Merry Christmas everyone

The card above is believed to be one of the first mass-produced Christmas cards - dating back more than 160 years - and can be found among the extensive special collections of Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology.
The lithographed card caused a controversy in some quarters of Victorian English society when it was published in 1843 because it prominently features a child taking a sip from a glass of wine. Approximately 1,000 copies of the card were printed but only 10 have survived to modern times. Bridwell Library acquired its copy in 1982. The card was designed for Henry Cole by his friend, the English painter John Calcott Horsley (1808-1882). Cole wanted a ready-to-mail greeting card because he was too busy to engage in the normal custom of writing notes with Christmas and New Year's greetings to friends and family.
The card pre-dated color printing so it was hand-colored. The card is divided into three panels with the center panel depicting a family drinking wine at a celebration and the flanking panels illustrating charitable acts of feeding and clothing the poor.
Cole, who also wrote and published Christmas books, printed more cards than he needed so he sold the extra cards for one shilling each.
Widespread commercial printing of Christmas cards began in the 1860s, when a new process of color printing lowered the manufacturing cost and the price. Consequently, the custom of sending printed Christmas greetings spread throughout England.
Now we can just stick them on the internet… have a good Christmas.


Person of the Year? It’s you

Time Magazine’s annual Person of Year takes a neat turn in 2006 by nominating You this year.
According to Time’s Lev Grossman: “The "Great Man" theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.
“But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story .. it’s the story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.”
That's what makes all this so interesting. Web 2.0 is a massive social experiment, and like any experiment worth trying, it could fail. There's no road map for how an organism that's not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of six billion.
Come 2007 will blogging and social media sites make a difference? I don’t know. Do you? Now is the time to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician but citizen to citizen, person to person.
At LeWeb3 the parting shot from the conference was a positive one – blog for a better world. That’s what I am going to do – cheesy I know – but each week I hope to post a comment on changing the world for the better. Whether that’s by random acts of kindness or pointing out injustices in the world. Will it make a difference – it’s not sure but if enough of do it… so join in the conversation.


Matrimonial mashups in Brum

With a nod to Stuart Bruce I was interested to come across the above. What a delicious revenge to take against an errant husband and what a brilliant way to harness the use of "old media".
Apparently the billboard in the centre of Birmingham cost about £2,500 to expose Jane Doe's philandering husband's affair with her best friend. If you're struggling to read it - this is the text in full:

To my 'dear husband Mark' and 'my best friend Shelley',
You are the most despicable, deceitful people I have ever met. I know what you did and I'm disgusted.
I've changed the locks Mark, burnt your clothes and emptied OUR joint account - to pay for this poster.
You deserve each other.

All well and good but when you go online to Jane's MySpace site she has 1983 "friends" offering advice and support. At present I can't find any reference to her Ex having a similar site. And as Stuart points out Jane has been a regular correspondent about her suspicions with local Birmingham radio station BRMB's Elliott and Caroline - who also just happen to be the first friends that appear on her MySpace blog.
Writing this now this looks like a great story - although I've seen no mainstream coverage as yet - but Stuart is suspicious as BRMB's involvement might mean that this is not all that it seems. The station is accomplished at creating controversial publicity for itself, such as its 'Two strangers and a wedding' stunts. Whatever the truth of the matter it's another good example of how old media is not dead and how new media adds another dimension to the marketing mix.

If this is the case we should be told - but then again there is nothing new under the sun as a similar stunt was pulled off in Manhattan earlier this year (see picture below). I'm not sure how I would react if my wife had an affair but I suspect my fiery Celtic temper would not be as polished as Jane's.


What a complete f**k up

What a complete f**k up. Sam Sethi has been sacked for blogging negatively about LeWeb3 on Techcrunch UK&Ireland by Michael Arrington – one of the event’s sponsors. The site has now been put on hold.
Meanwhile, Loic Le Meur is being vilified throughout the blogosphere by all those who wanted to open up a conversation which he chose to close down – this from the guy responsible for one of the main blogging platforms in Europe.
I for one thought that LeWeb3 was going to be an un-conference with lots of conversational feedback, bust-ups, arguments, fights and disagreements – which is fine. However, the fall out from Loic's political fumblings has been to completely undermine his own position with the very audience he should be engaging with.
My colleague Simon, in this matter, believes in the cock-up theory and although I have never been a champion of the conspiracy theory it all smells a bit fishy - but hey I used to be a journalist.
I wish Sam well and hope that he/we can create something useful out of all this. How about a Web2.0 Un-Conference in the UK? Any sponsors out there? Any thoughts? Let's make something in the UK.
By the way the picture is of the media scrum which took all attention away from the conversation we hoped to have to allow that Sarkozy to have his onoastic moment in front of a non-plussed international audience.
After all the above, a nice counterpoint to all the arguments agaist LeWeb3 can be found at Gaping Void where Hugh MacLeod argues all the positive points that came out of Paris. I, for one, need some time to think about it before I commit a detailed analysis of the whole event.
But at the end of the day it has got us all talking.


Politics, blogging and bluster

We will shortly be leaving Paris and LeWeb3. Did we learn anything new?
Well we learned that the big corporates have now woken up to the opportunities of Web2.0 and social media and are now seeking to muscle in on the scene by claiming to have wonderful new products that will make us shiny happy people?

We have learned that the Americans like to talk down to the Europeans – and you cant really blame them when we set our ambitions to low. We learned that China is getting bigger and that the English language is taking of the world – which is nice for us Brits.

We learned that French politicians will pick a coin out of piece of dogshit with their teeth if it will get them a vote (I paraphrase this quote from Flaubert).

For those of you who didn’t know most of the audience at LeWeb3 are not happy that the last day of the event was hi-jacked by two of France’s leading politicians who are all posturing in the run up to the general election.

What annoyed most people, at what was supposed to be an un-conference, is that François Bayrou, president of the centrist Union for French Democracy and Nicolas Sarközy, Minister of the Interior – spoke only in French.

Everyone elese at the conference had spoken English. In the crush of media Sarkozy barked out his 15 minute speech – a call to arms for all French bloggers and plea of “vote for me” – and f***ed off.

It went down hill there from there on in – although my colleague Simon Collister said the conference had already taken a noise dive before the politicians turned up so at least they made it interesting.

A final word on Loic LeMeur – who has taken a battering for his organisation of LeWeb3 (check out the following technorati seach). At the end of the conference the face of Six Apart in Europe told the delegates (those few who remained) that he apologised for the unexpected appearance of two sniping politicians, but faced with the same opportunity in the future he would do it again.

I think a career in politics beckons - what do you think?


Simon Collister shows Katie Jenkins - the founder of Live The Lingo - the different blogging options available to would-be bloggers at LeWeb3 in Paris. Typepad or Blogger - which way will she go?

A-lister gets down with the people

It’s always a dangerous thing to meet someone you’ve admired from afar – so I wasn’t sure how I would react when I met Gaping Void’s Hugh MacLeod.
He’s due t
o wrap up the conference with a talk on micro-branding I think.
I’ve just met him in the coffee area and can report he is a top bloke.
I like the way has created, in Stormhoek and English Cut, two very different stories that were seeded on the internet to grow into two successful businesses by basically sticking two fingers up to business convention.

I think we both agreed that as soon as you start telling a story about your brand or product – they will come. That has been the case with Wensleydale and Ladybank Company of Distillers.

By the way there has been some interest at the conference about Ladybank and the whole concept of a co-creation company and we are hopeful to find a speaking gig for James Thomson, the brains behind the Britain’s first co-creation whisky producer.


