Lazy Blogging

Study of Kitten By WindowlightThis week marks the six month anniversary (is there such a thing?) of the Aussie Bloggers blog and forum (congrats!). In this time, the community has gone from strength to strength — with over 700 members and a whopping 33,000 posts.

As a special gift to the thriving community, an indispensable blogging tool has been developed to help overcome those blogging-block days — the Lazy Bloggers Blog Post Generator. Here is a blog post that comes direct from the generator:

OMG! I just remembered I have not updated this since Paris Hilton was in jail… You would not believe my anguish at my misdoings. Jealous much? Don’t be, it was very painful..
I am frantic with an awfully big adventure, soaking in the tub, just generally being a Darling to the servants, my day is full to overflowing from when the nightclubs close to I run out of alcohol. I am happy with that. I need some perspective.
I solemnly swear to post at least once a month. Promise! Unless of course the pool with the cocktail bar is heated!

Would You Help a Reporter?

Ross Dawson’s Future of Media Summit generated quite a lot of debate on both sides of the Pacific. There was some excellent coverage of the summit from a variety of angles, with Stephen Collins asking What will the future of media look like?, Chris Bishops pondering the business models around monetising future content and Craig Wilson viewing the summit with one eye focused on the Twitter backchannel.

henchmen on tvSeth Yates has provided an excellent summary including notes on all the panels which is a great reference point for those who attended, and those who could not. Reading back through these posts it is clear that the debate shifted to a discussion about future roles, not necessarily future industries. Indeed, much of the discussion falling out of the conference has been around citizen journalists vs professional journalists.

Stilgherrian’s summit coverage, (and the same post at Crikey with a different commentary/discussion), plus Jonathan Este’s response, (which was originally posted on Crikey and reposted on Stilgherrian’s blog with comments) turned the heat up on this debate.

ATHLETE Director Dave's Pics - A Frenzy in Gotham: The PremiereClearly this is an emotion-charged discussion. And while it is a discussion that needs to take place, it strikes me that we are being bogged down in a debate that may be solved by refocusing our cognitive surplus in another direction — finding an innovative way of delivering value across the chasm between the "traditional" and "social" media groups. In fact, finding a way of bringing journalists and new media practitioners together may be the best way forward.

Last week I saw a link to Peter Shankman’s Help a Reporter site. It is a site designed to connect reporters with credible and expert news sources (and yes, that includes bloggers). It is opt-in. It’s a site that uses technology to provide value to a community that, in many ways, does not yet exist. It is well facilitated. But I wonder, is this something that would work here in Australia? It certainly could, and should.

But participation costs. It means leaving your shoes at the door. It means rolling up our sleeves and reshaping the media industry from the ground up. It is not the total solution, but it is a first step. What do you think? Would you help a reporter?

Plurking Great

Plurkcolor I am always surprised that the makers of Web 2.0 tools don’t fully understand the dynamic and challenging nature of the communities who populate, use, build and evangelise their systems. For example, why would a hugely successful Web 2.0 property like Facebook carelessly launch Beacon? Why would Twitter NOT respond more unequivocally to claims of harrassment? Given that the business model around Web 2.0 platforms is about leveraging the mass of aggregated user data to generate insight/targeted advertising etc, how is that these platforms seem unable to gauge the temperament of their communities? Could it be that they are ape-ing big brands and are simply not listening to the abundant digital voices?

Clearly these leading Web 2.0 platforms have built what we could easily consider unassailable user bases. Facebook carries millions of users each day and has the backing of Microsoft. Twitter appears to be hovering around the 2 million user mark and has attracted a great deal of goodwill. However, what happens when shifts occur? What about extended downtime?

Twitter has successfully modified the behaviour of its user base in such a way that we have all come to rely upon it to fulfil a range of communication needs. But ongoing reliability issues has seen a number of defections to other services that have followed quickly on Twitter’s heels. One such service is Plurk.

However, when people who are used to using Twitter arrive at the Plurk interface, they encounter problems. They don’t get it. They find it confusing and unintuitive, maybe even over-engineered. I also experienced this … but felt that there was something different about Plurk. And anyway, I realised that I was looking at Plurk through my "Twitter Goggles" — and I was finding it lacking (as were others). — but I knew that I needed to allow Plurk the benefit of the doubt.

Over the last couple of months, the Plurk team have been slowly but surely improving their system. New features, improvements and so on have been appearing regularly. And earlier this week we were given a new series of selectable key words. One of my favourites is "wonders" … I found that I was using it quick consistently to communicate with my small community of followers — "Servantofchaos wonders what is going on today". "Servantofchaos wonders why he is still up late writing a blog post". It seems that the Plurkers have been  surveying the most popular "freestyle" words and have added them to the drop-down list. Great!

But while I was impressed with the simple addition of the word "wonders", I was a little surprised to see that it was coloured a dull grey. That seemed like an uninformed decision. So I wrote a message wondering why this was the case … and in the space of a couple of hours, the word "wonders" was transformed into a beautiful, vibrant colour. Were the Plurkers listening? Was it just coincidence? With my Twitter Goggles on, I would claim it was coincidence … that there was no-one listening. But I have a secret hope … that they certainly were listening to the conversation, and they went a step beyond and used this intelligence to change (ever so slightly), a system that is going from strength to strength. If they were listening, it’s plurking great!

