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The Odysseus Medal: “Free has emerged as a full-fledged economy”

I’m sorry to keep going outside the RE.net for the Odysseus Medal competition, but that’s where the news is right now. Inside the RahRah.net, present company excepted, everything seems to be devoted to mutual back-slapping — which would be boring even if it were warranted. In any case, The Odysseus Medal this week goes to Chris Anderson for Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business:

Thanks to Gillette, the idea that you can make money by giving something away is no longer radical. But until recently, practically everything “free” was really just the result of what economists would call a cross-subsidy: You’d get one thing free if you bought another, or you’d get a product free only if you paid for a service.

Over the past decade, however, a different sort of free has emerged. The new model is based not on cross-subsidies — the shifting of costs from one product to another — but on the fact that the cost of products themselves is falling fast. It’s as if the price of steel had dropped so close to zero that King Gillette could give away both razor and blade, and make his money on something else entirely. (Shaving cream?)

You know this freaky land of free as the Web. A decade and a half into the great online experiment, the last debates over free versus pay online are ending. In 2007 The New York Times went free; this year, so will much of The Wall Street Journal. (The remaining fee-based parts, new owner Rupert Murdoch announced, will be “really special … and, sorry to tell you, probably more expensive.” This calls to mind one version of Stewart Brand’s original aphorism from 1984: “Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive … That tension will not go away.”)

Once a marketing gimmick, free has emerged as a full-fledged economy. Offering free music proved successful for Radiohead, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and a swarm of other bands on MySpace that grasped the audience-building merits of zero. The fastest-growing parts of the gaming industry are ad-supported casual games online and free-to-try massively multiplayer online games. Virtually everything Google does is free to consumers, from Gmail to Picasa to GOOG-411.

This is important. Make the time to read it all.

The Black Pearl Award this week goes to James Hsu for Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words, but what are your pictures actually saying?:

So how are these photos done? True, these are not “natural” photos. Depending on the sunlight, you don’t typically get a scene where both foreground, house and sky are all well exposed. If the sun is behind the house, you’ll usually get a sky that’s well exposed and the house is dark. Or the opposite, where the house is properly exposed and the sky is washed out. Here’s my secret. It requires a few tools. 1) a camera that allows you to manually set its exposure, 2) some software and 3) a tripod.

The technique used here is called HDR. High Dynamic Range photography. It basically involves taking several shots of the same image at different exposures. The idea is that at different exposures, different parts of the image will be properly exposed. Once you have your set of pictures, you feed them into the software and it merges them all together. You then have to go and tweak the picture to get different things to show up better. Easy as pie. There’s various versions of the software. You can get a photoshop plugin or a stand-alone. I use HDRsoft’s standalone package. The software is the easy part. Getting a cheap digital camera to take differently exposed photos is tricky and would involve lots of menu button presses (which is where the tripod comes in). You need all your shots to be the same. Too much movement and the software won’t be able to properly mash them together.

This week’s People’s Choice Award goes to Dave Smith with Hyper Local Target Marketing Create Your Own Backlinks:

Sometimes Barbara just does something because she heard something at the office, she read an article, etc. I don’t know the source for this one. But one day I noticed in my Hittail results a link that looked strange. It didn’t come from a search engine, it came from Craig’s list. Barbara had entered a listing of ours. She had read about how to do this and what to include and not include to be within the Craig’s List guidelines. We got a few hits from it and I looked at the Title she had entered. Then we had a discussion about Title Tags.
Bonus Gem: From time to time I’ll be blathering on about things like the importance of “Title Tags” and showing Barbara how we are ranking because of the words in the title. I usually get this deer in the headlights look indicating either “I don’t get it” or “I really don’t care about this at all” usually it is the later. But Title Tags stuck. She started writing some really great title’s for her Craig’s list submissions and putting links in to the single property sites for the listings as well as the blog which is closest to the listing (geographically on topic).

I can always tell when she has been entering on Craig’s List, the traffic spikes and we bring a lot of readers to the various blogs through these links which are (back links created by us). Think about it, these are people looking for a home in the area we live and work. They find the listing, they find the blog, they find us. THIS IS TARGET MARKETING!

If you didn’t check out this week’s nominees for The Odysseus Medal, you should.

We have a brand new tool for promoting The Long List of Odysseus Medal nominees. The Long List will be shown in that little gizmo until the current week’s Short List is announced and then I’ll update it with the new week’s nominees. This is link-love back from BloodhoundBlog, but my reason for building the tool is to promote the best ideas in real estate any way I can. To that end, read this post so that you can learn how to echo The Long List on your own site.

The Long List also has its very own weblog, a link blog of the latest Long List nominees as they are nominated. Feel free to visit, but probably the best way for you to keep abreast of the best in real estate weblogging is to subscribe to The Long List RSS feed.

And as always, if you see a glint of genius, don’t check its price — nominate it.

Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own work or any post you admire here.

Congratulations to the winners — and to everyone who participated.

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  • 3 comments

    3 Comments so far

    1. Dave Smith March 3rd, 2008 12:47 pm

      It is an honor to be the people’s choice. Thank you.

      Greg what a great quote from the post. I’m very thankful Barbara never reads what I write : ) And I know she will never read this excerpt either. Whew!

      So let’s all just keep this to ourselves shall we.

    2. Greg Swann March 3rd, 2008 3:01 pm

      Inlookers: Dave Smith is the Dr. Science of real estate weblogging. If you’re not reading the Real Estate Blog Lab, you’re missing out on a lot.

    3. Mike Farmer March 3rd, 2008 7:13 pm

      Good job.