Saturday 17 October 2009

iPhone Saves Lives on Subsequent Saturdays

Two weeks ago, to the day, a viral went around a corner of the web about the Heimlich manoeuvre, and I watched it with some interest as these seemed to be a good thing to know how to do. That evening my Mother-in-law came over to our place, as usual, so that myself and El could pop out for a pint and a bite to eat in our favourite locale. We’re spoilt – what can I say.

So, I’m minding our youngest - Felix, with other various children of various ages clambering over me. Total Wipeout USA is on and this can transfix the kids with slapstick hilarity, which is useful if you’re getting ready to jump ship; or hype them up, which isn’t. It had done the latter. ‘Emmet,’ I hear in cross sounding tones. I consider options and causes. Something has split. Kid has fallen over. Close the clasp on my necklace. There may have been another ‘Emmet’ as I tried to heave my progeny from my belly... but then came a crystal clear ‘EMMET!’ I’m off.

Mother-in-law walking lost and directionless around the kitchen, and then leaning against the wall – lips blue, with a green tinge around her mouth and nose. ‘She’s choking,’ say’s El in a mysterious calm. On auto-pilot, I take over. ‘Kids out... Out! Everyone out!’ I shout, and they leave. ‘Can’t do mouth to mouth, or emergency tracheotomy while explaining why I'm stabbing nanny in the neck to traumatised tiny people’ I say to myself. ‘Not ideal at least’. I spin Mother-in-law around... knot my hands, feel under the ribs, front and side aiming for the diaphragm and say into her ear ‘I’m going to do this... OK?’ She agrees. Two or three violent hoicks later, her feet leaving the ground and I hear the strangled whistle of air through a barely open pipe. ‘You’re breathing now. You’ve got a breath. You’ll be alright now I say...’ She recovers in minutes, and, in shock, pretends nothing happened. We all do. But, on the way to the pub I say to El... ‘It worked. Isn’t that amazing! A simple technique has saved us from a very different Saturday. I watched it on the web, and it worked!’

(It also crosses my mind in true Les Dawson fashion... 'You had your chance, Mother-in-law choking already. No witnesses. Blew it. You had to turn into Superman... Didn't you! Then again... Think of the babysitting! She owes me big-time!)

A week later, to the day, El has gone to upstairs after lunch... not feeling well. She comes down and announces. ‘I don’t feel well at all. Look at me! I’m all red!’ And she is. Ears bright red, very flushed, eyes even seeming to bulge a little, and lips a shade of cherry Max Factor would patent. ‘I think it’s an allergic reaction. Anaphylactic shock!’ There was a film I saw a while back where the main actor looked similar and had to be rushed to the chemist I remember, but Ellen had never had anything like that before. Out comes the iPhone, and Dr. Google informs me these are indeed the symtoms, and also the symptoms of an allergic reaction to fresh mackerel which hasn’t been cooled down quickly enough. We had mackerel for lunch. I’m off. Just going to the chemist you need some strong anti-hystamin I call as the door shuts behind me. The chemist tells me that indeed, it sounds like anaphylactic shock, but I’m to get back quick in case the breathing starts to go. The car roars away from the chemist but as soon as I get in the door, I’ve been gone maybe 3 minutes, Ellen tells me... ‘I can’t even breath properly.’ Kids are flung bodily into the jeep, some still in PJs with wife propped in the passenger seat. The lights are with me as we belt for St. Michael’s Dun Laoghaire and I drop her at the door. She hobbles in to safety, an injection, and recovery some hours later. Phew. Typically perhaps I say to El... ‘Isn’t that amazing. Dr. Google had the symptoms. That bloody mackerel.’

Why am I telling you this? It’s Saturday, and I’ve suddenly become quite worried about being any distance from my iPhone and the instant, life saving information it provides. In fact, this week, it’s probably my turn! L

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Google Defends it's Turf from Apps

NEW YORK ( -- Google wants to own the search experience across every mobile media platform, and its latest offering is a universal search box that lets users of Android-based smartphones look for apps, contact information and web content right from the device's home screens.

Monday 12 October 2009

The Cloud, Collaboration and Polaroid Glasses

I was watching Richard Dawkins last night on TV and he made me ask some important questions about the Net.

He asked what is it when individual neurons act together – millions and billions of them collaborating to produce a person, with intelligence and the capacity for self reflection – and something that some may call a soul?

And following on from this I ask, what is it when tools of collaboration - such as a fluid for messages to flow through serves this function, permitting a physical, social, psychological and educational quantum leap for a group of individuals within a body, or for entire echelon within a social group. Each person plays the role of a neuron, and the body is an echelon otherwise known as the digerati or a part of it. The lubricant of collaboration (closing the gap between the synapse) is social media and tools like Google Wave, file-sharing and torrents or open source software.

As the Roman army well knew – the essence of social advantage arises from collaboration, genius and good communication. Over-stretching the supply chain leads to failure.

And I further ask: what is it when elements of human society take on (inherit), this advantageous, favourable gene – each neuron, both selfishly and generously, using it to their advantage, growing more influential, quicker and more efficient through the communication with other similarly favoured neurons (twitter/facebook through smartphones/mini-pc’s). And what becomes of this group of super cells when they exist within a milieu of similarly favoured or not so favoured ones? Do they become a cancer, a brain, or a new speciality organ charged with information, educational and development?

Is it true that access to information and learning together with the capacity to process, understand and reproduce that information – to appropriate it – gives advantage and success?

I suspect so, and this in essence, is what twitter and social media and Google wave are doing and providing for individuals within the digital society, and the power of these individuals is not their own access to information, (anyone who can search Wikipedia or Google has this), but their group access to a larger cloud of individuals who filter an even greater reach of information. In a world which truly is overloaded with data and facts, intelligent filtration is everything.

Seeking facts through a cloud brings clarity out of confusion, like looking at the bottom of a pond through Polaroid glasses. The better and stronger the glasses, the deeper and clearer you can see. So being part of a good generous cloud of bright people is more advantageous for information processing and finding the fish, than being a blind boffin in your own right, swamped by light from every angle, and without any dinner.

