The Human Touch

23 07 2007

Monopoly

(Source: Wikipedia)

Remember playing Monopoly – the capitalistic real estate game continuously popular for over three generations around the world? Who was the designated banker when you played? Who hid a stash of money under the board for the big reveal when bankruptcy loomed? Did house rules allow inside trading? Every deal was a cash deal, sealed with a handshake. Nina Smith of blogher (the community for women who blog) says: …the good ‘ole fashioned board games (think Monopoly) that taught us as a kids that cash is king. How’s that for personification?

 

Fish

A great article from Chaya Brian Carvalho earlier this year featured her company bcwebwise and enumerated the strategyto give the internet the power of the human touch – and from the looks of it, it is turning into more than just Monopoly money for her and her team. Here’s more from the article but you will want to read the whole piece yourself:

 

Community building generates more interest than just normal promotional campaigns. A community appeals to users and, hence, makes sense to marketers for two main reasons:

1. It entertains and emotes. When done properly, the space is an interesting experience for the user and generates some kind of reaction.

2. It allows users some level of control. Community allows users to control the experience. They can view only what they want and also get to know more about the product in an unobtrusive manner, in fact they are there out of their own choice.

Community networks will be measured by the pass-along rate or “ripples”. Impressions versus ripples? The choice for the savvy and ROI-focused brand manager will be easy. It’s not about how many rocks you throw in the pond, but how many ripples you create, how many people you involve, how much of human interaction there is.

 

Carvalho Carvalho calls the Internet high-speed access to another soul. In my previous post, I compared two very popular communities – Netscape and Digg. Social Media is changing the way we look at things.

Simplicity. Social Media and Web 2.0 have a common thread to revolutionize the internet beyond technology. Certainly they look to simplify through the use of more intuitive, clean technology, and minimalist design. Together they change customer service as well- for the customer and for the provider. Web2.0 is all about simplicity. Flattening layers within these companies show the world that very popular sites can be run by a handful of people. Next we see a new social customer service climate. You can think of your customer service as a chat session with the owner of the company or the manufacturer of your purchase.

NowSourcingNowSourcing is one such company. The original concept of NowSourcing was to outsource IT deliverables with efficiency, simplicity – without borders and crossing time zones as needed. The emphasis is on loyalty – not brand loyalty when we recommend a suite of services to a client. The concept has been branded NowSourcing. We now see that this new form of social media includes community involvement – the human touch. The work we do is what the client would do for herself if she could. With our help, she can.





37signals: Basecamp and Highrise Single Sign-on with Open Bar

16 07 2007

37signals Single Sign-on

37signals has just announced that Basecamp and Highrise accounts can now be accessed via single sign-on. I don’t know about you, but I find this to be one of their best improvements yet. Why? It is just a waste of time flipping through accounts on different windows / tabs. Why bother eating up all your system RAM with a bunch of inactive Firefox tabs?

Openbar

Open Bar

Open Bar has only been out for a few weeks now, but has dramatically improved the way users can use the 37signals products. If you’re like me, you’ve got a Basecamp account for your business projects. Maybe another one for hobby home based projects. Then, you’ve got another set of accounts for Highrise – different businesses, charity lists, and so forth. Evne if you use the same username and password for all of them (note: don’t do this!), it is still a pain to switch between tabs and have all those different bookmarks cluttering your bookmarks toolbar.

OpenID

OpenID

What’s the big deal with OpenID? Simple. You can use it as a single login for multiple applications. Sort of like the way Microsoft Passport (now Windows Live ID) should have been. Since it is an Open Source community, there is extensive support, and a lot of opinions 🙂

The 37signals Open Bar relies on you to have an OpenID, so this is a must.





Stumbleupon + Technorati + Del.icio.us + Flickr = Xoocle, an Interesting Mashup

15 07 2007

Xoocle SU Mashup

Xoocle, an interesting Stumbleupon mashup (currently in Alpha mode) has been created by Thanassis.  Simply enter your Stumbleupon username, and you are then given a listing of all your SU tags.  The first tag will automatically do a mashup on that tag against other popular social networking sites – technorati, del.icio.us, and flickr.

how Xoocle SU mashup works

This is a wonderful resource to see what’s going on in several communities at the same time.  Keep in mind that if you have a general tag such as computers, you’re going to have a very wide variety of different hits across the different sites, but that just speaks to your tagging.  Nicely done!





Chipin.com – Interesting Way to Raise Money

13 07 2007

Chipin.com

Chipin.com is becoming more and more popular lately. This neat web 2.0 site is tearing up the donations track.

What’s that you say? Donations don’t sound exciting? The only news that you want to hear about has something to do with the Bush Administration or the iPhone? Guess again.

