Pilgrim Notes

Reflections along the way.

Month: September 2009

Chris Anderson – Free

Wired posted a great article on thinking/acting abundantly from the “long tail” wizard Chris Anderson this week. His basic premise is that businesses tend to think and act on the basis of scarcity and not abundance. He article offers excellent insights for businesses, families, and even churches. In fact, he is echoing a thought that shows up again and again in Scripture. Jesus tells a parable of the sower. While we tend to focus on the various places the seeds are sown and which seeds produce. We might also step back and think about a sower who sows everywhere–whether it looks like fruitful ground or not.

Anderson offers an excellent chart comparing the scarcity management model vs the abundance management model. Most often, I’ve worked around the scarcity model, but one boss at Philips Magnavox demonstrated the abundance model on a regular basis. One point of comparison is on the nature of rules in the two models. Rules in a scarcity paradigm sound like this, “Everything is forbidden unless it’s permitted.” On the other hand, the abundance framework suggests that, “Everything is permitted unless it’s forbidden.” The church has often operated within the former model, but Chesterton wisely pointed out that the latter model is the real thing. Listen to Chesterton on the Ten Commandments:

“The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.”

In one sense, this is what Anderson is exploring in his article on Managing for Abundance. Here are the highlights, but be sure to visit the article because he models his premise by giving away the audio of his latest book: Free.

One theme that shows up in his article is the “power of waste.” Anderson writes:

When scarce resources become abundant, smart people treat them differently, exploiting them rather than conserving them. It feels wrong, but done right it can change the world.

He illustrates this with a reference to Cory Doctorow and his ideas on “thinking like a dandelion.”

The science fiction writer Cory Doctorow calls this “thinking like a dandelion.” He writes: “The disposition of each—or even most—of the seeds isn’t the important thing, from a dandelion’s point of view. The important thing is that every spring, every crack in every pavement is filled with dandelions. The dandelion doesn’t want to nurse a single precious copy of itself in the hopes that it will leave the nest and carefully navigate its way to the optimum growing environment, there to perpetuate the line. The dandelion just wants to be sure that every single opportunity for reproduction is exploited!”

Read his article, his book, and don’t forget to visit his blog, The Long Tail.

Is Your Business Transparent?

For their September issue, Trendwatching revisited a consumer trend that is consistently growing in importance: Transparency. St. Maximas the Confessor believed that Adam and Eve were transparent luminous beings and that in the future transformation this luminosity would be restored. In our ever-growing socially-connected world, businesses are becoming more transparent (luminous or not). I’d say businesses and individuals alike would do well to pay heed to this trend, since I think we may be growing transparent in more ways than one (but that’s another topic).

I suggest you read the whole briefing.  Highlights from the September 2009 Trendwatching Newsletter include:

1. Reviews Revolution – The impact of customer reviews continues to soar. Trendwatching suggests (and rightly so I think), “Reviewing is the new advertising.”

Deluge – More people are online, thus more reviews are online. (And not all the reviews are on your website!) Some key sites to watch include: Bazaarvoice (their new ShoutIT integrates with FB et al); TripAdvisor (top travel review site); Google’s Rich Snippets; and a variety of local review sites like Yelp and GeoGraffiti.

Truthiness – As aggragated reviews increase, fake reviews (by tricky businesses and angry customers) will more likely be exposed, so if you’re doing that kinda of stuff: Knock it off!

Everything Reviewed – It’s not just books anymore. Everything from churches to childcare will be reviewed. I’m thinking about righting a review of my parents (5 stars out of 5 stars of course!)

Real Time – If the diner on the corner has a rat in their soup, people may know within minutes. This means companies will have to be more vigilant than ever and ready to respond (plan of action in advance) to crisis and mistakes. I suggest humility and honesty as the best policy!

Mapmania – With Smartphones bulging from everyone’s pocket, people more easily are pulling reviews via map searches.

Reviewer Trumps Review – Reviewer profiles are growing more important as more people will want to read reviews by people like them. (I must admit that I’ve always used the Amazon profile link to see what other books a person reviews before I blindly accept their words. Who knows? They may say Tomaato while I say Tomaeto!

Right of Reply – Reviewers no longer have the final say. Companies will and do have opportunities to reply on sites like TripAdvisor and Amazon.

