GM Chairman & CEO starts blogging on Fastlane

Something not often mentioned when companies decide if it’s worth the effort to start up a corporate blog is the advantages of having a well-established audience when you need one. The argument I normally trot out in these cases is that of Kryptonite. Imagine if those guys had a blog up and running when the Bic Pen story broke – they would have had a platform to repond and would have had tools such as Trackbacks that would have helped draw attention to their response.

I recall Shel Holtz talking about all corporate sites having a "dark link" which is a blank area on their home page that could be lit up with a link to an emergency page in the case of a crisis that needed a rapid respone. The emergency version of this page could quickly be redirected to without calling in the web publishing staff and it would allow the company to quickly get their response out in times of crisis.

I view corporate blogs as very much the same kind of investment. In some respects, building up a readership in advance and a place to go for the "straight dope" is insurance for when the chips are  down and you need to get people listening to you and not the spinning of pundit and the press. We’re seeing this now with the first post by GM Chairman & CEO Richard Wagoner on the GM Blog, Fastlane.  In it, he seeks to cut through some of the noise around GM’s recent earnings announcement and rally dealers, employees, and customers on a brighter future. As a side benefit, in the comments area, there is some debate about the usefulness of a possible partnership with Nissan/Renault. It’s refreshing to hear a CEO speak this way and I hope the unvarnished feedback equally refreshing.

Office is a first person shoot ’em up

answwerholicsDanny Sullivan takes a look at the growth of and compares it to other successful social media properties.  

If it were a computer game, Wikipedia would be a strategy game in which you take a long view to win a campaign or goal. Yahoo Answers is a first-person shoot-’em-up. Questions appear, and as soon as one is shot down with an answer, it’s on to the next one.

Some of the top players on the leaderboard spend up to 15 hours/day on the site, it’s definitely addictive. There’s even a Yahoo Group dedicated to kicking the habit.

Yet another way to monetize your audience

The NY Times writes about how TiVo is getting into the audience research business. It’s inevitable really and the fact that they have a VP of Audience Research doesn’t suprise me. The usage behavior that they can dig through can reveal all sorts of trends that would be of interest to any market researcher.

For example, one study for a consumer packaged goods company, which Mr. Juenger declined to identify, found that commercials featuring animal characters, when shown on animal-related programs, were skipped less often than usual.

They already make available a running tally of the most recorded shows and have the technology to look at the most replayed ads of the Super Bowl. As more and more TiVo devices connect to internet broadband connections to take advantage of the free extra services, the ability of TiVo to pull in usage data from multiple sources of media will present a challenge to more traditional, TV-centric services.


Why I cancelled my Bank of America Visa card

Despite the fact that I’ve got more pieces of plastic than I really need it really irks me that in order to activate the new card B of A sent me I have to listen to a two-minute spiel about why I really should consider signing up for a credit protection service.

No option to <press #> to opt out or even skip the message. I had to listen to two messages (the second slightly more shill than the first) in their entirety. Only after the lecture on dangers of identity theft could I proceed and activate my new card.

I put my trust in a bank to protect my identity in the first place. Something just doesn’t sit right with this very same bank saying “it would be a good idea” if I signed up for their service just in case. It smacks of protection money.

Credit is due to the B of A customer service rep though. He was nice enough to cancel my account without too much hassle (unlike other organizations) and when I suggested they go easy on the marketing messages in the future, he sighed with a knowing verbal wink.


Belkin Wi-Fi Phone

Belkin has announced a wi-fi phone for Skype. No need to attach anything to your computer, this device will talk directly to a broadband wi-fi connection, any connection. Skype software comes pre-loaded.

Now you can make calls from a handset from any open hotspot.

If you already have a Skype account, it’ll pull in your contact list from your account the first time it connects.

It supports WEP, WPA, and WPA2 with PSK encryption but doesn’t support browser-based authentication so public hotspots that require you to login to a web page such as hotels are out.

The phone will be on sale next month for $179 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon. 

Current Events

flickr coloring contest

flickr was down yesterday so they held a coloring contest.

Not thinking about your customer, why most Knowledge Management initiatives are DOA

Enterprise software and corporate IT departments often forget about their real customers. Most KM initiatives look better on paper than in practice. Case and point below:

I recently saw an example of that same top-down approach applied to sharing resumes internally at a large firm. Instead of going to a flexible folksonomy orientated Web 2.0 approach, such as using People Blogs, the firm asked each of it employees to fill out a 700 question form, which attempted to categorize every skill a person could possibly have. Needless to say, the employees have not filled out the forms.

– emphasis mine, found on Innovation Creators


Happy Friday – Good Reading

I’ve been busy so have fallen behind on my reading. Scanning through some older posts in my reader I ran across these two excellent posts by some fellow Yahoo’s that make me proud to work here. Enjoy!

Searching for what doesn’t exist – Bradley Horowitz talks about Existing search engines point you to the best match on pages that exist. Answers is the first service that coaxes knowledge from the collective smarts of Yahoo’s pool of half a billion monthly users.

Beat to death with a Rosetta Stone I’m not a coder but JR Conlin’s comparison of the different programming languages is so well written (an hilarious) that I can really appreciate what it’s like to be one.

The fashion of business – Matt McAlister writes that compared to the British and Japanese, Californians actually do have a sense of style, just not in clothes. “Americans may not be dressed as smartly as Europeans, but their business sense is acutely tuned to fashion in the markets in a way that is still unmatched around the world.”

digg vs.nytimes

The share of page impressions for the NY Times was 19 times greater than for Digg. . . While Digg is certainly growing in popularity, particularly with the blogosphere set, and its move into more news categories is a good one, it is still an early-adopter site and will take some time to gain traction with mainstream internet users.

Hitwise on digg &

The Power of the Web

TechCrunch covers, a "group buying" site based in China,

co-ordinate large numbers of consumers interested in buying the same products. People agree on a place and time to meet, then enter the store in crowds of up to 500 people at once. The crowds tell the store owners that they all want to buy, say a TV or a stereo, but everyone wants 10 to 30% off the retail price.

I remember Stewart Brand writing about this concept being applied to groups of people interested in buying the same model car in his book about the MIT Media Lab.