Monday, June 30, 2008

Fwd: Website Incident: 080630-000241

How heart-warming I MAY (or may not) receive a response withing FIFTEEN DAYS. Not that I care, honestly it would benefit THEM more than me-- to improve their company's web pages.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: MTA Email <>
Date: Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 3:47 PM
Subject: Website Incident: 080630-000241


Your e-mail has been received. You will receive a response as soon as
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Question Reference #080630-000241
              Subject: Website
          MTA Service: Access-A-Ride
             Category: Suggestion
         Date Created: 06/30/2008 04:47 PM
         Last Updated: 06/30/2008 04:47 PM
               Status: Received
   Date/Time of Event:

Location of Event

Discussion Thread
Customer (Desarae Veit) - 06/30/2008 04:47 PM
I'm not sure if the MTA owns Metro transportation nation wide or not, but I've been trying to do searches for the Minneapolis MTA system and this is the only site to show up. I've been to NYC and a few other areas and recognize the logo, but you are doing your site and your business a huge disservice not hiring an advertising/marketing agency to update your website for user experience and aesthetic improvements. Plus I would love to be able to purchase cards, bus, and train passes online but it is impossible for me to navigate through this site. If it is because of a lack of funding, think of all the money your service would make just by improving the way customers purchase their tickets! Even Paris and other European systems are easier than this!

I'm sorry if this is the first time you've heard any of this, but your site is dated two decades ago. The colors are bland and if I find this site hard to navigate (I work on websites for a living) then I can't image how hard it is for someone who doesn't understand the medium.

Here is some free advice: Hire an agency and then market the new site as an alternative to wasting gas. This could be a huge turnover campaign to encourage a greener transportation alternative, save commuters money, and even offer huge discounts to people who buy year round tickets vs. monthly or even better offer a nation-wide ticket for frequent travelers who like to use public transportation as an alternative!


Desarae A. Veit

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My latest rant of a bad website needing an agency and a good marketing strategy: THE MTA

Dear MTA.Info,

I'm I've been to NYC and a few other areas and recognize the logo, but you are doing your site and your business a huge disservice not hiring an advertising/marketing agency to update your website for user experience and aesthetic improvements. Plus I would love to be able to purchase cards, bus, and train passes online but it is impossible for me to navigate through this site. If it is because of a lack of funding, think of all the money your service would make just by improving the way customers purchase their tickets! Even Paris and other European systems are easier than this!

I'm sorry if this is the first time you've heard any of this, but your site is dated two decades ago. The colors are bland and if I find this site hard to navigate (I work on websites for a living) then I can't image how hard it is for someone who doesn't understand the medium.

Here is some free advice: Hire an agency and then market the new site as an alternative to wasting gas. This could be a huge turnover campaign to encourage a greener transportation alternative, save commuters money, and even offer huge discounts to people who buy year round tickets vs. monthly or even better offer a nation-wide ticket for frequent travelers who like to use public transportation as an alternative!


Desarae A. Veit

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Improve online TV

Just a quick rant about improving online television, the advertising, and how it streams.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Twitter in other countries?

Well I recently had a friend send me a link talking about the indian version of twitter: SMS GUPSHUP. I attached the interesting link below. Even more importantly I'm curious if you know of any new/old applications or websites from other countries that are increasingly popular or even knock-offs of the American version. I'll keep you posted on what I hear. If you want to find me on any social network I'm desaraev or @desaraev ;)

SMS GupShup Shows Twitter How It's Done

Posted by nurdz | June 15, 2008 .


I have been wondering lately about the state of the Indian tech industry and why it doesn't receive much coverage on mainstream tech sites. I actually raised the question in an online discussion recently, with no response, so it was interesting to read Datawocky's post on an Indian application comparable with Twitter.

SMS GupShup is an Indian startup providing a similar service to Twitter, with much higher usage numbers and no downtime. Here are some stats comparing the two services:

Users: Twitter (1+ million), SMS GupShup (7 million)

Messages per day: Twitter (3 million); SMS GupShup (10+ million)

As you can see, SMS GupShup has 7 times the number of users and more then 3 times the number of daily messages, yet it reportedly doesn't suffer from the same downtime problems that have plagued Twitter lately.

Both applications run on Linux hardware, and both use MySQL as the database, so why does one scale so well, while the other falls over?

Beerud Sheth, one of the co-founders says the difference lies in the architecture, with SMS GupShup using a three-tier architecture, with JBoss app servers sitting between the webservers and the database, while Twitter uses a two-tier architecture.

"GupShup also uses an object architecture (called the "objectpool") which allows each task to be componentized and run separately - this helps immensely with reliability (can automatically handle machine failure) and scalability (can scale dynamically to handle increased load). The objectpool model allows each module to be run as multiple parallel instances - each of them doing a part of the work. They can be run on different machines, can be started/stopped independently, without affecting each other. So the "receiver", the "sender", and the "ad server" all run as multiple instances. As traffic scales, they can just add more hardware — no re-architecting. If one machine fails, the instance is restarted on a different machine.

No amount of caching can help a 2-tier read/write application scale. The middle-tier enables the database to be sharded, and that's what gets you the scalability. I believe Twitter has recently started using message queues as a middle-tier to accomplish the same thing, but they haven't partitioned the database yet — which is the key step here."

Could be an avenue worth investigating for Twitter.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Social Media in plain english

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Categories on social media who are you, what do your pages do, and how do you connect?

I couldn't say it better myself so thank for this wonderful break down on the interactive communications:


  • Build ego searches using Technorati and Google Blogsearch
  • Comment frequently (and meaningfully) on blogs that write about you and your posts
  • Don't forget the conversations hiding in Twitter (use and Friendfeed. Be sure to stay aware of those.
  • If you can afford it, buy professional listening tools, like Radian6 or others in that category.
  • Use Google Reader to store your ego searches.
  • Use Yahoo! Site Explorer to see who's linking to your site.
  • Use heat map tools like CrazyEgg to see how people relate to your site.
  • Listen to others in your area of expertise. Learn from them.
  • Listen to thought leaders in other areas, and see how their ideas apply to you.
  • Don't forget podcasts. Check out iTunes and see who's talking about your area of interest.
  • Track things like audience/community sentiment (positive/negative) if you want to map effort to results.

Home Base

  • Home base is your blog/website. Not everyone needs a blog. But most people who want to develop a personal brand do.
  • Buy an easy-to-remember, easy-to-spell, content-appropriate domain name if you can. Don't be TOO clever.
  • A really nice layout doesn't have to cost a lot, but shows you're more than a social media dabbler.
  • Your "About" page should be about you AND your business, should the blog be professional in nature. At least, it should be about you.
  • Make sure it's easy to comment on your site.
  • Make sure it's easy for people to subscribe to your site's content.
  • Use easy to read fonts and colors.
  • A site laden with ads is a site that doesn't cherish its audience. Be thoughtful.
  • Pay attention to which widgets you use in your sidebar. Don't be frivolous.
  • Load time is key. Test your blog when you make changes, and ensure your load times are reasonable.
  • Register your site with all the top search engines.
  • Claim your site on
  • Use to make sure your site is well built in Google's eyes.


