Apr 12

Cheezburger Cats

Sometimes you just have to go and see a site; with I can Has Cheezburger being mentioned twice yesterday, it was time to take a closer look. First of all it was being discussed as one of the extremely successful WordPress blogs at the WordPress meetup and then I got home to see that Tara has used an image from it in her round-up post of parties in SF next week. (which makes me want to pack up and visit for the week).


Apr 11

Urban Planning in Second Life

I love the concept that a Paris residents association is asking members to propose a new design for the redesign of a central part of the city.

The association is urging locals to come up with their own ideas for the area’s gardens and post them in the online world of Second Life, where people create virtual doubles of themselves called avatars. Accomplir will shortlist five of the best projects, which will then be displayed on an island in Second Life.

How many entries do they think they will get? How many people can do such design? If you want to see one in action, take a look at this superb video from Lordfly Digeridoo who planned and built a site for a college requirement.

Apr 10

Blogger Conduct

I’ve read Tim O’Reilly’s Blogger Code of Conduct and agree with a fair few other folk that it is not for me, although it may be perfectly useful for Tim’s sites. I assume these are group written sites, otherwise the use of the Royal ‘we’ is amusing.

However Kathy Sierra rightly adds to the comments that having such a policy on her site did nothing to stop what happened:

This Code of Conduct would have had no effect on what happened to me. I had a comment policy in place, and deleted the threats that came directly to my blog. But if people are determined to hate, harass, intimidate, or threaten you, it’s easy enough to do on other blogs.

And I far prefer the style of Johnnie Moore’s policy:

1 If you look at the entire content of this blog, you’ll get some notion of how I conduct myself. It varies a bit.

2 You’ll also see how visitors conduct themselves. It, too, seems to vary.

3 The past is not necessarily a guide to the future.

combined with a hefty dose of common sense that means it should apply equally to how I conduct myself elsewhere as well as how i expect people to behave around me.

Meanwhile, Kathy has written a post looking for ideas about where to go next. From what she says, it looks like she is going to stop public speaking, which is a shame as I’ve loved it everytime I’ve seen her. Hopefully she’ll continue to publish in some format going forward.

Apr 10

Future Of Online Advertising

Through a nice opportunity posted on Seth Godin’s blog, I managed to get a ticket for the Future of Online Advertising conference being run by Carson Systems, Having attended their Future of Web Apps day in London last year, I know these guys could put on a good conference, pulling together some top presenters.

Looking at the planned schedule here’s what I’m particularly interested in:

  • Michael Walrath (Right Media) ‘Online Advertising Basics – Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask’ (yep, I need to get some basics in when it comes to online ads)
  • Case Study: Online advertising analytics
  • Panel ‘Ads in Online Video – the future of interactive advertising?'(I’ve got my own opinion on this and I’ve not yet seen a great execution of this)
  • Case Study: Paid reviews and blogging
  • Henry Copeland (Blogads) ‘Cracking the blogosphere – the secret to successful blog advertising’
  • Jay Adelson (Digg) ‘Tapping into the ad potential of crowd generated media sites’

The second afternoon in particular looks to be good. I also have some discount codes (10%) if anyone is interested.

Apr 09

Podcamp Report

I think you could describe PodcampNYC as a success. Not sure what the post-mortem will bring, but everyone I spoke to seemed to enjoy it. I’ve got sessions to write up and thoughts to process, but in the meantime, just take a read of the CNET piece which has also landed up in the New York Times.

Apr 06


Tomorrow is Podcamp NYC, an unconference that has grown way beyond that into a monster, with over 1200 registered users. A decision was made pretty early to solicit session proposals and then to schedule them – otherwise there are just far too many going to have it self-organise. Although there is one plan as you go track for any last minute desire to get up and talk.

