Daily Roundup for 2008-03-06

  • The other day, a friend who runs a small business lamented that his Web site wasn’t worth the trickle of business it brought in. Something told me he’s not alone. In fact, some estimates have found the majority of small-business Web sites fail to generate revenue.  Which is too bad, because I think that entrepreneurs like my friend make a mistake by blaming the site itself, or even the medium of the Web. The problem, in my view, is not the site—it’s the lack of trust in the company behind the site. Trust is an elusive concept, of course; the sort of term bandied about freely in Marketing 101 but rarely defined adequately since any of us found ourselves in that class. Building trust is important. Building trust via your Web site is essential. Now here comes the biggie: How?
  • I am a professional board member. I’ve been sitting on boards for almost 20 years and I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen some of the best board members in action and have tried to copy them. I’ve seen some of the worst board members in action and have tried hard to forget them.  Here are some thoughts on choosing board members. This advice is for everyone, but it’s of particular use when you are a bigger company, maybe public, and need to fill your board with good people.

  • Adobe is launching a desktop application, called AIR, on Monday. Adobe says AIR will allow any company with a Web site to inhabit a permanent spot on people’s desktops. It also reduces the wait time for downloading images and data, because the desktop is constantly updated while the computer is online.
  • Al Gore will be there. Sir Bob Geldof is on the bill. So is Craig Venter, the genomic pioneer. As scores of global glitterati gather in Monterey, Calif., on Feb. 27 at the technology, entertainment, and design conference known as TED, they’ll be joined by a 21-year-old who wears low-slung pants and an oversize coat. That would be Ben Kaufman, CEO of a Burlington (Vt.) software startup called Kluster. Kaufman has landed an entire room at TED—precious real estate—to demo his new social network. It’s a Web site that brings people together to generate new ideas, products, and designs. If all goes according to plan, the event’s great minds and celebs will converge on Kluster’s virtual world to turn an idea, in the course of 72 hours, into a prototype—ideally something that will help fight disease, slow global warming, or ease the plight of the poor.
  • Alex Iskold just posted Rethinking Recommendation Engines, a product type that we here at ReadWriteWeb have explored a lot over the past year or so. In this follow-up post, we present 10 recommendation engines that we like.
  • Microsoft on Monday introduced an online ad performance metric to better gauge how consumers respond to marketing messages. The company calls the new measurement technique Engagement Mapping. It is intended to augment click-based metrics, which don’t tell online marketers very much about their customers and are susceptible to manipulation.
  • Responding to a report issued this week by an independent warranty firm indicating that the Xbox 360 has a 16.4 percent failure rate, Microsoft said today that company officials have not seen the report but question its validity.  Yesterday, warranty issuer SquareTrade revealed the results of its recent examination of Xbox 360 failure rates. The company said that, based on a sample group of 1,000 warrantees it had issued, 16.4 percent had service calls — more than half for general hardware failures (a.k.a. Three Red Lights) and the rest for disk drive problems, hardware freezes and other issues.

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