Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The 50 Million Milestone

We've passed the 50 million mark. That's right. The iggli invite button has been deliverec more than 53 million times. 


Taming the trolls

Get Satisfaction - taking it to the bullies.


Tom Higley
President & CEO
Pavlov Games

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Get Satisfaction" <noreply@getsatisfaction.com>
Date: November 30, 2010 11:18:38 AM MST
To: tom@iggli.com
Subject: Webcast tomorrow: Taming the trolls
Reply-To: noreply@getsatisfaction.com

Get Satisfaction
(877) 339 3997


Community College: Managing Sentiment & Preparing for Negativity


Just a quick reminder about our webcast tomorrow (Wednesday):



Community College: Managing Sentiment & Preparing for Negativity


How do you deal with criticism? How do you tame the trolls? Learn how to set the tone for a positive customer community and when negativity shows up - how to deal with it effectively and constructively.

Wednesday, December 1st
@ 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern

Half hour session


https://www.gotomeeting.com/register/466803614?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonuqvMZK...">Register now for this free session...


. . .


Monthly Maintenance Window: The first Thursday of the month is in a few days, which means our monthly maintenance window is almost here. We're estimating the downtime will last for 4 hours beginning at 10pm PDT on Thursday December 2nd and we'll be sending progress updates from our status account on Twitter, http://twitter.com/GSFNstatus?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonuqvMZKXonjHpfsX77u0oX7H...">@GSFNstatus.

. . .

Did you miss our past webcasts? They're on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/getsatisfaction?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonuqvMZKXonjHpfs..." style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 20pt; font-size: 11pt; margin: 0pt; text-align: left; vertical-align: text-top;">Driving Traffic to Your Community

http://www.youtube.com/getsatisfaction?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonuqvMZKXonjHpfs..." style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 20pt; font-size: 11pt; margin: 0pt; text-align: left; vertical-align: text-top;">Encouraging New Member Engagementhttp://www.youtube.com/getsatisfaction?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonuqvMZKXonjHpfs..." style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 20pt; font-size: 11pt; margin: 0pt; text-align: left; vertical-align: text-top;">

Have a great holiday!


The Get Satisfaction Team

http://getsatisfaction.com?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonuqvMZKXonjHpfsX77u0oX7Hr08..." style="color: #71277a; text-decoration: none;">getsatisfaction.com

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© 2010 Get Satisfaction Inc. All rights reserved.

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This Year's Aspen Live Conference

It's that time of year again. The next Aspen Live Conference is slated for December 9-11, 2010. A huge thanks to Jim Lewi for pulling this together!

Let me know if you're planning to attend, and we'll schedule some time to get together.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Consumer Complaints: Better Than SEO For Google Promotion

This Sunday's New York Times featured a fascinating piece by David Segal, "A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web."

From the gist of the article, it seems that from the perspective of web marketers, any attention is good attention. Evidently a particularly sketchy Brooklyn web marketer, Vitaly Borker, has discovered one of the best ways to improve his standings in a Google web search rankings: insult and threaten customers and encourage them to complain via Get Satisfaction. 

SHOPPING online in late July, Clarabelle Rodriguez typed the name of her favorite eyeglass brand into Google’s search bar.

Michael Falco for The New York Times

Clarabelle Rodriguez said she had several frightening exchanges with Vitaly Borker, after complaining about a purchase from his site.

Readers' Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

In moments, she found the perfect frames — made by a French company called Lafont — on a Web site that looked snazzy and stood at the top of the search results. Not the tippy-top, where the paid ads are found, but under those, on Google’s version of the gold-medal podium, where the most relevant and popular site is displayed.

Ms. Rodriguez placed an order for both the Lafonts and a set of doctor-prescribed Ciba Vision contact lenses on that site, DecorMyEyes.com. The total cost was $361.97.

It was the start of what Ms. Rodriguez would later describe as one of the most maddening and miserable experiences of her life.

