Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Everyone’s heard about the Word-camp

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

A-well-a everybody’s heard about the word w-w-w-word, word, word, w-word’s the word. A-well-a word, word, word, the word is the word, Wordcamp!

35 speakers, some of them lip-smackingly good (from a genuine content distribution perspective), two days, three streams. 50 quid. 50 quid for two days! There’s value for money and there’s this. Plus 200 geeky folks networking. G’wan, go, even for one day.


Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I gave a talk at the Internet Growth Alliance‘s iGAP event last week. The title of the talk was Junkinomics, spammers and Obamabollox. I’ll expand on the first part of the talk in this post.

In the past few years many businesses didn’t consider what they did as a total act of survival. The Celtic Tiger made most people fat and comfortable (phsyically and mentally) and fed into a fantasty that doing nothing would still guarantee comfort. Yet even during the boom times people were still falling into complete poverty, people were homeless, pretty much lived a daily life of being starved and too many people were in constant survival mode.

Today if you walk around Dublin you’ll encounter junkies, beggars and homeless people every few minutes. They all want your money and there’s strong competition for it. Most people walk past them willfully ignoring them, pretending not to see them, some mightgive something and some will say they have no change. The style of the ask has changed over time, evolving to what works best/what will work for a while. It’s gone from aggressive demanding of money to politely asking for money for a cup of tea and thanking people no matter if they help or not (which makes some people stop and then give money as it ups the guilt perhaps.) I’ve noticed over time too that the “money for a cup of tea” ask has now changed to “money for a hostel”.

Access to the old Harcourt St. railway
Photo owned by Jacobo Tarrío (cc)

Last week at iGap I told the story of a girl who came up to me at the Luas Green stop opposite Stephen’s Green shopping centre asking for money. She told me she wasn’t a junkie and rolled up her sleeves to show me, she told me how her boyfriend had just left her, how she was 2 months pregnant and how she has nowhere to live and asked me to help with money.

A cold cynical analysis of this: She hung around at the richer Luas stop, the first leg in the journey of people to get out of the grime of the city. People almost relieved to get out of dodge and so will be slightly more irrational when handing over money. She started to build trust by showing me she wasn’t a junkie. She triggered emotional reactions by telling me 3 facts that would put me at unease and then gave me the opportunity to try and right some of these. She got a tenner off me.

To be able to get money from people with strong competition, from an audience that’s already jaded, you are going to have to adapt to it and find out what will get and sustain attention. In the right location a sign alone might work and get you small amounts of money (hello Google Adwords) but as the streets fill with more people doing the same, you’re not going to make as much. (Still looking at you Google Adwords) Knowing your audience, knowing what will get them to think and react is becoming more and more important. Do you change your message and go after small amounts in large volumes or do you tell a deeper story to a different audience? Watching what others are doing and seeing does it work is also needed and knowing how to adapt again when your unique message gets copied is also important.

It might be worth it for some companies to volunteer time with the “professional” charities who are experts at extracting cash from people even when many of them don’t have a tangible product. What they’ll teach you more than anything is how to understand people. You can donate to the Simon Community here.

The €4 Million Govt website that you never heard of

Friday, February 12th, 2010

In a single sentence: 4M quid spent, no stats on usage.

The Irish Times today has a story on Mobhaile, which was a website created so county councils and community groups could have an online presence. My first interaction with the site was via blogs that it hosted for a time. I was reminded of it a few years ago by a fellow blogger and then saw mention of it last year too, so in December 2009 I did an FOI about it after reading Dáil transcripts pointing out at least 2M was spent on it. In turned out to be 4 Million.


The expenses for this system are below. Was it a success? Well they spent 4 million quid and then shut it down and how did they measure success? Well they didn’t know the number of visitors or logged in users as they never enabled logging of this information. That’s right, the most basic form of measurement of a website was shut off.

And the excuse:

“To put in Webtrends licences on each of those sites was an expense that we couldn’t have borne,” he said.

Which kind of conflicts with:

He added that the project saved a significant amount of money by moving to open-source software during its development.

Where are the log files? These are records under FOI. No records I was told. It’s perverse that with 4M quid of taxpayer money being spent, money on stats is deemed too expensive.

A huge issue here for me is where was the oversight? 4 Million quid, boom times or not (great excuse that), this is a serious amount of money. That would fund a huge amount of startups that could build something that lasts more than 3 years. Also, despite the site being shut down, hosting is still happening and being billed for?

