Thursday, August 31, 2006

Virus in a bottle

This is the second day that I've received this message from people in my Yahoo! Instant Messenger friend list. It is pretty poorly designed from a social engineering perspective since there is no compelling reason to click on it (think about the I Love You virus back in the day).

Whilst Kevin Mitnick would not be impressed at this poorly constructed malware, you've been warned just to be on the safe side.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Meeja moovz

I received an email from journalist and proud owner of a flock of geese Peter Warren announcing the latest version of his web site Future Intelligence.

The site features a number of good analytical artices about security and technology. The site now sports RSS feeds and slick new look.

Media moves

Danny Sullivan and Incisive Media to part company at the end of November. This is likely to impact on Clickz, Search Engine Watch and the Search Engine Strategies series of conferences. You can find out more about it from Danny in his own words here.

Danny along with John Battelle (of Battelle Media) and Charlene Li (of Forrester Research) is considered one of the key influencers in this space and has been an authority on the search market for about as long as it has existed.

Search Engine Roundtable has a good round-up of the moaning, wailing and nashing of teeth within the industry blogosphere at his departure.

I am curious oranj

El Reg has caught up with Orange's mod your mobile campaign. I am sure the programme is designed to crank up the ARPU (average revenue per user) amongst Orange users and get some positive word-of-mouth karma about the brand.

- the art of modifying your phone: from painting it to adding a screen cleaner and Hello Kitty pendants, a Reebok lanyard from Romford market or a new ringtone is sweeping the chav nation.

With almost 90 per cent of those surveyed (for a press release) admitting to at least altering their ring tone.

Iain Tait of Poke London has been involved in running an online campaign to highlight the MaxPower version of mobification for Orange here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Big Brother for Business

The Ford Motor Company is in trouble. Ford in Europe has had issues for a long time, the last time it was cool to drive a Ford was when Bodie and Doyle were chasing bad guys in a Ford Capri on The Professionals.

The company has been consistently outclassed and outgunned by rivals.

It used to be said when my Dad was driving a Ford Anglia 105E around rural Ireland for the Irish Sugar Company, Bord na Mona and Massey Ferguson in the 1960s that the biggest benefit of buying a Ford was the amount of garages. If you ever broke down there was always somebody near by that could fix it.

However in the couple of decades since it hasn't been acceptable to repair your car as a hobby or have the sump pee oil on your drive Ford has started a long march into decline.

In Europe the company retreated from certain markets such as luxury saloons, instead purchasing brands like Land Rover, Jaguar and Volvo. It merged its commercial vehicle division with Iveco and strove to build world cars, rather than cars that people wanted to drive.

The picture in the US is more dramatic, the good ole boys no longer want Ford pick-ups and SUVs and like General Motors mistakes made years ago on workers benefits are coming home to roost.

The company is trying to pull itself out of the mire, and has a site where it is communicating what its doing to achieve this. The site continues a discussion with stakeholders. What I found most bizarre though was the voyeuristic feel that that the site had, like one of them TV shows on MTV where they try and reinvigorate the career or a faded celebrity like Taylor Dayne.

Some of the third-party content is a really good read, you can check out Ford Bold Moves here.

Kudos to Seth Stevenson at Slate.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Links of the Day

Some interesting links that I found in my inbox:

Google is
launching services for businesses including including your domain branded email and calendars, with a view to moving on to hosted word processors and spreadsheets.

The article thinks that this will hurt Microsoft, I think that the impact to the ecosystem will be much more diffuse. It takes away the need to pirate basic business software and is most likely to hit IT support companies as opposed to Microsoft itself.

In addition if companies are using the web browser as the front door to their applications then they don't need to upgrade desktop and laptop computer hardware quite so often.

Thanks to Bradley Horowitz for
the heads up.

In the New York Times there is a great and disturbing article about how the American middle and lower classes are having their wages squeezed. Their wages have declined in real terms. Despite organisations claiming that people are their greatest resource, wages now constitute the lowest percentage of company costs than at any time in the past 50 years.

So even though business is doing very well it will affect consumer spending, consumer confidence and lead to an erosion of political support for incumbent politians. More from the New York Times
Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity by Stephen Greenhouse and David Leonhardt.

The BBC Click Online team have written a great overview on how technology is bringing ambient and instore advertising into the 21st century. Click
here (if you'll forgive the pun).

Clients are from Mars, agencies are from Venus

I found this really interesting posting on Tim Dyson's blog. Dyson was discussing the problem that start-ups want to purchase PR, get the creme of PR talent working on their account and pay a pittance.

Andrew, apparently the CMO of a start-up posted the following comment (his text in italics, my own notation in normal text):

Tim has a great post on the multitude of start-ups with $10,000 to spend on a PR agency. OK, I'm one of them. It just seemed like such a nice round number to start with. Somehow it's crept-up a little bit though... Must fix that...

Tim is right (he is right on most things)... we all want PR pros. But I don't want $15,000 dollars worth of service. I don't even know what that is!

I want results. I don't care what it costs or whether an agency has to under or over service to deliver it. I just want results against the agreed budget.

You commit, I commit, we all commit together.

What is more troubling to me as a Valley CMO is:

1) finding a great agency is bloody hard work. They are few and far between. At any billing rate. Few CMOs I know get the value of PR or AR, let alone the value of a good agency... I accept we are part of the problem, but...

2) finding an agency that gets your business and has a real enthusiasm for contributing to the growth of the business - harder still

3) finding an agency that understands that great ideas get funded - near impossible. They are caught in the conundrum or belief that ideas require budget prior to being generated. Bullshit. (and I am talking about real ideas, not those regurgitated from the last pitch)

4) finding a team that can explain why they should get paid more and then associate some kind of outcome with the result - well, if you find them, let me know. The most common justification - "we've been over servicing your business for six months now, you need to pay us more" - is nuts. Nuts!

