Happy hallowe’en | 万圣节

Hallowe’en was a special time for me growing up. Alongside St Patrick’s day it made me feel connected with with my wider family in Ireland. We would have a barm brack sent to us by my Granny. This is kind of like a giant tea cake but richer or less stodgy than say Soreen. It is available most of the year around as a dessert after your evening meal with butter spread on top.

For Hallowe’en barm bracks there is usually a cheap gold-coloured metal ring wrapped in grease-proof paper in the centre of the brack and there was usually a bit of excitement if you found it in your slice. RTE Radio 1 usually had scary Irish folk tales on with sound effects. Their effect was amplified by the eerie quality that mild interference on the medium wave signal would give.

Hallowe’en now means scouring London for a barm brack and some Barry’s tea to wash it down with. I usually call my parents to find out what they are doing for the festival and listen to a bit of the radio online. I usually settle down and watch The Crow on DVD and Gremlins as my nod to the modern interpretation of the festival.

I found this infographic that highlights some of the numbers around the US celebration of Hallowe’en.
Infographics: Halloween by the Numbers
Courtesy of: CreditDonkey

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Future Perfect » The Touchmedia Tax – fascinating myth of the ‘captive audience’

The facial recognition revolution – CNN.com Blogs

Five-Year Plan launches China textiles on new course – move to South East Asia and less developed parts of China coupled with increasing automation

Panasonic expected to post Y300 bil loss ‹ Japan Today – a drop in demand for TVs after move to digital in Japan. Stagnant sales in US and European markets and ongoing losses in their semiconductor businesses. Sounds like their convergence strategy isn’t working out that well for Panasonic?

The Big Challenge | SCMP.com – the growing risks posed by mega-cities, which are increasingly vulnerable to food, water and health hazards, as well as climate change (pay wall)

The Awkward, Unanswered Questions That Led to Coldplay’s Spotify Embargo | paidContent:UK

Yandex Profit Booms But Google Is Regaining Lost Ground In Russian Search | paidContent:UK

I, Cringely » Apple gets Siri-ous about TV

In The UK, Inciting Riots On Facebook Will Land You Three Years In Jail | WebProNews

Apple Acquires Another Mapping Company: C3 Technologies | SiliconANGLE

Survey: Professionals Not Replacing Print With Digital? – B2B @ FolioMag.com

Quantum keys let submarines talk securely – tech – 29 October 2011 – New Scientist – quantum key distribution (QKD) uses the quantum properties of photons, which are polarised in two different ways to encode 0s and 1s, to generate and exchange a key. Any attempt to intercept the photons disturbs these properties and raises the alarm

WeirdStuff – Resellers of surplus computer hardware and software. Their warehouse in Sunnyvale is world-famous

Tokyo Tracks 011 / あけぼの印 – 夜ノ街ヲ駈ケル | Test Pressing – really interesting article on the post war Japanese architecture movement of metabolism

What Kind of Buddhist was Steve Jobs, Really? | NeuroTribes

Firefox is the cloud’s biggest enemy | ExtremeTech – the centralised cloud reminds me of Microsoft versus the world in the 1990s

Looks like Congress has declared war on the internet — Tech News and Analysis

Hell freezes over: Forrester urges IT to support the Mac – Fortune Tech – I remember Arthur D Little finding out the same productivity gains in the early 1990s

Apple number five among global phone vendors | MacNews

Can Small Businesses Make America Prosperous? : The New Yorker – are small businesses good businesses?

Internet publishers liable for privacy invasion in each country material is accessible, ECJ rules – clarity on legal jurisdiction

Details of all internet traffic should be logged, MEP says

Real-world McGyver

YouTube user SpiritPlumber put up a video showing how to make an impromptu cellphone charger from off-the-shelf components available in a Radio Shack (think Maplins in the UK). The impressive thing is that these were not bench assembled, but built on-the-fly in the electronics store a la the US  fictional TV show McGyver of the 1980s.

