Three St. Louis students win in BAAC competition

first_imgBatesville, In. — Three St. Louis eighth-grade students have been announced as winners in the BAAC Young Artist Showcase.The students were required to write original short stories that are judged on plot development, creativity and grammar.Maddie Schrand won first place and second place finishes were recorded by Luke Meyer and Emma Livers.Many other St. Louis students won awards for art, music and drama accomplishments.last_img

Tourist with Measles May Have Exposed Hundreds at Disneyland, Other LA Destinations

first_imgHealth officials believe that a teenager traveling in Southern California may have exposed hundreds of people to the measles while visiting popular tourist destinations.The girl, who is visiting from New Zealand, was contagious with the measles when she spent time at the Disneyland, Universal Studios and Madame Tussauds in Hollywood this month.That prompted officials in Los Angeles and Orange counties to issue health alerts.Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Disney Parks, also issued a statement that reads, “We were notified that the tourist visited multiple Southern California locations and have been advised by Orange County Health Care Agency that the risk to cast and guests is likely low.”According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is a highly contagious disease that can spread through coughing and sneezing. It can live in the air for up to two hours after an infected person coughs or sneezes.Symptoms typically appear about nine to 12 days after a person has been infected, and they begin with a mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis or red, watery eyes. That is usually followed by a fever and a rash two or three days later.To date, there have been 16 confirmed measles cases among Los Angeles County residents this year, in addition to 11 nonresident measles cases in the Los Angeles area, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.last_img read more

