Originally uploaded by dillpickle.

As you might guess, I am working from about 8 feet below my keyboard, with only a my single index finger typing through the mountain of submissions for the Age of Conversation eBook.

Back to normal blogging duties as soon as the snow plough makes its way to me.

Either that, or a St Bernard. Hmm … here boy!

Sydney Blog Fun

Saramerc One of the joys of blogging is transcending the online world and meeting other bloggers face-to-face. Here in Sydney, Sara the Bargain Queen and Mr Bargain Queen, the mercurial Mercurius do a fantastic job of regularly bringing local bloggers together and last week we all met up at the Art House Hotel in Sydney for a spot of conversation, a few drinks and the simple chance to escape our computer screens. This week’s soiree was well attended with around 30 or so bloggers and a couple of people who are not bloggers but came along anyway.

I got to have a quick chat with Laurel Papworth who had just come straight from a seminar featuring Jimmy Wales. It sounded like an interesting day focusing on the use of social media in an educational context where the topic was "challenging the way knowledge is created".

Gavindeankaren I also met up with Angus McDonald, Anna and Ian who were engaged in wide ranging discussions about science fiction and the weirdness of blogging. Since the meetup, Matt Moore has been coaxed out of blog retirement and is now waxing lyrical about value networks ("the biggest thing in the next three months") on his newly revived blog. Harriet Fesq, Sara, Petra, Dean and Chrissy brought a fashion focus to the charming Attic Bar of the Art House. I also got chatting to Karyn about how easy it is to start a blog these days (she was one of two non-bloggers who turned up to see what bloggers were like — here I am writing down the URLs of Typepad, Blogger and WordPress).

I chatted with Kathy Phelan about Twitter and its many and varied uses for brands, marketing and politics. I told her about our Twitter Fun — changing icons and pictures to a theme from time to time — and she suggested a great one — baby photos. I just need to digitise some of my own before I bring that one up!

I noticed Lucas, Sara (the +1) and Paull were chatting together over in the corner for ages. As it turns out, Paull is hosting a dinner next Wednesday and then wandering down to meetup with Joseph Jaffe … so if you are in Sydney and interested in social media and marketing, mark Wednesday in your diaries. Just let Paull know so that he can book a space for you at the table!

Of course, this shindig was also attended by my marketing blog buddies Katie and Emily. After a late night chatting with this group of Sydney bloggers, I just could not make it to coffee the next morning … but it looks like it turned out well anyway! (Thanks also to Emily for the great pictures — that camera goes everywhere!)

No longer the bridesmaid

I did mean to post about this yesterday but I just had to leave my computer behind and go and MEET some bloggers here in Sydney! After weeks of hovering around the edges of The Viral Garden’s Top 25 Marketing Blogs, the Servant of Chaos blog has broken in to reach No 24! It is a great honour considering the quality of the sites that are on the list — and says much about all my great readers who continue to visit, comment and contribute to this site.

As you know, we have the Age of Conversation eBook coming up but I also have a few other surprises that I can share with you over the next few weeks. Thanks again for all your support — and hey, when you are in Sydney, drop by for one of our coffee mornings or evening drinks!

Can you spot the difference?

PrincesacrumOn one side we have a marketing genius and on the other we have the master of disguise. On one side we have talent and on the other misplaced identity. On one side there is artistry and representation and on the other play, mimicry and reclusiveness.

Can you spot the difference?

In the online, as in the "real" world, identity can be a fluid construction. There are roles that we play at work, at home, in the bar or on our blogs … and sometimes these roles intersect or even, in some instances, cancel out the others. But each of these identity constructions are built around facets of our own personalities and the very way that they are performed for the world says something about US to the world in which we live. In fact, I believe that our "true" selves peak out around the freying edges of our identity constructions to wink at (and connect with) the rest of the world. This is why I love reading blogs and why writing one can, at times, be confronting.

