The other day I dropped my iPhone 4 on a concrete floor. The glass shattered. My heart sank.
The phone was still working, and a kind soul lent me their hard case, so I then used it to share my gadget woes with the world on Twitter.
Moments later, this popped up.
My instant reaction was: spam! But then I read it and felt better about it and about my general situation. This was all fixable for £45.
Before I had even begun to think through what I would do next (I had vague words like “insurance” and “warranty” floating about my head, but nothing as substantial as a next-action) the whole solution was in place, and at a reasonable price.
Did I use them in the end? No. One of the many shops advertising “mobile unlocking” and related services in Brighton fixed it for me in a couple of hours for £30, meaning I didn’t need to send my phone away.
ChangePlayBusiness was an unusual event, to say the least, living up to its promise to be an unconference. About 40 innovators and entrepreneurs gathered at the ICA to play a game about creating businesses, the playing of which included connecting with one another (there were a lot of interesting people) and meeting subject matter experts on everything from financing to marketing (which is where I came in).
My role was to deliver a “masterclass” on understanding and communicating with customers in a “changing economy”. I chose to interpret this as an opportunity to talk about businesses in the age of networks, in the age of complexity.
The slides are here for those (with the push/pull error reversed!) who attended the session:
This is a post about three lovely things that are all about using technology to help tell stories in new ways.
In private alpha development at the moment, Storify looks like a wonderful way of tying together different bits of your and other people’s content on the web (photos, Tweets, videos) to tell a story, and package it up. Its classic curating behaviour, but in a really simple package – I really hope i get to try it out soon.
The example they use in the video is telling the story of a conference, which it would seem to be a perfect solution for, but I imagine using it also to tell the story of big projects. For instance, at last year’s The Story conference, Aleks Krotoski told the story of the making of The Virtual Revolution BBC TV series, by stitching together Tweets, photos and videos that she had made during the process.
I always fancied doing that for the story of writing Me and My Web Shadow, but I’ve not got round to it. I guess Storify is the sort of tool that would make a similar process even easier.
Keeping stories about projects and experiences would be a lot better for organisations than dull, dry reports. They would get read and remembered more than traditional documents, I reckon.
Facebook hardback book by Bouygues Télécom/DDB Paris
A French Telecom’s agency, DDB Paris, created hardback Facebook books for a small number of people, taking content (I think with their permission) from specific instances and connections and curating them.
It’s a lovely idea, and one which maybe Facebook or a partner should automate. Imagine creating a book about your online conversations during a wedding, or just a yearbook about you and your closest friends. Echoes of the lifestreaming sell that new social network Path is trying to push, perhaps…
These kinds of ideas and applications all indicate a growing sophistication in the way people are thinking about their personal social networks and the data they are creating about them online. It is about more than communication in the now, it is about creating a record of parts of our lives and thinking about how to make the best of that…
Last of the three is Cinemek, which is an iPhone app for creating storyboards. You add your pictures, and can then start turning them into a storyboard, to plan a film, animation or any interactive media experience.
There are some demoes on Cinemek’s Vimeo page, but this one brings it to life for me, as someone storyboards a movie sequence for a suspense thriller on the fly, using a model and inserting cutouts to represent other characters – really cool…
Pricier than many apps at £11.99 on the apps store it still seems incredible value for this kind of tool…
In the hype-sphere the chatter is all about Foursquare and Facebook: blogging doesn’t get much of a mention.
While I still prize blogging as a form of personal media and a networked productivity and knowledge tool, its clear to see that blogs as a media format are mature and in the mainstream.
Two posts I read recently spoke of this. First, in her analysis of Google’s launch of Boutiques.com (well worth a read in itself), iCrossing journalist Jo-Ann Fortune points out that alongside fashion celebrities, the company brought on board fashion bloggers:
…Google has enlisted the help of style icon celebrities such as Olivia Palermo, the Olsen twins and Carey Mulligan and fashion bloggers including Jane of Sea of Shoes, Alix, aka The Cherry Blossom Girl and Susie Lau from London-based Style Bubble, to tell that story. These taste-shapers ‘curate’ their own boutiques, based on their favourite pieces as well as their personal style – the sum of their preferred designers, shapes, patterns and styles-, allowing those inspired by their style to join them on a virtual shopping spree.
The inclusion of fashion bloggers alongside the ‘traditional’ celebrities just goes to show how far this new breed of public personality has come. Stylist.co.uk this week disclosed how three female fashion, beauty and celebrity bloggers make between 35k and 80k a year each, revealing that the brand they build from their blog is worth much more than the blog itself.
And Reed’s blogging expert, Adam Tinworth, points to some marketing by Microsoft for its new phone as evidence of blogs in the mainstream (“another tipping point” as he puts it).
