Friday, August 29, 2008

Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media: Download and share

I'm off for a little R&R. So I thought I'd leave you something chunky to download, read and digest while I'm gone.
 Tomi Ahonen (of Communities Dominate Brands) is about to publish his sixth book - Mobile As Seventh of the Mass Media.
Regular readers of this blog will know we're fans of the concept (originally worked up by Tomi and his co-author on CDB, Alan Moore).
Jonathan Macdonald and I are now pushing the idea into what the Eighth Mass Media can become.

But right now you can download a free 30-page excerpt of Mobile As Seventh of the Mass Media in advance of publication. And, should it tempt you to buy (it will, particularly if the mobile space and digital convergence fascinate you) you can pre-order here.

Tomi says: "Here is the pdf file of the book, Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media. It includes the Foreword by Pekka Ala-Pietila (CEO of Blyk and past president Nokia), the Introduction Chapter, one of the case studies (Flirtomatic) and the fourth chapter, Mobile as 7th Mass Media, as well as the index of the 18 chapters and 16 case studies.

You may freely quote from this document, and you may freely forward it. I am shortly going to launch a blogsite for the book as well, so there will be a place to collect the feedback, news and developments in the 7th Media space. If you blog about the book, I would appreciate it if you could include a mention of the website where potential buyers can already order the book today, before it appears on Amazon in a couple of weeks.
So that's the deal. Enjoy. (Image by Norma1 via flickr)

Pleased to say I'm co-hosting a two-day course at Oxford University on the subject (Mobile As The 7th Mass Media)  with Tomi this winter. Check here for dates when confirmed.

And I'll be presenting on The Eighth Mass Media at WidgetWeb Expo in London in October (6-7) and at Mobile Content (also in London) in November. Tomi and Jonathan Macdonald are also on the bill of the latter. Unmissable really ;-)

Now, where's that suntan lotion...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ubiquity: Mash-ups for the masses

I love the way this pulls down technical barriers and opens up a world of useful mash-ups to those best placed to share the results (ie you and I).
It's Ubiquity.
Watch the video. Welcome to a more connected web. For everyone.

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Seth Godin joins the call for human interaction

Fantastic. Seth Godin says what David Armano, Mark Earls, Jackie Danicki and myself have been banging on about for not a little while.

(Seth Godin, the first law of mass media)

One by one, the mass marketers have insisted on robocalling, spamming, jingling and lying their way into our lives. The pronoun morphs from "you" to "me" to "us" to "the corporation" ...

The public works tirelessly to flee to actual interactions between real people, and our organizations work even more diligently (and with more leverage) to corporatize and anonymize the interactions.

The irony, of course, is that an organization with guts can go in the opposite direction and win. Image by Steam Talks via flickr

It's that last line that should be getting your action hands twitching.

Are you socially minded?

Socially Minded is a new group blog from people with a mind for social media, living and/or working in and around Cambridge, UK.
We figure it should make for a great collection of thoughts (fed, as it is from this blog (I live in Huntingdon, Cambs), Communities Dominate Brands (Alan Moore lives in a village near Cambridge), Dan Thornton's (resident in Peterborough), Rebecca Caroe's (another Cambridgeshire village resident) and host Matt Brazil (from Cambourne).
We come from backgrounds in pr, marketing, futurology, advertising, publishing, consulting, communities, editorial and more.
Socially Minded creates an online intersection for us - a place to aggregate and share.

Hope you'll share in the discoveries.

There are, of course, many, many group blogs. What I like about this, what makes it a little different, is that it brings together people both digitally and physically.
Though we're not being entirely exclusive about the Cambridgeshire thing, it does provide a focus - a hub for further possibilities.
An interesting space to explore.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Surprise surprise! Social media is everywhere people are

Two new reports come to my attention today. They strike me as offering just the kind of ammunition you may need if you are battling to make the case for social media while those around you persist in reaching for their telephone directories...

1. How associations are using social technologies.
This is from Principled Innovation (via Chris Carfi)

2. Social Media in the enterprise (in the inc.500, actually)
Looking at its growth in corporations (via Alan Moore)

Bottom line: Social media is getting everywhere. (image by victoriapeckham via flickr)

Oddly enough, that's because people are everywhere.
And everywhere people are they will form groups, disintermediate and disrupt.

Choices? Join in their journeys or be an obstacle they will overcome.

Apple and the myth of working beautifully part 5...

You may well be as bored as I am by now of my trials and tribulations of iPhone 3G ownership. But anyone who thinks the flakiness of my particular device is a rarity should try to get some time with a Genius (I kid you not) in an Apple shop right now...

(For the record, as of this very moment I can't connect to the internet via my phone once again... a network reset will likely resolve it, but Jeez!!!)

On Sunday I went to the Apple store in Cambridge (having previously been informed at an 02 store that effectively Apple wants to control the customer service. I had to go see a Genius. That's a techy to you and I. The fact that Apple thinks it takes a Genius to solve its user experience issues perhaps tells its own story...

Anyway. Turned out I had to make an appointment. I had to make an appointment to get 10 minutes with a Genius. No slots available today. You can book up to three days in advance. Ooops, all the slots up to three days in advance (that I can get to, at least) are taken.

And in the meantime no one in the store can tell me even whether the issues I am having with my iPhone are isolated or part of a iPhone 3G meltdown (the fact you can't get to see a Genius may guide you to your own take on that...)

C'mon Steve Jobs. It's time for some Lean-Too Marketing to seep into your organisation.

I am getting quite angry with apple's reticence and arrogance when it comes to keeping anyone informed. I want to know if the issues I face with my iPhone are being addressed. I want to know what each of the firmware updates I have tried are striving to achieve (2.01 and 2.02).

I want to know if my phone is a dud that needs replacing, or if its par for the course and being sorted by the next firmware update.

