Crazy Like A Fox

Creativity | Communications | Computers | Consequences

Ode to a Google Web-bot (…as written by an irate word-smith).

Posted on | March 16, 2015 | Comments Off on Ode to a Google Web-bot (…as written by an irate word-smith).

Like a lot of writers – I have a covert love of poetry, and an overt love of language.

Like a lot of marketers – I have to accommodate the minutiae of Google’s inscrutable whims into my work, whether I want to or not (…Google is now so powerful, if I want to reach my audience then I no longer have any say in the matter…a perturbing thought frankly).

And like a lot of free-thinking individuals – I sometimes balk at terms being dictated to me, and blindly yielding to the wishes of others… especially if I’m convinced at the time that those wishes are utterly wrong.

Some years ago, whilst in the midst of wrestling with these disparate forces, I decided to cram them all together into a creative work of protest – a whimsical and irreverent series of Haiku, dedicated to SEO copywriting in general, and what it was doing to the English language. (At the time, SEO writing was often bloody awful! Thankfully Google ranking algorithms are far smarter than they once were, but that’s another post.)

Most of the observations in this work are still very relevant when creating marketing content, so for the sake of education, posterity and my persistent delusions of poetic grandeur, I have posted the work below. Click on our bespectacled, type-writing friend to view a larger version.

CLAF--Dear-Google-HaikuAs the work was mainly written out of spite towards Google’s ranking practices, I have decided to remain true to that original spirit. The text has been embedded into a jpeg, and is deliberately NOT machine-readable by search-engine Web-bots. ( Sorry Google – this one is for human eyes only, and if you don’t like it – bite me! 😛 )

Feel free to copy, share and re-post this image as much as you like… just please leave the copyright and branding notices intact. While the writing within isn’t necessarily my best, they’re still my thoughts and feelings there on the page, and I’d like them to be contributed as such –  even at the risk of being quoted out-of-context.

I still live in hope that one day, Google might impart its content-ranking algorithms with a greater appreciation of written satire, metaphor and colloquialisms in general. That way, web pages could be ranked not only via keywords and content, but also by how well they were written. Then maybe grammar and eloquence would matter enough for online literary standards to improve, and for linguistic invention to be valuable enough to attract a premium once more.

I’m really not much of a poet, but most of the haiku are downright cheeky and I hope you get a giggle out of them – like all Haiku, they’re designed to be spoken aloud, so the rhythm of the words becomes more obvious. Writing them was a highly cathartic exercise, and helped to brighten-up a really crappy day. 😉

Enjoy!

 

EDIT: I’ve made a bit of a blue here folks, so some further explanation is in order.

There are two versions of these haiku – I have included the less mischievous version above for your reading pleasure. The other one is longer, cheekier, and was originally intended solely for personal use, but I shared it with a couple of online sources in error (…as it’s almost identical in appearance to its twin, I uploaded the cheekier version by mistake).

The action was completely inadvertent on my part (Pro Tip – always keep alternate versions of artwork in  a completely different folder 🙂 ) and it might be either detrimental or beneficial to my intended aims. It may go viral, it may pass unnoticed, it might not have been seen yet by anyone, it might have been seen by everyone, people may love it, people may hate it… there are no guarantees one way or the other. Personally I far prefer the cheekier version, but I was not completely convinced that a milder version wouldn’t be the more prudent choice.

Both versions of the Haiku are obviously tongue-in-cheek, so hopefully people won’t misconstrue my intention with the cheekier version.

This is going to be interesting… stay tuned for further updates.

 

Broken link is now fixed… Sorry Mr Morris!

Posted on | March 9, 2015 | Comments Off on Broken link is now fixed… Sorry Mr Morris!

A very quick thanks to all the folks who let me know the Kelmscott Chaucer link was broken… it has now been fixed, you can download a copy here.

Please note, the first nine or so pages of the PDF have been left deliberately blank – the good stuff starts shortly thereafter. 🙂

PORTFOLIO: New Examples Of Our Work…

Posted on | March 9, 2015 | Comments Off on PORTFOLIO: New Examples Of Our Work…

For those who have been wondering what else I’ve been up to over the last few years, you can find a more recent copy of our creative portfolio on our corporate Behance page.

Feel free to wander over and have a gander for yourself.

(NB: Behance is a website dedicated to creative individuals, and to creative expression in general. There are some magnificent examples of great work from around the globe, in every category from Advertising and Graphic Design, to Architecture and Special Effects. A wonderful source of inspiration for anyone who pursues creative excellence in their work Enjoy! )

One Big Reason Why I Became A Creative… (And Why Great Content Never Ages).