LeWeb3: More stuff from Paris

The second part of the LeWeb3.0 morning session allowed David Sifry, founder and CEO of Technorati to pimp up his company. Which was fine but I learned nothing new other than the more you blog, and the longer you have blogged, and more sites that link to you means that you will have more authority as a source.

I’ve never understood this argument unless you accept that the more links to you means you have more authority – do links mean quality though? No. There are is a large British contingent here but it is still dominated by the French and the vast majority of the big name speakers are American. They appear to be here on missionary work and you get the feeling our ex-Colonial friends don’t give a damn about the Old World – with our different cultures and languages we are just too amorphous to attract their interest or their investment dollars. If the Americans are asking themselves how can we make money out of these guys the truth is they probably can’t not unless they spot a successful business and then buy it up. This point was made by some of the local VCs.

Alexis Helcmanockl – of IPSOS - was interesting and presented a neat piece of research on how bloggers are influencing internet users' buying decisions. He said that in the EU 61 per cent of internet users read blogs and 52 per cent use the interent to make a decision about a purchase.

Moreover, the more you purchase over the internet the more you trust internet purchases and that a third of surfers will not buy a product if it has a bad review on a blog. More than half would buy on a positive comment. No surprise there then!

For some reason the e-commerce stuff and web2.0 was too lame that I had to leave. Perhaps I’m getting to old and just don’t want to make any more money.

Day One: LeWeb3

LeWeb3.0 – Early morning session.

Brilliant no internet connection as Orange managed to cut the wire. So far it’s all been a bit underwhelming. Have I learned anything new? No I don’t think so – just had a few prejudices and convictions confirmed.

So who has said what?

Niklas Zennstrom, founder of Skype and Kazaa said that English will be the language of the interent – which probably didn’t please our French hosts, adding that the developing countries will become more competitive by harnessing their skills in English through the best use of the internet. He added that anything that can be digitized will be digitized . Four out of five stars for content.

Lorraine Twohill, Marketing Director EMEA, Google. Message was Google is great. Two stars.

Has Rosling, Professor of International Health, Karolinska Institutet and co-founder of Best speaker so far who concentrated on how the global market was changing and the convergence between developed and undeveloped worlds. He prefers to divide the world into lower, middle and high income countries and gave a compelling argument on how the internet will further aid convergence. He reckons true globilisation is still 20 to 30 years away. An idea often thought but ne’er so well expressed. Simon Collister has point out this theory is almost like the Long Tail for developing nations. Five stars.

Panel session with bigwigs from Yahoo!, Orange, Nokia Multimedia and Widows Live. Message we plan to be around for a long time. Do we sound smug? Yes we do! Two stars.

More later when they get the wi-fi back!


LeWeb: It must be Paris

Have arrived in Paris to attend LeWeb3.0 - early start tomorrow then. I'm not planning to do blow-by-blow on each speaker - although I might do a starred system on the best and worst.
Discussion on the way over here was whether we would actually learn anything. I hope so. It cost enough to come over here!


Clinton got a blow job

Just spotted on Gaping Void - I've put this up for Tom Johnson. Very funny and sums up what's wrong with America at the moment. Reminds me of the cocksucker joke!


Off to Paris

Well that's it for this week - I'm off to Paris on Sunday.
After a weekend with the wife and kids chilling out (hopefully - as I have been told we have to go in to town tomorrow for Christmas shopping) myself and Simon Collister are off to the French capital to attend Le Web3.0 .
If you're there please get in touch via the blog or by my mobile (07855 341283). I'm not sure at this stage whether I will learn anything having been the unhappy owner of a burning parachute during DotCom in the 1990s - but I live in hope.
The thing with these sort of conferences is that you either have all your prejudices/beliefs confirmed or shattered. I would like mine to be shattered! We'll see.
Hopefully we can dine out on the recent rave review about Wensleydaleblog.

PS - We plan to post from Paris - so watch this space

The most inventive blog

Over at GREEN Communications we're rather proud of the work we've done for Wensleydale Dairy Products. As well as all the traditional public relations tools we have used - to great effect - we also set up a blog for the company.
Moreover, we have used a range of social marketing tools for the company including YouTube.
Since the launch of wensleydaleblog more than 10,000 people have now signed the Uniquely Yorkshire petition in support of Real Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese!
It's only five months since we announced that the creamery had put forward a submission to protect Real Yorkshire Wensleydale through Protected Designation of Origin or PDO as it's more commonly known.
So time to bang our own drum! In PR Week's review of the year they dedicated a section to blogs and I quote: "But marks for the most inventive blog have to go to Wensleydale Dairy Products, which in September produced a blog to raise support for a campaign to protect the origins of Real Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese.
"The blog was created by GREEN Communications, after Wensleydale's (bid) for Protected Designation of Origin, which protects EU foods based on their geographical area of production."


CIPR and the Groucho Club

Many thanks to David Brain and Stephen Davies for standing us a few drinks at the Groucho Club in London last week.
The guys from Edleman met myself and my colleague Simon Collister to discuss the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ consultation document on its proposed code of conduct for social media. What was so telling was we only spent about 10 minutes actually discussing the document – before moving on to the more interesting stuff about agency life.
My views on the code can be seen on a dreadful video of me at David’s Sixty Second View, as can Simon's. But to elaborate my main problem is that the code seems to me to be unenforceable. Most importantly, those people who have embraced social media as a public relations or marketing tool, already understand the pitfalls of messing around with the Web2.0 community.
Much of what is in the CIPR’s existing code should hold true for Web2.0, but at the end of the day is should be about common sense: be open, be honest, join in the conversation.


Rowing and reflections

I've been out all day in Newcastle with Bradford Rowing Club - us stout gentlemen veteran rowers have been taking part in the Rutherford Head.
It is a 6,000 meter head race and I thought we did rather well - we kept the rythm going, not sniping in the boat, no accidents, no arguments. A good solid, technical pull from start to finish. I am now knackered and have fears for my ham strings and groin (I am prone to strains in this department).
However, one topic of conversation on the drive up was the Thresher wine promotion. Interestingly, none of my fellow oarsmen had seen any of the online conversation but picked up on the piece that appeared in today's Times and are all planning to take advantage of it (after I email them the coupon).
This has been a very nice piece of PR and while Threshers argues they have been over whelmed by the reaction, I rather think they planned this all along. Forget margins and concentrate on volume (I can hear their FD's words ringing in my ears).

PS: Can some brave soul step up to the plate and admit they were behind this - Stormhoek perhaps.

PPS: I need to do a post about the CIPR Social Media Code of Conduct following an interesting meeting with the guys at Edleman.

PPPS: I also, in due course, will add a post about our word-of-mouth conference in London at which Andy Green, Simon Collister and Mark Borkowski spoke.

PPPPS: The picture is from last year!


Hugh MacLeod over at Gaping Void has been asking for mini-manifestos – or Change The World in 500 Words - and has received quite a few on a wide range of subjects.
Mine is based on the Ten Commandments and you can read it below.
I was very gratified to see than my missive inspired Hugh to do a cartoon on the back of a business card on the content.

Ten Commandments Manifesto

I like the Bible – it’s a great piece of literature – but needs some contemporary context for Hugh's manifesto concept. So here’s my manifesto based on Exodus 20:1-17

1. God may, or may not exist – you decide. Does it matter if you believe in God? No, but if you do believe, believe in a good one.

2. Don’t mess about with symbols – Swastikas, Crucifix, Crescents, it all ends bad. Avoid them

3. If you mess with any of the above – you’re fucked.

4. Best to forget a Supreme Being, chill out, have a beer, scotch or claret, and treat everyone the way you would like to be treated.

