Jul 27

NPost – entreprenerial interviews

Nathan Kaiser, the CEO of nPost, is doing his own brand of marketing by reaching out to bloggers who may have an interest in his site.

nPost.com is a site devoted to entrepreneurship. We interview CEOs and Founders of small and startup businesses. Our interviews focus on their ideas, insights, experiences, and goals for each business. It was originally started by Nathan Kaiser as a way to conduct informational interviews to help him with his business career. It has since grown to include networking events and a job board.

He’s got over 130 interviews up there, such as Bob Rosenschein of answers.com, Munjal Shah of Riya and Joe Kraus of jotspot.com. There’s some good reading there; I’ve gone and subscribed

Jul 27

New Lynx campaign

Lynx (or Axe as it ges under in most of the world) have a new campaign out. Not moving too far away from its core values, the site features lots of scantily clad women in videos and games. It also has the expected (compulsary?) user generated content competition. Load up your video of you (the expectation is that you will be male) dancing in a towel and you can win yourself and 6 of your friends your very own wash down by the promotional girls.

Following on from the You Tube change to their T&Cs, I took a look at the ones for this competition and was surprised to see that by entering you waive all ownership rights, including the right to be be identified as the author, to the work you submit. Looking at other competitions, kayak.com asks for a licence to publish but recognised you still own the work. The lawyers here are taking a very conservative stance which is contrary many expectations – if I make something, I own it.

I’ve been playing with Bix a little over the last few days and their T&Cs are a lot more reasonable

Subject to:
1. Company’s ownership of any underlying code incorporated into Content that you create with the Software; and
2. Company’s or third parties’ ownership of material on the Site, such as lyrics and music, that may be incorporated in Content you provide to Company,
you retain ownership of the copyright and other intellectual property rights in the Content, including but not limited to your performance.

Here again, they expect you to grant them worldwide rights to use the content, but that enables them to display the content on the site.

Jul 26

Vodafone viral

Yesterday there was Virgin mobile, now a Vodafone campaign. This one is pretty…lots and lots of cute animals and landscapes. The idea here is to promote their free weekend rates; by calling the number you can add your mesage and have it played on the site. The viral stuff comes from being able to send your message to a friend from the site. Surely it would be better if you just called them? (but the images are still pretty)

vodafone.JPG

Jul 26

Severance Movie game

From today’s viral notifications we have something a movie trailer and a little more. Severance is a UK horror film, sending a team of sales people out on a ‘team building’ event in the wilds when somethign goes a little wrong. I’m sure many people have had to endure the horror of team building events with people they have to work with, but hopefully never this bad. The movie/game site is very straigh forward – info on the movie, a trailer and the game. I think they have borrowed the game from somewhere and reskinned it, as in gameplay it’s basically taking penalty kicks, even it is with a severed head and the idea is to hit the goalkeeper and knock body parts off.

Update: Ana has commented that they didn’t borrow or reskin…even so, I’ve played very similar games and htis one is still fun.

severance.JPG

Jul 25

Virgin festival Tickets viral

From today’s delivery of viral sites comes this offering from Virgin. Here you can actually win something – tickets to the Virgin Mobile V festivals taking place at the end of August (in the Uk only) .

The site offers a nice little game to amuse for a few minutes, then a chance to enter the draw for the tickets. There are 15 daily draws, with the site being up for three weeks only. This means there’s no search engine marketing that is obvious – no paid stuff anyway – and hte site is relying on the member get member method. Send to 5 friends and get 10 extra entries into the draw.

I like this Site. Nice design, some thought has gone into usability (back navigation is always useful), good hook to get you to send it on and a fun game that you can play again and again.

virgin.JPG

Jul 25

New Media Awards

Last night the magazine the New Statesman presented its New Media Awards 2006. These awards have been running since 1998, with categories changing to reflect the development of ‘new media':

The awards aim to recognise those that both realise the potential of new media technology and have the commitment and stamina to effectively execute their ideas. The award categories, which vary from year to year, suitably reflect this goal.
This year’s categories are:

Accessibility
Advocacy
Contribution to civic society
Education
Elected representative
Independent information
Innovation
Modernising government

The site has been updated with the winners. There’s a great collection of well-designed, thoughtful and useful sites on the list, well worth taking a look.
One of my favourites is the winners of the Education award, Sonic Postcards. Through the medium of an online map, schools across the UK have recorded and uploaded audio clips, images and videos, which can be explored and shared. The site encourages children 9-14 to learn about the technology and to develop a sense of community with likeminded schools.

sonicpostcards.JPG

But how does the site work from a web marketing and sharing perspective?. Beautifully presented but it’s all in flash. It forces you to take a journey and prevents schools linking directly to their contributions, although the navigation options do make it easier to find things. Google juice is almost none existent – you have to know exactly what it is called to really find it. But this is not an advertising site, it does not need to really have deep linking orbe searchable, the benefit comes from journey the children take to get their creativity on the site, not how the site is marketed.