5) finding an agency - the word is a bit of an oxymoron. It implies some kind of powerhouse of ideas and execution - the strength of a team.

What you generally end-up funding is one very dedicated individual surrounded by some other folks - generally you aren't quite sure what they are doing but they all arrive for meetings and scribble madly into notebooks.

What is needed is a new kind of agency. One not built on billable hours and 10k budgets. Maybe one built on the power of ideas to drive a startup's growth curve? One with the courage and conviction to articulate a value proposition that resonates with the CMO of a start-up and ability to explain what the budget should be.

You see, we live less in the conceptual world of brand and reputation and more in the real world of qualified opportunities, pipeline growth and time to sale.
Until then, 10k sounds like a nice round number to start with. Agencies shouldn't let it end there. We will pay more. And I am willing to put my money where my mouth is.

This post was interesting for me as it highlights the huge gulf between clients and agencies:
  • Clients are only interested in 'transactional' marketing communications; PR can create awareness, but it isn't direct response in the same way that Google ads or the home shopping television is. PR creates awareness, anything else is a bonus
  • These companies often don't need PR, but instead a decent direct response marketing campaign, but PR is viewed as being cheaper and 10,000 USD is a nice number to fit into the start-up's business plan Excel spreadsheet
  • Clients want agencies to drink the kool-aid, the amount of time that I have been told that a client's offering is unique when it isn't; is staggering. Many times the differentiator that the company has, provides not benefits to the customer. Consultancies, in order to consult, need to be well informed and objective. Otherwise the advice that we give clients will be flawed
  • PR is often seen as a silver bullet that can solve a flawed product or an under-funded product. It can't
  • Between 80 and 90 per cent of start-ups will fail, consultancies know this. We know that you are likely to flame out, be sold in a fire-sale, VC funds will often 'merge' start-ups to try and save their dignity
  • We know that many of the businesses real product is the business itself. It often isn't about sales, its all about one sale to a particular target customer (Google, Cisco, Yahoo!, IAC, Microsoft: delete as appropriate) as you try and flip your business
  • About blind belief: I remember an agency that believed and took equity in its clients including as part payment for its services. Its employees were given this equity instead of a pension fund. Not surprisingly the agency went bust and many of its staff got burned in the process
  • Brand isn't a conceptual element, however its not PowerPoint-friendly quantitative data that direct response marketing campaigns kick out. It's the reason why many companies include the value of their brands in the goodwill section of their accounts
  • Skilled PR practitioners cost money, this is due to demand and an exodus away from the industry during the last bust, in fact a good PR person is harder to find than a marketer because marketers are jack-of-all-trades but master of none
  • Whilst ambulance chasing lawyers will often work on no-win, no-fee; their more reputable colleagues bill on time and materials. Common sense would tell you to get the best lawyer that you can afford. PR is a professional service similar to law in this respect

Big Tobacco, Big Food, Big tech?

Traditional corporate PR agencies have profited handsomely representing companies, organsiations and governments that have a harmful and morally repugnant element to the business.

Now Greenpeace have upped the ante to try and turn the spotlight on waste from electronics goods.

It would make sense if we learned from our colleagues working on oil, gas, tobacco and processed food companies now before Greenpeace gets up to full speed with its mix of well-spun half-truths, bravado and photo stunts.

here from Greenpeace.

Clients in the technology sector are likely to be not all that well prepared: with the exception of some server companies like Sun Microsystems who are looking at building more energy efficient boxes and Dell who has done a modicum of work on recycling the industry hasn't addressed the issue all that well.

The semiconductor sector has been reasonably sensitive to this following class action suits from employees with various type of cancer. In addition, technology marketers are increasingly focused on transactional marketing including pay-per-click advertisements and looking to get 'payment-by-results' PR campaigns at the expense of building brands and corporate reputation in preparation for the onslaught that Greenpeace and the like will bring to bear.

Whilst brand and corporate reputation work won't look as pretty on a PowerPoint slide as the pivot tables of key word data from Google, its value has never been higher.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Jargon Watch and black experience

GFE - Google fcuking exists. As in telling someone to look online via a popular search engine for an answer that would be located there.

A while ago I blogged about the launch of Coca-Cola Blak. I have since had a chance to try it. Imagine a medium sweet cold thermos coffee with a faint fizz like orange juice that's gone off. It's bizarre but likeable.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Design Matters

A nice video interview by with HP about product design. The interview puts a particular focus on a consistent user experience across all their devices from kiosks, living room PC remote controls, rack systems to cameras and printers. They are looking to create a HP look-and-feel. Much of their challenge seems to be constantly re-learning the wheel and trying to provide the kind of vertical sense that Apple can drive in their business.

HP thinks that the experience should be shared across over between the business and consumer space. This common experience is designed to help them to go and do battle with Dell. I am looking forward to have my SuperDome media center.

The elephant in the room they don't seem to have addressed in the interview is their PC OS ;-)

PR: getting to gripes

The US Council of PR is about to talk about the thorny issue of client conflict according to Tim Dyson soon, and Edelman a PR company that has a number of conflicted clients under its roof had decided not to renew its membership. Connection?

Some six years ago when I worked at Edelman we used to say that two was a conflict but three was a specialism. This was particularly true with regards to the roster of management consultancies that the technology team had on its books: Arthur D Little, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and DiamondCluster International. I worked on both Cap Gemini and DiamondCluster at the same time.

It is interesting that Tim Dyson of NextFiveteen mentions Edelman's expertise in conflicts yet fails to mention his own agency Bite, who in London have Samsung, Toshiba and Apple all in the same building.

Indeed I write this not to be critical of Edelman's approach. Instead I just wish there were some clear standards on what was deemed an acceptable way of managing conflicting clients.

