Saturday, 30 May 2009

My Face Featured on iPhone!

Someone mentioned in a emails recent that they thought I’d probably have a Blackberry, or similar device. I don’t. Last time I checked Bosnia and Herzegovina still did not have a 3G network. Wifi hotspots are not unknown but there are still rare around Mostar. My Smartphone is still in a drawer somewhere and I use my wife’s faithful old Sony Ericsson Walkman phone of about four generations ago!

This morning I logged onto Facebook to find a friend telling me of their shock to find my face staring back at them from the second page of the featured videos on their new iPhone. I apologised for any undue stress this situation caused them. It was the same video I mentioned at the beginning of the month, the one where I give a few thoughts on St George’s Day. This, again, is just another argument for putting stuff out there. I took an idea, made the video and put it where people can easily find it (YouTube, in this instance). That’s why more people are watching my video than the better one you could make but haven’t got round to!

So there may be little point me owning an iPhone out here but it seems that doesn’t stop me showing up on yours: you have been warned!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Your Content Laid To Rest!

James used to work for Politico make videos every week day. I miss his take on American politics and current affairs. But the reason for featuring this video here is it tackles the issue of online accessibility. The internet has the power to make access easy for people, wherever they are. As he says, this does not always go down well with 'The Man'. (It's probably not helped by the fact that some of the web's most ubiquitous names still have yet to turn a profit.)

As a content provide to you make you content available to your users / followers / audience / customers? Or do you employ annoying layers of, seemingly unnecessary, login and verification is a blatant attempt to mine data? Heaven forbid you actually charge for what you upload!

I agree with James that the most important bits of information will leak round any form of online premium or protectionism policy. Putting a wall around your content could be the best way to let is rest in peace.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

An almost unique web presence!

Over at our WeDoAdventure blogspot I’m blogging about life as we find it in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To my knowledge there is only one other English blogger, blogging in English, from this country. The Fraught Mummy from Brits in Bosnia also blogs on the joys and challenges of motherhood – something I know nothing about! It’s strange to think that we’re the only two English voices representing life in an entire nation. Strange it may be but it does lend a uniqueness unattainable if I were to, say, be blogging about life in Liverpool. That’s why I wasn’t particularly surprised when a co-worker told me today they’d been introduced to another English person living in Mostar who’d heard of us. I’ve noticed our blog content (and YouTube videos) show up well in relevant searches, but when they said they had mentioned ‘WeDoAdventure’ – asking if that was our slogan – I had to smile. Not only does the mighty Google machine recognise we’re here but incidents like this are an encouragement our content is captivating enough to be remembered by real people!

Why is this important to you? If you’re doing something you believe people will want to support, or buy into, blogging and online video is on way to start a conversation with them that costs you nothing more than your time and a little ingenuity. As far as making you ‘searchable’ platforms like Blogger or YouTube may well prove more effective than your current dot-com, they will certainly provide a greater chance of interested people stumbling across your web presence.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Coldplay get it!

Coldplay must be congratulated on the release of Left Right Left Right Left. Too often bands advertise ‘free’ tracks on sites like MySpace only for you either have to fill out unduly complicated web forms to assess them, or only to discover that they’re not available to you because you live in the wrong part of the world.

Coldplay steered clear of both of these pitfalls and raised the bars by giving away an album that their fans would unquestionably paid good money for. It’s a very ‘live’ live album but that’s what the band’s stadium sound is all about. Even their new, experimental sound can’t mask the fact they are all about the arm waving and the sing-a-longs.

To say I’m not complaining is an understatement. I’m really impressed. If I were the hat-wearing type this would be the point I removed it!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Kanye doesn't get it!

