Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

On writing after being addicted to Twitter for 12 years

Monday, January 7th, 2019

I’m trying to get into blogging again so this is rambling.

Brian O’Connell interviewed me about phone addiction recently and I do think people are addicted to the scroll. I’m on Twitter too much, though I schedule my tweets so there’s that there is my excuse… Twitter roared into life and culture around 12 years ago and became big for a while. It allowed the instant spreading of thoughts or headlines and allowed people to react to it. If you blogged back then there was no way you could just fire off two sentences and that was enough. Explain yourself boy, elaborate what you mean kid, we didn’t come to your website for two lines of anything. With Facebook and Twitter feeds, we never left those spaces to read, one short bit after another was there.

I was going through how many winners of the Blog Awards ended up writing books. The original Blog Awards, mind, not the one that tried to trade off the thing I helped to start. My God there is some amount of authors from the list of winners. It goes to show that maybe the fair judging system combined with the raw talent that was there, writing, reading, giving feedback and creating a community gave people a road and map to keep going. They were going to be writers anyway, let’s be clear, their talent was there already.

Twenty Major. Grandad, Shane Hegarty, Sinéad Gleeson, Sweary Lady, Beaut.ie’s Aisling, Panti, Donal Skehan, Arseblog,Nessa Robins, Annie Atkins.

You read it so much in interviews that the advice for writing from writers is just sit down and write. Create a routine and stick to it. A habit. Publishers also talk about recruiting people that have pre-made audiences so it is easier to sell them a book.

Anyway, why I got on to this was I found it really hard to write my 13th Ones to Watch post.It was a relief getting it done but it felt more rewarding too. This blog post I’m writing now feels like it is doing to stay around for a while, for years or longer. While my tweets are findable, they don’t feel permanent. Yet I’m firing off tweets all the time.

During the year there were so many times I wanted to write something but it was easier to write a tweet storm/Twitter thread. Perhaps it was the instant gratification of a Like or Retweet when tweeting and also perhaps banging out 140 characters or basically a one liner after another and another is much easier than stringing sentences and paragraphs together that have to flow. Twitter is writing bullet points whereas blogging is fleshing out the table of contents. We saw it back then with blogging, someone would take time off and then they were gone for good, not coming back.

I remember an old teacher of mine talking about Lent and how it is much easier to give something up than taking something on. I guess Twitter became the easier thing for many of us or even not Twitter but regular life. I used to write two blog posts a day for a few years. I had 2000 visits a day to this blog too. A habit. I got nothing done in my day job… 🙂

The people that make writing look easy I’m sure worked really hard to make it look that easy. The finished smooth work needed plenty of attention. Even now as I write this blog post I have various sentences that I’m writing out with points that I want to make and then I’ll create “joining sentences” or “bridging sentences” maybe? to stitch together these little islands of thoughts. This blog post is going to go through many edits, deletions and expansions before you get to see it. And it will probably sit there for a day or two but I hope no longer as I’ll not come back for weeks. Even writing this now I feel like the writing is helping me structure thoughts in my head. Writing brings clarity of thought.

And now I pick up on writing this a day later but at least I went off and wrote another blog post in the mean time which I’m happy about.

There’s been a big drop off in blogging by the people I know and a whole new wave of bloggers that have come in. Maybe we’ll see a new wave of authors come out of the current blogging community or maybe the creativity will have an outlet elsewhere? There have been Twitter users that have ended up creating books from these spaces though a lot of them seem like a book of fortune cookie phrases or one liner jokes. Sorry Gerry. What seems to work though is a single topic Twitter account such as The Irish For that makes so much sense to be made into a reference book of sorts. Which can then extend into something more for the next book/iteration. We’ve seen Facebook Groups create books too with “Oh my God What a Complete Aisling” turning into a book. The creators have mentioned though, like great comedians, they honed their skills over time before they produced this great work. This work has the legs to be a book, a play, a musical and TV show. A world was created in that Facebook Group.

Podcasts are being snapped up by studios like Netflix and others to option for TV shows and movies and books too. I would like to see more blogging from people in my social networks but it’s very hard to create this habit and kick another one but maybe where hard work and toiling of a craft come together no matter the media, we might see new creations and new works come out that will end up on book shelves or on the radio or TV, if we make a habit of it.

