Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Shopping - Vouchers for Borders, Gap and Selfridges

Continuing with my spate of frequent blogging (& also partly as an experiment to see how much traffic this will bring in), here are links to 3 money off vouchers for UK retail stores. But beware - these all expire on on the 2nd or 3rd of December, so hurry!

These vouchers are a great way of driving footfall, and high internet penetration in the UK, and especially in London, ensures that they get passed around.

So - here are the vouchers for:

Borders - 25% off, expires Monday 3rd December

Gap - 30% off, expires 2nd December (via Simon Wakeman's blog)

Selfridges - 20% off, valid from Friday 30th November - Sunday 2nd December

Update -

Threshers too - 40% off wine & champagne valid until the 9th December

Further Update - 20% off at House of Frazer valid until Sunday 9th December

& there's more - 10% off at Debenhams valid until Sunday 9th December

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New 3 Skypephone

I've recently been trialling the new Skypephone from 3 - and I'm really impressed.

The Skypephone is the first hybrid mobile and Skype device. It looks just like a normal mobile - see a picture of it in the mess that is my desk (above) - but with a button that allows you to connect directly to Skype.

Once you've signed in to your Skype account it works seamlessly, allowing you to call Skype contacts directly with the handset.

So far so good. But it gets better. I'd assumed that I'd need to be in Bluetooth range of my laptop (my main Skype connection) for it to work, but it actually works anywhere where there is connectivity through 3. Very, very impressive.

My only issue is that I don't know enough people on Skype (most of my friends are on other IM platforms, and I don't use much VOIP), but for people with large Skype contact lists this phone would be perfect.

You can read more about other people's views on the Skypephone at the official 3 blog here

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Three Thoughts About Social Networking

Three thoughts about social networking, partly driven by the Mashup event I went to last night

1 - Social networks are like fashionable bars - it's where the cool people hang out this year, but next year they'll find a new place to go.

2 - The great line from Brideshead (I must find the exact quote) "I spent most of my second term at Oxford studiously avoiding the friends that I'd made in the first term"

3 - If you were a 13 year old girl and had a 17 year old brother who was on Bebo, would you also join Bebo? No, neither would I. (Apols to Bebo - I could have used any example).

I thiknk what all three of these thoughts mean is that social networking will continue as a trend, but there will be a lot of churn between the different networks, just as there is with other media types, like Lads Mags in the UK from the 1990s to the current day.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mighty Boosh Shopfront off Brick Lane

I saw this really innovative media placement at the weekend - a painted over shopfront with two large video screens promoting the new series and DVD for the British comedians The Mighty Boosh. (Or here for Wikipedia - their site is a little bit slow to load)

Really eyecatching, and just round the corner from Sunday Upmarket, so the perfect place to attract the attention of people who are likely to be Boosh fans!

Great video of it here

Facebook Activists against The Golden Compass

Next month the first film of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is releases, and already campaigns against it are gaining momentum on Facebook.

In the books there is a strong anti-religious theme, and while this has been reportedly toned down for the film some Christians are very worred about the possible impact that this message could have on children. More background to the book and the controversy here

Facebook has become one of the focal points in the campaign against the film, and the largest group - Do NOT Support The Golden Compass - has doubled in members in the last week, now standing at 40,000 strong.

To quote the summary of the group:

"THE GOLDEN COMPASS, a new movie targeted at children, will be released
December 7, 2007. This movie is based on a the first book of a trilogy
by atheist Philip Pullman. In the final book a boy and girl kill God
so they can do as they please. Pullman left little doubt about his
intentions when he said in a 2003 interview that "My books are about
killing God."
The movie is a watered down version of the first book and is designed
to be very attractive in the hope unsuspecting parents will take their
children to see the the movie and that the children will want the
books for Christmas.
The movie has a well known cast, including Nicole Kidman, Kevin Bacon,
and Sam Elliott. It will probably be advertised extensively, so it is
crucial that we get the word out to warn people to avoid this movie."