The sheer numbers mean that it had to move venues – straining the sponsorship dollars to keep it a free conference. So there’s no food this time, it is just not possible. The New York Hotel is now playing host, the New School no longer being able to fit everyone who signed up. Even if they only get 50% of the people it’s going to be a great day. I’m speaking too – if you go to these you have to contribute! So 10am on Saturday I’m with Howard Greenstein talking about how podcasting can be used as part of a Social Media strategy for marketing. It’ll be recorded along with everything else. The timing is good for me, i can do my volunteer session first thing, then the talk and then spend the rest of the day learning. Or maybe trying to see if the wifi is good enough to let me watch the Boat Race!

Apr 06

Good Friday

This is weird as it is the first Good Friday I’ve worked for years, there’s no 4 day weekends here for religious holidays, just the secular ones to go shopping. I’m going to point you over to Rachel North for a wonderful recollection of days gone by. No memories like that for me, just a blur of holidays and sitting on motorways going somewhere for the weekend or just general family gatherings.

Apr 03

Vidmeter Report on Copyrighted videos

Vidmeter, a company I have written about before have produced an excellent analysis of videos removed by copyright owners from YouTube. The report can be found on their News page. In just over 3 months, they tracked the top viewed videos on the site, totaling 6,725 videos. Of these, they found that on 621 videos had been removed, only 6% of the total. Of those, 72 were from Viacom, only just over 2%.

Considering Viacom, seem to think that YouTube was built on the back of their content, these numbers don’t appear to reflect that belief, given the small percentage of successful videos that were found. Now, there may be a lot more on there than that number shows, but these are the top rated videos, the ones watched by the greatest numbers, so definitely fall into Viacom’s belief structure of driving success. Given that Viacom sub-companies appear to use YouTube on their blogs and display copyrighted content, how is their lawsuit looking?

Apr 03

ORG Party and Raffle

Next week, the ORG are holding a party, to help build membership. If you in town (the town in question being London), go along and bring a friend who is not a member – get them to join!. As well as the great party, they are holding a raffle – and you do not have to be there to win. Some prizes are listed on the raffle page and include a keyboard signed by Neil Gaiman 😉 Go and buy now

Posted in ORG
Apr 03

Blogher Business Roundup

For the ease of sending this link around at work, I’m pulling together all the links I have from this conference to make it easier for me! (thanks for an email from elise for these)

Next up, the audio recordings. At some point I may download mine and work out what I said 😉

Apr 02

Mesh in Toronto

I enjoyed being on a panel at Blogher the other week, far more than the one time I’ve given a presentation. So i was really chuffed to be asked to be on a panel at Mesh at the end of May in Toronto. After the reports I dug up about last year’s inaugural event it looks fun. Barring schedule changes, I’m going to be on a panel roughly titled ‘fake is the new real’, looking at some of the campaigns that marketers are behind that may look like UGC. So if you are around, and not going to Reboot, I’d take a look and come up to Canada. By the way, if anyone is thinking about buying a Reboot ticket, let me know – I’ve got one to transfer to you 🙂

Mesh Logo

Apr 02

Sierra and Locke update

Last week there were a lot of words written about the threats made to Kathy Sierra and her reaction to them. Unfortunately many of the word accused people behind the offending sites before allowing them to put their side of the story and they were subject to some of the same kind of behaviour, the mob mentality hiding behind an internet persona, that Kathy had complained about in the first place. But over the week, things have been looked at, more information discovered and today we have something that seemed unlikely a week ago. Kathy and Chris Locke jointly present statements after multiple conversations over the week and a CNN interview that aired today. Read both statements, but here are some key quotes for me. First from Kathy:

I do believe that Chris, Jeneane, and Frank did not make the specific posts and images that I found threatening, and I believe they were not responsible for the threatening comments on my own blog. However, Chris and I (and others) still strongly disagree about whether people who are respected and trusted in our industry (like the three of them) are giving tacit approval when they support (though ownership, authoring, and promoting) sites like meankids and unclebob. This is about trust and leadership in our community, and whether those who are looked up to have a (non-legal) responsibility to the community whose trust they’ve earned for the things they promote.