So a little bit of petty e-imposting has provoked Kanye West into a CAPS LOCKS rant about the puerility of Twitter. I glad to know he’s either genuinely busy or on the beach. I hate to think of successful recording artists giving up the perks of their position to become internet addicts! He has a point about Twitter: some people do Tweet rubbish about which nobody should care, although sadly some do. But he is misguided to right the platform off. Micro-blogging is a legitimate form of communication, like blogging or online video or magazines or TV shows. All of these can provide us with shocking examples of the power to publish placed in the wrong hands. Used correctly, however, all these platforms can inform, inspire and entertain.

We are becoming digital nomads, seemingly adopting and adapting to new online platforms at an increasing rate. Driven by the desire to connect with people we are less loyal to the means than we are to the end. Once my social networking world revolved around MySpace, now it is Facebook that gets the lion’s share of attention. Why? Not because I prefer it – I don’t – but purely because that’s where everybody else is. This is where Twitter wins. It is the place to see and been seen. To that end anybody serious about keeping up a credible, assessable web presence needs to be there. At least for now. Give it a year and another start up will have reached critical mass and we’ll all be headed off over there. Perhaps by then Kanye will have learnt to get in quick to stake a claim on your identity, whether you subsequently use the application or not.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

If only iPlayer...

A couple of weeks back I got hold of a copy of the UK launch edition of WIRED magazine. It’s pretty much all read now. If you’ve seen the cover you might have noticed the words: how the iPlayer saved the BBC. The iPlayer is a genius piece of technology and a largely redundant one for us. We were near enough addicted before we left the UK, by which I mean we were using the site daily. But you can’t access the same content overseas, certainly not the TV shows we were watching in the UK.

The internet can ease the separation felt in moving country in so many ways. So many things are in the same place as they’ve always been. But being locked out of the best bits of the BBC’s greatest invention so far this century really is by far the biggest fly in the anointment. Dare I say, I’d happily pay a subscription to have full access from over here, but I imagine the rights issues would be cited as an obstacle to this. But were it possible, wouldn’t this simple development turn it into a world beating online video destination? It may even lay the ground work for the BBC’s survival when charging a television licence fee become untenable.

Perhaps the truth is the money men – or women – don’t want the truly world-wide potential of the world-wide-web to be exploited. Territorial divides – the discriminating monopolies of media – make them too much money. In my experience everything hosted by American networks flashes up ‘only available in the US’ signs when accessed from Europe. Even YouTube is becoming increasingly territorially discriminatory. But what better way to combat piracy than to make legitimate material accessible. iTunes did it. Admittedly it didn’t stop music piracy but it does give honest people the chance to do the right thing. I am, however, also a realist so I won’t be holding my breath on this one!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Welcome to 'The Battenberg Effect'!

A friend Facebooked me recently to suggest I revived “thebattenbergeffect”. This could, tenuously, be described as a back-handed compliment for my oft-neglected tech-blog. While choosing not to read anything into his substitution of a classic English tea-time cake for, arguably, the inventor of modern mass media, I am going to revive ‘thegutenbergeffect’ with immediate effect.

My situation has changed since I last posted. I was a cog in the wheel of the media/marketing/communications machine of a mid-sized UK-based church/charity. Some of my posts where definitely informed by the experiences and insights of that environment. Now I am a self-supporting charity worker with a UK-based organisation, living and working in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It brings a fresh set of perspective to the challenges facing charities in using new media.

The continuity between the two is my personal engagement in new media, particularly online video. As I post this I have 325 video on my talk74 YouTube channel – the most active of the four channels I post on. I’ve lost count of how many videos I’ve actually made for these and a number of other channels. While I am by no means e-famous I was amused, and perhaps a little flattered, that when UK YouTube spotlighted just one video about St George’s Day just over a week ago it was the one I made last year.

Living overseas means a greater reliance on digital media to stay connected with friends, family and financial supporters. So getting it right is not an academic exercise, it really matters. As corporate old media muscles in on the new media party and people become increasingly cynical about the authenticity of online communication there a need to keep communicating with honesty and integrity, along with generous helping of ingenuity...and perhaps a slice of Battenberg!