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Event: Webbys 5 at the ICA

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Webby Night

I was invited by some Poke London folk to go along to an event promoting the Webby awards this evening. The highlight was a series of talks, each bounded by restrictions inspired by the Webby’s five-word acceptance speech limits:

Webby 5s presentation rules

The organisers managed to get along a number of great speakers:

The Players

This isn’t a complete capture of everything that was said, but of notes I’ve made notes of the presentations of things that I found interesting, provocative or thoughtful.

Matt Hanson - Aswarmofangels

Matt Hanson presented the idea behind aswarmofangels. The key concept that I found of interest was the captured in the phrase ‘Creator led, member powered’ which encapsulates the balance that the community involved in the project has involvement without losing project momentum

Francis Irving - Mysociety

Francis Irving of charity Mysociety highlighted a number of tips on audience engagement and involvement that he learned whilst trying to turn public opinions into action.

  • Always make the users first action on a site easy
  • Sometimes a site can be too transparent (for some stakeholders). A site that allowed voters easily see MPs voting records managed to upset a number of MPs who claimed that their voting record was incorrect. A re-check of the data showed the MPs were in error
  • An audience member will get involved in both online and real-world activity if they know that other people (not necessarily even people they know) will get involved too

David-Michel Davies - The Webbys

David-Michel Davies of The Webbys provided an amusing history of online video. The highlight of this presentation was what David termed ‘The Cat Problem’: when you search on YouTube you get hundreds of thousands of videos featuring cats, however only one may be relevant to the searcher. It has become harder because of easy publishing to find ‘media that is meaningful and relevant to me’. Which ironically sounds like the same problem that the likes Bradley Horowitz and other social search advocates have been trying to solve.

What is Identity - Miles Beckett - LonelyGirl 15 / Kate Modern

Miles Beckett of LonelyGirl15/Kate Modern discussed the divergence between offline and online identity. Beckett thought that the social contract which makes civilisation work effectively is undermined by transcient identities like those existing on Facebook or discussion forums. Beckett thought that there would be an eventual rejoining of online and offline identities to build a trust-based ‘civilised’ web rather than the current ‘Wild West’ situation.

Malthe Sigurdsson - Skype

Malthe Sigurdsson of Skype came up with a presentation which would have probably given their corporate communications team a heart attack.

Malthe Sigurdsson - Skype

Talking about the societial importance of communications through the medium of cheerleader photographs. Communications, itsself has changes from real-world one-on-one sychronious high bandwidth conversations conversations to synchronous communications that require little effort to create or consume and allow easier social interaction using the ‘lost email or IM or SMS’ as a pretext to soften social rejection.

UPDATE: hello and welcome to all the people reading this post from Skype in Estonia, there are more pictures here.

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A site named Sue

Reading Time: 2 minutes

When Johnny Cash sung A Boy named Sue, he knew the value of a name. I thought of Johnny Cash, when I was reading danah boyd’s blog. danah talked about her new car and the way she named it and I thought about my first ride.

My first car was a dilapidated Fiat 500 called Tia (because the car skated around a wet road in a similar manner to the girls in high heels that used to drink too many Tia Maria cocktails in the wine bar I used to DJ in during the week.) I had various company and personal vehicles over the next few years, the highlight being a company Unimog pick-up called Beverley after an ex-girlfriend.

My MacBook Pro has a name (Toshiro after Toshiro Mifune), but my iPod doesn’t since I seem to go through them before I get attached to them. Which got me thinking, naming a thing: a car, my Mac is about a recognition of a deep relationship with an immersive experience. A relationship that makes you tolerant to look over the bad things and focus on the good things. For instance, Tia’s handling weren’t a death trap, but more like an extreme sport.

Despite all the hoopla, you still don’t have that kind of relationship with your facebook page or your flickr account. Now, you could argue that facebook is a channel rather than experience that you can develop an attachment/relationship with. But then a car at its is just a personal channel in the physical world. But like the web it can be the vehicle to personal freedom and adventure. So the problem for the pet name website must be in the user experience, depth of engagement and experience.

Being able to tap into the consumer’s psyche wouldn’t only benefit a sites web traffic numbers but also benefit the marketer in deepening their relationship with the client. And unlike the car radio, every interaction has an answer-and-call mechanism behind it, allowing a virtuous marketing circle to develop. This also offers the opportunity to square the circle between transactional marketing typified by online campaigns and brand marketing which happens to various degrees in traditional mar.coms elements like PR, design and advertising as well as all customer-facing aspects of a business.