Warning Will Robinson – Okay I added the “Will Robinson.” But the big deal for companies with reviews is the thing I harp on again and again when talking to folks about social media. It’s about listening! Social media is not another way to spam your message via Twitter, FB and more. It’s a change to listen. You can turn off the comments on your blog, but you can’t turn off the comments your customers are making in other places. So listen. Engage. Learn the art of responding to complaint with grace.

2. Pricing Pandemonium – I like this, “What else can we say about online price comparison than that full price transparency seems near?” Their right. Who doesn’t do searches for products when getting ready to purchase? More than once I’ve been shopping in a store, and done a quick comparison via my iPhone, then ordered the product I was looking at in the store online (and got it in the mail the next day to boot).

Niche – This is interesting. Trendwatching sees the emergence of niche pricing sites focused on a specific think like medication, skiing, bus tickets, elder care, medical tourism, and more.

On-the-spot – Like I said, I’ve used my iPhone for in-store price comparisons. Some shop apps include Amazon Android, Shopsaavy, and SnapTell.

Alerting – With GPS, there are all sorts of price alerting functions that will soon be commonplace.

Forecasting – How about apps that forecast the best time for purchases. Oh yeah! This is already happening with flights in apps like Farecast.

3. Inside Out – Finally, Trendwatching suggests (and rightly so) that transparency extends beyond pricing and reviews to corporate citizenship. So companies need to be more conscious about “doing the right thing” because everyone will know your deceptions. Who knows what employee might be posting stuff online, exposing your fraudulent and poor behavior. This is a great opportunity as well for companies to think and act more responsibly in the world. But it does have some potential problems in my opinion. What exactly does “Do the Right Thing!” mean? In our politically divided nation (and even more divided world), this has potential of politicizing actions by companies even more. How long before everyone gets sick of all the tattling and attack culture that is continuously bred in the left and right of our culture? In spite of the downfall, I do like the idea of holding people and companies responsible. So it just means we have a heartier conversation. Now let’s hope we learn (at some point) the fine are of civility.

The Book of Wisdom

Danielle LaPorte posted this delightful video about the making of the book Wisdom. I like it for several reasons. Aesthetically, it appeals to me. But deeper than that I like the spirit of the project. Andrew Zuckerman respects the wide range of people he meets (and we meet in the video).

He values the voices of elders (something so deeply needed in our day). He researches their lives, their thought, their stories. But he is primarily interested in their relationships and their personal lives as opposed to their great accomplishments.

It blessed me, hopefully it will bless you as well.

What's New in Snow Leopard?

If you’re like me, you installed Snow Leopard and thought pretty cool, now what? I wasn’t really sure what changed. The only thing I noticed was that the color contrast seemed higher (and as is turns out the output gamma correction was changed from 1.8 to 2.2). I also noticed the computer seemed to run faster (and as it turns out the coffee I’ve been drinking all morning has speeded up my fingers. Plus, Snow Leopard does run faster). At the prompting of Gizmodo, I attempted reading John Sircusa’s in-depth analysis of the new. While he does overwhelm with data that my non-programmer mind could fully grasp, I appreciate his detailed examination and found it very helpful.

First off, yes Snow Leopard is faster. In fact, that’s the big deal. It’s not bloated with lots of new bells and whistles that slow down the system for unnecessary functionality, but rather it improves performance and takes better advantage of the processor speeds. There are many reasons why it runs faster, but you’ll have to read Sircusa’s article since I can’t explain (or fully understand other than, “yeah that’s cool dude”). You can click and hold dock items and the OS will highlight and give you options. Cool, but I’m may not use that too much.

But there are some things I think I might use. Here are a few highlights:

Search Control – Choose “Preferences” in the Finder menu and you can customize search settings under the “Advanced” tab.

custom search

Faster – It’s faster. Did I say that already? It really is faster.

Column View is now sortable. If you Finder window is in “column view,” you can now sort the column. This is great!

sort by

Icon view change size – An easy slider let’s you pop up icons to large size for easy viewing. This is perfect for pictures and videos!

icons

Dialog Box – The open/save dialog box in programs now lets you add additional display columns by simply right-clicking.

dialog

Image Capture now offers a wider range of support for scanners. I never use it since it hasn’t worked well with my scanner. Now I’ll try it.

from John Siracusa at Ars Technica
Date & Time Location Finder – Like the iPhone, you’re mac can set time zone automatically. I likee.

datetime

But still no solitaire.

Text auto-correction

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