Sep 24

SMW London: Alex Balfour and the Digital Olympics

It’s Social Media Week and I’ve managed to squeeze in enough time to head out to a few events in and around London. Given how many sessions at the Games I managed to get to, it was only fitting that the first session this week was to hear about the Olympics and how they worked on a digital platform. Alex Balfour was the Head of New Media for the London Olympics, starting with the team six years ago and this was a chance for him to talk about what happened, some of the challenges, wins and failures that the team experienced.

Given it was the Olympics, it was fitting he started off with a montage set to an inspirational song, what seems to be the natural result of distilling down thousands of hours of sports coverage.

The original brief when he took the job was to build 2 websites – a refresh of the current one and a gamestime website. In the end, he and his team delivered 77 channels. They were determined to go the extra mile, to make sure all the delivery teams made the most of the attention that digital could bring and that was the result. Here’s some of the insights and lessons that he had to share

  • he was surprised that over 60% of ALL visits were via a mobile device, something that was not expected when they started. However, there was not as much use of Location based services as he expected, with 600k Facebook checkins and 100k Foursquare ones.
  • The amount of data they were dealing with was HUGE – so much so that some of the apps they built for devices could not count and had to be scaled down (eg the cultural events listings)
  • there were 70 different stakeholders that needed to sign off things. That made things difficult at times!
  • The basic objectives were to support the business in what they needed to deliver and to make sure a database for emails was built. The mandate was clear and kept them focused – when they went off path, that could lead to failure. A digital team objective was to be most used digital channel ever (including beating broadcast partners. They also had to make the channels as accessible as possible
  • There were no sponsors responsible for mobile connection the arenas – but there were lots of meetings with carriers. Boris Johnson took an early interest in it and called meetings – which meant the right people came to them. In general the mobile data worked. The sponsor BT also provided both onsite general wifi for public and a bespoke, locked mobile network for the organisers to work with across the network of venues
  • They had a full comms plan, including crisis planning, that was developed by the communications team. The thing that moved the needle when it came to planning comms was when around 2 yearas ago, the national media started to use twitter to source stories and then come to the PR team to ask questions about them. That drove up its priority. In addition, monitoring social media allowed validation for the Press team that either something was important or that it was isolated and, for example, there was far more conversation about something else
  • When Alex interviewed, he did talk about social media and digital consumption trends. The question was about how the Games would get involved and how they would use the channels to showcase themselves. They did not go out and build a social network, but worked with the existing. They had started some work with a sponsor, about youth involvement, but this got shelved (was not on the core mandate). They had ideas with Facebook etc, but often not carried through as policy changed across time. 1 year out, they did a ‘support your team’ on twitter, which showed how they could shape conversations and get people talking about the Games – 180k tweets in that time. They repeated something similar during Games and got 1.5m tweets – Mongolia won the ‘league’; as their president got involved and encouraged the country
  • Email was the most effective tool for communication, depsite all the other channels.
  • He felt they could have made more use on in-venue entertainment and interaction using social media, with teams and audiences, but did not get off the ground everywhere. Also, some volunteer networks were started, but could not be scaled in time
  • One ‘last minute’ app that came together (with help of Samsung) was for the Paralympics when they gave 50 athletes devices to create video. They asked for at least 6 pieces each, they got over 1000 in total. (better control of video rights for Paralympics, something not possible with Olympics)
  • He was surprised that more sponsors had not activated strongly. Some did, others were less than expected. Potentially because this is a short term project and they invested in other areas that had better payback (or at least, better understood payback)
  • Athletes (and teams) activated the whole thing pretty well. the IOC launched an Olympic hub, they have 5k athletes signed up and their feeds go into it.
  • He was asked what was best practice on delivering – have the right governance and have brilliant people!
  • Alex just loved the whole project, felt is was great to be involved. he’s now looking forward to actually watching the Games!

This was a lovely talk with some great insights. For example. only 5% of Gold Medal winners ever go onto make a living out the sport. It was interesting to think back to when I heard him speak in 2008 when a lot was new and how the world has changed and how the Olympics and LOCOG embraced and worked with social media.

May 18

Gamecamp, The Upgrade and London Bloggers

I’ve been out and about the the few days…a Gamecamp was held at the weekend, then I went to a book reading and finally another installment London Bloggers Meeting

Gamecamp 4

Gamecamp May 2011

The fourth round of Gamecamp, it had, according to the numbers I totted up, 225 people passing through its doors, the largest ever. My involvement this time was less than in previous ones, (holidays and work getting in the way), but I spent most of the day on the door, so at least met (briefly) almost everyone who turned up.

I did squeeze in a few sessions. The first was a pretty practical session about tips for improving games. Succintly they are:

  • Think hard about the controls and what you need the player to do
  • Out time into the tutorials, not leaving them until last. Make sure they reflect the context of the game
  • Involve the audience in testing. Not your friends or fellow developers, but complete strangers
  • Recruit the right users. It’s not demographics, it psychographics
  • Think about success factors up front. Define what a successful design/game experience is before you go into testing!

Other sessions i attended included one a philisophical discussion about the mechanics, aesthetics and dynamics of game design and one on character journeys, or rather the lack of them, in video game design.

The Upgrade by Paul Carr

The Upgrade book reading with Paul Carr

Monday night was a trip to the only Uk reading by Paul Carr from his new book The Upgrade, on the surface a story about how to live your life in hotels and have mad adventures but underneath, more about how Paul changed – and saved – his life by stopping drinking. I loved the story, reading it in less than 24 hours and suggest getting it! As I bought a Kindle edition, he had nothing to sign. Instead, he annotated the front page of the electronic version, as seen in the photo ;-)

London Bloggers’ Meetup

London Bloggers May 2011

I’ve been going to this meetup for years and it keep going from strength to strength, thanks to Andy Bargery. last night was sponsored by Hotwire, with the presentations and panel discussion all about travel blogging. Another successful night.

Mar 13

SXSW – Christopher Poole

  • founder of 4chan. founded in 2003 as an image sharing community, for Japanese comics.cartoons/anime. A chatroom with 20. Now 12m visitors monthly.
  • no registration. no archive. ideas – it’s about survival of the fittest. what resonates, stays on the board. Community flows over a day; the culture changes. to start a topic you need to provide an image still to start a topic. But it is more than the random board, about 50 topics – photography, origame, adult stuff. Media think the audience is just young, white, males..but not completely accurate
  • Last year, started to think about what could be done better…what a message board could be. Leanrt things from 4chan to share, that define it
  • Fluid identity. Site is anonymous; people can chat as anyone; moving towards persistant identity, you lose some of the innocence of youth – you can’t make mistakes, you can’t learn, you can’t start again. Cost of failing is high, if only one identity, as yourself. Anonymity is authenticity in this environment
  • believe in content over community. it’s not just your history; people can assume by history not by contribution. so site just judges you on most recent contribution. Content gets riffed on, changed, moved.
  • Added recaptcha last year (spam problem) and got a lot of backlash immediately. But people started to create art around them, adding images. Community takes a situation and turns it into something creative
  • A lot of 4chan is copy/paste, has been there before. a lot of the content is the same. It is not all ephemeral, the content is often there – but the experience is ephemeral, it cannot be repeated. It’s a community experience, a different way to share things. The refrigerator magnet game becomes a shared experience for 4chan people. It’s a place where people go to hang out
  • All of these things combine into a new thing called Canvas, building a site for people to share, play, collaborate and hangout
  • you can post anonymously, but using facebook connect during the beta period to register, to weed out more casual trolls
    built fun tools to people to use, to allow it to be easy to modify on the site. don;t need to use photoshop. has levelled the playing field. Finish the drawing are fun, get very popular. Making it easy, reducing fear of failure, has worked well
  • Wanted to focus also on contributors. On 4chan, because it is anon, you get a few more users, but lurker is still high. so on canvas, looks to encourage contributions. created stickers, you could tag content. to sort and categorise, help popular things to bubble up; had 100k in a few weeks.
  • Found that chat does not build durable conversations. Interesting to be in conversation, but not if you want to re-read. It’s like improv – funny to be there live, but not to rewatch/taped. First product was built to be chatty, but have gone back to comments, as people are putting stuff on that is worth going back and reading.
  • We are also looking at growing slowly. 4chan was not overnight, it was a slow growth. you have to allow for a culture and an identity to grow on the site. wnat to integrate users as they come into the site. Scaling is not just architecture, but building a community that is worth scaling.

