A natural high from building/making/writing

January 16th, 2014

Without quoting the whole thing:

I wonder how many of you will read this piece in one sitting – it’s only 844 words long.

You’re fucking swimming in everyone else’s moments, likes, and tweets and during these moments of consumption you are coming to believe that their brief interestingness to others makes it somehow relevant to you and worth your time.

The high from making something, even if it’s a blog post is such a reward. Nice 2014 call to arms around creativity.

2500 people have subscribed to my website instead of coming back each day. You can subscribe to the site using a feedreader or email. I'm also on Twitter. My online marketing blog might also be worth a visit. Thanks for visiting - Damien.

You’ve always been the product

January 13th, 2014

So many, many, many articles with the frayed line “If you’re not paying for it, you are the product” when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, Google and any free services out there.

Yet people pay for the Irish Times newspaper (Print edition) and the Irish Times sells data about you to advertisers:

The Irish Times has a higher percentage of ABC1 readers than any other Irish daily newspaper.
66% of Irish Times readers read no other paid-for Irish daily newspaper.
62% of regular visitors to irishtimes.com are ABC1.

You buy the Irish Times? You are the product.

Maybe you pay for your TV licence but you are still the product when you listen to RTÉ Radio. Rate card with demographic breakdowns.

If there’s advertising then people are the products too. What about music festivals? You pay a chunk of money for a weekend pass and the festival organisers charge brands to have stands at the event because hungry, thirsty and fun seeking people will be at the festival. And they are of age ranges 21-27 mostly and 45% female and 55% male etc.

So maybe you are the product if it’s free OR of value but has advertising.

Well… If you buy an iPhone, are you also “the product”? There’s no advertising on your phone but there is commerce around you and your phone. Apple use the fact that hundreds of millions of people use iOS devices to do deals with media companies and to encourage developers to make apps that they can sell to the iPhone users. And Apple gets a 30% cut of those transactions. They do deals with telecoms carriers to sell the phone on their networks using data showing how much an iPhone user spends on average over a contract.

If you have money or even just attention that can be extracted by another party, you’re the product. We have always been the product. If you’re reading this, are you the product?

Fluffy Links – Monday January 13th 2014

January 13th, 2014

The Cool Tools book, based on blog posts was projected to sell an ok amount. Cos you know, why have it in book form when you can get it online? Then it sold out. Then there was another print run. Then…

Do one thing (the same thing) each day for 100 days. Someone uses a chair for a task, a different task each day. Someone else makes a poster each day. Some highly creative things in this.

Best way to get customers to open your email? Tell them you’re shutting down. Shut em shut em down.

Rick’s Reads for 2013. A lot of books.

Arena gave a glowing review of Nuala Ni Chonchuir’s Dublin and Other Stories. Here’s another. Book only available on Amazon it seems.

Of course our paper is willing to take your ad money and misquote one of our own journalists in the ad.

A Soft Murmur. Create your own ambient sounds. Can sometimes help those that have issues relaxing/sleeping. Or stop looking at a screen before bed!

via BoingBoing. Kronos Quartet on Sesame Street.

John Kelly played this on Friday on Lyric FM. Cantus Arcticus. Beautiful.

Some content links and thoughts for 2014

January 9th, 2014

Content is coming back again, thankfully. When social media came out first we fiddled with the mechanics of it. Then as always, there was a huge advantage to being early adopters of it but now as it settles down and reaches saturation, the idea of good content (even in a status update) is coming back into play. The same thing happened with Google Ads. So easy when it first began but as more used it you had to be creative, cunning and change-receptive.

I wrote last year about the GIF economy and writing for timelines. Hopefully we’ll see more leaning on the idea of genuine content this year.

The New York Times rightly pats themselves on the back for their work in interactive storytelling in 2013.

Some fantastic tips from Upworthy on getting your content noticed. Write 25 headlines for a single article and see what ones work is but one of many tips.

And on that, Reddit data shows that timing and headlines mean so much to getting pushed up on Reddit with many links being previously added but getting to attention.

