Sunday, February 28, 2010

Toronto Celebrates




Pardon the shaky footage, but it was quite something to see Toronto come out to celebrate the Canadian mens' hockey win in the gold medal game in overtime over the US. This was taken around 8:30PM and I still hear horns honking past 11:30PM, but it's starting to settle down.


Twitterversion:: Video of post-Hockey gold celebration in #Toronto. Yonge/Wellesley @ 8:30PM http://rhizomicomm.blogspot.com/2010/02/toronto-celebrates.html @Prof_K


Song:: k-os"-AquaCityBoy"



Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Real ChatRoulette!

I'm hearing a bunch of buzz on ChatRoulette and I think the screenshots are far more entertaining for me than participating. Here's a video showing what all the fuss is about: via a NationalPost blog::


chat roulette from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.

Hmmmm. So, I was thinking about French a lot these days and "chat" = cat, but while this occurs::















and there's a Tumblr blog featuring such interactions, it's just not the same as logging on and catching a glimpse of this::



via Kittenstanz.

Now, "chatteroulette", with the extra e, would imply something very different and definitely NSFW.

Twitterversion:: Chatroulette.com may be all the rage in youth circles, but French translation implies fuzzier interactions, which do occur on the site. @Prof_K

Song:: Adam Ant-"Puss 'N Boots"

Live streaming video by Ustream

Friday, February 26, 2010

Music & the Ad:: Celleste & Yoplait Source

Update 27.Feb.10::  Celleste was kind enough to provide me with the information on the ad agency::
"The agency for the Yoplait ad was BOS (bos.ca). The production house was Staub Studio (www.staubstudio.com). Thanks."
There's a new Yoplait Source ad has been hitting the airwaves pretty hard these days. I haven't been able to find the ad agency behind it for sure, but I think it's CRI. The singer in both the English and French versions is Montréal-based Celleste, who has a forthcoming album. Celleste is well-cast and pulls off the execution. The ads are very similar, but with slightly different flavours featured {Eng/Fr. flavours}, in different orders. The French version swaps Strawberry Chantilly for Pomegranate Blueberry.
Here's the English version::

and here's the French version::

The song is somewhat catchy, but I was reading on a discussion group that someone misheard "Strawberry Chantilly" and thought it was "Strawberry Swahili." Ah, love those mondegreens. The main referent for the concept is Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" {1953}::

In 1985, Madonna used the same iconography for her "Material Girl" video::

I think the appeal of the Yoplait ad is the visual iconography and the catchy tune. It's sexy and Celleste is dancing around her yogurt-wielding admirers, which sure beats those Philly Cream Cheese commercials with cooking tips involving manservants. I'm wondering how many people catch themselves singing "lemon meringue"/"citron meringue"...or "strawberry Swahili".

Twitterversion:: #MusicAndTheAd Bilingual Yoplait Source ads feat. #Montreal singer @cellestemusic. M.Monroe iconography & catchy jingle. @Prof_K

Friday Night Videos :: God Help the Girl/Aztec Camera/Travis/Franz Ferdinand/Lloyd Cole


This installment of Friday night videos features five artists from Scotland. Belle & Sebastian fans will recognize this fave. This version is sung by Brittany Stallings for God Help the Girl::



God Help the Girl is a Stuart Murdoch musical story side project, which he's been working on for over five years, dating back to when he was touring with B&S for the "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" tour. Filming is scheduled to begin this year.

The next video is from another Scot band, Aztec Camera, which I've been a fan of since 1983 or so. I've listened to their 'High Land, Hard Rain' and 'Knife' all of the way through more times than I care to remember. I didn't see the video for this track from 'Knife' until the summer of 2006, when I became addicted to YouTube::


I love the use of the same iconography from the album art, which I have a soft spot for due to the colours used::


This blog post on Redundant Chicanery does a fair assessment of the 1984 Mark Knopfler-produced 'Knife' album, contextualized in 2009.

Travis' "Sing" received a lot of airplay in the UK about 5 years ago and was featured in two episodes of The Office, as well as other shows and Adam Sandler's cringeworthy "Mr. Deeds".


They got their name from a Harry Dean Stanton character in Wim Wenders' "Paris, Texas", which was one of my favourite films from that year. I saw it again more recently and it doesn't have the same draw. Here's a live version from the Late Late Show::

This video is for one of my favourite Franz Ferdinand songs, which I love for its Brooklyn references and how it evokes a dreamy state overlaid over a gritty cityscape—my take on my Brooklyn saunterings. I really like the video, which fits the song well. There's some dispute whether the song is in reference to Eleanor Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces, who is lead singer Alex Kapranos' girlfriend.