5. Get a life and concentrate on being nice to others even if other people are assholes.

6. Stop being stupid – you’re not as smart as you think you are. But remember neither is your boss nor are all the other people who tell you they are smarter than you.

7. Put one day aside a week for your self – your deserve it.

8. Don’t be a slave and don’t make slaves of others.

9. If your Mum and Dad love you – give it back in spades.

10. Don’t do any bad stuff like murder, adultery, theft, lying, or fucking a donkey.

By and large life is good, people are good. Keep a song in your heart and the truth on your tongue.



How peculiar at Old Peculier

Up in T’Yorkshire where I live people are very old fashioned and are still suspicious of the T’ternet so I was amazed to discover, via Techcrunch, that Theakstons has opened a virtual pub in Second Life.
Most people in the UK will know that Theakstons is based in Masham and makes a wonderful range of cask ales from Old Peculier (sic) to my personal favourite, Black Bull Bitter.
This company was founded more than 150 years ago and still employ their own Cooper, hand crafting casks in which the ales mature.
Personally, I was always a bit suspicious of Second Life although I could see the buzzy appeal of it for companies like of IBM, Reuters and American Apparel, which were very early adopters.
But the fact that Theakston has opened shop there moves Second Life to a new level, when traditional old world, commodity producers are now convinced of the merits of SL.



Wine by word-of-mouth

The always excellent Hugh MacLeod – who also does the social marketing for Stormhoek wine - has highlighted an interesting innovation over at Threshers.
In the run up to Christmas they are offering a stonking 40 per cent discount on their wine and champagne. So what? A great deal of course but having worked for discounters in the past this is nothing special.
Until you realise, as Hugh points, that Threshers are doing absolutely no promotion on this special offer. None whatsoever – other than the post I discovered at the Stormhoek website at the weekend where you can download the coupon.
To me this seems like a pretty clever marketing campaign with no costs involved other than generating word-of-mouth from bloggers and others on the internet. It will be pretty interesting to discover how well this works as it is one of the few word-of-mouth marketing initiatives I can think off where the retailer will be able to a true understanding of the ROI almost instantly.
I notice Neville Hobson has already commented on this too and is calling on people to spread the cause. “Tell your friends,” he says. “If you write a blog, blog it as well.”
Meanwhile, I can thoroughly recommend Stormhoek wine as I had a couple of bottles at the weekend.



From Banksy

At last - a glass of Stormhoek

I've been a big fan of Hugh MacLeod for ages now and have been really impressed with what he has done at Stormhoek but have never tasted the damn stuff - tip to the men at Stormhoek please post on your site where you can buy it!
However, today when I wandered into the Waitrose in Otley, West Yorkshire with my old mum, there it was. So now, my wallet is some £130 lighter, we are now quaffing the Pinot Grigio and the concesus from my parents and wife is very positive. I'm actually cooking haggis, tatties and neeps for dinner so I am not sure this is the best accompaniement but we shall see.
Must go now as I am also making a treacle tart - which will take longer than the rest of the meal but I have a bottle of Stormhoek to consol me.



Condom company blog

Oh Dear! A recent request from a journo using Response Resource.

QUERY: I've been commissioned to write a newsblog for a site produced by a condom company, with an aim to writing articles/llinks(sic)/news that would appeal to young people of both sexes across the age-group. Admittedly, this is a little vague, but I'm thinking along the lines of gadgets, health, sex, relationships, music, TV, fashion, soaps, films, reviews and all those funky, whizzy things that those young whippersnappers are into ;)

I can’t wait!

Universal goes after MySpace

New just in… Universal Music Group, the world's largest recorded-music company, has sued News Corp's MySpace for copyright infringement, alleging that the social-networking giant traffics in "user-stolen" content, including music, videos and other material.

At issue is the widespread presence of copyright music and video content on MySpace. In the suit, filed in US District Court for California's Central District, Vivendi SA's Universal dismisses the frequently used label "user-generated content" - alleging that much of the material on MySpace is stolen from copyright holders.

According to reports by MarketWatch and Hollywood Reporter. The suit accuses MySpace of operating a "vast virtual warehouse" of "user-stolen" content and asks for damages of up to $150,000 for each song and video.

In a statement, MySpace dismissed the suit as "unnecessary and meritless" and said it has "no doubt we will prevail in court." It claims that it is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which shields Internet service providers from certain copyright violations committed by their users.

Universal, however, appears set to argue that the DMCA protections do not apply in this case for two reasons: MySpace reformats files uploaded by its members, and it runs ads tailored to the user-uploaded songs and videos. Therefore, it argues, MySpace is not a passive network operator but rather is complicit in the copyright infringement and profits from it. Should the case go to trial, it could produce a landmark ruling with far-reaching implications for internet media sites that rely on so-called user-generated content.

What next? YouTube?

I can see the arguments from both sides – but it reminds me of my yoof and magnetic tape. Can you remember taping the the top twenty countdown on Sunday evening – trying to edit out the dulcet tones of Tony Blackburn with the record/on-off switches.

Back then were called Music Pirates – which I always thought rather grand for a bunch of pre-pubescent teenages. It always conjured mages of cutlasses and doubloons, and I had neither. Anyway, I’ll enjoy listening to the arguments if they ever get to court.


Ignore blogs at your peril

A MORI survey for Hotwire warns against a blind corporate blogging frenzy in response to growing power of blogs. Blogs are becoming a most influential source of information across Europe, according to the MORI research, with more than 25 million adults in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain having changed their minds about a company or its products after reading comments or reviews on a blog.

The direct link between user-generated content and people's intentions to purchase a product or service is highlighted by the new research(1) which found that a third (34%) of Europeans say they have not purchased a product after reading comments on the internet from customers or other private individuals.

Other key findings from the research include:

Blogs are now a near second to newspapers as the most trusted information source: A quarter (24%) of Europeans consider blogs a trusted source of information, still behind newspaper articles (30%), but ahead of television advertising (17%) and email marketing (14%).

High spenders are most trusting of blogs: Of those who spend more than 145€ (£100) online every month, the proportion of people who trust blogs rises to 30%.

France leads European blogging; Britain lags: Across Europe, six out of ten (61%) internet users have heard of blogging, and one in six (17%), have read a blog. France is the most blog-savvy country in Europe, with 90% of respondents familiar with blogs. The British are the least blog-aware, with only 50% having heard the term. In Germany, 55% have heard of blogs, 58% in Italy and 51% in Spain.

Blogs are now driving purchase decisions: More than half (52%) of Europeans polled said that they were more likely to purchase a product if they had read positive comments from private individuals on the internet.

They also block purchases: Nearly 40 million Europeans have not bought something after reading comments posted online.

Gareth Deere, head of technology research, MORI said, "We all trust people's opinions in the real world. Now we've proven the same link online, and it's having a major impact on people's buying behaviour. Word of mouth is no longer restricted to close friends and family, it can have the same level of influence upon millions of people across the world."


Is this the beginning of Whisky 2.0?

Online interest in one of GREEN's clients, Ladybank Company of Distillers (see previous post), is gaining as more than 700 posts have been made about the business.

Most recently Nick Carr, former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review and acclaimed business blogger has added this to his post at Rough Type:

Ladybank has announced it is pioneering the communal, Internet-enabled production of Scotch whisky. "As a 'co-creation' company," explains a press release, "Ladybank enables a group of like-minded people to create a product, service or even a community that is free from the normal rules of commerce, because it is driven by their shared passion and shaped by their lifestyle choices."