Experts and agencies remind individuals of their weakness and ignorance and dependency, and act as a source of disempowerment and alienation. For example, the days of adverts for household cleaners with an ‘expert’ in the white coat saying ‘It’s Vortex’ are long gone. His place is being taken by a cloud of product users who profile and report on product qualities. All are empowered, inclusive and seeking a better truth.

The net has always embraced the cloud and the multitude and its growth has been explosive as a result, since the days of Usenet and AOL, through to the likes of facebook, twitter, Linux and Wikipedia. These have grown more quickly, and been more successful than any individual or company could ever have hoped to be. The growth of the cloud has been simply exponential and collaboration is its fuel.

Clouds are now the source of news and truth and growth and development. Cloud members trust the recommendations of friends and colleagues above any other source. People always did, we just couldn’t see it, or measure it the way we can in a digitally mediated space. Collaboration takes place in social media, twitter, and file-sharing spaces, and through development tools like Google wave, open source software and open APIs. Fluency in the understanding and use of these collaborative tools gives advantage to the individuals within clouds in their access to information through and collaboration with the other larger ones.

In 1976 Richard Dawkin's wrote his influential book 'The Selfish Gene'. In 2009 the net and social media have shown that 'The Collaborative Gene' gives a model much closer to the truth.

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Analytophilia, Analytophobia and Social Media Weather Forecasting

I was introduced to a new word today. Analytophilia. I love it. Analytophilia is the addiction to (or love of) checking how connected you are in social media: - how many tweets, DMs, facebook contacts, Linkedin connections and comments on your status, or others. This is a world where agoraphobics feel safe, but can also feel really social, without leaving their desk or iPhone (and entering the physical agora or marketplace).

I’d add another term. Analytophobia. This is the fear that your analytics would reveal, with cruel accuracy, that you’re a ‘nobody’, - not even a ‘somebody’ in the digital sphere. This would lead the sufferer to fear the login, like pressing the answerphone button and hearing ‘You have NO new messages’ too often. It’s not good for the old ego Sir. Time to join an online role-play game (MMORPG), like World of Warcraft. They’ll fix the fragile ego in a jiffy because anyone will play with anyone, and they do so in their millions.

Analytophilia and Analytophobia are, in fact, two sides of the same digitally mediated psychological coin, like pride and shame. Welcome to the Sociology of Social Media Emotion.

There are important implications for businesses which need to figure online, and have figures to prove it, in the growing cloud of online social buzz. There are loads of ways of doing it... if you know how and have the time to do the reporting and tracking, and sifting and monitoring. Trying to do it without the right tools to hand and operatives to use them, is like buying a pile of hammers and saws and nails and trying to build a house. You might actually succeed in building a hut of sorts, which will keep the rain out for a while. But you’ll never build a house or a good one at least. And think of the time, and injuries; and it might fall down in a storm! That’s when you call the likes of my good self (shameless plug). Yes we can! (Bob the builder, not Obama)

Prediction/observation: The net, and all communication is, and will be, driven by data, and those who can handle data and present it in a beautiful, simple, meaningful and actionable fashion... will always be busy.

It’s strange to admit, but I love numbers and the challenge of becoming a social media weather forecaster because weather is interesting, and the language of weather is taking over the language of surfing and sea that haunted the web since its nascent beginnings (from surfing and waves to clouds etc). And did you know that the biggest computers were built, partially, to handle the billions of computations necessary to predict the weather? Eniac for example. That chaos theory arose out of the big shift in weather prediction shown because of a few decimal points being omitted? Physics, maths and the computing that facilitated them were largely driven by the simple need to know what the weather is likely to do next. Well, now is the time for the Social Weather and forecasting, and the computing is being done already, but not by one machine, by the cloud of users and their computers. Businesses and people need to know the temperature outside, before they leave the building.

The driving equation and goal for social media: -

(messages ↑, efficiency↑, news/information/gossip ↑,freedom/mobility ↑, work/life-balance ↑) = (time spent↓)

The online clouds, (word of mouth/public opinion) are moved by the seas (offline people whose opinions (temperature) move much slower, but they hold their opinions for much longer). The net is a much more promiscuous, impatient and ephemeral space than the real world. Always has been. Within the clouds there can be hurricanes (like when MJ died), smaller storms, (#Lisbon2), and little squalls (#Luas). The online activity, in a storm, can strike offline public opinion like a bolt of lightning too, when the fact of the online news being so busy has a huge impact on the news of traditional media, and ALL public opinion (reflexively). The weather is also driven by the medium (the air, or platform (PC/iPhone/Facebook/twitter), and the sun (the Internet connection).

OK. The analogy is getting tired. But, it might still be useful.

In short! What can be done with this? Well, we can:
  • Monitor social media: Any topic, issue, group, industry category, sector... whatever. This includes forums, blogs, YouTube, twitter and news sites. We can graph, present, analyse and output for you and yours
  • Put scale on the storm: how big, how busy, how powerful, who’s involved
  • Forecast: where it’s likely to go next. How big it’s likely to get
  • Take part: setting up a social media portal/outlet for your business, and maintaining it
  • Alert you: When the unhappy or unruly come knocking at the door of the office.
  • Give you an Umbrella: Protecting you with online PR advice and provision

So, don’t be afraid of the Social Media weather. Let us give you the forecast and provide you with an umbrella!

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Best iPhone Apps: The Must-Have Downloads

I thought this was a good presentation, though everything may not be relevant to the UK and Ireland market. I've used many of these, and am likely to explore those I haven't. I'm dying to see Yelp on my phone for example.

Friday 18 September 2009

5 Digital Developments in the Past Year

Too many blogs of this type are predictive. I, or they, generally say what will happen. The truth is that, for advertiser and researchers at least, many are more interested in what has already happened, and how many are doing it, whether that is to watch a show, visit a website, or use a new medium. Of course, you need both, but for me, who’s heritage dates bubble days, the whole game has always been to work out what might happen next, and build it, service it, understand it. The Internet business developers’ answer to the land grab, or gold rush mentality. But in the recent past, many became wealthy doing exactly this. Then again, if you are a person who thinks of new businesses, and services, and offers them, you need to have both approaches running en train.

