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Month: December 2010

My Top 10 Posts of 2010

2010 is staggering towards the finishing line, all but spent in the convulsions of iPad lust, paywall panic and Wikileak wailing. It’s been quite a year for journalism, but one that’s been more marked by wishful thinking and panic than actual progress, to my mind, anyway.

Let’s see if the facts bear that our shall we? Here are the top 10 posts published on this blog in 2010 by traffic:

  1. Internet Stat Porn 2010 – It’s just a video. This is testament to the power of the words “internet” and “porn” in a headline…
  2. On Those Times Paywall Numbers – Golly gosh. A post on The Times and paywalls topping the (non-porn) charts? Who’da thunk it? A link from Greenslade helped with that…
  3. A Reader’s Safari – a surprise to me, this one. A post about the new Reader feature in Safari, which strips all extraneous page clutters to present a clean reading view. Perhaps people are more interested in clean web design than I thought…
  4. Who Cares About The Front Page? – A small rant, this time about people who equate journalism with national newspapers. Frankly, the thoughtless abuse of the word “journalism” has been one of my bugbears this year.
  5. Science Online: Cultures Clash Over Infographics – data journalism poster boy David McCandless gets a roasting from scientists over his axes and other points of weakness. The highest viewed conference liveblog post – and it’s not from the “big” events like Like Minds or Le Web. Niches are the future…
  6. iPad Magazines – Not Beating The Web – Ah, the iPad. Probably the second biggest driver of traffic to my  blog this year other than paywall discussion (and stat porn). It’s depressing how little has changed in the six months since this was written. iPad magazine apps are still, in the main, rubbish.
  7. What Does Facebook Like Do For Blog Traffic? – Traffic was largely driven to this post by Facebook Likes. Of course.
  8. Factchecking, Wikipedia and Basic Journalistic Credibility – Yes, so journalists’ brains turn to mush when confronted with the internet, and they do stupid things like copying information from Wikipedia without fact-checking. Lots of tweets and comments for this post – something of a hot button issue, clearly.
  9. The Paywalled Times – An Online Private Members Club. Oh, look. The Times. And paywalls…
  10. news:rewired: Crowdsourcing – the second liveblog of the top 10, this time from the first and best of the news:rewired conferences. (Of which there were three this year – at least one too many, I think.) Good old verbal punch-up between the new media hacks and the old school types. Simmering resentment boiling over; that sort of thing. All good fun.

Disappointingly few surprises in there. The obvious targets are all hit: paywalls, iPads and the desperate hope that a magic bullet will turn up and allow us to save journalism with one shot. Somehow this list feels, well, predictable to me. It feels like it needs shaking up a little more; it needs an injection of ideas from outwith our bubble. And that pretty much confirms what I suspected was my mistake with OM&HB in 2010 – but that’s fodder for another post.

A foghorn for lies on a giant scale

Why Adam Westbrook is leaving the mainstream media:

Of course, none of these things are possible inside the mainstream news cycle, which is why it has become so distorting and dangerous. The actions of thousands of journalists telling half truths here and there, and passing on unchallenged information as fact from ‘reliable sources’ creates a foghorn for lies on a giant scale.
The point he’s making here is incredibly valuable. People see the “threat from the internet” aspect of the changes we’re going through very easily. What they miss is the terrible damage the journalism profession has done yo its own reputation. 

LeWeb: Gary Vaynerchuk in Quotes


“I hate the term social media. I liked Web 2.0. Why? Corporations see “media” and think it’s time to start talking at people again.”

“You talk too much about scaling at this conference.”

“How do I do it? I fucking try.” [on scaling his interactions]

“What doesn’t happen enough at this conference? Taking about the end user. And the end user is the game.”

“A business should be listening 24/7. And we spent too much time listening to problems – how about the people giving you love? Thanking them for thanking you is important.”

“Client work is like having someone stick a knife in your face.”

“If you’re truly an entrepreneur: did you sell something before you were 12 years old?”

“If you know what you’re good at, execute harder against that.”

“The ROI of social media is patience. The problem with businesses as creatures is they don’t have it.”

LeWeb: Social Business in 2010 and 2011

Jeremiah Owyang

Jeremiah Owyang is presenting some data about social business this year and next. Highlights:

What happened in 2010 in social business?

Most corporate social strategies are only two years old – 2010 was the year of formation. The decision maker tends to be in marketing or corporate comms. That’s where the money is now – it will move into support and product teams over time.


  • Decentralised – everyone can do it – looks authentic, but is disorganised
  • Centralised: Consistency and control, doesn’t look authentic.
  • Hub and Spoke: small central group works with each division – Majority
  • Multiple Hub and Spoke
  • Holistic or “honeycomb”: everyone does it in a consistent way

What’s gonna happen in 2011?

Year of integration. The struggle is to measure social media. Most cases, they’re using engagement data (which is not helpful). Most people looking to embed social in their sites. Brand monitoring is most popular area, but all areas of social are seeing big investment in social.

