A Life Online

Congratulations, and a big pat on the back, for Tom Woolley and the team at the National Media Museum in Bradford on the launch of the new Life Online Gallery last night. It was a great event and even included an online appearance from Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Media is one the sponsors) and from Vint Cerf. Vint Cerfis an American computer scientist, who is recognized as one of founding fathers of the internet, who was a program manager for the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funding various groups to develop TCP/IP technology. When the Internet began to transition to a commercial opportunity during the late 1980s, Cerf moved to MCI where he was instrumental in the development of the first commercial email system connected to the Internet. Life Online is the world's first gallery dedicated to exploring the social, technological and cultural impact of the internet. This permanent gallery will trace the history of the internet, uncover how it has changed people's lives and track the latest trends. The gallery covers two spaces within the Museum. The first is a permanent exhibition in the foyer with the second being a changing temporary exhibition on Level 7. The first exhibition to feature is [open source]: Is the internet you know under threat? - an exploration of the open source nature of the internet and the current threats to net neutrality which could signify the end of this culture. Full Disclosure: I am a member of the Museum's Internet Gallery Advisory Board Check out the discussion on twitter with the hashtag #LifeOnline. I also think it's neat that the acronym for the new gallery encapsulates the digital zeitgiest: L.O.L. Here's some (dodgy) pictures from the night:


Trolls and fakers on Pinterest

Every time a new social media platform gains any sort of traction with the public - people start abusing it and other people. So it’s no surprise then that Pinterest already has a fair number of trolls and squatters sitting on hiding behind celebrity names and famous brands and trying to pass themselves off as the real deal.
Pinterest, a visual bulletin board service, recently announced a brief policy statement on usernames that hardly clears things up for companies, celebrities, and satirists alike. Is this Michelle Obama? It seems unlikely, that the First Lady’s "Eat As I Say Not As I Eat" section, in which she pins pictures of "Places where I've consumed incredible amounts of calories while campaigning for America to eat healthier."
Meanwhile, there are countless other examples where the likes of Starbucks, Foursquare and others have been squatted on by jokers or malicious trolls.
Brands and celebrities have an invested interest in maintaining the public perception of their names. Erosion of that image damages their ability to make money in the long run, and some companies are required to maintain a vigilance over their names to retain a functioning copyright.
The most popular social networking sites have already come face-to-face with the reality that early adopters will claim names, identities, and brands that may not truly belong to them. But the way each site deals with instances that could involve accusations of libel, bartering user names for money, or other unsanctioned uses of social networking property, has varied.
Twitter uses the Verified account to denote celebrities, and allows parody accounts but will shut down impersonating accounts. Facebook requires real names with some narrow exceptions. Google+ originally required real names, but now will support pseudonyms, and also verifies celebrities' accounts.
Pinterest seems to still be coming to terms with the issue, even as its popularity grows. This has pretty much been the case for most social media platforms who have evolved terms and conditions to address squatters as their sites have evolved and morphed over time.
The most famous instance of Pinterest misnaming is Mitt Romney. His campaign pursued the shutdown of a fake (though pretty clearly satirical) account using his name. Pinterest itself says: "Pinterest respects the trademark rights of others.
 Accounts with usernames, Pin Board names, or any other content that misleads others or violates another’s trademark may be updated, transferred or permanently suspended." Those who feel their usernames have been affected can register a complaint via Pinterest's Trademark Complaint Form where they say: "Pinterest will review your submission and take whatever action, in its sole discretion, it deems appropriate, including temporary or permanent removal of the trademark from the Pinterest site."
The key thing here for brands is to stay on top of your social media and ensure you are an early adopter for the new, new thing. Or, at the very least, be prepared to take action if you think your brand is being abused. Anyway you can check out some daft spoof Pinterests here.


One for Bradford Veterans


KONY 2012: It's gone viral

Just noticed on Facebook that my daughter has joined the KONY 2012 group which is part of a fast-growing online campaign to defeat one of Central Africa's most notorious and elusive rebel groups.
Just this week the campaign has gone viral with Twitter users around the world have inundated the micro-messaging site with calls to stop the Lord's Resistance Army and its leader Joseph Kony.
Messages tagged #StopKony2012 and #MakeKonyFamous lit up Twitter for the better part of the morning today, and were listed among the top trending topics worldwide.
Invisible Children, which is solely focused on bringing an end to the Lord's Resistance Army, started the online campaign to bring attention to a new film on the subject called "Kony 2012."
This is interesting because the Invisible Children have really done their homework on the use of social media and are rolling out the campaign across all platforms from Twitter to Facebook to Vimeo (see the video here) and back again and inbetween.
The Lord's Resistance Army started in northern Uganda in the late 1980s as a rebellion against the country's armed forces.  Under the leadership of Joseph Kony, the group evolved into a militant cult that has forcibly recruited thousands of children into its ranks, mutilated or killed tens of thousands of people across Central Africa and displaced many more.
The topic gained momentum with the help of some celebrity heavyweights, including American singers Taylor Swift and Rhianna, who have both endorsed the Invisible Children campaign on the site.
To give an idea of just how much sway these celebrities have on Twitter, keep in mind that Rhianna has more than 14-million followers, which makes her more popular than Barack Obama. 
The Lord's Resistance Army, once thought to number in the thousands, is now believed to consist of only a couple hundred fighters.
But even in small numbers, the group has continued to attack villages in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. 
It will be interesting to see where this campaign goes - what do you think?