Thursday, May 31, 2007

Customers from Mars, Companies from Venus

Alan Moore and Tomi Ahonen describe the difficulty companies have listening and responding to their customers in their book Communities Dominate Brands under the heading 'Customers from Mars, Companies from Venus'.
Here's an example - an email I've had to send a Toyota dealership today. So far, the only response has been of the automated variety... Where's my two-way flow?

"I turned up this morning with my car to be told you had expected me on May 23.

"My diary only ever showed one date, May 31, I can absolutely assure you.

"I believe May 23 may have initially been offered but was rejected because a courtesy car was not available.

"Whatever the case, can I suggest two ways in which you can improve both your customer service and your internal efficiencies. It cost me the best part of 45mins in additional and wasted travel time. It's just the kind of thing which may also cost Toyota my custom long term.

1. Confirm your appointments in writing - either by post, email or (my preference) text. Offering this service would also build you a database of mobile numbers and email addresses.

You send me letters to ask what I think of your customer service. Is it much of a stretch to make the same effort to actually OFFER that customer service in the first place?

2. If you are faced with a 'no show', call the person in question. In my case you must have ordered an expensive part to be fitted, and scheduled in several hours of labour time. Is it really more efficient not to make that call and to have that part sitting there for who-knows-how-long? I can't believe you have the number of no-shows this approach appears to indicate.

UPDATED JUNE 5, 2007: Still no response from the dealership!!

Reminds me of a recent delay I had with British Airways on my way to New York. The flight got delayed four hours because their new - and no doubt meant-to-be-engaging (in some vague and skewed notion of the concept) - entertainment system had failed.

When - after considerable digging via mobile internet and calls to locations far removed from Heathrow - I discovered the cause for the delay, I pointed out that I'd rather get my entertainment by arriving on time to take in Times Square, Broadway, etc etc. It sure beats watching re-runs of Little Britain - even if it is on cod IPTV.

I suggested if they asked all the other people now faced with a four hour delay what they'd prefer they might get a similar response. The bonus might be that by listening to their customers they'd save the cost of a considerable delay (which necessitated the prep of another 747!).

I found it very difficult for anyone to even take note of my suggestion.

As we all know, information in airports appears to be jealously guarded when it comes to reasons for delays. Perhaps they just couldn't cope with the idea of someone giving them some for free?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ubiquitous computing - pervasive web - takes a giant step

Techcrunch has this on Microsoft's announcement of surface computing.

Its initial market focus seems to be for restaurants, transferring data from one device from another etc - but that's just the simple stuff - the way in which old things are done more efficiently with the new tech.

Watch the video below and you might start seeing some of the new stuff - the social impacts of new tech which go way beyond those simple efficiencies.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

If you still think traditional mass media has a future...

Google's announcement of plans to be so good at knowing what you like that it'll be able to become your personal advisor should send a shudder down the spine of any media company relying on interruptive ads of any description for its survival.

Google' plans to build the most comprehensive database of personal information ever. And while civil libertarians are jumping up and down, google is insisting it will all be on a strictly volunteered basis. ie share more - get more back - in the language of the commons...

According to the Belfast Telegraph: "The ultimate aim is to make Google so personal that it can target people known to be interested in certain products or services just from their Google activities. It is expected that one day users could ask a computer 'What should I do today?' or 'Which job should I take?' and it will tell them the answer."

To be fair, this is just adsense writ large and rather more cleverly. The concept is the same: Deliver things to people they actually want.

Are google in an arms race with engagement marketeers? More likely, it's part of the engagement solution.

What is certain is that a printed ad in a mass media publication, a banner ad not personally targeted on anything but the most niche websites, a TV ad running amid the 10pm news... none of it can hope to get anything close to the power of this.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bosses who ban: Out of touch and now out of control

The thought police of the old order are being out-thought by digital natives.

This from T-mobile is a fantastic example. Over a quarter of the UK workforce, banned from using the internet by ludicrous blanket bans, are turning to the mobile internet.

You can't stop an idea.

There are employers who are keen to prevent their staff from connecting out of some extraordinary idea that they'll improve productivity as a result.

I'm guessing they are the ones that are heading out of business?

Restrictions, controls, limitations - they don't exactly inspire a better way of working, a break-through idea...

Cutting people off from tools which will improve their work (wot no google?) blogs about their industry, rss feeds and social networks is not only seriously unproductive - it's also - with the advent of mobile internet - impossible.

