Links of the day

Mainstream Media Finally Cops To Dependence on Blogs* – Silicon Alley Insider

Microsoft’s Potential Yahoo Buy Could Lose Alibaba | WebProNews

Fire Eagle, the early days – nice overview by Tom Coates, can’t wait to see what the eco-system looks like by the time there is a developer meet-up in London later on this year

Featured Mac Download: Completely Uninstall Programs with AppCleaner – I need this to clean up my MacBook Pro

Social media monitoring changes – Drew has posted on how he is noticing increasing similarities in the results returned by different social web search services. This homogenity will eventually lead to Google becoming more dominant

Navy SEALs: Mental Strength And Courage – Men’s Health – lessons learned muscle memory through repetition, taking a deep breath and problem solving

(o)|| Tresor – the classic Berlin techno record label and club

Sponsors of Olympic torch caught in Tibet protests – International Herald Tribune – interesting reputation challenges for the sponsors

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . Amish Paradise | PBS

Oprah Time: Microtrends:The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes by Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne

Microtrends is one of them must-read books if you want to recognise where your peers get some of their slideware and buzzwords from. Author Mark Penn has a rich pedigree with this, having been the political wonk who was partly responsible for popularising the ‘soccer mom‘ phrase during the late 1990s; this was to US politics what ‘white van man‘ was in the UK in terms of zeitgeist.

So with a bit of reluctance I gave it a read. I was not looking forward to reading what I assumed would be a book that tries to do for market research what Stephen Levitt’s Freakonomics did for the dismal science and obsesses about US demographics, I mean part of my job is explaining to my colleagues eight time zones away in Portland and Seattle how different and diverse Europe is, rather than a homogenous mass like the congealed contents of a used fondue set.

Penn to his credit make at least some of his observed groups relevant to an international audience by discussing implications for international audiences.

The value of Penn’s book however is not in the segments it digs up, but in the way that it allows the reader (even for a short while) to see the world through different peoples eyes.  Having learned the lesson the hard way at Yahoo!, I try to see beyond my own early adopter web 2.0 otaku nerd world view and think about the man in the street. Penn’s book is a useful device to do this.

Would I use it as a way to find niches to target in client campaigns? Probably not, as soon as the niches were committed to paper they were probably running out of date as the zeitgeist is a fickle and illusive beast.  If you want to read a copy, grab it whilst its hot or not at all.

Links of the day

Yahoo! Messenger finally lets Mac users make voice calls

Welcome to MClips – Microsoft Italy blogging platform

Marketing, Rowden: Asia leads the way | Market-interactive.com – Asia leads the way in mobile internet adoption and online marketing techniques according to Saatchi & Saatchi’s head of APAC

Marketing, LV is most desired luxury brand in HK and SG, ASIA PACIFIC, Marketing, Retail, Research findings, | Market-interactive.com – not that you would guess it at all by walking around Hong Kong’s main shopping areas ;-)

Marketing, The many faces of Japanese women | Market-interactive.com – Interesting article about Japanese demographics

Privacy Isn’t Phorm’s Biggest Problem – interesting article on Phorms business model and the privacy debate

Britain to overhaul video game ratings system

Vicarious Experiences

I had a chat with Gi at Techlightenment over a coffee in the Tea Building at Shoreditch last week when we got to discussing what I had blogged about in my ‘fire hose of content‘ posting earlier on that week. And we diverted on to vicarious experiences, let me give you an example:

Occasionally I used to go to The Haçienda nightclub in Manchester at the junction of Whitworth Street West and Albion Street, I couldn’t afford to go that regularly and having quite a broad Liverpool accent preferred not to venture out in Manchester without at least one or two friends in tow.

The Haçienda was a musical venue that was as influential in its own way as CBGB, The Warehouse, Paradise Garage or the Woodstock Music and Art Fair since it was a crucible for musical innovation, social change and urban renewal.

The club nights weren’t that full on many nights, much of the music were very avant-garde. Factory Records who owned the club with music group New Order nurtured the avant-garde as kind of a bet on the future, but that didn’t result in packed houses most of the time, in fact some of the stuff I found to be almost unlistenable let along worth a car journey to central Manchester.