So, with that in mind, today, I’m taking stock.

Digitally speaking, here are five of the biggest things that have happened in the past year.

1) Social Networks - Personal Home-life Profiles
Social networks embody web 2.0 thinking, and have changed the way we use the net. In the past the Internet was used in several key ways, described in previous posts. Adding the truly social mechanics of Facebook, and latterly twitter, have helped it realise the potential as a truly digitally mediated social space that it always had, but which in the past, was the stuff of the geeks and the young, or both. Now using the net for building profile pages, and connecting with others is child’s play. Today, with 300,000,000 users (that’s 300 million, but the noughts help us remember that’s a really big number), there are twice as many people using Facebook than live in Russia and the FB population is at least doubling every year. Twitter’s growth is similar. In fact, 10% of all net time is spent tweeting, something discussed at length in previous posts. If social network use were to approach the popularity of similar Japanese social networks, proportionately, one in two people in modern western democracies would be using it. I don’t know what that number might be... but it’s in the billions (nine noughts). There’s an advertising and research opportunity if ever I saw one.

2) Personal Work Profiles

Linked in and similar sites provide all of us a simple, clean, pervasive mechanism for maintaining our CV and reputation, which, in the recent past, was controlled by undeserving employers. Imagine having to get a reference from the likes of David Brent? Lots had to. Now they don’t have to. A simple change, but it opens up a psychological power shift in the workplace. Staff can also work out what others are getting paid for similar work and search for and find fresh employment from the comfort of their existing desk, and job. Again, this leads to confidence, empowerment of a workforce, and control for the individual over their working history and their reputation. It’s also true that Linked in makes CV’s largely irrelevant. Let the prospective employer link to you, and they can see all they need to know. Balance!

3) iPhone and 3G
Despite similar functionalities in the past (my favourite XDA IIs for example), the iPhone has revolutionized digital communication. Soon, everyone will have one, or similarly fully enabled 3G devices, which will push broadband Internet penetration and use to equal that of mobile phones, at around 100%. The joke about the iPhone, is it’s not a phone at all. It’s a tiny, flexible, powerful laptop. It’s optimized though, and only does what you’d use a laptop for, not the other bells and whistles you never use, or which get in the way when you want to use something. Virus checkers and the many Microsoft programs rarely, if ever, opened, are a good examples. Virus checkers on an Outlook are a special bug bear of mine... But, of course, the iPhone is not stuck to a desk, it’s mobile. In star trek terms the iPhone is a communicator, the screen on the bridge, the location scanners (maps/gps/lbs), the character Data (Google), the simulator (roleplay and other games), the school (iTunes u), the contact with earth (email), and, of course, the captain’s log. It’s also much more, and, all these are included in this one tiny light communicator device, if you understand me. In my experience devices or programs that offer this sort of efficiency always win in the end, if not in the beginning - despite begrudgers and luddites that abound.

4) Shopping Online
Shoppping has changed forever. The Internet is the consideration medium. If you’re doing something big, or spending non-grocery money, it’s where you consider where you should send your hard earned bucks. Having quick unobtrusive access to your social set and industry sector, especially when times are tight, makes net access a must. This changes the way we shop, of course, but also the way we think about shopping. We never liked to have the wool pulled over our eyes, and be tricked into over spending, but now we can take steps to avoid this. And, if we are tricked, the over-charging or dishonest supplier can be punished, not by the courts, but by public opinion. Reviews, blogs and tweets that tear strips off this person, or that company who behaved in a less than forthright manner, are common place. So, watch out pedlars of shoddy merchandise, or poor service. What goes around comes around, and what may be going round is a tale about you. Ya crook!

5) Time Shift, Convergence and Content items

Convergence, a dreadfully over-used word, is now a digital reality. It kind of snuck in the back door without knocking. We did apply the word to hardware, and software, and media and all sorts in our three dimensional world, but never included the fourth dimension, time.

In the end of the day, winning the race of survival of the fittest often involves getting their first, so Time for humanity is everything. But, with so many media items and formats around, the solution is not so much getting all of the information immediately. It would be too confusing and distracting. It is more about getting all of the information, but in a manner that you can choose to consume it at a time that suits yourself.

Time shift requirements have been the key driver for convergence in my opinion, from the early days of the Tivo, a personal video recorder popular among the Sex in the City characters, to Google alerts linking to blogs, video and newspaper text, through to Sky +, stop, rewind, record, remind, series link. But actually, time shifted content consumption goes back to the early days of the vinyl record. We’ve always been after where we are today. It’s just digital makes content reproduction infinitely simpler and more successful than say wax rolls, or cassette and video tapes.

The growth in portable media, and podcasts make the point. And consequently, the digital language of formats, delivery and media buying have steadily pervaded all other media sources. The pervasiveness of twitter on the mobile phones has made citizen journalists out of all. I got the news about the Luas and Bus crash yesterday, in a twit pic four minutes after the collision. However, I could consume it when I chose to. I wasn’t going to miss anything, so it’s a stress free process to be open to a vast array of data inputs, or news, as we call it. And it’s a reality, here, today. In relation to the Luas crash, I could see, by refreshing the picture, that it was getting over 100 views every minute and the rate was growing steadily.

All the theories of media and political communications I studied at University (gatekeepers, agenda setters and the like) are largely obsolete and any new ones better be written and published quickly before they go out of date too. Unless the academic sets up an alerts system so other can see what they’re working on of course.

A rapidly changing landscape and too much news would cause a glut, if it weren’t for splitting away of news and content from the news source, or sender, and the chunking of it into podcasts, video casts, tweets, digital program downloads or similar content items. Content items are king. And almost all can be consumed on any device. iPod, iPhone, laptop, iTunes etc, etc. And look at the ‘i’s. That’s convergence. And Apple appear to be at its epicentre.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Internet Co-operating beats Competition and ensures Twitter Will Last

Twitter is such a silly word, better suiting teeny birds. Silly little ultra cute vulnerable ones that you might step on by accident. It reminds me of a Tweetie Pie and Silvester Looney Tunes cartoon. Poor ‘ittle Tweetie Pie. And it looks like silly software too... with people ‘tweeting’ where they are, what they’re doing and what they’re thinking to those who are following them. ‘Followers..?’ I hear you say. ‘Sure, who’d want to follow me and what would I ‘tweet’? If I want to ever talk to someone there’s mail, or SMS, or, God forbid, why not just pick up the blasted phone?’

