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A Better Project

6 Apr

The Better Project is something I stumbled across neatly whilst surfing my vast array of blog listings and links and clicks or what have you. But this is one neat little project worth another mention.

The Better Project harnesses a sort of  collaborative power of teh interwebs to help make anything better. Litterally anything.

It takes just a few minutes to set up your own project for instance, invite others and start sharing and discussing ideas around topics and interests you care about and want to see change towards. ..Such as coffee…Becuase I had a *nasty* one on the weekend.

But all bad coffees aside, thinking about the way this works though, it could become a good platform for companies and programs or  places to generate feedback and actually listen to the audience at home…or for something/someone new to fill a space where so much is collectively missing.

Anyway, enough babble… have a look.

The Better Project.

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The Twitter train

20 Nov

Discovered by my no doubtly iniquitous means of surfing teh interwebs and researching blogging as a a creative outlet project, I stumbled across Twitter. I never really paid any attention to it, thought it was much a-do about only a little, but in some logical space, this so called ‘Twitter’ just seemed to keep popping up everywhere. It first started falling into my routine with my iPod touch, installing a nifty application called ‘Twinkle’.
Now, I’m not app heavy, use and keep what I need and somehow this one application just stuck around for a while.
And Twitter, incase you’ve been hiding under a rock in the general world of web 2.0, it is micro blogging that’s well… “so hot right now”…in the colloquial Gen Y-er terms.

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But regardless of popularity, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was witnessing some kind of Star Trek style culture, whereby people are infact known by their clever twitter personnas and leave behind -well, everything else.

So, the point you ask?
There is something really interesting when it comes to understanding the mindset that drives some people to pursue the untested, emerging social networking platforms, when to most, the reason for doing so might be unclear and a waste of time, when you have things that already work for you.
First you need to understand the mindset of technology adapters, or bleeding edgers or tweeps and whathaveyou.
It starts with myspace, facebook and moves onto blogging, photo blogging, RSS feeds and technorati to name a few. Tied somewhere into that, you’ll find an unbridled passion for everything social, down to the search for something a little more left of center than the standard information generation.

So I had heard something was going on and it turns out, hey- it had been for quite sometime already. A whole lot of something. Better late to the party than never I say.
Since connecting to this highly addictive world of Twitter, I’ve discovered some interesting things.
Unlike the relatively static experiences on LinkedIn, facebook* or WordPress, twitter is alive and buzzing with real time conversations. It’s amazing what you can say in 140 characters or less (micro blogging needs a defining characteristic, and Twitter’s creators somehow settled on 140 characters as a limit) you’ll get everything from “I need a coffee” to “anyone seen Google’s latest acquisition with video chat?”

The second thing I discovered was that people are paying close attention to everything you say. In fact, when you ‘follow’ someone on twitter, another description could almost be stalking in the real world. But not on Twitter. The third twitter point I must share, was the process of explaining to my friends and others, exactly what twitter was and why it mattered. All they could muster was ‘that sounds pointless!’
Yeowch. The truth can hurt.

It might sound a little ethereal, but eventually you get plugged into the wavelength of Like-minded people. The revelation is that Twitter has demonstrated that social networking can be-wait for it- social.
Amazing I know.
Looking for advice on a broken mac, or even asking questions on a new business challenge, just as your twitter followers, the suggestions can come flooding in within minutes.
The real shocking thing about business is that it’s social, and that’s where it ties in. Relationships matter- relationships with customers, clients or faceless corporate entities. Regardless how positive or negative those experiences can be.

So for now, I’ll keep using it, finding ‘tweeps’, networking and socially relating in something a little new and untouched by the grubby hands of mainstream. I don’t consider myself a bleeding edger, but I’ll roll with it for now. It’s a bit like a self assured credibility you adopt because you used to watch that artist or band performing in lounges and pubs before they were mainstream.

Anyway, time for my next update.

Nigerian Princess, eat your heart out

1 Nov

Opening my inbox bright and early on a Monday morning I was graced with the usual presence of blog subscriptions, a few short and wonderful emails from friends overseas, the occasional spam or newsletter… But to my surprise, I had also recieved an email from a mysterious Colonel Benjamin F Davies, who had contacted me from his gmail account, offering me a cut of $20 million in gold and cash he says he found in a cave in Iraq. Of course.

