Those of you who follow my blog will know I’m currently into Social Web Analytics. Here’s my last post on the topic. So some interesting news from Summize’s labs, a new semantic analysis tool to give you a snapshot of the feeling in the Twittersphere.
Simply go here and enter the brand or object name in which you’re interested. Here’s one I did earlier…
Over the last two years in working with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project I’ve had the opportunity to strategize, choreograph and execute on several major announcements. This week however, was a bit different from the rest. We’ve worked with major corporations as part of this project. AMD, Google, eBay and Nortel are all represented on the One Laptop per Child board of directors. This week though we had the pleasure of working with Microsoft and the folks from Waggener Edstrom in officially announcing the availability of Windows on OLPC’s XO laptop.
A major announcement in the eyes of Microsoft and the folks we work with at One Laptop per Child. It was an announcement that took an amazing amount of collaboration and professionalism on both sides of the table to make it “real.” Given where One Laptop per Child has been and how its roots grew from the open source community, it also took a bit of juggling to clearly explain the intentions of creating a dual-boot XO laptop that will still offer a Linux operating systems in addition to the $3 Windows Student Innovation Suite.
But don’t be fooled by all the technical speak. In the end of the day, this agreement really comes down to both organizations realizing that they can work together to reach and help educate the children of the world. It has been a long strange trip over the last three years.
Nicholas (Negroponte) has known Bill (Gates) his entire adult life and a little over three years ago they first talked about collaborating in getting laptops in the hands of children across the world. Of course it was Gates who later would publicly tell Negroponte to “Get a decent Computer.” At that time Microsoft was not interested in pursuing any collaboration that promoted or even seemed to promote open source software. Of course, at the time, One Laptop per Child was also little more then Nicholas’ vision and didn’t have a working machine. Three years later, it was a chance encounter between Nicholas and Bill that got the sides working towards a collaboration again as the astute David Kirkpatrick describes in his story on the announcement for Fortune:
“It was a chance meeting Negroponte had with Bill Gates at last year’s Clinton Global Initiative that enabled today’s news to happen. Negroponte suggested the two organizations restart talks that had fizzled earlier, and Gates was receptive.”
I was with Nicholas at CES in January when the discussions really took off and Nicholas met with Microsoft’s Craig Mundie to discuss how One Laptop per Child could incorporate windows into a machine that would still offer the sugar interface that the open source community had created.
I’m not going to get into the debate over open source or windows. But it’s obviously where a lot of the attention and dialogue has been since reports started surfacing after CES that One Laptop per Child was close to an agreement with the folks from Redmond. The intention of a making available a dual-boot laptop should officially end that debate all together in my mind.
Let’s let the governments (ministers of education) decide what works best for the children of their country and work jointly with them in making sure this technology is correctly deployed and implemented into their school systems.
As James Utzschneider of Microsoft echoed several times in interviews on Thursday, what they have been asking for is the XO Laptop with windows on it.
“A lot of Ministries of Education would like to see Windows running on that cute little green-and-white laptop.”
“The one truly global language is Windows and more people speak it than English.”
If One Laptop per Child has to speak Windows to truly reach the children of the world, then so be it. As Kirkpatrick sums up nicely, OLPC has made the industry titans take notice of the need and demand for laptops in developing world and with Microsoft supporting its efforts it has a better chance to reach children across the globe.
“There’s no question OLPC has had a catalytic effect on the industry so far. With its partnership with Microsoft, it could finally start having the effect Negroponte has always wanted it to have – on kids.”
David should have specified that “it could finally start having an effect in masses,” because as you can tell by the video I imbedded above (Courtesy of OLPC President Chuck Kane), the project is already having an effect on hundreds of thousands of children across the world (especially in Peru and Uruguay).
Microsoft and Windows will make it possible to potentially affect hundreds of millions.
Disclaimer: Although I represent One Laptop per Child, the views reflected in this blog post reflect my personal opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of One Laptop per Child or Microsoft.
I met Ronnie Wood this week. He sat down next to me in a bar and bought me a drink. That ranks him in my book as a very nice chap. And I got a 90 minute window into living life as a globally famous rock star, an insight that confirmed my relief, as if the situation could be otherwise, that I’m not a ‘celebrity’…
“Is that Ronnie Wood? Ronnie Wood? Rolling Stones? Ronnie Wood?”
“I don’t believe it… is that really you? We’re big fans of……”
“I’ve got all your albums.”
“Could I have your autograph and a picture with you?”
“I don’t believe it, is it really you?”
Although Ronnie has had four decades to come up with witty ripostes, I particularly liked his response to the last one… “Actually, I only came fifth in a Ronnie Wood lookalike competition.” From what I saw, he has a lovely way in dealing with the countless people that approach him; what the rest of us would call invading our space.
We got talking about my line of work having danced through the ages of music technology, from the vinyl and 8-track of the mid-60s, through compact cassette and CD to mp3. Not unexpectedly, Ronnie mourns the passing of the physical format, but loves the idea that music has returned to the 60s notion that it’s all about the music, having been distracted in between times by the huge music marketing machine. The 80s and 90s were all about shifting massive volumes of records and CDs, and gigging was just a distraction.
Once our conversation arrived at the digital age, it turned inevitably to the mobile phone / mobile infotainment device. And Ronnie loves his phone. “F***ing brilliant” to quote him verbatim. So I thought I’d charge his enthusiasm by talking about the latest innovations, and particularly location based services. Interestingly, it had the opposite effect.
I guess of everyone I’ve spoken with about the opportunities, convenience and dangers of location based services, Ronnie Wood is the best placed of them all to understand what personal privacy truly means. He showed his disgust for the ideas I presented by shoving his phone away from him down the bar. Not quite the phone smashing violent remonstration you might stereotypically expect from a rock star, but demonstrable revulsion nevertheless.
Technologists, marketers and society in general have some interesting and controversial choices to make right now. Location based services, and other privacy and technically related innovations such as identify cards, face recognition, RFID tagging and extensive customer / citizen profiling, impact the dynamics and may reshape the foundations of our society.
If you’re interested in these aspects of the digital world, and the commercial and fun aspects to, join me at Being Digital in London this June 10th. I’ll be speaking on the Location panel.
Wikipedia informs me that The Rolling Stones penned “Get off of my cloud” as a reaction to their sudden popularity following the success of “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction”. Following Ronnie’s dissatisfaction with the possibilities of location based services, could we be listening to “Get off of my phone” anytime soon?
About a month ago we wrote about a couple in Western Pennsylvania that is suing Google because they claim images of their home available through ‘Google Street View ’ violated their privacy and devalued their property.
Well, there are some more interesting Google ‘street view’ stories that have recently come up:
One girl was found flashing the Google cameras as they drive by.
There’s another storm in the blogging world – this time about PR firms and press releases.It started months ago with Chris Anderson of Wired publishing the names and email addresses of PR professionals he accused ofspamming his inbox.
A new front opened recently when Gina Trapani of Lifehackerbanned the IP addresses of PR firms she said were sending her unsolicited press releases.
And, yes, Racepoint Group was one of the dozens of firms banned.
It’s been the A topic on PR and media blogs for the last week.It’s unfortunate that some PR firms reacted to this news by begging for forgiveness for the sin of pitching clients to media outlets.One such apology came from Shift Communications.
Here’s an excerpt:
“I have written many times about crummy PR practices, and have acknowledged more than one mistake of our own, over the years.I empathize with your frustration and regret that we added to it… If you can dig up offending email from Shiftcomm.com address, I will publish and critique it on my blog, and will include any of your personal comments as well.We’ll gladly fall on the sword if it’s in service to improving our agency and our profession as a whole.”
I’m not sure what Shift is apologizing for (they have a good reputation in the industry). Gina and her blog cover technology companies and PR people respect her coverage and opinion enough to want to inform her about what their companies are doing.So they send her news releases hoping she’ll take notice.
If Gina isn’t interested in the news contained in an email, she can do what everyone else does: hit the delete button.It takes about one second.
As a former journalist of 12 years, I’m constantly amazed by these flare ups by the media.Being approached by PR people is part of the job – and when I was reporting some of my best stories came out of conversations with PR flaks.They could also annoy me, but I understood that PR people are the gateways into companies, politicians and organizations.It’s the way communications works these days.
At his blog, Stowe Boyd proposes something called “MicroPR” and suggests that PR people engage one-on-one with bloggers and journalists.He wants to be pitched on Twitter – so the pitch can be completely open (clearly here’s a journalist not interested in exclusive news and interviews).The goal of all outreach to journalists is for one-on-one conversations.The point of a pitch or a press release is to vet out which journalists are interested in that conversation and which ones are not.
I’m not sure what these journalists are so angry about.It’s not possible for every pitch and news release to be relevant to them – every single time.If they don’t want to work with PR people, don’t want to be pitched story ideas, and don’t want to receive new releases then perhaps these people should consider career changes (maybe in PR?We’re hiring).
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I was going to suggest that PR agencies and corporate communications departments respond to these media flare-ups by banning journalists who constantly complain about being pitched, write inaccurate news stories, use poor grammar and spelling, and who don’t understand basic technology concepts.
But then I decided that banning people isn’t very nice — or practical.
In a move that seems to help both the WashingtonPost.com and TechCrunch, a third party was not so hot about the deal. WIRED writer Betsy Schiffman wrote a story later that day calling out TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington:
We’ve got nothing against TechCrunch, but it seems crazy-crazy to us that the Washington Post, a paper known for the sort of reporting that can take down U.S. presidents, is publishing content written by a dude who invests in the companies he writes about. But what do we know.
No one at WIRED is responding to me today about their post yesterday. I’m organizing a WIRED burning party (the mag, not their offices).
Schiffman wrote another story that appeared Tuesday afternoon, pointing out Arrington’s choice words towards WIRED, and posting an unanswered email that she sent to Arrington:
I know that you disclose your investments, which is fine, but the very fact that you invest in companies you may write about goes against the longstanding set of ethical standards that have governed newspapers for decades.
Schiffman also reports that questions to the Washington Post also went unanswered and reiterates her point that “There are some basic ethical standards that should be followed when you are a journalist. And that includes avoiding conflicts of interest.”
I question WIRED’s intentions in posting about this, specifically now that they have posted twice. As a competitor they are clearly conflicted when writing about us, and attacks like these, including the childish tagging issue, appear to be little more than attempts to disrupt our deal with the Washington Post…
I have a lot of respect for many of the writers and editors at WIRED. But as far as I’m concerned WIRED.com, from Editor-In-Chief Evan Hansen on down to Betsy Schiffman, has clearly crossed an ethical line here. Perhaps they are giving up the fight to write relevant content and are resorting to sensationalist trash like this to generate page views. If that’s the case, it is a shame. I used to love that magazine.
As both Arrington and Schiffman seem to be standing firm in their corners, it will be interesting to see if WIRED responds to Arrington’s latest statements which seem to address all of the issues WIRED has with the syndication.
Remember it was that ridiculous piece that looked at the entrepreneurs looking to make money off of my favorite “Beer Olympics” event.
“These guys aren’t exactly Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. But Messrs. Wright and Johnson, both 22 years old, are part of a new wave of young people trying to make money tapping into their peers’ devotion to beer pong, a cross between ping-pong and beer chugging. As beer-pong season hits a peak with the start of the school year, these beer-pong entrepreneurs are running tournaments and peddling customized beer-pong tables, balls and apparel.”
Well the Valleywag has stolen the Journal’s beat on beer pong and reports that even entrepreneurs with slightly bigger ventures have interest in the old college pastime:
“We hear a contest of beer pong — the drinking game involving ping pong balls, Solo cups and Milwaukee’s Best — has been scheduled between Mark Zuckerberg’s finest and the New York-based, IAC-backed CollegeHumor.”
One of the first questions we get from clients interested in starting a corporate blog is:
“Who is going to write it?”
Good question.Blogs are like baby birds – constantly hungry.But rather than worms, it is necessary to feed them content.As anyone who has ever been responsible for a corporate blog will tell you – keeping the content new and exciting can be a challenging endeavor.
The first step in creating a corporate blog is to decide what kind of blog to publish.Racepoint has identified seven types of corporate blogs to consider.Deciding on what kind of blog to publish depends on many factors, including:
The corporate culture of the company
The primary goal of blogging
The time and monetary budgets
Who will be in charge of writing the blog
Here are the seven types of blog to consider and examples of each.
CEO/Senior Executive Blog
Nutshell: A blog written by the top dog is extremely effective in communicating strategy and overall corporate philosophy.It also can attract media and analyst attention.However, as we noted above, blogging is time consuming and not many CEOs and senior executives have the time to devote to blogging.
Example: Jonathan Schwartz, CEO and president of Sun Microsystems, has been an active blogger for many years.His blog is called Jonathan’s Blog.Schwartz uses his blog as a direct communication to his constituency groups to great effect.
Corporate Voice Blogs
Nutshell: This blog is written by several people in an organization in the voice of the corporation – so there are no individual bylines or personalities.There aren’t too many of these blogs in existence as they often lack the personality, point of view and strong voice necessary to sustain a viable audience.
Example: An excellent corporate blog is maintained by Marathon Technologies (full disclosure: they are a Racepoint client).Marathon uses their blog to showcase issues, share news and announcements, and point readers to ongoing trends.
Company Group Blogs
Nutshell: A corporation has a series of blogs by different executives, consultants and employees on different topics.This approach is very effective for companies that provide a wide-range of products and services.The company selects experts in each area and empowers them to blog about it.
Example: Consulting firm Accenture has a strong group of individual bloggers writing on various topics – from high performance business to convergence insights.
Nutshell: There are two types of worker blogs – those run by individual employees of a corporation or groups of employees by a corporations.Many companies don’t like this approach as the average employee doesn’t technically speak for the company – so official communications can be confused with information found on the worker blog.
Example:Southwest Airlines has a successful worker blog because it doesn’t touch on corporate communications – but more on the lives and jobs of the employees who doing the blogging.
Nutshell: Advocacy blogs are used more by organizations and non-profits than by corporations.These blogs are focused on advocating for a specific issue – like handgun control or tax relief.They can be controversial, but often draw a lot of media attention.
Example: The Democratic Party has a blog called “Kicking Ass” which advocates for the positions of the Democratic Party – to get effect.
Nutshell: A promotional blog is just that – a blog designed to promote an event or a product.These blogs generally have a limited lifespan – running a few months to serve as a marketing and publicity tool for the event or product.
Example: The Media Bistro event in New York City next week has been using a blog as a way to attract attention and participants.
An advice blog is one that a corporation uses to dispense ideas, news, and advice about issues where it feels it has expertise.It has little focus on the corporation and is used as a service to customers – and to build leadership around a certain market segment.
Example: The company Stacks and Stacks runs a successful advice blog called “Clutter Control Freak Blog,” which offers up ideas about organizing living spaces – from homes to offices (its also an excellent example of a group blog).
Web site owners now have a new way to draw traffic and engage visitors.
With last night’s announcement that Google Friend Connect is now in beta, small Web sites can now add social features to their sites, such as allowing visitors to leave comments and pictures, in order to capture more visitors and engage their audiences more then ever before.