Kapranos & Friedberger, from I'll Follow Sunshine on Strawberry Fields

Of course, I couldn't have done a blog focused on Scot music without a shout-out to Lloyd Cole. This is a recent live version of "Margo's Waltz" {Amazon.US} from 1992's vastly underrated "Don't Get Weird on Me, Babe."


Here's the album version::

Twitterversion:: #FridayNightVideos with five bands from Scotland:: God Help the Girl/Aztec Camera/Travis/Franz Ferdinand/Lloyd Cole. @Prof_K

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Google Street View :: Behind the Scenes—Sort Of




This video, via a BlogTO article on the use of Google Steet view in art, embedded on this Google page,  explaining the process of turning digital images into the panoramas.

I recall hearing about the cam cars combing the streets of Toronto last summer and one of them caught the construction madness at the Rhizomicon studios at "30 Gloc"::


I found it interesting how Google represents the process, which reminds me of the "Animating Hank & Dean" video from the Venture Brothers producers::


While Google tries to show it cares about privacy, long after the horse has left that barn, I find all of this "data of surveillance" to be interesting. Physical addresses can be seen by all—including bosses, prospective employers, sworn enemies, stalkers, and the Guild of Calamitous Intent. I'm not sure how precisely this will change society over the long haul {I think much of the impact remains to be seen}, but I'm reminded of a H-P talk back in the mid-90s about "Internet appliances" and how everything in the future, even refrigerators and toasters, will have an IP address. I'm thinking of blogging in detail about how Google Street View relates to Foucault and Bentham panoptic visions on ThickCulture. We are all seen, but how much can the individual see in this power dynamic? In other words, while everyone is under the "eye", it has a differential impact depending who you are, as those without power {in any sense of the word} have more stakes in being watched.

Twitterversion:: #Google offers shiny happy video on privacy & Google Street View. Thoughts on this & big picture power dynamics. @Prof_K

Song:: Velvet Underground-"Sunday Morning"



BBC 2010 Winter Olympic Promo


I've been watching ads on the CTV consortium's coverage of the Olympics and was going to do a blog post on the commercials, which haven't been too exciting. I will say I find the Chevrolet ads with the talking cars to be rather annoying. The above ad is a BBC promo for the Olympics by RKCR/Y&R. There are no athletes, but a rather dark animated narrative featuring depictions of the sports through an ad-hoc Inuit adventure.

The animation is striking and well-executed, but it's taking the Canadian literary theme of "man versus nature" to the max. Commentors on YouTube mentioned that "Vancouver isn't that scary" and that the adverts scared their kids. There appears to be a theme with the BBC with tapping into themes of local folklore with its Olympic advertising, as evident in its "Journey to the West"-based promo for the 2008 Beijing games::
 

Twitterversion:: Great animation for BBC Winter Olympics promo depicts sports, not stars. Inuit adventure takes walk on the dark side. @Prof_K

Song:: David Bowie-"Scary Monsters {and Super Creeps}"



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kelso in the Kremlin? :: Social Media Innovation in Russia


Images:: Ashton Kutcher Twitpics-21 February 2010 & 20 February 2010

I was wondering why Ashton Kutcher was posting Tweets and Twitpics from Russia, but didn't bother to figure it out. It turns out he was a part of a diplomatic delegation from the US aimed at starting a dialogue and sharing ideas with students, NGOs, and Russian officials regarding social networking. The delegation included representatives from eBay, Twitter, Mozilla, Cisco, and VC, Esther Dyson. Ashton noted::
“When you get into a room without the Russian government controlling the room, the room becomes so vibrant!...We’ve had to fight to get people to talk openly.”
I think it's great that Ashton was a part of this delegation, as I think he understands social media in a way that's more tangible and accessible than a tech exec's take. I was impressed with how he articulated himself in his "battle" with CNN last spring.

While Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has stated he wants to start a Silicon Valley near Moscow and there's been talk of open source this and that, modernizing the economy, and building a stronger civil society, Vladislav Surkov, a chief strategist, made it clear that modernization will be “authoritarian modernization.” There are also issues of corruption, as Transparency International found Russia to be 146 of 180 countries on their corruption index {higher ranking = less corrupt}.

