My site is now X-rated!

My site is X-rated according to the Cinema Test I have just taken. It rates your blog content just as if it were a movie."

Well, having put my 'URL' to the test, it seems that, like Mr Blunt, I am not deemed suitable for children, unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.
Why you may ask - I don't particularly suffer from Potty Mouth. The errant words were:
Death (x6)
Sex (x5)
Punch (x3) - this in a post about boxing
Abortion (x2)
Crap (x1)

How do you rate?

Eight Things You Don't Know About Me

Kevin at fuelmyblog has tagged me in a game of Eight Things You Don't Know About Me started by Bill Blunt. So here's my list:

1. My secret super human power is that I can talk to animals and they seem to understand what I am saying – however, this only works with cats, dogs and meerkats.
2. I have never successfully played Flight Of The Bumble Bee all the way through on a Tuba. I usually pass out half way through.
3. My wife and I often have conversations styled on those between Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes. Example: Mrs G: “Forsooth! The chocolate biscuits have disappeared.” Me: “Great Scott! Mrs Green I suspect villany!”
4. I have never voluntarily been fired from a canon.
5. Despite the rumours I have never worn a truss.
6. My favourite song is When The Banana Trees Are Ripening I’ll Come Sliding Back To You.
7. I have platform ticket for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
8. I book I wrote was presented to the Queen when she visited Leeds during her recent Jubilee Year.

So, now I have to tag eight people to do much of the same. I have gone back to fuelmyblog and chosen eight lucky victims. They are:

Simon Says - an old pal
Baker Street Blog - with Dr Watson I presume
One Red Paper Clip - The paper clip guy
Lionheart's Den
Weird Girl - I think she's Canadian
All Other Crap
Sacha - He's German
La Belle Saison

Do your stuff guys.

A reminder of the Tag Rules, for the blogs listed above...

One: Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. Two: People who are tagged need to write their own blog entry about their eight things and post these rules. Three: at the end of your entry, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names/pseudonyms/blogs. Four: Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


New Grub Street revisited

We’re based in Wakefield. Home of George Gissing.
He’s been dead now for 150 years now (born November 22, 1857), but brilliantly captured the anxiety of modern British journalism with New Grub Street – even though he was writing in the late 19th Century.
I know that Paul Routledge, Wakefield-born, and currently Political Correspondent of the Daily Mirror is a big fan too - curiously his home city is doing nothing to celebrate his memory - bizarre given that Wakefield needs all the help it can get.
Anyway from Wikipedia we get this:

New Grub Street opens with Jasper Milvain, an “alarmingly modern young man” driven by pure financial ambition in navigating his literary career. He accepts that he will “always despise the people [he] write[s] for,” networks within the appropriate social circle to manufacture opportunity, and authors articles for popular periodicals. Gissing provides a foil to Milvain with protagonist Edwin Reardon, who prefers to author novels of a more literary bent and refuses to pander to contemporary tastes until, as a last-gasp measure against financial ruin, he quickly attempts a popular novel. Even in this venture, Reardon fails, precipitating a separation from his wife, Amy Reardon née Yule, who cannot accept her husband’s fallen status.
The Yule family includes Amy’s two uncles—John, a wealthy invalid, and Alfred, another author—and Alfred’s daughter, Marian. The friendship that develops between Marian and Milvain’s sisters, who move to London following their mother’s death, provides opportunity for the former to meet and fall in love with Milvain. However much Milvain respects Marian’s intellectual capabilities and strength of personality, the crucial element (according to Milvain) for marriage is missing: money. Marrying a rich woman, after all, is the most convenient way to speed his career advancement. Indeed, Milvain slights romantic love as a key to marriage:
‘As a rule, marriage is the result of a mild preference, encouraged by circumstances, and deliberately heightened into strong sexual feeling. You, of all men, know well enough that the same kind of feeling could be produced for almost any woman who wasn’t repulsive.’ Eventually, reason enough for an engagement is provided by a legacy of £5000 left to Marian by John Yule.
Life (and death) eventually end the possibility of this union. Milvain’s initial career advancement is a position on The Current, a paper edited by Clement Fadge. Twenty years earlier, Alfred Yule (Marian’s father) was slighted by Fadge in a newspaper article, and the resulting acerbic resentment extends even to Milvain (an employee of Fadge’s). Alfred Yule refuses to countenance Marian’s marriage; but his objection proves to be an obstacle only after Yule’s eyesight fails and Marian’s legacy is reduced to a mere £1500. As a result, Marian must work to provide for her parents, and her inheritance is no longer available to Milvain.
By this time, Milvain already has detected a more desirable target for marriage: Amy Reardon. Reardon’s poverty and natural disposition toward ill-health culminate in his death following a brief reconciliation with his wife. Amy, besides the receipt of £10,000 upon John Yule’s death, has the natural beauty and grace to benefit her husband (by reflection) in the social events beneficial to his career. Eventually Amy and Milvain marry; however, as the narrator reveals, this marriage motivated by circumstances is not lacking in more profound areas. Milvain has married the woman he loves.