  • Passports are accounts on other social networks and social media platforms. It's a good idea to build an account on some of these sites to further extend your personal branding.
  • is a must if you have a social media audience. It also connects you to other practitioners.
  • Facebook and/or MySpace are useful social networks where you can build outposts (see next list).
  • Get a Flickr account for photo sharing.
  • Get a YouTube account for video uploading.
  • Get a account for voting.
  • Get a account for voting, as well.
  • Get an account to promote events.
  • Get a account for social bookmarking.
  • Get a account for its OpenID benefits.
  • Get a LinkedIn account for your professional network.
  • Take a second look at Plaxo. It's changed for the better.
  • Get a account for use with reader, calendar, docs, and more.


  • Build RSS outposts on Facebook. Add Flog Blog, and several other RSS tools.
  • Build a similar outpost on MySpace, if your audience might be there.
  • Make sure your social media is listed in your LinkedIn profile.
  • Add a link to your blog to your email signature file (this is still an outpost).
  • Be sure your social network profiles on all sites has your blog listed, no matter where you have to put it to list it.
  • Make sure your passport accounts (above) point to your blog and sites.
  • Use social networks respectfully to share the best of your content, in a community-appropriate setting.
  • Don't forget places like YahooGroups, Craigslist, and online forums.
  • Email newsletters with some links to your blog makes for an effective outpost, especially if your audience isn't especially blog savvy.
  • Podcast content can have links to your URL and might draw awareness back to your content, too.


  • Create new content regularly. If not daily, then at least three times a week.
  • The more others can use your content, the better they will adopt it.
  • Write brief pieces with lots of visual breaks for people to absorb.
  • Images draw people's attention. Try to add a graphic per post. (Not sure why this works, but it seems to add some level of attention.)
  • Mix up the kinds of pieces you put on your site. Interviews, how-to, newsish information, and more can help mix and draw more attention.
  • Limit the number of "me too" posts you do in any given month to no more than three. Be original, in other words.
  • The occasional 'list' post is usually very good for drawing attention.
  • Write passionately, but be brief (unless you're writing a list of 100 tips).
  • Consider adding audio and video to the mix. The occasional YouTube video with you as the star adds to your personal branding immensely, especially if you can manage to look comfortable.
  • Brevity rules.


  • Commenting on other people's blogs builds awareness fast.
  • The more valuable your comments, the more it reflects on your ability and your character.
  • Use your listening tools to stay active in pertinent discussions.
  • Try not to brag, ever. Be humble. Not falsely so, but truly, because a lot of what we do isn't as important as saving lives.
  • Ask questions with your blog posts. Defer to experts. Learn from the conversation.
  • Be confident. Asking for external validation often is a sign of weakness.
  • Good conversations can be across many blogs with links to show the way.
  • Try never to be too defensive. Don't be a pushover, but be aware of how you present yourself when defending.
  • Disclose anything that might be questionable. Anything, and quickly!
  • Don't delete critical blog comments. Delete only spam, abrasive language posts, and offensive material. (Have a blog comments policy handy, if you get into the deleting mode.


  • Remember that community and marketplace are two different things.
  • Make your site and your efforts heavily about other people. It comes back.
  • Make it easy for your community to reach you.
  • Contribute to your community's blogs and projects.
  • Thank people often for their time and attention.
  • Celebrate important information in your community (like birthdays).
  • Be human. Always.
  • Your community knows more than you. Ask them questions often.
  • Apologize when you mess up. Be very sincere.
  • Treat your community like gold. Never subject them to a third party of any kind without their consent.
  • Knowing more about your competitors' communities is a useful thing, too. Learn who visits, why they visit, and how they interact.
  • Measuring your efforts in building community grows out your brand as a natural extension.

Face to Face

  • Have simple, useful, crisp business cards to share. Always.
  • Be confident in person.
  • Clothes and appearance DO matter. WIsh they didn't, but they do.
  • Have a very brief introduction / elevator pitch and practice it often.
  • Ask questions of people you meet. Get to know them.
  • Don't seek business relationships right off. Instead, seek areas of shared interest.
  • Know when to walk away politely.
  • Don't try to meet everyone in a room. Meet a half dozen or more great new people.
  • Never doubt that you are worth it.
  • If you're terribly shy, consider finding a "wing man" for events.
  • Doing homework ahead of time (finding people's most recent blog posts, googling them, etc) helps one feel "in the know."
  • Make eye contact. It's MUCH more powerful than you know.


  • Use Digg, StumbleUpon, and Google Reader to drive awareness.
  • Promote others even more than you promote yourself
  • Bragging isn't useful to anyone besides your own ego
  • Linking and promoting others is a nice way to show you care about people
  • Don't digg/stumble/link every single post. Save it for your very best
  • Another promotional tool: guest blog on other sites
  • Another promotion tool: make videos on YouTube with URL links
  • Another promotion tool: use the status section of LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Try hard not to send too many self-promotional emails. Wrap your self-promotion in something of value to others, instead.
  • Sometimes, just doing really good work is worthy of others promoting you. Try it.

Up the ante, start an integrated media campaign.

How are you integrating your advertising with the web? Are you using just one source (facebook or myspace) or are you REALLY integrating the web? I'm not talking about boring, in the way banner ads that only grandpa or unexpecting pre-teens are clicking on. I'm talking about video streams (tv mogul, youtube, ustream), photo sharing (flickr, picaso, webshots), audio clips (you can even do these through your phone see All of these great visual and interactive services can be integrated with the rest of the web by tagging your images, properly naming your videos, adding bookmarking via social bookmark networks like delicious, or even widgets and apps that can drop your information into your favorite social networks. All of this information takes your brand to the next level by showing your consumer who you are, how you want to be perceived, and allows them to get involved via the web.

Want some examples of other brands that have integrated their campaigns? Well your in luck! Check it out:

Good Books for Marketers, Advertisers, and people innovating New Media or Gaming

The Internal Dig Dog

Greg Bateson- Mind & Nature: A necessary Unity

Jay David Bolter & Richard Grusin: Remediation: Understanding New Media

Jane McGonigal This is not a game: Immersive Aesthetics and collective Play

The Beast

Immersive Gaming

This is not a game: A Guide to Alternative Reality Gaming

Life after the 30 second spot

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Interactive Medias Blog by Desaraev

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My new biz cards ;)

My new biz cards, and to promote all the social networks I'm on: Check out the front of the card ;)

Dear AT&T please Improve yourself. Here are some ideas.

Dear AT&T,

I would write you directly, but I can't log into your forum without becoming a member and you have hidden your contact pages so far in your site that I gave up looking for it (if it even really exists). I visited your site to reconsider joining the AT&T network (primarily for the iPhone). My family had At&t when I was very little and gave up on it due to VERY poor customer service. I've bee trying to talk my father into reconsidering AT&T, but now I'm not so sure either. At&t's site is hard to navigate, many of the pages are completely broke, the design for the homepage is the only thing that is slightly interesting, and all of the funneling through the pages is hard for ME to navigate so I can only image how hard it is for someone who is not good with the internet. I highly recommend firing who ever you are using for your internet design and marketing because it is bringing your potentially great campaign down. Don't get me wrong I love all of the promotion for the iPhone, but maybe from the looks of things--maybe that can only be attributed to Apple.

