Oct 12

Use of flash

I posted earlier about the Bling my Bomb sit and the agencies decision to use Flash 8. Ashley from Soap commented to explain the decision

So far there’s been a 20% visitor rate to the “noflash” page, which is 17% more than usual however the people who visit the app get a better experience. As this is a 6 month campaign we feel this figure will settle down to a negligible figure.

That’s a better figure than I expected given the barrier of having to download a new version before you could see the site.

You could read the comment – except I had a moment of stupidity and deleted it in stead of saving it as I edited it to remove an erroneous tag! (I hit the wrong button, still half asleep here) But the key reason for moving to this was a decision about file size; Flash 8 reduced it by about 50% and made the end user experience so much better and this was considered less of a barrier.

Oct 12

Girl Geek Dinner 2

I went along to the second Girl’s Geek Dinner last night. About 50 people turned up and, judging by the level of chat, it looked like everyone got something out of it. Ably organised by Sarah , there were two speakers. Eileen Brown spoke about evangelism in Microsoft and being a woman working in a perceived man’s world. Adriana spoke about blogs and companies, how the word is spreading and interest has taken off over the last two months (one mention was for Cillit Bang, whose clumsy use of the media is recorded on the BBC site as going a bit Pete Tong). Somewhere, there’ll be a podcast put up. The next one is planned for January, so spread the word.

Oct 08

Blog and RSS studies

Yahoo and Ipsos Insight have released a study on RSS. (In pdf). Looking at RSS usage inthe US, it shows that many people who are using RSS do not know they are going so.

  • Awareness of RSS is quite low among Internet users. 12% of users are aware of
    RSS, and 4% have knowingly used RSS.

  • 27% of Internet users consume RSS syndicated content on personalized start
    pages (e.g., My Yahoo!, My MSN) without knowing that RSS is the enabling

  • 28% of Internet users are aware of podcasting, but only 2% currently subscribe
    to podcasts.

  • Even tech-savvy “Aware RSS Users” prefer to access RSS feeds via user-friendly,
    browser-based experiences (e.g., My Yahoo!, Firefox, My MSN).

  • My Yahoo! has the highest awareness and use of any RSS-enabled product.

As a tool, it is working best when people do not know (or care) what the tool is, just what it can do for them. Convenience and ease of use are the sellers. Make the nuts and bolts invisible and just let it happen, make it easy and seamless for people to subscribe.

Another study out this week is the Edelman/Technorati study of bloggers. A self-selecting survey, it looks at why people blog, the trust factor that can be engendered thought the use of blogging and the interaction between companies and bloggers. Over 800 bloggers responded, over half from the US, and over 90% from English speakers so the use of results for business blogging can only be for certain markets. Unfortunately, there’s no analysis yet, but that is supposed to be coming.

In answer to why people blog, the biggest reponse was about being an authority in the field, followed closely by a record of thoughts (this blog obviously falls into the 2nd category, there being no ‘field’ here!) But when it comes to company interactions, people appear to want interactions – or at least free product. The contact would be trusted more if direct from the company, reflecting on PR being perceived as spin; the moot trusted contacts would be those employees who blog. Agree – I’d be happier talking to someone who believes in the product (they still work for the comany!) rather than those who are paid to promote it in a second way and also the contact would be better coming from soemone who understands the blogging world and how it is made up of people instead of consumers.

Finally, Google have released their RSS aggregator. Still feels very much in beta, I’m just not getting a feel for it. The lack of organisation in the listing pane, with new articles presented in date/time order as a single stream would not suit the number of feeds I read, I prefer to read sections separately instead of everything in order. I don’t see a way of rearanging the view or arranging the subscriptions. One ot keep an eye on, but no instant winner.

Oct 08


In the second Weblog sale this week, Dave Winer’s weblogs.com has been bought by Verisign. The ping server needs investment to cope with the exponential increase in blogs, plus the investigation and work on how to clean up pings from spam blogs. Verisign have put forward their vision for the continuation of the service:

  • Free‘Basic pings, the messages processed by weblogs.com, will remain free to submit, and free to retrieve from the service’. Although they will look at adding value-added services for fees.
  • Open‘In all cases, we endorse open formats, freely available, freely implementable by the rest of the community.’ ‘We want to excel in our execution and implementation of our services, rather than building a walled garden around a proprietary platform.’
  • Solid‘We have the skills, resources and experience in highly-scaled, high-performance infrastructure to deploy ping server services that will serve the blogosphere (and beyond) for the next stages of growth’
  • Informative‘we would like to make weblogs.com – the website – a useful destination for checking in on the infrastructure side of the blogosphere. We anticipate it being a handy place to check in for aggregated metrics’

