Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The New Critics - Blogs, SEO, and What Your Adwords Tell You About What You Write

I've been busy lately. Lots of stuff going on. Currently, I'm traveling and I'm on the east coast, so that adds an extra level of complication to getting things done.

Anyway, as part of my standard due diligence on the web/blog, I was looking at what my blog looks like from the visitor perspective.

If you want a quick measure on what you're writing, take a look at the adwords that pop-up on your blog page. For those of you that aren't familiar with how all of this works, the adwords that pop-up are scanned and analyzed by Google. What you are seeing on your page is what Google thinks is most relevant based on what it reads from your site.

Do you like what you see?

Sadly, when I looked earlier this evening, my Google Adwords are packed with get rich quick ads... perhaps my writing isn't delivering the message that I was hoping for. So here's a question for you -- is Google's algorithm a critic on your writing?

Updated: for spelling, grammar, and traveling exhaustion

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The First 90 Days follow up

I just wanted to follow up on the previous post. I was discussing this topic with one of my marketing friends and the resulting conversation left me thinking that I might have been a bit unclear on my take on the whole 90-day plan. Put simply, these are good things to review, great things to understand, but for the most part, this isn't a formula. These are guidelines and strategies for functioning in dynamic situations. It's my believe that, most of the time, if you're following a hard-and-fast plan, you've already made decisions and judgements that aren't going to map well to the dynamics of a specific situation.

Good managers have an ability to anticipate problems so that they can plan and avoid them. Better managers can adapt and overcome problems -- be they anticipated or not -- and be successful.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The First 90 Days and the 90-day Plan: Does This Mean That You Know What You're Doing?

Another book that I was pawing through recently -- The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael Watkins -- has been sputtering around in my thoughts in recent weeks. While I've only given the book a quick skim so I can't fully endorse the contents or the writing, I found several of the key points easy to extract and interesting to consider. The basic premise of the book is -- as the subtitle suggests -- a strategy roadmap for approaching new jobs, promotions, and changes in responsibilities. The author breaks new opportunities down into four basic categories -- start-up, turn-around, sustain, and realignment -- or something along those lines. Since I haven't read it all the way through, I'm hesitant to write much about it though.

More to the point, when I looked on Amazon, this one is neither the first nor the only 90-day plan book. Amazon also lists a 100-day plan book (does this leave you a 10 days behind?), a 12-week book (it sounds longer, but I think it's actually shorter). Actually, another quick skim of the Amazon page shows this quote as the first sentence of the book, "THE PRESIDENT of the United States gets 100 days to prove himself; you get 90." I guess that tells the 100-day book guy.

Do You Need to have a 90-Day Plan to get a Job?
Recently, I was speaking with one of the execs that I work with, and he was talking about his recent interviews for a Director-level position that he was attempting to fill. He mentioned that several of the candidates that he interviewed had 90-day plans. So, my question is, is this some new portfolio benchmark that's been set or is it just a new piece of fashionable vocabulary for your portfolio that currently moving through the business community? I say that only in so far as this is really one of the first times that I've heard that as a specific topic of discussion during the interview process.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with one of the fundamental concepts in The First 90 Days -- that you need to have an understanding of the rhythms and processes needed in assessing and establishing your position in order to be able to be successful. It's basically the same thing when you get ready to cook a meal -- you need to understand your available ingredients, map a plan for the food your going to prepare, and then, frequently, proceed through the your prep work before an ingredient ever touches a pan. This may be surprising news for some. In the same way, when you're stepping into a product marketing role and the product is ramping up for launch, if you can't answer the call quickly, then you're not going to be successful.

Having provide marketing services for several years as an outside consultant, I understand how important it is to be able to build a quick understanding of a set of business problems and to be able to build a path to success. When you're brought it as an external vendor, you don't usually have the luxury of saying -- let me spend three months understanding your culture and adapting my practices and my success strategies to your operations. That being said, you're also in trouble if you go in saying something like, "your entire infrastructure and your approach to marketing sucks and it needs a complete overhaul. This is going to be a 3-year, multimillion dollar project." (yeah, uh huh... don't call us...)