The next day, a man named Tony Russo called to say that DecorMyEyes had run out of the Ciba Visions. Pick another brand, he advised a little brusquely.

“I told him that I didn’t want another brand,” recalls Ms. Rodriguez, who lives in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. “And I asked for a refund. He got rude, really obnoxious. ‘What’s the big deal? Choose another brand!’ ”

With the contacts issue unresolved, her eyeglasses arrived two days later. But the frames appeared to be counterfeits and Ms. Rodriguez, a lifelong fan of Lafont, remembers that even the case seemed fake.

Soon after, she discovered that DecorMyEyes had charged her $487 — or an extra $125. When she and Mr. Russo spoke again, she asked about the overcharge and said she would return the frames.

“What the hell am I supposed to do with these glasses?” she recalls Mr. Russo shouting. “I ordered them from France specifically for you!”

“I’m going to contact my credit card company,” she told him, “and dispute the charge.”

Until that moment, Mr. Russo was merely ornery. Now he erupted.

“Listen, bitch,” he fumed, according to Ms. Rodriguez. “I know your address. I’m one bridge over” — a reference, it turned out, to the company’s office in Brooklyn. Then, she said, he threatened to find her and commit an act of sexual violence too graphic to describe in a newspaper.

It turns out "Tony Russo" has a few aliases, but his real name is Vitaly Borker. Borker figured out that by leveraging the negative comments he (and his company, DecorMyEyes) receive on Get Satisfaction, he'd climb in the Google search rankings and thereby generate more sales. 

By then, Ms. Rodriguez had learned a lot more about DecorMyEyes on Get Satisfaction, an advocacy Web site where consumers vent en masse.

Dozens of people over the last three years, she found, had nearly identical tales about DecorMyEyes: a purchase gone wrong, followed by phone calls, e-mails and threats, sometimes lasting for months or years.

Occasionally, the owner of DecorMyEyes gave his name to these customers as Stanley Bolds, but the consensus at Get Satisfaction was that he and Tony Russo were the same person. Others dug around a little deeper and decided that both names were fictitious and that the company was actually owned and run by a man named Vitaly Borker.

Today, when reading the dozens of comments about DecorMyEyes, it is hard to decide which one conveys the most outrage. It is easy, though, to choose the most outrageous. It was written by Mr. Russo/Bolds/Borker himself.

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

I'm a huge fan of Get Satisfaction and its CEO, Wendy Lea, and it will be interesting to see how the company responds to the New York Times article. While the article could prove problematic for Get Satisfaction (e.g., if it prompts a spate of Borker copycats trying to leverage negative Get Satisfaction reviews to drive traffic), I huge opportunities for Get Satisfaction.  One possibility: encourage Google to begin to provide a companion link to Get Satisfaction to get a much clearer picture of the web marketer or distributor - a picture that Google itself can't or won't provide. 


Yesterday's Lessons

Given the long weekend, Saturday and Sunday were atypical days. I took our dog, Quincy, in to the vet to have his foot rebandaged (post-surgery for removal of a growth). I met with a friend I haven't connected with in a long time. And Nanette and I had dinner last night with friends, a couple who is relatively new to the area. 

I learned a few things. Here we go:

  • Increasing the dose of antibiotics by 1/3 might stave off the inflamation and possible infection Quincy's dealing with
  • Moore's law & Metcalfe's law - taken together - seem to outstrip our ability to understand and appreciate the pace of change (and the implications of that change)
  • Moore's law: the number of transisotors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years. The trend has continued for more than half a century and is not expected to stop.
  • Metcalfe's law: the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). First formulated in this form by George Gilder in 1993,[1] and attributed to Robert Metcalfe in regard to Ethernet, Metcalfe's law was originally presented, circa 1980, not in terms of users, but rather of "compatible communicating devices" (for example, fax machines, telephones, etc). [2] Only recently with the launch of the internet and Web 2.0 design did this law carry over to users and networks as its original intent was to describe Ethernet purchases and connections. [3] The law is also very much related to economics and business management, especially with competitive companies looking to merge with one another. 
  • A friend has undertaken a deep dive into Bob Dylan. He recommended Biograph. I love it.
  • Another friend talked about net-neutrality policy issues and a move to create a Broadband Technology Advisory Group that screens issues before the FCC sees them
  • Moving all my music/business book library from the second floor to my basement studio requires about 5X more time than I would have predicted. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Checking in to weirdness

