Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Flash Mob at Stag’s Head, Dublin tonight at 8pm – Wear an A

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Flash Mob at Stag’s Head tonight at 8pm. Draw a circle on your hand. #zefrank #sciencegallery

Have an A on your hand.

Bring on the Overreactions

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

We need more boy who cried wolf stories online and people remembering them.

The recent Easter holiday flareup online about Amazon removing gay and lesbian books was an interesting study on the way people react to things online and the way people react to reactions online. We also saw how one of the largest online companies in the world didn’t react at all. In a world where news spreads through twitter in minutes to the 6 million+ people on it, Amazon took days to react to this situation and naturally the hype got worse as each hour went on.

Fiery Sunset 3
Photo owned by frobo512 (cc)

People started moaning about the fact that reactions are instant online and rumours spread at the speed of light. Really?! About how this is why bloggers and journalists are different and journalists are better than bloggers for this. Kind of like the real world so. Though I’ve found with journalists and bloggers that journalists get more wrong about me when they write about me than bloggers.

People complained there was no restraint and nobody waited to check all the facts.
Kind of like the real world so except people were trying to contact Amazon and find out what was happening and were getting mixed messages. People in the offline world don’t generally ring the press office of Fianna Fail if their friend tells them some news about Brian Cowen do they?

In a world of instant communications everything is going to be you know, instant. The complaints that “people should know better” are a bit rich when the same trend offline happens online. Do people demand restraint in a neighbourhood and community when news spreads?

What was interesting with the Amazon case was that a percentage of the online community were not instantly sold on the idea that there was some conspiracy going on or the reclassifying of Gay and Lesbian books was a new policy. The filtering was real, anyone doing a search saw this. The reasons behind it were unclear even when someone emailed/rang amazon to ask what was happening. Taken to extremes the ever bitchy and wrong Owen Thomas (not deserving of a link) said it was a hacker that did this and he condemned people jumping on bandwagons when in fact this was proven untrue and it was Amazon that did the filtering.

A few days later and Amazon still are not being clear on this and are refusing to explain exactly what happened, perhaps because they don’t fully understand what happened themselves. Maybe they should have said this. This saga was a massive PR fail by Amazon which is a shame because they understand the Internet more than most companies.

If you look at it from one angle, there needs to be more of these over-the-top reactions to train the online population in the fact that everything needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. There’s almost that threshold where enough members of this online community are trained enough from previous wildfires to know the score. We’re not getting there as some might want because there is no there to get to, but some in the exploding online communities are starting to play the long game as they become more experienced in the way news is spread, just like the villagers of yesteryear got there in the end as did the press.

California Air National Guard
Photo owned by The National Guard (cc)

Remember the Titantic story? All Saved it said on the newspapers, followed a day later by the opposite. Hunches and gut feelings will take time to learn or bubble up but they will.

It looks like bloggers will now ring the press number of an organisation to get some facts, they’ll email contact emails and ask for verification but it is also up to the organisations out there to be monitoring what the web is saying about them and react to it. Unless you’re a very small company, you’re going to be 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. The monitoring tools are cheap or even free for this kind of thing. There’s no real excuse anymore.

Of course you could ignore the online people, there’s only like 1.5Million of them in Ireland or thereabouts.

Ze Frank is talking at the Science Gallery on Friday

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

A genius comes to talk.

Here’s a reminder of Ze who starts off with a song about ugly mySpaces and then riffs on cheap design tools used by the masses scare the shit out of the design gatekeepers:

The bludget

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Got asked by a journalist about my take on the budget in regards to technology which I include below. Alexia’s post on it is clearer and better than mine though. Have a look. And bludget? Well that’s what the good folks on Twitter decided to label Twitter messages with that mentioned the budget.

So thats what Three kilos of chocolate looks like
Photo owned by MonkeySimon (cc)

My own take is that this was a prime opportunity to tell the tech companies of Ireland or those wanting to start one that there is real potential and to take the plunge. A budget, even if it is all about cutting things to bits can still be used to promote business and investment in people and ideas. Instead it’s leaving people with a mostly negative take on the present and the future.

This tax relief on IP is also to be welcomed but those getting into creating or acquiring IP need to be very large and very rich companies or have considerable backing. IP development takes a lot of time and resources so it’s only really established companies that are in this area. For anyone starting up, it’s not the easiest place to work and there are better returns for a tech company and a startup by just developing something and launching something fast. Launch fast, launch cheap and iterate as you go, that’s one of the main rules for technology startups these days. Most tech VCs aren’t too worried about IP unless you get sued for breaches. I think a tax relief system where IP developed in colleges is commercially used and exploited would capture the interest of more tech companies. While there is college to business IP movements, this needs to be streamlined and made much more efficient. Stanford University is a model to follow here.

2009 has seen plummeting property prices and plenty of highly skilled people looking for jobs which are serious advantages in terms of starting a tech company. Most of a tech company can be run from anywhere with a broadband connection anyway when it first starts out. A tax or grant boost from the Government to invest in technology startups now will get most bang from a buck. Planning for the future is not all about slashing present costs. We should remember that Google started in a downturn too and the Government should be thinking in those terns.

