“The Official Sponsor of Birthdays”

morebirthdays_blogbadge3The American Cancer Society has branded its self, in part, as “The Official Sponsor of Birthdays.”  Here at the National Home Office in Atlanta, Georgia we’ve known this was coming since December 2008 and many of us have anxiously awaited this launch with sealed lips. A new website, morebirthdays.com, went live yesterday and a few new ads were uploaded to YouTube.


So what is all of this about? For some people birthdays are a struggle. I have a family member who has been celebrating her 39th birthday for at least 15 years. Despite the challenges of aging, as we morph into something far different than a twenty year old body, I hope we can all agree that birthdays are a good thing. A very good thing. A birthday means you’re here. This may appear trivial, it’s no revelation, and I’m not saying anything new. What is important to know is that there is an organization that exists to ensure that you and I and everyone else continue to live healthily lives year after year.


Our vision is a world free of cancer. I’ve never worked for an organization that is as focused and driven to fulfill its mission than the American Cancer Society. From the epidemiologist here in Atlanta to our National Cancer Information Center in Austin, Texas the commitment to help people stay well and get well, by finding cures and fighting back is at the heart of everything we do. The same can be said for the volunteers and employees I’ve worked with across the nation. Their commitment is tangible.


I have found no other organization with the resources, knowledge, and skill that can compare to the American Cancer Society in this field of work. As a fully entrenched social networker I’ve been please to see that the Society has kept up with the new media of a web 2.0 world.  We’ve integrated ourselves with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Second Life and we will continue to reach out where ever people are to share our resources and our message of hope.


Our sister organization The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Washington, D.C. has been successful working with lawmakers to fight against Big Tobacco in the United States. It was no coincidence that in his February 24, 2009 address to Congress President Obama called for health care reform to include a “new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time” (April is National Cancer Control Month, by the way).


Nor is it a coincidence that a Bill was passed by the US House of Representatives granting the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products”. These things don’t happen without the voice and support of the people, and many organizations are coming together to ensure that our voice, your voice, is heard.


Living a life free of cancer is something for everyone to celebrate. Eleven million cancer survivors are celebrating birthdays because of our progress. Countless others have avoided cancer for the same reasons. As the old saying goes “knowledge is power.” Knowing how to get well and stay well is priceless.


So… Now that my lunch hour is coming to an end, it’s time for me to get back to work.

Facebook vs. MySpace and Breaking the Sex Barrier

In full discloser, I’m a Facebook fan. For me there is something a bit dark about MySpace, yet I have an account with both. Where do others stand in this battle between these two social networking giants?

According to Google Trends Facebook passed MySpace in the number of Google searches in the first quarter of 2008 and has continued to rise surpassing YouTube searches in the final weeks of 2008.

facebook_vs_myspace

So what is “the sex barrier” and how does it relate? The Sex barrier is represented by the green line in the second graft. If you have more people googling for your product than are googling the word “sex”, you’ve broken passed the sex barrier. Searches for the word “YouTube” passed the word “sex” in the first quarter of 2007, searches for “Facebook” passed it in the second quarter of 2008. MySpace has yet to break the barrier.

sexbarrier

The word Obama did it briefly in November 2008. More people world wide, according to Google, were looking up stories about Obama winning the U.S. Presidential election than were searching for sex related stories, products, etc. However searches for sex did not decrease as a result of the Obama searches. I’m not sure what this data indicates other than marketers have done an excellent job of selling sexuality online. This shouldn’t be a surprise.


The next barrier to pass is the word “free”. In Google searches the word “sex” is no where close to the word “free”. People want free stuff. However, in 2008 both YouTube and Facebook surpassed the magical word “free”.


Compared to these four words; free, YouTube, sex, and Facebook, searches for words like god, war, church, health, cancer, bush, give, and beer hardly register (Sadly, more people and googling for “beer” online than “peace”, but not by much).


So what does all this mean? Several things. First, since I’ve included the words sex and free in this post several times, I will probably get a number of online visits from people who won’t find what they are looking for. Second, using Google Trends is great for getting a ball park idea of search terms people are using. And third, I still like Facebook better than MySpace and I recommend it to everyone, unless you’re a musician. If you are a musician or a singer/songwriter use both. Searches for “MySpace” passed searches for “Music” in mid 2006 and it doesn’t look like it will to change anytime soon. For music, MySpace is on top.

Anything You Post Online, Anyone Can See. Think Before You Post.

Have you ever searched online for your name, profile names, or email addresses? You might be surprised by what you find. If you’ve posted anything online, it’s out there. It’s public.

You probably wouldn’t consider posting a tenth of what you post online on a bulletin board hanging in the break room at work or in the faculty lounge at school. Yet, posting on online is a thousand times more permanent than posting on a traditional bulletin board.


