Author Archive

Starbucks – They’re listening AND reacting

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Via Slashdot.

Oxfam launched a video about fairtrade coffee and how Starbucks weren’t good to Ethiopian farmers. They stuck it on YouTube:

They said Starbucks weren’t listening. They were and they used the same new medium to respond:

Fantastic. As it should be. Still, saying they spent 2.4M on projects in Ethiopia isn’t really convincing since they probably make that every few hours but generally the reply is good. Imagine seeing companies respond to criticism this way! And all it cost was the use of a cheap camcorder and video software. Quick and almost cost-free replies.

Blog Survey questions – so far

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

Here are the questions that you sent to me via email or left in comments when I asked for questions for an Irish blogger survey. I threw all the questions together, removed duplicates and bunched them into groups that cover the same area. Feedback again is appreciated on these. I was aiming for 30-40 questions and these seem around the right number though to be honest I think we could lose a few of the questions.

    Blog Reading

  1. Use an aggregator yes | no | aggregators | other | more than one
  2. How many blogs subscribed to
  3. How often do you read blogs
  4. How much time
  5. What type of blogs do you read
  6. Breakdown: Irish| Other , Male|Female
  7. Blogging

  8. How many blogs do you have?
  9. Do you use dial-up or broadband.
  10. How long have you been blogging?
  11. Do you use your own domain or blogspot, blogger etc?
  12. How often do you blog?
  13. Do you class your blog as a personal blog or as a business blog?
  14. Would you have a political affiliation. What would it be?
  15. How many subscribers do you have, if you know?
  16. How many visits do you get per day?
  17. Have you considered stopping blogging or taking a break?
  18. Have you modified your standard template and added features?
  19. What do you use your blog for?
  20. Why did you start blogging?
  21. Have your reasons changed?
  22. Do you have comments and are they pre-moderated i.e. you approve all comments before they are live?
  23. Do you get a lot of comment spam?
  24. Act of Blogging

  25. What is your inspiration for a blog post?
  26. Preparation time: How long does it take to prepare/write your post?
  27. Do you check and verify sources?
  28. Do you link to other blogs and newssources? In every post, sometimes, not really.
  29. Do you use other media like audio and video in your posts?
  30. How have you improved your blogging? How? Listen to feedback, watched other bloggers, asked for help
  31. Do you think there is a need for training classes in blogging?
  32. Threats and legal issues

  33. Have you received a legal letter/threat or a threat of another kind?
  34. Do you know how to respond to legal threats?
  35. Do you know the law about blogs and defamation?
  36. Blogs and the blogging community

  37. Gone to blogger meetups/conferences?
  38. Friendships through blogging?
  39. Blogs to non-bloggers

  40. Do friends know you blog?
  41. Read your blog?
  42. Blog promotion

  43. How do you promote your blog ? Email signature | Link Swapping | Advertising

Blog Awards Sponsorship slots are being taken quickly – Woo

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

Update: 2 slots left now

2 slots left (as well as the Best Blog Award which goes to auction)

What currently remain are:

* Best Photo Blog
* Best Political Blog
* Best Group Blog

* Best Blog Post
* Best Designed Blog

* Best Sport & Recreation Blog

* Best News/Current Affairs Blog
* Best Specialist Blog
* Best Podcast

Fluffy Links – January 2nd 2007

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

Donncha is going to be a father. Well done him and Jacinta.

A 200 dollar bill does not exist and certainly would not have George Bush on it and a script of “We like Ice-cream”. Yet it was accepted at till.

Ah Jesus Christ, txt-speak going too far.

Nice post from Michael Gartenberg. “A vendor pitching their new smartphone take a phone call on her RAZR”.

Review of online operating systems. Really in-depth. Only heard of a small number of these. I really thought Meebo would have gone into this space.

Move around in Second Life using your Wiimote.

Via Engadget. More Wii. Control your Roomba using a Wiimote:

Hiroshima Atomic Bomb CGI Re-enactment. It is a sad world when humanity needs to do this to apparently stop killings.

Ones to watch in 2007

Monday, January 1st, 2007

I put a little list together of people to watch and to subscribe to in 2007. This hasn’t been researched greatly or anything like that but I thought I’d share who I thought had the potential to do something interesting in 2007. Given the election is on this year, many have a political slant.

Simon McGarr

From his writings on Tuppenceworth and his work with Digital Rights Ireland we already knew of him but he has also branched out with the Paper Round project which shows just how amateur the press pros are and how unoriginal too. The star of the Blogging the Election conference later in the year where he answered questions on the legal rights of bloggers, everyone just wanted him to talk and talk and talk. A natural with any audience I have to say. Leviathan is merely the start. Simon then ended 2006 by unveiling the VoteTube project. I think this could with luck become a very useful source during the 2007 election and for years afterwards. The only issue for Simon in 2007 is the arrival of a baby McGarr to keep him busy. Time will tell how well he can juggle it all.