A generation brought up in constantly connected communities ain't going to put up with it. Create a social vacuum for Generation C and they WILL fill it.

T-mobile's findings, reported on Online Recruitment revealed 23% of employees were subject to company bans on social networking websites. 11% are banned from using web-based email and
7% from using Google.

Nearly half of the employees surveyed (48%) use their mobile phone to access the Internet at work; from downloading music to buying groceries online. In other words - even when you aren't banned from using fixed line internet - you'll still turn to mobile internet for the personal stuff.

In extreme cases they hide in the loos in order to get their online fix. They'd better watch out for the company webcam!


I posted this as a response to Ajit Jaoker's post on his excellent OpenGardens blog. You won't read my response there because it was written as a reply to Ajit posting the same item on Forum Oxford, which we both belong to.
Anyway, since it was so relevant to the content of this blog - I thought I ought to record it here, too.

As a journalist (at least that was how I once described myself) of almost 20 years experience, it's hard for me to admit - but the role of the pro is being marginalised by the wisdom of crowds.
But as an evangelist for the new ecology - it makes me excited about the future.
There are some areas where the pro still has advantages - notably access to exclusives and trust with traditional advertisers - but as I've argued in this post (niche brands need ugc, broad brands need ultra exclusives) - when the whole world is a blogger there's no way you have enough control to claim an exclusive.
And over time advertisers will learn that the trust is vested in the community not the brand itself. Response rates will teach them,
But there's an argument that the relevance of the professional journalist lives on - for 'journalist' read blogger. For 'professional' read reputation systems. For 'Highly resourced' read community-funded.
Simply: The professional journalist of yesteryear is being replaced by a community-validated blogger, who gets paid through models like ohmynews or, less-aggregated, google adsense etc.
If his community grows large enough to support his efforts full time - he can perform this role full time.
Journalist2.0 lives and dies by his relevance to his community and reputation as judged by all (now everyone is his employer).
And there is no professional or technical barrier to entry.
One conclusion to draw is that the arrival of blogging deprofessionalises journalism. It makes it something anyone can do and anyone can contribute to.
That's why the likes of Alan Moore describe the arrival of the blogging platform as being as significant as Gutenburg and his printing press. It's all about the decentralisation, the relaxation of control, on information.
We should all end up with a closer approximation of the truth.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Google to become a UK mobile operator?

Interesting speculation over at TechCrunch

They quote sources saying Google is close to starting a mobile network of its own as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) in a deal with O2.

All sign-ups will be on line - no shops!

At the end of last year I predicted Google would launch its own mobile device. Rumours persist that this is getting closer to reality. The speculation is that a Google MVNO would supply selected Nokia phones with pre-loaded google apps. The pieces are falling into place.

There is much sense in this, especially when you consider the Google Mission statement: "To organise the world's information and make it universally accessible."

Mobiles are way more accessible than PCs.

Google has long predicted all calls/texts etc will end up free of charge - with this it has an opportunity to prove it.

Perhaps this is why adsense for mobile has not yet been launched in the UK?

This kind of convergence seems inevitable. Nokia makes the considerable effort of developing cool apps and stuffing their phones with them - only to have it all ripped out and replaced by operators (retailers) preferred bits and bobs.

Given this eternal waste of effort, it makes sense for Nokia to start its own MVNO - and Nokia stores will carry impressive brand weight in the High Street, too.

The difficult bit will be convincing an operator to let them in as an MVNO. But if google gets the door open, why not?

Nokia clearly sees its network of mobiles as having great value (operating on the edge of the network like pcs do on the fixed line web) - hence their attempts to get AdService rolling.

Mobile phones for less than $3 each

I note this only because it may by jaw drop. I guess it also reveals why there are way more mobiles in the world than pcs. When the entry level is THIS low (less than $3 a phone) the whole world really can join in.
More here

Monday, May 21, 2007

Famous for 15 people

In 1968 Andy Warhol predicted: ‘In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’.

It’s usually contracted to ‘Famous for 15 minutes,’ of course.

Andy was right from where he stood. But his future is now past. Now it’s about being ‘Famous for 15 PEOPLE’.

I first referred to this in the post ‘Famous for 15 minutes? Famous for 15 people is better’.

And over time it’s become clear to me that this phrase, and Andy’s, and the shift between them, offers a neat description of the way things have changed.