In case you can't understand here is what I'm suggesting in bullet points:

  • Redesign your website
  • Find someone to redo your user interface (A very patient web architecture specialist)
  • Your content could probably also be rewritten
  • Who ever does your programming stinks also because the page is slow and breaks it two out of the 5 major browsers
  • Design everything to fit with your brochures
  • Make finding services and products EASIER, maybe heres an innovative thought: LET PEOPLE BUY ONLINE (AND MAKE IT EASY)!
  • Get involved in social media, but not until your site is fixed.
  • Start a better forum for consumers and potential future consumers to talk. Then READ it to get ideas on how to improve things going wrong. (See Starbucks new ideas website)
  • Improve your poor customer service. Make it easy for your consumers to talk to you.
  • Lastly and this has nothing to do with your bad site and customer service: My current plan is better than all the plans you offer. Sad. Take a good look at what USCellular and Alltell are doing!
If you have any questions read my blog, check out a couple of the best interactive agencies, or at the very least hire a few freelancers or a new interactive team.

Good Luck, you need it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The things you can find.

Lookie what I found searching through Google for my name:

(Also found some old pageant photos, but I refuse to give those up willingly.)

My ranking for the first science fair project I ever did:


An interview for my aviation class:

Jerry Moore (Admin)
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Students' aviation careers get a lift
By MELISSA WALKER / Desmoines (Iowa) Register Staff Writer

Students in the aviation technology program at Central Campus have opportunities available to them that no other high-schooler in the United States can experience.

Seniors can spend eight weeks of their final semester in a school-to-work program with the 132nd Fighter Wing Iowa Air National Guard Unit, working under the supervision of technicians on return-to-service aircraft that have been used as top cover for the president.

Excellent! S-G has the Empire State Aerosciences Museum, which restores old aircraft, that could provide an equivalent experience. We also have the Stratton Air National Guard Base.

Central offers one of four aviation programs on the high school level that teaches technology at this depth and is the only one with an Air National Guard partnership.

"We're doing things here that no other school in the nation has done," said Jerry Bradley, department chairman and instructor of the program. "Is it working? Yes. If you look at the numbers of our students that are finishing this program and going on to post-secondary work or going into the aviation field and pursuing a career in what they chose, it's high."

About 50 percent to 60 percent of students enter the field out of high school, he said. Some clean airplanes and perform other maintenance-type work at the Des Moines airport.

Aviation technology is a three-year program that covers three areas - general, airframe and power plant. Students must pass a Federal Aviation Administration test after completing each area. A student can receive 48 hours of college credit from Des Moines Area Community College.

Jake Garrison of Humboldt works in the Air National Guard engine shop and is enrolled in the class through DMACC to get his airframe and power plant license.

"That's what you need to become a mechanic for a commercial airline," he said.

Garrison said he will continue his education at the University of Dubuque to get his pilot's license.

In the general class, students cover everything from weight and balance to corrosion control to safety wiring. One of the first projects the students do is design and make a model airplane.

Students then focus on the airframe and the mechanical aspect of the plane and power plant. The airframe is everything outside of the power plant - the structure, interior, landing gear and communication and navigation systems.

"I wanted to see if aviation was an interesting career field," East High School junior Dana Piatt said.

Piatt said he eventually wants to become a pilot but knows he still has a long way to go.

"You have to learn everything to pretty much be a mechanic before you can be a pilot," he said.

Although many of the 79 students want to become pilots, the class is not geared to teach them how to fly.

"They're going to learn a huge amount of information that if that's where they want to go, it's going to give them an excellent start," Bradley said.

The classroom is located in a building at the airport where students can see F-16s loading and commercial aircraft taking off. Students listen to guest lecturers and some shadow mechanics at businesses such as Elliott Aviation or, like West Central Valley senior Desarae Veit, work with the airport fire department.

The program has its own hangar with fully operational aircraft and equipment worth $5.5 million including a Gulfstream G-1 plane worth $730,000, an F-16 engine, a T-39 Sabreliner and a Huey helicopter. The equipment was purchased for $6,000 and some has been donated.

Social Media Breakfast - Minneapolis #SMBMSP My speach this morning.

Live Streaming by Ustream.TV

Slide show available at:

Interactive Medias Blog by Desaraev

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Social Media Breakfast - Minneapolis

This was the first #SMBMSP I ever went to. It was at Caribbou Coffee and a very tight fit... I know you can't tell from this photo but that is the doorway.. and we ended up fitting a lot more people in that little room.

Social Media Breakfast - Twin Cities 3

Second social media breakfast (SMBMSP) garrick was presenting Cullect.

Friday, June 6, 2008

technology goes mobile: my response to tech crunch.

The Japanese have been on this for YEARS.... but tech crunch is right--finally we are  catching up. (GO US--get it us--U.S. --ok not funny) with all of the technology out there and all the new devices and apps jumping the band wagon, thank you that someone finally wrote this post! It explains new technologies, apis, the different kinds of APIs, and why mobile devices are essential ingredients to our technological marketing and communication futures.

June 4, 2008

Location Technologies Primer

Guest Author


The rise of the mobile device is upon us, even if it's arriving a little late to the U.S.

The reason why mobile devices will become so important - they'll help us (and our friends, and maybe everyone) know where we are at all times, driving social, advertising and other applications. Being location aware is the single most important feature in a mobile device that otherwise suffers in comparison with desktop and laptop Internet devices - terrible screen size and resolution, poor battery life, slow connectivity and less than satisfying data input choices.

But being location aware more than makes up for those limitations. Social networking will fundamentally change as your device knows who's around you, for example. Startups like Loopt, Brightekite and Limbo are all offering social networking products that leverage location awareness.

Other types of killer applications will also be built on the back of location aware technologies, and the advertising possibilities are substantial (care to stop by that Starbucks you are diving by for a free latte?).

The carriers generally know where we are all the time (or can easily find out), but they guard this information jealously and rarely disclose it to third parties. But that isn't stopping Google, Apple and a host of other startups from finding ways to get that information anyway.

Eric Carr, the VP of Location Technologies at Loopt, is the guy we go to when we have questions about new location technologies. Instead of just calling him every day, we asked him to write a primer on the core technologies being used to solve the location problem. Luckily for all of us, he agreed.

His post is below. We'll be referring back to this regularly as we talk about new applications that leverage these technologies.

Mobile location-based services (LBS) are generating renewed interest as both the market and technology mature to support the growing set of innovative services being released and in development today. This is being driven by new Location APIs and new location technologies, which are making it easier for mobile location developers to gain access to location information and develop innovative new LBS apps.

This article is a brief primer on the key location technologies that are emerging.

Location Precision TTFF Requirements
WiFi MAC Relatively High
Depends on WiFi AP density
< 100-200m
~ 4 seconds Requires device support and network request.
Requires WiFi DB.
Cell-ID Relatively Low
Depends on cell density
~ 4 seconds Requires support from MSC and HLR, or
Requires device and Cell-ID DB.
Medium Precision
Depends on cell density
~ 6 seconds Requires support from BSS, MSC and HLR.
(require carrier network involvement)
A-GPS High Precision
"Sky Line of Sight"
~ 10-30 sec start
5-10 sec updates
Device support (HW), GPS reference network.
GPS High Precision
"Sky Line of Sight"
10-15 minutes start
1-2 sec updates
Device support (HW)

Positioning Technologies

This section will review the primary positioning technologies in use today.


