Life-changing events

I can vividly remember where I was and what I was doing when the airliners hit the world trade centre. It was a definite moment. Different generations had the same experience when England won the world cup, when president Kennedy was shot or when the Berlin wall fell.

Contrast this when the initial reports of Michael Jackson’s demise started to break. I didn’t have a definitive moment, since the source was online I had problems trying to verify the story, partly because of site problems with the source sites like TMZ and because of the slightly differing takes provided by the mainstream media. Watching the news has never been such hard work, I am not likely to know where I was when the next definitive moment happens because it is likely to take me a fair while to verify the event through multiple trusted sources.

Yang May Ooi documented her experience verifying the news here.

Steve’s back

SFGate.com has had official confirmation that Steve has returned.

IMGP1921.JPG


The official Apple statement: Steve is back to work. He’s currently at Apple a few days a week and working from home the remaining days. We are very glad to have him back.

Blogging versus lifestreaming

A few years ago blogging was king and yet now some of the leading bloggers such as Steve Rubel and Robert Scoble have moved to lifestreaming. Simply put lifestreaming is the online equivalent of Ginsberg’s stream of consciousness or being the star of your very own Truman Show. Many former bloggers think that lifestreaming is the new blogging but US PR commentator Louis Gray wrote a post (far more eloquently than I would) explaining why blogging is complementary to lifestreaming and provides the basis of a ‘good quality’ lifestream.

Archived from blog posts I wrote for PR Week

Links of the day

The Socialisation of Media / we are social

The moral of this article is that there is a social network for just about every demographic – Where to Network with White Supremacists

The Digital Generation Project | Edutopia

Conversationage : Are newspapers dying? Only if they don’t innovate. – David Ko marshals some interesting data together

Everything is FALSE – smart streetwear designs

SpinVox – iPhone visual voicemail vs SpinVox

iPhone 3GS: no longer O2 exclusive?

Interesting page over on the expansys site which I grabbed just now. They are selling what they describe as an Apple iPhone 3G S (EU, Black 32GB) which is: supplied network-unlocked, i.e. you can use this device with a SIM card from any UK or European GSM network (e.g. Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2, etc.). 

iPhone unlocked

It is interesting that it is described as an EU or European model which they will have in stock on July 19. Apple have previously sold unlocked iPhone 3G devices in Hong Kong aimed at the wider Asian market.

Presentation at the Chartered Institute of Marketing

I was invited down to the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Cookham to present at their annual tutors conference. I included a discussion on the current challenges that PR agencies face in the digital space and some case studies my current role at Ruder Finn and past work with my former employer. You can find the presentation on Slideshare to view or download if you wish.

Observations and notes from the event:

Tom Brown of CIM and Simon Longhurst of Accenture presented some interesting research on ‘In search of a strategic role for marketing’:

CIM - Marketing Leaders Research

Here is my notepad of the presentation (click to see a larger and slightly more legible version).
Tom Brown – suggestions for improving the standing and role of marketing at board level of large corporates:

  • Tackling the role and understanding of marketing
  • Seek out knowledge and best practice both inside and outside the organisation
  • Innovate the marketing model to free up ‘space’ for strategy through rightshoring and shared services

Simon Longhurst’s perspective:

  • Marketing is about loyalty
  • Branded customer experience derives loyalty
  • Branded customer experience requires the allignment of both promise and execution
  • Need to be pragmatic and collaborative with other business functions
  • The marketing role needs to be: anointed, clarified and elevated

In order to help move marketing up in boards priorities the Chartered Institute of Marketing has set up Marketing Transformation Leadership Forum Think Tank. They will have a website full of interesting content in the next month or so.

Google goes manga

I got sent this link of Google’s Chrome comic, but in Japanese. Unlike the western version they have a second episode which talks about how the product was localised for Japanese surfing needs. It is annoyingly much cooler than the western version. Enjoy.

Google Manga JPG

Links of the day

The State Of Social Media Measurement (aka Brand Monitoring and Listening Platforms) | AttentionMax

Report: Companies Should Organize For Social Media in a “Hub and Spoke” model « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing

A step up for economy class seating | Upgrade: Travel Better

Bing and Kayak – looks like Microsoft intellectual property theft scandal brewing. It will be interesting to watch Kayak stamp out this piracy

How to Make Efficiency Infectious When Working With a Team

A Look at China’s New Online Health Information Rules – WSJ

Japanese Police Arrest Late Actress Jang’s Ex-Manager – if the allegations around this are true, water-boarding would be too good for all those involved

Mobile Youth Marketing Trends and Clips – Whose Word-of-Mouth Matters? (not bloggers it seems)

Agnes b. plans China expansion – China Economic Review – interesting expansion move

Real Time Search – Social Mention – recommended by Paul Armstrong

ROI Calculator – ion interactive

Holistic Online Marketing – really nice article

Palm CEO Tells Citi Analyst To ‘Look It Up In Wikipedia’ (PALM)

