One Man and His Blog: October 2009 Archives

October 2009 Archives

October 26, 2009

#media140 : Hemlock & AudioBoo

Hemlock is an open-source environment for building social applications, with a gaming focus. There's a showcase of uses on the site.

AudioBoo - a low coast, efficient way of generating audio reports. The platform collects pictures, geodata and so on at the time of recording, and pushes it into a social, connected, embeddable environment. Currently, it's on the iPhone, with Android and web versions coming soon. And they're adding an API which will allow others to build clients. 

Podcasting was too complicated, suggests SEO MArk Rock. The idea of AudioBoo was to make audio publishing as easy as possible. In the short term, they'll monetise through pro services, from editing, to managing team contributions. 10 licences sold for the pro services - and it's not built yet!

#media140 : Information is Beautiful.

David McCandlessDavid McCandless (@mccandelish) has a book coming out. He didn't beat around the bush about that. He showed us the UK and US editions. But he's also interested in the growing visual literacy of the population through the growth of the web. 

If you come into the social space trying to sell something "you're a bit of a dick, really". What you can do is bring a gift - interestingness. If you're interesting, you'll get followed and you'll get retweeted. And the most interesting gift is the revealing gift. 

(This is a really hard session to liveblog, BTW. It's all about great, fascinating graphics.)

And I think what he's showing, and this should be of particular note to journalists, is how limited and uninspired our graphical representation of data is right now, and how illuminating it can be when done right. Asking the real-time web the right questions, and you can find some fascinating information - but give back. Give back into the social space what you create from that data.

Wonderful talk. Go read his blog.

#media140 : Show Me The Money - Bernard Desarnauts

Last keynote of the day: Bernard Desarnauts of Glam Media and talking (in theory) about where the money is.

Media is every-fragmenting. Blogs are growing as are social networks. Traffic is fragmenting around topics, and traditional sites are drawing a small and smaller amount of people's time. The traditional places where advertisers spent money are becoming less and less relevant. 

So, the answer is distributed media - go where the audience is. And that's brought them 12m uniques worldwide - by focusing on mid to long tail.

Tinker - instead of following people, you follow topics. They use semantic analysis to find relevant content wherever it is. Beyond that, they create widgets that contain the conversation within them. You don't force people to come to Tinker - you can push the conversation out to where they are. 

Has been used by many media brands. They use algorithmic and manual filtering to curate the flow of content. They have direct API access to the Twitter "firehose". Most customers only want the Twitter data. 

[This feels a bit like a sales pitch rather than a case study]

#media140 : Who's your brand?

This panel looks interesting. The relationship between individual personality and brand is clearly an uncomfortable one for many people here, and exploring that looks worthwhile. In the driving seat: Gordon MacMillan, Social Media and International Editor of Haymarket.

Candace Kuss (@candancekuss) Hill & Knowlton:
Personality is not the same as a character.

Drew Benvie (@drewb), 33 digital: Social media is full of fake and FAIL. The conversation about character and personality needs to happen. People need to learn to be personal about personality. 

Ruth Mortimer
Will Mcinnes (@willmcinnes), NixonMcinnes: Does a brand have a personality? Once we get past the social media as the new new, we need to understand what the organisation's DNA is.

Ruth Mortimer (@marketingweeked), Marketing Week: Every brand already has a personality - it's about how you use it.

Richard Baker (@richard_baker), Virgin Trains: Not every customer care wether or not you have a personality. Some just want information. The skill is about tailoring response to the right customers. 

Richard is making the point quite strongly that marketing can't own social media. It's cross-functional and just as important to, say customer service. Candace is backing him up, restating that the best thing people can do is listen - and spend a long time listening, and then they can keep it real because they've seen how to do it.
Continue reading #media140 : Who's your brand?.

#media140 : The Survivors' Club

Jess GreenwoodI'm uncomfortable with some of this panel's message. There seems to be a distinct undertow of "how do we control the message through Twitter. The examples we're being given seem to be using Twitter as just another channel, maybe to give a veneer of engagement, without a reality to it.