GPS is a system of 32 satellites orbiting 12,600 miles above the earth. The system was designed such that 6 (and usually more) satellites should be visible from any vantage point on earth. GPS works by making extremely precise distance estimates from timing the delay time of signals (1 ns ~ 1ft) sent from the GPS satellites to earth. Trialateration (triangulation) is used to determine the device's location given at least 3 or more satellites. When a GPS receiver is turned on, it looks for and locks on to visible GPS satellites to begin receiving and decoding the GPS broadcast signal. The GPS almanac data provides a list of visible satellites. The GPS ephemeris data provides precise timing and location information for each satellite. Latitude, longitude, time and altitude are the 4 dimensions that must be solved for (usually the first 3). Position acquisition time is driven by previously collected GPS information and GPS signal quality. GPS is accurate to 5-20m depending on environmental conditions.

Assisted GPS or A-GPS

Assisted GPS is an improvement on GPS, primarily for mobile devices with network connectivity. Since mobile devices are connected to a wireless network on a known wireless base station, the location of the base station can be used to aid the GPS calculation. Assisted GPS takes the known location of the base station and provides synthetic or seed data to the mobile device's GPS chip to improve the speed of GPS signal acquisition. For instance, if the GPS chip knows that it should "see" a specific set of 4-5 GPS satellites at it's coarse location, the GPS chip is able to narrow the search of signals to acquire. This reduces the amount of time required for the GPS chip in collecting ephemeris data and improves the sensitivity of the GPS chip in processing noisier GPS signals. This allows for a faster location fix time and makes possible GPS use in some indoor environments.

Assisted GPS does require device chipset support and network communication. The A-GPS server has traditionally resides in the operator's network. However, there is trending towards device manufacturers offering similar services for their devices specifically. For A-GPS to work, an initial position estimate is required. This has traditionally been via the operator's Cell-ID database. Additional initial position estimate options are being made available with 3rd party Cell-ID and WiFi databases.

Network Base Station Database

Since mobile devices (both cellular and WiFi) are associated with a wireless access point / base station, it is possible to use the position of the base station as a proxy for the location of the device. In a simple case, the base station the device is associated with is returned as the device's location. Mobile operators view their base station databases as proprietary network information and have not generally shared it with 3rd parties. There are a number of 3rd parties who have begun to accumulate detailed Cell-ID and WiFi databases that can then be used to locate devices.

Network database collection approaches fall into two camps: 3rd party driven or user-generated. SkyHook is the best example of a 3rd party driven approach where SkyHook employs a fleet of drivers that drive cities collecting WiFi access point information. Google and Navizon are companies that employ user-generated approaches where data is fed back from mobile devices with the appropriate client software installed. To build a database, these user-generated approaches can either leverage the collection of both GPS and base station signals, or leverage the collection of base station signals with existing known reference base station locations. It is likely a mix of fleet and user-generated approaches will be necessary to ensure high accuracy, rapid updating intervals, and low acquisition costs going forward for both Cell-ID and WiFi database collection.

3rd party Cell-ID databases have focused primarily on GSM/WCDMA networks since GSM/WCDMA base station identifiers have been relatively static over time. In contrast, CDMA networks change base station identifiers much more frequently, making it harder to build an accurate base station database without carrier involvement. The accuracy of a Cell-ID position will depend on the density of the wireless network. Urban areas will lead to more precise estimates, rural areas to much less precise estimates. Accuracy should be in the 100-5000m range depending on the network density of base stations. However, Cell-ID will at best provide a coarse level estimate of location. (WiMAX networks use a higher frequency than cellular network, requiring denser base stations, resulting in higher accuracy Cell-ID location.)

3rd party WiFi databases have propagated in the last few years. These take advantage of WiFi standard beacons that broadcast both the SSID and MAC address of the access point constantly. The SSID is used to create the list of available WiFi access points seen on many WiFi laptop connections. The MAC address is a unique identifier that can be collected and used to roughly identify where the receiving device is located. Since most WiFi signals propagate a maximum distance of 100-150m, if a WiFi access point is observed, a relatively precise position determination can be made.

Both Cell-ID and WiFi approaches can benefit from observing multiple base stations and incorporating radio strength information to calculate more accurate Cell-ID derived location.

Network Triangulation (signal strength-based)

The majority of positioning determination innovation is occurring in the area of leveraging the RF signal strength of signals received by the device and incorporating network information (known position of base stations). The algorithms range in complexity and depend on the availability of modeled or true RF signal propagation characteristics. RF fingerprinting takes the locations of known base stations, either empirically or analytically calculates the propagation of RF signals, and uses the resulting RF base map and signals received at the device to estimate the device's position. There are also a number of client-side solutions that are leveraging the availability of multiple cell-ids on the device to more accurately determine device location. RF based approaches are also being incorporated as a fall-back techniques when A-GPS is not available.

Network Triangulation (time-based)

There are some position technologies that make use of signal timing information from the network to make a position determination (vs. GPS which uses timing information from satellites). Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) and Advanced Forward Link Triangulation (AFLT) are two of the more well known methods. The primary difference in methods is where the timing difference is determined: in-network or on-device.

TDOA was the positioning technology selected by GSM/WCDMA operators in the US for E911 purposes. Unfortunately, the amount of signaling traffic required to make a position estimate is not trivial. This has made the TDOA technology not a viable option for commercial LBS services.

AFLT is a CDMA specific technology that uses the signaling characteristics of a CDMA to make a positioning determination. This acts as a fall-back method for CDMA devices if A-GPS is not successful and the network was requested to make a location determination.

Enhanced Cell-ID is an approach that uses signal strength and timing received from the GSM signal to make an in-network calculation of location which is more accurate than Cell-ID alone. Enhanced Cell-ID also can make use of sector information since many cellular base stations are directional in nature (IE 3 sectors with each sector covering 120 degrees from the base station).

Network triangulation is accurate to 40-400m depending on environmental conditions.

Hybrid approaches

From the descriptions above, it should be clear no one position technology is best for all use cases. The positioning technology market is pursuing hybrid approaches where the strengths of each technique are leveraged where appropriate. Since A-GPS requires a location estimate to start with, other less accurate location technologies can be leveraged to seed the A-GPS algorithm. Each location technique also is more successful in different environments (namely urban vs. rural and in-doors vs. out-doors). Luckily, the strengths and weaknesses of many of these position technologies are complementary, motivating further exploration of hybrid location approaches.

Evaluating Positioning Technologies

After a brief understanding of position determination methodologies, it is valuable to define how each positioning method should be evaluated. A few key categories are listed below and described. There are of course others that could be relevant depending on the location use case. Each position determination technique has strengths and weaknesses across each dimension that will be discussed in the following section.

Positioning Accuracy and Uncertainty

Accuracy will vary depending on environmental conditions (indoors, urban environment, signal quality, etc.). Accuracy can vary from 5-20m (GPS) to 50-5000m+ (Cell-ID). Each positioning technology will also have varying error ranges depending, again, on a broad set of environmental conditions.

Generally, the positioning industry has been driven by GPS chipset manufacturers who are motivated to provide the highest accuracy, lowest uncertainty possible location solution. GPS-level accuracy is necessary for navigation and other turn-by-turn level accuracy user cases. However, there is a wide range of LBS apps that can make do with "lower" levels of accuracy which can be provided by WiFi, Cell-ID or other hybrid approaches. Accuracy is important, but it is only one of the factors that should be considered in weighing available positioning options.

Positioning Latency or Time To First Fix (TTFF)

Positioning latency is a critical factor in driving the usability and responsiveness of a location-aware app. In the mobile app space, acquiring a location quickly is paramount to offering a compelling user experience.