And when I complained of all this to a member of staff they whispered quietly to me that I should try working for Apple - the lack of information is endemic.

In short Apple: I want dialogue. And, by the way, so do your staff...

The rest of this sorry story:

Apple & The Myth of Working Beautifully Part I
Apple & The Myth of Working Beautifully Part II
Apple & The Myth of Working Beautifully Part III
Apple & The Myth of Working Beautifully Part IV

Friday, August 22, 2008

P2PR theory into practice

Bauer Media (the company I work for) has a neat social media play called (I would say that, wouldn't I? I've had a light-touch advice-and-support role throughout).

It's a human sorting engine, enabling crowd-sourced entertainment ranking through the simplicity of voting on lists. For the full story, listen to Colin Kennedy.

Anyways, a couple of months back Community Marketing Manager Dan Thornton and myself got our heads together to think of ways we might spread the word about (image by Thomas Hawk via flickr)

What we came up with was a list to rank 'The RockStars of Web2.0'.
(You can read Dan's take on all this here).

We figured the inhabitants of this list would be people equipped to discover it and either be sufficiently intrigued/excited/embarrassed by it to perhaps point it out to the many people in their own networks of trust.

They, like all of us, will only pass on what they think their network will think is cool. That's a basic principle for me for how brands can adapt to the networked world.

Rather than bung them all a basic press release, we stood out of the way so they could (at least in some cases) make the discovery themselves.

And in a recent meme (emerging after we started this) that discover-it-yourself approach to PR seems to ring the right bells with the likes of Scoble, Arrington and, most explicitly, Steve Rubel (Does the thrill of the chase make PR obsolete).

We hoped they might even investigate beyond the list they appeared on - more discovery of their own. We trusted they were bright enough to make their own decisions about this - they certainly didn't need us to either lead them by the hand or tell them what to do.

Some I did contact directly, using networks of trust I have built up over time. That's the more traditional side of PR in a networked context. But others discovered ditto through P2PR - friend-adapted-pass-on.

Dan and I both blogged and tweeted about the intitial gathering of the list. We hosted posts where our own networks could contribute suggestions before the list for ranking got created on ditto itself. That stirred a little initial buzz.

And when the list went live, he and I posted and tweeted again. We didn't take it, or ourselves too seriously. Neither did those we contacted directly in the good old fashioned way.

And one way or another the list, and, got pointed to by and on Stowe Boyd's /Message (that one really was down to my personal network - I also blog at /message!), by Joseph Jaffe, Euan Semple, Jonathan Macdonald, Richard Millington and, today, by the legend that is Doc Searls.

(Dan's list is way more complete than my own).

And that's without tracking the twitter retweeting (of which there has been plenty) or other social sentiment measures.

Even Jason Calacanis has involved himself in a discussion about it - after discovering (there's that magic word again) that he's languishing at the bottom end of the list!

On each occasion, the conversation continued. And continues. This isn't a boom-bang flash-in-the-pan firework display, it's the release of a (spin-free, upfront) message to be spread in the way the adhoc communities of purpose who discover it choose to adopt and adapt it. It's up to them if they find it useful and how they find it useful.

P2PR is working right here, right now. We haven't done the marketing to them, they choose to do it to themselves.

From broadcast PR to P2PR
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: new networks)

The more you control, the less you control

I've been thinking about how messages are spread in the networked world, how our connectivity, our group-forming nature, finds ways around control and mediation of all forms. And how going with this flow rather than working against it is more likely to result in 'your' message (it becomes theirs the moment you let go) being passed on.

Much of that is illustrated in this post, and in this slidedeck.

This doesn't just apply to messages, of course, but to anything that becomes over processed. Where the intention is control, the result is often the opposite. (image via flickr by Mike McHolm)

Those who feel confined, restricted, halted by those controls and structures simply work around them. There are lessons for companies, government, education and more in this.

Anyone who has adapted to living in the network won't stop doing what they want to do, they just won't do it with you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rewritten for the networked world

Was listening to Iggy & The Stooges Search & Destroy in the car on the way to work this morning.

I thought, if Iggy rewrote that today, having hung in a few social networks, done a bit of blogging and built himself a widget, he'd probably call it:

"Friend-recommend & Grow".

Heh heh.

So, over to you. What songs, book titles, films etc should be retitled for the networked world?

Monday, August 18, 2008

The networked world can make brands more relevant than ever

Brands risk losing relevance in a networked world - if they continue to apply broadcast, one-size-fits-all thinking to it.
But, by listening, responding and adapting to its group-forming nature, brands can become more relevant than ever.

Chuffed to say the following slidedeck was selected to be featured on the slideshare homepage on Aug 19.

What the network (the internet) is for:
The internet is for forming groups.
The fact that people can use it to organise themselves around shared interests, passions and aims (communities of purpose) at next-to-no-cost, disrupts everything.
People can organise themselves to achieve what they want on a niched global scale.
This has world-changing implications for all forms of mediation - branding and brand messages included.

Three key disruptions:
  1. Who gets to create content (control messages)? Any and everyone.
  2. Who gets to distribute content (share messages)? Any and everyone
  3. Who gets to control the user experience? The user is the destination now. They control their own A-where-ever journey.
You can't target every community of purpose. They can.

This 10-slide deck explains how allowing messages to evolve is the most efficient way of transmission in the networked world - and the only way of reaching into the increasingly long tail. It is the right response to life in a complex adaptive system.

Without this reach your ability to achieve scale in the networked world relies wholly on one-size-fits-all quality. That's fine in broadcast mediums. But the network is not a broadcast medium. In networks, where communities of purpose form, relevance wins every time.

The timescale:
The great disruption of the internet has only just begun.
It is only with the arrival of social networks that the majority of users have been offered an easy-to-use interface for accessing the power of the network; group forming (with purpose) on a global scale. When an interface becomes ubiquitous, then significant change occurs. Cite: The telephone.

