Porn Invented the Internet

23 10 2009

If you boil down all of the controversy over Social Media, where you land is that Social Media isn’t the culprit, it’s the Internet — an accountability-free, information cluster-fuck of ultimate free speech, free information and no laws. Kind of like the Wild West.

The big difference between the Internet and the Wild West, however, is that the Internet has no boundaries — it can expand into the infinity of space for ever and ever. So, if you try to put regulations into place to control content, content will just go somewhere else.

This, as you can imagine, drives corporations crazy. How will they be able to control their brand in a space which has no boundaries?

Let’s reminisce on a couple key points which I think might help ease this extreme burden you feel when you start to contemplate the un-comtemplatable. Let’s remember the invent of the Internet. Thanks Al Gore, but it actually wasn’t you who did it. It was the Porn Industry. In their attempt to fulfill a very lucrative need to push out their content to a very wanting yet secretive audience, they were forced to be innovative. The porn industry has historically always pushed the limits with Freedom of Speech, the law, and religious limitations. So what better place to hide – where there is no law – than the Internet.

Arguably, in all cases of moving an industry from the movie stores to the Web, you lose control over content. Sites like YouPorn come into existence and low and behold “amateurs” can now post pornography for free! Granted you lose some of the integrity of the professionally written porn scripts, but free is a great price to pay if you just want some porn.

Porn revolutionized the Internet. It proved that all content, regardless of how morally degrading, crude or illegal in modern standards it might be; will always have a home in the boundless glory of the web.

So using this as a basis, let’s remember that there are lot’s of people spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to put regulations on it. Kind of like drawing a border around heaven. You have to realize that if there is something you don’t want someone to know, like teaching abstinence in Sex Ed – where there’s a will, there’s a way.

So that brings me to Facebook:
Facebook makes you sign your weblife away as you sign up for an account. Whilst signing your life away, you give up rights to all the photos you post; rights to anything you write; rights to use and sell your personal information to anyone who asks. Yes, this is a frightening realization, which I hope all my readers are already aware of, if not, here you go:

But again, let’s back track to the inception of Facebook and dissect what it really is. Facebook was, is and every will be a way to keep in touch with people you know. So. That being said, the user is the one who needs to set personal parameters for how you want that to work. Do the research on how to set up privacy settings for your profile, if you’re too lazy than here you go:

(Sorry for e-troducing you to Larry…)

If you are a corporate marketer using Facebook, than you should know that Facebook was never intended to be about you. It was always about the user. At some point, some smart guy with a big pay check realized that there is a massive opportunity to “reach your audience where they are already engaging” — the ultimate dream of any advertiser. That is the only reason you have been invited to the table. Back in the day, advertisers had to be awfully clever on getting their brand mentioned in their consumers’ everyday conversations. Now, they get to literally put themselves in that conversation feet first and see what happens. Is it working? Maybe, but if you think about it, those conversations still aren’t about you. Your consumers’ primary interest is still just chatting with their friends.

Exploitation of your invitation to the table is why MySpace died. There were no “friends” left. And this is ultimately why Facebook will live or die. If it ever is completely saturated with invasive marketing and users can’t stand to be on it anymore because the header and status updates become pop-up ads and their pictures show up on billboards. If this happens, we will all pick up our profiles and go somewhere else. Friendster perhaps? Be nice to Facebook, and it will be nice in return.

On Privacy Issues:
Someone told me that he believes that the content posted on his profile is sold to the government for their sneaky uses, whatever those may be. So I’ll say this, and I’ll say it loud. The “government”, hackers, sneaky people seeking secret information ARE GOING TO GET IT IF YOU ARE ON FACEBOOK OR NOT. You are not exempt from being stalked if you opt out of Facebook as a part of your life. If you email and use the Internet on a daily basis and are not careful, anyone can find anything they want about you, nice package with a bow, or not.

The Internet is a huge wild wild-Will-Smith West unknown — so let’s talk like adults here. Stop being idiots and posting pictures of your kids! Stop saving your passwords in your gmail account. Stop signing Terms of Agreements without reading them. Take the time to protect your personal lives or don’t post anything at all. It’s the only way you can protect yourself. And if you choose not to do those simple things, than god save you, but stop blaming the medium. There will always be something else. Facebook will come and go. But the Internet will always be free and Porn will ALWAYS exist.