Once, the idea of mass media was to reach ‘everyone’. The Warhol prediction describes the last moments of mass media very well - a world of frenzied vying for attention in which the attention that’s grabbed becomes worth less and less. When everyone can be famous for 15 minutes, what is the value of fame?

A brief, non-immersive relationship with anything has little value.

Consider how that applies to content or advertising, or customer relationships.

If you are assaulted by a parade of interruptive ‘sells’ they become a passing blur (quite literally in the case of the fast-forward button on your PVR) none of them registering, none of them engaging.

Far better to be fully engaged with a small number (a niche – and please don’t take me literally on the ‘15 number’…) than to broadcast to a billion who are looking the other way.

This is the lesson of the long tail.

We're at the start of a new and even more powerful (long-tail-led) internet revolution/disruption.

Only this time... it's personal.

It’s personal because the mobile device is critical to how we will make use of and contribute to the internet from now on. The mobile offers a level of personalisation that is a giant leap up from the fixed-line web.

The fixed line net was initially grown by content providers of the mass industrial age, the mobile web will explode as a direct result of User Generated Content.

And because of the social nature of web2.0 the growth will be exponential. It will dominate the way the mobile web develops in a faster and more pervasive way than we saw with the original fixed-line internet.

The long tail will wag the mass media dog way more vigorously than it has in the fixed line internet world.

Converged consumers/creators/designers/buyers/sellers/marketers etc are setting up their own mobile sites, sharing their interests, forming their own communities, creating their own content and services and selling them. A whole new way of discovering and creating value is emerging.

Emails bounced back and forth with Communities Dominate Brands’ Tomi Ahonen (itself an illustration of the power of the network in action), helps crystalise how this can shape the way we must start to think about the emerging opportunities.

He said: “Yes, of COURSE! The long tail is an excellent metaphor for personalisation. The longer we move along the personalisation "long tail" the more we can find real opportunities in it, and discover "segments" or personalities that are ill-served by current media, technology etc. GREAT thought!”

The community of readers of this post are small in number. But they are absolutely the right ones. This post is not intended to be famous for 15 minutes. That would have little value to you or I.

If it becomes famous to 15 people, 15 people who are willing to contribute to it, share it, change it ENGAGE with it, own it... then we 15 may discover value we never knew we could share.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Emap still twitching: A response

As an emap employee I suppose it's inevitable I get drawn into this one. The Daily Telegraph* - commenting on the departure of emap CEO Tom Moloney in the article 'emap still twitching but needs to be put out of its misery' says of niche brand Bird Watching's website:

"Visiting the magazine's website is less interesting than a visit to those Victorian glass cases in the Natural History Museum. Museums were the 19th century's version of interaction and too many of Emap's myriad media brands are way behind the curve when it comes to 21st century publishing.

" ought to be a teeming community website for what I imagine is Britain's rather large bird-watching population. It should be swarming with readers' blogs, videos and pictures, reader offers, adverts, events - you name it, Emap should have it to publish the definitive bird-watching website."

Why yes, of course it should. But let's be fair. emap's media brands might be a tad slow on applying Reed's law (see group forming network theory under 'resources', left col), but they (we) ain't exactly unique in this.

Please show me a specialist traditional media brand which has activated this and (small, but important point) has done this while retaining or even growing its brand's profits as a whole? Off the top of my head I can't think of one. I am genuinely interested in seeing examples - please do share.

emap's issue has been to find a scalable solution worth the investment. If Moloney had sanctioned full social media plays for every single one of his brands the financial pages would soon have screamed foul.

I take the general point - emap should have built the ideal community platform for those with a shared interest in bird watching. But it should also have done that for model railway enthusiasts, trout fishermen, classic car enthusiasts, Land Rover owners, etc etc etc (and a truck-load more of a etcs).

The brand-focused approach has (it seems to me - and I'm just a humble employee - I haven't set the strategy) resulted in a focus on the 'big brands' driven by the 'big revenues' already earned - not necessarily the big potentials (eg Bird Watching).

I think (and we'll all hear more with the statement to the city on May 22) emap is shifting to a market-focused approach which ought to change our priorities. If we couple that with a community-dominated approach - hurrah!

Some may conclude that protecting legacies is just too great a drag for media companies faced with start-ups who don't have these issues, are prepared to cede control to their communities and have no 'core business' to protect.

But I think their advantages are neatly counter-balanced by our access to audiences and insight into niche markets. Which is why I wrote 'End of the retreat: How Media is the new business' only last week.