I have to admit, the first time I saw twitter, I didn’t get it either. Why would anyone bother programming such a piece of software and why would people use it? And, when I looked at the updates from some big digital computer company boss saying ‘Hey, I just met Brad Riprock at Digi 3D Valley Conf Q1/07,’ I thought, this is software for geeky sycophants. Nonsense! Not for me. I didn’t ‘update’ and as I’d no ‘followers’, I didn’t read other updates, and all of this served the not-getting-it problem. Then, because someone said I should, I started following Stephen Fry.

This was the real Stephen Fry. The Peter’s Friend’s/QI/Fry and Laurie Stephen Fry. He’s brilliant. So, what’s he doing on twitter? Someone must be doing it for him. But then Stephen got stuck in a lift. He posted photos and was typically amusing, and without noticing, I was starting to get some of what twitter was all about. Real-time multi-media updates from the very famous or interesting. Immediacy!

It’s obvious now that the reason I didn’t get twitter is – I wasn’t using it. I reminded me of my lovely late Gran who owned one of the first rotary Bakelite telephones. She never used it, never gave out her number and as a result, didn’t ‘get’ the whole telephone thing. Not very social really. Twitter, similarly, is merely a communication platform that is part of the social media phenomena but talking and engaging with others is the point. So, if you’re not feeling social like my Gran was, it’ll make absolutely no sense.

The phone analogy over simplifies things considerably, but makes an important point for the newbie or Luddite. It over-simplifies things because, unlike a phone or email - twitter carries other media. All sorts of messages are carried via twitter, in different formats. Yes, short text messages (140 characters) not unlike SMS, but also links to video and TV, audio and radio, news articles, blogs, podcasts, adverts, sound files, pictures and even links to software. And mainstream news too. Good professional stories from SKY news, the BBC and the Belfast Telegraph indeed are tweeted around the web. In fact, many more Wall Street Journal news articles are read via twitter than by people going to the Internet homepage.

This diverse multi-media content would not be likely to be consumed by you - the twitter user - if you didn’t have a twitter account, because no one would be sending you the links to this Internet content. If, for example, you are following the BBC on twitter, they are sending links to you like an RSS newsfeed. But the people who you are following on twitter are the real boon. They are the ones sending an endless stream of their own news and views and the fruits of their own net surfing. They act as a special interest filter for the hobbyist clique. They are sending links to a like-minded group of which you are a member. They’re posting to people who are following them because these are interested in similar stuff or they wouldn’t be following in the first place. Twitter chat is fun too, because people can be very funny. Banter to lighten the day. It’s all excellent stuff to be honest, but the best part of it all is - I think twitter will last, and here’s why.

People often see business and technology in Darwinian terms. Something new is born, so the old stuff dies out. In fact, this rarely happens in a digital world and those who enter it with this attitude are the ones with the short life. Rather, the technologies that work together with other technologies, co-operating rather than competing, are re-born as part of a larger more efficient entity, which is more resistant to the mores of social and technological change. The Internet ecosphere has more in common with the Gaia philosophy view of reproduction than the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ one. In short - co-operation and inclusion is more effective for survival than competition. Bebo, for example, is made up of lots of existing bits of older software, like flash, website development wizards, blog hosting etc... I’m sure there is some bespoke software somewhere, but it hides, permitting the user to organise all the bits of their existing information and favoured formats in one space. It is the fact that it works with what people already know works that makes it work so well. Twitter steps back even further, providing the simplest platform possible, before formatting. Text and links. That’s it. It’s what the earliest HTML provided. It’s not about content formats, like YouTube, or your profile, like Facebook, or your CV, like LinkedIn. It’s about what you think, have to say, or what you’d like to read, see or hear. It’s about ideas - looking out, rather than people and personalization - looking in. And twitter users form an infinitely richer idea and creativity cloud together than they could ever embody if its members competed. A symbiotic relationship full of idea buzz that is quite addictive to be part of. Something new and hundreds of times more efficient, richer and more resilient than its constituent parts could ever be. But it’s only a talk platform but this simplicity is its strength. Twitter will become obsolete, perhaps, when a simpler platform exists, but with a similarly open API, (application protocol interface), which permits anyone to design software to run on the platform. Twitter is co-operative to its philosophical core and is likely to last, or become part of something else – and that will last. The people who use twitter and their ideas are its life and its longevity rather than the platform upon which those ideas are expressed.

The uses of twitter are similarly diverse, and should not be seen in a vacuum. Initially, tweeting may not work for you! For example: did it work for your marketing campaign? Well, if used in a vacuum, probably not. Especially, if the message was given to a profile with very few followers, or it was not compelling enough to be sent on or ‘re-tweeted’. If it was used with other formats and media, with whom it could share a healthy symbiotic relationship, it probably had a good chance of being effective. It’s common sense really.

But, to gain its full marketing potential, I feel twitter should be acknowledged as a platform that requires a level of skill and technological literacy and fluency that is perhaps in inverse proportion to the apparent simplicity of its appearance. When it works well it’s amazing, if you consider the Obama election, but when it’s done badly, it’s a total, if seemingly inexpensive, flop. In fact, a bad campaign could raise the ire of the addict/geek who feels (s)he owns the space and is insulted by the presence of the offendingly disingenuous ad message, and could, in fact, do considerable brand damage. Twitter is easy when you know how, so, until you do - give it to someone who does.

The number of twitter apps that exist has grown at a similar rate to its usership. Hundreds of apps and sites that interact with, measure, map and monitor twitter and other social media messages seamlessly on PCs, phones, desktop widgets and GPS or location logging gadgets of all description. Again, this is co-operation and not competition.

