Archive for “November, 2006”

Mesh Meetup Roundup

Last night the Mesh 2007 Meetup was held at the Irish Embassy – and it was packed!

(But – before we get started, no card = no name. If we did not exchange cards, and we’ve never emailed or blogged, I’ve pretty much forgotten your name. Nothing personal – I bet you forgot mine, too.)

So here’s who I met, and a great big hello to all of you. I expect you all to become regular readers and vote for us each and every day at the Canadian Blog Awards (We’re under “business blogs”. Go, now.)

I would first like to acknowledge the brave soul from Hewlett Packard who came by himself and made sure the waitress brought me a drink. Very welcoming – thanks! He also mentioned that the HP higher-ups who have blogs don’t seem to “get” it – the blogs are never updated, and consequently never read by employees. What a lost opportunity! He sees definite value in using blogs and/or wikis as repositories of institutional memory, especially on the large multi-year projects he now oversees. Interesting conversation.

Stuart MacDonald introduced himself, his wife and her friend to us – we exchanged pleasantries, after which I bumped into Glenn Clarke and his business partner (see? No card = no name) from BlogMatrix. We chatted about their enterprise deployment capabilities and I am going to spend some more time reviewing their site this week.

Then I met Mark Sharpe and Norm Young from a startup called The Talking Company (their website is so Might Magazine circa 1996). I can’t really tell you what they do They’re developing a toolkit for podcasters and they’re in the process of securing financing. They asked me if I would be interested in being on their Board of Directors. Of course, I immediately agreed.

As if propelled by divine force, I walked across the room to a corner pillar where stood this guy and an investor named Seamus Sheamus. We chatted for a bit, I wish now I’d asked more questions (he asked a lot) and the thought did cross my mind later in the evening to offer to tell the startups who the VC was for a fee (I was thinking $100).

Right after I met Seamus Sheamus, I met Steve Janke (aka Angry in the Great White North) the newly-minted Chief Blogger Blogmaster at X company Geosign (again, no card = no name Thanks for the email, Steve!) who I chatted with for quite a while. He was an IT guy who blogged on the side and one day he got a call from X company Geosign – they liked his blog and asked him to work for them. That was three months ago and Steve loves his new job (but he still doesn’t have business cards). You can read his post about the party here.

Then Steve and I met the Wiki and WordPress MultiUser Master, the highly educated Martin Cleaver. He works with Helix and you can bet I’ll be filing his card for future reference.

A bit later I chatted with Ben Lucier of Hip Communications and Paul Anderson of E-Gate (both hosting providers). Paul said he was the only person in the room who didn’t blog (this was probably true). Then we talked about how all true bloggers are totally obsessed with their stats and how weird it was that a lot of major firms didn’t mask their IPs when they really should.

Joseph Thornley and I also spoke briefly about the handling of the Environics Kerfuffle. It was very nice to have the chance to meet in person someone I’ve come to know via blogging, and I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon!

A little later I introduced myself to a familiar-looking Dave Hyndman who I see now I also have a lot in common with, what with his references to ZeFrank (What’s your Powermove?). Dave and his family are here from Charlottetown while his wife pursues her PhD (I forgot to ask in what!) in Education.

Finally, it was time to go, but just before I did, I spotted Mathew Ingram and we had an interesting, albeit short, conversation. I thanked him for inviting me, we talked about Mesh for a bit (and Edelman, and authenticity in social media…) and again, it was very nice to put a person to a blog/email!

Needless to say, I can hardly wait for Mesh 2007 – the acoustics at the Irish Embassy were kind of brutal, so in-depth conversation was difficult. Lots of bright minds in Canada, and I look forward to hearing more from them!

If I have missed you, or misspelled your name or something else horrible – please let me know in the comments section and I will swiftly correct my error! And, uh, *cough* – don’t you think it’s time to head over to the CBAs and vote now?

Towards a Talkative Society*

Statistics Canada released a study last week (Our Lives in Digital Times) that, finally, shows us some hard Canadian numbers and analysis to underscore the seismic shift we’re all seeing in media consumption and consumer behaviour online.

