I Hate Viral(s)

I’ve grown to hate the term viral:

  • I hate the fact that it’s overused.
  • I hate the fact that it’s misused.
  • I hate the fact that ‘viral’ appears as a line on media plans.
  • I hate the fact that people now call them virals. With an (s) as if it’s a genre of film like westerns.
  • I hate the fact that clients can be fobbed off with “if we add a ‘send to a friend’ link to it, that’ll make it viral”. Not all of them. But watch out for it, you can spot it.

star wars kidA wise man (Rei Imamoto from AKQA in San Francisco if you must know) said in a meeting: “Viral is a consequence”. A truer 4 words have I rarely heard spoken.

Of course you can do things that might encourage people to talk about something. Or even send it on to someone else. Or blog about it. Or anything else that ‘spreads it’. But that’s just about making something that’s relevant. Something that I want to share because I love it. Something that ticks the right psychological boxes. It’s not about sex, or shock, or violence, or any other crass ‘too hot for tv’ tactic.

Make something entertaining (sure, it could be stupid, sexy, whatever…), something thought-provoking, something that makes someone’s day in a small way. Just make something good. Your audience are the ones who decide if it’s ‘viral or not’. They’re not dumb carriers of your disease. They’re willing participants in the distribution of your content.

Right, what got me started on this little rant? Oh, that’s it. I saw this: TIME.com: Viral Videos that Swept the Nation. And you know what. They’re right, these are viral videos. Videos that ordinary people have decided are great. I would talk about some of them. Others leave me cold.

But the interesting thing is that only 1 out of 8 of them has any (real) connection to a brand. (I’m not including Star Wars Kid as I don’t think Lucas would have signed that one off).

I’ve changed my mind. In the spirit of positivity I like viral. I like the notion of people sharing great things with each other. As long as we never forget that the audience are the ones who decide what is, or is not, viral. 

A MacBerry?

It’s an interesting, but at the same time perhaps terrifying, rumour.

Macworld UK – Rumour: Apple and RIM plan iPod wireless?

Legions of perma-connected white-earphoned zombies giving complete and undivided attention to a device with the coolness of an iPod and the addictive qualities of crystal meth. Damnit, I’ll never speak to anyone again!

Genuine Marketing Gimmicks – An Oxymoron?

Sorry few posts. Hectic week. Going holiday Friday. Lots to do…

I’ve started to use Radio 4 as my alarm clock. I didn’t think it would work. But people talking, gently, as they do on R4, is quite a nice way to wake up. You get kind of drawn out of sleep and into a conversation.

As I was becoming concious yesterday morning I caught this snippet. From an interview with the director of the new Omen horror film. (Due to my 1/2 waking state I’m paraphrasing):

Interviewer: Isn’t releasing your film on 6/6/6 just a cynical marketing gimmick?

Interviewee: Absolutely. Is there any other kind of marketing gimmick? I’ve never heard of a genuine marketing gimmick.

I’m pretty sure he’s wrong. There must be some genuine marketing gimmicks. In fact aren’t all marketing stunts just gimmicks? And some of those are very genuine, aren’t they? Anyone got any great examples of ‘genuine marketing gimmicks’?
(The definition of a gimmick I’m using is: “A trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business”, probably thinking more about the tricky side of things).

Netvibes Rocks – Harder

Netvibes (my favourite Web 2.0 personal homepage maker) has just added a whole raft of brand new features and enhancements. The most significant of which is a whole new ‘community site’: eco.netvibes.com

It’s like a feed directory, but it also gives you the ability to add groups of feeds as handy tabs. So you could add a whole, pre-made, news tab (for example) which would group together a load of news feeds in one convenient page. The site also features widgets, events and podcasts. In true Web 2.0 style you can rate, share, blah, blah, blah…

And if you’re feeling like being a creator, you can add your own feeds, tabs, widgets, events or podcasts to the library.

If you’re a Netvibes user you can easily add Crackunit to your start page just by clicking the button below. If you’re not a Netvibes user, click it anyway, it’d be a great way to get your page started ;-)
Add to Netvibes

Web Dogma

It’s been a while since I’ve read Boxes and Arrows, it’s a very good collaborative blog about information architechture and related jiggery pokery. One thing caught my eye today:

Dogmas Are Meant to be Broken: An Interview with Eric Reiss

It’s a set of ‘rules’ for web design in the spirit of Lars Von Trier’s Dogma Manifesto.

My first thought was that it was going to be a load of luddite nonsense that would get in the way of innovation and advancement. But then I saw this and was encouraged:

The trick with doing a dogma for the web was to avoid the “rules syndrome” (For example, Links should be blue.) for best practices that were liable to change as technology changed. How do you do a set of rules or guidelines that would prove helpful despite the technological advances and would also be relevant as fashion changes?

Cool, I thought. Then I saw the manifesto and thought doublepluscool:

Web Dogma ‘06

  1. Anything that exists only to satisfy the internal politics of the site owner must be eliminated.
  2. Anything that exists only to satisfy the ego of the designer must be eliminated.
  3. Anything that is irrelevant within the context of the page must be eliminated.
  4. Any feature or technique that reduces the visitor’s ability to navigate freely must be reworked or eliminated.
  5. Any interactive object that forces the visitor to guess its meaning must be reworked or eliminated.
  6. No software, apart from the browser itself, must be required to get the site to work correctly.
  7. Content must be readable first, printable second, downloadable third.
  8. Usability must never be sacrificed for the sake of a style guide.
  9. No visitor must be forced to register or surrender personal data unless the site owner is unable to provide a service or complete a transaction without it.
  10. Break any of these rules sooner than do anything outright barbarous.

For a fuller explanation of each of the points visit: Dogmas Are Meant to be Broken: An Interview with Eric Reiss

2000 Bricks

2000 bricksBrian kindly left a comment pointing to 2000 Bricks, a project not 1000 miles away from 1000 Paintings.

There’s an interesting graph on his site that shows activity on 1000 Paintings has changed over time. He calls it the Short Tail. I’m not exactly sure that this is the best description, but the curve is really impressive and shows the effect that a bit of alpha-blog coverage can have…

Now, let me think, 3000…

Thanks Brian.