The Cedar Lounge lads

The 2007 election is probably going to be the most talked about event for 2007 in Ireland and intelligent analysis of the spin and the politics is a must. The bloggers from the Cedar Lounge seem to bring political discussion up a notch but at the same time clear some of the fog that you might experience when trying to figure out what is actually happening in the political arena. When you read what they have to say it is as if your substitute teacher for Physics turns out to be Richard Feynman.

Piaras Kelly

Only just moved to Edelman, one of the few PR people in Ireland to blog. (You have to wonder why) I certainly don’t agree with Piaras on a lot of subjects but he does have a keen ability to spot some new trends and see things in a different light to me. He’s a maven in his area and is someone to keep an eye on. I demand he blog more though. (In the same fashion as Withnail demanded booze.)

Red Mum

Not sure will she de-cloak or not but I would not be surprised if her seriously good photography matched with her wonderful writing we see on her blog and column will get her another gig. Maybe she’ll leave her day job and get employed as a roving reporter/photoblogger for an Irish news organisation.

Cian O’Flaherty

The champion of the blogging the election conference and the one who was running around keeping everything ticking over during the event. It was a fantastic event and I was glad to work with him at it. He’s got the brains, the charm and the wit to do really well. He’s been dead quiet with college work since the conference but I have no doubt with the election coming up that he has a few pokers in the fire that he’ll be making use of. I expect to see him running around the election trail “live blogging” and maybe we’ll see people wearing IrishElection.com windbreakers during some of the political news conferences.

Pat Phelan

Moving completely away from politics now. One of the new bloggers on the block in 2006. The biggest exporter of “People’s Republic of Cork” t-shirts to Silicon Valley. Pat is a genuinely decent guy and strives to point out the good in everyone. His Roam4Free venture will hopefully get going in 2007 and it should shake up mobile communications for those people on the move a lot.

Bernie Goldbach

He has made a massive contribution to the podcasting community in Ireland and if there is one blog to inform you of what is new in 2007 it’ll probably be Bernie. I’m surprised he has not picked up a videocamera and become the Irish scoble.

Two Richards and Dick

Richard Delevan is doing very well in his role of Business Editor in the Sunday Tribune and Richard Waghorne is doing well in the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Mail on Sunday role. We then have Dick O’Brien working in Business Plus. I may be mistaken, but they are all new enough to their roles and should be settling in now and ready to make things more fun. All three I’d consider to be opinion drivers and with their strong blogging backgrounds and great consumption of blogs, they could very well bring views from bloggers into their publications.

The teeny tiny startups that could and will

They might be one man or two man operations mostly but I think the startups like those of Walter Higgins from Sxoop Technologies, Joe Drumgoole from Putplace.com and Conor O’Neill from LouderVoice.com are what we will see more and more of. An army of one man armies in the tech world. Thanks to the flat world and abdundance of resources online, a startup can be run from anywhere with a broadband connection. It would be great to see a few of these become successes in 2007 and inspire those in college or about to complete their studies that their future does not necessarily have to be in giant companies like Sun or IBM or wearing a shirt and tie while writing boring code for a bank.

The unknown blogger

I think we might see a few new bloggers in 2007. Both anonymous and named. I think some might even be journalists from large publications who might hang up their boots and totally immerse themselves in this new way of communicating. I think having someone with a lot of experience with traditional media helps to engage with an audience and can teach us bloggers a thing or two. Such is the case with Blogorrah that went from nowhere to pissing off Ray “Mr. Nice” D’Arcy on the national airwaves. Wouldn’t it be fun if a new blogger dished all the gossip on Bertie but did it from a very safe distance?

See you on the other side

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Off out for the evening now. Thank you to everyone who read this site over the year and who contributed to posts and left comments and especially thanks to those that made me think in different ways and made me change some of my deep rooted beliefs about some things. Bye bye 2006.

Sinn Fein and Policing – Someone please do a “The Bill” mockup

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

The Irish Bulletin has a fun photoshop of Gerry et al in Police Uniforms, but how about remaking the intro to “The Bill” only with vids of the SF people intercut? Same music, same flashing lights.