I'm walking down the street in San Francisco, looking at Facebook Places as I walk, and suddenly all manner of wonderful weirdness is made visible. It's only by exercising great personal restraint that I manage to resist "checking in" - via Places - to all manner of weirdness. It's easy to imagine making a game of it. I think it'd be cool to compete for the "strangest string of check-ins."

Mini Zamboni at Union Square

Download now or watch on posterous
IMG_2710.MOV (1442 KB)



Tom Higley
President & CEO
Pavlov Games

Ideas vs. Operation/Execution

In a meeting this morning in SF with a friend and venture capitalist, I heard this question:

"Which do you think is harder to come by today, ideas or operational ability?" The question was rhetorical. There's no shortage of ides. Taking this a step further, there's no shortage of really good ideas. So he wanted to know - given my operational history/background - why I didn't just step into something I could run, something far less risky.  

Ponder that a moment. Why would I care whether I was executing against my idea or stepping into an operational role to execute against someone else's vision?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Let's Be Honest: One Way to Get Attention

Candor can be hard to come by. Maybe that's why it's so refreshing when it pops up.


In the course of exploring The Beatles Rubber Soul and White albums during the past 48 hours, I read up a bit on George Martin, the legendary producer of all but one of the Beatles albums. It turns out he wasn't immediately persuaded of their abilities and their appeal. At their audition for Martin in studio three of the Abbey Road Studios in 1962, he quite liked John's and Paul's voices, but he didn't think much of their original material. Still, Martin wanted to know what the Beatles thought, was there anything they personally did not like?


. . .  George Harrison replied, "Well, there's your tie, for a start." That was the turning point, according to Smith, as John Lennon and Paul McCartney joined in with jokes and comic wordplay that made Martin think that he should sign them to a contract for their wit alone.[Spitz, Bob (2005). The Beatles: The Biography. Little, Brown and Company (New York). ISBN 1-84513-160-6, pp318-319]


If you're wanting to stand out from the crowd, speaking your mind might be something to keep in mind. It can definitely get people's attention. 


Rubber Soul

I just downloaded Rubber Soul (and The BEATLES, aka the White Album) from iTunes. Why? Because it's an album that I never purchased and that never received the time and attention from me that it deserved. When it was released in December of 1965, I was 11. In those days, 11 year-old boys weren't buying many albums.  

I still don't use P2P services to get music. I now use Rdio or Spotify almost exclusively. But I wanted to "own" these tracks and be able to access them across multiple devices.  

Drive My Car. The whole things kicks off with "Drive My Car." Their raw rock'n roll from the Hamburg-club-era comes through, and it's easy to imagine them performing this one live to a screaming audience. The structure of the song is mostly familiar, the piano riff sounds like it could have been recorded at Motown studios, and the guitar solo is stuck in an earlier era - before most lead guitar players discovered the beauty of "11" on a distorting amplifier with tortured speakers pushed to their limits. Clapton, Hendrix and Page hadn't yet taken center stage in the popular music of 1965. Yet you can almost hear Jimi Hendrix in some of the guitar sounds here. there are interesting surprizes here too.  Lennon and McCartney are pushing boundaries from the start. The harmonies are purposefully dissonant and evocative. There are surpising melodic and harmonic choices. And the edge and timber of the lead vocals is brilliant - pointing the way to successive generations of singers including Joe Cocker, Steven Stills, and much later Ray LaMontagne.

