Clue Unit #17: Transparency Rapid-fire – May 31, 2007

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Episode 17, about 30 minutes.

Clue Unit Episode #17 Transparency Rapid Fire

Todays Topics:

  •     Google Street Views
  •     Transparency and TV
  •     Data as Transparency
  •     Facebook Applications

Related Links:

Screens on Flickr

Street Level Views

Phone Plans and Transparency
Esse Quam Videre –
Be Rather Than To Seem


Vs. Elizabeth on the View
(yes, we discussed it, thanks Jake!)
Transparency Linked to Trust and Effectiveness
Computer as Replacement for TV
Weekly – Are You Killing TV?

Twitter is
it transparency?

in Wikinomics

Developers and Applications

How To Cancel An XDrive Account

As part of our VRM discussion at the Internet Identity Workshop last week, one of the ideas we talked about was having a "personal data store" of interactions with vendors, and having a place to document sales, marketing and support interactions from OUR side (the customer’s side).  Here’s some more on the concept, from Doc Searls’ photo stream. (Go ahead, click that link.)

While the idea of the "personal data store" is still in development, there’s no reason why we can’t blog the public parts this stuff, both for our own records as well as to help to feed the nascent community of others who may encounter similar issues with vendors in the future.  So, to that end, here’s how to cancel an Xdrive account (in this case, the whole process took about 10 minutes once their phone number was located):


When you go to the Xdrive website to try to cancel the account, the roach-motel help system will inform you to "call the 800# or send an email" to cancel your account.  However, doing this search on the Xdrive site actually doesn’t GIVE you an 800# – I tried for 20minutes to find either an 800# or a support email address without success, and finally found a contact # on another website. 

Xdrive makes the cancellation as difficult as possible.  So, here’s how to do it.

1)  Call Xdrive at 866.GO.XDRIVE (866.469.3748)
2)  Choose the "Billing" option from the phone tree
3)  Answer the myriad questions that the customer service rep will have for you

Make sure you ask for the following pieces of information for your own records:

a) Your cancellation confirmation number (this is a 9 digit number)
b) The agent’s "headset number" (my agent was #:14320)
c) Also, record the time of the call (mine was about 10:35am PDT on 26May2007)

At this point, the account should be canceled.

Note:  Xdrive is now owned by AOL, it appears.


N.B.  It would be cool to have a microformat for customer-side support records.  I could imagine structuring the following types of items:

– Vendor Name (e.g. Xdrive)
– Contact method (e.g. phone, email, etc.)
– Contact method details (e.g. 866.469.3748)
– Vendor contact identifier (e.g. "14320" or support person’s name or extension #)
– Issue description (e.g. "Cancel an account")
– My URL/URI (e.g.
– The call notes
– Related vendors (e.g. AOL)

If we tracked these things, we’d all (a) individually have our own records of these interactions (just like the types of systems that Customer Service Reps have on US) and (b) as a bonus, we free the public portions of the interaction to help other customers similar to ourselves down the road when they search for this stuff online.

Clue Unit #15: Interview with Deb Schultz on Transparency – May 24, 2007

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Episode 15, about 30 minutes.

Today’s Topic: Interview with Deb Schultz on

About Deb:
Deb Schultz is a
consultant and speaker who describes herself as an evangelist and rabble-rouser
in the relationship economy.  She is the former Marketing Director of Six
Apart, makers of blogging platforms
Movable Type,
Vox and
Live Journal.

With Jake McKee, Lee LeFever and Christopher Carfi.

Related notes and links:

Transparency = Authenticity
Apart offers refund due to poor Typepad performance

jokes about incoming CEO

Apple and Google and Transparency
Schwartz’s Blog

Transparency may not be for everyone
The value of baby steps
How to start with transparency: ask questions, start a blog
Craig Newmark,
Craigslist and valuing
Use the word "I" as in "I believe" vs "the company believes"
Huge connection between transparency and community
In today’s world, you cannot lie
Across America blog

Ask – Why am I creating this company/product and what do I owe my customers?