So a vision of maintinaing an open, community service whislt strengthening the infrastrcutre and scaleability of the service to cope with increasing demands., Sounds good to me. Winer wrote about the day of the announcement, which appeared to be slightly ahead of schedule

Oct 06

Snippets 5 Oct

Jason Calacanis confirms that his Weblogs Inc has been bought by AOL. A great scoop by PaidContent.

BBC Radio 6 confirms (presumptively) that Aplle will be unveiling the new video iPod with a press event at the BBC. Ben talks about the leak. But maybe not, according to ThinkSecret.

Don Dodge writes about how Napster came and went, but the record companies lost anyway.

Gnutella was an open source program and we were already seeing new variants of it emerge. We told the record labels that we (Napster) had a loyal audience of over 50M users. We had servers that could control distribution. If they didn’t do a deal with us and put us out of business then Gnutella and its derivatives would become unstoppable. There would be no company to sue and no server to shut down. If we worked together now we could convert the market to a paying subscription or per download model. If we didn’t do a deal chaos would ensue. They didn’t believe us and didn’t really understand what this Gnutella threat was. The record labels lost billions of dollars in lost revenue over the next several years, and may never squash the free file trading movement.

. Via Rick.

Oct 05


Lots of people talking about Ning,

Ning is a free online service (or, as we like to call it, a Playground) for building and using social applications.
Social apps are web applications that enable anyone to match, transact, and communicate with other people.

I’m not really any kind of a developer, so can’t really test it well. However, is the name supposed to make me think of Spike Milligan?

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There’s a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can’t catch ’em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

Oct 04

Snippets 4 Oct

Astromoners display their TV preferences with the discovery of a moon orbiting Xena, the 10th ‘planet’. Predictably, the moon has been called Gabrielle.

Yahoo reveal their input into the digitisation of the world, supportting the Open Content Alliance in creating a digital archive. Unlike Google, Yahoo’s offerieng is opt-in, so they may avod beign sued by the Authors Guild who seem to miss the point about having their works searcheable for anyone instead of languishing on shelves.

Digital Music revenues triple, but the industry continue to crack down on piracy. With the number of people downloading increasing, how many of them are hitting the barriers created by DRM meaning that the music is restrained and it cna only be paid on certain devices.

The South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is encouraging his dozen secretaries to blog on an official group blog. It’s currently only availalbe in Korean. Definitely think we should get a blog from Number 10 now.

The Web1.0 do tomorrow night sounds interesting!

We will meet to discuss line breaks, spacer gifs, and the ability to launch links in a new browser window.

Read the comments from the last meetup to get a feel for how interesting this could be…and if we can get the secret list of 1998 wiords that trigger a drink, we should hold one in London.

Oct 01

Snippets 1 Oct

Audi branching out on BlogAds. For a recent award winning campaign, Audi spent 0.5% of their media spend on a Blog Ad promotion. This led to 29% of the visits on the campaign homepage, which is a pretty astounding number. For me, it shows the use of blogs as an advertising channel can tighten the targeting, providing ads that are far more in context with what is being looked for.

Another brand that has won awards for its ads gives a sneak preview of the new UK TV ad online this weekend. The new Guinness ad can be found here (I work for the parent company).

The third space tourist blasted off today to spend 10 days in the International Space Station. At a rumoured £11million, not the cheapest of holidays for soemthing that is definitely not 5 star but something I think a fair few people would love to give it a go.

Rollyo is a great tool to find new resources. The team have put a new front end on Yahoo! search, allowing yoiu to create custom searches of up to 25 blogs, creating a node of excellence for subjects you are interested in. The key is that by allowing you to look at the searches created by others, the tools bring authority and recommendations to search. Using one of the search rolls, you know the results are from pages that someone else has found trustworthy. It introduces a higher level of searching – how do I find a cluster of trusted searches in the subject I want.

