Howard R. Debs, The Blogger returns!

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I’m actually an optimist, but I’m heading the same way Sandburg did.

I’m back, occasionally.

Yes, for those who have missed me during my ramblings, for those who have yearned for more erudition about the things that matter most, I am back to post! Hey, that rhymes. Which is appropriate, since one of the many errands that took me away from this mission to explicate on the verities and related matters, was my penchant for  creative writing and determination to hit the literary trail. As The Little Einsteins say at the end of an episode, “Mission completion!” (yes I actually watch and enjoy The Little Einsteins); the mount of literary publication has been reached and you can go to a separate page on this site to see a selected list of publications graced or soon to be so with my presence. But enough about me.

This site was and is devoted to advancing the art and science of communications.  Now, in posts to come, I intend to expand on the subject matter to be covered, using this bedrock principle as a measure for all that appears here: if it can contribute to better more effective communication, private or public, it shall be admissible.

So thanks for allowing me back into your virtual hearth and home, I will try to make my stay pleasurable and productive. Stay tuned.

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Viral “marketing” – word of mouth in a YouTube world

We are presently experiencing a virtual pandemic. I am not referring to the current Swine Flu, more properly named the H1N1 Flu . I am speaking of viral marketing,  the term itself is relatively recent and started to be used in the mid 1990’s. The term’s imagery is particularly engaging. While it certainly can carry a negative connotation I want to address the ramifications of this “phenomena” as it relates to the age-old concept of “word of mouth” now sometimes referred to simply as “WOM”.  We have all heard this: there is no better form of advertising than word-of-mouth. Among other attributes of WOM, the perceived non-commerical nature of the communication enhances its credibility. One of my basic premisses about WOM in its contemporary manifestation is that technology has spawned a social networking capability that adds such potential impact to word of mouth  that it has or at least is on its way to re-asserting itself as one principal means for driving acceptance/popularity of products, persons, ideas, and “information”.

How did someone or something get notice – positive or negative – historically, let’s say in Rome in 63 B.C. “Word” travelled on horseback or chariot; escapades and episodes were passed from person to person and made reputations, for ill or well. But it wasn’t exactly speedy delivery.

Cicero, the great orator, politician, and philosopher of the period said “Like readily consorts with like”; the idea is that the transmission of a message from an accepted source has both credibility and influence, and is therefore eagerly  shared with others,  because in part, the person who passes it on  wants to be associated with the remark and the party making it.

In viral communication, those who get the “virus” affect going are usually individuals with what has been characterized as high social networking potential (SNP).  There is in fact a whole new area of marketing/public relations activity devoted just to injecting positive “buzz” intentionally through using a viral approach – kind of like seeding a cloud to produce a rain shower.

The Susan Boyle example from the TV show “Britian’s Got Talent” is a textbook study in viral communication and its potential impact. The YouTube clip of her singing in the competition literally spanned the globe with meteoric speed, and due largely to this she has become something of an icon – and rightly so, exemplifying  the adage, “you can’t tell a book by its cover”. Thus the rise of another “star”  born through the power of the Internet.

There are lots of implications for all of this. Does the viral approach to popularizing persons and things have merit or is it a menace? The verdict is yet to be rendered –  by a jury of our peers  –  and the jury is still out.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/05/24/viral-marketing-word-of-mouth-in-a-youtube-world/

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Real time conversation – a “real first”!

The next logical step in personal communication: real-time. Wow, what a concept. This latest developing development comes to us courtesy of the man who gave us gmail, that ubiquitous staple of the online world. Paul Buchheit, among other dabblings since leaving Google and being flush, is “playing” with Friendfeed, a quite interesting  tool in and of itself (check it out at http://www.friendfeed.com ).

By putting emphasis on real-time, Friendfeed (Buchheit) is trying both to leap frog the competition and presumably point the way. What a way it is to be sure. Kind of “Back to the Future” aided precisely in kind like in the movie – through technology. Not in this case through hot cars with time warping capability, but the equivalent. These “vehicles” don’t have wheels, they are “communication vehicles” – means to an end, namely talking to, not talking through, around, or at others. The difference is between leaving a note posted on the refrigerator vs. actually carrying on a live conversation.

This blog has previously pointed to source information suggesting that social networking as we know it today is wearing thin in relation to its value as a means of true communication as perceived by users. See: https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/04/10/quick-takes-social-network-fatigue/

Feeling connected in real time totally changes the equation in terms of personal communication, so much so that it impacts the very character, content, and potential “outcome” of that communication. This is a big deal indeed as McCluhan would I’m sure point out – in fact he has; the medium is and will always be the message. (https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/07/marshall-mcluhan-revisited/)

 Even if the rhetoric sounds like re-inventing the wheel, which it does and what is put forward is attempting to approximate “the wheel”, i.e. live conversation, it puts the merit of true personal communication back in play and that’s the really big breakthrough here!

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/05/10/real-time-conversation-a-real-first/

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