It is only three years since myspace first clocked more page impressions than google. It is only three years since YouTube started changing the way we think about television.
The great disruption of the internet started just three years ago. You ain't seen nothing yet!

Key Lessons

1. Listen:

Brands are what their users say they are.
Noah Brier's Brand Tags illustrates this in a so-funny-it-hurts (and not in a good) way. Check out your brand now at There is a UK version too, but data is currently a little patchy. Make it richer, here.

Users tweet about coke, british airways, o2, macdonalds, or anything else you care to name. Search using your own terms at (twitter search)

Their conversations tell you not only what they think about your brands, but also how, where and when they use them and who they are using them with. They use them as the content that sparks their conversations.

The conversations are happening with or without your consent, on or off your own mediated forums, branded social networks and chat rooms, in every connection between every node. Where people are, they talk. And where they talk, they talk about you.

Some brands are making great use of the new social mediums. Zappos (an online shoe retailer in the US), for example. And David Armano at Logic + Emotion offers a useful reminder of how brands should approach social media (using twitter as his example).

You can't build communities or control the conversation. You can enable. Join them around their campfires. Be prepared to listen, then serve them with things that are useful - things they they will think are cool enough to pass on to others, who they think will think its cool, too. They are best placed to judge this. Not you.

You've got to be joking?
Look on the funny side. Think how jokes are adapted to be passed on. How do you select which gag to tell which person or gathering. How do you adapt it to suit. That adaption = adoption by the next community of purpose.

The business case
Since approximately 70% of purchase decisions are made based on friend's recommendations (according to Forrester) - you have to seriously consider focusing more of your spend on connecting where the conversations are happening and placing higher value on the conversations and the results of those conversations.

Radian6 among other sentiment trackers, can reveal how your brands are being talked about. That's the information gathering phase... But there is a tangible connection between trust and responsiveness, as Jeff Sonstein says.

2. Respond
In the networked world marketing isn't done to them, it's done by them. Think less about where the eyeballs are and more where the mouths and ears are. And think about joining their conversations in real time.

Real time captures the moment of inspiration. "I want to buy X". It is the essence of two of my more simple concepts, the Intention Economy. and Lean-To-Marketing.

Responses that work:

Widgets with personal outcomes.
Widgets that allow users to adapt them to better suit them to the community with whom they choose to share them next, are a brilliant fit with the networked world.

There are numerous examples. One of my favourites was Pampers US campaign last Christmas. It lowered technical barriers to allow any and everyone to mash up pictures of their own kids with a beautiful video and Silent Night message of Christmas peace. And that made it a widget with a personal outcome. Anyone who did it would want to share it with their close relatives, at least. And each of the receipients may like the idea sufficiently to adapt it to include their own children, and pass it on to the next adhoc community... and on it goes. Unfortunately it is no longer available here.

Others include the (can you see what they'd done there?) which turns your mugshot into a Simpsons version of yourself, to coincide with the movie release. That does live on, in association with BurgerKing.

In each case we create a version for ourselves to take on our journey with us. And in the process it becomes our message to share with our communities.

Mark Earls (author of Herd) suggests "give them something to do together".

The Cadbury's Gorilla's manifold reinterpretations on YouTube illustrate the power of this idea. And here's an important lesson, whether or not Cadbury wanted the network to take its idea and play with it and share it or not, that's exactly what happened. (hint, they aren't in control of the message. They never were).

You can tap into this.
There are three conditions required for a successful widget.
1. A willingness to relinquish control.
2. Toolkits users can play with.
3. Creative users.

We've clearly got creative users. We can make their lives easier by lowering the technical barriers (as Pampers did) and providing tool-kits to make co-creation easier (just as NiN have by providing tools on their website to allow fans to easily remix their work and share the results).

And since that which we create, we embrace, we're more likely to take on the role of marketer on behalf of what we have created, selecting the right communities of purpose to share the outcomes with.

2 & 3 are relatively easy. It's number 1 many struggle with. But without it you're left trying to control a message - trying to dictate where and when and how it will be delivered. And you're not very good at that - at least you're nowhere near as good as the people living in those communities.

This post How We Are Made Great discusses how individually we cannot hope to be in control of turning the flock, how important it is to take a human social approach to changing opinion or behaviour.

In this world even the role of links is challenged (as I discussed in Portability is the new Linkworthy)
They did a great job at discovering people through content.
But we're entering a world in which content is discovered through people.
Here being pointed at is less important than being taken with. Widgets are consumate taken-with enablers.

Going on the journey all brands must make if they are to adapt to survive in the networked world goes more than skin deep. It requires cultural shift, a cultural shift that makes the brand itself a better fit with the networked world. We are in transition - so broadcast models still have great value - but the speed of the transition becomes faster by the day.

Great examples of brands listening to and adapting to the networked world:
Zappos understand that customer service (human interaction) is everyone's responsibility.
Pampers makes your kids the stars Christmas campaign.
NiN make mash-ups easy and shareable.
Where are the Joneses takes Ford to new places.
The Simpsons/Burger King (their user-chooses-the-ad model leverages the social graph in a brilliantly simple way).
Spinvox for listening and responding. (and that reminds me of qik's lean-too marketing)
Carphone Warehouse listens... (example of inevitable two-speed culture in a giant?)

Your further examples welcome. Post links in the comments below and I'll add them to the list as they come in.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

PR: It ain't broke, but it does need fixing

There have been some wild stabs in the dark (back?) at PR over the last few days - notably from Mike Arrington and Robert Scoble.
Steve Rubel has been questioning the value of PR altogether in a world where we thrill in the discovery of the new for ourselves (we get more of a kick if this experience is NOT mediated).

And I've joined the fray with comments in mutliple locations. It's time to draw them together. (Image by candiceedicnac)

PR ain't broken. At least, it's no more broken than the next way-of-doing-things the mass-media, broadcast world presents us with.