More to Thank God for in Your Brain

first_img(Visited 56 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 News about the most complex arrangement of matter in the known universe.Hit that curveball: The apparent sudden drop in a well-executed curveball pitch is a matter of output from an algorithm in your brain. If you understand how your body’s GPS works, Science Daily explains, you can avoid being fooled. Did you know you have a GPS system? Yes. Even though it can be tricked by a curveball, its algorithm is quite robust. “This study shows that the solutions that the brain finds for dealing with imperfect information often match optimal solutions that engineers have come up with for similar problems, like your phone’s GPS,” the article concludes.Smell that GPS: Speaking of GPS, the analogy came up in another Science Daily article. The long title sums it up: “Humans’ built-in GPS is our 3-D sense of smell: Like homing pigeons, humans have a nose for navigation because our brains are wired to convert smells into spatial information.” A dramatic animation of the sense of smell, along with other amazing stories of animal navigation, are featured in Illustra Media’s new film, Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth.Social GPS: A “social map” of sorts has been found in the hippocampus, Science Daily says. Researchers at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine found activity in that brain region that “tracks relationships, intimacy and hierarchy within a kind of ‘social map’,” the article says. This capability to map people to  places is apparently shared with other mammals, Science Magazine says, although no research work on this subject has yet been done by fat, big-mouthed river horses on the Hippo Campus.Value computation: PLoS Biology has a technical paper about “neuroeconomics”— the way perceptions of value are represented in the brain. It’s an “embarrassment of riches,” the title suggests. The two authors discuss another recent paper that evaluates the role of two brain areas in this function that underlies how we make rational choices.  That work “provides valuable insight into the complexity of value computation, and helps set the agenda for future work in this area.”Facial recognition: “How does the brain recognize faces from minimal information?” Science Daily asks. Your fast computing system is part of the answer. “Our brain recognizes objects within milliseconds, even if it only receives rudimentary visual information,” the article begins. “Researchers believe that reliable and fast recognition works because the brain is constantly making predictions about objects in the field of view and is comparing these with incoming information.” The article describes how “predictive coding” works.Sorting illusions from reality: The brain can be fooled, as shown by optical illusions. To make sense of the world, the brain has to solve problems “by inferring what is the most likely cause of any given image on your retina, based on knowledge or experience,” Science Daily says. This ability is shared by other mammals, as experiments on nonhuman primates show. Chimpanzees, however, have never been observed to perform experiments on humans to uncover the workings of their neural circuits for the sheer pleasure of understanding how something works.Complexity of thought:  A controversial new theory of thought by Swedish neuroscientists was announced on Science Daily. They question the “prevailing doctrine” that thinking is simple. Known as “sparse coding,” the orthodoxy has been that “the brain has a system to maintain brain activity at the lowest possible level while retaining function.” The number of neurons involved in thinking, and the complexity of their interconnections when we take in information from sensations, is much more widespread than currently believed.Memory locus: Neuroscientists continue to try to understand where memories are stored. Research reported on Science Daily is focusing on neurons in the medial temporal lobe as the location where changes take place in response to learning.  But since no one can “see” a memory by looking at neurons firing, “the underpinnings of episodic memory formation is a central problem in neuroscience” that is bound to remain challenging.Calcium memory: We encountered calcium in yesterday’s entry about the “fight or flight” response. Another article, this one in PLoS Biology, introduces calcium as a key component in memory.Every fact or task that we remember—the shape of the utensil we call a fork, the appropriate hand-motion needed to beat egg whites until fluffy, or the sequential steps involved in baking a cake—must be encoded by long-lasting changes in the way that our neurons function and in the strength with which they connect and communicate to each other. Current experimental evidence has led neuroscientists to propose that learning elicits a particular pattern of electrical activity in neurons, which can in turn induce changes in their morphology, their responsiveness to incoming signals, the expression of their genes, and the strength of their connection to other neurons.These changes are the cellular counterpart of what we think of as memory. However, neuroscientists have not found many mechanisms by which a neuron can store information relative to its previous activity. In a study just published in PLOS Biology, Friedrich Johenning, Anne-Kathrin Theis, Dietmar Schmitz, Sten Rüdiger, and colleagues provide evidence that specific electrical activity