This makes me think of two things::
  1. Inertia
  2. Regional Advantage
I'm doing work on innovation in China and while there are plenty of institutional and cultural barriers to "Western-style" innovation, including corruption {China is 79 of 180 on Transparency International's list} and IP piracy, my sense is that China is more open to changes that will enable innovation. On the other hand, Russia appears to be mired in a mindset of pessimism and institutional barriers that quell innovation and knowledge sharing. I think inertia in this area will be the biggest hurdle in Russia.

I'm also reminded of AnnaLee Saxenian's book, Regional Advantage, which contrasted the two high tech clusters of Silicon Valley and Route 128, prior to the tech boom of the 1990s. While Silicon Valley was more network-oriented and had a more open and relaxed culture, Route 128 in Massachusetts was more hierarchical and rule-bound. When I visited eBay in 2003, what I saw was a very corporatized environment that seemed bound to stifling hierarchy and routine, which I believe is a path chosen by firms to deal with scale and size.

If Medvedev is serious about creating a cluster of innovation, he really needs to look at creating a localized culture of innovation that's more like Silicon Valley back in the day. Hint:: he might want to look at clusters in China, particularly around Shanghai/Suzhou and Shenzen in the south. While China may not be a paragon of "democratic industrialization" as it shifts from manufacturing to innovation, there is a critical mass of those committed to the innovation cause and real investments in the educational infrastructure. Will this be enough to circumvent the barriers to innovation in China? I think it might be and Russia may find learning from China to be particularly beneficial, as the Chinese institutional framework is a close analogue to their current situation.

Twitterversion:: @aplusk heads to Moscow as part of a diplomatic delegation focusing on innovation and social networking. Is Russia ready? http://url.ie/56lg  @Prof_K

Song:: t.A.T.u.-"Stars"

Tips & Tricks :: Creating an Embeddable MP3 Player For Your Website or Blogue

I've been using embeddable players {mainly Grooveshark} to insert music into my blogues, but every so often I'm thwarted by what's in the catalogue.  Here's a fairly painless way to set up your own player, which uses two sites, OpenDrive and Mixpod, for storing and playing the files, respectively. Bear in mind that if either goes under, your player won't work.

First, you'll need webspace for your MP3 files. I have my own on the Rhizomicon.com domain, but if you don't try OpenDrive. It gives you 5Gb for free. Create an account and upload your MP3s.

On OpenDrive, I uploaded a Skingerbreadman track from Officer M., a punk band from Winnipeg with funk and polka overtones. Here's what the interface looks like after you're done::


Note the "Full (download)" links on the right. Those are important.

The next step is setting up an account on Mixpod, which is painless. Mixpod player widgits can be used for an individual track or a playlist on anywhere that allows the placement of embeddable code. Sign up for Mixpod and go to "Create a Playlist" tab.







After clicking on the "Create a Music Playlist" tab, click on the "Add URL" tab. Fill in the information. When creating the playlist, make sure to use the full download link on OpenDrive that has the MP3 suffix or else Mixpod will balk, asking for a valid address.


I made a mistake under the brand name adding an extra "k" in Skingerbreadman. No worries, you can go back and edit if you see mistakes on the player. Under "Customize" you can also edit the player skin, colours, and features of the player. I chose an old-school cassette tape skin::




You can also choose colours, but I didn't fuss with it. The settings can also be set, such as autoplay, shuffle, loop, privacy, and volume. When you're done customizing, click on the "SAVE (Get Code)" button. Click on the tab corresponding to the site you're using. I'm on Blogger, so I clicked on that tab, but the code created is generic::


Copy the embed code and paste it in your blog. You're done {See Below}.


Twitterversion:: #Tips&Tricks blog on creating embeddable player for your blog/website fr.your own MP3s. How to w/Skingerbreadman example. @Prof_K








Twitter As an Ad Platform :: Can It Tap Into the Brand Constellations We Surround Ourselves With?

Image:: Social Media & Brand Environment, from Seth Goldstein's Ad 2.0 PowerPoint,
IAB Leadership Meeting in Carlsbad, CA

There's been a lot of talk about Twitter launching its ad platform in the near future. I'm rather curious how this plays out. I agree with this Mashable article that says Twitter ads need to not be interrupting of the social flow. The above is an example of how a virtual brandscape can merge social media and geotagging, allowing the brand to have localized interactions using the web. The technology can be used to build brand community and foster brand conversations at a more localized geographic level.