So, going back to the interview process and the 90-day plan thing -- what exactly are you supposed to be presenting to your prospective employer? Here are the ten strategies that are covered in The First 90 Days.
  1. Promote yourself
  2. Accelerate your learning
  3. Match strategy to situation
  4. Secure early wins
  5. Negotiate success
  6. Achieve alignment
  7. Build your team
  8. Create coalitions
  9. Keep your balance
  10. Expedite everyone
This probably goes without saying, but if you're in an interview and you tell someone that this is your 90-day plan, you're in trouble. What's more, if your prospective employer hires you based on outlining this as your plan, you're probably in even bigger trouble.

Here's the real issue to keep in mind with your first 90 days and your 90-day plan -- you're prospective employer / manager is hiring you to solve a problem or a series of problems. Like solution selling, they have a pain point and their big focus is how to address that issue. Before you even get to your first 90 days, your vision needs to include an understanding of those pain points and the desired solution.

The thing that troubles me the most about the various 90-day plan books is that some people might know only know enough about 90-day plans to think of these techniques as a recipe as opposed to a series of strategies (for those of you who might not have found yourself immersed in business culture, business people are notorious for not reading). One of the things that I think really drives this message home is Michael Watkin's blog. In one series of posts, he builds a case study for a woman that is promoted within the organization and the challenges that she faces going forward. Check out the post and the comments -- there is a great discussion of what kinds of factors she should consider as she goes forward, mapping a strategy to fit the unique requirements of her situation. And if you want a counter to that post, consider what would happen if she followed her own thinking as though it were a precise recipe to be implemented.

So, back to the interview -- how should you answer the 90-day plan question? Or perhaps the better question is, how should you present your understanding of the principles that roll up in The First 90 Days? For me, I find that the key is in presenting yourself and your ideas in a way that demonstrates your understanding for both what you are doing and your ability to analyze and adapt those processes depending upon the requirements you face. But turning the question around -- if you were the hiring manager and you asked a candidate for their 90-day plan, are you looking for a formula for what to do... or are you looking for the reassurance that your candidate knows what they are doing and will be successful -- and make you successful?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another Great Book -- Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin

I picked up a copy of Seth Godin's Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing Out of Sync? a couple of weeks ago and I've started working my way through it. Let me start by saying that this book is an excellent roll-up that helps translate many converging factors and explain the strategic vision for where these trends are driving marketing practices. It seems like I have been trying to explain these same concepts to some more traditional audiences for a couple of years now -- and this book effectively summarizes those points.

When I first saw the description and quotes on Brand Autopsy, I was fairly impressed with the overall messages. On several occassions, I've tried to explain these concepts to different people, but often in trying to explain these concepts -- particularly across international audiences -- I've found the "meatball sundae" concept to be the biggest obstacle in trying to connect with the audience. But don't let that stop you from picking up this book -- it really does tie a number of these important concepts together.

Consider this simple difference between old marketing and new marketing in terms of advertising. Google adwords versus a television commercial (or advertising in the movie theater, a pop-up window on a web site, or a host of other "interrupting" advertising techniques). When you search for something on Google, Adwords presents a host of "related" sponsored links. The links are keyed to the term that you searched, and Google's program rejects terms that don't respond well and are appear to be not well-matched. Contrast this with the interruption, the advertising message that isn't in context, that you didn't ask for. When you get these in email, their simply termed Spam.

Anyway, it's a great book, an easy read, and I recommend that you check it out!

Good Product, Bad Product, Angry Customers - Connecting With A Passionate Audience - Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard

For many people, the computer keyboard that they use doesn't matter. If they think about it, maybe their main interest in for an ergonomically shaped one, one with customizable game keys, or some other cool feature like bluetooth for wireless connectivity. Part of this comes from a simple fact -- one one level, other than the shape and color of the plastic, there's not much difference between most keyboards. A keyboard is basically a single chip (I used to work for one of the semiconductor companies that sold these single-chip keyboard brains), connected to a board that holds a bunch of switches that are the keys. After all, how much variety can you get out of that platform? Besides, how important can a keyboard be?

Short answer -- it it can be huge. Your keyboard is probably more important than the driver's seat of your car -- not only do you spend a lot of time working directly with it, but it also shapes how you control the computer. As someone who writes and spends a lot of time on the computer, let me just say -- there are huge differences between keyboards. From the feel of the keys, to the response that they have when you press them, to their size and position, your keyboard is actually something that you're constantly using. If you're not careful, how often do you hit the wrong key when you try to click the backspace or the delete key? How does the size of the shift key compare to the others around it? When you're using your keyboard, your life may be filled with tiny little keyboard frustrations that, on their own may seem small, but add up over the course of the day -- frustrations so small that you don't directly associate them with the quality of the tool that you are using.

