Crazy Like A Fox

Creativity | Communications | Computers | Consequences

Tryptic of the Modern Brand: Part 1 – An Ode to Agility

Posted on | November 22, 2016 | Comments Off on Tryptic of the Modern Brand: Part 1 – An Ode to Agility

Howdy everyone.

This latest post is all about agile software, nimble brands, creative leaps, and the unforeseeable benefits of falling flat on your bum. It is also part one of a series of musings about technology, creative branding, and how the two seem to be getting along nowadays.

While this could easily become a dry, boring and technical series of posts, if you’re one of my regular readers you”d know I don’t do “dry or boring”. I promise to make this as entertaining and engaging as I can, and hopefully give you heaps to think about in the process.

Sound like fun? Great, then let’s start things off with a brief introduction to agile and why it’s all the rage in branding circles nowadays.

For all the dedicated rock-dwellers out there,  “Agile” has been banded around by programming teams for years now. It refers not to a specific technology or programming language, but to a method of software development.

The concept originated back in the 1970’s in a remarkable paper by Dr Winston Royce, in which Dr Royce criticized the practice of developing software in a sequential and linear manner, like some kind of ‘assembly line for software’. He called this the “Waterfall” method – a term that came to epitomize this particular approach.

Dr Royce argued that Waterfall development was not only ill advised and risky, it actively invited failure as it didn’t allow for sufficient collaboration between the specialized groups and individuals involved in the development process.

His thoughts were echoed in 2011 when 17 programmers all got together in sunny Utah and co-authored the Agile Manifesto –  one of the seminal works on the subject of agile software development.

“All well and good…”  you say  “…but so what? What’s this got to do with branding, brilliance, or badly-bruised buttocks?”

Well, the process of refining one’s software, is partially a process of refining one’s thoughts. The challenge lies in having your thoughts and ideas expressed as elegantly, effectively and meaningfully as possible within your algorithms.

These refinements helps impart your product with a functional, relevant and compelling competitive advantage amongst its user base, and differentiates it as a superior product when compared to other software in its category… and if that whole scenario isn’t a perfect analogy for the brand development process, then I’m a pickled eggplant.

Agile software development, and strategic brand development, are highly similar processes at their core: both are built on a constant cognitive-cycle of empirical assessment, interpretation, observation, reflection, development, distribution. re-evaluation and refinement. Both are practiced by a team of inter-dependent specialists, and both have to be implemented within a wider context of intractable commercial constraints.

resize-1469436570-agile-methodology trg-employer-branding-framework-illoThe parallels are clearer if you look at the processes side by side. The top (clickable) image is a graphical representation of a’typical’ agile software development cycle, as currently used by countless software development teams worldwide (image source here). The bottom (clickable) image however is a standard brand planning cycle, a common brand-development paradigm, practiced by brand-development firms around the globe for at least the last decade or so (image source here). The underlying cognitive processes in these two cycles are so similar, much of the descriptive language and working practices in agile, are directly applicable to brand development.

The key difference between agile development and brand planning lies in the underlying principles which govern the agile process – these are what give agile development its power, but in my experience at least, this is also where many brand-focused organisations fall down horribly.

The guidelines run as follows (I’ve made some amendments to demonstrate agile’s relevance to the brand planning process):

  1. Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of valuable software  content.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even in late development
  3. Working software is delivered Touch points are delivered frequently (weeks apart rather than months)
  4. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers the brand team
  5. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
  6. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
  7. Working software Brand equity is the principal measure of  yardstick during progress
  8. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
  10. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
  11. Best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
  12. Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective, and adjusts accordingly

In my opinion Agile methodologies have a lot going for them for both software and brand development alike, and I’m far from the only one saying it.

All that being said, the success or failure of every branding methodology out there hinges on its implementation, and when implementing agile branding, it’s an all or nothing proposition.

I’ve seen several marketers try to combine incompatible brand development methods together simply because they don’t trust the new model, and the result is a real dog’s breakfast. It becomes this ugly, waterfall-cum-agile, “let’s hedge our bets” method of branding I’ve come to refer to as “agile on a stick”.

