Edward Tufte Visualization Seminar in Houston January 2006

Edwardtuftehoustonjan200602Edward Tufte, ""the man" when it comes to visualization" as one client referred to him, was in Houston the last two days for visualization seminars.  Attending with four others, it was a great presentation and included three of his books and the infamous Minard poster showing Napleon’s March.

In particular EdwardtuftesparklineeconomicI enjoyed Mr. Tufte’s presentation and verbal description of Sparklines – small inline graphs of meaningful and relevant data associated with the word.

Like many great public speakers, almost everything he said was "obvious".  Multivariate graphs are difficult to display in "flatland" and there are known ways to attack the problem.  His books are a constant reference during the presentation because of the increased resolution. 

Example – Tufte on Presentations:

"They did not come to see your amateur design efforts.  They came to see your professional content"

On sparklines:

"No more tinker toy graphics.  We finally have graphics worthy of the resolution of the human mind eye resolution; sparklines."

Other quotables:

"The most embarrassing words in web design are "skip intro""

"Graphical design recapitulates hierarchy"

"Pitching out corrupts within" (on the evil of convincing PPTs for everything external)

Edwardtuftesparklines_1The last image is from the Tufte site where he has the chapter on sparklines in draft form in its entirety available.  Worthy of a visit.

He finished the presentation going over presentation rights and wrongs and the essay "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint".  The short version is that PPT encourages crappy writing.  Certainly there is more to it than that, but I suspect he would agree with that summary. 

So now, as I prepare my deck for tomorrow’s presentation, I am somehow a bit more concerned than I usually am before public speaking!


Offshore Technology Conference Event Marketing Seminar

Clare Sullivan CSEP

Sullivan Group

Thu 2-Feb-06 2:00 PM to Thu 2-Feb-06 5:00 PM


Distributed Authoring – Vocal Authors and the Silent Majority in Associations

ExampletendenciauthorspiechartsSome eye candy for those interested in Associations and Organizational dynamics. 

First, I firmly believe that successful online organizations can be identified by looking at three primary characteristics:

  1. Distributed Authoring – humans adding content and the wisdom of crowds
  2. Strong Subgroups – meaning active committees under 150 people typically
  3. Transparency – a level playing field must be in place for all with controls

These were first articulated in "Engaging Your Membership: What Are You Doing and What Should You Be Doing?" and the Distributed Authoring bullet was expanded in "The Concept of Distributed Authoring for Membership Associations ““ Getting Your Association to “Virtualization“.  And of course everything we program in Tendenci is designed to facilitate these three organizational goals.  But at the end of the day it is up to the association to determine the action and policies it will demonstrate.

Some data.  Here is one graphical snapshot from a randomly selected Tendenci client in aggregate.  I changed the numbers a bit, but in a statistically consistent way so the trends are valid.

ExampletendencisitedocumentsaddedalluserThis first graph is almost completely useless.  I am just sharing my initial frustration.  With over 10k users on the site, less than 50 are adding content for others to read. 

I filtered out stuff like editing a profile or registering for an event as those are more data entry in my mind.  Authoring means contributing an article for the newsletter or posting an event on the calendar (again this is subjective and my opinion).

ExampletendencisiteactiveauthorspowerdisOf the members of the sample association adding value to the group as a whole through authoring content, they follow something close to a power curve. 

I did try fitting a logarithmic and an exponential distribution, but the power curve was the closest match despite the divergence as it approaches zero.

This last graph is a pie chart limited to people who actually added content.  Again the data has beenExampletendenciauthorspiecharts changed a bit, but not much, so the trends are consistent with the actual distribution.  Note again that there are two or three super users adding most of the content that is read and absorbed by the entire membership

Specifically the top 5 users are adding almost 85% of the content. 

One possible explanation is that someone is functioning in an administrative role (not the security level but the act of functioning administratively) with others emailing articles and society events to post on the site.  This is likely in my opinion based on observing interactions and I made no effort to correct the data for author versus typist.

Exampletendencitrends_1A possible future post or article should probably look at which articles and events are being read the most.  Something along the lines of what AttentionTrust is interested in as long as it can be done anonymously for the users (nobody likes big brother, especially me!).  Thanks!