within neurons induces a long-lasting change in the amplitude of transitory increases of calcium ion concentration (Ca2+ transients) inside dendritic spines—the specialized protrusions of the dendrites of a neuron, which receive input from other neurons via synapses.The Ca2+ ion is a fundamental player in the transformation of electrical to biochemical activity within neurons.Synthesizing the senses: How does the brain combine information from different senses? That’s what PhysOrg wants to know. We take in visual information from two eyes, and auditory information from two ears. That information needs to be combined into a meaningful whole. For vision, that presents a problem called binocular rivalry. “Musicians are ideal subjects for studying the congruence between abstract visual representations because they are familiar with symbolic musical notation, and can therefore experience melodic structure through both sound and vision,” Korean researchers say, so they used musicians in experiments on perception with audiovisual information. “Taken together, these results demonstrate robust audiovisual interaction based on high-level, symbolic representations and its predictive influence on perceptual dynamics during binocular rivalry,” they found.Update 7/07/15: Researchers at Northwestern University have found “the organization of the human brain to be nearly ideal” for information processing. Dmitri Krioukov explains the optimal organization, considering the tradeoffs involved:“An optimal net­work in the brain would have the smallest number of con­nec­tions pos­sible, to min­i­mize cost, and at the same time it would have max­imum navigability—that is, the most direct path­ways for routing sig­nals from any pos­sible source to any pos­sible des­ti­na­tion,” says Kri­oukov. It’s a bal­ance, he explains, raising and low­ering his hands to indi­cate a scale. The study presents a new strategy to find the con­nec­tions that achieve that bal­ance or, as he puts it, “the sweet spot.”The press release repeatedly gives evolution the credit: “Have you ever won­dered why the human brain evolved the way it did?” the article begins. It also gives a historically debunked orthogenetic view of evolution: “The find­ings rep­re­sent more than a con­fir­ma­tion of our evo­lu­tionary progress.” Krioukov ascribes the match between actual brain and theoretical ideal as an evolutionary product: “That means the brain was evo­lu­tion­arily designed to be very, very close to what our algo­rithm shows.” No clarification is provided on how blind, unguided processes correlate to the oxymoron “evolutionarily designed.”Most of these articles had any use for Darwinian thinking (how’s that for an oxymoron: “Darwinian thinking”). Only the last (Update) article spoke nonsense about “evolutionary design”—one of the worst oxymorons possible (see sophoxymoroniac).Science has barely scratched the surface toward understanding the workings of the brain. Think about memory: how many terabytes, exabytes or yottabytes of information are packed inside your skull?I used to be in a marching band and took a liking to band music. Recently, I was listening to Pandora and heard a Sousa march I had not heard for probably thirty years or more. As I listened, I was amazed at how quickly it all flooded back to my mind; I was able to predict most of the next lines even before they played. In fact, had I turned off the radio, I could probably have played back most of the rest of it in my head. It would play in high fidelity, too, not like an old scratchy vinyl record. Somehow, all that information was still encoded in my brain after decades, and could be recalled instantly. Multiply that ability by all the songs you know, all the quotes you can remember, and all the audiovisual experiences you could relive from childhood as if they happened yesterday. Is it not astonishing what our brains can do?We know something about encoding information like this. Samples are taken of a complex, moving waveform, passed through an analog-to-digital converter, and represented alphanumerically on a storage medium. If the medium is not damaged, the information can be converted back into sound for playback. Our brains, though, are not hard surfaces like CD’s or computer memory. They are made up of dynamic, soft tissues—living cells—with electrical and chemical signals whizzing constantly in every direction. How can that kind of living tissue store complex experiences for instant recall decades later?And that’s just memory. Think of the predictive coding, sensory integration, abstract thinking and motor control we take for granted every day.  You may have noticed that your brain has a search engine. Can’t recall a name? You struggle for a moment to recall it, but then get distracted onto some other matter. Moments later, while you’re not even thinking about it, the name pops into your consciousness. How does that happen? How does a piano player control her fingers so fast they become a blur on the keyboard? or better yet, an organist with 10 fingers on 3 ranks of keys, and two feet on the pedals? How did Leonhard Euler perform complex mathematical derivations in his head while blind?It’s a shame we complain about the littlest trifles in life. We have been given outstanding audiovisual and computer processing equipment freely by our Creator. The design in nature, in our bodies and in our own heads is so abundantly clear, the only proper response should be gratitude, wonder, and worship.—DClast_img read more

