Has Facebook reverted to lies to tempt us into foolish behaviour?

Here's a thing that has puzzled me lately: most times I've logged into Facebook I've been met by Facebook ads claiming this or that friend of mine on the network has used Facebook Friendfiender, urging me to follow their lead.

The thing that's puzzled me about this is that a substantial portion of my Facebook friends are very savy when it comes to technology and privacy. Quite a few of them are journalists well versed in how to protect their privacy and their sources online, and I just couldn't imagine any of these giving Facebook access to their email boxes and -contacts by using Friendfiender. Others are privacy and/or anti-surveillance campaigners, I could't quite see them using Friendfiender either. So when Facebook claimed my FB-friend Leo Plaw, a web developer and artist, had used Friendfiender I shot him an email to double-check. Here's his reply:

"Thanks for heads up. Facebook is lying. FB has become the sneakies bunch of weasels. Blog that one."

Maybe I should start double-checking every time Faceboook claims one or more of my FB-friends have used Friendfinder. This sort of advertisement woud be against the law under Norwegian jurisdisction as it's misleading. I wonder, how does it hold up under US jurisdiction?

Twitter vs Facebook: which is more effective for mobilising people to act?

Recent events has had me pondering if Twitter is not far superior to Facebook when it comes to mobilising people to actually take action and do something in the real world.

It was fascinating to hear Suw Charman-Anderson attribute much of the success of the Ada Lovelace campaign she ran earlier this year (I wrote about it here) to Twitter during this Media140 panel back in May. In contrast, many people joined the Facebook group she set up, but few seemed to do something actively after they joined. This sentiment was echoed by her husband Kevin, who found Twitter ever so much more useful than Facebook during his US roadtrip on behalf of The Guardian (I interviewed him about it here, in Norwegian).

Now, in both these cases we are talking about a fairly tech-savy audience, but clearly Facebook's where the major mainstream audience is - surely, that's a lot more useful from a marketing point-of-view, right? The experiences using social media to promote Wandsworth Common Beer Festival, presented in this interesting slide show found via Knut Albert, had me think perhaps not:

I must admit that I personally much prefer Twitter to Facebook, and I have a much more passive relationship to the groups I join or fan pages I sign up to on Facebook than information shared on Twitter. Often, the groups I join are just for fun or a symbolic show of support more than anything I think I'll ever do much with. My Twitter network is so much more relevant to my work and professional interests than Facebook, which is more of a mixed bag. Also, Facebook is more personal - a way to keep up with people not on Twitter, or people or projects I've "known" for quite some time" (mostly in real life). But I feel myself going over well known territory saying that, we all now Facebook and Twitter are different, that's not really my point, but I'm curious to learn/ see more of how effective the two sites are for moblising people to act - surely, that is a marketeers ultimate object, right?

Am I all wrong in thinking Twittter might be superior to Facebook here, and if so: in which cases are Facebook the better site to entice people to take action?

Remembering 7/7

It must have been some of the most surreal 24 hours of my life: 6 July 2005 went by in an excited haze as I found myself handling extraordinarily good news, the day after I was dealing with the worst possible kind - while not knowing if near and dear ones were caught up in the events.

Back then I was a PR, in charge of the media side at Visit Britain's Norway office. 6 July that year it was announced London had won the 2012 Olympics, the next morning four bombs exploded on London's public transport network. Superficially put, the British tourism industry went from a day of celebration to one in shock and mourning - though all those questions about the terrorist attack's impact on tourism I fielded from media on 7/7 seemed to come from far, far away. I had moved my stuff back from London only a few months earlier, and still had half my life there: my ex, friends, former colleagues - all these people I didn't know if were safe. It was as if the floor fell out from under my feet and I had to keep on moving as if nothing had happened.

Luckily, I'm rather good at dealing with such scenarios - it always takes a bit of time for things to really sink in for me, by which time I will often have organised the funeral and written the obit - but I don't think I'd ever had to work harder to keep calm than on 7/7 and in the days that followed. As it turned out, I was very lucky in that none of "mine" where caught up in the events, but the city I had called my home up until very recently was, it hit so close to home, and I've found myself thinking about it quite a bit these last few days, after Jackie Danicki first raised the issue on Facebook.