Jul 24

Geek Activism

One of the posts I did find in trawling the new Technorati was Devanshu’s 95 Theses of Geek Activism. A great list og things that you should be concerned about, tying in well with many of the talks I attended over the weekend.

Jello Biafra gave a a superb 2 hour keynote, focusing on the theme fromthe day before of Provacy is Dead and covering his former bandmembers, his feelings towards the FBI, US foreign and home policy, Oprah, the Media Marketing Accountability Act, the COPE act and net neutrality. This, combined with the talk previously from Robert Steele makes me think (despite not knowing many of the political and national references) that I’m not paranoid enough.

Jul 24

the New Technorati

My first reaction on looking at the newly designed technorati was not quite sure, the colours were not quite right, the information was not where it was. It was strange and different. But then I started to click around and I like it.

Discover section
: automated popularity instead of voted. Find out who is linking to things in multiple categories, not requiring anyone to take more action than providing a link on their own blogs. A little thrown by the Sports section, I think it is biased towards American sports but if you look at the total list, these are the ones most linked to. The Myfavourites allows you to build your own list of blogs to track, by categories. I don’t think I’ll switch from bloglines, but it is a good tool. The Most Popular is another way to look at popular sites, searches, tags, videos, posts, news and books.

All of these sections drive you to discover new information in different ways, although tied into what is already popular. It’s good to see the search and the watchlists still as strong, to allow you to find the stuff in your favourite subjects that may not be of popular interest.

I’m glad to say my first reaction has been updated..and I now like it. tag:

Jul 24

Doctor Who viral

From the viral mailing list today, we get a link to a new Doctor Who game, to keep you amused now the series has finished for the year. Not really a viral, more a link to an existing website. You get to be K9, move round the maze, collect things, avoid the baddies and get to the end. (Wait a minute, wasn’t I just playing this on MySpace). Unlike Pacman however, this environment is more 3D, which means I always manage to screw up the controls completely as I never can work out which way to go. I’m enjoying this, in a mindless way, with random screams as the little dog goes completely the wrong way.

k9.JPG

Jul 24

Blackout Country

The US has been suffering a number of blackouts as the heatwave hits the countries ability to provide enough electricity to run all the air conditioners. The blackouts have affected MySpace, which was down for most of the weekend; at times the error message blamed the blackouts and sometimes, like currently, states the outage is due to planned maintenance.

myspaceout.JPG

Nevermind, if you can’t connect with all your buddies, you can still play Pacman. I wonder how many of the MySpace audience actually know what Pacman is?

Meanwhile, the blackouts gave the Social Engineering panel at Hope the opening they needed to get people to agree to various things, such as promising them access to basements to look at electic meters. The panel was one of the most popular at the event, with the main hall packed to overflowing to listen to stories about past successes and a live demonstration of the activity. I think the moral was never trust anybody, especially when being asked to do things to help!

Jul 23

HOPE: Literacy and Gutenberg

In one of the talks on Friday, on text to speech software, a series of statistics about the US reading habits were thrown up on the screen. Co-incidently (i think) the same set of stats appeared on on Jeff Jarvis’s blog, sourced from Dan Poynter.

One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. …
58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
42% of college graduates never read another book.
80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57% of new books are not read to completion.
Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.
Customers 55 and older account for more than one-third of all books bought.

I’m not sure how accurate these are (some of the other stats on the page contradict them) but they give a frightening picture of literacy today and, as Gerald Green stated in his talk, shows another aspect of the digital divide, that of reading. He focuses on using text to speach as a way of improving adult literacy, with tools that are out there translating the written word on a browser to the spoken one.

This leads nicely on to Project Gutenberg and Michael Hart, who gave the keynote speach on Saturday at Hope. His passion for all that he does rang clear throughout the talk and the interest and desire for involvement fromthe audience came throught he questions. The history of the project can be read here; it celebrated it’s 35th anniversary a few weeks ago and is giving away 1/3 million ebooks until beginning of August. During the talk, they gave away DVDs containing 17500 books, that’s more than double the number found in the average library.

The stated target is to provide a billion books to a billion people, building a better world from the bottom up. To help in this aim, he said he is also in the process of putting together a project with the $100 laptop team. If you want to help, send in your ebooks or go and become a Distributed Proofreader.

In my case, despite all the time I spend online, I still prefer a physical book. I own over a 1000 and that is still with a lot of pruning – getting rid of them is a very hard job! In the 2 months I’ve been in te US, I seem to have collected about 15 new books, which I now have to transport back. I spent a lot of my childhood reading; a perpetual refrain from my mother was to ask me to stop reading a book – actually, she still does that occasionally ;-) There’s always anticipation and pleasure when I buy a book from one of my ‘regular’ authors. But I buy a lot of crap as well, trashy airport novels, for holidays and travelling. These ones I could easily switch to ebooks, but I’ve not found the right tool yet; although I’ve not looked too hard. I need something that is easy to carry and probably lasts over 24 hours without charging (and I also need the trashy novels to be ebooks of course, which they are not from what I’ve seen). I’ve now got 17500 new texts to read an browse, but nothing to easily do that on. I may switch to reading somethings as an ebook, but I’m unlikely to stop buying the physical objects.