Sounds dull doesn’t it? But no! I think it is one of the single most interesting books about hacks and newspapers. I feel we should celebrate this forgotten author and was wondering about doing an exhibition in GREEN’s Art of Propaganda gallery in Wakefield. Any thought?


Pros and cons of working with real people

I work in the world of public relations advising clients on how to get the reputation they deserve. They are a demanding lot – both good and bad. Happily most are good. I came across this excellent post on TWL with the following comment from an anonymous writer. He defined client as follows – it’s a bit like Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man but hits the spot - here it is:

Those you go the extra mile for:
The 'good lad/lass'. You work hard for them as they are just that.
The 'aww bless' who is completely useless but knows it and appreciates the fact you have saved their ass on many occasions.
The 'NKOTB' (New Kid on the Block). Stumbled into a senior position and spends the whole time thinking how the hell did this happen and what the hell is PR anyway? Confesses to you as much and is grateful of the help you give them.
Those you do you level best but no more:
The 'grabber'. Takes all the credit and never thanks the agency.
The 'scary git'. Highly demanding but sadly knows his/her stuff. Treats agency staff poorly and knows when the wool is being pulled over the proverbial. Usually from an agency background.
Those you deliberately sabotage. The 'ignoramus'. Has inherited the PR role as part of a larger marcoms brief and doesn't understand the value in it. Sees you as an unfortunate irritant that they have to deal with but would sack you in a second if they had the opportunity and would use your budget on daft advertisements or even worse, direct mail!
The 'c*@t'. Need I say more...
The 'idiot'. Perhaps the most dangerous. Thinks they understand PR as they did some work experience in a small agency 10 years ago. Has ridiculous expectations and will not take counsel. Thrives on a master/slave relationship and will blame the agency for what they perceive as terrible results but in actual fact is their own inadequacies.

I have my own take on this and it begins with the Five Clients I Love:

  1. Pays my company on time, when due and according to the contract. I love my job, I love the client, I love their product. But I have mouths to feed.
  2. Clients who tell it straight. Tell me what your business/marketing/strategy plan is and then we can deliver. You cannot polish a turd but we can make it float.
  3. Clients who don’t understand what a brief is… we can lead them to the promised land.
  4. Clients who like a chinwag. We like people, people are interesting, they have stories and tell them. I would rather have an argumentative chat with a client than a … dialogue.
  5. Clients tell me how I am doing. We all like praise but if we are not delivering to expectation we need to know otherwise how can we fix it?

These are the nice clients. Who are the baddies? Clients I dislike. Here’s five of them:
  1. Clients who pay late. Why? We’ve done the work, got the coverage and are proud of what we have done. Pay up for God’s sake.
  2. Clients who think they know what they want ie "we would like some PR because the CEO said it would be good". Why?
  3. Clients who lie. Client: “Yes, the website we are paying you to promote will be ready next week we just need you to populate it with content.” Us: “Content is done – we worked over the weekend to make sure it was ready.” Client: “We need to work on the website for the next month - why have we had no coverage in the press.” Us (inwardly): “Bugger – we’re not going to get paid for this and I missed my son’s birthday too.”
  4. Clients who don’t know what a budget is. A press release costs this much, a campaign costs this much, a retained fee is this. What don’t they understand?
  5. Clients who think I will lie on their behalf – No, no, no! That is not an option. We have a reputation too!

