Thursday, 31 May 2007
My musical holy grail is to construct a radio station that plays random music that jumps from Classical to Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) a bit of Drum and Bass and some Jazz thrown in. I'm constantly feeding Last.fm music to get the balance right which keeps me occupied but there's some other stuff that I really like about this software and website that I want to share.
The killer app is thaty just listening to Last.fm allows me to listen to music that I like. The tastes I have described above are not an easy brief to meet and only Last.fm comes close to giving me that. I think its cool that I can give it a macro taste brief jumping from genre to genre or if I'm in the mood I can listen to early electronic pioneers or some other micro tagging channel. If I have to really concentrate and work hard only intelligent drum & bass works for me but there are a number of moods that Last.fm meets splendidly. The more I know it, the more demanding I get. Its nowhere near listening to a terrestrial frequency radio station where laissez faire listening slips in.
Theres a bunch more too and I listen to them all when I feel that I need to get out of a rut and check out what other friends are into. I also think the recommendation radio station is great although I''m not sure if its based on what Last.fm recommends or if it factors in friends individual recommendations sent to me, which is another feature that I get lots of suggestions from. Either way theres also the 'loved' track function and the 'ban' track button too plus skip if a track seems to be going nowhere.
On top of all that there's a full array of social networking tools like music blogging, shoutouts, tagging, neighbourhood radio, loved tracks radio, history radio and more and this all applies also to other members of Last.fm on the network. I can even listen to friends specialist radio stations that they create. Then there's the widgets, the free downloads, the charts and music events based on my location. I could go on because the site in itself could probably keep me occupied a few hours a day just exploring, but I also like to keep an eye on a few of its competitors to see what's new but the thing I really like most about Last.fm is that it raises a philosphical question which is at the heart of marketing. It makes me ask myself when I know that I don't want to listen to stuff I know, and thus forces me to choose between if I want to listen to what I know I don't know, or if I prefer to listen to stuff I don't know I don't know. If this sounds familiar its another way of expressing Donald Rumsfeld's known unknowns and unknown unknowns which despite its obtuse Yogi Berra nature is in actual fact a stunning example of the business we're in. CBS have gotten this site for peanuts. Its easily worth more than myspace or Youtube in my opinion and I hope it stays that way. Thanks audioscrobbler/Last.fm for a few years of terrific music discovery and like all good radio for being a friend. And here's my latest playlist which is another function I've only just begun to play with.
And here's a hot presentation they did with more stats and facts.
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
The Ian Curtis biopic won Best European Film at Cannes. The post-punk aesthetic of Anton Corbijn's stark black-and-white cinematography was winning over the critics on Friday night but I'm delighted that one of my early music heroes is beginning to earn the the full credit he deserves. I'm also a bit annoyed that I didn't reserve lovewilltearusapart.com when no one else had thought of it and it was going for erm a song.
If you do a google on this enterprising young man you can see there aren't many digital stones left unturned and his entrepreneurial side shows through wonderfully . He realises that by delighting the digital blogging A listers he may get just that little bit closer to achieving his dream of working at Microsoft. I like this story, it's representative of how democratic the internet is which is a post I've touched upon but have lined up for more in-depth examination in the future.
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Friday, 25 May 2007
Along with my daily RSS sprints, I’ve been casually jogging around the latest round of social networks since 2002 when the original Friendster went big Stateside, spread out to Europe and is now a dominant force in Asia. They should realistically relocate their pampered U.S. asses out of San Francisco to Singapore. Its this hubris that led them to having their lead stolen by myspace. I’ve been watching straight faced as the plannersphere piles into Facebook of late but the interesting social sites are in Gaia and Habbo Hotel at one end of the spectrum and Secondlife at the other (Mekong Charlie if you must ask). Yes the first two are for kids but those kids are the first generation virtual world builders/social media networkers on the scene and they’re going to be quite demanding if myspace wants to win them over in just a few years. Anyway News International and Roop Murdoch will probably just buy them when as he knows all too well what the conditioning element(s) of using a media format can be in selecting the next one.
My blogging chum in Singapore, Marina raves on about ecircles which closed down in 1997 and was a little too early for it’s time, but for the real deal on sharing conversation, pictures, mp3’s as well as changing status, quasi tweets and building community with likeminded people it was/is and always will be IRC for Internet Relay Chat or mIRC as it’s better known. Cheap as chips and basic ‘code-monkey’ software mIRC is very usable and easy on the processing power resources.