Jul 23

Hope: Privacy is Dead

I was looking forward to the Privacy is Dead panel at Hope today. Someone had volunteered to be the target and Steve Ramban, from Pallorium Ltd, had spent time gathering all the information he could, producing about a 500 page dossier. Instead, we were told that Steve had been arrested the evening before by FBI agents, who had come into a session he was giving the day before and led him away in handcuffs. Nothing further was known (or at least given out at the conference) The session after was supposed to be Kevin Mitnik, but he has apparently been taken ill in Columbia. Yet a third seesion was cancelled due to a power cut in Queens ;-)

A session that did take place was Coupon Hacking, a fun talk about Sam Pocker’s advertures with couplons and his drive to use the system to get stuff for free. For example, buying a car load of Sunny Delight at 2 dollars a bottle, taking off the the lables to get 4 movie tickes for 4 lables and then leaving the whole lot in the supermarket carpark as he could not get anyone to take it away. Less a lesson on how to use the system than a series of anecdotes about the life – but very funny and had the packed house laughing.

Jul 21

Spam email

My domain is being used in a spam email, so I’m currently sitting on about 3000 returned/out of office mails. Not the best problem to have. Now I have to go through and delete everything :-(

Jul 21

DRM free music by Yahoo

Yahoo have released for sale a song that is DRM free. (One song only, mind you). Unfortunately it’s Jessica Simpson – but you can get it personalised before you download it – get your name in the song. As the Yahoo blog puts it

We’ve also been saying that DRM has a cost. It’s very expensive for companies like Yahoo! to implement. We’d much rather have our engineers building better personalization, recommendations, playlisting applications, community apps, etc, instead of complex provisioning systems which at the end of the day allow you to burn a CD and take the DRM back off, anyway!

Suw, reperesenting the Open Rights Group is quoted in the BBC article:

Suw Charman, executive director of the digital advocacy body the Open Rights Group says the experiment is “clearly a gimmick” but still a significant move. “It’s an important experiment,” she said. “I hope it’s the beginning of a significant movement from them [Yahoo].” “It sends a strong message about not having to have DRM on everything.”

Now this is one track only, a very commercial track with a ‘trick’ included. Yahoo and more inportantly the record agencies will wait to see how successful it is before they attempt another version. Oh no..does that mean I have to go and buy a Jessica track to support this?

Jul 21

Emily Goes Global (or at least the UK)

The story of thatgirlemily has spread to the UK. The Metro apparently had a shot of the billboard in Los Angeles with the caption:

“Californication: A wife takes revenge on her cheating husband by buying a giant billboard poster to abuse him and ridicule his manhood. The woman, known only as Emily, paid more than £22,000 for the ad in Holywood’s Sunset Boulevard – from their joint bank account, naturally.”

Displaying fine journalistical skills they do not appear to have dug any futher into this story to find out that is is marketing…I wonder if they will. I can’t link to the story as it’s not online, but thanks Ed for the email. I’m sure there’s a scan out there somewhere.

Jul 21

HopeNumberSix

I’m spending the next few days at a conference, a rather different type than the one I usually go to. I’m at Hope Number Six, where hope stands for Hackers of Planet Earth. Three days of talks about all manner of subjects with a hacking connection with two main tracks plus a do it yourself track where anyone can sign up to give a talk. One of the more obvious differences is that no-one gets a name badge, instead we all get issued with numbers.

I attended 2 talks about RFID chips this morning, the first from a PHD student who is looking at the security requirements to keep the info safe, at a physical, protocol and system level.

The second talk was from Annalee Newitz, a Wired reporter who went for the slightly unusual step of getting implanted with a Verichip rfid to test their claim that they were totally secure and un-counterfeitable. There followed a nice demonstration of reading the chip (which broadcasts in the clear) and then playing back the signal which is then easily recognisable by the official verichip reader. Of course, when all you are doing is re-using chips designed for pets there was probably little thought to additional security required. Now I’m off to go and learn how to pick locks.

Jul 21

Morning Coffee

At the instigation of Noah and Piers, a group of us got together this morning for coffee and chat about marketing, trends, technology etc. A couple of hours went by very quickly..and it looks like we’ll be having a few more of these so sign up if you are interested

Jul 20

BTPodshow

As with Ewan, I got an email today suggesting I look at www.btpodshow.com. The mail was from CC Chapman, whose show can be found on Podshow, so it looks like they are trying to generate buzz around a new service. Don’t think it’s for British Telecom (which was my initial reaction) but you never know ;-) I didn’t see the morsecode page title, but did get one called ‘cowbell’. So I’ve signed up, let’s see whats next.