From Chris:

It’s true we laughed, but not at the core issues. No one was laughing about the offensive words and images that were posted to the blogs I was involved with. The material Kathy quoted on her site was hurtful and ugly. I do not excuse it or think it should be excused. Some of the things that were posted about her were admittedly frightening, and far beyond tasteless….
Misogyny is real — and vile. Violence against women is wrong. It must not be tolerated. This issue should be explored and discussed, not swept under the rug, not rationalized away

And both agree that this episode should not be used to as an excuse to curb free speech, to shutter the thoughts and expressions of millions online through legislation and ordered control but should be used a further open up the debate about behaviours and ethics and morals about what you should do online, not just doing things because you can. The fact that these two people, who were at the core of the storm that surrounding this issue, can talk and agree on some things whilst acknowledging where they disagree give me hope.

Apr 02


The BBC have updated their speculation about the Apple/EMI Press conference today and now think it will be a DRM announcement. As part of the story, they are running a poll asking us what we think of DRM on music. Wonder if the current results would surprise the record labels with all their previous talk of it ‘adding consumer value’.

DRM Poll

Posted in DRM
Apr 01

DRM or The Beatles

When companies what to announce big news, they call press conferences. Which means the press get to know something is going on and can do some digging, leading to speculation such as this from the WSJ (behind paywall)

In a major reversal of the music industry’s longstanding antipiracy strategy, EMI Group PLC is set to announce Monday that it plans to sell significant amounts of its catalog without anticopying software, according to people familiar with the matter.

The London-based music company is to make its announcement in a press conference that will feature Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs. EMI is to sell songs without the software — known as digital rights management, or DRM — through Apple’s iTunes Store and possibly through other online outlets, too

The BBC have have a story online which proposes that they are going to release The Beatles as digital songs. I think of the two stories, I prefer the first option, the removal of DRM, which will have a far larger impact. By doing so, you will remove the hassle and nuisance that comes from buying songs, burning them and then ripping back so you can use on the device of your choice. You can do it with CDs, so why do anything different with the pure digital version. But even though the lack of DRM must surely mean the process becomes easier, I guess they won’t bring the price down 😉

Update: and EMI are going DRM free – and putting the price up!

Apple has announced that iTunes will make individual AAC format tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29/€1.29/£0.99. iTunes will continue to offer consumers the ability to pay $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 for standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied. Complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price.”>EMI is releasing the premium downloads in response to consumer demand for high fidelity digital music for use on home music systems, mobile phones and digital music players. EMI’s new DRM-free products will enable full interoperability of digital music across all devices and platforms…Apple has announced that iTunes will make individual AAC format tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29/€1.29/£0.99. iTunes will continue to offer consumers the ability to pay $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 for standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied. Complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price.

Ahhh, the joys of press release language, where EMI is being so kind and beneficial in offering this type of file for us as they think it will make our life better. Instead of it being a reaction to the cold realities that people do not want crippled files and want stuff that just works.

Posted in DRM
Apr 01

The Commercialisation of Twitter

Update – Twitterati was an April fool (sort of).

With utter predictability and inevitability, commercial interests invade Twitter. When first showed it to colleagues some of them were asking questions about how to market on it, others were just generally fascinated. But now we are getting into the real activity.

First of all we see domain squatters, people picking up usernames with no intention of ever using them just in the hope that someone else will value them and pay good money for them. Then we have those who are speculating on names as a way to make future money off the service, eg getting zipcodes or the like to offer location based services. Given the current open subscription model, where you have to pay nothing to just add a person to your friend list, I’m not sure if these service ideas will get off the ground as a value proposition anytime soon, but they could still be useful tools. And I’d be surprised if the Obvious crew stood by ad let that sort of service make money by using the servers and tools without contributing somehow!

