Monthly Archives: March 2009

Soso Free Music (in China…)

So today’s big news in the digital music realm is that Google will start offering links to free music download sites—but only in China. Check out The New York Times coverage and the article’s comments, like this one:

“When 99% people are not paying for music, you can’t simply accuse all of them as pirates.”

It seems like Kodak could learn a think or two about how free is the key. I guess we’ll see how this all pans out over time for the rest of the world.

soso2What’s more, and somewhat along these lines, today I also had a moment to delve into Miller Theatre’s (a music presenter, mind you) web stats. I was initially amazed to see that a good chunk of our web traffic is from China. (This is not necessarily in sync with our in-person audience demographics.)  And that Soso Music is a big referrer to us. But now, after learning a little more about internet use and music popularity trends in China, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at all. Fascinating.


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Filed under Fostering Sharing, Just HAD to Share (Random)

Not Kodak’s Moment

Christy, age 3, and Shannon, age 7

Christy, age 3, and Shannon, age 7

Here is one of my parents’ favorite old pictures of me and my sister. The quality is poor because it’s old, it’s not digital, and my dad xeroxed it and then snail mailed it to me.

I prefer to use and was happy with Kodak Gallery for my picture sharing. And, when I finally got a Mac, I was even happier to learn that there is an easy upload application for Mac users. But some bad news came this week—Kodak jumped on the “strengthening” the Terms of Services bandwagon. Here are the basics of their new policy, which is also oh-so-cutely highlighted on their homepage:

  1. You must spend $4.99 annually if you use 2GB of storage or less.
  2. You must spend $19.99 annually if you use more than 2GB of storage.
  3. If you don’t follow rules A/B, your pictures may be deleted.

Yikes! The good news is that I’m covered for this year. But, now I’m nervous. The phrase “may be deleted” is a bad thing when it comes to priceless memories. Will Kodak notify me prior to cutting me off? I assume so, but still…the beauty of the Kodak Gallery—the ability of freely share photos with everyone with an email address, including my dad—is gone.

I was thinking of switching to Snapfish, but it turns out they have a similar policy. Hmm… On one hand I don’t blame these services for trying to make a buck. And, minimum purchase requirements seem less stingy that annual fees I suppose. Then again, I believe that some users might prefer the peace of mind of just paying for use up front; the alternative as it stands now a) seems like a hassle to stay on top of even if your status is communicated clearly and b) comes across as purely restrictive and negative with the deletion threat.

In broader terms, what is really happening here is an older company trying to hold on to an old fashioned (i.e. hard copy) way of doing business.

The solution to this issue? I haven’t a surefire one. But, I bet it lies somewhere in between considering the free service as a branding investment more than as a storefront and rewarding users who pass on their pictures (and the brand) to others and do spend money, rather than punishing those who do not.

Now, look at this: a video highlighting the Kodak brand in general and, by default, the Gallery in particular, too. (The longer version is even more touching, and is the thing that compelled me to dig up the ol’ photo above.) Consider the core message—it boasts a strong story, yet is almost laughable considering the new Gallery codes.

“Keep me, protect me, share me, and I will live forever…Keep it Kodak.”

For now I will just ensure all of my pictures live in iPhoto on my hard drive. Over time, I will probably shift my dollars spent on prints to be through this site, too, because it will become my new photo home base. The only problem now is that sharing high resolution images from iPhoto to non-Applers (i.e. my dad) becomes tricky.

Clearly, I’m on the market for a new picture portal. I want to have my cake (free storage) and eat it (be able to share via email), too. Does anyone have any recommendations?


Filed under Case Studies, Fostering Sharing

There’s no turning back

After my earlier post expounding on Clay Shirky’s book, I’d like to focus again on a more recent—and brilliantly bold and stunningly composed—piece by him: Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. (Written on March 13, it appears to be one of only three entries on his weblog. Hmm?)

He opens the entry with the simple, yet somehow perplexing notion that in 1993 a 14-year-old was sued simply for sharing an article he admired with lots and lots of people. And he closes the entry making the case of why new communication models “will rely on excitable 14-year-olds distributing.”

But sandwiched between references to that 14-year-old (could be the same one we discussed in class…) he makes a shockingly strong case:

Society doesn’t need newspapers.