Posted on | March 5, 2015 | Comments Off on One Big Reason Why I Became A Creative… (And Why Great Content Never Ages).

Kelmscott Press Printing Example

Thank you Mr Morris – it’s beautiful! (Click picture for a closer view 🙂

 

This is a true story – but it really doesn’t sound like one.

You have every right to doubt me, and I don’t blame you if you do… but I swear on everything I hold sacred, these events happened just as described!

When I was eight years old, my grandparents lived in Mount Pleasant in Perth, right on the edge of the river, and I would visit their house several times every year with the rest of my family.

They owned a wonderful old book-case, full to the brim of various Victorian novels that had been handed down through the family by long-dead relatives.

The bookcase itself was a lovely thing to look at, but the books were a bit of a mess – dozens of old, dusty, tatty, battered tomes by obscure 18th century authors and poets that were of no real interest to anyone.

In among those old books however, there was this one, newer-looking, reddish book on one of the upper shelves – still in great condition – and it constantly caught my eye.

For an age, I just assumed that this was a newer book that someone had absent-mindedly jammed into the bookcase with all the others.

After several days of staying with my grandparents and constantly noticing this book (but doing nothing about it), one day on the spur of the moment, I took it down off the shelf and opened it up for a read.

 

…that book blew my god-damned mind! …those are the only words that describe it.

 

There are few people on the planet who are fully familiar with the works of The Kelmscott Press, or have even heard of the company.

The Kemscott Press was a small, short-lived British book publisher. It operated for less than 10 years back in the late 1890’s, and it produced only a handful of titles, in very limited numbers.

But the Kelmscott Press is also regarded as producing some of the finest illustrated books the world has ever seen.

Being fully hand-made, their books were very expensive when they were published. Very few people could afford to buy one, and even fewer have seen one up close, or held one in the flesh.

But this magnificent illustrated masterpiece, in my tiny, grubby hands was one of them… an honest to God, genuine, hand-printed, hand-bound Kelmscott Press original, created under the direct instruction and oversight of William Morris himself (ask any Graphic Designer, Typographer, Interior Decorator or Art Historian who this man was, and they’ll tell you – he’s a pretty big deal!)

Plus, the book was in magnificent condition! No foxing, No inscription, no dog-eared corners or yellowing of the pages… just some very faint fading on the spine… that’s it!

Of course I didn’t know any of this at the time – I was eight years old! I just know the damn thing had me transfixed.

For one full week, this beautiful ‘Rembrant-In-The-Closet’ was all mine, and over that week, I looked over every inch of it lovingly, time and time again.

Eventually my grandfather took an interest in this old book that had me so enraptured, and immediately saw it was something special. He had it evaluated by a local book seller… who bought it off him for AU $17,000 that very week (…and in the 1970’s that was a hell of a lot of money!).

My Grandfather was very pleased with himself after that… right up until he discovered the book seller  on-sold it shortly afterwards for a cool US $40,000 – and had made the local papers in the process.

I cannot tell you how heartbroken I am – even today – at the thought of that beautiful masterpiece leaving my family’s keeping, as it would have been originally bought by one of my great, great aunts. I dream sometimes of being able to track it down and buy it back (or one just like it) – but there’s is no way on earth I could ever afford one.

I don’t remember what the title or author was – it might have been a book of ancient verse. (….and no – it wasn’t The Kelmscott Chaucer, Mr Drooling book-collector… I only wish it was! Then maybe my grandfather wouldn’t have sold it.)

I confess that I forget the name of the publisher for a long time – it was only after seeing extracts of the Kelmscott Chaucer that I was able to put two-and-two together. (There was no confusion in my mind as to the its publisher – once you’ve seen a Kelmscott original, you never forget it.)

But enough reminiscing about long-passed water under a childhood bridge. I mentioned this story to illustrate a couple of points, so it’s about time I addressed them.

William Morris was an artist yes – but he was also a publisher and a businessman. And taking three years to craft his final labor of love, (which was “The Kelmscott Chaucer”) is a pretty big risk for any businessman to take, especially when there was little-to-no guarantee that the book would sell well.

But sell well it did – and it continues to gob-smack almost everyone who sees it, even in today’s media-soaked, jaded and cynical times. Quite an achievement all things considered.

The points I wanted to illustrate with all this are the following:

1.Great work inspires others to emulate it. My early exposure to that magnificent work, is one of the major reasons why I chose to become a professional creative – first a writer, then a designer, and now both at once.