You can sign up canv.as/sxsw

Mar 14

SXSW – Tony Hsieh and Zappos

At Zappos.com, Tony Hsieh has fostered a culture where extraordinary customer service is the norm.

On Saturday, March 14, hear him talk about how good deeds can help you leverage the power of your audience to massively extend your brand. As a preview, you can read this story for a glimpse of a company that blazes its own trails, including paying its employees to quit.

Survey…lots of hands up who have bought from Zappos. it’s normally 2-1 female to male.

They do tours of the site..got someone from a major Music label….took him to the Customer Loyalty team. He got a team member to pull up his wife’s account – who had spent 62k (err, pretty sure they weren’t allowed to do that!)

They started off with a pizza delivery in college. His current CFO used to buy pizzas, 2 a night. He found out that he was taking the pizza and selling it off by the slice.  We did a .com, LinkExchange, sold off to Microsoft. One of the reasons for the sale was the culture – did not like it. they did not look for culture fit when employing. He hated going into the office.

We sold it, and created an investment company, one of the investments was Zappos. It was the most interesting for me, ended up joining. We sell a lot more than shoes – clothing housewear etc.  The focus is the best customer service, in 10 years time we hope our customers don’t realise we were shoes.  It is about the best customer service, what ever we do. Don’t rule out an airline or other things.   We re proud of what we do, loved we were in the Forbes list of best places to work.  

The focus on service is great. On any day, 75% of orders are repeat orders.  We take the marketing money and spend on service. 1999 was 0, in 2008, was over $1billion. Most is from repeat sales and word of mouth

What is customer service. First, it’s our 1800 number. It’s at the top of every page, we encourage people to call, even if they are not making a sale; most of our calls are not for sales.  The telephone is one of our best branding devices – you have attention for the call. Get it right and they love you. We get >5k calls a day, each call is a marketing opp. It is one of the best branding devices.

We offer free shipping. People buy, try them and send back the non-fits or the non-suits. We offer a year return policy. Some customers do take a year.

these are all policies and any company can copy, and they do. But what happens after you place an order.  This is where we focus. We only show items on site that are in warehouse.  There is value with putting things on site that aren;’t there – you can backorder them, we got 25% of sales. But this was not about customer service though, we gave up this revenue and focused on what we could actually sell…to be true to brand and what we wanted to do

With repeat customers, we often do surprise upgrades to overnight shipping. A lot of customers order late eastern, then it’s on their door the next morning. It is expensive..but we regard this as marketing dollars, not shipping. it gives the WOW factor. We run our services different; if someone wants something that we don’t have, we look on competitors sites and direct them there.  We about a lifelong relationship, not an individual sale. the telephone is not a costs, is is an investment, for branding.

We don’t have strips, average handle times, we don’t upsell. It is not about how quickly you can get them off the phone. We tell our reps to spend as much time as needed to wow the customer.  Our longest call was 4hrs.

We run warehouse 24/7, which is not the most efficient as there is not high picking density. It’s not about the most efficient warehouse, it’s about the service.

customer service is however not the no1 priority, Company culture is the focus. If we get that right, then much of the rest follows.  It starts with the hiring. the Hiring manager looks for relevance and experience, and then the HR team looks for culture fit. You have to pass both. the same things goes with firing. Even if doing the job brilliantly, they still have to fit the culture.  The other thing is training. Everyone goes through the same training. 5 weeks, first 4 weeks in the head office, includes 2 weeks on the phones. You also go for a week to the warehouse, to do all this stuff. Whatever is your role.  At the end of the time, we pay you for your time and offer an extra 2k. We wanted people who were there who believed int he vision, in the company.  Starting pay for call centre is $11/hr, so $2k is a lot. In 2007, 3% took offer, in 2008 2% took it. We think that not enough are not taking the offer, so looking at next level.

The biggest benefit came from people not taking the offer – people had to decide to commit to the company if they do not take the offer, they had to have thought about it.  We also have the Culture Book, we put it out every year. Everyone writes about the company culture and what it means to them. We give it to prospective employees for them to look at.  The other thing that has made a difference is Twitter. Started 2 yrs ago to find parties at SXSW, then personal, to keep things in touch, find out about friends.    We rolled it out to entire company; we have twitter class as part of orientation.  About 400 of the 700 in the Las Vegas office is on twitter. this connects everyone,t ehy meet up and they see people as people

Culture does drive your brand.  The brand may lag your culture, but it will catch up.  Look at the airline industry..most people think airlines has bad customer service. That is the brand, it’s not what they set out to be that.  A few years ago, someone ordered a wallet, tried it out, decided that it was not for her. She had put $150 in the wallet and forgot about it.  She had spent 2 days trying to find out which kid had taken it!  She then got a letter from the warehouse worked who wrote to her and sent her the money back.  He could have kept the money and no-one would have known, but the culture was there as well.  Customer service is the whole brand and company.  it’s not a department. 

In 2009, we want to own the 3Cs Clothing, Customer service and Culture. We want to get the message out about our clothing.   

So what is the Zappos Culture. We have 10 core values – committable core values.  That means we are willing to hire and fire on these values.   We have questions for each of these values.  One that trips us up is Be Humble..many people are brilliant at what they do, but have egos, so fail.  One hire like this won’t be a bad thing, but if you keep doing this it all goes downhill.

We have create a little fun and weirdness.  We ask how weird you are.  It’s about the reaction to the question, we celebrate individuality. They decorate cubes etc; you call the service centre different times, you’ll get different connections. we don’t have a fixed way of relating.

4 is be adventurous, and open minded.  We ask how lucky they are in life.  We try not to hire unlucky people.  It was inspired by a research study, which asked the question.  Then asked people to count photos in a fake newspaper…there was a headline telling the answer. the lucky people noticed it and got extra money. It is about how you see things, ot how lucky you are.

It;s primarily about alignment, getting people to think the same way. Which helps the company move forward.

So steps to success.

  • Step one is to DECIDE. you have to decide to do this.  Requires patience to build a long term sustainable brand, you have to make trade-offs to get there.  you may have to walk away from revenue and profit opps.
  • 2nd is to figure out VALUES and CULTURE. It’s for all companies, not just the big ones.   I wish we had done it from day 1.  We asked our employees. It was a year long process. the initial list was 37 items, we combined them BRAND POSITIONING. all our people know this. We hire for culture and fit, so all people can talk about the brand positioning, culture is brand,
  • Commit to TRANSPARENCY.  for all, we ask people to use your best judgement.  People can ask anything as well and they’ll get answers
  • VISION.  whatever you are thinking, think bigger.  It has to have meaning. We focused on customer service when deciding where to move after shoes.  Our employees got excited about our vision, it got them engaged. Chase the vision, not the money. Ask what people are happy doing, what they would be happy doing in 10yrs.  It’s about MOTIVATION vs INSPIRATION
  • BUILD YOUR TEAM. Hire slowly, fire quickly. make sure your team is right
  • THINK LONG TERM. it’s not the short term stuff, it’s the long term. Zappos have been at is for 10 yrs, plus his previous business.
  • So WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?  Do you know where you are going.  Of you ask people what they want, and keep asking why it boils down to HAPPINESS. that’s what people want.
Mar 14

SXSW – Is Privacy Dead

While many assert that "privacy is dead," the complex ways in which people try to control access and visibility suggest that it’s just very confused. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water, let’s discuss people’s understanding and experiences of privacy and find ways to 2.0-ify it.

danah boyd Researcher, Microsoft Research
Judith Donath MIT Media Laboratory
Alice Marwick PhD Candidate, New York University
Siva Vaidhyanathan Assoc Professor, University of Virginia