Emmet Kelly (twitterID: emmetkelly)

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Audience, Publisher and Publience


The potential efficiency for peoples consumption of new and information content has improved exponentially with the advent of twitter. On my iPhone, I can consume 50 messages, and click through to maybe 10 pictures or articles in about 5 minutes. I can’t do that any other way. I wouldn’t know where to click, what is of interest, or what is good. If I was to try to do that actively, by visiting blogs, news and scanning, I’d be burnt out in 30 minutes. With twitter, it’s a passive experience, and stimulating rather than tiring. On twitter, I have a filter of likeminded individuals who will scout out good or relevant content for me, and say, ‘look at this’ and give me a hashtag to identify its nature. And, of course, I do the same for them.

Having 200 hand-picked sub editors at your beck and call is a great thing. Not only can I consume perhaps 10 times more efficiently than before... what I can consume is 10 times more pertinent, relevant and of interest. That makes 100 times, of something. There’s no need for surfing. This way is so much quicker, and just works much better.


Publishers have fragmented the access to their content, and their content. Newspapers with 30 pages have become headlines to articles from a certain category tweeted to the interested. They are more interesting to the consumer because of this filtering. I’m not interested in Irish party politics at the moment, but I get tech news articles tweeted to my iPhone from the Guardian, and a host of other mainstream sources... ones I’d never buy. One ‘publication(s)’ has 100 articles in 20 categories tweeted to a couple of million readers... Now, that’s a business model... if it carries even a tiny logo from a business. Think about it. Eminently trackable. Eminently costable. Eminently consumable. And so turn-on-and-offable.


I tweet therefore I am. Tweeting and reading and @ing and DMing. SMS, meets Email, meets Blogging, meets feedback and CRM meets advertising, networking and social media. Where do you draw the line between the audience and the publishers when the audience is a publisher in their own micro or macro blogging or social media , or forum posting right. You don’t. Bloggers and tweeters become journalists too, (cf. Persiankitty and many other examples.)

The Mix of Sliding Scales

Through the twitter filter of follower and following sub-editors, the capacity to engage with the world grows, but the exposure to linear, non-filtered content shrinks.

The remit of the public service broadcaster involved creating content to educate and enhance the population. It involved making programs they may not actually have asked for, or want, so that their exposure to ‘educational’ content would be increased, something impossible in a wholly commercial environment. The twitter fan-base of friendly followers and tweeters has no such remit.

But, it’s a sliding scale. The capacity to get content not offered by a mainstream source increases hugely and a lot of this can be educational and enhance a population.

Also, the capacity for states to control a nation’s view of the world, as soviet Russia did for its own population for perhaps 50 years, has shrunk. Propaganda is a much more difficult game than it used to be.

But, it’s a sliding scale. The capacity for the creation of factions, with an intensely ideologically driven micro view of the world... however inaccurate that may be, has increased. Twitter creates cliques, and not all cliques are hobby driven, or benevolent.

The capacity for slanted or misinformed views to fly around the world has increased too with twitter. But, so too has the capacity for the correction of incorrect or misleading information. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. It’s a sliding scale.

Thursday 5 March 2009

What is Twitter and Will It Last

Who cares? It’s popular and it works’ – you say.  Or, alternately, ‘I’m glad you asked that question, I was afraid to ask because everyone seemed to know all about it’.  Well, in the spirit of working out why things are popular and what they do that works so well -  so that at some stage we can all spot, or develop the next big thing... I care.  Here are my thoughts.

Short messaging combined with blogging

Blogs have suffered from long messaging... this one included.  Wannabe writers wittering on about their inane existence ad nauseam.   Some go nuts writing their super work of philosophical politico treatise in public... waiting to be discovered by another genius, like the soap box geniuses shouting at Hyde Park corner.  While others give a sometimes boring, sometimes entertaining kitchen sink real time Shirley Valentine drama.  Some shock, writing about their job as a hooker or psychiatrist, while others muse amusingly on this and that or shout angrily populist sentiment to the gathering mob (they hope).  The one problem with all of these types of blogs is they are self indulgent, self centred and full of both pride and shame in equal measure.  It’s like watching a manic depressive slowly unravel their shattered character in front of you.  A slow motion personality car crash... and there’s nothing you can do to help, or would necessarily wish to.  OK. That came out harsh... and I'm a blogger, so I can say that.  No?

But for Twitter, 150 characters per message is short, but it’s enough to say what you’re doing.   Micro-blogging.  Not much time for self indulgence in each message, though you could with several  message, and some do tweet far too often.  The size per tweet is also a challenge.  It’s very short.  To answer this challenge, a friend of mine has taken to tweeting short stories for Twitter.  ‘It was a simple plan, but then they were simple people and so, it didn’t quite work out as it should have.  Pity that!’  A mini haikuesque saga.  (Thanks Jo.)

Following People

So, twitter messages are like text messages really, but you can get messages from famous people.  Jonathan Ross, Barack Obama, Stephen Fry are leading the way, but the Dalai Llama, Brian Cowan and probably the Pope aren’t far behind.  Ratzinger @ emmetkelly You are going to hell because you don’t believe in hell, or heaven.  emmetkelly @ ratzinger See you there?

This is fun.  It’s efficient.  It’s novel and it’s new... so, it will join the ever increasing gamut of media messages we can choose to expose ourselves to.


In amongst the tweets are the ads.  This means Twitter has a business model.  The ads are small, not interruptive or irritating but yet they cannot be ignored.  As long as there aren’t too many, this will work.  Oh, and they click through too to whole webpages.  SMS can’t do that.

Pictures and Media

TinyURL has never been so busy, because long internet page locations need to be minimized.  Pictures, sound, quotes, videos... all with your tweet.  SMS can’t do that either.  It’s easier than MMS, and takes up no memory because the files are hosted on the wonderful interweb.  Very efficient, novel, new and fun... so it will last.

Connectedness and Belonging

We are social beings.  We need to be connected.  If we aren’t, we get lonely.  Being alone for even 40 days and nights is likely to get you in the bible.  Loneliness drives Internet communication because it solves the problem.  Twitter takes it to another level, especially when it’s on your phone.  People don’t like to be seen to spend too much time at their PC living their virtual life because it’s obviously visibly solving some need, or something lacking in their real offline life (unless its work of course).  But, with twitter, it’s on your phone.  You get little funny text messages from your friend Stephen Fry.  How cool is that.  And you can tweet him back, and he might even reply.  Hilarious.  You belong.  You’ve arrived.  You have friends... Famous ones.  Lots of them.  And, you’re not in front of a monitor, unless you choose to be.