The we have the marketing within Twitter, the pay per tweet concept that I speculated about in the earlier post. Twitterati looks to be running a beta programme to pay people to Twitter about products, as i was updated on far too many times by a ‘friend’ who decided to spam the service yesterday and today. Ooops, this was an April fool. But one that was too close to reality and felt real given the some of the conversations I had had over the last week – I’m pretty sure something like this has to be in the works. The full story is over on YesButNoButYes . The very real possibility of and the fact that it was around on my Saturday (damn timezones) meant I did not even consider that it was hoaxy.

And I twittered it, and waited. I didn’t expect a mad rush of emails, not in a single day, but obviously within the email, I’d embedded the notion that to be noticed, you had to spread the word. So people did, and by the end of the day, I had close to 100 requests to get into the program, some from pretty well-respected bloggers (apologies to all of you, but SHAME on you for offering to sell out your Twitters so easily 🙂


You will only see the paid tweets if it is someone you are subscribed to, so you can always get rid of them; unfortunately the nice trick of Twitter turning most URLS to tinyurls means that you may not be able to see where they are sending you until it is too late. But even if you unsub from their, their tweets could still be ‘polluting’ some of the nice tools that have been built, such as Twittervision. Yesterday, this was being hit by multiple tweets from ‘ads’, what looks like an automated bot that has posted over 7500 tweets in the last 2.5 days.

Twittervision spam

Ad Tweet graph

But David Troy has anticipated this and the green or orange buttons allow you to mark a tweet as unlikeable. And ignore the Starbucks logo on the map – that’s the April Fool for the site, after Scoble’s suggestion he gets sponsorship from them and mark the stores on the map.

These won’t be the last attempts to make money from the service. The only saving grace I see is that you can so easily remove people from your list to avoid the commercialism. But there could be a great set of attention ads – set up a service that will send promotions to you based on keywords. So if i was looking for hotels in a city, I could be sent some great offers that are just for me.

Apr 01

BBC on the Phone

Despite the data charges, having 3G on the phone on the phone in the Uk was fun, offering a lot more than is currently available in the US. As part of the available offering from Vodafone, Orange and 3, the BBC are going to trial 3 of their channels, BBC1, BBCNews and BBC3 over the phone system. They are testing both the service the audience reaction according to Ashley Highfield.

“The findings, combined with quantitative and qualitative consumer research, will inform the BBC’s future mobile strategy.”

Nice to see this happening but I wonder how many people will enjoy it. I tried out the Sky services last year and although a novelty the costs were too expensive to make it worthwhile – i could always wait to get home to see the news online. I think there will need to be better packages for widespread use.

Apr 01

April Fools again

It’s that time of year again and the fools are popping up all over the web, with a good list over at Wikipedia. You can take your time looking through them, there’s bound to be something that took your fancy. Google again seems to take some of the most effort with 2 very nice ones. First, proving that the internet is indeed a series of tubes, or at least pipes, announce their new TiSP service, broadband connection through the sewer system (it’s only half a joke, much of the dark fibre owned by Google apparently does run along these types of pipes). All you have to do to get it to work is throw the one end of the cable down the loo and flush, whilst remembering not to let go.

Google TiSP system

Secondly there mail system is now offering a print service Google Paper – notify which emails you want and they will print them and send them out to you. Ad-supported the cost is nothing to you and it will help you keep all of your favourite mails, just like they used to do with letters.

The cost of postage is offset with the help of relevant, targeted, unobtrusive advertisements, which will appear on the back of your Gmail Paper prints in red, bold, 36 pt Helvetica. No pop-ups, no flashy animations—these are physically impossible in the paper medium.


Unfortunately they have not yet rolled it out to my email account, but I’m looking forward to it 😉 And all over the web there were examples, with fake purchases, hacks, company takeovers and just general tomfoolery. But none of these reach the same heights of fun as the BBC spaghetti harvest film, 50 years old today and put in place by the ultra-serious Panorama programme

Posted in fun