Dictating viral marketing

Nuance, makers of Dragon Naturally Speaking, are running a “Do you speak Dragon?” competition.

They did a similar contest last year to collect favourable accounts of using Dragon Naturally Speaking. It must have made the Nuance marketing people feel all warm and soft inside to read the accounts, but you still had to already be at the Nuance web site before you could see what people had said in the hope of winning a prize. I did enter last year: it was one sentence, it was genuine, I didn’t gush, and I got the dragon fingerpuppet that every entrant received and that was all that I was after.

Actually, having just read some of the entries for this year, some of the accounts would make just about anybody feel warm and soft inside. Not the sort of accounts of aspiring novelists who have completed even more novels that will never be published in less time than previously, but the accounts from people with dyslexia, MS, or deafness for whom the dictation software really is making a difference.

Someone in Nuance marketing presumably has read about viral marketing. The difference this year is the extra category, and biggest prizes, for accounts posted on personal blogs, as reviews on sites such as Amazon, on Facebook, etc., or on YouTube. So the nice things that people are saying in the hope of winning a prize are now (or so the Nuance marketing team must be hoping) being spread around the web without any indications that at least some of them were put there because of a competition. Perhaps it’s a shade better than Nuance paying influential bloggers or a viral marketing company to spread the warm and soft feelings about the software (and it’s probably a lot cheaper), but I really would prefer if the positive reviews that I read on the web are put there because the software (or whatever) is genuinely good, not because of the dangling carrot of winning a video game.

This is a blog entry about Dragon Naturally Speaking. If I entered, do you think I could win?

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment (2nd Ed.)

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment, 2nd EditionFor the second time in four months, I went to Boston and come away with a 900-page book. The second visit was a W3C XSL FO subgroup meeting, and the second book was Advanced Programming in the UNIX® Environment (2nd Ed.) (ISBN 0-201-43307-9).

The book is exceptional, and it has already been useful on one of my client projects. The only possible downside is that delving into this 900-page book further delays my completion of the other 900-page book.