When twitter is combined with the excellent and Facebook... you’ve arrived.  You have friends, you can see everything about them, and they can you, and you can follow them, and with Locle, you can see where they are on a Google map.  ‘Oh, look, Sean’s at home.’ SMS to Sean.  Goggin’s in 20? (why do my posts always involve pubs... hmmmm).  Tweet: Dart is broken down.  But, look at the bird at the station. I may be some time:*&JJ(*UFRGF.  When you update your Locle status, it tweets automatically.  Again, very efficient and very clever.

Open API

The mini techie bit of this post.  Twitter has an open API which means that anyone can program a widget for the program, and thus ensure its vast potential will only grow.  More add-ons, plug-ins and enhancements and we’ll be tweeting for a very long time to come.

So, soon, we’ll all be Twitterers.  Soon, we’ll see TwitterAds.  Twitter has big advantages over SMS and may be the answer many issues in the mobile marketing quandary... ‘how do I give my recipients the change to see my products and services.  Semi-impossible with SMSs.  Perfect for Tweets.

Friday 13 February 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day iPhone

Happy Valentine’s Day iPhone.  Never leave my side.  I’d be lost without you.

OK.  As you can see, the honeymoon period isn’t exactly over.  It’s been six months or so since we met, but I’ve grown accustomed to her face and can now gauge how my life is different since I met her, and how I want it to stay this way forever.

A few months back a friend called me and said... ‘Hey Mr. Kelly, want a new iPhone for €99,’ and I said, ‘Hey.  Yeah.  Why not?  I hear she’s something special.’  It was a blind date.  I had no idea...

When we met it was strange.  I held her immediately tightly.  She was so small, and light in my hand, I found myself exploring her surface in disbelief.  She was so beautiful.  I kept finding new things, touching, swiping and pinching, and I instinctively and immediately felt like protecting her in case she got a bump or scratch.  A cover, a guard.  Oh yes... if something happened to her beautiful surface I would have blamed myself and I couldn’t cope with that.  I wasn’t good enough for a smartphone this beautiful.  But I knew nothing of her power.

A mate introduced me her App store... Wow.  I hadn’t even noticed the funny little icon skulking shyly beneath the calculator.  You see, when she was a doddle to integrate with Outlook, iTunes etc, etc, etc. I thought great, that’s it.  What’s all the fuss about.  But I was so wrong.  It was just the beginning.  The early days were halcyon though. Everything worked, if you read the instructions, but they mostly said ‘plug it in and don’t touch anything!’ which is exactly what I did.

The most incredible thing about her I think is that everything does work, which is strange if you’re a techy like me and used to the challenge a new machine offers for setup, tweaking... optimizing.  That used to be both the frustration and part of the fun.  Tempting a new machine into working for you.  The chase.  Not being beaten.  Conquest.  But the iPhone was such a pure doddle I ended up doing things I never thought I’d do.  Just for the hell of it.  Waiting to be let down, to confirm my insecurities, but no.  We had such fun.  For example, I’m not a big music collector, but I had to use the iPod, simply because it said it worked and it did work.  Immediately.  The early Leonard Cohen sounds just didn’t fit though because I was too happy with my new machine, not sad... So, I moved on.  What else worked?  Well... let me tell you.

Social network applications work perfectly without opening your Safari browser: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and a few others.  When a mate I haven’t seen for 20 years say’s ‘I’m bored’ I know he’s bored immediately.  (OK, that’s a bit sad, but you take the point).  When Stephen Fry is stuck in a lift, I can see him in the lift. It was pretty funny actually.  He’s a big tech head it seems and he tweets fun stuff around.  (E.g., ‘devolve-me’ - see what you look like as an early human -

Then there are the email accounts, SMS, WiFi, Contacts and Phone, Maps, Around Me, Vicinity and Google Earth.

Then there are the free retro games (Submarine, Pacman etc) and the widgets which use the angle of the machine, (Biiball and Topple).  Then fun marketing ones like Carlsberg and Zippo.

Then there’s the music apps (Piano, Guitar, minisynth (kids love this one)) and Ocarina (a wind instrument believe it or not.  You blow over the mic and put fingers over the virtual holes.)  It all works

Then there’s the Television app, where you can.... em, watch TV for free, another one where you can control your SkyBox at home and then there’s the Radio (200 or so categorised stations (no BBC though).  Reference (Google, Wikiamo, WorldWiki).  YouTube is great too, and works really well, with full screen and good sound.  eBay too if I had something left to sell.

Then there’s the academic stuff.  Stanza (1000s of copyright expired classic books), Translaters (Ultralingua, French, Italian).  The language phrase books actually say the words for you so you’re pronounciation is good.  If someone answers you’re stuffed but you’re half way there.  (‘Help.  I need my inhaler!’ ‘Τι είναι μια εισπνευστήρ? ‘Uggggggghhh?’ 'He say's his hovercraft is fully of eels!' 'No, can I change this record, it is scratched.' 'Ahhhh... Second turn on the left, The chemist is on the corner.')

Then there are the utilites.  Stocks n shares, Notes, word and spreadsheets, super clock, calculator, calendar, text, blog writer and pic grabber and poster. 

And, that’s only the start.  One of the joys of my new friend is finding all the rest of the stuff you can download and run for free, or nearly nothing.  It’s also the weakness.  She can eat up time.  It’s a work machine, a toy, an education and finally, did I tell you?  It’s works?  That’s the bit I can’t believe.  5 rewarding minutes spent with her is like a week with another resulting in failure.  You choose.

Loyalty grows and she never leaves my side.  My laptop is in a jealous sulk and my workstation is ready to dump me and isn’t even talking to the network.  ‘But it’s only a phone...’ I hear you say.  ‘There are plenty more phones in the sea.’  Yeah right!  Thought you’d say that.  Well, I can’t listen to that now.  I just have to check to see if Stephen Fry was up for the ISDN linked voice over in London before filming this morning.  He shouldn’t have had that last voddie!  I suppose, after a night shoot, you’d need something to help you sleep.  Twitterific! 