Yes, Chipin is making it easy for the world to donate money to your cause right from your website. And they make you look good:

Sample chipin

Very simple interface. NowSourcing was impressed by the ease of use. Simply register, enter your campaign, how much you want to raise, when you need it by, and your PayPal email account. After that, you have a very slick flash widget that you can put right on your site. They also just released widgets for your Facebook profile (note: Facebook account required to view), allowing you to raise money for the groups you’re a part of on Facebook.

With me so far? Instead of having a boring, old little donate button, you get a sweet looking Chipin badge for your cause. What’s more is that these guys are hard at work on making a non-profit fundraising badge that includes the non-profit logo, integrated video, custom design, and messaging. The best part is that you can make your non-profit badge available to other bloggers that support your cause as well.

Currently, Chipin plans to release these special non-profit badges in August 2007. Read more about it here.

Thank you for reading my review – if you’re in the giving mood, do get a chance to check out my cause that I’m trying to raise money for. It is a children’s playground fund (look under the left nav). Thanks for stopping by!





Trading stuff for free vs. Free stuff

10 07 2007

Trading Stuff for Free

Swaptree

Swaptree is a great service that I came across recently. It lets you trade books, music, movies, and games with others for free. You tell the system what you have, and it figures out what you can get in exchange. Note that it supports one-for-one item trades only.

How it works

How Swaptree works

Swaptree does a good job laying out the ground rules simply and clearly. There is also a wonderful walkthrough here. Ebay users will find a similar buyer/seller rating system that they are accustomed to.

The site has been out of public beta since July 4th (so it’s no longer invite only) and seems to be gaining steam. Way to go, guys!


Free Stuff

Freecycle

Freecycle would be a good alternative if you were looking for an item outside of books, music, movies, and games – such as apparel, computers, and furniture. The concept is that someone wants to get rid of something, while another person want s the same item. Rather than throwing the item away or trying to sell for a minimal amount, the item is given away, provided that a local person comes to pick it up.

Freecycle animationHere is a short animation showing what it’s all about.

At the time of this posting, there are a total of 4,041 Freecycle communities throughout the world. Chances are, you are either in or near one of them.





Will blog for food

28 06 2007

DoshDosh

(source: DoshDosh)

DoshDosh has posted a great listing of paid blogging websites. She speaks of the more commonly known sites such as PayPerPost.  I wonder how many people are really trying to blog as their sole existence.  Most are probably juggling between full time and part time jobs and are looking for a little supplemental income.  Maybe others are ghostwriters and getting paid better.

What about using paid blogging websites as more of an interviewing tool? Meaning you sample some bloggers’ work and then hire the best ones on staff? It could work….





37signals: Basecamp / Highrise Review

27 06 2007

37signals

I’m a huge fan of 37signals. For those of you that are not familiar with them – in their own words:

“We’re a privately-held Chicago-based company committed to building the best web-based software products possible with the least number of features necessary. Our products do less than the competition — intentionally. We’ve been in business since 1999 and love what we do.”

They make incredible web based software and have a fresh approach to application design. Instead of making bloated software that has every bell and whistle a user will never even bother with, they attempt to have as few features as possible. It’s a great methodology that works well with rapid application development. Jason Fried, the company’s founder, expands on this topic in their book, Getting Real (you can read it free here).

 

Highrise - Simple CRM

Highrise, their newest product, is touted as Simple CRM. While I wouldn’t call it a full fledged CRM replacement to some of the larger competition, this product is top notch. The only real criticisms that I have on this product:

 

1 – method of organization. You have the ability to use tags and also can set up cases, but I would love to see better categorization (maybe through hierarchical tags?)

2 –task system. The ability to assign tasks to yourself and others is great, but there is a current limitation in that you cannot see other people’s task lists. This could be an issue if you assign a task to yourself and 2 other people. Let’s say that the task is to follow up on a prospective client, and 2 people complete the task! Now you’ve got to do a bit of damage control. I’d love to see a revamp on this section – tasks emailed to you needs a bit of help too.

Still, what’s great about Highrise and 37signals overall is their customer service. They really listen to you. Seriously. They don’t just route you to some guy on the phone in India that’s thousands of miles away. Try emailing them – you’ll hear back directly from the development staff – what a concept!

Latest Highrise News

Highrise just underwent a wonderful improvement last night. The Highrise dashboard now has listview, a more concise way of looking at tasks, emails, notes, etc – the same great way that Basecamp already does.

Read on for more Highrise update information.


Basecamp

Basecamp is where 37signals all began back in 2004. It’s an amazingly well thought out Web Project Management program. You have the ability to track and manage projects in this slick web based tool. This it very useful when you have remote teams working on things. I’ve been a big fan of this product, and encourage my clients to use it as well. You can even add people at your client’s location to the individual project – so no more “what’s the status of the project” droning on contact calls! The client can just login and see up to the minute progress!

 

If you’re interested in signing up for Basecamp, try the walkthrough, and when you’re ready – try signing up through my affiliate link below:

Basecamp project management and collaboration