Is the expertise of Bite's London office not making it around the network despite Clive Armitage and Judy Wilks moving Stateside over the years? And could this targeting of Edelman have anything to do with Richard spurring some cheque book driven growth with the purchase of A+R Partners? ;-)

As an industry, PR spends a lot of time talking about the value of brand to our clients, but what about our own agency's brand? I had an interesting experience on Thursday evening at the T3 birthday party; ran into a PR person who was reluctant to admit where they worked.

Not the usual banter about being reluctant to admit that they were a paid shill in the company of journalists. Not that they tried to hide the fact that they were an in-house PR person so that I didn't try and beat them into signing a three-year rolling agency-of-record contract with my employer. They were concerned by the reaction of their peers (ok me and my team mate Alex) if they revealed the agency where they worked.

That's pretty poor, how can we as an industry expect to be the brand guardians of our clients when we are reluctant to admit where we work?


I am going to close out further comments on this post now as both sides have made their point and there is no point in having a flame war by proxy. Understandably if you feel that I curtailing the conversation email me at the address listed in the header and I promise to post the best views for and against editiorial censorship on blogs.

Links of the Day

Logo Orange have a great resource here that shows Pantone numbers, CMYK mix and the RGB code required for HTML coding. An interesting short story recommended by Tom Coates about the consequences of becoming intelligent: Understand by Ted Chiang.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Microsoft David Brent videos

Ricky Gervais did these videos for Microsoft just after The Office.

Part one

Part two

On the net, everyone can hear you scream

I went to the T3 birthday party this evening and met up with some old acquaintances from their freelance roster.

One of them had been working at VNUnet on a podcast and had seen footage of a failed review where a toughbook style laptop was dropped two metres and fell apart.

With a written review the bits would have been sent back to the PRs, however on video the failed experiment makes great video and will soon be featured on the VNU site.

Digital video now means that product failures and poor test results can now be held up for all the world to see.
Its at this point that you have to ask yourself do you REALLY believe in your product?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Back to the old school

My mate Si lost his favourite mix tape that he used to put on after he got back from big nights out to melt/crash to.

He found the recording online
here (he's either one jammy or obsessive sod, I can't make up my mind on it.) One happy hardcore raver....

Real Player and headphones required or an office full of 30-something coffee table clubbers.

Enjoy but leave the fire marshal's yellow vest in the drawer, its not clever to wear it whilst dancing around the office.

In Random Memory Lane Mike Coulter talks about how blogs and trusted RSS feeds now steer his searching online rather than Google. He claims to use Google 90 per cent less than he did previously. Is this a post search world for the web's veterans?

Culture Spy unmasks the whole cool hunting and youth marketing industry, helping teens become word-of-mouth and buzz marketing literate.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rondezvous - stunning work of art?

Thanks to Iain Tait for the link. I am usually very wary of anything praised by Jeremy Clarkson, but this has been so talked about I thought that I would put it up here for you to make up your own mind about it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Jargon Watch and links of the day

Sexiled - When your room mate kicks you out so that they can engage in sexual activity. Apparently the phrase used to describe said condition on college campuses according to IG TrendCentral.

Gartner releases their 2006 hype curve, with a poor image is even less use than a Big Brother contestant.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dubai unplugged

A couple of interesting net censorship items came up over the past few days all related to Dubai.

First Popbitch gave a heads up that YouTube was allegedly being blocked because a documentary about Armenian women being trafficked to fuel the Emirate's sex industry has been hosted on the site.

(This is likely to be the Armenian made Desert Nights documentary.)

To be honest with you the documentary holds no real surprises, it's just pretty much the same thing as what happens in the UK with Albanian women trafficked by pimps from their own country.

Bizarrely the documentary goes on to sugar the bitter pill of its message with a tourist information section at the end talking about the recent history of the UAE, the success of the Dubai economic free zone and the status of Dubai as one of the world's safest cities for travelers.

However it is understandable that the country would be sensitive to the criticism leveled at it, in the light of scrutiny following the recent bid by a Dubai-based business DP World to take over running some US ports as part of its acquisition of P&O.

Secondly Dubai was held up as an example of what happens when net neutrality is done away with by VNU-published blog SiliconValleySleuth. This is a bit unfair because many other Arab telecoms monopolies like Batel are just as bad, as do all the European mobile carriers providing EDGE or UMTS services. The lack of net neutrality gives out the wrong messages about the country's desire to be seen as a global technology hub.

Both provide Dubai with a couple of potential reputation management challenges, Desert Nights, would have gone pretty much unnoticed but for the alleged YouTube ban which sounds like a case of less is more.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Christians have all the best lines

My grandmother who is an old Irish woman and lived all her life on a farm used to say to be when I had a reply for anything she told me to do that "The devil had all the best lines".

When I went over to the US last August for Yahoo!, I noticed how prominent the Christian fundamentalists had managed to raise the debate on Intelligent Design.

Intelligent Design is creationism in a new set of clothes. What would be considered to be a fringe, backward or crank view outside the US. In the UK and most European countries these people wouldn't be given the oxygen of publicity and public debate that allows their ideas to flourish stateside. Key characters in the debate like Pat Robinson, who in the UK would be considered to be in the same fringe mould as David Icke, is actually taken seriously.

In fact, despite technological advances that show the commonalities in DNA material between species and people that support evolutionary theory only 40 per cent of Americans surveyed believe evolutionary theory, versus close on 75 per cent in the UK.

Historically, the problem in the US has come from structural elements in their education system, the divisive nature of politics practiced by the Republican Party who has positioned itself as a kind of fundamentalist Christian 'Party of God' (which is also what Hezbollah means).

Jeff Hecht writing in the New Scientist Why doesn't America believe in evolution? (August 20, 2006) points out the deficiencies in education about genetics, but acknowledges a challenge in swinging the adult population.