ASOS seems to be the notable exception right now, but let's see how the panel develops.

Amelia Torode from VCCP suggests that it's about the right people doing the right things...

And this panel has almost been completely hijacked by the Twitterfeed... Running jokes about the guy from Innocent, Ted Hunt.

Some suggestion that Twitter is a passing fad, and it will be replaced by something else next year, but that feels like someone who isn't really engaged.

Look, the  real lesson of this panel was that, if a panel is insufficiently interesting, using a Twitterwall will sabotage it. Fascinated people don't undermine sessions with jokey tweets, they tweet reaction to people's statements - or just tweet the statements. Despite the best efforts of chair Jess Greenwood of Contagious magazine, this is actually a classic counter to the sentiment that I saw emerging at the start of the panel - about controlling the message. With so many people able to publish now, you can't control the message - you can just join in.

#media140 : Learning To Listen

Ciarán NorrisFormer colleague Ciarán Norris is going to tell us how to listen.

Use your ears?


First up: why should we listen on Twitter? Exponential growth in the last year, for one. We've had a growth of people at the creator end of the scale. First you had know HTML, then you had to have a blog, and now you just need Twitter, a mobile phone and maybe a cameras. 

And because of that, Google is now your company front page, and other people's work maybe on the front page and more interesting than yours. Tools like ViralTracker allow them to follow how pieces of work spread across the web. Delicious is still a good way of seeing how people view your brand. Tweetdeck gives you the ability to understand and monitor Twitter across multiple accounts. Tweetfunnel allows multiple people to manage one account. Tweetmeme tracks how links are spread around Twitter. They're adding analytics (which I'm testing and it's cool). Twitterfall, great way to check what people are saying around a brand.

But: some perspective. 2% of Iranians have access to Twitter, so it's the "liberal intelligentsia talking to the liberal intelligentsia in the west".

Some good examples: 

#media140 : "Do"s and "Don't"s in Social Media

The idea of brands joining in on people's private conversations is just creepy, suggests Lloyd Davis (alloyddavis) of the Tuttle Club

  • Be honest and transparent, don't lie or fake it.
Daren Forsyth (@darenBBC) points out that human is basically the default mode of Twitter. Think about how human and how subtle you can be. 

And the converse? Habitat. Lots of debate as to wether the rules of social media are obvious, or need thinking about. If they're so obvious, why did Habitat get it so wrong. The answer offered is that it was "a kid", but that seems like a cop-out. 

George Nimah (@iboy) is doing his best to kick the panel more into gear, but suggesting that a panel of advertising folks talking about evidence is up there with military intelligence as an oxymoron. We need more honesty, like being honest that Peperami was as much about saving money in a recession as about being creative. (Follow the money.)

Daljit Bhurji of Diffusion PR (@daljit_bhurji) suggests that it's as much about how you turn things around in a crisis. Dell has recovered brilliantly from Dell Hell, and even Habitat now has a good agency behind their Twitter stream. (An agency. Not people in the company. Doesn't sound good to me). 

Lloyd raises the issue of celebs using their entourage to tweet for them - which does their image harm. George says it's about being clear. If you tweet under your name, make sure it's you. If you tweet under a brand name, be clear who it is that's tweeting on behalf of a brand. 

I like Daren's suggestion that companies need to identify their conversationalists - and all have them already - and use them as their social media first line, as it were.

Two pieces of wisdom from Lloyd: We're all making this up as we go along, and don't use spam bots.

#media140 : Idea Bounty

Did you know that the 19th century Oxford English Dictionary was crowd-sourced? It's not a new concept, but technology brings new things to it, says Nic Ray, managing director of Quirk, particularly a wider reach.