  • db: out panel together to discuss privacy, a group of academics to discuss..we have different definitions of privacy.   There are different cultural views. People don’t ness view in many ‘official’ terms, but look at it as a term of control, what they control. Technology has changed a lot of definitions and behaviours and expectations.
  • SV: writing book – googleisation of everything. focus on nature of transaction between us and Google.  Most only have a usage of tools – searches and email etc. You may be aware that there are some levels of control, but not obvious.  There are 2 annoying assumptions I want to explode – 1 that privacy is the notion of publicity.  Just because you put up 100 pieces on sites it does not mean we don’t care about the 101st. Just because we put up some stuff, does not mean we don’t care about privacy. The 2nd notion is that privacy is a substance that can be traded.    The idea of trading a little bit of privacy for better relevance…that assumes we can break it up into bits. Privacy is not a substance, it is not traded in little bits. It means different things in different contexts. Privacy is a bad word for what we mean.
  • AM: writing on effect of social media on social status. about the sharing of a lot of information. There is a real value in being public…eg Twitter. I’ve interviewed CEOS who would not hire if people don’t have profiles etc.  There is a social value. you have to participate to get value. there is also social support in the network. Have to recognise value, but you have to recognise that the more info you put out, there more useful it is for brands, google etc.  All this info can be aggregated, to create profiles that are valuable.  If you put info out there, you consent to have it used for any reason – I think No.  But how do you reap advantages of public publications without it being used.
  • JD: I look at data visualisation. Public space..spaces where there is some kind of common control what the expected behaviours etc. What is private..is something private to some and public to others.  Online world can collapse the different spaces, mix them up.
  • db: We have a set of properties that we take for granted offline and having to look at them online.  Scale is one thing…eg a scale of publicity we have not seen before.  Tech has changed aggregation, changed the way we can see each other.  So what are the most important
  • SV: no change is purely tech, it has impact from world economy. eg the targeting of goods and services and getting the attention.  That’s why amazon and google grab the data, for both the inperson target and the aggregate.  It goes along with an erosion of the comfort with privacy.  73-76, there was a movement in the US to protect personal info from abuse from the state, with string support from Congress. We got some strong laws – updated the credit control system.   It’s bad, but it works better than most.  Also Watergate…laws passed to prevent one bit of the gov passing info to another. Many of the laws are there today. But most of the strongest have been undermined. Now we take it for granted…we ‘ignore’ it, and are not focusing on the new interface..us and firms.  Not separate from our concern about the gov, as firms sell databases.
  • JD: we are not always aware of the data trail we leave behind, what the firms are building. If we were aware, we may choose to do things different, you need to have awareness to have the choice.  It is hard to have a historical perspective of what is considered normal.  Historically we have come from a unusual level of privacy although before that there was far less – communities were far smaller, people knew everything in the small groups.  Most things in the past have not been recorded – where you are over time, what you are doing. So we have to work out how to manage this
  • db: it gets worked out differently in different populations.  Interviewing young people about their homes, it was not private as they had no control, the internet was more private to them as they had more control, It depends where you are in the power structures
  • AM: Context is one of the key things. Every place has a social context; eg telling doctor something which goes on medical record, that’s fine in that context, but doctor should not tell her best friend. There are specific ways of dealing with information in context.   For firms, should the burden be on the individual on controlling their data or on the firms..NYT had an editorial about opt-out to opt-in (diff US to EU data view)
  • SV: personal info is a form of currency, both in aggregate and individual. If it has value, should I have some form of stake in the data?  I expect to be aware of the extent my information is being used. We have not done this.  Most people here may have been able to manage their privacy, but many won’t be able to – they’re not even aware that there are controls there.
  • JD: when Am talks about context…it highlights the lack of ephemerality of the data. something now could be there in 20yrs and will likely be seen in a different context.  For most people in the US, we are not faced witht he fact that is we say something we are in danger…in many places there is this – but there’s no guarantee that the US won’t ever be the same. There are big serious institutional privacy issues. there is also about how do you want to be seen by people in different contexts.  
  • db: information is currency not just in an economic sense but in a social sense. many here have gained status and even jobs by putting stuff out there.  We are faced with the fact the tech is converging all these contexts. So how do we deal with these contexts as a design and a norm thing
  • SV: I teach about privacy and surveillance, in different classes. Get different reactions.   Get them to read Jane Jacobs. There is a level of surveillance we invite into our lives (eg look out for the neighbour)  we engage in those transactions with each other; ie if there is no power difference, when there is a reciprocity. There’s trade.  When I trade with Amazon, Google, state, there little reciprocity, no feedback. Building in the two way can be useful. 
  • AM: there is bleeding between networks, eg LinkedIn or Facebook. Some have single contexts, others have multiple contexts, how can you manage?
  • db: Celebrities have a different level of reciprocity
  • AM: it is also the same for microcelebrity, with tech
  • JD: how do you have a society figure out what the norms are, about para-social relationships. You have millions of people trying to determine the norms, you can’t have a relationship with millions, but there are nodes the network can focus on and have a conversation around it. We are interested in people paying attention to us.  What is the cost that you are willing to pay to get the benefit of the attention.
  • SV: there’s no zero sum between privacy and publicity. We give up control when we resign that battle. We assume that someone who has a lot of FB friends, a movie star give sup the right to privacy and dignity. We should not assume that someone who engages in public should not deserve some privacy. We don’t always view people who live a public life as real people who deserve dignity and respect.  eg the Star Wars kid.
Feb 05

Twitter: I don’t care

This post has been sitting in draft for nearly 2 weeks now. It’s been added to and written about in different moods and moved around and pondered upon. It may not make cohesive sense but it’s time to bite the bullet and publish!!!

Obviously, the blog post title, like the cake, is a lie. I do care about Twitter, having used the service almost daily for over 2 years but sometimes you just have to let things out. Fair warning, this is just a grumpy rant – not necessarily a coherent argument – about the tool, just my feelings about it, so don’t let it put you off.

So where is this coming from? Primarily from reading lots of posts and tweets over the last few weeks that tries to define and argue about the ‘right’ way to use Twitter. Now, the common sense thing for me to do with this information is ignore it, to not care about it, but as I’m ranting about it in person at the moment, I thought I’d share it with the blog.

It started with a simple tweet exchange between me and Jeremy:

rachelclarke: sometimes, I think I’m doing Twitter all wrong. well, at least all different. Then remember I can use it how the hell I like!!!
jeremywright: @rachelclarke – shhhhhhh
rachelclarke: @jeremywright why? I want to SHOUT it. There’s NO right or wrong. I don’t have to follow you. I don’t have to say anything interesting,
jeremywright: @rachelclarke – And then it’ll be CHAOS! CHAOS I tell you!
rachelclarke: @jeremywright ahhh. understand now. I’ll go and whisper over here then :-p

Which sort of summarises my feelings about it. I look at lots of ‘experts’ and they all seem to be trying to tell me how to use Twitter, but how I, and you, use it is up to ourselves. So the first ‘I don’t care’. Which is I don’t care how you think I should use it, I’ll carry on using it the way that suits me.

Then there was another conversation over at Tris Hussey’s blog. where I came to the conclusion that not only do I dislike auto-DMs on a follow, but I dislike thankyou tweets in general. As I said in a comment, if someone thanks you after you follow them, doesn’t that mean that you have done them a favour? That they owe you something for following them. Here, the issue is that in my personal use of Twitter, I don’t look on the action of following me as a favour to me. I follow people for the benefit that I obtain from it, the ambient intimacy from friends, the chance of entertainment, the weird stalkiness bit of following the odd celebrity. So I assign the same rational to people who want to follow me. Don’t thank me for following you and don’t expect thanks back – and yes, I know how grumpy, selfish and non-altruistic this sounds but I use Twitter for me, not for ‘my community’ nor yours.