When Marcus Brown announced that he was quitting blogging I felt an acute sense of loss. Here we were losing one of the most original voices in the blogosphere — someone who constantly experimented with the blogging as a tool to communicate and as a medium in which to practise communication. He would share stories, personal archives, branding and marketing theory, activation ideas, sing on YouTube, debate the merits of various meats and generally provoke conversation. If you did not get to know Marcus and his early blog work, then I feel that you really did miss out.

And yet, like any great artist, with any loss there is also a rebirth, of sorts. While I know that Marcus has closed down his blog sites, and I was actually Twittering and watching as he said goodbye and deleted his Twitter account the other day, this has not stopped me dropping by his old blog address each day or so. It is like a toss-up between visiting a cemetary and driving past a house that you shared as a student. A little weird (especially when you find that some squatter, Julian, has moved in). I hold in my heart a small hope that maybe "Julian" is a revamped Marcus, that soon another post will signal new life in an old blog. But no. At least not yet. But then, how does one account for this?   

Anzac Day

Today is Anzac Day . It is a day that has become a deeply significant day for Australians … it marks a historic event from which there is now only one living survivor, but it has also on some level, become generally linked with a sense of Australian identity.

The origins of Anzac Day lie in the futile assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula during the First World War by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp. And while the campaign was a military failure, it became a defining moment for the newly fledged Australian nation … for the acts of bravery and mateship that occurred, despite the horrors of war, echo down the years, ringing of truth, reminding us that those men were once young like us, like our sons. And in every ANZAC story we hear, we hear also the laughter, the irreverence, the respect, generosity and seriousness that deeply informs the nature of what we know to be "Australian".

But there is something that has been missing in the Australian character for some time … the sense of generosity for which the Anzacs were also known. Thankfully I have noticed it raising its head again recently. When l heard, last week, that the Rats of Tobruk Association were no longer able to meet the costs of maintaining the building where they had been meeting since the end of World War II I was saddened. In a truly generous act, the ROTA had decided to donate the proceeds to the Royal Children’s Hospital for cancer research — but would find themselves without a space for their monthly meetings … and this Anzac Day would be their last in Tobruk House.

Bill Gibbins is the founder of Australian transport group FCL, and after hearing of the situation, emerged from the Tobruk House auction this week as its new owner. He has allowed the ROTA to continue to use Tobruk House as long as they want it, and even went so far, during today’s Anzac Day celebration, to extend that invitation to all returning and returned services groups. I am sure this act of generosity will not go un-remembered.

All across the country today, the following verse by Laurence Binyon has been recited. The haunting middle stanzas of "For the Fallen" I copy out and share with you all … in remembrance.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Bursting with energy!

Bursting with energy!
Originally uploaded by bobtravis.

That is what I love about the blogosphere … no sooner do you start talking about fatigue, about slowing down, about "doing a Russell" or "doing a Marcus" then along comes another good idea (or 10) to get one all energised again.

First up, I have been receiving submissions for the Age of Conversation eBook (ahead of schedule no less!) — and it is already looking like a cracker! These chapters are bound to ignite debate all over the web!

Following hot on the heels of the eBook, Steve Woodruff suggested another collaborative effort designed to make it easier for marketers to search out and contact bloggers/social marketers/brand consultants. But faster than a speeding bullet, he has pulled together an excellent marketing portal, featuring many of my favourite blogs in a single space. Check it out, I am sure you will be amazed.

A friend of mine has finally turned his hand to blogging … Craig Wilson has launched Media Hunter a marketing and media blog that focuses on the Hunter Valley — right here in Australia. I am looking forward to how this evolves.

Monday Love

The Collector – detail
Originally uploaded by foom23.

I have grown to love Mondays. I know … hard to believe, but in this world of always on/forever connected instantly gratifying communications, Monday is a relatively quiet haven for me. You see, Monday in Australia is the day when the rest of the world rests — and this gives me the precious time to actually get things done.