To think, the evening before I was prepping my boss to go on a popular evening TV-show to talk about the Olympics, accompanying her there, then all hell broke loose the day after. Looking back, I wish we'd had a blog to get information up instantly, our CMS was hopeless, a Twitter account would also have been stellar for getting useful information out quickly- too bad Twitter wasn't invented yet. I only got to introduce blogs and wikis to the organisation the year after, but tools like these do make crisis communication so much easier. And I guess I wish PR didn't have to be "on message" in such scenarios, though, luckily, it didn't fall to us to speculate about the impact on tourism in figures and numbers: it was hardly what I found myself worrying about on 7/7...

If the situation wasn't so tragic, there would have been an excellent parody in it: both the journalist and the PR dealing in what felt like non-essentials. The former asking how it would impact London as a tourist destination before we even knew the number of casualties, the latter trying to put a terrorist attack in perspective, though I was also lucky to have a boss who agreed with me that our number one task was helping people find the right, most up to date information, not trying to make it less than what it actually was - and again, it would have been invaluable to be able to use social media to get that information out there...

What I've been reading and pondering of late

Obviously, this is not a complete list. Usually I just save my favourite links to delicious, but, since this blog revolves around the many facets of how the communcations industry is changing, here's a few really interesting links to chew on:

Eirikso: "Free, but not that free…" Eirik Solheim's contribution to the blograce leading up to Wednesday's Media Evolution 2009 where they're dicussing Chris Anderson's thought on the economics of free.

Mediainfluencer: "Brand as identity and branding as behaviour",
excellent as always from Adriana on branding and its role in business strategy. "..the bad news for the branding folks is that messages and projections are not what they used to be. The good news is that a company can define its identity and behave according to who they want to be. That sounds like a good trade-off to me."

Richard Burton: Is Fleet Street a Dead End or the New Super Highway? The former editor of the Daily Telegraph online, now managing editor of The JC, on the challenges of getting the Telegraph to embrace the online mindset and opportunities, and on the media future. Richard warned me this was a transcript and as such not entirely accurate, but that the general gist was correct. It does make for fascinating reading (I may still find time to post some of my thoughts on it later).

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents
Not so much a link to ponder perhaps, but still an interesting development: Reporters Without Borders has published a Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents (pdf, 81 p.), intended for citizen reporters in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. According to Gisle Hannemyr, it provides some rudimentary technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and how to get around certain types of censorship.

Is social a bubble? On web 3.0, web 4.0 and Vendor Relationship Management (VRM)

“Social” is a bubble. Trust me on this. I urge all consultants on “social ______” (fill in the blank) to make hay while the sun shines. Even as the current depression deepens, lots of companies are starting to realize that this “social” thing is hot stuff and they need to get hip to Twitter and the rest of it. (Just ask the Motrin folks.)

"And it is hot. But much of that heat is relative to its absence in other areas. “Social” has sucked a lot of oxygen out of the online conversational room. Meanwhile, here’s the challenge: make the Net personal. Make relationships personal. Equip individuals with tools of independence and engagement. That’s what VRM is about," says Doc Searls, go read the full post on how VRM is personal here.

Check out this page if you're unfamiliar with the term Vendor Realtionship Management (VRM), which Doc, one of the authors behind Cluetrain, and others think will be the next big thing.

I was privileged enough to be able to attend a VRM meeting with Doc in London back in February, and it's very exciting stuff: the aim is to radically shift the balance of power between vendors and customer in favour of the customer and give the individual more control over his or her relations with companies online. Adriana explains more here and here.

The reason I mention web 3.0 and web 4.0 in the title is that I half-jokingly suggested to Jude that perhaps web 4.0 is about VRM, after she posted this hillarious take on web 4.0 (from 2006) on Twitter. I've only recently been learning a lot more about web 3.0, and though I'd be exaggerating if I said I grasp all its implications, it strikes me as something that will give the individual less control, not more, though perhaps I'm just getting too hung up in the privacy implications.

A quick google search on web 4.0 also throws up Seth Godin's musings on web 4.0, which seems to be a few steps further down the line web 3.0 or the semantic web takes us, making web services even more "intelligent" in terms of giving us relevant recommendations, making the web even more social, but at the same time increasing the privacy concerns plentifold.

So I wonder where VRM fits into all of this, if we should assign it a number in the stage of the web's development or if it will be part of next stage and develope alongside it. As we get more and more "intelligent" web services, will there be a backlash? An urge to wrest back control, to at least be able to better control access, privacy settings, control over our own content and electronic footprints? I'm just thinking out loud here, input and thoughts on this appreciated....