The basic process is:

  • Company broadcasts problem
  • Crowd offers solution
  • Crowd vets solutions
  • Company rewards winning suggestions
And you can see it in use anywhere from Wikipedia to Threadless, to 99 Designs. And the benefits? Everything from tapping a wider range of talents, to actually building engagement with your brands. 

And yes, this is a threat to the traditional agency model. Wider range of potential talent, and lower costs? That's attractive, and Ray seems to suggest that push-back from the traditional agency community is one of the bigger problems of the process.

You should also pick and choose where you use crowd-sourcing techniques. The more research that's needed, or more face to face interaction, then you want to go the traditional route. 

Noam Buchalter then went on to explain why Peperami crowd-sourced ideas for future ads, as they felt the most recent peperami-charcetr-based ads weren't as strong as they could have been. The whole process seems to have been a mix of cost-saving and engagement, as well as a source of new ideas. The filming was doen in South Africa, for example, to save costs. 

One questioner from the floor suggested that it was a missed opportunity, and that they could have gone for something genuinely "ground up", rather than a "top down" filtering process for the final results. 

#media140 : Can you change a brand in 140 characters?

IMG_1932 - Version 2.jpg
"Twitter is like word of mouth on crack," says Scott Seaborn, head of mobile tech at Ogilvy (@scottseaborn). "The paradigm shift is that the people now have the power. The best thing to do is acknowledge that and give them tools to have more power."

Gareth Jones, the editor of Revolution (@gj), means that they have moved from pushing their content out to having conversations with their readers, and making their brand more transparent.

For BA, social media humanises the brand. It puts a human face on something they normally think is out of their league.

"Isn't social media just PR?" asked Kieron Matthews of IAB (@IABUK)

"Is PR in the sense of ongoing discourse, but it's not PR in the modern sense of spamming journalists with press releases," said Robin Grant of We Are Social. (@robingrant)

And Gareth pointed out that Twitter allows him to engage directly with people without going through PRs.

Scott then characterised social media as just another channel, and there need to be PRs with a speciality in it. And then Kieron had a go at RSS. This conference is feeling far less what I'd call "socially media aware" then the journalism-based one earlier in the year.

And now - the ROI discussion is upon us with the inevitability of a WiFi FAIL at a tech conference...
Continue reading #media140 : Can you change a brand in 140 characters?.

October 23, 2009

Web 2.0 Square: Your Future, Visualised

Web 2.0 Square
I rather like this little graphic from Ross Mayfield, based on ideas being discussed at this year's Web 2.0 Expo. You can download the supporting report Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On.

I think it neatly encapsulated the four issues that will effect the web, and which the publishing business needs to get its head around. I talk a lot about social on here, and the whole hyper-local journalism movement is, to some degree, predicated on the idea of geo-centric technology, even if the potential benefits of geocoding information haven't really been discussed.

The whole mobile environment has been changed by the new breed of smart phones, led by the iPhone, which are turning users into voracious data consumers on the move, and the Real Time web is becoming, in a technological sense, a very real proposition (and, if fact, I should write a post about that).

This graphic is the sort of thing every publisher and journalist should be looking at and thinking "what does this mean for what I do?"

October 22, 2009

This is a Bad Time to be a Journalist If...

  • You don't like change - because change is all the industry has to offer you
  • You don't have passion for your subject - because people with passion are already talking about your beat on the web, and they're more interesting
  • You want to do the job you signed up for five years ago - because that job is history
  • You don't like the readers talking back - because they have innumerable methods to respond to your work, whether or not you have comments on articles
  • You don't like linking - because links are the new economy of content
  • You want to decide what is important - because that power is firmly back in the hands of the public
  • You hate technology - because it is the future (and anyway, the printing press and typewriter were technology back in the day)
  • You have a narrow view of what skills you need - because the skills you needs are evolving all the time
  • If you don't like competition - because your competition is increasing every day
  • If you can't listen more than you talk - because if you can't do that, you've never been a journalist at all...