“Brainy Books” for the Feeling Lost generation? Or are we the Want to Know More generation?

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

via GIPHY

We have sites called Just Fucking Google it that are built to shame people for not Googling things:

Someone thinks you are an idiot because you were too stupid to check Google before asking a question.

and also Let Me Fucking Google That For You.

Kids are learning the facts of life from porn. The Internet was designed to route around a damaged network in case of nuclear war. The kids are now routing around bad parenting but it’s crap that it’s porn they’re seeking to explain things since those same bad parents have palpitations if there were sites explaining sex to them.

Fuck the Exposition says David Simon when he was doing Tremé. TV now treats audiences as smart and not having to baby feed them complicated plots. Look at TV now and how dense the information is compared to 20 years ago. How innocent things were those days. Or just how crap we were at digesting information. I watched the pilot for the Six Million Dollar Man recently and it was so so slow and uninteresting. We expect much more from television now. We’re calling it the golden era and I’m sure it has much to do with the fact that we are good at understanding complex narratives thanks to the Internet and encountering more cultures.

Now this article points out that “brainy books” are becoming popular. Oh and a take about the same as that. I do see an up-tick in people seeking out information more than ever before. However, this is an age of always-on, fast Internet where if we have a question we type it into Google or we ask a device. We are listening to more podcasts and audiobooks. The documentary sections of Netflix and Amazon are doing great trade. Podcasts are booming. Non-fiction is booming because we do what we always have done: seek knowledge and meaning. And so we should cater for these needs. And books that cater for these needs are being bought which sees publishers seek out more books like this. Yes, social anxiety is increasing with Trump, Brexit, Putin and the world starting to burn but is the cause of a population seeking out more information really linked to this anxiety? I’m not too sure but I’d like to know more.

Can the customer be even more right with the web?

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

I think I wrote this for the Cork Independent in 2010. The answer is no but you might have to suck it up a bit more unless you are very sure of your offering.

Can the customer be even more right with the web?

Last week we looked at customer care and how good and bad service can propagate far and wide thanks to digital word of mouth. Focusing as much as you can on your website and having it as a core part of your customer service system cuts down on costs and allows people to figure out their issues with less pressure.

Using actions to change behaviour
Many times when people contact a company via phone or email it’s to sort something that seems completely simple to an employee. Customers will look at things differently to an employee who lives and breathes the product and ways to use it. Even consumer giant Apple with their elegantly designed products still field calls about their iPods and iPhones, just ask their staff in Hollyhill.

Ideally each interaction you have with a customer should be a learning experience on both sides. Take note of how the customer describes their issues and the language they use and try and reuse their phrasing on your online help sections as the main wording or alternative text. For the customer you should be educating them on how to use the website and go through simple steps to solve the issue.

It sounds almost cruel, like keeping sweets out of reach from a child but just giving a customer an answer and getting them off the phone means they’ll call back again. Gently walking them through the action of how to fix their issue (if they can do it themselves) means that next time they might remember to do it themselves. Always follow up calls too with an email confirming the issue and how to fix it, step by step. Think of the safe cross code ads and how they thought kids to cross roads.

Unfortunately, the way customer support systems have been run over the years means a percentage of people mistrust ringing phone numbers or sending emails and instead take the quickest route to vent, crib or ask for help: Twitter!

You mightn’t know it or want it but you are going to have to do customer support via social networks nowadays. If someone that is connected to 200 people or even 2000 people complains about your service, you should at least be listening and try and sort their issue. If you don’t have a presence, reach out and bring them into your customer care system and use your traditional system to meet their needs.

Again, show them areas on your website where they can help themselves. Importantly to note when you help those on Twitter and blogs is that you are getting into an almost live commentary of your support. People will ask their Twitter friend how they were treated and are they happy with the result. The good with supporting your Twitter customer is that if you tell them how they can remedy the situation, they’ll share this with others. Twitter is a megaphone. Good things can be sent down it or bad things. It’s up to your core company philosophy as to which one you can have.