Want to leap into a conversation with Baghdad and/or Boston? It’s IRC that has the full spectrum of seasoned veterans from the 80’s as well as newbies up for a bit of digital conversation and of course there’s a twitter channel on there too for those who wander why the list of people who follow my twitter twaddle is up in the 90’s.
I do concede that the original BBS people are the Daddy when it comes to practically all shades of early internet life but why would you want to know something about a format that is still only huge in China? OK, I’ll do a post on that another time, what with China having the largest internet and mobile phone market in the world right now and they aren’t even in second gear.
So what’s my point? Well I’d be the first to advocate for social(ist) media, as indeed Fightclub did that there are no rules. Main stream media (MSM) is so obsessed with imposing old revenue models on new media that its in danger of getting out the invoices for the telegraph-wire which kicked off this whole media-at-the-speed-of-light-gig.
Or maybe its just sheer fear that makes MSM want to impose the old rules of interruption in the new environment, which in a way is fine (and part of the ‘no rules’ dictum), because after all it is in precisely this manner that we rather patronisingly conditioned the post war (ahem) ‘consumer’. Rather disconcertingly, there’s a sizable segment that actually like it that way and which Faris did a post on cheekily calling them the passive massive? But anyway it’s looking like not for much longer. We’re on the edge of something new and to bring an old mindset to a new media really is indicative of how uncreative, stuffy (or scared) we have become. After all, if the discovery of the Americas has resulted in a new Europe being built, I doubt if the internet would even exist. Its time to take the gloves off and get stuck into socialist media your own way; make friends, be authentic, honest and useful but ‘monetizing’ socialist media is precisely why nobody has really done it yet. Groundwork needs to be laid, and fortune favours the brave.
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
I only really discovered Tony Benn when I found all my understanding of power and production was completely discredited. I never expected losing my politics to ever bother me but in many ways, it cost me more both financially and emotionally than losing my religion ever could have. Tony Benn was my succour during the tail end of this period.
So, earlier today I took a look at some stats for socialist media in the United States and I was surprised to see that imeem, a small media-sharing social-networking site that I stumbled across last week to use for posting the Danwei podcast was beginning to take root. They're at number four in the table below, and means I can now share a brilliant Tony Benn Podcast, plug a new socialist media and lay the groundwork for my Marxist media post which is designed to irritate the living hell out of people who drive gas guzzling Jags like the wonderfully erudite Rory Sutherland who writes beautifully on his blog.
Take it easy with Dawdlr. You can find out all about it here.
Cheesy and horrifying isn't it? 'Let it be cool' they tell us, just like the following brand spanking new ad from DDB which asks with a firm handshake and no hint of irony, 'When was the last time you smelt something real?'
So now I'm left with the question. Why do people flee from the cities to the coastline to get some clean air in the first place?
Monday, 21 May 2007
Sunday, 20 May 2007
George Parker is the dog's bollocks. If you aren't reading him as he chronicles the feral decline of the fat cats of old school advertising you're missing out on the funniest and bloodiest, bare-knuckle-writer on the net. I would not like to be on the receiving end of his penmanship but we're having a pint next month when he comes over to London for the PSFK thing so I'm looking forward to that. Take time to cut and paste his RSS feed into your reader and make sure you buy his excellent book.
The point of all this is to share a little of my media consumption because over the years my taste for news (and a little American Chopper & MTV) has dominated the type of advertising I'm exposed to either at home or in hotel rooms around Asia and Europe. It's generally big dull global campaigns. Advertising that tries so hard to please everyone that it stands for nothing. Advertising that is largely homogeneous and forgettable. Advertising that could easily swap the logos for Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank and I'd never notice despite repeated viewing. So today I was reminded of a commercial that I'll never forget and will always feel good about, because somewhere along the line the agency managed to persuade the client not to advertise as if they were a big energy company. Here is the video by Royksopp that sparked off the memories.
And the commercial for what is essentially a nuclear energy company.
Nice clean vector graphics and a tune from 1980 that is close to my heart. Check the lyrics out too for depth.
Saturday, 19 May 2007
People like me often have internet messenger conversations where we're frequently sharing links with our friends from around the world in real time. If you're a social surfer too then get yourself on the beta testing list for Me.dium It's a social web experience that allows people to share a browser. There are a hundred different uses for a tool like this and reminds me of a post that Faris mentioned he intends to write about 'guided web browsing'. I guess I should remind him now as that is where I heard it first. Or shall I just steal it? :)
Keep an eye open for this one. It's a big idea on a very wide stage.
