Tag Archives: Google

Cuil. Too cool for words?

Richard MacManus of ReadWriteWeb wrote a post last night about the big coverage of Cuil, thought and/or hoped by many to be the Google killer.

The MacManus post muses about the coverage of the new search engine and the major criticism that followed its debut.  A lot of expectations mismanaged.  So MacManus cites the echo chamber and the hyperbole that stokes it.

But let’s not blame the PR people, people.  Yes, I find much of the language, elitist and cozy, too much to bear.  But somebody’s swallowing it.  And it’s not just the TechCrunches and the Valleywags.  It’s our highly trained, self-proclaimed highly professional mainstream media.

Here are the suggestions I just shared in a comment to MacManus’s post.  Let’s start stripping away the hype.  Ultimately, it’s the best thing for all concerned.

Lots of insightful comments on your interesting post.  This is not a criticism of Cuil, either.  Time will tell.

I do have comments to the press, bloggers, all the new media types “covering” startups, Silicon Valley, tech money:

1  You are part of the echo chamber.  Think before you write.  Choose your words carefully and wisely.

2  Talk with the potential enemies as well as the pals and coterie of the founders and the VCs.

3  Recognize that not everyone tells the truth.

4  If you don’t understand the technology, find someone neutral who does.  Neutral = doesn’t have an ax to grind.

5  In comparing products, rely on your own instincts and that of a true expert to unearth key points of differentiation between products and services.  Don’t just reprint what you’re being fed.

6  Start looking for the real stories of Silicon Valley.  Yes, you’re busy.  But when you take on the responsibility of distilling facts for others, you take on the responsibility to dig.  If you don’t have the work ethic for this role, find something else to do.  We’re sick of the hyperbole.  The real stories of Silicon Valley are not that far beneath the superficial surface on which you skate.

This is coming to you from someone who helps to craft and tell the stories of startups and corporations that are in this for the joy as well as the payoff — and who wouldn’t dream of yanking your chains.  Wake up.

Google + Random House = higher book sales?

Epicenter reports a rumor that Random House is caving/cashing in to join the Google book scanning initiative.   

I hope they at least wait to load books of recent vintage whose writers are still on the planet.  [Like yours truly.] 

The article reports that this might give RH a boost in sales.  Search me, but I still think publishers ought to look at their current business models before they embrace something that could mess with their writers’ intellectual property. 

They should move online to market their books, not run the content there.  Launch Internet campaigns.  Livecast author interviews.  Provide advance copies to bloggers.  Create interactive websites for books and authors.  Revive the old-fashioned serial approach, if you’re bent on putting content online.  Use dynamic language to invite readers’ interest.  Focus groups of people beyond NYC and the East Coast.

Finally, try publishing fewer and better books.  Then you can apply more marketing muscle to those books instead of spreading your staff too thin.  That means better message platforms, stronger analysis of sales trends and a brand that readers everywhere recognize and understand.

Valleywag’s job

A lot of people complain about Valleywag being a muckraking, patently unfair, inaccurate, just plain mean source of behind-the-scenes technology news.  [Which means people are complaining about a mainstream source of entertainment in the industry, particularly here in northern California.] The site is decried as a parasite that would not exist without the success of visionary entrepreneurs, their investors and the people behind the scenes.

That said, Valleywag’s team would have very little to shovel if it weren’t surrounded by excrement.  It’s Valleywag’s chosen role to sift through the waste and report the dark side of the technology culture.  [Calm down, every industry has one.]  And this actually serves a purpose.  We are inundated with hyperbole at impossibly higher levels of absurdity every day.  If we’re not going to tell the truth, somebody should be trying to uncover it.

It’s said that Valleywag draws some outlandish conclusions at times and deliberately puts things in a bad, if not salacious, light.  But as long as there has been a media, there have been players who’ve taken this role and run with it.  So any company that decides to build awareness via the media must accept that there are all kinds of media and devise a way to deal with them.  Not play them, deal with them.

Of course, the best way to manage one’s image is to operate transparently, admitting that errors in judgment and mistakes are part of the drill.  It’s become clear that the biggest obstacle to transparency is human nature.  You can have the most sophisticated branding, public relations and product marketing armies at your beck and call, but unless the honchos check ugly tendencies such as narcissism, arrogance, nepotism and elitism at the front door each morning, you are sunk.  Because when the foibles hit, and they will, you’re going to need an uncluttered perspective to explain them and convince stakeholders — including all those people who bought your stock — that you’re running a business, not a 24/7 funhouse.  Otherwise, all that bravado is only going to convince one person:  the one looking back at you from the mirror.

Unfortunately for companies in any industry with a lot of resources to throw around, financial success does weird things.  When it’s stratospheric success, the beast becomes really unreasonable. 

So, read one of today’s posts from Valleywag.  It’s a case study in comprehending just how wacky you can become when you have nothing to lose but a job you don’t need anymore and a reputation that you think counts only with your kind, dear.