Quotable Futurist – Perhaps Baby Boomers Don’t Need Technology in the Future

PeterbishopI recently attended a presentation at IABC Houston by Dr. Peter Bishop, Houston’s resident futurist.  Some great quotes below, and then perhaps some constructive feedback and questions.

Riding the Future’s Waves of Creative Destruction
Dr. Peter C. Bishop Futurist, and Associate Professor in the College of Technology and Coordinator of the graduate program in Futures Studies
University of Houston

The Dr. Bishop is very quotable dropping a few lines on the future such as:

“What goes away (in the future) is the traditional job. “¦ if you are not using judgment and value adds then I can tell a machine to do that job.“

“The very thing you think you have the least control over, what happens 15 years out, is what you have the most control over.“

“When an era ends we will be in a world of confusion and risk. “¦ When the first person realizes they are in a new era they have a significant advantage.“

“Communication (in the future) is instantaneous and simultaneous.  If you are not instantaneous then you’re not there yet.  If your information is not simultaneously available to everyone then you’re not there yet.“

More quotes on the future here.

I had a presentation at 2:00 so had to leave the IABC luncheon quickly.  So we were not able to spend much time with Bishop after the presentation, but looking for a moment of bonding I asked briefly if he used bloglines.  "No time" was the response.  I protested that lack of time is the reason to USE tools that improve your consumption and filtering of information.  "For a futurist, I don’t use the computer much." was the follow up response. Baroo?

Note I am not protesting someone using alternate tools, Mac vs PC, Linux vs Unix, Photoshop vs Gimp, rather I am questioning an apparent unwillingness to look at tools of the future now.

"The future is already here – it’s just unevenly distributed." – William Gibson

So basically our baby-boomer futurist doesn’t keep up on communication technology.  I truly believe you can have great Doctors who aren’t tech savvy in the geek way.  But a freakin’ futurist?  This is just lack of discipline.  Perhaps a lack of respect for the craft of "futurism"?  Perhaps most damning is that by his own choice his communication inbound and outbound is not instantaneous and simultaneous. 

Maybe I’m wrong and I’ll get a Bishop trackback telling me I am nuts and got it all wrong.  I hope so for the sake of the future!

Graham – Sarfati: Mapping The Future of Your Association: Eight Super-Trends

GrahamsarfatiassociationseightsupertrendWorking with numerous association clients I try to study organizational structures and trends.   I was pointed to this association PPT presentation by a client with similar interests.   If you are a sociologist or are involved in associations I highly recommend a review of the Graham-Sarfati association super trends presentation deck (linked below).

Mapping The Future of Your Association: Eight Super-Trends
John Graham, IV, CAE, President and CEO, ASAE
Susan Sarfati, CAE, President and CEO, The Center for Association Leadership

Full PPT recommended! – http://www.centeronline.org/ppt/MappingFuture.ppt

  1. Demassification – Break-up of the Mass Market
  2. Unbundling – One-Size-Fits-All No Longer Appeals
  3. Scrimping – Greater Return on Dues Investment
  4. Wave 3.1 – Knowledge, Not Information is the Competitive Advantage
  5. Virtualization – Virtual and Personal Relationships
  6. Cyber-Mobbing – Web-based Communities are Organizing for Advocacy
  7. Scrutiny – Oversight Demands Greater Transparency
  8. Counter-Americanism – U.S. Styles, Values, Products No longer Dominate the World

update: Got a comment from Ben Martin (see comments) with ASAE who is trained on all sorts of association stuff and is certified to deliver the ASAE presentation to your group.   Give him a shout at http://caeexam.blogspot.com/.   What makes social software so interesting is that you can NOT predict the outcomes of social groups.   Which is exactly why we need to study and seek understanding starting with Weber’s Theory of Bureaucracy and going forward.

update2: Speaking of virtualization, Jason McElweenie, Katie Laird and I delivered a webinar on Podcasting for associations for TSAE on Thursday Jan 26, 2006.   Contact TSAE (or Join) for a recording of the webinar or contact me for a copy of just the presentation deck on podcasting.

