Monthly Archives: June 2009

FPF Raffle – Quadricentennial Edition – Enter by July 1

Posted on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 by 10 comments

Front Porch Forum Raffle Time! Did you know that it’s been 400 years since the first European laid eyes on our fair lake? Help mark the occasion… fill in the two blanks in the following sentence and post it to your FPF neighborhood forum to enter our raffle…

If I had a _________ for every year since Samuel de Champlain first saw Lake Champlain, I’d have _________.

Do it for fun. Do it for your love of our lake. Do it for a chance to win a prize. Or do it to help enliven your FPF neighborhood forum… But do it by July 1! Here are two efforts…

If I had a PENNY for every year since Samuel de Champlain first saw Lake Champlain, I’d have FOUR DOLLARS.

If I had an INCH OF RAIN for every year since Samuel de Champlain first saw Lake Champlain, I’d have OUR WET SUMMER OF 2009.

FPF members… copy and paste the unfinished sentence into a new email message and fill in the two blanks. Email it to [FPFneighborhoodforumname] or post it via the web by going to, logging in, then clicking Post a Message: Using the Web.

Enter (multiple times if you like) on or before July 1, 2009. Act FAST! Bonus points if your entry has something to do with your neighborhood/town. Prizes as follows (one pair of tickets to each of the following events will be awarded):

July 5 – The Roots
July 5/6/7 – Only Drunks & Children Tell the Truth
July 7 – King Sunny Ade
July 8 – Counterpoint
July 9/10/11 – Territoires Feminins
July 11 – Ween
July 12 – Water Music
July 13/14 – Aurelia’s Oratorio

Thanks to our sponsors: Higher Ground, Burlington International Waterfront Festival and Burlington City Arts! Learn more about the Quadricentennial at

UPDATE: See the eight winners and many of the other entries!

Facebook money-making challenge

Posted on Monday, June 29, 2009 by No comments yet

An interesting piece by Bernard Lunn on Read Write Web recently.  In part…

… the thought that kept coming back to me is that Facebook’s bravado, its “grand vision” talk, is what you would expect from a concept-level startup. Surely by now, about 6 years into its venture, Facebook should show some substance? It is time to deliver some real financial results. The concept-level talk is great for attracting capital and talent. Facebook has done that brilliantly. But the point of attracting capital and talent is to be able to generate financial results.

Anybody who criticizes Facebook’s financial results gets accused of being small-minded, of missing the point, of (gasp!) “not getting it.” In digerati circles, not getting it is like having body odor. Facebook is changing the world, they say. It is a new form of communication, akin to the printing press. Once you get to scale, profits always follow. Google created a service without knowing how to monetize it.

In fact, far too much money has been invested (in both Facebook and hundreds of “me too” ventures) based on that one premise, that “Google created a service without knowing how to monetize it.” The statement is true. If it had not devised the AdWords revenue model, Google would perhaps have sold some kind of enterprise search technology to Fortune 500 companies and rented banner ads on its home page. With AdWords, it found the perfect native revenue model for search, meeting two contradictory needs at the same time:

  1. Do not irritate or interrupt the user, and even occasionally add value for the user.
  2. Provide a compelling value proposition to paying customers.

The problem is that Facebook does not seem to have a clue how to do that. Google did not wait 6 years to unveil AdWords, and when it did unveil it, revenue and profit took off like a rocket. Facebook keeps trying. But to date, its attempts look weak and subject to diminishing returns.

There is a world of difference between increasing returns (what Google gets) and diminishing returns (what Facebook gets with its current strategy). That one-word difference equals billions of dollars.

… Facebook’s revolutionary alternative is to allow consumers to invite brands to communicate with them, like we used to invite companies to send us emails. That would get over-used and spammy in a heartbeat. Highly innovative brands would do well, as they always do in a new medium, but the law of diminishing returns would apply. By the time this model scaled, and it would have to if Facebook wants to move the revenue needle, users will have switched off in droves.

These are the diminishing returns. The more the model scales, the more it will irritate users, and the more users will switch off, and the sooner growth will slow down and reverse. As with email, Facebook can “make up for this with volume.” But unlike with email, which is virtually free, Facebook has to pay money to serve each user.

Sorry, “Coca-Cola wants to be your friend” is in no way an enduring revenue model. If it sounds phony, maybe that is because it is phony.

The one lesson from social media marketing is that authenticity matters. What no one has shown — and methinks this would be impossible — is how to scale authenticity.

This is where behavioral marketing supposedly comes in. Wired calls this the “third rail of Internet marketing.” … Or, as Wired puts it, “As the Beacon debacle showed, there is a fine line between ‘targeted and useful’ and ‘creepy and stalkerish’ — and so far, not enough advertisers have been willing to walk that line.”

Facebook talks a great game about helping the world to communicate. It tries to sound like a group of benevolent revolutionaries. But then it turns to really old-fashioned tools to make money. Its basic message to marketers seems to be, “We have ’em locked in. Yep, Google can’t see them, so we are the only way to get to them. And not only that, we can tell you what every one of them is doing and saying right now. Step right up, folks!”

The one thing that Facebook has on its side is trust. Users trust the company with their real identities. That is massive. Break that trust and bye-bye.

Mapping LA

Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 by No comments yet

From The Local Onliner

The Los Angeles Times ambitious Mapping LA project, which classifies 30,000 city blocks by neighborhood and soft launched in February, has made 100 changes based on 1,500 comments from readers…

By taking on the mapping project, adds Smith, the Paper did something that the city government is “seldom eager” to do, nor The Thomas Guide, which is used by Realtors and others. But enough is enough. The paper won’t revisit boundaries until results from the 2010 census are in.

This is a rare undertaking.  Front Porch Forum has completed this task in its pilot region of 20 Vermont towns and it hasn’t been easy or without controversy.  That last line about “enough is enough” sounds familiar!

Oh… and what the LA Times is calling a “neighborhood” covers about 35,000 people.  FPF’s neighborhoods encompass closer to 1,000 each… the people within a few hundred households from each other.