We all know about creative accounting and creative ways people moved money about, why can’t we have creative tax breaks like tax relief for bars and cafes that install free public wifi or tax relief for a business that provides desk space for tech startups while they incubate. Small things yet effective ways to enable new tech companies.

Atelier du centre Erasme à la Maison du Rhône à Paris
Photo owned by dalbera (cc)

BT Ireland scheme gives laptops/broadband to up to 80 groups

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Got this via a press release. Laptop and broadband for a year for 80 groups of charities/community groups. Worth applying which can be done online. Done via their UK website. Apply at:

The BT Community Connections award scheme will allow community and charitable organisations that are looking to extend their work through the use of the internet and ICT to apply for a laptop and a year’s free broadband internet connection.

The scheme runs over an 18 month period, with two rounds in June 2009 and January 2010, offering a total of up to 80 award packages across the island of Ireland. To apply simply log on to

Applying doesn’t take too long, if you’re not in…

Hitler discovers who won the National Broadband Tender

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

The future of interactive TV and Radio is here and it doesn’t need a big red button

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

And RTE, TV3 and TodayFM don’t have a choice about it

Twitter again and something called Scribble.

Each time Ireland played in the 6 nations, dozens or perhaps hundreds of people got together to shout and roar but together for them was via Twitter as they watched the match wherever they happened to be. They joined a devoted crowd that were connected via twitter. For the France Ireland game, each time they made a comment on the game they added a tag #merde to it.

Patrick Phelan ran graphs on this later on to see the frequency of words in those tagged messages.

Each time the Dragon’s Den in Ireland is watched, online people use the tag #ddire to record their shouts, their sneers, their sincere belief a Dragon is useless.

Big red button
Photo owned by nicolasnova (cc)

Using an online application called Scribble Simon McGarr and others were live-blogging Questions and Answers and the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis and the Green Party Conference. The Greens even put/linked to the live blog from their main website. The last episode of the L Word was liveblogged by the women from Gaelick.

When I was on Primetime the other night there was a surge of Google searches for my name by people watching the show and when people on Twitter were commenting on it live, people started adding me to Twitter.

See, nowadays we don’t just watch TV, we watch TV and we surf the net. Watcht he TV, laptop on knees. Instead of channel hopping, we’re media hopping from one to the other and back again. This is going back to my other blog post about shared experiences and Twitter and all the rest, We can be in our living rooms and on Twitter at the same time, sharing both experiences.

Do you remember the show Mystery Science Threatre 3000 where they comment on movies and make quips? It’s real and distributed online. It’s the director’s commentary but done by the public.

So Sky is there and the Beeb talking about their big red buttons and putting phonelines into the back of them and having people dial home and all that, yet anyone with a banger of a TV on a dodgy signal or even watching online can fully interact once they have some kind of net connection and it’s infrastructure free. Cheap as chips!

So what can the likes of RTE do about this? Tell people where this commentary is happening. Encourage them to go to these places and leave comments and join with the people already there. You know what will happen? Viewerships will go up. Once again the old-style family gatherings will happen but the family might not be in the same room, or city or country. Planet, yeah.

The Red Button
Photo owned by HolgerVaga (cc)

Some are doing it though. Phantom are doing it. Rick on 2FM is doing it and Ray Foley on TodayFM. Then there’s that Hook lad who even did live video.

You want audience reaction? There you have it. Not enough time for the Last Word and the commentators on it? Direct it online. Keep your show and the debate going. JNLR? Fuckit, this is more real. Real people are giving real opinions. No boxes to be installed in a home. Then the brave media folks will join that conversation and work with their audience on building something even better. Tada.

iPod Shuffle 4GB Review

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

From a Damien up at an obscene hour in San Francisco:

Stop, now, what’s that sound

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Sometimes, starting a blog post with some music gets people into into the frame of mind you want. So if you could, play the vid, it’s the music not the images that matter, and then scroll to the rest of the text:

In recent chats with everyone on Twitter, blogs and in person, we’ve been talking about massive growths of online activity. Blogging, well, the Blog Awards show that blogging is mainstream, it ain’t just the nerds now. Facebook, 545k people on it now in Ireland. At a recent Bord Bia event, Jane from Thinkhouse was also saying that there’s been something like a silent Tipping Point, people now get the whole idea that online is a place, it’s a function. The constant hard work convincing companies that they need to engage with people online is a little less graft now. I know with my own work I’ve been getting people and companies contacting me pretty much every day asking me to do work for them and they know they need to do so. They don’t want convincing to blog or to market on Facebook, they just want to know how to do it and what way to do it. Businesses are getting it.

And then there’s Twitter. Never have I heard a tech hyped as much except for maybe the iPhone. Every bloody media organisation is talking about it and for those on it for ages we’re going “so?” but again, if we stop and step back, it’s an amazing place. An iPhone can improve your life, so can Twitter. Watch the snarky people guffaw at that!

