Right to Bear Arms


Be very afraid link to the Something Awful forum where Roland Tower has made a flame thrower from everyday parts available from a B&Q. The only thing stopping being as good as military one is that it uses too light a fuel and does not have a heavier sticky base (though a quick trip to the kitchen or returning to B&Q would do the trick).

About five minutes thinking about alternative materials and you have a dummy’s guide to hardcore weaponry.

The Shiznitz on Social Networking


Fantastic overview on the overhyped technology trend of the moment social networking. Don’t get me wrong I am a member of some of them, its just that the net is not paved with gold and there are only a finite number of opportunities. By the time you get around to organise a high-level conference about them or Wired do an eight-page spread to explore the issues it’s over.

Ged Carroll’s guide to the new-new thing:

Info-imaging: digital is the new film, but there still hasn’t been a truly easy way to manipulate and store pictures online that is as easy as a photo album, why? Also people like Fuji, Kodak etc are used to having continuing revenue from film sales, how do they adapt for the 21st century when the market for cameras that are good enough for you and I saturates in the next few years, whats the sticky app. How can business take advantage of this technological change in a risk-free, cost effective manner and still take home the benjamins

Communities for broadband: Question why was AOL so successful? Not because of its content, nor its direct marketing technique learned from the Luftwaffe. It was two things ease-of-use and communities. With broadband network providers are obsessing about content, in reality they don’t have too much of a clue they are using a fast failure model to try and find out what works. I know because I promoted a survey done at the end of 2000 by Capgemini with Ernst & Young that reached out to about 100 CEOs in telecoms and media. The survey concluded that everyone knew that broadband was needed but not the why. If we look at what has driven net adoption so far is communication and being a part of a community. Email was the killer app. The question to be answered is how can a community be enhanced and made more engaging to sell broadband services and differentate the next AOL from just another pipe-merchant. VoIP won’t do it because its a commodity product and need to be ‘open’ in order to allow it to become useful through gaining ubiquity.

I’ll leave it to David Hornik to put the hype in prospective with a summary of a Churchill Club event Social Networking Who Cares?

“Welcome blah blah blah relationship capital blah blah blah social contracts blah blah blah media businesses blah blah blah identify the rabid fans of the iPod blah blah blah utility media blah blah blah this is the future of the web blah blah blah RSS blah blah blah Spam blah blah blah killer app blah blah blah social networking is blogging dumbed down for the masses blah blah blah tribecaster blah blah blah widget blah blah blah what is the connection between social networks and blogs blah blah blah the most efficient media platform ever blah blah blah read-write, not read-only blah blah blah all software is about people blah blah blah put this stuff in context blah blah blah monetizing relationships blah blah blah a new dimension to the web blah blah blah I met my wife on Match.com blah blah blah wiki-based community blah blah blah collective action, common good … blah blah blah I’ve been monetizing my social relationships since my bar mitzvah blah blah blah blah blah it’s group voice blah blah blah social context blah blah blah the entire web is a social network blah blah blah join me in thanking tonight’s moderators blah blah blah goodnight.”

V to the A


On Saturday, I continued my sporadic tour of London’s cultural highpoints: Fabric, Smith of Smithfields, The End, Flying Records, Phonica, The Science Museum and now the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The museum is very disorientating despite the map that they provide you with on the way in. In fact the map was an offence against design to my co-explorer Steve, a design agency owner who came along. The exhibits on Japan were very interesting and made Europe look like a bunch of savages. The Victorian silverware looked crass and tasteless, the plunder of robber barons from an empire that spanned a third of the world (sort of like Kenneth Noye on a grand scale).

There were lots of activity areas and it should get a high rating for being child friendly. It was way cool and both Steve and myself took some time out for learning activities. The café wasn’t as swish as I had thought that it would be, however it is still very good. My expectations had been distorted by the ‘V&A café with museum attached’ descriptions of it in the media. (Their 1 1/2 cup pot of coffee is actually good for two cups).

In addition, they had The Other Flower Show art exhibition and Tracy Emin’s work in particular had a very dark sense of humour in it with a ouija board and knife in the centre of a children’s wendy house.

One of the things I found out was that it was Architecture Week, judging by their materials and handouts both RIBA and the Arts Council had invested heavily in it. However beyond mentions in the design press about activity in Clerkenwell to celebrate the event we had not seen any press coverage. If you were involved in Architecture Week and want to get more publicity give me a call :-))

The V&A area suffered from a dearth of fast food suppliers so Steve and myself had to decamp by foot to Leicester Square in order to support a heinous global corporation that tears down the rainforest and provides gainful employment to sociology graduates in the fast-food industry.