YouTube – CPWHelp’s Channel – Carphone Warehouse’s help channel on YouTube

Trends in Japan – Mugen Idea – Infinite Crowdsourcing

Google Dips Its Toe Into Travel Space With City Tours

10 Twitter Best Practices for Brands

Biggest Barriers to Seamless Mobile Connectivity

Bing + RealPlayer SP = an iPhone full of ripped videos | Digital Noise: Music and Tech – CNET News

Dr. Eric: Simplicity Is Key to Becoming a “Reflex Brand”

The Interactive Marketing Metrics You Need | Rebecca Jennings | Forrester

Google Grants Blog: Moving up in natural search

Regulating healthcare communications online

The Chinese seem to have put out some stringent regulations around healthcare site content and advertising according to the Wall Street Journal. There were a couple of elements in their regulations that found of interest:

“First, all health-related Web sites will have to be licensed by provincial-level health authorities. Only established health institutions and social organizations will be eligible, and they must have at least two staff members who have specialized knowledge of China’s health laws and regulations.”

This is something that they will be reviewing every two years.

“Web sites that provide online health information services bear full responsibility for all information published, including information that is linked to.”

Making the sites responsible for the content of third party sites that they link to is particularly difficult as the publisher wouldn’t have control of those sites, but would still have responsibility.

Whilst the regulations are onerous, it is good that the Chinese government is providing explicit regulations in online healthcare communications defining a clear sandpit for agencies and healthcare professionals to work within.

Archived from blog posts I wrote for PR Week

#HABITAT

UK Twitters applied a bit of humour to the Habitat Twitter debacle in faux Michael Jackson news tweets. It runs a good chance of trending soon, less brand reputation and more brand retribution.

I can see this joke running for a long time…

 

#HABITAT

iPhone 3GS versus Nokia (its not what you think)

I have been using the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music since February and have had Nokias since Ericsson became SonyEricsson and things went off the deep-end. In the end, I picked up 32GB iPhone 3GS, this is what I have used in my comparison between the iPhone experience and the Nokia experience.

I had been resistant to the iPhone because a phone is more than a snazzy GUI and a bit of schmaltzy product design. PC manufacturers have traditionally turned out PDA phones like the Fujitsu Siemens, HP and HTC Windows Mobile devices failed because they tried to fit a PC paradigm on to a mobile device. This means that you get devices which have miserable mobile user experiences, poor ergonomics and a power-sucking battery life.

I am not particularly impressed by bright vibrant screens and wizzy icons because they suck up battery life with excessive computer processing power and power-sucking LCD displays. Secondly the larger you make a display, the harder it is to make an ergonomic handset.

So how does the iPhone stack up against Nokia’s phones?

Battery life

The honest answer about battery life is that it is hard to tell, since what applications you are running on your phone and the mobile carrier network will determine how frugal your devices power-consumption is. I do like the way Nokia allows consumers to tailor their phone’s behaviour and curb application usage to squeeze the best battery life out of the handset.  Apple doesn’t seem to offer a similar level of control. In addition, I can swap batteries on my Nokia in a matter of seconds with my desk charger and spare battery picked up in Hong Kong. Apple doesn’t consider putting a spare battery into a handset a user-servicable task, so the battery life that you get is what you are left with. Nokia 1 – Apple 0

Performance

The ‘S’ in iPhone 3GS stands for speed. The icon transitions when you activate an application comes up fast, and the Nokia does feel slower, however this doesn’t tell the whole story. Let me give you an example: when I clear emails in my Nokia phone, it allows me to delete emails based on the header of the email and who it was from. Generally viagra in the subject title causes this response. With the iPhone, this delete process is slowed down as it struggles sometimes to load pages and Mail grinds to a halt. On the other hand, moving my phone from 3UK to Vodafone seems to have been the equivalent of giving my Nokia handset more performance-enhancing drugs than a professional baseball player with email zipping in and out of the device. I’d call it a draw Nokia 2 – Apple 1

Product design

The iPhone looks like something that sprang into perfection from inside of a CAD system and rendered straight into the sales brochure. But that’s where the problem is, where’s the human element in it? The iphone is just a bit too wide to make the iPhone as easy to use with one hand as any Nokia handset  (with the exception of the N-Gage).  It is a bit too thin to real right in your hand. Something that reminded me of the Motorola Razr. Nokia chooses the case materials careful so that it feels right in your hand, with the Apple its lacquered finish on the back looks better in a computer rendering than real life. It means that you are afraid of dropping the device. Of course this has created a substantial market in phone cases outside the system administrator niche market for the first time in over a decade.  Ultimately it is the clash of two design approaches: Apple’s aesthetic-orientated people considered design versus Nokia’s people-orientated aesthetic considered design. In the store and the demo Apple will win, in terms of living with the device I prefer Nokia. Nokia 3 – Apple 1

Screen

Nokia is consistently criticised as they use a resistive touchscreen, if the handset has a touchscreen at all. Apple uses a capacitive touchscreen technology which is considered to be better. After a little bit of fine tuning when I got my Nokia 5800 I found that it performs as well if not better than my iPhone, especially when using the screen as a virtual keyboard. In terms of appearance the iPhone gives a crisper picture, though for web surfing I would prefer to use the 800-pixel wide inner screen on the Nokia E90. I have my reservations about Apple’s fragile glass screen, if you manage to crack the screen (not inconceivable on a mobile phone) then Apple’s screen will cost much more to replace. In this case, I will give Apple the benefit of the doubt. Nokia 3 – Apple 2