More details including the charger schematic here. Radio Shack should give these people a role doing social media for them. They shouldn’t be scared of a sudden maker streak cannibalising their existing accessory sales because consumers will still by convenience and time poverty. But the idea of being self reliant is what fills the garages of suburbia with components and tools – which will be the wider effect of the ‘maker’ meme.

European protests against ACTA gain a bit of steam

La Quadrature du Net have dialled up their protest against ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) in advance of the European Union bringing it into law. A report by the European Parliament has pointed out that ACTA is bad for EU countries. Or as La Quadrature du Net put it:

ACTA is an agreement secretly negotiated by a small “club” of like-minded countries (39 countries, including the 27 of the European Union, the United States, Japan, etc). Negotiated instead of being democratically debated, ACTA bypasses parliaments and international organizations to dictate a repressive logic dictated by the entertainment industries.

The big question is can the European Union hold out against the media industry lobbyists who are pushing for this on behalf of mostly US-owned major film studios and record labels? It has implications for the digital economy and the ability for foreign internet properties in countries like China to connect with European consumers – posing potential free trade issues.

Interesting video of a manufacturing process

Nokia (NOKA.NX) released an interesting short film of the manufacturing process for its Nokia N9 handsets.

You can watch it on Tudou here.

A number of aspects of the film fascinated me:

  • The amount of work that was done by CNC machines (the drill-type machines) rather than mouldings to create the polycarbonate body of the phone. It more noticeable given that the phone body is polycarbonate rather than metal and implied that Nokia didn’t want to invest much in tooling – hedging against commercial failure in the marketplace?
  • The line layout looked modular, implying that flexibility was more important than efficiency – again implying that there probably isn’t a blockbuster product expected?
  • The work was being done in western Europe, which would have been relatively expensive unskilled manual labour. Components came pre-assembled so a lot of high-value work was happening elsewhere and the factory shown just screwed things together. I expected the Nokia factory to have lots of automated soldering machines and ‘pick and place’ robots with the end screwdriver assembly happening somewhere cheaper. Pulling the parts together like this implies that Nokia is relying on a lot of off-the-shelf bits in its devices rather than taking advantage of scale like Apple does. There is possibly a distrust of foreign partners who would see the complete phone and use that knowledge to crank out shanzhai versions?


Links of the day | 在网上找到

Brand Disloyalty: Recession-weary Consumers Take Discounts to the Extreme – Knowledge@Wharton

Only Connect: Facebook, From The Eyes of an Old Newbie | John Battelle’s Search Blog – really interesting post on the Facebook experience

Daring Fireball Linked List: Apple Lossless Audio Codec Now Open Source

Phone Wars: What the Fans Say « Sysomos Blog – reminds me of how indifferent people were to Windows despite its marketshare

Will there be a Nokia tablet? | FT.com – yes Nokia may extend its licencing agreement with Microsoft

Chinese Search Engine Baidu’s Q3 Revenue Up 85 Percent To $655M; Profit Up 80 Percent To $295M | TechCrunch

[FPDI] Japanese Firm Develops ‘Invisible Glass’ — Tech-On! – dampens reflections

IT still hating on Apple: 41% block employee-owned Macs – its enough to get them to lose talent

Gates to students: Don’t try to be a billionaire, it’s overrated – GeekWire“I can understand wanting to have a million dollars, it’s freedom, but once you get beyond that, I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger. Dick’s doesn’t raise their prices,” he said, referring to the Seattle-area fast-food chain. “But being ambitious is good.”

