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December 16, 2009 12:48 PM

my_aol_logo_choice.pngLike I said, now that AOL has pushed the "Aol." style logo and branding out the door, no one is around to whine about it. I've seen one comment about it so far, and that was a positive comment (I can't find it now, of course).

I think if your new logo and/or branding idea doesn't make at least some people react negatively, then you didn't do a very good job at trying something different, new and/or radical. Now isn't the time for AOL to go with "safe" or otherwise anonymous branding decisions. Instead it's time to mix things up, and more importantly, execute well on its business strategy. People will then associate that success or failure with the brand and you'll then reap the rewards (positive or negative).

November 23, 2009 11:07 AM

aol_logo.pngI've had the displeasure of dealing with people's reactions to a logo I've created. Anyone I've talked to who does this sort of work or has been involved with it at any level says it's difficult, messy process. The reason? Because everyone only talks about what they think is wrong with what you have created. It's no big deal to do incorrect math be criticized because you are actually wrong, but it's difficult to have something that you created, that is ultimately subjective, be derided.

Today "Aol." has a new brand/logo identity and the result is a mixture of two things. Part one is the usual thing where it's cool to hate on AOL. Part two is the landslide of subjective opinions. There's no lack of that today on Twitter (#AOL) or in the blogosphere.

Personally, I don't like the logo if the pictures aren't moving (but I do like that it's free to mingle with any content it wants to). It's only when video is playing and the logo is revealed as negative space that it comes alive. Like some have said, it doesn't matter. People will accept/ignore the new branding and will get on with their lives as normal, and the logo won't have much of an impact. It's the content and products and the execution of those things that really matters.

Everyone on the internet hated the name of the new Nintendo system and thought to logo was pretty lame, but today, do you care that it's call the Wii? No.

July 17, 2003 9:37 AM

Internal beta testing of AOL Journals opened up yesterday, and I have dutifully started an AOL Journals blog and posted my suggestions and comments to the appropriate forums. It's no secret that AOL is doing this, but I didn't know any real details until yesterday. Also, I re-read the note about not leaking details, so this post is pretty restrained.

Here's a few tidbits that I think are not embargoed, but aren't really that juicy...

  • The set up was stupid easy. I mean, my daughter could do it, and she's 9 weeks old.
  • NetNewsWire can read my Journal's RSS file.
  • The instant messaging conduit works pretty well, and I think IM blogging is a good thing.
  • There's one thing about commenting that I like and hate at the same time. I'll rant and rave about this when the product goes public.
It's a good start, and it's not a "premium" service (as in, I don't have to pay extra dollars to have an AOL Journal) so I'm pretty hopeful that this thing will take off. The basics are there and it's pretty solid.

[Disclaimer: I do not work on the Journals product. It should be assumed that any product still under development will change, so don't expect anything I say here to be true when this thing goes live. Be sure to read around for a lot more info that I can provide.]

July 16, 2003 9:13 AM

Recently I speculated about the demise of Netscape, and more to the point, that Netscape would not meet an untimely end. Apparently, I was wrong, and it's pretty depressing to see it happen.

The point I made about the MSFT/AOL deal was that AOL would still prefer to NOT place control of its business into the hands of its competitors. That's definitely true, but I carried that into a hope that Netscape wouldn't be scuttled. At least Mozilla will carry on with active funding from the likes of AOL, IBM and Sun.

July 15, 2003 2:27 AM

AOL and TiVo have a new service/feature available to those who are AOL subscribers and have a network enabled Series 2 TiVo. If you have that, then when you surf thru the TV listings at Keyword: Television, you can click on shows and have them be scheduled on your TiVo. In my opinion, that's pretty cool, but I can't figure out why AOL or TiVo thinks this is a great way to boost subscribers (or even if they do think that).

TiVo already has the Home Media Option which allows for remote scheduling and other media tom foolery. The remote scheduling is the only thing that makes me salivate, and they charge $100 for that privilege. If I'm an AOL subscriber, and I only want the remote scheduling, then this is a great deal, because I don't have to shell out an extra $100. If I wasn't already a subscriber, would this feature really lure me? And, since there are so few network enabled Series 2 TiVo's, how big can this market be? Why is TiVo willing to give away its best networking feature away to a potential audience of 30+ million people?

Business logic aside, I think this a great customer focused hack, even if it took me a while to find the feature (which, by the way, isn't vapor. It works right now). None of the news articles about this had any direction on where to use the feature, and I finally had the idea to read the original press release. It mentioned Keyword: Television, which when entered resulted in a search results page, which had a link to the actual Keyword: Television, which at the bottom of the page, said it was Keyword: TV.

After a few futile minutes of scanning that page, I finally thought of going thru the actual TV listings. I selected my provider and type of service and got a page with a listing of what's on TV right now. Since it's in a grid format, I assume AOL is paying royalties to Gemstar. Regardless, when you click on a specific show, you will see an item that says "Record on my TiVo DVR."

Doesn't that seem like a pretty convoluted process?

July 7, 2003 10:22 AM

Apparently, AOL is doing a weblog product, and I'm guessing NDAs have been violated(?) I have only heard the rumors and know nothing more than what I read out there on the net. However, if any sort of internal beta testing is made available, you can bet I will check it out. In the meantime, some people already seem to have opinions...

