Visual notes and video


John Willshire‘s video review of The Sketchnote Handbook is lovely in a number of ways: 

  1. It’s a good, thorough review of how it may be a useful book. 
  2. It shares some of the insights from the book – my favourite is how sketch-noting can create a “concentration forcefield” for the note-taker…
  3. It’s a nice format for a video blog post, using John’s own Artefact Cards (something I’ve been using myself for mapping out ideas – must blog about that soon…).

Here’s the video:

I spotted the video via Andrew Sleigh’s blog, who has some interesting things to say about using simple, short online films as a format. 

Short blog post tips from @adders

Adam's response to my response as it were, has two super-practical principles for getting short blog posts written:

  1. Connect the thought “that's interesting” with the action of writing the blog post as closely as you can. Don't leave tabs mouldering in your browser, don't leave draft posts in your drafts folder. Get it done, and get out.
  2. Be very clear what the point you want to make is, make it and quit. Over a while, the various pots will built into a narrative of the issue you're exploring – and you can bring that narrative to a peak, if not a climax, by writing that longer post. But save that until the point where the creative damn is going to burst, by letting some pressure out over time with those short posts.


Blogs become mainstream media

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 (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. 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…

Online media: Finding balance between stock & flow

I’m grateful to Lloyd Shepherd for the point to a post by Robin Sloan called Stock & Flow. Recalling studying for his degree in economics, Robin recalls:

There are two kinds of quantities in the world. Stock is a sta­tic value: money in the bank, or trees in the for est. Flow is a rate of change: fifteen dollars an hour, or three-thousand tooth picks a day. Easy. Too easy.
But I actually think stock and flow is the master metaphor for media today. Here’s what I mean:

  • Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind peo ple that you exist.
  • Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interest­ing in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people dis cover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.

Over the past few years I’ve thought of hurly-burly of daily online interactions as being very different to the bigger content artefacts I’ve created. In the case of the e-books I wrote for iCrossing, at times they felt a bit like avatars, going off into the world doing their own thing under creative commons…

I’d meet a client and the e-book was already there engaging with various people. It was an eery feeling for someone who’d never been published much before anywhere, your thoughts-as-content travelling the world causing things to happen, people re-using them in all sorts of ways (translating into Chinese, incorporating in textbooks in India, using it as an appendix to a business plan, to name just three).

One challenge is trying to balance out investment of your energy and effort in flow/stock. Interesting especially if you are fitting these things around a day job.

Blog posts are a bit of both really aren’t they. Sometimes they simply let people know you’re still there – hello! – and other times (and you’re not always sure when) they become stock, a focus for a conversation, a defining statement about what you believe, a new turn of phrase that captures an important wisp of the the zeitgeist.

Generally, I walk an erratic personal media path, subject to wild swings into stock or flow. When I was writing my book on personal reputation online last year, I was all stock creation. It took me over to the point of madness. Other times, perhaps toward the end of last year I was living too much in the Twitter stream without much time for reflection, time for creativity to take shape.

As Robin puts it:

And the real magic trick in 2010 is to put them both together. To keep the ball bounc ing with your flow—to main tain that open chan nel of communication—while you work on some kick-ass stock in the back ground. Sac ri fice nei ther. It’s the hybrid strategy.

Balance. Equilibrium. Great idea, so hard to get it right…

Blogging, I love you

Someone (I think Russel) was saying you should blog every dog-eared page. It’s a lovely idea, and I wish I had time to do that (read that as: “I intend to find the time to do that). And every starred item in Google Reader, and everything I bookmark on Delicious…

My favourite blogger at the moment, for style and approach at least, is Andrew Sullivan, because he blogs a stream of thinking, so many things that come across his desk, field of vision, screen, conversations…. It helps that he is a professional journalist who has put blogging at the core of what he does. I still keep trying to find ways to brign it closer to the core of what I do.

I didn’t mean this post to be a plug for it, but I may as well mention that this week myself and two brilliant colleagues of mine – Matt Neale and Tamsin Hemingray – put out a new iCrossing e-book that is designed to help people with Starting Blogging [download a free copy of How to Start Blogging here].


It gave me a chance to write again about why I love this format. Now that the “why aren’t we doing X” corporate marketing spotlight has moved from blogging to Facebook and Twitter, I feel more comfortable with urging people to blog. It sounds less faddish that it once did now. And it really is the most incredible medium.

And as with all the best social computing platforms, the reasons to do it, the reasons I list begin with what it does for you. A space to think.

Reminder: you’re always (potentially) on the record online

Image: The NUJ's website - inadvertently blowing the whistle on itself?
Image: The NUJ's website - inadvertently blowing the whistle on itself?

It pays to be a little paranoid about emails, IMs and the likes sometimes – about not saying things in them you wouldn’t like repeated elsewhere. Especially when it comes to matters professional and commercial…

When Adam Tinworth voiced his anger at the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and its attitude to social media in a post on his blog, I’m sure he expected officials there to read it. I’m sure he even expected the lively discussion that followed in the comments section of his blog.

Analysis of the links that were sending traffic to this post gave an insight into the NUJ‘s reaction to the piece in a rather unexpected way. One link in particular he decoded as being from an email at the NUJ that must have been headlined “Effing Blogs”.