When it comes to keyboards, Apple used to make some great ones. My benchmark for keyboards is probably the old Apple Extended Keyboard II. It had great key feel, it made a nice click when you tapped on the keys, the size and the position of the keys were well placed relative to how frequently you used them (a large back-space key and an Apple-command key that were sized for easy access), and these things are virtually bomb-proof.

If you were a PC user at the time, you probably could have found a PC keyboard with similar click response and platform-appropriate key layout, but one of the things that always sucked about PC keyboards was the difference between Apple's ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) standard and the PC's use of either the PS2 or serial interface to connect keyboard and mouse to the computer. What this meant in practice was that, if you used a Mac, you could daisy-chain your mouse off of your keyboard and have one long cord going to the computer instead of two long cords getting tangled up on your desk. USB has solved this issue (as has the battery-munching Bluetooth interface).

With the first generation iMacs, it seemed like fashion started to replace functionality. The USB keyboards that went with them were nice and the clear plastic was cool, but the feel started to change. My next encounter with an Apple-made keyboard came with the G4 desktop system that I was working with in the 2003 timeframe. Typing on that was keyboard was annoyingly poor. I would frequently get duplicate letters when the keyboard would stick or the signalling seemed off. The feel was terrible too -- no clicks, poor key return, you name it. I vowed that the next time that I bought a keyboard, I would invest an hour or two in comparing the different versions available in the store to find one that felt right.

In 2005, I was updating my system and, as noted, I went to the store to research the available options. I happened to come across the Matias Tactile Pro. Here was a keyboard that was designed for Mac publishing professionals -- based on the Apple Extended Keyboard II. Supposedly, it used the same key switches, so the keys were springy and made a nice click when you tapped them. The key layout and sizes were similar -- well thought out and sized to match typical typing -- large backspace/delete key, larger Apple command key, large return key. They also integrated a USB hub into the keyboard, so you could connect a USB mouse to either side of the keyboard (the keyboard cable connected underneath the middle of the keyboard. And finally, to add to this awesome keyboard, they included all of the "optional characters" on the keys of the keyboard. If you're not familiar with the Mac, Apple's standard key set includes many type characters that you can generate using the combination of shift, option, or shift-option -- things like the copyright symbol or the trademark symbol. In contrast to the PC where you would need to use a Symbol font (or special functionality within the application), these are all accessible across the Mac platform, but there are so many that it's hard to remember all of them. In the past, the way to see what key combination created them was to use an application called "Keycaps" that would show you what they were. In short, this was a convenient feature, one of those -- why didn't somebody else do that kinds of things. Let's just bullet those features to make them stand out more:
  • Mechanical key switches for maximum comfort and speed
  • Special characters and symbols on the keys
  • Integrated 2-port USB hub -- one port on each side (left or right handed mouse)
Anyway, the Matias Tactile Pro keyboard rocked. Other than driving the other people in my office crazy (they believed that I must be angrily pounding away on my keyboard -- it's funny how people have forgotten the noise that keyboards used to make), I had zero complaints. I thought about buying another one for home -- but at about $120, I just wasn't ready to drop that kind of money. Instead, I would carry my Matias Tactile Pro keyboard home on nights when I expected to type a lot.

As luck would have it, one night while carrying it home, I dropped it in the parking lot and the plastic enclosure broke. It was just the corner, so I thought I might be able to continue using it, but with the top part of the plastic on there, it started to pinch the space bar. So I took the top part of the keyboard case off, and presto, it still works just fine. The biggest problem that it has right now is that the plastic connectors for the USB hub will sometimes slip off when I carry it back and forth from the office (and the power button has fallen off and is lost somewhere on my desk).

These are the kinds of things that prompt you to start looking for an update -- and off I went to the Matias site to make sure that the still made my keyboard. Incidentally, in another great piece of marketing, Matias included the name and web address stenciled on the space bar. It turns out that the Matias Tactile Pro keyboard has been replaced -- upgraded to the Matias Tactile Pro 2.0. This is what this post is really about.