40,000 is a strong level of support for a movement on Facebook, and this will no doubt grow significantly as the release date approaches. Facebook doesn't allow users to see where group members are from en masse, but I'm guessing that most are Americans. Expect a lot more fuss, and some organised protests from this group in the month to come.

Incidentally this also shows how Web 2.0 channels have taken over from the Web 1.0 channels - a couple of petitions exist online (unless you know of more), but so far they only have a few hundred signatures

Sheffield United - Brilliant User Generated Example

I've not idea who is behind the parody versions of the German film Downfall, but they are classic examples of user generated content, and while very tasteless this one reminds me a lot of the sort of humour that appeared in Viz at it's peak. Very tasteless, also not respectful of copyright laws, but (to me anyway) very funny...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Let's not get carried away with blogging

A confession - I love what we in the business call social media, but let's not get carried away with the power of all social media. Last week I was at a conference in Barcelona where many of the panelist spoke about bloggers as if they were a huge army (11% of all those online blog, according to one presentation), but in my experience the number of 'real' bloggers is substancially smaller.

For example, we recently tried to contact some bloggers to talk to them about digital music. You'd have thought, given the stats, that it would be easy to find people in the UK who blog about digital music, and MP3 players, but it was actually really hard, because so many of the blogs we saw wer not 'real' (or rather did not suit our purpose) because they were:

1 - not updated regularly
2 - very off-topic
3 - completely unread (or rather no one had ever commented)
4 - spam exercises to get high rankings for words like iPod
5 - professionally run operations with infrastuctures (Engadget officially counts as a blog), rather than personal endevours

Yes, there are 'real' blogs out there in the UK, but they tend to be about either politics, marketing (like this one), or very geeky technology. The idea that there are millions of people writing daily accounts of their lives that other millions are reading is a bit of a myth, at least according to my experience.

What you do get, however, is lots of people contributing to social media in other ways, like posting reviews, and especially talking in forums and in social networks. That stuff is real.

In the days of the dotcom boom I used to use a 'Craig Test' when deciding whether to buy tech shares or not. That is, would any one other than my mate Craig (Hi Craig!) actually bother to use this? In such a way I managed to avoid investing in shares like Scoot, and The Money Channel (& Calluna for the real obscurists out there), but managed to do pretty well on Pace (set top boxes), TrafficMaster (traffic info) and Baltimore (encryption). But I'm glad I cashed in even on those in early 2001.

These days I try to imagine if my mate Jon (Hi Jon!) would use different sources of social media. I've had long debates with him about the point of blogs (which he sees little point in), while he has become a very keen Facebook user in the last few months. The point is that some parts of social media are more mainstram than others, and let's not get carried away with the potential power of things called blogs, while a lot of the real power is with more mass market things. (In fact Jon probably uses a 'Dan Test' - is this something that only someone like Dan would do?)

I would say that it is currently hard to overstate the power of things like football forums, Amazon reviews, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace, but let's not get too carried away with blogs, unless you're after certain audiences, like, but not exclusively, media, movies, technology and politics.

Update - I should have also mentioned that there are brilliant 'real' food blogs, like the amazing Tamarind and Thyme, and many of the other blogs that appear in her blogroll. This is a perfect example of what I was moaning about the lack of earlier - dedicated amateur, spreading opinions and knowledge, regularly. But, as i said, these are sadly few and far between, except in certain areas.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Boots & Beer

Going through my links from my holiday, I found this - the annual Boots & Beer Walking Festival, organised by the Black Sheep Brewery in North Yorkshire.

Pretty simple concept - a weekend of walking and drinking, raising money for good causes. Sponsored by Country Walking Magazine, this looks like a lot of fun. More than 300 took part, and along with the walking they had a pub quiz (hooray!), and a folk evening. You can keep your Innocent Village Fete!

Black Sheep is one of my favourite breweries not just for the beer, but for their independent spirit (they started when the founder Paul Theakston left the family brewer Theakson after they were taken over by S&N in the late 1980s). The keep up the tradition of doing special deition beers, and it's always good to see their beers in pubs and supermarkets in the South.
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