My Opinion:
I realize my opinion is probably the weakest part of this argument, but here it is anyway. I think that Facebook is right on with making ambiguous, CYA privacy policies that only address surface issues of their corporate sponsors. The user who signs up for Facebook basically takes an oath to do the leg work and learn the program, understand it, and use it to benefit them. So for all those users out there who joined Facebook because you heard all the buzz and wanted to feel included, or your company made you, or your highschool friends peer pressured you. Shame on you. Just like my dive instructor said, you shouldn’t do it for any other reason than because you want to. It is not Facebook’s responsibility to teach you how to use it. And even more so, it is not the marketers’ responsibility to make sure you are smart about what you post. The user is always responsible for their own decisions in every aspect of the world, in Social Media/Networking, it is solely your responsibility to do the same. I don’t have privacy fears because I don’t have anything to hide. I don’t trust anyone, and therefore, I trust everything because I set my own parameters. I don’t accept friendships with people I don’t know. And neither should you.

Additional Resources:
Here’s some of the controversy behind the medium.
Social Media success is arguable, but here’s something someone very smart put together, probably to persuade their company to sign up for a Facebook account: )

Defining The Backend

14 09 2009

As a digital marketer, I am constantly faced with the challenge of explaining what the hell that even means. It’s like, people’s eyes get huge the moment you utter the word Digital or some three-letter acronym (TLA) associated with the trade. Sometimes, when I meet a fellow digital person, I get so excited speaking my native tongue, that I forget all about how completely ridiculous it sounds. “Well, you could build a custom CMS, but WordPress might be even better because of its high organic SEO.” Ateewhattee?

That is the inherent challenge of being anything technical. Remember the IT guy from SNL? That old solution of turn-off-your-computer doesn’t solve anything on the world of the interwebs. I have finally faced the ultimate challenge in being a digital. Explaining TLAs doesn’t even hold a candle to trying to redefine E-Marketing with a buzz-word heavy term like Lead Nurturing or User Experience. Not to mention introducing a new, fairly complex software like Eloqua.

It’s not Eloqua and what it does; lead nurturing and why it’s important; email marketing and why it’s (arguably) ineffective; or how it all ties together, that’s the challenge. It’s coming up with a high enough-level explanation of all of these in a visual way.

Last year during budgets I found myself inventing new terms to explain digital terms over and over. Not because I’m a bad communicator; I think it was because the message wasn’t memorable enough to executives all with vastly diverse backgrounds and their own set of buzz words to keep straight.
I’m a DigiBaby. My memory has always been immensely integrated with computers: instant messenger, text, Napster and Facebook (Myspace, Friendster, whatever). There’s no doubt that my brain functions at an entirely different level than the executives I work with. So naturally, when they see a line item that says “Social Media” a glazed look of WTF falls over and a continuous cycle of explaining occurs. “It’s not just Facebook, it’s a continuous conversation with your consumers online.”

So when the challenge arose to take a deeper look at how digital marketing integrates and affects every aspect of overall marketing, I in turn, felt that sense of WTF.

That’s when the white papers began, (they have pretty graphs). I worked with Effective UI (new website!) at the beginning of this gradual slope, who I regard as having the toughest job of any of us in the digital marketing space. They have to explain what UI is after someone sees it in their name. What a challenge to overcome! And then you get down to the core of their mission, the User Experience — which isn’t even abbreviated as such — so have fun with that one. BTW, I’ve stopped using the acronym UX in general because of the complete disconnect I see when I say or especially write it. I think people think it’s a computer processor or something, like the way people react to letters at the end of a software version. CS4? WTF!