Celebrities on Twitter are interesting and provide endless entertainment – and not just because of the tweets from the celebrities. There’s at least 2 kinds of celebrity on the site, the internet famous and the real world famous. In the former category you can put people like @scobleizer, @chrisbrogan and @kevinrose. In the latter you have people like @wossy, @stephenfry and @mrskutcher (Demi Moore). But with both types, you can get an unfortunate set of fanboy behaviour, where almost every tweet is addressed to one or more of these celebrities, as people look for attention. Now, I do jollow a few of these and have answered a few of their queries but try and keep the cyberstalking to a minimum.

A few Friday night’s ago, Twitter in the UK was a source of endless entertainment as Fry and Ross discussed the service (briefly) on the TV – which led to further mentions on the BBC news and more newspaper articles. And then on Something for the Weekend and the radio and The One Show and lots of other programmes. This seemed to be a source of endless glee to many or a threat of doom and the end of the service. The odds of that happening is pretty low – and what seemed to be missing by many is that it does not matter how many people joined the service they can be completely ignored. Twitter is a permission based system, you don’t have to see anything unless you want to.

As Twitter goes through these periodic bursts of popularity and growth – and believe me, it’s now pretty mainstream in the UK – I keep being followed by people I don’t know. The odds of me following you back are pretty low at this point in time – see earlier post about why. But expectations of the ‘audience’ can be pretty high, as these tweets show:

Girlonetrack: Someone’s informed me they’ve unfollowed because I didn’t reply to their @. News: I get a LOT of @ s. Also: I have a life. Sorry about that.

gapingvoid: @1938media Somebody just sent me an a LONG email EXPLAINING why they’re unfollowing me on Twitter. Too funny…

There’s a whole bunch of people on the service now who use it to self-promote, not just celebrities who do tend to post ‘real stuff’ even if they are being followed by 10s of 1000′s, too many to interact with, but social media experts, SEO experts, sales guys etc, all jumping on a service that is hot and has proven success in increasing audience and relevance. Of course, what they forget is that for most people, they get that influence over a long period, not by joining and immediately following 2000 people.

There’s a lot of baffling behaviour out there, that can confuse, astound and amaze people who’ve been around for a while.

Dan:

I go private, I still get a whole bunch of requests from a) social media idiots who appear to want to follow me because other people follow me, and b) people I don’t know who want to follow me in, presumably, a business sense, but don’t seem to have twigged that the danhon account is private for a reason – it’s about my personal life

or Cait:

A friend joined, and I noticed that his entire following list was of famous people with the exception of about 3 actual friends. Hehas a bit of a public profile, so to be honest, I looked in on what he was saying and didn’t bother following it up. The only “@” tweets in his list were replies to people he didn’t really seem to know. I haven’t seen a single message to an actual friend, about anything. And I realised that @StephenFry is the same. Isn’t that weird?

Now of course, their views are just as wrong – or right – as anyone else’s. That’s the joy about Twitter. It does not matter how you use it as long as how you use it matters to you. Join in, have fun, follow and @ and tweet about your breakfast, being stuck in a lift or how boring everyone else is. Post your affiliate links or your SEO guidelines or or your endless stream of links to blog posts or your blip lyrics or your Magpie ads or whatever else you want. I don’t care. You all have your reasons for using it as I have mine, just please don’t expect them to tally ;)

Nov 27

London 2012 and Social Media

On the one hand, the Olympics are the most wonderful celebration of humanity, of striving to be the best, faster, higher, stronger as the motto says. On the other hand, I find them – the organisation behind the games – to be one of the most cynical and grasping of organisations, historically prone to corruption, pushing their weight around to control the image, the trademarks, the media rights, anything that generates money.

This evening, I went along to the IET for a Pinkerton Lecture, on using social media to inspire change. Delivered by Alex Balfour, who is the Head of New Media for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, it was a brilliant run through of the social media landscape (targeted at the majority of the audience who wouldn’t necessarily play in the space) and an introduction to what LOCOG is doing when it comes to social media.

As Alex ran through some of the innovations that his team has been repsonsible for, such as putting education packs online instead of using mailouts, of putting information for training camp venues up on the web, I wanted to challenge him. Where was the social media, where was the innovation? What he was talking about wasn’t ‘new’, but only new in the old definition of media. An understanding of the mindset of the overall organisation was given when, in answer to one of my questions at the end of the session, let it be known that the media broadcast rights for the 2016 Games, which included digital broadcast, will be signed up in 2009, 7 years before the games, even before the host city is confirmed. Whilst I could understand agreeing traditional TV rights, how can you even understand what could be done online that far ahead? The reasoning given was financial, that TV rights in effect add a huge amount to the running of the games. But why assign them before you know how much it’s going to cost, before you know which city is running it and how much they need. Given the current negotiations with the London budget and how they are going to afford the games, surely it would be better to sign things up closer to the time, when you know costs AND now what you can sell given a changing rights landscape.

Alex also mentioned that the 2010 Winter games are having to work out how they will cope with the media applications from non-traditional outlets, meaning bloggers and online newsites. I asked about this for 2012, but the answer was not clear about the access that would be granted for online reporters.

Alex covered some of the initiatives they have been running with, for example one around the handover parties that took place in August, where they asked people to contribute videos and images of celebration to add to a video they would show at the parties. Another example would be a call for images and content that could be used as part of the venues, either a collection of the content built up over the lead into the games, or ‘live’ stuff created during the games. They are working in a difficult environment, hampered by what sound like unbelievably stupid rules, such as a ban on linking to any site that is not a sponsor, but I’d like to see how they are going to approach some of the challenges

  • One of the basic tenets of social media is sharing. How are they going to let people share the Games, through images, video, remixes, mashups of broadcast content (after the live broadcast)etc if all the ‘rights’ are tied up.
  • With the assumption that every single person at the games will have a mobile phone capable of photography, video capture and live broadcast to the web, how are you going to support that?
  • The sharing of content is often dependent on the use of tags but most of the expected tags wouls be copyrighted or trademarked. Are you going to police that?

One definite conclusion I came away with is that the games will allow social media as long as they control it, as long as it’s on their terms. A couple of videos were shown, one from the Handover celebrations and one from the announcement of the London win. I was in Trafalgar Square that day and recall vividly the rush of adrenaline and the euphoria of that moment, but it’s indelibly linked in memory to the happenings of the day after, so much so that I can’t watch celebration pictures without getting emotional. As I was listening to the how they plan to manage and initiate social media conversations, I was watching news and images come in on my phone about the Mumbai terrorists attacks. There is much irony for me in the contrast of social media used to connect people about what is happening in the world in real time compared to what the Olympic Committee may be forced to do, which is use the tools to leverage a commercial connection.

Mar 16

BarCampBrighton and SL connections

Aleks Krotoski talking about the social graph.

  • [missed the start] A social psychologist, trying to examine connections
  • Pathways can be mapped across friends and people.
  • Mass friending…impact the data and how the network connects.
  • there are certain relationships and strengths of relationships. You can technological measure strength but difficult as you get to semantics.
  • Adding arrows to the graph starts adding information. You can add lots of information, but then it all gets mushy in the middle.  Fuzzy and gooey and technologiest don’t like that. Then I come into the mix and go oooh psychology.
  • So how do you measure strength…

    • I asked the social psy questions. list friends and rating of them..
  • Based study on actual connection on a virtual world, on the qualitative assessment of relationships

    • Second half of study was looking at getting behavioural shortcuts for this
    • some evidence about how interactions acorss various channels indicates trust.  ie talking in public, IM in SL, outside of SL via email.
  • Once you have all the information, all the messy stuff. I was looking at interconnected, closely related groups of people.  I’m interested in them…as they know each other. In the mess, many people, but don’t know others, they identify as something.  Look at a self-decared group to see if they are differently connected.  I did an island analysis, pulled out 4 groups of people who are extremely closely connected to each other.  There’s a lot of trust between each other.
  • The point: There are social relationships which have psychologies that can;t ey be articualted through technolgy.  There are social flocking/network effects in these spaces – people move to where their friends are.   Whatever is happening…they’re capturing a lot of data about us.
  • The data they are capturing is going to be a key discussion coming up

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Mar 09

Charlene Li and Revolutionaries at SXSW

Charlene Li about the changing  of corporations and social media.

  • Examples of the change: the HD DVD key and Digg. Jericho and the peanuts.
  • Shaun Daly was a fan of Jericho drove the change – you had to have something physical that CBS could not ignore. They bought it back, and it’s doing OK. CBS had nothing to lose.
  • New book – the Groundswell. A social trend in which people use tech to get things from each other, rather than traditional institutions like corporations.
  • This has been going on for a while, we have been talking about the revolution for ages and finally corporations are getting it. It’s too easy for people to feel they need to get involved..but they do not know how.
  • we are at a new stage, so are you going to be a radical like Thomas Paine, a founding spark for the US revolution.  Or a revolutionary like Thomas Jefferson. Instead of railing against the problem, he went to solve it, pushing the problem to solve it. The first had hte vision but could not deliver, the second had the process and framework to pull it together.
  • To make revolution stick you need to have frameworks and process.  There are many corporations that want to be part of the revolution but don’t know how. It’s up to us, he have been living it.
  • So going to look at the processes, who are the revolutionaries and some case studies
  • Use POST
  • PEOPLE – who is it, and what are the activities
  • OBJECTIVES – what are you trying to accomplish
  • STRATEGY – plan for how relationships will go
  • TECHNOLOGY – what are you using. this is last.
  • People – we think about a ladder of participation. Inactives. Spectators. Joiners. Collectors. Critics. Creators.

    • Joiners – in the networks, with their friends etc
    • Collectors – collect the good stuff, collate
    • Critics – comment and assess
    • Creators – create the content
  • People – It’s a different mindset between the types. 48% are spectators, 18% are creators. These are categories, not a split. People can do different things in different place. With youth, 39% are creators, 43% are critics. 58% are joiners.
  • People – Age is a major driver of adoption.  (see the data on Slideshare). As people get older, they get less active – it takes them longer to adopt and the content is not necessarily geared for them. But that is changing.  39% of 51-61 adults are spectators though, and they will move to critics or creators. Not everyone participates in all areas and it changes. but you need to know the roles your audience have.
  • Objs – what do you want?  Research can be a lot of listening in the Groundswell. Marketing will change from shouting to talking.  Sales can change to energising, to getting people involved. Support needs to carry on supporting, to listen. Development may change from closed to open. Embrace the customers in the process.
  • Objs: the Talking Objective.  example is Blendtec. Videos on YT, viewers responded. Blendtec have increased sales by 25% to consumer market.  it was George Wright, VP of Marketing, spent $50 on first video.  He had started thinking about how to show people.  Dan Black, Director of Campus recruiting for Ernst and Young. Uses Facebook to recruit college students. Created the page, students were asking questions on the wall. He went to answer them back, in public. He is the head of Recruitment, not staff, not agency. He realised that this is one of the few channels he could have a direct conversation.  There are few people doing this – having a real conversation.  Next. Best Buy Gary Koelling and Steve Bendt. They started blueshortnation.com to connect with people on the front line.  They found it was not great for creating insights for their marketing, but great for understanding the people,, for helping staff.  It has enabled customers and employees to support themselves. Josh Bancroft, at Intel, a geek blogger. They were looking at doing their own wikipedia – corporate were delaying, think it would take a long time. He just went and did it. Got the server and started the process.   Steve Fisher, VP of platform at salesforce.com. They wanted to get customers of salesforce to contribute in how to improve the system. In the system, they had banners that announced marketing stuff. They got 6000 people to say they hate it, which gave them the drive to remove the thing that was not liked.
  • So how to start the change?  Follow the process
  • Case Study – Lionel Menchaca. At Dell. Started off as a product technician, became part of product review PR team. connected with everyone at Dell. Then Dell Hell happened, he started the blog resolution team – to solve the problems, to connect the people. Dell then started the blog and lionel led the team.  Initially it did not go well, lots of issues. But Michael Dell supported him, and Lionel decided to change the way they were doing the blog.   He talked about the flaming laptops, in a real way, sorting it out. this is when it started transforming itself.  Slowly, change happened in the company, looking at what people were saying.  Lionel did not keep it isolated, spread the mindset through the organisation. IdeaStorm was another change – getting feedback into products and innovation. They also have a blog for their investor relationship teams.
  • So how do you find and support the revolutionaries?

    • Find the people who are the most passionate about developing the relationships
    • Educate the executives. What it is, what are the benefits
    • Put someone in charge. It has to have priority, has to someone to be accountable.
    • Define the box with process and policies.
    • make it safe to fail.
  • So you need a framework and policies; start small but think big; make social strategy the responsibility of all; be patient – cultural change takes time.

Audience Questions

  • Q: what are your recommendations about success and assessing impact?  A: we get asked this. you can use a blog to do any of the objectives. make the measures based on the objectives.   Is it supporting, is it energising, is it talking. what are you doing?
  • Q: any pointers for regulated industries?  A: some of the most active clients we work with are pharma and financial. the people who are writing it are the ones who know exactly what they can say
  • Q: how about smaller companies A: B2B is also there. it is more focused, that is an advantage.
  • Q: what about virtual worlds? should companies explore them?  A: it should be avoided, but large marketing spends. it’s a unique environment. there are some great uses inside corporates. 
  • Q: you said that change comes slowly. You showed stealth adoption and education as two methods. Any others?  A: I have a whole bunch of tips (in the books). Executive input, get all involved. you have to communicate and get people to live it every day.  It can be easier internally, marketing has a lot of culture to get through, they want to keep the message pristine, customers do messy stuff which causes issues with marketing.  you need to feel uncomfortable, if not then it won’t move forward.
  • Q: Internal to companies, how do you convince internal leaders. What are you seeing other people do?  A: they can all happen internally.  You have to focus on the benefits. What are you afraid of with information flowing. start small.
  • Q: How do you get people to contribute. A: the companies give feedback about what has been implemented. it shows that they are listening. You have to close the loop.
  • Q: you have mentioned benefits for SEO? Can you expand?  A: search engines weight inbound links. Simple tools are out there. Do it on the main domain
  • Q: all these platforms and tools, what are other things. Q: Buzzlogic, visible technologies to monitor. Forums and bulletins are best – really good and robust tool. It’s not about the technologies but it is how you use them.

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Mar 08

What teens want online and their phones

Anastasia Goodstein brings together a group of teenagers to talk about how they use mobile and the web.

  • they are early adopters but the tech needs to meet core needs. This is atalk with a panel of teens from ages 12-17
  • What do you like? 

    • Goodreads.com, cos a social network site, plus reviews of books, purevolume.com, signed and unsigned bands, get a taste of a lot of stuff
    • myspace and facebook, cos create own layout and put pictures, customise the design, to communicate with friends and family (sisters)
    • myspace and facebook, more facebook cos it has addons – can make own superhero.  to be connected with everyone at school. Also Digg, Newsforgamers
    • myspace, hi5, to keep in touch with friends and family – especially on holiday times.  Looks for bands/music. Meet new people from school that I don’t know.   (is 12, and is 16 on myspace)
    • myspace, mixmatters – a music website, has artists, plus a mixtape website (datbizz)
    • 17.com, to keep updated with styles, not too good, does not tell you how to do the hairstyles. hipster.com, for playlists and new music.
    • myspace, to talk to friends and family. runescape. chat to people all over the world. (12, but 99 on myspace)
  • What annoys you?

    • ads everywhere, distracting ones. They slow down the computers. On nba.com, ads for Miller between each vid that got annoying – the same things everytime.  Viral attack on myspace. Insterstitial ads are really annoying. Sound files on ads. Taking 6000 years to load – so much crap to load, 800000 video ads that pop up and stay there
  • Are you getting social network fatigue?

    • not changed for me, I just check periodically. With facebook I use more, due to the add-ons
    • when first on myspace, I was checking every hour, going to everyone’s pages. Once added all the pages, then just check occasionally.
    • . when I got myspace (you had to you were a total social loser). They keep updating things to try and make it better but they do not need to  – messages and pictures but it’s not my life.
  • It sounds like myspace is email for you? do you use email?

