One of my favorite concepts relating to online marketing and commerce is the "Architecture of Participation". Coined by Tim O'Reilly a few years ago, the idea behind the term is that pages, sites, and networks should be built with the notion of user participation in mind. Likewise, online advertisers and marketers are coming to understand the importance and value of constructing campaigns and creative in ways that engender active responses and contributions from consumers. In biology, a genotype is essentially the genetic code (DNA) that an organization carries around with it in each of its cells. A phenotype is the expression of that genotype in the form of features, chemistry, behavior, etc. While the former is the product of conception and does not materially vary over time, the latter evolves and changes through the infinitely complex interactions of specific genes and environment. Interesting (perhaps?) but what does this mean in the context of marketing today? Glad you asked... I find the analogy useful because it makes a clear distinction between what is knowable (the sequence of DNA) and what is virtually unknowable (looking at an individual's DNA and using that to predict his height, hair color, weight, personality, etc.). Today, we're still in control of the DNA of our marketing strategies and messaging but what those actually look like once consumers begin to participate in our campaigns is fraught with a lot more uncertainty. In the next post, I'll share some ideas we have around how to embrace and benefit from the new order of things that puts consumers in the drivers seat.