Monday, June 17, 2013

E is for e-xperience

Many of us have transitioned our reading from  hardcopy to ebooks, and many more will do so over time.  eBook sales are expected to increase further this year, and should surpass print and audio-books by 2017.

I began this process many years ago, when I was a management consultant working for an international firm.  My travels took me anywhere from two to six countries in one trip, and the amount of client material I had to haul was back-breaking.  So I schooled myself to read manuals electronically, which were typically in large binders.  I cajoled myself to take interview notes directly onto my laptop.  Instead of packing pamphlets, brochures and newsletters, I relied on client websites for such information.  By now, I hardly ever read anything hardcopy, and I rarely use a pen or pencil anymore.  Meeting notes, article ideas, personal notions go right to the Notes app on my iPhone, and it's very convenient to review them on-the-go.

That said, I encourage adults and children alike to read more via The ReadBook.  Regardless of their language, culture or country, they ought to read for the pleasure of it and for the ways it expands and enriches the mind.  "E is for e-xperience" is one of my latest ReadBook videos, where I focus on the phenomenology of reading in the digital age, and its impact:  from publishing and literature, to science and science-fiction.

I ask, What should we call that e-xperience?  My idea was to look at this creatively, maybe with an eye for irony (e.g., using moveable type for an ebook).

I gathered the images I used in the video, and offer the following context and contrast.

New era of publishing

The new Gutenberg Moveable Type

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Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable type, and revolutionized printing in the 15th century (image credit)

Day of the Illustrator

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Lithography, along with engraving and etching, were once the mainstays of illustration (image credit)

The Concerto Accompaniment

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We can draw on our imagination, but otherwise books are without soundtrack (image credit)

Digital era of science

The Metaphor of Fluid Mechanics

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Fluid Mechanics is a metaphor for what may be a difficult-to-grasp, watery experience (image credit)

The new Skin Literacy

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Automation, algorithms and digital may supplant the tried-and-true ways of reading the skin (image credit) 

Theory of Digital Relativity

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Albert Einstein may have gladly read ebooks and worked on digital theory (image credit)

Re-vision of literature

Rebecca's Library at Manderley

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Manderley is the estate in du Maurier's romantic mystery Rebecca (image credit)

1001 Arabesque Nights

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I sought that lyrical pun between Arabian and arabesque (image credit)

The e[mbedded]Book

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In the future will books be programmed onto microchips and embedded in our skin? (image credit)

'Facting' of science-fiction

Bourne Subterfuge

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Minority Reality

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Matrix Uploaded

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Altering the painting

The Alteration of Lesendes Mädchen

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Lesendes Mädchen, painted by Franz Eybl in 1850 (image credit)

Tower of Tablets

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The Tower of Babel, painted by Pieter Bruegel, The Elder in 1563 (image credit)

The Cyber Sistine Chapel

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The Creation of Adam, painted by Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel in 1509 (image credit)

The video

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Social Media, Marketers and ROI

If you're a marketer, here's a very informative article about what your colleagues in the business are thinking about and are interested in:  Research Shows Blogging a Top Focus for Marketers.  If you're a consultant, this article offers a good look at the state-of-mind among marketers.

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Here's my comment on the Social Media Strategy community on Google+: 

A superb, very informative article, Jeremy. The key figures look very close, especially for the first two questions. So their differences may not be significant. The author highlighted blogging, for example, but another author could've just as persuasively highlighted Google+. For me, this article is less about the state-of-marketing, than state-of-mind among marketers. In this regard, it's clear that blogging, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn are top-of-mind for these marketers. Anyway, there's a lot to speak to in this article. Thanks for posting!

Here are screenshots from the article, which I speak to:

A process for measuring ROI
When asked to rate their agreement with the following statement, “I am able to measure the return on investment for my social media activities,” only 26% of marketers agreed! What’s interesting about this survey is that social media is clearly a core strategy for businesses, yet measuring it remains a mystery.
It is a bad sign that marketers engage in such a core strategy as social media, but have little or no clue how to measure it.  So let's think this through.  First, they ought to review what they were trying to accomplish with social media, to begin with.  What were the issues or challenges they faced, and what benefits or outcomes they expected?  Optimally, it's best to 'begin with the end in mind,' then create the 'roadmap' for reaching that end.

But I suspect that marketers are already in mid-stream with their social media efforts and have begun to invest time, resources and cash into it.  This means having a retrospective on earlier conversations, decisions and activities.  Regardless of how they do it, they must be crystal clear on what they were trying to accomplish from the get-go.  Second, then, in the vein of critical, honest review, how well do their social media and other efforts work vis-a-vis their aim?  This review is the platform for determining and measuring ROI.  

Keep in mind that ROI means Return on Investment.  Too many managers, consultants and marketers focus on only one factor of the equation, that is, outcomes, benefits or results.  Rather, it is all of these good things calculated against the costs of actually making these good things happen.  When costs are in the service of getting something more in return, we call them the euphemism investment.

Moreover, some of us neglect to calculate the wide range of real costs, except for dollars spent.  How much time and resources did it take to make these good things happen?  What about opportunity loss associated with these efforts?  Salespeople in a training program not only incur registration and material fees, but also time away from the field means means zero sales.  What is the estimated lost business for the training session?      

So if a marketer were to ask me, How do you measure ROI of social media?  My first response is to ask, again, What are your objectives and goals for this platform?  Then, how well are your efforts going against these aims?  If the aim is to increase sales by 10%, for example, then how much is social media activity moving the needle toward this figure?  What were the total, real costs of your social media initiative?   

Measuring ROI of social media is still a complicated, challenging process, but by clarifying your aim and calculating results against costs properly, you make this process significantly clearer and more doable.  Above all, it ought not be a mystery.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD