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quotes on marketing, culture, and technology

Below you’ll find a list of quotations from the people and sources from which I draw an incredible amount of information and inspiration. I urge you to follow the links to the original posts, read them in full, and ponder their meaning in your work and life. I’m lucky to call many of the people below my friends. This page is dynamic, growing as my information consumption does, expect new quotes and new minds to be added at anytime.

Jump to quotes by: Mike Arauz, danah boyd, William Gibson, Henry Jenkins, Grant McCracken, Charlie Munger, Clay Shirky, Faris Yakob

Mike Arauz

Strategist at the NY based digital think-tank Undercurrent

Spectrum of Online Friendship – Apr 13, 2009

Your online ambitions can only be as grand as the quality of the relationships you foster. What would you like to accomplish online? As you move your audience from Passive Interest to Investment the possibilities grow.

The Elements of Digital Conversation – Apr 28, 2009

Although we often use the word in new contexts, the basic definition of conversation hasn’t really changed. A conversation is an informal exchange of thoughts or ideas. Most importantly, though, engaging in a conversation means that you don’t say everything that there is to say. You expect the other person to make a contribution, and you intentionally leave things unsaid so that the other person has an opportunity to add their part.

danah boyd

Social Media Researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society

Facebook’s move ain’t about changes in privacy norms – Jan 16, 2010

Privacy isn’t a technological binary that you turn off and on. Privacy is about having control of a situation. It’s about controlling what information flows where and adjusting measures of trust when things flow in unexpected ways. It’s about creating certainty so that we can act appropriately. People still care about privacy because they care about control.

Friendster lost steam. Is MySpace just a fad? – Mar 21, 2006

Online communities are more like nation-states than technological tools. There is a master behind the architecture, a master who controls the walls of the system and can wage war on her/his people at any point. People know this. They have to trust that the creators have their best intentions in mind. They invest a lot of time and energy into creating an identity in the system – they want to believe that it is worth it.

People need a figurehead to both love and hate. No figurehead can expect that the users will love her/him all of the time. But lashing out at users makes things much much worse. Figure heads need to operate as rockstars – making public appearances, putting on a good show, keep a happy face even when pissed off.

valuing inefficiencies and unreliability – Dec 14, 2007

Social technologies that make things more efficient reduce the cost of action. Yet, that cost is often an important signal. We want communication to cost something because that cost signals that we value the other person, that we value them enough to spare our time and attention. Cost does not have to be about money. One of the things that I’ve found to be consistently true with teens of rich and powerful parents is that they’d give up many of the material goods in their world to actually get some time and attention from their overly scheduled parents. Time and attention are rare commodities in modern life. Spending time with someone is a valuable signal that you care.

RELATIONSHIP: Context, Culture, Power – Mar 23, 2004

Relationships are situated within a CONTEXT. … Relationships are defined by CULTURE; their types are SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS. … Relationships do not exist without POWER.

William Gibson

Author, technologist, futurist

God’s Little Toys – Jul 2005

Our culture no longer bothers to use words like appropriation or borrowing to describe those very activities. Today’s audience isn’t listening at all – it’s participating. Indeed, audience is as antique a term as record, the one archaically passive, the other archaically physical. The record, not the remix, is the anomaly today. The remix is the very nature of the digital.

The Science in Science FIction – Nov 30, 1999

The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.

Henry Jenkins

Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California

Many of the quotes below are attributable to Henry and also to his colleagues and researchers at the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT.

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide – 2006

If old consumers were assumed to be passive, then new consumers are active. If old consumers were predictable and stayed where you told them, then new consumers are migratory, showing a declining loyalty to networks or media. If old consumers were isolated individuals, then new consumers are more socially connected. If the work of media consumers was once silent and invisible, then new consumers are now noisy and public.

If It Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead (Part Five) – Feb 20, 2009

Although we’ve used the concept brand communities a couple of times, it’s important to reiterate that communities aren’t created, they are courted. Most brands will need to court a range of different communities and travel across pools, webs, and hubs if they want to reach the full range of desired consumers.

If You Saw My Talk at South By Southwest… – Mar 10, 2008

Humans do not engage in activities that are meaningless. If you think you see people doing things you find meaningless, look again and try to understand what the activities mean for them.

Fanning the Audience’s Flame – 2006

Fans are lead users – early adopters of new products and properties but also early adapters who retrofit those materials to better serve their needs; studying how they modify media properties may help companies to better identify otherwise unnoticed flaws and potentials.

How Transmedia Storytelling Begat Transmedia Planning – Dec 12, 2006

The key is to produce something that both pulls people together and gives them something to do.

Grant McCracken

Anthropologist, blogger, author, and member of Convergence Culture Consortium at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jay Leno’s failure and the new rules of marketing – Dec 14, 2009

Automatic thinking is often stupid thinking, and this is especially moronic. It manages to forget much of what we know about the world. Like the fact that viewers are getting better at watching TV. Like the fact that culture is getting better at culture, as Emily Nussbaum noted recently. Like the fact that we are increasingly intolerant of bad TV unless its actually Slanket bad.

And that’s the trouble with variety. It is simple minded where we are smart. It’s undiscriminating where we are exacting. It’s jovial where we are skeptical. The trouble is that it is various where we now prize a point of view. Jon Stewart is about everything in the world (or at least in the news), but this variety is always examined from particular point of view. Each news story is not there to cover off another constituency but to exclude all other perspectives except Stewart’s own.

Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation – 2010

Taste now comes from a mastery of change, not a mastery of status. [...] Cool is an outsider’s sensibility now completely internalized, built into every individual and our entire culture. [...] it is anthropologically more rewarding, I think, to see cool as a measure of our culture’s ability to absorb conflicting impulses and embrace contradiction.

Plenitude: Culture by Commotion – 1997

Corporations will allow the public to participate in the construction and representation of its creations or they will, eventually, compromise the commercial value of their properties. The new consumer will help create value or they will refuse it. Corporations have a right to keep copyright but they have an interest in releasing it. The economics of scarcity may dictate the first. The economics of plenitude dictate the second.

Charlie Munger

Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation

The Psychology of Human Misjudgement – 1995

And I came here because behavioral economics. How could economics not be behavioral? If it isn’t behavioral, what the hell is it? And I think it’s fairly clear that all reality has to respect all other reality. If you come to inconsistencies, they have to be resolved, and so if there’s anything valid in psychology, economics has to recognize it, and vice versa. So I think the people that are working o­n this fringe between economics and psychology are absolutely right to be there, and I think there’s been plenty wrong over the years.

Clay Shirky

consultant, teacher, author, and adjunct professor in NYU’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program

Here Comes Everybody – 2008

Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring… It’s when a technology becomes normal, then ubiquitous, and finally so pervasive as to be invisible, that the really profound changes happen.

RIP The Consumer – 2000

The historic role of the consumer has been nothing more than a giant maw at the end of the mass media’s long conveyer belt, the all-absorbing Yin to the mass media’s all-producing Yang….In the age of the internet, no one is a passive consumer anymore because everyone is a media outlet.

Ontology is Overrated – May 16, 2005

What I think is coming instead are much more organic ways of organizing information than our current categorization schemes allow, based on two units — the link, which can point to anything, and the tag, which is a way of attaching labels to links. The strategy of tagging — free-form labeling, without regard to categorical constraints — seems like a recipe for disaster, but as the Web has shown us, you can extract a surprising amount of value from big messy data sets.

Faris Yakob

EVP Chief Technology Strategist at McCann Erickson New York

Recombinant Branding – Jan 22, 2009

In order to give people ownership of brand ideas, and therefore give them a reason to propagate them, we need to provide tools and assets, give them permission to remix and re-imagine the ideas we create and realise that the more people play with our ideas, the further they spread, the more meaning they accrue, the stronger our brands become.

Digital Marketing: The Golden Rules of the Web – Mar 12, 2009

Media has always been social. Not just in the sense that it is literally a way to connect people, but also because media has a strong tendency to act as a solidarity good — that is, the more people consume it the more valuable it gets. People like talking about ideas.

Converged Communications New Ideas Of Influence – 2008

Look at what the monkey’s doing, not what kind of phone he has.