On equipping customers to be independent leaders, this struck me as a very powerful image though it's not taken from a VRM context, but from this presentation.


Today's food for thought

I stumbled across two great SlideShare presentations that really gave me something to think about today - in the best possible way as they are both quite uplifting takes on the times we are living in (the first via Fred Wilson, the second from Neil Perkin).

Despite the disparate titles, they're also vaguely related:

Rules of online engagement: learning to speak human

In my introduction to using the social web - which I should have put the sign "work in progress" on, but have now gone over and added more links/ edited for clarity - I only thouched very lightly on the all important issue of rules of engagement online (towards the end), describing briefly, with what I believe to be Adriana's words, how the web is a conversation, and behaving like an institution is bound to fail.

Perhaps I didn't say the latter, but this presentation by Adriana explains the new rules of engagement brilliantly - MUCH more in-depth, and much better than what I could. Incidentally, if the estimable Astrid Meland (just added to my blogroll) is looking for a corporate bullshit-talk generator, though she is doing very well in that department herself in this post (in Norwegian), at least much to my amusement, this presentation is worth checking out:

Let's hear it for the IKEA community

In this day and age it sometimes feel like every website, product, gadget is being communitised, that community is the marketing bandwagon of our time.

Still, some attempts at making "community" part of ones marketing strategy are arguably braver than others.

One of the very bravest I've heard of in recent times must be the new Ikea community Nils Larsson, the company's Swedish marketing boss, is promising will be a new feature at www.ikea.se: apparently it will be a place where users can upload their own home decoration videos and share their decoration tips.

Interior design and home makeover are of course quite hot topics these days, certainly on TV, but Ikea does have a certain ... reputation.

In my experience, shopping there can be a bit of a nightmare, as I believe many people who've gone shopping at Ikea Brent Cross in a car can testify to (admittedly it's four years since my last ordeal there, but most other Ikea stores I've been to have been a logistical challenge to shop at). Besides, Ikea furniture can be a bit of a nuisance to put together.


Now, don't get me wrong, I think Ikea is a brilliant idea, and it has saved me on many occasions, but my natural urge would be to do videos of how insanely difficult simple things can be when shopping at Ikea (like the bed it took us four Ikea-trips, with hours of queuing each time, to get all the right parts to). It could make for great comedy I guess, but not sure about how good marketing it would be.  


In this video Larsson talks to Dagens Media about the community, and Ikea Sweden's new marketing campaign on plurality (in Swedish), and shares his ideas on how such a community enables users (his word) to show who they are and what interests they have.


(Hmm... that almost sounds like it has the potential to turn into a dating site - as in 'hi, I'm Jasper and have thing for black leather', or 'I'm Ethel and I really like the solid look', could be fun watching even for those who just think Swedish is a fun language - but perhaps I'm being too cynical).

How to (not) pitch a blogger

Just as I was putting together that post on Blondinbella and product placement, I came across Natalie's wonderful Blogging 101 for Publicists: an excellent tutorial in blogger relations for PRs from my favourite mixologist (who as far as I know blog for ... eh.. love and public spirit)

I know I've complained about some of the silly PR approaches I get as blogger in the past, and even linked Natalieliquidmuse_4
up some useful advice
on how not to go about it
, but Natalie offers nothing less than her "PSA for the other remaining few PR professionals who seem to have missed the memo explaining what a blog is and how it works," and generously says "Go on, drink up… this one’s on me". A few headlines:

Lession #4: The blogger has the final say.
Think of a blog as a publication. Now, realize that the blogger is the Senior Editor, Publisher and Art Director, rolled into one.

The clincher in the offensive email was this person’s feeling that she was doing me a favor, rather than realizing that it is, in fact, the other way around. This condescending line stuck like a bone in my throat:

“I treat you like a journalist, and thus expected a rapport like what I have with serious journalists.”

Umm... considering my bylines appear in national and regional print and online publications, most actually consider me a journalist, thank you very much. It would be appropriate to “treat me” as such. I was also a bit insulted – on behalf of myself and other bloggers – at the implication that bloggers are somehow lowlier than journalists, and not to be taken as seriously. Ironically, most bloggers I know are far more informed about a specific topic than the majority “staff writers.” And, believe me when I tell you that many of those “serious journalists” rip-off content from our blogs, on a regular basis, because we have become the experts in our niches.

