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helping people break out of pigeonholes since 2003

Worldwide federation of volunteers

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I just came across Jon Udell’s most amazing screencast about wikipedia. It was made some time ago but he mentions it in his weekly column. He chooses the entry about Heavy metal umlaut (an unlikely topic of a scholarly treatise) and tracks the changes from its humble one line beginings in April 2003 to a page with graphics and hundreds of changes in January 2005.

It show the evolution of the wikipedia content and the dynamics of the contributors-editors. It is hypnotic, as he says in his commentary to the screencast. The most interesting bit is the way the wikipedia volunteers dealt with vandalism trying to deface the entry.

Wikipedia rulez!

NMK blogging event

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On Tuesday I was talking at the NMK blogging event, Blogs: A Real Conversation, that took place at University of Westminster, in  01zero-one. The title of my session was Are blogs new voices of authority? Well, the blogger has spoken.

Comprehensive multi-media coverage by Lloyd Davies of Perfect Path who points to others who did agreat job of summarising the whole of BARC .

I have been to most events about blogging in London and think that NMK pulled it off in an intelligent and interesting manner. And that’s not just because I was on the panel. It was like a gathering of friends without the navel gazing. Interesting concepts about internet, online and blogs were explored, people spoke intelligently about them – metaphors all over the place. My kind of stuff…

  Panel 2 
  Originally uploaded by Lloyd Davis.

Central London disrupted… again

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Just passing Downing st. Some demo to do with more or less (couldn’t really tell) UN troops in Congo. Orange colour featured prominently – protesters are wearing orange headbands.

Disruptive Skyping

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An excellent article by Gordon Cook in strategy+business about Skype’s challenge to both telcoms and traditional companies. Skype is a
“softphone” — a software-based telephone that uses a computer,
cellphone, PDA, or any other equipment connected to the Web to deliver
voice with simultaneous file transfer and instant messages over the

It is different from the growing number of “voice over Internet protocol”
(VOIP) networks offered by phone and cable companies, because it is a
peer-to-peer system, creating ad hoc
computer-to-computer links over the Internet whenever Skype users want
to reach one another. The big issue here is that no central networks mediate
or manage the connection and so the user to user calls are free.
 Since its debut, Skype has signed up 35
million users and, at any one time, well over 3 million people are
logged into its network.

Those of us who use it, know how revolutionary it is and how it changed the voice communication and its cost. But as Gordon Cook points out, the road to Skype’s domination is not smooth as most corporate IT and telecom managers are trying to avoid Skype at all costs. It is for sound security reasons, but I am sure the idea that employees can be using something that is not controlled by the company and/or its IT department plays a role. But because Skype gives more control to the individual I don’t see how its progress can be halted without resorting to drastic measures:

Soon it will become imperative for larger
companies to take Skype seriously, if for no other reason than that
peer-to-peer architecture is one of the most efficient, most direct,
and least wasteful systems of digital interaction.

But perhaps the most lasting influence of
Skype will be that it will force management and IT executives to
consider how to structure a network that exists both inside and outside
the corporate firewall. To improve innovation and their own
productivity, employees will gravitate to the most advanced
collaboration and communications tools with the most reliable levels of
quality, no matter what price is paid in weakened security.

Indeed. The corporate firewall is a technological equivalent of the great business divide between the company and the ‘consumers’ whose porousness Cluetrain has so effectively pointed out. This is not a statement about no need for security but for looking at the landscape in a bit more peer-to-peer way, you might say…

Read the rest of this entry »

Quote to remember

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The 18- to 24-year-olds are digital nomads
who have adopted new media more readily than any other age group. Not only do
they use new media more, they are influenced by it much more than any
other age group when it comes to making purchase decisions.

- Joe Pilotta, BIGresearch’s vice president of research.

Blinkx unveils podcast and vblog search

TAGS: None reports that search company Blinkx unveiled a way to search inside podcasts and video blogs on Wednesday through its broadcast channel. The privately held company offers software for searching all kinds of data on desktops and the Web using contextual search technology, rather than keywords like other search engines. The company has indexed and made searchable content from about 20,000
podcast channels, as well as video blogs, which are weblogs that use
video as their primary presentation format.

‘Consumer-unfriendly’ drink

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Yesterday I ducked into a vegetarian cafe to get some lunch. I decided to have a smoothie, which arrived all green and gloopy. It was drinkable and did the job of providing a liquid lunch. Eventually…as it arrived in a cup with the hole for a straw that cut off any chance of the drink passing through. I thought the world ought to be told. :-)

  • Author: Adriana
  • Published: Jun 28th, 2005
  • Category: Media
  • Comments: 14

Just the facts, ma’am

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Reading an article on the BBC website about the Crazy Frog scam made me realise something about the way journalists/reporters in the big media let off those who are getting away with murder…well, in this case, with a stream of verbiage to evade the problem. A normal PR practice you might say… but bear with me.