Or is it just me? Answers please


News just in from Yorkshire

A friend phoned me today to tell me that the Editor's job at the Craven Herald is up for grabs.
Not sure why except back in the day when I was a full-time journalist I had expressed an opinion that being editor of the Herald must be a fantastic way to see out your retirement in journalism - working on a small provincial, weekly newspaper dedicated to serving the community.
Here's the genuine advertisement from Newsquest:

Description: Heard the phrase "dyed in the wool"? Well the Craven Herald IS the wool: it's been an integral part of the life of the Yorkshire Dales - and the bustling market towns of Skipton and Settle - since 1853.
It is one of only two paid-for weekly newspapers in Britain that still runs classified advertising on its front page and it has an enviable record of growing sales.
It covers a vast area that's steeped in rural tradition but this is no cosy backwater. Craven Herald readers demand to know about everything that moves and they rely on their local paper to provide the information in an honest, straightforward, timely and, above all, accurate manner.
But, to coin a phrase, times they are a-changin'. The Craven Herald has its own busy and popular website, which is part of its armoury in recording and reporting the evolution of modern life in the Dales, and the newspaper needs to constantly develop to meet those challenges.
The new editor will inherit a tough task in marrying the traditions and history of this beautiful but sometimes harsh landscape with the demands of the modern Dales community.
The successful candidate will be a diplomat, capable of understanding and communicating with all members of the Herald's diverse readership on all levels and meeting the needs of farmers, businessmen, villagers and town dwellers alike.
You will be a skilled design sub-editor who will lead from the front heading up the production team at its Bradford base but also getting out and about in the Craven and Dales community.
You will need to demonstrate a proven track record in local newspaper journalism as well as experience of managing a team at at least deputy editor level.
This is a rare opportunity and we're seeking an individual with rare qualities to fill this important post.

You can bet that was written by a Yorkshireman. But would I want the job? Not sure now. I've been out of mainstream journalism now for more than five years plus I am running my own business(es) with many mouths to feed - staff as well as family.
In many ways running a communications agency is not that far removed from running a newspaper - "you do that, you do this, you go and get a picture of him, you write the story, you sub the copy, you write the headlines - ya da da da da."
But I am not sure I could go back - can you ever go back? Anyway I am only in my early 40s - maybe when I am a bit more avuncular I might consider it.
Great newspaper though and I have never received a Response Source from anyone at the Craven Herald.


This is a punch... it hurts

It is seldom I write off topic but, as an ex-boxer, I must comment on Ricky Hatton's recent triumph.
Yes, I know it is hard to believe, but back in Liverpool in my working class youth I was a student pugilist. That's unfair even to me because I fought several fights as a lightweight until I was knocked out – literally… knocked out. Horrible. It was then I took up knitting.
Indeed, I was once beaten up by John Conteh’s sister. Which I think is as good as it gets.
I’m still a pugilist in outlook, so was delighted with Ricky Hatton’s achievement in stopping one of the most efficient body punchers of the modern era yesterday.
He did it quickly, efficiently, and with a perfect sickener to the liver of Jose Luis Castillo. This punch takes all the air out of you body for about 30 seconds – in fact you think you’ve forgotten the trick of breathing.
According to reports you could almost feel the crunch of ribs from row 10. Anything less than wholehearted recognition, and justice to a great British sportsman will not given, even here in the UK.
The US always looks down on UK boxers but Hatton is the real deal… as good as Naseem in his pomp but with the humility of a fighter who knows every battle will be hard won.
There is talk of a contest with Floyd Mayweather, who continues to show a lack of interest. I suspect that Mayweather has decided Hatton is best avoided.


Can I have a car too?

Further to my earlier post, here's another one from Response Source - came in today about lunchtime. I wonder if I could blag a car too? I would even accept a Chevrolet. Anyway this is what our correspondent posted:

i am not one to moan, certainly not one to name and shame when things don't go according to plan, but it seems, i may be in a bit of bovver this weekend. and as i really do not have the time to chase this, i would be extremely grateful if those of you who contacted me early in the week, could get in touch again.
so with a red face (more annoyance than embarrassement actually! ), i am once more calling you en masse to see if you are able to secure me a motor vehicle for the weekend. i would prefferably like to have the car in my hands this afternoon!
My sincere apologies for such a late notice, but it could have been worse. if i hadn't woken up around 4 or
5 am this morning in a cold sweat, i would have been issuing this tomorrow!
Chevrolet need not respond to this r/s.
Thank you

Thank you indeed. Please note the perfect grammar and spelling too! Take note: he/she requires a motor vehicle - not a car, that won't do, it must be a motor vehicle - I wonder if this rules out a Chevrolet. Thank God for journalists like Alan Johnson - God bless him.


