Archive for November, 2010
November 30th, 2010
LTE â€“ three initials that give UK mobile enthusiasts a â€œdesire-onâ€. We want this more than we want secure mobile shopping, more than next-gen Tablets and more than Wi-Max.
The exotically-named answer to our fast mobile needs, Long Term Evolution (LTE), is a mobile standard that promises to provide downlink peak rates of at least 100 Mbit/s and an uplink of at least 50 Mbit/s with round-trip times of less than 10 ms.
Excuse me while I have a â€œdesire momentâ€.
If the UK mobile network operators can deliver this, itâ€™s a problem solved. Actually, itâ€™s a number of problems solved and means the delivery of the network that finally enables people to connect, engage and build new forms of fluid online communication.
The beauty of LTE is that it supports scalable carrier bandwidths, from 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz and supports both frequency division duplexing (FDD) and time division duplexing (TDD). (ThanksWikipedia â€“ donâ€™t forget to donate).
But hereâ€™s the news less good. We wonâ€™t have LTE for the next five years, minimum. John Kennedy outlines the reasons in a precise and excellent article on Silicon Republic. Itâ€™s required reading for all UK mobilists.
I think John boosts the debate and shows that consumer demand can push the UK operatorsâ€™ schedule forward much more quickly. The economic reasoning currently used by Vodafone, O2, Orange, 3, T-Mobile and the virtual network operators in the UK is that LTE is, well, just too expensive.
The mobile network operators have a history of under-estimating the needs of their customers. Good to see consistency in their planning.
I think the networks will be overwhelmed by the data demands of their customers in the next year. They already work overtime to transfer the data load to any wi-fi network that can take the strain.
We need LTE here, right now. The mobile operators need it sooner.
While they dither and dodge, we can make a difference by pushing on all the sensitive pressure points to ensure that we, finally, have the mobile network we deserve.
Yep. Definitely a habit. You want positive? Ray provides:
November 24th, 2010
Not for the first time this week, I used Wikipedia today to measure information I had received. I do this usually without much thought because Wikipedia has become an essential part of my life.
I cannot imagine an online world without it â€“ and I can vouch that my sons feel the same way, as do millions of other people around the planet.
When I was a kid, we had a complete set of encyclopaedias that must have cost my parents, bless them, a small fortune. They also made us feel at ease in libraries â€“ socially distributed knowledge in solid form.
My Mum and Dad understood the value of knowledge and they wanted their children to understand that too.
Me, my brother and sister certainly did learn that lesson well. Knowledge can lead to understanding â€“ and that, rather than the information itself, is a very useful tool in life.
So when I checked a fact on Wikipedia today, I also learned something about the true value of trusted, socially-created knowledge. The online knowledge baseâ€™s founder, Jimmy Wales, made an appeal that felt direct, personal and very relevant.
Jimmy Wales again asked for financial help to keep the Wikipedia alive, to keep it growing. For once in my life, I was not equally drawn to and repulsed by an appeal. Wikipedia is a rare thing; there is no side to what it offers. It is true. How often can we say that?
I doubt that Jimmy has employed a professional fundraiser to craft the appeal copy but there are fewer, finer postscripts than his:
â€œPS: Wikipedia is about the power of people like us to do extraordinary things. People like us write Wikipedia, one word at a time. People like us fund it, one donation at a time. It’s proof of our collective potential to change the world.â€
Every company, every agency, every single individual who has used Wikipedia should think on this â€¦ and then use their PayPal account to support Wikipedia. Anyone who does not have an account can take the short-term pain and open one, or use a friendâ€™s account.
Why? Because every company, agency and every single individual benefits from Wikipedia. This socially-created knowledge has value that can be easily measured in monetary terms. In our hearts, we also know its true value.
This might become a habit, but here’s number 3 on my all-time, maybe relevant, playlist:
November 23rd, 2010
Milo Yiannopoulos had a hissy fit at the Telegraph this week. [click on hissy} Strange, because he usually walks the sometimes intelligent middle line. He spluttered, raged and nearly cursed against the â€œblood-sucking social media gurusâ€ that have inserted themselves, much like a virus, into the corporate body of UK business since 2007.
The immediate antecedents and provocations that engineered his rant are open to discussion as is his key point that purveyors of social media expertise are salespeople that use snake oil to shower daily.
