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April 9, 2009

The Future of Expertise

Once upon a time knowing how to put together a beautiful presentation, use and create spreadsheets, stay connected to your inbox, and design basic web sites and applications were all considered specialized skills, but they were never a requirement for most employees.

Now, most people in the interactive industry are expected to have most of these skills. And it won’t be long before this is expected of people working in all industries. The future standard of expertise will be five times, no, fifty times higher than what it is. That is the nature of progress.

And while It’s currently possible to squeak out a living just by knowing what to talk about—consider all the self-proclaimed "social media experts" that have popped up in the last two years—the reality is that unless your creating true value for your clients you won't last very long.

I had an interesting dialogue with Chris Bailey about how we define worth and value. The outcome of the conversation was that the value of an employee is what he produces for the company, but the worth of an employee is what you pay him. These don’t always match up. The same holds true with agencies. Their worth and value won't always match up.

And as formerly specialized skillsets becomes more commonplace in the workforce, creating true value for your clients will be the only way to truly thrive in the coming years. This current realignment (AKA recession) is already bringing this fact in to focus. The question is no longer what do you know, but do you create value.


Knowing what to talk about is no longer enough.



April 3, 2009

Blog Recommendation: Daily Sense

Every once in awhile you come across a blog that you just want to spread the word about. Clay Hebert's blog "Daily Sense" is one of them.

And even better, Clay is actually a really nice guy. He's currently working with Seth Godin up in NYC in the Alternative MBA program.

So check out his blog, save it to your bookmarks and enjoy.

April 2, 2009

Ogilvy on hiring

While reading the book "The King of Madison Avenue", it struck me how relevant his approach to hiring was — even today. His core beliefs were simple, but very valuable.

Hire Giants

If you hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If you hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants.

Recruiting talent is like finding truffles

Hot creative people don't come around looking for jobs; they have to be rooted out like truffles by trained pigs.

Only hire gentlemen with brains.

We like people who are honest: honest in argument, honest with clients, honest with suppliers, and honest with the company. We admire people who work hard. Objectivity and thoroughness are admired. Superficiality is not admired. We despise and detest office politicians, toadies, bullies, and pompous asses.

In the end his approach was simple. Hire the best people. The only way to do that is to find them. And always hire for character.

March 25, 2009

Google Launches Semantic Search

Google announced today on its blog that it will be sprinkling in semantic search to its regular results. It appears that at the moment the biggest change will be in the suggested search categories at the footer of the search results page, but the search results are sure to change as well.

It's good to see that Google is getting on board with semantic search. At NeboWeb, we have all been expecting such changes in Google, as predicted back in June 2008, in an article we wrote about semantic search. So far, semantic search engines such as Hakia have struggled due to irrelevant results and slow load times.

In theory, semantic search is extremely promising, but has not been put into practice very well. The primary reasons for such failure in semantic search are that it takes a massive infrastructure to accumulate the data necessary to perform semantic search. Additionally, queries need to be returned quickly in order to provide the user experience that users expect. Google is probably the only search engine that can bring semantic search to the web in a successful and effective manner.

It's also interesting to note that at the same time that Google announced its semantic search update we are seeing a toolbar PageRank update as well. Most SEM professionals believe the toolbar PageRank is merely aesthetic as the actual PageRank is months ahead of toolbar PageRank.

In other words, you should not notice a drop in rankings at the same time as a drop in toolbar PageRank.  However, I do think it's interesting though that Google is rolling these two updates out at the same time...

Also, and probably not something that we're likely to see again (as well as a sign of the update) is that Google's Toolbar PageRank was 0 earlier today!!!  Like I mentioned above, this is relatively meaningless during an update, but it's still fun to see this in the screenshot below:

Google PageRank 0

March 18, 2009

NeboWeb Book Club: Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam

We had our second installment of our book club this week. The entire team read "Back of the Napkin" by Dan Roam. I put together the presentation for this one because it's a topic really love, and I wanted us to all read a book about visual thinking.

We eased into the idea of visual thinking by watching a vintage Kermit the Frog video circa 1966. Then we went through the key high-level ideas from the book that I felt were the most important.

To help bring the lesson to life I walked the group through two visualization exercises:

1) We drew toast.

Yes...I asked everyone to draw "how you make toast". The point being was a) everyone thinks differently and b) they're are multiple ways to communicate successfully with visuals. Drawing a 10 step flow chart of how bread comes out of a bag and ultimately ends up golden brown with jam on it illustrates how you make toast...similarly, the drawing of ordering a piece of toast from a server at a restaurant who is writing down "toast" is ALSO a way to make toast...ish.

2) Next I created what I called a "VISUATHALON!"

This one just really got people up and thinking and drawing - and that was the point. Creating an exercise for eleven people + one white board + twenty mintues = challenging but basically we all came up with words - we swapped words...and we drew them. We didn't end up with a cohesive story told through pictures - but we had a LOT of fun talking about our end result!

the first three nebo-ites take to the white board

Most importantly, everyone had a good time and I think we all got something out of it!

March 12, 2009

This could be the future of the human computer interaction

Gesture based user interfaces were once considered nothing more than science fiction fantasy. I remember everyone talking about the computer interface used by Tom Cruise in Minority Report, and asking when will it finally come to fruition. Well, thanks to the smart folks at MIT. It looks like the future is almost here.

Watch Patti Maes demo some of very interesting advances in interface technology from the MIT media lab.

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