Once you post anyone can download, edit, and re-post your words and images anywhere, anytime. None of this is a problem if you do as the Ad Council recommends and “Think before you post.”


Here are a few recommendations:


If it would reflect poorly on your character if it ended up on the front page of a newspaper, don’t post.


If you’re angry, don’t post. I’ve never heard anyone say “I’m glad I was emotionally out of control when posted those comments! If I had been calm it may have limited my ability to reason clearly.”


If you wouldn’t be comfortable with your family, in-laws, co-workers, or neighbors (Current or future) reading your comments or seeing those images, don’t post.


If you are excited to share your travel plans with your friends on Facebook, waiting until your back to post “Had a great time in Costa Rica!” is much better that posting in advance of your trip, “Leaving for Costa Rica tomorrow, won’t be back for two weeks.” There is no need to advertise that your house will be empty.


If you think posting under a fake name will protect you, don’t post. Unless the forum is designed for and expects anonymous users, people have a way of connecting the dots and discovering your true identity.


The Internet can provide a false sense of anonymity and distance that we would never accept as reality in the off-line world. There are some things we post online that we would prefer to see on billboards and in the newspaper, yet it’s the little things we post, without consideration for the big picture, that can cause the most trouble. We will be reading more about this is the years to come.

A Noble Alternative to Solitaire

 Free Rice

Millions of people play Solitaire every day to alleviate work place boredom. Now you can play something that will eliminate boredom, increase your vocabulary, and help feed the hungry. For each word you define correctly FreeRice.com will donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

Over 7 million grains of rice have been donated since the site went live in October. It’s quick and the site can track your skill level across multiple visits. The rice is paid for by advertisers. If you’re curious about how this program benefits the hungry go to the FAQ page.

In the mean time close out of Solitaire, increase your vocabulary, and make a small difference in the world with FreeRice.com.

Invite your friends to do the same.

Good Stuff from the Ad Council

Chin     Portions     Food Pyramid

The images above are from campaigns led by the Ad Council (Click on each image for a larger view). The Ad Council has also created some excellent videos. Here are links to some of my favorites. 

Hamster                    Bullseye

Light Saber               Movie

Acronyms                  Monitor

Bandage Puller         SUV 

Truth Serum              Sarah Watkins

Almost Fed

Support the Ad Council.

Google More

 

You’ve seen Google Maps, Google Images, and Google Video, yet Google has so much more to offer. Here are four examples.  

  1. Ever wondered who categorizes the images on Google Images? Try Google Image Labeler and find out.  
  2. Tired of sending documents back and forth through e-mail for editing and wondering who has the current version? Try Google Docs & Spreadsheets. 
  3. Want to know who invented the first pocket protector, the electric tooth brush, or the hulla hoop? Try Google Patent Search 
  4. Want to know exactly what people are searching for on Google? Go to Google Trends.

These are just a few of over 50 services available from Google. As a co-worker of mine, Kurt Fanstill, said after attending an indexing conference, ‘this is not an information age; it is an information retrieval age. Sorting through the data to quickly find what you need is the key and Google continues to unlock the doors.

Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick any two. . . Well Almost.

missionpossible.png (A)       70.png (B)

This is a fun idea; it can be good and fast, but it’s won’t be cheap, or it can be good and cheap but it won’t be fast. Fortunately, this not always true. There is no universal standard for good, fast, or cheap. Each of these words is relative to the specifics of the project, and being expensive and slow doesn’t guarantee it will be good.  

When developers adopt this mind set, and consistently apply it to all their projects, they become prisoners to the “or”. It has to be this OR this, because it cannot be this AND this. Who made up this rule and why do so many adopted it as truth? Yes, it can be used as a reality check on the constraints of a team, but it should not become the team’s motto. I’ve seen great results done quickly and on a low budget.  

Here are two examples of good, fast, and cheap ads created for an internal campaign directed towards a technical support team. The goal was to get everyone to record the exact version of the customer’s software on every call. They were getting the major number, but too many were not recording the minor and release numbers.  

We needed something in their face that would capture attention. The life cycle would be short and the problem needed to be corrected as soon as possible. What they didn’t need was to be lectured by their managers, pulled into a training room for an hour, or given a traditional job aid.  

This ad (A) [click the image to enlarge] was printed in color at 4” x 6” and taped on the shelf in everyone’s cubical next to their monitor. The image was a free download of the week from iStockphoto and the text and formatting took ten minutes. I used SnagIt but could have easily created it with Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. This ad (B) was used in a follow up e-mail a week later. 

The number of techincans recording the version number increased dramically. By the following week we were reached 100%.

Sometimes things can be good, fast, and cheap. Especially when the life cycle is short. Here’s one more example (C).

istock_000001275827medium702.jpg  (C)