Urgently looking for a holiday for x2 journalists

PR Bunnies are getting a stuffing at the moment from various journalist blogs about bad pitches on stories – Charles Arthur obviously has some genuine grievances as he works in such a specialist area at The Guardian and its tech section. But Getting Ink has a similar shtick.
But I do wonder if they do protest too much. For those of you who subscribe to the various news feeds and online journalist query services you might wonder what the journalists actually think we do. And remember I was a journalist for many years – back in the day when all we had was notebook and shorthand, and actually went out to talk to people about their dead son, or decrepit council house dwellers about dog shit on the pavement, and do court and council.
They certainly don’t appear to think that PR is a profession aimed at managing the reputation of clients and their products and services. Indeed, judging by the requests below they seem to think that we have access to the sort of people the Red Tops usually have on their front page. And I don’t wish to point the finger at the Red Tops because we get similar requests from the broadsheets, women’s magazines and others.
Here are just a few of the genuine requests we have had from journalists currently on deadline:

Hi, we're looking for genuine members of the Mile High Club for a feature. They need to be in their 20s or early 30s and quite photogenic. We need a 15 minute phone interview with them about their experience - why did they do it, how was it, and would they do it again?
We also need a pic of them. We pay £100 on publication and £25 tip off fee.

Fantastic – If I was PRO at BA, EastyJet or RyanAir I would clearly think we have a solid media proposition here – NOT.

I would like to speak to women who have had at least two abortions. They can be photographed in silhouette and their identity can be protected. I need three women - one in her 20's, 30's and 40's. The case studies would be used along side a report of government figures that state an abortion is carried out in the UK every three minutes. I am interested in why the women had the abortion in the first place, how they feel about it now and their reaction to the figures mentioned earlier. There would be a payment of £100 to each study and I would endeavour to mention any organisation that has helped.

Fantastic – what a great opportunity for my client AbortionsRUs! I must get on the phone to this thrusting investigative journalist. What other seedy clients can I peddle - um?

Possible magazine feature on drugs and the physical harm.
Are you a woman of 25-35 who does or has taken coke? Has doing so damaged your nose causing septum erosion? How has this changed your life and are you still using despite this? Tell us your story by contacting…

For God’s sake we are a PR company … we’re still using by the way though, Shoot up anyone?

I'm looking for women in their 20s and 30s who've made a conscious decision to give up sex for a year or so because they are fed up of ending up with the wrong men, choosing blokes who only want sex but nothing more, or even having one night stands which they've later regretted. The idea is that these women are taking a breather from dating and sex to work out what they really want from a man and how best to get it. I'd require a telephone interview and studio photoshoot.

Give me strength.

Urgently looking for a holiday for x2 journalists for feature to be written later in the year. Full credits given

Presumably earlier holiday plans had gone awry. I don't know.

And yes they are all real. What happened to old-fashioned, get-up-and-go-find-a-story-for-you- self-school-of-journalism? I wonder what some editors and news desks would think if they knew their staff were doing this? Perhaps they do? Oh, and by the way we never, never, get these requests from regional newspapers.
Or perhaps this is just one of the inevitable by-products of the internet. Any views? I did a version of this post last year and the requests we are getting still continue to scrape the barrel. The Daily Mail is the worst by the way – I think I should make this a regular feature. Watch this space.
I suggest Worst News Trawl Of the Day. Should I include names?


Is Facebook the death of blogging?

With reference to the above question – I simply don’t know.
I’ve run blogs and social networks – Facebook, Linkedin, Fuelmyblog, and my own sites for getting on for two years now. Indeed, I went through Web1.0 and lost a lot of money at the time with, so I am intrigued what will happen with the whole social media gig – including blogs and social networks.
However, the current interest in social networks (we have a lot of client asking us about it) is similar to the hype back in 2000 and let’s face it some will work and some will not. Facebook is in the ascendant at the moment and I love it and MySpace seems to be full of porn and teenage testerone and oestrogen and I hate it. An age thing perhaps?
The reality is that blogs will continue to grow (86 million according to Technorati today). But Facebook and similar sites have changed things.
Personal publishing – ie blogs - is more than just text, it spans all media. Videos, music and photos allowing people to share ideas whatever platform they use. Blogs were all about starting a conversation – if you were interested you would join in, engage, maybe blog yourself. That’s how I started.
Through my blog I have met lots of interesting people in the UK, US, Africa… well everywhere.
People like to be informed about what is going on in their group and do this by subscribing to RSS feeds which can be a nightmare. We’ve tried to address this at fuelmyblog by just bringing them all together although this is very much a work in progress and the community will decide what does and doesn’t work for them.
And that’s the point. People like to commune – we are social animals. Whether it is in the jungle or through the web we like to connect with other people. That’s why Facebook is growing so quickly – and I don’t think it was their intention! RSS feeds are all very well but if you can actually talk (is there a Skype plugin on Facebook?) directly with people who share your interests it's a much more compelling proposition.
That’s why Twitter has really caught on. That’s what makes Facebook such a killer platform – people love people.
But, they are still interested in your deepest, heart-held views, especially when they are well written, and that is why blogging has a future. Twitter is a mini-cast, Facebook (and its ilk) is a community-cast, blogging is broadcast – it may not be perfect but it gets you out there.