In dollar value? Jobs. $278,000 People are looking for social media staff.

As companies get more mature in their social media strategy, they move from tarditional agencies to the boutique social media agencies.

Six recommendations for corporations:

  1. Hire correctly – don’t hire “social media gurus/ninjas” – hire business process managers.
  2. Integrate social media – be pragmatic. Don’t just put a “follow me on…” button on your site. Integrate feature into your site.
  3. Use advertising that leverages social graph: use advertising that triggers word of mouth
  4. Develop an unpaid army of advocates: Microsoft’s MVP’s aren’t paid, but they get access and trips. That’s scalable. One on one dialogue doesn’t scale.
  5. Invest in scalable systems like SCRM and SMMS – help you manage hundreds of accounts across the globe.
  6. Learn to measure right. Right metrics for the right people.

The full presentation is on his blog already.

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LeWeb: Startup Competition Finalists

Liveblogging: this post will be updated through the course of the session, and will be prone to error, omission and misunderstanding. You are warned… 😉


1. Paper.li

I suspect most people reading this are familiar with this service. It turns links from your Twitter and Facebook accounts into a newspaper, using semantic analysis of the contents. Forthcoming: more services you can aggregate from, premium services, and access to it by people like ad networks.

(Just noticed, FWIW, that they’re the number two referrer to my blog this afternoon, from this page)


2. Super Marmite

A social tool to allow you to sell your home cooking – or to buy a meal from a neighbour rather than a take-away. Seller pays a proportion of the price.

It’s insane, but it might just work…


3. Waze

A trun-by-turn car navigation app, that aggregates route and traffic information from users – and uses game mechanics to encourage users to have the app on even on routes they know well. They get extra points for using routes they don’t have recent information on, for example.

The Winners

The changed all the rules, and reshaped the awards in this form: (it involved stickers)

1st Prize – Virality: Paper.li

1st Prize – Technology: Waze

1st Prize – Originality: Super-Marmite

LeWeb: Get the kids outdoors for €299 (Augmented Reality)

Smart phones – are they the idea device for controlling remote control devices?

Take, for example this:

Controlled by an iPhone (works a little better in places without more than 3000 wifi connected devices…)

Toys have lost the war with video games, says Henri Seydoux of Parrot, that makes the device. This encourages children to get outside and play, because of the integration with the phone. And it can fly high – they have videos of it soaring over churches and the like.

So, how do the games work? Much like this:

They have an API for developers to build other apps that use it – as long as they promise not to use it as a weapon…

LeWeb: Brain Waves. Literally.

Ariel Garten

Ever wanted to control your computer by your brain alone? Ariel Garten, CEO of Interaxon, is showing us that it could be closer than you realise.  She’s also  showing us her brain. Not, admittedly, by opening her skull and showing us the meat inside, but by wearing a brainwave monitor (which you can see in the photo), and then projecting the waves onto the screen behind her:

She’s giving us a potted history of brain monitoring tech, from the 10 pounds of equipment, to a size-and-price revolution in the late 90s. Now, it’s in toys, like the Star Wars Force TrainerZEO Sleep Trainer is putting it to a more positive use. It’s being used to aid people with ADD, too, and to control wheelchairs. And the more it’s used, the better it becomes.

And soon you’ll be able to use it with your iPad on a game called Zenbound.

Downloading our brains into computers? Not going to happen, she says. Using our brains to control many devices around us? It’s happening now, and it may be the next, big transformative technology.

LeWeb: Where now for WordPress?

Matt Mullenweg

It’s been a tricky year in the blogging world – Six Apart, the traditional blog business representative at Le Web has gone, attention has shifted to things like Twitter and Facebook, and new services like Tumblr and Posterous are driving innovation.

So, how do Matt Mullenweg and Toni Schneider of Automattic see the future of blogging?

About 30m people are using WordPress – about 10% of the world’s site. 300m uniques a month on WordPress.com, which is about half of the WordPress-powered sites.

Are they making money? “We don’t talk about our revenues in public,” says Toni. “We’ve been focusing on our team and infrastructure, and not focusing on revenue. We will be doing that over the next year.” They’re breaking even he says. Most of their revenue comes from WordPress.com, and the revenue comes from premium services, from extra space up to WordPress VIP for companies. They’re a company of 74 people.

“Blogging hasn’t found its AdWords yet,” says Mullenweg. That still needs to be found

Why haven’t they been acquired? “Our goal is not to be acquired,” says Mullenweg. “We’re also a quirky little company. We’re a tech company that gives away our intellectual property. We’re a distributed company.”

Indeed, he’d like to grow to the point where they don’t need acquisition. The web needs something open, for publishers at least. You have something that’s Facebook-sized out there in WordPress blogs – so how do you unify that? There’s a lot of interesting stuff on the web happening there.

“There’re really not any different between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. There are trade offs.”

He seems to suggest that there’s a lot of mileage in connecting up the hosted services of .com with .org installs in a way that makes it much easier to do things that your $8 a month hosting account can’t do. And maybe that’s where their revenue will come…