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Posts Tagged ‘Clay Shirky’

I just finished a 4550 location book on my Kindle.

While “kindling” Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody,” I “highlighted” more than 250 locations. I can now quickly search that file for any notation I’d like to recall. I was pleased to know that every single word I read was backed up by a definition. As I moved the “stick” to ready a highlight, I took comfort knowing that “user” was “a person who uses or operates something” and that “want” was to “have a desire to possess…”

As I progressed towards the final location, I began clicking the “Next Page” button a little too hastily. I was anxious to finish. With a book book, I would have been able to skim the last two chapters, picking and choosing, flipping ahead pages to scout out interesting tidbits, varying my pace to read only the juiciest morsels.

With Kindle, I paid too much attention to Shirky’s Meetup examples and not enough attention to the three key marketing aspects: what were they? something, something and bargain. Ok, I can search for it.  I type “bargain.” I get 62 results. There’s no way to search for “bargain” beyond location 3000 and no way to just “dip” into the book.  And the little chicklet keys on the Kindle make my Blackberry keys seem like landing pads.

This is the third book I’ve “kindled.” One was fiction (Lisa Genova’s “Still Alice,” which I’d lend to you, but, ahhh, wait, can’t really do that!) and one was nonfiction (Chip and Dan Heath’s “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.”)

I’ve kindled enough now to say that I’m disappointed. Sure, disappointed in the way that Oscar Wilde said he was “disappointed in the Atlantic” after his first crossing in a oceanliner. I love the idea of the Kindle, the iPad, the whatever else comes along to improve my life. I love the portability. I love the instant access to any book. When a friend recommends a book, I pop on over to the Kindle Store and check it out. (I have more samples of books on my Kindle than actual books!)  I love that I can mix magazines, newspapers and books together. But for all Kindle’s virtues, I still prefer an old-fashioned book.

After all that kindling, I’m feeling the urge to visit a bookstore.

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Thank god for Andrew Menendez. He’s the recent Georgetown grad in my APOC class who asks a somewhat cynical question that I too am pondering but would never utter, because, well, if I ask it, it makes me seem like an old fuddy-duddy.
“What would happen if all the Elite Yelpers out there demanded to be paid for their reviews?” asked Andrew of Yelp Community Manager Christina Yoon. Yoon’s answer hinted at what Clay Shirky talks about in his book, “Here Comes Everybody: ” Gosh, that would just never really happen, was Christina’s reply. “I mean, hey, people are cool and overwhelmingly positive. It’s a cultural thing.”

The Yelp phenomenon Yoon alluded to is similar to Shirky’s point about the effect of “mass amateurization.” Ward Cunningham, Wikipedia’s founder, bet that people with a common collaboration goal would trust each other enough to self-police. If the aggregate cares enough, they’ll protect the product, in turn building up the community. It’s a matter of pride. This paradigm has yelp all over it.

Julie Epstein writes more than 6 free reviews a month. For her trouble, she gets a little badge icon posted next to her profile picture and an invitation to an occasional party.

Now I don’t know whether to laugh or to yelp (ouch!). I’ve been observing Yelp from over the shoulder of one of my co-workers for more than a year. He and Julie are probably yelpmates. Yelp Boy multi-tasks between editing and designing his pages and yelping. When hears my footsteps behind him, he’s minimized.

There’s a dotted line on the org chart between me and Yelp Boy. So, I play it cool. I’ve read the studies that say that employees who spend some company time on the internet are less stressed. And this guy has stress ball potential. Full-time job, part-time student, full-time business owner (a family-run bakery in Van Nuys). So I give him a long leash. Maybe it’s the yelping that’s keeping Yelp Boy sane. But, I’m disappointed that yelp is getting his attention when what I really want him to do is go out there and break a story.

As a student of social media, I am fascinated by elite Yelpers and by how mass collaboration has taken the wind out of the sails of expert restaurant reviewers. In my employee’s case, the drive to make a mark on the Internet is stronger than the fear of being caught at work.

As an employer, I think I’d like to send a bill to Christina Yoon, who in turn could send it up to Yelp HQ. Wonder if I’d get a reaction?

Hey, Yelp Boy! Who signs your paycheck?

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