Product Marketing Gone Wrong - How do you add features and screw up a great product?
With all of the wonderful things that I have described about the Tactile Pro, you might wonder what you could do to update and improve this keyboard. This question, and mysteries of product marketing gone wrong are really at the heart of this post. First, in reading various published comments and reviews on the web, the biggest complaints tended to be an issue where, when some people where typing really fast, certain key combinations triggered incorrect entries. Other than that, the only commonly published complaint was that the see-through-plastic/white combination seemed to show things like food crumbs, etc. So what did Matias change / Fix for gen 2? Here's a high-level list:
  • Added support for USB 2.0
  • Expanded support for PCs with a PC-focused silver/black version
These seem reasonable, but there are caveats and the caveats are what this is really all about.

Take a quick read between the lines and you'll see that the added support for USB 2.0 comes at a HUGE price.
  • There is only 1 USB 2.0 port. It's located on the right side of the keyboard.
  • The previous USB port on the left side is now occupied by the cable that connects the keyboard to the system -- the old cable used to connect through the bottom middle of the keyboard.
  • The cable requires two USB plugs to connect (FYI, Mac laptops like the Macbook Pro only have 2 USB ports available on the system).
As for the PC version, they added an "Optimizer key" that maps to many of the PC commands that you would use. This key, as it turns out, is basically the shift-lock key. I'm not sure if that was the driving reason behind this change, but here's another interesting shift -- they removed the LED on the Caps Lock key for the Mac version. Basically, there is no longer a keyboard-based feedback mechanism to tell you that you have the Caps lock on -- not a big deal if your typing in a document, but potentially a problem if you're having trouble logging into a system using that case-sensitive password.

So as a marketer, the question that you have to ask is, what was driving these decisions to make these core modifications to the product? Is this supposed to be innovation? Who was the customer that fit their target profile? Where, during the design and planning process, did the analysis of how these decisions might impact their existing customer base get processed? Do they really know their customer base or are the just "adding features"? How do you take and award-winning design and make so many people in your customer base angry?

If you think that it's just me, Google the Tactile Pro. You'll find a handful of posts and comments posted on consumer sights. All of them underscore the shortsightedness of the updated design. This is another challenge with the Passion of the Niche -- here are people who are passionate enough about their computer keyboard to have written full web posts on the topic.

As for me, rather than purchasing an updated version of the product, I'm still using my old Matias Tactile Pro. Sure the plastic has exploded and it looks like Frankenstein's keyboard, but it still works well. Meanwhile, on their web site, the Matias folks say that they have obsoleted the 2.0 version and are working on version 3.0, expected to be available in spring 2009. It will be interesting to see how that one unfolds and whether they are able to reconnect with their customers.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tradeshow Marketing - Follow up

I'm back. Semicon West 2008 is done. It's been a busy week, and I'm glad to get some time for writing. If you're used to tradeshows within the PC industry, Semicon West seems like a very quiet, conservative show -- there aren't a lot of theater presentations, music, or flashy lights. It's sort of the opposite of an E3 or NAB -- Semicon West is mostly about guys in suits wandering around in a fairly saying their annual hello to people that they've known for years and years.

Probably the most interesting news coming out of Semicon this year was the addition of the Intersolar North America show to the third floor of Moscone West. For background, the semiconductor manufacturing industry has been seeing some belt-tightening this year. Like the seasons of the year, the semiconductor manufacturing equipment industry sees the patterns of growth and 'slowth' as a normal part of the business cycle that's been going on for years and years. But with the cost of oil, global warming, and a focus on alternative energy, the big growth area these days is in Photovoltaics (PV) -- the manufacture of materials for solar energy. Photovoltaic cells are currently made using some manufacturing technologies that are closely tied to semiconductor manufacturing. Because of the differences in processes and end product goals, the PV industry has some different focuses that they are trying to work through -- significantly reducing production costs, increasing output volume and improving material efficiency. That's driving a lot of industry investment and a host of companies hoping to find the path to profitable production.

The Intersolar hall had a lot of traffic, and most of the people that I talked to about the traffic at the show commented about how busy that event seemed to be. Of course, the odd thing about this -- and from what I've heard about other solar and photovoltaic shows -- is the challenge of framing who exactly is participating in the show. Because the industry is growing and finding focus, the Intersolar show featured companies showing products ranging from inline solar cell equipment to companies demonstrating their solar panels that could be installed on someones roof. One recent solar show seemed heavily concentrated on contractors capable of installing solar systems on your house. Going forward, it'll be interesting to see how this industry starts to find it's focus -- and whether that focus will be as a comprehensive industry or as a subset of some other industries.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Branding and Politics -- Why Are They Ruining Barack Obama's Brand

This is pretty much Part 1 of my previous post. The fact of the matter is that I've been through three passes at trying to encapsulate this post -- another 1000 words yesterday -- but the scope of the topic can so easily creep into this massive gumbo, that it quickly becomes unfocused. So instead, I've decided to pull together some threads that I have found around the web. I think that these help build the framework for the questions that I find most interesting, including building the groundwork for part 2.

