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A recent enlightenment has caused me to take notice to a number of things that had previous not been on my radar. Simple things, really. Like smiling for example. Or the lack of. I find this particularly interesting as we enter the Happy Holiday season. Why? People don’t really seem to be happy at all. If anything, this time of year seems to bring more frowns and stressed-to-the-max looks than ever. This is baffling as we know that by simply putting a smile on your face you will actually feel better. Not rocket science.

Okay, I understand it’s not that simple and there are a number of factors that influence what makes someone happy. JWT’s October trend report took this idea of happiness one step further. Health & Happiness: Hand in Hand, explores the rising notion that a healthier person is a happier person and, in turn, a healthier person is a happier person. I agree with that and can see the correlation.

Now, this idea of health and happiness carries into the workplace as well. JWT Stockholm/SWE Advertising went to the drawing board to develop a new campaign for Adecco, a Swedish staffing firm, with this in mind. The agency used the foundational insight that a lack of praise and flattery in the workplace is one of the biggest contributors to poor health, sick leave and overall dissatisfaction among employees. The agency launched “The Praise Challenge”, a 10-day program activated through an app where both employees and clients were challenged to complete one exercise a day that involves encouragement, positive feedback, appreciation or acknowledgment. The success of the campaign encouraged over 18,000 praises that would have otherwise gone unsaid. A rough translation (via Google) of the campaigns can be found here.

This holiday season I challenge you to make it a Happy Holiday season. SMILE. Make someone else smile. Be the positive attitude in the room. Give a stranger a compliment. Smile some more. Because at the end of the day it’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give. Happy Holidays.

 

Infomous is a dynamic and intuitive navigation solution – perhaps soon to pop up on websites you visit.  Web developers for content-rich sites have integrated word cloud and tablet-style flip navigation over the past few years, but this is a solution that seems to combine aspects of both: reference triggers and dynamic script.  The tool is currently available in preview/beta version through a relationship with the provider, but will roll out later this year, ready for embed.  More info at Infomous – they have a demo up for world news, a version for sports news, entertainment news, science news.  It’s easy to explore and find links to try.

logo_bookofoddsSteve and I have been exploring the online reference site, The Book of Odds. Some of the site’s key functionalities are still in Beta, but for over three years they’ve been compiling odds to create a large database of “the odds of everyday life.” You can sign up for free and provide a little profiling information to begin exploring statements of probability related to your profile, or to anything you want to look up.

The idea is to explore the odds of something happening, and then to calibrate the probability in a comparison. If the topic you explore is included in the database (the four main current topic portals are Health & Illness, Accidents & Death, Relationships & Society, and Daily Life & Activities), you’ll get confirmed probability data on that topic, but you’ll also get leads on unexpected connections, as you compare unrelated events by their likelihood of occurring.

The site also has social and learning functions, and content aside from the odds database (newsletters, blogs, related links, etc.)  We’re just getting started exploring this resource, and brainstorming about how we can apply it to our day-to-day reference needs. It’s actually pretty challenging to think about life in terms of probability statements – thinking up queries to get started. But once you dig into the site, there’s quite a bit to learn – not only the small bites of data, but how to calibrate probability, and new approaches to classifying and comparing phenomena.

Brian Solis and JESS3 have published an updated version of their “Conversation Prism.”  This infographic charts the many ways in which online and real world interactions are evolving, and the primary applications we use to communicate. In its current form, I find this to be a good resource for introduction/reminders about services for different channels, but if periodic updates continue, I can see this becoming a great tool for brainstorming and decision making.

Link to a mostly readable image

From their blog, “Using the Conversation Prism , we can visualize and map the shifting landscape of social networks and micro communities to observe and conduct our initial fieldwork through digital anthropology. The process reveals everything, from measurement opportunities to participation strategies to the specific infrastructure changes necessitated by the new proactive and reactive process of engagement in the social Web.”

Advertisers seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with Twitter. As the fastest growing social media site, it is obviously important that brands establish a presence on Twitter. However, what happens when the user-generated content of Twitter works against the brand, instead of working for it? What happens when good buzz goes sour?