    • I created my email just to get into myspace. use it to register on sites.  for fanclubs etc.
    • I use email for my sisters, and teachers at school. I email to ask for homework etc.
    • The campus has email to contact teachers and school friends.  For business I have a ‘professional’ address, to get interviews, for reporting.  You have to be able to write an email, as myspace and IM abbreviatyeswords etc. we have to keep the writing skills.
  • Do you use IM

    • no – when younger to talk to school
  • Phones. So what kind of phone, did you want that kind of phone. What do you have on it?

    • Don’t have a phone
    • LG Music phone. Unlimited SMS, I have to text. play tetris a lot, no ring tones, as can;t use web on phones, occasionally bluetooth it.
    • TMobile Blackberry Pearl. It’s connected to email, unlimited testing – use it a lot. Like to play pacman. A lot of ringtones, get them from phonezoo – you can do their own. No web as too expensive.
    • Trakphone – no plan, cost. only for emergencies. so it’s never charged. no ringtones or wallpaper.
    • A older sprint phone, in about 4 pieces on my pocket. nothing special – calls and SMS.   Have emergency games if I was bored out of my mind.
    • A sony exersion. Listen to music, text. I plau games – pacman and dinerdash
    • Verizon LG camera. I use texts (500/month) I pay for this. I need the texts. I have ringtones, $3 and have tetris $5. Don’t have the money for a lot.  Use camera a lot to take pictures and send to friends
    • I can record videos and watch them
    • They said they could not live without (those who had had it a while)
  • How about virtual worlds?  Social networks with avatars?

    • I have one in runescape, a lot of places are trying to copy this. I spend about an hour or so working to be rich in runescape
    • Xbox live is the closest. I play people on Halo.
    • I used to use Ziwinkie, It’s really dull and boring, about 2x a year. It’s noting different.
    • Runescape, Gaia online, played many different MMOs, the cost $50/month is a problem.  the pay to play is dying on me.
    • Ziwinki, I don’t use it anymore.did not want ot play anymore
    • Don’t really use it avatar stuff anymore.

Opened up for questions?

  • I’m from marketing, trying to sell. With UGC, have you done these and what do you think?

    • I did something for YouTube, for AirJordan.  It was pretty easy to use (windows movie maker)
    • If I had a camera I would do
    • I had a video camera, I have done them, just never enter as miss the deadline. It’s cool, when you interact with something they are trying to sell, it is good makes you have a little feel that you have influence?
  • Does it make you respect the brand?

    • If you open up, it makes me respect that company more – makes you feel better that they think you can do as well
  • I’m curious about content -news, political, cause? do you consume that? What would make you do that?

    • reading Digg for news, getting things I’m interested in. YouTube and Digg etc.
    • Interested in the debates, keep up with that. On YouTube, and google news. Wikipedia (they all use wikipedia)
    • The Onion. It’s a kind of spoof..they bring me the paper.  Things that catch my attention are funny, or give a different angle. the news is so dead sometimes, you want to turn it off. Also the Human Rights Campaign.
    • (No one goes to main news pages)
  • (From PETA) do you think you can effect change online, for causes.

    • Grain of Rice donation, I did
    • The school is growing vegetables to sell and donate to a (hepper?). The school donates money to Bhopal, we send cards etc.
  • Would you rather do something physical?

    • Yes, cos you get to interact with people and find out about them
    • I liked the grain of raice, as it hid the cause behind the game
    • Things that are easy to do as far as websites, they can do it from their own home, an easy out to feel like they helped.
    • I have a couple of friends involved with peta, they leave bulletins on myspace. Doing stuff online gets my attention. eg posts about drunk driving, with graphic images. etc
  • (Disney) are you watching shows on tv or computer?

    • I like dramas, Veoh, crunchieworld, a lot of foreign dramas. subtitled
    • ABC family to watch it there – go to the channels sites.
    • I watch the disney channel – TV and phone. Also on web and play games
    • Usually use the DVR.  Also the web
    • Veoh
    • Watch the disney online.  Also ABC family
  • Are their any shows you have to watch?

    • Wrestling. they’re really cute. CSI
    • KyleXY when they on, my mom won’t record.  CSI – love to watch as there never anything else on.
    • anime – if I miss I go to veoh, if they don’t then go elsewhere.  Some spanish drama
  • I’m from the antimarketing world, trying to stop companies in selling you stuff? Would you be interested in pushing back?

    • advertising is always going to be there to help fund the website. I would help a little bit, if I did not see any progress, then back off ;)  Some advertising – a new game of course
    • They need to go with what you are going to. on nba.com I don’t want to see beer. they have to stay on websites like ebay – where you are trying to buy things.
    • it’s bad enough, it’s on TV and billboards, it is important to sell things.  There needs to be in someplaces and not in places. mysp[ace when there are 600 banners around your page is really annoying.
  • I work for an interactive advertising agency. we build a lot of teen and tween brand.coms. do you visit websites like that and what types have you gone to. for online ads, do you play games which are ads?

    • I do like to play the little games,
    • WhatNext – on tv and I had to go to the site.  Maybe.
    • Tropicana – they were giving away free xbox points.
  • I’m from Gamelab. how about little flashgames?

    • addictinggames.com, I like doing that.
    • the computer I use is too old, so won’t work. I like them, but can;t really play them. I think they are cool.
    • go to game sites, play new games,
    • newgrounds. a flash portal to submit games. albinoblacksheep, ebaumsworlds. not blocked on school I will go.  lots of flash games.
    • (they all know how to get round the blocks)
  • Do you go outside?

    • yes. still have friends, go outside, play on basketball team
    • I go to camp, I have a job
    • football. but always on the computer, there’s nothing wrong with that, right?
  • when you make plans with your friends – online, phone or person.

    • sms.
    • in person during school
    • in person or on the phone.
    • there’s a reason they invented the phone – in person or text.
  • have any of you gone to a party base don a bulletin

    • no
  • what don’t marketers get about the web? If you could have a greater say in how brands appear on the web would that be better

    • most adverts are very annoying, unless they are clever. I don’t like ads
    • I like give aways,

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Aug 08

Clipmarks and Forbes

Do I believe what it says in the blogs? This time I hope so – Venture Beat is reporting that Clipmarks is being bought by Forbes.

The New York-based startup lets you select text, photos or videos on web pages, then use Clipmark’s bookmarking feature to save the URL and your selected information to your Clipmarks folder. From there, you can share your “clips” with friends and colleagues and even search to find the most popular clips on the Clipmarks site.

As Forbes people have popped up in the comments to the article stating that it is essentially true but premature, with the deal not yet closed. Roger MacNamee says:

First, the story is premature, but only by a little. Second, Forbes is committed to transforming business journalism so that our audience gets more insight about business and investing in a lot less time. We think Clipmarks will play a really key role in this.

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the deal to go through and for Eric Skiff, a good friend who works with the site, as a Community Evangelist. Eric was one of the few people I knew when I moved to New York last year, having met him randomly at parties at SXSW – we kept bumping into each other at the same places. He went out of his way to welcome me and introduce me to more great people in the city, so I’m hoping all goes well for him and the rest of the company.

Jun 25

Facebook as the Hotel California

Jen’s pointed out that you can never, ever leave Facebook. You can only deactivate and suspend your account and if you ever want to go back then you just login again. Whilst deactivated, you still can get the emails.

I ‘deactivated’ my Facebook account. They do not offer a ‘delete account’ option. Click to enlarge the above picture to see what you’re faced with when trying to leave. If you haven’t already seen the video I linked to in the previous post, you should. I am not paranoid, but I am also not stupid*. There are very powerful people involved with Facebook. Something sinister is going on and I don’t like it. I linked to the video in my ‘Other’ reasons for leaving (deactivating) my account. I also requested that they delete my data from their database. I’m certain they won’t.

I read this and went to check what is on there – for me, not too much different than you could see on my other accounts and public places. You make your choice when it comes to the web, but once it is out there, assume it always is and can be grabbed and used by whomever.