Before your laughter subsides, it reads a little something like this…

From 1st Brigade -col Benjamin F Davies:

This is to write to your notice that I found out gold and revenue, amount to $20 million in a tunnel in Iraq, which I made an open declaration of the gold, but I hid the revenue, as I successfully secured the revenue with a finance company. I am hereby contacting you in assistance to bring out this revenue from the finance company, as I will present you as the original owner of the revenue this will enable the revenue to be released to you by the company to avoid the notice that I am directly involved. Which means I will part with you 20% for you and 10% for any expenses the success of the transaction may incur, while 70% for me.

Thank you for your cooperation

Signed,
Col. Benjamin F Davies

Well, that just blew me away, naturally. How generous. Just a few minor question before I hand over all my bank details… A few problems forseen in the colonels delightful offer. You know, aside from the bleeding fact you’d have to be an idiot to reply to one of these emails. But couldn’t resist the morning laugh in a harmless look.

Let’s muse along here for the colonels sake:
1. Can he just take the money? Doesn’t it belong to the Iraqi people?

2. If Col. Davies is an American citizen, why does he need me, in Australia to help? Can’t he work with a resource on base?

3. So obviously this colonel character found me by no doubt heinous mean of surfing the interwebs, but shouldn’t he be focusing on ending the fighting in Iraq than (a) stealing gold from the caves and (b) reading my blog or floating about on twitter?

And lastly,
4. Won’t I have to pay tax in this sum? I don’t want it to screw up my tax bracket now.

Hmmm… the odds just aren’t panning put too nicely. I’m thinking I might just have to decline. But wish you all the luck somewhere else… like Cluedo, Colonel.

You woo me, but can you really win me?

24 Aug
So... Where are we going?

So... Where are we going?

Media has always been inherently social.

A few different blog spaces over the last week have me reflecting on the issue of ‘Social Media’ – where it’s come from, going to and the whole aspect or intent of it in the first place.

Stripped bare of its fundamental essence, media is quite simply a form of information communication.

With traditional media offerings, however, that communication process is typically one way. Product to person.

Nonetheless, it achieves a social dimension by providing a conversational context for audiences, and in this sense media is not only able to shape aspects of society, it becomes part of the social processes and norms too.
I mean, a leading headline for the day becomes a topic of gossip over breakfast. Popular dramas and movies spark discussion amongst the water cooler. Documentaries, events and books are topic for discussion and debate over dinner now.
Many a social acquaintance, friendship or relationship were even created through mutual interests in music, art, theatre, entertainment or topics of discussion that then became a mutual interest.

Media is social.
In a world which consumers have millions of content options, we are increasingly reliant on friends and associates to help us idenify and choose the media we consume. Our social interactions from this are playing a key role in our selection of entertainment choices; what we do, where we visit and what we use from then on. We want what we trust, naturally.

Secondly, socialisation is becoming an inherent feature of the entertainment product itself. A YouTube video becomes more valuable when a work colleague passes it on with a comment about how funny they found it. – A cancer awareness email campaign is more solemn when a friend of a friend adds a note about how the disease affected their life. – And then videos about social media and objects of discussion resonate more when you watch it on the blog of a friend who unravels the topic and identifies it throughout their own social experience.

Entertainment media has always relied on word-of-mouth promotion, which is something i find intrinsically valuable. Uncontrollable and interesting though, content has always been influenced by the manner it was selected for consumption.
What is different is that it is becoming increasingly rare to consume entertainment content in the absence of any social interaction. This, in turn, is changing our perception of entertainment; if my friends aren’t doing it, I’m not going to either – right?
Or more to the point; if you don’t draw me in enough to experience, talk about and share with my friends, you’re going nowhere fast.
This poses some real issues for those entertainment options which remain locked with dim, brassbound distribution channels, impervious to an audiences’ attempt to socialise them. …So what happens next?

Ideas anyone?

Image thanks to Matthew Strong and Flickr Storm

digital killed the radio star…

16 Aug
on air or online?

On air or online?

I have been paying a lot of attention to music the past few weeks …more actually about the source of music and what I want to hear.

My shiny, tiny ipod touch has been integrated nicely into my hectic lifestyle, with the music I want to hear selected by a touch and played when I want to hear it. No advertisements, no irritating generic house music or fluffed out promo segments. Everything I want and need, without the excessive add-ons of radio.

It’s this kind of refinement in everyday life now that has people expecting and asking for more, and I’m afraid radio, well just isn’t cutting it in the real world.

Bigger, better things are moving on in and shipping you out of my speakers… thank you very much.

Thats right I’m talking ’bout Last.fm.

