September 30, 2005

Cue Disappointment

Has anyone got iCueMix to work?

It's a new service for iTunes which claims to create mixes to suit your mood. Which sounds excellent - I've only been talking about creating something similar for the past five years, so I was keen to try it out.

Unfortunately, after a couple of days of fighting with it, I'm just frustrated and no nearer listening to any music chosen by it.

It completes the first part of importing my music, finding 9500 tracks in iTunes. Then it spends a couple of hours analyzing the tracks before either crashing or deciding that it's finished but hasn't found any tracks. And whilst the import is taking place, every six seconds or so it opens a new page in Firefox, so if you don't have the "Tabbed Browsing" setting set to "open links from other applications in" "the most recent tab/window" you'll soon be over-run with new tabs or windows. Have their developers never heard of the meta refresh tag?

Anyway, I'm about to email their support department, so hopefully I'll have it up and running sometime and then I'll let you know what I think of it.

Update: Still not solved the problem, but their support team have been very responsive and we're currently bouncing emails back and forth trying to solve the problem.

Update 2: It seems the problem is that all my music is sat on the file server, rather than on my local machine - iCueMix doesn't (at present) cope with network paths for the mp3 files and I don't really want to map a drive (and slow down bootup of my laptop even further...). Might try it out on one of my test machines instead.

Posted by Adrian at 02:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

The Junction Fiver

Went to the Junction last night for a "European special" indie night costing, surprise, surprise, a fiver to get in. It was the first time I've been to the Junction since its recent makeover; it doesn't seem to have changed all that much, but does feel much more like a proper music venue and less like a warehouse.

The first act we saw was Niccokick from Sweden. The drummer had a mop of dark hair like a brillo pad, and was very enthusiastic and animated. As were the whole band really. The keyboard was a welcome addition to the standard guitars, and the keyboard player's quirky style was the highlight of their stage presence - I loved his stance hunched over his tiny keyboard and his hyperactive strutting around with a tambourine.

Alizarin were on second. The sparser, more melancholic stuff they played seemed to suit them better than their rockier numbers, and was also the only time the keyboard player fitted in with the band. On the faster numbers she often had nothing to play and so seemed a bit lost and out-of-place sat there motionless at the keyboard. If she'd been stood up then maybe she'd have had to move around a bit more and looked more part of the band, or maybe they could've given her some backing vocals, or a bit of a raunchier, rock-chick image. As it was, at times she looked a bit "classical recital" to the rest of the band's "indie rock".

Third act Skip the Rush were good and, like Alizarin, are from Amsterdam. The vocalist looked like Paul O'Grady's kid brother, and kept getting tangled amongst the cables and mic stands. He started off wearing a jacket which gave him a bit of a Jarvis Cocker-esque demeanor, which fitted well with his stage antics and posturing; something the rock t-shirt underneath failed to do when he took the jacket off.

They're in Cambridge for another couple of days, and there are rumours of some open air jamming on Jesus Green today from noon, if they can find a few acoustic guitars.

The headline act was the Broken Family Band, and you could tell from the audience reaction that they are popular round here - local boys done pretty-well-so-far, everyone was a bit nearer the stage, and there was more banter from the crowd. Despite almost seeing them on many occasions, this was actually the first time I'd caught them live. They were good, their alt-country sound a bit different from the norm, but they seem to carry it off, and provided an enjoyable climax to the evening's proceedings.

Posted by Adrian at 11:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 22, 2005

PeerBackup Beta 3 Released

The third beta release has just gone out onto the web. A bigger gap between releases this time, mainly because I didn't think it'd be too useful to make a release just before I was away from the office for a few days in Florence.

Sign up here if you'd like to get in on the action...

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September 20, 2005

links for 2005-09-20

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September 17, 2005

Our Social World Roundup

Now I'm back from a short soujourn to Florence, I've had chance to go back over the notes I made at the conference and add links to the assorted websites mentioned by, and blogs of, the presenters.

