Author Archive

Tommy Broughan – behind the music

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

The secret history of Labour’s Tommy Broughan. Gold.

Patrick and John Collison on Late Late Show tonight

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Tune in to see their interview with Pat.

Meanwhile here’s a Q&A I did with Patrick earlier in the week:

So what will you and the other lads be doing with Live Current in Vancouver?
I’ll be overseeing the engineering side of things generally, and working with all of the individual product teams to get design, infrastructure, etc., done right. Harj and Kul will head the development of different products, and oversee the creation of the next batch of successful products for Live Current.

You were mostly based in Silicon Valley though of late worked out of Vancouver too. What are the differences between them in terms of tech culture and culture in general?
Obviously, the biggest difference is that Vancouver can’t even begin to compare with the size of the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem — and this impacts culture in everything from fundraising to hiring. More generally, though, Silicon Valley is very single-minded and growth-driven, whereas Vancouver tech folks seem to take life a bit easier. Perhaps because of that, they tend to have a slightly longer-term vision. Both lifestyles have their attractions.

Is this the end of 23 hour days for Patrick Collison, I really can’t see it to be honest.
Judging from things so far, I think any answer other than “no” would be some sort of clinical denial.

With your new free time what do you have planned?

I’ve always loved the idea of learning to fly (I was really disappointed to read that the airfield at Coonagh in Limerick is to close). So I’ll hopefully do some of that.

You routed around the “system” in Ireland and went to the States to build Auctomatic. Is it much easier to build a tech company over there even if you are a blow in from Ireland compared to being a native here in Ireland and setting it up?

Without a doubt. You’ve got to be careful here — on hearing this line, people will always say, “but look at successful Irish tech startup X”. Yes, there are successful startups here (and they deserve a lot of credit). But, with that said, I think it’s almost unarguable that it’s easier to build a successful tech company in the US. Things like the huge pool of talent, easy access to funding, chance meetings, and so on, are all mostly absent in Ireland.

People usually dislike this criticism because it seems unpatriotic. I don’t think it is. Nobody (that I know) is saying that Ireland _can’t_ match Silicon Valley — just that we need to do much more. Ireland certainly has its own unique advantages, and addressing some of our shortfalls could make a big difference very quickly.

Teenagers and early twenties entrepreneurs powering all the innovations on the web or that’s what it looks like. Do you think your age and not being tied down is an advantage?

The lack of responsibilities and commitments is certainly a big advantage. I don’t think youth per se makes a huge difference, but anyone who has mortgage payments, kids, etc., will certainly have to think more carefully about risky opportunities — and probably forgo some that might have led to big things.

How many random girls will now start adding you to Facebook, do you think?

I’m still waiting. It’s all just a matter of time… right?

I’m pursuing an action to protect my reputation.

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Damien Mulley -v- Sky Handling Partner Ltd Circuit Court No 855/2008

(I can’t comment further on this and I’ve locked comments too but a lot of you were asking for updates, now you have one.)

Blog Crisis Management – How to deal with the restless natives of Irish Blogging

Friday, March 28th, 2008

This is rather rich coming from the person that’s been at the centre of many of these blog storms but anyway. No better asshole expert I suppose.

It’s not just Mulley that’s a loudmouth online and that can become an issue for companies and as blogs influence search engine results and online opinion, it can become quite damaging for a company even if what they rant about is true. You can however combat a crib turning into a riot and do it quite easily and transparently.

bullhorn
Photo owned by seesix (cc)
Are you listening?
If a blogstorm happens, you should not be hearing about it via a reporter or a staffer who gets forwarded an email. Why not listen? It’s free and can be managed easily enough. Use Google Alerts, Google Blogsearch, Technorati or Bloglines Alerts to monitor your company name, your company website address and all your product names. Get even more paranoid and set up alerts for board members and directors too if you want.

Google Alerts

Not only should you be looking at outside sources, you should ideally have a space on your own site (maybe a blog!) where people can come along and leave comments. If they leave comments there at least you will see them faster and will be a little more comfortable as they are on a site that you have ownership of.