That's an ideal challenge that PR can play a major role in addressing how America can be helped back from the dark road that it has started on, but who is going to foot the bill?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Marketers kill yourselves, no seriously I mean it

Thanks to Drew who looks after Office Attachments for this great bit of machinima as advertising. Coke and Grand Theft Auto, not an obvious link; which is why this parody works so well. However it does raise some interesting questions for marketers and games developers.

Is it worthwhile for marketers to commission machinima based viral ads? What about the intellectual property rights of the gaming companies of their character likenesses and how would this affect the rights and benefits to in-game sponsors?

Has Banksy souled out?

I surfed over to Coolhunting to have a look at their links to some techie Post-it art. Post-its have a key part in technology projects for brainstorming ideas, developing concepts and prototyping processes.

There is a collection of contemporary art installations and nerd pranks here. I came across this posting about Banksy t-shirts. It really surprised at this posting as Banksy's art is about the message rather than being a fashion brand.

Indeed to quote from Banksy's own site: Do you sell t-shirts? i don't make shirts because it would feel like the painting was a guerilla marketing campaign for a fashion label.

Whether he has sold out or not? I don't know, the t-shirts are on sale in the States so there maybe fair use or copyright kinks.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Link of the day had the ultimate complement paid to its pitch video for Sandwichzilla Subway with a parody video from Coudal Partners.

Thanks to
Steve via Senseworldwide.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mash-up or shut-up

The engineers at Yahoo! had t-shirts printed with the 'mash-up or shut-up' slogan for their hack days where they mashed up varioius Yahoo! APIs with varying degrees of success. Left-wing investigative journalist Greg Palast has gone down the the remix and mash-up route to promote his Armed Madhouse book.

Slice up Palast, win a prize for it, or vote on the best hack-job -- in the absolutely fantabulous re-mix contest sponsored by Creative Commons and Air America Radio. Win immortal glory in the first-ever competition to mash up an audio book -- Greg Palast's New York Times bestseller, "Armed Madhouse."

All members of the public are invited to download recordings of the book by Jello Biafra, Amy Goodman, Larry David, Janeane Garofalo and other troublemakers and create your own version, with original music, sounds and beats of your own making.

Win, prizes, love, respect and publicity from our sponsors including Alternative Tentacles, Simon & Schuster, Hollywood Can Suck It, Penguin/Dutton, Lost Film Fest and the Palast Investigative Fund.

Here's how the contest works:

1) We have uploaded 19 tracks from the audio version of Armed Madhouse.
Aside from Palast reading throughout, you can also remix: - Ed Asner reading from the section on globalization madness, "The Network." - Brod Bagert as "Fishhead" reading about Dick Cheney's sex-life and The Big Easy - Medea Benjamin & Kevin Danaher reading about Paul Bremer and the reconstruction (re-destruction?) of Iraq - Jello Biafra as the voice of Osama bin Laden - Randy Credico as George W. Bush - Mark Crispin Miller as Thomas Friedman - Larry David screaming, "Kerry Won!" - Brad Friedman as lobbyist sick-o Grover Norquist - Janeane Garofalo as Mindy Tucker Fletcher - Amy Goodman reading about Dr. A.Q. Khan - Jim Hightower reading about James Baker and whorehouses in Texas - Greg Proops as Lawrence of Arabia and Winston Churchill - Jerry Quickley reading the "Great Brown Ballot Boycott" - Randi Rhodes reading from the chapter on how the Bush regime had its sticky little hands on Iraq's oil - Shiva Rose as Katherine Harris

2) Listen to, and then download, these tracks at -- re-mix'm all or parts of them, with music or sound effects. Create as many as you like.

3) When you are finished remixing, sampling, and/or mashing 'em up -- send us either a link to download your submission(s) or the submission itself (as an mp3 file) to submitremix(AT)

4) We will then put your submissions on to the Armed Madhouse Remix site and anyone who wants to cast a vote on your track can do so on our mix-tape page. We'll leave it up to the general public to decide how brilliant, mediocre or horrendous your remixes are.

We are offering the tracks under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license so that producers worldwide can use the audio in remixes and new compositions.

It is absolutely free to participate in the contest -- all you have to do is agree that neither you nor anyone else will charge for the remix you produce -- and that you accept Creative Commons' rules that all material is available for public non-commercial download and use (with, of course, attribution to you as the producer).

You have until October 23rd 2006 to submit your track and all voting will conclude on October 30th 2006. Winners will be announced on Friday, November 3rd 2006.

Kick their asses and win a bunch of quasi-useless prizes and UNLIMITED GLORY.

The top 5 winners will be selected by the general public by casting votes on the Armed Madhouse Remix website.

Be sure to vote wisely as you can only vote once per track.

These top tracks will be featured on our website as well as some of our sponsor's sites -- and may even get air time on Air America Radio! We will also feature the top 5 tracks on our next spoken-word cd with Alternative Tentacles Records.

The producers of these tracks will receive:
- The original 5 CD audio book of Armed Madhouse (from Simon & Schuster) read by Palast and friends; - The hard-bound book, "Armed Madhouse" (from Dutton), - Winston Smith's frame-ready four color blow-you-away poster of the "Armed Madhouse" - The spoken-word cd, "Weapon of Mass Instruction" (Alternative Tentacles), - The BBC documentary on dvd, "Bush Family Fortunes" (Disinformation Co.), - An Air America package - A Lost Film Fest / Evil Twin Booking / Hollywood Can Suck It package

The devil quotes scripture to suit himself

I was fascinated by this series of postings on the Interesting People email list that argue back and forward as to whether general purpose or specialist devices and converged or divergent is better.

The discussions surround the launch of the Sony Mylo.

Sony has had a spectacularly bad record at internet appliances and non-games related online services such as the eVilla and its Connect music service.