The sequence of planting the seed with white papers went as follows:
I. White paper from Eloqua explaining the pipeline, how it’s changed, and how Eloqua + Salesforce “close the loop”. Spent about a month using the term “close the loop” until it became an internal term. Success.
II. White paper explaining UX (User Experience). Tried to integrate this term internally, but it never stuck. It has since morphed into the Consumer Experience with Our Brand and finally into a module called the Concierge. Not bad, because the end result is the same. The hardest part is convincing that we need some research to support that experience. Overall, I’d call this a Success.
III. Strategy meeting bringing up whitepaper No. 1. It ended with, “Why can’t you do this manually?” Fail.
IV. Flow chart in Excel. Breaking out each touch point of communication in an excel document. This got the UX look.
V. Flow chart in Word. I added colors this time, so you could see how the leads (type of prospects, etc.) would go through different types of communication paths as they experience the sales cycle. Again, this didn’t resonate with the team. I think there were too many unknowns, such as the bubble that says “Dramatic Re-engagement with the Brand.” I think this also failed because there is an entire front end component to this that isn’t represented, which in turn distracted my highly visual team.
VI. White paper on a progressive form. This helped a little with saying that a form doesn’t have to be a form; it could a mechanism that extracts information on the user based off of their behavior with the online environment. We got a little closer with this concept, because at the end of the day, it sounds pretty neat.
VII. Powerpoint Presentation explaining what each type of prospect is and how we should communicate differently with them. This exercise actually might have brought us back about three steps. I think defining the different prospects may need to occur after you define the optimal end user experience.
VIII. Six months go by and the name Eloqua has been morphed into this term representing an end-all solution that will just feed personalized and relevant information to our users – automatically. I needed to change that thinking because Eloqua is ultimately just code and a fancy user interface. So I started calling it the “capture mechanism” – that magical piece of back end technology that will ensure that no lead falls through the cracks, ultimately “closing the loop”. Bam. It finally stuck, and not only did it stick it moved to the center of the bubble diagram, which held all of the other marketing objectives together. Big-time success. But still, this made it all too intangible. What does Capture really mean? It’s too spatial. And thus the ultimate digital marketing conundrum – how to you show someone a system that doesn’t tangibly exist outside of code? How do you show that there’s a digital component to even things that have zero online presence?
IX. This is how it was done. Matt Fajohn, Digital Strategist from FL-2, and I physically taped a wireframe to the conference table and walked everyone through the steps of how it would play out in the world.
To be honest, I don’t know if it achieved the ultimate goal of explaining the complexity of the integrated system; what it did do was show how something offline eventually will get put back online. My team could finally see what I’ve been talking about all this time. Success.

Digital marketing and all of its TLAs and buzzwords needs to get over itself. It is such an enormous part of all of our marketing efforts that it really needs to stop singling itself out. Digital marketing is no longer just a website; it’s not an email campaign; it’s not a database; it’s not a user interface; it’s not mobile web or an application or even software. It is ultimately the way a user interacts with a brand. Digital is supposed to make everyone’s life easier and disseminate free information for all. It’s about convenience, knowing that you can find what you want the moment you think about it. So if a brand is investing heavily in their digital presence, they better make sure that the end experience, no matter how complicated the backend is, is flawless, simple and completely integrated.

Independence Day: Silencing Social Media

1 07 2009

Are we only 140-characters deep?

After spending way too much time on LinkedIn looking through empty job postings and reading everyone’s “expert” opinion about social media, and partially influenced by exhaustion from MJ Faked It blog postings — I’ve decided, I’m throwing in the towel. In 48 hours, I’m turning it all off. My Blackberry, my Facebook page, my Twitter feeds, my LinkedIn updates, my Outlook, G-Chat, Adium, texting, smoke signals. All of it. I know, most of you are probably running around screaming in hysterics about why I would be so insane. But the decision has been made.

The other day, I was with a group of friends that I am constantly emailing, g-chatting, facebooking, twittering with all day, everyday. We were having drinks and I swear we had nothing to say to each other. I already knew everything that happened to them that week, the week before, the week before that. I saw every picture, I read every thought, I followed every link; I knew it all before it even happened. So we sat with our cold tasty beverages, on a beautiful sunny day, in silence.

“Oh, did you know that I just launched a blog for…” “Yeah, I read that on your LinkedIn updates.” “Oh, did you hear that Jeff Goldblum died?” “Yeah, about a ba-zillion times.” “Oh did you see that Jenn is dating Brad?” “Yeah, it was in my Twitter feed.”

I started thinking about it. Yes, I am obsessed with all of my Internet time wasters. I love Facebook because I can see what people are up to. I love Twitter because I can see what new marketing efforts are hot right now. I love LinkedIn because I can see find new companies and read rumblings in my industry. But I can’t help but wonder if access to all of these conversation tools are making us too transparent as people.

A lady that I work with brought up the Farrah Fawcett biography on NBC. She felt that, though the story had some empathetic value, deep down, it was really just about entertainment. Her point “Are our most private experiences, like dying, too public?” Are we now just exploiting ourselves?

As a writer, my life experiences have always been the meat of my stories. I have always believed that self-exploitation could help others by passing my hard earned lessons on. But is anyone listening to others’ lessons anymore? Or are we just posting.

Was the Farrah Biography helpful to her, by giving her a way to release the anguish of her struggle and to say goodbye to her fans? Did it give her a sense of liberation from the disease? Did those that watched and cried learn a lesson about dying and feel less alone about a similar experience that they had, or are having or know someone who has had? Or did they just watch to fulfill some detached sensation of sadness?