Frank Luntz rules on effective language:

1. Simplicity: Use Small Words
2. Brevity: Use Short Sentences
3. Credibility is As Important As Philosophy
4. Consistency Matters
5. Novelty: Offer Something New
6. Sound and Texture Matter
7. Speak Aspirationally
8. Visualize
9. Ask a Question
10. Provide Context and Explain Relevance

SEO still works and here is a fantastic infograph on some of the factors Google takes seriously when looking at your content. A lot of cross-over but here too are some SEO guidelines.

And of course, paying for traffic makes financial sense if done right. Handy guide to Google Adwords.

And as a counter to the SEO idea, Johnston press talks about using social to push their content more these days. They talk about going back to the older days when you didn’t write headlines for SEO.

This guide, on how to use Twitter well, also by the New York Times will come in really handy for you too.

Karl’s stats from Broadsheet show that Facebook and Twitter are a big pusher for their content so that might be an inkling as to where your traffic sources come from.

BUT, lots has changed with Facebook of late and it’s harder and harder for your fanbase to actually see your content due to Facebook Edgerank so be very very aware of the possible dwindling returns with Facebook. It also makes me wonder whether Edgerank is the new SEO and you will need experts to basically manipulate your Edgerank in order for you to be seen inside in Facebook without paying each time. And in a way this is full-circle in Internet Marketing. Paid advertising and SEO, paid updates or organic updates…

We also have this idea of tiny information. Apps like Circa and Potluck give you a small amount of news in short articles instead of bombarding you with content all day.

Via Paul Watson, Love this idea with the Yahoo sports app that allows you to create your own GIF from their footage. Yes!

So a question too, when does Conversion Optimisation techniques come to Facebook? It’s not all funny pics of otters looking like some English bloke.

Fluffy Links – Tuesday January 7th 2014

January 7th, 2014

Trust breeds magic. Do Lecture talk by Tina Roth Eisenberg.

A mug you can build your Lego on. James might like this.

Netflix categorised all of Hollywood movies and TV shows. Big data but totally reliant on humans too. Raymond Burr is at the centre of all things TV it seems.

Meaning well can do harm. James points out the destruction a suicide awareness campaign can do. Naturally the “RT to cure suicide” types are furious. They remind me of those who sent their kin to Magdelne Laundries.

Louis CK and Jerry Seinfeld episode of Comedians in Cars.

How to use your startup advisors by Dylan Collins. Why not have advisors for your existing business too? Always solicit advice from good people.

Sorsed. Track how accurate a rumour is.

Song Exploder breaks down “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”.

Via Paul Watson, Love this idea with the Yahoo sports app that allows you to create your own GIF from their footage. Yes!

Just say no kids, well just say no more often. I like this rejection card from Edmund Wilson.

Dave Letterman when he was really on fire. Via Victor Barry

What Would Google Do … with robots

January 6th, 2014

So the world or a tiny subset of the world that has the time to be interested in things about robots, had multiple double takes when Google bought Boston Dynamics, the military robot maker. It turns out that Google has been very busy buying robotics companies, not just Boston Dynamics.

Google has always been about using algorithms to replace humans or at least automating tasks. via Forbes:

A little more specifically, the New York Times has noted, Page has “argued that technology should be deployed wherever possible to free humans from drudgery and repetitive tasks.”

What work do humans in Google do right now? What cerebral and physical tasks can be replaced?

Book Scanning
All these books published and printed and not a single digital copy. Libraries of books that could be scanned in and shared with humanity. Of what Google scans in, they need operators of scanning machines since books are not uniform in size and texture. You can spot hands in some of the scans like this blog talks about.

GoogleBookScanFingers

A standard machine could never do this but a robot could. And Google book scanners are not classed as real Google employees it seems. Just waiting for robot replacements.

Data Centre Work
While Google data centres are mostly about servers and don’t need humans, they still need humans and humans need to be catered for in data centres. Google data centres run hot, higher temperatures mean less money and energy spent on cooling. Google data centres are efficient enough and they have staff in shorts and t-shirts in there because they run warm. Humans are probably a bottle-neck in custom made data centres.

