Friday, October 30. 2009
Twitter has released the ability to make lists of people, ie group 'em in convenient monotypes:
We’re putting the finishing touches on our new Lists feature and we're really excited about the folks who have already taken a lot of time creating awesome lists. From the @time list of funny people to your own list of people who make you laugh—it's easy to see how this feature increases discovery and adds value in lots of ways.
The really, really interesting thing is that you can have Public lists. Anyone can curate and publish these lists, and put anyone else on it. So if you have an idea for one, just click "New list" in the sidebar of your Twitter account and you're on your way. However. the above options don't go far enough - I see the opportunity not just for extending one's egosystem, but for more radical waggish fun and mayhem - so the suggestions below probably go too far :
@Hotornot/Twittergals - the jolly grouping of all those Ladies (or men, we ain't sexist here) and the opportunity to decide who are not a perfect "10"
Blimey, that was quick.......
Now, apparently you can exeunt yourself from being on these sorts of lists by blocking them yourself, but that seems time consuming for the poor listee, so no doubt some more sophisticated controls will have to emerge.
Ah - I see the List Facility is also on my account.......... I may be gone some time, I have some listbots to write
There is a post on the marvellously satirical blog Stuff White People Like, on White (White in the sense of US slang for the Lefty Liberal Intelligentsia) people's view of people who Know About Technology
When white people go away to college, they tend to study what are knowns as the Arts. This includes actual Art, English, History, Classics, and Philosophy. These can of course be broken down further into Film, Womyn’s Studies (yes the spelling is correct), Communications, Gender Studies, and so forth. It is important to note that a high percentage of white people also get degrees in Political Science, which is pretty much like arts, and only seems to have the word “science” in it to make white people feel better about themselves.
Now, I was reminded of this over the last few days because I was listening to the debates on the C&binet Forum Conference sessions over the Internet whilst working. This was an invite only session, and it became increasingly clear to me over the 2 days I was listening in, that this discussion about the future of digital media was being essentially run by White people, talking to White people, for the benefit White people. I doubt there was the merest smattering of a Tech Major present. (OK, I exaggerate - but just look at the forum's blogroll - nary a techie blogger in the whole roll, its MSM tech journos all except for TechCrunch - who, of course, were not actually invited to the event, being, well, Tech Crunchies )
One can argue that this is fine, after all heaven forbid the critical Affairs of State be decided by people who are not White! (I mean, if we had a Real democracy we'd be doing weird things like not invading random Mid-Asian countries, for example - imagine that!) The big problem with technology is that, by and large, mainstream Meedja, Journos and Politicians - the "White" people mainly invited to these sorts of bashes - actually don't by and large know how all this stuff actually works (Sorry good people, but being on Twitter and/or Facebook and even having an instapundit blog on Wordpress doesn't quite qualify). This means that when the Dark People who run theEvil Corporations appear and talk smoothly about how the Digital Landscape works, then the White people get totally bamboozled and either lap it up (if its a "Good" Evil Corporation - Google Neutrality anyone?) or tend to run around jousting at various largely irrelevant windmills, muddying the Ether nets.
Its the (smoothly) bland leading the blind. (By the way, JP Rangaswami has written a great fiskpost on Dark Lord Mandelson's nefarious scheme over here......)
Which is why, of course, the UK is in the Digital Shi....Situation it is in. 'Nuff said........
I had written the above last night and was going to spike it under the "This Would Seem Like Sour Grapes Because You Weren't Invited* " heading (that, and this article probably is as close to a perfect 10 on the Paul Carr Scale of How to Lose Friends and Piss People Off that I've ever come) , but then I read about an Unconference that was held at the above Cabinet Forum by some of the attendees, and was run for roughly the same reasons that I raised as issues above. It is written up here on the Pervasive Media Blog. Here is a synopsis of the conclusions.
University is broken. Education is way behind industry. Our education system needs to change - places like RCA, ITP, University of South California are brilliant at fostering creative entrepreneurialism by getting artists, writers, programmers etc to work together on one project. We need to teach teamwork and interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial skills through an embedded cross-cutting logic.