The company is setting up an "online boardroom" to facilitate the harnessing of collective booze-making intelligence. Speaking proudly of a growing "virtual community of whisky lovers," James Thomson, the founder of this wikipedia of tipple, says, "At Ladybank we believe the community spirit we have created among the members will really inform what we do as a business and our online presence will also encourage members to engage with the Ladybank community and exchange their thoughts on how the project should progress.

On its blog, the company says that its "real foundations" are not its physical plants but "the people we have and how they are behind the project and interacting with it. We are the Web. And now we are the Distillery, too.

No word yet on whether they'll open source their recipes.

We like Nick because he can obviously see the potential of Web 2.0 and now the benefits of Whisky 2.0.

The evolution of Ladybank in fact pretty much mirrors that of Web 2.0. 1. Social structure or social formation (the organisation) 2. Social construction (the facilities) 3. Social production (the making) step 4. Social media (the ongoing conversation).

PS. On the grounds of open and fair disclosure you should know I am a director at GREEN and Ladybank is one of our clients.

We've just got back from seeing Bruce Springsteen at the Sheffield Arena - with kids in tow. I've seen him a couple of times and have been a fan for years. The man just gets better and better... Not very profound I know but I am very shallow.


Behold! The Next Big Thing! Web3.0

Well it had to happen. After Web2.0 - John Markoff of the New York Times has gone and coined the phrase Web3.0. Now, I'm not even sure what Web 2.0 is - my definition always revolved around "social media" and "engaging in a conversation".
Web2.0 was all about stripping away the marketing bollocks that hijacked the web when it first emerged changing it from a push media, to a pull media and then to what it is today - a push me, pull me media.
And what Web2.0 is most certainly not about is technology as a lot of the tools we use now have been around for years and it's only recently that we have worked out how to use them to create something new.
Markoff argues that Web3.0 pioneers' goal is "to add a layer of meaning on top of the existing Web that would make it less of a catalog and more of a guide — and even provide the foundation for systems that can reason in a human fashion. That level of artificial intelligence, with machines doing the thinking instead of simply following commands, has eluded researchers for more than half a century."
That frankly is a bit scary.
Markoff notes that classic example of the Web 2.0 era is the “mash-up” — for example, connecting a rental-housing Web site with Google Maps to create a new, more useful service that automatically shows the location of each rental listing.
In contrast, the semantic Web3.0 will build a system that can give a reasonable and complete response to a simple question like: “I’m looking for a warm place to vacation and I have a budget of £3,000. Oh, and I have an 11-year-old child.”
If I wanted that sort of information I'd post it here, or go to one of several wiki's dedicated to this sort of thing or do an email to one of the several online communities I belong to.
Our proclivity for coming up with buzz words does nothing to move things on in the world of social media and Web3.0 is just that, a buzz word signifying nothing new but some as yet unfinished technology.
Let's concentrate on getting this right in the real world first and bed down Web2.0 before we start messing around with Web3.0.


The Kids are Alright

I was in London last week to help launch my business partner Andy Green’s new book on word-of-mouth marketing.
As usual with these things the audience was mainly made up of white, middle-aged men – all of them working in the media (sorry guys but this is an accurate description). And all of them stared at me blankly when I mentioned Web2.0 and social media. It’s the same in the newspaper industry – as John Naughton points out in his column in today’s Observer – Young People Don’t Like Us. Who Can Blame Them? His main point is that young people don’t read newspapers anymore and, worse, the media industry doesn’t give a damn.
White, middle-aged editors don’t care but they are presiding over their own funeral in much the same way the PR industry is. Here are the facts:

Today's 21-year-olds were born in 1985. The internet was two years old in January that year, and Nintendo launched 'Super Mario Brothers', the first blockbuster game.

When they were going to primary school in 1990, Tim Berners-Lee was busy inventing the world wide web.

The first SMS message was sent in 1992, when these kids were seven. Amazon and eBay launched in 1995.

Hotmail was launched in 1996, when they were heading towards secondary school. Around that time, pay-as-you-go mobile phone tariffs arrived, enabling teenagers to have phones, and the first instant messaging services appeared.

Google launched in 1998, just as they were becoming teenagers. Napster and launched in 1999 when they were doing GCSEs.

Wikipedia and the iPod appeared in 2001.

Early social networking services appeared in 2002 when they were doing A-levels.

Skype launched in 2003, as they were heading for university, and YouTube launched in 2005, as they were heading toward graduation.

These people grew up in a universe completely alien to that inhabited by in the media business. They've been playing computer games of mind-blowing complexity forever. They're resourceful, knowledgeable and natural users of computer and communications technology.
They don’t need newspapers because they create their own content - and publish it on MySapce or in a blog. (Remember the motto of YouTube: 'Broadcast yourself!')
They buy music from the iTunes store - but continue to download tracks illicitly as well. They use BitTorrent to get US editions of Lost. They think 'Google' is a synonym for 'research' and regard it as quite normal to maintain and read blogs (55 million as of last night), use Skype to talk to their mates and upload photos to Flickr.
Some even write entries on Wikipedia. And they know how to use iMovie or Adobe Premiere to edit videos and upload them to YouTube.
Now look round the average British newsroom or public relations open plan office. How many hacks have a Flickr account or a MySpace profile? How many sub-editors have ever uploaded a video to YouTube? How many PR executive have used BitTorrent?
This is not the future – this is now. This is one of the subjects we will be covering in the Word-of-Mouth Communications event in London on Friday December 1 at the the Dental Institute, Thomas Street, London. Blatant plug I know but John Naughton does know what he is talking about.


Blogging equals full and fair disclosure

Over at Social Media Release they have picked up on blogging’s continued evolution into the mainstream of communications with a post from Chris Heuer on how blogs have been accepted as meeting the requirements of Fair Disclosure for the purposes of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This stems from a letter from SEC Chief Christopher Cox to Scott McNeely of Sun requesting clarification on whether the Internet adequately meets current regulatory requirements.

Here’s what Chris has to say on the matter:

• how cool that he actually posted it in the context of the post he was replying to - at first I was concerned that I did not see the coment (sic) on the original post (which is where I would have put it) - but being able to make it relevant to another point - I can just see him reading it and feeling that sense of inspiration that many of us have felt when joinging in “OMG, I ‘get it’ - all I need to do is say what I am thinking right here and everyone can listen in or even join.” Just cool - total respect for this smart move
• for us more directly, his statement is telling - his questions show a natural and deserving bias towards accepting this very logical conclusion - modern Web technology and network infrastructure, unobstructuted by discriminatory network access policies and practices, is sufficient to meat Regulation Fair Disclsoure - this is what I have been discussing with so many of the wire services over the last few months
• the other interesting thing - he still sent the letter with the snails - there is a need to have the ability for validating both the source and the content of the communications vis a vis a mutually trusted source - this is what I have been talking about for a long time around the value of the wire services fully shifting from that of being the distribution platform to being the source for validating the authenticity of the content - we will be making an announcement about this issue in the near future
• he ok’d the use of blogs and corporate Web sites - Quoting Mr. Cox “Indeed, because information that is not “selectively disclosed” or that is not material nonpublic information is not subject to the public dissemination provisions of Regulation FD, Sun and other public companies can already do this without implicating the provisions of Regulation FD.”
• It more fully opens the possibility of using a Social Media Release Microformat to distinguish between unofficial and offical corporate communications
• the timing is perfect.

These are all good points well made by Chris. What heartens and surprises me is how fast we have come to this point particularly with an organization like SEC – Sun obviously gets it because Web2.0 is their schtick – but I thought the SEC would be too corporate, too pinstripe to adopt it so quickly.

It would be interesting to test the case with the regulatory authorities in Europe and the UK particularly with the Financial Services Authority and the London Stock Exchange who are so tight-arsed about protecting their position. Is this the start of true shareholder democracy?