“Agile on a stick” is when reflective, adaptive, agile-like thinking happens up-front between brand planners and their client,… but the outcomes are then shoved down the line in a rigid, linear fashion to the creative department – who then have to implement them as the planning department dictates. It’s more agile-like than the old waterfall method of brand development… but it’s still fatally flawed, as it treats creative input as secondary consideration.

It’s lunacy as work practices go, because it still retains all the ‘lack of consultation’ flaws of the waterfall method …but it still happens surprisingly often.

So why is this hybrid approach so relatively common? Personally I see three primary forces that continues to drive ‘agile on a stick’ thinking in agency-land.

Firstly, most creative departments are horribly overloaded and over-worked, with creative’s head-hours being rationed-out so tightly they simply don’t have time to attend strategy meetings, let alone provide ongoing strategic input.

Secondly, with the advent of the planning department back in the late nineties and early noughties, strategic decisions were taken out of the hands of creatives, and both rightly and wrongly, its stayed that way ever since.

Thirdly, given analytics ability to uncover emergent properties and deliver empirical insights, the creative department is no longer seen as as reliable source of strategic direction (this is of course complete rubbish, but you’d be amazed how many marketers care only for metrics, and ignore the less-tangible, more instinctive considerations altogether.)

For reasons I will elucidate on in coming posts, much like the waterfall model, this hybrid brand management process can be an invitation to failure and inefficiency.

Creative development and strategic development are two sides of the same coin – they are mutually inclusive and inter-dependent. You can’t create them separately or sequentially as each strategic decision carries a creative consequence, and vice versa.

The agile brand development model is a reasonably sound one – it allows for incremental improvements and subtle refinements in your brand(s), as well as a controlled migration in your positioning, from your current position of advantage, towards a stronger position, as changes in the market necessitate.

On the flip-side however, the whole process has one obvious flaw in that it’s also repetitive and recursive:  it invites you to think about the future within a framework of everything you’ve done in the past, and that’s dangerous.

Through necessity, agile brand development requires a certain amount of circular thinking. This is supposed to be an adaptive and progressive cognitive process – but it can very easily turn into collective navel gazing if you’re not careful.

Effective as the brand planning cycle / agile branding processes are, in my experience – WHEN IMPLEMENTED ON THEIR OWN – they’re not systems that readily accommodate or enable massive breakthroughs, radical discoveries or tangential / sideways movement. Without making a few modifications, these methods of thinking often won’t engender ideas that result in radical, game-changing paradigm shifts for a brand.

To achieve one of those, you need to fall on your arse…

– TO BE CONTINUED –

One hundred billion reasons to panic

Posted on | November 22, 2016 | Comments Off on One hundred billion reasons to panic

Oh crap.

Ummm…  hey folks,… …remember how I’ve been going on about Quantum Computing since 2011 now, and how I said it will have a bigger impact than the wheel did?

Remember how I said the sheer code-busting power of these computers will be unparalleled in human history? …and how things are going to change at an unprecedented pace?

Well… it turns out I might have been uncomfortably correct about all the above – sorry about that.

On the 9th of December last year, Google announced they had just finished some performance experiments on the D-Wave 2X quantum computer they recently bought in conjunction with NASA.

Those experiments concluded that this band-new computer was 100 million times faster at optimization problems than an average computer’s CPU.

Google also concluded that, while this performance increase was clearly considerable, there was still “more work ahead to turn quantum enhanced optimization into a practical technology.”

This all occurred less than one year ago and involved a D-Wave 2X computer that had 1000 qubits of processing power.

On September 29th this year however, D-Wave proudly unveiled their latest model – a quantum processor now boasting 2000 qubits of processing power – a 100% increase on last year’s model.

So logically speaking, one would suppose this new computer has about twice the performance of the old one… …right?

Nope!

According to D-Wave, this new processor delivers up to a one thousand percent increase in performance over their previous model, depending on the way the computational processes are structured.

That means this new processor (assuming D-Wave and Google are to be believed) represents potentially a 100 billion percent improvement over standard CPU performance on complex optimization problems.

Is this bullshit? Are D-Wave lying? Are these kinds of exponential improvements in computer performance even physically possible? …because frankly I have no idea: the physics involved and the complexity of the problems is completely beyond my reckoning.

What I do know however,  is D-Wave sold one of their older 1000-qubit computers to the national security lab at Los Alamos research center last year.