Are You a PowerPoint Goose?

Goose Eye extreme
Originally uploaded by david ian…

There are no shortages of "how to" guides for creating better, more effective presentations. A quick search on Google will yield thousands of results, from books to websites and blogs through to live examples on YouTube.

There are excellent presentation decks that can be used for inspiration on Slideshare, and simply watching one or two presentations on TED talks can drastically improve your in-person style and approach.

But despite all this, poorly structured, visually cramped presentations continue to dominate the business landscape. Presenters themselves continue to recite slide content without weaving a story between the bullet points or slide topic areas. This means that those "participating" in the meeting, turn their attention to also reading the slide content — focusing not on you, the presenter, but on the words on the screen.

This turns the presenter into a "PowerPoint Goose" — with no attention from the audience, your "speech" turns into non-representative "honking".

But what can you do if you have only a few minutes before your next presentation? How can you avoid turning into a PowerPoint Goose? Laura Fitton has this great post that steps you through the QUICK things you can do to improve a presentation. She identifies four steps:

  1. Review your audience and objective
  2. Get Darwinian and only allow the strongest slides to remain
  3. Reorder your slides
  4. Do a lightning round on your deck, condensing each slide to a single sentence

Even with only a few moments, you can improve your presentation. So before you go into your next meeting, take a quick look at Laura’s post and aim for the golden egg.

A Man’s Got to Do What a Man’s Got to Do

DrhorribleBeing a lover of good storytelling I live a life of disappointment between the hours of 8pm to midnight. With a vast array of low-rent, poorly executed television, there is little wonder that I turn my attention to the plethora of quality (and low-rent) content available online. And while I am sometimes appalled by what I see online, I have the control to simply move quickly to something that at least offers the promise of an engaging storyline, believable characters or even a toe-tapping number or two.

And given that Josh Whedon, the master storyteller behind the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly series has just released a new series, there was reason to hope. But where can one find this? I scoured the TV guides only to be beaten into a dull submission by old formats and "celebrity talent". At last I turned to Twitter to find salvation — and it came to me in the shape of something horrible. Dr Horrible.

That’s right. Josh Whedon’s newest series is available exclusively online. You can watch it streaming via the innovative Hulu format or download via iTunes. And at 15 minutes an episode, if it doesn’t capture your attention, you haven’t wasted your valuable time — quality content is only a click away. Just a shame they didn’t add interactive channels to the format.

But, it just makes me wonder about the future of media. And the future of brands. And it seems, the answer is the same. Content. How else do you think you will attract the slim attention of audience 2.0? Time to stop reading and start participating.

Plaid Nation — Social Media on Tour

Darryl Ohrt’s Plaid Nation Tour has just kicked off. Darryl is the author of Brandflakes for Breakfast and is the "Band Manager" of the Plaid team — one of NYC’s smartest boutique agencies — and each year they take off on a road trip meeting up with the people behind the brands along the way. In their own words:

PlaidNation is a rolling celebration of creativity and a demonstration of social media in action. It’s a Plaid van driving through the country meeting creative, marketing, brand and internet workers, and sharing Plaid love. Oh yeah – and every aspect of the tour is broadcasted HERE on Like the best reality show, but more.

The Plaid team have three live video streams (the one below is "driver cam"), you can track their progress via GPS and keep up with the gang via a Twitter stream.

Personally, I am most looking forward to the expose on "skanky hotel rooms". But if you are lucky enough to live on the Plaid Nation route, then you there is an opportunity to meet up in real life! Enjoy!

Monday, July 21 : Vancouver, Canada

Tuesday, July 22 : Seattle, WA

Wednesday, July 23 : Portland, OR

  • 9am: Voodoo Doughnut (come share a donut!)
  • 10.30am: TBA
  • Tune in for the 11:40 show!
  • Lunch
  • 2pm: TBA
  • Travel to Redding, CA

Thursday, July 24 : Redding, CA

  • 10am: TBA
  • Tune in for the 11:40 show!
  • Travel to San Francisco

Friday, July 25 : San Francisco, CA

  • 8:30am: Tweetup! (come say hi!!)
  • 10:30am: Twitter?
  • Tune in for the 11:40 show!
  • Lunch
  • 2pm: Google (who can get us into the Googleplex??)

Saturday, July 26 & Sunday July 27

  • We’re off enjoying San Francisco. Where should we go?

Monday, July 28: San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, July 29 : San Luis Obispo, CA

Wednesday, July 30 : Los Angeles, CA

Thursday, July 31 : San Diego, CA

  • 10am: Aptera
  • Travel to San Diego
  • Lunch
  • 2pm: TBA

Friday, August 1: Las Vegas, NV

  • 8:30am: Tweetup! (Come say hi!!)
  • 10:30am: Zappos
  • Tune in for the 11:40 show!
  • Lunch at that killer Thai place
  • 2pm: TBA
  • 4pm – ?? PlaidNation wrap party (location TBA)

Can You Help Give Kids Some Fresh Air?