Jun 25

Social Networks and Class

danah boyd has posted a thoughts-in-progress study on class divides in the US youth use of social networks, looking at the different behaviours and cultural expectations of users of Facebook and MySpace.

Over the last six months, I’ve noticed an increasing number of press articles about how high school teens are leaving MySpace for Facebook. That’s only partially true. There is indeed a change taking place, but it’s not a shift so much as a fragmentation. Until recently, American teenagers were flocking to MySpace. The picture is now being blurred. Some teens are flocking to MySpace. And some teens are flocking to Facebook. Who goes where gets kinda sticky… probably because it seems to primarily have to do with socio-economic class.

A fascinating read, especially as it tries to delve into US class paradigms, which apparently are not spoken of, as opposed to the UK where we can have a ‘healthy’ debate about it, especially in comedy shows.

The BBC has also picked up this story, although they are identifying it as a formal study:

A six-month research project has revealed a sharp division along class lines among the American teenagers flocking to the social network sites.

and seem to be treating what is observational essay as a formal academic study, despite danah claiming the opposite: “Hopefully, one day, I can get the words together to actually write an academic article about this topic, but I felt as though this is too important of an issue to sit on while I find the words. So I wrote it knowing that it would piss many off.’

Apr 25

Cargo Cult Activity

And I should shout out a bit more to Adam Tinworth, someone i shamelessly forgot to mention that I met at Blogher. I’d been reading Adams blog for a while, so when an English gentleman wondered up to the table where Ewan and I were sitting, there was a moment of name recognition when I suddenly realised who he was. We had a good time at the conference but for some reason I still have not blogged about it.

I should have, as I owe him for the Cargo Cult metaphor which I’ve used quite a few times

I described it as “cargo cult” blogging – knowing the form of what blogging should look like, and attempting to recreate it without understanding how it actually works. And that’s exactly what’s happening in many businesses right now. This doesn’t in any way excuse what they did, but it does, at least, explain it.

I love the metaphor and it describes exactly the attitude of many people who dabble in the space. They know they have to but don’t understand the whys and wherefores of it and so get into som3 horrible messes at times, such as the one between the magazine and Seth Godin. So next time I’m in London or he’s in New York, it would be good to catch up with him again.

Apr 25

My Telegraph

Via Adam Tinworth, I see that the Telegraph is launching a new service, called My Telegraph. Y

My Telegraph allows any reader to create their own blog, store all the comments they make on other readers’ blogs and save articles to read later. Version one of the site, which you can see below, will be ready to go live soon.

This is a different way to go than USAToday, which allow you to comment on stories and vote for them (but never against them). It’s targeted at non-bloggers and I think it’s a great way to get interaction with the paper and with likeminded individuals around issues and news stories.

Apr 23

24 Hours of Flickr

Flickr have announced a ‘day in the life of’ project. On 5th May, take your photos, send them to the group, map them, comment on them. Join in the fun and you may get your image published and featured in Flickr Events.

Flickr 24 hours

One of the things that Flickr is great at, one of its defining characteristics, is the community surrounding the application. And here’s yet a further example of how it embraces the people who enjoy the site and gets them to join in an event. Look at the responses to what else happens on 5 May, although no-one yet has mentioned that last year it was International No Pants day, (luckily in the US sense of the word meaning trousers). This year, it’s 4 May, pity as I think we could have done with some photos of that ;-)

Mar 27

Social Media Club NY Mar 27

Jay Rosen (Newassigment.net) talking about Assignment Zero

When Tim Berners-Lee designed the web, he created a platform for people to collaborate, so scientists could share data. It is a giant collaboration machine. but it has developed more as a broadcast media, print, tv, cable to web.

so what are the consequences for journalism, investigative reporting, when we have falling costs to locate people, share info, collaborate. so like-minded people can find each other, collaborate and make stuff for value. see OSS, Wikipedia, others. So with NewAssignment.net what are the consequences for journalism,

this is a research project; to spark innovation, to develop new knowledge, to push forward platform of open source reporting.

So how do you do reporting under open conditions? the fist attempt is Assignment Zero, joint project with Wired magazine, they have shared some costs, e.g. hiring an editor to carry project to the end.

So can you take a big trend story, out there in 100s or 1000s of places, break it up into parts, develop online, assign to people, write stories and publish the best of the results. an open invitation to participates to join in that behaviour. can you do stories with 100s instead of 2-3?

Have 700 members in 2 weeks, they expected 250 in 2 months, with 100 or so real contributing. biggest problem is organising all of these people. Thye have joined, got blog, have email address. have said intend to contribute. Most members have put photos, They are known.

The heart of the site is the assignment desk (very crudely designed). List all the topics under the big story about the spread of crowd-sourcing.

There are forums to discuss new stories, complaints, a survey, the survey is open to all- looking at motivations across the various types of open source projects.

Most of the editors are professional journalists. we have a Director of Participation. to do this, you need a traditional editor and then you need someone to organise the people..the Director of Participation.. One drives the story, the other solves the people problems. We are deluged now under the cost of interactivity, we have 3x as many people as expected. we do not have the staff to manage this at the moment. then you have to organise volunteers to absorb this costs, to add to the solution, to organise more people. to keep the people there.

The Dir. of Participation’s background is in political campaigns, have understanding of organising people horizontal. The equivalent roles in tech companies are community managers.

We think it will be a 2-3 month project. so what do we get? Wired will have a big feature about everything we will do, and newassignment.net will also publish an editors cut of everything that came in. a big package of stories here, a big feature on the mag. everything is CC, so things can be published elsewhere as well,.

Also (today) starting a second project with Huffpost, following 12 Presidential candidates; create a group blog, with networks of 50-100 people, feeding material to one blog, doing a microbeat. there will be backstage forum for the network to discuss the news, sort out things etc.

Audience Questions

Q: how do you accommodate for standards of journalism, from writing to vetting stories.

A: we are trying to practice open platform, capture the benefits of openness but we know there are cots. the tricks are to have benefits and reduce costs. one of costs is about knowing the credibility of the participants. we are not going to prevent people joining, but have strict controls on what we will print. exercise controls at the final gateway. if we can’t reach you by phone, then unlikely to give you stuff essential to do. there’s no single solution to it. you have overlapping measures that add up to a workable solutions

Q: Dan Gilmore had Bayosphere for a while, the main difference here is there is an editor, far more of a focus.

A: this is a second wave attempt built on what happened the first time round. the first was about building platforms for people to do their own thing – that is what blogging is This is far different – one story into 100s of parts. we can do stuff that are as good, and stories that they would not attempt, that would not be feasible.

Q: what is the business model

A: this is not a business; the costs for this project are over 40k for one this one story, but we do not know what will come out of it. the costs for the first may not be the same as the second. will you get costs savings? not sure, but will get increases in quality and volume. the crowd become a way to make the crowd reliable. it is no a cheaper journalism, but a better one that is done on bigger subjects

Q: how about faster?

A: Last weekend the Justice dept, dumped 3k page of emails, see how talkingpontsmemo.com spread out the work, asked readers to help them out. posted 100s of pdfs, asked people to analyse and find the stuff. they did it overnight.

A: Sunlight foundation got people to check members of Congress employing family members- took a weekend – then all were fact checked and there was a high degree of accuracy.

Q: in terms of wikis, how would you describe the difference?

A: in starting this, we could learn from first wave of projects. take a step beyond that. 2ndly he biggest gains would be in hybrid forms, where you have openness and also some controls. there is structure and chaos. if anyone can sign up, this is the opposite of a controlled newsroom. it is going to be a mix of openness and controls, professionals and amateurs, order and entropy. the only way to find it is through practice, not ideology nor theory. I’m a tenure professor of journalism – who’s going to tell me I can’t. the cost of trying things is plunging so the cost to learning new things is plunging. no paper will do this. most journalists are very protectionist about this, defensive. I don;t have to care at the moment, we can do it without them. I put out an appeal for pros to help with it, when we got to 450, got 25 people interested. we have some problems, we did not design the pages properly. we are redesigning now, so you will find info and who the editor for the pages who is the contributor is, you can join a topic when you want to work on it, and you will know who your collaborators are. we add a blog for the editor to address the contributors.