Lesson #5: Understand the difference between a blog post and a magazine article.
Being a professional writer includes having the skill to change writing style, tone - and even the rules - when writing for any particular outlet. My blog "voice" is completely different from my magazine articles. I use the “first person,” spout my opinions and am influenced by my own biases. Its a free-form arena. I write exactly the way I want to, when I want to, about what I want to. If you like my style, pitch me your clients. If you don’t, there are a whole slew of other cocktail bloggers out there. Have at ‘em. Or, better yet, forget the Internet and stick with print.

Lesson #6: Become acquainted with what I call “the power of the blog.”
You see, back in 2005, when I held my final “salary job,” I was a restaurant publicist. Our PR firm had begun pitching food bloggers. At the time, I didn’t totally get what a blog was – but I knew it tapped into a valuable demographic many print publications didn’t reach. When I finally “hopped the fence” to write full time, in January 2006, the first thing I did was launch The Liquid Muse where I blogged, daily, because I had become so passionate about spirits, wine and cocktails. I took a 100% pay cut. Even today, my blog is a labor of love. The fact that thousands of people, every month, stop by to get their cocktail updates at The Liquid Muse is of huge personal satisfaction to me, and provides a valuable service to both the liquor companies and the readers, if I do say so myself. And, my readers know I’m not stifled by editors, publicists or advertisers. This is the power of the blog.

Lesson #7: Print is dying. Be nice to bloggers... Go check out the full post here.


How MSM and Marketers can curry favour with bloggers

Cory Doctorow has 17 excellent tips in Information Week (via Bloggers Blog) on how to get bloggers to write about you – which could be just as useful for news sites.

Now, let me first take a moment to say that I've never understood journalists and editors complaining about parasitic bloggers and how they feed off mainstream media (MSM). To my mind, the world wide web is a conversation, or more precisely a cacophony of small and big conversations, and the day people stop talking about your newspaper that's when you should start getting really worried. Besides, blog buzz = link love = traffic, and I can't see how blog-traffic is less valuable than other traffic.

But back to Doctorow. In short, his advice adds up to "link, link and link some more":

Have a link. Have a permanent link. Have a link for everything. Use real links. Use links that go to pages. Flash sites stink (no way to link direct to specific page, no way to copy), PDFs stink (or, as Greenslade once suggested PDF = Pretty Damn Futile) etc ...Anyway, go read in full, got to run now....

Bloggig is about identity, not brand

A blog gives you a chance to build your own identity, which is miles better than brand. It allows for a mix of trivial, serious, thoughtful and sometimes stupid.. just like the human being behind it. That is the authenticity that companies would like to infuse their brands with. Alas, it's like with androids. Close but not quite. And often, not even close...

Afraid I don't have the direct link for this quote, but I'm sure it's something I copied down from Adriana ages ago (I can just hear her voice when I read it:-) ). I came to remember this quote just now, thinking about a question Paal Hivand asked yesterday about how long you can get away with pure marketing and sales on a blog or twitter acoount before readers get fed up. For my own part: my time/attention is precious, and I get fed up straight away if there's nothing in it for me... Just gave up on following BBC News on twitter because they don't provide direct links (in which case follwing them via my news reader would be far superior, but that's too much of a commitment)...

Managing change in the newsroom - and in the marketing department

To my mind, News is a conversation, for the most part written by Steve Smith, the editor of Spokesman Review, is one of the most interesting newspaper blogs around because it gives you a marvellous insight into how a regional newspaper is grappling with change: trying to involve its readers more, be of better service to them and working to become more transparent.

I started following this blog after I met Steve at a seminar he gave in Oslo last autumn (I covered his talk for Journalisten, in Norwegian). Among the things he mentioned back then was how he'd sent his local editor, Carla Savalli, who at that stage was one of his most change-resistant staff members, on a five week trip across the US to investigate the future of journalism.

"She is now the most radical agent for change in the newsroom," said Smith, so it was very interesting to read Carla's account of a conference she had attended on "Managing Change" recently.

Here's an excerpt, check out the full post for the bit about the marketing department (the main point being that newspapers were concerned their commercial arms hadn't figured out how to promote "the new journalism"):

1. How can you change workflow and content unless you go back to the readers? Too many newsrooms still insist they know what readers want, which is why they are endlessly experimenting and not 'landing on' a formula.