2. Brilliant content never ages. These books will still be read and marveled over after we are all dust and gone.

3. Your inner imperatives can move people, in ways that technology cannot. When your work is an all-consuming labor of love, it stops being just a product, and starts to communicate with people on a very primal level – across culture, distance and time. That’s a lesson worth remembering – we are not trying to talk to people with our marketing efforts – we are trying to reach them, to move them and to effect them in very real ways… beautiful, personal statements that are artfully created still go a long way towards reaching that goal, in ways that a hollow Facebook post will never emulate.

Happy selling everyone. 🙂

 

PS: For those who wish to see more of these magnificent works for themselves, including William Morris’ final masterpiece (…he died just a few months after completing the “Chaucer”) I found a hi-res PDF copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer that’s free to download from an open-source archives website.

It’s a 40MB download – but the end result is worth every byte! Click here to grab yourself a FREE hi-res copy!  – enjoy! 🙂

 

EDIT: Sorry – The Original Link I posed was broken – my very sincere apologies! 🙁 It should be working perfectly now.

(…and if not, please email me and I’ll send you a copy of the PDF I downloaded directly. No copyright issues apply, as the book is in the public domain due to its age.)

 

Further Updates Coming…

Posted on | February 24, 2015 | Comments Off on Further Updates Coming…

Hi everyone. 🙂

Just a quick note to keep my readers informed of what’s happening with this site.

Our temporary flash-based corporate site (www.claf.com.au) will be replaced shortly by our new one, once we’ve finished the testing phase, which (barring any unforeseen problems) will happen within the next month or so.

This blog will live on regardless, and will also under-go a bit of a tidy-up of its own, once the corporate site is up and running.

I note that several of the external pages and sites I’ve linked previously have now been taken down. Given so many of my readers are still going through my back-catalog of postings, I will also do my best to track down and re-link all this missing content (assuming it’s still available).

Unfortunately, fixing these older, broken links won’t be a high priority for me. I hope you understand and will forgive me if this takes me some time to complete – I’m going to have to do it in my spare time and fit it around my other commitments.

The next marketing post is nearly completed and will be uploaded something within the next week (…there’s also a couple of typos and minor errors in my last post, which will be fixed shortly too).
.
Thanks for reading as always folks – it’s good to have your company. 🙂

Do You Remember ‘The Long Tail’? …Turns Out There’s A Sting In It!

Posted on | February 20, 2015 | Comments Off on Do You Remember ‘The Long Tail’? …Turns Out There’s A Sting In It!

I’d like to ask my readers a marketing-related question that’s been bugging me for weeks.  I’m asking you this question because you’re the only ones on Earth who can answer it:

“Why did the visitation stats on this website go up

after I stopped making regular updates?”

 

This small, humble, horribly-neglected little blog consistently received more visits over 24 solid months of NO UPDATES WHATSOEVER, than it ever got back when I was updating regularly.

Dont believe me? Then you can check for yourself. Directly below is a clickable screen-shot of the web visitation numbers for this website, as recorded by Google Analytics over the last five years.

Some sensitive information has been blurred out, but the rest of the page is completely unaltered. Click on the image and see the graphs for yourself…

 

crazy-foxes.com Visitation stats 2011 to 2015

crazy-foxes.com Visitation stats 2011 to 2015

 

Before you ask – there were no other marketing efforts made to promote this blog in the interim – or certainly nothing specifically geared to that aim.

No doubt some of the increase could be contributed to other marketing efforts in my local market of Perth, some would come from organic Google search, some would come from poorly structured search results in foreign territories and so on. (NB: Not many visits from web-bots surprisingly, I already checked that… and no – my own visitation stats are not included in these figures, I’ve excluded my own IP addresses by default since I first started this site, and the settings haven’t changed. Besides which, who want’s to sit around visiting their own blog website THAT many times a day over a five year period?)

As you’d expect, with a complete absence of website updates, my bounce rates (IE: the number of times readers would visit my site, then leave without clicking on anything) were pretty high… but not as high as one would expect – and over 90% of the visitors over that period were new ones, as you can clearly see, which also follows conventional wisdom.

But what really gets me is the return visit rate. This rate was 8% when averaged out over the entire period in question… but my return readership figures are heavily skewed towards the last two years.

Not only did I maintain a constant rate of repeat readership  from numerous individuals over that entire period of no updates,… but over the last two years, my blog’s return and repeat readership rates have very slowly and steadily increased.

…Huhhh???

My blog is tiny, the content is all over three years old, and there is no real reason for anyone to return once they’d read it all… but still my repeat readership increased, and my pages-per-visit numbers also increased at the same rate… most of it was from my key home-market of Perth… and to cap it all off, the majority of those repeat readers were NOT my current clients. (…yes, I asked them, and they’re innocent.)