Then, barely 12 months later, D-Wave (a Canadian company) announced they’ve formed a brand new US Subsidiary, specifically to provide D-Wave computers to the US Government. 

According to the media release, when you scrutinize the combined work history of this company’s board of directors, it includes:

  • A former US National Security Advisor;
  • A Former Director of the US National Reconnaissance Office
  • A Former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force.
  • A former US Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense (Science & Technology)
  • A former Assistant Secretary of the US Navy;
  • A former Executive Director of the National Security Agency;
  • A current special advisor to the U.S Strategic Command;
  • A former Principal Deputy Director of US National Intelligence;
  • A former Director of the US National Reconnaissance Office;
  • A former Deputy Director of Science and Technology for the CIA;
  • Plus a former Chief Technology Officer at Goldman Sachs, who is also the current CEO of D-Wave itself.

Contemplate for a moment, all the various security credentials the above job descriptions would require;

Then contemplate, if you will, just how much political clout one freshly-formed technology company needs to have, in order to attract that many heavy-hitters on to its governing board.

Regardless of your politics,or what your attitudes might be towards Quantum Computing’s various security considerations – you have to admit… that’s an awful lot of national security expertise for one company to bring together, seemingly in the space of less than a year.

Still think I’m just being paranoid / dramatic about what’s coming down the line technology-wise?

Seriously folks – these are the kinds of press releases that keep me up at night.

(By the way – what do you suppose newly-elected President Donald Trump is going to do with all this code-busting technology, once he gets into office?

…On second thoughts don’t answer that – it’s going to be hard enough getting to sleep tonight as it is.)

 

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: We’re changing direction folks…

Posted on | July 15, 2016 | Comments Off on IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: We’re changing direction folks…

Greetings everyone.

I’ve had several epiphanies recently that I wish to share with you – but first, a statement from the management (…that’s me, naturally.)

I started this blog in 2011 to act as as my company’s website, and to provide a commercial communications platform for my business. But every since my firm’s corporate site went live, this blog hasn’t needed to fill that role – so I’m changing its focus, starting today.

Throughout my career, I’ve always been passionate about creativity, communications and computers. That feature of my personality isn’t going change… but almost  everything else about this blog is going to.

From my perspective, there are now so many different transformations currently waiting in society’s wings, it’s difficult to know what forces will hit us next, or which will have the greatest impact.

Historically speaking, swift and radical upheavals in society are always disruptive, and sometimes beneficial  – depending of course on which side of those changes you happen to be on. If your interests are marginalized by societal change, or you adapt to the changes too late, it’s rarely a pretty picture. I figure it’s in all our interests to know what’s coming round the corner, so these are the kinds of forces I’m keen to explore.

This blog will still feature occasional postings about marketing communications and creativity; but it needs to embrace a far broader societal perspective on creativity, communications and technology than it currently does. Preferably, I’d like to do this from a non-commercial standpoint, and with more intimacy and transparency than a purely-commercial forum can provide.

To achieve all that, this blog cannot remain a commercial endeavor; so from here on in, there’ll be no more mention of my wonderful, spectacular, eminently affordable, highly creative and extremely effective marketing communications firm (…well apart from this one.)

In closing, let me clarify that just like every other pseudo-futurist out there, I have no monopoly on insight; any predictions I make in future should be regarded with healthy skepticism, and taken with a grain of salt. 

The only thing I can say with certainty, is our collective ability to survive the coming tempest of change, will be dependent on our ability to think creatively, communicate effectively, and leverage technology quickly.

I know there’s nothing new in that statement – people sprout stuff like this about the future all the time.

But if you really think that these looming changes to come, will be anything like changes we’ve seen in the past …then to quote a certain 1960’s ode to melancholic London tour-guides: “…I’ll show you something… to make you… change… your mind.”

I admit I’m being melodramatic here – and have conjured up the mother of all ear-worms in the process. But you need a bit of dramatic bellowing now and again if you want to get people’s attention. I tried whispering the word “Fire!” once – it didn’t work out so well.

Thanks for reading folks – please stick around, it’ll be heaps of fun I promise.

UPDATE: A Sea of Opinion

Posted on | January 3, 2016 | Comments Off on UPDATE: A Sea of Opinion

Hi everyone – hope your Christmas and New Year’s break was enjoyable. 🙂

In one of my posts from early last year, I decried the way many marketers abuse their in-bound content, by refusing to keep commercial messages separate from their various opinion pieces. 