Viral Craic-er

Southwark Council reinvents Frogger with an anti-drug abuse message here courtesy of my colleague Lucy

Gates Courts Blogger


Bill Gates wrote to me regarding the latest thinking by Microsoft (ok so its a Microsoft marketing ploy to make me think that Chairman Bill cares even for heretics like me) and some of their partners to curb spam. The mail is interesting, however I have a few concerns:

– the industry initative lacked networking manufacturers like Nokia, Juniper or Extreme Networks

– no computing powerhouses like Sun Microsystems, Oracle, IBM, Apple

– there was no reference to non-windows PC users (Mac, Unix, Linux, Symbian smartphones, PalmOS etc)

– there is no independent experts on the panel like Phil Zimmerman

From: billgates at chairman.microsoft.com

Subject: Preserving and Enhancing the Benefits of Email – A Progress Report

Date: 28 June 2004 21:47:34 BST

To: gedcarroll at mac.com

During the past year, Microsoft has taken a number of important steps to help curb the epidemic of junk email, which is a major headache for computer users worldwide. We’ve made significant progress, including blocking more than 95 per cent of all incoming junk email – an average of 3 billion messages a day – on Hotmail. But more work remains to be done. We’re committed to finding additional ways to counter this costly nuisance.

Over the next 12 months, we will begin to introduce several additional innovative technologies and processes that should further reduce the volume of junk email reaching customers’ inboxes. Because you’ve subscribed to receive executive emails from us, I’d like to update you on what we’re doing in this area. On the Web at www.microsoft.com/execmail, I’ve posted an in-depth explanation of Microsoft’s technology vision and strategy for ending the junk email epidemic as a major problem. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it.

Thank you.

Bill Gates

Apple Puts a Tiger In Its Tank


Steve Jobs live keynote presentation at Apple WWDC laid out by MacObserver here.

For those of you too young to remember the put a tiger in your tank reference try here and here. My old man used to have an Esso tiger soft toy (which were common in the 1960’s and had it attached to the parcel shelf having wired its eyes with christmas light bulbs connected up to the brake lights and indicators on his Ford Anglia in order to get them to light up). In these days before fire retardant fabrics and safety standards on toys it remains a miracle to me that he did not die from the smoke of an electrically ignited faux tiger fire.

Wise Words For PROs


I have abridged Lord Chadlington’s recent speech (June 15, 2004) to the Guild of Public Relations Practioners. In his speech Chadlington outlined the following rules:

– Everything is possible. Everything good and everything bad! Most things are uncontrollable – particularly in our business. Events will always upset the best – laid plans. In that context, rule one, is to be positive. That does not mean you have to be a joke-cracking comic when the world is collapsing around you. Nor do you have to be Polyanna! It means that you must face bad news, full frontal: face reality as it is. Do not hide. The solution to problems is not pretending they are not there. The answer often lies in the analysis of the problem itself. Dissect it. Do not shy away. Be positive. Above all else, be positive by grasping and taking responsibility. Do not allow yourself to be sidelined. Make yourself and your skills the driver that makes things happen by being accountable and responsible

– Never give up. Ours is a very difficult profession. We tend to be – despite the public image – remarkably sensitive, creative people. And were it not so – then we would be no good at our jobs! The result is that we are more hurt by the unpredictability of events, by the buffeting of clients and journalists, than we care to admit. Being resilient, robust, bouncing back – these are all the essentials of success

– Read. Yes read – and I do not mean the papers! For an industry that wishes to be regarded with esteem, our practitioners often seem very ill informed. If we aspire to be more than what we are, then we must stay ahead of what is going on in the world, in industry, in the arts, in politics, in literature. An evening reading Trollope is certainly a more constructive way of advancing your understanding of human nature than almost anything else

– Think. Reading and thinking go together. I have never met a PR professional who thinks too much! Learning to think is the most difficult part of education. Clients do not want the same solutions you gave to the last client – except the name has been changed. They want you to solve their particular problems. Think. Close the door for a few hours and think. Blackberries, emails, mobile phones and the like are the enemies of this process. What did Russell say? “ When all others options have failed, man is thrown back to the painful necessity of thought”

– Be much more questioning.Very often we are so keen to hear the good news: so encouraged that our client has good financial results to put out: so delighted by the client relationship we are developing – that we just do not want to upset the apple cart. Interrogate the clients. Argue with them. Make sure that they are running businesses in a way that enhance your reputations as advocates. What is the Washington quote? “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company”.