Don't get me wrong - there are lessons to be applied - but I do believe we've learned them.

*The Daily Telegraph is not owned by emap - could you tell?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Widsets ready to open its doors

It seems I may have done Widsets a disservice in this previous post: 'Long tail will wag the mobile internet dog'
In that I said: " allows you to choose fasterfuture as a widget to download to your mobile - and that delivers every post as it's made from this blog to an organised rss feed. But there are few design options, no ad model (from a ugc perspective), no ability to add code etc etc."
And that is the case for a lone user.
But I caught up with Kaj Hege Haggman (Widsets business development manager) last night and he says Widsets will soon be offering a development pack for content owners to have a play with.
Using that publishers will be able to deliver a much richer experience more like the Wikipedia widget currently available in the widset library. So look out for that here by the end of the month.
There's still no plan to allow publishers to add their own code for ad revenues (eg adsense or admob) yet - but this is (says Hege) because this is still an emerging business. They want to grow the thing first.
Interestingly the idea that anyone can create a widget using anyone else's rss feed - a natural assumption for anyone having a play with the tools widsets offers - is ruled out in the small print. In a tipped hat towards copyright law, the T&Cs tell users they must ask the permission of the content owner to use their stream.
I understand why Nokia-owned Widsets wants that get-out clause, and I also understand why they don't want to draw too much attention to it (hello YouTube!).
I think the joy of it will be users mashing up their own feeds/needs etc and taking whichever content they want to use for their personal use.
Which is why, to me, offering a way for the content provider to monetise, is critical.
As, I've said before - look at what google adsense (the most effective widget ever) did for the long tail on the fixed line internet...
Nokia are really buying into the notion of widgets full stop. Nokia's Ganesh Sivaraman is joining with Ajit Joaker to run a Nokia Widgets workshop in London today.

2007: year of the widget

This video, from here

Tourist trap: Personalisation and limitations of convergence?

On my way to the Chinwag Media Widgetised bash in London yesterday evening, I paused in Trafalgar Square.
It's a great place to people-watch, and do it internationally because it's such a tourist draw - and meeting point.
I'd love to be able to say I gained some great socio-economic insight. But I didn't get a chance. As is usual a tourist was soon thrusting their camera into my hands with the polite request that I should take a picture of them with a famous London scene behind them.
But this simple act did reveal something to me. The young lady had taken her standard silver box of a digital camera and customised it with pretty little fake gems stuck all over it.
We know all about the personalisation of the mobile phone - but I'd never seen anyone do this to their camera.
And it made me think. I've got a great camera on my mobile (more pixels than my digital camera, for example). But while I'm happy to hand a stranger my camera to take a shot of me and my nearest and dearest in some tourist haven - I couldn't conceive of handing them my mobile to take the same picture.
Perhaps here is one limitation of convergence? When something is so personal to you (the mobile) it's really hard to let go. So, for tourists at least, the stand alone digital camera has a future.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why ratings and reputation are so vital to a community

Ratings and their success in creating reputations - and Common-Pool Resources such as justice - are an essential element of any community.
Elinor Ostrom identified eight design properties for stable CPR systems:
  1. Clearly defined boundaries
  2. Congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions
  3. Collective-choice arrangements allowing for the participation of most of the appropriators in the decision making process
  4. Effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators
  5. Graduated sanctions for appropriators who do not respect community rules
  6. Conflict-resolution mechanisms which are cheap and easy of access
  7. Minimal recognition of rights to organize (e.g., by the government)
  8. In case of larger CPRs: Organisation in the form of multiple layers of nested entreprises, with small, local CPRs at their bases.
If you can see past the language of academia... think of what eBay provides, how it ticks off those boxes - and you get a big hint as to why it's worked.

I was interested in the approach takes to ratings and reputation, in my post Social Consumers - and what ratings are for.

So I'm starting to consider how best to apply a rating system.

I'll float one that, for no good reason, I'll call Get Out of Dodge. In this community each member starts off with three tokens they can use. When they run out of these tokens they must 'Get Out of Dodge'.

They can use these tokens to indicate their displeasure at the behaviour of another member.
If a member gets hit with a total of three tokens against them - they have to get out of dodge.

The upside is that the community member really has to carefully consider their use of their tokens. Effectively, each time they use their token, while they damage the reputation of the other person, they also restrict their future choices within the community.

The downside is that the good policeman, the active regulator of the community - risks losing their choices, influence, and ultimately membership of the community.