2006 – The year of bloggers being copied and pasted, 2007 is …

Friday, December 29th, 2006

If only I knew what I was talking about… this is a look back on 2006

Looking back at 2006

Internationally, 2006 for me was the year of YouTube. Easily attachable and watchable video finally happened. The promise from 10 years ago that there was more to the Internet than email and the blink tag became a reality. Bebo also continued to happen and I still don’t think it a bad thing. More on that in a few days…

In Ireland, I think 2006 started to give a voice to the person on the street. Digital Rights Ireland got some more traction and fought the Government in the courts to protect the common man, even if the common man wasn’t sure what data retention was all about. It also spread the word to a breed of people (bloggers and podcasters) that regularly spread the word to others.

Bloggers started to get some attention too via the Blog Awards and a good few follow-up articles through the year and one or two radio slots too. Hopefully this encouraged people to strike out and start their own blog or go out and subscribe to blogs for the first time. It may even have encouraged those that blog to blog more and expand their horizons.

Podcasting got some recognition too and it was great to see the Net Visionary Awards giving a nod to bloggers and podcasters. It is good that people are seeing that home-produced content can stand up to the stuff from the big boys and I think the Tuppenceworth paper round project showed that “respected” publications are a tad on the lazy side.

On the whole original content bit, it was nice to see that the press are paying attention to bloggers even if it is just to rip off their content or pictures. We were at least being read in 2006 (and copied and pasted) It’s a start. The story about the PSNI mySpace profile in the Tribune could only have been sourced from my blog. Cheers guys. Eventually they’ll swallow their pride and start crediting bloggers or else licence our content. Wouldn’t it be nice if they said “Hey we just saw your blog post on subject x, would you be interested in rewriting it for print form?”. It could happen…

Politicians too seem to be listening slightly to bloggers. 2006 saw bloggers in the audience in Questions and Answers and then asked back for hob-knobbing in the green room afterwards with the panelists. The nice part was that Q&A would love to see more people who have constructive and intelligent comments and questions and they see bloggers as fitting that bill or so it seems.

The Blogging the Election conference on a cold Saturday during a busy political week saw three politicians come along and give their experiences of blogging, along with other well known and infamous bloggers talking about the influence of blogs and blogging. The feedback seemed to be good, despite a catering fuckup and freezing cold! There have been a good number of politicians since who have started blogs and some are good while others are just press release archives. They’ll learn eventually I hope.

My own personal highlights had to be the Blog Awards in March and thank you to everyone who helped out with them. BarCamp Ireland was also a hoot and the Blogging the Election conference was superb. Hopefully there’ll be another politics and blogging conference in early 2007. Glad I worked with so many talented people during the year at those events.

What to look forward to in 2007.

Again, these are just my guesses and hopes for 2007. So, we as a group were copied and pasted in 2006. We were used as a fact-checking resource but what we found was taken (sometimes without attribution) and reused in more mainstream publications but mostly without our opinions. Hopefully in 2007, our opinions will also be used. We may see a few bloggers being asked to join the fold in newspapers or on radio. Already the Newstalk Saturday evening preview of the Sunday papers has bloggers on the panel.

The 2007 election may or may not be the defining moment of bloggers driving nationwide debate but I do think that there will be more opportunities for bloggers to say something or find something out and introduce a new perspective into political debate.

The rigourous fact-checking(of some) and lack of deadlines for Irish political bloggers could very well mean that a scandal that that may have slyed away from the public might be brought back into the spotlight by a blogger. Pat Leahy said 2006 was the year that the voters kicked back and perhaps 2007 will be the year that blogs help them kick back more. Harry McGee joined the blogging world in 2006 and maybe more will follow or at least more of his peers might start reading blogs. The questions to ask politicians post seemed to get some very good questions to ask and it would be nice if politicians were made to honestly answer questions like that. Maybe they politicians can be filmed when put on the spot.

Which leads me on to the Votetube project which could be the political tool of the common (broadband enabled) man and woman and could be the central store for incendary political content. Content that could piss off someone so much that they call shenanigans or create some kind of fuss or content that makes someone laugh so much at the clotheless emperor that it gets everyone to stop and notice it too.

I hope to see the new websites for the Indo, Business Post and Tribune pay more attention to blogs, rss, podcasts and video. Hopefully they don’t fuck it all up and charge for these new features. Might be nice if the Examiner got a little more interactive as well.

Lastly, 2007 will probably see me step down from IrelandOffline but not before I get some things done that I wanted to do in 2006. Again with an election year it might be good to have one final charge at making the Government and industry do something to bring about broadband for all. It is at least, worth a try.

