The courtship between Microsoft and Yahoo! isn’t going so hot…assume the honeymoon will probably be steamier.

It’s been a volatile courtship of sorts that has lasted many a fortnight — an atypical relationship that competes with most Daytime soaps for drama and suspense, leaving its avid watchers avidly waiting to see what’ll happen next. MSFT –> the dashing knight in shining armour riding in to save the day. Yahoo! –> the damsel, who is playing hard-to-get, resisting the advances of said knight at every turn. The Knight has promised they would rule the world together, staving off the evil, monopolizing King Google, who has extended his powerful fiefdom ten-fold… and now has been reportedly flirting with the gorgeous damsel obviously for more reasons than mere interest.

Now as this saga unfolds, the dashing knight has proposed an arranged marriage with an incredible dowry should the damsel say yes (odd, isn’t the dowry normally offered by the damsel’s family?). Up until now, the damsel resisted all temptations for marriage. As an independent, self-made success story, the damsel didn’t see the need for a rescuer. She did pretty damn well on her own all these years. But as all things, the world has changed. Suddenly, the world that was her oyster decided to turn on her and make way for the younger, more nimble generation. No one told her they would be so smart, learn quickly or move so fast to keep pace…..and even bypass her own or the good Knight’s successes. Suddenly, she was eating their dust and found herself struggling to play catch-up. She tried at every turn to replicate the innovation, drive and passion that resulted in past victories. And, there were many. But now she’s actually reaching middle-age…. a cougar by many respects…. too old to marry but young enough to entertain offers.

So, the damsel and the Knight haven’t spoken over the weekend. His offer has come and gone and she awaits to see whether this play-hard-to-get game will bring her more loot. In the meantime, King Google continues to expand his kingdom, ever wary of the potential claim on his fair maiden. Will he pounce and rescue the damsel? We all know that the two together will “search” the world over. But, alas, fair Knight, you need to up your dowry for the damsel to consider your proposal even noteworthy. Otherwise, take it to her children, and force an uprising from within.

Whistler World Ski and Snowboard Festival and Fashion Exposed… more pics

I couldn’t resist. Kevin B., a colleague of mine, took these pics with his Blackberry. He’s the skier of the two of us so he was able to capture some amazing scenes at Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Overlay.TV sponsored the Fashion Exposed Show so we also managed to capture our rotating sponsor logo on the digital screen. Enjoy!

The source of all knowledge….how Web 2.0 is diluting established reference institutions

So… I was talking to my new-found friend, David C., whose incredible wit got me through a 5-hour flight on the red-eye. I just came from a wild week at a ski and snowboard festival and he, from a librarian conference… with its own level of excitement.

Our discussion ensued regarding the plight of the library industry with the increased reliance on the web in search for information. David argued the need to establish credit to the source of all wikis, blogs, knowledge search networks and forums. Validating the sources is not enough. These same institutions have to adjust to the age of web 2.0 and move forward and integrate web resources in ways to convince the user of their value. I remember a time when encyclopedias and other reference books (regardless of their date of publish) were regarded as foundations of knowledge. Inevitably however, the world changes and the source of that information has not been able to adapt and update as quickly and with seamless efficiency as the web. The Encyclopedia Britannica hence got left behind and its pages, unturned. These days web syndication is it, posting the most current information and delivering it to the live web almost immediately.

Another disadvantage of pure information sources is the lack of of collaboration that further enhances the final product. The reality is that information is moving at lightning speed and the growth of wikis and document sharing sites only proves that the quality of knowledge is not inherent in the facts themselves but the minutiae of details that enhances the information. Facts augmented by opinion seeds collaboration, new arguments and new points of view.

The world has progressed from an established source of one –> the one defining reference from which we’ve all taken for granted as truth….to a matrixed web environment where peer to peer sharing provokes users to question established facts, hence supplement meaning. This is the perceived value that perpetuates social web. Can the library industry adjust? You tell me.

Fashion Exposed… Whistler Mountains…and Kids

Wow. One of the best fashion shows I’ve seen in years…(although i’ve really only seen 2 live…lol). The ultimate in ski fashions from Rossignol, Burton, Nikita, Orage, TNA…not to mention the Helly Hansen girls whose body paint attracted many snap-happy observers… was presented in an upbeat, creative hour. I could only hope to have half the talent of the hip/hop gals and breakdance performers. Here are some pics from the evening.

OK…so I don’t ski but I did manage to make it up Whistler Mountain. I took the gondola all the way to the Roundhouse at the top of the mountain and it was really cold….almost -10 C when Toronto had been 24 C that same day. But the day was beautiful. The sun was out and tons of skiers were out bright and early to take advantage of the weather. Take a look: a view from a non-skier:

At this conference I met Kathleen Gasperini of Label, a “global youth and street culture intelligence media company measuring the most trendsetting subcultures in the world”. Kathleen came to Whistler for a 2-day ski conference to provide insight into youth, particularly with respect to engagement with the sport of skiing. We had an interesting conversation about trying to tap into the elusive youth market, particularly 13-25. The key key to getting into the mindset of the wired generation is to understand how they interact with each other, what devices they use for their modes of communication and content consumptions and defining things they care about. Social network marketing is still very much an evolving science. No one’s quite figured out the forumla for success. Web tools are making it ever easier for youth to evolve how they create content, share it, and expand it out to their networks. The pace of this technology leaves marketers continuously chasing this means to an end, who unwittingly doesn’t want to be caught.

But those that do it better have something to teach the big brand advertisers. Small companies who never really had the big budgets to cast out a wide net to obtain this mass reach drew upon their only resource: Grassroots –> the art of generating local influence one market at a time and with great reliance on WOM and cost-effective media reach to help perpetuate the message. They did this by going out to schools, setting up pop-up stores, having presence in local youth events and culture. True understanding came from speaking with the kids not talking at them and figuring out what they cared about most. Their success came ever so slowly over time when their brand became associated with music, fashion, and causes that resonated with their audience. In many of those cases, it didn’t necessarily involve reaching youth in web forums or social networks but in the real world where they could build real connections through the spoken word. The art of conversation has moved to the web, but that does not preclude the effectiveness of the offline world.

Social web is, by far, a more challenging medium because the advertiser does not have the benefit of attaining the motivation or emotion behind the typed sentence. How do you be ‘real’ with an audience with whom you want to buy your product or use your service? The answer is that it will not come quickly or easily. Patience is key. Relationships have to be built. Trust needs to be established before you are even welcomed into their fold. Today’s youth understands they are prime advertising targets and they can see a marketing ploy a mile away. Brands entering social networks don’t do so unless there is an underlying reason. So the approach is first to seek to understand, build trust and then determine whether you have something they truly want or need. If not, modify or recreate it and continue to engage in conversation to determine the need. If the sell tactic is not so overt then perhaps the market will come to you… and this time in droves. Seth Godin coined the phrase, “Permission marketing”. In many ways, this is still valid.

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