Economics DO Matter for your Brand – Learning from GM

GeneralmotorsbrandofprogressGeneral Motors, the once might house of vehicle brands, is ailing.  Primarily in my opinion from poor economics.  They have been writing checks they can’t cash in the form of expected future growth (pensions, union agreements, etc.) and unrealistic forecasts while stepping away from pricing theory.  The bankruptcy of Adelphia left everyone wondering when GM would fail driving them to actually run ads countering the notion of a GM bankruptcy.  (image info below)

That said, strong brands could have helped GM prevent the pending train wreck futureliner crashThe Rieses have fun with the lack of consistent brand identify of GM product lines in their book "The Origin of Brands".  And Rance Crain is piling on with his latest article in AdAge.com

Automaker Considers Ad Campaign to Adress Bankruptcy Rumors
January 23, 2006, Rance Crain

General Motors is considering an ad campaign to dispel the widespread notion it might go bankrupt. “As much as I hate to do this, we’re probably going to have to do something proactively on the marketing side just to address that issue,“ GM’s marketing boss, Mark LaNeve, told The Wall Street Journal. “How you do that, I don’t know. It’s a tough thing because you really don’t want to go there.“

GM doesn’t need to go there. What it needs to do, in a forceful and surefooted way, is trumpet the new vehicles that are coming on line, talk about how it’s lowering prices across the board to be an attractive buy without incentives, and, in general, act like a winner. And please, no more whining about how it’s got to create a level playing field to compete. (more)

As for the top image, that is a screen shot of a web site that has images of the GM Futureliners from the 1930s linked from BoingBoing and a variety of other blogs.  I chose it because the irony of such forward future thinking crossed with the current situation for GM illustrates where they have stepped away from the heart of the brand.  From http://www.metafilter.com/archived.mefi/12/1/2002:

The GM Futureliner It began with the Streamliner and GM’s 1936 Parade of Progress, the brainchild of inventor Charles F. Kettering. The show was a tremendous success. Redesigned in 1941 and again in 1953, the 12 Futureliners and its band of Paraders were ready to hit the road, set up shop in a town near you, and showcase the marvels of science. Of the original 12 built, 9 have been found, 2 are being used for parts, 1 is for sale, and 1 is being lovingly restored by a group of volunteers. [more inside]
posted by snez at 12:45 PM PST

For those of you interested in the future, consider attending the IABC event in Houston tomorrow with Dr. Peter Bishop.  More info on that in full microformat hCal glory.

Riding the Future’s Waves of Creative Destruction
Dr. Peter C. Bishop Futurist, and Associate Professor in the College of Technology and Coordinator of the graduate program in Futures Studies
University of Houston

Thu 26-Jan-06 11:30 AM to Thu 26-Jan-06 1:00 PM

Presenting at American Creativity Association International Conference in March 2006

While preparing for an upcoming presentation in March at the American Creativity Association International Conference 2006 I was researching white papers on association and organization trends.   First some information on the speaking engagement for ACA – I am an attendee as well so I am really looking forward to the conference!

American Creativity Association International Conference 2006
Ed Schipul CEO
Schipul – The Web Marketing Company

Wed 22-Mar-06 8:00 AM to Sat 25-Mar-06 5:00 PM

Now for an interesting white paper from Mr. Barkan who I have not met nor read previously, but I found the following short very interesting from a visual communication perspective.   And of course it may be a bit “the sky is falling” but it IS true that many organizations experience a real performance gap as described below:

Strategic Review on Association Development: International Trends, Issues and Options
Mr. Terrance A. Barkan, AGS (Association Global Services) www.agshq.com

Association_rate_of_change_threat <snip pg.6>Associations with their consensus decision-making processes, tend to be following rather than leading organizations in the implementation of new business practices, programs and services.   In contrast, it is within associations that professional development issues, trends, standards and benchmarks are debated, forged and communicated.

When the rate of change of the external environment exceeds the ability of an association to anticipate or react to that change, a gap develops between what the environment demands and what the association can deliver.   It is this disconnect between the rate of change in the environment and the capacity rate of change of the association to adapt that poses a serious threat to the continued relevance of the organization.