It seems that various peak industry bodies are starting to make more noise about the problem, with the Internet Advertising Bureau in the UK  releasing a very useful set of transparency guidelines for their members to follow.

The Communications Council here in Australia also has a similar code of practice regarding social / online content standards (uploaded – ironically enough – only a few days after my original posting).

Both guidelines are reasonably comprehensive, and put similar emphasis on the need for total transparency and a visual demarcation between your opinion pieces and promotional content.

Some industry commentators are arguing that these guidelines don’t go nearly far enough, and their should be greater legislation to protect consumers.. but this is a totally moot point in my view frankly, as both the ACL (and the Retail Trading Act before it) both have very clear provisions against misleading representations in published materials of a commercial nature, and have done so for decades.

Obvious as it might seem, it still bears repeating – just because your message might be only 140 characters long, that doesn’t mean it can’t get you in a heap of trouble if the commercial context around it isn’t clearly defined.

It’s a message worth engraving above the screen of every mobile phone: If you share it, you’re liable for it!

(…and yet the trolls still thrive. It’s astounding.)

Quantum Computing part IV: …Man, I HATE it when I’m right!

Posted on | December 11, 2015 | Comments Off on Quantum Computing part IV: …Man, I HATE it when I’m right!

Hi folks.

Following on from my last post on D-wave and Quantum computing, it turns out that announcement from Google was all about the one-hundred-million-times performance boost their new D-Wave computer has shown over a standard computer (with a single core).

To put that in perspective, first you need to imagine an optimization problem that takes a standard 4-core desktop CPU 10,000 years of constant running to solve! (… a bit like ‘Deep Thought’ in the Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy books).

Then, you need to imagine this 10,000 year problem…. being solved in less than 1 second, … by one single processor, in one single computer (…eat our dust Intel!)

Social media has since gone absolutely bonkers over the subject, and it’s currently trending on Facebook like no-one’s business.

For those who came in late, here are a just few links to peruse:

 

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/12/google-nasa-our-quantum-computer-is-100-million-times-faster-than-normal-pc/

http://www.nas.nasa.gov/quantum/

http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/625828/Google-Quantum-Computer-NASA-D-Wave

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/544276/google-says-it-has-proved-its-controversial-quantum-computer-really-works/

And in case you missed my previously linked introductory videos, here’s another one for you.

 

 

…So what does all that mean for the rest of us, now that D-wave have been vindicated, and have indeed invented the world’s first quantum computing mainframe.

Frankly I have almost no idea what comes next – and neither does anyone else. To be honest, it’s a bit like a caveman asking “so what use is this stupid “wheel” thingy REALLY going to be for me?”

We simply can’t conceive of what the limits of this new technology might be, …because we have no equivalent in our history to compare it to!

The one thing I can tell you is that from this moment forward, there is very little existing encryption technology on this planet (that I currently know of) that can be thought of as truly secure over the medium term.

As I’ve said ad-nauseum for years now, one of the best things that quantum computers (in their current format) will be able to do is deconstruct cryptography. Not even the 2048-bit encryption in use at banks and data centres around the world will be safe for very long, given that these suckers can potentially crack such codes in less than a heartbeat.

The future has arrived people. In case you were wondering – this is what the start of a technological revolution looks like.

Whatever happens from here on in, technology and its application is slowly (or not-so-slowly) going to become unrecognizable; life is going to start changing in nigh-unprecedented ways.

Quantum Computing and Cloud Storage: those clouds are starting to look ominous…

Posted on | November 19, 2015 | Comments Off on Quantum Computing and Cloud Storage: those clouds are starting to look ominous…

Hi everyone.

I’ve been talking about the opportunities / challenges / threats of both quantum computing and cloud storage on and off for a few years now – and it looks like things are starting to happen on both fronts… which is both exciting, and utterly terrifying.

Let’s start with Quantum Computing. For those who came in late, I first posted about Quantum computing three years ago, with my most recent post being made earlier this year. (NB: There’s some great primer videos about Quantum Computing and how it works on TIME’s website with a more in-depth article being posted on WIRED’s website last year).