The conference main page now has a list of links to further discussions and notes from the day, and Suw Charman has put up her notes on the conference.

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September 12, 2005

The Reluctant Marketer

Marketing is a new field for me. I know "we are all marketers now" and so I must have done some marketing, but this is the first time I've tried to market a product. And I've known that from the start of MCQN.com. The sales and marketing of whatever I was doing was always going to be the part I'd struggle with, the weakest link in my business proposition as it were.

I could have reduced the risk in what I'm doing by finding someone who knew about sales and marketing (which aren't as tightly bound together as that makes it sound, it's just that they're the two gaping holes in my experience and expertise) but I never considered that as a option.

Well, I suppose I did consider it as an option, but soon dismissed it because this isn't just about being successful and making money, it's about me learning new things and challenging myself in new ways. So trying to do it myself was always part of the plan. I might be useless at it and fail miserably, at which point then I can consider hiring someone, or partnering with someone who can do it, or whatever... But the trying myself comes first.

However, deciding I was going to do it myself didn't make it any easier, or more importantly any less scary. For about the past year I've been aware of that fear slowing the development of PeerBackup. Not in a big way, just a little more fuel to the procrastination - the longer I can put off finishing, the longer it'll be before I have to face this scary, unknown stuff.

As I knew it was something I had no experience of, whilst I've been developing the software I've also been trying to learn more about what marketing is. The Product Marketing Handbook for Software was a good primer to the different methods of marketing and selling software, although it's a bit out-of-date as more and more software is sold over the Internet, and The Anatomy of Buzz and You Are The Message were also quite interesting reads. More useful, however, has been reading some marketing-ish blogs - Hugh, Creating Passionate Users, and Evelyn Rodriguez. Posts I've read on those blogs have most often sparked off ideas for ways that I might be able to market my software.

So I've been amassing knowledge, and noting down random thoughts and ideas, but it's still all theory. I don't have any actual, practical experience to back up the ideas, and as usual I've trapped myself in the cycle of not wanting to get started as I've not got the experience to "do it right", but as I don't start I'm not getting the experience so that in future I might know how to "do it right".

Until Friday that it. The conversations I had with Hugh and Jim Byford, and the session with Johnnie Moore at Our Social World showed that life is for experimenting, and that it's alright not to get it right.

So it's time to stop worrying that my marketing ideas aren't any good, and just spend some time getting them to coalesce into a plan for how the marketing of PeerBackup is going to start. Then if need be I can tune them or throw them away once I've seen how effective they are. If nothing else, it'll give me more things to blog about...

Posted by Adrian at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Arctic Monkeys At The Soul Tree, 25th August 2005

I've been chipping away at this in my drafts folder since the day after the gig because it was a superb night, and the Arctic Monkeys are fantastic but not that well known, so I wanted to pull together a good write-up. Getting on for three weeks later, it's pretty obvious that the "good write-up" isn't going to happen, so rather than have it forever consigned to the drafts folder, I've tidyied it up a little and provided a few mp3s to give a feel for how good they are. There's no album on sale yet, but once there is I'd recommend buying it - I will be - and if they're playing a town near you, then go see them!

There were two local acts in support:

Jaime Randall first. Not bad, just him on his acoustic guitar (until one of the strings snapped).

Then The Furious Sleep. Very loud. Not very well mixed - couldn't really hear the singer, and only heard the keyboard during his 10 second solo in the last song. I only know the band's name because we stopped the bass player later on and asked him - prompting a little mime of furious and sleep.

The Arctic Monkeys came on after a dance version of Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts - they sounded great as they had their own sound man, in fact there was some theatre as they strode onto the stage, each high-fiving the sound man as they passed him. Started with Fake Tales of San Francisco (which was the first of their tracks I ever heard - played quite a bit on 6 Music), and played Mardy Bum, Scummy Man, Dancing Shoes, Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor and some others I can't remember now. We had much fun from the balcony watching three bouncers attempting to control a crowd which was going nuts - like King Canute trying to hold back the tide.

