Friday, October 31, 2008

(Very) mobile internet

Internet in your car. Unfortunately, only available in the States and only running on 3g and 2.5g networks so the promise will undoubtedly be greater than the reality, but still... This is being seen as the next big thing for cars...

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Demand for mobile web grows

Most mobile users now want to access the web on their phones reports OJB (Online Journalism Blog). Citing the first annual US mobile phone user survey by Azuki Systems, OJB reports that:

Almost 80% of those surveyed said they wished it were easier to access information from the Internet on their mobile phones, and an equal percentage stated they wished it were easier to access rich media on their mobile phones.

62% of respondents indicating they either own or will own [a smart phone] in the next 12 months.

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Calling time on the NYT

Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, calls time on the New York Times in an interview with Conde Nast's When asked what he would do if he was in charge of the paper he answered:

Shut off the print edition right now. You’ve got to play offense. You’ve got to do what Intel did in ’85 when it was getting killed by the Japanese in memory chips, which was its dominant business. And it famously killed the business—shut it off and focused on its much smaller business, microprocessors, because that was going to be the market of the future. And the minute Intel got out of playing defense and into playing offense, its future was secure. The newspaper companies have to do exactly the same thing.

The financial markets have discounted forward to the terminal conclusion for newspapers, which is basically bankruptcy. So at this point, if you’re one of these major newspapers and you shut off the printing press, your stock price would probably go up, despite the fact that you would lose 90 percent of your revenue. Then you play offense. And guess what? You’re an internet company.

I wonder who's listening.


How to write better for the web

Tim Ash, author of Landing Page Optimization and an industry expert in website optimisation,  has put together a three part post on "writing for conversations" on the The Official Google Web Optimizer Blog. Read on here....

Part One - Structure

Part Two - Tone

Part Three - Format

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Online Tsar promises quick decisions

The Guardian carries what it says is the first interview with the newly-appointed minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, Stephen Carter.


His job, according to The Guardian, is to "draw together work in existing areas of government". He has promised to deliver swift conclusions on a number of pressing issues, the paper says, including the future of digital radio, the questions surrounding the next generation of broadband access and mobile phone networks, and the future funding of public-service broadcasting.

The Guardian says his report, Digital Britain, will also consider issues around the digital divide and look into whether there should be a guarantee of universal access to broadband for all consumers. He has promised to deliver a set of recommendations by January, says the paper.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gmail goes OpenID

Gmail has joined Yahoo! and Windows Live as an OpenID provider, meaning that you can now use your Gmail account to get a URL which will work in any site which is set up as a "relying party". To set it up go here and follow the instructions. Facebook is the last remaining big player not to join the party, reports TechCrunch, though that will be only a matter of time, it believes.

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Geo-relevant content

ITN has started geo-tagging stories and locating them for users on a Google Maps mashup, reports

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Comments and how to deal with them

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch writes a funny post on his top 10 comment-types with suitable commentary on each of them. Worth a read...

Pay per story

The Online Journalism Blog has an extended piece about Dave Cohn, founder of Dave's idea is simple:

a journalist, a citizen, a community - pitches a subject to be investigated journalistically; the story is then open for funding, and whoever wants can contribute with a small sum; if the target amount is reached, a journalist takes the story on; finally it gets published.

So far it has worked quite well, too -

“We’ve raised 3000 dollars from about 100 donors, about an average of 33 dollars each.

“It’s like digital poetry”


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Words of advice

Marshal Goldsmith, who writes the "Ask the Coach" blog for the Harvard Business Review, has some words of advice for those just starting out on their careers: "In this new era of uncertainty, we all need to think like entrepreneurs."

He starts his thoughtful post on the pressures of globalisation with the following reality-check:

  • It is tough out there, and it's only going to get tougher.
  • Forget about security.
  • Like it or not, even if you start out with a large corporation, you need to think like an entrepreneur.
  • Make peace with this reality, and your life is going to be a lot better.
Read the whole post for the whole dose of reality....

Monday, October 27, 2008

YouTube tutorials

Thanks to's tip of the day for pointing out that YouTube is host to a plethora of tutorial videos on everything imaginable, including on the popular video editing software which may be of help to journalists:

Final Cut Pro


Movie Maker

All you need to do to find them is search for "tutorial" preceded by whatever it is you are looking for help on.