Moving back to the present, the reason for the quantum leaps in my excitement levels (pun definitely intended)  is the latest developments that have been happening both at D-Wave, and at Google.

D-Wave is a company I’ve been keeping my eye on for a while, but I hadn’t blogged about it before, because I (like every other industry observer) wasn’t sure if D-Wave was the real quantum deal or not – no one was really sure if these processors really were using super-positioned electrons as logic bits (see the above linked primers for a detailed explanation of what this means).

Anyway – there’s been a a few announcements recently that have my qubit-sensitive ears all a tingle.

Firstly, D-Wave recently announced the commercial release of a 1000+ qubit (supposedly) system, their most powerful unit yet.

Secondly, Google apparently has already acquired one of these latest D-Wave units earlier this year (Google acquired one of D-Wave’s older 512-qubit systems last year and have been running tests on it ever since).

Thirdly, apparently Google are going to make a ‘watershed’ quantum computing announcement this coming December. Google (like most tech companies) make announcements of new technology all the time… but for them to say specifically a ‘watershed’ announcement in Quantum computing in particular… well that’s a pretty bold move on their part:  if this announcement isn’t a genuine watershed moment in the field, they they’re going to look pretty stupid. The release doesn’t say whether or not they are referring to D-Wave or some other Quantum Computing research, but given Q-Wave has a 10 year head start on most of its competitors patents-wise, most likely the announcement will be about D-Wave in some form or another.

The US government research center at Los Alamos has already ordered themselves one of these new D-Wave systems for further research and “national security” reasons. And of course when I say national security,  I really mean cryptography – which is what these qubit-enabled computers are currently best at after all… which brings me nicely to the second half of this post, which is all about good-old cloud data storage.

For the record,  cloud storage is nothing new – its a technology that’s been around as long as the internet itself… it’s only very recently that cloud storage (aka: file transfer protocol) has gotten consumer-savvy, sexy and cryptographically-secure during transmission, and thus morphed into cloud storage as the average person knows it today.

Apart from the previously-stated threat to cloud storage that Quantum computers will eventually present, there’s been another spanner thrown in the works, in that the EU has taken serious umbrage with the data security and privacy standards set by US law.  Read the linked article to see why this might affect us here…and then also ask yourself what exactly is social media if not cloud storage for your most private information.

Come to think of it – I’m trying really hard to think of a popular social media or cloud-storage platform (in this country) that doesn’t have its corporate HQ in the US… and I’m coming up a blank: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Pintrest, Instagram, Google +, Drop-Box, Google Drive, iTunes, OneDrive, Four-Square, MySpace, Flickr, Steam, DeviantArt, Bebo, Patreon, Tumblr… all of them based in the US and bound by US data privacy laws.

I’l say it again folks, because its not just paranoia – cloud-based storage of private information, is only a good idea if your data is encrypted and protected.

And if the announcement Google make on December 8 is what I think it will be, and that their tests show the D-Wave Quantum computer is the real deal… then I strongly urge you to do the same as me, and start winding back on the amount of sensitive personal and business data you keep in data-centers located within US jurisdictions – and fast!

I’ll leave you with a sobering thought, and an incredible quote: Part of the current justification people have for accepting their internet-enabled reduction in privacy is that “there is simply too much data,  from too many people, for any one person, organisation or government to keep track of it all”… and once upon a time that might have been true.

But according to Dr David Deutsch of Oxford University:

“Quantum Computers have the potential to solve problems that would take a classical (ie: normal) computer longer than the age of the universe to solve.”

In my opinion, online cloud storage only has between three to seven years left of reliable data security via heavy-duty encryption. After that, all bets are off; encryption alone will NOT offer you enough protection going forward.

Ode to a Google Web-Bot Part 3: In for a penny…

Posted on | March 30, 2015 | Comments Off on Ode to a Google Web-Bot Part 3: In for a penny…

Ode-To-A-Google-Web-BotHi everyone.

As per my musings in an earlier post, please find attached a copy of the original “Ode To A Google Web-Bot” for your reading and down-loading pleasure. Click on the thumbnail opposite to view a larger version.

The second (edited and expurgated) version is still with the original post that accompanied it – I have decided to leave this second version up for public viewing as well.