Apple’s 10-K Shows Asian Stake Sizzling – AllThingsDIn my lifetime I’ve never seen a country with as many people rising into the middle class aspiring to buy products that Apple makes

ARM unveils 64-bit architecture – servers to smartphones

UK court orders ISP to block Newzbin 2 filesharing site within two weeks, Hollywood smiles – Engadget

Nokia And Microsoft’s ‘Special Partnership’ Just Another Windows Phone | paidContent:UK – Nokia needed to do a solid phone first time out, I think its the next set of Lumia phones that will make or break things

Nightclub business suffering some more as Luminar goes bust | Fantazia – but maybe a catalyst for innovation in nightlife

Nokia Is Planning Wacky Stunts To Push Its New Windows Phones – reminds me a bit of Microsoft’s recent marketing efforts that have drawn criticism

Steve Jobs Solved the Innovator’s Dilemma – Harvard Business Review – focus on the product rather than the profit

Digital marketing’s latest dirty trick | FT Tech Hub – FT.com – paid for links

Storm Clouds Loom Over China’s Luxury E-Commerce – Forbes

Nokia Windows Lumia 800 710 Phones Pricey Uncompetitive Marketshare – Barrons.com

Nokia relying on Mango smartphones to maintain global market share

ResourceBlog Article: Google Retires The + Search Command

Monocolumn – It’s curtains for glass buildings [Monocle] – I don’t think that the accusations of plagarism are fair, there is lots of good Chinese construction design and architecture

Google Kills Its Other Plus, and How to Bring It Back | Epicenter | Wired.com

Ralph Lauren unplugged | FT.com – copy your own successes

Apple, Google top R&D charts: Warc.com

Fatscreen is the new flatscreen | FT.com – selling flat screens in emerging markets

A Preview of Samsung’s Third-Quarter 2011 Results – WSJ

Recent data shows the gravity of Korean’s debt – WSJ

Sina Weibo Hits 250 Million Registered Users, Plans Spin-Off [Exclusive] | TechRice

New denial of service tool knocks out encrypting servers – The H Security

Broadcom Misses, Outlook Weak – Barrons.com – weak component demand tends to indicate future economic weakness

360buy.com Finally Launching Luxury Retail Website In China – ChinaTechNews.com

I like: ten minutes and you will know China | 双语字幕][十分钟让你看懂中国

Ok so the title is a lie, as one of my friends once told me “you could live here a lifetime and still not know it” but I really like this video which is a whistle-stop tour of Chinese culture, economics, history and politics.

The video is on Tudou, so you may need to be patient with it.

I like: Snoopy vs KAWS

Get yours from 5pm (UK time) today online.
Snoopy vs KAWS

QOTD: nurturing ideas

Taken from Jonathan Ive’s speech at Apple’s remembrance service for Steve Jobs:

Steve used to say to me — and he used to say this a lot  “Hey Jony, here’s a dopey idea.”

And sometimes they were. Really dopey. Sometimes they were truly dreadful. But sometimes they took the air from the room and they left us both completely silent. Bold, crazy, magnificent ideas. Or quiet simple ones, which in their subtlety, their detail, they were utterly profound.

And just as Steve loved ideas, and loved making stuff, he treated the process of creativity with a rare and a wonderful reverence. You see, I think he better than anyone understood that while ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Magnetic RAM could soon absorb and use waste heat | ExtremeTech

TSMC R&D chief sees 10 more years of scaling

EU’s Kroes aims to cut copper access prices to boost fibre investment

Visa, MasterCard Looking Into Online Targeted Advertising Using Credit-Card Data – WSJ.com

Netflix and the economics of nonrival goods | Felix Salmon

Nokia Windows Phone Likely to Miss Holidays in U.S. | Advertising Age – WTF ‘Amazing Everyday’ ad strapline (pay wall)

China Mobile says has 10 million iPhone users | Reuters

Piper Jaffray: Apple is already building prototype TV sets – Fortune Tech – I am sure that they are building lots of different prototypes, that doesn’t mean that they will ever become products

There is no such thing as anonymous online tracking | Stanford Center for Internet and Society

The new deal: Made in the U.S. | Creative Culture International – moving from blue-collar to luxury goods