How will a Twitter-based platform work with brand conversations? This MediaPost article discusses how Anamitra Banerji, head of product management and monetization at Twitter, outlines some of the possibilities around Twitter as an ad platform. There's concern about trust and ads {paid content} being clearly labelled as such, with hashtags {#} being a workaround. There was also talk of the ads being relevant and useful, so good contextual advertising springs to mind. 

Here's some issues for consideration::
  1. Can brands realistically engage in real-time conversations with users/consumers?
  2. What are the limits of such interactions?
  3. Can user-generated Tweet ads work without seeming intrusive?
  4. Should Twitter consider focusing on a contextual ad strategy like Facebook?
  5. How can Twitter leverage its ad platform to users using third-party applications or SMS?
Anamitra is right in that Twitter is a platform and I can see why brand managers would like harness the energy of user-driven Tweets as a selling and engagement tool, but I see the value of Twitter as an ad platform being a way to create virtual brand communities that people identify with.

I think people surround themselves with a constellation of brands, which anthropologist, Grant McCracken, would deem as Diderot unities. The brands that people surround themselves with help to give them identity and meaning. The same could be said for the avoidance of certain brands. The question is can Twitter foster authentic conversations based on people's everyday lives lived through brands and instil a sense of brand community? 

I can see the eyerolling already with the brand-inspired Twitter talk by metrosexuals and "Sex & the City" disciples, oozing blatherings about fashion brands and the perfect vodka to mix the perfect drinks with. These conversations are being had, but can they be focused to create a virtual community around the brand. Of course, this need not be limited to things to buy, but ideas and causes, such as political parties and organizations like Médicins sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.

Twitterversion:: Talk of #Twitter as ad pltfrm, but can it realistically engage usrs/tap into brand constellations we define ourselves w/? http://url.ie/56bk @Prof_K

Song:: The Constellations-"December"

 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TV on the Internet :: Reality Show from Am. Idol Creator to Premiere on Hulu

I heard rumblings about this a while back & saw another post by webisode expert Jennifer Van Grove {@Jbruin} on Mashable.  Here's the trailer  for an Internet-only reality TV show by American Idol creator, Simon Fuller, "If I Can Dream"::


Here's a longer preview::



This post does a good job of explaining the parameters of web TV, which at its core is a problem of "clutter." With so many choices for content, how do you keep people coming back to watch subsequent episodes.

Web-based TV, which I think will be a useless distinction in the future, as I feel all media are converging, has the benefit of being able to provide a platform for the soft sell. Online content that delivers a certain demographic can appeal to brands targeting it through contextual ads {more on that} and ads that resonate with the audience. The contextual ads can use the data from the scripts themselves, as well as be reminders of the product placements. A hard sell approach would be a disaster. I'm reminded of those Superman and Seinfeld-starring American Express ad webisodes::
The persuasion model seemed clunky and ham-handed in its approach. AmEx collected e-mail address {great, permission-based SPAM} for users who were interested in the content, not the content and the brand, unlike the BMW-ads of the early 2000s. The AmEx webisodes may have created favorable brand attitudes at a lower cost than traditional commercials, but I think this approach would have been better with an integrated marketing communications approach, where the ad webisodes were tied to a specific promotion that engaged users with the brand.

I think there's opportunity in webisodes for a multitude of levels, from new content to existing TV shows expanding their web presence. I see in the future efforts to consolidate content to increase likelihood of repeat viewing, so each "show" doesn't have to reinvent the viral wheel.

Twitterversion:: Blog about Hulu premiering Internet-only reality TV show from Am. Idol creator. Thoughts on the future of webisode biz model. @Prof_K

Song:: She & Him-"Change Is Hard"

Monday, February 22, 2010

newmusicmonday #31 :: The Februarys

image:: album art for last autumn's "We'll Find Our Own Way Home"

This week's newmusicmonday features The Februarys {CBC R3, Last.fmFacebook} from Vancouver, BC. Compared to Wilco and Radiohead, The Februaries wear their hearts on their sleeves without veering into emo territory. While their newer stuff is likely to find a larger audience, with its production and pop hooks, I'm drawn to the bands older tracks and I'm curious to see them live. Their older tracks are streamed on CBC-Radio 3 {"Invisibility As a Disability", "Meant for Each Other", "Charismatica" & "Where the Wind Blows"} and their newer stuff {"Rock & Roll's Enemy", "In Your Hands", "Elementary Song", & "Time Is Never On Your Side"} is on MySpace.

