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A social experiment and some fun, thanks to Marcus

There are 46 free tickets to this event available. If you're interested, keep reading.

Marcus Brown is a funny guy, and if you'd like to join a bunch of us and go see him in London on Monday evening March 9, just keep reading. This is a social experiment of sorts. Who knows what will happen.

Amongst other things, Marcus does Tweet Readings. For those of you who don't know/use Twitter, that won't mean much. For those of you lucky to have had the pleasure, you know that he's a satirist who takes great pleasure poking fun at Twitter, the microblogging service that everyone is talking about.

Here is his "Tweet Reading" of David Armano, VP of Experience Design with Critical Mass:

The event:

Today, Marcus announced a reading in London:
An Evening With Marcus Brown
Monday, March 09, 2009 at 7:00 PM (GMT)
Market Porter, 9 Stoney Street, London, SE1 9AA

Marcus Brown is dragging himself out of his infamous lavatory to bring song, stories and official tweet readings to the streets of London. There will be beer, there will be frolics and there will be Sacrum, Charles Stab and Roger the C.E.O. There may be some swearing.

Please be informed that owners of iPods are requested to bring them along and have “I will survive” by Gloria Gaynor at the ready.

Sam's Note: We're not getting sponsorship and we ain't trying to make money. Marcus' flight will cost about £130 and his transport on the day about £10 more. Give what you think is appropriate for an evening of AWESOME. Once we cover costs we'll be giving the excess raised to Crisis - a charity for single homeless people. Their website is here: Crisis
What makes it even more fun is that the event is being held at the Market Porter in Borough Market, which is one of my favourite pubs in London and the iris agency "local".

The experiment:

So, I bought 46 of the 60 tickets. :-)

If you'd like to go, just leave a note below explaining why you would like or deserve to go. Answers in 140 characters or less will receive extra consideration. Extra charitable acts or random acts of kindness will also be taken into account. If you are not comfortable leaving a comment below, you can contact me on Twitter.

Let's see what happens ...


NOTE: If you want to sign up for a ticket, please include your email address or Twitter address so I can contact you and let you know if you will receive a ticket. There are a bunch of them, so it should be fine. But, I think it best to have a list. If you prefer not to write it here, send it to twitter (at)

Thursday, February 26, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     23  comments

Slumdog wins!

So happy that Slumdog Millionaire has won the best picture, along with a host of other awards. Truly the best film I've seen in a long time. Uplifting, romantic, heartwarming and incredibly well crafted. Sound, cinematography, editing, direction and acting. Fantastic!

The photo above is from my India gallery on

And not to brag, but I was 100% on my picks this year:

Domo arigato Mr Roboto! Go Slumdog! Go India!

Monday, February 23, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Oscars, FAIL

The show is a winner this year, but seriously, if you're going to a "Live Challenge" and promote the thing on your homepage on one of the few nights that anyone ever bothers to visit your site, don't you think that it would be worth makign sure that your technology can meet the challenge. It isn't the '90's anymore.


Monday, February 23, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

The Power of Six Degrees

“CONNECTED: The Power of Six Degrees” is a new BBC documentary that unfolds the science behind the popular trivia game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” whose notion that anyone on the planet can be connected in just six steps of association was supposed to be an urban myth.

If you've never heard of Network Theory, I'm pretty sure that this programme will be a wonderful intro to the subject. It looks very good, and the two researchers/scientists involved are top-notch.

The film follows two young scientists, Harvard’s Laszlo Barabasi and Yahoo! Research’s Duncan Watts, as they work to uncover the pervasive law that nature uses to organize itself. Watts is the author of “Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age.” Barbasi penned "Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else".

“CONNECTED: The Power of Six Degrees” premieres tomorrow night on the Science Channel in the USA.

If I can't find this on TV soon (like on the iPlayer) I might have to download it someplace else.

Via Yodel Anectotal.

Saturday, February 14, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     3  comments

5C's on using Twitter for business

It is still early doors for Twitter, and people are still finding their way. That said, it is “mainstreaming” and Stephen Fry’s recent appearance on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross could certainly be seen as a tipping point for UK adoption. As a follow-up to my last post (Does Biz have a bizplan) here are my 5C’s on using Twitter for business:

1) Conversation: Twitter isn’t only about you and your brand. It is a social environment, and marketers should avoid the pitfalls normally associated with thinking that the world revolves around them. Agent Provocateur is joining up their conversations via Twitter, Facebook, a blog, a website and other “social media” activity to create authentic conversations. Not bad.

