Posts filed under ‘DNA’

transmedia, multimedia, transmodal, multimodal, what defines true interactive digital edutech?

Inspired by an entry by Kelli McGraw, Defining ‘multimodal’ on her blog, the folks over at Inanimate Alice’s educational blog decided to highlight the semantic morass in which Ms. McGraw and her fellow educators in Australia find them selves.

Australia and New Zealand’s official educational bodies and institutions have been early adapters and adopters of digital media in education- both teaching it, as well as making it a tool.  As these types of resources evolve, engaging existing and new curricula, and well as the platforms, hardware, connectivity and interactivity expand, the terms to describe these phenomena have become even more diverse than the subject itself.

We follow these subjects on twitter, Buzz, WordPress, LinkedIn, Google, Educational and ICT sites, but how do we know what we’re missing?  Is it #edtech #edutech #e-books #ICTeducation #transmedia #multimedia #transmodal #multimodal #newmediaed #education2.0…. the list is very, very long.

The environment, the culture, the technology and global adoption of this revolution is happening so quickly and in as many ways as the imagination of the students it is intended to engage.  The question is: do we need common terms?  Is that limiting or part of the ‘content curation’ movement?  Who makes that decision and what do each of these terms mean to all the different people involved- from grade 5 language students in Melbourne to Ministers of Education in the European Union?

Inanimate Alice is a fantastic springboard to solicit input and begin dialogue by its very existence and unique morphology.  So, we ask you to look at Kelli’s post about Australian curriculum, titles and the confusion created, the article by the Inanimate Alice teachers and supporters highlighting the semantic aspect of Kelli’s article.

Then, please, weight in.  What, exactly, are we talking about?  In an increasingly small world and stronger global community- how do we speak the same language?

Kelli McGraw: sharing resources, inviting conversations

iTeach: Inanimate Alice blog

2010/05/13 at 01:30 Leave a comment

Hiding in plain sight- evergreen brands, evolutionary pace and the Wall Street Journal.

When Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal, liberals, old-school journalists and hard-core business-philes all bemoaned the end of an era, of an institution.

There was little doubt he’d leave his mark- Murdoch has never been known to be light-handed, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call him a 21st century William Randolph Hearst.

The majority  readers and admirers were sure he’d promote himself, his agenda (and that of his multitude of businesses).  Fluff pieces on his subsidiaries, corporate profiles of favored friends and partners, an uber-capitalist periodical containing promotional analysis and profiles of businesses that suited Murdoch’s taste.

The Journal has changed, to be sure, but in a much broader sense, inching closer to a right leaning NY Times than a business-anchored daily.  In the upper echelon of global newspapers, The WSJ enjoyed a well-earned spot amongst the elite of the top-tier dailies (elite meaning quality, not snobbish, but that’s a whole other bait and switch of title and subject).

It is increasingly about politics, splashy images and general interest content.  Yet, if you asked most people, including those who cried out at the time of the sale and since, they’d describe it as a business paper.  And that’s exactly what Murdoch and co. are counting on.

For so long, the Journal has been an institution, a cornerstone of commerce reporting and as steady and conservative- in its subject matter, not politics- as can be.  It is ingrained in the collective cultural conscious as such, but that consciousness no longer reflects reality.

How often does this happen?  And how long before we notice?

There are the business school anecdotes about Kleenex starting originally being marketed as a make-up remover, Crisco as candles, Kotex as surgical bandages, Silly Putty as a cheap war-era replacement for rubber, but this is the other end of the brand conversion curve.  Instead of starting out with marketing a product as a specific thing and then finding its unintended usage has far greater upside and viability, this is a brand that has been something for so long that it continues to be perceived to be what it was not what it is.

The reason is lifespan.  Consider TLC, “The Learning Channel,” sister network to Discovery and Animal Planet, it was originally stocked with educational fare.  It has since evolved or devolved into a reality based network with marginal educational value.  It is rarely referred to by its long form name as most people do not perceive it as an educational destination.

Then there’s KFC- formerly proudly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken.  In the wake of the eighties health craze, 90s vanity and aughts obesity crisis, the company has gone out of its way to market itself as KFC, years before they had a non-fried option on the menu.