Q: will we see the reporting that has gone on?

A: will we see their notes, what they add to it. They post in their ‘notebook’. which shows on the front page. Open source code site is built in drupal, all code is there, we need to find developers.

Q: is there a back channels or open channel for the participants?

A: when we redo the topic page. you will find discussion and deliberation at the page – publicly. when we do other stories, we may add some confidential stuff. we do it story by story. if the best thing for the story is to be confidential, then we will.

Q: why do you need a professional at the top – does not community do it already? can’t you do it like that?

A: it’;s possible we will get there, but when starting this I could not work out how to do this without some pros. if we could get there, and have almost no pros, then that would be fantastic discovery..a self informing public, a wild idea. but right now I don;t know how to do it, how to create the controls. I think the biggest gains will be with the hybrid.

Q: At the moment, my reporters notebook is covered by laws to keep me out of trouble, what about this notebook, how is this handled?

A: it;s a complicated questions. I have thought it through with lawyers. write now, all we can do is differentiate the edited from unedited. there is a belief that the libellous material is in unedited material then some protection (common carrier). this is not yet proven, we do not know that the courts will say. it is not exactly clear. this is an experiment in shared responsibility and liability. if I had checked with all lawyers possible, then they may say I could not do it. but I have to innovate. you have to solve the practical problems that you run in,. the knowledge that you develop to solve the problems is the goal.

Mar 22

Blogher Biz: A brief history of Social Media

Notes from the first session, which a combination of introduction about the jargon and social media and discussion from the audience.

A brief history of social media

What is social media?

the title is the state of the social media world…so let’s see what you were talking about over lunch about your case studies.

1. Dove, Evolution, was not just put a video on YouTube, they did UGC ad on Superbowl. Linking SL and RL, asking questions in SL being relayed to a press conference.

2. Blogher…one of the best SM case studies, that came from te community of women, saying it was wrong that women bloggers are not heard. Twitter is a good study = microblogging your daily activity.

3. Burning questions – how to track and measure and get and understand ROI.

4. BQ: now you have the blog how do you make it relevant to your audience, how do you get a new audience, how do I get them to interact. How do you keep staff motivated.

5. Forwarding happens a lot, sometimes when people are too embarrassed to comment (eg a recent one about a penis festival in Japan). the ones that gor forwarded can be regarded as better, as it could be capturing a new audience.

So, did anyone hear of something that surprised them? No…

Twitter is being used in the’wrong way’, there are lots of different ways to use it. But we are business conference, so here’s a few things – the 6 word twitter contest, the news feeds, the weather on twitter. So you could use it to give updates….

So some of the use explore about when you go to far, when to engage without crossing a line.

A brief History.

at the beginning, around 2000, we assumed that we could build a site and no one would go away. In 2002, the portal deals were not working, the internet does not ness keep people. Web2.0 is about eeping people, about making it more relevant to people.

In 2002 Heather Armstrong was dooced, the next year Scoble was hired for Microsoft. In 2005 GM started a blog; a the last Blogher GM brought cars along, they bring it to you/ The blog was a big stepping stone, laying out their problems.
2004 we had kryptonite issue; this was apivotal moment for companies and blogs; got reported on NYT from blogs breaking it.
2006, a little strange. Walmart had jounalists blogging without disclosure. this was not just the fault of the agency, of Walmart but also the bloggers as bloggers should be more savvy.

(and here someone did ask waht is flickr)

So what’s the line between citizen journalism and blogging

A: jounalism is not a role it is a series of practices; anyone can commit acts of journalism; we do not have licenced journalists in this country. Try and hide things and it will come back to bite it.

People often say we need a code for this blogger and that blogger; but professionals have codes and if you are blogging as part of a profession, you follwo that code.

Q: what about outside the US? How about China. Who is working with RoW traffic. Who caters for a wider interest than US.
A: in 2007 their are more people with access than here.
A: Minty, we provide parenting advice, UGC, and almost everything is outside the US.
So with a global audience, daypart is irrelevant.

Where are we today?

We are slightly more cutting edge then general enterprise world. 65% have a blog, 25% use video/audieo (out of the audience). Enterprises are far less. 63% of enterprises (a porter novelli survey) were blogging cos they thought they should. similar to having a website cos you have to. 57% did not have blogging guidelines. 76% have noticed an increase in traffic and attention. 71% were not happy with their interaction (but f they are doing cos they think they have to, they have no incentive)

One person had a conversation with an author who was scared about having a blog cos they may leave comments. And why wa he wanting a blog – to be part of the conversation. Can;t have one without the other. But talking to a lot of people go to the fear factor.

Q: we have been working with Macy’s, doing a project for black history month, got involved with bloggers, fashion bloggers, who got to speak to their favourite designers.

So who is reading. Pew says 39% of US readers read blogs, even if they do not know what it is. 24% of genY read blogs. more and more it has B2B implications as well.

Buzzwords…lets explain

Web2.0 speaks to an ethic. we allow comments, participations
Open source is ‘user generated’. it is participatory, community generated, not a free for all. They key is learning how to shepherd the conversation, make it useful
These are ‘push’ technologies; RSs, Twitter, etc are all push, giving the content where you want it, not where creator wants it.
Widgets are spreading, a great way to get your content on other site. but it is difficult to measure your effects, no page views.

A-list…we’ll explore tomorrow, usually means a ‘known’ list of prominent bloggers, but whom are not really known outside a small group.

Influence – there is no one way of measuring, it means something different to all.

Longtail…what social media can all be about;

[Many people had heard of all the words, but they were new for many as well]

Now onto values buzzwords. Blogs and SM are just tools; you can do plenty of things with them. So how do you measure a new way of doing things; you no longer push, you have a conversation with your customer. Look at authenticity, community, conversation, disclosure, engagement and transparency. They all come down to trust and respect. you have to approach different topics in different ways. Be clear on what and how and why you are doing it.

So why does i matter and how has it changed our work? It’s impossible to capture all the ways it has changed, Our credibility of brands etc depends on how you appear in the new distributed media, matters more than what you put on corporate website. Working with consumers is key to determine how you are received. So how when working in real time, with changing tech, how can you still achieve profitability. So if you don;t focus your budget on the fact that the internet is the majority medium, you need to change that,

Back to the audience…open discussion on what happens next?

Comment: NYT, recently started publishing permalinks, without registration or payment, you can blog it, and WSJ does not do that. You point people through and hit paywall for WSJ. Hopefully, more major news corps will get it and allow their content to become more popular.

Comment: I don’t talk about stuff if I can’t permalink. So I won’t talk about products and news I cannot point to

Comment: we have to balance SM tools and where our audience is. Look at USAToday. WSJ audience is probably still reading on the train from Connecticut. so if we get too far ahead of audience, what can we do.

Comment: a lot of trends with blogs and communities is the changing face of learning; you move away from a course/book and now people can take learning into their own hands. It will change how corps/orgs are going to do learning and training.

Comment: working with environmental journalists who were technophobes, did not use laptops etc; but give them smartphones, then they were away. Had to find the right form to make it easy.

Comment: anyone here have thoughts about changes to how mind works; anyone talk to teenagers about how they use it.

Comments: (professor from De Montford) we are working on a theory of transliteracy, across all media. divisive to say somethings are tech based and some not, it’s al the same kind of things. It’s about stripping away domination of print and going back to multiple ways of communicating, stripping way barriers.

Comments: blogging is more than just the publishers; readers are going to consume in a number of different ways. you have to meet many needs. The exciting part of tech is unification of tech and the spreading out, giving multiple ways of reaching content. we live in the echo chamber, we get it but much of the world does not. We should be figuring out how to deliver the content in the way that the readers do. do not coerce the readers to do it your way.

Comment: I disagree, as many of us in the room are on the front line with consumers/customers.

Comment: at TED there was a great conversations bout copyright laws. It is about allowing people to co-create and remix, that could be part of the future.