London Tubemap – A new angle on the London Underground – awesome tube map

You say you want a revolution? It’s called post-PC computing – O’Reilly Radar

1 in 5 UK Smartphone Users Searched for Retail Store Location – opportunities for focused retail PR at a branch level: geo-tagged photos, encouraging venue reviews

Are Westerners Ready To Accept A “Made In China” Luxury Brand? (Video) « Jing Daily – I don’t see why not

Squeezed Out By Abercrombie & Fitch, Shanghai Tang Launches Pop-Up “Loft” In Hong Kong « Jing Daily : The Business of Luxury and Culture in China – I love what Shanghai Tang have done making lemonade from lemons

Publishing Tools to Share: TextMate Snippets for Stock Tickers and Live Blogging | Tech in Asia – smart ideas

Monocolumn – A Euro crisis without leaders [Monocle]

It’s Crunch Time for Nokia – WSJ.com – interesting that they are mirroring Microsoft. Also makes takeover integration easier – justsayin’

TomTom Finally Acknowledges It’s Getting Out Of Devices; Shareholders Rejoice | TechCrunch

‘Net super’ trend food for thought | The Japan Times Online – allowing older people to remain independent

Google Hides Search Referral Data with New SSL Implementation | SEOmoz

Wiley: The Social Media MBA: Your Competitive Edge in Social Media Strategy Development and Delivery – I wrote a chapter

The Dark Side Of Biometrics: 9 Million Israelis’ Hacked Info Hits The Web | Fast Company

Steve Jobs and the Purpose of the Corporation – Harvard Business Review – wasn’t focused on the short term or shareholder value

I ♥ the echo chamber « BBH Labs

Jeff Jarvis on privacy and publicness

Author Jeff Jarvis on sharing versus privacy.

Jarvis talks about the importance of ‘publicness’ to try and balance the privacy debate. Jarvis doesn’t see publicness as the enemy of privacy.


  • Privacy concerns usually happens with the changes of norms comes along with technological change
  • Privacy is about feelings in US law, it is different to issues around identity theft and fraud
  • Privacy still has ethics: information theft, improper use
  • Publicness is about the ethic of sharing, where it could be useful with a wider audience
  • Not all information should be public
  • Selling the benefits of publicness to produce a better digital civic society, so that it doesn’t get lost in the fear and worst case that happens as part of the privacy debate
  • Life is increasingly starting to mirror the architecture of the ‘net – self-organising, ad-hoc structures

The video is on the YouTube service so may not be visible to all readers.

What about a moral compass in social media marketing? | 社会化媒体营销道德

I was fortunate to participate in a panel discussion recently at a conference discussing measurement | ROI for social media activity and dropped in to witness a couple of the prior performances as it helps you to get a feel for the audience and the kind of issues that came up.

One issue that seemed to strike a chord with the audience was one of acceptable behaviour by brands on social media.

A case study was presented about the way a prominent brand used social media. I have deliberately not named the brand as I don’t want to single them out, it wouldn’t be fair because it is a microcosm of activity being done by brands at large.

A way that measurement and monitoring tools were used included not only following conversations for issues and sentiment analysis; but as a way of scraping different social media channels, in particular Twitter and transposing positive comments into a Facebook tab featuring product testimonials. The question-and-answer session post-presentation quickly focused on the ethics surrounding this testimonial programme, from my point-of-view this is where things got interesting.

The question was answered thus: we discussed it internally and besides its legal. There was then a back-and-forth between the audience questioning this, eventually a lawyer in the audience chimed in and pointed out that at a 140-characters isn’t considered to have creative value in itself so it is fair game. Throwing the audience a bone, the presenter said that the content was public so people should expect to be used, but if the person complained, it could be taken down.

So what is wrong with this picture?


Firstly, let’s substitute a real-world scenario as a thought experiment to help illustrate a point. The presenter used the well-worn analogy of social media platforms being like a pub so that’s where I would start. Imagine that you are in a pub, not the vertical drinking establishments a la AllBarOne with no seats and loud music that limit conversations, but one with booths were you and your community of friends can sit together and have a conversation that whilst public isn’t necessarily all for consumption by everyone-at-large.