Aisles are made for humans to fit in so they can swap out failing equipment. Bottle neck. Google spent $1.9 billion buying the old New York Port Authority which just happens to be a location for the best fibre connections in America. Kevin Slavin in his TED talk about algorithms talked about Skyscrapers in New York being gutted to house data centres. Imagine how inefficient one of these would be because of the shape and because of catering for humans. If Google made skyscraper data centres like Japanese automated car parks though:

Fires need oxygen to keep going, as do humans. Eliminating oxygen in data centres is a good way to stop fires spreading but you can’t have humans then. Robots are cool though, right? One wonders can you have oxygen free data centres?

Mapping and live traffic reports
Obvious section this. Mapping seems obvious since Google already has cars and trikes going around the place (and even people with backpacks). Google already does driverless cars. So drones. And low and behold the FAA now are allowing trials of pilotless drones. No more traffic helicopters thanks to Google traffic drones. Helicopter pilots are very expensive and not that common, many are ex-military because you need so many thousands of flying hours to fly commercial.

Google Infrastructure
Google needs data centres all around the world. As developing countries boot up and become more web connected, more data centres will need to be deployed. Remember the idea of Google dropping shipping containers that were data centres to spots that needed them?

As the wildest and most far flung parts of the world become flattened and connected, they’ll need data centres. They’ll also need infrastructure for those data centres. Why not use drones, driverless vehicles and robots to build them out and to connect them? On that, reliability is important too so having drones guard your electricity supply and repair it is also important. Humans do this today:

Or this:

Don’t forget underwater cable repair too!

Hardware Manufacturing
Remember that Google is now a hardware company as well. They own Motorola and all the hardware parts of that. They seem to be making a loss year after year with it but making the hardware section more efficient with robots could be something good. If they were to take their expertise at making processes more efficient then their hardware factories and partner factories could in theory pump out high quality smartphones like the Moto X and newer versions of Google Glass that don’t cost over €1500 a pair.

RobotDroid – What if
Despite working on mobile possibly longer than Apple, Google were way behind with their mobile initiative and are still playing catch up with Apple on this. The idea of making an operating system open source (to a degree) and free to use has made Android the number one Internet operating system out there and more Android phones than Apple phones are being sold. Apple phones still seem to be used more and for higher value purposes.

So maybe this time when robots and drones will eventually become mainstream, Google wants to be out the gap first and have the momentum and be the main platform for building robots on? All those robots and drones with sensors that feed into Google services. All that information. Apple are always good at coming into a market late and taking the higher end of said market and then going lower into it but Apple may not be the dominant force in the robot world, they’re still a consumer company. Probably going to be a while before consumers use robots.

This is a Google robot:

Maybe too far
Airdrops of 3d printers for what, I don’t know. News robots in war zones. instructional robots. Google Robot Dog Tracks. Remember too that Google has often given away IP and knowledge if it makes the world more efficient which helps Google be more efficient. They bought Urchin, turned it into Google Analytics and gave it away for free. So there could be something in that too.

Lastly, Robots are just fucking cool, Google can afford to play with expensive but fun things.

Fluffy Links – Friday January 3rd 2014

January 3rd, 2014

Get Running with the Irish Times. Online course to help Irish Times readers to get into running in 2014. I like this idea of trying to be a core part of the lives/routines of their readers and not just a random part now and then.

Tape over your camera on your laptop and phone too if you are very paranoid. They’re remotely switching them on.

Griel Marcus’ commencement address for the 2013 graduating class of New York’s School of Visual Arts on high versus low culture and the false division. He rallies against this kind of bullshit:

As to whether the new, DiCaprio-ed edition of “Gatsby” would be socially acceptable to carry around in public, Mr. Cassem of McNally Jackson offered a firm no. “I think it would bring shame,” he said, “to anyone who was trying to read that book on the subway.”