October 20, 2009

Publishing in the Flow

Nice summary of the key concept so many people from traditional media are struggling to understand from Neil Perkin:

Jason and Gareth talk about the flow of information over time: "ideas as unfolding stories, a stream of iterations and interactions that invite people into the process". This makes sense in a world in which people are becoming content creators as much as they are consumers, and where content increasingly needs to be free-flowing and responsive, and services and applications need to be both scalable and portable. It's What Russell Davies once called 'designing for streams'. As my Mum used to say, it's all about the journey, not the destination.

Doesn't sound much like a print publication does it? Right. Please stop building websites that function like print publications, then. Thanks for your co-operation. :)

Delete in Haste, Repent at Leisure

Great post from Martin Belam about transparency, criticism, publishing and the web:

If you are going to make changes to your site in response to criticism, be transparent about it. 'Stealth edits' will only lead to people posting screen shots of how the page used to appear taken from the Google Cache, and accusations that you are trying to wriggle out of the situation.

This has come up twice for me in the last week - understanding the technical and social consequences of deleting something from the web is still too rare. One to read, digest and bookmark for future reference. 

An Extra Level of Volunteering

I'm quite delighted to note that the National Trust has set up a channel on videosharing site Vimeo, and added my RBI volunteering day video to it. 

That charity day I (and my colleagues) devoted to clearing Box Hill now serves a double purpose, as part of the National Trust's publicity effort. And that's just great. Nice to see a charity so seamlessly mixing their own and user-created video. 

[Oh, and I see they have a group on there, too]

October 19, 2009

Carols in October

I was working a little late this evening, and I heard the strangest thing (for October). I grabbed it as best as I could on the iPhone:


I'm guessing that one of the other firms in the building has a choir, which is getting in some practice nice at early.

Twitter, News and Mob Journalism

The Trafigura story from last week has grown and grown, if only because of the follow-up, which I was too busy to blog about, in which Jan Moir's piece in the Daily Mail was savaged across Twitter to remarkable effect. (Possibly including huge page views for the newspaper's site, which may not have been the intention, but will be mitigated by the Mail being forced to pull ads from the pages, and the record number of complaints...)

And some good analysis is being done:

However, all three of these accounts are noticeable for the complete lack of a mention of the third big trending Twitter term of the week: #balloonboy. And that's an interesting one, because it's one where the Twiterati were largely as gullible as the mainstream media. While some raised dissenting voices, questioning how feasible it was for a balloon that size to lift a boy, most bought into to the hype spilling from mainstream media coverage, making everyone look rather stupid when it was revealed as a hoax.
Continue reading Twitter, News and Mob Journalism.

October 15, 2009

Action Elevenses

Action Elevenses
A surprisingly dynamic moment from this morning's Elevenses, our weekly internal knowledge-sharing sessions. We were talking about the best way to get blogs up and running, and what internal resources we can call upon.

October 13, 2009

The Day Twitter Destroyed a Gagging Order

Trafigura Trending
What a morning it has been. The phrase "historic moment" is desperately over-used, but it genuinely feels like one just occurred. A very old media process happened - a company got a gagging order on a national newspaper, to try and quash a negative story about them. And a disparate, disaggregated group of individuals were able to work out the basics of what happened, and use Twitter to make the gagging order meaningless. That was mass, connected journalism at its finest.

Here's the rough sequence of events:

For those cynics who want to suggest that the sudden attention brought to the company on Twitter had nothing to do with the final outcome, Rusbridger's opinion might be worth noting.

UPDATE: Useful background on the story over on

UPDATE 2: Fantastic piece of aggregation from Joanne, linking to coverage of Trafigura all over the web,

links for 2009-10-13

October 9, 2009

Correcting the Associated Press via Time Travel

I love the internet. Sometimes when you're too busy to do things, it just goes ahead and sorts it out for you. For example, some colleagues and I were looking at this story in some disbelief. As one of them remarked, it's almost as if the head of the Associated Press doesn't want people to read our material. And thus, I tweeted this:

And lo, while I got on with some complex stuff about feeds and a new website we're building, Kevin wrote the post for me. And you should read it, because it's good.