From: Tim Onosko
Date: August 14, 2006 4:36:13 PM EDT


Subject: Re: [IP] Sony's Mylo Delivers Wireless

Dave Farber: For IP, if you think this is of interest to the group.

I have been doing some poking around with regard to Sony's mylo product, which I think is clearly a break from their standard fare. I have come to find out more details.

First, the product was apparently developed in the United States, not Japan. It appears to have come from Sony's Palo Alto group, although another source told me that San Diego was involved. In any case, it was developed well outside Sony's usual product development environment and on its own timetable.

Second, most other divisions in Sony, even those developing Internet and digital media solutions, were completely unaware of its development until the product announcement last week. Several divisions with similar interests and ideas were caught flatfooted by the announcement.

Third, there is some evidence that the mylo was developed with Apple Computer squarely in its sights. It was announced during Apple's developer conference in San Francisco. It comes, like the iPod and MacBooks, in either black or white.

And, as noted, was developed in secrecy and will be delivered (if Sony is to be believed) almost immediately. In contrast, we are still waiting for Sony's e-book, the Reader, which was announced in January, promised for April, now delayed until autumn.

And, finally, mylo represents a distinct tectonic shift inside of Sony, an embrace of open standards and alliances with Yahoo!, Google and Skype -- unheard of for a company with its not-invented-here attitude toward such things. A bold move on the company's part, especially since there is no downstream revenue opportunity for Sony, although it will play DRM'd music and, presumably, DRM'd movies in the future.

But has Sony gone too far with this? If mylo is a success (and I think it will be), how long will it take for the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturers to produce a $99 knockoff? Months, I'd imagine.
This is going to be a very interesting product to watch. - Tim Onosko

Begin forwarded message:

From: Roland Cole
Date: August 14, 2006 5:41:37 PM EDT


Subject: RE: [IP] more on Sony Mylo -- maybe not so bad


At the last turn of century (1800's to 1900's) there are wonderful diagrams of how one central electric engine, with an appropriate series of belts, could run the entire house. Now, of course, we have tiny, single-purpose electric motors in things as small as a toothbrush.

I look forward to having many more devices with CPUs of "limited felicity." I suspect it represents a step forward, not a step back.
I think the general purpose device will remain for "some" purposes. But many of the conceivable purposes will have been "off-loaded" to more limited devices.

Roland J. Cole, J.D., Ph.D. Director of Technology Policy
Sagamore Institute for Policy Research

340 West Michigan, Canal Suite B

IN 46202

-----Original Message-----
From: David Farber []
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2006 3:45 PM
Subject: [IP] more on Sony Mylo

Begin forwarded message:

From: Jonathan Zittrain
Date: August 14, 2006 3:36:13 PM EDT

Subject: more on Sony Mylo

It appears from the Sony Mylo website that the Mylo is intended to be a closed box. Sony has arrangements with partners (Skype, Opera, Google, Yahoo), and it doesn't seem as if new applications can be easily added to the machine (though I suppose a lot can be done with Opera plug-ins).

I can't even tell what OS it runs.
I worry that this is part of an eclipse of the PC -- a fading away of the central device in so many homes and workplaces that could run new code from afar at the click of a mouse, allowing for Skype and other unaccredited upstarts to gain traction so long as they had code that worked better (or was more appealing in some other way) than everyone else's.

In the PC's place comes Internet appliances that will slow or halt the kind of innovation we've seen from all corners, and instead lock in a certain set of prevailing applications (now including Skype).

And with control of the app can come control of the network destinations -- whether light influences like bookmarks or heavier ones that say all further un-partnered innovation must come through a Web window and use a limited set of markup tools.

There are benefits to such lockdown at the client side -- a more predictable and controlled user experience, pound-for-pound less vulnerability to spyware and other bad code (since all outside code is limited), and perhaps more willingness from content companies to partner since the user experience will be managed and, apart from the small subset of people who will try to hack it, the use of the content can be negotiated with Sony rather than thrown to the four winds.

The downsides are legion -- a slowdown of the kind of innovation that has done so much for the industry and for users, replaced by that which is negotiated among "partners." The Mylo joins the xbox, blackberry, tivo, most mobile phones, and the ipod in the list of closed or mostly-closed appliances that are displacing the PC. The sooner we can deal with the PC's existing downsides -- such as viruses and malware -- the more easily it can compete with these appliances that otherwise will sideline it. An open network with closed endpoints is an undesirable equilibrium -- it's a freeway connecting prisons. ...JZ

Begin forwarded message:

From: Dewayne Hendricks
Date: August 14, 2006 8:47:36 AM EDT

To: Dewayne-Net Technology List

Subject: [Dewayne-Net] Sony's Mylo Delivers Wireless


Sony's Mylo Delivers Wireless
Sony last week launched a WiFi broadband communication and entertainment device to capitalize on the growth of wireless internet access.

The mylo personal communicator is capable of operating in any open 802.11b wireless network, can be found on college campuses, in public spaces and within private homes. The product is for people who use instant messaging as a primary form of communications and networking.

The name mylo stands for "my life online" and the communicator allows consumers use instant messaging, browse the internet, listen to music, send e-mails and view photos.
The oblong-shaped device features a 2.4 inch color LCD with a slide out keyboard.

The device, available in black or white, comes embedded with popular instant messaging services such as Google Talk instant messaging service, Skype and Yahoo! Messenger. The services are free and the product does not require initial computer setup or monthly service contract.
For more about the product, go to:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Hoff

Google the verb

Google has finally woken up to the fact that the very art of googling upon which the business is based chips away at the company's right to own its own brand.

'Google it' as in to search online using the Google search engine is legally verbotten. If its legal stormtroopers don't crack down soon anybody could call a web site Google something or other.