Sep 29


Ethan Zuckerman documents a Jimmy Wale talk, looking at 10 things that will become free over the next 10-25 years, as in free of licensing, freely available, free to use, mix and repurpose. But these things won’be become free of their own accord, it will take time and effort from volunteers who get involved. To get involvement, Ethan writes about 2 things that could enable the work

– When users have a strong personal incentive to collect information, they’re more likely to do so. I create metadata about webpages in del.icio.us because it makes it easier for me to find these pages in the future – the fact that you might benefit from this metadata is a happy coincidence, but it’s the benefit to me that makes me do it, not a utilitarian impulse. This suggests to me that projects like Television Information will succeed, as they’re analogous to projects like CDDB, or its open alternative, MusicBrainz.

– Projects where users can work on bite-sized chunks are likely to succeed, while projects that require massive organizational effort from one or more individuals are less likely to succeed. This, I believe, is why Wikipedia has had so much traction, while Wikibooks is having less luck. It’s one thing to commit to writing a 500-word encyclopedia essay – it’s another thing entirely to commit to writing a book and giving it away, or even to outlining a book and asking others to commit to fleshing it out.

As always, things proceed better if there is something in it for the person involved and if it is easy. There will always be people who go above and beyond in their contributions but ease of getting involved drives higher involvement. With ‘free’ information, i’m more likely to contribute if I can dip my toe in the water first and take small steps to build up expertise.

Sep 23

Web 2 Memes

An O’Reilly meme map taken from discussions at Foo camp can be found here. Nothing new I would say, but it brings it together nicely. Interesting that a diagram that lists the ‘Right to Remix – some rights reserved’ as one of the memes is published with all rights reserved.

Sep 19

Independent Review

I was reading the Independent this evening andm in amongst other site reviews, was a favourable write up of BoingBoing. Unfortunately the URL printed AND the screenshot was from the mispelt ad page BoinBoing. Did the editor even wonder why there was such an enthusiastic write-up for something that appeared to be nothgin so dull?

Sep 19


BL Ochman led me to hackoff.com today, an interactive blog book (referred to as a blook, which is a poor name). The murder mystery story is just starting, and will spread itself across the blog, a wiki, a website and a discussion forum. The storyalso has the potential to go its own way on the interactive wiki.

Great idea; the first chapter is intriguing and the use of multiple ways of presenting data, including the fictional blog comments that all add to the story. Subscribe to the RSS feed to get installments and let the mystery unravel. You could wiat until the book is published in early 2006, but this is more fun and more involving.

Sep 13

Round up 13 Sept

The news over the last few days has been about some nice large purchases. From a corporate PoV, Siebel being bought by Oracle is big news, a consolidation of CRM services. In other web stuff, eBay buying Skype is not something I read anywhere, but I can see the synergy – the market comes to life and online bartering takeas a new dimension. I can see the conference call auctions now….’ and it’s not going for 50 pounds, not even for 30 pounds, but all of this for 20 pounds only. Buy it now and I’ll throw this special edition widget for free’ ;o)

on the 37Signals Blog, a post about the complexity that is signing up with Flickr now they are with Yahoo; the sign up has changed from 3 questions to 16. Read the (long) list of comments for good stuff. My accounts are still demerged and I have no intention of rejoining them in the near future until the mess is sorted. But I don’t get why the Yahoo email requirement always causes an issue – still don’t have one, don’t need one. All my Yahoo service emails go to gmail. At the bottom of the current list of comments is the following from Bryan:

But what companies need to realize is that that information is utterly and completely useless. Users put in false information wherever they can. They’ll check any checkbox, hit any submit button, and gleefully ignore any TOS because they know everyone else does the same. The only thing you can trust is what the user cares about, which is damn little. Everything else is a WOMBAT – a Waste Of Money, Brains And Time. While the corporate types imagine they’re collecting lucrative information it’s really a false metric of success that only encourages harmful policies.

This is completely true – I very very rarely put real info in any of the ‘marketing questions’ in any form I fill in. A conversation today demonstrated this – we were discussing the information we had received from a web sign-up form on one of the sites that I work on, that asked people how they had heard of the site. The most common answer (over 80%) was something that had a very low percentage of responses in offline surveys. Looking at the list of possible answers on the website, you could see that the response was near the top of the list – obviously the easiest one to pick. But surprisingly, you do get good info from such signups – people don’t always think to the next level – why you are giving info and what people do with it.