2. Strategy has to drive structure, not the other way around.

3. Journalists are appallingly dysfunctional.

4. Citizen journalism is less gimmick than it is changing the frame of reference. It's asking a different set of questions, assuming a different set of assumptions. It's not going to save us. It WILL make us more relevant. The sooner newsrooms get over themselves and bring these readers into our tents, the better off we'll be.

The only other item that sticks with me came from a business consultant (figures). He goes into workplaces of all kinds to teach adaptive change. You can institute top-down change, he says. And he supposes sometimes that is necessary when times are urgent and there's no room for democracy. But collaborative change has the potential for the greatest lasting impact. The first time an organizations goes through it is the hardest. Lay the foundation and each successive change is easier and eventually expected.

But this is what struck me: For rank and file, how you institute change is ultimately all about "justice." Who you talk to, who you include in task forces, who gets the opportunities, who gets an assignment change, is about power for the powerless. Managers have to be aware of that, and if it matters to them, try to talk to a cross-section of people - both horizontally and vertically - before imploding a structure.

Other than that, we're doomed. Hierarchies die hard in newsrooms. The best we can hope for is that the business side will catch the same entrepreneurial spirit of newsrooms and that we innovate something before the next Craigslist puts us out of business.

Ryanair: We fight for women's right to undress

Ryanair has launched a calendar with a number of its perky stewardesses posing in bikinis, and, towards the back, a somewhat less flattering picture of a stewardess supposed to represent its main competitor, Air Lingus.

Answering the flurry of complaints from the usual suspects, Wilhelm Hamilton, Ryanair's head of North European operations told Dagens Media: "We're going to continue to fight for women's right to undress," adding that any proceeds from the calendar, sold on board Ryainair flights and online, would be donated to charity.


Interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if some fifty per cent of the world's non-religious population would support that fight, but will it sell airline tickets?

Now that I don't have any clients in the travel industry anymore (check my about section or Linkedin profile), I'm free to say I feel Ryanair is the airline industry's equivalent of public transport: I've often marvelled at how it has made the most colourful cross-segment of ages, professions and ethnic groups take to flying. No other airline has quite as diverse a group of loyal frequent flyers.

I can see how the 'campaign' will go down well with the two rows of rowdy football supporters usually seated in the back of the cabin, but I'm not convinced about the Imam and his family filling up the six middle rows; those excited souls part-taking in the pensioner association's first foreign excursion in the four front rows, nor the families with screaming kids seated inconveniently where they can't but help be the centre of attention.

In essence, I wonder if this 'campaign' isn't a bit 'off-target', but we all choose our battles in life, don't we Wilhelm?

Disclosure: I've helped Ryanair promote its route from Torp to Liverpool – taking care of the press side of staging a Beatles event in Oslo - back when I was a not-so-secret agent for the British not-so-civil service.

Update 15:55pm: Talking about the civil service, Spain's government-run Women's Institute is considering to take legal action against Ryanair, 'not so much because the pictures are sexual, but because there are no men in the calendar', writes Gridskipper (via Wikio)....

At what point does pitching a blogger become spam?

Today's required reading for all PRs and marketeers who want to get a handle on how to approach bloggers: I mean, I've done my bit of PR-work in the past, and I'm embarrassed on a daily basis on behalf of all the PRs who send me press releases that should never have seen daylight. And that's just the stuff I get as a journalist, an ABC in PR here, but the press releases and approaches I get as blogger are even worse, if such a thing is possible - I wouldn't have thought it took too much research to figure out that I'm not likely to write about e.g. baby food. So three cheers for Hans Kullin's top 10 blog pitch pet peeves. Enough said, go read.

All free, at the modest price of your privacy

Targeted marketing comes in so many forms these days. And to think I was a bit worried about this trend when there's services like Pudding Media (from Valleywag, via Adriana's Furl feed):

There's a new Skype competitor, dubbed ThePudding, on the Web. And ThePudding is completely free*. All you have to do is agree to let Pudding Media listen in on your calls. To compensate users for the breach of privacy, the company claims, "ThePudding uses breakthrough technology that makes your conversations fun and interesting." In other words, anyone using ThePudding will be served contextual ads based upon topics overheard in your conversation! It's like Google's Gmail, but for talking. Remember when we were freaked out by the idea of Google scanning our email to pick out relevant ads? And how we all got over it?

That's what Pudding Media CEO Ariel Maislos would have you believe, anyway. He explains, "The trade-off of getting personalized content versus privacy is a concept that is accepted in the world." Besides the firm is targeting youths, who judging from their MySpace and Facebook habits, aren't concerned with privacy. In other words, targeting the young and the weak.

Company tables lawsuit to remove online comments by what is believed to be unhappy customers

Gee, the mind-boggling lawsuits this brave new world of ours throws up:

An Australian accounting software developer blames a "severe downturn in sales" on people who bad-mouthed its products in online user forums. It wants a judge to muzzle their comments. The company is also seeking about $125,000 in damages from the operator of the website which hosted the forums (full story here)

Yes, people do (shock, horror) talk together online, and, yes, it often has ramifications for brands, reputation and ultimately earnings. Too many companies have yet to wake up to the fact that the Internet enables people to have the conversations they once had in the pub or coffee house online: leaving permanent electronic footprints which enable disenchanted customers to find each other and exchange experiences regardless of geographic locations or distances.

And then of course, when commenters do wade into the minefield of 'infringing' on a product's reputation you get these interesting discussions of how we can be sure that these folks are who they claim to be, have reasons to say what they mean, or mean what they say, or... how did that one go again?

Not to mention all the challenges of distributed conversations. As for this story, I got it from Adriana, who got it from Leo, who by the way happen to be the man behind this blog's banner (based on a shot from Muswell Hill, where I shall be returning next week).

Next Thursday's lunch:


Disclaimer: I would of course never dream of writing
a 15-word long headline in any of my day jobs.

Schibsted moves in on UK ad market

Schibsted, the ambitions Norwegian media group who, some would say, operates in a different league than most other Scandinavian media companies, aims to take a slice of the international ad market by setting up shop in London (via Dagens Media, in Swedish).

To start with, the London office will employ two media sellers primarily selling ad space for Schibsted's Swedish websites, such as business site E24.se. The site is in the process of beefing up its high-end lifestyle section and recently advertised for two new journalists with 'expensive habits' (not that they were prepared to offer a salary to match those habits though).

In the long run, the group, which also owns leading newspapers and websites in Norway, Estonia, France and Spain, plans to expand both the size and scope of its London office, and will try to convince international media buyers to buy into a range of other products.

London luxury beckons
(picture from lovely Petersham Hotel)

Blogs beat banners for advertising

People largely ignore display advertisement on websites. A more successful, albeit unethical, approach to grab attention is to make the ad look like content, reports Jakob Nielsen's Alert Box.

These findings (via David Black) reminded me of a recent survey by Director A/S which showed that the click-through rate (CTR) for professional blog posts was 5-6 more times effective than for advertisement banners. The survey even found that those who read commercial blogs buy more than those who arrive at a company's website via advertisment banners (via Berlingske.dk)

I'm in two minds about this survey: of course blogs can be a much more effective way to communicate with people you want to reach, but there's blogs and there's blogs, if you know what I mean – the genuine ones, and those that read like press releases. I'd hate to see this survey cause an inflation in the latter.

This, however, is a no-brainer:

"Even when we did record a fixation within a banner, users typically didn't engage with the advertisement. Often, users didn't even see the advertiser's logo or name, even when they glanced at one or two design elements elsewhere inside an ad."

Weird marketing from Amazon

I've been beset by so many technical woes over the last few days that I've almost felt this must be some sort of big cosmic conspiracy, part of what's kept me from blogging, but here's a marketing ploy that really, really puzzles me:

Twice now I've received an email from Amazon telling me how I might be interested books that will be 'released 23 August 2007' and are part of a series of which I have bought other volumes from Amazon.

The funny thing is, these are OLD books. I have the entire series, and the books Amazon are trying to tell me will be released this week are actually almost a decade, or at least half a decade old. So is this a new marketing ploy, or what? I'm amazed to get something like this from a company that's usually quite smart about its marketing – and no, I normally don't mind too much this kind of targeted marketing, based on previous purchases, that would have been illegal in Norway, had the company been based here, due to privacy laws.

But this ploy, trying to make a fan believe that an OLD book by one of his or her favourite authors is being released for the first time this week, seems like the ultimate folly. Is Amazon letting its Interns run the marketing department for the summer? There might of course, be some small print that I've overlooked here, but in any case I can't RVSP to the emails, and my Internet connection this week is much to sloow, thank you very much Netcom, for me to bother to go over to the Amazon site and find somewhere I can leave meaningful feedback. And yes, I've given myself a standing order never to blog when I'm really cranky mood, and there's nothing like Internet problems to induce that in me, but there you go...