I reflected long and hard on making this original, cheekier version accessible once again. While it will always be my favorite, there were a number of brand-equity considerations I had to ponder before I could decide whether or not to re-post it.

I will go into these considerations in my next post in a few days time, as they provide a good illustrative example of some of the relevant factors in your brand’s approach to, and evaluate of its tone and manner decisions with its content. Given the enormous potential for both benefit and harm that tone-and-manner can impart to your online communications, it’s high time I covered the subject in greater detail.

Hope life is being kind to you folks, I’ll see you again in a few days.

Cheers! 🙂

Cloud Computing has Storms Ahead Pt 2: You can’t stop progress…

Posted on | March 29, 2015 | Comments Off on Cloud Computing has Storms Ahead Pt 2: You can’t stop progress…

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about how the rapid rise of Quantum computing poses a serious threat to the future security of internet transactions and cloud computing models.

Since that time there been more than few hacking scandals (using regular old silicon-based processors) to help throw more weight behind my concerns… though to be fair, in that post I also said memristor-based memory would be widespread by last year… that prediction at least was way off.

In regard to memristors, HP have not yet brought that tech to market, but meanwhile they continue to put renewed effort into The Machine, the radical new computing model that this technology will enable… so clearly we will hear more about memristors in the near future one way or another.

While all this was going on however, other high capacity memory storage formats have come along to challenge Flash memory. SSD computer storage is about to get a lot bigger! (Yay! 🙂 )

Keep an eye on this sector, as it’s a potential disruptive influence on cloud-based business models.

Turning now to Quantum computing again, the same researchers who cracked the q-bit back in September 2012 have since been able to manufacture a device from silicone components, making it compatible with modern manufacturing processes. Remember what I said about quantum computers being able to break 128bit encryption easily?… it’s now more true than ever!

Fortunately for all of us, additional work on cryptography is also taking place to hopefully (and I mean hopefully) negate some of the predicted effects all this new code-breaking tech will inject into the international data-security marketplace – and trust me, nowadays EVERYBODY is in the data-security marketplace in one way or another. Additional privacy legislation here at home, coupled with the growing presence of the internet of things, means that data-security is everyone’s concern.

I know I’m stating the obvious when I talk about the need for computer and data-security nowadays… but it never hurts to give a gentle reminder or two (there are still people out there who have no idea how to create a proper secure password, as well as those somewhat deluded individuals who even more dangerously DO have a secure password, but choose to use the same passwords for everything without any variation).

With the above thought in mind – I thought I’d share with you a little gentle reminder of just how prevalent hacking activities really are nowadays – pay attention now, this should be fun.

Attached below is a list of the Lockout Log for this website, which contains all the IP addresses that have tried (and failed) to hack into this blog since its inception in 2011 (…608 lockouts and counting!).

For those who don’t know what an IP Address is, it’s a unique identifying code that acts as a “residential address” for a computer connected to a network. If you have a computer / tablet / phone that is connected to the internet, then that computer has a unique IP address, so that other computers can find it.

 *****

I can assure you the list below is real, unaltered and every IP address within represents numerous genuine attempts to gain access to the administrative areas of this blog, by trying to guess my password. Please note at least one of these IP addresses has received 19 lockouts – which represents up to 76 separate attempts to hack my site from one IP address alone… who knows… maybe they’re still trying, but are now hiding their identity better. Far as I can tell, the IP address in question – 64.34.173.227 – is just a stone’s throw away from Ashburn, Virginia, home one of the most important internet networking hubs in the US, and is wind-assisted spitting distance from the Pentagon. Feel free to draw your own conclusions…. I’ll just be here hiding under the rug, taking down the license plate of that dark van across the road… XD  lol).

 *****

I’m not trying to drift into crazy-conspiracy-theory / tinfoil-hat-land here folks. I include all this information only as food for thought. Most likely these are all just amateur attempts to hack my site. If someone really wanted to hack my blog (and they knew what they were doing) then it wouldn’t take them very long to do so, and I might never know it had happened.

Feel free to run an IP trace on these addresses for yourself if you wish. Oh and BTW – for obvious reasons, this list of IP addresses might not be up for very long. I AM kind of poking a bear here by listing them – but stuff it, I’m putting them up anyway.