No problems with attitudes to social media there. Sounds very open minded.

Despite years of leaks, gaffes and slip-ups involving emails, voice mails, Tweets and IMs, people don’t seem to get it. So, once more, for the record:

You’re always (maybe) on the record online.

Best to act that way.

Inauguration day in social media…

I wanted to write a round up of all the Obama ’08 campaign and social media analyses, so I did a search for his name in my Google Reader. The search results, a bit like me and a lot of people today around the world, seems unable to get past the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.

Fair enough. I’ll come back to that. For now, here’s a round up of some of the incredible ways that people have been experiencing and talking about this wonderful day on the web…

An Open Source government?

First up the White House website was replaced with a social media-influenced design, including a blog, a commitment to transparency and the whole thing’s under a Creative Commons licence… Wow.

Image: New & improved, social media style White House website
Image: New & improved, social media style White House website

And what’s more, the whole website is licensed under Creative Commons (the “most permissive” version, according the the Creative Commons blog).

NB: VentureBeat has a more critical analysis of the bloggy website’s lack of things like comments…

CNN, FB Connect and Photosynth

CNN’s gone to town with social media for the inauguration. You could watch it live after logging in with Facebook Connect and see a scrolling list of other viewers’ status updates as they reacted to it. One friend of mind said she really enjoyed this…

Image: CNN Facebook live viewer
Image: CNN Facebook live viewer

These won’t be the last, but Mashable‘s published some Facebook stats from this afternoon. Goggle ye at the following:

1. 600,000 status updates posted through the Live Facebook feed

2. Facebook averaged 4,000 status updates per minute during the broadcast

3. 8,500 status updates were posted during the first minute of Obama’s speech

4. “Millions” of people logged into Facebook during the broadcast

This is a worldwide media event playing out as much on the web as on TV…

But even more amazing was the Photosynth CNN set up for the inauguration itself. This you have to see – it’s a great use of the technology. What’s amazing is that already – four or so hours later, the Photosynth panoramas are rich enough to enjoy browsing through. I imagine it will be worth taking a look again in a few days when more of those lucky people who can say they were there upload their pics…

Image: One of CNN and Microsoft's Photosynth montages
Image: One of CNN and Microsoft's Photosynth montages


The main event of the day was of course the speech itself,  co-written by a 27-year-old sitting in Starbucks, renowned for his late night speech “crashing” sessions interspersed with games of Rock Band.

ReadWriteWeb has been one of the first to word cloud the text of the speech on Wordle and offer it up alongside a selection of inauguration speeches from presidents past…

Image: A word cloud of Obama's inauguration speech
Image: A word cloud of Obama's inauguration speech

And Neoformix has created an image of President Obama made out of the words of the speech. You can even download it as a poster if the desire takes you…

Image: Neoformix's speech-as-portrait
Image: Neoformix's speech-as-portrait

And finally…

I watched the Inauguration ceremony in a Big Daddy’s Diner a block or so from iCrossing’s New York office. It was a random choice at the last minute, but it felt like a great place to be for “the moment”. After he was sworn in the whole place applauded and whooped a little before settling in to listen to the speech.


I’ve submitted the pic to the very sweet Flickr group of people’s photos of where they were when “a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath”.

What a day.

: : Bonus link: I’ve written about search and social reactions to the inauguration speech at iCrossing’s Connect blog.

HP’s social media tales

Image: HP's Marketing Impressions blog
Image: HP's Marketing Impressions blog

Online Marketing Blog‘s interview with Tac Anderson, who combines heading up social media at HP with being “entrepreneur in residence” at a VC firm (an interesting job combination, if ever there was one), is well worth a read.

As m’learned colleague Alisa Hansen never tires of reminding the world, social media as a term has a limited shelf life. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that the term is useful right now as we come to terms with the way that the web is evolving. As Alisa says, “the web is social”.

It’s nice to hear that perspective echoed by Tac:

I used to get a lot of people ask me about the difference between Web 2.0 and social media. I explain Web 2.0 as the technologies and tools that enable social media (RSS, JAVA, blogs, wiki’s etc) and social media is the trend in online content/media/whatever that enables people to communicate with each other directly. It’s media that you help shape and influence.

I don’t get the Web 2.0 question much anymore, I think that peaked in early 08 and I’m already seeing a lot fewer questions about social media. We’re really getting to the point, that we all knew we would, where all online content is social in some way. If it’s not now it will be in the next 2 years.

He also has a deft phrase to sum up why blogs are important for a big tech firm like HP – the “two Gs”:

If your customers are CXO’s (CEO, CIO, CFO, CMO) then the reason you have a blog is because the two most influential factors to a CXO’s decision making process are the Two G’s: Google and Gartner. Google is speaking to the importance of all search and Gartner is speaking to the importance that analysts play. Blogs are great for reaching both. There’s no lower bang for your buck tactic to reach the two G’s than having a high quality blog.

Even if Gartner‘s not that important to your business, it’s likely that there are other influential stakeholders it’s sensible to connect to via blogs.

Also worth taking a look at is the HP marketing blog – Marketing Impressions – which Tac mentions, which has accounts of HP’s various engagements and programmes in social media.