Blatant plug disclaimer. It is the closing of this association performance gap that Tendenci represents.   Even if you don’t know what CMS, RSS or Podcasting are; you get them anyway.   That is the power of a cutting edge MMS application sold in the ASP sales model where everybody wins and your organization remains relevant.   The most important aspect is the enabling of distributed authoring for the association members.

brandchannel: The Search Is Over: Google Wins in 2005

Brandchannel_global_brand_surveybrandchannel just released their 2005 Readers Choice Award Results for top brands.  It is a must read for those in advertising and public relations.  The top 10 global brands are (visit the site for the full list and geographic break downs – link above and below)

For the public relations professional these results are huge.  Note that Google does virtually no advertising, nor does Skype, Starbucks or Firefox. 

In fact while I don’t have the exact numbers, it looks to me like 40% of the top readers choice global brands are primarily built on word-of-mouth marketing and public relations.  Wow!

  1. Google
  2. Apple
  3. Skype
  4. Starbucks
  5. Ikea
  6. Nokia
  7. Yahoo!
  8. Firefox
  9. eBay
  10. Sony

<rant> Now if brandchannel would JUST GET AN RSS FEED I’d be happy!  Aarrrgh.</rant>

Houston Interactive Marketing Group Kickoff Event

HimaeventHouston has launched the Houston Interactive Marketing Group.  The organization has been primarily coordinated by Steve Latham of Spur Digital.  The HiMA kickoff event is coming up this Thursday the 26th and we will have several people attending from our team.

<snip from the site>Please join us for our New Year Kick-Off event, January 26, from 7:30 to 9:30 am at the Houston Technology Center. Geoffrey Ramsey, founder and CEO of eMarketer will be the keynote speaker.</snip>

The following are the founding members of the Houston Interactive Marketing Association (HiMA). BMC Software Fogarty Klein Monroe Gulf Publishing Halliburton Houston Chronicle Houston Technology Center Human Kind Inc.

Idea Integration InfoVine Interactive Lopez Negrete Money Management International One Real World PennWell Publishing Pierpont Communications Questia Media, Inc. Schipul – The Web Marketing Company Sam Houston Area Council Six Foot Studios Spur Digital Texas Children’s Hospital Zephyr Salvo Studios

Geometry and the Munduruk̼ РAnthropology and Geometric Understanding

A very timely post in Slashdot on geometry and visualization today.  It relates to an anthropology study on the human interpretation of visual information through geometry.  It is timely because at the end of January Edward Tufte is presenting in Houston this month and I hope to attend! 

More on the article on geometry and the Mundurukú people.

Munduruku_geometryWe’re hard-wired for geometry (By Daniel B. Kane)
Tests with Amazon villagers hint at innate geometrical sense

WASHINGTON – Even if you never learned the difference between a triangle, a rectangle and a trapezoid, and you never used a ruler, a compass or a map, you would still do well on some basic geometry tests, according to a new study.

Using a series of nonverbal tests, scientists claim to have uncovered core knowledge of geometry in villagers from a remote region of the Amazon who have little schooling or experience with maps and speak a language without the mathematical language of geometry.


the authors of the new study conclude that they have uncovered evidence for a basic understanding of geometry among people without much formal education. Future research may clarify if humans are born with these intuitions or if we acquire them early in life.

We spend a great deal of energy and time with Tendenci reporting trying to create visualization of Munduruku_rightangle the actions taking place on the site to communicate back to the organizations.  Beyond basic network diagrams which are still best assembled by hand, it is a frustrating process.  Not to create the chart, but to create a chart that is easily comprehended. And it is far more complex than visualization of explicit social network connections

I like the visualization discussion at the bottom of this post regarding implicit networks as opposed to explicit networks.  That is a post for another day.

This is a corporate customer service problem – AT&T can’t back it up

Dr. Evil: "Austin… I am your father."
Austin: Really?
Dr Evil: No, I can’t back that up.
… from Austin Powers Trilogy

Which relates to a perfectly executed but factually incorrect advertising campaign by AT&T:


photo courtesy of Brian at Weblogs Work

I’m not even going to START with my this gets my blood boiling…okay…maybe I’ll start.