So, Happy Valentine iPhone.  Listen, are you doing anything on Saturday?  You see, I’ve found this lovely restaurant...  What do you think?  Don’t worry.  I’ll plug you in for a re-charge later afterwards... Whatya say?

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Very Short Story: Friday Night Mobile Marketing: Dublin 2012

Keith left the front door of his apartment and tweeted.

Keith: ‘OK.  I’ve left.’

Fachna: ‘Stuck in a lift, should be there in 20.’

Sophie: ‘I hate snow.  Who knows.  1 hour?’

Keith @ Sophie: ‘Come when the kids are down.’

Sophie @ Keith: ‘I’m hardly leaving when they’re running around.  Am I...’

Fachna: ‘It’s decided.  Goggins’ at 9.30.  So sick of this lift guys.  Something smells baaad and it’s me.  Not this time anyway! J

Passing the Cineplex Keith was vouchered.  ‘Mermaids of the Caribbean with Bradly Armpit and Sterile Creep.   30% off with this voucher.  Offer till 9.30pm, Dun Laoghaire Branch.’  ‘Damn’, thought Keith.  ‘I need to leave BrightKite on so the crew can follow.  I’ll be voucher central by the time I arrive.’

He was right.  5 minutes walking - 5 vouchers.  One a minute.  Vouchers for tyres, burgers, holidays, a charity and bizarrely, free dog grooming had found his iPhone and entered it as he moved toward his local.  ‘How did they know I have a dog?’

Text from Sophie: ‘Where are you?  I’m at the back – smoking section.  Guinness?’ Reply: ‘Yep.  There in a bit’.  

iPod time.  Girl from Impanema retro-electro.  Free iTune with a Big Mac.  Quite good really, he thought.

Hitting Goggin’s he went straight to the smoking section.  Empty. Panic set in.  Did they go somewhere else without telling me? Text to Sophie: ‘Thought you said Goggins’ smoking section.  Where are you’ Reply: ‘Patience pet.  I’m on the loo.  Are they there yet?’  Keith breathed a sigh of relief and sat down.

‘Heya!’  It was Shelley. ‘Hey Shells.  Sophie’s in the bog.  Drink?’ said Keith.  ‘Thought she said an hour?’ said Shelley.  ‘Sophie O’Neil, not Sophie Sophie.  Look. Fachna’s stuck in a lift, but he’s on cam.’  ‘Hilarious,’ said Shell, and clicked ferociously on her screen.

Both Sophies arrived at the table at the same time and joined Keith and Shell. Fachna cammed from the lift with the help of Hotel wifi.  Keith sat back and surveyed the crew, taking the odd suck from his pint.

‘So.  Any news?’

There was a short pause while they all looked at each other, then at their phones and then they exploded with laughter.  ‘Not in the last 30 seconds ya eejit,’ said Sophie Sophie. ‘But we’ll keep you posted!’  Then each, in turn, picked up their respective phone from the table and started tapping.  ‘Another monosyllabic Friday in Goggins’,’ thought Keith and gestured the barman for a fresh pint.  ‘I should’ve stayed at home!’ Then he took out his own iPhone and joined them… each in their own respective personalized mobile silo lifeworld interconnected by messaging, tweets and status updates; separated by a few feet of table and a few drinks, or in Fachna’s case, a few miles and the wall of the lift stuck between the 14th and 15th.  Videos and pics passed.  Occasional snickers and the odd… ‘Get a look at this!  Have you downloaded this one?’ ‘That is so cool. Send a link.’  And then back to tapping.

Tweet: Sophie @ Keith: ‘This is so ****ing boring.  Let’s get out of here. Have some fun if u want to.’ Keith @ Sophie: ’15 mins.  Your place.’  Sophie got up suddenly and speaking as she left said, ‘I’ll see yous.  Don’t wait up.’ Keith @ Sophie ‘Kiss kiss – Mwah!’  Sophie @ Keith ‘J

Keith was vouchered again on the way back to Sophie’s and annoyingly one was a ‘Buy 1 get 1 Free’ for Guinness at Goggins’.  ‘Reliability in a World of Change. Offer closes midnight.’  ‘Might have numbed the boredom,’ thought Keith.

Reaching the door he got a text from Fachna ‘Hey mate.  Out of the lift now so off cam.  Where are you guys? Physically I mean.’  Keith replied: ‘Sorry mate, you missed it, home now’.  ‘Bo**ocks,’ texted Fachna.  ‘What a Friday night that was!’ Keith felt guilty.  Poor Fachna.  So not fair on him.

But as he shut the door to Sophie’s apartment he heard a baby’s distraught cry.  He’s up,’ called Sophie.  ‘Damn it!’  Keith looked up the stairs and listened as Sophie picked her infant son up from his cot, and carried him to the bedroom. He looked at the TV screen flashing away in the front room, and he looked again at Fachna’s text. 

Text to Fachna: ‘Feck it mate.  Goggin’s in 10 mins it is.  You need a Guinness. It’s on me.’

Wednesday 21 January 2009

10 Digital Attitudes to help your Company Survive the Recession

1)  Big Online Brand Lessons for Offline Brands

The brands that will weather the recession are online brands like Amazon, Google and Pay Pal.  Web only brands, great market share, and they know what they are doing.  They are also flexible, and do not need tonnes of bricks and mortar to do business.  Did you ever see that documentary on Amazon?  Huge warehouses... thousands of miles of conveyor belts, millions of books and almost no people.  All brands have to learn from these and become more efficient, and by efficient, I mean net driven.  A little investment today creates great efficiency and a recession proof path to market.  Not doing digital means not being flexible, efficient, modern or competitive in today’s world of marketing.  No digital front door, no digital communications and a huge limitation on the number of customers.


2)  Carrying out your own research

First class of Bus Org in 1984, and Greg O’Conner asked what the most important element of any business was.  He wrote the school books on Bus Org at the time.  No one guessed... The answer? Market research... A lesson I never forgot it... probably because I slept through the rest of the course.