I guess its time to Yahoo! that Bitch as Ian Rogers said.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gleaming the Chrome

In the 1980s there was a cheesy film called Gleaming the Cube where a skater (Christian Slater) investigates the murder of his adopted brother at the hands of gun-runners. (Despite featuring Tony Hawk as Buddy the film sucked.) At the moment many people are procastinating over the imminent death of the desktop PC at the hands of web services (read web 2.0 companies).

However this isn't the whole truth, in fact the future of the desktop PC and the web lies in those in the industry call the chrome.

When you download Google toolbar, use the search box in Firefox or Safari or use a desktop widget to access content online you are already 'Gleaming the Chrome'. This is the point at which the line between web and the desktop experience blur. According to those in the know its where ten per cent of search enquiries occur already.

With services like desktop search and online storage web companies are looking to blur the boundary between desktop and web even further. For a good while Microsoft has talked about improvements in search being about the places and way in which consumers can search; bringing the battle of web supremacy back to its heartland of the desktop.

Apple's Leopard operating system beta had a very interesting feature which wasn't discussed; the OS would include the ability to programme it using Ruby on Rails: a 'relatively'* easy-to-use programming language gaining favour with many web developers and the basis of many really cool web services.

The details are too sketchy at the moment but it means the chrome could be reinvented in a whole pile of different and very interesting ways on the next generation Macs.

As one final aside, Guy Kawasaki, when asked what he would do to improve Yahoo! suggested that the company put three engineers in a garage to come up with an awesome browser Yowser that integrated the Yahoo! services.

It's all about the chrome baby.

* It's still too hard for a klutz like me to do something wicked cool with it, but in the hands of a competent developer and some good ideas, its the bomb.

What the hell is web 2.0 anyway?

Over on his blog Jason Goldberg is asking What is Web 2.0 and the replies have been varied. My answer was:

Web 2.0 is a phenomena, a collective state of mind, that we only see the symptoms of now and will not know the true impact until it has past, just in the same way that people who went to Woodstock wouldn't have been able to truly appreciate the lasting impact on society that the 60's counterculture they were a part of would have.

If you look at the PC age many of the key moments in that were driven by a 60s counterculture world view like the Homebrew Computer Club, the founding of Apple and the Internet age with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the first ecommerce and music sites by The Grateful Dead to name but a few.

Web 2.0's proponents are largely too young to have experienced the counterculture first hand but have been the children of some of its benefits. The fact that with open standards, a bin of PC parts and freely downloadable software you can build a web application that becomes meaningful to the lives of people around the globe like flickr or MySpace is mind-blowing.

In sharp contrast to The Man, represented by traditional media companies, web 2.0 recognises that by sharing everyone can benefit. By providing open APIs a web application can be made more relevant, meaningful or get taken in a different direction with creative new ways.

There is a recognition that with this openness comes responsibilities to attribute where you have borrowed and to be mindful that the privacy of the analogue world is not in the digital world online.

Web 2.0 is not about just putting community tools out there but also carefully managing those communities in an open and fair manner whilst not cramping their style.
It means building a business without abusing the goodwill of the users, empowering them to create their own content without creating indentured knowledge workers. AJAX, APIs, Ruby on Rails, Google text adverts, photo galleries, blog publishing tools, reflective corporate logos and lime green web pages are merely symptoms of that phenomena.

You can find the permalink here.

Jason's day job is CEO of Jobster (a client of Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, the people who keep my bank manager happy). And since I don't talk about present clients on this blog you'll just have to go here instead, if you want to find out anything.

Image by Ludwig Gatzke: Logo 2.0 part one.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Links of the Day

Bare Bones Software have released a highly recommended information management application called Yojimbo which competes with companies like Devon Technologies and Microsoft OneNote on Windows.

Over at Slate, there is a good analysis piece The Not-So-Fantastic Four on why many of the web 1.0 companies have currently hit the earnings doldrums.

A combination of mature markets in the US and Europe, vigorous competition and capital investments have depressed short-term earnings. What remains to be seen is whether the management have the vision to build a scalable growth business or if they will join the ranges of the low-growth old economy that the boom scorned.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sony vs Nintendo spoof of Apple vs PC ad

Ok, first of all gaming doesn't push my buttons, but a dippy blonde who describes herself as 'cheap and fun' wearing red hot pants and tube socks goes a long way to gaining my interest. NSFW, enjoy.

Pretty vacant (PR roles available)

I had a 'desperately seeking' email from my old guv'nor at Yahoo! Georga Douglas who is in town for a couple of days next week to recruit some junior and mid-level PRs who would like to sample ex-pat life working agencyside in Dubai.

* A SAM in the beauty/fashion arena [for the Estee Lauder group, Chantelle]
* A SAM in fmcg [P&G]

* A SAE in tech, telco

Interviews in London next week, Tues 15 - Fri 17 August.

More information or to apply click here, mention you got to hear of it from Ged's blog.

Don't want to travel so far? At my present shop, we are constantly on the look out for talented bioscience or technology PRs at all levels, drop me an email by click ing here.

Links of the day

The Business has an article on How to save Dell. Dell has dropped 45 per cent of its share price over the past year. But then eBay has also dropped by some 40 per cent and Yahoo! dropped from 43.66 to 27.50 since December representing a 37 per cent decline.

The recommended medicine includes:
  • A move to retail stores like Apple
  • Innovate in the enterprise with Linux and blade server offerings
  • Better product design
  • Decent customer service
  • Move away from the margin business that the company has historically dominated

The question then is what would Dell actually mean to buyers? What would differentiate the company from Apple, Sony, Lenovo or HP?

Maybe the markets should make allowances that Dell has moved from growth to value, if you like the PC equivalent of Honeywell of GE.

My old colleague Dan Peters sent me this cool link that has an aggregation of films available online in the public domain.