May I emphasize "There is a need for more computer scientists coming into the creative industries in order to create innovative products" and "We need a new generation of producers with more diverse skills and an overview of the industry"
They are right of course, but lets just go down another level on the implications:
Once upon a time, the White people of the Media-Political complex were called the "Chattering Classes" and had Dinner Parties in Islington, but now some are paddling in the shallower waters of technology and thus label themselves as Geeks, or even "Digerati". This is of course inaccurate, the correct term is Chatterati, obviously. Digerati by and large know how this stuff actually works, and work in - or even run real businesses in - the space. Unfortunately, many Digerati are inarticulate, wear unfashionable glasses and look like the IT Crowd, so they are best left Unseen and Unheard. (This of course is what Quangos are for - Quangos allow White people to draw large salaries for performing the unpleasant job of managing Real Geeks, so that other White People don't have to see them at conferences like this...... )
So, next C&binet Forum, I would like to see some of the people there who do actually know how this sh*t all works rebutting some of the claims made. Some positive discrimination for people who actually did some Maths in their university degrees, for example, would be helpful. People with unfashionable glasses and haircuts. Maybe even people who studied IT. (OK, OK, thats probably going too far.....)
Oh, and as for the the Blogroll....c'mon guys, you need to read a bit wider than that. You could even read this 'ere Broadstuff blog, after all, we've been shortlisted for the BIMAS so we must be some cop......
*The tongue is , I hope, firmly in the cheek - and what cheek - They did, after all, streamcast the sessions and put it all up on Twitter for comment. I'm thus now awaiting the Grapes of Wrath
(Update - In the interests of journalistic balance, there is a far more sanguine post by Anthony Mayfield, on TechCrunch EU oddly enough . Anthony imho doesn't go far enough on the Tech lack - this post, on the other hand, goes too far )
(Update 2 - To explain a bit of my frustration here - we do a lot of work in this space, and I will shortly post up some research we have done on the pace of innovation over the last 100 years or so that I presented at the "Internet: Next 40 Years" session last night. In essence, the changes that are coming to the media have been predictable - and have been predicted - for at least 15 years to my certain knowledge and have happened more than once before over the last 100 years, and are not quick - its a 20 - 30 year repetitive cycle, from novel technology driving economic shift to screams for industry protection to social takeup to regulatory shift to it all happening again. (see here for some of our previous analysis on the situation). It just makes me very frustrated that, because the answers aren't "under the Creative Media lampost" as it were, they are deemed not to exist, or at least don't get airtime.)
(Update 3 - a friend pointed me to this 2006 post from Tom Coates saying much the same as I said above. I love the analogy of the Old Order wailing for assistance because it can't run away from the snail)
(Update 4 - in response to some comments below, and several emails and DM's from people. I was not so much shooting at the people in the room or Arts majors per se, as I wrote in the Comments:
"I was more aiming at the weird - and unique to UK thing I think - of the wide separation of Arts and Tech in the culture, so the governing class (the media-political and to an extent financial set) by and large have a very small amount of tech in their "DNA". And in a world that is increasingly driven by its technology, this to my mind opens 2 major risks:
I feel extremely strongly about this (as the above post shows, methinks) - we are a small niche strategy consultancy in this space, we study the UK vis a vis other countries, we study this technology age vs previous ones and do future projections - and the things that stare out at you when you do are:
(i) This era of change is not unique - for those that can be bothered to do so, there are plenty of lessons from previous technology waves that can be instructive. And the Old Order always reaches for the protectionist lever.
So it is frustrating to see the (smoothly) bland leading the blind in 2009. There is no need, and little excuse for it. That the "Stuff White people like" blog is written in the USA proves they have the same ideological issues, but the fact they also have held the technology lead since the 1950's shows they are able to overcome it too.
Thursday, October 29. 2009
Peter Mandelson today said that the UK will get a "3 strikes and you're off the Internet" rule by April 2010. The BBC notes that:
Lord Mandelson emphasised that cutting off internet connections would be a "last resort".
"I have no expectation of mass suspensions. People will receive two notifications and if it reaches the point [of cutting them off] they will have the opportunity to appeal," Lord Mandelson told the audience at the C&binet Forum, a talking shop set up by government to debate the issues facing the creative industries (of which more, later). The pay-off for tough penalties against persistent file-sharers would be a more relaxed copyright regime, Lord Mandelson said. The details of it would need to be hammered out at European level but it would take account of the use of copyright material "at home and between friends", he said.