Everyone going ape that people like Mrs Brown’s Boys and it beat Doctor Who in the ratings. High brow, low brow. Low brow low brow really. And in a similar vein:

People bitching about the Apple teen stuck in a phone ad seem to forget that most people that watched it, enjoyed it. And the ad is the perfect example of why advertising still works. As Ken Segall puts it:

There are tens of millions of people who will stop in their tracks at this commercial and wipe a tear from their eye. As a result, they will feel slightly more attached to Apple, which is the marketing purpose of this spot.

James Franco on selfies. Well written piece and valid points.

The different types of Snapchats.

Particle: Nice tech tool to track articles being spread online.

collecting data about the promotion of articles on Twitter, Facebook, Webpages, and RSS feeds

Everyone needs some Diana Vreeland quotes.

“Unshined shoes are the end of civilization.”
“There’s only one thing in life, and that’s the continual renewal of inspiration.”
“To be contented—that’s for the cows.”

OK Computer

Ones to watch 2014

January 1st, 2014

2013 ones to watch. 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 2008, 2007.

Barry Hand
I’ve known Barry from the days of Boards, then Digiweb, then LastMinute and now GrabOne. Barry is one of only a few that I feel is better at digital marketing and planning than me. (That’s not an ego thing, much). I’ve attended talks and workshops that he’s given and always come out of it richer with knowledge, which is why I’m always nagging him to do courses for my clients. His constant strive for bettering himself and more knowledge is admirable and something I want to do but rarely get round to. 2014 by just probability is going to be a good year for Barry.

Dylan Varian
Dylan has been doing the business thing since 17, has worked for himself and worked for Trustev. If you have that much experience before 20 and you stick with it, you’re going to do well. Or maybe totally burn out and run a small scented candles store near a surfing and tourism spot.

Niall Smart, Cormac Driver
They’re at it again. More Irish Y-Combinator alumni. Sold their last company to Real Networks. Now both doing different things but in New York. Cormac is head of product at Temboo which is an SDK that gives you access to 100+ APIs. The Internet of Everything goes their pitch. A perfect platform to create your own web app. Be interesting to see how this tool kit fast tracks a lot of new tech startups.

Niall is now CTO in Hightower and they just landed $2.1 million in investment and are bringing realtors to the 21st century with their software. This should be a fun space to watch.

Christian Ryder
In fairness I was a mentor to Christian so I know his business quite well. Christian’s company Fonesense is now in the Wayra incubation programme and they’re getting some great meetings with some very nice companies. You can tell they’re going places when Government Ministers want in on their success. Selfie with Bruton in 5, 4, 3 … And like the lads above, Christian already has had previous success with the Cabbage texting app for Android.

Laura Gaynor
Laura is from the Spunout world and has a talent for getting her videos on to Broadsheet.

Only barely done the Leaving, that she wrote about for the Indo and she’s out in IADT now doing what she’s good at: videos. Wait a few years and see what she’ll be directing.

Lastly, going back to two I’ve featured before but a revisit is always worth it.

Alexia Golez
Alexia is now working for Trustev (that’s two Trustevees on the list this year) and featured on the list in 2011, so not that long ago. She’s not been in Trustev that long so her impact and the impact of a startup culture on her should make 2014 interesting for them both.

Dena Walker
Dena is back in Ireland, maybe back for good. Featured in Ones to Watch 2010 edition. Herself and Barry Hand are the book ends of this post. Two people in Digital Marketing who understand marketing/digital strategy better than me and most people. Thank god there’s a voice that calls bullshit in an industry that rewards bullshit. No, I meant the marketing industry, not green tech.

2013 – The year of being outraged

December 30th, 2013

All of those end of the year articles streaming out of many media orifices towards the end of this month looking at back at what 2013 was. One of them to me was a year of being outraged and Twitter was at the core of it. While that game has always been around on Twitter, 2013 was certainly a peak and media and agitated personal lives definitely contributed.

