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August 2007 Archives

August 8, 2007

Giants Fantasy Camp

While most of the world thought the big news out of baseball, and San Francisco specifically, was Barry Bonds overtaking Hank Aaron in the all-time home-run race, here at Marksonland, we know that the real baseball action actually took place at AT&T Park today, the day after Barry's record-breaker. That's when my buddy JT and I had a chance to take the field to participate in the Bank of America fantasy baseball camp.

This is the second time I've had a chance to participate in this event, and both times it has been a ton of fun. From start to finish it is a class event. The day begins by getting each participant properly suited up - handing out authentic Giants jersey's and caps to wear on the field (and keep as souvenirs). After that, each player is placed in one of three spots - infield, outfield and the batting cage. In the infield and outfield spots you shag flies and grounders hit to you by former Giants players. But of course the real action is at the batting cage, where you get to take a few batting practice cuts from the machine: A couple of notes:

1. I managed to plunk a couple of shots into the seats;

2. Sadly, those seats would be the ones in the left field foul area.

3. I only whiffed on one pitch (which, btw, were coming in at 65-70 MPH) - no too shabby.

4. My best "shot" was a fly ball to left field that didn't even make the warning track - a/k/a a can of corn.

Oh well, so no future as a major leaguer a head of me. What a fun day anyway. A few shots of batting and fielding practice below:

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August 14, 2007

So Much for Traditional Marketing

An interesting story in today's NYTimes on the NBC - iVillage acquisition. Particularly interesting to me is the fact that NBC admits it's dogfood doesn't taste so good:

"Most embarrassing, an effort to increase traffic by introducing a syndicated television program, iVillage Live, resulted in a month-to-month drop in visitors to the iVillage Web site."

And it goes on:

“You assume in the beginning that a mention on the Today show will drive tremendous traffic, but it’s not that easy...."

We'll see if some great NY Times PR works better for iVillage....

August 17, 2007

Ted From Top Gun Motors Really Likes His job

All i can say is...wow - and, if staged (which is likely), a pretty good job...

August 20, 2007

Barred in Zimbabwe - Too Good a Player

Keith pointed me to this post on the Topix blog where Topix.net (but not Topix.com, curiously) has been labeled a "Hostile Website" by the Zimbabwe government and thus blacklisted in the country. Topix, along with the other listed sites, is considered "Hostile" because of its apparent "long history of falsifying information on the issues unfolding in Zimbabwe and attack[ing] individual Zanu PF members on baseless accusations..."

Forgetting the irony of banning a site that is comprised solely of scraped content and UGC for having a history of falsifying information, to this news I say kudos Topix. If a government, any government, wants to ban you, it means you're having an impact. And the key ingredient to having an impact is having an audience. Power to the people and all that of course, but really, congrats to the company on growing its audience - even in a pretty place pretty far from Palo Alto - where it can have impact.

Here's hoping some more countries follow suit....

August 27, 2007

Brand or Standards?

Search Engine Land pointed me to an interesting study on user behavior vis-a-vis Google search results. The study asked 22 Cornell students to use Google to research 10 pre-defined questions such as "find the homepage of Michael Jordan, the statistician." Users were given the questions, but were not told what queries to use/ make.

The study tracked the user's interaction with the Google results, both active (i.e. clicks) and passive (i.e. eye-tracking) and the results were pretty interesting. It turns out that where a result was ranked by Google was actually the most valued "feature" of a search result, even more important than the relevance of the accompanying snippet. In other words, even if a particular search result included a snippet that was more "relevant" to the user's specific query, it didn't matter. Users are more apt to click on the higher ranked results, regardless of the relevance of the snippet.

I guess one interpretation of this study could be that users trust the Google algorithm more than they trust themselves/ what they see. If true, that would be a real testament to the Google brand. Most of the time in "taste tests" branded products are preferable to non-branded products. That's the power of brands in general. But this would actually have a brand not only trumping a competitor, but the consumers judgement itself. Pretty interesting.

But maybe its something else. The study notes at its beginning that it limited users to using Google for its research. But what if they didn't? What if Yahoo, MSN, Ask, etc. were brought into the equation. Would the results of the study be the same? My guess is yes. If so, what would that tell us then?

In my mind it is further evidence that the standards for search results are set. Users have an expectation of how search results are going to be presented and place value in that presentation. It's not that they trust what Google is telling them is the most relevant result vs. what another brand would say, its that the standard for search result is a ranked list with the most relevant being higher up. The content of that list will presumably vary from brand to brand, and ultimately lead to the consumers search engine of choice, but the presentation is now a standard.

So two questions: (i) if you are competing in the search world, is it possible to differentiate your product through presentation? and (ii) if your product is this does it stand a chance?

August 31, 2007

The Silver Anniversary of Rich's Virus

A happy anniversary to Rich, for it was 25 years ago that he invented and unleashed on the world the very first computer virus. Rightfully, the press has noticed this and picked up on it. For those interested, here's some coverage.

Being a fellow Mt. Lebanon HS grad, I remember that computer room where he, my brother and the rest of the gang used to hang out. Unfortunately, my knowledge of technology at that time consisted of taking a Basic programming class (from Mrs. Murray) and playing games on my brother's TRS-80. Now my knowledge extends all the way to mastering the Moveable Type platform ;).

Anyway, happy anniversary and congratulations to Rich. One thing the article doesn't note though: while the Elk Cloner may be impressive (especially for the time), it pales in comparison to his many accomplishments since then!

About August 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Marksonland in August 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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