Venture Knowledgists

March 17, 2007

Or how the twitter bug is a few beats off key.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be working in the Internet space. Social media is bringing everyone closer together. RSS and widgets are making our lives more productive and there are some very cool web applications for people to mess about with.

Blogging, podcasting and social networking have clearly been game changes for how we, as marketing folks, do business. There are now new distribution channels for our messages, new markets and an increasing amount of invaluable niche audiences to communicate to.

Everyone wants to be able to use the new media, the social revolution to their own benefit and this has led to the rise of the venture knowledgists.


Venture Knowledgists are the ultra early adopters. The people who trawl the Web looking for new apps to try and then pimp to their colleagues, friends, family members and network.


Their raison d’etre is to be able to say “I was one of the first people to use XXX” and they live to able to contribute some sort of critical mass for the things they have a stake in.


Obviously their stake isn’t money; its ego. There’s no tangible return for being the first Twitterer or the the first Second Lifer. In fact, being first can often be lonely. Just try getting into your office/campus building at 7am.

Caveat Emptor

There is, however, one way that venture capitalists and venture knowledgists are incredibly similar – the failure rate. I’m no VC but I believe from what I’ve read, that if one in ten investments are a success then that’s a good success rate. VKs are in the same bracket.

For every Myspace, Facebook or Skype there are a tonne of useless Web apps that have been mercilessly pimped by the marketing industry. Things like Second Life and soon, I’m afraid to say, Twitter.

I’m not saying that we don’t need VKs — in fact they perform an invaluable purpose in uncovering new things — I’m saying that we should all be aware of their vested interests (do we need full disclosure?!) and put anything they suggest through a full level of scrutiny. Something all the young PRs/marketers should be doing anyway.

What to do?

So next time the Steve Rubel pimps the latest Google App or For Immediate Release breathlessly announces another user has been added to Second Life or Mitch Joel gives you his Twitter feed, take a step back and think why they’re pimping it and whether you can actually use it or not.

**UPDATE** Chris Edwards (not Green – see below), a journalist in the UK, has found another way for PRs to annoy the hell out of him. Yes, it’s Twitter which Charlene Li thinks will be dead before too long. I guess the backlash has started but I may see if the iStudio team can use it for project updates…

**UPDATE 2**

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Social Media Jargon Buster

November 21, 2006

Have you ever found yourself shaking your head at the ridiculous amount of overused jargon in the PR world today? Have you ever attended a number of talks and/or functions only to hear the same recycled phrases? Do you think our community is way too earnest?

Help is now at hand in the shape of Social Media Bingo! Released in time for the holiday period you and your colleagues can while away the long winter billable hours by simply clicking through to one of the many excellent PR/marketing podcasts and ticking off the jargon.

Or go to your next geek dinner (they’re all open invitation!) armed with this helpful little primer and have a self referential laugh as you throw in any one of the interchangable and often indecipherable phrases.

Are you the shy retiring type? Then print off two copies and challenge your tablemate to a competitive round of bingo. Oh, how you’ll laugh as you interupt a member of the digerati mid waffle with a triumphant cry of “HOUSE!”.

A great way to liven up even the stalest webinar, conference call or staff meeting.

Available to download and share from this very blog, Social Media Bingo by Ed Lee, is the free pdf download for 2006!

Social Media Bingo Thumbnail

Obviously I’ll be invoking the wisdom of the crowds for version two dot oh, so leave your feedback in the comments or email me directly at e_v_lee[removethis]

*UPDATE* Thanks to the wisdom of Judy Gombita who helped out with some of the squares (“command and control” was all her) as well as those who commented on this post from last week.

*UPDATE* Fill in the blanks with your chosen wildcard – or even your own suggestions – to allow for a multi-player session!

Have a fabulous holiday season!

News "flash" – How (not) to design a website

November 6, 2006

I hate flash websites. I hate waiting for them to load, I hate the totally unintuitive browsing with no back button and I hate the way you can’t cut and paste content you like. From a developer’s point of view, making changes can be a nightmare as well, or so I’ve heard.

However, I do love irrascible journalists like Guy Kewney. One of the reasons is here (via TWL) as Guy unloads on a PR company’s new website on Tim Dyson’s (Next Fifteen) blog.

Here’s what Guy said –

1) I’d quote from some of its pages for illustration, but Flash doesn’t allow cut and paste. So I can’t.
2) I’d point you to one or two of its pages, but Flash doesn’t include hyperlinks. So I can’t.
3) Flash is great for video. But there’s no video on the site.
4) It has a link (again, I can’t point you at it!) called “clients” which doesn’t list the clients, or give contact details. Not even contact details for the executive who’d handle the accounts!
5) It includes phone contact information. Unfortunately, it’s Flash, so I have to re-type the data for my address book… can’t cut and paste. Oh, and it’s tiny tiny print, so anybody over 40 will have to get their reading glasses out. Of course, nobody who matters is over 40, so that’s OK.

Worst of all, the text isn’t searchable and, I may be showing my ignorance here, so search engines can’t send their spiders into Flash sites.

What use is an unsearchable, unquotable, unsharable website in the new age of content sharing, citizen journalism and amateur pundits like myself? Flash is great when its embedded into a “proper” web page, but as a whole site, I think not.

Which new website is Guy talking about? This one or this one?

UPDATE – I was playing around with Digg and submitted this story. Don’t worry, it’s only been “dugg” twice so I hardly gamed the system, just experimenting. Anyway, the obviously intelligent “BeauXdidLeigH” commented thus:

So true…..
The following is a letter I’ve sent to several site managers recently.

We want information….. INFORMATION!

Flash is an accessory, a bell or whistle, NOT the foundation for a website.

What a waste of development dollars! (As they’ve been saying for years, “The only way to make any money from Flash is by selling Flash.”) Yup, there’s one born every minute.

Too often it is used on sites with minimal substantial content,
or to detract from the relevant content of a webpage.

With an increasing number of the serious surfers not using, or uninstalling Flash,
having MEANINGFUL content available only in Flash, sends people elsewhere to find
the information they seek.

In this century, arriving at ANY site with a page requesting a plug-in or a log-in, sends me away to more fruitful pastures. Having a PDF reader is an exception: it is used for the disemmination of (primarily) INFROMATIONAL content. Flash, on the otherhand, is the exact opposite.

If you’re a Flash-only, or heavily Flash-reliant site, you may as well save your hosting fees. People will migrate to a more functional website. Use Flash for multimedia and little kids’ sites.

“Too bad your site was worthless to us.”

Fortunately, its the ‘Net, there’s always another option.

…couldn’t have missed much that mattered.

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