– Never mix business and pleasure. It is much more difficult to be objective, ask difficult questions, be independent, if your clients step over that line into friendship. Neither can you judge the performance of a colleague if that line between civility and friendship is crossed – and it is even more difficult if your families know each other socially as well! I agree with most of the rules, his never do business with friends statement I think needs to be more flexible, some of my best friends are former colleagues and they are the kind of people that I would trust with my PR programme. I would modify it to be cognisant of the effect your friendship may have on business and be professional about it.

– Pay well. Get the best people on board. Have clients pay well too. If your clients pay you top dollar then you can give them the best people you have and you have the time to think about their problems. The best work I have ever done is where the client has been generous in his fees. I have made money and the client has either saved it – or made it – many times over!

– Honesty is vital. Not just about the big things but the little things too. Best practice is so important. Every tiny deviation from being whiter than white undermines your credibility – not because you are found out – but because you are more likely to bend the rules next time

– Always manage expectations. Exceeding expectations by the tiniest margin is viewed as a great success. Failing by the tiniest smidgeon is always – what it is – failure! What is Maurice Saatchi’s famous equation? Satisfaction = performance – expectation.

– It is the small things that matter: the research you do for a meeting, the care you take, even the way you dress – all these things build up a cumulative effect and determine how your client or your boss view your performance.

I would add the following:

– Banish the word never, absolute blinkered thinking doesn’t have any place in PR. Keep things in prospective

– Contingency plan – at least think about what ifs and try to reduce risk of catastrophic failure

– Never leave home without business cards, every social or business meeting is a prospect

– Make like a union – get organised. Most people have a circle of contacts including work of about 150 people. With PR its is much wider (I’m up to 3,500+), together with juggling diaries, keeping track of prospects, doing client work and managing a multi-client work balance thing. My mentor Kirsty swore by lists and Excel spreadsheet workplans. I am a great believer in the Palm PDA, iCalender, iSync, critical path analysis and the use of project managment software (I recommend Intellisync Project Desktop). Archive business cards as they are a great visual cue to jog the memory even when you have gone electronic

– If you have more bad days than good days in a three month period, fix the situation, if you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you by resigning and go to a better role

Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You


New regulations come into effect on the 25th June 2004 in the UK that will allow businesses to opt out of receiving unsolicited sales calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

– Registration takes 28 days to take effect. From the 25th June it will be an offence to make an unsolicited cold call to any number on the TPS list.

– In the case of sub-contracted cold calling, the legal liability for ensuring no calls are made to numbers listed lies with the Client.

– Another legal requirement under the legislation is that all businesses must hold a “do not call” list of telephone numbers of people who have contacted you directly and asked that you do not cold call them, even though they may not have registered with the TPS. They are legally required to hold this list and we will need a copy of this “do not call” list.

– At present, approximately 20 per cent of the companies called do not put sales calls through, either blocking calls or routing to voicemail.

– DMA press release (Word document)

– TPS website

Lollabamboozled


US music festival Lollapalooza has a similar standing in the UK to Glastonbury or the Mean Fiddler events. It is best known to UK audiences for appearing in at least one Simpsons episode (where Cypress Hill jam with a symphony orchestra). Due the reaganomic policies of the Bush administration it will not be going ahead this year.

The organisers wrote on their website “A MESSAGE FROM PERRY

To all my Fellow Artisans, Activists, and Feverish Supporters,

It is with heart gripped despair that I inform you of Lollapalooza’s disbandment for the summer of 2004. To say that you terribly miss something that never was born is somewhat odd, yet in this case, it is quite accurate.

I hope you can accept my apologies for not providing you with the summer that you had your hearts set on. I tried very hard to keep us on course; heading straight into the most ferocious musical storm in history. We were not able to continue; we were taking on huge financial losses.

And still, I want you to know that I fought for our lives into the final hour.

Please know that I value your talents and look forward to meeting you again – a little later on to re-discover ourselves as friends. If it makes you feel any better, I am in the same boat as most of you; “Only loaded with talent.” But with talent like ours, they can’t hold us down for long.

Upon reflection, I conclude there is a story here. It is the story of a musical community under the influence. No, silly, it’s not drugs. This is an influence far more damaging and threatening, as in: “They are threatening to sue us for damages.” My prayer is that we live to fight another day and walk together at the victory parade.

We hoped for comfort but we’ve never felt too safe. And in these hard times, we’ve had to navigate through. Unexhausted; is our virtue,

Peretz

PS. I am still looking for a shining moment or two for us this summer. I hope you will receive me when I call.