The Guardian points us to the latest source of fashion inspiration It brings together ethical shopping, bargain hunting and social networking - and is the liveliest fashion trend embracing the 'I'm more than just a consumer' backlash that is rapidly emerging. It's called Swishing by those in the know.
Video: The Breakfast Club
Credit to Russell Davies who just likes a good cuppa.
While walking through my favourite street market in the world, on Berwick Street in Soho recently I've noticed a small sign with a big claim that was mentioned again at yesterday's planning get together coffee morning
. dot TK - renaming the internet.
I finally checked it out and it seems to be an interesting idea. A free domain name that redirects to a website of your choice. I've reserved www.accountplanner.tk to point to this blog. Unfortunately www.justdoit.tk is taken so I can't cause a kerfuffle and get sued, thus pointing the worlds traffic to this site by being a punk planner. Check it out, its an interesting idea.
Friday, 18 May 2007
Not so long back PSFK had a conference in New York and the guest list was frankly turkey-free which is not an easy achievement if you take a look at the other events tired old approach to these get togethers on offer. I'd have paid good money just to see the one and only George Parker speak on that occasion. But getting back onto why it's important, there probably are, two broad currents that confront all planners in this business on a potentially apocalyptic scale, and the first is the ability to adapt, shape, invent and swim with the soon to be 'revolution' in marketing. Gill Scott Heron was right when he said the revolution will not be televised, it's going to be on the net and more likely twittered. The other landslide about to take place is putting the heart of planet friendly marketing, right in the nucleus of the wealth creation business model. It's probably the single most exciting time to be in advertising ever and there are days when I sense the tipping point looming, all wide eyed and eager anticipation of a frothy mouthed Christian fundementalist tipped off about the second coming. The action is going to be sweet.... If you like a rough ride.
Well, the PSFK gang are holding their London conference on June 1st next month, and it's more than a pleasure to remind people of a gathering of the hippest and intellectually most coherent thinkers in the business getting together to share ideas and trends around those two crucial broad currents, of new and ethical marketing. John Grant, Russell Davies, Faris Yacob, Hugh MacLeod, Johnnie Vulcan, the fearless George Parker, and a day-long list of others will be there. If you can't go then I'd urge you to make sure you know someone who is going, and if you can't arrange that, then there's a strong possibility I'll be blogging the day. For you, for me, for us.
Thursday, 17 May 2007
Logon or lose out is not the sort of language I'd expect from an internet channel that has bombed. It's the same feeling If I said that you could talk to people like me, who charge people like you to explain how to not lose your customers in the first place, and if you do, how to get them back.
Anyway, I'm washing my hair tonight. I can't watch your channel.
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As I mentioned in the last post I came across a terrific, no-nonsense podcast on doing business in China. Most successful non Chinese business people are way too timid to tell it like it really is out of eagerness not to offend their hosts and thus potentially losing the all important government favour.
James McGregor the author of the best selling 'One Billion Customers, Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China', seen by many as the defining book for new ventures in China is the exception to the rule. McGregor isn't frightened of being frank about the idiosyncrasies of the Chinese, but in a way which as he explains is both humorous and done with real affection for the people.
One of the major themes covered in this podcast is the cultural narrow mindedness of huge companies setting up in China such as ebay and Yahoo, and why they have failed so far in their efforts, usually through trying to impose the same business model from the U.S.
This relates to the 'Think global act local' issue, an idea I've long felt is misleading and misguided. It's also a a separate post in itself and one that I intend to cover which should, I guess be called, think local act local. In the mean time here is the podcast which gives me a chance to try out a new widget. Listen to James describe how Western arrogance ignored the intelligence of the maths champion of China when buying an internet business. This is how real people talk. Gorgeous stuff.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
I originally came across it on the awesome IT Conversations which has easily another 40 or so shows that I've yet to consume to bring myself up to date. This show interviews Mike Moran who clearly knows his beans on digital search but also manages to explain in a way that someone with an interest should be able to access quite quickly. There's also a brilliant one I listened to today on doing business in China which probably wont interest many around here but I can't restrain myself from spreading the excellence that is abundant on the web. Also I haven't figured out how to put a media player in a post. I'm a bit mad on widgets at the moment so expect a few glitches till I've figured things out. Including formatting and links it's still a bit wobbly here on that stuff. I guess you've noticed.