The Minister for Dialup and Satellite: Noel Dempsey – Irish Telecoms Review 2006 Part 5

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Noel Dempsey is very much like an email auto-reply message you get after emailing someone that’s on holiday. This is Noel’s boilerplate in answer to most Dáil questions on broadband and telecoms:

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter in the first instance for the private sector companies operating in a fully liberalised market, regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation.

That’s the double layered shield that Noel Dempsey uses when ever he is questioned on the Irish Telecoms market. Firstly “It’s not me, it’s the industry” and then after that it’s “Talk to ComReg, not me”. If pushed further Dempsey does like most of his colleagues, grabs facts given to him by his Dept and holds on very tight to them, repeating them again and again. Remember that bit in Peter Pan where you are asked to clap harder and louder to bring tinkerbell back to life? I think the Ministers do that with their soundbites. If they say it just one more time it might come true.

Some of the facts were dealt with in previous posts on this subject by me. We are told about all the broadband companies out there when in actuality the majority of them are resellers of eircom telecoms or broadband. If pushed just a little more on this then the Minister tells people to go off and set up their own wireless community scheme to get providers to them. All well and good but all through 2006 the Minister has told people to apply for Group Broadband Scheme funding when the scheme was closed for new applicants.

Even if you got your application in earlier in the year, there were numerous delays with getting the cash out of the Government, if you got someone to provide broadband to you. Again it is the same old issue. To get someone into your town or village you need them to have backhaul so what you are seeing is that providers are slowly moving from more urban centres to a little more rural areas. The IrelandOffline Irish broadband map shows that there are not blackspots as such but swathes of the country without broadband. The map needs a little updating but is accurate enough.

Over the years and again in 2006 we have seen shared excuses from eircom, ComReg about being 2nd worst in the EU15 for broadband. Noel Dempsey has at one point or another used all of these 7 deadly and sinful broadband excuses:

  1. Best growth rates in the EU. Stop saying we’re crap.
  2. Ireland was a late starter.
  3. Lack of cable competition meant no stimulus for eircom.
  4. PC Penetraton.
  5. Telecoms bubble.
  6. No demand.
  7. Large rural population/Population Density.

Over time IrelandOffline have proved all of these wrong when given opportunity to do so. It took a while but many now in the press question the excuses given and show them to be wrong. Instead of sorting this crap out Dempsey instead goes on the offensive and attacks IrelandOffline and others for pointing out these facts. Apparently fact-checking and pointing at international comparisons is being negative. Great gamesmanship there. The reality sucks Minister and the reality distortion field around ComReg and the DCMNR are making things worse not better.

The Minister and his Department will get away with this as long as he they are allowed to. So how does the Minister get put under more pressure about this behaviour? I think the Alternative providers need to get their ass in gear and come out hard in a united way. That means they need to stop sniping with each other and it means ALTO needs to get their house in order too.

It also means the consumers and the voters need to put the pressure on the Minister. My own view on how to do that is that everyone should target their local councillors and TDs and put pressure on them and educate them and their handlers so show what the real situation is. Have it trickle up to the cabinet that way.

I think more and more people should write to their local newspapers and radio stations and ask them to cover their dire broadband situations and drag on local councillors to listen to the problems. I also think a central source to show how crap the situation is would be of great use. Lack of demand? How about a register of demand in every constituency?

Broadband really does not seem to be a concern of the Government but then again there is an almost infinite list of issues that the Government seem to have marked as low-priority. 2006 saw nothing new from the Minister and all we actually got was the much anticipated Telecoms bill was delayed until at least 1007. Will it become law before the election?

Fluffy Links – December 29th 2006

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Crossed wires. Pranking two Garda stations.

Irish Bebo Award – I’ll be launching a small competition for Bebo users soon.

Could they have picked a photo that makes the Pope look more evil? I think not.

Those defending a traditional wholesome Christmas are also the ones exploiting it for financial gain. I’m quite impressed with how they made a fortune playing this one.

FF TD Jimmy Devins suggests banning junk food ads from TV. What is his voting record for the ban on alcohol, just, you know, out of interest?

Via TechCrunch I ordered this documentary “In Search of the Valley”. Looks value for money until they add in 12 dollars for shipping. Would much prefer a digital download. I’m sure though you could learn more about Silicon Valley from a 20 minute conversation with Shel Israel. I certainly did when I chatted to him earlier this year when he was in Cork.

Meanwhile Shel is looking for feedback on his latest book/book proposal. Latest iteration. Send yours to him. Shel wrote Naked Conversations along with Robert Scoble.

Via Fred Wilson. Real life story about a guy who goes off and raises millions and starts a medica researchcompany to search for a cure for a debilitating disease his kids have.

Shaq Attack:

Marx Brothers humour:

More of it: