Posts tagged “co-creation”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Seen Reading – a "literary voyeruism blog" set mostly (I believe) in Toronto – What is Seen Reading?

    1. I see you reading.
    2. I remember what page you’re on in the book.
    3. I head to the bookstore, and make a note of the text.
    4. I let my imagination rip.
    5. Readers become celebrities.
    6. People get giddy and buy more books.

    Why do you do this?
    Readers are cool. Authors work hard. Publishers take chances. And you all deserve to be seen!

    (Thanks Suzanne Long!)

  • Choose What You Read NY – Choose What You Read NY is a non profit organization that offers free books to New Yorkers, encouraging its residents to read more, giving them an alternative to the free papers that get tossed out and even the digi-trash that crowds our time. In doing so, we help to recycle used books that would have unfortunately been thrown away.

    You will find us near major subway stations on the first Tuesday of each month.The idea is that once someone is finished with a book, they either drop it off in one of our conveniently located drop boxes or back to us at a station. Unlike a library, there will be no due dates, penalties, fees or registrations. We only ask that you return it once you are done so that the same book can be enjoyed by another commuter.

  • What was the last book, magazine and newspaper you read on the subway? – 6000 people respond and the New York Times posts the results
  • How and what people read on the New York City subways – Plenty of detailed examples of people, their books, and their travels: "Reading on the subway is a New York ritual, for the masters of the intricately folded newspaper, as well as for teenage girls thumbing through magazines, aspiring actors memorizing lines, office workers devouring self-help inspiration, immigrants newly minted — or not — taking comfort in paragraphs in a familiar tongue. These days, among the tattered covers may be the occasional Kindle, but since most trains are still devoid of Internet access and cellphone reception, the subway ride remains a rare low-tech interlude in a city of inveterate multitasking workaholics. And so, we read.

    There are those whose commutes are carefully timed to the length of a Talk of the Town section of The New Yorker, those who methodically page their way through the classics, and those who always carry a second trash novel in case they unexpectedly make it to the end of the first on a glacial F train."

    (thanks Avi and Anne)

  • Lego grabs ahold of customers with both hands – From 2006, great Wired piece about Lego's approach to involving ardent fans/customers in developing future products.
  • Noting:books – the simple yet dynamic way to track your reading, from the dates you start and finish a book, to your thoughts along the way.
  • CourseSmart brings textbooks to the iPhone in PDF; major readability challenges ensue – “It’s not the first place to go to read your textbook,” Mr. Lyman said of the iPhone app. But he said that it could be helpful if “you’re standing outside of the classroom, the quiz is in 10 minutes, and you want to go back to that end-of-chapter summary that helped you understand the material.”
  • Nice profile of Lego’s business culture and the tension between growth and losing track of their legacy – But the story of Lego’s renaissance — and its current expansion into new segments like virtual reality and video games — isn’t just a toy story. It’s also a reminder of how even the best brands can lose their luster but bounce back with a change in strategy and occasionally painful adaptation.

Consulting Co-Creation

One of the interesting things about having a small business is the flexibility in how we can work. Our business model is based around a certain type of engagement: typically 6 to 8 weeks of half to 3/4 time, working directly with medium to large number-sized client team. But many other things come up (i.e., two of our last few projects involved direct collaboration with another agency, who had the original client relationship). Sometimes these different ways of working don’t work out, sometimes they are non-starters (like the call I returned a few weeks ago in which my guy had to wrap up the call to claim his court time; had an idea for a new company “but we’re not doing it for money”, and despite my clarity that this wasn’t a fit, was told I would be hearing from the partner, who of course didn’t follow through), but overall, I like the possibility that others can construct (or suggest) scenarios beyond what I may have thought of.

Recently I had a fun and simple gig; spend a day with a team, helping them to synthesize some data; pulling out some key themes and putting some text to it. There was no proposal, no deliverable, it was just a day of thinking, talking, synthesizing, organizing, writing.

