Curious About the Power of Word of Mouth? Just Ask Barack Obama.

Was reading the Washington Post this morning and found a story about Barack Obama kind of interesting. Despite mass media telling a town other wise, people still hold onto incorrect rumors spread via word of mouth.

On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor’s house, at his son’s auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate’s background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The article goes on to say:

Does he trust a local newspaper article that details Obama’s Christian faith? Or his friend Leroy Pollard, a devoted family man so convinced Obama is a radical Muslim that he threatened to stop talking to his daughter when he heard she might vote for him?

When things get out there into the open, whether they’re accurate or not, there is almost no stopping it.  People talk.  People believe what their friends say and will repeat it, regardless of the truth.

I think this shows that mass media isn’t what it used to be for starting a nation-wide personal dialogue with voters.

Politicians need to find a new way to get to know and form a relationship with the voters.

Clearspring Launches a Redesign

Screenshot of the Clearspring Home Page

Yesterday at Clearspring, we launched a redesign of the Web site.  It’s AWESOME.

Lots of hugs to our amazing Web and User Experience teams.

BTW – Check out the Developers Page and scroll down to the bottom.  There is a photo of this really good looking guy.  You may recognize him. 😉 :-p

Helping People Get To “The Moment”

Jason Calacanis has a really great post  – Finding your startup’s “moment”.

He goes on to say…

“The moment” is the exact time when an individual, after engaging your product, “gets it.” By “gets it” I mean they understand your product’s value proposition at such a deep level that they:

  1. get excited
  2. have an epiphany of sorts
  3. can explain the value of your product to others easily

One of the favorite parts of my job is helping people to achieve “the moment” where they understand Clearspring and the value it can play in their lives.

I love that feeling when their eyes light up.  They’re like… “You solve the problem I’ve been having for the last 3 months.”

I guess part of the trick is also being able to get the user to “the moment” as fast as possible.  It’s important to identify what the barriers are for my users to understand the vale proposition of my company.

What have you achieved “the moment” for lately?

Smithsonian Joins the Flickr Commons Project

Portrait of Albert Einstein and Others

Now this is REALLY cool.  The Smithsonian Institution has joined the Flickr Commons project.  They’ve made 862 photos available through their Flickr account, like this one of Albert Einstein.

Please go enjoy, tag, and be inspired by these photos.

I think this is exactly what these institutions should be doing.  They should be going out of their way to put their content any where and everywhere that it is going to get the most use.

If people aren’t going to be coming to their Web sites to view this content, put the content where the people are.

At the Library of Congress, their are tons and tons and tons of photos available through the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.  But…I’d venture to say that it has never gotten as much attention as the Library had when it put photos on Flickr.

The future of the Web is distributed.

Speaking of the Library of Congress photos on Flickr.  They just posted some AWESOME photos of a “Home Makers Suffrage Parade” in the very early 20th century.


The W3C Web Site is Getting a Redesign… SWEET!

Yesterday, W3C staffer and resident blogger Karl Dubost put up a post to tease what I’m assuming is a redesign of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web site.

Sounds like it will be announced by renowned Web designer Ethan Marcotte on June 24th at the An Event Apart conference.

I think I speak for all designers and developers who espouse Web standards when I say THANK YOU.  The redesign will make our lives so much easier and enjoyable.

iPhone Web Apps vs iPhone Software Apps

On Monday, geeks from around the world watched with baited breath as Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in addition to announcing the 3G iPhone, gave a status update on iPhone 2.0 which will include 3rd party software apps.

They software apps they demo’d were awesome and showed the amazing breadth of what you’ll be able to do with the iPhone.

BUT… I wonder if all this interest in creating 3rd party software apps for the iPhone will quell interest in creating Web apps.

While the promise of iPhone software apps leaves me with glee, it also kind of bums me out.  Why would you want to create something that can only be used on device?

I can’t imagine that Apple will ever license their iPhone software out to other hardware manufacturers.  If you make a software app for the iPhone, it will always stay on the iPhone.

While the promise of the Web is that if the browser makers and the Web publishers both adhere to standards, you’ll have no problem using the content or application no matter what device your on.

The biggest problem with Web apps on the iPhone 1.0 was that the connection was too slow.  You really desired for better interactivity and response when you did something.  Well, having 3G in the iPhone should fix a lot of this.

I wonder if just like with the computer, where we saw a generation of apps first start off as software and then move to the Web (mail, office productivity), if we’ll see the same with mobile and the iPhone.

What do you think? If you were to create an app for the iPhone would you do it as a software or a Web app?  If software, are you comfortable with being so silo’d?

More Evidence of the Decline of the Web Page

Found this kind of interesting when I was doing my morning RSS readering.  Michael Arrington did a story about a new feature on Twitter’s Web site.  This is what he said about it…

I didn’t notice it myself (I use Twhirl and rarely visit the Twitter site)…

I think this is more evidence in the decline of the notion of the Web page.

Because of all the great Web platforms and APIs that are being made avaiable,  the Web is no longer being constrained by the notion of a Web page.  For example, there are many people like Michael Arrington who are using Web applications like Twitter with out ever actually going to the Twitter Web site.

W3C Launches eGovernment Activity

Recently, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) launched its eGovernment Activity and Interest Group.  The group is being co-chaired by my former boss and friend Kevin Novak along with the W3C’s Jose M. Alonso.

The mission of the activity is to “to explore how to improve access to government through better use of the Web and achieve better government transparency using open Web standards.”  This will manfest itself in a series of published best practices and guides.

Having worked for a large government organization that made government data available to the American people, I’m aware that nothing happens quickly.

I hope and pray that this Interest group will be able to get buy in, engage, and create community around these ideas with government officials and people all across the world.

The Power of Offline Community

In our Web 2.0 world we seem to talk an awful lot about online community but the offline community is almost equally if not more important.  Recently, in my parents’ neighborhood, there was an awesome example of the power of offline community.

One family woke up one morning to find their house on fire. They got out with their lives but lost everything.

I can’t even imagine.

The neighborhood… this offline community came together:

That’s when the neighbors kicked into action. A next door neighbor serves as a coordinator for offers of help. Another neighbor, Tracy, who lives across the street from us went door to door in the neighborhood with a bucket where neighbors were asked to throw in contributions. Five hundred dollars was collected to help the family pay expenses during the next few days.

Are you aware of what’s happening in your neighborhood? Would your community kick into action if a member was in need?

Washington DC’s Mixx in the Washington Post

Congrats to the folks at Mixx.

There is an awesome story about Mixx in the Washington Post: “Web Site Puts Personal Spin on News Surfing“…

Chris McGill, the founder of a new McLean start-up called Mixx, is hoping to change the way Web surfers access news.

Mixx, launched in October, aims to let users filter through all the online clutter and get the specific fresh content they want. Users submit interesting items they’ve spotted online, vote on the news they like and post their comments.

Check out the entire story.

(Screenshot by Jason Garber)