Here's a 2009 video for "Rock & Roll's Enemy", which is on their latest album, "We'll Find Our Own Way Home"::


One of my favourite tracks is "Meant for Each Other" {see below} featuring Toronto-based LIGHTS, which was on the 2006 EP, 'All the Time in the World'. Here's a live rendition sans LIGHTS::

This short clip has really poor sound, but it's The Febs doing a cover of Tom Cochrane's "Life Is a Highway", which was one of the ubiquitous pop songs that kept me company in the summer of '92 crossing the country on Trans-Can::

Their début EP 'Wait' is available on Scratch Records, while the singles, "Rock & Roll's Enemy" and "Elementary Song", are available on iTunes Canada. Currently, The Febs are on Wax Records and available in the US through ThinkIndie.

"Meant for Each Other" featuring LIGHTS::

"Home is Where the Heartache Is" featuring LIGHTS::

Twitterversion:: This week's #newmusicmonday blog is on @thefebruarys from Vancouver, BC. Videos & streams avail. http://url.ie/55pw @Prof_K

Music & the Ad:: Stella Artois, Chantal Goya, & Brigitte Bardot

Update {28 November 2010}:: Those looking for the new Stella ads w/ "12 Jours de Noël" or "Deck the Halls" are in luck. Click here.


I've been seeing a lot of this during Winter Olympics coverage here in Canada::




The ad, "She Is a Thing of Beauty" was featured on Feministing for its sexist overtones, making the comparison of women to a beer of "distinction" and using Brigitte Bardot's "Ne Me Laisse Pas L'aimer".  The ad is part of Stella's hipster positioning in North American markets that's using 60s iconography, including this one::


Stella is aiming for a retro-cool brand image and sponsored an online film festival in the UK on TheAuteurs.com of "Seven Classic French Films", using Chantal Goya in their trailer::






Update {28 November 2010}:: The video was subject to a takedown and the account uploading the video was deleted. It's here on DailyMotion::


Stella Artois Presents: 7 Classic French Films
Uploaded by bigbraintv. - Have a look at more lifestyle videos.


Sexist? Probably, but in the same way MadMen is sexist. Relying on an über-ironic gaze of 2010 looking upon the past, with three parts longing and two parts judgment, shaken and served with a perfect garnish of regret. Don Draper would approve.

Twitterversion:: Stella Artois "She's a Thing of Beauty" ad w/Bardot Song evokes 60s cool in its hipster positioning. Sexist? Clip avail.  @Prof_K

Songs:: Brigitte Bardot-"Ne Me Laisse Pas L'aimer" & Chantal Goya-"Tu M'as Trop Menti"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

WiMAX & the Future of Wireless

WiMAX in Action
I've been high on WiMAX since 2004, when I first heard about it. I thought after the broadcasting TV bandwidth was freed up by the switch to HD, WiMAX protocols would satisfy fixed, mobile, and remote {rural} highspeed access needs. Years went by and I saw rumblings here and there about Nextel and later Sprint hyping the technology backed by Intel. As the above graphic indicates, WiMax is a regional Internet solution, allowing large areas to be covered and shouldn't be confused with WiFi.

Recently, there was a bit of Twitter buzz on WiMax, as Sprint announced handsets coming and Dell announced its Mini 10 will have a WiMAX option, which can tap into Clearwire/Sprint "4G", which is really WiMAX. Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon are clinging to the 4G LTE technology, while T-Mobile is embracing HSPA+, a "bridge" technology. What's the big deal? In my opinion, LTE 4G and HSPA+ are limited and will likely face capacity constraints. I see WiMAX as a technology that's all about the data, fast data, regardless of application or location.