Me on the iPhone in 2007

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Found some old articles I wrote for the Sunday Tribune and ENN.
This is one about the iPhone before it came out and whether it will decide telecoms standards and destroy the competition.
May 2007:

So far just Steve Jobs from Apple and material girl Madonna have Apple iPhones but that still hasn’t stopped people from deciding that the iPhone is better than their own phone. The iPod generation has a lot of faith in the Apple brand. Apple has yet to disclose what wireless broadband option will be in the European release of the iPhone in November. Could a brand alone decide whether WiMax, Wifi or 3G is going to be the most popular wireless technology in the next few years?

In a survey done recently by Strategy Analytics, 90% of mobile phone owners said that the Apple iPhone was superior to their current handset. While the iPhone does appear to have some superior aspects such as a large display, a built-in iPod and a touch-screen interface, the startling thing about the survey was that nobody surveyed had actually used the iPhone but just watched a video about it. Apple predicts they’ll see 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008. Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson were already worried about the iPhone but this survey has probably helped give more of them sleepless nights. Phone manufacturers shouldn’t be the only ones to be worried. Billions of euros have been invested in Wifi, WiMax and 3G broadband which are all types of wireless broadband and if Apple becomes the most popular phone manufacturer it will mean they could call the shots on wireless broadband in Europe and delegate the other two technologies to the could-have-been section in the history books.

In America, Apple has signed an exclusive deal with AT&T to be the mobile provider for the iPhone. The wireless options for the iPhone are WiFi and EDGE wireless broadband. EDGE is also known as 2.75G network technology, an inferior version of the 3G broadband that is on offer in Europe. For the launch of the European iPhone, Apple is keeping their cards very close to their chest on what wireless technology they’ll use. Europe’s biggest mobile phone networks have been courting Apple to get an exclusive deal with them for the iPhone. Vodafone, 3, O2 owner Telefonica and many others are all jumping up and down shouting “pick me”. While 3G technology is the most popular form of wireless broadband in Europe, WiMax technology is also being used in some locations in Europe. WiMax also has considerable backing from Motorola, Intel and Clearwire.

3G has been available in Ireland now for a few years and consumers are set to benefit from a looming price war between o2, Vodafone and 3 after 3 dropped the monthly cost of their mobile broadband service to €19.99 a month. WiMax still hasn’t taken off here though Irish Broadband and eircom have been trialing it of late. eircom also have a 3G licence which they recently acquired so their options are open. Digiweb have also been talking about using yet another technology to offer mobile broadband. If the Deus ex Machina that is the iPhone impacts on the telecoms market the way the iPod forced massive changes in the music industry then fortunes could be won or lost on the whim of Apple.

A few decades ago, a format war occurred between betamax and VHS and betamax ended up losing despite it being a superior format. Once again we could have a war of technologies where it is not about which is the best technology but about the power of a brand, the twist this time is that the brand that decides the fate of these technologies is a total outsider. While Apple must be a waking nightmare to everyone in telecoms, have you heard that Google is building a phone…

Move to the Valley

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

This was written in December 2007 for the Sunday Tribune. Some parts have aged well and some … I was either still in Silicon Valley or was just back. I was very critical of Enterprise Ireland and not much has changed in 10 years. All their work is based on fomulas created from 10 year old business books that were written by people who wrote books to deflect from being shit at business. Those who came along didn’t want to make much noise as they were tied to the EI noose to keep their business alive. I think one of the companies that came on the tour is still alive which after 10 years from embryonic stage, is good going. The Sunday Tribune of course is not. But I own the domain name and still get loads of press releases.

==
“Move”, the one word summary from billionaire Marc Andreessen on how to build a successful global technology company. This week I was embedded in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley with 26 Irish people from 14 Irish tech startups. Palo Alto is a city strewn with addicts wherever you go but instead of heroin or crack, the natives are hooked to networking and building better relationships with people. Andreessen, founder of Netscape, Opsware and now social network creation site Ning was one of many executives to take time out of their busy lives to meet up with Irish companies, just as unknown back home as they are in the Valley. Andreessen was quite happy to give a private hour-long Q&A with these visitors from Ireland. On elaboration Andreesen said that inter-networking with people is one of the most important things for any business and the greatest place in the world to do business is in Silicon Valley. Should we just pack our bags and look for networking chances in them thar hills, the same hills our ancestors mined for gold?

