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I’m gonna take you on a surfin’ safari January 27, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, digital strategy.
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While back home over Christmas, I caught up with your friend and mine Ben Rennie to discuss Digital Strangelove, media business models and a host of other things. This is the first of three videos, I’ll be sure to link to the others when they’re ready (those reading this in email or RSS readers can click here to see it).

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Ben is also continuing the good work he started last year with Innovation Forums with a couple events coming up soon. The next is in Melbourne on February 23rd, and there are still early-bird tickets available for a paltry $29!

Ben will be following the Melbourne event with one in Sydney shortly afterwards.

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Give me something I can write about January 25, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in creativity, philosophy.
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From the It’s-been-sitting-open-for-a-week-just-write-about-it Department, this great short video called Making Is Connecting from David Gauntlett, Professor of Media and Communications at Westminster University. In it he argues tools that exist to facilitate expression of one’s self are inherently more powerful than tools that exist only as an expression of someone else (think the rise of social platforms versus the dominance of 20th century media) as this connects us to the world around us.

Gauntlett backs up his ideas not with the latest digital media thinkers such as Charles Leadbeater or (my hero) Clay Shirky, but with quotes from Ivan Illich, a philosopher from the 1970’s, and William Morris, a textile designer from the 1800’s. The examples point to something I’ve been banging on about for quite some time: the rise of social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. are an interesting development, but they are successful due to facilitating expression of self, and conenction with like-minded others.

As I wrote about Posterous last March, tools will continue to rise that make it easier and easier to express yourself, creating content for others to consume in the process. Making is connecting indeed, and as the world gets radically smaller on a daily basis, understanding this becomes ever more crucial.

(found via altnytterfarlig)

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Tell me that you’ll open your eyes January 24, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, creativity.
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From the desk of Iain Tait, who wrote about this video simply saying “Best. Lecture. Ever.” My vote there goes to Sir Ken Robinson’s excellent TED talk on how schools kill creativity, but on the proviso I won’t have the chance to repeat childhood and not go to school, then this is certainly the next best thing.

The speaker in question is Professor Barry Nalebuf, author of a book called Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small. I only assume the ideas in the book are the same he expresses here, it’s earned a spot on my Amazon Wish List and it’s probably worth a spot on yours too.

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Right on time January 21, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news, technology.
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Looking at yesterday’s post on Conan O’Brien’s situation within traditional media, this announcement from Boxee comes right on time:

Image representing Boxee as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

…users will be able to make purchases with one click on the remote. The content partners we launch with will offer shows, movies and channels that were previously not available to Boxee users. The content owners will be able to package and price as they wish, including pay-per-view and subscription. Content partners will have the flexibility to decide what they make available, whether it’s premium content, content from their existing library, or extras that will never make it “on air”.

…The Internet represents a great opportunity for the major media companies and for the independent content producers to create more engaging and immersive experiences around their content and for them to be paid for more eyeballs on yet another screen.

Now Boxee itself is a service not too many people know about. And while it is now relatively easy to hook a computer up to a TV, there is a mental barrier Boxee have to overcome, as they’re pioneering an open source approach to this.

The flip side of this is something I got at in Digital Strangelove – we’re moving from a place where the type of media has been defined by the medium (a TV show versus a movie, which happens in a theatre) and is now in a place where we’ll just talk about video, text and sound as the environment in which it is consumed ceases to have anything to do with what type of media it is.

Boxee moves that agenda along in a fairly dramatic fashion; it will be interesting to see how content producers respond.

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This might offend my political connects January 20, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy.
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I notice a bunch of places where people talk about how they haven’t adopted RSS readers, which I find fascinating and frustrating at the same time. I often will add new sites to my reader and forget about them, often just to stumble back across them like i have done this morning on this post from Clay Hebert on why Conan O’Brien should eschew the traditional TV model and go direct to his audience:

1) Full creative control over his own content
Now he writes a lot of his own stuff but imagine if he wasn’t censored at all. Look out.