Monday, 14 May 2007
I particularly like the music to this Youtube clip which is doing the rounds, and while ostensibly covering the same topic as the previous post, it somehow makes it so much more palatable, charming even. I believe this is further supporting evidence of "It's not what you say, but how you say" school of advertising that places tonality at the heart of communications.
The latest mashup between Flickr and Googlemaps by Dave Troy, the inventor of twittervision is here. It's called flickrvision. Twitter is all about why short messages have a depth and resonance all of their own. Location now adds an important layer of context to many types of data.
This is why flickrvision is so great. The concept of geographically tagged pictures being uploaded to flickr in real time is a lot easier to grasp . Check it out for yourself. If you can't think of a few applications for this, go have a strong cup of coffee for inspiration. I've said it before, so forgive me for saying it again, these are exciting times we live in. Dave Troy created the original twittervision over a few spare hours on a Sunday and was in no time at all being flown to London to talk business opportunities. One of the issues that is emerging out of this recombinant culture as Faris puts it so well, is the compelling nature of the data streams now gathering momentum from geo tagging. It's almost as if the flat two dimensional digital world is spilling over into the real world by giving the data it holds coordinates. A great example is the project for ancient literature texts being given modern geographic locations. A bit like reading Homer's Oddysey or Chaucer's Canterbury tales with references to modern-day towns and cities. Much more easier and a lot more fun, don't you think?
Saturday, 12 May 2007
It often feels that planning likes to assume the role of being responsible for great advertising. The truth is more often than not, it helps to improve the efficacy of advertising which is a different thing all together. For evidence of this you can take a look at the next 50 advertisements you see starting from right now. Did anything blow you away about those highly targeted and planning intense executions (comments below)? There's a disconnect there and it's largely resolved by taking a closer look between life as we imagine it and life as it really is.
Black Swans really is an anarchical and brilliant book. I use that word 'brilliant' sparingly when referring to think- pieces and of course more generously when people suggest a quality pub or bar I hadn't thought of to meet up in. This book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb a former derivative trader turned professor (who urges us to distrust people with ties) has been nagging me for sometime and only today listening to the author on Tech Nation Podcasts did I hear the essence of the book that I could encapsulate in a post. On one level it's about interpreting failure differently and is supportive of the idea that embracing failure is a good thing. The title of the book however does need careful attention. It comes from Karl Popper's assertion that it only takes one black swan to undermine the statement that 'all swans are white'.
In a nutshell we would definitely describe Google as a positive black swan. It came out of nowhere to achieve world dominance. I remember clearly the day when the email recommending Google's superiority was sent round by the new IT guy at Howell Henry. It was put simply, a better search engine. Absolutely nobody could have predicted how huge they would become. A negative black swan example would be Lloyds Insurance whereby a seemingly stable business made it's very rich investors and 'names' liable to bankruptcy overnight. Banking and Insurance are negative black swans (that Taleb says hire dull people and make them look even more dull than they are) because while on the surface they appear to be stable businesses, they are subject to forces that can sink them, as mentioned just now with Lloyds when it was forced to deal with asbestos claims in the 80's.
At the heart of the book is the theme of trend prediction and certainty which is surely as close to the output of a planner as can be sought. It should teach us to be a little more humble about our glaring weakness for as the WSJ puts it; confirmation bias (our tendency to reaffirm our beliefs rather than contradict them), narrative fallacy (our weakness for compelling stories), silent evidence (our failure to account for what we don't see), ludic fallacy (our willingness to oversimplify and take games or models too seriously), and epistemic arrogance (our habit of overestimating our knowledge and underestimating our ignorance).
A point that is raised nicely in the podast is to picture a small pool of water on a table. We have no evidence to show that it came from an ice cube or even more inspiring that the ice cube was carved and shaped into a small figure before it melted. Out view of history is always explaining backwards as best we can. This is a linear approach that cauterizes the true story. Even more breathtakingly is the idea that viewing history by working backwards is a fallacy because history is actually always moving forward. This is where the brilliance of Dr Nassim Nicholas Taleb excels. It's a huge thought and one that undermines a lot of people in suits and ties and uniforms that get it wrong.
The author of this book is not so much showing us a way to predict events as showing us a challenge to the the myopic and causal way of examining history to predict the future. If anything it's the good doctors advice to be sceptical of things that matter, and equally so, to not be sceptical of things we can do nothing about. I urge you to listen to the podcast if nothing else.