There is no doubt that there are many, often young, inexperienced, people in the UK now who have seen the promised land in much the same way that people saw a similar online chimera in the mid to late 1990s. And in a similar way, they have nothing to offer.
That Milo mentioned a single company, which in his eyes, is doing the right thing in social media is confusing but no matter. More important is the insertion of his influential, if emotive, ideas into the commercial body of the UK at a time when the right ideas about social media engagement are sorely needed.
In my experience, companies are uncertain, scared and unwilling to engage socially with the very thing they must engage with â€“ the consumer who is in control.
Miloâ€™s exposition may win friends on the conservative side of business who intuitively feel the need to regain control of the relationship with consumers. This is not a practical view because that level of control has gone, forever.
It would have been more positive for Milo to rage against the â€˜chimeristsâ€™ but at the same time to place social media more strongly at the centre of developing UK commerce, which is where it belongs; more, where it actually is.
Interestingly for me, he does not offer a new path, methodology or explanation of social media. Put simply, he rages but does not explain. If Milo was serious about the need for ways to engage with social media, he should have enriched his bluster with effective ideas.
Does that mean he dismisses social media? Apparently not. He points out the pathfinder quite clearly but does not go any further. That is a shame.
Iâ€™m with Milo on the dissolution of the insidious snake oilers, and this will certainly happen. But Iâ€™d hope he would look wider and see the many, many people who are working to engage, make stronger connections and build UK businesses through social media.
A propos of little, hereâ€™s one of my top five songs. It may have bearing on the trifle above, more likely not.
November 19th, 2010
If nothing else, the social browser team at RockMelt, has given us a new word. How that will enter the language and be defined is our responsibility. That, in itself, is excellent but Marc Andresson and his rockmelters have also given us good reason to examine this new approach to web communications.
We know that Marc defined Web 1.0 but his Netscape project was dissolved in the acid of established-player motivations. They used market muscle to (poorly) imitate, grab share and push innovative thinkers out of the market space. Netscapeâ€™s demise in 2008 was, for me, a defining moment in the evolution of the web.
It signalled that the truly innovative first period, common to all new ideas, was dead. And in that wonderfully creative first space, the commercial imperatives that drive all companies had taken hold.
So I welcome the return of Marc to the visible web market space and hope that this time, his ideas and those of his very creative team, can bear fruit (ie revenues).
Marc was quoted this week: â€œThis is a chance for us to build a browser all over again. These are all things we would have done (at Netscape) if we had known how people were going to use the Web.â€
Knowledge is everything and I hope that RockMelt leads the way in how we engage online over the next year.
Iâ€™ve been testing RockMelt for the past two days and itâ€™s too early to give a considered response but right now, for all the right and wrong reasons, I love it. RockMelt has the edge and approach that differentiates it from Firefox, Chrome and Explorer.
How Marc and his team address the key focus for 2011 â€“ mobile â€“ is yet to be seen. But, with all heart, I wish them well.
You should check out the video and decide whether to sign up:
November 17th, 2010
Clients are asking us how they can engage through mobile. We usually stop them at that point and ask: â€œWhy do you want to do this; who do you want to engage with, and what result do you anticipate?â€
Then it gets really interesting. The impulse is, more often than not, identified as â€œmobile is hotâ€. We work through the analysis with them, which illuminates the current understanding as well as the drivers.
The current understanding is that worldwide sales of smartphones are going ballistic and that the iPad has defined a new market. This means that â€˜we have to engage with our clients and customers or risk deathâ€™.
Weâ€™ve been arguing at Liberate Media for a long time that brands will, at some point, need to dissolve the idea of channels and embrace the idea of multiple-mode engagement. Silos are old school â€“ yet they somehow give comfort and sustenance to marketers. At the very best, this comfort is not long for this world.
Problem is, how do we explain the complexities of mobile engagement as part of the whole marketing mix? Enter Anthony I. Wasserman. Tony Wasserman is Professor of Software Management Practice at Carnegie Mellon University and Executive Director at the Centre for Open Source Investigation.
Iâ€™m indebted to colleague Lorraine Williams for alerting us to this excellent roadmap that lays out the mobile challenges and methodologies. Grateful thanks also to Tony Wasserman, who gave a presentation of his ideas at Southampton University today.
You can download his paper at: http://www.cmu.edu/silicon-valley/wmse/wasserman-foser2010.pdf
Iâ€™ve yet to see a more precise explanation of the way we can move forward with mobile and I hope itâ€™s useful for you.