The very first time I tried last.fm I thought wow, radio is actually dead.
No longer will we have to listen to what commercial networks, funded by major labels, decide is in our taste. Instead I can just simply log on to Last.fm, type in the names of some of my favourite artists and my lovely internet radio station can suggest similar music to try out. Better still, the system can learn from our picks and refine our playlists on the fly depending on how I rate or skip music.

Any system that relies on user recommendation and interaction rather than the dull drip-feed of traditional broadcasting and the simulation of repetitive ads, has to be an advantage.

Last.fm now has deals in several major labels, which will expand its catalogue significantly. Im hoping, despite these arrangements, Last.fm listeners will still be fed new tracks based on preference and taste – not on the bias of any commercial arrangement. Otherwise we might as well turn the radio back on.

While your in the mood for Digital Radio… check out ‘Creative is Not A Department’ for an insight that actually inspired my thought on this one.

Digital vs Traditional (again)

21 Jul
There has been a lot of speculation lately and a lot of talk as to the argument of digital media overcoming traditional media. And yes I do think it is happening. Digital is a cut above the rest when it comes to communication and has high end capabilities that still are being uncovered as we speak. Yes that’s right folks, the possibilities are endless. Or something to that degree.
However (and there’s always a ‘however’), I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that many forerunners of twentieth century print media are now suggesting something slightly contrary to Web 2.0. The question is basically, ‘Is Google is making us stupid?’. (As written by Nicholas Carr)
Which made me think about this slightly in a traditional form. Least surprising and quite transparent are the pervasive effects of web browsing on our thought patterns. Point-and-click reading is sadly the preferred method of reading for many now, regardless of age.
So here’s a experiment for the point-and-clickers playing at home…
Read this blog, start to finish. No stops, no breaks, nothing to drink that you didn’t have when you started initially. No TV, or youtube, no opening tabs or flashy web banner distractions. Do not click on another link. Then when if you fail, having read only the first few lines without distraction, revel in the irony. Considering that you may have been once well-read, yet now cannot sit through a blog due to nefarious distractions and technically, it demands a little too much time.

But yes, I know, there are too many flashing, clickable things to go and see. A whole world of them in fact.

Guilty as charged (on occasion). If you want my attention now it better be good, right?

During many long sittings I will get up all too often for a drink, maybe some chocolate and of course a distraction by a desire to read something a little more thought provoking.

The flashed word is now virtually as good as the printed one. And sells better. Traditionally, the printed page tends to hearten a more disciplined reading practice than that of a web page. How many people can really sit and read an online document for more than 10 minutes?

But seemingly true as it is, I just can’t come to terms with the idea behind ‘Google making us stupid’.

The argument seems to be that “immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information” united with the idea of common online communication, may cause it all to change, the way with think and how much we need to use our brain.

Our thought processes will always change. Concentration and focus on careful reading has always required effort and everyone is at their own level.

While we work to provide information, it’s important to realise it is not Google that makes us stupid. Insightful practices get lost in the hysterical pace of today’s world.

Google and Web 2.0 for that matter, work to help people to be more connected to each other, not just to the vast asset of information that’s accessible via the internet. Its our job to supply the exceptional questions and encourage reflection .To help make interpersonal connections that encourage conversation and challenge thinking.
But its Google that can help us to be smarter; “its not about searching, its about finding”.

 

 

 

 

 

Flickr at it’s best and it’s worst …at the same time.

28 Jun

I seriously adore Flickr. It’s a fantastic site and is streamed through other great photo search engines like Flickr Storm and Compfight that I use constantly end to end.
So as I was wandering aimlessly though several search engines, (my attention diverted and abstracted by the arbitrary associated with my inital ideas… again) I came across this little piece of work…

a slight flicker in Flickr?

Flickr have turned an ‘Oops’ into fun. Obviously the Flickr site was down, for a conciderable amount of time and just before listing a generic message…

“I’m Sorry your Flickr post is important to us, but currently out site is down and well, you’ll just have to wait till we get around to it.”

…Wait on, here’s an idea. Let’s keep them busy and they might still love us. Flickr had pushed the boundaries just that little but further with a creative foothold that had their audience brimming with lateral thought and frothing at the mouth in particiapation… or something like that.

When I see this kind of communication, it makes me smile. Takes me back just a couple of years when we were asked to identify ‘What is Graphic Design’. The varied output, concepts and realities were phenomenal and so inspiringly unique. Everyone wants to jump on board and share their 5 cents.

Fantastic soloution. …Fantastic marketing soloution.
Nice one Flickr for turning that negative into a positve. So much, that we forgot what was wrong in the first place.

Almost.