Positioning latency or TTFF is most commonly associated with portable GPS receivers or Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs). Without network assistance, GPS receivers can take on the order of 5-10 minutes before a first fix. This is a function of the time required to lock on to and receive enough information from the GPS satellites in space. Assisted GPS is able to improve this fix time to 10-30 seconds by synthetically seeding the GPS receiver with network data and accelerating the GPS acquisition and position determination process. Assisted GPS still requires data exchange and computation on both a network server and on the device, making it challenging to reduce TTFF further. Other non-GPS based technologies are able to determine a location estimate in below 10 seconds (IE WiFi or Cell-ID were looking up a location in a database is all that is required).

Positioning Determination Ubiquity

A positioning technology is not useful if it is not available in the area where your mobile device is. GPS-based methods have a strong advantage here since it is a globally accessible method and will work even if the mobile device is not associated with a mobile network (there are clear disadvantages in that situation, but it could work). WiFi methods are constrained to areas where there are wireless WiFi Access Points. This is generally not a problem in urban or suburban areas (where most interesting LBS Apps are targeting).

Indoors vs. outdoors is another factor to consider. GPS, generally, does not work well inside buildings. Whereas, WiFi is most likely best suited for indoor positioning determinations.

Positioning Fallback Options

Related to positioning ubiquity and hybrid approaches, devices are expected to make the best location calculation given available information. IE if GPS fails, a network-based method or Cell-ID location is desired to be returned vs. a message of "failed, try again later." The challenge is since many methods rely on base station databases, the device must optimize how the a LBS App location request is handled. If the network is asked to make the location calculation (IE A-GPS MS-Assist), then all available network information can be used. Hybrid approaches on-device and off-device must take into consideration returning the best known position estimate in a timely manner, even if the preferred method fails.

There are also a number of device-specific dimensions that are critical to keep in mind which drive position determination implementation on device.

Device Impact (battery, CPU drain)

Assisted GPS chip performance has improved considerably over the last few years. However, receiving and processing signals from space still takes a large amount of energy. GPS antenna placement is also critical as more devices add additional RF technologies (WiFi, Bluetooth, additional cellular bands). GPS integration continues to be an important art for device manufacturers.

Most of these positioning technologies involve some level of network data connectivity that can also impact device battery life. There are a number of on-device caching solutions that are evolving for both GPS and WiFi/Cell-ID approaches that minimize the amount of network traffic required to make a position fix. However, given most LBS Apps are making use of network connections, location becomes a limited portion of App traffic.

Device Prevalence / Support

Assisted GPS was adopted by CDMA carriers to support the FCC's E911 mandate. Qualcomm has added GPS chips to it's line of core chips. This has enabled CDMA operators worldwide to deploy innovative mobile LBS Apps leveraging A-GPS. The GSM/WCDMA world has been slow in adopting A-GPS, with forecasts of 2009-2010 being the year of broader device support.

WiFi has seen relatively limited support in mobile devices to date. There are a growing set of high-end smart phones that are integrating WiFi and driving the market (namely the Apple iPhone, HTC, Nokia, RIM and others). WiFi could be viewed as a competitor to 3G data services operators are interested in up-selling users with. WiFi also creates additional technical challenges (antenna placement, additional battery draw, etc.) which continue to improve, but remains important considerations for device manufacturers.

Device Location APIs

The availability and accessibility of Location APIs on mobile devices has been spotty at best to date. RIM, Nokia and Motorola iDEN have provided device specific Location APIs that have motivated strong initial interest from developers. The Apple iPhone and Google Android Location APIs will spur additional interest ongoing. Existing J2ME (JSR-179) and BREW (IPOSDET) API exist today for a wide set of feature phones.

However, operator involvement has made it challenging for some developers to gain easy access to location. It is clear device vedors are using location as a competitive differentiator to better position their device platforms relative to others. However, universal Location APIs still remain a challenge with the fragmentation of different APIs, devices and operator policies.

Social Media ..What are Corporations asking? My response...

Social Media is a wonderful tool both for businesses, friends, families, learning, and connecting on a global scale. The one thing to understand is it is a new source of media. The ROI is unlike any other. You can expect link building, but beyond that your return on interest is knowing how to keep your clients SATISFIED. It is the best kind of ROI it helps you start conversations (your choice if it is a good or bad conversation), helps you know what you consumers  want from you, helps you know when they are mad at you, and really gives your company a personality. More later on this topic. What do you think? Is this really what you want to know about social media? Is this really how you want to leverage it, when this medium can be used for so much be careful that you don't underestimate it or cut short its potential by not thinking out side the box enough or by simplifying your efforts too much. Both are deadly to your campaign.

  1. Desaraev June 6th, 2008 12:16 pm

    Interesting good thoughts… Will post a reply on my blog soon.

  2. Desaraev June 6th, 2008 12:21 pm

    Uhm, no all the experimenting is NOT done. Not by a long shot. Are you going to honestly tell me you know everything there is about your consumer ethnography, how to leverage the different styles of sites, and that you keep up on the thousands of new ones appearing daily? I'm on hundreds of sites and struggle to keep up, build profiles, adjust, learn how they work and understand their user base and how to leverage the conversation.

The Five Questions Companies Ask About Social Media

I just visited a client who had several groups in their company doing quite a bit around social media (they are trying to answer the 4th and 5th question). They were what I call "walking" and were on the verge of "running". Often, when I meet companies for the first time, I try to find out which of the following questions that they are answering, as it determines their level of sophistication.

As one might expect, brands in tech, media, and some consumer goods are more advanced, and finance, insurance, and sometimes government are trying to answer the first questions.

Five questions companies ask about social media:

What is Social Media?
For many folks, corporations, the question to answer was "What is a BloB". Blogging was the primary tool that we saw in the marketplace, for some, it wasn't taken seriously, for the savvy, they quickly adopted. We saw scare tactics from the threatened mainstream media, such as "Attack of the Blogs" and light of amateurisms, angry customers and crazies were painted. For many, we wanted to know what are these tools, how to they work, and what's the impact. Early on, this impacted corporate communications, PR, and mainstream media.

Why does it matter?
As we've evolved, many were realizing the impact of exploding batteries, brand hijacking, and blog evangelism. Savvy companies were starting to adopt these tools, a few provided integrated communities that were scrapped together or built from existing platforms. For the majority, trying to understand why these tools matter to a business. In addition to corporate communications, PR, we started to see other marketing and business units being impacted by these tools, as well as adoption.

What does it mean to my business?
We're here now. This is the year of ROI, measurement, and experimentation. Many corporations have deployed resources, headcounts and budgets. Corporations are afraid to make mistakes, so plans are created, and measurement is critical to help manage and prove the worth of new programs. ROI was proven, new social media measurement attributes were defined, and many new tools were deployed, I did what I could to further this industry (see all posts). In addition to Corporate Communications and PR, business units are starting to experiment with these tools, often out of the PR budget. A new role started to appear more frequently, the digital marketing manager, the community manager, the social media strategist.

How do I do it right?
Now that experimentation is done, and business units are starting to apply these tools, like advertising, PR, field marketing, and customer references, companies will want to do it right. Frameworks will be developed, consultants will offer packages, and a loosely developed process will be used. For companies that don't have enough internal resources to listen, manage, and deploy, consultants will be a very sought after service. Nearly every brand will start to have an ongoing budget for social media, the new role to manage these tools will appear. IT departments will start to deploy enterprise 2.0 tools.

