The World of Ends

David Weinberger has an item about The World of Ends and an excellent review/rebuttal from Ken Camp.

David and Doc Searls comment that we are screwing up the internet by making a mistake about what it is. That is accurate, but I think that the problem stems from the fact that people try to fit everything into models that they understand.

We understand telephones and television, so it is natural that we compare the internet to those models. Google is really just like the TV Guide, helping me figure out what is on. We assume that it can be regulated just like we do with commercial broadcasting.

The RIAA, manufacturers of CDs and other recording media, also apply their existing model to the internet. They are willing to sell a song for 99 cents because that is the price to produce, market, sell, and distribute a song. They assume that people will not realize that much of the cost has been eliminated. Of course they aren’t satisfied with that. They now want to charge multiple times for the same song, once for the home, once for in the car and once for on our computers. Or they’ll sell you the right to copy it twice but no more. Or the CD will self-destruct after 10 playings. If they were willing to work to create a reasonable model for the internet they might solve their own problem. On the other hand, the artists who create the music are split on this issue.

In Blown to Bits, Philip Evans and Thomas Wurster state:

Information is the glue that holds value chains and supply chains together. But that glue is now melting. The fundamental cause is the explosion in connectivity and in the information standards that are enabling the open and almost cost-free exchange of a widening universe of rich information. When everyone can communicate richly with everyone else, the narrow, hardwired communications channels that used to tie people together simply become obsolete. And so do all the business structures that created those channels or explot them for competitive advantage.

By enabling the exchange of rich information, the internet is melting that glue. What you’re reading is an interlinked collection of information, comprised of bits and pieces from people who may never have met or even heard of one another. The concept of that collection didn’t exist until recently, and will probably change even more in the future.

Customer Experience 101

There is a big box electronics retailer in Canada called Future Shop. They have a policy, stated on their receipts at Christmas time, that returns are only accepted with receipt until January 5. They further state that returns cannot be processed on December 26 or 27. That leaves exactly 9 days to exchange something. Other than the accounting department, who could be satisfied by such a policy?

I happened to be browsing through one of their stores a couple of days ago. The store was extremely busy as a result of their after Christmas sale. I noticed that the exchange/return line extended almost out of the store the whole time I was there, with approximately 40 customers at any time being served by 2 people, while a seemingly infinite number of salespeople roamed the crowded store.

I think it stands to reason that every person in that line was having a painful customer experience. Furthermore, every potential customer had to make their way past that line. Perhaps there is a better way?

My father still *is*.

I recently wrote that my father “was” an amateur radio operator. He kindly informed me yesterday that he still “is” an amateur radio operator.

In the English language, what would seem to be a subtle grammatical mistake can be interpreted in vastly different ways. Always make sure that the message you provide is heard the way that you intended it to be…

The sky is falling. Or isn’t it?

The Skeptical Environmentalist Slashdot says that Danish scientist Bjorn Lomborg is in trouble because his book The Skeptical Environmentalist suggests that current environmental concerns such as global warming might be based on bad science. It’s pretty easy to go with the flow of current prevailing thought, but obviously very difficult to challenge those ideas. I’m going to go with the challenger, because I can’t recall any earthshaking events that didn’t involve radical thinking.

Blogs as customer communication?

It strikes me that blogs are an idea mechanism for dynamic customer communication, and the use of comments and ideal feedback tool. Yes a rudimentary search turns up very little information. An article in the Denver Business Journal, Shoestring Marketing, talks about the idea. Macromedia has a blog. has one as well, though they don’t offer the option of comment.

Is it possible that this hasn’t become obvious to others? Everyday I see examples of poor customer communication, and it seems clear to me that blogs are a great answer to creating community. I’ll have to do a little more research and get back to you.


Your customers talk. Other customers hear. You can’t stop them. Doesn’t it make sense to give them information, and address their issues, even if only to state that you are aware of the issue? So why do so many companies feel the need to hide the truth from their customers? Isn’t more communication better? If not, when and why is less better?

Early Christmas gift… a new phone.

I finally broke down and bought a new Motorola T720. Perhaps it’s just me, but the cellular phone store always seems like a cross between used car lot and discount stereo sales. They all want to make a deal, have no idea of the phone features, and want to sell me lots of stuff. And like used car prices, cell phone prices are totally arbitrary, making it impossible to compare the offers from different stores. Seems like I did ok. The calls are crystal clear.