But the journal has been around for, well, for forever.  And its identity is so integrated into our cultural DNA that the general population hasn’t noticed that it really has changed. Like someone you see everyday who has lost a not insignificant amount of weight, or gone grey, but so slowly, with changes hardly noticeable from day to day, you don’t notice until you see a picture from last year’s company picnic.

The aforementioned bemoaners were right- they’ve just been lulled into complacency by the slow changes, an almost real life evolutionary pace- there was no relaunch, no rebrand no WSJ2.0 campaign here.  It’s a real and steady (d)evolution into a general news periodical with a right leaning agenda.

It’s just hiding in plain sight- behind its evergreen brand.

The Media Equation

Under Murdoch, Tilting Rightward at The Journal


Published: December 14, 2009

There are growing indications in the news pages that Rupert Murdoch, a lifelong conservative, is looking to use The Wall Street Journal to play politics.

Sunday was the second anniversary of the sale of The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Rupert Murdoch, a lifelong conservative, addressing the newsroom at The Wall Street Journal two years ago, when he took over


2009/12/15 at 02:29 Leave a comment

Brand Education: One-man business helps companies understand value of advertising ‘that touches all five senses’

article contributed by Chris Piper, Brand Consultant via LinkedIn (Licensing, Branding & Merchandising Group)
By Andrew Moore / The Bulletin

Published: September 22. 2009 4:00AM PST

In early September 2008, Bend resident Chris Piper launched a new business, unaware, like most, that the economy was days away from drastic decline.

It was a risky move without considering the economy, but Piper felt passionate about what he wanted his business to do: Educate the business community about the value of branded merchandise.

Not just embroidered shirts and printed coffee mugs, but thoughtful consumer products that are unique or useful and effective in complementing a company’s message.

“The big weakness I saw was companies that didn’t understand the value of branded merchandise, other than having some branded pens on their desk or trade show booth,” said Piper. “The businesses that say, ‘I don’t know why I need it but I know I have to have it.’”

Piper, the founder of Breakout Strategic Merchandising, has survived his first year, and is aiming to take a bite of the nation’s $20 billion branded merchandise market. A big part of his efforts remain focused on education, including travel to business conferences and trade shows.

Sometimes those events yield new customers. Thanks to a speaking engagement with the Association of Luxury Suite Directors, Piper recently helped the Buffalo Bills put together a special commemorative edition of The New York Times for last month’s induction of Bills owner Ralph Wilson into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Piper created a 25-page newspaper filled with stories about the Bills from the last 50 years as they originally appeared in The New York Times.

With more than 5,000 product manufacturers he can work with, Piper is limited only by his imagination. For local company G5 Search Marketing, Piper put together a mailer that contained a branded stick of Chapstick. For another company, he created a pen-shaped tube of aerosolized hand sanitizer, capitalizing on the nation’s new focus on battling swine flu infections. For Nike, he had a 3-inch-wide commemorative coin minted that doubled as a ticket to a Nike Super Bowl party.

“Nontraditional advertising is growing, but you have to be methodical when you use it,” said Piper. “You’re not cannibalizing other mediums of advertising but adding value to it, finding other ways to engage your client’s customers.”

Piper, a native of Orinda, Calif., who graduated from the University of Oregon in 1989, moved to Bend roughly 4½ years ago. Like many professionals who relocate to Central Oregon, Piper initially worked from home for his then-employer, drawn to the region for its quality of life.

When the opportunity arose to start his own business and work for himself, Piper jumped at it. Though his company is still young, he is hopeful that he will one day be able to hire employees and grow what he hopes will be an expanding office.

Q: How is Breakout Strategic Merchandising doing?

A: We’re growing, We have clients nationally.

Q: How much of your business is focused on educating clients about the value of branded merchandise?

A: You get a passion for what you do when you are in an industry so long and the promotional products industry hadn’t been doing a good job of educating companies why to use (promotional products), so when I go out, I want people to understand the return on investment and how branded merchandise helps support your advertising campaign, but also gives you a three-dimensional medium that touches all five senses.

Q: What’s your company’s biggest challenge?

A: Getting people to realize the importance of branded merchandise … and keeping customers in the pipeline.

Q: Is it hard to do all that by yourself?

A: Yes, but I have strategic partners, and they become indirect salespeople in a way, and I think that’s a great way for people to grow a business.

Q: How difficult has it been to launch your business?