Jeff Jarvis: AOL Blogs
Yesterday, I was one of a privileged council of blogging elders -- Meg Hourihan, Nick Denton, Anil Dash, Clay Shirky -- invited to see AOL's new blogging tools, which will be released later this year. They've done a good job.
Dave Winer: On AOL's entry into weblogs
Now their strategy is coming out, and there are some surprises. Today I'm going to discuss, briefly, just one, the Instant Messaging connection with weblog tools, and how it leads into the quagmire that the weblog world is caught up in (and a plea to swallow our respective prides and compromise now).
Kevin Lawver: Super Secret Agent Revealed!
The top secret meeting is now something I can talk about. I went to New York with the AOL Journals team to talk about the new AOL Journals product with some influential folks in the blogging world.

July 2, 2003 1:52 AM


May 30, 2003 9:58 AM

There has been some pretty rampant speculation about what will happen to Netscape now that AOL has settled their dispute with MSFT to the tune of a $750 million settlement. Quotes like this from MSNBC are out there...
"Both AOL Time Warner and Microsoft win on this one," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group. "Microsoft turns what had become an aggravating enemy into at least a marginal friend and possibly a cooperative partner. AOL gets much-needed cash and are able to divest themselves of units that were costing them money like the Netscape unit."
On the webdesign list, a short thread explored the possibilities of there being no Netscape or Mozilla, and there was one voice of reason ("S.Marshall") who said...
Even from a purely technical point of view (i.e. leaving aside the political), control over your code is a very good thing, because when you're using somebody else's software you can't fix their bugs or limitations (sure MAYBE if you have a close financial relationship you can put in a change request that MAYBE they'll handle in six months, but that's never good enough).
And this is an argument that I buy. I can't imagine that AOL would want to dumb Mozilla/Netscape 7 in favor of going blindly with IE over the better part of the decade. And, I haven't heard any rumors at all that AOL is going to dump Netscape (and generally, I hear rumors). And the Netscape folks don't only do a browser, they provide other services within AOL. But this isn't the only part of the MSFT deal that's worth talking about. Dick Parsons, the AOL Time Warner CEO said this in an internal email...
The settlement should also help us deliver an even better online experience to AOL members. The agreement provides that Microsoft will give us technical information and support to ensure the peak performance of the AOL service on current and future Windows operating systems. In addition, Microsoft will provide us with an enhanced ability to market the AOL service to consumers, including opening up a new channel to provide AOL software discs to computer manufacturers worldwide.
If AOL doesn't ship with every copy of Windows, the market penetration of the service would decline (more rapidly). So it's a good thing to have that access (imho, because they pay the bills at Chéz Kapusta). However, at the end of the day, I have to assume that AOL will not limit it's choices and place any control of its own destiny into the hands of a friend or rival.

April 29, 2003 9:53 AM

Declan McCullagh of C|net mentions the following about Lawrence Lessig...
Lessig made an unusual wager: If Congress enacts an antispam law that offers bounties for the reporting of spammers, and the law fails to "substantially reduce the level of spam," he will resign from his dream job at a top law school.
Too bad congress has yet to do that, but we should note that the state of Virginia is signing into law today an anti-spam bill that AOL email to employees describes thusly...
Please join Jon Miller from 1:15 - 2:15 p.m., as AOL hosts this historic event, and hear remarks from Governor Warner, Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, Ted Leonsis, and others. Together, we will witness the signing of a new spam-fighting law for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and celebrate this significant step forward in the battle against spam on behalf of our members and the entire Internet community.
To support this event, my group has supplied a feed showing how many spams AOL has killed since midnight eastern time (and it's up on a jumbotron). The number climbs upwards very quickly (via DHTML); on the order of thousands per second, and I've been watching the number for weeks now, and have noticed the peak number has been accelerating upwards from over one billion a day to over 1.5 billion a day. That half billion increase has happened over the past month (but the number does ebb and flow, so YMMV).

I watch this data every day, all day (to be sure the spams killed feed is still running for use in other places), so when I see the aforementioned Declan McCullagh say...

He [Lessig] has asked me to be the judge of whether such a law proves effective in reducing the deluge of unsolicited e-mail that's clogging our in-boxes, snarling mail servers and driving Internet service providers to distraction. I've accepted.
I have to say that, I'll be the judge. Anyone else who wants to make up their own mind can go to AOL Keyword: Safety, or watch their own mail box, and make their own judgement.

March 31, 2003 5:04 AM

Working on something that will be on the AOL Welcome Screen, or something linked from it, is sort of stressing. You simply can not fuck up, and you have to scale like a mo-fo. I've just completed an item (with tons of help from many other people) that will appear in that type of location. Now, I'm just a cog in the wheel, but I happen to be the cog where people actually see the spokes turning (metaphorically and realistically) and if it breaks, I'll be getting the 3am phone call.

It's a ticker of the amount of spam emails that have been killed (before they got to a member's mailbox) since midnight. It's a huge number, and ticks along in real time. The systems by which that data gets from one place to another, and finally gets represented on screen for the user, is equally big. This scale issue has been one of the things that has been hard to get used to over the last year, but I think I'm finally getting it.

One of the cool things is the architecture by which data is cached (or not) depending on the responsibilities of that data and how it will be consumed (all in an effort to conserve network resources). Also, equally cool is the ability to embed web stuff in the proprietary AOL screens and make it look like it's totally normal. That sort of thing makes me hopeful that more "normal" web technologies will be used to present users with the content they are there to consume, and thus make my skills more useful :)

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