Thursday, October 11, 2007

But I Don't Want To Go To Antarctica

I'm currently wondering why the big newspapers (The Times, The Post) still don't hyperlink within their online articles. My guess is that they don't want people leaving their sites, a last-stand effort to regain what they've lost in having to provide so much of their content online for free. But that's just my guess.

This morning I read a Times music review online - "Musical Mysticism in a Search for God" - and once again I thought "it would help to have a link to somewhere I could hear a snippet of this music, so I could better understand what the writer is talking about." I found some samples of Messiaen's organ music on, and you can download individual pieces to your personal-listening device. Just think of what the Times could do if they recast themselves through the ability to hyperlink and started to guide us to a greater understanding, instead of keeping the doors closed.

I think of hyperlinks as wormholes, a doorways taking us from one Web site (kind of like a planet) to another. Online, newspapers seem to be ignoring these wormhole possiblities, or limiting themselves severely to building a wormhole from the bedroom to the bath. This morning, The Washington Post hyperlinked very oddly in the theater review titled "'I Love You': Out of Tune With the Times." Instead of linking to the theatre's Web site (where the play is onstage) in the text, they make you scroll "below the fold" to the end of the article. What makes it above the fold? A link to articles on Antarctica, which has an extremely tenuous relationship to the review. Check it out and see what I mean.

Maybe a better wormhole would be from The Washington Post to the official Web site of the Off-Broadway production.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How Personal Trainers Can Create the Remarkable
A buzzword currently circulating among marketing gurus on the Web is "remarkable." That is, what is it that you're doing which causes your audience, clients, customers, whoever to talk about you (and not like a dog.) An interesting post over on Remarkable Communication describes two hot dog street vendors, and made me start to look at this whole "remarkability" factor in my environment.

Of course, it's easier to talk about other people's remarkability rather than one's own. So I'll write a bit about an idea I had today: How personal trainers can increase their remarkability.

The idea's blindingly simple. Every so often - at least once a week - email your clients individually. Find something remarkable in their previous workout session and tell them about it. Guide them to an interesting article online. Encourage them to keep up with their diet/nutrition plan. The key is to come up with something encouraging and positive for each client - and not a canned missive that they'll trash without a moment's thought. Tailor the message to the person.

This may seem to be a lot of work, but it can be done with some planning* - and jotting down notes on the client's chart.

I worked out all last year with personal trainers, and none of them were shy, reserved, quiet and self-effacing people. They were fun, energetic, supportive, exciting people. None of them, though, made a point of extending their presence into my thoughts once I left the gym.

My idea would start them down the road to remarkability, since I don't think many trainers do this.

After they get comfortable with this idea, then they can start blogging! (Hot Dog Impresario Biker Jim has a blog - after all, people will talk about anything.)
*Whenever I think of planning, that Monty Python sketch (Episode 4) about "defending yourself against attack from fresh fruit" comes to mind:

Self-Defense Instructor (SDI): Come on, come on you miserable little man. Come at me then...come on, do your worst, you worm.

(third man runs at him; the SDI steps back and pulls a lever; a sixteen-ton weight falls upon the man)

SDI: If anyone ever attacks you with a raspberry, simply pull the lever...and a sixteen-ton weight will drop on his head. I learnt that in Malaya.

Student: Suppose you haven't got a sixteen-ton weight?

SDI: Well that's planning, isn't it?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Post-Cluetrain Rant

I finished reading The Cluetrain Manifesto yesterday. It's close to a decade now since it was first written, and I think it still has tons to say about our current and future online and face-to-face communications.

I caused me, also, to go on a rant. Here are my 12 theses in the spirit of Cluetrain's 95. Some of them carry explanations, while others sit there enigmatically. But I'd be please to explain my thinking to anyone who wants to start a conversation! And I will most likely expand on some of them in the days ahead:

Fluorescent lighting has to be the worst lighting in the world, and shouldn't be used anywhere except in hospitals and maybe restaurant kitchens.

CEOs of store chains: Look at your stores. Look at them!!!!

Do customers want to get in and out of stores quickly because they've got something else to do, or because the store's environment sucks?

CEOs of store chains: Look at your employees. Look at them!!!!

Everything, and I mean everything, speaks.

Retail, organization, and government leadership: Why aren't you worried about your the health of your employees and their families?

We have too much stuff. There are people in this country that can't get out of bed because they are so overweight. We have reformulated our plastic trash bags to stretch because we have too much trash to throw away.

Commerce: Surprise me. But not as I'm about to leave the store. And not as I'm walking in. Start with my "snail" mail box.

How dare you tell me I'm not worthy. How dare you.

Whatever you're doing, you're probably beating your head against a brick wall. You can stop. Now.

There's no excuse for dismal government office environments at any scale.

Nobody in the U.S. is more than an hour away from a better, more tranquil, more beautiful environment.