The nightclub now has such a mythical status that if all the people who’ve told me over the years that they went on a regular basis then the club would have had to been about the size of the GMEX centre to house them all. Instead the club eventually closed due to a combination of gangsterism, police harassment and because it lost money.

Ok, ok, the reason for this trip down memory lane is all those club-goers who weren’t there. The thing of it is that you have a substantial amount of people who at best have experienced things through other people and feel that it was good enough to have been an experience of their own.

How does this relate to PR?

Ok, imagine if you have a call to action that is an experience (for instance trying out a hot new website) and for this bunch of ‘vicarious experiencers’ reading about said website or seeing a short broadcast segment news story is the same experience and just as fulfilling as following through on the call to action.

This is an additional factor to consider with the firehouse of content. It is no longer about ensuring that the audience doesn’t get exposed to too much information that leave them with no ‘opportunity time’ to respond to the campaign call to action.

Vicarious experience now means that we need to think about PR campaigns in terms of a fan dance that titillates but doesn’t reveal enough that the audience loses their curiosity. It also implies that PR is optimally used in launch and pre-launch activity rather than in campaign momentum where the outline of a product, service or experience is understood. Coverage derived from momentum PR is likely to provide just the kind of show-and-tell coverage that allows the audience to vicariously experience the campaign call to action without engaging with the campaign or the company brand in a meaningful (or profitable) way.

Its not only important to balance marketing communications activity to give the audience the right incentive and time to follow up on a campaign call to action, but also encourage real over secondhand experiences.

The power of brands

Burger King and the Whopper are the poster child for big food. My first memory of Burger King was seeing one of my friends drag a McWorker across the counter after the person had taken his order and screamed into the back kitchen Whopper! Unfortunately this was also Liverpudlian slang for a fool, an idiot and name calling is not tolerated.

Anyway this is an old video but I had shared it with some of my colleagues and wanted to share it with you as it shows the power brands and the relationship that they have with consumers.

Seeing the King come to save the day still brings a tear to my eye.

Links of the day

DoCoMo phones to get simpler OS : Business : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

Why Old Technologies Are Still Kicking – New York Times – or why big iron still rocks. Interesting article comparing technology adoption with evolution.

Luxury Rental Business – Portfolio.com – Interesting article on renting and fractional ownership of luxury goods. Its a pity Milan Station doesn’t get into e-commerce. Thanks to the PSFK crew for the heads up

Innovative Cellphones – Forbes.com

me2DAY – Korean microblogging service similar to twitter

‘Good’ Pirates Help Companies Sell More Products | TorrentFreak – piracy as well as greed is good according to an Oxford economist

Japanese ads downplay URLs, encourage searches – Boing Boing

Ain’t too proud to develop: Microsoft sets sights on iPhone » VentureBeat

Chinese site Yaolan.com raises $17.7M for mommy community

Jonathan Schwartz’s Blog: OpenSolaris, Security and the NSA (National Security Agency) – Interesting reading particularly the FMAC principle

The Revolution Will Be Televised – television and the internet

Microsoft’s real open-source nightmare | Coop’s Corner : A Blog from Charlie Cooper – CNET News.com – could US trust deficit hit US technology brands?

South Park Studios – full episodes available for free from the creators website

Ponyfish RSS Feed Builder

geeKyoto2008 – 17 May 2008 – interesting looking conference being run by Ben Hammersley

Deliciously wrong

When I was a child packets of Woodbine cigarettes were sold from a vending machine outside the local post office, I used to run a Corgi model of a John Player Special-sponsored formula one car over the vinyl floor tiles and up the formica covered unit doors in the kitchen and the Marlboro Man sat in his saddle looking out to the horizon from billboards and magazine adverts.

One of my favourite sweets in the newsagents was fake cigarettes. With their tiny Spanish-made packets containing fragile sugared sticks with a pear drop flavour and a bright pink front end to simulate a sparked-up tab you too could be just like an adult. That was some 30 years ago, now children are mollycoddled and it is illegal to sell them candy cigarettes.