I had a look at the newish Yahoo! corporate blog designed to reinforce the consumer brand values with US consumers, this posting has a nice Sunnyvale campus tour video here featuring my old colleague Heidi Burgett doing the intro and outro.

Bob Cringely has an interesting discussion on the insecurity of networks using Skype and the progress towards IP v. 6.

Over at the New Yorker, there is a good indepth article from inside Lebanon discussing the conflict from the perspective of the different christian and muslim factions present in the country.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Oprah Time

Perfume by Patrick Suskind reminded me of a Brett Easton Ellis novel set in pre-revolutionary France. It has the same dark bestial view of humanity that Ellis has.

Suskind's style of writing is very illustrative, he takes the reader on a journey and sets his scenes really well to provide the reader with an immersive experience.

I enjoyed the book as a commuter read and it has a darkly humourous tone. It would be hard to find many of the most ardent pessimists that share the same negative outlook on life to the extend portrayed by the author.

The book was originally written in French and benefited from a sympathetic and inspired translation. One for the beach (if you are going to read it on the plan, purchase the book airside).

Window on society

AOL Search data was revealed in an earlier this week in a mis-guided attempt to help academic researchers better understand web behaviour.

The New York Times found one AOL user from the data and conducted an interview with her. You can find the article here (registration required).

Valleywag has some of the more painful and bizarre users here. has an article by a geeky journalist Paul Boutin who mined the data to come up with seven segments based on the profiles which were of interest.

  • The pornhound
  • The manhunter - none of them appeared to be stalkers, but they did check up on people online
  • The shopper - AOL's users were value conscious on the look out for coupons
  • The newbie
  • The obsessive - use their web to pursue their passion rather like the Digging PR campaign that I did for Yahoo! this time last year
  • The omnivore - heavy search users
  • The basket case - using the search engine as therapist, you can see some of the questions in Yahoo! Answers being used the same way.

Graphic courtesy of the New York Times.

AOLSearchDatabase is an interesting way of mining data on there.

Some interesting terms and the number of hits that they return from the 36,000,000 or so total terms.

Google: 181,160
Yahoo!: 138,530
Porn: 31,087
movie torrent: 22,446
Customer services: 13,563
Apple: 4,683
iTunes: 1,784
Privacy 1,173 (though I guess that may go up now)
Viagra: 852
AOL: 0
MSN: 0

Friday, August 11, 2006

Terror on the telly

Terror on the telly
Originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.
The foiled Al Queda operation has been dominating the media agenda. Like a bunch of brickies debating the previous evenings football, everyone's an expert but no one knows what's really going on and those that do aren't talking.

UK news coverage leaves little satisfaction at being informed and the wide variance of facts and details in the first editions of today's papers raises more questions than answers.

I did find this quote from the BBC Newsnight daily email newsletter amusing though:

Our political editor Martha Kearney is examining the political response, the public scepticsm and asks what exactly is John Prescott's role in this crisis.

As if Prescott wasn't in enough trouble already with his infidelity and car fetish, it looked when I first read it that the BBC was trying to blame him for Al Queda as well.

Sounds like Two Jags needs a decent Flak...

GQ magazine's new blog (well kind of)

GQ magazine has launched a new blog, however its only half formed. At the moment there isn't an RSS feed, instead readers have to rely on email alerts (which I guess is easier for Conde Naste to sell adverts in to credit card issuers and all the marketers who put leaflets in the blogs dead tree cousin).

There is no comments section, which makes it cheaper to write and maintain, but the magazine misses a golden opportunity to open the conversation with existing and prospective readers.

At the moment its only a blog because its the cheapest form of content management system (CMS) available to publishers. Oh yeah a design that was a bit less 1998 would help as well, it looks very conservative and boring not really reflecting the values of the publication.

It's early days, I hope that it will improve.

Get the action here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Oprah time

I managed to zip through the business book Blue Ocean Strategy in next to no time at all. Kim and Mauborgne have written a book that is accessible and easy-to-read, cover-to-cover or dip in and out of for reference or inspiration.

The book's premise is that most business strategy books are about conflict and competition and this is wasteful. Instead it provides a framework for strategists to Think Different and differentiate their businesses instead.

The blue ocean of the title is the space that the business puts between itself and competitors, in contrast to the red ocean from business conflict.

A classic example would be to think about the PC manufacturers. A classic red ocean environment where IBM left due to competitive pressures, HP and Compaq merged to unsuccessfully in a failed effort to leverage the economic benefits of their combined scale and Apple and Dell are the only two long-term profitable success stories through innovation.

The problem is now that Dell's process smarts have become the norm and both Apple and HP have used their operational efficiency techniques to improve their own businesses with leaner supply chains and total product customisation.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book, however the type-a personalities in charge of many organisations that most need to read it, will never touch the book or hear its message and as the bard said there-in lies the rub.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Links of the Day

Former chief competitive officer at Palm Michael Mace is blogging about mobile devices and marketing here. Check out his interesting article on the declining market for mobile applications here, phones are getting smarter, but consumer usage is not progressing along with the improvements.

A great article on web 2.0 in South Korea. Like movies, gadget and art, the Koreans have been providing the inspiration for some of the web 2.0 success stories like MySpace (CyWorld) and Yahoo! Answers (Naver).

Yahoo! have improved their search module for people's sites, I have it at the bottom of this page so let me know what you think. More details on the Yahoo! Search blog.

Blogpost 900: Lumpy inflation

Daniel Gross has written an interesting article on The rising cost of living well on

In the article Gross talks about how various factors are hitting goods and services that are symptomatic of mass affluence.

Rising oil prices and sluggish wage rises have affected consumers ability to spend on pursuing their passions.

Gross cites various services including Starbucks and organic as examples of this decline and an analyst at Merrill Lynch to looked at the inflation of luxury goods and services.
These services have a rate of inflation that is double the normal basket of goods used to measure rising prices.

