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Archive for the ‘TED Talks’ Category

Seth Godin: Sliced Bread, Ideas that Spread are Bizarre by Nature

Posted by annplugged on May 11, 2007

The success of sliced bread is whether you can spread the idea or not. Nowadays, we could say, the success of sliced books, mags etc. (selling chapters, or even pages separately, besides full books) depends on idea spreading too.

“In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones. And early adopters, not the mainstream’s bell curve, are the new sweet spot of the market. Seth’s presentation at TED Talks is from 2003, yet it is still worth watching.” (from TED Talks)

The title of his keynote speech comes from Otto Frederick Rohwedder‘s 1917’s ‘invention,’ selling pre-sliced bread by means of using loaf-at-a-time bread-slicing machine. About ten years later the idea became widespread: after a longish time focusing on the patent and technology of the machine, the idea struck Rohwedder that the idea of pre-sliced loaves needs to be spread. What is its relevance today?

First, choose a presentation title that is bizarre, and yet show its relevance (even rhyme?) to your talk. 🙂 Ok, there is something more to it than this.

Seth Godin claims that we live in an era of idea diffusion, at the heart of which is TV and stuff like TV. It makes me think of Joost (the online peer to peer TV streaming technology by Skype inventor Niklas Zenströmm and Janus Friis, now still in the testing and program-database grabbing phase), and the buzz surrounding it, including advertisors, publishers, marketers, and yes, very much early adopters who are now either in the beta test already or pleading for an invitation. It makes me believe that this presentation has not lost from its freshness and validity. Especially that watching together a TV program and sharing ideas real time is part and parcel of Joost: letting people go for the fringes, spreading idea. Is Joost bizarre yet? I very much think so (but not for a long time).

The TV Industrial Complex simplified process is described by Seth Godin as follows:

  • buy ads
  • get more distribution
  • sell more products
  • make a profit
  • buy ads
  • get more distribution
  • etc., on and on

What makes the process outdated is that users have a lot more choices, but a lot less time (and let’s add: and a lot-lot less patience in the age of attention deficit).

Seth states that if you drive a car and see a cow next to the road, you will not pay attention, as you have seen hundreds of cows (now, my own experience is that almost anyone I know likes to shout out ‘cows’ ‘horses’ ‘sheep – your family, dude’ ‘hey, look, some kind of prey bird’ and stuff like that. So personally, we are not bored with normal cow-spotting from moving cars). Seth goes on to point out that you need a purple cow to come out of invisibility and ignorance: a purple cow is bizarre wnough to draw your attention (luckily, I have not see one, not even one for a Milka ad filming: it would have been eye-catching but somehow repulsive, too). So a purple cow is remarkable (in a sense that it is also worth ‘making a remark about’ – i.e. blogging about, or me-mailing about it).

The top-selling DVD in America changes every week, and not because there is a new top film, but because it is fresh, new, just heard about, “because people notice it.”

“Mass marketing is about marketing average products for average people, smooth out the edges: they would ignore the geeks, and God forbid, the laggards” (i.e. the two flatter parts of the bell curve: the early adopters and the late-comers). It is only for the central, the majority.

“But in a world where the TV Industrial Complex is broken, I don’t think that’s a strategy we wanna use any more,’ says Godin. He suggests targeting the early adopters, geeks, those who are obsessed with something. Simply, the central majority is very good at ignoring advertising. Products need constituencies with an otaku (obsessive fan). So it is of utmost importance to talk to the early adopters who really listen and make it easier for them to spread the word, to make it go thorugh the bell curve.

And his recap in light of the above:

  • Design
  • Don’t play safe, stay on the fringes by being remarkable
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Posted in Joost, Marketing, Online, Presentation, TED Talks, Video, Word-of-mouth | 3 Comments »

TED is open: free views of TED Talks, and free talks of Ted users

Posted by annplugged on May 8, 2007

TED has started its social networking project by not only letting people take part in TED events free of charge (free downloads of 20-minute thought-provoking talks), but also encouraging viewers, occasional site visitors to sign up for its TED social networking services. There were 44 talks in January 2007 viewed more than 3 million times, and by the middle of April 2007 there were more than a hundred talks to choose from, including one of my all time favourites with its exquisite narration and minimal – maximal presentation skills by Malcolm Gladwell from New Yorker (coming soon in another post on LineMarketing) on What We Can Learn from Spaghetti Sauce?.

TED member profiles

Here is my profile for annplugged.

What I best like about the profile page is exactly what appears on the first page of your profile in the members profile list: What are you passionate about?

You can subscribe to TEDTalks for automatic updates, choose your favourite speakers, talks, themes, members, and you can see all of the user’s comments.  So basically, the site is not overloaded with social features, which at this point is ideal.

What I miss is the What my friends/ other users suggest viewing and why option, yes, á lá Amazon.com (by the way, these recommendation snippets would be not only informative, but extremely useful for a good online visibility on search sites, and really beneficial for video content from a searchability point of view).

The TED Blog is not as active yet as the number of video views would suggest, but there have been some interesting blog posts since the beginning of March (by Bruno Giussani – guest blogger LunchOver IP, Diego Rodriguez – guest blogger metacool, June Cohen – Director TED Media, and Tom Rielly – TED Humorist). I hope the blog will be getting more buzz, and participate in the blogosphere community with more relish, too.

Posted in Marketing, Online, TED Talks, Video | Leave a Comment »

The Paralysed Customer by Barry Schwartz – video keywords on YouTube vs. on TED Talks

Posted by annplugged on May 8, 2007

Having too many choices has a paralysing effect on decision making, according to Barry Schwartz. This is his talk at the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference, or TED Talks, he gave in 2005 (to see a modified, fresher version check out what Barry Schwartz said at Google Talks in the Googleplex), which is available on both the official TED site, and on YouTube, Google’s video sharing social networking site:

Now let’s see the texts accompanying the video recordings.

This is the description on the ted.com site:

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central belief of western societies: that freedom of choice leads to personal happiness. In Schwartz’s estimation, all that choice is making us miserable. We set unreasonably high expectations, question our choices before we even make them, and blame our failures entirely on ourselves. His relatable examples, from consumer products (jeans, TVs, salad dressings) to lifestyle choices (where to live, what job to take, whom and when to marry), underscore this central point: Too many choices undermine happiness.

Compare the searchability (and also the content) of the video by search engines of the following accompanying text on youtube (submitted by the TEDtalksDirector user in the Director status):

Barry Schwartz is a sociology professor at Swarthmore College and author of The Paradox of Choice. In this talk, he persuasively explains how and why the abundance of choice in modern society is actually making us miserable. (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 20:22

Register on Technology Entertainment and DesignIt is obvious that the text accompanying the same videofilm of Barry Schwartz’s keynote talk on the TED site, in contrast to to the one on the YouTube site, is a lot more descriptive, and also richer in the more important keywords. No wonder, search spiders – eating keywords – can find its text easier, so users can reach it more conveniently. ‘Now what?’ you may think. Why is it a problem? The problem is that YouTube is commentable, interactive, place for a community whereas TED Talks on the official site is _now already_ commentable, not (yet) part of a community (right now building), no chance to send video responses etc.

It is well worth exploiting more media channels for the same video film, but there needs to be a greater care for the wording and structure of accompanying texts to improve video search. YouTube would have allowed more characters in the description, and more tags too.

ps: Professor Barry Schwartz is mentioned as a psychologist on many sites, or sociologist on other web pages. Only two choices, yet confusing… Is he both?

Posted in Decision making, Marketing, Online, Presentation, Talks, TED Talks, Video | 2 Comments »