Well, that's akin to giving people what they already have with one hand while extracting something with the other hand - I don't know anyone who has ever been prosecuted for taping their own CD's or loading music onto their spouse's iPod. Still, there are some delicious turns of phrase:
(Italics are mine.) There's a subtle knife twist in there, around those words "cheaper", "lift" and "restrictions". Its the music rightsholders that are behind this, they are trying to get the ISP's to police it - and bear some of the costs. They are not going to like those 3 words. The ISP's have also hit back where it hurts - in the wallet:
Which is a sound principle in most sensible legal systems. Another sound principle is that any law that criminalises the majority of its citizens will be made an ass of. The issue, of course, is the one the industry doesn't really want to adress - ie overcharging, What no-one who looks at this "gets" is why this industry feels the Apple model - decent quality at reasonable prices - isn't acceptable.
Now Lord Mandelson, of all people, knows all this. He also knows the Labour party has near zero chance of getting this law through before the next election anyway. Plus there are far bigger fish to fry, so why cause a storm in a teacup full of bloggers, music fans, open rights activists etc who like nothing better than a nice righteous campaign to get off on?
Part of the answer is the size of the industry, c £16bn annually, which the Government needs to ensure (i) keeps its revenue going and people employed and (ii) that they can tax, especially now the City's golden egg is broken.
Another part, suggested by some scurrilous wags, is that some of that £16bn turnover is used to fund lobbying activity, and....well, what with all the other parliamentary expenses being curtailed these days.........but frankly, thats too obvious a ploy, and if you need petty cash go float a bank or two.
Must admit I'm stumped on this at the moment.
Wednesday, October 28. 2009
Dave McCandless's stunning data diagrams
On Monday I attended the Media 140 Conference. Owing to a confluence of adverse railway related issues, I arrived late (Am reconsidering my opposition to fascism, I think Focussed Fascism - on the trains - would be a Good Thing) so missed the first morning session (but Adam Tinworth has blogged the whole day starting here). The aim of the day was to explore how microblog systems (ie Twitter) work in a more commercial arena for brands, ie "Everything a brand needs to know about twitter & real-time social media". This meant, on the day, focus was mainly on sales, marketing, PR and the occasional dive into customer service rather than any more operational uses.
At any rate, these are the notes I took on the day.:
Quirk's Nic Ray and Unilever's Noam Buchalter on Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing is not new, but new technology helps - cheaper, more people, faster, do more things. It attacks the traditional Ad agency model's economics as:
- there are more creatives outside
However, its not without its challenges:
Also, Crowdsourcing is not appropriate for everything, works best with:
They went through a case study for Peperami, who changed to this model, in essence because:
- wanted new ideas from new sources as brand was getting old
After the users generated the ideas, they were sifted and scored by:
- fitted client brief
What was fairly radical apparently was that the client was fully involved in the process (I must say, coming from the consulting/design side of the service industries that point amazed me - seems like there area few other issues "Olde Advertising" has to deal with still).
There was then a Panel I missed owing to Real Work Issues, but Adam Tinworth has it covered (All panellists are listed in the Media140 link above in Para 1).
Ciaran Norris of Mindshare on Listening skills....
Ciaran addressed the economics of "Social media" marketing - he noted that points not often grasped up front are that:
- Listening is very labour intensive
Also today one needs to track video not just text, and there is a proliferation of listening posts
- Delicious is a good listening tool, has RSS feeds
He also made the point that the brand may have its online personality hijacked - For example, Weight Watchers on Twitter is not expressing it's personality, its just a recipe feed - so "Tweet what you eat" has hijacked the brand personality on Twitter by being far more about peopel commnicating to lose weight
Lunch and another Real Work Break so I missed Mr Red Bull, John Beasley, and then we had.....
The Great Twitterwall Hijack
There was then quite a useful panel with real experience - or at least it could have been except for The Twitterwall. As far as I can see, the dynamic went something like this:
- Panelists stop talking when Twitterwall goes up and start reading Twitterwall and responding to it
- This encourages twitterwalling audience to become more strident in their twts, trying to be seen by panellists
- Result is random, diverted panel with not a lot of useful stuff.
