Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Virtuality: Google Planning to Launch "My World"

Ars Technica (Art of Technology blog) reports that Google is prepping it's own entry into the field of Virtual Worlds, potentially named "My World". Students at ASU (a school Google has a strong working relationship with in the past) this weekend received questionnaires that "hinted strongly" at the possibility that they would be among the first to test such an app later this year.

(Screengrab of the questionnaire courtesy of the MacRumors forum).

A logical step for Google, given that they've already made a foray into Virtuality with Google Earth.

And a significant move, not because it's just another virtual world for people to choose from, but because it is a mainstream tech giant adopting what some decry as little more than a passing fad, and it's yet further evidence that a 3D internet is the next logical progression of our digital lives.

A few snippets from the article:

"The notion that Google might test the new service with ASU students isn't very outlandish, then, so the question is more a matter of what the service will be rather than if it will come to fruition."

"To us, it seems that a virtual world is natural progression of Google Earth and its 3D representations of... well, the Earth. Users could create avatars, like those in Second Life. The "street view" feature of Google Maps could be incorporated, as well as Google SketchUp, with avatars being able to walk around on actual streets and enter real buildings to check out what's inside and socialize with other avatars. But the purpose wouldn't be to rival Second Life and all of its fantasy, sex, and moneymaking schemes."

"Whatever "My World" ends up being, we think that Google will go much further than just competing with Second Life—if the company makes it functionally useful and ties it in with services that people already use, it may have a chance of succeeding at getting average Internet users to participate."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Virtuality: Social Media in 3D

Caught a post over on adverblog about the launch of a new social networking site for your virtual self, Koinup. The site allows you to connect all of your virtual world experiences in one network- your activities from Second Life, World of Warcraft, The Sims all in one location, where you can post content of your adventures (video of a recent SL trip for example) and browse through the virtual lives of the sites other members.

This brings an interesting new layer to all of the talk around virtual worlds. KoinUp elevates the discussion above "worlds" and highlights the trend that our online activity is increasingly becoming virtual, so much so that we now need a social web to bring together all of the virtual identities that define us in the digital space.

I just came across this (thanks Aki) and while interested, still haven't quite decided where I see this going and how "big" it may be. Any readers out there more familiar and care to weigh in? For those of you in virtual worlds, do you see yourself social networking your virtual identities? Are you so dedicated that, in addition to maintaining Facebook, MySpace, and your other real world social webs that you would start a virtual side?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

DO: "it's up to us"

Mark talks a lot around here about a growing sense of autonomy among Americans. The increased sentiment that “it’s up to me” and subsequent actions to protect “me and mine.” I grew up with a dad who staunchly believed in the right to bear arms, just in case the government went so askew that citizens needed to take up arms in correction. So I’ve had trouble reconciling my historical perception of autonomy with Mark’s more evolved version.

An article in Time magazine this week helped me bridge the gap. It profiled a new way of living, the EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI). Liz Walker, a co-founder, describes her vision for EVI as “trying to create an attractive, viable alternative to American life.” It sounds really great. Over 150 people live in the community, and they all work together to reap benefits of communal food, daycare, and laundry.

But it’s not a commune. These are people who are dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint (and are very successful in doing so) by changing the way they live (not just planting 80 trees to make up for that vacay in Mexico).

And they’re not hippies. The community is very technologically advanced, adopting some bleeding-edge conservation concepts. Homes are “Norman Rockwell meets Al Gore,” and run up to $300k, yet there is a waiting list to join.

A second example of people getting together for change is happening in Philadelphia where crime has reached an unacceptable level. A group of concerned citizens, comprised of local executives and men who worked on the Million Man March, brought a proposal to the Police Commissioner: allow them to organize as volunteer peacekeepers. The plan is to gather up to 10,000 men to patrol the streets—unpaid and unarmed—to watch out for criminal activity. The thought is that a roving band of bystanders and witnesses will deter would-be criminals.

I guess now that I read this post, the examples aren't all that far from the essence of my dad's point of view: he was just protecting our right to take matters into our own hands and these people are taking action on that right.

via NPR

Guilty Pleasure: Graf Innovations

Animation Walls from Blu


More from 6meia

via Wooster Collective

Live Web in Plain English (as Advertisement)

Common Craft strikes again, this time for the new Google Docs app - yet another smart play at making Google your dashboard for digital living (Facebook is aiming at becoming your dashboard for social life).