Andreessen wasn’t the exception to the rule either, earlier in the week a Facebook VP gave a personal tour of Facebook and brought in their top brass to meet these Irish companies who for now had nothing to offer them. After the tour our group were personally walked to our next meeting a few blocks away by one of their Vice-Presidents and he personally thanked us for choosing to visit Facebook, something echoed by Microsoft the next day too and other companies all through the week. Ever been thanked when walking out of a store in Ireland with empty hands and full wallets?

Silicon Valley Caltrain

Mark Zawacki leads the Milestone management consultancy group and took time out to do a free consulting session with the visiting Irish companies, he suggested that the philosophy of Silicon Valley is that relationships are the currency of business and pointed out that the vast majority of the billions invested in tech every year are local investments whereby investors are giving money to people they have good working relationships with already. Even Irish CEOs attending the Enterprise Ireland Leadership for Growth initiative that took place in Stanford broke their curfew and met with the other Irish to exchange thoughts and contact details. Everyone gets hooked.

Ger Hartnett from Limerick based Coclarity summarised the experience of many on the tour “We heard the same key message consistently; contacts and relationships are crucial and it was contacts and relationships that helped us meet Marc Andresson and Ross Mayfield who were extremely generous with their time. ”

Not everyone though can afford to up sticks and move to the centre of the tech industry universe even if it offers so much. You don’t have to move though to take advantage of the Valley. Ross Mayfield from Socialtext gave sage advicento the Irish startups on how he manages a multi-million dollar company using free tools for online conference calls and long-distance phone calls. While his main office is in the Silicon Valley and he meets more venture capitalists and industry bigwigs on his smoke break than Irish businesses would meet in a lifetime, most of his team only meet up together in one place a few times a year. Mayfield seems to have found an ideal balance between keeping the addiction to maintaining Valley connections alive and not pricing yourself out of a market which expects products to become cheaper every year.

With cheap and direct flights to San Francisco and already existing Irish Networks in place in the Valley perhaps we should move our monthly networking events to Palo Alto and skip Dublin altogether or encourage Valley events to move 11 hours away to Ireland. A finger in each pie is an advantage this time.

Ones to Watch – the 2018 biased edition

Monday, January 1st, 2018

Previously on Ones to Watch: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 2008, 2007.

This is the 12th iteration of Ones to Watch. I’ve been thinking for a while about these type of lists and how subjective they are and exclusive but exclusive with emphasis on exclusion. So many lists you see around the place are “mates rates” type lists. I find people for the Ones to Watch from people I know or notice in my day-to-day journeys online and off. 2017 was busier than ever, moreso after starting a sabbatical type thing so I’ve not interacted and watched people do interesting things compared to before. 2016’s list was the same too. I’m referencing the Pattern Recognition post I wrote as it glanced at the idea of confirmation bias too. My lists like most are in a bubble and are totally biased. That needs to change.

Here’s a fun thing to do with you and your “woke” friends:
Each of you write down the names of 5 Irish women who are inspiring for a podcast. Now compare notes. Louise Mcsharry will be on it because she deserves to be. Maeve Higgins maybe? One of those influencer people who have bought followers and the media are too thick to realise? Katie Taylor? Claire Byrne? Clare Daly? Alison Spittle? Louise O’Neill? 2.4M women you can choose from and the overlap is going to be staggering. A great start but quite predictable list is media personality or known of because of winning an award. Name someone from the Traveller community. Great you have John Connors too, now name another one that didn’t star in Glenroe. How about an Irish black male that isn’t a sports person? A person with a disability that isn’t doing Special Olympics. Someone that hasn’t done a TED(x) talk? It’s okay, we’re all in bubbles. We seem to reference the people just like us and then one or two people each from a minority community who it seems are there to talk about being a minority from their community. Like has been said so often, how often do you hear a working class Dublin accent on the radio outside of reporters interviewing locals about a shooting or the death of a homeless person? Arts programmes to a small degree.