Now imagine there were people in the pub who were eavesdropping on your conversation and putting the best / juiciest bits – along with your name and a way of identifying you as an individual on the ticker-tape running across the bottom of a popular TV station, say Sky1, and the first you know of it is when you see it or other people reach out to you and tell you that they’ve seen it.

Your comments have no context wrapped around them, you have not authorised them and there was no prior indication by the TV station that they were eavesdropping on you. You may feel uncomfortable, you may feel that you were misrepresented and you may feel angry. The TV station can’t rewind time and make it right for you.

Isn’t this precisely why tabloid journalists and paparazzi photographers are often viewed by the public as scum, only slightly higher up the social food-chain than corrupt politicians, paedophiles and war criminals?

It’s about social norms. This blog post you are reading has a BSD usage licence. The reason why that is specifically because it provides a clause that deals with endorsements or testimonials in my name:

…may not be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

I wanted to be open with my content, but prevent my identity being used out of context.

This echoed through into my PR career. I started off agency-side in business-to-business technology and a major concern was permission-based disclosure of our client’s customers as endorsements. We spent a lot of time on the process of writing case studies that customers were happy to sign off. There were a number of challenges:

  • Salespeople wanted case studies, they didn’t necessarily want to have their clients as the case studies for a few reasons. Primarily because customers realised the value of endorsements and would look to reflect this in revised contracts, negotiations would slow down as the contract would take in a wider sway of people including legal and communications staff.
  • Challenges in messaging. When I worked in-house, it was a matter of policy from the communications team that we would not approve endorsements or case studies from suppliers – despite the fact that Rackable Systems build their business on promoting the fact that their servers were at the heart of our data centres. Our attitude was similar to attitudes that I met from a number of client’s customers including financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies who didn’t want their brand sullied by association with an upstart technology brand, or a brand that didn’t add anything by association
  • Challenges in information flow. Part of the reason why spokespeople were media trained and media briefings were produced was to try and reduce the risk of spokespeople alienating their customers by name dropping them without authorisation during journalist interviews. Spokespeople would name-drop organisations that they’d had conversations with as prospective customers without any ink being committed to contracts. It wasn’t about controlling news flows, it was trying to stop people talking out of their hat – it wasn’t deliberate lies, but a combination of failure to connect their mouth and their brain and internal miscommunication

How is it ok to ask rational decision-makers: organisations for permission to use their testimonials, but it isn’t required for consumers? I don’t think it is.

This reminded me of the early days of email marketing with the opt-in versus opt-out debate where digital marketers didn’t want to give customers the choice of opting in as:

  • What we’re doing is already legal. But that didn’t make it right and in some countries marketers were forced by legal pressures to respect customers and develop opt-in email marketing registration
  • We wouldn’t get the positive responses. There would be lower audience reach as consumers wouldn’t like to opt into advertising
  • It is too expensive. Opting in would lower revenues as there would be less opportunity to present offers to them
  • Process complexity. The email marketing process was too complex already

Yet, despite all the hoopla about search and social media marketing, email marketing is still with us and there are still a number of successful businesses out there like Amazon and Play.com.

So why is being legal, not being right?

As I talked about earlier it is about context. This context is partly provided by the community as well as the individual. Communities are made up of people who share trust, values, passions and a common etiquette made up of both formal and unwritten rules. Where this community goes into new areas, the community will quickly come up with an acceptable social norm with regards this new area.

For example, I have participated on the Flickr photo-sharing community since 2004 and now have thousands of pictures online offered with a creative commons licence that gives people free rein to use them. But I still get people dropping me a mail on a regular basis asking if they can use this picture for a project or an article: from a Japanese product design consultancy who wanted to use my pictures in a survey to a French journalist looking to write a piece about retro gadgets.