*Google Docs don't work for, ya'll lemme know how it's workin'.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Emoticon Celebrates 25 Years

Mashable notes that the ubiquitous emoticon is 25 years old. Happy Birfday Emoticon (sing the song, ya'll)!

It turns out that the emoticon was not just an afterthought, but a much discussed idea addressing a problem early users of the system were having in separating sarcastic comments from serious ones. Carnegie Mellon professor Scott Fahlman proposed a smiley face to indicate joking and an upside down one to indicate unhappiness in a thread (captured below).

Respect the architect and recognize game.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Marc Ecko: "The Ball Is Now Yours"

Fashion designer/entrepreneur/pop culture maven Marc Ecko, the man who tagged Air Force One, has made his next move.

Revealing himself Monday as the winning bidder in the online auction for Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run ball (cost: $752,467), Ecko appeared on The Today Show to announce that he is turning the fate of the ball over to the fans.

"I bought this baseball to democratize the debate over what to do with it," Ecko said. "The idea that some of the best athletes in the country are forced to decide between being competitive and staying natural is troubling."

Visitors to can choose between three options:

1. "BESTOW IT" (as is into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown)

2. "BRAND IT" (with an asterisk before delivering it to the Hall)

3. "BANISH IT" (by sending it into outer space on a rocketship, never to be seen or heard from again)

Now Ecko is at the center of the greatest sports debate of our time. Every major sports media outlet is reporting on this story and will continue to do so. Whatever the public chooses, he will again make news by honoring the results of the vote.

He has successfully written himself into sports history using his bank account and his brain.

Ecko could have easily spent as much on a TV branding campaign, but instead he has honored his audience with something more -- a voice in a matter they care about.

I wouldn't have guessed that he could've topped his Air Force One stunt, but he has. That was a provocative piece of entertainment that struck a chord. This is democracy at work.

And all of it is perfectly, elegantly branded. Cheers Mr. Ecko. You're my marketing hero of the moment.

(PS - I voted for the asterisk as a statement against an era, an era facilitated by greed and leveraged by men of low moral character)

Ignorance of Crowds, too

Murray and I are in an ongoing tug of war about the Wisdom/Ignorance of Crowds. Found this interesting counterpoint (Murray's side) at Strategy+Business magazine about the limits of peer production and some case examples. And to the question of rightful "creators" in a participatory/UGC environment, the conclusions drawn in this article helps guide us.

Some excerpts:

The bottom line is that peer production has valuable but limited applications. It can be a powerful tool, but it is no panacea. It’s a great way to find and fix problems, to collect and categorize information, or to perform any other time-consuming task that can be sped up by having lots of people with diverse perspectives working in parallel. It can also have the important added benefit of engaging customers in your innovation process, which not only allows their insights to be harnessed but also may increase their loyalty to your company.

-First, peer production works best with routine or narrowly defined tasks that can be pursued simultaneously by a big crowd of people. It is not well suited to a job that requires a lot of coordination among the participants. If members of a large, informal group had to coordinate their efforts closely, their work would quickly bog down in complexity. The crowd’s size and diversity would turn from a strength to a weakness, and the speed advantage would be lost.

-Second, because it requires so many “eyeballs,” open source works best when the labor is donated or partially subsidized. If Linus Torvalds had had to compensate all his “eyeballs,” he would have gone broke long ago.

-Third, and most important, the open source model — when it works effectively — is not as egalitarian or democratic as it is often made out to be. Linux has been successful not just because so many people have been involved, but because the crowd’s work has been filtered through a central authority who holds supreme power as a synthesizer and decision maker.

But if peer production is a good way to mine the raw material for innovation, it doesn’t seem well suited to shaping that material into a final product. That’s a task that is still best done in the closed quarters of a cathedral, where a relatively small and formally organized group of talented professionals can collaborate closely in perfecting the fit and finish of a product. Involving a crowd in this work won’t speed it up; it will just bring delays and confusion.

via Strategy+Business Magazine

Monday, September 17, 2007

Planning For Good Deadline

Our month marker fast approaches for the Planning For Good initiative for New Orleans' Idea Village.