That at least was my view, I'm coming to the conclusion that Twitterwalls should be shut off (or at least curated) while panels are talking and only switched on at question time, or there is little point in having the panellists. Anyway, Adam Tinworth covered this panel well (and disagrees with me re Twitterwalls....).
The Last Panel of the Day
This was quite useful as (i) it had a real user - Virgin Trains and (ii) it had Will McInness and Drew Benvie on, who I think know their stuff (as in fact did the others, I just didn't know them).
Richard Baker from Virgin Train made some interesting observations (see his blog post over here)
- brand is in hands of the people in the company. Some customers want a conversation, others just want info/answers
By the way, the Grauniad's Mercedes Bunz (yes, really) covered this panel over here.
The Real Time Web & Show me money - Bernard Desarnauts, Glam Media
The Real Time Web and how to make money - two topics dear to my heart! Here is the Problem:
The Solution - analysis tools, in this case Tinker, a sort of Real Time Walled Garden which allows brands to see in real time stuff but gives them a safe place. The main issue though is the same as with any Real Time system, ie stopping clutter. The solution - blending algorithm and curator via real time categorisation of type of source, aggregation and filter plus metadata curation eg of hashtags.
Other things coming down the road in Real Time are:
Why will these approaches work? Money. Early indications are that it works 5x better than other Ad systems
- 17 vs 2.7 % interaction rate
As to how they are filtering, for eg how do you screen and remove noisy inanity - you can't yet, so they are scrubbing repetition
Dave McCandless - InformationIsBeautiful
Dave's view is that information visualization was "a new trend" (consternation in the back row as we all tried to work out if it was 10 or 15 years ago that it was a hot new trend). Anyway, Dave's view is that to to sell on social media, you need to give something - and "interestingness" is great currency (if you are not a sleb, that is?). At any rate, Dave provided some brilliant graphs and data visualizations, one of which I've put up. (By the way, the brevity of this precis is more than made up by the graphics he showed. You can get (more here)- a picture, as they say, is worth a 1,000 words)
Utku Can Akyuz - MintDigital
Utku put up the Hemlock Open Source middleware applications, which seems mainly optimised for making game type environments. Applicatios mentioned were:
- Games: Real time open source tools for eg bamzooki as game
- Filtering and graphics
- 2 Screen behaviour TV plus Lsptop integration - made as game
- Data from the ads to interact with, or for eg pulling data from shows for Ad placement next to TV
Mark Rock - AudioBoo
As the last speaker, Mark did the sensible thing and made his talk short and sharp. Key points were:
So what's with the headline - a sale of two Twitters - I hear you ask?. Well, the interesting stuff is often what is said in the discussion at lunch etc, and there were two strands of polarisation I picked up - firstly, the view that not a lot new was being said, but what was being said was to new people (In this respect I thought that it varied, the individual speakers were quite perceptive but sometimes the panels struggled to get insights out, as it were).
The second polarisation was a philosophical difference about how Twitter is used by Brands, 2 "tribes" in this space as it were. These tribes are:
(i) The "Sell, Sell, Sell" fraternity - the view is that some people see this as just another channel to flog stuff on, and stuff the other users' experience. The channel has a higher response rate still, so make hay while the sun shines and the devil takes the hindmost. (The "Tragedy of the Commoners" approach)
There was also a feeling that the "newbies" are predominantly of the former persuasion, the old hands of the latter.
Thoughts of Which Twitter will win out?
(Update - as always, kudos to the organisers, I know how much work is involved in things like this)
It would appear Broadstuff has been shortlisted for the BIMAS (British Interactive Media Association's) "Best Blog of 2009" Award.
Now those sceptics among you (and readers of this blog are probably mainly sceptics) will no doubt assume someone was bribed to put us up for it, but I promise you it came as a complete surprise to me too. Investigation of the Broadstuff PR budget shows it is unspent (the 2p piece and half a tin of freebie peppermints from TED remain intact in the shoebox) so the only conclusion we can come to is that.... someone actually likes what is done here!
To say one is therefore pleased is an understatement .
Anyway, at this point it is customary to yell "Vote For Me"!, so here, in order not to disappoint you, is that instruction. To ameliorate the cringe factor, I offer the video above, from M. Python esq, on elections and voting.