Anything which involves mediation has to be rethought in the context of a world where communities of purpose can form at next-to-no cost - where control is simply routed round by people seeking their own co-created solutions;

PR is no more broken than broadcast media, than the music industry, movies or print.

It's no more broken than traditional visions of economics, politics, education or the law.

ALL need reconstructing to take account of the fundamental shift from a broadcast to a networked world.

To pick on PR is to miss the point. Everywhere there is mediation, the network will disrupt and is beginning to disrupt.

In the case of traditional PR, the kind of stuff that bugs Scoble et al (and frankly any traditional journalist since PR began) is the irrelevant.

PR, when driven from a broadcast mindset, aims for quality at the cost of relevance: A fabulous press release sent out en masse? Spam for everyone for whom it is not relevant. Relevance always beats quality.

PR has to take the same kind of approach as anyone wishing to spread or seed a message in the networked world (hello marketeers, advertisers, politicians, service and product providers?).

It goes a little something like this (those familiar with Why Traditional Ad Models Won't Work in Social Networks, And What Will, may recognise its evolutionary path!). See below. Relax. It's just 10 slides.

This speaks to some of the ideas we kicked around with the notion of P2PR.

But to dismiss traditional PR out of hand is at best link-baiting and at worst commercial suicide.

There's still huge swathes of value to be derived from taking traditional routes, reaching out to those who still broadcast in the hope of reaching their (ok dwindling but) still very large audiences.

No wise PR effort would do without it. And getting back to the basics of good human relationships with your intended broadcaster, so that you know what is relevant for them, will win you prizes here, too.

PR + P2PR = :-)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I am a DJ, I am what I play

Just added a new post to /Message. I am a DJ.
Music, mash-ups and the value of what evolves against what is planted. Come spin a record?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

If it's good enough for No10...

10 Downing St, the British PM's home and office, has launched a new version of its website.
It's powered by youtube, twitter, digg, delicious, facebook and flickr; interactive and connected activity left, right and centre (there's a political gag there somewhere...).

Podcasts and RSS are a given. It's even built on the wordpress blogging platform.

I'd love it to enable comments (rather than have to wait for the allotted moment of interaction with our elected servants). Sadly even the youtube videos and flickr images have comments disabled. That makes the social tools a bit too broadcast (we'll do the talking, you do the listening) for me. Shame.

I bet that level of control was set by someone who doesn't use social media, huh?

And it would be wise to have feeds from rivals if No10 wants to serve a community, rather than its own ends.

I don't expect them to enable crowd-sourced legislation any moment now, either (though I do believe our current political system serves the lowest common denominator in ways that fit the broadcast/industrial world rather than the networked one the new site's tools are attempting to tap into).

Check it out here. I was alerted to it via No10's twitter account. Yes, and it does follow me.

They say:

Our new site aims to keep you up to date with all of the developments of the PM’s activities through news stories, videos, Flickr images and our Twitter channel.

There are also plenty of interactive features available, including the opportunity to post your video questions directly to the PM, submit e-petitions and take part in webchats with ministers.

I say:
It's a sad day when many a media brand finds itself lagging behind Gordon Brown for use of social media, innit?

Mippin's making the iPhone work beautifully

By way of apology for not testing mippin before leaping in with this, here's mippin's video showing how utterly fabulously content renders and displays, via mippin, to your iphone. Thank you coalface!

Want FasterFuture on your phone? It's a stroll. Click here.

Apple & The Myth of Working Beautifully: Part IV

I really hope this is the fourth and final part of a series I never planned to begin...
I have finally achieved sync up between google contacts and my 3G iPhone.

The (not wholly satisfactory*, but I'll live with it) solution to this problem reveals the core issue with the itunes/iphone experience currently for me.

I don't mind things going wrong. I get that we're living a life in beta. I am a fan of unfinished symphonies after all.

What I would like is a bit of a steer. Experimentation, playfulness, building as we go, is all fun if we can learn from our mistakes. But apple's error messages are not helping us learn. In fact, they are misleading. Read frustrating.

Every time I tried to sync my gmail contacts via itunes I got the message that my google password was incorrect. I was damn sure it wasn't. Some kind folk I know suggested I reset my password and retry. Nowt. Most people simply couldn't understand what could possibly be wrong. Many nodded, smiled knowingly and muttered N95 ( a clearly better visual content creator compared to the iPhone's superior visual content consumption).

When I gave it a final role of the dice last night at home itunes wouldn't open on my pc. Complete freeze up and worrying beeping noises.

When I restarted I tried to repair itunes. It said it had succeeded. It had not (those misleading error messages again).

So I uninstalled itunes, restarted (again) and reinstalled. And this time, this time! It worked. gmail synced up contacts. I even took the opportunity to whack a load of pics into the 16GB void.

The error was not that I didn't know my google password. It was that apple didn't know itunes was phucked.

Finally; 3G is working, itunes is working, syncing is working. At last my iPhone world is beginnning to smell of roses.

And it could have done so much faster and more easily if only apple's error messages were anywhere close to accurate. C'mon apple. Give us a clue!

The rest of the story? 
*Not wholly satisfactory? Well, all my gmail contacts (which I synced from my N73 via Nokia PC Suite) are now in my iPhone... but every field bar the name has been aggregated into the iPhone contacts 'Notes' field. So I have email addresses, phone numbers et al - but I'd have to dial each number or type each email address to use it. Better than nowt... just.

Monday, August 11, 2008

FasterFuture now available for iPhone

FasterFuture has long been mobilised: most notably via mippin.

Now there's a version for the iPhone, created on Mofuse.
You'll find it at:

It'll look a little something like this:

17 lessons for the new marketing

There's a question I ask publishing teams planning on building websites or digital services:
What do you do if you don't have any content?
It's a question aimed at editorial peeps, generally. People who have a pile of 'content' they see as assets. As publishers, when we go digital our first response is to consider how we should re-use/re-deploy that asset.