Research online is more efficient than research has ever been.  But, be warned, buying software is no more likely to make you a researcher than booking a hotel room makes your chat with drink softened strangers a research focus group.  Still, I recommend buying the best software you can, not the cheapest, and make sure there’s training and support and you can save thousands on expensive market research options.  Inquisite is good but costs a bit.  Cheap/free software like surveymonkey is just too simple, and will never give you the outputs you need.  Like everything else, you gets what you pays for!  Use other software to research word of mouth online.  Quick, efficient and clean.  Net Behaviour can also help here with our funky new buzz monitor service.

3)  Added Value

More for the same money, especially when services are bundled together.  More impressions, more tracking, more reporting, more data, more customers delivered to the client.  We just have to work harder and we’ll make the same money!


4)  Inspiration and the Multi-disciplinary


Now is the time for multi-disciplinary people on the pay roll.  The set that can turn their hand to most things, but most importantly have special interests of their own, which constitutes them as experts in one or two sectors.  Someone is good at video games in the office, someone else can blog, another has a keen eye for good viral marketing executions, while someone else can get stuck in the backend of data driven systems and get outputs that are in plain English.  These are the people for today’s marketing team.  Quirky originality and talent is good.  This is the age of the nerd.


5)  Packaging and Bundling Reductions

We’re seeking to bundle our services to create efficiencies for our customer base, and think you should do the same.  Advertising, brand tracking, creative and blog monitoring with a single all-in value cost.  Also you should explore such things like content generation, customer relationship management, but above all, make sure that any mix you come up with is innovative and creative and exciting, but simple and buyable too.  Fix a price people can afford above inviting a negotiation which ever increasing costs that will make a customer nervous.  And, stick to the price.

6)  Digital Literacy


Without foreknowledge of the scale of the disasters that would hit 2009, I did loosely predict in a previous post that the digital literacy divide would grow, and today staying on the right side of that literacy equation for the modern marketer has become both an imperative for themselves and for their companies.  The most efficient way of doing things is also the best value, and computer driven solutions are 1000s of times more efficient than others... especially for advertisers.  The net is more efficient in terms of time, cost, value, flexibility, effectiveness and consequently gives better ROI.  The super Google PPC bidding system for example has revolutionised ad buying for all media in my opinion and it works because of giant computer silos munching all that valuable search/need data.  What we’ve seen from these guys is only the beginning, but understanding and learning how to get the most from Google inventions is only at the early stages too.  When you hear someone who says ‘I know a guy who knows all that stuff,’ they don’t! No one does.  It is the utterance and wishful thinking on the part of the net illiterate who wants to persuade you they are safely on the digital bandwagon.  

Indeed travelling today’s digital landscape is an ongoing battle to speak new languages and understand new concepts as you progress.  It’s an ongoing exploration of such scale it would have made the likes of Alexander the Great or Marco Polo stay at home and stare at the wall. But then again, these guys were at the forefront of the technology of their time.  Siege engines, war machines, cartography and natural science maybe, but there's a lesson there too surely.


7)  Experimental Marketing


With new challenges come new approaches.  Innovation is the cornerstone of successful marketing in 2009, and this means mixing old modes of communication, and coming up with killer ideas which explain the essence of a brand in the modern context.  (Easy to say, hard to do,  has to be done.) There is no time for new marketers to say they don’t understand the net, or don’t believe in digital, because it is just too efficient and turn-on-and-offable to ignore.  People who think this way are as inescapably on the verge of extinction as those who defended the steam engine.  Yes, other things work, and will get you there safely, but if you don’t see it, you don’t get it or don’t want to because you haven’t the time to take to understand why digital is better.  Maybe you’re afraid of going too fast? 


From a pure advertising point of view, lessons from the Walkers crisps in recent times show that this could be the most creative and exciting cross mode, including digital, marketing time this century.  I want to taste Cajun Squirrel crisps, to see if they do taste better than my flavour, New York Pastrami and Gherkin and I’ll buy a pack as a result as will about 3 million others in a similar predicament.  That's clever marketing, and who'd have though it would be for the humble bag of crisps.


8)  The Opportunity presented by Needs Must


We all must still do business despite the incessant news of doom and gloom, and we just have to be cleverer about it.  And if budgets have been cut, you still have to do something.  In fact, I’d say that those who can’t afford today’s digital solutions probably can’t afford anything... and have probably already gone bust.  But, for those who haven’t... seek and you shall find and who dares wins and other clichés. With digital comes a myriad of opportunities.  Those who were there when the dot com bubble burst and got the net bug knew there were opportunities then despite the almost total lack of business.  Things are infinitely rosier now thanks to broadband, iPhone, Social Networks and the rest of the tech developments that exponentially expand the reach of this most versatile two directional medium the world has ever seen.


9)  Cheap Luxuries Mentality brings the Masses Online in Droves


An economic truth: when times get tougher people still need to cheer themselves up with luxuries and the cheaper ones grow in popularity.  Pizzas and takeaways replace the restaurant, cans in replaces pub nights out, lipstick and knickers are sold by the truckload instead of that gúna nua. Video rentals also increase.  Well, the net has cheap or free music, video, TV, films, chat, dating, games, Skype, web text and even porn... and all-in for a single cheap monthly charge.   So, this is where your customers are going are spending more and more of their spare time and they’re likely to have much more of this too.  Net use kills time so more effectively than TV or radio, and young hardly ever buy newspapers these days. 

10)      IP Society

And best of all the Internet is a social activity. When you maybe can’t afford to be physically social, virtually social beats solo every time.  TV used to be social, but now people are watching videos in bedrooms, on DVD players, or other devices, so they’re not sitting getting embarrassed in front of their parents when something rude happens on the box in the corner. 

These days, things are much less family oriented and much more solo and this where the net comes into its own.  It’s a physically solo, virtually social networking balance which seems to satisfy the social needs of humans in this progressively solitary age.  Sitting alone at home with a can chatting or playing a game or watching videos with mates on the Internet feels much less sad and lonely than the same evening spent staring at Desperate Housewives, ER and QI. Your mates are home alone with you after all - texting, chatting and calling you for free.

And, for the business man, since your customers are online, you need to be there, or they won’t even know you exist.