How do I integrate across the Enterprise
Normalization is happening, A checkbox for 'social media' on every announcement, product launch, product development and support will be using these tools. Social media tools to listen, converse, collect knowledge, and build new products will integrate across the customer cycle. It's not just external, intranets will start to deploy suites for collaboration, such as blog accounts issued to many internal and external employees. Product Teams, IT departments, HR, Finance, Executives, and of course Marketing will be using these tools.

This post, for the most part is a rehash of what I've posted nearly a year ago, but I think it holds merit to discuss again

What question is your company, or your clients trying to answer, this is often a good post to send to your internal teams and try to trigger a discussion.

Catalyst Studios' strangest kickoff ever.

Andy being dazzled by Jared

So much brain power in this room!

Social Media (who are you and the process that follows the campaign trail).

My response to a recent post (the original post is under my response).

I think this is a good *simple* description, but is lacking in some of the definition. Indeed if you want to leverage technology or social media you need to be able to understand ethnography and personas -(feel free to reference my post on personas: There is certainly SO much more to making a Good or even GREAT campaign to connect with your users.

 I love that we are referencing the innovators like the first people to come in on the Mayflower (great touch). I personally love Joseph Jaffe's references in his book (consumers, prosumers and innovators)--Once you read his descriptions they make sooo much sense, but he doesn't believe in using personas (which isn't quite right either).

Once you know who your group is the next KEY ingredient to any successful campaign is understanding the persona. What are their likes, nuances, hobbies, style interests and how does the female side relate to the male side of the personas. This is key because if they both like extreme sports, but are different in every other aspect you know your connecting factor. They are adreniline junkys who probably know what REI is, Burton and a few other big names but beyond that one sews and is girly while they guy is the complete opposite sports loving pilot. So you connect them through what they love most. Search for those adrenile factors in keywords. Find images, compare ideas and then if you have information to leverage you do it. From photos on streams, to sweet wreckage videos, to fan pages of the latest gear all linking together and back to your site or blog or maybe neither depending on what the goal is. Really the next step AFTER personas and PRIOR to implementation is knowing the CLIENTS goals. How do they want to connect to their fans, consumers, or other business affiliates in the case of b2b. Knowing all of that will help you leverage the right sites and even determine similar STYLES of sites, but only leverage the ones that really fit your audience.


Social Media Early Adopters: Pioneers, Settlers, and Colonists

I've seen the social media community run from tool to technology quicker than you can say "shiny object". I've seen us run from blogs > Facebook > Twitter > Pownce > Jaiku > Justin TV > Ustream > Digg > Delicious > Upcoming > Flickr > YouTube > SecondLife > Widgets > Utterz > Zooomr > Friendfeed > Plurk > and who knows what's next.

Go to Techcrunch to see lists and lists of more products, in our industry, the barriers to entry require just a few thousand (ask Guy Kawasaki) to build and launch an application. Sadly, only some of these tools we end up adopting for the long run, in most cases, we end up wasting our time.

The key to adopting the right social media tools is to first figure out which persona you are. Next, you need to identify which persona your friends are, lastly understand how you can best observe, and learn from others.


Obsessed and enamored with the technology, this individual is always adopting the latest social technologies. This individual is fickle with tools, won't establish loyalty to websites, may move when they see colonists adopt the tool.

Example: Often experimenting with products in their beta stage, this person will quickly move on to the next tool as fast as adopting the second.

These second generation adopters look for key market or network indicators before adopting a new technology. This person is less enamored with the new technology, and more interested in the value that it provides.

Example: They may trial tools after seeing several people in their network mention or trial the tool, and may adopt after a beta or trial period is over.

Colonists are the mainstream adopters, they are often our parents, non-techies, and the everyday people we meet. They adopt these tools due not because of an internal desire to stay cutting edge, but often because several people around them make it an attractive destination and the they see the utility to the communication. They are not late adopters.

Joins Facebook because colleagues, family, and friends are using it.

You can tell who the early adopters are on this video, pioneers sit in line, settlers come talk, but will by that week, colonists wait a few weeks/months/

So in the comments, answer the following:

1) Identify which persona you are
2) Identify two or more of your peers are the other roles.

I'll start, read my first comment:

(Written on a plane flying out to Cambridge from SF)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Me. Social Media. How I work. The top links for my blog on those subjects.

The thirteen links below are great examples of what I think of marketing, my work, and where social media's future lies.

Twitter tools

From the TopRank Marketing Blog, Lee Odden thanks for sharing:

BIGLIST of Twitter Tools

This list of Twitter tools is a work in progress. While there are many tool lists for Twitter published on the web, all entries on this list have come from Tweeple following @leeodden.

twitteriffic – Desktop app for Mac - tonyadam - Mobile app - alasaarela – Conversation tracker - pplpwrd - Like Techmeme for Twitter
twitterbar – Firefox plugin for posting links - trishussey – Find local Tweeple - mastermaq – Like Google Alerts for Twitter - mdjensen - Like Yahoo Answers for Twitter - mdjensen – Make word clouds - status_girl – Find new Twitter friends
twitterlights - Highlight snippets and Twitter them - genuine

Do you have a favorite Twitter tool to share? Follow @leeodden and post a link. Or email twitter -at- toprankresults -dot- com with a link and your Twitter account name and we'll give you credit.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Want to promote your company, or just brainstorm together? Here is my awesome offer of the month.

So here is my awesome offer of the day, as you all know I'm looking for the right company to settle with long term (or short if you prefer). I will write a post about your company (which has been pretty popular so far on my list of the bests) but if your company is on that list and you want it more in depth or if its not and you want it on the list all i ask in return is an informational interview. If I don't like you or your company (which I doubt will happen, I'm pretty laid back and social--keeping the golden rule in mind) I will do as my Mom and Dad always said.. if you don't have anything nice to say I wont say much at all. I will write your company was nice to have me visit, this is what they do or their client type and leave it at that. So win-win either way. I get to see your company, see if we fit, and you get a free promotion on my blog and over a dozen of my social networks (connecting you or your company to over 1,000 people instantly). I know it's cheezy, but what do you have to lose? If you are interested dm me on twitter at or visit my site at and email my gmail account.

In a world of waste bravo Best Buy!

The following post is from I wanted to share it not because of its social media insights, advertising wow, or marketing authenticity, but because I appreciate anyone who trys to wake up in the morning and make this world a better place. When America is known for its huge land fill wastes, Best Buy decided to do its part. Not by recycling everything, but by running a test program to recycle all of your old electronics from computers to tvs and anything else you can find in BB's stores. Go best buy you are my green heroe of the week! Would love to get some feedback from Best Buy corporate so if any of you out there read my blog and want to help Best Buy get some free blog press, which trust me I will never offer you again (unless of course you do something this AWESOME again) then shoot me a comment or and email or find me on twitter: @desaraev!