To do without it takes your thinking to interesting places. It's the kind of thinking that results in Google, YouTube, Twitter, Wikipedia, networked solutions playing to the power of networks and the nodes and connections (that's us folks) who create those networks.

Bill Drummond's 17 project (picture by grewlike via flickr) is, I think, asking the same question; about music.

To paraphrase Bill, now that you can access pretty much all of recorded music ever it's lost its magic for us.

Recording music (particulary the hits) was and is part of the mass production/mass media culture that the broadcast world nurtured and sustained. But the emerging networked world has less need for it and places less value on it (Why Hits Must Have Less Value in a Networked World).

His 17 project gathers choirs of 17 people. Their creations, their output, their performances are never recorded. They don't even have an audience. They are a unique, relevent experience for those who take part. And this delivers a far richer experience than listening to a long-since recorded (and therefore closed and finished) piece of music.

The networked world wants unfinished symphonies. Participatory culture is leading us to 'us' as the eighth mass media.
Think of this in the context of social networks and how messages are spread, in which we compare how communities of purpose gather to share in the co-creation of messages, to the old broadcast notions of audience and static, controlled messages.
What Bill is doing is taking us to a place where music exists but isn't recorded. Music without content. Music of course, before the broadcast/industrial age was made by the people listening to it, or at best, experienced in a unique (one off) form by small groups for whom it was relevant (carnival dancers, wedding banquets, village feasts).

The grand orchestral pieces for whom an audience was required to sit listening politely (the precurser of electronic mass broadcast) coincided with the arrival of the industrial age. The first stirrings coincided with the printing press and accelerated as the age of mass production began to pick up steam (literally).

In the networked world we are wise to ask:
  • How do we publish if we don't have content?
  • What is music without recordings?
So, if advertising is to marketing as content is to publishing then we should also ask:
  • How do we market without advertising?
If you want to change behaviour but can't run a traditional ad campaign, can't come up with your 'on brand' message and broadcast and control it, what then?

Perhaps one clue to successful connection, successful relationships in the networked world is in offering/hosting/participating in unique, relevant experiences. Co-created experiences, shared with those we think will think its cool, too.

I don't suggest publishers shouldn't make use of the content they have. Nor should marketeers completely ditch their use of advertising. Advertising (even broadcast) has a place.

I do say publishers/marketers will make better use of content/advertising when they start from the premise that they should use neither. Use the idea as a tool to unleash your networked thinking.

The conversation on this one had already started, via twitter. But please join in by posting your comments below. When I floated an idea or two about this blogpost...

Richard Marshall asked:
"Do you think it's important that the reader/consumer knows it's marketing or not? Advertorial versus content+ads?"
It's an interesting question because it reveals our distrust of marketing/advertising. We expect that the message from the centre is lieing to us (at the very least spinning the facts) and so we insist on warnings that we may be being played (eg we insist on transparency).

The new marketing should be less like traditional advertising in this way. If the message can be taken and adapted in order to be adopted it is being done so by people you trust - not by some distant third party (the brand?). If you can't trust your friends to be transparent with you - well that's perhaps down to your own choices - you can't blame the centre for that.

In the new marketing therefore the question of transparency, the need to know whether you are being marketed to or not is less relevant. Your friends (your social graph) are distributing their version of the message to you - and only if they think you will think it's cool, too.

David Bausola remarked: "Marketing is listening. Advertising is talking. Can't have one without the other. Did I just imply advertising will never die?"
Richard asked: "
What do you call conversation between consumer and brand then?
And David came back with:
Brands are deities not entities, so have to pray for help. Brands need to be nihilists so that people can prey on them
Seriously,people talk to each other. Brand has to inspire their conversation. How can Brand have dialogue when it's not an entity."

Looking forward to the discussion continuing... please add your thoughts below! Let's make this a shared, unique and relevant experience for those who wish to participate! Pass it on to anyone who you think will think it's cool, too!

Apple and the Myth of Working Beautifully: Part III

My battle with my iPhone is settling into a series of guerilla skirmishes. A little fire-fighting here and there. I still have the syncing of contacts from either outlook (which I'd prefer not to have to use) or gmail (which itunes insists I don't know my password to) to tackle, for example.

But I thought I'd update you on the issues I had on the day I first used my iPhone in anger. On Friday I headed for London for a day of meetings - in several locations.

I travel by train. On my Nokia N73 I am able to check gmail and use twitter (via slandr) facebook, linkedin etc as pretty effective mobile versions. And these work all the way down the line between Huntingdon and London (barring the tunnels, of course).

But all the way down on Friday with my iPhone I got no signal. Safari said it couldn't reach anything - so no internet.

Arriving in London I wandered through King's Cross station and picked up the Cloud automatically - big thumbs up apple/O2. That worked a treat.

But as soon as I was away from wifi I got no 3G. No internet. Importantly for me; no googlemaps.

I ended up asking a copper for directions when I arrived at Waterloo station on course for a meet at the Young Vic. Haven't done that for a long time! Thanks iPhone.

I texted twitter for help (in the hope I'd find some wifi later to pick up the answers). Text and calls were working. So why no internet even at 2G (or 2.5G) speed?

Among the responses I got from fellow iPhone sufferers were:

"richjm @davidcushman If you get normal signal, chances are it's not the 2.0.1 update. 3G coverage is sketchy. Good around the City, Livp st though"

Chris_Reed @davidcushman is your network setting right? Might be just set to O2 not O2 3g? general>network>enable 3g on. Sorry if it's granny ...

otoburb @davidcushman settings->network->wifi. Disable it and then 3G should lock on. Make sure 3G is enabled somewhere under General->netw

And there was outpourings of sympathy/fun-poking too, of course.