Amazingly, I couldn’t agree more. It’s an exciting (and scary) time. You’ve got to read it to understand why. Ok, really, read it now.

(Bloggers John Gruber and Colleen Wainwright agree that you should read it.)

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Filed under Defining Sharing

Selfish Sharing is Still Sharing

One of the most interesting and timeless types of sharing is charitable giving. I’ve been fortunate to correspond with Joe Waters, director of cause and event marketing at Boston Medical Center (BMC), about how he thinks new technologies have impacted fundraising and development. Before reading on, I suggest you check out his blog, Selfish Giving.

Header for Joe's Blog, "Wings," courtesy of Gapingvoid (

Header for Joe's Blog, "Wings," courtesy of Gapingvoid (

At what point did you become an adopter? When did you realize that communications channels were undergoing an irrevocable “e-shift”?

For me it’s really not about a shift, but what’s effective. And there is clear movement out there to new forms of media, whether it is blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’m interested in staying effective and that’s where I need to be.

Of all the technologies you employ, which has yield the most response?

I think my blog has been a great tool to educate potential sponsors about cause marketing and to position myself as an expert in the field. It’s almost an online resume/notebook that I’m constantly updating with new ideas, accomplishments, and projects.

Asking donors to share their time, talents, and money is as old as the Catholic church, and probably older. But fundraising has typically been based on the idea of relationship building, and many would argue that online relationships tend to be inherently less personal than face to face cultivations. Has the internet helped or hurt (or both)?

Fundraising exclusively online is not a development strategy; it’s a tactic. To be successful raising money you need a comprehensive strategy that involves many different types of communication, including online. Online can be very efficient and effective, but it’s not a standalone. Just like cause marketing shouldn’t be a standalone. It needs to be done within the full suite of development activities (events, major gifts, foundations, etc.). The Internet can help nonprofits so long as they recognize they can’t stop doing all the other things they’re doing. Unfortunately, it won’t replace many of the things they are already doing. But it will enhance the success of those efforts.

Building on this question, you said: “Some people have asked why I gave my blog the rather irreverent name of Selfish Giving. I meant it as no offense to the practice of cause marketing or philanthropy, both of which I hold in high regard. But cause marketing is giving with an agenda, so why not call it what it is?” I agree that frankness is the way of the online and blog worlds. But probably not everyone in your industry does. Any backlash stemming from this conflict by people who don’t get it?

No one has ever said anything negative about my blog’s name. Of course, now that I say that I’ll probably have ten negative comments tonight! But really, people usually laugh when they hear the name. I think it also fits with my no-nonsense approach and witty tone on the blog. People know when you’re being sincere and anyone who reads my blog knows that I admire companies that give. I should add that there is plenty of unselfish corporate behavior that the press just doesn’t want to see right now.

So, BMC gala invites are distributed online this year. Interesting…

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? It was the tight economy this year that prompted us to rethink how we spent our money, especially for a big event like the Gala that involves 1,300 guests. One of the great things about a recession is that it makes you really question everything you’re doing, and when we looked at how most people heard about the Gala it wasn’t from the invite. We also cut the save-the-date card and the gala program (which I always thought was a big waste anyway). And we’ll save $15k by not having flower centerpieces at the event. Flowers are beautiful and great, but we think it sends the right message to our donors that our patients come before petunias.

The Rabbi Chaim story, to me, is one of depth vs. width. One of the comments on you blog makes valid point: “My guess is that the Rabbi’s SM is an active community with much participation in conversations. You need to build a similar community, now that you see how effective one can be. It is not about the cause, it is about the community around the cause.” Do you have advice for cause marketers in making their online sharing efforts authentic and community-based?

I think you have to try to make the online experience just as real as you can for donors. For example, we have a Boston Marathon team and while these folks raise tens of thousands of dollars for BMC, many just don’t have the time to visit the hospital to see firsthand the work we do. So instead we bring the hospital to them. Using a Flip video camera that cost us a couple hundred dollars, we’ve taped a series of interviews on our food pantry, cancer care, etc and then shared them with our runners via a weekly email newsletter. While we would still love to have them visit, we’ve tapped technology for a second option that is easy, cheap but effective in delivering our message of hope, health, and inclusiveness.