Another blog entry that provides a great conversation in the comments is from Shelley, commenting on the recent UK conference Our Social World. There was concern about the usual suspects speaking, the lack of women speakers, the lack of diversity in the speakers and a whole load of arguments for and against the list/conference in the comments. There’s still some chicken/egg syndrome taking palce here – the ‘regulars’ can attract an audience, in that people can find out about their previous gigs and peoples reactions to them. A conference like Blogher can attract people for a different reason, but I coud guarantee there was still the ‘I read this person’s blog and want to see them’ reaction for some signups. It slowly looks like it is getting to the point where a mixed bag (regulars/new people) will be able to attract the wider audience without losing the selling point. In a follow up post, Shelley comments

Either one enters an online discussion to debate the merits of whatever topic is the focus, or we enter a conversation to defend or support a friend. When we mix the two, we put those who have not met others, personally, at a disadvantage. This, also, becomes a failure in social software.

To me, that’s a ‘flaw’ in social humans; we are far more likely to read, comment and discourse with people we know or have met and will always mix the two – pure objectivity is rare.

Whilst on the usual suspects, there’s a Geek Dinner in London in December for the return of Robert Scoble. So far, the list is growing at a faster rate than it did the last time, and the signees are pretty similar to the first ones the last time. I’ve watched a few of these grow, and you can see a long tail effect as the information ripples out from a core set of people who read certain blogs and then widens the audience to different people, depending on the attaction.

Sep 06

Round up 6 Sept

Yesterday was pretty much a write off with connectivity; to day a little better in that I have time to be in the pub and get connected. Far better than Starbucks! And tomorrow, it should get better at the rowing site. Currently, I need to hardwire connect and finding somewhere to sit that is close to a wire is too hard at times. But because of the need to broadcast video from the race startline to the spectators, to a place that is not networked, we’re getting wireless set up tomorrow. I got to go spend someone else’s money on kit, being despatched to the shop as one of the few people in the team who had time, and would recognise, what they need.

When I first started coming to this rowing loch, there were no hotels on site. By the time I left Scotland 5 years ago, one had been built at the top of the park; today, there’s a second hotel and a third just been built next to the pub. And the all appear to do pretty good business.

I go away for a week and Hugh and Ross Mayfield have a Wiki Wednesday. But there is an IRC channel that can be used. (link takes you straight there….) to link across the multiple cities.

Pete Blackshaw has 10 Simple Rules for dating a Blogger – although it can be also be read about dating a blog. There are such pearls as:
– be prepared to address addictions and tempatations
– don’t ignore the blogger’s buds.
Via BL Ochman

Jeff Clavier writes about Southern Comfort geting into some bother about online ads, with a tagline of “Born in New Orleans, where anything can happen”. Although this is an obvious issue, the globalisation of sites and the net make ensuring that your ads are appropriate for the market and for current worldwide situations makes monitoring more inportant. In my compnay, all ads are subject to a standard global check of content and then strciter local ones can be applied. A line that could be used in a UK version of the ad has to be cut from a US one. But ads that may typically appeal to a Latam market (which does use a *lot* of sex, we don’t use anywhere. YOu have to make an assumption that an ad in one market – whatever the format – can be seen anywhere.

An Australian court has ruled that Kazaa is urging its users to break copyright and orders them to put in place modifications to reduce pairacy. As with the US Grokster case, this ruling is geograpically limited, but points to a legal tendency – its not the ability to share in itself that is percieved as ‘wrong’ but any encouragement to break the law. However, any restriction put in place will also impact those who use such technology for legitimate sharing.

Sep 04

Looking for bad news

Instead of celebrating the success of ebay, the BBC interview, of an ebay employee and a women who makes a fair bit of her living from the site, did nothing except focus on the negatives. Every question I heard asked about problems, about fraud, about stolen good. The interviewees did a very good job of setting it straight every time. I wish the reporters would remember that good news is news as well. (I’d have got names if I’d known I was going to be so annoyed.)

Sep 02


I run feed searches on various work related subjects, such as the company and Brand names. The company announced i’s annual results yesterday so I expected something to pop up in the aggregator, with some comments about the compnay fortune. Well, plenty of things did, got around 16 links and the average is about 2 a day. However, all but two of these were spam. The others linked me to all kinds of random stuff, who must be grabbing content from some business feeds. So I had mentions from Home Insurance, Payroll, Debt help, Scandanavian Discount hotels and Alcoholism ‘resources’. At least I had the momentary pleasure that came from flagging all the Blogger ones as ‘objectional!