A quote. On a huge advert. In one of the mainline commuter stations. In one of the biggest cities in the world.
As a media format blogs are still as potentially disruptive as they ever where, but some of them are firmly part of the established media landscape now…
This is the contract publishing industry, the kinds of publishers that create the supermarket mag, the in-flight periodical, the car brand’s customer title. Largely due to this lack of reliance on advertisers (beyond the client) and cover-price revenue it was a different kind of publishing gathering to ones I’d seen before.
There was little of the web-denial, the over-obsession with iPad as a saviour for the industry, a way of porting old formats (and business models) into the age of the web. The sense I got was of opportunity, of openness to new ideas and possibilities.
As I said in the notes to my talk, the marketing and media sectors are wide open for new approaches, new business models Everything is up for grabs, from content formats to how advertising is sold.
On that last point, I was really impressed by the analysis of the decay of the traditional advertising model presented by William Owen of Made by Many (one of the most interesting firms in this new space). His slides are below, but I recommend taking a look at his blog post which walks through his arguments.
William was set the brief by the APA of answering the following question: “is the traditional [advertising] model dead?”.
His response was to begin with a sensible “no”. Obviously the media buying-centred model of advertising is alive and kicking multi-million pound behinds. But it is decaying, and evolving.
Walking us through possible stages of the advertising model’s evolution (or decay, depending on your point of view), William took us through mass, fragmented, earned media models and arrived at this networked model (I nearly stood and cheered at that point, but this was an English conference so resisted):
The networked media model. This diagram is really a crude approximation of something much more complex: communities of customers becoming value producers in their own right, creating content, making recommendations, providing thousands of small services to each other. There’s an opportunity for brands to harness that power by adding services to products and creating communities of interest around social objects.
And of course there are also opportunities for still-powerful media channel brands in television and print to build direct relationships with advertisers and sponsors, using technology creatively to build applications that add co-branded services to content and facilitate direct transactions. This removes their reliance on ad networks and ups their margins.
He’s got it dead on, I think. That’s not to say I won’t be continuing to mull this presentation over for some time to come to challenge and build on the ideas, but for now I simply applaud…
Experience Design will become the master discipline for businesses that want to be good at selling stuff.
That actually sounds obvious to a lot of us in this space, but it is worth repeating, rolling around the brain, and repeating again. That is experience design, not media buying, that will be at the core of the selling part of the media/marketing complex in years to come. Those experiences will be conceived in, of and through networks.
I had a great time yesterday presenting at the first International Content Summit 2010, although I wish I could have spoken for longer as I had more to say than the fifteen minutes that were available.The brief was to talk about how to use social media with content.I prepared by speaking with some of iCrossing‘s senior content experts, Tamsin Hemingray, Charlie Peverett and Trisha Brandon. I founded the team four and half years ago but have not been involved directly for some time and they have evolved their approach brilliantly, with journalists now taking on parts of the research and analysis process from the social media analysts and developing more and more sophisticated and ambitious strategies for content.In order to make up for the slightly shorter than was comfortable talk yesterday, I am going to create some audio to go with this presentation in the next few days. In the meantime, these are some of the themes and, of course, below are the slides from my talk.
Everything in marketing and media is up for grabs
Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy had earlier mentioned that content was often the first thing to be cut when a downturn came around. There is a lot of opportunity for content specialists, I believe. Like their community manager cousins, the social web is disrupting media and marketing to such a degree that the industry is being re-shaped.
iCrossing has always come from a networks perspective
Being a search firm originally, iCrossing’s perspective is informed by understanding the web as a medium that is comprised of and defined by networks. To understand how to be successful, we have to understand how networks (both human and machine, as I told Reputation Online yesterday) work.
This means that we think of branded content as being something that exists across networks rather than in one place and that success is achieved by how far and how fast content travels. Networks decide what is successful based on what is most useful to them.
Stories and numbers are key
This is what Dan McQuillan called “data storytelling” in a Twitter conversation with me today: it’s the ability to turn data into stories quickly so that people can understand and act on it. in content terms at iCrossing it means that measurement isn’t something that is an after-thought to the editorial/creative process, it fuels it, by providing insights about what people in the network are interested in, what sorts of content might want more of.
Keep your data and content people close to each other
Further to the last point, keeping the people who are researching and listening to the networks (the social media analysts in our case) close to the people creating the content (journalists) has paid off so many times.
There is a useful tension between the two about who knows their communities best, about what content will work. We have tried to preserve that tension and value it in the same way as the tension between the editorial and advertising teams at a traditional publisher. Journalists and social media experts sitting near to each other stumble across great ideas that might not come up in a formal meeting.
Default to social
Being social in the way that you create and distribute content is not an add-on or a tweak to the process. The social network should be in mind when coming up with ideas, and technically when building platforms (is the content findable, portable and shareable?).
