The Importance of Good Copy: “One of the interesting things about direct mail is that it’s quite easy to measure success rates. For instance in most campaigns they will send out 2 or more versions and then see which produces the best results. This has lead direct mail copywriters to get very good a writing copy that sells.”

In the comments, a link to this (it turns out) classic of direkt marketing copy, which is discussed here.

One of the things I never quite got was the gap between direkt marketers and the other marketers. I guess it’s cultural, I just don’t get exactly how it works.

Any bloggers in Medellin, Colombia, get in touch. I’m visiting in January and would like to meet up.

Humanity will survive information deluge – Sir Arthur C Clarke: Sir Arthur Clarke spoke with science writer Nalaka Gunawardene at his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka: “I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that, on balance, even bad TV is preferable to no TV at all. […] Because we frequently suffer from the scourge of information pollution, we find it hard to imagine its even deadlier opposite – information starvation. I get very annoyed when I hear arguments – usually from those who have been educated beyond their intelligence – about the virtues of keeping happy, backwards people in ignorance. […] Just as our ancestors quickly realised that no one was going to force them to read the entire library of a thousand books, we are now overcoming the initial alarm at the sheer weight of available information – and coming to understand that it is not the information itself that determines our future, only the use we can make of it.”

Why libraries are becoming more valuable: “Paul Deane admits the numbers are rather surprising. In the past three years, his Round Lake Area Library has seen its circulation increase by 20 percent to 25 percent each year. And this year, despite a reduction in hours that limits the library’s operating schedule to 40 hours a week, circulation is up again.”

Cellphone tips

I have a cellphone with Cingular, and opted to get the extra line for 9.99 a month (a good deal). What I learned is this (also true with Verizon): if you get a phone or an extra line, the first year, you cannot cancel the contract. Well, you can, but it costs more to cancel than to keep it open. In this case, they charge 200$ to cancel the contract, versus $80 to keep it open 8 more months, after which cancelling is free.

By the way, if you’re still with Verizon, consider Cingular. They seem distinctly less evil, for now.

Is the tide turning? I regularly (every month or so) try out a different search engine for a few searches. For the first time in many years, I got a better result at a search engine that’s not Google. A search for sites linking to this one found over 11,000 results at AlltheWeb, and only 71 (many that didn’t seem to make sense) at Google.

Community phones connect SA townships: “Old cargo containers in the South African township of Langa are offering people a chance to connect to the rest of the world. The metal boxes are home to community telephone shops offering cheap calls in one of the oldest and poorest townships in the Cape Town area.”

Brazil bets on Linux cybercafes: “Unemployed and living in one of the poorest areas of Sao Paulo City, which has a high rate of violence and little to do, 19-year-old Jose Antonio de Oliveira Silva used to spend most of his time at home. But that all changed with the opening in Cidade Tiradentes of a “telecenter”, a free internet cafe set up by the local authority.”

Simon outlines a content management approach that provides versioning, extremely easy content creation and can be implemented very quickly. He created 2 wikis, pointed both of them to the same database, and used one for editing (I assume with a password) and one for display (hiding all the wiki-like links and editing the template to look more like a site).

I like it muchly.

Oh boy! The new Battlestar Galactica comes with chicks, and: “The look and feel of the four-hour miniseries contrasts not only with the original, but also with the rest of science fiction television at large. Grand, cinematic, Star Wars-like battle tableaus have been replaced with a “reality space” aesthetic.”

WorldChanging: “CIDA City Campus in downtown Johannesburg is the first university in South Africa to offer students a free, ‘open-access’ education. It was founded five years ago by an amazing man, Taddy Blatcher, with no resources. He literally announced that the school was open for students without having a building, professors, a curriculum or anything else that might be useful in providing students with a four year business degree. By the time his first batch of students turned up he had most of those things in place (including a building donated by an investment bank which was unused due to crime in downtown Johannesburg).”

OK so I’m linking to every single post at worldchanging. So what.

Fatema Mernissi: “But to better understand the empowerment dynamics of satellite broadcasting, one has to keep in mind the intense competition not only among channels but also among satellite operators which is forcing everyone to switch as fast as possible from manufacturing propaganda to responding attentively to the citizens’ needs for credible communicators. And of course the Sheherazade profile, the brainy, self-confident storyteller is in big demand.”

An unexpected side effect of changing a site to a new system and thereby breaking all the old URL’s, is that Google ads no longer shows up the relevant ads it did before. The difference is really quite dramatic, and translates in a clickthrough rate that has halved from 1.5% to 0.7%. I guess I just have to wait until Google spiders the site again.

Great ideas 101: “People would like to do this in their 40s; we’re starting it when we’re 20,” says Sharma, a finance and international business major. “Just to see someone who’s my age, who’s my peer saying, `I’m starting my own business, and if you want you can join me,’ I said, `Wow.’ You see someone around you doing something and doing so well, and you think, `I can do that too.’ “

Fast Company | Practical Radicals: “Ever since she arrived as a child from Mexico, Maricela Gallegos has heard the same question: Couldn’t she Americanize her name? “Mary” would be so much easier to pronounce. “I say, No, my name is Maricela. All my brothers and sisters changed their names. They always said to me, ‘Why do you go against the grain? Roll with the punches.’ But I could never do that. I’d be shortchanging myself. […] I was trying to conform enough to be effective, but not so much as to be co-opted. […] I compromised myself in exchange for the power of the institution”.

A story on people who change the rules slowly, from the inside.