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Wassup Obama

Why don't we see political ads like this in the UK?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Google Maps with traffic

It may be that I've only just noticed it but Google Maps is now available in the UK with live traffic overlays. This section of the M25 should illustrate the point.

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Linking to a specific part of a video

Techcrunch reports that YouTube have introduced a feature which allows you to link to a particular part within a video.
To specify a point, append a tag to the end of your video link with the following syntax: “#t=1m45s” (you can change the numbers before the ‘m’ and ’s’ to edit the minutes and seconds, respectively.
Apparently YouTube will also watch for specific mentions of time in video comments and automatically insert a link to the particular spot in the video being talked about.

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Filtering out what you don't want

Likehacker, the make-life-more-efficient website, has come up with a really creative use of tags. We're used to using tags to see content about a particular thing; Lifehacker have introduced the concept of using tags to avoid a particular thing. For instance their "politics and election free" feed uses tags to provide a feed of their content without the political stuff. Using the "not:" operator they are enabling readers to compile feeds that exclude the stuff they are not interested in. Great idea, explained in more detail here.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Money from blogs

Who says there's no money in blogging. AOL just marked the three-year anniversary of their acquisition of Weblogs, Inc. by releasing some stats.

It's worth stepping through the slides and reading the post but highlights are:

  • worldwide unique visitors up nearly 1000%
  • page views rise over 1,500%
  • revenues up from $6m to $30m
  • employees up from 4 to 26
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Three lessons from Steve Jobs

Steve Rubel draws some lessons for the upcoming recession from Steve Jobs:

Soar with your strength

Simplify everything

Be a premium brand

That's it. That simple.

Signs of the times...

...from my peripatetic colleague Nigel Evans at London Residential Research:

Number 1

Number 2

Number 3

How the mighty, etc etc

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Google Analytics advances

Google has announced improvements to its Analytics package, according to the Google Press Center. The enhancements include custom reports, advanced segmentation, an API (currently in private beta) and "motion charts" which "provide advanced but easy-to-se multi-dimensional analysis." What will this do for sales of enterprise analytics packages, especially in a downturn?

Blogging journalists

Paul Bradshaw has put together an epic series of posts based on his survey of blogging journalists which gives a great snapshot of the state of the art: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six and part seven.

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Open society

I know I should have come across this before, but I haven't, so I'm guessing some of you may not have... They Work for You is a great site from which allows you to track your MP, finding out what they are speaking about, how they are voting and what written questions they are putting. You can even get an email every time your MP speaks. What a great idea.
Some other sites set up by mysociety for various clients include No 10 Petitions Website (does what it says on the tin), Fix My Street (ditto), PledgeBank (which works by building peer pressure for action of a particualr type), What Do They Know (marshalls Freedom of Information requests to shine a light on who local authorities are awarding contract to, how much funding is going into the police, etc), Write to Them (enables you to easily write to your MP) and Hear From Your MP (which encourages your MP to talk to you about issues they think are important - 60,000 people and 160 MPs have signed up.)

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tips for Community Editors

Some tips for and by community editors in the Online Journalism Blog series. First up is Shane Richmond of the Telegraph. The second is by Mark Fothergill of the Guardian. I'm sure our own community editors could add their own dos and don'ts... especially as we are winning awards for it.

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The end of RSS?

Steve Rubel cites a Forrester report which suggests that the 11% adoption rate for RSS may well be the most it will achieve. I think there is a real confusion at the heart of this assertion. We are currently migrating our services to EpiServer  and RSS is going to be the transport mechanism at the heart of the platform. Zibb, Reed Business' b2b search engine uses RSS and a core part of the engine - to great effect on Computer Weekly, our UK IT site. While consumer adoption of RSS in its raw form may well remain low, RSS will be embedded in practically everything we do. Just read my previous post about AppLoop.

Blog to RSS to iPhone

AppLoop (in closed beta right now) is a platform which aims to turn any RSS feed into an iPhone app - and then automatically distribute it through the iPhone Appstore. Problogger has the details. Thanks to my colleague Simon Robinson for the pointer.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The rise of user power

All Your Sites Belong to Us contends Steve Rubel in an interesting post describing the "me" revolution.
...something exceptional has happened. We now "own" the web even more than we did back then when all we simply did was create viable homegrown alternatives to big media sites.

