This looks quite cool.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
In conjunction with his forthcoming novel, Vanished, author Joseph Finder produced a comic featuring his creation, The Cowl.
From his site: The Cowl is written by Brian Azzarello, one of the greats in the comics world and the author of 100 Bullets and the bestselling Joker, and drawn by talented new comic artist Benito Gallego. There are limited quantities of the comic book available in print. This is an exclusive offer for fans who pre-order VANISHED. (Click here) for a letter from Joe explaining the origin of The Cowl.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Neil Young has been promising — and working on — a release of his archival recordings with all sorts of extra material in a variety of formats.
Now, when it's ready for release, the economy is tough. Disposable income ain't what it used to be.
But Neil Young fans — like me — remain interested.
So canny old Neil provides an online demo. Nice.
No surprise. Neil knows business.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Learn how and why you need to build good will, help people and expand your enterprise.
BY RICHARD PACHTER
The Whuffie Factor. Tara Hunt. Crown Business. 312 pages.
According to Wikipedia, “Whuffie is the ephemeral, reputation-based currency of Cory Doctorow's science fiction novel, ‘Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.’ This book describes a post-scarcity economy: All the necessities (and most of the luxuries) of life are free for the taking. A person's current whuffie is instantly viewable to anyone, as everybody has a brain-implant giving them an interface with the Net.”
Though the term seems annoyingly cute, Tara Hunt’s eminently readable book does a terrific job of explaining this slightly counterintuitive notion, which might be expressed as “the more you give, the more you can get.”
Starting out as a blogger, Hunt slowly built some capital of her own as she connected and interacted with a bunch of online contacts. She assisted people with their businesses, causes and other concerns, and accumulated lots of virtual brownie points along the way. When she was hired to develop and grow a start-up firm’s Web initiative, the enterprise boomed and her reputation was established in the business sector. She subsequently partnered with a colleague, established a consultancy and was encouraged to write this book on her experiences and insights.
Facebook, Twitter, blogging and the rest are all ways to connect and interact, but if you spend any time with these media, you’ve undoubtedly encountered virtual or actual “friends” who repeatedly post what they’re doing with links for you to click that will take you where they want you to go to sample whatever delightful thing they’ve encountered or created. The problem, of course, is that there are always a few jokers who do this to excess and provide little that’s of value, except, of course, to them.
Hunt cracks the whip here and pointedly shows how this type of behavior adversely affects the value of an online persona and the attendant accumulation of whuffie. In fact, Hunt makes it pretty obvious as she offers an actual table of whuffie “deposits” and “withdrawals” (p. 158) to demonstrate how one can parlay their contributions into a major score — an introduction to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, for example.
In addition to the mechanics of the subject, Hunts takes it to a higher plane by discussing the notion of having a bigger purpose, rather than merely pursuing a mercenary course. And that’s the difference here; the time-honored sales tactic of “asking for the order” becomes outdated in this setting. Helping people achieve their goals while pursuing your own is the way to go.
That doesn’t mean that one cannot profit from this creation of good will. Far from it! One-way exchanges of value — products or services for cash — still exists; you don’t necessarily need to build a close personal relationship with Steve Jobs, for example, to enjoy your IPod Touch. But there are implicit promises made by companies that can serve as catalysts for commerce, and establishing connections with buyers and other stakeholders has emerged as an important element of commerce.
As “The Cluetrain Manifesto” authors stated nearly a decade ago, “marketing is a conversation.” Tara Hunt’s book can help businesses and individuals gently break the ice.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley fame) and Sparklehorse teamed up with film-maker David Lynch and an all-star cast of alt-contemporary artists for “Dark Night of the Soul,” a collection of moody cinematic songs.
It leaked earlier this month and is allegedly not going to be released by EMI because of "a dispute" but is now streaming on NPR here.
True or false, it's going to be sold by the artists with a blank CD-R (get it?).
Clever marketing, regardless.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
"Welcome to Macintosh" is the first documentary of its kind to mix history, criticism and an unapologetic revelry of all things Apple into a movie experience. The film explores the early years of Apple, the many challenges Apple has faced, and what the future may hold for the company and it's products. Ex-Apple employees, engineers and community members offer insight on the company's innovations, failures, cultural impact and what the future may be like beyond the reign of its co-founder Steve Jobs. Interviews include notable Apple personalities Andy Hertzfeld, co-creator of the original Macintosh, Guy Kawasaki, long time Mac evangelist, Leander Kahney, author of the book "Cult of Mac", Jim Reekes, creator of the Macintosh start-up sound and Ron Wayne, original co-founder of the Apple Computer Company.
More info (IMDB) here.
Official website here.
Playing at various film festival and available to purchase here or rent from the usual places.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The effective use of language in print, on the air and online can sell gadgets and unpopular policies, according to the authors of three recent books.
BY RICHARD PACHTER
Writing — how words are chosen and arranged to convey meaning and elicit a response — is a craft. Although most literate people can write to express themselves, recount experiences or persuade, in the world of business, the heavy lifting is often left to the professionals. Here are three new books by word mavens who share their wisdom and insights with the rest of us.
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters. Joseph Sugarman. John Wiley & Sons. 338 pages.
At the dawn of the tech age, in the seventies, Joe Sugarman revolutionized direct-response advertising for his company, JS&A. With a minimal amount of art and images, he hawked electronic gadgets and tchotchkes that were irresistibly described in several powerful paragraphs, creatively conceived and crafted by Sugarman himself.
Of course, when the CEO is also the chief creative executive and advertising copywriter, he had better be good or the company will soon be selling off its own furniture. Sugarman was very good, indeed, so he eventually conducted seminars on copywriting for other executives and business owners and charged a pretty penny for admission.
This book, which costs considerably less, is an excellent course for writers and others involved with using words to sell their products and services. There's ample discussion of the craft, reasons people buy things and other pertinent topics, all presented in an amiable and interesting manner. While it is certainly no surprise that the author is a fine writer of short text, he is also engaging, inspirational and energizing in a sustained context as well.
E-Mail Selling Techniques (That Really Work!). Stephan Schiffman. Adams Media. 160 pages.
I get tons of spam every day, as I'm sure you do, too, but as I have no need for pills to extend and sustain my extremities, nor interest in investment entreaties from widows of deposed Nigerian factotums, I generally dump the dross. But if I'm already engaged in an e-mail conversation or transaction with a client, vendor, colleague or prospect, good communication is essential.
Schiffman is a sales professional and applies his expertise in advising how to devise, target and create effective electronic messages. His slim manual offers a sharp and succinct discussion of the subject, including when not to use e-mail, which is good to know. He also touches on kindred media, including newsletters and blogging.
Though most effective salespeople are usually excellent communicators, they will surely benefit from Schiffman's insights and instructions.
Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear. Frank Luntz. Hyperion. 350 pages.
As a pollster and spin doctor for the Republican Party, Luntz did an effective job in providing linguistic cover for their programs, policies and actions over the past dozen years or so. He's the guy who renamed the estate tax, ''the death tax'' and was one of the brains behind Newt Gingrich's "Contract for America."
This expertise in repositioning and reframing the competition to make them sound evil or unpleasant and taking opposing practices and cloaking them in positive and unthreatening language will surely appeal to certain segments of the business world.
Probably without intending to, Luntz provides an effective self-indictment of the politics of dishonesty and obfuscation, though in a last-minute addition, he does offer some self-effacing honesty. The book's addendum, a post-game analysis of his party's recent electoral failures, blames the ineffective ways it communicated with the public, listing the Terri Schiavo matter, Hurricane Katrina and other issues, though not the Foley affair, which may have been the last straw.
But in one sentence, a ray of honesty pokes through, as Luntz writes, "Not everything about what happened to Republicans in 2006 can be explained away by bad language. There was Iraq.''
Monday, May 11, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
If you send e-mail to a bunch of people, it's read individually, not together by a group, right? So use a singular salutation and not a plural one — a name, preferably. (Remember mail-merge?)
I'm not offended when I see "Hey, Everybody!" but as a marketer, I'm disappointed by the failure to communicate one-to-one.
Personal is always more immediate and powerful.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Here's a more complete synopsis than previously available, found here:
"Last Night in Twisted River is the newest novel — John Irving’s twelfth — from one of the best-known and best-loved authors in the English language. In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable’s girlfriend for a bear. Both the twelve-year-old and his father become fugitives, forced to run from Coos County — to Boston, to southern Vermont, to Toronto — pursued by the implacable constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them.
In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted River depicts the recent half-century in the United States as 'a living replica of Coos County, where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course.' From the novel’s taut opening sentence — 'The young Canadian, who could not have been more than fifteen, had hesitated too long' — to its elegiac final chapter, Last Night in Twisted River is written with the historical authenticity and emotional authority of The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. It is also as violent and disturbing a story as John Irving’s breakthrough bestseller, The World According to Garp.
What further distinguishes Last Night in Twisted River is the author’s unmistakable voice — the inimitable voice of an accomplished storyteller. Near the end of this moving novel, John Irving writes: 'We don’t always have a choice how we get to know one another.
Sometimes, people fall into our lives cleanly — as if out of the sky, or as if there were a direct flight from Heaven to Earth — the same sudden way we lose people, who once seemed they would always be part of our lives.'”
And here's an interesting chart from Irving's Wikipedia entry, detailing the author's recurring themes.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Three writers reflect on what they've learned in life and work.
BY RICHARD PACHTER
Hindsight isn't really 20-20. It's selective and often squints through rose-colored glasses.
When we consider things we experienced, people we knew and what we learned, it's a neat fillet, with skin, guts, bones and gristle removed — or the reverse, with the good parts excised, especially if it was a painful experience. Though we may wish that we knew then what we know now, would we listen? (I wouldn't.)
Here are three excellent attempts to glean wisdom from the past and distill it into lessons for the present and future.
Rules of Thumb: 32 Principles for Winning at Business without Losing Your Self. Alan M. Webber. HarperBusiness. 288 pages.
Alan Webber is a popular and well-traveled business writer with a light touch and a whip-smart intellect. He has a playful sense of humor and asks very good questions. Despite its title, this book is less a collection of ''rules of thumb'' (i.e. common wisdom) than a series of anecdotes, reflections and lessons. Each is summed up with a statement that Webber recorded on a 3x5 card, embodying the essence of the experience. For example, when he left his editorial position at the Harvard Business Review to co-found Fast Company, his daughter asked if the family was ''going poor.'' Webber talks about the thinking that preceded his move, attaching the rule, ''Failure isn't failing. Failure is failing to try.'' Who would argue with that?
What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Finding Your Place in the World. Tina Seelig. HarperOne. 208 pages.
Seelig's book is a birthday present to her 20-year-old son, hence the title, another exercise in anecdotes and reflection. She is a sharp observer and a gentle and thoughtful writer. Must be a hell of a classroom teacher, too, based on some of the assignments she recounts herein. Recollections of her own circuitous career path, along with observations of behavior of friends, family, students and colleagues are fertile ground for her. I especially liked the short but poignant tale of the person who everyone knew was leaving but quit her job at a critical juncture and threw her team into disarray. It's a great illustration of the importance of timing and how ''when'' is often more important than ''what'' and "how.'"
Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity. Hugh MacLeod. Portfolio. 176 pages.
MacLeod is an advertising copywriter and blogger (http://www.gapingvoid.com) whose claim to fame and fortune involves crude but hilariously brilliant cartoons drawn on the back of business cards. I admit that the title of his book drew me in, as it's a sentiment I heartily embrace but rarely follow.
The illustrated and illuminated musings herein are wise, rude and useful. It's also pretty current. For example, he writes: "Your job is probably worth 50 percent what it was in real terms 10 years ago. And who knows? It may very well not exist in five to 10 years. We all saw the traditional biz model in my industry, advertising, start going down the tubes 10 years or so ago. Our first reaction was 'work harder.' It didn't work. People got shafted in the thousands. ... In order to navigate The New Realities you have to be creative -- not just within your particular profession, but in everything. Your way of looking at the world will need to become ever more fertile and original. And this isn't just true for artists, writers, techies, Creative Directors and CEOs; this is true for everybody. Janitors, receptionists and bus drivers, too. The game has just been ratcheted up a notch.''