GREEN hosts word-of-mouth marketing event

Blatant plug for GREEN Communications – no apologies. We are hosting an event on word-of-mouth marketing and social media in London on Friday December 1 at the the Dental Institute, Thomas Street, London.

Not sure how it ended up at this venue – but it seems quiet apt don’t you think!

We have brought together a range of great speakers to answer one of the big questions facing many organisations in the age of social media: how do you master one of the most powerful communication channels for your organisation, brand and personal career?

This is the first conference organised by the public relations industry focused on word-of-mouth. The event brings together leading experts and practitioners from public relations, direct marketing, advertising, market research and academia to give you the latest insight into how to harness the incredible power of word-of-mouth, viral and buzz communications.

Speakers at the event include my business partner Andy Green, the author of Creative PR and Effective Personal Communications Skills for Public Relations and Mark Borkowski of Borkowski PR who will talk about Outstanding buzz - Dog weddings at Harrods, Elvis's teddy, and Jim Moran.

Other speakers include:
Ivan Palmer, Director and Founder, Wildfire Word of Mouth Marketing
Paul Marsden, Enterprise LSE, London School of Economics
Graham Goodkind, Frank PR
Simon Collister of GREEN Communications

For further information check out the booking form. Hope to see you there.


Who says blogs don't work?

Who says blogs don't work? Over at GREEN and greenblog we helped create a corporate blog for our client Wensleydale Creamery, the only makers of Real Yorkshire Wensleydale.

Since the launch of wensleydaleblog more than 10,000 people have now signed the Uniquely Yorkshire petition in support of Real Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese!

It's only three months since we announced that the creamery had put forward a submission to protect Real Yorkshire Wensleydale through Protected Designation of Origin or PDO as it's more commonly known.

PDO aims to promote and protect food products in the EU and is used to describe foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how. This means that any manufacturers outside of Wensleydale cannot produce a cheese and call it Real Yorkshire Wensleydale.

Everyone at the Creamery would like to say A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has supported them over the past couple of months.

The interesting thing from a PR and marketing point of view is how we have adhered to a strict set of rules in managing wensleydaleblog and the comments posted there. Especially so given the concerns about social media and marketing being manipulated by some of the larger corporate blogs.

The key rule is to be open and honest in all the conversations you have customers and visitors to the blog.


Sir Tim says blogs are great

There is a delicious irony about the piece on Sir Tim Berners-Lee that appeared in the Guardian at the weekend under the headline Creator of Web Warns of Fraudsters and Cheats. There was also a helpful addendum under the sub-heads: Blogging one of the biggest perils, says innovator.

My immediate reaction was to post a comment decrying the Great Sir Tim, who, according to the Guardian's Bobbie Johnson, "singles out the rise of blogging as one of the most difficult areas for the continuing development of the web, because of the risks associated with inaccurate, defamatory and uncheckable information."

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I was too busy to hit the keyboard and vent my spleen. It's just as well I was otherwise engaged because Sir Tim, the inventor of the world wide web, didn't say that at all and was a victim of "the risks associated with inaccurate, defamatory and uncheckable information". To be fair to Bobbie Johnson he has held up his hand and admitted he got it wrong following a blog post by Sir Tim:

"In a recent interview with the Guardian, alas, my attempt to explain this was turned upside down into a "blogging is one of the biggest perils" message. Sigh. I think they took their lead from an unfortunate BBC article, which for some reason stressed concerns about the web rather than excitement, failure modes rather than opportunities. (This happens, because when you launch a Web Science Research Initiative, people ask what the opportunities are and what the dangers are for the future. And some editors are tempted to just edit out the opportunities and headline the fears to get the eyeballs, which is old and boring newspaper practice."

As a former journalist I can sympathise with Bobbie but what makes this whole debate interesting is the distinction between the professional journalist and the blogger, or citizen journalist, is becoming increasingly blurred. And their has been a healthy debate about this for some time. For instance is Wikipedia less authoritive than the Encyclopedia Britannicus? Well, according to a recent survey they are equally accurate. One journalist recently told me that bloggers were blogging to an audience of one - themselves.

Perhaps. And what's wrong with that? But quality will out and while there is a lot of crap on the internet, the way quality works on the web is through links.

It works because reputable writers make links to things they consider reputable sources. So readers, when they find something distasteful or unreliable, don't just hit the back button once, they hit it twice. They remember not to follow links again through the page which took them there.

Blogs provide a gently evolving network of signpost to sites of interest and information and that's very exciting.



See you at Le Web3 in December

Registration has open for the LE WEB 3 Conference in Paris on December 11th & 12th 2006.

My self and Simon Collister from GREEN will both be attending hopefully to make new friends and learn a few new tricks about social media and how we can use it for our clients.

The first Les Blogs was held in April 2005, the second event last year attracted 450 people from 25 countries to the two-day event. This year they have booked a room for up to 900 people.

Entrepreneurs, bloggers and web2.0 players around the world will be in Paris and the entire conference will be in English. There are networking opportunities, lunch on both days and a cocktail party on Monday evening.

The programme is still being finalized but speakers include Michael Arrington of Techcrunch who will speak about Bridging the conversation: how are the tools evolving?; David Fischer from and Dave Sifry of Technorati.

From the UK speakers include Brent Hoberman from; Danny Rimer, Index Ventures; Neville Hobson, Crayon; JP Rangaswami, BT; and Hugh MacLeod, GapingVoid.

If you would like to meet up drop us a line.

New social marketing campaign

Intel has launched The Intel Centrino Duo Blogger Challenge and given six bloggers Intel Centrino Duo laptops to seek their views.

Like the Sprint Ambassador campaign and the many other blogger campaigns before, Intel hopes to get some grass roots juice and cred, none of which can usually be attained through traditional advertising or public relations.

There's a mystery seventh blogger who Intel describes as “… a person who many believe may just have defined the entire category of blogging itself.”

In return for the laptops, the participating bloggers agreed to contribute to a group blog over the course of five weeks sharing their honest opinions and responses to a series of questions about blogging, the blogosphere and technology.

Apart from recieving a laptop computer, none of these bloggers have been compensated in any way or asked to write anything specific about Intel. The aim of this blog is meant to stimulate discussion and bring bloggers together regardless of their “categories.”

To me this seems to be a perfect exemplar of a social media campaign – an open and honest two way conversation.


GREEN in the awards

There's a few sore heads here at GREEN Communications this morning following our success last night at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations PRIDE Awards.

We were up for two awards and won them both. First up was the Corporate & Financial Campaign category for which we pick up the top gold award.

This was for our work with Partnership Investment Finance - a £37m fund that provides loans and investments to small and medium sized businesses and social enterprises in the Yorkshire region.

Elsewhere, congratulations to our Lindsey Ramsay who picked up the Young Achiever Award beating off competition from her colleague Simon Collister.

My partner Andy Green always likes to say that we 'work hard and play hard' and that was certainly the case last night - a business is only as good as itÂ’s people and we've got a great team.


Whisky a No! No!

On the subject of whisky – see earlier post - it looks like Diageo, one of the biggest spirit companies in the world – has made a similar blogging faux pas to that committed by Edleman on behalf of Wal-Mart and Working Families for Wal-Mart.

Diageo – the company behind Johnnie Walker, J&B, Bells, Bushmills and many more – has launched Scotchvibe where your can find your “Vibe with Whisky & Music; Celebrate scotch month and come to the site where scotch & music mix.”

Great, you might think. Another company engaging in social media. However, ScotchVibe only offers whiskies from Diageo, which is all well and good as I am quite partial to a glass of Bushmills.