#1 – I blogged about AT&T lame-o campaign a little while back
and one of their lackey advertising dorks left a nasty comment on my
blog. Something about how a Web 2.0 blogger shouldn’t be commenting on
his brilliant advertising campaign. Ha! First of all, if they knew
their asses from the blogosphere, they would know that my background is in advertising and marketing and that their campaign sux rss.

… (more)

Working with numerous advertising agencies I can feel the agency pain.  No doubt they (AT&7) sent the A-list to the creative kick-off.  They, the ad agency, were assured that indeed AT&T had street cred with the bloggers. 

Unfortunately AT&7 is a legacy monopoly with no clue how to treat a consumer (apparently at least – I no longer user their services!).  Posting those billboards made me comment on them in Houston while driving.  I didn’t post it, but many others did and unfortunately for AT&T one of them was Tara Rogue.  Hee hee. 

Assume every customer is king and your brand will have no problems.  Bloggers are like the CIA – they are silent and will enforce what they believe in.

Via Dina – Google – Countries are known for

DinacountrysociologygooglemapPR is mostly about opportunities, but some PR opportunities are created.  It is a well known technique to create a survey that might be controversial, or at least "interesting" and use that as fuel for a press release perhaps even annually.

This enterprising individual generated great blogosphere coverage by graphing an interesting google query.  Via Dina, the graph (to the left) is generated from a google query with alternating countries.  I doubt a scientific method of sociology was applied, but it passes the "I find it interesting" test.  Great job Radio Blogs.

Just to repeat, literally, this press was generated from a map with labels and 50 to 100 searches in google.  That simple.  Strategy is more important than press releases when it comes to public relations.

Security, and Therefore Privacy, Remain Social Software Job 1!

John Battelle has an interesting post that emphasizes Security in Social Software 101.

BattellesearchbookFrom Battelle’s Search Book:

That bargain is this: we trust you to not do evil things with our information. We trust that you will keep it secure, free from unlawful government or private search and seizure, and under our control at all times. We understand that you might use our data in aggregate to provide us better and more useful services, but we trust that you will not identify individuals personally through our data, nor use our personal data in a manner that would violate our own sense of privacy and freedom.

That’s a pretty large helping of trust we’re asking companies to ladle onto their corporate plate.

Privacy and security is a complex subject.  I would venture, as someone who has gone through a bunch of software license negotiations, that most of the evil comes from clients.  Yes seriously. The vast majority of clients are ethical, but I have heard every request from prospects including "can you automatically make a copy of every inbound and outbound email of xyz person without their knowing" to "I want to install a keystroke logger on the IT managers PC. Can you help me?" and the old standby of "Y’all are great at SEO!  Do you do porn sites? (NO!)"

PiranahsMore recently we sent a fair license agreement to a prospect and they had it reviewed by some piranah lawyer who sent it back with carefully articulate points that basically suggested we just sign over rights to our own heartbeat to them now.  We refused to do business with them.

There are, perhaps, legitimate national security reasons to request data.  Yet Battelle’s point is "we trust you to not do evil things with our information." Evil is of course difficult to define, particularly when it comes to social software which is itself difficult to define.  Interestingly I find myself saying "you can’t define evil when it comes to social software but I know it when I see it."  Go figure.

Saint Arnold Fermenter – Naming Rights on eBay is Great Public Relations

SaintarnoldbeerfermenterSome brands enjoy a disproportionate amount of warm fuzzies.  It helps if you sell beer and your product literally makes people happy.  So no surprise that St. Arnold Brewery is one of those brands that enjoys love from their customers. 

Saint Arnold is well known in the Houston area for their brewery tours where everyone gets a free "half cup" of beer.  But if it is a St. Arnolds mug it doesn’t matter how BIG your beer stein, you still get a "half cup."  So basically what you have is repeat offenders showing up with giant mugs (portable barrels with handles?).  Very odd for a first time attendee who of course wonders what the heck is with these people!

