Archive for September, 2008

30 minutes on the Tube…

September 30, 2008

…can bring up some interesting finds. I enjoy people watching, as does pretty much 100% of the population, and for me one of the best places to do this is on the Tube on my daily half hourly commute into work. It’s for this reason I’ve decided share with you all my foray into the world of 30 minutes on the Tube.

Today’s 30 minutes…’When technology fails’

I often spot people casually whipping out their BlackBerry/iPod etc and then revealing one of a few potential faces. I’ve reduced it down to three basic faces:

Happy: Phone is working and all is right in the world

Surprised: Phone is not working much to owner’s surprise

Angry: Phone is not working and this causes rage in the owner of said gadget.

I witnessed the ‘angry’ face this morning. A businessman, aged about 30 I’d say, pulls out his phone to check his emails/text messages so far for the day. It’s a new phone, very stylish and modern. He tries turning it on – but to no avail. He looks around, and tuts, once, very loudly. He tries taking off the back cover, checking the battery’s in there, and starts muttering, probably some form of expletive under his breath. He tries turning it on again. It’s simply not going to work. And then, out comes the ‘angry’ face. It’s amazing how we rely on technology and mobile phones in particular, and when they fail it’s seen by some, possibly many, as an absolute catastrophe. The ‘happy’ face and ‘surprised’ face weren’t present on the Tube today, maybe they got off before I got on? Either way, they don’t travel as regularly as the ‘angry’ face – especially when mobile phones are involved.

Next time

MP3 players and such-like: musical etiquette on the Tube…

Word of the Week

September 26, 2008
  • Falchion – a broad curved sword


Virals Continued: Is religion the ultimate viral?

September 26, 2008





As a follow up to my previous entry on viral marketing, I have been looking for natural examples of the viral effect in society. It turns out that many of these have already been identified and are called “memes”.


A meme consists of any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that gets transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Memes propagate themselves and can move through a culture just like a viral campaign. The more beneficial a meme is to society the more it spreads, the less beneficial the more quickly it dies out.


Dances, cultural traditions, catch-phrases and even well-known theories are all examples of memes. Some memes were very useful (e.g. wearing animal skins) whilst others served no purpose at all, but were copied anyway (e.g. putting feathers in one’s hair).


But perhaps the most consistently successful type of meme is religion (or perhaps religion itself is just a collection of memes…) Religion can unify your society, it can make your armies fight harder, it may reduce the chance of civil unrest (how many rulers have been ordained by God?), it can lower the chances of spreading disease (e.g. no sex before marriage), it can reduce crime, it can provide a basic code of laws and so on. Little wonder more successful cultures had religion!


So next time you want to make a viral that works, take a look back through history. Viral marketing is as old as we are. For now the tip seems to be “make your viral as beneficial as possible”, but this has also shown me that humans have evolved to copy and pass on information. We have literally evolved to be susceptible to viral marketing!

Susan Blackmore on Memes:


Free and open

September 25, 2008

The Webfather, Tim Berners-Lee, will not be happy. Merely days after he announced the formation of the World Wide Web Foundation, designed to extend the accessibility of a free and open internet, BT has said that sooner or later users will have to start paying ISPs for some content.

As applications become increasingly bandwidth hungry, ISPs are struggling to cope with the demand and are seriously looking into the possibility of charging for high data applications such as streaming video, meaning your beloved iPlayer will no longer be free.

An unfortunate side effect of this new model may see organisations that operate as both content providers and service providers rein back the spread of their material to avoid seeing competing ISPs profit from their content. So that’s ‘free’ and ‘open’ taken care of then.

I can sympathise with content providers implementing business models that monetise their products post-Napster, they do, after all, have the right to charge for the media they produce. But paying the middle men? I just can’t get on board with that. I would much rather have my monthly subscription hiked up a little, allowing me to consume all the media I desire.

Let’s hope the news from OFCOM’s latest consultation on next generation networks will delay ISP’s itchy trigger fingers until they are rolled out. I’m not very optimistic…time for Tim to get to work!

Congratulations Google!

September 24, 2008

Google officially celebrates its 10th Birthday today and they’ve released a timeline of the company’s history to commemorate their achievement.  From Google setting up in a Silicon Valley garage in 1998 to becoming the behemoth it is today, Google has revolutionised how we use the internet.

In keeping with their ‘don’t be evil’ mantra, Google has also launched Project 10100 which is “a call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible”.  People can submit their ideas that they think will help the world, vote on the submitted ideas and Google has committed to fund the best ideas.  Genius.

Check out the introductory video here:

Are the celebs still in demand?

September 24, 2008


Cheryl Cole

Cheryl Cole


An article in this week’s Media Guardian “The New Seriousness” sparks an interesting discussion around whether there has been a decrease in demand of the traditional gossip and celebrity magazines over the past few years. This is difficult to believe considering the papers this week have been dominated by celebrities like Victoria Beckham, Jade Goody and Cheryl Cole… So do we still enjoy a good piece of celebrity gossip or are we losing interest in Posh’s new crop? I know I still enjoy reading about the latest scandal or radical haircut but am I on my own here?

Sony Ericsson PlayNow raises DRM debate

September 24, 2008

News today from Sony Ericsson unveiling its mobile music platform, PlayNow Plus, has re-sparked the debate on DRM (digital rights management) for music


Now, I’m not saying that I LOVE DRM,  but it is interesting that people don’t get in quite such a lather over DRM when it comes to their own images.  Perhaps it is because the public can so easily produce their own images that they are so intensely into a version of DRM for their own property – just look at the furore over privacy rights (DRM by another name?) in social networking sites like Facebook.   


Anyway, back to music. 


I blame the disastrous anti-mixtape campaign of the 1980s, ‘home taping is killing music’, for musos’ desire to ‘stick it to the man’ and flout the law when it comes to music copying and distribution. 


Home taping didn’t kill music in case you were wondering.  In fact, many say it revitalised the sector, helping to spread music and recommendations far beyond what the radio stations were able to do at the time.  For a modern day equivalent, using the radio function or scrobbling your music through a site like is brilliant to expand your musical horizons.


Anyway back to DRM.


The thing is, any business will charge as much as it possibly can to as many people as it can to make as much money as it can – that’s just business.  Wrapping digital music in DRM looks to me like the industry is yet to really pin down exactly what all this music content is worth so they are hedging their bets with restrictive DRM.  After all, once DRM free music is out in the open, there is no bringing it back.

Word of the Week

September 19, 2008


  • Tintinnabulation – the ringing or sound of bells


A week when you could bank on a good headline…

September 19, 2008

With all the problems in the financial markets this week, the national newspapers seem to have gone into pun overdrive. The collapse of Lehman Brothers and the HBOS takeover certainly provided plenty of column inch material.


The Mirror opened with “Hellifax”, whilst The Telegraph offered “Meltdown Monday”. The ever-reliable team at The Sun came up with “Crash, Bang, Wallop” and The Metro lumped for “Sack Monday” in a reference to 1992’s Black Wednesday. The Independent remained resoundingly onomatopoeic with “Crash!”


Meanwhile, The Daily Star kept their finger on the pulse and led with “BB Jen bedded me for cash!”.

No news is good news

No news is good news





My new toy

September 15, 2008

I just wanted to make a really quick observation today, a happy note for a sunny Monday morning…  bought myself a new MacBook this weekend.  Really, I am astounded at the intelligence of technology.  I ordered my new toy over the internet on Friday afternoon, and it turned up on my doorstep on Saturday morning.  If that wasn’t enough it took me a total of only 15 minutes to get it up and running – I was truly amazed at how quick and easy it was!  Apple never fails to please me! 

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