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Check out my killer batch-invoicing combo move!

Check out my killer batch-invoicing combo move! published on

There’s a moment when you realize the torch has passed to another generation. It was the first time my kids introduced me to an online phenomenon I’d never heard of. For all I know, our mentor/student roles may be permanently reversed.

That phenomenon is the Let’s Play, a video where gamers screencast themselves playing through a video game. They’ll often narrate the game action and read captioned dialogue in character. My first taste of this was Stampy Cat’s Minecraft videos on YouTube; his is one of several YouTube channels that have amassed millions of followers and a pretty decent income.

And while Stampy Cat (alter-ego of one Joseph Garrett) may have the kind of distinctive voice and manner that wears on some parents after a while, listening to some of the other Let’s Play videos out there gives you a new appreciation for Garrett’s sweet sense of fun and playfulness.

The whole phenomenon still baffles some folks. I can see the appeal, but then again, I don’t get hockey fandom or Pokémon.

9. Meowtrics and measurement: using your data to change the world

9. Meowtrics and measurement: using your data to change the world published on No Comments on 9. Meowtrics and measurement: using your data to change the world

Over the next several days, I’m posting cartoons I drew for Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World, by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine. I blogged about the book a while ago on Social Signal, explaining why I love it and why I think you should go buy a copy right now.

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=ºi º= /

In Chapter 9, “Measurement and the Aha! Moment: Using Your Data to Tell Stories, Make Decisions and Change the World”, the rubber really hits the road. And because we’re changing the world, both the rubber and the road are made from reclaimed and recycled materials; the vehicle is electrically driven and charged from a wind-turbine-powered grid; and it’s actually not on the road at all because we’re taking modern commuter rail instead.

This is where you dive into the data and find actionable insights.

Roy Neary serves dinner

Side effects of reading this chapter include dramatic improvements in organizational effectiveness, and a compulsion to construct bar graphs out of Cheerios at the breakfast table – kind of like Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, only with data visualizations rather than perfectly-scaled replicas of Devil’s Tower.

And as with Roy Neary, your loved ones will still think you’re nuts, and your living room will end up filled with mud and the neighbours’ shrubs. (Actually, the mud may just be because I’ve misconfigured Google Analytics.)

In fact, one of the more exciting things you can find is a Devil’s Tower-shaped plateau in your metrics: not just a short-lived spike, but a significant, sustained increase in some measurable variable that matters to you. One such Devil’s Tower led Beth to start regularly posting Fun Geeky Friday Shares on her Facebook Page.

Also in this chapter, Katie makes a pretty compelling case that measurement is hawt.

When commenters attack!

When commenters attack! published on 2 Comments on When commenters attack!

When I posted this on ReadWriteWeb a year and a half ago, I got into a back-and-forth with someone that got my back and my dander up, which I don’t have to tell you completely distracted me from actually posting it here. So, at long last, here’s a coveted LOST NOISE TO SIGNAL, sure to be a collector’s item.

No, it’s not all commenters on Digg. Or on YouTube. Or, or, or.

But a whole lot of them seem to be lying in wait to sink their teeth into the nearest virtual pantleg… or exposed jugular. The culture of vehement attack and merciless ridicule is still virulent in a lot of places online. (The whole “You Suck At…” meme is only the latest example.) (See? Proof that this was a long time ago. –Rob, 2012.)

I’ve heard the advice that the you deal with that kind of attack by growing a thick skin, having a sense of humour about it, and generally hardening your heart and pretending it doesn’t hurt. It’s the same advice we used to give bullying victims before we discovered it just encourages jackasses to become bigger jackasses.

Anyone building or managing an online community has a responsibility to keep the oil slick of aggression out of the conversational coastal wetlands. That doesn’t mean there aren’t lively or even heated disagreements, but that users aren’t aiming to actually wound each other. And that responsibility isn’t just to users; it’s to the business or organization behind the community, because that kind of toxic behaviour rubs off on their reputation.

I won’t pretend it’s easy, especially with the entrenched culture of an established community. But civil behaviour ought to be the expected norm of online community, not the welcome exception.

Great moments of 2011: YouTube meets Maria Aragon meets Lady Gaga

Great moments of 2011: YouTube meets Maria Aragon meets Lady Gaga published on No Comments on Great moments of 2011: YouTube meets Maria Aragon meets Lady Gaga

Five days into 2012, and I’m still dwelling on the past… but what a great bit of the past to dwell on. How many talented little girls and boys were spurred to pour even more of themselves into their art because of this?

It takes fantastic ability, and a lot of work, for someone like Maria Aragon to do this. (It also takes an enlightened attitude from Lady Gaga and her record label; reflect for a sec on just how quickly a cease-and-desist letter or a DMCA takedown notice to YouTube would have ended this story.)

In case you haven’t seen (and heard) it already, here’s Ms. Aragon:

Watercooler 2010

Watercooler 2010 published on No Comments on Watercooler 2010

Originally posted on BlogWorld.

The full title of this session was “Convergence of media and the future of unscripted drama on the web.”  Brian Solis (author of Engage and creator of the Conversation Prism infographic you’ve used in at least three slide decks so far this year) interviewed Survivor creator  Mark Burnett on how networked communication is challenging, supporting and transforming shows like his.

It was a fascinating conversation, starting with the essential importance of story to both blogging (something Solis speaks about so eloquently that I wonder if he might have the same kind of spec screenplays buried on his hard drive that I do) and shows like Survivor, where Burnett invoked Joseph Campbell and walked us through the show’s imagery of life, death and  rebirth.

From there, the two looked at the way the online backchannel has transformed water-cooler conversations. Those conversations now start during the show itself, and take place everywhere, Burnett said. “The water cooler is now omni-present.”

Cartoon: two people at a water cooler. One asks: 'So, didja see the liveblogging for Survivor last night?'

Burnett tells Solis, I pitched 'Joe Lieberman's Connecticut, but nobody bit.

The conversation ranged over football legend Jimmy Johnson’s appearance on a rescheduledSurvivor to the MTV Movie Awards, before they launched into Burnett’s latest project, Sarah Palin’s Alaska. He described Alaska as “epic”, and we became the first audience to see promotional footage from the upcoming show.

Then, at the end, Solis announced a surprise: the footage was being released to the world not through the usual channels, but  via Steve Garfield’s YouTube channel. (Burnett acknowledged the plan may have initially caused some agita in the executive suites at TLC.)

TLC exec's head exploding. But tastefully. And educationally.

Madness v. Method

Madness v. Method published on No Comments on Madness v. Method

I don’t fall in love with corporate campaigns very often, let alone draw a tribute cartoon. But this one by Method

Basically, Method’s been using a daisy in conjunction with its sustainable-household-product marketing for years. Along comes Clorox, who starts using a yellow daisy for its line of sustainable household products, and then slaps Method with a cease-and-desist letter.

Method chose Earth Day to respond with this – a site that lets you vote whether you think the daisy should belong to Clorox, Method or the planet – and with this:

Anyway, this cartoon is in honor of not just a brilliant bit of campaigning, but of one corporation taking a stand against intellectual property run amuck. Come on, Clorox – daisies have been around for at least 36 million years. I think the term for that is prior art.