These permission emails are part of the unwritten community rules of Flickr. But communities don’t just exist online, we belong to a number of them. Chances are if you are reading this post you are in employment or work – one community, your friends and family make up a number of other communities that you participate in. So instead of asking what is the minimum that we should do as social marketers we should be asking why shouldn’t we be civil in how we conduct ourselves?

In this particular case:

  • Are we taking the original content out of its context?
  • Is there any reason why we can’t ask for permission?

If we don’t have enough resources to ask for permission, we don’t have enough budget to conduct social media marketing.

A few years ago, I thought about the hierarchy of values that a brand should progress through in its social media interactions, this was based on ideas that  James Warren and Jonathan Hopkins had put out online: being nice and being human. I added on being useful as I felt organisations like banks, insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry wouldn’t necessarily be able to reach those values, but could at least be useful.
Hierarchy of corporate brand values
But my hierarchy has proved flawed, as I wrongly assumed that being civil was the baseline for discourse and a hygiene factor that didn’t need to be mentioned. Given my concern about the apparent lack of a moral compass in social media marketing,  I have revised my hierarchy below:
Being civil
Feel free to incorporate this into your own presentations by downloading and beautifying this PowerPoint slide.

This isn’t only an issue that brands face, Facebook is currently investigation by the Irish government for breaches of EU law related to consumer privacy and data retention. This is a pattern of behaviour at Facebook that has gone for years; for instance Facebook Beacon a few years ago. Of course, just because Facebook does it doesn’t make it right.

I am concerned that despite codes of ethics, as an industry we are putting what is legal before what is right as a key component of our considerations. As an industry we lack civility, sufficient good manners to remember the ‘Golden Rule’ and are exhibiting sociopathy rather than sociability.

In the words of the rap poet Ice Cube:

You better check yo self before you wreck yo self

My notes
Social ethics
More information:
Facebook could face €100,000 fine for holding data that users have deleted | The Guardian
WOMMA – Ethics – guide and tools to ethical behaviour

London conference on cyberspace

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British Government has always had the best online presence of all the different government departments, but I still find it interesting that it is they rather than the department of media and culture who are looking to lead a discussion on the future of the web and associated technologies. The FCO are hosting a conference in London on November 1-2, 2011 and are extending it online through social media platforms. I can’t help but feel the dialogue is aimed as much within the UK as internationally.

Of course, the ironic thing is that the UK isn’t at all progressive in terms of all things internet related compared to the likes of South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Iceland or Finland to name but a few countries. The Digital Economy Bill and actions done by the likes of Ed Vaizey have shown resistance rather than working out how it can benefit from the change. The music industry tried to fight the change and has torn itself apart so it will be interesting to see how that stance will work out.

Find out more here.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

MixMeister Free Stuff :: BPM Analyzer

Why Computer Voices Are Mostly Female – Slashdot

Apple hires Yahoo’s data center chief Scott Noteboom — Cloud Computing News – ex-Microsoft data centre guy Kevin Timmons who was Noteboom’s predecessor has gone to smaller data centre company – fast turnaround

Hundreds march against ruling on Filipino maid | SCMP.com

China Political Memo: The Political Survival of Wen Jiabao | STRATFOR

Patents emerge as significant tech strategy | Seattle Times Newspaper if you can’t beat Android, get licence fees from it

Britain warned of risks from euro fallout – FT.com – so things are screwed but the Bank of England won’t admit it as it doesn’t want to cause panic. Opting out of the EU won’t solve it as it’s the banks exposure and the fact we are a trading partner of Europe

Group-Messaging App KakaoTalk, with 25 Mil Users, Leads the Way for Korean Start-Ups | Tech in Asia – great app

Groklaw – Microsoft’s Opening Statement in Novell v. MS Contradicted – by evidence from Microsoft emails which are already available

Google Puts A Price On Privacy

At Waldorf School in Silicon Valley, Technology Can Wait – NYTimes.com – interesting that so much of the digerati want analogue schooling for their kids