A: Logistically, getting to clients (outside the region) is difficult, but there is a wealth of people here who can help you with your business. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with my Opportunity Knocks (a local business support organization) group … but Bend, this community, everyone wants you to succeed.

Q: What advice do you have for others interested in starting their own business?

A: Make sure you have savings and be sure you are willing to go out and ask for help.

Andrew Moore can be reached at 541-617-7820 or

2009/10/08 at 15:49 Leave a comment

do you have to press a lot of buttons? because I like buttons*

* not really

from Chickita/ CrunchBase

Study: Mobile (And Particularly iPhone) Users Not Keen On Clicking Ads
by Robin Wauters on September 12, 2009

New research performed by online search advertising company Chitika suggests mobile users are far less likely to click on ads than non-mobile Internet users. In fact, they’re about half as likely, the study shows based on a sample of 92 million impressions.

Could that be true? Wasn’t it the other way around?

First, we should note right off the bat that Chitika is an Internet advertising company that’s decidedly not into mobile advertising according to its own website, so that brings along a large truck carrying bags filled with grains of salt. That said, it’s worth taking a look at how they got to the conclusion, so we can reach our own.

Chitika claims to power advertising for over 55,000 sites, serving ads based on 2 billion monthly impressions. Of the 92 million impressions cited in the study, approximately 1.3 million or 1.5% of the lot came from mobile browsing. The ads that were shown on mobile devices were exactly the same as the ones displayed to non-mobile users, rather than comparing standard online advertising with mobile-oriented ads.

Ad click-through of mobile as a whole pulled only 0.48% according to analysis of the sample, with non-mobile holding steady with a 0.83% clickthrough rate. That would mean mobile commanded just over half of the average.

Of the five major smartphone operating systems – Android, iPhone OS, Windows Mobile, Palm OS and BlackBerry OS – Apple’s iPhone ranked worst for ad click-throughs representing a mere 0.30% rate. The “Other” group, comprised mainly of BlackBerry users and a handful of other operating systems (including Symbian, Nokia, and HTC) saw the highest ad click-through rate.

Personally, I’m a bit hesitant to believe the outcome of the study – much like Chitika’s earlier one about Bing ads’ click-through rate being twice as big as Google ads – considering the self-serving aspect and the apparent desire to come to controversial conclusions in order to draw attention.

On the flip side, there hasn’t been that much independent research for mobile ad click-through rates yet, and I’m equally keen not to blatantly believe studies that show mobile advertising commands spectacularly high click-through rates compared to web advertising. In my opinion it’s conceivable that click-through rates would be rather similar and largely dependent on context, type of advertising, how well the message fits the medium etc.

In short: more neutral research wanted.

Chitika image
Location: Marlborough, Massachusetts, United States
Founded: May, 2003

Chitika, Inc. ( is one of the largest search-targeted advertising networks, serving millions of search driven impressions per month, and growing. For result-driven advertisers and media buyers, Chitika offers a keyword-targeted… Learn More

Information provided by CrunchBase

2009/09/15 at 00:26 Leave a comment

The Apple Effect.

Styles and trends are cyclical- an idea of which people in most industries are hardly ignorant. Palettes, silhouettes, values, social initiatives, often linked to each other and, of course, to economic conditions, the single most important decision-making factor in the average working class life.

Tough times often expose quality over trend- finding consumers making choices on what will serve them best, rather than what will make them edgier, cooler, appear more “in the know.” There is a trend towards simplicity, discarding the cool gadgets and bells and whistles that may be fun (a perfectly valid value proposition), but less essential.

This goes beyond products to packaging, a simplified design, less colors, smoother/ simpler fonts, most likely some of these decisions based on costing, a factor of which the average consumer is unaware. That little foil logo? The complicated die-cut, the textural aspects… Saving the manufacturer tiny amounts per unit, but adding up when it comes to the bottom line.

There has been a general trend towards more “generic” packaging- sterile, simplified, spare. The kind we used to think of as representing the generic or house brand. From HBA to high end consumer products and services, companies were scaling back the ‘flair’ and focusing on the absolute essentials.

This time, however, I think we can attribute this trend more to what I call “The Apple Effect” than to the recession, especially since the current was heading in that direction before US banks collapsed and forced us to get back to basics.

