I lead Force Five Partners, a marketing analytics consulting firm (bio). I've been writing here about marketing, technology, e-business, and analytics since 2003 (blog name explained).
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I moderated this panel at the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange's (mitx.org)"The Science of Marketing: Using Data & Analytics for Winning" summit on August 1, 2013. Thanks to T. Rowe Price's Paul Musante, Visual IQ's Manu Mathew, iKnowtion's Don Ryan, and Google's Sonia Chung for participating!
My son Ben and I participated in the Dover Sherborn Boosters annual triathlon this past Sunday. We really enjoyed it. It was his first, and my first in 22 years. Well over 300 folks competed, well-mixed in age and gender. They seemed like a pretty competitive, well-trained bunch to us, judging by the 95%+ who had lean cheeks and wetsuits and fancy bikes and bags that said "Boston Triathlon Team".
After the race, I was curious to get a better handle on how we'd done. All Sports Events had done a great job of running and timing the event, and their table of results was very detailed and useful. But I wanted to see it a bit more visually. The All Sports Events folks were kind enough to share the data file, and with a little fiddling to parse and convert strings to times, I got to this (click on the image to launch the Tableau Public interactive visualization):
Before the race, as I shivered un-rubbered on the beach waiting for the swim to start, I overheard a couple of guys my age talking about how now that they were in their forties, with their kids a little older and with more control at home and work (a state of grace I'm not yet familiar with), they had more time to train, especially on Saturday mornings.
Plotting 6th-order polynomial trend lines through the data revealed an interesting, if weak pattern that seems to confirm this life-stage effect, for both men and women. Average performance improves radically as you move from your teens to your twenties, declines as the realities of family life intrude in your thirties, improves once again as you rediscover your inner narcissist child in your forties, and then begins to decline again as Father Time eventually asserts himself (though with plenty of variance around the mean to give us hope). Like Shakespeare said, more or less.
What do you see? Thanks again to the organizers and volunteers for a great event!
As many of you know (having been barraged with a Twit-tensity worthy of @justinbieber), Saturday I rode in the Nashoba Learning Group annual bike-a-thon. Nashoba Learning Group is a school in Bedford Massachusetts for children with Autistic Spectrum disorders. Our family has been involved with the school since its founding over a decade ago; it now has 90 students. It achieves wonderful results, and shares what it learns generously. And now we're also building an adult program as well.
This year's ride was among the most beautiful I can remember -- a lovely, relatively cool and dry New England summer day. Nonetheless, experience has taught me to seek any advantage possible. So, at breakfast, I spied this number, and imagined the drafting possibilities of a one-machine peloton:
10 miles into my admittedly parasitic strategy (Hey, I did offer to take my turn at the front, but I think they laughed), I thought I heard "Activate les contre-measures!" I thought I saw tacks, but I really can't be sure. Slowly though, the sound of the breeze in my ears was replaced with a slow hiss...
Furiously I pedaled - no, clawed - my way back. Well, scratched a bit. Let's just say it was a nice day for a ride.
NLG gets results...
...and makes people happy
Hi folks, a reminder to please sponsor me for this year's NLG Bike-a-thon! Here's the link to the donations site. Below for your reading pleasure is my recap of the 2007 ride. Thank you!
Folks, I ride once again this weekend for Nashoba Learning Group. Please sponsor me if you can, it's a really worthy cause. Thank you!
(See here for Part 1)
Here's one summary of the experience that's making the rounds:
I wasn't able to be there all that long, but my impression was different. Men of all colors (especially if you count tattoos), and lots more women (many tattooed also, and extensively). I had a chance to talk with Doc Searls (I'm a huge Cluetrain fan) briefly at the Digital Harvard reception at The Parish; he suggested (my words) the increased ratio of women is a good barometer for the evolution of the festival from narcissistic nerdiness toward more sensible substance. Nonetheless, on the surface, it does remain a sweaty mosh pit of digital love and frenzied networking. Picture Dumbo on spring break on 6th and San Jacinto. With light sabers:
Sight that will haunt my dreams for a while: VC-looking guy, blazer and dress shirt, in a pedicab piloted by skinny grungy student (?) Dude, learn Linux, and your next tip from The Man at SXSW might just be a term sheet.
So whom did I meet, and what did I learn:
I had a great time listening to PRX.org's John Barth. The Public Radio Exchange aggregates independent content suitable for radio (think The Moth), adds valuable services like consistent content metadata and rights management, and then acts as a distribution hub for stations that want to use it. We talked about how they're planning to analyze listenership patterns with that metadata and other stuff (maybe gleaning audience demographics via Quantcast) for shaping content and targeting listeners. He related for example that stations seem to prefer either 1 hour programs they can use to fill standard-sized holes, or two- to seven- minute segments they can weave into pre-existing programs. Documentary-style shows that weave music and informed commentary together are especially popular. We explored whether production templates ("structured collaboration": think "Mad Libs" for digital media) might make sense. Maybe later.
Paul Payack explained his Global Language Monitor service to me, and we explored its potential application as a complement if not a replacement for episodic brand trackers. Think of it as a more sophisticated and source-ecumenical version of Google Insights for Search.
Kara Oehler's presentation on her Mapping Main Street project was great, and it made me want to try her Zeega.org service (a Harvard metaLAB project) as soon as it's available, to see how close I can get to replicating The Yellow Submarine for my son, with other family members spliced in for The Beatles. Add it to my list of other cool projects I like, such as mrpicassohead.
Finally, congrats to Perry Hewitt (here with Anne Cushing) and all her Harvard colleagues on a great evening!
Arrive Houston late. Some lady steers my Hertz car out of space 125, toots cheerfully, and is off. (Wonder how she'll persuade the guard: "Yes, I am Cesar Brea...") I arrange a replacement, and promptly get lost somewhere near Hobby.
Later: looking up from the hotel lobby floor is like looking down a shaft on the Death Star. Thirty stories of beige-brown cantilevered soul-crushing sameness. Can't sleep. Accept insomnia, opt for double-header dystopia: the HBO Julianne Moore / Ed Harris / Woody Harrelson docu-drama Game Change about Sarah Palin, then Repo Men.
Morning. I-290 West, toward Austin; it's moonsooning. Vaguely Quixotic: a "Dry-Force Water Removal" van blasts past me doing seventy. Cattle line up near the road, backsides to the storm, in the bovine manner.
Who says frontier towns are dead? They're just spread out more, reflecting today's faster horses. No horseshoes, but plenty of brake shoes. First Church of Such-and-Such -- still here. Saloons? Gringo's Tex Mex, with "Latino Fusion". Doc's specialized, or maybe just re-branded to game insurance billing -- "Drive-in Gynecology Clinic" (really). Depending on local laws -- or lack of them -- gentlemen's clubs = brothels by another name. Fireworks - pawn - gold - boots - tack - guns - ammo. Plus, still plenty of 'tude:
I cross the Brazos. (Always wanted to say that.)
"We got all your outdoor needs." Even if those extend to giant welded roosters:
Obligatory BBQ stop. Chopped BBQ sandwich, slaw, jalapeno at the Lost Pines BBQ in Giddings. Highly recommended for friendly service and great food:
McDade: two chihuahuas play by the road.
They jump into the traffic.
Doing sixty, I swerve and miss.
The tractor-trailer behind me doesn't.
Crosses, mostly singly, sometimes in bunches: "Have you found Jesus?"
Austin, 30 miles: "Do you know Linux?"