Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Crisis, what crisis?

February 3, 2009

Either some deft understatement or some raging idiocy from the IT recruiter who emailed me today and said

“With the current market climate we have seen a slight slowdown in permanent recruitment and an increase with candidates.”

That’ll be a yes.


You don’t want to do that

December 16, 2008

A splendid post from Chris Applegate entitled “20 signs you don’t want that social media project” including such gems as:

5. Client wants something edgy “like that suicide bomber viral” – but first subject to clearance by their legal department.


10. Client panics over a random blogger’s negative post about them and orders you to get it taken down. Won’t take “sorry, it’s impossible” for an answer.


20. “We want our site to be as popular as, you know, Facebook.”


I’m glad I work in internal social media…

We all speak intra

December 15, 2008

We just put a video live on a client’s, with ten languages of subtitles. A record for us.

German, English, Spanish, Estonian, French, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Brazilian Portugese and Russian.

Makes me happy, anyway.

Wisdom of the herd

December 4, 2008

An interesting trip last night to a screening of Us Now, a new documentary about how the wisdom of crowds is being applied in the real world. Lots of familiar stories – Zoba, Couchsurfing, Ebbsfleet United – and some new ones on me – a community deciding how to allocate grant money.

“Us Now tells the stories of online networks that are challenging the existing notion of hierarchy.  For the first time, it brings together the fore-most thinkers in the field of participative governance to describe the future of government.”

It’s enjoyable stuff. Clay Shirky and Don Tapscott doing their shtick, and a wide-eyed tourist arriving in scary ol’ London and meeting his couchsurfing host. Will he or won’t he be a predatory axe-murdering maniac?

But it felt a bit relentlessly upside. I had my hand up to ask a question but didn’t get picked, so here goes.

Remember Mr. Splashypants?  

Mr. Splashypants is a humpback whale. Greenpeace was launching  its “Great Whale Trail Expedition” and decided to ask the internet to name a whale. And inevitably, I suppose, the contest got gamed. Somebody suggested “Mr. Splashypants” as a name, and then somebody else broke the voting machinery and then Boing Boing, Digg, Reddit etc got hold of the story and all of us joined in the joke and “Mr. Splashypants” won the vote by a country mile.

So my worry about online networks challenging the existing notion of hierarchies is that online networks don’t promote responsibility. It’s all so damn disinhibiting. People are ruder, sillier, more destructive online than in person. Which doesn’t really fit with a new model of government.

It’s a pity. I’d really like this to be a brave new world and human nature not to be such a bitch all of a sudden, but I think it probably still is. 

Good film, though.

Tags vs index cards

December 3, 2008

A lovely post from the God-like Dave Weinberger the other day, taking someone to task for missing the point of folksonomy. 

Folksonomy is where users tag content as they want, as opposed to content owners applying taxonomy, i.e. tagging it “properly”. It’s one of the ways that social content gets more useful as time goes on.

A commenter, Thay Singh, made a brilliantly concise point:

Your redaction of the text introduces a particularly interesting tension between folksonomies and taxonomies which I’ve not particularly noticed before – even though I worked at a major online content provider on this very topic. In building a taxonomy of documents, the librarian tries to capture the *author’s* intent; but in a folksonomy of the same documents you capture the the *reader’s* understanding. This is a subtle and important difference.

It certainly is.

That’s the beauty of tagging. The user is always right. What the author meant? Interesting, but that’s all.

How consultants consult

November 24, 2008

I’ve been a fan of Jaunty Angle for a wee while, and a big hat tip to Karl Roche for this:

So I was there to share, for what it’s worth, what I know and do in internal comms with the Danish comms team. Actually they know quite a bit.  They really just needed someone with a lack of diplomacy and nothing to lose locally, to kick things off and turn that academic knowledge into actions.

Yee ha.

How users use

November 19, 2008

Sorry folks, this one is going to be a bit dense.

One of the arguments we always have with clients’ IT people about prior to the event is about concurrent views of videos. “What if everyone views at once? The network will fall down!”, they say. And we calmly go about soothing their nerves and pointing out that a) people don’t all watch at once and b) even if they all watch on day one, videos are short and viewers distribute themselves across the time span and don’t watch concurrently.

I always feel on slightly thin ice at this point, so I was thrilled to read about an academic paper which shows that…


... obviously.

... obviously.

These boffins studied viewing patterns on YouTube and identified two types of videos: “endogenous” – chosen by the community (or more commonly, “virals”) – and “exogenous” which are selected by YouTube editors and featured on the homepage.




Endogenous is on the left, and as you’d expect the viewing numbers grow slowly as users recommend the videos to their friends and then tail off. Exogenous videos, on the right, burst onto the scene when recommended and then tail off quickly. [Tries to recall maths from dim past]. This is a “power law relaxation”, isn’t it?

The chart on the right is particularly interesting, because this is a pretty good analogue for an internally launched video. Employees get an email telling them to watch, and the keen ones do immediately, the keen busy ones do as soon as they can, and then the interest tails away as the long tail of people get round to watching.

The chart is a logarithmic scale, so using Photoshop and Excel to very, very roughly map the numbers onto a linear scale you get a curve something like this:




And because my brain is too small to handle power law relaxations, bodging on a rule of thumb that viewership declines by 75% per day we get a pretty good match:




Where this gets useful to us is that if we accept this viewing pattern, we can use the curve to plot a likely maximum viewership.

Let’s say that 10,000 eager employees are going to view the latest video from the CEO. Using a 75% decay rate, we can redraw the pink line so that the data points add up to 10,000. And you get this:



And we can see that the peak day has almost exactly a quarter of the total views: 2,508 to be exact.

That’s as far as this data can get us, but a client recently gave us the raw logs from their last couple of streamed videos and they showed peaks early in the morning and at lunch time,  like this:


On the other hand...

On the other hand...

19% of the peak day’s views fell in the peak hour, so applying that number to the peak day figure from our 10,000 audience – 2508 – you get 481 views.

And let’s say the video is ten minutes long, then divide the peak hour by six and you get a peak concurrency of… 80. That’s all.

Nothing to worry about…

Thanks to NewTeeVee for posting about this, btw.

More facts

November 3, 2008

According to the Nielsen company

nearly 31 percent of in-home Internet activity takes place while the user is watching television, demonstrating that there is a significant amount of simultaneous Internet and television usage. Conversely, about 4 percent of television viewing occurs when the consumer is also using the Internet. 

I’d love to see if the activity on the two screens was in some way linked…

Steal our revolution back!

October 31, 2008
Chicago poster

Chicago poster

I took this picture on the train this morning. As you can see, it’s a poster for “London’s sexiest show” Chicago (with show-stopping smooth legs sponsored by Phillips epilators). What you can’t see is what it says in the bottom right. There are three headings at the bottom: “Watch” (fair enough), “Buy” (I guess they’re not in this for love) and “Network”.

And under Network it says

Join the growing network of worldwide fans on the show’s dedicated facebook and myspace pages.

Jesus Christ.

Now fanboyness isn’t really in my make-up, so I just don’t get this. I took a look at both, on your behalf dear reader.

Facebook first. Put “Chicago” into search and good lord there are 1,256 fans (some of them men, oddly enough. Shall we speculate on their sexuality?), five discussion topics (“Favorite CHICAGO song?”, “Who would YOU like to see starring in Chicago?”), 23 wall posts, photos, videos, the whole shebang.

Meanwhile on Myspace (the space for the Chicago show, it seems) there are 828 friends , 95 comments and the usual unbearable user interface for anyone over the age of 17.

What do we feel about this, people? A legitimate use of social media, or a horrifying cynical exercise to wring more out of fans?

I’m no purist here, but this wasn’t the internet revolution that I signed up for…


October 23, 2008

Seriously big respect to


To promote its Pixon Camera Phone, Samsung has commissioned a photographer to take street shots around Europe, every day for the next 28 days using the cameraphone. The subject of each photograph will be determined by the votes of visitors to the site. Every time a new image gets posted, visitors have two hours to click on any aspect of the image that they feel should form the subject matter of his next shot.

This is the first pic, posted on Tuesday.
East Dulwich

East Dulwich

Guess where everyone clicked? That’s right. The guy’s arse. So the next picture is going to be themed on bottoms. I’ll be watching…

How much fun could we have with this internally?  A game of video tag anyone?