After the gig, the Soul Tree reverted back to its alter-ego of nightclub, and there was an indie disco for the rest of the night. It emptied out quite a lot once the band was finished, however, so when it looked likely that the extremely drunk bloke having trouble sitting upright next to us might throw up we decided to leave.

Update: I've removed the mp3s now, sorry, you'll just have to wait for the album to come out (or get searching on the p2p networks...).

Posted by Adrian at 01:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 09, 2005

OSW: Hugh MacLeod - Marketing Hackers

You have to start making products that the geeks like so they'll talk about them on their blogs, 'cos normal advertising doesn't work any more.

Discussed how he's been helping Stormhoek use blogs to promote their brand. Points to the blurb at the top of their blog which promotes that they're really just wine hackers.

And now... to the bar!.

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OSW: Ross Mayfield - Social Text

CEO of Social Text, who provide hosted wikis for companies.

Talking about how social software is being used in companies.

Talked a bit about the LA Times wiki-newspaper debacle.

Blogs are about individual voice. Wikis are about group voice.

By sharing control you foster trust among the participants. Which is kind of the opposite of the way businesses work at present.

In the past, crossing the chasm, etc. said ignore the hackers and concentrate on the majority. Now we should focus on the hackers 'cos they're the ones who'll talk about everything and do cool interesting stuff with your product.

Email is being stretched to be used as a collaborative, many-to-many system, when it isn't really very good for it. Wikis, etc. are better.

Social Text will integrate with email - email notifications of things, email posting of new content - so that they can migrate from email discussion lists more easily.

Please read The Only Sustainable Edge by John Seely Brown and John Hagel.

Most people's time at work is spent dealing with the exceptions to the process, rather than the things which fit into the process.

Quick demo of wikiwyg, the nice "just double-click to start editing" view of websites, in a nice wysiwyg interface.

Posted by Adrian at 05:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Colin Donald - The new media landscape in a world where everyone can be a media producer/distributor

Update: It's Futurescape not Mediascape, and I've added links to all the sites mentioned.

Runs Futurescape.

Talk about how people are taking control of, and using media in new and different ways.

Shows the MTV Overdrive website. First problem you have to use IE... Then in order to get the best quality video you have to download the "special MTV viewer". All very flashy, but geared at replicating the TV experience online. All one-way from MTV to the user.

At the same time as investigating MTV Overdrive, he came across videos.antville.org. Very simple linklog through to music videos. And 'cos it's a blog, you can comment on any of the videos. Some of the comments are quite expert. And with certain videos there's a huge long discussion and interaction. Just around a single video. A whole community organised itself around the site.

Then talks about digg.com. Almost game-like as you score points for finding stories that get good votes.

A problem for the big media companies is that their size and popularity gives them certain legal problems. BBC spends lots of money moderating all of its forums. ITV only allows its forums about, for example, Coronation Street to be open for two hours after each show, presumably to keep moderation costs down. But that just means they lose the people who want to discuss it to other fora.

Quickly squeezed in point at the end - will videoblogging kill off reality TV? Let's hope so ;-)

Posted by Adrian at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Max Niederhofer - The Ludicity of Online Communities

Update: the slides for this talk are available online.

COO of www.20six.com - Europes largest blogging company.

Ludicity a word he made up, just means kind-of-playfulness.

Looking at why relatively young people (teenagers, early twenties) blog. They are the mass of bloggers.

They're tech savvy, better educated than the mainstream. They spend a lot of time on the Internet (and so watch much less TV). Blogging is the perfect game - the perfect massively multi-user online role-playing games. But it's a game without an end, you can't finish it. But blogging isn't really a game, it's play. There are patterns to it, but it isn't always the same - similar to playing chess.

The point of blogging is positive human interaction. It's getting confirmation for what you're doing, it's getting love from other people.

It's a virtual home.

