Archive for May, 2005

Are You a Content Pirate?

May 27th, 2005 by Bob Bly

If you download copyrighted digital content without paying for it ? music, movies, books, articles ? you?re stealing from the creator of the material, pure and simple.

Now, according to an article in BusinessWeek (6/6/02), Google is planning to scan the complete texts of millions of books from major libraries around the world and make them searchable online.

?Problem No. 1 is that Google?s plan is a clear violation of copyright laws,? reports BusinessWeek.

The article quotes Peter Givler, executive director of the Association of American University Presses, who notes that the Google plan ?appears to involve systematic infringement of copyright on a massive scale.?

As an author, I am outraged. What Google is doing is not much different than raiding a farmer?s field at night, harvesting all the crops, and giving it away to hungry people ? without paying the farmer a dime.

Forget ?Citizen?s Publishing.? If you want to give away your work on the Internet for free, that?s your business.

But if you take my copyrighted work and post it on your site without my permission, you?re a thief ? and, like any thief, you should be punished if caught. Right?

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Category: General | 26 Comments »

Is Reverse Type a No-No?

May 20th, 2005 by Bob Bly

An art director showed me a promotion she was designing — and it was all in reverse type (white lettering on a black background).

When I told her not to use it because reverse type is hard to read, she said, “You can’t prove it by me.”

So I’m asking for your opinion … and your help. Do you use or avoid reverse type? Why? Any results or proof to back up your opinions and preferences?

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Category: General | 74 Comments »

Does Being Busy Make You Stupid?

May 16th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Are you too busy today to do your best work? Too pressured to enjoy what poet Billy Collins calls ?the still room of thought? ? a contemplative, quiet mode for thinking and writing?

Now modern science tells us that being too busy can actually make us less intelligent.

According to a study from the University of London, trying to work while constantly checking your e-mails and voice mail messages temporarily lowers your I.Q. by about 10 points.

Reason: the human brain did not evolve to handle the constant flow of communication and information that modern technology, essentially developed within a generation, now exposes it to.

The inescapable conclusion? If you don?t structure some quiet and alone time into your day ? admittedly difficult, especially in a corporate setting ? you may rob yourself of the opportunity to do your best work and thinking.

Do you find this already happening to you? And what can one do to alleviate the problem?

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Category: General | 139 Comments »

Confessions of a Blogging Skeptic

May 14th, 2005 by Bob Bly

I just signed a contract with a major publisher to write a book titled ?My Year in the Blogosphere: Confessions of a Blogging Skeptic? — and I?m hoping you can help me with it.

In particular, I?m looking for examples of businesses — OTHER than ad-supported blogs, blogging consultants, marketing consultants, and PR firms — who are using blogs successfully as a marketing tool.

If you can show that the blog is actually selling product and making money for the business, so much the better.

But I?m most interested in evidence that blogging is a worthwhile marketing activity and should be proactively pursued by businesses looking to promote their products and services.

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Category: Blogging | 57 Comments »

Does the World Owe You a Living? And Should It?

May 12th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Does a citizen have the right to expect that certain basics be provided to him, such as health care, housing — and a job?

For many professionals, technology and obsolescence are increasingly robbing them of the opportunity to earn a living in their area of specialty. And no where is this more prevalent then in computers, once viewed as the most stable and fastest growing career in the U.S.

According to an article in InformationWeek (4/4/05), the Gartner Group reports that 30% of high-tech jobs in the United States are at risk from outsourcing to India and other nations.

?I?m just finishing my MIS degree, and when I see articles like this, it just makes me ask, what?s the point of getting an education if everything my family and I sacrified to get this degree is meaningless?? asks Bob Walz in a letter to the editor in InformationWeek.

My heart goes out to Bob. On the other hand, do companies have an obligation to provide Bob and other workers with well-paying employment? If a company can get IT services like Bob?s at a fraction of the cost by outsourcing to a programmer in India, don’t they have an obligation to their shareholders to do it?

Your thoughts?

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Category: General | 21 Comments »

If You Build It, Will They Come?

May 9th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Laypeople who look down on marketing ? especially long-copy, hard-sell direct marketing like e-book microsites ? say, ?If your product was any good, you wouldn?t have to promote it with such hype.?

Doctors, attorneys, and other professionals have traditionally held that point of view, along with many others.

Nice to think so, but na?ve. Sad to say, it doesn?t work that way in the real world.

?The expression ?If you build it, they will come? is not true,? said Steve Murphy, CEO, Rodale Inc., in an interview with Fast Company (3/05).

?We had lots of great properties at Rodale, but not enough of them were known. We needed to expose them to the mass market.?

Does your product or service ?sell itself?? Or do even good products need great marketing?

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Category: Direct Marketing, General | 18 Comments »

A Madison Avenue Ad Guy I Actually Like

May 4th, 2005 by Bob Bly

At first glance, Richard Kirshenbaum ? co-chairman of Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners ? is not my kind of guy.

He dresses too cool, has long hair, and runs a trendy NYC ad agency focusing on branding. Yuch!

So I was pleasantly surprised when, in an interview with Psychology Today (4/05, p. 34), he had this to day about humor in advertising:

?Humorous ads are troubling because you have to create a link to the product and its benefit. Often, people remember a funny ad but they don?t remember the product.?

I now have a growing admiration for Richard, and think his assessment is spot on ? really clever or funny ads become memorable as ads, but often do squat for product sales.

What do you think?

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Category: General | 16 Comments »