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). Sitar! The first use of a sitar in a recording by a rock band.    

You Won't See Me. A great pop tune! Written by Lennon & McCartney. This seems almost to be a throwback to the stylistic conventions of their earliest recordings - Please Please Me (1963), With The Beatles (1963), A Hard Day's Night (1964), and Beatles for Sale. 

Nowhere Man. Now we're looking at the future. The a capella beginning sounds nothing like the band's earlier work. The innovation seems to be in the vocals, lyrics and songwriting rather than in the revolutionary combination or introduction of other sounds or instruments.  

Think for Yourself. Nice! This one's a real combination of older and newer sounds and directions. "Do what you want to do. And go where you're going to. Think for yourself 'cause I won't be there with you."

The Word. Great vocal harmonies. Great vocals from both Lennon and McCartney. It often seems to me that Ringo just barely holds it together here and elsewhere on some of his drum fills.

Michelle. This is just brilliant songwriting - melodic line and chord changes - and superb vocal performance. No wonder this has become a standard. 

What Goes On. Country music! Big time! Ringo gets his turn at the vocals. It's not very sophisticated musically or lyrically. 

Girl. Really nice melodic line and harmonies. Feels quite French influenced. 

I'm Looking Through You. It's difficult to listen to these songs and not be blown away by the incredible vocal abilities - particularly of Lennon and McCartney - and in this case McCartney shines. He shines on the bass here as well. 

In My Life. Wikipedia indicates the "harpsichord" solo is actually a piano played by George Martin, recorded at half speed and doubled to match the songs original tempo. 

Wait. Nice vocal harmonies and a cool changeup on the core rhythmic interplay between verse and choruses. 

If I Needed Someone. Classic Beatles beginning: deep bass, arpeggiated guitar. The vocals almost feel like CSN&Y and McCartney plays a great pedal point ostinato in the bass as the chords change.  

Run For Your Life. The guitar lick that kicks this off calls to mind much of George Harrison's work in other contexts - Paperback Writer, Ticket To Ride, etc. Again, the tone of the lead guitar is that thin sound that harkens back more to the 50s that what was soon to come. 



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The BEATLES (AKA The White Album)

For whatever reason, the ablum cover artwork that appears in the iTunes version of the song places the title (The BEATLES) slightly askew. It's sort of funny to compare the two. 

Back in the U.S.S.R. This is just blows me away! It all starts with the plane! Then Paul plays some of the most extraordinary Jerry Lee Lewis style rock'n roll piano. The guitars here have started to acquire some of that thicker, heavier crunch that comes from testing the limits of your amps and speakers. And the rhythm guitar bits are quite interesting. It absolutely rocks! The transition to the Beach Boys immitation -  "The Ukraine girls really knock me out. They leave the west behind." is just phenomenal and hilarious. The lead guitar sound - though still thinner than what will come later - wails. And as they repeat "back in the US, back in the US, back in the USSR," the underlying rhythm guitar riff is awesome. During the course of the song, the Beatles have managed to channel Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Beach Boys and Chuck Berry and still make it all fresh and original.

But it's the lyrics that really take center stage here. First there's the concept: Back in the USSR?  Who else would have started with such a notion and delivered on the promise with such irony, facility and wit? And how about these lyrics:

Oh, show me round your snow peaked Mountain way down south

Take me to your daddy's farm

Let me hear your balalaika's ringing out

Come and keep your comrade warm

I'm back in the USSR

Hey, you don't know how lucky you are, boy

And just as you're up and dancing around the room the last chords fades as the plane takes off and the strains of acoustic guitars introduce . . .

Dear Prudence. 

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play.

Dear Prudence, it's a brand new day.

The sun is up. The sky is blue.

It's beautiful, and so are you. 

