The 50 Biggest Election-Season Buzz Generators

This chart, published in the March-April issue of Technology Review, is very cool. 

Buzz Map

The image shows the 50 phrases that generated the most buzz during the last three months of the presidential campaign. The vertical axis is number of web items; the horizontal axis is date. 
This came from computer scientists at Cornell, but it seems like a harbinger of the type of text and meme analysis that will become common as the data and processing needed to do such work becomes easier to manage (see the work of Radian6, Crimson Hexagon and others).


A Sign Tom Friedman Has Jumped the Shark

This is his idea of a solution to our current economic crisis:

I wake up every morning hoping to read this story: “President Obama announced today that he had invited the country’s 20 leading bankers, 20 leading industrialists, 20 top market economists and the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate to join him and his team at Camp David. ‘We will not come down from the mountain until we have forged a common, transparent strategy for getting us out of this banking crisis,’ the president said, as he boarded his helicopter.”

This kind of plutocracy is one of the reasons we've stumbled into such a crisis.

Today, the things that work are done out in the open, not in isolation, at the top of a mountain.

This Spring’s Economic Snow Drops

Snow Drops on Inman St.Last night I met my family for dinner at a popular but unusually empty
Cambridge restaurant. Earlier in the day the
government announced another 651,000 jobs lost, and there was a
lot of dire economic language around the table: "complete collapse,"
"breadlines," "16% unemployment."

It was a bleak conversation,
but I think there are economic snow drops appearing this spring — signs of new, different
growth: — Our president is speaking to us
directly. You don't have to be part of the establishment to get
unfiltered information from the government. Everybody has equal, if not
perfect, information.
Best of all, there's a growing expectation of such transparency. With the White House blogging, we increasingly expect corporations, non-profits and branches of government to do the same.

Twitter — Conversation is public and connected. This
puts everybody on equal footing. You don't have to live in Silicon
Valley to know what the most successful entrepreneurs of our time are
thinking. They tell you publicly. Companies with tons
of money have a harder time selling their bad products, and companies
with far less money can sell good ones.

HubSpot — Marketing budgets are no
longer barriers to entry. It used to be that if you had a promising
new business, you had to spend tons of money to get your message out
and build scale. Now you don't have to do that. Anybody with a quality product or
service can use inbound marketing and a simple set of tools to compete
with the big guys. (Check out this marketing roi page for two studies
that spell this out analytically.)

These stories are all
exciting because they're giving creative individuals power — power that is being use to solve
problems, to remake industries like transportation, apparel, and finance
and, slowly, to rebuild our economy.

Umair Haque on Constructive Capitalism

This is a fantastic video. Well worth the time.

Umair Haque @ Daytona Sessions vol. 2 – Constructive Capitalism from Daytona Sessions on Vimeo.

HubSpot's methodology and concept of inbound marketing are based squarely on the ideals Umair articulates here — particularly equity and democracy.

When Theories Change and Crash

A great friend reminded me last night of this passage in The Grapes of Wrath. He brought it up in the context of an awful personal situation, but the passage — and the book — seem resonant in the time we're all living through.

For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe,
grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges
ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man — when theories
change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys
of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man
reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having
stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full
step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know
when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place,
when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain
filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not
being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs
would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the
bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that
the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while
the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the
step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself
will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the
foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the

I was able to find this passage thanks to Wikiquote.

Our Company Web Site Is a Web App

Company websites are important.
Marketing Software
A well-designed, dynamic site that captures a company's spirit will generate business.  An ugly, static site that's thin on information will make you wonder about doing business with a company.

With this in mind, I was initially concerned about the redesign of that we launched last week.

redesign moved from a custom site with a unique look and
feel to a one-size-fits-all template. I was worried that without a polished,
unique design we would make a weak impression on visitors. I thought we
would appear smaller and less successful than we are.

I was

As we planned the launch of the new site, I realized
that HubSpot isn't defined by the curved edges or faded colors of a
fancy design. Instead, the essence of HubSpot is in the data we publish
on our site. By moving from a custom design to a standard template
we've made this content easier to publish and more central to our site. (Plus, at the end of the day, I think the template looks pretty good.)

With these changes, our company web site has become a web app.

like on Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, on we publish content
to a standard template. And just like on Flickr, Facebook and Twitter,
on our friends care more about the content of our posts than the look
of our profile page.

Many companies feel the need to communicate size and sophistication through a complex, custom-coded website.

I'm happy we've thrown that idea out the window.

We'll let our content, not our design, show people what HubSpot's

(Apologies to Fred Wilson for the title of this post.)

Why I Speak Up

I published this video hesitantly yesterday.

and I had a great conversation, but I wasn't thrilled with the
production job I did. It came out too dark, and the framing was poor.

I pushed aside my worries and published it because I've learned that
pleasant surprises — opportunities to connect or to learn — come from
speaking up.

And that's exactly what happened this time.

Mike Weber
, the owner of CMR Studios, a video production company in Tampa, left this comment on the post:

You provide great information and advice with these interviews. But I
would like to suggest a bit of technical advice for your videos to make
them even better.

First lower the camera so it's a face-on view
rather than looking down on your subjects. It will allow for you to
reduce the vacant headroom space. The camera should be like another
person in the room. Someone part of the conversation wouldn' stand,
they'd have a seat to listen in. This perspective also gives more
authority to the speaker. (It's part of the psychology of what viewers
see.) Look at any national TV interview to see what I mean.

use the on camera microphone. Get wireless microphones or at least a
microphone that you can position closer to the interview. It will get
rid of that hollow sound and background noise distractions.

the white balance on the camera (pull out your instruction manual)
Office lighting is bad for cameras, but you can adjust the camera so
that it isn't yellow or green. Better yet, get three of your own
inexpensive lights to set up and have complete control. (Google "three
point lighting" )

Adding these technical touches will enhance your online image and show viewers that you are as professional as your advice. 

So instead of of worrying about my video production problems on my own, I got an expert to weight in and help me fix them.

That's why I tweet, that's why I blog and that's why I wish I did both more.

Willful Ignorance

Clay Shirky: "By the turn of the century, anyone who didn't understand that the
business model for newspapers was a wasting asset was caught up in
nothing other than willful ignorance, so secure in their faith in the
permanence of their business that they assumed that those glaciers
would politely swerve at the last minute, which minute is looking
increasingly like now."

Your New Neighborhood Newspaper? Soon, a Real Estate Site.

Picture 6
One of these days smart real estate folks are going to start turning their websites into local news sites.

It will help them with their SEO.

And it will help create the kind of community people want to live in.

Paul Roetzer, founder and president of PR 20/20, is headed in this direction with a project he's working on in Cleveland.

It's a downtown development called The Avenue District. Its
website has a blog, videos and lots of updates on the neighborhood and construction.

It's a great start. I hope they do keep going.

They could talk more about what's happening in the neighborhood outside the development. They could talk about local politics, community development, education, small businesses and on and on.

It could become a veritable hyperlocal blog.

If they create a useful, vital neighborhood site — something that people rely on like the Davis Square Live Journal or Baristanet — the site will get
inbound links, and it will rise in the search results. The development and the community will thrive.

Real Estate folks will doubt such a site is worth the investment; newspaper folks will
doubt its quality.

But it makes sense.  Sooner or later, it will happen.
And it will be a good thing.