**Special thanks to Joe Waters and to Jessica for helping me coordiante this interview.**


Filed under Charitable Giving, Interviews

Overheard Sharing Part 3: Elevator Speech

This post is the last in my three-part “overheard” series.  Click here and here to read the first two.  This last one is yet another instance where the internet could NOT come into play to facilitate sharing.

The location: A train at 185th Street Elevator. (Yes, I take the elevator. I have to. It is the only way to get to and from the train if you live in the mountains of Washington Heights as I do.)

The time: 9:30PM

The players: Two elevator attendants, one on the clock and one not.  (Yes, the elevators up here have attendants during peak hours. I know it’s weird that the MTA employs someone to push buttons, but they do. This picture shows how it works. They literally have a cube in the elevator and sometimes a stick so they don’t have to reach to push. They also hold the elevator when people empty off a train because I guess New Yorkers are too mean to be trusted to do so. Then they say goodbye when we all leave. Bizarre, but true, I swear. At first I hated it but now I’m used to it and am surprised by how many of my neighbors seem to befriend these workers.  They are friendly people after all…)

185th Street Elevator Attendant in Action: Please Pardon the Phone-Quality Photo.

Depicted here is a 185th Street Elevator Attendant in Action (Please Pardon the Phone-Quality Photo)

The scenario: So these two ladies are chit chatting away about their days, responsibilities, and who knows what. The elevator reaches the top, the doors open (and remain open thanks to the button pusher), and people shuffle out with harried and muffled “goodbyes” and “thank yous” and “have a good nights” to the attendant.

“Get home safe,” saying the on duty attendant. 

“Oh that’s a good one, ” says her off duty friend. “I’m going to use that.”

Funny, how what some view as a nonchalant formality, others view as a serious and important interchange. This reminds me of the classic Xerox repairmen walkie talkie case, except even less digital. Us elevator riders don’t think much of that portion of our commute, but these two women evidently take their job and the daily social interactions that go with it as serious business. And, they share way more than a bright yellow office.


Filed under Case Studies

Overheard Sharing Part 2: Where’s the beef?

I’ll admit it. I like (some) street meat. So there, you know. Now whether you think I’m normal or nasty, here was a dialogue I heard between the female customer in front of me and the peddler last week:

And example, but not the exact man I discuss. (Love his signage.)

And example, but not the exact man I discuss. (Love his signage.)

“Oh, ok, thank you,” replies the vendor before he folds up the sheet and tucks it above his head in what reminds me of a visor in a car. “I can keep this one, right?”

“Sure, sure” said the girl. Then, she ordered her dirty water dog and went on her way…without paying.

Next is my turn and I ask what that was all about. Apparently she was informing the peddler of Columbia’s academic calendar. His days off coincide with the school’s.

Makes sense, but imagine that: A face-to-face exchange between two uncommon dealers dictates one man’s work schedule. Who knows when this relationship started? They clearly didn’t know one another besides this, but it seemed to suit both of them just fine. Huh. Only in NY I suppose.

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Overheard Sharing Part 1: Playing Hookey via Facebook

busThis is the first of three posts in a series in which I’m going to share “overheard in NY” scenarios involving sharing. The first relates somewhat to online sharing, the second two cause me to side with the Social Network Reject’s general mentality—they each absolutely required real life and not a computer to happen.

On cross town bus this morning I overheard a teenager I’ll call Gus tell his group of five or so friends that he didn’t have an ID.  Apparently “Fred” didn’t either.

Their female friend I’ll call Natalie was upset: “Did you guys even LOOK at Facebook? I created that event for a reason. Ugggh.”

There was some quiet discussion about whether or not they needed their IDs, and the collective decision was that at least a few of them did.  At the next stop they got off the bus. But, before they did, Gus made a final announcement to all of the people nearby who were listening in on this group’s dilemma: “Don’t worry people, we aren’t going to a rated R-movie or anything.”

They have a thing or two to learn from Ferris Bueller about coordinating these types of things. Maybe Facebook isn’t always the way to go.

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Filed under Case Studies, Digital/Social Networks