All this information was required via FOI. Here are the released docs as PDF Attachments 1, 2, 3. OCRd Word docs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Please do go through them and share your thoughts.

Expenditure: Mobhaile
LA Claims paid out-eChampions/elnclusion 629,129
Travel & Subsistence 25,318
Training & Conferences 19,908
Advertising 17,079
Development Costs 1,482,092
Computing Costs 1,275,878

Accommodation Costs 48,426
Administration Costs 11,298
Salaries 431,418
Hosting 2006 58,661
Hosting 2007 ¦ 75,119
Hosting 2008 86,940
Hosting 2009 70,583
Hosting for 4 years: 291,302
Grand Total: 4,231,848

I asked for stats:

Details of the usage of the system from launch including number of logged in users, number of accounts/websites/subsites created and website statistics (unique visitors, pageloads) yearly from inception to the present.

And got back:
Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with that information as the web-trending software wasn’t configured to provide statistics on Mobhaile sites

“Web-trending software not configured” is a bit different to: “To put in Webtrends licences on each of those sites was an expense that we couldn’t have borne”

I asked a technology bloke about the hosting and he said:

It’s all hosted by the LGCSB, who for some reason have their own AS number (which they do not need, but gives them 7000 IP addresses that I doubt are being used :P). This is pretty darn expensive, since they end up having to peer with higher ISPs (they seem to be peering with C&W as a level 2 provider, which would not be cheap at all)

Here’s a Silicon Republic interview with Ray Rochford about it. Dial down the sensitivity of your bullshit meter.

Here’s where some of the money went.

Read through all the docs and see how this project changed numerous times. More costs. What I find amazingly interesting is the final document that was sent on, to me, reads like it’s explaining how 4 Million can be spent on something that’s now shut down and somehow was ahead of its time and opened the gate for iPhone and other buzzwords:

Finally, would the Mobhaile project be initiated again, if funds permitted? Yes, but in a different fashion. The toolsets available now for Communities are far easier to source, understand and maintain that they were even 3 years ago. The evolution of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and OpenID are three main areas of work that the Mobhaile team developed solutions for transitive Identity across all community sites and the idea of single sign on. In the current web2.0 environment where many of the toolsets provided by Mobhaile are now available for free (albeit with Advertising attached in some instances), I believe that there still is a role of co-ordination, training, understanding the different toolsets and harnessing the power of the internet for those who are less well off in the internet economy .The role (for someone) to help those less well off (in different terms) to learn, understand and harness the power of the internet-there still is a role to bring the disenfranchised in – or maybe to carry the franchise to them.

This is the copy of Mobhaile.

Mobhaile, mo problems.

Update: Six years ago people were questioning this whole project.

Digital Festival Discount

Friday, February 5th, 2010

If you’ve not booked your ticket to the Digital Festival that’s on in Dublin on February 24th then perhaps this discount that they sent on might entice you.

The discount code is BFSDMULL which brings the ticket price down to €275+VAT @ 21%. So that’s 100 euros off. I’ll be availing of that myself. Some people I greatly respect and admire will be speaking.

UCC Lecture: “Risk Intelligence” – How expert gamblers can teach us all to make better decisions”

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Test your risk intelligence.

Got this via a press release:

As the current financial crisis demonstrates, many people are bad at thinking about risk. Expert gamblers, however, seem to be an exception. They are less prone to the cognitive biases that affect most of us and as a result, they can think about risk more clearly.

In the next lecture of the 2010 College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS) Public Lecture Series at UCC, Dr Dylan Evans will present his initial findings from recent interviews conducted with expert gamblers and outline some ways for thinking more wisely about risky choices.

The lecture titled: “Risk Intelligence” – How expert gamblers can teach us all to make better decisions” will be delivered on Wednesday, February 10th at 8pm in Boole IV Lecture Theatre.

Dr Dylan Evans is Lecturer in Behavioural Science in the School of Medicine at UCC. He is the author of several popular science books, including Emotion: The Science of Sentiment (Oxford University Press, 2001) and Placebo: The Belief Effect (Harper Collins, 2003) and writes regularly for The Guardian. He is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association, and a Member of the British Fulbright Scholars Association.

Our Mums are about to join the web

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

That new device from Apple (avoiding putting it in the blog post title or body to avoid Googler traffic during the hype cycle) is going to make using the web easy for people who up to know found using a mouse, keyboard and a browser a tad intimidating. Webstats show that iPod Touch traffic has been quite strong and growing and this larger version is going to bring a whole new demographic online who might never use such an onbnoxious pointing device. A device without a “real” OS so no need to install patches, no need to shut down properly, no need to figure out all the shite UI gotchas and so on. A thin piece of glass that we touch and the full blown web and all the data she carries.