On a side story and why I'm so happy to be recycling and not DUMPING into nature. This weekend I visited the great (normally cold town, but surprisingly with perfect weather) Duluth. Why? To help one of my favorite people, (if you follow me on twitter you've all heard of Cory @ivesdigital--my boyfriend and favorite account manager--brownie points?) anyway on with my story (what can I say I'm in advertising a shiny object or random thought throws me into temporary ADD). So we were in Duluth because Cory HAD a house up there from when he went to college at UMD (go cyclones) and since he is selling it (closing today) his tenants (he WAS renting) needed to get the hell out of there and have the place spotless (which trust me other then when Cory and I randomly came up and cleaned for showings--it was NOT spotless by any means). Oh so many stories to tell, but Cory would kill me for half of it so long story short: the guys cleaned and lucky me I DIDN'T have to clean and by the time we left (at 12:30--didn't get home till 3 am in Minni) the place was/is SPOTLESS. I'm impressed guys, and you better thank all of your wonderful beautiful girlfriends who helped because I'm surprised those poor girls ever stepped foot in your rooms the way they looked before Saturday. Ok now to the point of this long rant-- one of them yelled at Cory once for throwing away a MOLDY potatoes-- when we left they had empty the fridge, cupboards, even spices (except the ones cory grabbed before hitting the bag) all went in the trash. Poor little starving kids in Africa! Not only that but there was a box of oil, three old batteries, at least 8 bags (that were at the curb), and two trailer loads that went to the dump (the rest was properly taken care of or put in bags on the curb). We did however save as much as we could and took it to good will, called friends to see if they would want ect. Ok rant over. Sad though... lazy wasteful boys --who are going to have a rude awakening at their next target trip when they realize they need all new condiments, spices, utensils (yes cory saved those too--they didn't take anything from the kitchen), even bowls, pots and pans.

Feel free to send me your thoughts or find me at

Best Buy testing free e-waste recycling program
Best Buy to test free in-store program to recycle old TVs, computers, other outdated gadgets

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Under pressure to help dispose some of the electronic waste it helped create, Best Buy Co. is testing a free program that will offer consumers a convenient way to ensure millions of obsolescent TVs, old computers and other unwanted gadgets don't poison the nation's dumps.

The trial, expected to be announced Monday, covers 117 Best Buy stores scattered across eight states that will collect a wide variety of electronic detritus at no charge, even if the Richfield, Minn.-based retailer didn't originally sell the merchandise.

The pilot stores are in Best Buy's Northern California, Minneapolis and Baltimore markets, as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Depending on how the test goes, the nation's largest electronics retailer may expand the recycling program to all of its 922 stores in the United States.

"We want to take the time to learn if we can handle this before we go any further," said Best Buy spokeswoman Kelly Groehler. "We know the need is there and the waste stream is there. We think everyone needs to bear some responsibility for this _ consumers, retailers and manufacturers."

As it is, Best Buy's test is believed to be the most extensive free electronics recycling program to be offered by a major retailer so far.

Consumers will be able to bring in up to two gadgets per day at the participating Best Buy stores. The list of acceptable items includes computer processors, computer monitors and televisions with screens up to 32 inches. Console televisions, air conditioners, microwave ovens and other large appliances won't be accepted.

Best Buy agreed to set up the recycling trial after a social responsibility group, As You Sow, submitted a proposal that would have asked the company's shareholders to endorse an electronics recycling program. As You Sow withdrew the proposal after Best Buy indicated it was already exploring ways to expand its existing recycling programs.

"This is a step in the right direction," said Conrad MacKerron, director of As You Sow's corporate social responsibility program. He is hoping Best Buy's recycling trial will prompt other major electronics retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Circuit City Stores Inc. to set up similar programs.

The disposal of electronics waste has become a more prevalent problem in recent years as technology's relentless advances turn cutting-edge devices into relics every few years.

That has threatened to create environmental headaches because the old stuff contains lead and other hazardous materials that aren't supposed to be put in the trash.

All Best Buy stores already have been accepting some electronics waste _ such as cell phones, empty ink-jet cartridges and worn-out batteries _ for several years. The retailer also will haul away old appliances and television sets when customers pay to have a replacement delivered to their homes.

Many community groups, local governments and recycling specialists also offer to accept electronics waste, often for a fee.

But environmentalists are worried about what will happen as more consumers replace their existing TVs to prepare for the scheduled February 2009 shift from analog to digital broadcasting.

Although old TVs will still be able to receive the digital signals with the help of a converter, millions of consumers have simply been buying state-of-the-art TVs _ a trend that has helped boost Best Buy's profits.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Why I dont have a video blog yet

You know what you need, a vid blog. You're pretty, socially connected, have a lot to say... Just need more self publicity maybe. Don't see why youre not a star!

I'm not wanting to do all that video editing, and I know I would stutter sometimes-- it happens from too much coffee and being nervous... I dont have a stutter and used to be great at speech contests, but I dont want that kind of publicity without it looking professional. I would also have to have more consistant topics to talk about and I'm not willing to come up with them, if I had a better following on my blog where people asked/commented more that would be a great thing to consider. Plus with all the self-research and blog reading I'm doing where would be the time for my freelance and editing a podcast.. I'm not doing a full blooper real of a pod cast!

Why I think I'm not popular on twitter and dont try to be the next scoble

I hope this doesn't bother a certain someone but my last three posts where inspired by a great couple of emails. (leaving said party anonymous). Recent question:

Thanks! So why aren't you more "popular" on Twitter or whatever? If that is the right phrasing.. I would think you should be a social phenomenon. Frankly, I think ppl like Victoria Belmont are totally overrated.

To be honest I filter my followers. I don't keep any of my posts private, but if people add me that seem sketchy then I block them. Also I dont try to be the next scoble Im not and not everything I say is business a lot is personal. I went biking or I had fun with Cory (@ivesdigital) ect. Some people don't want to hear that, plus I do talk a lot on there.. and I don't know if that is a good thing or a deterant for some. I don't think I've ever lost any followers though from talking too much, mostly I've been told time and again that if I say its important most people seem to use me as the rule of thumb for networks. If I invite you it's probably a good thing for YOU. Which wasn't always the case... when I first started I invited my whole address book to over 30 networks... needless to say my dad wasn't pleased (@gregv but he never twitters except to respond to me).

who am i what do i do?

Basically to describe what I do:

Well, lets put it this way I get paid to play with/test them also. In this industry there is not many networking meetings/conferences I miss in my area, in fact I'm trying to figure out what to write/present for my first speaking engagement at one of them. Mainly social media, search engine marketing, and search optimization are fairly new beasts to most businesses and CMOs, so I spend hours 24/7/365 teaching myself new techniques and learning old ones from other people. Trial and error, the good old hypothesis methodology, read blogs, write a blog, watch podcasts while I work (good ol' multitasking), and then I join hundreds of social networks, test them, build full profiles, and use them. If I like them I keep using them, if not then I just keep them up in case they change so I know what their useful features are and how to leverage those features. Then company's come to me with a goal, tell me they found me on one or 5 of the 300+ social networks I'm on and ask for help. I set up the networks, make a plan for tracking, and give them easy ways to join in the fun.

Picking an agency. Some comments...on different ones I know...

So your looking for a new job and want to know who I think are the best agencies in town? In my opinion the term "best" is only relative if I know what constitutes best. Not to nit pick your question, but I'll explain if you want to restrain your search so that you don't have to move out of Washington then best is only in your region. There are hundreds if not thousands of pr, marketing, interactive, traditional, print-only, advertising, and search firms. Knowing you want to be a senior researcher helps, but really I think that role fits into almost all of the firm types I've listed so far. Also each firm, as you probably already know, is different. They all have their own unique personality. Some are BIG, some are small, and some are micro-small. Some agencies work on a large variety of clients, most specialize in a couple of industries, some only target big/small clients, and others only do non-profit work.