 

IP Address Tried to log in as:

 

 

…long list, isnt it? (It’s nice to be popular… 🙂 )

Moral of the story: Please always make your passwords decent ones, and don’t re-use them anywhere! It’s the most basic step you can take in keeping yourself safe online.

And don’t rely on the cloud to keep your most important data safe… you never know who’s watching, or what they’re trying to do… Isn’t that right Mr. 64.34.173.227?

Happy selling folks, but keep an eye on the clouds  – there’s a nasty storm coming sooner or later.

 

A Sea of Opinion

Posted on | March 27, 2015 | Comments Off on A Sea of Opinion

How do you measure opinion?

And by you, I mean YOU – the person who owns the eyeballs scanning these words.

How do you – personally – manage the oceans of opinion the whole world is currently floating on?

With the rise of digital media, has come a tsunami of opinions.

You probably have a number of blogs that you follow regularly. Hopefully mine is one of them.

You have friends you trust. And you talk with them in person, through social media, by SMS, IM, email, online bulletin boards (…remember them?) – whatever your preference.

You listen to your bank manager and accountant, your lawyer, your relatives… They share their opinions – and if you trust the person, you listen, right?

But what about all those other opinions? All those third-party recommendations and opinions that we are supposed to be able to listen to, and rely on… but DON’T, and CAN’T?

How do you judge the worth of those opinions?

If you have a LinkedIn account, you know EXACTLY the opinions I mean.

Those friends of friends, and contacts of contacts – people you may have heard of in passing at some time or other, who bombard your subscribed LinkedIn groups with one posting after another, all of them peppered with personal opinion.

Or how about industry-specific websites, that have you on their email marketing lists? How much do you respect and listen to those opinions that flood unbidden into your inbox?

Sometimes you might read an isolated article that’s interesting or relevant… but the rest you dump straight in the recycle bin…am I correct?

 

I raise this subject, because a lot of marketing-communications activity is based around the quality of our in-bound content… and in-bound content is increasingly being tainted by hidden commercial agendas.

With MarComm promotional content, it’s getting harder to tell what is an honest, impartial opinion – and what is really a hidden agenda, masquerading as professional perspective.

We are all drowning in marketing spin! So at what point in time, does it all become too much?

The inhibitive effects of excess choice on decision-making is a well-understood phenomena. Basically, humans are often paralyzed when confronted with excessive options.

Before we can make any kind of decision, we need to be able to weed out many of those possibilities that are making choice difficult.

Then once we have a manageable number of options, we employ whatever means we personally prefer, to whittle down those options (but then again – that’s just one model of the decision-making process I’m referring to. There are more than just a few of those to choose from as well)

It seems no matter how you cut it, when confronted by excessive options, before a human can make a decision, first they have to decide how they are supposed to reach a decision, on the best way to make a decision.

And mind you – that still doesn’t take into effect the fact that in most cases – we do not have enough reliable access to sufficient information to decide rationally…

…so sorry Ayn Rand – there is no such thing as fully-rational or enlightened self interest anymore, when it comes to most decision making… and unfortunately, that also includes deciding whom you can trust.

 

So I ask you again – how do you measure the value of an outside unsolicited opinion, when its becoming increasingly difficult to separate marketing spin, from helpful insight?

I don’t have an answer for you sorry. The only advice I can give you is you must ALWAYS be utterly and completely honest when expressing yourself professionally.

The world can’t afford any more uncertainty or confusion – it leads to consistent skepticism, and eventually to pervasive mistrust.

Take my advice and follow my lead: ALWAYS tell the brutal truth when asked for your opinion – even if it costs you a sale.

If nothing else, you will be remembered for your honesty.

Given the information age is a myth, and the disinformation age is the reality, complete and utter honesty has never been so valuable.

But you know… that’s just my opinion.

Good luck everybody. 🙂

Ode to a Google Web-Bot Part 2: An interesting request…

Posted on | March 22, 2015 | Comments Off on Ode to a Google Web-Bot Part 2: An interesting request…

Hi everyone. 🙂

I’ve had a few requests now for me to re-post the original, cheekier version of my Haiku protest to Google.

Frankly I am severely tempted to do so, but also a little hesitant.

I’ll sit and reflect on those requests for a while, and make a decision shortly. Stay tuned…

keep looking »
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