of paper that says I can do … what any other college student can do” isn’t all that impressive. You need to be able to slap something on the desk of the interviewer that not only sets you apart, but gives you room to walk out of his office saying “screw yourself, I’ll go invent the next iPhone.”
Next is the ridiculous amount of money that you pour into learning how to regurgitate. Isn’t that all a Journalism school can ultimately teach you? How to throw up a story in a manner that makes it look like tomato soup instead of vomit? Regardless, you will walk out of the school with a surplus of debt, unless daddy is a big-timer who has connections, in which case, why did you major in Journalism? You could’ve majored in philosophy, written a few interesting blogs on “to be or not to be” and had daddy get you a job. But the majority, as I digress, will leave with 30,000 hanging above their head with the hopes that they have a style, which wasn’t taught in school by the way, that’ll get a few firms to give a damn.
And then there’s the issue of “journalism being a lot like Driver’s Ed.” Passing doesn’t make you a good driver. It’s more or less a slap on the back saying that if you wreck, oh well, get back in the car and drive again; this time don’t run the god damn red light. Writing is very similar. You’re going to roll a few stop signs here and there, bang up a few articles, completely miss a story or two, but you have to keep on keeping on (as cliche’s would say) and perseverance will ultimately be what justified you as a good story teller, not a degree that says you should be a good story teller.
And lastly, knowing how to write well is all good and well, but knowing how to read well is better. Most college kids don’t get that, because hey, who reads these days? If I go to sit on the stool with my iPad, I’m not going to be perusing through the NY Times app. No, I’m probably going to be throwing down in a game of angry birds while I continue to believe that I crap out decent stories. The ratio of good information that you take in is directly proportionate to the amount of good information you put out – and college doesn’t exactly create a desire to read. I’d actually go as far as to say that it makes you dread reading and makes you worse at it, because you learn to look for vocabulary words, things that will be on the test, and stupid stuff that lies in the periphery of what is actually being said.
Though education is always a good thing, journalism is a subject that is probably best taught. Because out of self-revelation, comes originality.
Imagine with me; I’m stuck in traffic. Bored, I get on my iPhone to check to see how far the stand-still bumper to bumper is going to last and end up reading an article that links me to a picture of the traffic I’m sitting in. The estimate is a 45 minute delay, so I’ve got plenty of time to kill. So I click the link of live coverage and watch video footage of the traffic I’m sitting in. Now let’s recap. I’m sitting in traffic whilst on my phone that is showing me live footage of the traffic I’m sitting in. Paradox? No, but it’s a very real indication of the speed in which digital information is made available.
In an article titled “Oregonian Memo Describe’s a Beat Reporters Digital Day,” the topic of transition is discussed. Transition from what? Print to digital? Perhaps, but the debate is much more complex than that. Even in Hollywood, the once beloved film stock, is making it’s quick change to predominance in digital footage. Why? Because a studio requires the footage to be reviewed after it is shot, which means that it must be canned and delivered, by mail, to the actual studio when it is shot on film stock, but when shot digital, it’s a few clicks away from delivery. This is the epitome of the digital transition.
The argument is not that the ways of old are now ineffective. By no means are the not getting the job done, but in this day and age where information is demanded quickly, briefly, and with as much accuracy as possible; digital is the most efficient means of pleasing everybody at once. So the memo is about getting a beat reporter to be aware that the media of old may not quite cut it anymore. Should it be abandoned? No. No, for the simple reason that a press like The Oregonian is rooted in print, and still maintains a heavy audience who expects to have a paper in their hands while they slowly (and I use slowly explicitly here) peruse through their fill of information. So a major newspaper should not alienate those who feel that they need to resist rapid change. After all, change is scary.
But to ignore social trends is a visceral betrayal of good business, and digital business is booming. So instead of transition, the word should probably be adaptation, for I do not think we are completely throwing out the paper press yet, but it is likely to happen when all the people who remember physically reading about 9/11 [I say that, because today is September 11th] kill over. By then, the world may be reading about the historic event on the iPad 67, with 3D Retinal-Brain Display.
But technology is getting more advanced and that fact cannot be ignored. Twitter, as mentioned in the article, is a quick means to relate snippets of information and refer people to a larger source. Facebook is a good way to take a general e-poll that may not be the most accurate, but will give a good idea of opinions held on the topic. The Internet as a whole is becoming this mass of connection that is doing what nothing else has been able to in the sense of connecting this once separate world. Personally, I am an advocate of traditional things, such as filming a movie with film, reading a newspaper, making a new friend in person, etc. But I recognize the convenience and efficiency in having a Facebook page, or using a digital camera; so thus, if it came down to it, I would use the digital era more. Tradition is usually something best kept when it doesn’t infringe on the betterment of society. Otherwise, it’s best practiced when you have the means to do so.
Otherwise, just tweet about it.
It’s funny, I remember sitting in Astronomy – for my Junior College Non-lab Science course – while my instructor lectured over the affects that the moon has on the Earth. Now, it is pretty common knowledge that we owe our seasonal weather to the position of the moon, etc., etc. It’s perhaps less common, but still common enough, knowledge that the word “month” comes from the word “moon,” and that originally the two words were the same – meaning that every new moon signified a new month. Of course, we honed our calendar for more exact purposes, but the point being that months are a direct result of the study of the moon and its affects. Well, to open up discussion, my Professor asked, “How many of you believe that the moon affects human behavior?”
One of the most interesting debates I’ve ever participated in stemmed from that simple question, but in summary, everyone in the class believed that they knew of others who were affected by it, but they themselves were not. We, as humans, are such hypocrites.
Little did I know that the topic would come up again later on in life, though with a slightly different spin on it.
In a fun, but enlightening, graph entitled Peak Break-Up Times on Facebook, like the title implies, the months in which the highest statistics of break ups are studied and identified according to Facebook listings.
Now, as a disclaimer, I personally believe that this trend of Facebook Relationships have a likelihood of failure, because what does a couple who is truly in love care about the officialness, if I can get away with that word, of “In a Relationship?”
Ergo, there are couples who are married on Facebook and have made it work, but I digress.
On this graph, we immediately look to Valentines Day, probably out of curiosity, or at least I did, and notice the beginning of the first spike. I guess it really isn’t the holiday of love. Climbing even higher in the conclusion of many relationships, we move into spring break. To me, this is actually a predictable mark, as we peregrinate further into an epoch of break ups. It seems, as the graph rightfully suggests, that “spring-cleaning” is about more than tidying up. After March, there is a massive fall off in the ending of relationships – meaning that everyone seems content with their other, or they’re just single – until we reach April Fool’s Day, where I’m sure a joke was either taken too seriously, or not seriously enough. WE move through the summer with pretty even tides, a few spikes here and there, but nothing to be excited about. But Lord help us as we move into the Winter Holidays: A spike bigger than anything on the graph thus far occurs. It’s a wonder that anybody on the planet is not single, according to the stats. “Too cruel” Christmas, as it’s called. Apparently, this is the pivotal moment where couples have to decide whether or not they want to buy a gift for their significant other. I once heard that if you dedicate through Christmas, you have to be willing to tough it out until Valentine’s Day, which if you recall, kickstarts the break up year.
I’m sure most of the world believes, “Oh the months – and subsequently the holidays – have nothing to do with my relationship,” if my Astronomy debate was any indication of how people view themselves in the context of nature. But as the old saying goes, “Men lie, women lie; numbers don’t.”
Link to the Source: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/peak-break-up-times-on-facebook/