But I have a caveat. Members of the community can come together to negotiate. If a group of people feel one other person really needs a token scored against them, but they haven't got enough left of their own, they may call on a token rich member of the community to 'pay' for them. They'll have to make a reasoned argument - and illustrate and reinforce the mores of the community as they go about it.

And there are bonus tokens available - handed out at the discretion of the community.

So good work, positive policing, fair management, gets rewarded. Holding more of these tokens to spend clearly gives you greater influence/control over the community.

I'm not at all precious about this - it's just a thought experiment - and your suggestions are very welcome. So what do we think?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Now EVERYONE can co-create

MIT has come up with something which looks set to accelerate one of the driving forces of the new ecology we're watching develop - software which makes computer programming something ANYONE can do. And it's free.

Scratch is a programming tool which allows anyone to animate stories, make video games and create interactive art.

This from the BBC: "
Primarily aimed at children, Scratch does not require prior knowledge of complex computer languages.

"Instead, it uses a simple graphical interface that allows programs to be assembled like building blocks.

"The digital toolkit, developed in the US at MIT's Media Lab, allows people to blend images, sound and video."

It means you can make your own video game, music, music videos, tv, films, documentaries, folklore - and almost certainly a whole range of rich culture no one has thought of yet.

With the basic assumption that the power is in the network, increasing the number of participants - and opening the creative process to people from new ways of thinking (ie techy types have needed a mathematical, scientific background, now a computer games maker could be someone with less linear thinking (apologies for lumping the whole of science into one thought mode! but you get the point...)

And get this "
A version of the tool is also currently being developed for the XO laptop, designed by the One Laptop Per Child Project..."

And this is just one tiny aspect of life which could be massively changed by reducing the technical bar for people to participate. Puts the whole notion of 'ease of use' into perspective - doesn't it?

Friday, May 11, 2007

End of the retreat: How media is the new way of doing business

Like many a traditional media company, the one I work for has been scratching its head over how to convert revenues as traditional revenues fall and digital ones seem more elusive than we'd like.

It's easy to develop a bit of a siege mentality.

If you're on that side of the wall - here's a message of hope: The retreat is over. The offensive has begun.

Why so positive?

A crucial penny has dropped for me (and if you're a regular reader/contributor to this blog you may well have seen me edging towards it in recent posts, before I worked it out for myself...)
It is this: There is NO business (model) in the world of We Species we now inhabit (see Alan Moore's work at Communities Dominate Brands) which does not benefit from the application of the ideas of We Media.

If all this sounds a little too much like buzzwords gone mad, let me explain.

Not only does my definition of what a Media Brand now is (ie a platform for a community of shared interests) apply to what we think of traditional media plays, it is also equally essential for any business model - full stop.

So the ideas encapsulated in this post 'Does a straightforward transaction site need a social play?' and in this 'A new definition of media brands'. can, indeed MUST, apply to any wannabe business model in this post mass-media/industrial age.

No longer are traditional media companies in retreat - now I see media companies as uniquely positioned to take advantage of the new way of doing business which is emerging from our new community dominated ecology.

In 'A new definition of media brands' I argued:
  • A media brand is a platform for a community with shared interests.
  • Focused on the interests of this community, we should aggregate content and offer services.
  • Services are best delivered at the point they are needed – and that is always, always mobile!
I'll offer this update: "Focused on the interests of this global niche community, we should provide the tools to allow the co-creation and aggregation of content, products and services."

Media companies (and I am deliberately not distinguishing between new media (eg google) and traditional media (eg emap) because I think both have advantages) are uniquely well placed to benefit from the cultural shift towards community (evidenced by social networking etc).

Those with expertise in specialist niches may well be the best positioned of all (and yes, I have to declare an interest here - I am employed by a company with exactly that expertise). They are best suited to activating and engaging the long tail.


1. New media companies are brilliant at connecting (socialising) us digitally, traditional media companies have big audiences to activate. Traditional media companies have tons of insight to help identify the new business opportunities (by which I mean opportunities to help build and join with co-creating communities).

2. Combine this with our experience in building communities (not particularly connected ones in the case of traditional media, but communities none-the-less) and you have a position of significant advantage in the age of constantly-connected communities.

In a new economy dominated by social consumers (prosumers) the niche global community platform creators hold the cards.

