Portishead's Dummy in "The 10 Best 33 1/3 Books"

I'm delighted and humbled that Stephen Burt, writing in Slate, identified Portishead's Dummy as one of "The 10 Best 33⅓ Books" – "Worth reading even if you don’t care about the music."

The list accompanies a longer piece about his experience reading the entire series: "I Read 93 Books About Pop Albums: Here’s what I learned."

Pinterest: the database of intentions

This was everywhere last week, but in case you missed it, Alexis Madrigal's Atlantic interview with Pinterest co-founder Evan Stone is a great read, particularly if you buy into Benedict Evan's notion that we're in the pre-pagerank phase of mobile internet usage.

My contention is that Pinterest is one of the four ways that people find things on the Internet. The default, of course, is Googling (or—fine, Microsoft—Binging). For real-time searches, there is Twitter. For people or entities, there's Facebook. But if what you want to find are things, objects, then Pinterest is the way to go.

They cover a lot of topics, including about Pinterest's product differentiation; the balance of machine learning versus highly distributed editorial curation; deferring obvious revenue models as the value to consumers is still taking shape; and much more.

Ignore social media marketing*

* with some exceptions.

A great post from Jason Stoddard about the impact of traditional media coverage, with some very entertaining (and potentially controversial, in many circles) digressions on social media marketing, specifically:

  • If you’re an entertainment company, social marketing is the greatest thing since sliced cheese. It should absolutely be front and center in your plans. Every entertainment social media program we did produced 10-100x the results of an equivalent investment in conventional media
  • If you’re not an entertainment company, social marketing is really, really dumb—easily the biggest time-sink and resource-eater out there, with returns 1/10 to 1/100 of an equivalent investment in conventional media

And...

Sorry, guys. People are on Facebook to talk to friends. Not shills.
They’re watching YouTube for funny cat videos, not smooth-talking tours of your factory set to some hip music.
They’re on Twitter to get celebrity tweets.
Et cetera. If you want to talk to your prospects effectively:
  1. Clearly communicate the unique benefits of your products on a good, easy-to-use website.
  2. Have a memorable brand.
  3. Provide fast responses to any inquiries.
  4. Take care of customer service before it spreads to Facebook.
  5. Make sure the press (online and off) know when you have something new and cool, but otherwise stay out of their face.
  6. Invest carefully in measurable marketing vehicles such as Adwords, reinvest in successful vehicles and revise or discontinue underperforming ones.
  7. Continue improving your product so someone doesn’t have a clear, unique benefit over you before you know it.
And that is that. Social media will take care of itself, at that point.
“But wait, does that mean we can pretty much ignore social media?” you ask.
To be blunt: yes.
This "ignore social media" advice is even more relevant if you are a business-to-business company—that is, selling products or services to businesses. Do not spend a single second on social media. Concentrate on the 7 points above. Don’t dismiss 1 and 2 because you’re B2B. And you’re done.

It's a great piece and worth a full read.

Via Marco Arment.

Brand management and technology

Essential piece by Ben Thompson about how technology is changing brands and branding. He touches on the implications of lower barriers to entry:

it is significantly easier today to get a startup off the ground; however, that actually means startups need more venture capital, not less, because the real challenge is marketing and/or sales (and thus, by extension, venture capital is bifurcating between very large and very small)

and e-commerce:

dominating shelf space was a core part of their strategy, and while I’m no mathematician, I’m pretty sure dominating an infinite resource is a losing proposition. What matters now is dominating search.

Great thinking and writing (as, by the way, are his very reasonably priced daily updates).

Sent from my wireless device.

I've recently found myself typing "Sent from my wireless device" at the end of an email sent from my desktop. It's shorthand for "You know this is just email, right?"

Some people react to perceived tone in email, a medium in which we compose in a hurry, usually while distracted. Emails that are written for the optimal distribution of information can seem terse, almost dismissive; and can provoke emotional reactions that get in the way of actual work.

We all need to remind one another that emails are not letters. The best email writers are careful and reread before hitting 'send' – but if you're spending hours composing emails, with sensitivity for tone instead of clarity, selecting synonyms to avoid every possibility of slight, then you're probably doing it wrong. Instead, try this: include some cues that, hey, this is email: don't read too much into it. The occasionally spelling or grammatical error, provided that it does not obscure meaning, serves the same function.

Posted from my wireless device.