- Consumer Heterogeneity and Paid Search Effectiveness: A Large Scale Field Experiment (PDF) — We ﬁnd that new and infrequent users are positively inﬂuenced by ads but that existing loyal users whose purchasing behavior is not inﬂuenced by paid search account for most of the advertising expenses, resulting in average returns that are negative. We discuss substitution to other channels and implications for advertising decisions in large ﬁrms. eBay-commissioned research, so salt to taste. (via Guardian)
- Google’s Help for Hacked Webmasters — what it says.
- 14 Lousy Web Design Trends Making a Comeback Thanks to HTML 5 — “mystery meat icons” a pet bugbear of mine.
- The Human Microbiome 101 (SlideShare) — SciFoo alum Jonathan Eisen’s talk. Informative, but super-notable for “complexity is astonishing, massive risk for false positive associations”. Remember this the next time your Big Data Scientist (aka kid with R) tells you one surprising variable predicts 66% of anything. I wish I had the audio from this talk!
Search Ads Meh, Hacked Website Help, Web Design Sins, and Lazy Correlations
Changing Cities, Design Documentary, Non-Evil Business, and Rebuilding The Lost Web
- 10 Trends That Are Changing Cities Forever (Business Insider) — the only one of these “The n (Massive|Coming|IBM|Important|Critical|Deadly|Brobdignagian) Trends That Will Transform <noun> Forever And Herald The End of Days So Grab Your Ankles And Kiss Your Ass Goodbye Sinners ‘Cos This Is Doom Writ Large Mofos And You Better Get Your Act Together Or You’ll Be Left Behind Along With The Westboro Baptist Church and Everyone Who Ever `Liked’ Carly Rae Jepson on Facebook Yo” articles that ever said anything I was interested in reading. (via Alex Howard)
- Objectified — documentary about design. (via Jim Stogdill)
- I’m Not The Product, But I Play One On The Internet (Derek Powazek) — his point is that it’s not business model that’s to blame, it’s that companies do not respect their customers. [W]e should not assume that, just because we pay a company they’ll treat us better, or that if we’re not paying that the company is allowed to treat us like shit. Reality is just more complicated than that. What matters is how companies demonstrate their respect for their customers. We should hold their feet to the fire when they demonstrate a lack of respect.
- Rebuilding The Web We Lost (Anil Dash) — [T]here’s a huge opportunity to make a great new generation of human-friendly apps with positive social values. Cf Derek’s article above, there’s a lot of thoughtful reflection happening right now.
Drone Show, Ads, GitHub's Importance, and Crowdfunding Science
- Unmanned Systems North America 2012 — huge tradeshow for drones. (via Directions Magazine)
- On Thneeds and the Death of Display Ads (John Battelle) — the video interstitial. Once anathema to nearly every publisher on the planet, this full page unit is now standard on the New York Times, Wired, Forbes, and countless other publishing sites. And while audiences may balk at seeing a full-page video ad after clicking from a search engine or other referring agent, the fact is, skipping the ad is about as hard as turning the page in a magazine. And in magazines, full page ads work for marketers. If you’d raised a kid on AdBlocker, and then at age 15 she saw the ad-filled Internet for the first time, she’d think her browser had been taken over by malware. (via Tim Bray)
- The Most Important Social Network: GitHub — I suspect that GitHub’s servers now contain the world’s largest corpus of commentary around intellectual production.
- Crowdfunded Genomics — a girl with a never-before-seen developmental disorder had her exome (the useful bits of DNA) sequenced, and a never-before-seen DNA mutation found. The money for it was raised by crowdfunding. (via Ed Yong)
Robuttics, Ads-In-Your-Face Book, Pricing News, and Traffic News
- Shiri = Japanese Robotic Ass (YouTube) — I couldn’t watch after 2m30s or so when he starts slapping the robot ass. I never imagined a butt as UI. I eagerly await the hobbyist version, the Arduino Ass Shield. (via Ed Yong)
- Facebook Tests ‘Pay to Promote’ Tool (BBC) — pay to raise prominence of your message, feature being tested in New Zealand. It’s when they offer splash-screen unclosable must-sit-through autoplay video ads as a product that the shark will have been jumped, caught, stripped off fins, and dumped in the ocean with a “EAT AT MORTIE’S” neon sign on its rotting corpse.