As always your views, reactions and suggestions are welcome. Please share below.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Text overtakes voice - Generation C asserts itself

According to a JD Power survey people in the UK now text more than they talk on their mobiles.
Quick lesson for media companies?
Maybe your users would prefer to text their ad in than speak to a call centre?
Text takes advantage of the personal, always on, always to hand, payment-ready advantages of the mobile phone.
The Register's writing on this JD Power report reduces this to a way in which users are cutting the cost of their phone bills (text is cheaper than talk).
This misrepresents what is really going on here. The rise of text is part of the rise of always-connected-communities (Communities Dominate Brands 'Generation C) which is changing the whole media ecology.
The report continues: "The survey notes that modern handsets offer such a range of entertainment there's little time to make phone calls - users are busy playing games, watching videos, and checking on their eBay auctions."
Yes - but they are doing all that while keeping constantly in touch via IM, text, email - and if the continuing conversation requires it, they switch to voice (usually the least personal communication because it is the least private).

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Map of Online Communities

As found on
It's a map of online communities.
See it larger here
Amused me!

Microsoft buys ScreenTonic, Yahoo launches onesearch

A couple of fairly heavyweight mobile internet moments happened today, and this post is simply to log them.
Microsoft has bought ScreenTonic, the Paris-based mobile-internet advertising company. The firm felt it missed out on the disruption opportunity of the fixed-line internet (hello adsense!) and is 'positioning itself better' for this second internet disruption.
It'll be interesting to see how much they paid.
The second biggy today is Yahoo's launch of OneSearch - a locally biased mobile-focused search. It claims to be radical and new. Not sure how different it is to google's mobile search?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Social consumers - and what ratings are for

The emergence of raises questions about the best way for communities to rate.

Most site builders insist on registration and have a preference for IDs etc.

This is based on protecting the site owner and our drive to 'own' user data. These factors gain priority over the altogether simpler imperative - helping a community to accurately share its assessment of things it regards as important. In short - we forget what ratings are for.

The approach of The Gorb may seem a little extreme for some tastes. It takes the no-barrier route. No need to register, and you get to remain anonymous.

There are controls on this. The ratings are weighted (though god, and gorb math alone knows how...)
"This is a sophisticated mathematical algorithm that detects and eliminates ratings that have a high likelihood of being biased. It also uses an innovative rater scoring scheme to provide people with incentives to rate truthfully, as well as to recognize frequent and thoughtful raters."

In essence there is a community control which scores you down if you appear to be dissing for no good reason. If you misuse the tool you'll lose respect in the eyes of TheGorb. Reingold's 'shadow of the future' is cast across every user the moment they begin to interact with the site.

It seems to me they've done a great job of putting the value of ratings first - and doing all they can to remove bias. TheGorb argues, for example, that linkedin is positively skewed by the simple fact that you aren't anonymous. You say nice things in the hope that the receipient will say nice things back. TheGorb aims to get closer to the truth.

Its whole big idea is to raise up the quiet, good, people and modify the behaviour of the bad. To make the world a better place (eg: Take greater incentive to do the right thing, encourage others to do so, and celebrate those opportunities together. ).

Seems vague and tree-hugging, doesn't it? But consider google's mission statement for a moment ( organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful). - and you might recognise the potential TheGorb really has.

But I do wonder how it'll cope with the potentional for ruinous litigation - ie Defamation cases (since it's entirely about personal reputations). There would be a certain irony in the 'losers' finding themselves a great lawyer using it.

And anyone who's read The Tipping Point is going to struggle with the notion of reducing personality to a non-contextual abstract... but that's another story altogether.

Where am I?

Name this city in 2007:
1. Completing a call from start to finish on a mobile is something to be celebrated. Having the least number of 'dropped' calls is used by operators as a USP.
2. Big money is being spent on advertising by the banks to tell people all about their new free current accounts - a whole new concept for the locals.
3. Getting a 3G signal on your phone is er... well... I never saw one in four days in the city.
4. Chip and Pin is a far off dream for credit card companies. You still have to sign for purchases - twice - on two separate receipts.

It's that cutting-edge soaraway skyscraper of a city... New York. Yes, really. Yes, I've been away for a few days - and now you know where.

UPDATE: Having blogged with mobile expert Tomi Ahonen at Communities Dominate Brands, I now know why I couldn't get 3G in New York. It's because "New York does have 3G, but its the "other" 3G variant used by about 15% of the world's 3G networks, the so-called American 3G, ie CDMA2000 EV-DO for example on the Verizon network in New York." And that won't work with my '3' Nokia N73.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?