As many content marketers will tell you – this is not really supposed to happen… ever! The whole idea is somewhat nutty!

To some people, it appears my previous blog posts about marketing, are more like a favorite book – something worth returning to repeatedly, in order to read it through over and over again… and also something worth telling your friends about.

This is both very flattering, and highly confusing.

The cliche-laden conventional wisdoms about content marketing, run something along the lines of:

“…when you’re living in a 24/7 digital age, marketing content ages like fish! If you’re not making regular updates, and creating new value for readers via a stream of fresh, rewarding content – then you’re not going to keep your audience engaged. You will end up with ZERO chance of holding their attention, their loyalty, or their hard-earned money in your sweaty little fist. “Publish, or die (…and then publish that you died)!” is still the first and golden rule of branded content. Tweet, post, update, comment, rinse and repeat ad nauseam”.

If I was to be brutally honest… (and I usually am, even when it hurts me personally)  – if you had asked ME the same question three years ago, I would have sprouted exactly the same content-marketing wisdoms, just minus all the cliches.

Well conventional wisdom… and me personally … were utterly wrong in this instance.

When it comes to this blog at least, many of the content-led wisdoms I had bought into, are horse-shit (… it feels bloody wonderful being reminded of that, as well as stating it frankly – I get a quiet thrill out of those times I can shoot down conventional wisdom, and tell some stubborn, egotistical, and terminally-stupid Emperor that he’s walking around naked! …even if the Emperor in question happens to be me. 🙂

Part of the reason I stopped writing this blog because I wasn’t getting the return I wanted – it wasn’t generating the leads or larger business audience I was looking for. Turns out, I was simply not looking for long enough.

But that’s the problem when you’ve got marketing data on tap, isn’t it? You don’t need to back your gut or give things time to develop – because the supposed answers are right there – staring you in the face… and who needs professional instincts that were honed over decades, when you’ve got a sea of supposedly hard-data that’s just five seconds old, right?

The standard Long-Tail theory of content distribution consumption states that your audience tapers-off as your content or product ages… but it never truly disappears completely.

Sometimes however, clearly that tail can thicken as it ages, not taper. Your audience can grow with time, not shrink – and sometimes great content is worth revisiting, even if you know how that particular story ends.

Most Hollywood movies follow the traditional long-tail consumption / revenue pattern as they age, with their financial returns and audience diminishing over time. It’s become such a predictable pattern of ROI that as marketers, we tend to think all our content will age like this.

But consider – there’s also movies like The Princess Bride – which had very modest returns when first released, yet it is still steadily pulling in over $1,000,000 in DVD sales a year, well over 20 years after its first slightly-underwhelming theatrical release.

This is the kind of content we should all be aiming for as marketers – stuff that’s worth reading over and over, and that will build our audience as it ages.

I considered quoting my all-time favorite Sicilian movie-midget at this point – and call this whole notion “Inconceivable!” 

But I think I’ll quote the six-fingered baddie Count Rugen instead… and simply say: “…How Delightful!”

Have fun storming the castle folks. 😉

Back From The Dead – (…Without All That Nasty Zombie Business.)

Posted on | February 19, 2015 | Comments Off on Back From The Dead – (…Without All That Nasty Zombie Business.)

Hello everyone!! 🙂 It’s good to see you again.

I’ve been neglecting this blog horribly for three years straight – but I’m back from the virtual dead, with plenty to speak about and discuss with you.

It feels good being back here and discussing this stuff again – hopefully you feel much the same.

So what was I doing all that time? Well …All kinds of things really, with one small part of my absence was due to a nasty combination of personal and business issues. I won’t go into details as thankfully that’s all in the past  – besides which, that’s not why you’re here.

As always – I post my thoughts here for other people’s benefit, as well as my own. My aim is for you to receive enough value from this blog to warrant sticking around for a while, and to come back again occasionally if and when it suits you.

There’s heaps of new stuff on branding and communications I want to talk about, so you can expect plenty of semi-regular updates. I genuinely hope you get some value from all this, both for yourself and your business.

Enough waffle, let’s get into it! 🙂

My next blog post will be up very soon (IE: within the next few days). The post will be all about promotional content,  you marketing goals,  and the sometimes-surprising ways that content can deliver unexpected results. In it, I will detail some sensible and rational reasons why I stopped posting here altogether… as well as the unexpected and surprising reasons why I’ve now started again.