And it's the contrast between the finger picked guitar and the very deep bass that feel like something very different than anything you've heard before. John is said to have written this for Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence Farrow, who became so wrapped up in her meditation practice that she stopped nearly all social interaction. 

Glass Onion. Probably the Beatle's most self-referential tune. In the course of a single song, they recall bits of lyrics from Strawberry Fields, I Am the Walrus, Fool On the Hill, and Fixing a Hole. There's the reference to the whole "Paul is dead" hoopla: "Well here's another clue for you all. The Walrus was Paul." You can just imagine Lennon having a friggin' field day with this. The instrumentation and feel of this tune is pretty interesting. By now The Beatles, with George Martin's help, have become pretty facile with including fully integrated string sections. Even as the music begins to rock, the smooth strings come in and add a completely different dimension to the sound.  

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. Can there be any doubt that this is a Paul McCartney tune? There was a time when I couldn't tell the difference between Paul's and John's tunes or songwriting. Part of that is because they were often so powerfully complementary. But Paul is a melodist. And he can't resist those infectious melodies. Sometimes they're pretty sing-songy: Rocky Racoon, Maxwell's Silver Hammer, When I'm Sixty Four. Sometimes they're utter gems: Michelle. Later, post-Beatles, his melody/lyrics combinations often became cutesy: Uncle Albert. This is pretty cute. But it works. 

And The First Shall Be Last

Apple and The Beatles have now confirmed that much of The Beatles catalog is now available for download via iTunes. This shouldn't be momentous. During their reign as the supreme rulers of transformative and powerful popular music, they were often among the very first to explore and introduce us to new ideas, different cultures new ways of thinking. Psychedlica, Meditation, the Sitar, musical mashups. But somehow they managed to get stuck in protracted legal, business and relational struggles and essentially go missing entirely from the largest, fastest growing legitimate channel for digital music distribution. And so, by virtue of their enormous influence and their very apparent absence, The Beatles took the stage once again, and have again captured our attention. Not that everyone was happy about this. Here's an excerpt from Chicago Reader:


The Beatles acquisition was probably the least exciting of the rumors going around, especially since Apple still hasn't done anything with Lala, the music-streaming service it acquired late last year, which could potentially revolutionize the iTunes experience. The response on music and tech blogs has largely been along the lines of "Who gives a shit?" The addition of an already ubiquitous band (whose albums any halfway educated BitTorrent user could find in downloadable form in seconds) isn't a big deal, the argument goes. And seriously, how much longer are boomers going to keep insisting that they're the center of the universe?

It's a perspective I completely understand, but it misses one major point. Being able to buy the Beatles through iTunes might not mean much—pretty much everybody who wants the band's music already has it on a hard drive somewhere, either thanks to BitTorrent or because, you know, you can import the songs from discs. But looked at from another angle, this could be a big deal. Steve Jobs may have just finally killed the CD.


Do you remember where you were when you first heard them? Were you alive when they began to utterly transform popular music, beginning with their initial rise to fame in the UK and their subsequent domination of America in what became known as first British invasion?

We saw them on Ed Sullivan, me and my sister. (My younger siblings were too young to remember any of this.)  Hysteria reigned. 

During much of the next decade, The Beatles ruled. They transitioned from one of the most talented popular musical performing acts in the western world to candidates for "most innovative and influential artists of the century" (and perhaps of "all time").

When we were younger, not yet in our teens, we kept them at a safe distance. The Monkees were parentally sanctioned. The Beatles were...well, dangerous.  

Eventually, I came as much under their spell as any kid growing up in the late sixties to early seventies. Their creative direction and output were astonishing. To go from "I Want To Hold Your Hand" to "Day In the Life" or "I Am the Walrus." Really?

Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come. 

* * *

Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog's eye. 

* * *

Semolina pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower.

She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah. 

I missed some of this transition. It seems to have begun in earnest with Rubber Soul. 


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

At the Fox!

Tom Higley
President & CEO
Pavlov Games