But, on perusing the list, I see some blogs from people I know and like, so in the finest tradition of netpotism, I would also say (if you don't like Broadstuff ) how about voting for Kerry, or Robin & crew.
Or, you could vote Silly Party.....
Tuesday, October 27. 2009
Motivations for Social Media Usage (from TrendStream)
Last week I attended the IAB Europe's Research Showcase on Social Media (hat tip Andrew Gerrard). Speakers were:
- Tom Smith Managing Director of Trendstream
Here are my snapshot views from quite a thought provoking day:
Tom Smith - European Social Media Trends
Tom put up a "Hype Timeline" from blogs to twitter, Facebook is so last year, MySpace falls off the groovy scale. Reality of course is different, as usage is opposite to hype - and Internet forums on Google and Yahoo are still most active still, despite Geocities demise.
He also put up some market research charts on Usage Motivation (you can get them here) including the above one showing - guess what - that Usage is mainly driven by "Staying in touch", "sharing views" (which is of course why the popularity of simple connection tools - email, sms, twitter) confound verey generation of tech pundits. Also very popular usage is market research to buy stuff. He notes the Rise of Iphone, and the most popular apps are around getting access to social media.
This balance shifts by country - Russians and emerging mkts are more social whereas UK, Germany most purchase research based. I saked why re Russia et al, Tom's hypothesis is that these countries have more rigid social structures, so fewer alternatives for good old open comms. I also wonder if its harder to buy online....
On Social Networks, the online ones are bigger than F2F (due to lower transaction costs in my opinion - does this impact the Dunbar number?) but not so many online friends are "have a beer with" friends - also noted different social nets have different "mean distance of relationships" vs. F2F and each other
On research to buy, he notes Twitter is becoming more heavily used to promote something, and Trusted recommendation are moving to online social network from geographic/professional recommendation sites.
A few other nuggets:
Marketing implications are:
- social in path to purchase
Brad Little - State of the Debate
Key points were:
The Industry is still in learning curve mode, basically trying to use push metrics on pull media. PR and Marketing are "early in" to being reshaped by the new technologies, and he sees big future market in:
How to unlock value? Some thoughts are:
- understand all data is not equal.
He gave the Snuggies "Outstanding Success" Example (Snuggies are blankets with knitted arm tubes)
If you stuck with the Standard story you would make the wrong investments in media, marketing and possibly product development.
Next up - Andrew Gerrard chairing a panel Talking ROI
This featured some of the afternoon’s presenters, plus Facebook's Trevor Johnson, Head of Planning & Stratgy EMEA. Issues are:
Other useful comments I noted were:
I had to miss most of Pawel's Sony case study due to real work related tasks, but picked up that they found the "Recommend to a friend" is best way of promotion
Charlie Osmond Fresh Minds - building online research communities
Having aon Online Research Community Allows better innovation to customer led organisation eg Dell Ideastorm as response to MyDellHell. Some thoughts on how to make them work are:
Some other points made
How to build an online community:
All in all an interesting day, the analytics alone made attendance worthwhile.
Monday, October 26. 2009
There is a brilliant, gently satirical website about the rich world's liberal, educated intelligentsia called "Stuff White People Like" by Christian Lander. "White" here is taken from US slang, and is actually more about class distinction (and maintaining it):
It’s partially about race, but it’s fundamentally about class. It’s about a generation and class that values authenticity and credibility more than monetary wealth.
Update: Here is a part of the requisite section about Being Offended:
He also has a book out. But there is something he is unlikely to publish, as it will raise ire in the potential buyer. Last week showed me something very dark that these "white" people don't like, and that is Freedom of Speech (of people you disagree with). Once upon a time (The Age of Reason) it was the height of "white" (as in liberal intellectual) thinking to say:
“I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Now, however, it seems we are in the Age of Unreason. Two examples last week showed this - Jan Moir and Nick Griffin. Both are the "wrong" sort of White people, both were hounded on "24 hour Outrage* " flashmobs on Twitter and other social media. And the net result is quite a lot of people looked at the hounding and wondered just who the bigots were (see the response to the Nick Griffin episode on the BBC feedback website, its mostly full of people quite upset at the online and on-air mugging) - the reverse (albeit predictable) effect of what was intended.