Thankfully the free market thinking in the US allows children lots of time to refine their smoking technique before throwing up after their first drag on a Lucky Strike.  Here is a selection of pack designs that I picked up in CyberCandy to share with you.

Hobo children's cigarettes

Hobo evokes the romance of the road, an old tramp and his faithful dog begging for scraps around a camp fire. This wondering gentleman is an ideal role model of the child with a sense of adventure.

Pirate children's cigarettes

The child who seeks his adventure in the works of the classic adventure writers like Robert Louis Stevenson is more likely to succumb to the citrus flavour of Captain Black’s Pirate cigarettes. Whether you are a fair-weather buccaneer or prefer surfing over to The Pirate Bay these are the cigarettes for you.

Black lung children's cigarettes

For the kids of hipster parents; the post-modern Black Lung is the ideal warning against the likely outcome, but the parents still don’t have to worry about being hypocritical of having a crafty Marlboro Light to satisfy the college-era nicotine habit or suppress that appetite to keep hunger and the need to break from work at bay. This packet is most likely to get sported along with temporary low-art / rockabilly tattoos in the playground.

Real men smoke

I love Machismo because of the way the packaging tries to evoke the Marlboro man borrowing from pulp fiction western novel covers by the likes of Elmore Leonard and Spaghetti Western film posters. Not sure how it would resonate with the children of today but was the most aesthetically pleasing out of all the packet designs in my opinion.

Links of the day

BBC NEWS | Magazine | World’s best-known protest symbol turns 50 – BBC article talks about its creation and the way the peace icon gathered brand momentum over time. Inspirational from a graphic design point of view

Online social networks | Everywhere and nowhere | Economist.com

South Korean investors quit China over rising costs – By Langi Chiang QINGDAO, China (Reuters) – Scores of South Korean-owned factories are closing surreptitiously in eastern China as their owners flee rising costs, this mirrors what has already happened in the Pearl River delta

Irish Examiner | Hotels plan euro-for-dollar deal to attract valuable US tourists – Already in Asia the USD is not welcome compared to the Euro, now Irish tourism industry seeks to attract US tourists by providing them with a currency hedge.

Three Internet Careers That Soon Won’t Exist – Rubel highlights data to support a concept I have long believed in that digital, web 2.0 whatever you want to call it is rapidly becoming hygiene rather than a specialism.

Mobile Key to Reaching Youth in Asia, Study Shows

10 Tips and Tricks for Private BitTorrent Sites | TorrentFreak – P2P ettiquette

wikinear.com – sweet FireEagle application by ex-Yahoo, python guru and openID advocate Simon Willison.

Say hello, medium wave goodbye

Mum and Dad

Growing up in an Irish household in the Northwest of England and moving back and forth to the family home in Ireland emphasised the power of media to me. It meant that I felt more connected to the rest of my family in a way that letters and the occasional parcel ever did.

RTE Radio 1’s medium wave service provided a backdrop to my childhood:

  • The frantic commentary of GAA hurling and football matches by Michael O’Hehir and later Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh
  • My Granny and my Uncle who lived on the family farm listening solemnly to the prices on Farm Week and holding an impromptu dance to Ceili House
  • Frankie Byrne’s dry agony aunt delivery and selection of Frank Sinatra records.
  • My Mum demanding absolute quiet in the house whilst radio soap opera Harbour Hotel was on
  • The excitement of hearing the progress that Santa Claus was making on Christmas Eve

I still have it on in the background especially in the early morning, only this time I stream it over my broadband connection. For people like my parents who have retired the connection is much more powerful. My parents are fortunate as they live in an area where they can receive the long wave transmission that RTE continues to broadcast, but for much of the elderly Irish diaspora in the UK this lifeline has been cut with closure of RTE’s medium wave service.

There is a clash between technological progress (RTE will instead be broadcasting a television channel for the diaspora across Europe via the FreeSat service by 2009) and its social obligations as a public service broadcaster.