From simple play, rules emerge. What rules have emerged from blogging?
Transparency. Honesty. Respect.

Quick show of hands - who has a blog? About half of the attendees do. He asks that everyone who hasn't tries starting one.

Questions

Tom Coates points out that a lot of the aspects he attributed to games are also attributes of life. Max agrees, but said that it's easier to explain to people that blogging is fun, rather than saying blogging is like life.
Posted by Adrian at 04:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Simon Grice - Personal Digital Identity (PDID)

Founder and CEO of Midentity.

identityblog.com - Kim Cameron from Microsoft has written the seven laws of digital identity.

The last 1000 years... letters of introduction, passports, driving licences, etc.
The next 1000 years... personal digital identity

Why now? Tipping point approaching... everyone has tens of places they need a username and password (or use the same username and password, even though they know they shouldn't...)

A PDI is a network resident collection of (or pointers to) personal data that should or could be under the management of the individual.

Other organisations already have a lot of this data, but they control it rather than us, and often manage it poorly - hence double-glazing phone calls, junk mail, etc. And has to be updated in each place - if you move house you have to tell everyone individually of your new address.

Mobile devices are the 1st true pervasive identity authentication device. Ties in to how the BBC (Tom Coates talk) are using mobile phones and text messages to prevent spam to their phonetags system 'cos they know who's been tagging.

The Internet and google, etc. means none of us are anonymous now.

Flipside is that the ability to be anonymous should be built into a system.

To learn more about it, think about attending the Personal Digital Identity Summit. 17th and 18th November in London.

Questions

Suw Charman asked (unsurprisingly, given her nascent UK digital rights group) - Are companies holding more data than they need for longer than they need? Simon urged everyone to go and ask a company (such as a phone company) for all the data they hold on you. You have the right to ask for it, and the company can only charge 10 to give it to you. When he tried it with Vodafone, he got a list of locations he'd been at over the past six months that they were holding.

Not necessarily a concern about what Vodafone would do with the data, but the concern over what someone else could do with the data, if they could get hold of it (by court order, for example).

How easy was it to build your company in the UK, rather than in San Francisco? Bloody hard work. Hard to get funding over here. All the usual stuff of managing a small group of people.

An interesting guy with, I think, a good attitude to the problems.

Posted by Adrian at 03:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Julian Bond - The culture of the Office Memo

He provided free chocolate biscuits, so this talk much be good ;-)

CTO of ecademy.com

Intra-business communications today is a combination of Powerpoints, chocolate biscuits and bcc email.

The problem this causes is that everyone is worried about going into print because of the office politics.

Runs against the geek imperative - tell everyone you know everything you know so you appear knowledgeable. More Machievellian - knowledge is power.

The software may be free, and easy to do, but big corporates don't have the right people to let them do it. Hard to make a profit providing Open Source Software (OSS) to FTSE companies, as the overhead of process ramps up the cost but no-one wants to pay lots of money for free software. Much more opportunity selling solutions to small companies.

He's also set-up an aggregator of UK political blogs.

Posted by Adrian at 03:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Suw Charman - Dark Blogs: Using Blogs Behind the Firewall

Dark blogs are those that you can't see because they're hidden behind a firewall, or a password protection, so basically blogs being used internally by businesses.

There's a case study posted on her blog Strange Attractor.

"A big race to be second, or preferably third to implementing new technology within business." Number of businesses using blogs is on the increase, but there's little information about how they're doing that.

Blogs not always the answer. Sometimes it's wikis or IM, or even shock horror the old-fashioned face to face meetings. Work out what the problem is first, then decide whether blogging will help.

Disney use blogs to replace a system of event logging after failing to computerize their paper based system with some special software.

A pharmaceutical company have a blogging team to keep on top of useful business knowledge and competitive information.

Some people within The Guardian use blogs to organize their data.

If it doesn't fit in with how people normally work, it won't be successful. Blogs are easy and flexible which helps in this respect.

