April 16, 2012

Without Shoes? Maybe. Without Words? Never!

The shoemaker's children, it's said, often go without shoes. I'm not often shoeless - I keep my Louboutins and Blahniks on my feet, where they belong - but given my compulsive need to communicate, I've been surprisingly cavalier about updating this page, preferring the more immediate gratifications of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

I'm still writing, editing and consulting, but there is one big change: I'm spending most of my time working on a new book, which will be my sixth - and is my first novel. Which doesn't give me much time for bloggery.  And my primary residence is now in San Francisco, though I go back to New York as often as I can.

Change is good. Letting people know about it is even better. More updates soon.

February 9, 2011

A Week Of The Daily

I had high hopes for The Daily. I loved the idea of a publication designed just for the iPad, and its estimable editorial team, including Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker.

A week of daily reading of The Daily later, there's a lot to like. The design is strong, and takes advantage of the iPad's capabilities (though having to switch from horizontal to vertical to get at a feature is annoying). It's a great vehicle for photos and videos. The iPad app reviews are worthwhile, and the gossip coverage, headed up by Richard Johnson, formerly of Page Six. is a good read. And the crossword software they use is much more user-friendly than The New York Times's puzzle.

Unfortunately, the crossword clues are not nearly as interesting or challenging; they're somewhere between People and New York Magazine. And that's my problem with The Daily; for someone with an admitted Times addiction, it's just not that smart. It's determinedly middlebrow, like a digitally cleverer version of Newsweek. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not right for me.

Also, I do my primary news reading on my iPad in the morning, and a magazine format doesn't work for me then. But as a study by Read It Later shows, and as I'm sure The Daily's publisher Rupert Murdoch knows, iPad reading spikes in the evening - and after a long day of looking at a screen, that's usually when I want to read print.

One of The Daily's biggest innovations is the recurring-charges model, a first for iTunes. Today, I was reminded that I'd finished my first free week of two, and was offered the option of a year for $40 or a week-to-week subscription at 99 cents per week. I don't think I'm going to choose either. But I appreciate the innovation and effort - and I'll keep an eye on what they do.

January 28, 2011

TV Or Not TV: A History of Hookups

When I was head of "new media" (that's how long ago it was) at The WB Network, we did some pretty innovative stuff. We were the first national TV network to have a truly robust presence, creating communities for fans of shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, One Tree Hill and Smallville, presenting interviews with show stars and creators, and giving viewers a chance to vote online for the first time for contestants for Popstars, a precursor to American Idol that gave America its first good look at Nicole Scherzinger as part of the show-created group Eden's Crush. We did mobile promotions, street teams, online games and e-commerce. And we helped the music featured on the air get found - and bought.

The CW is doing a great job of continuing and expanding that work - they have many tools we didn't, including Facebook.  There's also the reconstituted TheWB.com, which features full streaming episodes of shows produced by Warner Bros TV - an option we didn't have in what I think of as the Bronza Age of the Internet.

We knew then that some of the young adults who were the preponderance of our audience were watching TV and simultaneously using their laptops and/or their mobile phones. Nearly a decade later, according to a SideReel survey featured on MediaPost, computers and TV have become one, with 78 percent of the respondents watching more than 5 hours of online TV a week, and a staggering 54 percent watching more than 20 hours of online TV weekly.

As it happens, the average SideReel viewer age is 29 - The WB's audience, grown up. So maybe we got them into the computer-TV hookup. And with DVRs, which were just starting to appear then (a high-ranking executive there walked into a meeting with TiVo and asked them to leave if they couldn't explain to him why they weren't going to ruin his business), most TV is actually online TV. But I'm worried about that 54 percent. The average American does watch more than 143 hours of TV a month, according to Nielsen. The younger they are, the less they watch on-air. But apparently, no one can stop watching, wherever they are.

Michigan J. Frog, The WB's mascot.

January 26, 2011

Throwing Money Away

I can't even imagine what it must be like to be a professional athlete, much less make the astonishing amounts of money they do for what are typically very short careers. But I was very taken by the story of Gil Meche, the Kansas City Royals pitcher whose contract called for a $12 million salary in 2011.

Meche, 32, has an injured shoulder. But instead of showing up at training camp, he opted to retire, which means he won't be collecting those big paychecks, as many injured players do.

“Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad," Meche told The New York Times. "I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again.”

Try to envision a world in which the Winklevoss twins - or Mark Hurd - had that kind of attitude.

January 24, 2011

A Box of Happiness

A few months ago, I reviewed Tony Hsieh's Delivering Happiness. Today, I received a box with a stylized smiley on it containing, wrapped in pale blue tissue paper:
  • An effusive thank-you note from "Team Delivering Happiness," with my name handwritten in the blank after the "Dear";
  • A hardcover copy of the book with a new jacket featuring a blurb by Seth Godin and touting it as a "#1 New York Times Bestseller" and "#1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller," signed on the first page with a blue Sharpie and a smiley by Tony Hsieh;
  • A "2010 Delivering Happiness Bus Tour" CD;
  • A blue "Live in the Wow! - Tony Hsieh" bookmark;
  • A small bag of Pop Chips (to represent happiness?);
  • A "Delivering Happiness" t-shirt; and
  • A charity: water rubber bracelet.
This all came my way because my review made me a member of the Delivering Happiness VHP (Very Happy Person) program. The box occasioned enough happiness for me to write about it, so my thanks to the senders. But I have to say that if it weren't for the charity:water nod (and it's actually not clear to me what the connection is), the package might have seemed pointless, egotistical and a waste of resources - boxes, planes, trucks, people, food.

Which is not a smiley kind of thing, as far as I'm concerned.

January 21, 2011

Questions Are The New Answers

I admit it: I was always the annoying kid in class with her hand up. I was (and still am) a voracious reader who loved knowing the answers; that led me to a lifelong obsession with crosswords, an appearance on Jeopardy (alas, I didn't win - my answers were better than my hand-eye coordination) and a reputation among friends and family as something of a human Google.

Google, however, has made answers much less important than they used to be. Now, anyone can find the answers.  Asking the right questions, as seasoned search engine users, skilled managers, and clever future prognosticators know, is what matters.

That's one of the reasons I really like Quora, which I've just started using. It's satisfying to read smart answers, and to come up with your own. But smart questions make you ask more questions, and that's even better.

Jeopardy, of course, requires an answer in the form of a question.  But if the question is good enough, is an answer necessary?

Charles Ives knew.

January 18, 2011

Change (Personality)

I recently became reacquainted with Myers-Briggs. Here's my tip for this week (I'm an ENFP):
To thrive in change, discuss what could be. Imagine the possibilities in the change and find ways the change could benefit others.
So why should this week be different from any other week?