People of my parents generation are not particularly adept at taking up new technologies (generally the older we are, the less likely we are to adopt new technology) and often don’t have the funds or are afraid of the price of their phone. They still of a mindset that the sound of the phone bill dropping on the door mat was something to be afraid of.

There is a bigger lesson in this for us all: in a continent with an aging population how will this extreme level of non-adoption affect Europe in the future?

Looking backward at social media

I was on IM with my colleague Melvin the other day and described my use of Twitter as like a BBS (bulletin board system). It was a throw-away comment at the time, but like a grain of sand in my shoe it irritated my thought process and writing this post is me tipping the shoe up and shaking the unwelcome sand out.

My online discussion with Stephen resulted him describing it as a ‘simplistic version of the BBS‘. I think that this simplistic approach is one of Twitter’s strengths in its user engagement and community management.

The limitation of 140 characters gives participants enough room to write a quick status note, or a commentary and a shortened URL (via a service like TinyURL) to content offsite. It prevents the communities on Twitter from being clogged with overly verbose posts and abusive flame wars.

So whilst Twitter has a limited utility to the trial user, once you have a community on there (like my community of marketing, social media and pseudo geeks) you can share joys, tragedies, ideas and recommendations.

The idea of a basic technology being the ‘mother of community‘ is not a new one. Clay Shirky in is presentations to market his latest book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations highlights The Bronze Beta which is a community of Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans. The site was originally supported by WB network as The Bronze as part of its marketing efforts for the television series. Corporate politics got in the way and rather than have their community fragment by demise of their online destination the community chipped in to pay for The Bronze Beta (think of beta as Mark II, in this sense rather than the web 2.0 sense of consumer as guinea pig).

Part of the reason why web 2.0 applications took off was because of their simplicity and simple-mindedness in their form and function. 37 Signals’ Getting Real writings encapsulate this philosophy really well.

Looking back at social media gives me an increased sense of unease about the increasing layers of complexity that confronts many social media users from games and the ambigious views in Facebook to privacy control panels reminds me a bit about why I gave up scuba diving. I used to spend so much time on the technical aspects of diving in terms of the pre-and-post dive mathematics, in dive monitoring my air supply direction and time that I lost my sense of wonder and became focused on the numbers rather than the wonderful surreal underwater environment. Taking this back to the web are we losing the strength in communities by requiring an audience focus on operative skills instead?

Links of the day

Facebook Weakening In The UK | WebProNews – All we need now is a backing track of Jim Morrison droning ‘this is the end my friend. This is the end.’

Microsoft’s search numbers show need for Yahoo

HTC tight-lipped about Google phone – The INQUIRER

divideandkreate.com – mash-up dons

Stylish Sportswear With Designs on China – WSJ.com – western sports companies are incorporating Chinese cultural motifs to hook Chinese consumers. I saw an amazing Onitsuka Tiger track top when I was in Hong Kong but unfortunately it wasn’t available in gweilo sizes.

Web 2.0 Asia :: Some news from Asian Q&A services

The Wall Street Journal’s Web site is already (secretly) free

Groundswell (Incorporating Charlene Li’s Blog): Welcome to our new site, plus free data about consumers’ social behaviors around the world

Groundswell consumer behaviour profile tool – Interactive data

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . War of the Worlds | PBS – There is a technology war coming. Actually it is already here but most of us haven’t yet notice. It is a war not about technology but because of technology, a war over how we as a culture embrace technology.

Google News Has Archived The New York Times, Time magazine Archives……New Timeline News Charts are Cool…Beet.TV Explores How Publishers Maximize Google News “Juice”

Irish Examiner | Games sponsors walk PR tightrope

Evil Pundit of Doom II – creators of the LOL Jihad – LOL Cats meets the struggle between western society and muslim fundamentalists

Internet Search Stats Point to Microsoft Decline

Is the Google bubble slowly bursting?