Tweeting my way to infamy

I'm Paid Content: UK's Tweet of the Week. Go me. Microfame at last. :-)

October 7, 2009

The Obligatory Clay Shirky Link

Whenever Clay Shirky posts about journalism, journalism blogs must link it. It is the law.

In this case, it's worth it, too. He does a very straightforward piece of analysis of a newspaper in the US, figuring out what it's actually made up of, and how much of it is original reporting.

I wonder how many of us have the courage to do a similar exercise on our own publications?

On The Web, Social Media is Just Media

Caffé Nero, KingswayA throwaway line I posted to Twitter yesterday seems to have hit a nerve, because it was retweeted copiously:
Officially bored of the phrase "social media" now. I'm just going to call it "media" and everything else can be "anti-social media".
The trigger for the post was an overheard conversation in the office that seemed to designate social media as something "other" to what we are doing on the rest of the site, a concept which is, at best, in error and, at worst, positively dangerous. It's only our blinkers from working in traditional media that allow us to see the web this way, as a social bit and a traditional  publishing bit, but it's a fallacy. On the web, social media is media. The ability to share, comment, discuss and annotate to fundamental to the way publishing is developing on the internet, and we have to treat the new medium as what it is, not what some of us wish it was.
Continue reading On The Web, Social Media is Just Media.

October 6, 2009

Something To Remember

The Mobile Office
In amongst all the anguish and conflict and title closures and redundancies that are going on right now, aside from the newsroom battles and competing claims to be the defenders of true journalism, hidden in the battle between free and paywalled, there's something to look forward to, a germ of hope to cherish.

Whatever the business model proves to be, however hard the dark times are between the collapse of the old business models and the emergence of the new, journalism will survive and it will thrive. The tools to produce journalism are available to most people now. We're liberated from the tyranny of our desks by the laptop and the mobile phone, so can be out there, working our beats, finding our stories. We have new social tools that allow us to keep close to our contacts and interact with our audiences in new ways. And we're part of a new, diverse and growing eco-system of publishing.

Change is hard. Moving from one life to another is traumatic. But there are exciting things on the horizon and, once in a while, it pays to step back from the drama of the now and enjoy the possibilities that lie in the future.

A Note to Prospective NUJ Members

We NUJ members are not a bunch of humourless Trots, despite the best efforts of the commenters on the Grey Cardigan blog to prove that we are...

As noted elsewhere, there are some pro-active things happening amongst the membership. It's not all hard-Left calls for industrial action.

October 2, 2009

Links for the Weekend Ahead

Because, let's face it, there's no way you should be reading this on a Friday evening. :-)

And that's my work PC browser tabs emptied. Time for home, and a long weekend...

October 1, 2009

Of Awards, Property and Bloggers

EG Award Presentation
I'm having one of those weeks when I'm just too busy doing things to blog about them. For example, on Tuesday night I was at the EG Awards, our annual awards for the commercial property industry. Somehow I've managed to dodge the four previous events, despite being the mag's features editor back when they were launched...

It was a fun night, if a little subdued. After two years of hell for developers and agents, perhaps a lack of party spirit is understandable. That said, as I headed home just after midnight, pausing to catch up with Jackie and Andrew, and to chat with Victoria, there were still plenty of people clustered around the charity casino tables, and an air of optimism that the worst of the travails were over for the industry.

Of course, I couldn't resist throwing my trusty Canon SLR in my bag, and took the opportunity to grab some photos of the event, which could be used by our cadre of bloggers.

The Focus team have chosen to put them up as a slideshow, which is getting a rather gratifying number of views.

I wasn't the only EG bod recording the night. Multimedia reporter Helen Roxburgh, her of the residential blog, was running around with a video camera, recording the evening.

Full evidence after the jump:
Continue reading Of Awards, Property and Bloggers.


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