- The Newsonomics of Pricing 101 (Nieman Lab) — observes that we are starting to get data on what people will pay for, and how much. Subscribers of the Economist didn’t generally know how much they were paying, and over-estimated the price—suggesting they’d pay more. That suggests pricing power. It makes sense that publishers, new to the pricing trade, have approached it gingerly. Yet the circulation revenue upside may well be substantial. (via Julie Starr)
- Head of Google News on the Future of News — In 2009, the typical news site saw 50% of their unique traffic coming to their homepage, 20-25% from search, and 30-35% from story pages. Social was almost nonexistent. We’re now seeing the homepage receive only 25% of inbound traffic, search with 30-35%, and the rest going to story pages, a huge portion of which is driven by social networks. The Atlantic said they’re seeing 30-35% of their traffic coming from social environments. (via Tim O’Reilly)
Future Manufacturing, Decisions, Politics, and Paying for Your Service
- The Third Industrial Revolution (The Economist) — A number of remarkable technologies are converging: clever software, novel materials, more dexterous robots, new processes (notably three-dimensional printing) and a whole range of web-based services. The factory of the past was based on cranking out zillions of identical products: Ford famously said that car-buyers could have any colour they liked, as long as it was black. But the cost of producing much smaller batches of a wider variety, with each product tailored precisely to each customer’s whims, is falling. The factory of the future will focus on mass customisation–and may look more like those weavers’ cottages than Ford’s assembly line.
- Hiring Executives (Ben Horowitz) — I am going to meditate for a while on Consensus decisions about executives almost always sway the process away from strength and towards lack of weakness.
- Valve’s Handbook for New Employees (PDF) — Since Valve is flat, people don’t join projects because they’re told to. Instead, you’ll decide what to work on after asking yourself the right questions (more on that later). Employees vote on projects with their feet (or desk wheels). Strong projects are ones in which people can see demonstrated value; they staff up easily. This means there are any number of internal recruiting efforts constantly under way. Reminds me of Google, and I wonder how Valve manages politics in an organic hierarchy organization. (via Andy Baio)
- Facebook Numbers — On average, Facebook earned $1.21 on each of its users this last quarter. I’d love to be able to pay them $10/yr and have them work for me instead of for [insert best-fit advertiser here].
Inside Personalized Advertising, Printing Presses Were Good For The Economy, Digital Access, and Ebooks in Libraries
- Web-Scale User Modeling for Targeting (Yahoo! Research, PDF) — research paper that shows how online advertisers build profiles of us and what matters (e.g., ads we buy from are more important than those we simply click on). Our recent surfing patterns are more relevant than historical ones, which is another indication that value of data analytics increases the closer to real-time it happens. (via Greg Linden)
- Information Technology and Economic Change — research showing that cities which adopted the printing press no prior growth advantage, but subsequently grew far faster than similar cities without printing presses. […] The second factor behind the localisation of spillovers is intriguing given contemporary questions about the impact of information technology. The printing press made it cheaper to transmit ideas over distance, but it also fostered important face-to-face interactions. The printer’s workshop brought scholars, merchants, craftsmen, and mechanics together for the first time in a commercial environment, eroding a pre-existing “town and gown” divide.
- They Just Don’t Get It (Cameron Neylon) — curating access to a digital collection does not scale.
- Should Libraries Get Out of the Ebook Business? — provocative thought: the ebook industry is nascent, a small number of patrons have ereaders, the technical pain of DRM and incompatible formats makes for disproportionate support costs, and there are already plenty of worthy things libraries should be doing. I only wonder how quickly the dynamics change: a minority may have dedicated ereaders but a large number have smartphones and are reading on them already.
Singaporean Incubator, Oracle NoSQL, Should Facebook have a Browser?, and GitHub has Competition
- jfdi.asia — Singaporean version of TechStars, with 100-day program (“the bootcamp”) Jan-Apr 2012. Startups from anywhere in the world can apply, and will want to because Singapore is the gateway to Asia. They’ll also have mentors from around the world.
- Oracle NoSQLdb — Oracle want to sell you a distributed key-value store. It’s called “Oracle NoSQL” (as opposed to PostgreSQL, which is SQL No-Oracle). (via Edd Dumbill)
- Facebook Browser — interesting thoughts about why the browser might be a good play for Facebook. I’m not so sure: browsers don’t lend themselves to small teams, and search advertising doesn’t feel like a good fit with Facebook’s existing work. Still, making me grumpy again to see browsers become weapons again.
- Bitbucket — a competitor to Github, from the folks behind the widely-respected Jira and Confluence tools. I’m a little puzzled, to be honest: Github doesn’t seem to have weak spots (the way, for example, that Sourceforge did).
Mitch Joel on matching marketing platforms to your needs and why book ads might work.
In this TOC podcast, Twist Image president Mitch Joel talks about some of the common challenges facing the music, magazine and book publishing sectors. He also expands on his suggestion that publishers should "burn the ships" and not look back.