And I’m just as guilty with events I do. Measurement 2016 was an all-female lineup. The rule we enacted was even the tech people that would be on stage had to be female. A male-free stage. It worked, in so far as we pulled off the event, though it made a loss but that’s because I’m great at ideas crap at business. It showed it can be done though and I was hoping like many of the other ideas we did, that it would be copied by others. The lineup of Measurement was all people from inside my bubble and I have done nothing to break it or expand it. Nice and safe people that I mostly knew, some I knew for years. Now you are generally risk-averse for these things when you are starting off so you go with people you know won’t go lala and alienate or get you sued. Which is why you always hear the same voices on radio. They’re trusted and SO very predictable so you can plan around that. Media production is all about cookie cutters. The new Jamie Oliver yeah?

It’s like that thing for nearly a decade where you ask the Irish tech heads to name a woman to speak at a conference and it was Martha Rotter or Clare Dillon both at Microsoft at the time or Jane ní Dhulchaointigh from Sugru. And then shuffling of feet. Well done lads. For them and me it was a case of look further afield.

Louise Mcsharry’s podcast Fresh had two guests that I never heard of at all. This is great, more please! 50% totally new on any media production is great. (at time of writing 4 were listed) Stevie G is doing remarkable work in Cork on a thriving hiphop scene and dance scene with so much young talent. Never heard of these folks either. Good. Following people totally not aligned to my interest on Twitter has seen me encounter all new ideas via their Likes and RTs. This is good.

So my Ones to Watch is going to be the “unknown unknowns” this time. I think I need to make 2018 the year that I change the lens on my vision and look for other sources and spaces. Time to stop going a little outside my circle and go way outside. A friend of a few friends I’ve heard mentioned is not enough. So what I’m doing is, I’m leaving people that are reading this to comment and recommend people they are finding interesting and are ones to watch. Maybe nobody comments! Anyone that recommends themselves gets deleted of course. Be humble. So off you go, who are the Ones to Watch in 2018? Tell us.

Ones to Watch 2016

Friday, January 1st, 2016

2015 ones to watch.

2015 was a stupid year for me. I felt my company regressed and a lot of time I was out of breath with everything I do. Now normally I find the even numbered years to not be as fun as the odd numbered ones. Though 2015 is a very even, odd number. All the events I run had their biggest numbers ever and I committed to more events in 2016. Reminder: Do something with 1916.ie and 2016.ie. I did start attending a course to help me to cop the fuck on when it comes to running my business and started going an evening course in UCC so I have been doing constructive and new things. I barely wrote on this blog in 2015 but when I did I loved doing it. Pen set to paper soothes the bubbling brain.

2014 .
2013 . 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 2008, 2007.

Anyway, been doing these Ones to Watch for a long long time and here is my badly put together one for 2016:

Kathryn Reilly.
Election year, whipsmart new generation in Sinn Féin, learning the ropes in the Seanad to become a lawmaker when Sinn Féin are in power. A friend first alerted me to this future member of the Sinn Féin dream team. One to watch. BTW, not a member of Sinn Féin, don’t own a wool cardigan, don’t know the words to Men Behind the Wire.

Jillian van Turnhout
Mannnn, for someone that doesn’t believe in democracy* and wanted and still wants the Seanad to be shut down, Jillian and a few other people in the Seanad and Dáil are showing differences can be made. Clare Daly is another. I was first alerted to Jillian by a friend in the Oireachtas who admired the fact that she hired her parliamentary assistant based on merit and via an open application process. Most sadly are quasi nepotistic – I hire your kid, you hire my kid/wife/buddy.

Loretta Ní Ghabháin
I know Loretta for a few years now via TG4 and other events. She’s looking after a lot of social for TG4 and other organisations from what I can tell and when you want stuff done, talk to her. I’d love to see a digital conference but mostly/majority as Gaeilge. Enough people in digital in Ireland can do this now, btw.

Pat Phelan
Duh. Oh am I meant to elaborate? Pat proved he can build, talk the talk, do the walk and have an exit. Pat will restart his blog in the next while. Pat isn’t a resting type and a corporate type so I suspect that we’ll see at least the announcement of PatsNewGig in 2016.