I’m sure it’s killing those that want the web acessible only via oily machines and those that somehow “deserve” the web but tough. The majority of people don’t give a shit that you can’t modify the device or Jobs owns their functionality. The same way most people don’t add a big fuckoff exhaust and go faster stripes to their car. Apple’s obsessive paranoia about control gives us devices like the iPhone and the iPad and the proponents of openness give us … the Nexus Phone two years later and One Laptop Per Child. Out of the box, Apple devices work for the greatest number. That really must take the power away from those that are called upon by the family to sort a driver for some device.

A tweet that sums up the massive potential for the device is this:

I’ve been pretty vocal about my dislike towards the iPad but I still want one. Imagine – not having to carry anything to class but a slate!

iPhones and iPod Touches are already being bought en-masse by educational institutions. Bye bye school labs and awkward desk setups. Schoolbooks and courseware direct to the device. Art galleries use iPod Touches for multimedia tours. Tate Modern has a great one. Apple from feedback knew the screen on the touch was an issue for lots of further uses of the device so this new device will fill a gap. It will probably impact on the Touch. Apple has shifted 20 million iPod Touches so far.

So, democratisation of the web. Is it open platforms that need an engineer or is it easiest route to get to the web, even if in a “closed” device?

Oh yes and ChromeOS, I think you just got sunk.


Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I’ve been telling people that they should be able to pitch themselves/their business in a single Tweet. If you can’t explain what you or your business does in 140 characters then you need to work on your pitch. If you’re in a lift with Bill Gates and he asks you what you do, can you tell him before his bodyguards chuck you out on the 5th floor?

Huge amount of Irish businesses in the past few minutes are doing just that by tagging their twitter messages with #biztweet

Biz Tweet

The blogger contact template

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Spoke about this at the Online PR course on Saturday on what doesn’t work. Heads up to the PR companies out there that are trying to engage with us but are wondering why it is not working. Here’s the template that yourself and your peers are using and it doesn’t work. The implied bits are in ( brackets )

Dear < insert blogger's name >,

Love your < insert blog name > and especially liked < insert recent blog post title >, it was certainly food for thought. I’m contacting you today to let you know about a new campaign we are doing for a client. (50 quid if you can actually spot a difference between this and the same campaign last year) The feedback so far (by the people afraid to be critical of the spend) has been great. I think the readers of your < insert type of blog > blog will get a great kick out of it ( or maybe the fact we have pics of a fat dude in a suit next to a woman dressed like a hooker.) Maybe you’d like to blog it? If you’d like to talk to Brendán who heads the marketing for the Company (you remember that souless corpspeak waffler who made it clear you gave him a rash from just being around?) let me know and I’ll arrange for you to do an interview for your blog. (I hope you’re getting the fact that I have a column to fucking fill in Excel and we got you pissed last year on petrol flavoured alcopops so you owe us)

Hope all is well and keep blogging about < insert that recent blog post title >!

(goodbye smelly blogger)
Cheers dudes,
Droid 1.c

it@Cork job spec

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

it@cork are currently looking for a marketing exec on a part-time basis.


We are looking for a person with PR and Marketing experience to temporarily fill the role of the Events and Marketing Executive who is covering the Programme Manger’s maternity leave. Experience of organising events would be a distinct advantage. The position is part-time, 3 days a week; the successful candidate would ideally be available from February 1 to July 30 2010.

For an informal discussion of the role contact Alison Reilly, Acting Programme Manager 021 2307076 or send your CV and a cover letter to alison

The role requires:

* Experience in Marketing and PR; event organisation experience would be a distinct advantage.
* Excellent communication and organisational skills with the ability to prioritise a large number of competing tasks whilst working under pressure.
* Excellent computer literacy including Word, Excel and PowerPoint; experience in using a CMS would be an advantage.
* Flexibility around work hours as some events will be run outside of normal work hours.
* Ability to work as part of a team.

Good news for Friday

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Good News Friday is this Friday. Media Express is allowing you free access to their press release system if you send out positive press releases this Friday.

You can sign up now and even compose your release and then time it to go out on Friday. The idea is that Friday’s news then will be full of positive news on the day which is normally the most depressing of the year.

Download a prep pack too. (PDF) Light the scented candles, drink some hippy tea and start putting together nice news!

A Good Old Standby
Photo owned by me’nthedogs (cc)