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Seth’s favorite blog posts, part II

It’s too hard to keep up with blogs. Too many posts, too little time, too much worthless blather.

So, here’s the best of list from the beginning of the year: Seth’s Blog: The Best Posts of 2005 (so far… 10 weeks, 10 posts).

And here, based on reader feedback, are the most resonant posts since then. Feel free to tell your friends.

Link: Seth’s Blog: Thinking about the Long Tail (part 1).

Link: Seth’s Blog: Think about parsley.

Link: Seth’s Blog: Godin’s Leveraged Effort Curve.

Link: Seth’s Blog: REAL–Compared to what? The Pale Imitation.

Link: Seth’s Blog: What’s the always?.

Link: Seth’s Blog: Race for the top, race to the bottom.

Link: Seth’s Blog: I bet you think this post is about you.

Link: Seth’s Blog: Nouns and verbs.

Link: Seth’s Blog: Things that change.

Link: Seth’s Blog: Playing by (and losing by) the rules.

All Marketers...

The Runaway Bride

[Actual overheard phone conversation, yesterday, in a company that books music for parties]

“So, you want to reduce the number of musicians from 9 to 6?”

“Do you mind if I ask a question… is it because of the cost?”

slight sneer “Hmmm, well I’m sure we’ll still be able to provide you with something special.”

“Now, for the reception… you’ll want classical musicians, of course.”

The American bride’s worldview is a twisted, scary place. It’s not only about creating a special day, a day just for you, a day that you’ll remember, a day that you’ve dreamed of forever, a day where you are the princess you’d always like to be, but it’s also filled with doubt and self-esteem issues.

Why do we “need” $9,000 worth or flowers or a dress that averages $799? (Aside: if the average price of a wedding dress is $800, that means that most brides are spending close to their entire annual discretionary income on an article of clothing that will be worn exactly once). The reason, of course, is that on this day, the way you feel is everything. Nobody NEEDS a wedding. And the way you feel is largely driven by your expectation of how others expect you to behave.

The entire wedding industry is built on a lie. The lie is a story that says, “if your wedding doesn’t include at least all of the standard items, you’re not special.”

You knew all this of course. I’m just reminding you because when you see something so perfectly executed, it’s worth noting.

As a marketer, I’d be more inclined to sell the over-the-top fantasy stuff like a wedding at Disney with Mickey as best man. What astonishes me is how high the bar for the ‘standard’ wedding has become.


Douglas O’Bryon sent his new blog over.

Link: Digital Casserole.

WHAT I BELIEVE: I believe in the power of a single idea. A single good idea, anyway. Frankly, there’s just not a lot of power in a single bad idea, like scheduling “Bat Day” when the Red Sox play at Yankee Stadium. I believe in long, slow downloads that last 3 days. I believe in the designated driver, the fungo bat, and keeping words like gazebo and zamboni around just because they’re fun to say. I believe in naps but not Napster.(more..)

TED in the UK

I’ll be going to TED in July, and I thought you might be interested. Here’s the agenda and a link.

TEDGLOBAL July 12-15, Oxford,  UK.

"Ideas Big Enough to Change the World"

TUESDAY, July 12

Session 1 (2:15 – 4:00): "Meme Power"
Richard Dawkins, the biologist behind the "Selfish Gene" and memes
Philippe Starck, internationally-known designer
Malcom Gladwell, bestselling author, "The Tipping Point" and "Blink"
Session 2 (4:45 – 6:30): "Big Picture"
Juan Enriquez, author, "How the Future Catches You"
Hans Ulrich Obrist, art curator


Session 3 (8:30 – 10:15): "Network Effect"
Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Kazaa and Skype
Clay Shirky, digital thinker
Joi Ito, Japanese über-blogger
Session 4 (11 – 12:45): "Bugged Minds"
Steven Pinker, evolutionary psychologist, author "How the Mind Works"
Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and expert on happiness
Peter Donnelly, Oxford statistician and leading thinker on cognition

Session 5 (2:15 – 4): "Good Life"
Carl Honoré, author "In Praise of Slowness"
Barry Schwartz, author "The Paradox of Choice"

Session 6 (4:45 – 6:15): "This House Believes That…"
A special session taking place at the famous Oxford Union Debating Hall. A panel of speakers will debate a controversial and timely topic according that house’s longtime rules, with the participation of the audience.

