BEST OF THE WEB: The cult of Evernote

You may have heard of Evernote. The note-taking and organisation app has had a successful few years, allowing people to make notes – including pictures and audio – and store them easily in the cloud.

The app has 50 million users around the world, and is adding as many as 100,000 of them a day. And according to this new story on BusinessWeek, these users aren’t just fans of the service. They’re becoming serious advocates.

Many of them have now become Evernote Ambassadors, who the company flies around the world to spread the word about the product’s benefits.

One such advocate is Joshua Zerkel, who leads training sessions for the service and has even written two ebooks about Evernote. The company pays him nothing.

“There are definitely Evernote junkies,” he says.

In many ways this advocacy for a tech company isn’t unusual – we see it in Apple fans all the time. But Evernote is relatively new and attracting attention companies of its age rarely do.

So why is it so loved? The answer lies in the power of the service, which comes with an extensive search function to allow people to delve into thousands of notes. Chief executive Phil Libin says the service helps solve a work-life balance problem, in being able to organise both efficiently.

“It’s not interesting creating productivity tools for organized, productive people,” Libin says. “It’s only interesting if you can solve this problem for, you know, lazy slobs.”

By that, he clarifies, he means people like himself. “My life has always been a giant mess,” he says. “I’m a very disorganized person.” Though he’s organized enough to have founded two companies before joining Evernote.

Check out the story on Evernote in BusinessWeek. The company is facing problems, too, like simplifying the user interface to make new users less confused. But it’s set to become profitable again in 2014.

The hot new marketing trend – anthropology

Companies are always trying to search for clever new ways to study consumers. But now, a new trend is sweeping across the United States – anthropology.

In this piece over at The Atlantic, the publication profiles Min Lieskovsky, a 31-year-old New Yorker who works for consulting group ReD Associates researching corporate clients. Her job is to study behaviour and see how it applies to business.

And some of the results are extremely curious.

Such as this one Lieskovsky noticed at a party where she was studying the attendees for a client which sold vodka. Her job was to judge not just what people drink, but how they drink it.

Traditional advertising from the client had suggested people who purchase premium vodka care about the way in which their drinks are made to a certain degree. The reality was a little different.

What mattered most, to the partygoers and their hosts, were the narratives that accompanied the drinks. “We found that there is this general shift away from premium alcohol, at least as it’s defined by price point, toward something that has a story behind it,” Lieskovsky says.

“They told anecdotes from their own lives in which a product played a central role—humorous, self-deprecating stories about first encountering a vodka, or discovering a liqueur while traveling in Costa Rica or Mexico.”

The same was true across several different parties. By studying the behaviour, the company was able to more accurately study a way in which the drink could be sold.

It’s corporate anthropology – and it seems to be catching on.

The real story of Stuxnet

You may remember back in 2010 the Stuxnet virus infected software across the world, including 14 industrial sites in Iran. Not only was the malware a burden to computers across the world, but it was one of the first publicly revealed instances – perhaps – of a state-sponsored malware attack.

It was a shocking attack. And in this new piece over at Spectrum, the publication delves into the details behind the malware, and how Kaspersky Lab expert Roel Schouwenberg helped discover the malware’s origin:

Schouwenberg and his colleagues at Kaspersky soon concluded that the code was too sophisticated to be the brainchild of a ragtag group of black-hat hackers. Schouwenberg believes that a team of 10 people would have needed at least two or three years to create it. The question was, who was responsible?

Who indeed? Check out this story for a great mystery read – and a warning of the future of global cyber warfare.

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