However, no where on the site does it state that the ScotchVibe is owned by Diageo or that all the content is theirs. It’s a great idea but any corporate crosses a very serious threshold when they fail to be transparent about who is running their blog(s) or, in this case, fail to mention it al all.

No-one would have thought any the less of them but they damage their own reputation by pretending to be something they are not. Several bloggers in the whisky community have already picked up on this, including WhiskySchool.

WhiskySchool Video Competition

Quick update on Ladybank Company of Distillers, one of our clients at GREEN.

James Thomson continues to embrace the possibilities of social media with a passion and we have just launched a "social media competition" through his other interests at WhiskySchool with the winning prize being free membership of Ladybank!

We've now issued a challenge to the internet community by calling on “social media” enthusiasts to produce their own videos extolling the virtues of their favourite tipple such as Gin, Single Malt or Vodka. Anything you fancy really - could be calvados or rum!

Entries to the WhiskySchool Video Competition will be posted on YouTube, with the top entry winning membership of the Ladybank Company of Distillers, worth more than £3,000. Three lucky runners-up will also win a selection of some fine spirits.

Ladybank encourages consumers to invest in the vision and the passion of the project and sets out to reward its members with participation, a strong sense of belonging, and the kind of exclusivity normally reserved for distillery owners or founders.

Given the distillery’s roots in social media we thought it would be great idea to challenge spirit enthusiasts to create their own videos about their passion and post them on the web.

James adds: “Social media allows people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. This chimes with our view about good drink. Properly used alcohol is the greatest ambassador the world has known. It removes difficulties; it renders men more agreeable and appreciative of one another. It makes new friendships and cements old ones.”

The WhiskySchool Video Competition is centered around fine spirits and can focus on three areas:
• Favourite Brand, Distillery or Spirit Category.
• Educational Category – including ‘how to guides’ such as how to run a formal tasting or how to mix the perfect martini.
• Entertainment Category – including spoof videos.

Clear portrayal of alcohol abuse will not be accepted and entrants must be over 18 year’s olds. All entries will be posted on social media site YouTube allowing viewers to vote on their favourite video. The winner and runners up will be decided by a panel of judges organised by WhiskySchool

To enter is simple - shoot one or more videos or recommend one and submit the video’s URL to WhiskySchool, then check out competition. Viewers can even register to sit on the judging panel.

For further information visit WhiskySchool Video Competition.


GREEN team fight it out among themselves

Just back from a wonderful break in Sicily with family and friends staying at a villa near Selinunte - I don't usually recommend businesses but Think Sicily were fantastic.

Usually the first day back a work is a bit of a chore (2,000 emails to go through - of which 80 per cent was spam). However, two of our colleagues at GREEN have been shortlisted in the PRiDE Awards, which is great.

GREEN's Lindsey Ramsay and Simon Collister are among the four short-listed candidates for the award which aims to celebrate the leading lights among PR professionals under the age of 30 in the Young Achiever Awards.

GREEN are also short-listed for their work in the Corporate and Financial Category. So expect hangovers all round on Thursday morning.


If you don't look at anything else - look at this

The complete evolutionary works of Charles Darwin, one of my heroes, has gone online, including the stolen notebook he carried in his pocket around the Galapagos Islands.

Tens of thousands of pages of text and pictures and audio files are available, including some previously unpublished manuscripts and diaries of the great man – who more than anyone transformed the world of science.

The notebook used during the Beagle voyage which would later forge his scientific arguments is fascinating because of the domestic incidents rather than the scientific import. According to Reuters it was stolen in the 1980s, but Darwin's great-great-grandson hopes the publication online, thanks to a transcription from a microfilm copy made two decades earlier, will persuade whoever has it to return it.

Other items in the free collection of 50,000 pages and 40,000 images are the first editions of the Journal of Researchers, written in 1839, The Descent of Man, The Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Beagle, which includes his observations during his five-year trip to the Amazon, Patagonia and the Pacific, and the first five editions of the Origin of Species.

Absolutely brilliant. I wonder what he would have made of all this internet malarkey.

Anyway that’s it from me for the next week – I’m off to Sicily sans Blackberry and the internet.

New social media network at SlideShare

I’ve just been invited to use the beta version of SlideShare, a new social network hosting and sharing service for PowerPoint, Open Office and Keynote presentations. I think it rocks.

You can upload slideshows of up to 20 Mb, share them with a link or even embed them in your own blog. Shows that are already on SlideShare can be tagged and commented on and there is a lot of sensible stuff about social media and Web 2.0.

The people at SlideShare have created a really easy to use website that’s not a million miles away from YouTube – although it has a rather more grown-up feel to it. I can see a lot of corporates making use for this and already have a few ideas on how we might use it at GREEN.


We're all blogging now. Aren't we?

According to The Guardian, one in four UK internet users are now blogging.

Really? I’m not sure. I have a wide circle of friends – professional and social – and, other than my colleague Simon, I don’t know anyone else who powers a blog. A lot of people visit mine but have no inclination to create their own – it does seem rather solipsistic after all.

Indeed, most of the people I talk to are rather incredulous that I actually blog. More than that, they are amazed that we are running various corporate blogs for several clients – why bother they ask. My answer is because you can build a business and make money! Although I use rather more industrial language than that – see Gaping Void for a more candid response.

I don’t have a poll here – but what’s your experience? You’re a blogger – how many of you friends blog? Pass it on.


From the always brilliant Gaping Void. I think this sums up the whole Edelman/Wal-Mart blogging debate


McNairn and the future for Web 2.0

I know. I know. I promised this last week. But time is tight so I am reduced to writing this after eating my wife's moussaka (on my own, in the kitchen - again!) but I did promise to say something about the conference I attended at the CIPR.

This is the second blog I've done on this - apologies - but I saved it as a draft so it's dated ealier than I intended. Tip to the guys at

To be honest I didn't learn that much, although I will send GREEN padawan for insight in the future, but the most informative of the speakers was Ian McNairn from IBM. What got me about Ian is that he believed what he was talking about and argued very cogentley with a French lady who just did not get it. And what shocked me most given the number of PR prefessionals in the audience was how ignorant they were about Web 2.0 - wikipedia, blogs, podcasts, videocasts etc. You name it, they didn't have a clue.

Ian McNairn is Web Innovation & Technology Program Director for IBM. He acts as a catalyst between the innovators and implementers IBM, facilitating the flow of ideas, best practices, standards and leadership. His current 'hot' focus areas are the 'Web 2.0' tools such as wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, tagging, rss, atom, podcasts and mashups to name a few. However, he did hint the next big thing was mash-ups.

Ian’s earlier IBM career was in a marketing role, and before that in a technical sales role in IBM South Africa. Prior to IBM, he was the Global IT Strategy Director for Sedgwick Insurance Brokers and previously in various roles in academia.

Nothing Ian said was new to me - although he did elicit gasps from some of the audience - and it is always nice to know that your own paricular prejudices and beliefs are confirmed by someone who knows what he is talking about.

He left us with this:

I'm not sure I agree with the thesis. Indeed, I doubt it very much. I saw this about two years ago and laughed at the time, but you never know...

You can watch it at: The New York Times has just gone off line or this at EPIC 2014

Comments please...

Ladybank: Co-creation & open-source business

As promised an update on Ladybank.

GREEN has been appointed to help raise the profile of The Ladybank Company of Distillers - the world's first Single Malt Scotch Whisky distillery to be owned by a unique membership club.

This is a wonderful story. A 'co-creation company', Ladybank has evolved from an on-line community of single malt enthusiasts from across the world with members in the UK, US, Russia and Europe. It is the brainchild of entrepreneur James Thomson, who has worked in the Scottish whisky industry for many years - he is responsible for the online whisky resource and the Islay Whisky Society.