See the Planning For Good page on Facebook for more detail on the brief and how to submit your ideas.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Duke it out: UGC v Creative Industry

Murray and I visited the MN Executive Program yesterday to give a Fallon perspective on creativity. One of the attendees asked about how we are reacting to the changing media environment, and I caught Murray's response on tape. He said that he sees an imbalance in the marketplace today between user generated content and content produced by people who are paid to be creative. And he predicted an imminent leveling of those two.

What does everyone else think? Have a look at the clip (under a minute!) and hit us up with your take.

Asterisk Advertising

Consumerist notes amusing "Badvertising" such as this slightly misleading sandwich board in LA. I'd say this is a fitting metaphor for our ongoing deteriorating relationship with people: the ubiquitous "*" and "small print" to lure in the sheep only fuels escalated Hactivism (financial service brands and auto dealerships take note).


Another one to grow on from a Consumerist reader. Funny how ad lies incite passion and inspires people to recall "a similar experience when..."

If anybody has other example photos, send links, I could use them for an upcoming deck.

Commercial Interruption: Daisy

Ad Age rightly recommends Conelrad's history of DDB's (in)famous "Daisy" election campaign ad and ties all the fasinating threads together.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cult of the Amateur

Dan Meth created this video homage to all the viral video superstars (to-date) evolved from our YouTube era.

Internet People - Watch more free videos

Thursday, September 06, 2007

No Comment

Men...sigh. Maybe it's the trick editing?

Carl's Jr likes flat buns and they cannot lie...

And Tennessee teachers ain't amused.

via Feministing

Social Media: This One Time, When I Googled Myself...

On a random curious tangent during an otherwise productive (hm...for the most part) day, decided to Google my name and see what popped up. Before I started at Fallon, I remember doing this same search and, while I expected the result, was disappointed that it returned nothing. While I'm no Aki Spicer (my paltry 52 web hits is childs' play), I'm doing a bit better than I once was.

Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace...whatever. All of this social media comes up in conversations all the time, and I for one often take for granted the impact all of it has because it's such a natural part of my everyday life. I check Facebook multiple times a day, and barely think twice about how amazing it is that I'm able to stay tapped into friends lives who otherwise I would've lost all connections to.

But as I scrolled through my Google search results, I quickly realized that without social networks, my name would fall into the category of "having no documents matched this search." And while this may be due to my age and level of experience, I wonder what a similar search reveals for the rest of you.

And I don't think it's really a bad thing. For one, I know that all of the superficial Google results on me were, in some way, influenced by me, so there's no surprises. That's not to say that someday, I wouldn't like to have some quotes from big shot sources to my credit (AdAge, still waiting for that phone call).

In the interim though, just happy that I'm Google worthy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"Good enough" for green

Scientific American this month focuses in on the various complexities of our current food situation: "The global paradox of obesity and malnutrition." I'd recommend that anyone who is interested in diet, health and consumption should pick this up.

Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat and NYT contributor, wades through many of the conflicting stories we hear to try to get to a simplified view on what to embrace and what to avoid. On the subject of organics, she writes:

Further research will likely confirm that organic foods contain higher nutrient levels, but it is unclear whether these nutrients would make a measurable improvement in health....Organics may be somewhat healthier to eat, but they are far less likely to damage the environment, and that is reason enough to choose them at the supermarket.

She makes a great point here. As individuals, eating organics might not make a difference, but they certainly aren't hurting us, and they are contributing to better living for the whole. I kept thinking about that as I read an article in SmartMoney about green washing machines that questioned whether they get clothes clean enough. The article points out that, since 1990, washing machines have decreased energy consumption by 56% and subsequently, half as powerful. One thing that's making it easier to ignore a shadow of a wine stain: new washers are cool looking. Rainbow colored, smaller, and with touch screen panels, people want them in their homes. While I have to wonder: are our clothes really that dirty?, using other appeals to make it easier for appliance purchasers will help them follow Marion Nestle and endure slightly more in the short term with the understanding that it'll make the long term brighter for everyone.