Bear in mind that the people I tweet with are a fairly early-adopter technically adept bunch (certainly compared with the general population). Apple should have a little wobble at this. No one was able to solve my issue (Apple seems focused on enablijng self-help networks rather than centre-out customer services, so it relies on my fellow geek).

I stumbled on it myself, through frustrated experimentation ( I can't call it play, it wasn't any fun). If you can't get the internet on your iPhone try this:
Reset the network settings. To do this, choose Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

And finally the beast came to life.

I popped into a Starbucks on Saturday morning to check the O2 claim about free wifi there. I could fine none. No surprise really as it's a T-mobile hotspot. Happy to be corrected though so if you know how I can get free wifi at Starbucks on my iPhone, post away!

I wandered into the my local O2 store to fill them in on my experience. Lots of sympathy but I was also told in almost these words: Apple doesn't want us to get involved in customer service. They want us to sell you the box.

Staff aren't even allowed to open the iPhone boxes - so they weren't even aware about the secrets of inserting the sim card.

One final criticism of the iPhone for today: I can't text with my thumb on it - which means I can't text and walk. That's a hardcore (read killer app) mobile phone function.

I'm getting used to the touchscreen typepad and starting to like it and what it can do... but it's not a joyful journey.

Guest Post: Khris Loux on the threat of free widgets

I met Khris Loux at Widget Web Expo (having heard him speak at Widgety Goodness). Khris is making the widget revolution happen on a daily basis at his company JS-Kit. He has a POV about how free widgets carry a threat to publishers' own business models and proposes greater transparency as the way ahead.

I'm delighted to host the following guest post from him.

Every first year economics student learns that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” However, a growing number of widget providers would have publishers believe otherwise, promising powerful services at zero cost.  But these services require teams of developers, real data centers, and serious bandwidth. No economy-of-scale can change the fact that these inputs aren’t cheap.  So how do all these “free” services get paid for, much less provide the return that entrepreneurs and investors expect?
In some respects, the silence from most service providers on this question is completely understandable.  Business models are still “under construction” in this space and companies have no incentive to share with rivals.

On the other hand, there exists the strong possibility that some providers keep mum on such details not to protect competitive information, or because they don’t have an answer, but because they know their publisher & visitors won’t like that answer - that they plan to monetize the publishers’ content, visitors, traffic, SEO, ad space, or some combination thereof, once they’ve become embedded in publishers’ sites.  Breaking this news too early stifles adoption -- better to wait and grow.

While this strategy is understandable, I wholeheartedly disagree because “teaser services” are ultimately self-defeating.  The conflicting interests they usually conceal always come to the surface eventually and, when they do, trust suffers. The JS-Kit strategy is one of openness, rapid innovation, and great services and support while keeping focused on creating, not controlling.  This strategy is not without its own risks.  It requires open communication about our business model [50/50 ad revenue sharing] and straight answers to questions about control over data, users, traffic and SEO.

As you well know “free widgets!” talk is cheap, which means that we have to demonstrate our commitments by building openness into our services themselves. We have a long way to go, but here’s a summary of our commitment to publishers and how we’re making it real.
I'd appreciate your feedback on our direction.

You control your data - Data Portability

We think publishers should not only have access to the content generated on their site [via RSS, APIs] but the ability to change providers as seamlessly as possible.  That’s why we where the first third-party comment service to release “Sync” which automatically updates all new comment data directly into the blog platform in real time [Blogger, WordPress, more soon]. This gives publishers the flexibility to revert, or opt-out, at any time without loss of data or risky and time-consuming conversions.  We see Sync as a powerful feature in itself and as a signal that we are willing to compete purely on the basis of innovation.

You keep your Visitors – OpenID

While mobility and choice are important to publishers, they are valued by end-users as well. The era of “walled gardens” is ending and open standards for cross-domain user identification and content portability are gaining momentum.  We believe that this is a good thing for sites and visitors alike.  As a first step, we have chosen to back OpenID as the only solution for all JS-Kit services.  Of course, we support publishers’ existing login systems, but we will not trap publishers into our services by offering an alternative proprietary login.  Proprietary logins only benefit the service provider by capturing publisher visitors.  These logins cannot be re-used by the publisher with other services and are next to impossible to convert to a new system.

You keep 100% of SEO

Another area where publishers are rightly concerned about service providers’ motives is control over traffic and SEO.  Many “free” service providers use the publishers very own content to entice traffic to their “community” site.  These community sites offer the promise of increased return traffic yet in reality they are just vehicles to show ads or, more audaciously, offer to sell the traffic back to the original site as a lead!  In each case, the publisher has traded their creative content and hard-earned traffic without receiving a penny in compensation.

You keep your traffic - No JS-Kit Destination Site

Our public commitment is that JS-Kit does not provide a destination site and, if we did in future, it would be opt-in for our publishers.
Our philosophy is that the “point” of aggregation should be where the visitor is, not yet another destination competing for finite traffic.  JS-Kit’s newly launched Visitor Profile lets users follow whatever threads interest them, but it’s designed to bring tools and information to the community on publishers’ sites rather than siphon this traffic to a JS-Kit hosted domain.  On the in-bound side of the traffic equation, publishers shouldn’t have to worry about SEO for the content that originates on their sites.  JS-Kit recently launched an upgraded SEO solution that gives every publisher full SEO for the comments on their site– 100% to the publisher.

Distributed services are revolutionizing the way web sites are deployed. 

They drive down the cost, risk and time required to launch rich, interactive websites and enable new, cross-site and social networking applications that benefit both visitors and publishers.  And there’s much more to come.  Different providers have different understandings of the opportunity and of the role they should play.  JS-Kit believes that the greatest opportunity lies in the role of a “trusted third party” that enables and defends the interests of both publishers and visitors. 