Bonus link:
Tyranny from

Thanks for the great interview Deb!

Sun Microsystems and Ambient Conversation

It’s not unusual to see product reviews on a product site of a manufacturer.  We’re seen this for years.  Usually, we’ll find a few snippets of information, or a quote that (perhaps) was pulled out of context to show a product in its best light.

But what Sun has done goes steps beyond.  These really aren’t "reviews" per se.  Sun called these pieces "perspectives," but what they really represent is the ambient conversation that is going on around their products.

On Sun’s product pages, they’ve included a tab called "Perspectives," which pulls content from both Sun’s over 3,200 employee blogs, but also from across the web at large.


(These examples are pulled from the Sun X4200 product page at:

There are plenty of posts about specs and feeds and speeds, but now let’s check out some of the flow that is coming into this product page.


In particular, that last link goes offsite to here, a site called cuddletech.


The kneejerk reaction is "why on EARTH" would Sun link from its site to a customer site that contains paragraphs like:

"I want X4100’s, NOT M2 BULLSHIT. I want lots of them and I want
them quickly. I want a SunSolve worth paying for. I want a
that has been updated and more easily navigated than what we had 5
years ago. And most of all, I don’t want to keep hearing that Dell
doesn’t have these problems!!!"

Why would Sun link there?  Because that’s where the conversation is happening, and it’s where the "live web" part of the customer experience is being documented, in real time, by a passionate customer.

A prospective customer will trip across the Sun page, go over to the diatribe, and then find the following:

"UPDATE2: I’m getting an absolute flood of mails from people
expressing the same frustrations that I mention and that we see in the
comments here. Sun Executives are aware of this and responded
immediately from the very top down. Sun may have its problems, but one
thing that I’ve always found to be true is that they are forthright,
honest, and responsive. I’m extremely appreciative of Sun’s
understanding and response. Remember, they can’t change if we don’t
make our demands known! Just switching to Dell doesn’t send a clear
message unless you tell them
why you’re switching to Dell.  And what’s clear is we don’t want to buy Dell, but rather people feel they don’t have a choice.  But we do!  Sun is our company! Let’s help it be successful and drive it towards excellence. Remember,
despite it all we’ve got one hell of a base to build on!"

And then they would find the problem resolution, and a recognition of the process.

"UPDATE5: Wes Adams, Corporate Account Manager, Sun Enterprise
Sales Group, has helped us overcome our supply issues helping to push
through pending orders that previously were 3 weeks away, now the
system will be in our VAR’s warehouse on Monday morning at the latest.
We’re very pleased and appreciative.

I want to thank John Fowler, Andy Currid, Wes Adams, Johnathan Schwartz
and everyone at Sun for being so responsive to my inquires and taking
all of them very seriously."

Good on ya, Sun.  Nice job, both on the willingness to open up, as well as the handling of the particular customer issue.

(hat tip: skrocki’s weblog)

Clue Unit #14: Non-traditional Discussion of Transparency – May 23, 2007

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Episode 14, about 30 minutes.

Today’s Topic: Non-traditional Discussion of

  •     Spammer Contacts Jake
  •     Flickr Censors User
  •     Engadget Drops Apple’s Stock Price
  •     Heather and Derek Leave JPG Magazine

 Jake McKee, Lee LeFever and Christopher Carfi.

off comments at Community due to spam

responds, comments return

Eliza AI

Censors Photographer’s Plea
User’s Blog Response

Post Drops Apple Stock by 4 billion in 20 minutes

Engadget Post

Email from Apple

and Derek Leave JPG Magazine

Why I
did it – Post by Derek


JPG Magazine

Conference Chatter:
Dopplr – Travel-based
PC to TV

Twitter applied to real world
friends and family

Supernova Approaches

Supernova_wharton_2A bunch of notable stuff hitting the radar in advance of Supernova2007, which is happening here in San Francisco in June.  Just learned about two aspects of the conference week that looked especially interesting.