The monitoring is good for a few reasons, two obvious ones are that it can tell you who is talking about you as well as the volume of discussion online about you or your products. Both very important metrics.

looking for..
Photo owned by Mac Babs – Bárbara Bessa. (cc)
I see you baby
Now that you see people talking about you, you need to respond. Why on earth would you let the thing build and possibly become over-exaggerated? It might be scary to wade into what you think is a hornets nest of complaints but if you do it right (forgive the continuance of the analogy) you won’t get stung. First of all if there is a great volume of chatter over whatever crisis, then you need to read them all, consider them, read them all and then go straight to the source and comment there. I’ll go into the tone on how to address the matter at hand further down. Once you have left a comment you should then go to other bloggers that are chattering about the issue and give shorter commentary on them there and link back to the central blog where you gave the long explanation. Suggest you will answer questions there, that way you are centralising the discussion and containing it, even if it is not on your space. One place is better than 9, right?

The calm guiding hand
Tone, attitude and a sense of humour are important for these things while keeping your focus to reach the goal of helping those that are reacting. There is no need to add fuel by attacking who attacked or criticised you. Take blame if you screwed up. Don’t bullshit. It won’t work on blogs. Simply reacting can calm the blog storm to a great deal. Bloggers can shout and roar and the minute they feel you are listening to them, they’ll calm. (Yeah there are exceptions) Most bloggers will appreciate that you’re at least listening, that’s pretty important. Start with a thank you for their opinion and acknowledge that something must have gone wrong if they’re so annoyed. Point out that happy customers are crucial to the business if you want repeat custom etc. If as mentioned above there are multiple sources of this storm, suggest/request to this blogger who is the source that you’ll address all issues here on this space, with their permission, besides the conversation scattering all around the net. The blogger themselves would probably appreciate that.
Figure out with all the various feedback what went wrong and point out areas that need further investigation and what can be fixed.

Attitude includes how you leave the comment. Sign your real name and leave a real contact address. Do not come on the blog as an entity like BigCoRep, come on as John S from BigCo. Explain your situation and what you on behalf of the company can do right now and in future to make sure it won’t happen again. Thank the person for making this issue more widely known. Leave a link to email address so that you can be contacted again for this or any other issue.

Vernon Drive Grocery
Photo owned by SqueakyMarmot (cc)
Addressing an issue is not one to one
Sorting out the issue the blogger has is of most importance and addressing them about their issue should be done in the same place where they complained about it. Their blog. But consider that you are not on the phone to this person when they are complaining. They are in effect inside in your store complaining and the store is full of potential customers. Remember this when you react and try and sort their problem. There are dozens more pretending to look around this “store” when they’re really pricking their ears and listening in. You are not just addressing the issue of a single customer. You are also telling many more potential customers than you give a damn. Your retail space/store is no longer in one physical location, the register might be but your retail space is the whole Internet these days. Behave and react as such. And then there’s Google acting like an instant replay from now til eternity. That blog post and your reactions to it are not just about who read it today but about who will read it next week, next month and next year. Google will bring people to that blog until Google disappears.

La la la la, I can’t hear you
So what if they don’t listen? What if they won’t let you leave a comment? Well first be proud that you made the effort. You should have a copy of the comment you left (having a blog and posting it there would be really handy now wouldn’t it?) Well anyhow, you can still leave it on the other blogs if after a while it is obvious the central blog in the storm is not going to play the game. Of course you can always try and leave the comment again as the spam software could have eaten it. False positives are not as rare as they should be. Another thing that can happen is the person does not appreciate your feedback and the effort you are trying to make. Then they are just doing all of this for the kick and not to get something sorted. But that’s fair enough too because again, your behaviour if beyond reproach will be seen by everyone else as being so or a chunk of them. Seeing some bloggers in the past keep attacking when the “offending” party has tried to make amends I’ve noted the comments become a lot less supportive of them and more of “dude, they said they’re sorry and they’ve gone above and beyond”. See, people are rational even with chaos or storms happening.

Mr Camerahead (9/52)
Photo owned by timparkinson (cc)
There’s always one
Sometimes you might end up getting one of these obsessive types that for whatever reason decides to become your biggest critic and will rant and rave about you til the cows come home. It is futile to deal with people like that, you’ll learn that after the first attempt and it should be you last attempt. Shit happens, so do trolls. Luckily enough they are few and far between and you’ll find nobody pays them attention and even if a potential customer finds their ranting they’ll be logic enough to have the nutter alarm go off in their head.