You can use email to let people get into it easily - blogs can be set up to allow email to post. The pharmaceutical company also provide an email digest of the blog so people can keep up-to-date in a way that they're familiar with.

Remember, people don't like change. No-one cares that you're blogging, just use it and let them see how it helps them do their job.

Training is minimal :-) "If you can surf the 'net, you can blog. It's that simple". Rather than providing training, help people find more experienced (in blogging) colleagues who can help out.

Talk to users before imposing a blogging system on them. Find out how it can help them and hopefully they'll become evangelists for the new tools.

Eat your own dog food - if you're implementing blogging in your own company you better be blogging yourself.

Support "invisible work" - the surfing the internet, thinking about things, mulling over posts... the sorts of things needed for good blogging but which are hard to quantify as "work".

Experiment. Don't worry if the blog doesn't work. Throw it away. Start again.

If you're thinking of using blogs in your business, but don't know much about it, start by reading blogs. Then start a personal blog. Get a feel for how blogging works, and what it feels like.

Posted by Adrian at 02:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Euan Semple - Working in a Wired World

Talk about what happens when you start to introduce blogs, wikis, discussion groups, etc. into a business, drawing on his experience of doing just that within the BBC.

As a manager a few years ago Euan found out that some of his staff were spending more and more time in the evenings sharing their experiences, and disucssing their work with people doing similar jobs outside the BBC through bulletin boards, etc. He thought it would be a good idea to provide some tools within the BBC to let them discuss things internally.

He didn't care too much about what people used the bulletin boards for, just things that the users find valuable. So it covers things work related, non-work related, rants, whatever.

The next tool they put in was a system called Connect - like Friendster for the corporation. People can put in details about their expertise and interests, and it helps surface the informal networks in the company.

They have around 200 blogs internally. One example he gave of Richard Sambrook's blog, where sometimes he's posted about quite sensitive issues within the corporation which have spawned long comment threads, and have been commented on by many senior managers. These are discussions which would still have taken place without the blog, but because of the blog they're being made out in the open.

Final tool they've put in is Confluence, which is a wiki. Not quite the usual completely open wiki tool, but allows whoever creates the wiki to manage what level of access is allowed. Surprisingly, given that wikis have a slightly steeper learning curve compared to the other tools, Confluence has been the quickest growing of the tools.

The tools are all very democratic - it doesn't matter who or what you are within the BBC, you are judged on your contributions.

Posted by Adrian at 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Keeping Up To Date On Our Social World

If anyone outside of the conference wants to find out about what's happening, they can use the auto-updating aggregator (or subscribe directly to the feeds) that I've put together.

Just head to the Our Social World river of news.

Posted by Adrian at 12:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Loic Le Meur - The European Perspective

Represents Six Apart in Europe. Six Apart provide Typepad, Movable Type (the software which runs this blog) and LiveJournal.

In France, blogging is becoming big news - front page of Le Monde; three radio stations doing weekly or daily shows on blogs; one TV station doing a short, primetime slot on blogging. This has been happening for over a year now.

Some stats. In May 2005 there were 30 million blogs, 50 million expected by the end of the year. Number of blogs doubles in size every six months. And blogs influence is growing, some blogs get more links than mainstream media websites (nice graphic from somewhere on Technorati).

Talked a bit about podcasting too.

Lots of buzz in France, even a blogging award competition.

Showed some video blogging software Six Apart are now providing.

Showed his wiki page about the European blogosphere which gives information about how many blogs there are in Europe, and such.

And a quick plug for this years Les Blogs conference - Les Blogs 2.0, Dec 5th and 6th in Paris.

His blog is at www.loiclemeur.com.

Posted by Adrian at 11:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Lee Bryant - Self-managed language, meaning and tags

Looking at how tags can help us develop a shared meaning through collaboration.

Bottom-up emergent sense-making, just tag things and look for commonality and themes later, rather than the top-down "let's work out a hierarchy or taxonomy first".

Problem at the moment is that we have open, flat public tag clouds.

In real languages, you generally get an evolution of the words used to describe a new thing/concept/whatever - initially there are a number of ways to describe something, and then eventually it starts to coalesce into the commonly-understood term.

Social software in businesses.

What can it do?

  • Critical mass of weak ties to help people exchange knowledge
  • Stimulate connected conversations encouraging creativity
  • Stimulate social networks
  • Bring existing information to life

They're launching PatientOpinion today. Let's people give their stories of their experience with the NHS and it's services. They try to analyze the stories to suggest to people what hospital, or service, or type of medicine they're story is about. So users don't have to know that their story is about oncology, for example, they can just use terms familiar to them like cancer. Currently being trialled in Yorkshire, with the aim to go national next year.

Update: Lee's notes on the conference and his slides are on the Headshift website.

Posted by Adrian at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Johnnie Moore - Chaos.. or Engagement

Took his talk from the middle of the room, rather than the front. Prepared by not thinking about it too much, so it was spontaneous.

Asked for a volunteer. Jeff Veit very generously volunteered.

Then they collaborated on drawing a face called Truman. Taking turns to draw a feature, until one hesitates too long. Then they took it in turns to draw a letter to come up with a name for the face.

Our effort Then we all did it with someone sat nearby.

Everyone drew human faces, and lots of people ended up with real names. That shows there are a lot of implied instructions.

People seem to have a terror of the unknown.

Decided to start 173 Drury Lane to talk about Sainsbury's, just to see what happened. But didn't tell Sainsbury's about it, and just went to see what happened. After a while they got a bit bored, but one of the commenters was writing lots, so they asked him to join in writing things. Now starting to get employees of Sainsbury's commenting on it, mostly defending their company, and starting to get picked up by some of the major newspapers.

Interesting discussion followed about whether that was a good idea, whether it is provocative, and whether in a good way or not.

Update: Picture of our image added, and link to Johnnie's blog.

Posted by Adrian at 10:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

OSW: Tom Coates - On Social Software

Works for the BBC. Has been blogging (at plasticbag.org) for six years.

The UK is well behind the curve on blogging. People are a bit reserved about why they think they're important enough to publish their thoughts online.

Whistlestop tour of the last ten years of social software.

When the Internet started (before the web) it was social. IRC, e-mail, usenet, mailing-lists, message boards, MUDs/MOOs.

The web moved the Internet towards publishing and commerce.

Weblogs and Amazon.com have started to move things back in the social direction.

Then Friendster happened. Showed that everyone in the world was on the Internet and you could find a way to connect with your real-life social group online.

Ran through an overview of current social software services... Flickr, del.icio.us, Technorati, Last.fm, microformats.

What makes a service a good social software service?

  • An individual should derive value from the service
  • These contributions should provide value to other people too
  • The site of organisation that hosts the service should get value out of it and expose this value back to the individuals

Then he demoed Phonetags and Collaborative Audio Annotation.

Collaborative Audio Annotation. Turning audio into a wiki! Allows people to bookmark bits of the data, and basically allow the world to provide meta-data for the BBC's audio data. Very nice!

Posted by Adrian at 10:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Simon Phipps - Welcome to the Participation Age

Simon works for Sun Microsystems. He started blogs.sun.com. Available for all Sun employees to write whatever they like.

Blogging is just a way of showing social interactions. Changing the way communities operate, that business communicate, that engineers interact at work.

Connectivity has got into the soul of society.

Travel 10 years ago he got a big file of local currency, plane tickets, when he got there to stay in touch he'd have to use phone booths. If someone wanted to send him a message they'd have to post something 8 weeks in advance to where he'd be.

Now he doesn't have any travel tickets. Doesn't need cash 'cos he's got a credit card and it's accepted everywhere, even in far flung places. And if he needs to stay in touch, there'll be an Internet cafe somewhere nearby.

It's no longer cool to be online, it's expected.

People assume they're connected now, which has changed all sorts of things.

From this position of connectedness, a group of the workers at Sun all realised they were blogging. One day it was suggested they setup a website called blogs.sun.com. They spent time worrying about who would be allowed to blog, how they'd vet them, all sorts of things like that. One day when having a meeting about it the CEO happened to be passing, and dropped in and just said "why not stop worrying and just get started." So they just set it up and allowed anyone to access it. Even the CEO now has his own blog.

Executive support was vital to help them get authentic blogging up and running. Sun didn't have hand-picked-by-marketing bloggers, so their engineers were all talking about their work. "If we want to make Sun look good in public, we probably shouldn't leave it up to the marketers".

Not that important to Sun to have lots of people reading, but to have the right readership. For some people it's getting the three other people who are into garbage collection in virtual machines to read the blog of the engineer working on garbage collection in virtual machines.

They had problems with company policy, as by default it said that you'd get sacked for speaking in public about the company without PRs permission. "I don't think anyone has been fired for blogging, I think there are people have been fired for being clueless when using their blog"

Things you need:

  • referrer logs
  • ability to link anywhere
  • be able to talk about the competition positively
  • let them say when you've screwed up
  • people are allowed to tell the truth

Blogging is a step out of the dark ages of the marketing-death-ray. This is "Connected Capitalism".

Questions:

Using Roller for both internal and external blogs, and also LiveJournal internally. LiveJournal is being used quite a bit for collaboration within a team to keep their lab books online.
Posted by Adrian at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSW: Ben Hammersley - The 300 Year History of Blogging

Easy to spot at conferences, as he's the man in the kilt (as usual).

Sir Richard Steele was the first ever blogger (btw, he died in 1729). Similarities from 1700s to today - similar political environment. Using the then-new technology of printing presses, and distribution network of street urchins, he set about publishing his thoughts and ideas three times a week. He had 800 readers, so quite a few more than me then, even though I've got a global distribution network available!

The idea of manners was invented by (the 1700s) blogging. Everyone was starting to wear the same clothes, so you couldn't tell what class people were any more just by looking at them. The guy you're chatting to in the pub might be some ne'er-do-well who'll rob you when you leave, and you can't tell by looking.

The Tatler and The Spectator (these first weblogs) gave information about how to behave and interact with the people you met in the coffeehouse down the road.

So amateur publishing (and coffee) and the social aspect that goes along with it can cause a social revolution. What will today's blogging and social software cause?

We now have access to everything. We can search everything.

"Blogs can deliver intimately personal, focussed, findable information to the largest potential audience in the history of mankind, faster than information has ever moved before."

We have new concepts of friendship, of how to work together, of relationships...

This is how we can get people all over the world to connect to each other, and although it seems ridiculously far-fetched at the minute, it will change the world in huge ways.

Questions:
Won't the people in power just use the new tools to stay in power? No, they generally don't have a clue. At present in the aftermath of Katrina there are techies going in setting up ad-hoc networks, wikis, etc. and the US government is busy trying to stop them because if they get it all up and running and people see that it works better than existing government they'll start to question why we have to listen to those guys in Washington.

Is text blogging already dead, 'cos speaking is more natural? No, the bandwidth of text is better, and written word gives you a basis for talking.

Will marketing blogs ruin it for everyone else? Nah, it's a sideshow - for example, Heat magazine hasn't destroyed classical literature. There's space for everyone. Blogs will change marketing, marketing won't change blogs.

Posted by Adrian at 09:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Our Social World

All day today I'm at the Our Social World, so I'll be trying to blog my notes from the conference in real-ish time.

Posted by Adrian at 09:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 08, 2005

Keeping Tabs On Who Is Talking About You

As part of the work I've been doing to help out for the Our Social World conference, I've been looking into ways to find out which blogs are linking to, or talking about, the conference so I figured it would be worth summarizing my findings here.

Most of these services provide RSS feeds too, so you can add them to your RSS aggregator and stay up-to-date with what's happening.

You're It

Tagging (basically free-form keywords) is big at the moment and if there's an obvious, and fairly unique, name for what you're doing then there's a good chance people will use it when referring to you.

del.icio.us, the social bookmarks service I've written about before lets you see what bookmarks have been made with a given tag, and also provides an RSS feed so you hear about newly tagged bookmarks when they get added.

Similarly, Technorati have recently branched out from just being a blog search engine (more on this in a bit) to provide searching based on tags. So, for example, you can find all the blog posts which have been tagged with our+social+world.

Searchin'

When it comes to blog search engines (think Google, but just searching through blogs) there's quite a choice, and there doesn't seem to be a lot to choose between them...

  • I think Technorati were the first into the market, but have suffered as a result with their servers sometimes getting overloaded. However, they seem to be recovering, and with the additional tagging search are starting to regain their edge
  • Feedster are perhaps best known for their RSS-feed splicing services, but also offer a who's linking to whom search engine.
  • Bloglines offer a search facility alongside their web-based RSS reader, but don't provide an RSS feed of the results. You can subscribe to the results feed if you use Bloglines as your RSS reader however.
  • IceRocket.com is a fairly recent entrant, but their search results don't seem to be as comprehensive as those of their competitors.
  • Finally, there's also PubSub although that seems less immediate in its response. Whenever I've tried creating a subscription it's returned no results, and I've lost interest before finding out if the results get any better over time...

Posted by Adrian at 06:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

links for 2005-09-08

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September 07, 2005

About Me

It's long overdue really, especially given that I find such pages quite useful when I happen upon other blogs, so I figured it was time to add some "About me" info to McFilter.

I live in Cambridge, England and write software for a living. I moved down here from the North-West to be one of the first few employees of a startup called STNC - we were first to put a web browser onto a mobile phone. I played a pretty big role in the success of the company, initially as a software engineer, then with some project management and finally as software manager in charge of the entire engineering force.

When we were acquired by Microsoft, I wanted to get back to some coding, and so led the team writing the TCP/IP stack which has shipped on an assortment of devices including the Sony Z5 and the Amstrad em@ilers.

In early 2001 I left Microsoft, and since then have been working for myself - some of the time doing contract work, and some of the time developing my own products. I'm always interested in projects/consulting/software ideas/work related to things I'm interested in, which includes...

  • Web apps
  • Blogging
  • Embedded/mobile development
  • Home networking
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Music
  • Project management or just management, particularly in small tech companies

Outside of work (and the geeky computer stuff) I seem to spend quite a bit of time playing football (that's proper football, not that American version ;-). I also do a fair bit of cycling and like to go for a wander up some mountains from time to time (although that's easier said than done when you live in East Anglia!).

I'm also quite into my cars and listening to music. Not always at the same time, but I can listen to anything from my entire CD collection (as mp3s) at any time when I'm in the car - which is a bit more impressive when you know that at the last check it would take more than three weeks of non-stop listening to listen to all my CDs...

Posted by Adrian at 11:00 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Claiming My Feed On Feedster

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster feedster:6fde87605d6127e5d6bcc6cee55e0921 so that I can add a pretty picture to go with links to my blog on the Feedster links results pages.

Posted by Adrian at 01:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 05, 2005

OurSocialWorld

Met up with the guys organizing the Our Social World conference this afternoon, as one of my promises to myself was to get more involved if I signed up - so I'm helping them out a bit.

Having heard a bit more about what they're planning, it sounds like it's going to be really good. It's going to be a fairly intimate event, with things arranged to promote interaction between the delegates and provide access to the presenters in smaller groups as well as the usual presenting to everyone model. There's also a really good ratio of presenters to attendees. Definitely worth the 100 it now costs for individuals, and there's still time to sign up before Friday.

There are also rumours that there'll be a pubmeet on Thursday evening for any attendees and presenters around by then...

I'm looking forward to it.

Posted by Adrian at 07:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 01, 2005