A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

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If you’re interested in our urban infrastructure, Julian Dobson is always worth a read. His latest post is a good summary of the challenges facing various initiatives to regenerate our high streets:

The real problem is that neither today’s announcement nor the NPPF address the underlying issue, which is that the high street is on a long term trajectory of change. The Genecon report, Understanding High Street Performance, made that crystal clear. If you don’t have time to read it, watch the news instead: a record number of vacant shops, and retailers continuing to struggle.

Hard not to agree with this part of it:

The core of our argument was that we need to begin by thinking of the high street as the social heart of a town or suburb, not just the commercial heart. We need to reclaim town centres for community activity, learning, leisure and living. Viable retail and economic uses can then cluster around activities that people want to engage in, and in places they want to go to. Our main shopping spend went out of town years ago, and is now going online.

My local high street is increasingly dominated by social eating places – and is all the better for it:

British Telecom Trimphone

Back when I started training journalists in blogging (which must be close on seven years ago now…) I noted a tendency for them to try and understand blogging in terms of concepts they already knew. They looked at blogs. They realised that virtually all blogs were written in a personal voice. What kind of journalism is written in a personal voice? Opinion columns. Ergo, blogs are opinion columns.

They then went on to write 500 word opinion pieces on a blog three times a week, and wondered why no-one came to read them. Blogging, of course, wasn’t just opinion columns. It’s a new style of publishing which has a distinct, personal voice. The much-neglected term “personal publishing” captured that brilliantly, I think. Those journalists identified the right characteristic of blogging, but they went on to misapply it.

As I look around the corporate social media world of today, I wonder if the same thing isn’t happening there, too. Companies are looking at social media, understanding that it is in some way important, but are trying to understand it through the lens of the old. “Social media is about connecting with people. Ergo, it’s marketing.” And I think that’s a mistaken assumption and one that prevents companies from truly grasping the power of these new social tools.

Let’s substitute another communications medium into that sentence from above:

“The telephone is about connecting with people. Ergo, it’s marketing.”

That’s nonsensical to modern eyes. Everyone in a business has a telephone and is expected to use it to communicate with their colleagues, clients, suppliers and partners. But telephones were heavily regulated and controlled when they were first introduced into businesses, and only became  ubiquitous over time as people realised their worth to the whole business.

So, we have at least two transitional stages:

  1. Try to understand new medium through lens of the old
  2. Restrict new medium to certain departments

Here’s my thesis: companies that manage the transition in such a way that they avoid stage one completely and pass as swiftly as possible through stage two into more useful models, will be the ones that gain competitive advantage. And it’s not like I’m the first to articulate this: the Altimeter Group have been producing research on this for a while.

So: here’s my question. Why are so many companies in the UK hung up on equating social media completely with marketing? Sure, it’s a great marketing tool. But that’s not all it is.

[Hat-tip: Neville Hobson]

I love this video:

I think it captures the sense I have that we’re building a new way of accessing and finding information that bears very little resemblance to the way traditional media allowed us to do it. This is a New Thing. It’s in development. And it’s be so very great…

[Hat tip: Neil Perkin]

This post by Sarah Marshal from the Guardian Changing Media Summit makes interesting reading in conjunction with my post yesterday:

Six months ago months ago Google provided 40 per cent of the Guardian’s traffic. The launch of the Facebook app resulted in a “seismic shift” with social exceeding search as a driver on several occasions in February

Expect to start seeing “SMO” bandied about as readily as “SEO”…

I’ve long been suspicious of SEO. Oh, I do think it’s valuable: there are basic “hygiene factors” on your page markup you should be getting right, and really good SEOs can help you think about the sort of content you should be creating (and how you should create it) to attract and keep the right community around your product. But that’s my limit of comfort with it. When you’re using SEO to help poor or rushed content to rank higher than really good pages, you’re doing something disruptive to the value of the web, and which makes life worse for everyone but you.

Too much SEO “optimisation” seemed to pander to the big company idea that you can buy your way to success. Spend enough on SEO, and the right people will turn up on your site. And that’s probably been the case for a number of years now. The number of e-mails I get from SEO companies looking to place content or reciprocal links on my blog every day suggests that it works. (They’re all filtered into a folder I only browse through once in a blue moon, BTW, but from which the odd, really interesting and well-written or designed thing does get linked or published.) And every time you endure an article which repeats the same word and phrase five times in the first couple of paragraphs, you’re suffering at the hands of an algorithm-gaming SEO.

When the big Panda update hit last year, targeting the content farms, it crossed my mind to wonder if overly-SEOed content would be next on the block. After all, Google is only trying to be an incredible fast, efficient human: to make judgements on the quality of a piece of content based on how the human searcher would do so. The more you play a particular form of SEO game, the more you’re pandering to quirks of an algorithm rather than the interests of the human typing the search query.

Well, it looks like <a href=”’s-working-on-an-” over-optimization”-penalty-for-that-115627?utm_source=”feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed-main"”>reducing the impact of over-optimisation is exactly what’s next on Google’s agenda:

Matt Cutts said the new over optimization penalty will be introduced into the search results in the upcoming month or next few weeks. The purpose is to “level the playing field,” Cutts said. To give sites that have great content a better shot at ranking above sites that have content that is not as great but do a better job with SEO.

And I can’t see this as anything but good news for professional content creators. Google seems to be trying to reinforce the message that the best way to build search ranking is to create good content, reliably, over long periods of time. There’s no quick fix or magic fairy dust you can sprinkle over your site to make it rank better – and, if there is, you’d better be aware that the efficacy of the SEO fairy dust might disappear overnight, as many of the “content farms” discovered when the panda came visiting…

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Samsung Android

New Scientist:

STRUGGLING to make your smartphone battery last the whole day? Paying for your apps might help. Up to 75 per cent of the energy used by free versions of Android apps is spent serving up ads or tracking and uploading user data: running just one app could drain your battery in around 90 minutes.

Consumer choice: money or battery life. You end up paying one way or another…

Philip Trippenbach:

Make no mistake: traditional, platform-based journalism is being crushed, and its dust will blow away on the winds of the internet. I know this is a melodramatic way to put it, but it’s an important point to make. Newspaper, television and radio journalists now are all in the position of itinerant bards at the advent of the printing press.
The good news is that there’s never been a better time to be a journalist. The bards have disappeared, but we still sing, and we still spread news. Just so, the digital sphere is growing fast as the blast front of an explosion.

It’s hard to find much to disagree with in this post, even if the links with PR have inflamed some commenters. But its a crucial point: the demand for the narrative communication skills all forms of journalism have prized are in more demand than ever, just not so much in traditional journalism businesses.

In my-post RBI career, I’ve had a decent amount of work from non-journalism businesses, but only a very little from the traditional publishers. The world is changing, and the sagging business models of traditional publishers mean that many of them don’t see how valuable the skills they have in-house actually are…