November 17th, 2010
Sky News recently ran a piece titled: Social Media Fears leave UK business behind, confirming; ‘British companies are amongst the least technologically advanced when it comes to using Web 2.0 and online methods of marketing and business communication.’
In a survey conducted by Purdue University and online security company McAfee, it was discovered that emerging countries such as Brazil, Spain, and India were ahead of Canada, the USA, and the UK.
So where does that leave us in terms of social communications? If UK companies are still afraid to grasp the basics of social media, how will we ever compete in a global marketplace that demands that we take our activities online and embrace social methodologies?
In a series of surveys and reports, one of the key reasons put forth for our reluctance to embrace social media is fear and lack of knowledge. Companies do not know how to use it effectively, therefore they do not use it at all – or invest so little that their efforts show no benefit.
Another reason often proffered is worries over security and control. In a survey by K2 Advisory, 37% of the UK businesses that took part admitted that they did not allow access to social media sites through their company networks. The intent was to prohibit employees from checking Facebook or tweeting on Twitter whilst at work; but it also effectively cut off any means for marketing and use of social media for business purposes.
Still another reason is lack of investment; most companies that do try social media do not invest enough money or dedicate enough staff to it. A social media investment report by Econsultancy revealed that 33% of the 800 marketing professionals they approached were investing less than Â£5,000 per year and 28% stated that they invested nothing. Add to that the fact that 32% had only one dedicated social networking staff member, while 29% had none at all.
In order to effectively use social media for B2B and customer relationship building purposes, companies must commit staff to fully engage with their audience, which requires listening before conversing in an open and transparent manner. Sporadic postings and one-way conversations serve little purpose and the results of those types of efforts only lead to the false assumption that social media for business does not work.
To many organisations, social media offers more potential than real opportunity and understanding is still quite low. However, there is a wealth of free content and advice online, and opening up personal networks and taking this advice onboard is often the first step to building an understanding. The UK also has many digital marketing agencies and specialists that can help businesses learn to embrace social media, although be careful to take references as although many offer the service not all actually deliver.
In addition to these agencies and individuals, there are also other resources. For instance, content development has become an increasingly important aspect, and many companies prefer to hand part of this aspect of their business communications over to experts such as Pure Content, who can take on projects of all sizes and deliver to brief.
Grasping the nuances of successful social media use is now imperative to UK businesses. Companies need to overcome their fear or apathy very soon.
November 16th, 2010
A few new applications caught my eye last week, the first of which is called F1 ,which is nothing to do with the car racing series. F1 is a FireFox browser application developed by the Mozilla Messaging team and released through Mozilla Labs. It works on FireFox 3.6 and above.
From the website: “F1 is a browser extension that allows you to share links in a fast and fun way. Share links from within the browser, from any webpage, using the same services you already know and love.”
One of the nicest touches is F1′s integration with Gmail, it automatically inserts the URL of a website into the body of your email – simply type in your recipient’s email addresses and hit share.
Launched around the same time as F1; RockMelt social browser, currently in Beta via invitation only, gives you seamless access to your social accounts, making it simple to share any page you are browsing.
The following video went viral and created a huge amount of interest:
My initial thoughts are that it’s a tough area to break into with the likes of FireFox and Chrome already having amassed a huge number of tools offering you the customisation and flexibility to take your browser in any direction you choose. This is certainly one to watch though and I’m sure RockMelt has some more ideas up its sleeve, the trick now is to maximise the initial buzz and kick on!
November 12th, 2010
Putting issues of bomb threats to one side for the moment, and our country’s obsession with coming down hard on anything remotely related to the subject, especially in relation to aircraft and airports, even if it is clearly a joke, I wanted to pick up on a great article by Milo Yiannopoulos at The Telegraph today who beautifully overviews the issue between our judicial system, which is dramatically out of touch with the social web, or even the pre-social web for that matter.
I have a small insight into the clash between how we lead our online lives, and how our legal system interprets that, as my wife is a solicitor. From my own personal experience, I am constantly amazed by the antiquated systems and processes she has to follow in accordance with our legal system, and she works for a relatively progressive and modern firm. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and in general our solicitors have a good grasp of what is taking place online, but the system they work under does not.
The system and its understanding is one problem, our obsession as a country with security and the removal of our natural sense of humour in relation to such matters is another, but in my opinion it’s the double standards that annoy even more.