PROs: Be careful what you send to bloggers

Mike Butcher has just posted on Twitter about the perils of trying to engage with a blogger after a PR bunny sent him a pitch for a movie review.
As with traditional PR and journalism the first rule always applies - know your source and understand what the journalist is looking for and what his readers expect.
If you're going to pitch to a blogger - read their blog.
Here's Mikes views on the matter and pitch he received from the PR person, who to be fair seems to be out of their depth.


Some things never change

Some things never change. Like VCs and business angels for instance. Back in the day (January 1, 2000 to be precise) when we launched our backers were private individuals and the now defunct Springboard.

Remember, this was the dotcom boom – the internet was the future. Investors wanted to know what our burn rate was! Curious question but the implicit argument in the question was that you had to have a really huge burn rate like

At the time I was always uncomfortable with this view of funding businesses and when the phrase was used by some well-meaning VC or BA the image that always came to me was of a burning parachute.

So I was somewhat surprised at a recent meeting with a VC and the management team of my latest venture (you all know what I am talking about) when the VC asked what our burn rate was. And these are sophisticated, smart people.

The truth is we had no burn rate – the CEO works for free (but needs an income and to get out there), the developers developed the site for free (but would like some comeback financially, naturally), and my services were based on passion, commitment and practical help (but hell – I need to feed the family).

Our financial adviser worked for free but sees the possibilities, so he has been willing to dedicate a lot of his time talking to VCs, BAs and other potential investors.

We’ve bootstrapped the whole enterprise. It worked like this:

  1. No business plan – we just got on and created the site in December 2006. This is before I had ever met CEO Kevin Dixie. He lives in France and I live in UK. We communicate via email, Skype, Twitter and now Facebook.
  2. Introduced CEO to developers at – they created phase 2 site in February 2007
  3. Introduced CEO to finance guy – via email in February 2007.
  4. Logo developed by friends. No cost.
  5. We meet in real world at a meeting at GREEN Communications in Wakefield. March 2007
  6. I write business plan. Why? The business model is so blinding obvious!
  7. We now have a fully functional site with bloggers across the world using it. Cost to date? Our time commitment and hosting.
  8. Number of VCs pitched too – zero. March 2007.
  9. Decide we need a tiny amount of investment to bling up the site and start generating income. April 2007.
  10. I re-write business plan again. May 2007.
  11. Send business plan to three friendly VCs. First question: What’s social media. Second question: Is it like Facebook? Third question: What’s your burn rate? May/June 2007.
  12. One VC still seriously interested and there are plenty more out there we are talking to – and they will all ask about burn rate.
So what have I learned?

Well with some really talented people around you and passionate people like Kevin you can:

  • Bootstrap a business with no financial support
  • Realise that PR does work – even bad publicity generates profile
  • Can’t convince VCs about social media and Web2.0 – they don’t get it but are worried about it
  • Run a business from three different places. You don’t all have to be based in the same office or country to make a company work
  • Understand that life is hard for an entrepreneur – plus ca change – but it’s lots of fun
Any views?


Eight uncomfortable rules of journalism

Just come across this from Michael Rosenberg from the Detroit Free Press. Uncomfortable reading for all journalists as so much of it rings true – certainly did with me as I was responsible for a series of stories based on rule one.

1. Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Then, after the afflicted become comfortable, afflict them again. This should provide an endless supply of news stories.

2. Be balanced. No matter what anybody says, find somebody to say the opposite. If a scientist claims to have a cure for cancer, find somebody who says cancer does not exist. If a man says "My name is Fred," make sure you find somebody who says "No, your name is Diane." Etc.