Sharing and wanting to share, should be the default position. Even licencing can play a role in this. Organisations default to protecting intellectual property with copyright, when in fact copyright should be the exception.
Digital literacy should be promoted across your organisation
Naturally, I didn’t waste the opportunity to put across the case digital literacy. The point is that if you want your content to be successful in social media, you need to be encouraging everyone in your teams, in the wider organisation to experience social media. Naturally, I think the best way to learn how social media and networks work is to start with number one, and look after your own personal reputation.
I was chuffed to say the least to see the pamphlet-sized versions of the book – it was the first time we had done something like this. Hopefully people liked them, and maybe some will go on to buy the book. If you want your own electronic version, of course, they are available over here…
Open-source spying is a term which has been around for a while, reflecting the fact that when it comes to gathering information, the web is often as good a place as going into the field. In-Q-Tel’s investments reflect a justified fascination with the social web by intelligence agencies.
Well it turns out the CIA is also interested in this kind of information. In a post about the CIA’s Silicon Valley VC firm, In-Q-Tel, the Not So Private Parts blog on Forbes found the firm…
…likes companies coming up with better ways to mine social networking sites and geospatial location data. One of its investments, Geosemble, a private spin-off from USC, estimates that “80% of online content has location information.”
“Our mission is to shine a torchlight on geographic unknowns and help organizations neutralize threats and capitalize on opportunities in their areas of geographic interest,” says its website. Another of IQT’s geospatial investments, FortiusOne, promises instant maps based on Tweets and photo uploads, for mapping election-day threats in Afghanistan, for example.
Allow me to use the word holistic. As in holistic near ‘real time sense-making‘, incorporating the internet of things, with crowdsourced data delivered through channels that encourage participation. There is an opportunity to see things dynamically and not just do after-the-fact post mortem. This could work for flash point events like the Haiti earthquake (taking data [from] Geiger counters etc + crowdsourced data like that available on the haiti deployment run by Noula.ht. It could also work for longer term events such as the BP Oil spill in Louisiana.
…the closer to real-time one can get the right answer and respond, the better. And milliseconds matter.
The concept of real time sense making offers so many tantalising possibilities, from predicting the behaviour of human social networks to helping those networks (countries, companies, NGOs) respond to emergencies and more broadly to the challenges we face globally.
David Hepworth recounts the incredible amount of effort (faff) that goes into creating a small piece of television in a post on his blog.
The last paragraph tickled me in particular;
The time spent filming was maybe a fifth of the time spent faffing. This delay wasn’t because the people were in any way incompetent. It’s just that TV is one long faff. It has to be. One of the most curious aspects was that later in the interview the cameraman kept jerking the lens away from me, as if he was having trouble with the tripod. I wasn’t sure whether to keep talking or not. It turns out he was just providing some of that jerky quality that they now put into interviews to give the impression of looseness.
All that hi-fidelity effort to look a little bit lo-fi. I’ve huge respect for the craft of television production, but it looks funny to the outsider, doesn’t it?
I was reading one my favourite children’s books to my son, recently: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. David’s hi-fi-looks-lo-fi experience reminds me of a scene where an experimental broadcast of a bar of chocolate is attempted. To get the bar of chocolate across the room from studio set the oompa-loompah’s manoeuvre a giant bar of chocolate in to be filmed which appears as a normal one that can be plucked from the TV set (“because things look smaller on TV”).
The other evening I watched some of the Channel 4 documentary Coppers, in which UK police officers were sharing their disquiet about how people they deal with seem to phone the police rather than deal with their problems themselves.
Could it be that there is another contradictory trend, for people to take evidence of crimes to their social networks first, when the police might be more appropriate?
Two cases spring to mind. One, which was a tabloid cause celebré this morning, is the ten-year-old boy who took a picture of a mugger leaving the scene of a crime.
According to Th Sun, he…
He snapped Royal as he fled on a bike then posted the pic online. Cops identified and nicked Royal who was fined in Darlington, Co Durham.
Why not call the police? And the police “praised Alex’s ‘quick thinking'”. Really?
The other was the cat-in-the-wheelie-bin lady, who was caught on someone’s private CCTV committing an act of animal cruelty. The footage was posted to YouTube and then a web community took up the cause of identifying the woman (something they did very quickly).
It may be that the socially acceptable behaviours that emerges, that becomes a norm, is that we post everything to the web and then direct the police to it. At some point this is likely to incite real-world vigilantism, at some point this is likely to compromise evidence in a case, or the ability of a court to hold an impartial jury trial.
: : Lastly, a ten-year-old on Twitter – really? I hear parents wondering whether to let their kids use Facebook when they are 13 (the legal limit), but Twitter? Never… There’s a few things about this story which see odd.