Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I met Seth in Aspen. He's a "keeper". It turns out that he's a good friend of Halley's. I could have guessed.

During the marketing discussion in Aspen, Seth was one of the few people who I thought really "got it".

He has a thread on his blog about the purple polar bear that "increased visitor numbers to the zoo by 50%."

Some people argued that it was a hoax, then Seth dug in and is now convinced that it is true. He says he doesn't want anymore email about it. ;-)

Where's Halley's blog?!?


I once had a blue hamster :)

I think Halleys renovating but not sure.


I don't think he really got it, Joichi. I've read two of his books, and even though they've been hugely influential and sought to fill the vacuum in the field of e-marketing, they're prettry much flawed.

i mean, C'mon people, Seth godin is the bloke who rationalised a framework for sending people more SPAM. that's what permission marketing is: have you even received any of tose email whose subject tile reads: *" asks your permission to send you more info regarding..."* If yes, then you know what i mean...

Permission traps aside, i have to admit that i like some of his ideas, but i can't say he's got it.

Joi told me the comments thing was addictive. This appears to be true.

George, I appreciate the comment, but I don't know if you really read what I wrote. Just because spammers are misusing the phrase doesn't meant that's what I said.

What I said was that marketing that is "anticipated, personal and relevant" is the only kind worth doing. A spammer who sends you spam asking for (or pretending he has) permission is just plain wrong. If you get interrupted with something YOU decide you didn't want to get, that's spam.

I was out on a limb when I wrote that five years ago (people pooh poohed (can I say "pooh pooh"?) me as being alarmist. Today, it's obvious stuff.

So, put me down on the politically correct, non-spam, in favor of the consumer, power to the people side of the equation.


I've read your books (Permission Marketing and Ideavirus), and in general terms, i really liked them. no bullshit.

However, what i gathered from the first book is that permission marketing's core thesis is about two things: permission and email,which are inextricably linked to each other within the context of the book, and their fusion, when applied to markets by headstrong marketers invariably results in spam.

As you wrote: "If the marketing messages you send are anticipated, relevant and personal, they will cut through the clutter and increase the prospect's knowledge of the benefits you offer". so far so good. Seems you're really good with words (i am not joking. i really like your style and nerve). you never prompt anyone to spam people, you never mention that word anyway, and you advocate a sympathetic approach to marketing, where marketers first establish some sort of vague connection, and only then they go on offering promotions and click through gigs.

maybe i got it all wrong, but for once, i agree with Chris Locke. I suppose you've read his "Gonzo Marketing", so you know what i'm talking about.

and yes, maybe times 've changed and we'all entitled to changing our minds, espcecially when trying to infuse marketing into a space so oblivious to marketing things, like cyberspace.

however, if you still feel like disproving me, i've a couple of questions for you:

How could "permission marketing" work in an online community space while making sure not to alienate community members? Would its implementation be dependent upon the technological infrastrure deployed by the community (ie. collaborative filtering/weblog or portal) and upon the strictly corporate (usually top-down enforced and strictly focused upon a specific company, industry or product line) or non-corporate (products and services are discussed among community members without organisational intervention) character of the space?

2 -
How could "viral marketing" (or "marketing as an ideavirus" according to you) work in an online community space while making sure not to alienate community members? Is it necessary (for "viral marketing" to deliver) that the marketer is the one responsible with injecting the "initial epidemic message" into the community veins or could it also work when community members are the ones who initiate the "epidemic" and if yes, how could such a process be designed so that it has a sustainable effect (be replicable)?

3 -
You wrote that “In creating an ideavirus, we aren't buying space -- we're producing an environment, one where an idea can replicate and spread” and “Whenever advertisers build their business around the strategy of talking directly to the customer, they become slaves to the math of interruption marketing. What marketers are now on the lookout for -- and we're all marketers now -- is something that taps into the invisible currents that run between and among consumers. Instead of talking to -- or at -- consumers, we have to help consumers talk to one another”. However, Chris Locke has counterargued that [you claim]" that the future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other. Ignite consumer networks and get out of the way and let them talk. But what exactly is a ‘consumer network’? People tend to join into self-selecting communities online, but unless we’re talking about buying clubs, they don’t typically aggregate around products. Instead, they come together around common interests. They may ‘consume’ products in the process, but this consumption is a side effect. They do not network as the ‘consumers’ business has seen them as for a century, but as new tribes of hunter/gatherers”. What is your view on this? And how can a consumer network be designed/implemented successfully so that consumers are empowered to market to each other?

if you don't feel like answering the above questions, that's OK. maybe it's just me, after all it's 6 o'clock in the morning right now, so i probably don't make much of a sense. no hard feelings, and yes, as Joichi says, comments are addictive indeed.