Chums
Critics of blogging in Ireland have complained that the Irish blogging scence is awfully chummy and people are far too nice and civil to each other. True, the smallness means people are very friendly but what you’ll find is people also stick up for each other a lot too. You might just find that other bloggers out there could have your back without any coaxing whatsoever just because they consider you part of this community. (Are you getting the subtle start a blog suggestions?)

Wrapup
I hope that’s been of help for those wondering how to deal with the storms that can happen now and then. It’s actually not hard work to see who is talking about you and you know what? It can be very rewarding because if you’re a good company with good servuce you’ll see you’re being talked up more than being talked down. So don’t see the listening as a way of finding out the bad, it can be quite affirming too and don’t forget to also pop on by to those leaving positive comments and let them know you appreciate it.

There’ll be two follow up posts to this, one will deal with fake blogging and how not to irk the noisy natives. What’ll the other post be about eh? I hope this was useful to you. Thanks for reading and consuming. If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Love
Photo owned by haniela (cc)

Business talks/events coming up in April ’08

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Public Dialogue with Mick Wallace:Thursday, 24th April at 8pm.
Venue: Lecture Theatre Q015, Quinn School of Business, UCD

Doing Business Differently

How do ethical, political or moral obligations combine with business? Can we do business ‘differently’?

Mick Wallace, builder, developer, and philanthropist will be joined by Sara Burke, journalist, for a discussion on the subject of engaging in socially responsible projects and actions in business. This is a public dialogue, and there will be opportunity for audience members to take part in the discussion. The evening will end with a wine reception, to which you are all invited to attend.

This event is jointly run by the Equality Studies Centre within UCD’s School of Social Justice, and the Quinn School of Business.

First Tuesday -April 1st

First Tuesday on April 1st will include a panel of prominent Irish entrepreneurs and there will also be an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch.

‘Call for entrepreneur’s seeking investment’

Confirmed panelists for April 1th include:

Chairman:
Guy Johnston – ETM www.etm.ie

* John Dennehy – Entrepreneur/investor
* Terry Clune – Taxback.com
* Sean Gallagher – Smarthomes
* Ashley Glover – Research and Markets

If you are interested in pitching please contact David Neville

Date: Tuesday April 1st
Venue: The Radisson SAS Hotel, Golden Lane, D8
Registration: 6-6.30pm Event will finish before 9pm
Cost: euro50

Fluffy Links – Friday March 28th 2008

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Via Suzy Daire Whelan’s new sports blog.

Rick loves it. Innit.

Oh I so want to use this service. wallpaper made from your photos. Moo.com but for wallpaper.

Isn’t the new design on the Eiffel like some kinda venus fly trap?

Head of in-flight entertainment. Brilliant title.

Co-working … in your gaff?

Toki Doki USB stick. Ripoff price.

Surely the guy that’s gonna live forever has a dead pool on him?

Jeff Jarvis on the media going blind again.

New band (to me) called An Horse.

Tegan and Sarah – Back in your head

Free iPhone in return for being spied on – Apple to Irish employees

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Apple must have been jealous of the attention Pat Phelan gave O2 and the iPhone launch so they’ve done one better and Pat’s watching. See Apple have told Irish employees they can have a free iPhone but can’t unlock it and if the phone is unlocked, they’ll get done by HR. Apple have said they’ll be spying on their phone usage. Looks like they’re keeping some ownership rights too as you can use it but not sell it on but you can give it to a friend or family member. Can they sell it on? What if they unlock it?

I spy with my little eye
Photo owned by rveenen (cc)

Seriously!

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I know every nutjob is on the Internet and all but W Teee Efff:

Searches gone mad

There’s always a place for assholes in the world

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Jaiku has them a plenty. Well done lads. Keep the flag flying for B when the whole A versus b thing doesn’t matter.

The social network is us

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Facebook, mySpace, Bebo, O2, Vodafone are all just rough approximations of the underlying social network that links humans together.

Humans still power the Internet. The biggest search and advertising company in the world marked themselves from the crowd by powering itself on human people connecting bits of information. Google became big because of links. Their pagerank and their famous top secret always-changing algorithm found out the relationships between webpages and websites and came up with a much better way of categorising information online from this. But it was humans that did the initial linking. A link is a human tieing data together.