2) Celebrity: It is much easier for celebs to “Tweet” than brands or products. Twitter is intrinsically about following people, so it should come as no surprise that famous folks who lead interesting lives and have interesting things to say (like Stephen Fry and Al Gore) have large groups of followers on Twitter. The takeaway for brands and products is to give a face and a personality to what you are doing.

3) Charity: Twitter is emerging as a strong place to engage and enable social movements. The Twestival (a worldwide synchronous charitable event in support of clean water) will reportedly raise over $1M almost exclusively due to efforts of people on Twitter.

4) Customer relations
: From basic questions to crisis management, Twitter provides an accessible platform for people to speak to businesses. Ideally, real people with real personalities should do this, eliminating the generic “corporate-speak" that so often dominates these comms.

5) Command line services
: Savvy and innovative marketers can create and deliver "command line services" like the unofficial update service from @uktrains and the very handy @myflightinfo. There is a ton of untapped utility there which is bound to create brand love and big bucks.

And because nothing is that easy, here are two real risks:

First of all, we live in a world where utility, entertainment and crap all compete against each other, and Twitter increases both the signal and the noise. Marketers need to be careful to not to add to the noise, else few will follow.

Second, spam is inevitable, and Twitter is young. Just wait, it will happen.

What do you think?

Follow @iboy on Twitter here

Wednesday, February 11, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Does Biz have a bizplan?

Over on Marketing, Fiona Ramsay has the scoop on Twitter's plans to charge companies for commercial use:
Co-founder Biz Stone told Marketing: 'We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts.' He would not be drawn on the level of charges.
On Gordon's Brand Republic blog, We Are Social founder Robin Grant added that Twitter could charge for display ads or to access customer information for marketing.

I don't think the real value is in charging companies for display ads. It is a conversation, and brands/products want in on it. Not easy, but relegating them to the sidelines as posters is not a very good option. Access to customer information for marketing, on the other hand, is certain to have tremendous appeal. So, on that, I'd say @RobinGrant is 50% right, and in this business at that early stage, that ain't bad

They should offer custom templates and other nice things to make things look good ... You know how marketing directors get when it comes to being "on brand" and all. That'll make 'em a ton of $$$.

And Brendan Mitchell commented that a FlickrPro type service would be good. I think that's certainly worth looking at. Add-ons and extras, premium and pro is the way to go

But they should offer savvy companies more: Make it easy for smart and innovative companies to create and deliver "command line services" like the unofficial ones from the rail and @myflightinfo ... Tons of utility there which is bound to create brand love and bucks.

Special kudos to Fiona for getting Biz to spill the story. Way to go!!! Let us know when they re-enable the marketing mag twitter account. ;-)

So, is that a business plan? I dunno. But it is better than nothing, and that's what they're making today.

More to come ...

UPDATE: Or, not.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Connecting the dots with the Condor

This all may seem a bit random at first, but to me it is nonetheless a connected conversation. Stick with me, and let me know what you think.

First, there's Hulu's Superbowl spot ... my favourite ad from the big game by a mile.

The irony is fantastic: A Superbowl spot that takes the piss out of TV viewers and TV. It demonstrates the power of TV whilst pointing out its inextricably linked weaknesses. On screen, it shows people as being stupid couch potatoes whilst actually telling people that they're smarter that all that. And the spot is funny as hell, to the point of my having some serious doubts about whether or not Alek Baldwin is truly human. Now, if we could just fcuking get Hulu outside the States, but that's a story for another day ...

Second, a blog post and subsequent conversation over on Asi Sharabi's blog, where I've left the longest reply I've ever written. The debate/conversation is worth checking out. Here's a snippet of what I wrote:
See, here’s the thing: People use digital channels as much as TV, yet your everyday ad agency or marketing director spends a shitload less time thinking about it and a fraction of the budget on it. In the UK, I think it was something like 22% of the total media spend was on TV and 12% spent online (in this case, I believe it was only looking at the web). Yet, the same number of people use the web as watch TV. And they spend more time on the web than watching TV. And the figures are more dramatic the younger you go. I’m not trying to make this all about cash, but advertising is a business, and money talks.
Third, a short article on today's NYTimes explaining Why Television Still Shines in a World of Screens.
In the quarter ended Sept. 30, the typical American watched 142 hours of television monthly, up about five hours from the same quarter the previous year. Internet use averaged more than 27 hours monthly, an increase of an hour and a half, according to Nielsen.
I'd love to see the monthly figures broken down by age group. For anyone under the age of thirty, spending 27 hours/month online seems ridiculously low. That's less than an hour per day, and that's impossible.

The economy is certainly playing a role here, too. As people become more and more concerned about the crunch, the idea of staying in and watching TV is bound to have a greater appeal.
The video mode has been reinforced by the rise of YouTube. In December, almost 100 million viewers in the United States watched 5.9 billion YouTube videos, according to comScore. Tellingly, YouTube has not cannibalized TV viewership — it has instead carved out another chunk of our leisure time for video on a screen.
Anyone care to reconcile the comScore numbers with Nielsen?
You now hear talk in the advertising trade of our “three screens”: television, the Internet and mobile devices. When I asked representatives of major ad agencies about how they chose the optimal mix of media for clients, I was led back, again and again, to television. That’s not just because it remains the one place where an advertiser can gather a truly mass audience for a single commercial message, but also because it provides what advertisers call an “immersive experience.”
Imagine that: Now we're being told that TV is more immersive than the internet. What a joke! I don't know what "advertising trade" people Randall Stross spoke with, but I'd imagine they're the same type of "trade people" who produce this garbage for Aviva or the new GE "NOW" TV spot.

Three things. Seemingly disconnected. But all pretty connected, if you ask me. Do you think this post has anything do do with the fact that I'm watching Three Days of the Condor as I read the NYTimes and write this post? A case of Sunday sleuthing or something?

"I don't remember yesterday. Today it rained."

Sunday, February 08, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     2  comments

Is that all you got, Twitter?

Most Brits I know who know anything about the Interwebs are talking about Stephen Fry. Why? Well, because he went on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and mentioned Twitter. And then late last night, he got stuck in a lift (that's an elevator, y'all), and it made the fcuking news.

Fry tweets his way to safety after getting trapped in lift
Independent, UK
This is mad, I'm stuck in a lift: Stephen Fry Twitters live from ...
Daily Mail, UK
Stephen Fry tweets from stuck lift
Digital Spy, UK
Stuck Fry gets a lift from Twitter
The Sun, UK
Stephen Fry Was Trapped In an Elevator
Gizmodo Australia
Stephen Fry Is Stuck In A Lift In Centrepoint
Londonist, UK
Shafted. Poor Stephen Fry

Is that it?


Is that all you got, Twitter?

There are 122,863 people following Stephen Fry waiting to hear about being stuck in a lift, complaints about flight schedules, and taking walks on slippery roads. (3,000 people more since I started writing this post.) The press is fawning and bloggers are blogging ... about a British society icon and all-around nice guy who got stuck in an elevator.

Twitter isn't about giving everyone a voice. It isn't about you. I don't think it is really about social networking, either. Sure, it is about sharing, but I think it is more one-way than people make it out to be. It is about celebrity. It is about A-lists ... and their followers.

It isn't "What are you doing?" ... It is "What are they doing?"

I'm not surprised that Stephen Fry has over 120K followers. Heck, I bet it will be 250K in a month or so. He's sought after. He's popular. He makes the top table when people in the UK are asked who they'd most like to have at their ultimate dinner party.

But Stephen Fry follows 32,058 people. Do you really think he reads their "tweets"? If not, what does that mean? That Fry doesn't care? Actually, no, I'm sure he does on some level. I'm not sure what it means, yet. But I know that it isn't a conversation, and that's one of the things I like the most about the web.

So now, everyone will want in. I can hear it in the boardrooms and see it in the planners' powerpoints. There are plenty of musings about brands starting to tweet and companies wanting to inject inter-tweet advertising between people's messages. Oh yes, more of that, please. That's what we really need. If you're a brand or product marketer, and you want my advice on how to use Twitter for marketing and PR, this is all you need to know:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     4  comments


London got a few inches of snow, and the city effectively ground to a halt. Planes, trains, tubes and automobiles were all useless. At one point, we heard that "all 500" gritters (that's sand spreaders for the yanks) were out on the roads. Five hundred total for all of the UK. LOL.

Walking past the 47 Degrees store on Fulham Road, it was hard to miss the guys from the shop on the sidewalk. They were taking turns trying to hit a small kicker/ramp up onto a picnic table. After a few tries (and one epic fail that I'm sorry I didn't film) one of the guys managed to pull it off in style. Certainly not something you see everyday on the streets in London ...

Here's a shaky digicam video made in haste and in awe of the snowday. There are scenes like this all over the city. This one is from our street, Fernhurst Road.

There's also a gallery of snowday photos from Fulham up on Flickr.

For a good laugh, read the news stories. Here's a Sky classic, "Snow Escape From The Big Freeze" and The Guardian answers some "Snow travel chaos Q&A":
So where were the snow ploughs? Most London boroughs don't have them – and for plausible reasons. Westminster said: "Where do you put the snow?" The only place would be to pile it up on the pavement, creating further hazards. More interestingly, perhaps, Camden said ploughs are not viable in London as they cannot negotiate speed bumps.
At least us kids had a good time ...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

GE "NOW": The good, the bad and the ugly

GE is launching its new advertising campaign today, called "NOW". It offers a great chance to look at some wonderfully innovative work and provides a case study in dis-integration.

The good:

One of the reasons why virtual reality concepts like Second Life suck so much is that they require you to enter into a new place and often shed or change whatever it is that makes you, you in the real world. You have no choice. In other words, it is either one world or the other. Everything is black or white. There is no grey and there is very little blurring of the lines between the real world and the digital environment.

"Augmented reality" changes this, and it is a much more human and immersive experience. Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer research which deals with the combination of real-world and computer-generated data (virtual reality), where computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time.

I've seen a few attempts to use "augmented reality" technology (like a fairly lame holiday card that I got this year from a not-to-be-named 3D company), but GE has done something very nice with it.

Inside their lovely new "Plug Into the Smart Grid" microsite is a section that shows a digital hologram display of the Smart Grid using Augmented Reality.

GE claims that this is "the first time that augmented reality technology has been used to interact with a consumer in an advertising effort." I'm not sure what an advertising effort is, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Either way, it is fab.
Creativity Online's campaign write-up includes some good quotes from Goodby associate partner and group CD Christian Haas:
Being able to tap into alternative energy from all around the country is one of the main benefits of the smart grid. And since most people have never experienced that before, we wanted to give them a taste. The idea is to invite you to test drive the smart grid. Augmented reality gave us the opportunity to create something people most likely have never seen before. It also helped that our client told us to do something that had never been done before.
Overall, the online work is very strong, highly engaging and in certain places really pushes the boundaries. Christian and his team should start polishing their acceptance speeches.

Sidebar: For those interested in doing some further digging into AR, here's another nice video demo using Papervision3D, an example using a back-cover magazine ad done for Mini in Germany, a short clip for BMW, this cool library processing video and this test video for library processing with a 4-panel video. In terms of extending AR to other platforms than the web, there are some very cool things being done on the Android mobile platform. One of them, Wikitude, is a mobile travel guide based on Wikipedia and Panoramio which can be used on the G1. So far, it has 350,000 world-wide points of interest.

The potential for this technology is incredible.

The bad: Scarecrow

It is shocking that to promote this fantastic concept and strategic direction, GE has created an ad using the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. BBDO New York, the agency who did this, should be fired. Unfortunately for GE (and the rest of us), BBDO New York has been working with them for 80 years, and I highly doubt that an effort that has produced their first Super Bowl ad is doing much to weaken that relationship.

WTF is that??? Massive, massive FAIL!

Given how high the bar is set for the Super Bowl, why would anyone every produce an ad as plain vanilla and utterly uninspiring as this? Here's GE, positioning itself for the future, and the best they can do it pull the Scarecrow out of the closet, dust it off, and give it a 21st century makeover.

There is certainly nothing "NOW"about that.

The ugly: dis-integration

Why are the elements of this campaign so seemingly disconnected?

How can a Super Bowl ad done by BBDO NY, directed by Traktor using technology by Framestore and which obviously cost millions to produce be so disjointed from the work done by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners? The digital work (site, films, AR) is a Super Bowl size investment as well.

My guess? No one was talking. Or worse, no one cared. What else can explain it? The look and feel of the ATL and print campaign is completely different from that of the digital campaign. It looks like two completely different briefs were issued and that they were run by different teams within GE who never bothered to sync up every once in a while to make sure things were tracking together.

If you're a GE consumer and you see the Scarecrow ad, how can that possibly relate to what you'd find online? And if you find the online work first, what does that have to do with the TV ad blitz that is about to take place on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, Bravo, USA, SciFi, Comedy Central, Discovery and ESPN after the Super Bowl?

So, for as much as I love the digital work (for a corporate campaign, is really scores high marks), the overall campaign is a bit of a dogs dinner, as they say.

Sunday, February 01, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

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