Challenge Tracks – The Supernova team has been putting together a number of interesting conversations around "challenges" to either conventional wisdom or current hype.  These include:

Challenge Track: Markets & Relationships—Finding the ‘Individual’ Point of View

Relationships are becoming the new marketing. Now that we have expanded
people’s networks through technology and ready access to information,
they are self-organizing in ways that allow them to leverage their
relationships as never before. They are inventing new products and
media. And they are demanding that business relate to them on their

Many terms are being used to talk about the newly empowered
“individual”: engagement, attention, community, authenticity, and
trust. Yet buzzwords alone provide little insight.  This Challenge
Track will assemble a variety of business disciplines to cut through
the confusion, and examine key market issues from the individual’s
point of view.  It will feature five sessions:

  • Session I: Introduction to the new Relationship Economy
  • Session II: Relate: Markets are Conversations, Part 2
  • Session III: Reach: The new role of Advertising
  • Session IV: Research & Measure: It’s about more than Metrics
  • Session V: Where’s the Innovation?: Examples and Implications of the Relationship Economy

Challenge: Virtual Life or Virtual Hype?

Do most people really want to be immersed in 3D virtual worlds?  And
what are the real business benefits of these massively multiplayer
environments? This session will examine which activities will migrate
to virtual environments, and when physical forms will continue to

Challenge: Web Tools—Collaboration and Disruption in the Enterprise

How can businesses take advantage of the open, networked, user-centric
innovations that power so much of the new activity on the public Web?
What are the tools that promote real efficiency and group
participation, and how will they change the way organizations behave?

Also, the Supernova team has set up an Open Space day that is going to get the kindling going for the rest of the week (it’s limited to 200 folks, and it is only $25 to attend the open space, so get on the list soon if’n you’re going).  From the site:

The Supernova Open Space Workshop is an open forum on the social, moral, technical, and strategic questions impacting the increasingly connected world in which we live. Discussions about topics like user control, neutrality, identity and open standards are setting the stage for future policies and economic decisions. Come to this event to learn more, participate in the community and shape the future of the New Network.

The Supernova Open Space Workshop is run on Open Space practices and principles. There are no pre-scheduled presentations, no keynotes, no panels. Instead, topics for discussion, questions are posed and presentations are offered up by participants when the workshop convenes, and scheduled the day it happens. Participants in the workshop need not be attending Supernova, although all Supernova attendees are welcomed and encouraged to participate. We hope to find ways to pull some of the insights from the Open Space Workshop into the more traditionally structured days of Supernova.

Check it out.

Michael Clarke At The 30…At the 20…He’s at the 10…

Michael Clarke at Green Tea Ice Cream takes the The Customer Owns Your Brand post and runs way downfield with it.  Great post.  Read the whole thing. Clarke:

"The argument (roughly that customers own your brand, that on a
socially networked planet, you cannot control their understanding of
what your brand is and that you have no choice but to engage in a
direct, multiple-levelled conversation with those pesky individuals you
expect to GIVE YOU MONEY!) isn’t new but his expression of it is
direct, devastatingly illustrated and distils the nuggets of wisdom you
might normally find spread thinly across several books-worth of popular
online marketing platitudes (you know the kind of book I mean) into a
single gnarly post.

Again, this isn’t new – most famously, Intel applied this very strategy back in the mid-nineties during the Pentium floating point debacle.  Andy Grove spun it out into one of those books
which illustrates how a) a PR disaster was turned around by a (then)
unusual act of honesty on the part of a chip manufacturer and b) how
the whole mess pushed Intel into the business of being a consumer brand
– a service company. Grove calls those moments in a company’s life
strategic inflexion points (see short portrait at Thinking Managers)
(guilty confession – it’s one of the more over-used phrases in my
vocabulary). Still, Intel was arguably in a position to have toughed it
out if they wanted to. Now, that isn’t an option. Here are three recent

Go there to see the excellent examples he gives from Sony, Digg and Flickr.