Seems good ol’ Statscan has labelled us “The Talkative Society”, noting that while digital technology has got us communicating with each other more, and differently, than ever before, it’s also causing a change in the way we behave:

As people communicate more and in different ways, they are choosing to expand their associations, moving from geographically-defined communities to communities of interest. [emphasis mine]

Spending on “information and communication technologies” (ICTs), which is everything from high-speed internet access to Blackberries is also on the rise:

between 1997 and 2003, average household spending…rose from $299 to $326, which was even more significant given that computer prices were falling during this period.

So there you have it – the next phrase to be over-used in the social media sphere: Communities of Interest.

*(My apologies to Tom Axworthy!)

Friday Social Media Roundup

Standing on the “shoulders of giants” (i.e. Steve Rubel’s “Links for…”) here’s all the other stuff we didn’t get to this week, but which you should probably know:

Thursday:
1. One in twenty Internet visits went to social networking sites in September, and MySpace got 82% of them. The numbers came from Hitwise. You can read the whole MediaPost story here.

2. Apparently Dell is “Joined the Electronic Dialogue” Thursday (I think that means they’re setting up a corporate blog).

Wednesday:
1. Intel released a new Web 2.0 suite, called “SuiteTwo”. It includes the following open source social media tools: Socialtext (wiki software), NewsGator (an RSS aggregator), SimpleFeed (an RSS syndicator), and Movable Type (an enterprise blogging platform).

Monday:
1. The growth of the blogosphere has slowed a little, according to Monday’s State of the Blogosphere report from Technorati honcho David Sifry. The doubling has slowed to once every 7.5 months or so, 55% of the 57 million blogs currently being tracked are “active” (updated in the last 3 months) and the number of blogs created daily has dropped to 100K, which David says is mostly thanks to agressive “splog” control (splog = spam+blog) from a peak of 160K in June (though I have repeatedly seen the peak daily number of 175K bandied around – where did that come from??)

2. Remember when I posted about the BrandIntel interview on Marketing Voices? One thing I forgot to mention (and probably the most interesting thing I got out of the whole podcast) was that Bradley Silver referred to blogs as “an aggregation of all media”, that is – in the past there’s been no place that feedback on products or entertainment can be published or shared that the market (companies) can consistently access. Until the blogosphere emerged, which they view as literally a goldmine of intelligence more than worthy of sifting through.

Friday November 3rd:
1. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Chris Cox has opened the door to dialogue about whether corporate blogs may be used to meet the SEC’s disclosure requirements for public companies. The cool part? He posted his thoughts on Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s blog.

2. The Social Media Club released guidelines for writing a social media press release (though they weren’t the originators of this idea, apparently that honour belongs to Shift Communications).

3. And, it would seem that keeping consumers engaged is problematic for Web 2.0 advocates as well – in my opinion, many of them have may have forgotten that it’s not just the wrapper, it’s the content!

Have a great weekend!

Blogging the Municipal Vote

Yesterday In early October the Globe and Mail announced that they had set up something called Campaign Bubble – a blog – with comments!

Campaign Bubble is a Globe and Mail weblog dedicated to the Nov. 13 municipal elections.

Based at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/campaignbubble and written by veteran Toronto blogger Marc Weisblott, Campaign Bubble is a home for daily conversations about the campaigns, the candidates and the coverage. Toronto is home base, but the weblog will cover the 905 region, as well as cities from London to Ottawa, Sudbury to Windsor.

I wonder why they waited so long? What a great idea. Don’t forget that the election is on Monday!

Social Media Marketing Case Study: SpreadFirefox.com

As the folks at Mozilla have realized, avid customers can literally create online marketing departments – staffed by thousands. In 2004, in a very prescient move, Mozilla set up a community called, aptly, SpreadFirefox (or “sfx”, which incidentally in TV language means “special effects”). On their blogsite, they explain why:

As a small, non-profit organization, the Mozilla Foundation has very limited resources at its disposal to market Firefox [browser software] to the world. SpreadFirefox was created to fill this void, and was founded on the same principles of community involvement that drive the development and testing of Firefox. We believe there is nothing that a large community of enthusiastic volunteers can’t accomplish, and this site exists to unite the community into one cohesive marketing force that even competitors with unlimited resources can’t compete with. For more information, see our original announcement.

