Meanwhile, our research finds that 90% of word-of-mouth conversations about brands take place offline, primarily face-to-face, in people’s homes and offices, in restaurants and stores, really anywhere people congregate. These conversations bring with them greater credibility, a greater desire to share with others, and a great likelihood to purchase the products being discussed than conversations that take place online.

So if not via Facebook and other social networking sites, what can brands do to get conversations started? It is important to fight the urge to start your marketing strategy with a particular tool or approach. Instead, start a story that consumers will want to talk about. What are the messages about your brand and category that make you talkworthy?

One of the problems with stock imagery is that it’s a generic solution to a specific problem. Most people can spot the difference between a stock business executive and a real one, and who wants to be thought of as generic? So it’s worth the time and expense to have a professional photographer spend a half-day at your organization to help you build a portfolio of quality photos. Can’t afford a professional photographer? Somewhere among your business colleagues, friends or family is an amateur photographer who would love the opportunity to increase their experience (and happily accept an Olive Garden gift certificate for two as compensation). 

Steve Jobs and the generation of computer entrepreneurs he exemplified had a part in ending the Cold War. When I was a graduate exchange student in the USSR in 1986-87 (3 months on the Law Faculty at Leningrad State University and 4 months at Moscow State University). The Communist Party graduate student activists who were assigned to befriend and monitor the American IREX students wanted to deliver this message: “Your country must abandon President Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ technology for the sake of world peace.”

The Soviet Union had just spent 20 years beggaring its own population in order to build a massive arsenal of intercontinental missiles. Now the U.S. threatened to devalue that arsenal by virtue of its advantage in micro-computer technology and the anti-missile systems made possible by that technology. The Soviet economy based on central planning and Five Year Plans knew nothing of micro-computers. Steve Jobs and Apple were widely perceived as the embodiment of the social and market forces that gave birth to micro-computers. That perception led to Gorbachev’s “glasnost’” and “perestroika,” policies intended to unleash individual initiative and innovation in the USSR. Those policies led to something else entirely - the decline of Communist Party unity and authority, and eventually, the demise of the USSR.

Ridley Scott’s 1984 Superbowl commercial was prophetic.

Paul Lucey

The perpetrators of this new form of modern slavery in America can sell girls for sex without fear of punishment. As incomprehensible as it seems, today trafficking girls brings in more profits and results in less prison time than dealing crack. There is no “war on trafficking” or any similar culture of crime and punishment for selling a 12-year-old girl for sex. Perversely, it is the girls — not the men — who suffer from criminalization. Few buyers of prostituted children are arrested or prosecuted in the United States, according to the international anti-trafficking organization Shared Hope. But girls who’ve been trafficked frequently end up arrested for prostitution. It is the girl who is restrained by police after a “bust” or a “raid” on a hotel room — not her trafficker or the “john.” It is the girl, repeatedly raped by grown men, who is shackled and put behind bars. Rarely are these girls perceived as victims.

I then realized that, whether you credit (or blame) your mother or your mentor, you can never fully escape your influences. The rules you grow up with are what make you, as a person and as a designer. The trick is to remember, every once in a while, to fuck them up a little.

Netgear chairman and CEO Patrick Lo went on a rant Monday against Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs, criticizing Jobs’ “ego” and Apple’s “closed” business model. During a lunch in Sydney, Australia, Lo called out Apple as destined to fail because of its closed platform, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. “Ultimately a closed system just can’t go that far,” Lo said. “If they continue to close it and let Android continue to creep up then it’s pretty difficult as I see it.”

Steve Jobs’s gospel is, in the end, a set of beautifully polished empty promises. But I look on my secular neighbors, millions of them, like sheep without a shepherd, who no longer believe in anything they cannot see, and I cannot help feeling compassion for them, and something like fear. When, not if, Steve Jobs departs the stage, will there be anyone left who can convince them to hope?

The major tax hikes passed by Illinois lawmakers early Wednesday will hit businesses hard. Faced with a daunting $13 billion budget deficit, state legislators opted to raise personal and corporate income taxes. Companies will now have to pay a 7% corporate tax rate for the next four years, up from the previous 4.8%. And Illinois businesses are already subject to a 2.5% surcharge.

For all its industrial efficiency and scalability, its transhemispheric reach and its grand civil integrity, Facebook is still a painfully blunt instrument for doing the delicate work of transmitting human relationships. It’s an excellent utility for sending and receiving data, but we are not data, and relationships cannot be reduced to the exchange of information or making binary decisions between liking and not liking, friending and unfriending. It’s as if Zuckerberg read E.M. Forster’s famous rallying cry in Howards End, “Only connect,” and took it literally: only connect, do nothing else.

An analysis of Verizon Wireless smartphone sales over the past year indicates why the carrier is suddenly demonstrating interest in Apple’s iPad and iPhone: Android isn’t working out as well as once hoped, with AT&T now selling 2.5 times as many iPhones as Verizon is Android models.