Personal information management

Nokia has led a lot of the mobile phone manufacturers in terms of the amount of effort it has put into ensuring compatiability with the PIM functions on the Macintosh. When a new phone rolls out, Nokia also ensures that there is an iSync plug-in available on their site. Whilst this isn’t as comprehensive a solution as the Nokia PC Sync software suite its a damn sight more than Samsung bother doing. However the main reason I looked at getting an Apple device was that even a highly specc’ed Nokia phones like the E61, E90, the N95 8GB and the 5800 Xpress Music fell over and wouldn’t provide me with my full address book from my computer.

Given that at least some of the phones that I owned were business tools this was immensely disappointing. What made it worse was that the Palm V which I owned close on a decade ago held all my calendar appointment and addresses without a problem. My address book has not increased radically in size since then, yet PIM technology on phones seems to have slid backwards in terms of reliability and capacity to handle a large amount of calendar entries or contacts.

So far (touch wood) it has largely been plain sailing with the iPhone. The iPhone uploaded my address book twice, but since then there has been no further problem. There you have it my iPhone is an expensive replacement for the PalmPilot. Nokia 3 – Apple 3

Applications

Apple has its applications store which updates to the handset over-the-air and has a search function on it. The store is easy to use and is something that other manufacturers including Nokia and Google have looked to emulate. However the closed environment for the iPhone means that there is a lot of crap on there that Apple isn’t interested in competing with (like a virtual beer glass) and lots of great applications like the Opera browser or MetrO which didn’t make it on to the application store. The search function on the application store is a crap as well. With sideloading applications from my computer to the Nokia handsets, I rely on Google to find my applications, but have the freedom to use software developed by software designers of limited means. Whilst the iPhone applications store is undeniably a great platform, but flawed by unintentional social engineering. Nokia 4 – Apple 3

I haven’t included music and multimedia playback, primarily because I think that headphones which come with both devices are so bad (and not in a Run DMC way). Media convergence is the refuge of the poor, mobile phone companies subsidising sideloaded music on to sub-standard devices. I may use them for podcasts but that’s about it. You can pry my iPod and Sennheiser HD 25 headphones out of my cold dead hands.

Despite the considerable efforts of Apple, I still think that Nokia provides a better handset experience mainly because they focus on some of the right details. I don’t think that Nokia is perfect, but the Jesus Phone is no mobile messiah.

Links of the day

Nokia President and CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo: The Full D7 Session

George F. Colony’s Blog: The Counterintuitive CEO: The Gateway Recession: What CEOs Will Face Next

How to Export Google Search Results to Excel – something that I used to love Yahoo! Search Explorer for

How Journalists Use Social Media | Blog | Econsultancy

25+ Useful Infographics for Web Designers | Webdesigner Depot – great explanation on the diagrams of a number of things like how flickr works

More BitTorrent Users Go Anonymous | TorrentFreak

Big learning curve for iPhone development – O’Reilly Broadcast

The Bamboo Bicycle: Lightweight, Flexible and Sustainable – PSFK.com

Et tu, KK? (aka, No, Kevin, this is not “socialism”) (Lessig Blog)

Knowledge is of two kinds….

Knowledge is of two kinds…., originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.

I love this quote my Samuel Johnson which seems more appropriate than ever, now we live in the Google age.

Why Twitter reminds me of PowerPoint

David Ko talked about the flaws in Twitter as a source of news. In his post David cites John Dvorak as highlighting seven flaws of Twitter as a news provider:

  • Incompleteness
  • Inaccuracy
  • Vulnerability to hoaxers
  • Lack of analysis
  • Skewed priorities
  • Vulnerability to manipulation
  • Being too close to a story: the difference between a journalist and a witness

In hip-hop terms ‘don’t hate the player, hate the game’, Twitter as a platform doesn’t present itself as a source of reputable journalism. And the things that Dvorak cites as problems could be said of many other platforms including blogs, websites, newspapers, books, magazines, television and radio.

The problem with Twitter is ‘us’ as users and our interpretation of the material on there as rightly David Ko points out.

This all reminded me of Edward Tufte and his famous Wired article ‘PowerPoint is Evil’, particularly the final paragraph that said:

PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience.

Yes, that’s the very people who used to demand ‘can I have that document in PowerPoint’ and used to inflict little stick men art, Heath Robinson-esque organisation charts or pictures of high-fiving faux business executives in their artwork. The same people who believe the personal touch means writing email in Comic Sans.

Ultimately it is not any platform creator’s job to protect us from the frigtards, pranksters and haters that populate our world, that is why we were imbued with common-sense (some more than others) and that the theory of Darwinian evolution should kick in.

Incidentally my long-held opinion of John Dvorak as an opinionated linkbaiting jack-ass par excellence and a sorry excuse for a journalist was reinforced by the article.