Hannah Bayman writes about how she fell for the TV advert inviting her to get the Crazy Frog ring-tone.

After texting a number on a television advert to get the
tone, I was bombarded with messages from Jamster inviting me to
download more tones. It wasn’t until my next bill arrived from Orange that I discovered each junk text from Jamster had cost me £3.

Instead of ordering Crazy Frog’s Axel F as a one-off
tone, [I] had unwittingly subscribed to an expensive ring-tone account,
with Jamster sending premium rate reverse-charge texts every few days.

Outrageous. I stand by my description of this as a scam. As a result of many complaints, ring-tone-maker Jamster and its telephone service provider mBlox are being investigated. So far, so good. My beef is with the reporting of the following comment by Andrew Bud, mBlox’s executive chairman:

At mBlox, we look
after the transmission and settlement of messages for many well-known
brands, and we impress on all our clients the obligations and standards
they must adhere to under Icstis’ and operators’ codes of practice.

Now this is just meaningless pointless response, the kind of PR speak that does not address the problem or the questions posed. It is reported here for the world to see but the reporter leaves it at that. Why doesn’t she let rip with the outrage she must feel as she was one of the victims? Why doesn’t she say what she thinks about Mr Bud’s non-answer? Because she cannot be ‘biased’ and must report ‘impartially’, whatever that means. Just the facts, ma’am, so we don’t damage the MSM brand we write for…

Now wonder bloggers are gaining influence – the same quote on a blog would be flamed and spread on the wings of outrage through other blogs. Blogs do not compete with journalists on reporting and investigative journalism just yet, if ever, but they are certainly ahead of the MSM in calling spade a spade. So, the ‘internet power’ will go to blogs who will pick a fight rather than to those who have to adhere to the fallacy of objectivity…


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About to speak to this lot…

On the road

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Off to South Africa until Friday to talk about online, information flows, communication and occassionally blogging at the Southern African Online Information Conference (pdf). Light blogging but will post pictures, if my mobile works over there.

‘Hidden’ ads

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Businessweek online opens an article about a particularly interruptive advertising practice:

Toyota Motor has asked at least three major magazine companies to explore product integration – that’s product placement to you and me – of its cars
into magazine editorial pages. Say hello to another indicator of
changing media mores.

Changing media mores? Indeed. And looking more like desperate measures to me.. The magazine is not going along with the Toyota’s notions of its brand promotion. A mystified magazine executive (who, fearing a major advertiser’s wrath, insisted on
anonymity) said:

We’ll sell our mothers, but this doesn’t
work. I can’t sell you an article. I don’t even know how to price

I hope it’s not only the fact that he can’t price it that is a problem for him… The future does not look bright to me.

It’s hard to get exercised about advertiser incursions into photo features about shampoos and cosmetics, and, just as The Contender is not 60 Minutes, Inside TV is not The New Yorker.
But suggestions like Toyota’s add a new dimension to the debate, and
even editorial purists concede that the media terrain is changing.

Certainly, product placement "is becoming more and more relevant to every TV show," said Viacom Co-President Les Moonves this month, promising a "quantum leap" in
its ubiquity on TV this year. The irony, of course, is that this
practice arose so advertisers could break through a cluttered media
environment. But mushrooming product placements will soon create lots
of clutter of their own

Sadly this does not look to me like the advertisers are getting the message from their ‘audience’ – "Do not interrupt!"


Ad stabbing spree

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Jackie Danicki hits the nail on the head when it comes to making money out of a blog and the proliferation of ads on blogs. Although not a big fan of ads anywhere (can you tell?) I think it is a good idea for a blogger to have relevant ads, if only it can bring a few pennies that I do not begrudge anyone. The main point is that ads on blogs are a low hanging fruit, i.e. applying new formats to old models. To me it is important that people understand that as the greatest commercial potential of blogs is not in ad placement.

But now to Jackie’s point – it is about control and about how you treat your audience.

For individuals trying to make money on ads, the key is not to try
to control your readers’ behaviour. With that, you fall into the same
old crap pile of traditional marketing that people come to blogs to

Exactly. Your readers come to your blog presumably because you give them something of value, information, entertainment, analysis, sense of superiority – whatever it is, they are willing to give you some of their attention in exchange for your ‘content’. So a value-for-value transaction takes place between the typing fingers and the eyeballs… Ads have the potential to disrupt this exchange and therefore have to be carefully chosen and placed, if at all. But most importantly, I’d heed Jackie’s words:

Plus, you make me want to go on a stabbing spree. Please stop.


And the article that Jackie links to in her post, at Croziervision v3.0, is worth a read too as he asks some interesting questions, especially as they come from the ‘ads consumer’, as the industry would put it.

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