Going Viral

Going Viral

Going Viral

“Going viral” is the latest marketing buzzword to make it into the public consciousness.  This phrase refers to a process where something is promoted mainly by word of mouth.  The “viral” part of the phrase means to imply that popularity will spread exponentially, like a virus.1

The most memorable examples of “viral marketing” in recent years is probably the “Blair Witch Project.”  This super-low budget movie was popularized largely through word of mouth, making the highest profit-to-cost ratio movies of all time.2

What does this have to do with you or

Scott Adams, the creator and author of the wildly popular Dilbert comic, recently published a blog post about what he referred to as, “digital tipping.”  He puts up a blog post every day3 but makes little to no money off of it.  Recently he partnered with a company which provides a free service4 in the hopes, or so I believe, that people will use the free service and upgrade to the pay service providing him, in turn, with a financial reward.

Scott Adams made an interesting point about how his blogging has affected his core business – publishing comic strips.5 He discovered that his sometimes controversial blog posts sometimes turned people off from his comic strip – thereby losing a portion of his fan base forever.  On the flip side, although his blog is fairly popular his blog rarely improves his comic strip fan base.

A simple cost benefit analysis would suggest that the observed risk is not worth the potential incremental benefit – especially in light of the ongoing time commitment required to publish blog posts.  I suspect that my own blog posts have a similar risk-reward scenario.

Assuming that I’m acting rationally in blogging, why do I continue to do so in light of an unfavorable bost benefit analysis?  Firstly, I rather enjoy writing.  Secondly, its my understanding that search engines rank frequently updated websites slightly higher.  Thirdly, it is my hope that popularity, knowledge, and use of this website will “go viral.”

Much like Scott Adam’s concept of “digital tipping,” I hope people will help me at no cost to themselves by telling their friends about this website, how useful it is for them, and how this website saves them time.  So, if you enjoy or appreciate this website, why not tell a friend?

  1. Photo courtesy of AJC1 []
  2. Incidentally, unseating Mad Max which held the title for twenty years. []
  3. Its not easy!  I missed two days last week! []
  4. Which can be upgraded to a pay service. []
  5. I wish I could find that link! []

Presidential Debate 10/15/2008, Predictions

"I want to be big"*

"I want to be big"

I recently posted my impressions on the vice presidential debate as well as the first and second presidential debates.  But, let’s not live in the past.  Why not jump on the prognostication bandwagon and make a few predictions?1

  • Prediction: Obama will be calm, cool, and collected.  He will appear aloof and superior throughout the debate.  He will also not go on the attack.
    • Conventional wisdom says that a candidate that is ahead in the polls has nothing to gain and everything to lose by directly engaging the opposition.
    • By not directly attacking McCain, Obama gives up the possibility of an additional rhetorical gain against McCain – but he’s so far ahead in the polls that he doesn’t need those possible gains.
    • The flip-side is that by not attacking Obama can appear to be above the fray and petty partisan politics.
    • Instead of attacking and counter-attacking, Obama will have a witty retort for every point McCain makes.
    • Obama will essentially ignore, or make light of, McCain’s attacks.  He will direct his remarks to the moderator and camera.
    • Obama will make a few vaguely sniping attacks.  Look out for extremely subtle references to McCain’s age or McCain’s actions as being inconsistent, unreliable, unpredictable or erratic.
  • Prediction: McCain will be clawing like a cornered wolverine.  We will see him attacking and challenging Obama relentlessly.
    • McCain has to walk a fine line – appearing to be conservative enough to keep (or, rather, win back) the red states Bush won in 2004 – while being moderate enough to pick up blue states.  In order to retake those red-states, McCain will stress his experience and commitment to core Republican values.
    • McCain doesn’t say “maverick” nearly as much as Palin.  While being a “maverick” is a decent way to collect undecided or Democratic voters, its a serious turn-off for Republicans.  As a friend and staunch Republican recently told me, “Maverick is a word for someone who screws their own party.”  I’m fairly certain Democrats feel the same way about Joe Lieberman.
    • Its easy to see McCain becoming impassioned during his speeches and debates.  However, McCain faces a special dilemma when pressing the attack.  If he attacks too strongly, he risks being seen as desperate or hot-headed.  Neither is an attractive quality for a possible president.
    • McCain is so far behind in the polls that he needs to score some big points.
    • During the first debate we saw McCain bring the attack to Obama.  Obama was forced to play defense much of the time, accusing John of getting the facts wrong.
    • We’re going to see McCain pressing the attack, posing questions directly to Obama, and trying to draw him into a head-on discussion.
    • Unlike Obama who will be speaking to the moderator and audience, we’re going to see McCain addressing most of his remarks to “that one.”  McCain will also take every opportunity to highlight when Obama doesn’t answer a question or gives a vague response.

So, there you have it, my totally ill-informed predictions based on nothing more than what I saw in the coffee grounds this morning.

  1. Photo courtesy of Zesmerelda. []

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Most people don’t even realize that they’re trend setters.  With the increase in online or website based programs, more and more people are turning to “cloud computing.”  This term refers to a process where all the computational heavy lifting is not performed on a user’s computer but rather an external computer.

Clouds, Computing?

Clouds, Computing?

The most common example of cloud computing is probably “Google Docs,” which is Google’s online suite of office productivity software.  It includes programs for spreadsheets, presentations, and of course document editing.  It can open and save in its own format, OpenOffice format, and Microsoft Office formats.  Even Adobe released a free online version of Photoshop.

Cloud computing is basically the process of outsourcing your math.  There are a lot of situations where this makes a lot of sense:

  • Money. Lower computing requirements mean you don’t need as powerful a computer, saving you money.
  • Money. Lower computing requirements also mean you won’t need to purchase an upgrade or new computer as often, saving you money.
  • Time. Nothing to install, upgrade, or troubleshoot.
  • Money. Web server updates mean you don’t have to purchase software upgrades, saving you money.
  • Scaling. Need another copy of a program?  Just fire up a new computer and launch a new web browser.
  • Fewer Resources. When the program never actually runs on your computer, it uses no memory.  When your computer isn’t working hard running a program, it uses less power.
  • More Resources. When the program is never installed on your computer, it uses no hard drive space.  On the flip side, many cloud computing programs allow you to save your work or files online – giving you more hard drive space than what’s on your computer.

So, how does all this technobabble about cloud computing apply to you?  Well, every time you use this website’s online web-based permanent disability calculators and EAMS search functions you’re letting my web server do the number crunching for you.

You’re, quite literally, letting me help you save resources, time, and money.

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