Of course, we’re all hoping that it turns into more, either more like that, or more bigger, but as a first step, it was pretty fun. Variety is one of the key benefits of working in a consultancy, and varying the structure of the engagement is one source that I am always learning more about.

Don’t Abandon Expertise For The Fleeting Pleasures Of Collaboration

In a thoughtful piece that carefully debunks some of the co-creation hype, my friend and colleague Denise Lee Yohn writes about Viewer Created Adverising Messages at brandchannel

Much more important, however, is the fact that these ads likely miss the opportunity to demonstrate brand leadership; that is, to express the unique and compelling brand point of view that transcends the product or service being sold. The ads everyone points to as having been the most disruptive, and therefore the most successful, are ones that represent the thought leadership of the brand. Think Apple’s 1984 commercial and Nike’s original Just Do It campaign. No consumer, no matter how talented or cool or brand fanatical, would have ever come up with those ads.This is because consumers know what they know at the moment-they know why they like a product-but they don’t know the vision of the brand. They don’t know the company’s dreams and aspirations for the brand, and so they lack the insight and foresight to realize an ad’s full potential. Their ads may be cute or clever, but they won’t further brand leadership. Just as product development should be consumer-informed, so should creative development. But innovative, game-changing companies don’t ask consumers to actually develop new products for them; they shouldn’t ask consumers to develop ads for them either.

Now, I’m not questioning the effectiveness of some brands’ consumer-created ads. Converse and MasterCard stand out as companies that have not sacrificed brand consistency, thought leadership, or alignment in their efforts to engage their consumer base in fresh, interactive ways. And before you accuse me of being some old ad agency type pining away for the good ol’ times, let me tell you, I’m not. I’ll be the first to assert that the old advertising model is broken and creative teams need a big wake up call. But that wake up call needs to come from the clients, not consumers, and therein lies the fundamental reason why V-CAMs [Viewer Created Advertising Messages] are a mistake.

Brands are the responsibilities of the companies that produce them. Companies are ultimately responsible for the perceptions of and relationships with consumers that brands develop. Although the consumer now has more information than ever on which to base her brand perceptions, and she is in more control of the brand relationships, it remains the marketer’s role to shape and nurture brand image and equity.

In the blogosphere, consumer-generated content thrives. So even if companies don’t solicit V-CAMs, they’ll still be created. And that’s okay. But actively pursuing consumer-generated advertising as a marketing strategy is a lazy and irresponsible approach to branding. Furthermore, it’s doomed.


It’s not a new phenomenon by any means, but the fake Amazon product reviews are hilarious and surreal. Is this subverting Amazon’s attempt at community building/crowdsourcing/whatever? How does Amazon decide when reviews are too far out or should they even?


Having spent 20 years in the Far East I returned to Blitey with a greying head of hair. This unforseen aging process also affected my tash. Now, a tash is the signature of a Far East Expat, everyone knows that. So, yes hullo, I had to try and salvage what dignity I had.

I first of all tried to dye my tash. This resulted in me going to A&E for severe burns to the upper lip and they had to shave my white tickler off. I was distraught. I had an important meeting with some government ministers the following week and I would never grow my pride and joy back in time.

Hense my intro to FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY. I was saved, and I had 5 spares incase number 1 fell into my beer.

My meeting with the governement ministers went very well indeed and everyone commented on how good I looked and how my tash had grown to a quality expat thickness.

I now no longer grow my natural tash as ‘6 WAY’ is more versatile and I can put it to bed at night (I have a little action man bunkbed for him) meaning I dont have a shabby tash in the morning.

Hurrray for 6 WAY.

Yes hullo…


Is there a man, woman, or child who would not benefit from ownership of a FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY? I think not. Once the crucial element of Rosalind’s transformation in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, now the centerpiece of my casual Friday wear, the FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY is as timeless as hair itself.

The product ships with an extensive manual describing the different curves the moustache can take, but neglects to list the six accepted ways of wearing the hairpiece:

1) Below the nose, above the lip: the classic; highly recommended.

2) Atop a bald head, in lieu of a toupee: be careful when removing your bowler.