Natasha Lynch
Essential French for years has been getting students top grades in the Leaving Cert. The students and wanna-be students give them a cult-like following. McWilliams Sail bags, Essential French attendance and whateve hairstyle is in. EF has won multiple awards. Natasha now is expanding Essential French with the first of probably a few apps. Digital allows you to scale well outside of Cork. The app is out a few months so let’s see what happens in 2016.

Ryan Mangan
First alerted to Ryan via Spunout (there’s always a Spunout link in these). Check out his Instagram and his new food blog. There’s lots of potential in positive and rewarding eating and people changing their eating habits. Good timing, good alignment. Cookbook eventually?

David Coallier
Barricade is an interesting company but the sharing of what they’re doing is massively beneficial to everyone. Also an investor in Trustev. Cork company. Course.

Darren Gale.
Cos 1. he’ll get pissed off with this but 2. he’s always promoting others so it’s his turn.

Sara Burke
Her name in the HSE must set alarm bells going. Probably has her own code in there. With elections in 2016 and Sara having called bullshit on fakery, all the election promises will be gutted and salted and whoever is in Government will be doing a WWSBS? What Will Sara Burke Say? given the budget of the HSE and how it informs public debate. Yeah I can sell you those badges.

Chris and Peter, Peter and Chris.
Ciara had a go last year and is now besties with famous people while still keeping Chris around. The Epic News content they do and the fun stuff for Paddy Power would suggest they’re getting better at producing fun content. Plus Channel 4 of course. And lots of people will want their content.

Louise McSharry
Jesus Christ, 2015 like but still. That wedding planning and cancer stuff can move the fuck away now thanks. Louise has a great show on 2FM, plays new stuff you don’t hear on the rest of the shows and will say in polite terms she won’t play music from woman beating arseholes. Anyway, I suspect Louise was just warming up in 2015. Woo.

* BTW I was sad to see Alan Shatter go. That man got shit done and held grudges so well but then a scruffy lad from Wexford did him over. A bit like Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Michael Collins.

InvestNI and Web Summit – £310,366 given to Web Summit and sister events

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

FOI results from @InvestNI £310,366 (€442,603) given to Web Summit and sister events by InvestNI since 2012. The oddest one for me is for F.ounders given it’s pretty much an invite only event for very rich men.
Web Summit is an all island money acquisition machine.

Previous FOIs on Web Summit

IDA and Web Summit.

Enterprise Ireland and Web Summit.

2010 and 2011 payments to Web Summit.

Google’s Alphabet Street

Friday, August 14th, 2015

So, Google Alphabet

  • Alphabet = [Google] + [Calico, Nest, Fiber, G Ventures, G Capital, Google X]
  • Google = Google Search, Ads, Maps, YouTube, Android are still under the Google umbrella in Alphabet. The rest is shit Sundar Pichai doesn’t want.
  • Alphabet saves face as the founders and Eric are now not running their creation.
  • Sundar Pichai can gut the company more too and it wasn’t them. Nobody ever got the axe under the rule of the three amigos – Larry, Sergei, Eric. Actually, a few were left go during the crunch but not massive numbers.
  • Maybe now, silly projects like Google Glass don’t need to be crowbarred into being an integral part of Google and can be left to be fun toys for the billionaire’s boys club
  • Fáilte Ireland and Lovin Dublin

    Monday, February 16th, 2015

    FOI’d Visit Dublin which is part of Fáilte Ireland. Remember that Loving Dublin thing in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre? Did you know they got €5k ex VAT from Failte Ireland as it encouraged people from the UK to travel to Ireland? Now you do. The money was to help in “Repositioning Dublin as a cool, contemporary, edgy city break destination”

    Good news too. They expect 10k people (lots from the UK) in 2015 and 15k in 2016. Hmm, people from the UK coming over in 2016. Great!

    (Click to enlarge etc.)

    LovingDublinFuturePlans2

    LovingDublinFuturePlans1

    I asked Failte Ireland too if “communications between Fáilte Ireland and employees of LovinDublin on content/editorial decisions of
    LovinDublin” and they said they didn’t contact them with any issues about their content. Maybe people from the UK will Love content like this? It’s “edgy” alright.

    AddictsAndBeggarsHatingDublin

    HatinDublinNorthsiders