Play Your Part back on the small screen

first_imgA new generation of pioneers 5 March 2012 “There are a number of opportunities, big and small, where each and every one of us can make a positive difference in the communities in which we live and operate,” Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola said of show. The 13-episode television series promoting Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part campaign, which features inspirational stories of ordinary citizens working to improve their communities, is back by popular demand on SABC 1 at 6pm on Tuesdays, starting on 6 March. The TV series is aimed at lifting the spirits, and to “inspire all South Africans with examples of how their fellow citizens are creating a South Africa we can all be proud of”. These include Nelisiwe Xaba, who explores contemporary issues and provokes dialogue through choreography and dance; David Tlale, who from one sewing machine has built a clothing brand that has graced the fashion capitals of the world; and 20-year-old racing driver Vicki Kemp, who has been on the tracks since she was 10.center_img Brand South Africa travelled the length and breadth of the country asking ordinary South Africans how they are playing their part in their communities, in the process uncovering a range of inspirational stories to share with the nation. The first episode profiles “a new generation of pioneers who, despite adversity, are charting new paths and flying the South African flag high,” says Brand South Africa. Play Your Part is a social movement created by the Brand South Africa to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship. SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

A Green Guide to Choosing a Christmas Tree

first_imgEnvironmentally conscious consumers often ask me whether a real Christmas tree or an artificial one is the more sustainable choice. As a horticulture and forestry researcher, I know this question is also a concern for the Christmas tree industry, which is wary of losing market share to artificial trees. And they have good reason: Of the 48.5 million Christmas trees Americans purchased in 2017, 45 percent were artificial, and that share is growing. Many factors can influence this choice, but the bottom line is that both real and artificial Christmas trees have negligible environmental impacts. Which option “wins” in terms of carbon footprint depends entirely on assumptions about how long consumers would keep an artificial tree versus how far they would drive each year to purchase a real tree. From seedling to wood chipper Many consumers believe real Christmas trees are harvested from wild forest stands and that this process contributes to deforestation. In fact, the vast majority of Christmas trees are grown on farms for that express purpose.RELATED ARTICLESRecycling Christmas trees leaves mulch to be desiredWe Calculated How Much Trees Save for Your CityNRDC: Burning Trees to Make Electricity is an ‘Environmental Disaster’Healthy People Live With Trees To estimate the total impact of something like a Christmas tree, researchers use a method called life cycle assessment to develop a “cradle to grave” accounting of inputs and outputs required to produce, use, and dispose of it. For natural Christmas trees, this covers everything from planting seedlings to harvesting the trees and disposing of them, including equipment use, fertilizer and pesticide applications, and water consumption for irrigation. Life cycle assessments often will also estimate a system’s carbon footprint. Fuel use is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Christmas tree production. Using 1 gallon of gas or diesel to power a tractor or delivery truck releases 20 to 22 pounds (9 to 10 kilograms) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. On the positive side, Christmas trees absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, which helps to offset emissions from operations. Carbon represents about 50% of the dry weight of the wood in a tree at harvest. According to recent estimates, Christmas tree-sized conifers store roughly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide in their above-ground tissue and likely store similar amounts below ground in their roots. Christmas tree farming requires careful planning to manage a crop that takes six to seven years to mature. However, using 1 gallon of gasoline produces about the same amount of carbon dioxide, so if a family drives 10 miles each way to get their real tree, they likely have already offset the carbon sequestered by the tree. Buying a tree closer to home or at a tree lot along your daily commute can reduce or eliminate this impact. And natural trees have other impacts. In 2009, Scientific American specifically called out the Christmas tree industry for greenwashing, because growers’ press releases touted carbon uptake from Christmas tree plantations while ignoring pesticide use and carbon dioxide emissions from plantation management, harvesting, and shipping. Is synthetic better? Artificial trees have a different set of impacts. Although many people think shipping trees from factories in China takes a lot of energy, ocean shipping is actually very efficient. The largest energy use in artificial trees is in manufacturing. Producing the polyvinyl chloride and metals that are used to make artificial trees generates greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. China is working to reduce pollution from its chemical industry, but this may drive up the prices of those materials and the goods made from them. Moreover, to consider sustainability from a broader perspective, production of real Christmas trees supports local communities and economies in the United States, whereas purchasing artificial trees principally supports manufacturers in China. Going head to head Recently the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents artificial tree manufacturers, commissioned a life cycle assessment comparing real and artificial Christmas trees. The analysis considered environmental aspects of sustainability, but did not examine social or economic impacts. The report concluded that the environmental “break-even” point between a real Christmas tree and an artificial tree was 4.7 years. In other words, consumers would need to keep artificial trees for five years to offset the environmental impact of purchasing a real tree each year. One major shortcoming of this analysis was that it ignored the contribution of tree roots – which farmers typically leave in the ground after harvest – to soil carbon storage. This omission could have a significant impact on the break-even analysis, given that increasing soil organic matter by just 1% can sequester 11,600 pounds of carbon per acre. Reuse or recycle your tree Consumers can’t affect how farmers grow their live trees or how manufacturers produce artificial versions, but they can control what happens after Christmas to the trees they purchase. For artificial trees, that means reusing them as many times as possible. For natural trees, it means recycling them. This is essential to optimize the carbon footprint of a real tree. Grinding used Christmas trees and using them for mulch returns organic matter to the soil, and can contribute to building soil carbon. Many public works departments across the United States routinely collect and chip used Christmas trees after the holidays. If local tree recycling is not available, trees can be chipped and added to compost piles. They also can be placed in backyards or ponds to provide bird or fish habitat. In contrast, if a used tree is tossed into a bonfire, all of its carbon content is immediately returned to the air as carbon dioxide. This also applies to culled trees on tree farms. And if used trees are placed in landfills, their carbon content will ultimately return to atmosphere as methane because of the way materials buried in landfills break down. Methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a century, so this is the most environmentally harmful way to dispose of a used tree. All kinds of factors influence choices about Christmas trees, from fresh trees’ scent to family traditions, travel plans, and the desire to support farmers or buy locally. Regardless of your choice, the key to relieving environmental angst is planning to reuse or recycle your tree. Then you can focus on gifts to put under it.   Bert Cregg is a professor of horticulture and forestry at Michigan State University. This post originally appeared at The Conversation.last_img read more