Here's the lowdown::
  • WiMAX promises 3-6 Mbits/s download speeds {but can theoretically offer upwards of 70, but there a tradeoff between distance and speed. Most likely speeds up to 40 can be expected}; initially, 4G LTE is being promised at 5-12 Mbits {but can theoretically offer upwards of 100} and real word expectations are 20-70, while current 3G offers 1-2 Mbits.
  • AT&T and Verizon are awash in 700 MHz bandwidth for 4G LTE, which isn't backwards compatible. The networks need to be physically built.
  • Sprint has plenty of 2.4 GHz bandwidth for WiMAX, but rollout has been slow.
  • HSPA+ can get download speeds of 3.12-7.65  {but can theoretically offer upwards of 70}.
  • 3G, 4G LTE, & HSPA+ will all likely have usage caps of 5Gb, WiMAX is likely to be unlimited.
It will be interesting to see how this develops over time, as these new technologies are deployed. A lot is unknown at this point about the execution of the 4G LTE and WiMAX rollouts. I think WiMAX has a ton of potential to be a technology that brings different tiers of access to the most users, regardless of the type of device {desktop, laptop, or smartphone}. In terms of marketing and branding, this is just what Sprint needs. The latest US customer satisfaction numbers 'favour the market share leaders of AT&T and Verizon, but Sprint has make great strides in rebuilding their reputation::

  • Verizon:: 74/100 {% 1-year change:: +2.8%}
  • All others:: 73/100 {+2.8%}
  • T-Mobile:: 71/100 {0%}
  • AT&T:: 67/100 {-5.6%}
  • Sprint:: 63/100 {+12.5%}
I feel if Sprint plays their cards right the can use this to leverage a recovery, by re-thinking the nature of service provision, hardware/service bundling, marketing, customer service, and building the brand, in ways the customer wants, not what forces them into lock-in. Their stock {S} has faltered in the 2000s, compared to AT&T{T} and Verizon {VZ}, and the company has had credit issues, but the rise in customer satisfaction in 2009 is a good sign of things turning around::



Twitterversion:: Buzz about #WiMAX in the US, but will it turn things around for the rebuilding @Sprint. Who will win the 4G wars? http://url.ie/54wr @Prof_K

Song:: Eagles-"Life in the Fast Lane"



Friday, February 19, 2010

Music & the Ad:: Minnutes & Target

This Target ad from last month is interesting on several fronts. It has indie music in the background, something they have been doing here and there for a while. Back in 2005, they used The Concretes, which I've blogged about. This time, it's the Brooklyn-based Minnutes {MySp, FB, Last.fm} and their song "More to Love" in the background. There's a narrative with how brands bought at Target fits into a mom's life, along with price promotions, which is a hard sell on the value::



I think this is a creative execution, which I think works for the target audience. I would have worked a bit more on the mom narrative and even worked on creating a storyline over time with sequences of the ads.

Minnutes isn't overhyping their exposure from the Target ads on their site or on social media and even have a sense of humour about how "More to Love" is used as the "on-hold" music on the Target toll-free line::

I actually wish corporations would license several songs from an artist for their phone queue music and musak. An ex of mine has to listen to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" ad nauseum while calling United Airlines' customer service. 

Twitterversion:: #MusicAndTheAd featuring Brooklyn-based Minnutes for Target. Creative execution weaving indie, narrative, & pricing. http://url.ie/54qs @Prof_K

Song:: "More to Luv"


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Porter Air Lands at MaRS :: Entrepreneurship Talk

Robert Deluce, CEO of Porter Airlines at MaRS, 17 February 2010, by Kenneth M. Kambara

Yesterday, I braved the spitting weather to go to a "Lived It" talk at the MaRS Centre on College here in Toronto. The talk was interesting, as I had a professor {Forrest Harding} when I was an undergraduate who was an airline expert, so I was interested in what Porter was up to. Here's an overview from my notes::
  1. Porter is privately held
  2. Regional airline with Billy Bishop-Toronto City Airport {YTZ} as a hub
  3. Uses Bombardier Q400 turboprops in its fleet, which are quite efficient for regional travel {not interregional travel}
  4. Porter has higher yields {RpK} and efficiencies allow lower load factors
  5. Ability to withstand pressures from the revenue side {price competition} or cost-side {increased input costs, e.g., jet fuel}
  6. Focus on service and a value proposition between economy and first class air travel
  7. Company has strategic discipline
  8. Brand and experience "on code" with target market
If I were to characterize Porter in a word, it would be nimble. They see opportunities and are careful not to overextend themselves. The use of Bombardier planes made in the GTA in Downsview made me think of how Jet America used Long Beach, California{LGB} as a hub, since they sourced their planes from McDonald Douglas, which was literally down the street. If they needed a part, they just needed to go down the road. They also engage in sensemaking of their market and business environment. When faced with the bridge to Toronto City Airport being thwarted by Mayor Miller, they focused on other elements of their business. They are also modifying their routes based on seasonality, such as fewer flights to Ottawa in the summer and more flights to the Maritimes. I also get a sense that the company has strong interorganizational networking skills, in the areas of finance and supply-chain management.

