The Dynamics of Viral Marketing

The Dynamics of Viral Marketing

Excellent post by Eric Kintz at HP:

#1 – Viral marketing does not spread well. In epidemics, high connectors are very critical nodes of the network and allow the virus to spread. In recommendations networks, a few very large cascades exist but most recommendation chains terminate after just a few steps.#2 – The probability of viral infection decreases with repeated interaction. Providing excessive incentives for customers to recommend actually weakens the credibility of those links. The probability of purchasing a product increases with the number of recommendations received, but quickly saturates to a constant and relatively low probability.

#3 – Viral effectiveness varies depending on price and category. Social context has a high influence on the potency of viral infection. Technical or religious books for example had more successful recommendations than general interest topics. Smaller and more tightly knit groups tend to be more conducive to viral marketing.

Considering a monocle

Three years ago I noticed my vision was a little out of focus — highway signs were a little blurred and I started compulsively cleaning my eyeglasses, believing that they were smudged or, after a while, scratched. So I went off to the opthamologist for a new pair, the first time I had seen an MD about my eyes in a few years (having used the usual optometrist services attached to places like LensCrafters).

The doc looked into my eyes and asked me how old I was. 45. Did I work around hazardous chemicals? No. Was I a weightlifter? No. Did I use steroids? No.


I had cataracts. A clouded lens in my left eye with a less clouded one in my right. Excellent. I had a vision of wearing a pair of these for the rest of my life.

On my way to my AARP membership and a walker twenty years too soon. I was bummed. I needed surgery, not a new pair of glasses, so I called my buddy, Dr. Dan and he referred me to an eye surgeon at Mass Eye and Ear, Dr. Dmitri Azar. Azar did the procedure under local. Essentially he zapped the old lense, broke it up ultrasonically, sucked it out of a tiny incision and replaced the lens with a plastic one.

I felt like someone poured a mixture of Tabasco sauce and powdered glass in my eye, and got to sport a pirate’s eyepatch for a couple weeks. Today, left eye is awesome, but I have to wear a contact lens in my bad right eye.

This sucks. I liked glasses. I’ve worn them since I was 12 years old. I wake up in the morning and I see the left half of the world just fine, but need to stick a floppy piece of plastic into my right eye. I still need glasses to read, so I constantly am running to the drugstore to spend another $10 on a pair of cheap reading specs.

I went to an optometrist and asked for a special pair of glasses. Essentially a clear piece of glass over the eye with the artificial lense implant, and a corrective lens for the right. Logical? Nope. The optometrist decided he had to correct some of the cataract eye and came up with a pair of glasses that make me cross-eyed. Literally. I want to throw up when I wear them.

It is time to get a monocle.

We’re talking Mr. Peanut. German generals in World War One. The Monopoly Tycoon.

From the Wikipedia:

“A monocle was generally associated with rich upper-class men. Combined with a morning coat and top-hat, it completed the costume of the stereotypical Capitalist in the game of Monopoly. Monocles were also stereotypical accessories of German military officers from this period, especially from the First World War, where the stereotypical German Oberst would plot the demise of enemy forces with monocle in place to examine attack charts. German officers who actually wore a monocle include Erich Ludendorff, Walter von Reichenau, Hans von Seeckt and Hugo Sperrle.

Monocles were most prevalent in the late 19th Century but are rarely worn today. This is due in large part to advances in optometry which allow for better measurement of refractive error, so that glasses and contact lenses can be prescribed with different strengths in each eye, and also to a reaction from stereotypes that became associated with them. The monocle did, however, garner a following in the stylish lesbian circles of the mid 20th century, with lesbians donning a monocle for effect. Such women included Una Lady Troubridge, Radclyffe Hall, and Weimar German reporter Sylvia von Harden.”

Now to find one.

New(ish) toy – Lenovo et980 Smartphone

Well, not that new, but thanks to my colleagues in Beijing, I have a GSM smartphone to take with me when I’m on the road and my Sprint PCS Treo goes dark.

This is a decent phone with a very nice camera (4 megapixels), but you can’t buy it in America. I couldn’t even activate it in the States, but had to buy a T-Mobile card in Berlin during the World Cup to make it work. My plan is to buy a new card when I hit a GSM country and just run that when I’m overseas.

This model is about a year old. Engadget wasn’t particularly nice to it, but gave it some praise for the camera specs.

“Normally we’d just skip right over yet another random Pocket PC Phone, especially one that is almost definitely not going to find its way over here, but Lenovo’s new ET980 stands out from the crowd because it just happens to sport a built-in four megapixel digital camera. Not the biggest or baddest you can do in a cellphone (that honor goes to Samsung’s seven megapixel SCH-V770), but this is the highest resolution you can get in a Windows Mobile device, at least for the time being. Can’t vouch for image quality (why do we have this feeling that the optics on this thing are for crap?), but the ET980 has a 312MHz processor, 64MB of RAM, and 128MB of flash ROM.”

I don’t use it enough to get into the hairy details. But the MSFT OS is familiar from my old HP Pocket PC PDA I lugged around Zurich a few years ago.  Meaning, more features that I need.

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