First, about the Barack Obama brand and his recent "shift to the center." Arianna Huffington wrote this nice post, Memo to Obama: Moving to the Middle is for Losers, this earlier this week on The Huffington Post. In all honesty, I didn't read it until today because I've been thinking about the same topic, and I wanted to approach it from my own point of view -- but I think that she captures the issues here very cleanly.

Sort of an update: I keep trying to get to posts on this topic -- there's a lot going on about the whole thing -- but my other work activities have got me so busy that I haven't really had time to write. So, as an answer to that, I thought I would just post a couple of interesting links:

Over the weekend there were three good posts on The Daily Kos that roll up the issue of the proposed FISA law update. Each has some interesting observations on the Obama's position on the issue.

In The Dems and Truthiness in the FISA Debate, mcjoan addresses some of the official Democratic party response to the grassroots outrage over support for this legistation.

In Betting it all on criminal wiretapping prosecutions, Kagro X also touches on the response from Democrats who have voted one way for a piece of legistation, then go back to their constituents with a message of how they were really against the legislation.

These are two posts that really underscore one key issue with branding -- although there is a school that seems to believe that if you say that you are fill-in-the-blank, it doesn't matter what you really are, because just saying that you are is equal to brand identity. This approach to brand strategy might have worked when the power to publish was limited and when it was harder for consumers to build communities, organize and make their voices heard, but with the internet and the tools that are available now, the times they are a changing.

In part, the Obama campaign has recognized this -- they connect with it through their fundraising campaigns, their community connection, and their adoption of "the power of small doners to drive their financial engine." But now, with this FISA reform legislation, they have opened up a grassroots version of Pandora's box that they are struggling to gain control of.

You might have seen this already, but recently at Obama's social networking site, MyBarackObama.com, a group urging Obama to "Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity" became the "largest self-organized group" on the site. This prompted Obama to come out with a response to FISA reform and the telecom immunity issue which was also posted on Huffington Post. Jason Linkins has a nice analysis of that with Obama's Response to FISA Critics: A Vital Exchange With An Empty Center.

What you're seeing with all of this is a couple of factors at play:
  1. There is a grass-roots perception that this response is not a principled response, but instead some sort of concessionary response to unknown constituents. Depending upon how conspiratorial that you feel, it could be the moneyed elite, the lobbying telecom companies, his congressional colleagues, or simply just some "inside-the-beltway" spin. It doesn't really matter because, put in simple customer terms, it is clear to this passionate, angry customer segment, the position that Obama is espousing is neither reasoned nor in the interest of the overall brand. To clarify, this isn't a position that represents some strange balance of competing personal interests -- the farmers who want irrigation versus the fishermen who want the Salmon -- this is one of those issues like -- deregulating markets in such a way that Enron can manipulate them and cause rolling black-outs versus the people who are against that. In customer terms, it's like charging the people in coach for food and drinks while giving them to the people in first class while claiming that it's just too costly to support an infrastructure that puts food on the plane.
  2. This approach to depends greatly on the lack of available choices. If the steak restaurant that you like decides to only sell grilled tofu, the odds are still pretty good that you can find an alternative steak restaurant. Modern politics, like many large industries, counts on the "this choice sucks less" position. You want a good airline -- this one sucks less. You want good telecom or internet service -- this one sucks less. It's the same with politics and the idea of "moving to the center." They aren't trying to stand firm on a position. The strategy is to target the market of people who aren't passionate about something and sell them a this one sucks less product.
  3. How Big is The Opposition Vote? The biggest issue at play is a sense of measurement of the size or activitism of the market represented by the web, the people who are active there, and "the netroots." One of the great myths of politics was this idea of "the youth vote." There were a host of candidates that attempted to "engage the youth vote" only to see little or no youth vote show up to vote. Forget about the hows and whys, what's noteworthy about the youth vote is that "engaging it" has basically turned into another round of political pandering. Why does that matter? Because there is a similar sense with the constituency represented by the Internet. How big is that market? Is that 1 million clicks or simply 1 guy in Russia with some sort of software-bot? And there's a big part of that mystery, the inability to connect voices on the net with real human feelings in such a way that organizations not only diffuse bad Word of Mouth publicity, but instead engage it and build positive Word of Mouth responses. In the old days of customer engagement, when some guy was unhappy about his Dell product, he might say "Dell Sucks!" He might even tell his friends. With enough marketing aircover (commercials, PR, etc.), it was easy to sweep one guy -- or a handful of guys -- under the rug. It took a class-action suit to force Iomega to provide customer service. But now, one guy starts a blog like "Dell sucks!" and it isn't just a page. It can quickly grow to be one of the top search results. There are reviews right where customers buy products. Word of Mouth was never this powerful when it was just Mouth.
But let's take a step back from the politics of the issue at hand -- it's certainly easy to get caught up in all of that -- and focus for a moment on how and why, conceptually, this whole issue presents such a challenge. Consider, with all of his campaign funds, with his campaign organization, with polling and survey groups, and a whole host of tools for market analysis, Obama has found himself in this position, advocating a position that is angering a significant portion of his base. So, part of the question that you have to ask yourself, part of the "conventional wisdom" that you have to wonder about, is the idea that something made "problem free" didn't have any problems. Consider, with all of the focus group testing that Hollywood does and the money that they throw around, you'd think that every movie made should have the everything it needs to be a success. So why do so many crappy movies get dumped on the public?