The recently launched Tinker.com responds to this issue. (Check out Adage coverage of the ANA Brand Innovation Conference.) Tinker is linked to users’ Twitter accounts. It compiles all of the Twitter tweets about a specific topic, brand or event, such as Apple Computers or the American Idol Finale. Tinker then filters through tweets to find only the positive remarks (excluding competitor mentions, profanity, and other negative publicity), and displays them as a stand-alone feature. Marketers can connect their Tinker display to their webpage, Facebook page, etc.

It will be interesting to see how Tinker will develop as users catch on to the trend. But despite new marketing options, I still feel like Twitter is the way to go. The internet is full of brand messages crafted by the brand, delivered to the consumer. What consumers ultimately care about (and what Twitter could provide if used correctly) are consumer messages about the brand. Imagine the possibilities if advertisers could influence users to tweet 140 character blurbs to the effect of: “This Coke is better than–,” or “The Carolina Hurricanes are the best thing that ever happened to the triangle.” How to get users to mention products in their tweets is the real challenge.

I periodically engage in an on-and-off conversation with a writer friend about the challenges creative types face in balancing consumption and productivity. This conversation spins off in several directions, depending on how much coffee and/or beer we’re drinking:  the differences between consumption of information and learning; the differences between entertainment and art; re-appropriation and the instinct to seek or disregard “newness.” This dialogue is really all over the place and rather heady but can frequently spark a new line of thinking for me, or at least consideration of a new perspective.

I am a creative and productive person, but when it comes to early adoption of web technology and trends, I am more of an absorber of information than a generator of new insight or perspective.  I am a big fan of tools that can aggregate sources of information and trends, and lay out the basic information for me.  At least giving me the ability to “catch up” within a click or two. I don’t typically engage in the early seek-and-trial behavior that many early adopters do, but I like to know what’s out there.

ynYouNoodle is a resource that aggregates data on startups.  I believe they launched in the middle of last year, but through partnerships and promotion are really starting to swagger recently.  Their Startup Predictor decision making tool is a sharp first product, and seems to be helpful to beta testers.  However, my main utility here is their Scores directory, compiling data on startups from news sources and indexing each with a quantitative metric to enable easy display on category, industry, and publisher top standings lists.

As an added bonus (for me), you can easily click through any of the startup names on the lists to learn more about them.  This will not only give you more in-depth detail on their YouNoodle data, but will simply let you know what these trendy rising-star sites and appliations are.  Easy aggregation and easy consumption of information.

twitter-logoFor those of you who aren’t already familiar, in a few short months, Twitter has gone from a site used by a small circle of people constantly flooding the world with useless information about their day to a prime communications and information sharing tool. Or, as our friend Mark might put it, the conversation has become broader and deeper, more nuanced in a way that it’s hard to believe we’re doing it with less than 140 characters at a time.

So now, it’s being used for everything from telling everyone about your experiences in the here and now, to letting people know there is new stuff out there (we’re even doing it with our blog @W5Insight.  It’s also been used in recent months to express group outrage with a viral advertising campaign.

While some of the biggest signs that the conversation is becoming more nuanced include the recent explosion of Twitter applications from seeing what others tweeting via the Twitter Grader and Twitturly to expanded content sharing through websites such as Twitpic, and the fact that everyone from CNN Anchors like @Rich Sanchez to mainstream corporations like @SouthwestAir are using it; the biggest sign of Twitter’s acceptance might be found in it’s recent Phishing incidents.   Also interesting is how breaking news has a way of hitting Twitter minutes before it ever hits mainstream news feeds or even live television

While using Twitter might not make you more profitable if you’re a company or change your life as an individual, it’s become a conversation the rest of the group is having.   On the day of the inauguration, follow some of the live updates for a prime example of the undercurrent.

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think Google? Kroger? The Home Depot?

Noah Brier at the barbarian group put together Brand Tags, a web app that asks thousands of visitors this very question for hundreds of different brands. Results are compiled into tag clouds, giving visitors a visual representation of the words most often associated with these brands. While I certainly wouldn’t say the results are scientific, they are nonetheless interesting.

To see how brands stack up against one another, see Battle Mode.