Job Search = Alienation

May 22, 2007 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Culture, Entertainment, Film, Job, job search | Leave a comment
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So I am currently in the process of reading many many job ads, applying for some, dismissing the most and generally in the process of developing a grudge against capitalism. I don’t think I’d be happy in any of the jobs that I have had a look at so far if it were full time and I getting a acute sense of what ALIENATION really means. Who, seriously, can develop a passion for direct marketing? I am deliberatly choosing this topic because I used to work in direct marketing and customer relationship management – and one part of me thinks that I could do it again and probably even enjoy it. But the other part thinks that I could only do that if I SOLD MY SOUL another time. It’s so annoying: to think that you would have to buy into capitalism first before being able to work in the majority of office jobs that are available. Who could ever be passionate about selling things? Who could be passionate about working in advertising – of course it is VERY easy to be VERY passionate about advertising, at the very moment that you realize the POWER that advertising (and as such: YOU) has over people. But it’s alienating, alienating, alienating.

Český sen (Czech dream) is a fantastic movie from the alienation department: It’s the final year project of two Czech film students. Together with an advertising agency they developed a campaing to market a new supermarket – that actually doesn’t exist. They interview families,pretending to be looking for the Český sen family, and it’s painful to see people confess in front of the camera what shopping means to them. The bit below shows the final 10 minutes: The public is invited to a grand opening, only to find that the supermarket itself is well a kilometre away from the parking lot where they have convened. So they’re already grumpy when approaching the supermarket – only to find out, once arrived, that it’s nothing but a facade. Fantastic!

Here are some of the trailers for the fake supermarket that were broadcast on Czech TV:

Boosting Your Blog Traffic, pt. 3: A Little Help From Stumbleupon

May 15, 2007 at 6:21 pm | Posted in Blogging, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment
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Not that the world’s been waiting for it, but at last, here is a brief review of my experience with Stumble upon. When my boyfriend introduced me to Stumbleupon about a year ago and after I had played with it for while, it made me realize (maybe wrongly) that the web for the first time could really be something like the new television – a medium that simultaneously instills a lean-forward AND a lean-backword attitude in the viewer.

Leaning back had in the past been particularly difficult with the world wide web. Of course you have youtube, dailymotion and Google video, which is more or less the illustrated audio track of TV crammed into the resolution of a 600 by 800 screen, and with a crappy image quality. And that’s precisely the problem about this approach to web TV.

The approach Stumbleupon takes is different. It is a listing of many different ‘interesting’ (as judged by the users) web sites, but instead of having to go through these listings, you can simply specify what your interests are ONCE, and then (and after installing the Stumbleupon bar of course) you can just lean back and enjoy. Well, almost. You still have to click the ‘Stumble’ button of you want a new suggestion, and sometimes pages don’t load promptly. But it’s still the best lean-back experience I’ve had with the web so far.

The suggestions are user-submitted and, similarly to digg.com, users can decide whether they like a website or not. I use Stumbleupon mainly for a little diversion, and my preferred sites offer optical illusions or games. I hadn’t even thought of using it for News and Politics, although it offers a much wider variety of categories in comparison to digg.com.

When, however, one of my own blog posts attracted the insane traffic of over 1,500 on the day of the French elections (because the title sounded as though it offered the results of the elections – unfortunately it only covered the first round of the voting), a few souls also clicked the ‘End Guantanamo’ banner in my sidebar. One of these kind souls submitted it to Stumbleupon, with more than 180 hits coming in in the first night. Numbers have since then dwindled to about 3 to 5 visitors a day from Stumble upon. I suppose that, when a page gets first submitted, Stumbleupon sends it to the screens of a relatively higher number of users in order to have a base according to which to assess the site.

So this has, of course, not been a major breakthrough in blog advertising, but I am happy if just one or two of these 200something visitors downloaded or forwarded the logo. I know that conversion rates (i.e. the amount of people who visited your site AND took the encouraged action, in our case: downloaded or printed or forwarded the logo) for such scenarios are very low: 1% would be a good result.

And I am actually happier about those 234 recent visitors to the End Guantanamo site than I am about the more than 1000 that were misdirected to the French elections page. I am investing my hopes in those tiny steps that might make a difference…

P.S. The one thing that I am not so fond of regarding Stumbleupon is that you can also (and of course – this is capitalism, attention is being marketed) buy screen space from them. They have a kinder word for it: Create a campaign, and once you start this process it takes a few more screens and steps until you realize that this will cost you $0.05 per visitor. I wonder how this interferes with the quality of their site listings – for the moment they should be fine, but once the subjective content to advertising ratio (as judged by the users) is suffering, they’re in trouble (and rightly so:-).

In other words: I those 234 hits that my blog received via Stumbleupon, had been generated as the result of a ‘campaign’, it would already have cost me $11,70. Interesting, isn’t it? Attention is an expensive commodity. If each hit my blog has received so far had been worth 5 cents, I would already have earned $850.

This post is part of a series: Here is part 1, and here part 2.

Blog banners: One signature could end the Iraq war

April 29, 2007 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Blogging, Guantanamo, Marketing, News, Politics, Viral, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment
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Barack Obama’s website has now gone Web 2.0, offering the source code for banners of the “One signature could end this war” campaign to users to put on their blog.

These are the three banner options – I put the third one into a text widget to add it to my sidebar:

The source code can be grabbed here.

This is just one of several ways in which Obama’s team is trying to stimulate people to spread the word: Their campaign also includes printable flyers which people can download and assistance in writing letters to the editor. All options.

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