It's an era when Facebook's redesign was road-tested by one million beta users before launch and yet still there are 1,564,576 members of the group "5,000,000 against the new version of Facebook". A sobering thought for those of us striving to build communities.

Praise for Jon

Flight's first full-time blogger Jon Ostrower gets a glowing write up in the Chicago Tribune. Thanks to my colleague Stephen Trimble for the pointer.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

OpenID - the pros and cons...

Technophilia: One OpenID to Rule Them All...or Not? - useful summary of the pros and cons of OpenID with links to a couple of useful video presentation. The bottom line: although thousands of sites now accept OpenIDs users seem to still be confused about them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Digg: the answer?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post asking what was happening to Digg's traffic. I've just read this post from Paul Bradshaw. Is this the answer, I wonder...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Either...or games

Charles Moore, former editor of the Telegraph, interviewed Tory leader David Cameron and played the either...or game with him - with interesting results. 

Red or white? Red

Bitter or lager? Bitter

Meat or fish? Meat

Town or country? Country

Or again....

Star Trek or Dr Who? Star Trek.

Later, the Today Programme repeated the exercise at the Tory Party Conference - it's well worth a listen.

This strikes me as a very useful and fun way of gaining insight into key figures and could be used to great effect in the markets we cover. I wonder who will be the first to do it?

UPDATE: I'm having trouble playing the link with Firefox - though it plays just fine in Internet Explorer.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Google's mobile vision

Wired has a story about a patent filed by Google which envisages handsets which automatically poll wireless providers (including wi-fi and wi-max) for the lowest price before connecting. There's a long way to go, and a lot of vested interests in the way, but it's a great vision.

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The problem with lies and half-truths

Jeff Javis writes a thoughtful post responding to the blanket criticism of "citizen journalists" following the false story of Steve Jobs' "heart attack" on CNN's iReport.

The main problem isn't with citizen journalism, he says, but with credulous readers (and that isn't a new problem).

we have to get better at giving caveats. As news rushes by, it is important that we make it clear what is and isn’t confirmed. We thought we were in the business of saying what we know in the news. But we’re more in the business of saying what we don’t know. I’ve often quoted Nick Denton’s definition of what we bloggers call “half-baked posts.” They say to our readers: “Here’s what we know. Here’s what we don’t know. What do you know?”

The "story" was corrected very fast by journalists contacting Apple for clarification, he points out.

The web, as it turns out, is almost as fast at spreading truth as it as at spreading rumors.

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In difficult times...

With t&e budgets likely to be slashed around the world next year some enterprising bloggers have come up with a novel idea: free conferences on the web. They have collected (curated if you like) what they consider to be the best free presentations around a subject and are offering them to the world. I've found two so far:

The Online Marketing Conference and
Pixelated - the Online Business Conference
What a fantastic idea. I wonder if there is enough content for us to do the same in some of our verticals? Worth a look, surely...

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Towards a new paradigm

The building block of journalism is no longer the article; so says Jeff Jarvis in a post which argues that the web needs a new paradigm.
The story was all we had before — it’s what would fit onto a newspaper page or into a broadcast show. But a discrete and serial series of articles over days cannot adequately cover the complex stories going on now nor can they properly inform the public. There’s too much repetition. Too little explanation.

... I want a page, a site, a thing that is created, curated, edited, and discussed. It’s a blog that treats a topic as an ongoing and cumulative process of learning, digging, correcting, asking, answering. It’s also a wiki that keeps a snapshot of the latest knowledge and background. It’s an aggregator that provides annotated links to experts, coverage, opinion, perspective, source material. It’s a discussion that doesn’t just blather but that tries to accomplish something (an extension of an article like this one that asks what options there are to bailout a bailout). It’s collaborative and distributed and open but organized.
In response to the huge complexities and fast past of the economic crisis, will we see a new form emerge? I actually think one of our blogs, Flightblogger, is already doing something like this for the 787 programme - he's mixing the fast (Twitter) with the slow and reflective (old-fashioned feature articles) and pulling it together in one place. What's probably missing is easy access to "the story so far".