Freshair For over 130 years the Fresh Air Fund has been giving inner-city children the joy of a summer vacation with volunteer host families and at Fund camps, creating unforgettable memories and fresh possibilities.

This year, the summer holiday has been scheduled for August and there are still 200 NYC children who need to be placed with host families next month.

Unless all prospective host families are screened and vetted by the end of July these 200 children may miss out on an invaluable experience .

If you can host a child — great! If not, it would be appreciated if you can help spread the word.

One last thing that is actually very important. Fresh Air Fund are looking for families who want to extend an invitation to a 9-12 year old. They really need more families who want older children and boys.

Please e-mail Angie, immediately and she’ll speed you through the process! Or, you can call Fresh Air Fund at 1-800-367-0003 (212.897.8900) — ask for Angie.

If you want to help but don’t live in these areas — BLOG about this program, tell your friends, recommend someone, or DONATE .

There are trip dates set for August 2008 for over 200 children and we need host families to volunteer to host these inner-city children. The dates and locations are as follows:

8/11-8/21 New Jersey: Warren County, Bergen County, Union County, Somerset County, Morris County, Hunterdon County

8/11-8/22 Pennsylvania: Lancaster, Akron, Christiana, Denver, Donegal, East Earl, Elverson, Lititz, Manheim, New Holland, Quarryville New York: St. Massena, Ogdensburg, Potsdam

8/12-8/22 Harrisburg, Pa

8/15-8/22 Central Massachusetts: Acton, Hopkinton, Lexington, Marlboro, Wayland

8/15-8/25 New York Western Fingerlakes: Canandaigua, Canal Towns, Dansville Central New York: Fulton, Marcellus and Oswego

Massachusetts: Cape Cod

Pennsylvania: Doylestown, Upper Bucks, Lower Bucks, Chalfont

8/25-9/1 New York: Columbia County Red Hook/Rhinebeck (Dutchess County) Albany County

Mining the Gold #1 – Marcus Brown

sacrum First up, I am looking at the exceptional work of Marcus Brown. He is, in my view, one of the foremost PRACTITIONERS of social media creation. He views the Web 2.0 technologies and the social networks that they enable as a fertile creative space in which he can artistically experiment, investigate and expose the various intersections of story, character, history, advertising and performance. He treats social media with both the reverence and contempt it deserves — rigorously decontructing expectations, desires and forms and then rising, phoenix like from the ashes to surprise and delight us all one more (last) time. He has single-handedly brought to life a variety of personalities that have asked the difficult questions that many choose to ignore — Sacrum, for example, sent a job application to Wieden + Kennedy in London which simultaneously demonstrated his skills while also showing how one of the leading advertising agencies on the planet were not adequately listening to digital conversations swirling around it.

In many ways, Marcus’ searing investigations remind me of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty — his intellectual and creative endeavours devouring, in their articulation, the topics that he interrogates.

While he has generously left his Kaiser Edition website intact, despite the resignation of its host personalities, there are some key series/posts that any serious student of marketing/brand activation should spend some time with. These are:

Dig deep.

Trawling in a Sea of Sharp Thinkers

Adobeairanalytics One of the things about blogging is that it is immediate. I can think of something, write and publish it very quickly. In minutes it can be in thousands of feed readers and available on the web.

One of the downsides of this is that we can often miss some great thinking — or forget about it in the rush to the next, new thing.

So, with this in mind, I am going to devote a post each week to the trawling some of the older posts from the bloggers that I admire. These posts may be a week or a month or even a year old. This new category is called MINING THE GOLD.

I am also interested in anything that you may want to see re-featured. Drop me an email, add a comment or DM me on Twitter with your recommendations!

Future of Media Summit 2008


Ross Dawson’s Future of Media Summit was held simultaneously in Sydney, Australia and San Francisco, USA.

I live blogged the proceedings using CoverItLive (my first real usage of this service) while also attempting to feed this information into the Twitter stream — which you can view via Summize.

There was much "traditional media" vs "new media" discussion which bogged down the flow. This was particularly evident during the panel discussions which were heavily laced with members of "traditional media", with bare and often no representation from the "new" side of the business. This forced the alternate conversation into the "back channel" — the Twitter stream which was equally one-sided.

It wasn’t until later, during the unconference sessions, where Stephen Collins and Jed White took the lead in introducing the participants to Twitter (and the under-conference that had been happening all day). Unfortunately I had to leave by this time, but was able to roughly follow proceedings via Twitter — with new names popping up every couple of minutes. Perhaps, in this way, the future of media is PARTICIPATION.

But before we can get to participation, there is some work to do on education and on technology. There is some effort required to re-think the business models and the frameworks that we use to value communities, consumers and the space where they intersect with brands and publishers. It seems that ten years on, the vision of the Cluetrain Manifesto is coming into focus.

Congratulations go to Ross Dawson and team responsible for bringing together some of the stakeholders. I will be interested to see the way that this conversation pans out over the next 12 months.

I will have more analysis around this event in the coming days — and keep an eye out for the coverage from Stephen Collins, Stilherrian, Chris Saad, Craig Wilson, Mark Pesce and other attendees.