LOLLAPALOOZA, 2004 CANCELS ALL DATES

“You can imagine the dismay I share at this moment with the artists and musicians who were looking forward to the tour. Lollapalooza could no longer see fit to continue this year. Our plight is a true indication of the general health of the touring industry and it is across musical genres. Unexhausted is our virtue. We are taking Lollapalooza back and plan on rebuilding and recreating the festival in surroundings more conducive to the cultural experience we’ve become known for.”

– Perry Farrell”

Moore Film Dials 911


A posting on Interesting-People.org. US adverts for Moore’s movie Fahrenheit 9/11 could be stopped from July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) accepts the legal advice of its lawyers.

At the same time, a Republican-allied 527 soft-money group is preparing to file a complaint against Moores film with the FEC for violating campaign-finance law.

The FEC’s have been advised that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prohibits corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election.

This could also affect promotion of a number of other upcoming political documentaries and films, such as Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, which opens in August, The Corporation, about democratic institutions being subsumed by the corporate agenda, or

Silver City, a recently finished film by John Sayles that criticizes the Bush administration, The Hunting of the President, which investigates whether Bill Clinton was the victim of a vast conspiracy, could be subject to regulations if it mentions Bush or members of Congress in its ads.

Since the FEC considers the Republican presidential convention scheduled to begin Aug. 30 a national political primary in which Bush is a candidate, Moore and other politically oriented filmmakers could not air any ad mentioning Bush after July 30.

Big Issue Orbital Obituary


I picked up the latest issue of the Big Issue and they have an interview with Orbital on their last ever album and gig. Its funny, its amusing, its also the passing of an era. However, the brothers have indicated that they will be working on different projects in the future.

There is also a review of The Return , which I saw last night courtesy of a free ticket from the nice people at Popbitch good rite-of-passage movie for the art house brigade.

And finally, a rare interview with Joel Coen of the Coen Brothers film making dynasty about The Ladykillers.

Njoi! :-)

Tech Sector Not Coming Out To Play


We now have a generation who are happy to type their own business letters, manage their own diary, develop their own scenario planning and accept IT as an essential part of a business as electricity, heating and stationery.

IT no longer matters, its a utility.

Value isn’t being driven into the business by automation and business process engineering like 20 years previously, projects are still failing 70 per cent of the time and for most companies IT is not providing a competitive edge vis-a-vis their competitors. So companies are looking to cut their bills in line with standard procurement procedures:

– buy only what you need

– at the cheapest price (there are many ways to define this such as total cost of ownership)

– get it done overseas if its cheaper

Because of this enterprise IT companies are struggling to achieve high organic growth figures and they’re rejecting the old ways of doing things. One of the old ways to bite the dust is the Comdex ‘Fall’ exhibition in Las Vegas. For a week Vegas became the IT mecca.

Expect a downturn in the sectors involved in trade show give-aways such as mousemats,

t-shirt printing and coffee mugs.

Glass Shards


I was loaned a DVD copy of Shattered Glass by my workmate Jonny last week. This film tells the story of Stephen Glass a disgraced journalist who wrote at the New Republic magazine. Glass managed to have over two dozen made up or badly researched articles appear in one of America’s most reputable magazines despite a rigorous editorial policy.

The story got me thinking about how dishonesty would play out in blogging, given its rise as a grass roots way to publication.

I posted on this at AlwaysOn (registration required). As an aside the increasing power of blogs as a media has been recognised in political circles with bloggers been given press credentials for the forthcoming Democrat Party Convention, more details here.

Oh yeah, the film is good and features Chloe Sevigny who had previous appeared in the uber-preppie American Psycho.

More Meet For the Social Networking Grinder


I received an email today from the development director of a new social and business networking site called Co-unite based in Altrincham, a town in the Cheshire ‘stockbroker’ belt between Chester and Stockport. They had apparently culled my name from existing sites that I has subscribed to.

In the mail I was offered “We will provide you with a free 12-month subscription and would just ask for you to visit the site on a regular basis after the launch, invite some of your business or social contacts along and provide us with some monthly feedback on the site performance. We can ensure you that you will be impressed with the features and functionality, and will greatly benefit from this membership.”

Little bit perturbed by the free 12-month subscription statement that implies it may get expensive afterwards unlike LinkedIn, Orkut or AlwaysOn Ziabatsu.

Some of their own words about Co-unite “This exciting new site takes a global approach to networking using a complex contact management application that identifies your connection to other Networkers. We believe it will be the most comprehensive networking site ever launched with the industry’s most advanced communication tools including Voice over IP.” So the project is buzzword compliant for any vulture capitalist with some pennies burning a hole in their pocket.

The sites launch follows the demise of some of the UK’s first generation of networking sites: BuddyNetwork and Pollen, so we’ll see how they go.