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

What happened to Digg?

I was making a presentation to the news team at Estates Gazette on Friday and as part of the story I pulled off a series of traffic graphs from Alexa to show the relative share of voice of traditional newspapers (The Guadian and New York Times), aggregators (Digg), social networking sites (Facebook) and video (YouTube).

The general story is predictable and well illustrated by the Alexa charts (check it out: one, two, three, four, five - see what I mean?) but the interesting back story is: what has happened to Digg? The site has enjoyed uninterupted growth until June and then has fallen to one third of its relative popularity. I checked out competitors, and the only one making inroads seems to be Mixx - and it's growth doesn't explain the fall. Any ideas?

BTW credit to the idea of comparing in this way goes to my colleague Karl.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

We win!

RBI scooped the most awards at last night's AOP awards, including the big one - Online Publisher of the Year. RBI's e-newsletters sales team won Online Advertising Sales Team of the Year, FWi won Online Community and XpertHR won Business Website of the Year. Read the full awards list in Brand Republic's report here.

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Socialtext 3.0

Web collaboration firm Socialtext is launching Socialtext 3.0 which aims to bring a wiki, "Facebook" and "Twitter" mashup to the enterprise.Techcrunch writes about it here

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Clay Shirky

Notes on Clay's talk:

Gather then share was the pattern; now it is share then gather.

Don't believe the myth of quality.


There is no such thing as the average user in the participatory model.

From recruiting and managing to inviting and rewarding.

DRM is nostalgia instantiated software

This is a time for high levels of experimentation.


Nancy Cruickshank, CEO VideoJug: says they have made 45,000 videos - the world's largest short-form video library. Global audience of 3.5 million uniques. "It is a hyper- collaborative space. It's really important to realize that."


Frederico Grosso, SVP business development at Blinkx. Two prblems remain: users need to find stuff, advertisers want to promote things effectively.
5 million searches a day. 56 million uniques. Wow!

FT Video

Richard Edgar,head of video at FT Video:
1. Get the best technical person you can find
2. Decide what model to use:
A. Throw people in at the deep end
B. News room within a news room - quick, painless but expensive
C. Train up evangelists and seed the newsroom - the best route as this integrates video into the heart of the brand.
3.Develop brands
4. Develop strands - good for commercialisation.
Video now accounts for 10% of revenues.


Jonathan Gillespie, for YouTube in Europe says YouTube now takes up 10% of the world's bandwidth. Thirteen hours of video uploaded every minute.

Quote of the day

Kevin Eyres, managing director of LinkedIn Europe when asked what he was doing to monetize the site: "we don't want to over-monetize anything."

At the AOP

Off to the AOP conference in the Park Lane Hilton. First up is Sly Bailey, CEO of Trinity Mirror.
"The economics have changed" she says, and central newsrooms and production departments producing high-quality multi-media content for multiple outlets will be the way forward. "There is pain as we go about making our business fit for purpose", she says - redundancies are being made as 100 new digital jobs are created.
The newest development is hyperlical sites closer to the community than local newspapers ever could be - down to postcode level. Next they will feature maps and CEO-coded content.
"In a few years time we will look back and say this was the defining moment in digital media."

The second session has Emily Bell of the Guardian, Peter Cowley of Endemol, Andrew Walmsley of I-Level and Ajaz Ahmed of AKQA.

Emily: "ultimately you will end up stopping things with smaller audiences."

Andrew: "It is important to realise we are in an industry which is structurally growing"
"Digital will become the core of marketing communication for virtually all brands."

Peter: "The will be a tipping point this year where good quality video content is viable online."

Ajaz: Profound changes - self creation, 'channel me', the power of search. This is perfect informtion. "There is no need for a media crisis - there is a content crisis."

Andrew: "Advertisers don't have the automatic right to be there on social networks."

Emily: "The global audience is definitely an opportunity. It is inevitable that if you are a strong brand you will find new global audiences."

The future?
Andrew: the growth of grass roots

Peter: fragmentation of media

Ajaz: the consumer is ahead of the media owners and advertisers.
More often than not the big brands' audience figures are as big as the big media sites.