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You can’t hurry love August 18, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, music, web 2.0, work/life.
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What if people knew what this moment felt like?

What if people knew what this moment felt like?

We’ll get to the stuff I was talking about yesterday in due course, it ain’t goin’ nowhere baby. And what I have on my mind is much bigger than that.

So I was reading this piece on movement through the web which touches on notions the web having made creativity itself more accessible – mind you it does this in a fairly esoteric fashion wherein a bunch of stuff does straight over my head).

It got me thinking about how the advent of blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger, TypePad etc. gave people the ability to express themselves, or at least opened other avenues to express themselves. if like me, you believe creative is not a department and we’re all inherently creative as a by-product of being human, then that’s pretty exciting.

YouTube, Vimeo and a bunch of other video services (such as Seesmic and Oovoo) have allowed people to express themselves in a similar fashion via video. What I’m thinking about though is something that enhances people’s ability to express themselves musically. Yes we have Last.fm, Pandora, what have you. These all function around recommendation engines, I’m interested in tools that allow people to make music more easily.

I hear you saying “But I can’t read music.” You know what? Most people with a blog couldn’t spot the difference between a verb and an adjective without the help of Wikipedia, I’ve played guitar for 15 years, I’m less good at reading music now than I was when I was 13, which is much more than The BeeGees ever could.

The issue is this: people love to construct barriers to entry. They love to put up walls around things they have achieved in a move towards exclusivity; if everyone can do what I do, then it isn’t actually an achievement.

How does that relate to blogging? In terms of raw self-expression, blogging has enabled more voices to be heard than any other publishing medium in the history of the world. The individual impact may not carry that of Tolstoy or Goerge Bernard Shaw, but that makes it no less valid a form of expression, and the collective voice is far greater.

Being a musician myself, I’m wondering how music can be made more accessible – not the acquiring of other people’s music but the actual creation. Maybe part of the equation of putting value back into the 4 megabyte files everyone is downloading is sharing more of the experience of creating them in the first place. Maybe that will only serve to drive down the value further, but as the perceived value continues to approach zero, what do we have to lose?

I’ll happily acknowledge this post is a complete shot from the hip, but I really believe theres something in this.

My only question is: where to from here?

And she’s climbing the stairway… June 24, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, web 2.0.
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Barrier to entryLong-time listeners-first time callers would be aware I was included in a top 50 list of marketing blogs in Australia recently, put together by Adspace-Pioneers and Marketing Magazine (#17, thanks very much). Eschewing “It’s an honour just to be nominated” dribble, it was a great chance to check out some of the other writers and marketers that exist in this space. There’s a tremendous amount of value out there and it’s well worth everyone’s time to take a look at the other sites comprising the list.

One key aspect which had been over-looked on a lot of these sites though was the choice of technology employed. There are three main blog platforms – WordPress (which is what this site is), TypePad and Blogger, all of which have their own pros and cons, but perform the same base functions.

Contrast this with Vox, a site I hadn’t heard of before until I visited Lexy Klain’s blog (#29 on the list). Lexy does a good job of providing thought-provoking content, I actually went quite far back into her archives to get a sense of her thought process. Satisfied, I went to comment on a post, and to congratulate her on making the list, and that is when the fun stopped.

Vox requires you to register if you wish to comment, something I abhor. Having spent yesterday afternoon at the Melbourne PubCamp event being bored to tears by folk who do not yet understand for some God-forsaken reason that open beats closed, I was surprised to see a blog site pursuing this tack.

By choosing this platform, Lexy opts out of a raft of conversation provided by comments. Fred Wilson often says the comments on his site far outweigh the value created in his blog posts. This is a participatory medium, and we need to make the barriers to entry for everyone as low as possible.

Lex, five stars for the wealth of thought you’re providing, but I can get it elsewhere. And if I can’t interact or am put off by the barriers placed in front of me, I won’t return. Those who haven’t read it should brush up on Forrester’s POST methodology for more on this.

Image courtesy of moniker, with thanks to compfight.

Twitter, its users, and the notion of “free” February 10, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in web 2.0.
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There’s been a lot of chatter lately around Twitter and its inability to remain online consistently. The service is doing its best to scale but it doesn’t not seem to be improving reliability overall. People are threatening to leave, which isn’t a great sign for something still very much in ‘early-adopter’ stage, but I find the whole thing largely amusing, and I really think the user base needs to just chill out.

Twitter itself came about almost by accident. The company behind it, Obvious had the foresight to spin it off into its own entity and remain as a investor; such a shrewd move to be sure, one that could only be born out of the experience of selling Blogger to Google and getting another company – Odeo – to a stage where it could be acquired.

To put the events around Twitter into context, let me explain the perspective I have on it. I used to make video games for a living, a job I enjoyed for the most part. Some of the best times we ever had were when we saw people do things in the game that we hadn’t actually intended; it’s referred to as emergent gameplay; and basically you create a set of tools and the player manages to solve puzzles according to what make sense to them (it’s a little more complicated than that, but that definition works none the less) – you give someone what they need and then see what they do with it.

Prior to Twitter launching, I don’t think very many people could have seen it as something they needed. Trialled initially out of curiosity than anything, people users have come to love the service. Not only that, but they applied it to different situations, certainly ones that went beyond the original vision for the application. That great, but what it means is Twitter is being used for things it wasn’t designed to do. Obvious, being the clever folk that they are have embraced the behaviour rather than hinder it, spawning new micro-behaviours such as “live” or “event” tweeting, taking live blogging to a new platform altogether, along with the conversation around it.

Cue major events, marketing/tech conferences, elections, natural disasters. The Twitter service suffers because of overload on the infrastructure. People in turn start complaining that Twitter isn’t reliable, or scaling appropriately. Yes a few events have taken place where it has become obvious that work needs to be done on their backend, but what the tech was created for and what it was applied to are different things. Obvious are being smart and doing their best to run with that, but it is going to take some time to get right.

What it means is we have a service which is still very much in beta but that people have come to rely on the same way they rely on pieces of software that cost them hundreds if not thousands of dollars. What a fantastic development!! Unfortunately people forget it didn’t cost them anything to arrive at this point and expect the same level of service they get out of their commercial software.

I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and acknowledge Twitter is a fantastic service that is having some growing pains. We’re such an instant and on-demand culture nobody seems willing to acknowledge it just might take a little time to build it into the service it can be. Twitter could never say this themselves, their users would revolt and call them arrogant. But I’m on their side.

And I think they’re doing a great job.