Heather‘s two twitter messages confirm that the community feeling some get with blogging is on steroids for Twitter:

Something in Ireland

Something in Ireland

There is a very interesting feeling of togetherness on Twitter and on other places online. Shared experiences you might call them. I’m almost reminded of the English and the Blitz except it’s not people together because of being bombed. People tell you they failed their driving test and the group gives them a hug, people celebrate a new job and they get cheered, they say something stupid and get corrected or challenged, they ask for information and they get it in abundance. With the right followers and it seems in Ireland most people are in that demographic, Twitter is a very nurturing place to be. This is one reason as to why it’s taking off faster than blogs, faster than Facebook.

You hear all this waffle on radio shows “but I don’t want to know what someone had for breakfast”, well it’s not being informed about what you had, it’s a textual description of what is happening, you are there in their space but also on Twitter. It’s like a game of Sims but via text bursts and it’s real life. Some people are getting it though. 12,000 Irish people are getting it since they’re on Twitter though that’s a convservative number, it’s surging way faster than the 23% growth from Facebook last month too.

You also get the knockers saying that this stuff is antisocial and keeping people away from people. Bollox. Ask Anthony. More kids have more friends because of tech than any time before. The more friends and takes on life a kid and an adult has, the more world experienced they’ll be.

I despise the term social media due to all the snakeoilers talking it up and abusing the idea of it but we seem to be at some turning point where humanity is getting to shine through more in business and life because of these social-minded tools. And they’re not forcing us to be kind or nice or helpful, we’re doing that, the tools are just letting us send these sentiments to wider groups not based on geography. So you know world, despite the polar icecaps disappearing, employment declining, murderers back on the job in Northern Ireland and a rougher world, we’re doing pretty damned well and some tech is helping us along.

I’m playing the song again. Happy Friday the 13th!

Show and Tell Event: Bloggers play with tech

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Summary: Tech Meet and Greets for bloggers.

I’ve been getting a heck of a lot of invites from PR companies of late to attend various events but when I suggest to them that they ask/invite other bloggers, some freeze or shut down. That’s a step too far. So I’ve started to decline invites to all events unless they were catering to other bloggers at these events too. Yes, that might mean providing wifi too. *shock*

Collision Course, the Fianna Fáil and Green Party conferences, the Bord Gais launch and other events are starting to show that bloggers will come along if you provide them with something interesting, be it giving them the scoop before others, giving them access to people they might not have been able to reach by themselves or good data.

Via Mulley Communications I’m going to start running some events run for bloggers where tech companies or tech distributors can show off their wares in an environment designed for bloggers. Traditional tech press briefing events are mind numbingly boring. We bloggers don’t give a care about your third quarter projections. Don’t speak from a lectern and from a script. Converse with us. Let us fiddle with your stuff. Oooer.

Photo owned by Shi Yali (cc)

What’s in it for bloggers?
We get to see new products and play with them on the evening and use trial gear for a few weeks. We get more content that we can write about and inform our readers with new information and it also means we are a bit more educated on what’s available in the market. It also means meeting as a group in person when we generally just converse over blogs and twitter these days.

What’s in it for the tech companies?
Coverage. Right now coverage is limited to the Business Post, PC Live and Gadget Republic when it comes to tech reviews. However, online coverage is all well and good but a possibly more important point is these bloggers and Twitterers are the communications hub of their networks both online and off. We are the ones that get asked for mobile phone recommendations building up to birthdays and Christmas, we are the ones asked about laptops and what are the best ones to get, we’re the ones who are asked for recommendations.

Very importantly, you get honest, non-pressured feedback from people who will call a spade a spade and who are telling all their friends this anyway about products that they like and don’t like. Ignore this feedback at your peril.

Think about the average person that Googles for information, they’ll still ask those in their peer group and those in their peer grop are the ones who’ll influence them more. A more educated bunch these are, the better they can inform. The only risk is that your stuff isn’t godawful.

I know for a fact that some companies will weigh up the cost of giving loaner gear to blogger and will think it’s not worth it despite the fact that having an informed group of influencers will seriously impact sales. However for every tech company that declines, an edgier one will take your place and they’ll reap the rewards. There actually is the case in Ireland where billion euro companies give out a single piece of kit that’s the village bicycle of tech: every journalist gets to have a bash for two weeks before it’s passed to someone else. Yeah, no. This is not the event you are looking for.

Reboot 2
Photo owned by gfscott (cc)

What’s in it for me?
Mulley Communications will have more case studies that this lark actually works and experience doing it. Unfortunately in Ireland we lack a hell of a lot of case studies on blogging, online marketing and social networking engagements.

How do you sign up?
If you’re a blogger leave a comment, link to a blog post where you’ve talked tech (if you have), say where you are as these are not just going to be in Dublin and tell us what your favourite piece of tech is. Bonus points if you go really retro!

If you’re a PR firm, tech company/manufacturer/distributor then email damien < at > for what the requirements are to take part