I suppose social networking for me is a surface outlet in hopes to gain some sort of popularity. But at the crux of it all, it’s really just a way to exploit my life in hopes to gain recognition as a writer. To me, it’s a marketing tool to market myself. But what I’m struggling with is to whom am I marketing?

That’s why I’m turning it off. I’m taking a break in order that I can listen to my own head, instead of the flat, rectangular one that stares at me all day. The question is: At the end of the day, who do I want to listen to me and what do I want to tell them?

Fresh Powder and Fresh Cookies

18 06 2009

Published in the Winter 2009 Colorado Visitors Guide; by Claire Fisher

As a seven-year Colorado resident, I have done the ski shuffle many times: Waking up at 6am on a Saturday, grabbing coffee and bagel and trekking to the mountains, watching my car’s fresh tracks in the rearview mirror. But, this day we had gotten wind of a storm — and the promise of fresh powder — the night before, which prompted myself and a friend to skip work the next day, drive to Beaver Creek and rent a condo for the night.

Beaver Creek is not your typical ski resort. It’s like a mystical land out of a fairytale. It has heated walkways, escalators up to the base, moving walks between areas of the village, an unusually chipper staff and a man who plays a 10-foot horn year-round. This luxury means you’re “not exactly roughing it” (which happens to be the Beaver Creek Resort’s marketing slogan), but it does have some of the best bumps, shortest lift lines and steepest terrain in the central mountains. Nearly trumping all of that, however, are the free, fresh-baked cookies served at the bottom of the lift. It’s like Grandma’s house with an alpine backdrop.

The mountain is sprinkled with luxury cabins from which a lucky few can ski straight out onto the slopes. I was one of those fortunate people on this epic day, and I schussed directly to the first chair from my condo (actually, I took the moving walk). As I gazed at the slope beneath the lift and picked my route, I wondered what I’d be doing this fine Friday if I lived in any other state and concluded that whatever it was, it could never compare.

At the top of the Cinch Express lift, at the summit, my friend spotted something you only hear about in après-ski bars — an untouched run along the trees. For a weekend warrior, it is a bit shocking (and thrilling) to see a trail without any scars from previous skiers. We giddily slid over the morning powder, beckoning us like a smooth lake of foam from a Colorado beer. As we made our turns, letting out giggles of glee, we skied deeper and deeper into the woods.

Skiing along in my reverie, the mountain fell completely silent. Just then, it started to snow, and I could almost hear each snowflake hit its soft cushion. This is what the best ski days in Colorado are all about: an unspoiled run in the woods with good friends, a glorious powdery descent. Oh, and the promise of fresh cookies afterward. (download pdf with pretty pictures)

AARP the Magazine

18 06 2007

In the summer of 2005, I scored the highest regarded internship for Journalism students. The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) runs an annual internship program in NYC and DC. My mom’s sorority friend Gail Herrington, recommended that I work towards this one internship if I wanted to make it in the magazine business. (Gail is now the Editor in Chief at United’s Spirit Magazine).

So that’s what I did. Straight A’s until the day I got “the call” that I was accepted. “Which would be your top choice magazines?” they asked. I thought, maybe Playboy, or National Geo Travel, or even Smithsonian. But I got AARP.

It turned out to be one of the best professional experiences of my life. Not only did I get paid (well), I got to write and edit a lot. My summer’s project was “fixing” an 8,000 word story. Basically, I re-interviewed and rewrote the story that had not been up to our editors satisfaction. My name is on it, at the very end. But I know that this story was mine.

Ski Magazine

18 06 2007

In 2005-2006, I had a fabulous internship with Ski Magazine. Being an ambitious CU Boulder student (no seriously), I was chomping at the bit to get my name published in the coveted rag. I was studying Journalism at the time and was being groomed for the news room. But I said nay. I wanted the life that came with glossy print and color photos, and all the free ski gear.

I finally got my chance to prove that I had what it took when they assigned me to write an article for the Mountain Life Design section in the June 2006 issue. Ski_Magazine. So I didn’t get to write about the best powder ever, while trying out the seasons hottest women’s fat skis, but I did get published in a 450,000 circ. magazine that has sat on my grandfathers night stand since 1960.

Weaver Multimedia Group

17 06 2007

Weaver Multimedia Group is the publisher of official visitors guides for several major cities in the US. I worked there as an assistant editor in 2007. I wrote articles for the New York City, Dallas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles guides, copy edited listings and produced the Pasadena, California guide. I came out with some great articles and even better stories.