A Swimmer’s Different Strokes for Success – New York Times

Kudos Records Ltd – Dance, hiphop, soul, funk and jazz online shop

Aggro1.com – recommended by team9

<<<team9 mp3s>>> – cool Australian mash-ups

Jargon Watch: Drunkerexic

Drunkerexic – an apparently new behaviour amongst women drinkers who don’t eat all day and then go out and drink. The advantages are that the alcohol kicks in a lot quicker and they don’t get weight gain from the ‘excessive’ calories. I presume they take the Dean Martin approach to nutrition with all the vitamins they ever get being in the olives of their martinis.

There was no light shed on whether they manage to avoid having a kebab on their way home and how alcohol-induced vomiting fits into this ‘health regime’. Thanks to Fabulous Amanda, author at the O-B-V blog.

Links of the day

Clay Shirky Video “Here Comes Everybody”

Pepsico Forming Social Network – based around European football

When an Ad Network Launches a Virtual World… – new SL wannabe by ad network

Think Different: Maybe the Web’s Not a Place to Stick Your Ads – Advertising Age – Digital

The Web in Charts—Google vs. Microsoft-Yahoo vs. China

Weather Display Live from UCL – I love the interface on this, really nice inspirational use of Flash

» Hope for the best, plan for the worst sixtysecondview – David Brain gives some sound advice and goes bearish on the economic prospects for PR over the next 12 months or so

Atishoo « PR 2.0 – crap recruitment ad copy but interesting roles James and Jonny are looking for people to work with them at Weber Shandwick

Register to get Tanla’s mobile marketing guide – for free. Nice no nonsense document

Digital Doubts and Disconnects: Survey of 500 Communications Professionals Finds Companies Unsure if their Web Marketing Works – With Photos

Alibaba seeking buyers for Yahoo-held stake – International Herald Tribune

\\\\\ LIMITEDITIONS ///// – limited editions trainer shop in Barcelona

Shaking Off Larger Economic Woes, Online Ad Spend To Rise 23 Percent In ‘08: Report | paidContent.org

Ajaxian » IE8 and Safari 3.1 compatibility updates

Tracking Web 2.0

Blogdigger Local: See what they’re saying in your neck of the woods!

Web 2.0 Asia :: Comparison between Asian social networks

Are Internet ads better than TV ads? – hmmm I don’t think so but that wont stop online marketers flogging them

Plaxo Swings Back at FriendFeed; Announces 7M Connections on Pulse

Microsoft Plummets, Retail Falls While Beauty Gains in CoreBrand 2007 Brand Power Rankings – interesting survey. Particularly the assertion that the apple pc ads have had a negative impact on Microsoft’s brand

Level 3 Adds IBM’s CDN Patents to Its Portfolio – GigaOM – interesting analysis on the current battle in the content development network space.

DIY laptop stand, it just works on Flickr – Photo Sharing! – take one Ikea towel holder, plexi-glass and a bit of tinkering to make a stand-up laptop support

Social Networks Will Be Tomorrow’s iTunes – ReadWriteWeb

Google Japan Gets Makeover | WebProNews – cool icons a la Google Korea, expect Asian UI tweeks to hit Europe and the US soon

Oprah Time: Open Sources: voices from the revolution edited by Chris DiBona, Sam Ockman and Mark Stone

In Open Sources: voices from the revolution – O’Reilly Publishing recorded the history to date and ethos of the open source community by having the main protagonists write essays on their parts in it. The essays are insightful about the development of the open source phenomena, the technology and the personalities of the protagonists.

There is a noticable comparision between the measured and modest essays of geek elder statesmen like Eric Raymond, Marshall McKusick and Richard Stallman with the precocious, arrogant and irritating style of Linus Torvalds.

The book provides a good primer for non-technical readers on Perl, BSD and UNIX, Linux and the Mozilla browser. The open source community has moved on since the book was first published in 1999. Ubuntu has made Linux usable for the average person, ASUS launched a top-selling sub-notebook powered by Linux and Wal-Mart has sold a Linux PC and  recently dropped it.

The reasons given for the apparent Linux being dropped from Wal-Mart’s shelves vary from increased support requirements to a lack of an Open Source eco-system to make applications used by non-geeks like Intuit’s personal finance and taxation applications, but that’s another post in of itself.