Yesterday at Media140 (of which more, later) this "feature" of social media was alluded to every so often but only twice this downside was explicitly mentioned, and the corollary - that we will have to design social media decision architectures to "nudge" people into better behaviour patterns was only lightly brushed over.
I am in agreement with this - at the moment, on social media, populist misbehaviour is too widely rewarded. For social capital systems to work well, they need to be able to reign in the "increasing returns" benefits of low cost supporting, (twibbons, retweeting, turning your avatar a different colour on Twitter etc) of whatever populist fad is sweeping through. In game theory its called a "weak tell" and in real life we are quite good at distinguishing between these and real commitment, but online (it would seem, anyway) we are less so.
The hard thing will be to design systems so they are also capable of maintaining vigilance and hounding real wrongdoing, as also happened recently in the Trafigura case.
And as for being able to generate World Peace, I go to Kerry Gaffney's point in the comments below - Social Media can potentially function more as an echo chamber amplifier than a diversifier without some form of "nudge" to the serendipitous. (As opposed to a "nudge towards reduced privacy" which seems to be the main aim behind the Facebook gambit)
For the record, I follow Voltaire's nostrum up to the point of inflammatory incitement to violence (which makes me Millsian).
*To use a term coined in Media140 yesterday.
Saturday, October 24. 2009
Yup, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has joined Twitter., moniker timberners_lee. There must be some form of recursivity there somewhere
Apparently he finds the interface confusing - no doubt next he will start tinkering, and who knows where that might lead.....look what happened last time
(Update - a friend tells me he is not actually microblogging on Twitter per se. He has linked his indenti.ca account to Twitter and uses identi.ca to microblog..... no wonder he finds the interface confusing :-0 )
Friday, October 23. 2009
Last night, amidst massive protests, the leader of the British National Party*, Nick Griffin was allowed onto one of the BBC's premier political programmes, Question Time. This is a debate style program, typically 5 people - 3 politicians of the main parties, 2 people from other walks of life (or minor parties) and is very high risk for politicians as the audience can ask some difficult questions and their sharp comments can undo the best prepared polemic.
But to me the really interesting thing about Question Time (and other TV programs) is that the British Twitterati have got into the habit of chatting and commenting on the programme using the hashtag #bbcqt, and that to me is the really interesting bit, for 2 reasons:
There is also fascinating implication here - the same internetworks that are breaking up the media are also capable of re-combining audiences in the social media systems. I can't imagine how you would use Facebook to do this (too cumbersome) or IM (too small an audience reach).
Update - two good points/clarifications:
- Richard Beddard notes in the comments below that on of the issues now facing something like #bbcqt is the sheer volume (it was hitting 1,000 twts a minute at one stage) these hashtag based comment aggregators can get, and the need for better filtering
Incidentally, in my personal view the audience collectively came out as the most sensible attendee in the Question Time debate - which is fascinating in itself too. The other panel members (Liberal Democrat excepted more of the time) succumbed to the temptation of pillorying Griffin, whereas - in my view anyway - if they had STFU he would have hanged himself on his own petard, without getting any sympathy. Trust in Free Speech .....
(*For the uninitiated, the BNP is a classic "far right" party - their policies are almost designed to make the liberal left splutter into their FairTrade lattes. The fascinating problem is that the BNP now have similar sort of elected political support in the UK to the Greens, Welsh Nationalists etc (primarily due to the Government totally botching up massive immigration over the last 10 years) and thus - in a free speech country - deserve access to these national TV platforms. This has led to the fascinating spectacle of the liberal/left leaning politicos all dying to deny free speech, rather than support it as one would expect...... )
Thursday, October 22. 2009
Growth rates of 100 software companies from IPO Dashboard
Fascinating study from IPO Dashboard showing the extreme unlikelihood of the "5 year dash to $50m turnover from startup" hockey stick business plan so beloved ov VC focussed business cases. The study was based on the top 100 publically traded (US) software companies, inflation adjusted. Some conclusions:
Most successful technology companies aren’t rocket ships.
As IPO Dashboard notes, is it wise to prepare a business plan featuring steep hockey stick sales projections?
(Hat Tip Robin Klein)
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