Chot Reyes gets back at old foe

first_imgKammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Kris Aquino ‘pretty chill about becoming irrelevant’ LATEST STORIES Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 MOST READ Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion Photo from Fiba.comSmart Gilas Pilipinas’ 77-71 victory over Japan on Friday wasn’t just any other win for coach Chot Reyes. It also allowed him to get back at one of his past tormentors.The outspoken mentor finally scored a victory at the expense of Japan coach Julio Lamas, the same bench tactician who handled Argentina back in the 2014 Fiba World Cup.ADVERTISEMENT QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort Read Next Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PHcenter_img CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC View comments LSGH completes improbable climb, upsets Mapua for first crown With Japan down 38-29 at halftime, Lamas made moves that paved way for Japan to fight back from 14 points down using with 12-0 blast that gave them 40-37 lead to set up the close finish.“I think coach Julio made great adjustments to start the third quarter and even took the lead in the third. We had to make our counter adjustments and I think that proved to be important in this ballgame,” he said.Reyes also noted that the coaching landscape in the continent has also improved through the years.“All over Asia, every team have great coaches. It demands you to be at the top of your game and your adjustments, your focus has to be at a very high level because one slip up could mean the ball game,” he said.Reyes will have his hands full again on Monday as he engages on another coaching chess match against Chinese Taipei head coach Chou Chun-san.ADVERTISEMENT Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City The two coaches first met when Gilas Pilipinas and El Alma Argentina crossed paths in Seville, Spain as the Filipinos gave the Argentinians all they could handle and even threatened a massive upset against the fifth ranked team in the world which featured the likes of Luis Scola, Pablo Prigioni, and Andres Nocioni. Unfortunately for the Philippines, Argentina got its act together late and eked out the 85-81 win.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThree years later they met again, with Reyes back in the fray for the Philippines and Lamas now calling the shots for the Akatsuki Five.Reyes welcomed Lamas’ entry to the Asian basketball circuit, saying, “The good thing about playing against good coaches is that it demands you to be at your best.”last_img read more