2) Not working for Jeff Zucker
3) Not working for anyone

4) Online video worked well for Gary V. and the Monty Python guys.

5) Never having to worry about ratings again
Let Leno have the “ratings” on NBC. His demographic is not Conan’s anyway, so why try to fight for it. It’s sort of like Newhart and Family Guy jockeying for position.

6) Any format, any device
Conan’s demographic consumes content differently. He could make videos of any length that his audience could consume and stream anywhere. iPhones, iPods, Droids, iSlates, other tablets. Design the content to be snackable and sharable and we will snack and we will share.

7) Watching a show at its original time slot is obsolete
I’ve seen plenty of clips of Saturday Night Live in the last few years, but never on Saturday night. My social network does the filtering and the best and funniest clips bubble to me on twitter and Facebook.

8 ) Your own channel means your own audience and unlimited bandwidth

This idea echoes some thoughts I had while back in Australia over Christmas. I recorded an interview with Innovation Forum’s Ben Rennie which I will link to when he posts it, where I said the traditional TV model no longer makes sense; it is a business setup to sell advertising, not to entertain – in fact the entertainment is the expensive part of what they do! Whereas people like Conan are setup to entertain.

The NBCs of the world may still have a role to play for the time being in helping talented people find an audience, but once that happens they swiftly lose a reason to exist. What we’re seeing is a revolution in ecosystems of value, where the content which has been at the periphery for so long is being pushed back into the centre.

The revolution as we all know will not be televised. But it will be everything else.

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That’s not the shape of my heart January 19, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, technology.
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Interesting video the magic that is The David Report turned me onto, looking at and thinking about the future of magazines. I am somewhat of a junkie for the form and don’t doubt it will continue (in some fashion).

This has me thinking also about devices as a whole, and particularly the arms race that is on in the mobile space.

Everyone is excited to have Google‘s skin in the game with Android, and are touting them as the challenger that can actually take on Apple and their much-loved iPhone. The problem facing Google and its partners is not developer support, of which there is plenty, but control over the hardware environment.

See an iPhone developer makes an app once, and releases it. They don’t need to deal with different specifications regarding screensizes, peripherals, keyboards, cameras, what have you. An Android developer has all of that, plus chipsets from Intel, Nvidia and others. The increased overhead in supporting multiple platforms will, I believe, lead us to a place where apps exist on one Android device and not another, leading to negative user-experiences which will directed partially towards the manufacturer, but more so towards Google. Contrast that with the iPhone, which while it has well-documented flaws, is a consistent experience for every person that owns one.

I’m in the camp of people who think Android is the platform that will challenge the iPhone for dominance of the market, Google to need to invest more in the hardware for this to become a race; right now they’re just running warm-up laps.

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I love it when we do what we do because we do what we do until it’s done January 14, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in intent.
4 comments


Can I get an “Amen!”?

Found via the lovely Conversation Agent.

What time is love? January 13, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, creativity, technology.
1 comment so far

From the equal parts genius/niceness that is Andy Whitlock and the team at Poke.

In December, we had a hack day at Poke. In a nutshell, we had 24 hours to come up with an idea and make it an online reality…Our team’s idea was to create an egg-timer that served up a Youtube video to match the exact length your egg needed to be boiled for. No staring at the egg. No staring at a boring timer. Just watch the video and you’re done. And it dishes up different videos depending on how you like your egg. Have a look for yourself over at eggwatchers.com.

<3. Srsly. The importance of this sort of thing perhaps won’t be immediately apparent to anyone who still wants to make TV commercials. For the rest of us, we can be thankful places like Poke exist.

And dream of working there.

P.S. I’ve tagged this in the “branding” category of this blog to make a point – it’s activity like this that builds Poke’s own brand. The same way traditional agencies built their names on their work, so too do the modern shops, the difference being only one of those groups is still willing to run with the bulls.

Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream January 7, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in technology.
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I was watching Steve Ballmer‘s keynote at CES last night, thinking to myself “This sort of address has its days numbered.” My penchant for drama would have me state we’re witnessing an empire in decline, but I don’t really think that would arrive as news to anyone.

I have a few good close friends who work at Microsoft, and it’s a source of endless debate. At the heart of the issue for me is the lack of clear, single-minded purpose, of intent to do anything other than compete. See “compete” isn’t a strategy, it’s aimless and has you swinging in the direction of anyone who looks like they might do what you do, instead of focussing on the way forward, staring blatantly and openly back infront of you.

A good portion of the talk was spent showing off what other people are going to do with Microsoft’s platform, but devices designed in different ways isn’t really a sexy story. The compelling work, and in my opinion the jewel in Microsoft’s crown (in the same way the Playstation became everything Sony lived for) is the Xbox 360. It is, to my mind, the only space where they are clearly innovating and driving their own path forward, backing it up with an impressive lineup of content. In Xbox they really appear as masters of their own destiny; everywhere else they seem callous, and forever peering over their shoulders at what someone else might be doing.

I highlight Xbox and specifically avoid their much-hyped Project Natal. A tech demo in very controlled environments does not a product make, and having spent a previous life making games for consoles, if the software isn’t there to drive the thing when it launches, it simply won’t matter. There’s also an issue of adoption; I haven’t seen recent figures but traditionally the percentage that even owns a second controller is well below 50%; recent success with music-based games requiring plastic guitars and microphones has surely begun changing that behaviour, though thaty category as a whole is starting to wane.

As for other categories, the less said the better. Microsoft needs a new vision, and it being the media centre of the family home is as good a move as any. Your friend and mine Vik twittered this during the keynote:

Agreed Win7 is a popular & well built OS. But as netbooks become more prevalent, is this what customers will want on their machines?

There’s an increasingly rapid transition going on to web services and away from non-core applications. A friend who came to visit me in Toronto recently only traveled with his iPhone, saying it negated the need for him to have a laptop with him at all. If we entertain the notion for a moment that that is the start of a larger trend, lauding last year’s operating system starts to look less like a success story, and more like a fossil somehow reanimated.

For a brief and fleeting moment I suspect.

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Let’s get together and do it again January 6, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, technology.
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JP Morgan’s Imran Khan (different Imran Khan) is tipping online display advertising to grow this year by around 10.5%. Which is obviously massive. He also cites a few trends that seem to be moving the industry away from naff executions – aka the banners that neither you nor I ever click on. Which, let’s be honest, is all of them. He is talking though of a trend more towards what Banner Blog exists to share with us, which is great.

That’s not what I want to talk about though. In the same article Khan talks about mobile growing 45% (!!!) this year, winding up with $3.2 billion spent on SMS, $253 million in mobile display, and $321 million in mobile search.

A few things:

  1. As the mobile platform improves, the notion of display as distinct on mobile from PC will disappear
  2. It will however give way to services sensitive to your platform and do other interesting things around location, and device-specific functionality
  3. I don’t understand what constitutes “mobile search” – maybe someone can explain it to me?
  4. Advertisers who invade the phone like they have every other medium are going to get smacked; it’s still too personal

Aside from all of this, it’s the same Mcluhan-esque mistake (slide 44) made in online advertising where we take what we did before and force it into this new shape because we don’t know any better. If anyone truly believes the best way to use a mobile phone is to send people SMSs, they deserve the rapid demise their business will receive.

Frankly it speaks to the lack of vision and general laziness that pervades the entire ad industry. With the simple days of TVCs and print long behind it, rather than thinking about how it can reinvent itself to be relevant in a new era, it consistently mines tired ideas that speak to the silo-mentality of 20th century media.

People, look at foursquare, get in and use it for a few weeks. That, right there, is a perfect storm of local marketing, small business marketing, and mobile. If you do not see it, either try harder, or find a job where you do not need to.

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