Saint Arnolds is now auctioning off the naming rights to their new fermentation tank.  Great public relations and with the bid at $1501 as I write this that is real money.  Here is the eBay listing.

Naming rights to new Saint Arnold fermenter

Become a saint! Win the naming rights to our newest fermenter. It is our first 120 bbl fermenter (that’s 3,720 gallons), twice the volume of our existing tanks. To put that into terms you can understand, that’s 1,653 cases of beer. The tank to be named is prominent to the tasting area. This means people will be thinking of you while enjoying a good beer. Then you can join the previous winner, St. Gonzo, along with our other saints Adrian, Brigid, Columbanus, Dorothy, Edmund, Florian, Gall, Hildegard, Idesbald, Jacobus, Lawrence, Matthew and Nicholas (all are actual saints of brewing). The proceeds will assist us in purchasing even more fermenters so we won’t run you out of beer.

In the disclosure category, Dan Keeney (a client of ours) sent me the link to St. Arnold as I believe they are a client of his.  But hey, if I could afford it, I’d be all over that fermenter.  Of course I’d probably have it signed with someone else’s name for fun, but what the heck?!?

update: And the winning bid was US $4,002.00 by elsambomeister

Social-networking-aware Ruby on Rails

Announcing! "Social-networking-aware Ruby on Rails decentralized search web-app that leverages the destabilization of the music industry."

OK, that makes no sense.  Which is the point behind odio.us/plan/ .

Web20validatorodiousplanSo I was curious just how Web 2.0 odio.us/plan was, so of course I had to run the Web 2.0 validator on it.  And the results are:

"The score for http://odio.us/plan/ is 6 out of 41"

Not very web2.0 guys!  Of course I have yet to see a site that properly validates so perhaps that is just a bunch of…shaell we say … Remixable mobile filtered voice service that leverages the destabilization of the music industry.

Images for advertising for mapping services

TargettargetmapFrom BoingBoing, a Target store has painted a giant red target logo on their roof for the mapping service satellites to display when they take overheads. 

To a bomber of course this looks like a giant target, but that is a different conversation.  I am sure Target’s pay rates are such that the employees don’t mind literally having a target painted over their heads.

We proposed previously a similar geographical advertising concept for the A9 block-by-block photo mapping service.

Mainstream Public Relations Will Grow Even If They Don’t “Get It”

Tom Foremski in an interesting public relations and tech article predicts a major shake up disruption in "mainstream PR."  I find fault with his logic but I do applaud his thinking and would rather suggest that adding historical elements would solve the logic problem leading to an alternate result.  A result in fact that is opposite; that mainstream PR agencies will learn and adapt and integrate SEO and Social Software into strategy and tactics just like they learned that new fangled medium called "radio" a while back.

First, Tom’s logic:

Disruption in mainstream media but where is the disruption in the mainstream PR industry?
. . .it’s coming

<snip>The companies are able to reach many of their customers through search engine marketing–and that drives revenues. Yet those same companies want to be visible in the media, in news stories, features, radio and TV shows–because they believe this will drive revenues.

If the companies know that mainstream media is inefficient at advertising and therefore of less value in helping to drive revenues. . . why do they believe there is great value in being mentioned in the mainstream media?


-Companies can sell their products and services with a far lower cost of sales these days, because it is easier than ever to reach their customers directly through search engine marketing and blogs.

-This means there that there is far less value offered by mainstream media and mainstream public relations in the product and services sales process.

The flaw in the argument is of course the assumption that mainstream PR agencies only obtain coverage for their clients in the mainstream media. 

For example Bernays was known for starting his PR campaigns with a memorable event and using a multi pronged approach to obtain coverage across media.  An interesting event will be covered by all sorts of media both online and offline.  Having a sound foundation for your PR strategy, even if you are NOT tech savvy, will generate BETTER RESULTS in the current media environment.  Radio expanded PR because it was another new media.

Now, I don’t doubt that the mainstream PR agencies are a bit clueless (nice title tag Ogilvy!) when it comes to tech.  I wrote an article for PR Tactics last year and recently submitted another.   Our tech savvy PR agency in Dallas keeps telling me to simplify.  I reply "but isn’t RSS already simple?" – and the answer is consistently "no".  They challenge me to clarify the message.  I get frustrated and try to improve knowing they are correct.