Deontay Wilder death threats overshadow title defense

first_img“His life is on the line for this fight and I do mean his life,” Wilder said this week as he prepares for Saturday’s bout at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. “I am still trying to get me a body on my record.“Dominic Breazeale asked for this. This is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time. It’s legal. So why not use my right to do so…if he dies, he dies.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsAs ever, there is more than a suspicion of pantomime in Wilder’s remarks, born out of a hucksterish instinct to drum up interest in a fight that, tellingly, has not been deemed worthy of pay-per-view status in the United States.There is, however, undeniable bad blood between Wilder (40-0-1, 39 knockouts) and Breazeale (20-1, 18 knockouts), which can be traced back to a confrontation between the two fighters in early 2017. Duterte wants probe of SEA Games mess FILE – Deontay Wilder punches Tyson Fury in the fifth round, fighting to a draw during the WBC Heavyweight Championship at Staples Center on December 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images/AFPDeontay Wilder puts his WBC heavyweight crown on the line against Dominic Breazeale on Saturday, unfazed by a storm of criticism following his vows to cause death in the ring.Even by boxing’s lurid standards, where threats of violence are a stock-in-trade, Wilder’s gruesome pre-fight comments have been condemned by many in the sport as beyond the pale.ADVERTISEMENT DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments $575 million Qatar World Cup stadium opens to fanfare PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss MOST READ ‘Rebel attack’ no cause for concern-PNP, AFP “This is a sport, we’re not gladiators, these are not Roman times. We shake hands afterwards & go home to our families,” Bruno wrote on Twitter.Breazeale’s veteran trainer, Virgil Hunter, also joined the chorus of dismay.“I’m disappointed in Deontay. He needs to really ask himself if that’s what I’m all about,” Hunter said.“Is this the legacy I want to leave? Is this the example I want to show and come to grips with it? I think in the long run an apology is in line.”Breazeale was similarly unimpressed.“It’s definitely not appropriate, I mean come on, who says crazy stuff like that?” Breazeale said. “You never want to say that about an opponent. You have got to have sportsmanship, you have got to be professional in the sport.“You never want someone to be harmed from a fight. In this one, I understand we have personal reasons and a personal vendetta but if he gets hurt so be it. But do I ever wish death on someone? No of course not.”Wilder though has shown no sign of reining in his bravado.“I’ve always been real,” Wilder said. “I don’t worry about being politically correct.”The 33-year-old will be looking to deliver another knockout display to enhance his box office appeal still further following his last outing, a thrilling 12-round battle with Tyson Fury in Los Angeles last December. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next After featuring on the same card in Birmingham, Alabama, Wilder claims that Breazeale made threatening remarks to his brother at a hotel in the city later that night. A furious Wilder tracked down Breazeale, leading to a brawl involving the fighters’ entourages.“I just put my hand in Breazeale’s face and I told him, ‘Never come to my city threatening my family ever. Don’t ever do that,” said Wilder, who has promised to inflict fatal damage on Breazeale more than once this week.“If it happens, I’m not going to apologize,” he told reporters. “He’s been asking for this all along.”‘Disgrace to boxing’Yet Wilder’s grim trash-talking has appalled many in a sport which has seen an estimated 500 deaths since the Marquis of Queensberry Rules were first introduced in 1884.Former British world middleweight champion Nigel Benn lambasted Wilder’s comments as a “disgrace to boxing,” while former heavyweight world champion Frank Bruno said the remarks gave “boxing a bad name.”ADVERTISEMENT Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess Catholic schools seek legislated pay hike, too Two-day strike in Bicol fails to cripple transportlast_img read more