What that translated into was a community-based site, also open-source and created by volunteers, on which users can engage in forum discussions (over 6,400 threads), set up blogs (16,000 and counting), participate in viral reward programs, contribute development notes and bug reports, post pictures and other art, download handbooks and technical specifications and even buy the t-shirt.

How has this worked out? Firefox has gone from just under 0% of the browser market to almost 14% in two years (you can see a historical graph here) all without spending hardly anything on marketing (figures unavailable by press time – an email to the Mozilla press department went unreturned). The best part? Their “online marketing department” is self-perpetually filling the pipe with new ideas to SpreadFirefox.

Brilliant.

CTV Interview: WonderCafe.ca

So, in case you live under a rock (or just not in Canada) yesterday it was big news that the United Church of Canada will be spending some $10 million over the next three years in order to foster greater discussion among its congregants and get some new bums into pews.

Their method of approach is pure Web 2.0 – they’ve set up a social networking space called WonderCafe.ca in which registrants can create a very basic profile for themselves (no ability to add anything more than some text and upload an image – and I found that problematic), create a blog, and join some discussion threads which are seeded with topics at the moment, but which will basically be a free-for-all (there’s already a pretty good thread about censorship on the site – seems some posts were either deleted or they had a data problem – let the conversation unfold!)

There’s also a pretty funny viral element – the EZ Answer Squirrel videos, which the UCC is hoping users will email around to create additional buzz.

At any rate, what’s getting the most press is the use of some pretty cheeky ads to generate discussion – you can download them (also problematic) from the Wonder Cafe media room (I’m unable to give you links to individual pages – is it possible that the developers actually created this site using frames?) And that was partly why CTV News Net was looking for a fresh angle when they asked me to do an interview yesterday afternoon.

ctv_int.jpg

CTV interview with Sandra Jansen

We discussed (the ads) which I re-directed, not really being a media analyst, and then talked about what the UCC has created, how it works, who uses blogs and the internet and whether the market they were after (30-45) was correctly targetted (I feel they’re aiming a bit lower, 18-34’s are the biggest social media consumers, and while 68% of MySpace users are 25+, the numbers start to drop off once you hit 34). I made the point that to have discussion you need to have dissenting viewpoints, and those ads have certainly generated that (personally, I think they’re very thought-provoking and intelligent, once you get past the shock of seeing Jesus in the context of a suburban shopping mall – and why is that offensive, anyway?)

At any rate, as the Rev. Dr. Keith Howard stated in the Wonder Cafe press release,

The Church believes in open, honest discussion. With WonderCafe.ca we’re opening our doors to listen and to engage. The Internet provides the opportunity for rich and far reaching conversation.

So Keith seems to “get” the whole social media thing – let’s hope that their technology co-operates, they’ve got a good plan in place to keep things going, and that the people therefore come to create the content, have a discussion and form a community. We’ll check back on them from time to time and see how they’re doing. High marks for bravery.

Social Media: Perfect for Spies

There’s a report from the LA Times that spy agencies in the U.S. are using collaborative tools created with wiki software.

The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have created a computer system that uses software from a popular Internet encyclopedia site [Wikipedia] to gather content on sensitive topics from analysts across the spy community, part of an effort to fix problems that plagued prewar estimates on Iraq

It perfectly underscores how any organization with or seeking to prevent “siloisis” (a serious case of the silos, i.e. divisions that can’t or won’t share knowledge that should be shared if the business is to reach its potential and/or not make giant, fatal mistakes) will benefit from a properly implemented social media-style collaborative space. And these tools have of course existed long before the invention of the wiki. It’s simply that these new versions are relatively easy and inexpensive to implement, and they’re also truly collaborative (unlike the “please give me your feedback” email sent by the boss).

Interesting story, worth the read if you have a moment.

Now, should I categorize this under “Social Media and International Espionage”?