Thursday, September 27, 2007

Virtual Reality Tours Increase Real Estate Sales

We have two friends in the real estate business, and they couldn't be more different. Neither one wanted us to mention them by name (go figure) so we'll call them Marcia and Larry.

Marcia has been a real estate agent for 30 years and has a well-established business relying primarily on word-of-mouth and the occasional direct mail piece. Her idea of virtual reality tours is a few quality photos of each property on her Web site.

She told us her methods work well for her, and we can't argue with her success over the years through good times and bad.

Larry, on the other hand, is relatively new to the real estate game. He's young, eager, ambitious and very tech savvy. As expected he has quite a different view on the use of virtual reality tours in his quest to sell more homes.

He believes the use of video in virtual reality real estate tours is getting ready to revolutionize the home selling market and he plans to be in the vanguard.

Larry has statistic on his side, too.

Here's a couple of tidbits from Real Networks:
  • Visitors stayed at websites that used video 78% longer than websites that did not have video.
  • 86 percent of website visitors stay to listen to and/or watch a streaming media presentation.

Larry is as convinced of the benefits of using video virtual tours in his real estate practice as Marcia is on her tried and true methods.

Who's right? Our money is on Larry.

Monday, September 10, 2007

War on the Freedom of Information Act


We live with an administration whose concept of domestic "freedom" went out with those "freedom fries," briefly sold at the cafeterias of the House of Representatives. The Bush team has quite literally been a force for darkness. For those who remember the "memory hole" down which the bureaucrats of the Ministry of Truth dumped all uncomfortable or inconvenient documents in Orwell's famed dystopian novel 1984, this administration has created its functional equivalent. Just since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the government has removed from open shelves and sequestered from public view more than one million pages of "historical government documents -- a stack taller than the U.S. Capitol." According to the Associated Press, "some of these documents are more than a century old." What we are seeing in many cases is "declassification in reverse." For example, the CIA and other federal agencies "have secretly reclassified over 55,000 pages of records taken from the open shelves at the National Archives and Records Administration." These have even included half-century-old documents already published in a State Department historical series. In many cases, there is simply no way of knowing what has been removed, because the removals have largely not been catalogued.

Even the Pentagon phone book, on sale at the Government Printing Office bookstore until 2001, is gone. There's little way for a citizen to know who occupy offices that may determine the course of his or her life. In a sense, there are no longer "public servants," only private ones, beholden to the President, not Americans. This is what "national security," Bush-style, really means. Similarly, as Robert Dreyfuss discovered when he tried to chart out who was working in Vice President Cheney's office while researching a piece, no information could be revealed to a curious reporter, not even the names and positions of those who worked for the Vice President, those who, theoretically, were working for us. Cheney's office would not even publicly acknowledge its own employees, no less let them be interviewed.