Maybe, what it means in practical terms is that the lowest common denominator -- one size fits all -- is really more about "all sizes fit poorly."

Maybe, as a marketing pro, there's an art to what you do... and an intangible ability to connect with people on a deeper level.

For me, my take-away is that, even among people who seem very in-tune with Internet technologies and marketing, it's easy to underestimate (or utterly dismiss) the power of the Long Tail and about just how deeply people connect -- when you reach them in their unique niche.

Oh, and I got caught up in writing some of this and I almost forgot to include this link to this Netroots Rising post on Crooks and Liars.com. I haven't read the book, but it looks like might an interesting study in the dynamics of the relationship between candidates and their Internet base.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Politics and Marketing - What are they doing to the Barack Obama brand?

I didn't really plan on writing about politics when I started this blog -- politics is one of those topics that you usually try to avoid when you're living in the day-to-day world of business. But when you're in marketing, there's a lot of interesting things to study in politics -- how people sell and sell out, commitment and compromise, nature versus nurture, branding and bluster. Besides, I've been a bit of a political junkie since college and my legislative internship at the state capital.

I was going to avoid all of that, but recent political events have gotten me fired up about politics -- not just the issues, but about a couple of topics that relate right back to what I've been writing about here. So, let's get to the point -- what are they doing to Barack Obama's brand?

Within the past couple of weeks, there have been a couple of notices about Obama and his positions. Since securing the nomination, there has been a lot of talk of him moving "toward the center". Also, after coming out against the FISA update earlier this year, Obama has taken a position of supporting this legistation now. There's more this week too, but rather than detail all of these things, I'd like to dive into some analysis.

After starting three different attempts to frame this topic, I've decided to break it up into at least three threads. So far, here's where I'm thinking that we'll be going:
  1. What's up with Barack Obama's Brand? How does the essense of the brand that he's been selling us match up with his current offering? Why do organizations with successful products ignore the things that have made them successful in an attempt to reach audiences that don't really connect with their core offering. Why is it "expected and necessary" for politicians to move from "a distinct position that espouses strong, specific values" towards a "least bad candidate" position in order to win a general election?
  2. Why is it that, with so many detailed metrics and proven results, people repeatedly underestimate the size and the impact of the Internet audience? Why is it that so many people want to believe the meme that "the Netroots" is a small, fringe community of radical voices from the left? Why do some people so drastically underestimate the passion of the niche?
  3. Why is it that, as brands grow big, they also increase their disregard for their customer's interests? Why do so many big brands hate their customers?
Anyway, the main purpose of these posts is not to support a specific political position, but to look through the lens of this political machine, get under the hood and understand whether it's firing on all eight or coughing and sputtering like it's running on a tankful of overpriced, 4-dollar-a-gallon cheap gas.