Let’s take the case of our Twitter joker. Yes, it was probably not the best thing to do in light of recent cases where even obvious jokes have resulted in dramatic action, but let’s be honest, this was never a threat, and should we all need to be that careful? Some might argue that the hard stance is to attempt to cut out such instances of joking about serious matters, but that’s really not going to happen. If you look at our social history we have faced most of the major threats to this country with humour, is that going to change now?
The reality is, if you look at the content available on the web, there are many more real examples of threats and dangerous content. So, why take action against the citizens who may have joked about something that is undoubtedly serious, but pose no real threat, and not these other examples?
The reality for Paul Chambers, the 26-year-old accountant who has lost two jobs as a result of his Twitter joke, is he has lost his appeal and will have to pay a Â£1,000 fine, around Â£2,000 in costs and he will have a criminal record for threatening, in jest, to blow up an airport.
If I look at my Twitter feed now, I can see a range of what could be construed as threats if we are working on the Paul Chambers example. Should these people be arrested and charged? Should I stop following them as a result? Or should we all get some perspective here and put our legal energies into dealing with the real threats and not those that are clearly written in jest.
Furthermore, if you search for the #IAmSpartacus hashtag in Twitter now, you’ll see the number of people who feel this joke has gone too far by re-issuing the so called threat that Paul Chambers tweeted, in support of him.
The scary thing is, as the number of people who utilise social media in its various guises expands, the likelihood of similar cases also expands. So, while I don’t expect anything to change quickly in our legal system, we’re likely to see more unfortunate examples such as this. Furthermore, if you don’t understand the social web, #IAmSpartacus is about to become its latest case study.
November 11th, 2010
On the cusp. Itâ€™s one of my favourite phrases; â€˜weâ€™re nearly thereâ€™, â€˜hang on to your hatsâ€™ and â€˜itâ€™s the futureâ€™ tagging along for company.
Cusp has been deployed more times than I care to remember in the past five years to support the notion that we are truly, finally, mobileâ€¦ honestly.
This year promised it, most definitely. In 2010, we would (in the UK) be an â€œanytime, anyplaceâ€ connected society. But it hasnâ€™t happened. Why?
Apple showed us the way forward with iPad and the next-generation iPhone. Android smartphones chomped away at market share. The sleeping giant, Nokia, woke up a bit and its partner in the sublime, Ericsson, began to deliver. Androiders and Applers everywhere have a right to be scared.
Samsung Galaxy arrived ahead of time to give the Tablet market a pre-Christmas fillip.
Problem is, all these devices, with all their promises, mean not a jot right now. The reason? The mobile networks in the UK cannot deliver on their promises.
Whatâ€™s the point of buying an expensive, beautifully designed and well-engineered device if, for most of the time, you cannot use it for the purpose you bought it for? That would mean connecting at high-speed to the points you want, wherever you are.
Forgive me if Iâ€™m wrong, but the mobile networks do not deliver the high-speed connectivity we expect (because we get this at home or in the office).
This means that, outside of the home and office, we find that we cannot connect quickly with the online touchpoints we need and this has a destructive effect on the relationship we have with those touchpoints.
The best and most innovative company in the UK cannot, right now, fully engage with its clients or customers online simply because there is a roadblock â€“ and that is the mobile networksâ€™ inability to provide connection at the speed we are used to.
Every time a consumer or client goes to find information online on their mobile device, I would almost guarantee that the network is too slow. However, the negative lies with the brand, not the network.
The assumption of almost every brand that I have queried in the past month (through my mobile, on the mobile network) is that there is no problem. Mean average home pages are 800K+ in terms of data transfer. They are not aware of the issue.
So, itâ€™s time to wake up to the fact that we are very much still on the cusp of â€œeverywhere broadband accessâ€ and that this might not happen for another ten years. While we wait for the infrastructure to mature, brands need to accept the limitations and respond.
This means that brands can be clever in designing ways to deliver the content mobile users need at the fastest response times possible. Actually, there is no cusp, just progress.
November 11th, 2010
A major difference between the traditional text-heavy press release and the Social Media News Release alternative, is the visual impact of the latter.
A Social Media News Release often has video and images embedded for simple sydication. So when I heard about Google Instant previews it seemed like the perfect match, a visual news release that’s visible in SERPS!
Here’s how Google Instant Preview works
A screenshot from Liberate Media’s Social Media News Release service Pressitt.