Now that we have all the semantics out in the open, my favorites are based off of work type and personality. If you want some form of awards/reputation status you'll have to ask someone else. I know for a fact some of the best kept secrets are agency's that put out good work and just don't have the time after their 18 hour days for anyone to send in an application to all those contests. This list could grow tomorrow so don't hold me to it, but from what I've seen (from informational interviews, real interviews, friends in the office, their portfolio, and knowing employees on a networking basis) I like: (in no definite order)

  • Ogilvy, I've heard some of their upper level team members speak and thought they were informative, brilliant, and charismatic. Let's just say in a networking speech setting, it has traditionally taken a lot to impress me. Most are just un-original repeats. They also are number one (depending on the day competing with Risdall) for #1 SEO for Ad Agencies.
  • Where ever Lee Odden works, man I keep hearing that guys name, and people keep telling me to do coffee with him. It has yet to happen. He is said to be the number 1 SEO guy in Minneapolis. He works for TopRank.
  • Catalyst Studios because of Jared Lukes. He is an interactive genius, very charismatic, and a great guy to do sushi lunch with. On a side note their site is mostly flash, and their seo still needs some work. They recently revamped their site and not all of the misspellings and proper agency terms are being used for keywords yet, but I'm the pot calling the kettle black. My site is newer with similar issues. Great interactive agency, small shop, good group, love their blog cute and witty.
  • Gage Marketing in Golden Valley mostly because of Mike Kraabel. Mike is a pillar to the interactive and creative community and a wonderful mentor. I've worked with him on occasion and love his insight. The building is agency meets corporate, with the bonus of structure in their work process (which I have an appreciation for in my over-organization tendencies). They do great work for interactive, large corporations, and some smaller companies too. I prefer there interactive talents and they do a lot of contests.
  • Carmichael Lynch has GREAT clients from their latest Subaru, to Harley Davidson, they used to/or do have Porsche, and a long list of other greats (those just happen to be a couple of my favs). I love their Harley work, definitely check out their portfolio. They have two sides too, PR and Advertising/Marketing. CL and CL spong or maybe three CL spong thornburg. I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to look up and correct me, but all are very well known and respected (and rewarded). I also have a huge respect for Herb Sawyer and Curtis Smith. The two men I know the most their (which isn't closely just on a networking/interview basis), but both are great guys and everyone I've mentioned so far is on twitter if you can find them. I would love to work for this company under Herb, even for a huge salary cut (hint hint).
  • Martin Williams (M|W) Ok so when I first got into the industry I would have LOVED to get into this large agency (still wouldn't turn it down). Thing is never even got offered an informational after all the people I met there networking. They do good work and have a great portfolio, just haven't stayed on my radar too much. Would definitely check them out though if I where you.
  • Periscope - My first introduction to periscope was from (Brian-- I can't ever think of his last name) met him networking, then again at the Ad Fed Summit of '07. He introduced me to a bunch of the team, I had a tour, informational interview and some brainstorming sessions that never went anywhere. Great team, would be one of my dream companies for when I'm senior "something." They are a larger shop near the Twins stadium. Definitely check out their portfolio. Sweet intro to their site! Other random note, their SEO is off the charts. They have their name come up under EVERYTHING (good/bads).
  • PSB ( padilla speer beardsley ) They won out on a recent SEO/SEM bid for a client/friend of mine recently. They are fair priced, do good PR work, new to the interactive space, and do great work in trade shows and Media Kits. Well organized and require a typing/English grammar exam to all their candidates. I've never applied their but I've had a couple of informational interviews and know Jason (one of their interactive guys) pretty well from MIMA/AD FED. Good group, more corporate, would recommend a suit to this place-- the rest might cut your tie off if you show up in one (jeans and a sweet suit coat would be more appropriate everywhere else unless your meeting the president or something).
  • August Ash is new to my radar, a smaller group, and a fun one at that. I've been looking into working there recently. They are unfortunately located in never never land... or the opposite side of town from me near the mall of America. I've heard a lot of wonderful things about them from asking around, and their president Eric is on twitter and a number of other networks. Love their web site it is VERY clean.
  • Y A M A M O T O | M O S S | M A C K E N Z I E - Heard lots of good things, they are more of a suit and tie firm, with an oriental/modern/clean cut decor that I've never seen. Literally Ive never been there. I applied a year ago and didn't hear back for 2 months, finally got a letter saying thanks, but no thanks. Heard good things though

  • Risdall - Love the people that work there. No organization or structure to the way daily business is run. They are thirteen branches under one roof trying to figure out who does what. They have some good print and SEO work. Understaffed for programmers. Their SEM/SEO/Integration team are brilliant, charismatic and wonderful to work for. They have earned lots of webbys but I don't know how much that means. They also have fun scooters in the office, and enough candy to make the entire state of Minnesota fatter than an elephant. If you like shiny objects their is no shortage of them. The PR team is a nice group of girls, with little sense for PR optimization, but brilliant writers and good project management skills. Their creative team puts out good work, but I wouldn't expect to get in their they are all fairly project-protective even to the point of production art. If you get the chance to work with Pete, Kevin, or Lara though they definitely have talent and are a nice group to be near. The office is also filled with couples (marrieds) John, Tina, Jennifer, Mike.... all family. Josh D. is an account person for the SEO/SEM team (maybe even vp not sure of his title) great guy for showing someone around. Also very witty copy writers. They have 6 or 9 websites for some of their different branches (5 of them are practically identical and just a very LONG run-on page of keywords).
  • Western Creative - They've been around for almost 50 years and have a good reputation. Also not sure what all they do. Good rep. though.
  • Space 150 - Great interactive team. Never been there and only seen some of their work. Worth looking into though.
  • Colle+McVoy - Great work, cool print stuff, love their business cards, everything about them is original , even have some mints with their name on them from a networking event. Ran by mostly women, small to medium size shop, never been there, would love to work there.
  • Campbell Mithun

    - Number one agency in Minneapolis I would say. Big team, great work, they pick their work, and are as full service as it gets, even have their own video studio (periscope has photo not video as well).
  • Olson- Awesome reputation. Good work. BIG team. Never been there. Met some of the team on multiple occasions though.
  • - International PR firm, offices in London, ny, Minneapolis, and a few other places I'm not willing to look up right now. Have lots of friends that work there and a few acquaintances. Greg Swan (@perfectporridge) works there. Cool work, very corporate meets agency structure, HUGE, again never been invited there, but would love to go!
  • Chrispin porter - They had Nike. I don't know a lot about them, but would definitely look into them. National PR/Ad agency.
  • Olive and Co. is a small interactive group (micro-small 5 people). Good work. Cute site, met the team for informational once. Worth looking into, but they don't want to go big.
  • Ciceron - I know the majority of their team. Great group. Great work. They are always at networking events. Very involved.
  • Kerker - I know one of their team members, they do good work. Great guy. Definitely worth looking into!
  • Shapco -Print Company they are very good. Do a wide variety of work. Not an agency, but could have similar openings.

Best Place to start a job hunt is professional affiliations AdFed, AAAA, IAB, MIMA, Social Media Breakfasts, and PRSA ect. Good Luck.

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