3) On one’s right-hand index finger: briefly popular during the Victorian era; long out of favor in polite society.

4) On one’s bait and tackle: a delightful surprise. Ladies love this, as will your fellow fishermen.

5) Atop one’s feet: requires two moustaches. One bare foot looks ridiculous.

6) On the cheek: a jaunty variant of the classic upper palate.

It saddens me that I need to say this, but I have seen too many neglected moustaches to remain silent: please, gentlemen, take care of your moustache! I heartily recommend Colonel Ichabod Conk’s Moustache Wax. If you can withstand the Colonel’s grim visage staring at you from beyond the grave (and the side of the jar), your FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY will thank you for the much-needed wax job.

Lego grabs ahold of customers with both hands

Great Wired piece about involving ardent fans/customers in developing future products. Clearly, having the right attitude about your customers, and a whole lot of letting go is essential to innovation (okay almost a bad pun there, sorry).

The one key difference between the four panelists and actual Lego staffers: a paycheck. For their participation, Hassenplug and his cohorts received a few Lego crane sets and Mindstorms NXT prototypes. They even paid their own airfares to Denmark. That was fine by Hassenplug. “Pretty much the comment from all four of us was ‘They’re going to talk to us about Legos, and they’re going to pay us with Legos?'” Hassenplug says. “‘They actually want our opinion?’ It doesn’t get much better than that.”


Some Lego executives worried that the hackers might cannibalize the market for future Mindstorms accessories or confuse potential customers looking for authorized Lego products.

After a few months of wait-and-see, Lego concluded that limiting creativity was contrary to its mission of encouraging exploration and ingenuity. Besides, the hackers were providing a valuable service. “We came to understand that this is a great way to make the product more exciting,” Nipper says. “It’s a totally different business paradigm – although they don’t get paid for it, they enhance the experience you can have with the basic Mindstorms set.” Rather than send out cease and desist letters, Lego decided to let the modders flourish; it even wrote a “right to hack” into the Mindstorms software license, giving hobbyists explicit permission to let their imaginations run wild.

Soon, dozens of Web sites were hosting third-party programs that helped Mindstorms users build robots that Lego had never dreamed of: soda machines, blackjack dealers, even toilet scrubbers. Hardware mavens designed sensors that were far more sophisticated than the touch and light sensors included in the factory kit. More than 40 Mindstorms guidebooks provided step-by-step strategies for tweaking performance out of the kit’s 727 parts.

Lego’s decision to tap this culture of innovation was a natural extension of its efforts over the past few years to connect customers to the company.

Earthlink sez you decide – about them?

EarthLink You Decide 5 6 2005 12 01 57 PM.jpg

Earthlink is running a promotion now where you the customer (or prospective customer) can decide which of their employees deserves a $1,000 bonus. Of course, the two employees represent key benefits of Earthlink that they are trying to highlight – virus-fighting and spam-blocking.

The site [no longer active] offers you the chance to look at their desks and see how hard they are working, etc. It’s a weird sort of sales effort, perhaps bringing in the American Idol-esque participation all the while promoting these benefits of their service.

It seems that the more innovative companies are focusing their story around co-creation (an emerging buzzword) – where the customers are involved in stuff about the company, but in stuff that is relevant to them (i.e., what type of products or services are offered) – contrast this promotion with the recent AOL ads in which customers appeared at HQ to demand services they wanted. Earthlink is taking a step way back here, asking us to get involved with and care about the workaday lives of their employees, and their compensation? I don’t want a job at Earthlink and I don’t want to have to think about it. I want Earthlink to think about me and what I want and need. They’re getting at that here, but in a completely roundabout way that seems out of step with the times.

Of course, for every trend there is a counter-trend. The counter-trend that Earthlink is latching onto is participation. Going to Costco lets you feel a bit like a stockboy, open kitchens in restaurants involve you in the cooking process, etc. But in those cases, the participation supports a value (low warehouse-direct prices, freshness and quality), not simply participation for its own sake.


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