Tuesdays, however, are a whole different kettle of fish. There are a ton of emails, phone calls, RSS feeds and blog posts. All this makes it easy to miss things. Peter Kim thankfully points out Ad Age’s 2007 Digital Fact Pack with plenty of lovely top line data, interesting facts and even links to other downloadable goodies. Glad someone was keeping an eye on the details!

A faster horse

Sometimes the blog debt gets out of control — there are too many things to think and write about, too many good ideas to which I would like to contribute and too many conversations happening that involve areas that I am passionate about or interested in. On top of this there are side projects, main projects, friends projects … there is work, family, friends, email, cars, bikes, photography, movie making, book reading and technology. Busy, busy …

Oh, and blogging … how can you keep up with the torrent of life? What gives and what takes? And how do you decide or draw the line?

I was surprised by the beginning of this year — there was an urgency and pace to January that caught me unprepared. But then, I thought it would settle down into a new rhythm. I was wrong. I misjudged the intensity. I noticed that my own blogging had increased — I was doing one, two, even three posts per day — and sometimes this still was not enough.

Others were doing the same … all over the blogosphere the energy seemed to be ramping up. There were more posts, deeper insights and smarter use of multi-channel communications tools. All of a sudden blog posts were not enough — there was SlideShare, Twitter and Vox and Tumblr — as well as the stalwarts, Flickr and YouTube. Wow …

But now … all of a sudden, there seems to be a sense of blog fatigue. Some are choosing not to continue their blogs, others are posting less. I get barely a peep some days from Twitterers … Me? I continue to write here, but have not posted over at MarketingProfs for some time (sorry Ann), and even the posts that I have written here have tended to feel (at least to me), a little light on. A little too insubstantial. The faster horse that I ordered for Christmas never arrived (must have been a bad boy).

Yet, while some blogs go dark, I have a feeling this may just be the fatigue of passionate early adopters. You see, despite Dave Sifry’s positivity, blogs are still on the periphery, and no matter how many of us bloggers or marketing folks think otherwise, we really are experimenting with a new form of narrowcast communications. In a way, it is like TV in the 50s (at least in Australia), when very few houses had televisions. The TV personalities were little more than amateurs compared with today’s slick media professionals.

During TV’s early days the rules and methods of performing and communicating were being invented and extended during each and every performance (remembering that most TV was live back then). Much was being learned in front of and behind the camera, and the viewing audience was also learning a new way of consuming media, engaging with brands and becoming used to inviting strangers into their living rooms. Of course, the stars came and went, making money, finding fame and in many instances, disappearing into early retirement.

Blogging is similar to this. Even those who have been blogging for some time are still learning the rules, methods and approaches. Sometimes it feels stilted, unprofessional, raw and visceral. Sometimes it is a bit too close to … well, real life. There will be stars that shine brightly and make millions. There will be many who come and go with barely a ripple. But there will come one of Gladwell’s tipping points, and it won’t be in terms of mass — it will be in terms of acceptance. You will know that day, as you will no longer need to explain what it means to "blog". And while the names that we all know from some A or Z list may no longer matter in the way that they do now, the mass of bloggers currently writing their first post or finalising their last are doing one clear thing — laying the foundations of a communications channel that will outlast us all.

I will need more than a faster horse to get me to the end of that race!

Microsoft Brand Danger

Originally uploaded by geertdesager.

Advertising campaigns can cost a great deal of time and money, and as such, they come with many risks and challenges for all involved. For the agency operating in a cut-throat market, one bad campaign can see the end of an account, for the agency team the risk is to their livelihoods and reputations … and there are the same or similar risks on the client side — loss of job, organisational standing and reputation. But with risk comes reward … accolades, awards and fat bonus cheques await the winners.

With all this, really, there is little wonder that the emergent forms of marketing receive little attention from those who carry and control the big advertising budgets. Afterall, the potential fallout from a mis-step in the realms of social media could cause an impression that lasts long after the campaign is forgotten — these days our glories AND our blunders can live long lives on YouTube and marketing blogs the world over.