What started off with the likes of Friendster moved on to mySpace, Bebo, Facebook and now Twitter. Funnily enough many of them got bigger by connecting people that were already connected via email. The network already existed. Bebo, Facebook and Twitter allow you to trawl your address book and find people in there that are already on their services and then make connection requests to them. All they’re doing is taking all the existing connections and stuffing them into their network too. We’re all in social networks already, technology in a way just highlights them more, like Google maps highlight existing routes.

Adding to your network

Accentuating
What makes these social networks more sticky though? Well it’s much easier to share photos, videos and music and leave comments and all in public. You add the media to your profile and everyone connected to you can see it. A bit like a blog though stickier. Much better than pressing the forward button or composing an email ain’t it? These networks really to me are not so much building new groups but increasing data transfer and sharing between existing groups.

I don’t think I added someone to Facebook because I valued their input in some Facebook group we were both in or actually liked their taste in music after looking at their likes and dislikes on their profile. I more than likely added them because of an existing relationship even if it was a weak one. Weak ones being we were at a conference, I saw them speak or they saw me, they read my blog and feel they know me that way, we emailed each other once about something etc. etc. The social networks take any and all connections/relationships and lasso them into your network and sometimes they add great value to these connections but sometimes not.

Shorter bursts in more locations
Facebook is doing no more than accentuating existing relationships I have with people and there certainly is value with that but as can be seen by many, people are moving their short-term attention to other things. The status update on Facebook was good and was a nice improvement over other social networks but now it seems that people are more into using twitter to send 140 character updates to people and Twitter is allowing you to update when you’re on the go with their text message capabilities. Luckily Twitter can ypdate Facebook. This can be seen by people using Facebook to display their Twitter status as their Facebook status. It’s keeping all those they’re connected to updated even when they are not on Facebook itself. I’m sure Facebook don’t mind as they are still the core and that’s where your social network is mostly stored but a new network is forming around Twitter too. It’s funny that in the age of infinite data and the ability to share it, most of us are happy with the amount exchanged in a text message.

twitter status

Twitter is the next step really, it’s making your stored social network more mobile. Half the world have mobiles now. A quarter have a computer. Now that the uptime issues are sorted a little bit more, Twitter is less annoying but it’s totally crippled. It pretty much does what it did a year ago. A text box and in it you update your friends on what you’re doing in 140 characters or less. Their main competitor is Jaiku which is much better except it lacks what social networks live and die by – people. The usual feature elitists insist that Jaiku is better (it is) but still think that alone will mean people will move over. It won’t. Features don’t matter unless they make people communicate and share more. Given the scenario of a social network with lots of features but with a small audience compared to a mass audience with sfa features will win. More people communicating is more attractive (and valuable) than less people sharing ore. Jaiku is turning into a ghost town as it is and people are moving on so we see the Jaikuistas coming back to twitter while knocking it. Ironically they are able to spread their “Twitter is shit, Jaiku is great” message to a wider audience via Twitter than Jaiku. Jaiku is dead. Maybe all those dimwitted nearsighted people building new social networks will cop on to that. Unless you can offer the influentual people to move over then you’re dust. Heya Nimble, how goes?

But yet nobody is doing mobile
Still for all this mobile talk, mobile has yet to be exploited. O2 is a social network that makes money when people update each other. So is Vodafone. Sure there are mobile versions of networks based on your email addresses. However my contacts list in my mobile does not connect to a social network. The data shared between me and the people on my phone are texts or phonecalls. And they’re pay to play. I have a social network with 531 contacts and it’s pretty dull. Jaiku has a mobile client that can make that come alive yet Google has never done anything to expand on that since they acquired them. The iPhone and Apple could easily do something like this since everytime you synch it with the computer it backs up the contacts.

smartees
Photo owned by alazaat (cc)

The future
There’s a lot of life still left in social networks but I don’t see Facebook or Twitter as the future because social networks have existed before technology and all technology can do is enchance these relationships. They might boost us past the Dunbarr number and allow us to interact with more people without getting relationship fatigue but right now they are still lacking. Not all of the people on our real social network are able to be added just yet, are they? Not that they want to be but the option should be there though. Still with so much left to do to match our real social networks to these rough representations called Facebook and Bebo it means there are lots of opportunities in the field still. Bring it.