3. When deciding which tragedies deserve the most prominent coverage, use this simple math: 10,000 foreigners = one cute white American chick.

4. If the president of the United States is accused of violating the law on the same day that an African country erupts into civil war and an especially gloomy economic report is released, and you must decide which one is your lead story, ask yourself this: Did the local sports team just win a big game?

5. Internet, Schminternet. It will be gone in five years. People will always love reading a newspaper - and so will you, our intrepid reporter, once you accept our redundancy offer.

6. When working at the New York Post, make sure your story includes all six W's: who, what, when, where, why and with what kind of lubricant.

7. When appearing on television, insinuate that all newspaper reporters are biased. When writing for a newspaper, imply that all television people are boobs with no credibility. When at the bar afterward, complain that nobody trusts journalists anymore.

8. Keep each of the following on speed dial: a wacko religious leader who believes that god loves all his children, except the ones who skip church once in awhile; a gun nut who put semi-automatic weapons on his baby registry; an anti-weapons nut who thinks there should be a 10-day waiting period before buying steak knives; a legendary, highly quotable politician who has not been sober past noon since 1991, and a self-designated leader of each of the following minority groups: African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, American Indians, homosexuals, transsexuals, fat people, skinny people, people with absolutely no distinguishing physical attributes, and foot fetishists.

Be interesting to see what list a British journalist would come up with...


Is it just me? I like Olympics 2012

Am I going over old ground with this?
The Government has confirmed it will not be asking the organisers of the 2012 Olympic Games to reconsider a new logo despite demands for them to do so. Well thank God for that. And what’s wrong with it anyway?
When I first saw it I was a bit puzzled – and ribbed a former colleague about it who was working on the launch of the new brand.
However, the day after the launch I just thought… this is so right!
There is a lot of marketing bollocks being spoken about the brand (none of it by creators Wolff Olins by the way – I think they have missed a real trick here from a PR point of view).
At GREEN we do quite a lot of branding and at the end of the day you always agree with the client on what they want – they pay the bills after all. So for the organizers to go with such a bold and exciting brand says a lot for them – all of it good.
I notice that culture spokesman Lord Davies of Oldham said the logo "will establish the character and identity of the Games" – again this is too bland for the brand because I think the logo will work at levels that did not exist in the past – mobile phone, internet, blogs, MySpace, Facebook etc. And it moves! And that’s the point.
In the House of Lords debate Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked: "Why did it cost £400,000 to produce such an uninspiring logo?"
What planet is he on? He sounds like the High Court judge who asked what is a website. We don’t charge £400,000 for a branding exercise – but the effort we put in is probably worth that.
Anyway, well done Wolff Olins – I’m just curious why they are not shouting about it - don't apologise for being brilliant.
Oh and by the way I fully expect two girls from Bradford Amateur Rowing Club will be competing in 2012...


If you do anything - look at this

My thanks to Friendly Ghost for bringing to my attention Photosyth. Like FG I usually don’t get excited by the geeky stuff. Code doesn’t excite me. My usual question is: “What can it do for me and my clients?”

But his blew my mind into a whole new hair do!

Friendly Ghost says it best:

“The first ‘wow’ factor is that you can zoom right into images - and when I say zoom, I really mean zoooooom. You know that scene in Blade Runner where Rick Deckard zooms in on a photo and just keeps going further and further in? Photosynth does that - and how. You can see an entire book and zero in seamlessly, watching the pixels turn into pages, then paragraphs, then sentences, then suddenly an entire, perfectly resolved character fills your screen. As Blaise Aguera y Arcas, the presenter, says, you’re only limited by the resolution of your monitor. So Photosynth is compositing and rendering images to your screen in real-time and absolutely smoothly. It works for maps and it works for photos - basically, any image or, for that matter, image-set.”

When you let it loose on the web, Photosynth can intelligently search for images and composite them together, effectively creating semantic links between images. So, point it towards Flickr, type in ‘Notre Dame’, and the next thing you know it has rebuilt Notre Dame, in three dimensions from photos - any photos, all photos - of the cathedral. You can walk around it and it just chunks the photos and overlays them to build the image. It really is amazing to see how Photosynth grabs and composites the images given the viewer’s perspective.