James says: "What has been so exciting about Ladybank is how passionate the membership has been about the whole exercise. Ladybank evolved from an online proposition when we created a virtual community of whisky lovers who could come together via the internet to talk about their passion for good single malt whiskies.

"That community has now turned into a movement in the real world to create a real company in Ladybank. Work has already begun on the construction of the distillery and we now expect to start production in 2007."

As a co-creation company Ladybank enables a group of like-minded people to create a product, service or even a community that is free from the normal rules of commerce, because it is driven by their shared passion and shaped by their lifestyle choices.

Membership, which now stands at more than 340, will be capped at 1250 and thereby guarantee that membership value will increase in time. As owners, members of Ladybank, are entitled to annual allocation of malt whiskies from each vintage and will have also access to the distillery and its reception facilities in an idyllic setting between Gleneagles and St Andrews in Fife.

True enthusiasts will also be able to witness, and even assist, in the entire whisky-making process with the master distillery manager and sample their whiskies from different casks as they mature over the years.

When complete the distillery will provide a range of private function rooms for fine dining and private celebrations to which members will be ably to bring their family and friends - as well as enjoying the myriad other activities that can be enjoyed in the surrounding area.

What excites us - beyond our own membership of Ladybank - is the mash up or new and traditional media in the promotion of our client to a wide range of audiences. We are currently drawing up a strategy to create some traditional media coverage (good old press releases and selling in the story to clearly targeted journalists) and move web-savvy social marketing.

The latter will draw on the blogging community, wikis, forums, e-bullets, podcasts, PRX, YouTube and, potentially, a presence in Second Life. For those of you interested in Ladybank post your comments below - James would love to hear from you.


Join the Social Media Club

Have started a conversation - or rather joined in a conversation - with the guys at the Social Media Club in the US via Chris Heuer.

This is a great idea and, as usual our ex-colonial friends, are leading the debate. Social Media Club is organised for the purpose of sharing best practices, establishing ethics and standards, and promoting media literacy around the emerging area of Social Media. They say this is the beginning of a global conversation about building an organization and a community where the many diverse groups of people who care about social media can come together to discover, connect, share, and learn. And you can't argue with that.

The idea for Social Media Club originated in the autumn of 2005 with the Web 2point1 BrainJam. This led them to create the non-profit BrainJams organization to promote the idea of unconferences and ad-hoc collaboration to a broader audience of non-geeks. Over the course of the last year, BrainJams has brought Social Media Club together with people from all over the world.

Social Media Club aims to bring together journalists, publishers, communications professionals, artists, amateur media creators, citizen journalists, teachers, students, tool makers, and other interested collaboraters. Essentially the people who create and consume media who have an interest in seeing the ‘media industry’ evolve for everyone’s benefit.

As they say we are more than just USERS, we are the reason the tools exist - we are the people who communicate our thoughts and ideas near and far.

Join in the conversation.


Hacks, flacks and new media

A call from my old pal Tom Johnston, who says he regularly reads my blog but never leaves a comment (note to Tom enter the blogosphere and leave a thought, critism or graffitti), to tell me that he's read a piece in Simon Hoggart's column in The Guardian about Debbie Weil who has written a book about corporate blogging.

You can check it out at Weil and it seems like good solid advice, laying down the rules on what it appropriate in blogging and rather re-assuring for me, given that I have just written something similar for Revolution magazine. But hey ho - I reckon that in the next six months the book might be out of date... and good luck to her as I suspect she can make a lot of money on the second edition.

However, given that Hoggart was blinging up his friend I was a bit surprised by his sign off about blogs being for one reader - ie the blogger.

I was going to write about this later but my experience at a recent event at the CIPR backed up Hoggart's prejudice - and I do believe that journalists are running scared of the whole blogging proposition (I've got loads to say on this so wait for later posts... as I simply do not have the time to put it down in html at the present time.) Also I'm trying to listen to Django Reinhardt covers on YouTube and keep flipping over to see the chord structures (sad I know) which makes this post very confusing - for me at least - are you still with me?

Anyway, the same point about bloggers was made by another print journalist turned Web 2.0 evangilist - Guy Ruddle from The Daily Telegraph (a newspaper, which seems to me to be clutching at straws at the moment by embracing new media given their circulation). He was part of a panel at a recent CIPR event I attended in London and was most fulsome in his views.

I didn't take shorthand notes (I can still do about 30 words a minute at a push) but he argued that "citizen journalism" - his phrase - was a bad thing because they were not trained journalists or objective (like Simon Heffer I suppose!) - but surely this is how journalism began? It was about people with a cause who issued pamphlets in the 16th, 17th and 18th century - who probably didn't call themselves journalists at all. He cited the bombing in London on 07/07 as an example of the bad blogging that went on. Well basically he slagged us bloggers all off.

However, what was heartening was to hear Paul Brannan from the BBC News Website offer a re-joinder to this rather old media view. He said that the posts, texts, pictures and emails sent to the BBC on 07/07 immeasurable enriched the content of the newsgathering operation on that day - remember the webcams coming up from the Underground? Paul is obvisouly excited about the potential of Web 2.0 and as a license payer I tip my hat to him.


Interested in single malt whisky? Visit Ladybank now

McNairn and the future for Web 2.0

I know. I know. I promised this last week. But time is tight so I am reduced to writing this after eating my wife's moussaka (on my own, in the kitchen - again!) but I did promise to say something about the conference I attended at the CIPR.

To be honest I didn't learn that much, although I will send GREEN padawan for insight in the future, but the most informative of the speakers was Ian McNairn from IBM. What got me about Ian is that he believed what he was talking about and argued very cogentley with a French lady who just did not get it. And what shocked me most given the number of PR prefessionals in the audience was how ignorant they were about Web 2.0 - wikipedia, blogs, podcasts, videocasts etc. You name it, they didn't have a clue.

Ian McNairn is Web Innovation & Technology Program Director for IBM. He acts as a catalyst between the innovators and implementers IBM, facilitating the flow of ideas, best practices, standards and leadership. His current 'hot' focus areas are the 'Web 2.0' tools such as wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, tagging, rss, atom, podcasts and mashups to name a few. However, he did hint the next big thing was mash-ups.

Ian’s earlier IBM career was in a marketing role, and before that in a technical sales role in IBM South Africa. Prior to IBM, he was the Global IT Strategy Director for Sedgwick Insurance Brokers and previously in various roles in academia.

Nothing Ian said was new to me - although he did elicit gasps from some of the audience - and it is always nice to know that your own paricular prejudices and beliefs are confirmed by someone who knows what he is talking about.

He left us with this:

I'm not sure I agree with the thesis. Indeed, I doubt it very much. I saw this about two years ago and laughed at the time, but you never know...

You can watch it at: The New York Times has just gone off line

Comments please...

Building a social media news release

A new 'widget' has been launched - PRX Builder - which, it is claimed, provides a one stop shop for pulling together a Social Media News Release.

The PRX Builder service enables PR & marketing professionals to easily create Social Media news releases through a series of guided steps.

All releases are developed in Portable Release XML (PRX), a simple, distributable XML document format. Once a news release is created using PRX Builder's toolset, the content creator can preview the news release in "Social Media" format. PRX promotes a "write once" model for release distribution: users can create the release, post the PRX file to the corporate website, and then send the PRX link to distribution services for processing.

The PRX Builder system can automatically include Technorati tags, a Digg button, and can also auto-download users' selected account links and Flickr photos, to provide instant context for anyone viewing the online version of the news release.