  THURSDAY, July 14

Session 7 (8:30 – 10:15): "Co-Op World"
Yochai Benkler, Yale law professor and author, "Sharing Nicely"
Jimmy Wales, founder of the Wikipedia
Zé Frank, unique Internet performance artist

Session 8 (11 – 12:45): "Ingenious Solutions"
Sasa Vucinic, not-for-profit venture capitalist and media visionary
Alex Steffen, founder of Worldchanging.com
Jacqueline Novogratz, pioneer of a new "market-based" philantrophy

Session 9 (2:15 – 4): "Body Genie"
Kari Stefansson, founder DeCode Genetics
Marko Ahtisaari, director of design strategy, Nokia
Aubrey De Grey, biomedical gerontologist

Session 10 (4:45- 6:30, public session): "Shared Future"
Craig Venter, genomics pioneer
Sir Martin Rees, cosmologist and futurist
Eve Ensler, playwright, "The Vagina Monologues"

FRIDAY, July 15

Session 11 (8:45 – 10:30): "Small Matters"
Paul Bennett, IDEO’s top European design thinker
Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, author, "Power to the People"
Steven Levitt, co-author, "Freakonomics"

Session 12 (11:15 – 1): "Long View"
William McDonough, sustainability architect
Tom Rielly, comedian
Peter Diamandis, founder X-Prize and NoGravity, air and space visionary

Link: TED Conference – Registration.

Use this coupon number to save $1,000 (outside the US): 1904855751_2

If it doesn’t work, drop me a note and I’ll send you one of my discount numbers.

Brownian motion at work

My friend Jeremy gave me a riff about Brownian motion – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Brownian motion describes the random motion of a particle in liquid. Why random? Because a particle hits something and bounces off in a new direction. Do this often enough and it’s basically impossible to predict what will happen next.

Brownian motion only occurs with particles that aren’t very goal motivated. You probably know people like this. They start doing one thing, hit an obstacle and suddenly flop into a totally new direction.

Are your co-workers Brownian? How about your projects?

All Marketers...

Some people want a hand held

My fish store sells plenty of Fish Rub. If you’re a cook, the label may look familiar. The product is made by the producer of one of the best kinds of paprika.

Guess what’s inside the box? Mostly paprika. You could make your own Fish Rub at home in seconds if you had, say, some salt and maybe a little pepper.

But if the box said Paprika, the Fish Rub customers wouldn’t nibble, never mind bite. Why? Because they have a worldview that says that they know how to heat things up, not how to cook. Paprika is a cooking word. Fish Rub is a heating things up word.

I bet you think this post is about you

Warren_beattyThe other day, my new friend Tucker told me that I was a, "massive egomaniac."

Aren’t all bloggers?

What sort of ego do bloggers have? We spend the time and the energy and the money to post our opinions to the world, and we do it daily, or even hourly, often on topics on which we have no obvious authority…

Ego is the biggest reason that corporate blogging may be an oxymoron. Working for the man often means subsuming your ego to that of the organization, and blogging makes that difficult. It’s one reason that there have been high profile firings of corporate bloggers at places like Google. It’s hard to have two voices (the writer’s and the shareholders’) competing and often conflicting.

"Egomaniac", by the way, is the wrong word. I think that blogging requires you to have a healthy respect for your opinions, as well as the generous desire to share them with others. That’s not a negative social trait… If you don’t respect your opinions, who will? And if you don’t want to share the ideas you admire, you’re being selfish, aren’t you?

Boring and successful means boring and cheap

The reason Carly had so much trouble at HP is that they were under too much pressure from Dell. If you’re going to be the standard, you need to be boring. If you’re boring, you’ve got to be cheap. Cheap and standard is what Dell does best, and I don’t see how you can beat them at that game.

As the choices businesses and consumers become clear and easily comparable, you’ve got to either be different… or cheaper. Former Executive Bios: Carleton S. Fiorina.


More on talking ducks, priests and rabbis…

Rereading the post below about my vacation memo it’s possible to imagine that
this was a plea not to send me notes. No, that’s exactly the opposite of
what I was getting at. Have you ever noticed that almost everyone you
know talks to you on the phone with the same set of rules? Same pauses,
same volume, same conventions?

The word "hello" was invented by Thomas Edison as a gift for Alexander Graham Bell. Before "hello" there was no polite way to start a phone conversation (proper people were introduced, they didn’t just greet each other). Edison took an exclamation and gave it a whole new meaning.

Which gets to the whole email/blog/comments thing. We still haven’t figured it out yet. A lot of yellers out there. A lot of anonymous screamers. And some thoughtful, friendly, helpful folks as well. There are also well-meaning people who appear clueless to others because their particular approach to a medium doesn’t match the approach they use.

Not a lot to do about it, just something to bear in mind as we all figure it out.