This is a Microsoft project – and fair play to them that they have put it out there as it has so many applications. Friendly Ghost again:

"How about setting it loose on astronomical images, recreating planets and solar systems that you can walk around? What about pointing it towards a medical image bank and recreating human beings, inside and out? There’s a theory that everything which can be digitised, has been digitised - maps, blueprints, plans, diagrams - everything. Imagine if Photosynth could crawl the web and grab all of this, creating a spatial, semantic representation of the real world.”

Enjoy the presentation at TED - Ideas Worth Spreading.

Northern grit and coffee make a good mix

It’s a funny place up north. Having just read Pies & Prejudice, I do think we have a deep down sense of insecurity, boisterousness, bravado, bloody minded cussedness sometimes – possibly it has something to do with the weather.
After all you could die on a walk on the Moors if you weren’t prepared. I know I did come close to that once on Pen-y-Ghent climbing it the wrong way round.
But forget London – there is lot’s happening up here, especially in the area of Web2.0.
In spite of our rough, wode-daubed features northerners are starting to do some good things in IT and in the social media space. Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield has some great talent.
I attended the first OpenCoffee event in Leeds today – organised by the excellent Imran Ali (we are planning a few of these this year across the north ending with a big bash at BarCampLeeds).
OpenCoffee was held at Starbucks on Albion Street, Leeds and we had a really good turn out of developers, entrepreneurs, business angels, VCs and various geeks.
There was a real buzz – and if we can keep the momentum going I am sure this will be a regular monthly event. If you want to get involved contact me or Imran and we will get you networked with the north’s social media.


Where has all the talent gone?

It’s a lovely sunny day today. And I am writing this blog before heading off to Bradford for some big Bollywood thing.
What’s prompted my musing are some recent posts at TWL, Stephen Davies, David Brain and others about the dearth of PR talent in London, the costs of living in the capitol and general problems about recruiting.
It’s no different in the north of England. Since we lost Simon to Edelman we have struggled to find good people. At the moment we are seeking two AMs, an AE, and a graduate trainee. We’ve been advertising, blogging and using other electronic methods now for the past two months looking for the above and it has been a struggle.
For the record we have appointed one new account manager – more on her when she joins us in a week’s time. We are close to appointing a graduate but we are still searching for others to bring us back up to capacity at a time when a lot of new clients are coming on stream.
So where has all the talent gone? Given the number of graduates coming out of universities with degrees in PR – why do so many of them struggle to write a decent press release, pass a spelling test or a maths test? Yes – we do ask them to do these tests as part of the selection process.
And why are their expectations so high? One graduate told us they would only work on certain client accounts, another told us that she couldn’t do the occasional weekend event with a client.
My career began in journalism (starting salary in 1986 was £8,000 – based in London) and for that I was expected to work very long and unsociable hours. I loved it.
I’m sure the PR sector is no different from any other and, while the London-centric debate of TWL is influenced by other factors like the cost of housing, the north suffers from similar problems. Finding recruits is easy – finding quality recruits is harder.
I noted on the comment board at TWL someone suggested that Edelman opened a satellite office in the regions (the regions! How parochial!). David, if you’re interested we have plenty of room in the Wakefield Media Centre if you’re looking for somewhere to park your out-sourced northern executives and the rent is very reasonable.


BarCamp comes to Leeds

Plans are now in place to do a BarCampLeeds – led by Imran Ali.
I attended a similar event in Sheffield but was overwhelmed by the techie nature of the event and left early. Detail is all very well but I am more interested in what it can do for me and the bigger picture.

Anyway, Imran is hopping to make the Leeds event more inclusive with geeks, techies and more generalist enthusiasts like me. And I, for one, plan to do a piece about Ladybank and some other stuff we have been working on.

I am hoping pals like Stuart Bruce and Simon Collister will also attend to talk about their work with Alan Johnson and London 2012.

Let me know if you are attending and check out the Wiki at BarCampLeeds.


Fuelmyblog Phase 3 - close to launch

It’s been an interesting couple of days on the work front. Loads of new business propositions have been coming our way – which is nice!
But for the past few days I have been concentrating on fuelmyblog – which we will shortly re-launch.
Watch this space as we will be inviting people to beta test the new site shortly with a lot of new social network features.
We’ve also attracted some interest from VCs looking to invest in the site which will allow us to further ramp up the community platform and generate ties in other countries besides the US and UK.
This will significantly take the pressure off as we have been running fuelmyblog through our own resources and, in particular, the dedication of Kevin Dixie and the technical genius of