All releases created using the PRX Builder system are also optimized for RSS. As ongoing industry initiatives such as the Social Media Club have been struggling with this for a while so it will be interesting to see what PRX Builder can deliver.

It’s not clear from the stories I’ve seen who is behind this but I have seen that PR Newswire is involved.

Dave Armon, CEO at PR Newswire says: "The Social Media News Release is a very practical adjunct to the standard release format and has the potential to be an exciting step in the continuing evolution of public relations and business communications.

"We look forward to supporting its growth, as well as interest in Web 2.0 technologies and the expanded communications options that they offer."

We shall see...


Top Ten Tips for a Web 2.0 Makeover

I've been asked to write an idiot's guide to corporate blogs for Revolution magazine. It can't be too technical the brief is for only 280 words.

This is what I have come up but would welcome any other suggestions. (Is this citizen journalism or open-source journalism?) Anyway let me know what you think:

Top Ten Tips for a Web 2.0 Makeover

1. Web 2.0 is all about having a conversation with your customers so be prepared to engage. And remember, the best way to control the conversation is by improving the conversation.

2. Before you develop a blog set out your long term business goals or marketing strategy and stick to it. This should inform everything you do as a social marketer.

3. Find the most influential bloggers following your company. Read them every day. This will inform you future blogging activity.

4. Once your blog is out there you're an open target to everyone who loves your service/product – and those that hate it. Live with it and deal with it.

5. How different is Web 2.0 from Web 1.0? Not much other than the fact that it's about creating a community around your brand. Expect Web 3.0 soon.

6. Avoid the corporate look – you have a website for that. Web 2.0 has more of a Dress Down Friday feel about it.

7. Invest some time in ensuring your install Really Simple Syndication feeds, links, tags, and trackbacks to other blogs (these are all free).

8. Register with aggregators like Technorati, and Digg to ensure your blog gains visibility.

8. Add links to other websites and blogs that support you core business proposition.

9. Try to publish a comment every day. This is easy if there are more than one person in an organisation who are blogging – but ensure you set guidelines.

10. Don't fake it. Fake blogs are created to promote a service using a fake character or name. McDonalds did it and got roasted by the blogging community.


Read All About It: Yes please

Just back from London.
I went to the "Read All About It" Media Conference organised by the CIPR with something of a sinking heart as the early morning session was dedicated to such chestnuts as - Selling-in Your Stories (been there, done that); Writing for the Press (did that for 17 years - literally) etc.
In fact the presenters - Justin Hayward and Annie Noble - were very good and I would recommend them to all people starting out in PR for "learning how to suck eggs".
However, the afternoon sessions was rather more interesting given my penchant for Web 2.0, social media, open source communities, pull-push marketing, blah, blah, blah.
We had Ian McNairn, with the rather grand title of Programme Director, Web, Technology & Design, IBM (and this deserves a separate post - TBC); Jude Habib, former BBC Third Sector Champion (another post to follow on this passionate advocate of pod/video casting); and a panel session with Guy Ruddle, Podcast Editor, Daily Telegraph (blogger agnostic), Katy Howell, the well-worn advocate of blogging and social media and Paul Brannan, Deputy Editor, BBC News Interactive (some fantastic insight).
At the moment I am a bit shell-shocked from the GNER train journey back up T'North but will be posting some stuff about what they had to say and what I agreed with, and violently disagreed with, including the debate about citizen journalists.
Needless to say it was not a wasted journey... more to follow.


Wiki, wini, wendi - apologies to my Latin Master

Further to an earlier post by Simon and myself (see Is Wikipedia the first stop for social media strategies?) I've come across this:

is taking further Simon's original thoughts and actively attacking the possibilities of social media and, in due course, throwing up all sorts of ehtical questions what you can do on Wikipedia without contravening the precepts it was set up with.

Here's their sale pitch:
Wikipedia is perhaps the most influential Internet phenomenon to emerge in the 21st century. The global, cooperative free-content encyclopedia is now the web’s number one Reference site, and businesses shouldn’t be left behind on this information opportunity.

If your company or organization already has a well-designed, accurately-written article on Wikipedia, then congratulations – our services are not for you.

However, if your business is lacking a well-written article on Wikipedia, read on – we’re here to help you!

An article on Wikipedia about your business will generate more traffic to your web site. It’s hard to believe, but the Wikipedia domain garners more Internet visitors than the web sites of the New York Times, the Weather Channel, MapQuest, and InfoSpace

All of this is true of course. As Simon has pointed out if you do a Google search on a brand then Wikipedia and the brand's definition will always appear in the top ten search results.

Now this is fantastic for PRs and marketers but I do wonder if the Guerrillas (I don't use this as a perjorative term) who organise Wiki will take too kindly to any media massaging, and any brand that engages in this kind of activity will quickly come unstuck. Who can you trust. Well, from a PR and marketing point of view those who are the most transparent, honest and willing to engage in a dialogue and NOT abuse the good service Wikipedia does.



Men in kilts

This was from last night. Andy Grant was down from Edinburgh for a friend's 50 birthday party. Looking at the picture again it looks like Scotland's first civil partnership.


First ever UK blog and social media conference

Just came across this - Les Blogs - a conference in Paris about social media set for December 11 and 12. I think I must attend - although I will have to clear it with the wife first.

At Loic Le Meur, one of the guys behind Typepad, the following has been posted:

It's going to be huge. We had 450 people from 25 countries at the last les blogs. This year it is going to be much broader, more Web 2.0 and I have a room for... 900 people in the heart of Paris. Cool conference over two days with food this time and a party. Stay tuned.

I think something like this should be launched in the UK. All the conferences and seminars I have seen advertised in the UK so far seem to be a bit too corporate and some of the CIPR/CIM/RASC events seem a bit amatuerish or controlled by people who don't really seem to know what they are talking about - it's all a bit Web 2.0 lite! I'm not suggesting some sort of new media love in or a Sixties happening but it would be great if us Brits could pull something together.

Pass this on - I am willing to set something up similar in London, Manchester or Leeds. Why not a tour? However, I will need your help. Can you let me know of possible speakers, outside the usual suspects, you might want to put forward and any potential sponsors.

I can already count on several people to pontificate on certain subjects. I would love James Thomson of Ladybank, Hugh MacLeod, my colleague Andy Green at Creativity@Work to say something at such an event - but who else?

As I say pass it on to other bloggers and social media acolytes. We can do this! So add comments and let me know how you can help. I know we can do this because we can draw on the resources of my company at Greenblog to help us pull it together (sorry Lisa, Abi and Liz!)- or we can fall flat on our face. But hey! If you don't try...

Paradigm lost

Further to my earlier comments about print and online media colliding I read an interesting article in the RSA Journal by Tim Jones of Innovaro.

In his piece he looks at paradigm changes in the economy and points to the BBC as it seeks to compete with the likes of Google TV, Wikipedia and flickr during the second digital wave. Having been at the forefront of the first digital wave, the BBC is pursuing an alternative option for the emerging space.

As well as focusing internal resources on key new technologies, the BBC Innovation Team has embraced the principles of open innovation and made much of its content available to outside user communities. Through linking to Google’s freely available programming interfaces, initiatives such as - I never even knew this existed - have enabled core BBC content to be used by online developers so they can build new applications and integrate them into other websites.

Jones says that the BBC, fully aware of probable disruptions likely to affect the media sector, it is acting as a catalyst for disruptive innovation, whether generated internally or externally.

As disruption occurs at an ever faster rate, more companies seeking to play a role in delivering or exploiting the potential from major disruptions are recognising that they require better insight in order to do so. The approaches used by the BBC and Rupert Murdoch mesh nicely with the open source media.