Notebook of Sand

• Recent Publications
• Recent Projects
• Conferences & Speaking
"Comparing Spatial Hypertext Collections"
  ACM Hypertext '09
"Archiving and Sharing Your Tinderbox"
  Tinderbox Weekend London '09
"The Electronic Nature of Future Literatures"
  Literary Studies Now, Apr '09
"The World University Project"
  St. John's Col. Cambridge, Feb '09
"Ethical Explanations,"
  The New Knowledge Forge, Jun '08
Lecture, Cambridge University
  Tragedy in E-Lit, Nov '07
Hypertext '07: Tragedy in E-Lit
Host for Tinderbox Cambridge '07
Keynote: Dickinson State Uni Conf
Upper Midwest NCHC'07: Speaker
eNarrative 6: Creative Nonfiction
HT'05: "Philadelphia Fullerine"
  Nelson award winning paper
NCHC '05:
 Nurturing Independent Scholarship
Riddick Practicum:
  Building Meeting Good Will
NCHC '04:
  Philadelphia Fullerine
  Lecture on American Studies
WWW@10: Nonfiction on the Web
NCHC '03: Parliamentary Procedure
ELL '03 -- Gawain Superstar
• (a)Musing (ad)Dictions:

Ideas. Tools. Art. Build --not buy. What works, what doesn't. Enjoy new media and software aesthetics at Tekka.

Theodore Gray (The Magic Black Box)

Faith, Life, Art, Academics. Sermons from my family away from home: Eden Chapel!

My other home: The Cambridge Union Society (in 2007, I designed our [Fresher's Guide])

The Economist daily news analysis

Global Higher Ed blog

• Hypertext/Writing

Writing the Living Web

Chief Scientist of Eastgate Systems, hypertext expert Mark Bernstein. (Electronic) Literature, cooking, art, etc.

Fabulous game reviews at playthisthing.

• Stats

Chapter I: Born. Lived. Died.

There is a Chapter II.

Locale: Lancaster County Pa, USA

Lineage: Guatemala

Religion: My faith is the primary focus of my life, influencing each part of me. I have been forgiven, cleansed, and empowered by Jesus Christ. Without him, I am a very thoughtful, competent idiot. With him, I am all I need to be, all I could ever hope for. I oppose institutional religious stagnation, but getting together with others is a good idea. God is real. Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Bible is true. Faith is not human effort. It's human choice. I try to be the most listening, understanding, and generous person I can.

Interests: Anything I can learn. Training and experience in new media, computer science, anglophone literature, education, parliamentary debate, democratic procedure, sculpture, and trumpet performance. Next: applied & computational linguistics, probably.

Education: Private school K-3. Home educated 4-12. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Elizabethtown College in Jan 2006. As the 2006 Davies-Jackson Scholar, I studied English at St. John's College, Cambridge University from 2006 - 2008.

Memberships: Eden Baptist, Cambridge Union Society, ACM, AIP, GPA.

Alum of the Elizabethtown College Honors Program, sponsored by the Hershey Company.

Engineering and Marketing
Saturday, 8 Apr 2006 :-:
Can brilliant marketing beat superior engineering? If you meet someone who advocates this, I think you may have just met a sales consultant who wants to sell you a bridge.
via Mark Bernstein

Absolutely right, Mark. But you're wrong. But you're right.


I think Mark could ask a better question. In my experience as a software developer and a marketer, I have realized that quality deliverables are necessary. But I have also noticed that marketing does much more than get people to buy. Marketing exerts a profound influence on the nature of people's interaction with your deliverables.

I have written reams of marketing copy for Elizabethtown College (and trained student mentors, and oriented new freshmen). Our marketing efforts didn't just try to find just the best students; by emphasizing certain qualities, we wanted to attract applicants with those qualities. For E-town, those qualities relate to service, global citizenship, a committment to community, breadth of interest, and a thirst for experience-based learning. I thus knew that my job as co-chair of college's the Academic Integrity Committee would be much easier if I did a good job in marketing, since marketing is where the process begins.

Of course, the college has to have the programs, faculty, and other infrastructure in place to back up the marketing. But when seen long-term, a college is people. Because they choose the members of the community, the admissions/marketing team of my college are some of the most long-term powerful people in the entire institution.

Marketing defines the consumer. But the effect of marketing doesn't stop there. Because it guides expectations, it also frames the consumer experience. Since the engineers listen to consumer requests and complaints, and since marketing selects and influences consumers, marketing also has a profound effect on the engineers. In turn, the engineers' work must influence the marketers. All good organizations need a strong feedback loop of this sort as well as outliers who broaden perspectives and keep the organization from spiraling inward, out of control.

I have written this from a marketing perspective. A reciprocal, engineer-centric description could also be written.

** * **

I have not mentioned designers. This is intentional. Mark's dichotomy of engineers and marketers is pretty standard. But it's not the only way to slice the job descriptions. Good designers are both the engineer and the marketer. They are interested in building things that work well, but they are also aware of the human factors. They create the systems and frame the experience at the same time.

This should be obvious.

Example: clothing designers must know their fabrics and stitching. But they also need to know about perception and trends. From the consumer end, our clothing protects us from the sun, cold, and moisture, and from prying eyes, but clothes can also change the way we act. Many people who purchase clothes are purchasing more than stitched fabric; they're buying an experience.
Example: A roastery for which I consult has recently spent forever fine-tuning an espresso. We have also spent a lot of time thinking of a good name, because we know that marketing frames the experience

As I've noted before, this also applies to architectural design. Mark even wrote an article about this.

In my mind, Mark is a very good example of this sort of person. In fact, his ideas led me down this path myself. His own Tekka manifesto includes this sentiment:

You want to know what to build, not what to buy. And, most of all, you want to know what makes software beautiful, and what makes new media inspire and delight.
** * **

Optional digressions for nitpickers and geeks:

(clearly, the differences and similarities in the job descriptions are not so tidy. But job descriptions are never tidy. They're round holes we try to fit onto things which may not have pegs. I reiterate: if you define the consumers and frame the experience, you are bound to have a profound impact on the users, the engineers, and the future of your organizations. Long live the marketers. May they be honest. May they listen to the engineers. Long live the engineers. May they build good things, but which also are usefully beautiful. Long live the designers. May they continue to confuse us by not fitting into any categories we devise.) (note: I have not read Seth Godin, to whom Mark is responding, mostly because I can't find a transcript of his talk at Google)

Addendum: I just watched part of Seth's talk. I can see why Mark would respond the way he did. Now, Mark must have missed the part where Seth contrasted MinuteMaid and Google and noted that Google's primary necessity is having good technology. But Seth is wrong about the web. He talks about cat food and juice and computer hardware. He doesn't seem to understand the world of web services. Loyalty is fickle, and information spreads rapidly. If there is a really well-engineered, useful product, people will find it in less time than it took Seth to finish his speech. Online, it's just as easy to give someone the product as it is to tell them about it. This is an important distinction.

Furthermore, Godin totally misses his own point: marketing on the web is about users picking things that work for them, not about companies teaching users what they ought to buy. The most depressing part of this is that Seth's slide about marketing as teaching comes right after his slide about personalization. Sigh.