Some asshole does something assholey and someone that needs to move their frustration out of their head into the public finds themselves being outraged. Just like we have “the Final Number One Single of the Year” now we have the final outrage of the year and it seems to be Justine Sacco. Now of course not only do you read about the outrage and every media outlet both professional and amateur (though these are only labels, not levels these days) telling us all the same story but now they’ve figured out you can analyse this to death as if it was a soccer match. “How did the pigeons in the council estate react Jeff?” See, why go and work for a story when you can just post-match analyse what’s been handed to you via a Tweet?

Screen shot taken from Willow.

FuckGivingEngines

Already linked to this piece by Allen Pike about negativity will always come after you. in another post but worth pointing out here too:

As your audience grows, the chance of any given action triggering criticism asymptotically approaches 100%.

Without doing too pop-psychology about this but it probably says something about the people and the network that people now do Twitter searches to find spoiled kids at Christmas so they can out them. Everyone nowadays wants their Gotcha moment which of course they can share with others for approval. Micro-rewards of replies, Favs and RTs means it will happen again and again.

But it’s not a Twitter thing, hunting like animals to find validation for your own personal issues is wildly encouraged by media outlets. Controversial opinion pieces in the Irish Times are great for generating outrage which are great for generating comments which are great for generating page views. Outrage has always been there, Gerry Ryan, Gay Byrne and Letters to the Editor thrived on that. Now it’s en-masse and automated. Now we have article comments. And your tweets now get featured in print editions of newspapers too. “Here is what an outraged Twitter thinks”, nice reward cycle.

Many media outlets have community janitors to wade through rivers of bile when really, who fucking cares about the opinion of someone in the comments? How does that better the lives of the readers? After all the work editing and sub-editing articles to get the right timbre and message and then some dope says “you smell” in the first comment.

Aside: I actually find it hilarious though that the people who give out about the comments on the likes of the Irish Times wet themselves when their carefully constructed Letter to the Editor gets printed, which probably gets stuck on the fridge.

If you keep reading the comments or worse reply to the comments in some of these spaces, it makes me wonder about you and not the trolls. If you keep following people on responding to bigots on social networks giving sisyphus a run for his money, I wonder about you more than the Twitter fools. I see these people that get outraged and incensed when someone who by their nature will never change says something that they will always say. Don’t agree with a right-wing Catholic, just use the block button. I probably use the block button two or three times a day on Twitter, it makes me a little saner. Try it. I block all those lame-ass meme accounts too. I actually think I have more in my block list than my follow list. You control your stream, have you not heard?

You’ll probably lose friends too but when someone starts a conversation says “Oh my God did you see what David Quinn said” just get in “I don’t care”. Again, makes life a little saner.

Leave a comment if you want, I may delete it but I very probably won’t read it.

Business Links – Monday December 30th 2013

December 30th, 2013

Some links that might give you some guidance or inspiration:

Purpose from David Hieatt. Linked to him numerous times. Been to a workshop of his. Very inspiring guy, this is brilliant.

And more from David Hieatt.

Outing fake quotes and then using it as a hook for your college that prides itself on studying original sources.

Who goes to work to have fun? Nice counter to the brogramming, Movembering, “serious fun” workplaces that seem to actually use fun as a more sinister form of control and use “fun” to mask other issues. Hard to make a harassment complaint when you take part in the “fun” events and those remarks about your small breasts were just in the heat of “fun”.

And on the topic of HR and issues. Netflix and HR, some interesting thoughts. And a nice dig at startups that are far too casual.

The best thing you can do for employees—a perk better than foosball or free sushi—is hire only “A” players to work alongside them. Excellent colleagues trump everything else.

Mentally strong people and what they avoid.

Dylan’s thoughts on tech in 2013. Great line:

Any company’s real business is people. Everyone is in the headhunting business, it’s simply a question of whether you realise it or not.

Vinny’s things from 2013 that he liked.

Get yourselves a startup sales play-book.

Allen Pike on “Unprofessionalism” or rather accepting that you will get cranks unhappy with whatever that you do and your choice is to accept that and move on. Succinct and valuable.