PR works for reasons articulated best here.  Mainstream PR, along with the rest of the PR industry, will continue to grow.  That is my prediction.  And I am sticking to it.

Publishers (and PR people) now responsible for fact checking AND truth?

"I rely on the publishers to define the category that a book falls within and also the authenticity of the work." – James Frey commenting on "The Man Who Conned Oprah"

The above quote is from the NYT piece on the Frey controversy pointing out that everyone is basically responding to his lies (he falsified information in his … ahem … "biography") with "hey, cool, everyone does it."  But the coup de grace has to be Mr. Frey asking the publisher to fact check his autobiography and abdicating responsibility if they have not done so.

This reminds me of the lessons learned in Power Public Relations by Saffir on PR Professionals verifying the authenticity of information given to you by your clients. 

In closing, what we need here is the truth – which leads me to Steven Colbert which I will leave you with.

"The truth hurts. Fortunately for America, I’m a masochist." 

Steven Colbert Opening quotes

Digital Cameras – “Value Equivalence Line” Economics of Price and Quality

EconomicvelvaluemapWe do a decent amount of internal training, including the basics of economics.  I don’t think you can really grasp branding and positioning without also understanding the concept of a Value Equivalence Line.  I have always used digital cameras as my example with megapixels going up, price going down, and the VEL moving to the right over time to demonstrate the economics of technology.

Well, I guess I can’t do that anymore…  From David Pogue at the NYT with emphasis added by me.

* Another InfoTrends analyst reported, surprisingly, that digital camera sales have actually peaked, and has declined since last year. Meanwhile, the manufacturers are feeling the pain: Konica Minolta has exited the Canadian market, Sony and Olympus have cut camera production and workforces, and the Kyocera/Yashica/Contax corporation has exited the digital camera market entirely.

The VEL image (above) is from The Price Advantage, by Marn, Roegner and Zawada – definitely worth the $70 USD if you are in marketing given the importance of price in communicating brand value and moving products and services "off the shelf".

Graphing Celebrity Data from Media Orchard – Jessica Simpson Really is BIG

Celebrity_photos_pie_chart_1 Via Media Orchard Post on US Weekly Photos, via U. N. Spacey, we get some interesting celebrity stalking consumer celebrity preference data that needed some charting.  Here is the data:

Celeb Photos Gender
Jessica Simpson 209 Female
Jennifer Aniston 183 Female
Angelina Jolie 98 Female
Paris Hilton 95 Female
Nicole Richie 90 Female
Lindsay Lohan 89 Female
Brad Pitt 87 Male
Britney Spears 69 Female
Nick Lachey 61 Male
Katie Holmes 51 Female

Celbrity_male_vs_femaleThe gender graph is also interesting to point out in light of the recent PEW Internet report indicating that women are the majority of Internet users.  Either there is a difference in the sort of thing people search for (No WAY!) or perhaps women also buy based on female photos and lead stories.  But if that were true then People and Vogue would mostly have women on the cover.  A clear case of gender in advertising bias. Um….er….  So much for Marlon Brando.  Zeitgeist backs this theory up as well in that while Internet searchers may be mostly female, but like women’s suffrage, there is no gender loyalty and everyone thinks for themselves regardless. (Although men apparently don’t search for men much despite the PEW report never mentioning sex in their report).

Now, if Media Orchard can define the publicists of ALL of the celebrities it would be interesting to see the same gender chart for the publicists.  Or rather, the professional counsels on public relations for the entertainment industry.

And speaking of social software, a minor but relevant feedback loop that supports the photos in US Weekly is from this page on style: http://www.style.com/peopleparties/search/

style.com’s most-clicked celebrities

Beyonce Knowles >
Chloë Sevigny >
Jennifer Lopez >
Paris Hilton >
Sarah Jessica Parker >

As is the case frequently with public relations, this post asks more questions than it answers.  But at least we have some visual graphing to help our visual brains process the questions.