So when I stumbled upon this site, I was filled with admiration for the daring as well as the passion of its creator. BringBackTheLove is a site dedicated to documenting the risky development of one of Microsoft’s latest campaigns. It is clear that Geert Desager is not only taking risks with Microsoft’s brand, but also his own career. Not only that, the "campaign" appears to be something more substantial than a TVC or two … Geert seems to be shooting a movie. Perhaps the shirt should read "Potential Movie Goer" or "Joost Subscriber".

For those who love behind the scenes details, Geert plays his cards close to his chest … however, they are now in post production, with a plan to launch towards the end of the month. I for one, am hoping to see a few peeks over the coming weeks (who says I am impatient?)!

Oh, and Cam … I think you will find this post particularly interesting!

We’re all talking — The Age of Conversation

The power of online community continues to AMAZE me. Just a few weeks ago I left a “dare” on Drew McLellan’s blog … (go on Drew, dare you … what do you say?). Next thing you know we have an awesome list of bloggers signing on for a chapter of an eBook — The Age of Conversation. It is a great topic, but even more importantly, it is a great cause … because, that’s right — all proceeds from the sale of the eBook will go to Variety, the Children’s Charity.

There have been hundreds of emails to and fro, communicating with the contributing authors, clarifying items, topics and so on … but we have now closed the contributors list. (Drew, how will I get by without 50 emails from you a day?) Now, I must admit, I wondered how many authors we would come on board, but we have actually exceeded our target of 100 … and now the hard work, and excitement, begins for all of you contributors. Remember — all chapters are due 30 April!

And just to whet your appetite, here are the names (and where available), blog links for all contributors.

Gavin Heaton
Drew McLellan
Valeria Maltoni
Emily Reed
Katie Chatfield
Greg Verdino
Mack Collier
Lewis Green
Ann Handley
Mike Sansone
Paul McEnany
Roger von Oech
Anna Farmery
David Armano
Bob Glaza
Mark Goren
Matt Dickman
Scott Monty
Richard Huntington
Cam Beck
David Reich
Mindblob (Luc)
Sean Howard
Tim Jackson
Patrick Schaber
Roberta Rosenberg
Uwe Hook
Tony D. Clark
Todd Andrlik
Toby Bloomberg
Steve Woodruff
Steve Bannister
Steve Roesler
Stanley Johnson
Spike Jones
Nathan Snell
Simon Payn
Ryan Rasmussen
Ron Shevlin
Roger Anderson
Bob Hruzek
Rishi Desai
Phil Gerbyshak
Peter Corbett
Pete Deutschman
Nick Rice
Nick Wright
Mitch Joel
Michael Morton
Mark Earls
Mark Blair
Mario Vellandi
Lori Magno
Kristin Gorski
Krishna De
Kris Hoet
Kofl Annan
Kimberly Dawn Wells
Karl Long
Julie Fleischer
Jordan Behan
John La Grou
Joe Raasch
Jim Kukral
Jessica Hagy
Janet Green
Jamey Shiels
Dr. Graham Hill
Gia Facchini
Geert Desager
Gaurav Mishra
Gary Schoeniger
Gareth Kay
Faris Yakob
Emily Clasper
Ed Cotton
Dustin Jacobsen
Tom Clifford
David Pollinchock
David Koopmans
David Brazeal
David Berkowitz
Carolyn Manning
Craig Wilson
Cord Silverstein
Connie Reece
Colin McKay
Chris Newlan
Chris Corrigan
Cedric Giorgi
Brian Reich
Becky Carroll
Arun Rajagopal
Andy Nulman
Amy Jussel
AJ James
Kim Klaver
Sandy Renshaw
Susan Bird
Ryan Barrett
Troy Worman

Now, stop reading and get back to work!