Seth can answer those questions himself (or choose not to), but my reaction to this thread:

As Seth notes, Permission Marketing explictly disclaims spam. Repeatedly.

Re: #1. Developing a marketing program that "doesn't alienate community members" is a false goal. Yes, it's an ideal, but c'mon, this is the Internet! People flame and bitch and moan all the time about the stupidest things. Yes, there are things you should do as a marketer to minimize the likelihood of that happening, but good marketing sometimes intentionally alienates certain classes of people.

Example: A friend of mine ran a hugely popular game site. Great, except it was popular with people who don't like to spend money on games. He shut it down and re-launched it as a pay-to-play site. It alienated 90% of his user base and they flamed him mercilessly. The other 10% paid up and he's finally profitable. Was that wrong?

The whole community of interests thing is great if you can tap into it, but it doesn't automatically negate other tried-and-true marketing methods. What if the community learns about your product via an advertisement into an email newsletter for that community? Is that wrong?

Of course not.

OT - my brush with greatness: Chris Locke lives down the street from me. We just did a presentation about blogging to RMIUG a few weeks ago. Speaking of which, if Joi, Seth & others get a half-day or so of free time after Aspen, feel free to swing by Boulder for a cup of coffee on the way back to DIA. :)

first of all, with respect to Seth's book, i might be wrong. it's been some time since i read it, and my memory is highly *selective*. in other words, i tend to forget very easily, and usually remember things the way i wanna remember them.

Derek, there's lots of food for thought in what you say. i don't think it's evil marketing if you just add a couple of lines reading something like "candyXXX makes you so groovy that you'll jump off your head" at the bottom of an email, and many people i know of, including myself, don't mind about it. and as seth says, sometimes this can be more than enough to trigger a marketing epidemic. remember the early days of hotmail where every email sent had a signature reading "get your free email at"? anyway, many community sites seem to thrive on such business plans, ie. eCrush., and that's good for them i suppose.

what i'm sceptical about though is ventures like this friend's of yours' site (although your friend is running a game site, rather than a community site trying to eke out a profit from chat rooms, member pages, etc).

usually when 90% of the community goes mental with how they've been treated by the bloke who owns the servers, they don't stay for long, and with them, their friends decide to move to another virtual shelter where their community will be resurected again. what i'm trying to say 's that most community sites, whatever that has come to mean especially within an e-commerce context, rely on connections among people. so, if some people flock away, and they have a good excuse for doing so, such as when their site has been turned to a pay-per-join club, then it's only a matter of time until some more people pack up and go too. and then some more and more. it's the law of the herd.

I think the ah-ha moment with my friend was realizing that the real "herd" was the 10% who were willing to pay, not the 90% that now have to look for somewhere else to freeload.

Marketing is a process, not an event. Yes, a lot of people defected. But enough people stayed that he can have a viable business. And now he can focus on serving (and selling more to) that 10% much better than he could before.

His approach won't work for everyone. No marketing trick does. But that doesn't negate the value of Pemission Marketing, the Ideavirus etc.

Chris Locke has some good ideas, too, but I don't think he's actually done any marketing (save for his personal brand) for a long time. Cluetrain is a perfect example of an Ideavirus. It likely never would've gone anywhere had Chris not happened to meet WSJ columnist Thomas Petzinger in a bar. He wrote about it in his column and mentioned the web site. Shortly afterward book publishers started knocking on Chris's door. That's a heck of a sneeze! :)

i think that it is somewhat belive able!!!

I read about it. The polar bear went purple cuz of medicine, right?

Well, that's what i read.

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