Marketing Lessons from Presidential Campaigns

center_img Another pithy insight of Moore’s is that most innovators and early adopters cannot be “found” by vendors/candidates, rather they tend to “find” you.  I had felt that insight in action in my own career.  At Groove Networks in the v1 timeframe, we spent real money on sales people and programs that uncovered prospects who paid for pilot projects, but in the final analysis, the companies that succeeded with the product in our early days were the ones that “found” us (Glaxo, HP, & Darpa in particular).  However, I am starting to change my opinion on whether these early adopters can be “found” by candidates and vendors.  Specifically, all of the early adopters in most industries today hang around the same online water cooler — the blogosphere.  Today, you can not only find your industry’s early adopters, but you can engage them on their own terms. Parametric Technology Corporation 1960’s    direct mail 1980’s    seminar road show series .  For the articles that you find most interesting, leave thoughtful comments with links back to your own sites.  The writers of the blogs will be thrilled because you are adding to the discussion and will check out your site.  The other interested readers will do the same — all goodness as you are entering the water cooler conversation. I am going to keep an eye on the upcoming presidential campaigns to see if there are any other best practices or innovative uses of technology that emerge that might be applicable to small businesses and strategy.  Despite the bad feeling in my stomach that the negative ads cause, there are a lot of smart folks and big budgets working on presidential elections and the incentives are “all or nothing,” so some good innovations should emerge from them. Originally published Jan 4, 2007 1:22:00 PM, updated March 21 2013 1990’s    email marketing In terms of the evolution of marketing tools, I would expand upon Shirley’s analogy: throughout the 1990’s.  Early majority customers were influenced by two analysts (Daratech and Dataquest) and the vendors themselves (PTC, IBM, EDS, and Autodesk).  Today, the whole “analyst” business is being disrupted by the blogosphere.  In that industry there are MANY new blogs with people talking about computer aided design and product lifecycle management software.  Potential customers are far less influenced today by the vendors than they used to be because the information that was out there in other people’s heads is now democratized and findable through search engines and blogosphere. to find it.  If you did not find the water cooler, check back in a few weeks — there are 100,000 new blogs started every day.  [If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll already know that I think you should start your own “industry” blog] Among the many interesting insights espoused in Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm” is that relatively unknown companies/candidates get their new product/message through to the mainstream marketplace by first targeting the innovators in an industry, then the early adopters who are influenced by the innovators, then the early majority who are (somewhat) influenced by the early adopters, etc., etc.  In the political blogosphere, the blog writers are the equivalent of innovators and the blog readers are the equivalent of the early adopters.  As Romney is a relative unknown compared with McCain and others, he seems to be working on this strategy by targeting the blogosphere early in his campaign process. Many relatively unknown small businesses and startups have a lot in common with Romney.  Rather than spending large amounts of money with PR agencies to influence the mainstream media, I suggest that you might consider spending time cultivating the early adopter community gathering around the blogosphere water cooler.  [As an aside, I have found that most PR companies are struggling to get their arms around the blogosphere — they have great relationships with mainstream media, but the blogosphere is too new and too decentralized for them to get a handle on how to garner influence.] When I think about how we found customers at PTC in the 1990’s, mostly it was outbound coldcalls by sales reps.  The effectiveness of that mode of communication/prospecting is dramatically lower today than it was 10 years ago.  If your phone rings on your office desk, do you pick it up?  I must admit, I don’t because I do not want to get trapped by a cold caller.  Furthermore, the internet has transformed the way people want to consume information — we have become a self-service oriented society where want to be able to do our research on our own terms.  The internet has essentially made most marketplaces more efficient (or flat as Thomas Friedman likes to say). 1940’s    phone 2000’s    blogosphering (rss, blogs, discussion forums, social bookmarking) Romney said in a New Republic article, “New media a great force for the democratization of information.  No longer can a few newspapers and TV stations control what information we have access to.”  I couldn’t agree more.last_img read more