To do this, we build new services, features, business models, etc. - that avoid possible conflicts of interest and address these conflicts openly when they do arise.  We’ll continue to push for respectful dialogue about issues of control and ownership and will continue to deliver technologies that win through openness, innovation, and world-class support vs. lock-in.

Khris Loux, CEO  JS-Kit

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Apple and the myth of working beautifully, Part II

I finally got my hands on an iPhone yesterday - the 16GB 3G version. And while the unboxing was a very fine experience... (see qik video with this post) most of the rest was not.
First things first; in store. I got a tip off that phones were in so I headed off for an 02 shop (I won't name the location to protect the uninformed) and avoided the queue nastiness that has put me off in the past.

See Apple And The Myth of Working Beautifully

Experience so far, good (cartoon, right, by Hugh). Asking questions of the staff revealed some flaws in the training (I'm being charitable).

To be fair, my first encounter was with a young girl labelled 'trainee' and wearing a iPhone promo t-shirt.

I asked about contracts and tariffs. She knew nothing about the costs of data. Pretty critical on the iphone you might have thought?

When a more senior colleague could join us they claimed the 02 iphone contract meant you could use wifi free whereever wifi is available. "Mcdonalds" she quoted (it's free there anyway) and Starbucks (which I think there is a deal in place with).

I assured her it was not possible that they could have done a deal to offer everyone's wifi for free. It's not an issue for me - just an odd and misleading claim to make while selling an iPhone.#

Signing up was easy enough.

And so the evening, and trying to make the bleeding thing work.

Instructions say simply connect to computer and iTunes will do the rest. What iTunes does is tell you nothing is going to work for you, sucker, because you haven't got a valid sim card in.

I know, I was kind of hoping you were going to tell me how to instal it since there are no instructions.

The 02 site and phonelines couldn't cope with the demand for help, so I went to ask my twitter pals.

Turns out there is a piece of card rattling around in your box with some archane heiroglyphics on (no words) which purport to show you what to do with an odd-shaped slither of metal - the sacred key that opens the secret door to sim card placement. A case of apple being blinded by its own brilliance.

Here's some of the tweets that followed:

Latest live from Qik [qik] - Iphone 3g

  • f'ck me. how stupid can o2 be? no instructions on how to open iphone or insert sim. genius
  • otoburb @davidcushman It's that picture on the black insert with the strange looking metal piece.
  • @otoburb er? ah thankyou.
  • bellhead @davidcushman in the US they have the SIM already in them (done way upstream).
  • btinternet downloaded itunes 7.7 at a stately 180kb at best. stand by my post re apple and the myth of working beautifully
  • rmmarshall @davidcushman So good to hear someone else who isn't falling into the fanboy irreality trap.
  • if i should die before i finally start this iphone, who would like it left to them
  • ilicco @davidcushman thanks, but you can take it with you. also, if you want proper 3G, use JoikuSpot on a Nokia N82 and WIFI your iPhone
  • hadn't appreciated iphone comes with watching paint dry app pre-installed
  • @rmmarshall nokia would die before making it this hard to make a phone call!
  • spanx @davidcushman iPhone tip. Turn 3G off unless you're using the Internet on the move. It's a battery killer.
  • @spanx cheers. how's it done?
  • spanx @davidcushman It's under the system settings thing. Badly needs a one-click 3G switcher app.
  • rmmarshall @davidcushman It's such a UScentric idiom - they don't get phones. Like the paint dry app analogy - 59p from the appStore!
  • technokitten @davidcushman ooh I'm feeling left out! I want a 'watching paint dry' app too ;)
  • hmm a flaw. iphone opens itunes then insists on installing new version, without auto closing itunes first. dumb.
  • golly. now its restart time. this better be worth it mr jobs
  • apple. the walls of the garden arent meant to be for banging my head against
  • superb. itunes install failed. now trying to repair
  • ok. lets try a second restart. am very bored now
  • finally itunes opens up. cant access some synch or other. i should try later?
  • @gapingvoid thank you. apple and i aint buddies 2nite
  • andrewgrill @davidcushman you should have bought an E71 ;-]
  • 6consulting @davidcushman May I suggest placing it in the blender? seems to have worked for others!!
  • neilperkin @davidcushman thanks for keeping me entertained whilst working at home :)

Daddy, is that your googlemaps?

My 3-year-old daughter pointed to the sat nav in my car this morning and asked: "Is that your googlemaps daddy?"
I told her it was very similar.
She said that when she is an adult she wants a car with googlemaps.

I told her it was possible there would be no cars when she is an adult (what with the price of oil, global warming et al) and that she might have to use something different.

Her answer? "No! I don't want a lorry".

The future of tech-driven personal transport sits beside me...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How to adapt to survive the 21st century

I believe in evolution. That is, I believe in complex adaptive systems which use relatively simple rules to create immensely complex outcomes - such as the weather, the economy, ideas, messages, the internet, ourselves, and life on Earth. They do this by a process of iteration, selection and amplification.

I have discussed (The Perfect Storm: A Fourth Element) how I believe it is no coincidence that the fastest growing company in history (google) exists at the same time as the internet: two complex adaptive systems are coming together (the economy and the internet) to fan the flames.
We are looking ahead into a golden age. And you will be part of it; If you adapt to survive.

One outcome of evolution is that there are always casualties - things that get dampened out of existence rather than amplified to success. Don't be a diplodocus. (image shared via flickr by cpurrin1)

I have a handful of simple rules for success for individuals driven by the idea that in order to adapt to survive in any given environment the first and primary requisite is that you are living in that environment (told you these rules were simple...)

So I always suggest:

Write a blog: Discover how easy it is to be a publisher, how easy it is to create and share content, how easy it is to form groups of shared purpose in networks of trust, how easy it is to find relevant content and for relevant people to find you. More.