I've flown Porter once, from Toronto to Newark and it was a fantastic experience, particularly when compared with dealing with the TTC's Bloor subway and 192 Rocket and negotiating the terminals at Pearson. The one key attribute was you hear variances in the engine more on the q400, which takes a bit of getting used to. The service was great, there was plenty of legroom, and the flight wasn't crowded.

In their branding, they use Mr. Porter as their mascot, who is a racoon. Deluce said this choice is somewhat curious, given the high numbers of racoons in Toronto, which are far from beloved creatures in the city. Nevertheless, they leverage this anthropomorphized creation to develop a brand identity that I think is perfect for the airline. This is the clip Deluce screened, a promotional video where Mr. Porter experiences the brand::


I has a few questions, mainly on social media and the use of webfare aggregators, but I had to get going. I find Porter to be an interesting company and I might be interested in writing up a case study on them, so maybe I'll get my questions answered in the future.

Twitterversion:: Interesting @MaRSDD entrepreneurship talk in #Toronto featuring Bob Deluce of @porterairlines. @Prof_K

Song:: The Racoons-"Room to Operate"




The Digital Music Cloud :: Apple iTunes, Lala, & Grooveshark


Image:: lala logo mashup, digitalmusic.tv

I've been doing startup research on web platforms and was getting information on Pandora and Grooveshark. I wasn't a big fan of Pandora, but this was a while back when it was limited to just the US and it looks like I'm not missing anything being in Canada. I am a big fan of Grooveshark and use it quite a bit to embed songs on my blog posts because it has a huge catalog. In the past, I've used imeem in the past for the same purposes. In December, imeem was bought by MySpace, which has cloud computing implications. MySpace will use imeem on its platform to allow its networked users to discover, share, and even repurpose content. I see the value of MySpace is serving as a place for users to interact around entertainment content.

December was a busy month, as Apple bought lala, in it own bit to remain relevant in it's music cloud, where iTunes allows users to manage their multimedia from any device on the web {desktops, laptops, "pads", smartphones, etc.} I think Apple is taking a step in the right direction by bolstering its sales platform, but I think the devil is in the details of the execution and that there's room for multiple players in this marketspace. iTunes isn't top-of-mind when it comes to users sharing content, which leaves some room for a social networking site. I think MySpace is in a stronger position as a social portal centred around entertainment content. Apple-lala will have distinctive competencies as a sales platform, but I'm curious how good of a job it can do as a virtual content management system.




Image:: Grooveshark interface, popular music tab

Where does that leave Grooveshark and "Internet radio" sites like it? Grooveshark has, in my opinion, a great catalogue of songs. This may be skewed by my tastes, but I've found it has plenty of indie songs, plus mainstream pop, hip-hop, and rock. I haven't really searched the fringes, let alone the genres of jazz, folk, or country, let alone international music. If I were Grooveshark, my interests would be in courting the heavy users and opinion leaders of music, who are also content creators {bloggers, microbloggers—Twitter & Tumblr}, and try to pull a Steve Jobs circa 2003 by showing they can be a huge ally to the industry and put a halt to the lawsuits. That might be a tall order, but the data behind a site with a deep catalogue going far down the long tail can help the industry gain better market knowledge about driving value, not pumping out formulaic hits.

A Grooveshark-driven "radio-like" platform on the Web and mobile web can leverage influential users sharing content to expand audiences, through embedding and sharing of playlists. It can also double as a sales platform with links and contextual ads, but the real value is in the data behind what users are doing. The music industry should be clamoring to collaborate with Grooveshark, not suing them. I also see opportunities for websites/networks like Pitchfork, Stereogum, Filter, and AUX to collaborate with Grooveshark, systematically linking text content on bands to the music content. 

I'm hoping for competition in this arena that allows several entities to deliver slightly different value propositions.

Addendum:: Props to @Grooveshark for understanding how conversations work in social media.

Twitterversion:: Thoughts on Internet music streaming/radio and my high hopes for @Grooveshark, despite Apple-lala & MySpace-imeem mergers. @Prof_K

Song:: Joni Mitchell-"Both Sides, Now"