Top 5 Inbound Marketing Articles to Start the Week: Make Love to Direct Traffic

first_img on The Marketing Spot Marketing Takeaway: business’ page on Google Places , by helping you lessen the occurrence of tactical arguments, improve your operations, and help your chief financial officer do his or her job. Avinash Kaushik Matt Ridings Use third party comments and social media marketing Take advantage of web analytics to reduce the crappiness of your funnel. Author: local search Web Analytics, The Wonder Cure for Funnel Crappiness Download the free video and why you should take advantage of the valuable opportunity it offers. Your About page should be personal and make it easy for site visitors to learn more about you. on Convince & Convert on Search Engine Land Marketing Takeaway: to establish credibility. Implement how web analytics can alleviate FC How to Maximize Your Google Places Page tools appropriately so you can correctly identify and give your direct traffic visitors the love they deserve. benefits, and tips for getting the most from your page through a five-minute video tutorial and three written tips: getting customer reviews, creating current content, and adding photos and videos. direct traffic doing. on Occam’s Razor Matt concludes his article by saying that you should measure the ROI of your social media programs as best as you can, but the inability to precisely measure ROI shouldn’t be an obstacle to social participation. Be human. Author: The article goes on to describe Certified Su 2. Is Our Addiction to ROI Killing Social Media? Don’t use meaningless jargon. Photo Credit: Make it easy to contact you. on Seth Godin’s Blog Measuring your marketing is important, but don’t obsess over ROI when it comes to He expresses the importance of maximizing your page, particularly for While we’re on the topic of web analytics, this Search Engine Land article cites a blog post by Seth Godin, which emphasizes the terrible, contagious disease that is Funnel Crappiness (FC). The solution? Web analytics, of course! Marketing Takeaway: Author: Marketing Takeaway: Jay Ehret Originally published Oct 4, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated July 19 2013 1. Excellent Analytics Tip #18: Make Love to Your Direct Traffic web analytics Marketing Takeaway: measurements can be tied directly to financial transactions, but sometimes they can’t. Additionally, he recognizes the flaw in spending more time counting than actually Kaushik’s blog post focuses on the concept of article this week, isn’t kidding, and we agree. social media Inbound Marketing Topics: . In an industry where we’re obsessed with the ability to clearly demonstrate ROI, Matt dares to question whether measuring the ROI of social media campaigns is always necessary. His main point is that sometimes Direct traffic, in the words of Avinash, “contains all visits to your website wherein people arrived at your site directly (by typing the URL) or via a bookmark.” inbound marketing Rules for Your About Page Yup — you read the headline right. Avinash Kaushik, author of our top Author: Speaking of Seth Godin, we love the simple guidelines he offers in this article for an effective ‘About’ page. Because your About page is often the first page a person visits when accessing your website for the first time, he stresses the importance of making it humanized and welcoming. Godin’s five tips: Don’t use a stock photo of someone who isn’t you. Video: Marketing Analytics 101: How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Website Seth Godin 4. Claim and optimize your Googl Evan LaPointe e Places page for local search benefits. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack testimonials ? Google Places, says Ehret, is a modern-day version of the Yellow Pages, and it comes with a free ad for every business in the form of pages. Learn how to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Website. Kaushik discusses the value of visitors who have reached your site via direct traffic, in that they are the visitors who have proactively sought you out, not those you’ve “begged” to show up. He writes about how companies generally don’t give them the love they deserve and analyzes the reasons why. to learn how to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Website. 5. Have you claimed your 3. Author:last_img read more

How to Enhance Your eCommerce Product Listings With Google

first_img Local SEO Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Nov 10, 2010 12:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Last week Google announced they will be including “rich snippets” to product related search results . What exactly does a “rich snippet” entail? Now product results will have detailed information including price, availability, reviews as well as any specific product offerings.  This recent enhancement comes at an opportune time for eCommerce companies who will be making a big holiday push, but need to act fast to take advantage of this opportunity and capture the attention of those already starting their shopping.Optimizing eCommerce Product ListingsSo, what does an eCommerce website need to do to get their products listed with this valuable information? They need to sign up for Google’s Merchant Center . Once they’ve become a merchant they’ll want to submit their products. Then in order for the rich snippet data to appear eCommerce sites need to follow instructions to marking up structured HTML data for Google to interpret and produce the appropriate snippet of information with the search listing. Ecommerce sites can test if Google is able to view and reproduce the information after they’ve marked up their HTML. Undoubtedly product results with information crucial to consumers purchasing decision will be considered over products with just a basic listing.  Consumers now have the ability to compare product offerings, reviews, and prices from different vendors directly from the search results page, making it even more critical to have information available and enticing enough to elicit a click-through to your website.Besides the recent enhancement to SERP’s eCommerce companies should register with the Google Merchant Center to take advantage of the Shopping search filter. Despite rich snippets appearing in main search results  listing your products with Google to appear in the Shopping search section puts you right infront of users who’ve decided they are searching to shop, and not just to find information which the basic web search filter primarily provides.Improving Your eCommerce Marketing StrategyEcommerce websites need to make sure their products are visible in multiple spaces and marketplaces, including search engines. Your eCommerce marketing strategy should be focused on driving traffic back to your website, but from different avenues including social media, shopping sites, and search engines. Google Merchant Center is just one of many avenues, but including your products and any other information they’ll present on the most widely used search engine is essential to competing on a level playing field.Photo credit: farnoosh last_img read more