Build a widget: You have to start by trying to guess who might choose to share your widget or be enthused or impressed enough to pass it on - which raises a whole bag of questions. More. Discover not only that we are all publishers now, we all distributors, too - and all of us are advertisers.

To which I'll add:
Join a social network: Discover the easy-to-use tools that are making group-forming ubiquitous (more on why this is so critical here).

What tips do you have? What other advice for individuals and groups do you have to help them adapt to survive in the networked world as it comes to dominate the 21st century?

The new ordering of information: An assault on the edge

I've added a new post to /Message about google's Knol and Sir Tim Berners-Lee's proposals for certification of digital content. Join in?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Testing qik live from a glider!

I've been playing with qik recently as anyone who has caught any videos from me will know.
Qik allows you to broadcast live streaming video from your mobile phone. There's usually a small delay before it'll appear in my live channel (see latest from the channel below) but it's close to live.

This evening from 6.30pm (UK, BST) I'm going gliding - and I'm taking my mobile and qik with me. I managed to broadcast on just a couple of bars of 2G signal recently from a forest in Norfolk. I reckon hundreds of feet above the Cambridgeshire countryside should offer an even tougher challenge! Here's what I've written about qik before.

UPDATE The rather disappointing outcome appears below:

UK's top 20 Marketing Blogs

A new month and a new top-of-the-pops moment for marketing (kinda) blogs - and this time FasterFuture is officially listed in the top 20 UK marketing blogs. Hurray for us! (that means you.)
Listings show (from left) UK ranking (movement), Global ranking (movement), link to blog.
Big thanks to the guys at spinning around (no14 on your list) for compiling this from the Adage Power 150 list.

1 (-) 41 (-4) russell davies
2 (+2) 51 (11) Blogstorm
3 (-1) 53 (-5) David Airey
4 (-1) 58 (-2)
5 (-) 76 (+1) adliterate
6 (-) 85 (+11) Only Dead Fish
7 (-) 97 (+5) Crackunit
8 (-) 109 (-6) PR Blogger
9 (-) 128 (-9) The Engaging Brand
10 (-) 144 (+13) Welcome to Optimism
11 (-) 176 (+4) HERD
12 (+1) 184 (+10) Make Marketing History
13 (-1) 214 (-23) A PR Guy's Musings
14 (+4) 216 (+11) Spinning Around
15 (+1) 220 (-) Blog Till You Drop
16 (+1) 221 (+1) Modern Marketing
17 (-3) 226 (-27) PPC Blog
18 (+1) 232 (+10) Fraser's Affiliate Marketing Blog
19 (-4) 243 (-35) Crenk
20 (+2) 261 (+44) Faster Future
21 (+2) 267 (+51) SEOCO Blog
22 (-2) 280 (-2) greenormal
23 (-2) 286 (+9) Hobo SEO UK
24 (+4) 312 (+38) Drew B's take on tech PR
25 (NEW) 315 (NEW) The Ad Pit
26 (-1) 316 (+8) Wadds' tech pr blog
27 (NEW) 318 (NEW) Collective Conversation
28 (-2) 322 (+7) Beyond PR
29 (-5) 323 (-2) Life Moves Pretty Fast
30 (+3) 325 (+98) Nick Burcher
31 (-) 338 (+44) Simonsays
32 (NEW) 339 (NEW) Brendan Cooper
33 (+5) 341 (+115) Living in a digital world
34 (-5) 346 (+13) Interactive Marketing Trends
35 (-5) 366 (+9) 50-Plus Marketing
36 (-9) 368 (-19) livingbrands
37 (-3) 381 (+45) Brand Strategy Magazine Blog
38 (+1) 386 (+88) The Way of the Web
39 (-7) 389 (+10) mediations
40 (NEW) 399 (NEW) Direct response marketing observations
41 (NEW) 403 (NEW) General Marketing Blog
42 (+4) 404 (+135) London Calling
43 (-6) 425 (+29) Raw Stylus
44 (NEW) 432 (NEW) Get International Clients
45 (NEW) 439 (NEW) This Is HERD
46 (-11) 451 (-12) rubbishcorp®
47 (-11) 453 (-) Simon Wakeman
48 (NEW) 466 (NEW) Blendingthemix
49 (NEW) 478 (NEW) renaissance chambara
50 (-9) 495 (-) Pudding Relations
51 (NEW) 502 (NEW) Shiny Red
52 (-8) 508 (+13) A Mountain Dweller in the Thames Valley
53 (NEW) 511 (NEW) Event Manager Blog
54 (NEW) 531 (NEW) Nicola Davies
55 (-10) 532 (-6) Vincent Thome's Blog
56 (-9) 535 (+22) Unleashed on Marketing
57 (-17) 548 (-71) (Almost) Always Thinking
58 (NEW) 560 (NEW) FreshNetworks Blog
59 (-10) 564 (+4) All Things PR
60 (-12) 579 (-16) Brandgym Blog
61 (-18) 581 (-78) [Bluurb] stuff and things
62 (-20) 585 (-83) The New Marketing
63 (NEW) 598 (NEW) Measurement Matters
64 (-12) 602 (+4)
65 (-14) 611 (-17) PR Voice
66 (NEW) 617 (NEW) 25 letters in the alphabet
67 (-17) 650 (-58) In the Cowshed
68 (-15) 655 (-42) Offer and Acceptance
69 (-15) 666 (-24) Creative in London
70 (-13) 673 (+15) From PR to Eternity
71 (NEW) 678 (NEW) 10 Yetis PR Blog
72 (-16) 685 (-5) Yet Another Planning Blog
73 (NEW) 689 (NEW) Digital Examples
74 (-19) 716 (-50) PRwordSmith
75 (NEW) 731 (NEW) CarbonGraffiti
76 (NEW) 745 (NEW) noticing
77 (NEW) 746 (NEW) From the Cowshed

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?