First came the iPod. And it was white. White! Who releases a daily use consumer product that will be touched and pawed and thrown into bags in white? Apple. And it was genius. Totally distinct, recognizable even from the snake of the wire and the tiny ear buds. As this became iconic, variations popped up- first a couple of colors and then a whole rainbow. As each new format or next generation product was released, the palettes were limited- white, maybe black, possibly a partner-inspired black with red tinge (a la U2).

What quickly followed were the skins- in all colors. Instinctively to protect the white casing, but also to make each owner feel individual, expressive. By this time of course, multiple colors became part of Apple’s regular offerings, but the ‘damage’ had been done and the iconic brand had been imprinted. White/ Black- no packaging bursts or call outs or design extras. Let the product speak for itself, though the actual catalog had moved on.

Other companies followed suit to various degrees- how could they not? Here’s a company that has an excellent product, but not entirely unique. The iPhone has basic features free flip phones had three years ago- picture texts, cut and paste (recently rectified) and a ton of absolutely useless apps. But, it’s cool. Or perceived to be so. People had waited in line for this, signed exorbitant contracts they would have considered ludicrous in any other situation, and just when the cracks in their faith began to appear, here comes the next generation. With cut and paste! And back into line they went, resigning these contracts, with early upgrade fees in the hundreds of dollars… with very little grumbling.

The other perception was that everyone had one. In the US, Blackberry sales outnumber those of the iPhone. Most likely because they are primarily are bought for and by businesses, with good reason. They’re more practical. But they have much the same “cool” stuff iPhones do, it’s just not the value proposition focused on in sales, marketing or advertising.

A perfect example of a good idea not being translatable is the Tropicana Orange Juice debacle. From a NY Times article on the outcry against the changed packaging comes the following explanation:

Some of those commenting described the new packaging as “ugly” or “stupid,” and resembling “a generic bargain brand” or a “store brand.”

“Do any of these package-design people actually shop for orange juice?” the writer of one e-mail message asked rhetorically. “Because I do, and the new cartons stink.”

Others described the redesign as making it more difficult to distinguish among the varieties of Tropicana or differentiate Tropicana from other orange juices.

Clearly CPG goods can fall prey to the “generic” association more than most categories of product, but it’s a good lesson to be learned. In their desire to be more relevant, Tropicana execs forgot their core consumer and discarded their icon and along with that, the core equity of the brand- the orange with the straw coming out of it- fresh juice, straight from the orange. The new packaging had a glass of orange juice. That in no way allows Tropicana to visually express its freshness and purity, which is what the brand is built on.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is HBA/ pharmacy. There is an inherent consumer affinity for clean packaging and POS for health and beauty aids, vitamins and supplements and pharmaceuticals. Again, it relates directly to the equity of the products and what is important to consumers when it comes to these products. For instance, Boots Pharmacy retail outlets are white- walls, shelving, upscale store brand packaging. But because of the products and what they promise, that cleanliness is comforting. I’d be happy as a clam to camp out in Boots overnight. It’s sterile- in the best sense of the word. Like an operating room (as opposed to Kalahari salt flats). HBA should be sterile. It’s for our health.

So what’s the point? The point is that the success of Apple’s branding has seduced many a brand to follow suit, mixing up simplicity and classic with generic and white which quite often just looks dirty. White is hard to maintain in a retail space and unless it’s maintained immaculately, it doesn’t survive. Apple’s own packaging and retail environments are often black with white accents. A perfect translation of the ultimate simplicity, with realistic durability of both physical space, POS and packaging.

There are so many ways to strip down the extras- for costing, branding and classicism, but duplicating the Apple aesthetic without breaking it down into its deliberate, specific and equity related parts can result in disaster- consumer revolt in the case of Tropicana/ PepsiCo or getting lost in the pack, becoming generic and perceived as a “me, too,” follower brand.

We can become so fixated on our competition and what they’ve done right that we, understandably, want to duplicate that success. But this business is not a monkey-see, monkey-do industry. We need to ask the hard questions of why and how. The cleanliness and purity belie a complicated and deliberate strategy- certainly one that is not one size fits all, though that is the outward message it portrays.

We often speak of brand DNA, and there are very real parallels in the world of genetics and their expression that I won’t touch upon here. But it’s a good thing to keep in mind when trying to replicate the success of another- sometimes the simplest ideas belie extremely complicated systems.

2009/08/05 at 15:44 Leave a comment