In case you’re wondering, the reasons in question are one and the same – and they really surprised me in the process! …according to the popular-thinking on marketing content which is circulating around my industry right now, stuff like this is not supposed to happen!

Please keep an eye out for it – it should be a fascinating read! 🙂

Cheers!

Cloud Computing Has Storm Clouds Ahead.

Posted on | September 20, 2012 | Comments Off on Cloud Computing Has Storm Clouds Ahead.

I’ve been a die-hard computer geek for decades – ever since the Trash 80 and Vic 20 were the pinnacle of consumer electronics. ( I wrote programs for both these computers as a kid. Oh Lord, I’m showing my age here… 🙂

So my inner techno-freak did little back flips of joy this morning when I read  that Australian researchers  have essentially ‘cracked the Qubit’.

For those who are unaware, Quantum computing will ultimately have a bigger impact on humanity’s development than the wheel did –  it will change everything, and data privacy will be the very first thing to go.

In 1995, 40-bit encryption was enough to secure both private data and financial transactions from a brute-force attack by a hacker. Current technology however can break these codes in seconds.

Today, 128-bit encryption is the standard for both online transactions and consumer-level encryption software, with 256 bit encryption being the yard-stick at enterprise-level.

Quantum computing however will blow through all these encryption levels like a freight train through fairy-floss. Unless your data is physically removed from all forms of  internet connection, it will be readily accessible to a future hacker’s q-server one way or another…. and by ‘future’, I mean in about 5 to 10 years (…foreign governments hack too you know…)

I’ve never been a huge fan of most cloud storage business models as they are operating in a world-wide legislative vacuum, with little in the way of standardized legislation that applies universally across territories. The unprecedented code-busting power Quantum computing will eventually deliver only exacerbates my concerns.

1 TB hard-drives are the size of a paperback, weight less than a kilo and cost less than $100. When 1st-gen memrister technology starts to become widespread around 2014, the prices, sizes and weights for offline storage will go even lower.

My advice is avoid cloud storage for sensitive personal data as much as you possibly can – download your valuable data and keep it safe somewhere offline.

 

Our New Website is Coming – Please Bear With Us…

Posted on | August 19, 2012 | Comments Off on Our New Website is Coming – Please Bear With Us…

Our new corporate website is coming along nicely – but slowly (we always give higher priority to completing our client’s communications pieces over our own – hence the delay).

Our corporate blog will also be revamped very shortly. Our portfolio section in particular needs a revamp as it is currently showing its age. We will be taking it down shortly for this very reason, to be replaced by a more recent and comprehensive version once our corporate site is completed. Please bear with us in the interim.

We will however continue to post blog updates on this site in its current format for now.

If you have any queries for us, or wish to see more recent examples of our work , we invite you to email us directly.

All new business enquiries should be directed solely to Shannon, our creative director. His email is listed on our home page.

Thank you for your ongoing patience.

Kind regards,

Your favourite Crazy & Foxy Admin.

Please come back John Davis – we need you…

Posted on | August 9, 2012 | Comments Off on Please come back John Davis – we need you…

For all those advertising people out there who follow my occasional ramblings… (…how are you both by the way? 🙂 ) …there’s been a bit of a hubbub brewing in my local Advertising market regarding a few large client moves.

Clients moving agencies is not the issue I’m writing about today – the issue for me is (as always) the snyde, cynical and vindictive way the local industry boffins respond to the move.

Frankly, the comments from some of my peers this time around have been so disgustingly acerbic, and the moderation of these comments so lax –  that for the first time in my career I have been genuinely ashamed to refer to myself as a Perth creative.

If you’re the kind of marketer who gets a vicarious thrill out of watching other marketers tear each other apart, you may get a real kick out of following all the nastiness at its source.

I’ve written a couple of emails to the editor of the blog in question, asking some pointed questions. He’s actually a very fair and decent man on the whole, so hopefully he’ll be getting back to me sometime soon…

 

UPDATE: After two weeks I have hard nothing back from the magazine in question, which I find a little disappointing. I’ll be writing another blog post on this issue sometime shortly…

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  • About

    This is the personal blog of Shannon Woodbury, a creative brand communications and IT consultant based out of Perth Western Australia. This blog explores the subjects of creativity, communications and technology in general, and all the consequences and challenges they entail.

    Everyone with a creative and inquiring temperament is welcome here. Further information on the author and his firm is available via his corporate site.

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    Crazy Like A Fox
    33a Nicholas Crescent
    Hilton WA 6163 Western Australia

    Phone: +61 (0) 466 901 841
    Email: shannon (at) crazy-foxes.com
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    claf.com.au

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