The flipside is that the common man will be feeling the pressure of inflation much less than his better-off peers, hence inflation occurs at different rates for different people.

The well off are reigning their expenses in, on the small things in life, but when is this going to impact on luxury consumer goods like plasma screen televisions, home cinema systems, video iPods and tablet PCs?

A similar decline in consumerism caused long-term deflation in Japan during the 1990s.

There is no such thing as bad publicity

Last year Paris Hilton's T-Mobile account got hacked and contents from her address book, messages and pictures were revealed to the world online.

A PR mess for T-Mobile USA and the Sidekick device and a violation of Ms Hilton's privacy.

According to
this article from Mobile Today this very event put the benefits of messaging phones like the Sidekick and the BlackBerry to the awareness of gay consumers, raising them beyond business people and demonstrated their benefits for gossiping and bitching.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Mobile Marketing 2.0

eWeek have a good feature The Age of Sell Phones by Evan Schuman on mobile marketing and more pertinently how mobile marketing can be improved to make it so much better.

Targeted SMS marketing can bring a response of 50 per cent, which is much cheaper and a better response rate than traditional direct marketing.

What is missing is an interactive element in case the offer isn't interesting for the consumer, this would require integration with a more sophisticated CRM system and point-of-sale systems where appropriate.

There is a fear that location-based marketing would be too instrusive and Big Brother-like.

There is an interesting discussion on the future of the phone and the need for smartphones which mobile marketers would find very useful but no corresponding reasons were put forward on why consumers would want one.

Opt-in agreements are full of risks because consumers may not be fully cognisant of what they are signing up for. Its not like email marketing where an email, is an email, is an email.

Picture courtesy of the nice people at Motorola.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Perception is reality

Mark Sweney writing for the Media Guardian has an interesting article on major online brands based on data from Hitwise: Google struggles to redefine brand.

First of all the ceveat, Hitwise's data is considered by some within the online space to be less respected than Nielsen Net Ratings and ComScore.

Having examined search term data Hitwise has found that consumer perceptions of the major online brands in the UK are pretty static:
  • Google is associated with search
  • Yahoo! with its portal media properties and its affiliate/distribution deal with BT
  • MSN with messenger
Personally I am not that surprised, when you think about how long it took for each of these organisations to built their specialist areas it is going to take a while to shift perceptions.

There is also the challenge of breaking learned behaviours like Googling, I have been using Google since 2000.

With Messenger, once you have a set of friends on a messenger service you are unlikely to move. At home I have to use Adium to look after friends that I have spread across GTalk/Jabber, AOL/iChat/ICQ, Yahoo! and MSN and then run Skype separately.

The situation is pretty much the same with email, once people have your address, its a hassle to change it.
However my situation is atypical because I have a large loose network of friends and would fit in the early adopter/early majority phase of technological adoption.

It did make me wonder if the online market is now more stratified and mature than online brands realised? Google had made inroads with Video, mainly because this was a new market sector so the switching costs or changes in learning behaviour where not that high. Maybe Yahoo! Answers will be a similar breakthrough product?

I am currently reading Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne and will review it on the site once I have finished it; however my initial thoughts are that it outlined processes that the online giants could learn from.


I got out and about today, got my culture fix and caught up with some friends. From a cultural point of view I can recommend CSA, currently being shown at the ICA.

It shows how slavery still impacts on society through the use of a satirical documentary based on the alternative history premise that the Confederacy won the American Civil War.

Miami Vice isn't as bad as I thought it would be, being a marketer it was interested spotting the product placements. IWC are obviously looking to position the Aquatimer 2000 as the next bling watch to have. I finally caught with my friend Julie and got a hint of some of the great ways that T-Mobile are using music to appeal to consumers and challenge bigger mobile players.

Apparently FACT magazine will be making a number of further improvements as to its online presence in the near future, so make sure you keep an eye on their website.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Beyond Software

You can chart the rise of the modern packaged software industry to an open letter that William 'Bill' Gates sent to the Homebrew Computer Club in February 1976 complaining about software piracy.

The club was built on a counter-culture ethic of sharing information , knowledge and code. Just as the packaged software industry rose with Microsoft, so the homebrew movement morphed into what we now know to be open source software.

Tim O'Reilly has deliberately stirred controversy with a posting about
open source software licences are obsolete, however the more serious point that he makes about how the legal aspects that facilitate open source software need to be adapted to fit the new service orientated web (web 2.0 if you will).

Up till now most organisations such as flickr, Yahoo! and Google have been open about their key service IP: their APIs, however what happens if you get a management team with someone like Darl McBride from The SCO Group put in place.

How is a mash-up owned: is it the person who does the mash-up, the people whose content is used in the mash-up or the services that the mash-up has been derived like flickr XML feeds for instance. Web 2.0 is a lawyers wet dream and O'Reilly's argument is that the situation needs to be fixed BEFORE it breaks.

Design Matters

I decided to freshen up the look and feel of the blog, I think that it looks much cleaner, the blog was starting to get weighed down with all kinds of web 2.0 tat from a feed of my bookmarks from Yahoo! MyWeb to a flash feed of my pictures on flickr it was starting to looking like a racing car.

I was given a copy of Factory Records - The complete graphic album compiled by Matthew Robertson which has all the iconic factory artwork, growing up in the North of England during the 1980s this book was like some weird time machine taking back to places I'd long since left .

If I'd realised that my Hac membership card was really such a piece of design history, I wouldn't have thrown it way when I moved down to London after 11 - 13 Whitworth Street closed for the last time.

Having done press work with Bradley Horowitz I know that he's a stand-up guy. So I took his recommendation of Chris Anderson's The Long Tail as a good read seriously. I have had my doubts about Anderson's book, I mean anything that has been hyped that much has got to be distrusted. right?