Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do we really need another OS?

The second thing that occurred to me today when I read about Google's new Chrome operating system was, do we really need another OS?
ZDNet Australia's news editor Renai Lemay had a similar thought. Renai knows more about Linux than I and about Unbuntu in particular (although I was responsible for IBM's Linux PR in Australia for three years from 2001).
I arrived at the same question as Renai for a different reason.
One of the smartest people I met during my time at IBM was Kevin McIsaac, an analyst who was then with Meta (now part of Gartner). Kevin's view was the number of different operating systems in a organisation's IT infrastructure was one the largest causes of complexity and inefficiency.
Which brings me back to Chrome. Google may be able to build some genuine innovation into its new Chrome OS. But will it be innovative enough to justify the additional complexity that is inherent in another OS?
There saying that if you're going to build a better mouse trap it needs to be not just a little better than the current one but 1000 times better to make it worthwhile for people to switch.
We'll have to wait until 2010 to see if Chrome OS can deliver.

Friday, April 17, 2009

List of lawyers and law firm on Twitter

There are lists of lawyers, law firms and people tweeting about law on Twitter---but here's a list of lists:

  1. JDSupra 145 Lawyers (and Legal Professionals) to Follow on Twitter
  2. Online Best Top 100 Twitter Feeds for Law Students
  3. Securities Docket: BigLaw Lawyers on Twitter
  4. LawyerKM: Law Firms on Twitter - An Update
There is also WeFollow and it's law, lawyer and lawfirm tags, plus ExecTweets.
I'm sure to have missed one. If so, let me know on
Twitter or, better yet, FriendFeed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Social media gems from TWITs

Was reminded today of something one of guests on This Week in Tech said recently: "people are much more critical of you when they think you are not listening."
That sounds like commonsense but it is often forgotten in the business case for organisations participating in social networking.
If there's a better reason for communications people to understand Web 2.0 and make sure their firms do too I don't think I've heard it.
It certainly proved true for me at Dell.
Here's the full podcast TWIT#180 (the gem is from Pete Cashmore of Mashable's at 20:50).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sound Relief on Twitter: Maybe 15,000 tweets?

If you were at SXSW Friday and saw an unfamiliar hashtag #soundrelief trending up you might have wondered what it was about. After you checked Wikipedia, you could perhaps have been excused for changing your status to "thinking it might be more fun to be at an outdoor concert in Australia than indoors at #SXSW" (unless of course there was another Sarah Lacey/Mark Zuckerberg incident to keep you occupied).
Twitter has been getting noticeably more mainstream attention in Australia in 2009 (I suspect the mentions on ABC Radio 702 recently will have been a tipping point) and, since I was going to there for over 10 hours, I decided to tweet from the event.
So how did it go?
I had a blast. I've been part of the Twitter back-channel at a couple of Web 2.0 conferences before (even while on stage once) but nothing like this and certainly nothing where my contribution was enough to rate a mention (RT@context Trendy users tweeting about #SoundRelief).
I think I was able to add some value and give people who couldn't be at the event an idea of what it was like to be there (not to mention report on things 'the man' didn't want covered in the broadcast, like the Tweens crowd invasion and the elusive, hard to kill, beersnake).
But, for me at least, the real value came in following others who were tweeting from the event and as others responded to my tweets. For example:
You can follow the full thread on Twitter Search (conversations are still active today, Sunday).

Twitter Lessons
But, as someone who has an amateur interest in Web 2.0 (my law firm has a small social networking presence), what did I learn?
  • It takes far more people and a far longer time for an event (or its hashtag at least) to register high on Twitter Search these days. I remember at Ross Dawson's Future of the Media Summit last year with something like 10-15 people tweeting it was not much longer than a hour before the hashtag #FOMS started showing up in top five lists (on Twitter Search, from memory). But at Sound Relief was several hours before it started to register (the fact that it was also getting late in the day in the US undoubtedly also made a difference). Co-incidentally, the growth in volume of tweets at SXSW, reportedly 1500 per hour, was the subject of a CNet story
  • They are a lot more tools for monitoring tweeting trends now. As tweets tagged #soundrelief gained in volume I noticed (automated) tweets from @realtimetrends, @twendly, @twinfo, @Slushpiler, @TweetingTrends, @Whatthetrend and @wthehashtag.
  • The number of people tweeting about Sound Relief is hard to judge. A Twitter Search of the tweets using the hashtag #soundrelief produces 100 pages of results with 15 messages per page. That number just reflects a limit on the search tool and, at a guess, misses the first two hours. But do a Twitter Search for both #soundrelief and the words "Sound Relief' and you'll see that people using the hashtag were actually in the minority. As many as 9 out 10 tweets about Sound Relief didn't use the hashtag (presumably because they were from people new to Twitter). So, my conservative back of the envelope guess is there might have been as many as 15,000 tweets from the event.
  • We're lucky to have the Twitter API because, on their own, SMS and the Twitter Website aren't all that useful at an event like this. To get the best experience you need the ability to follow conversations that Twitter Search provides, plus TwitPic for images. With that in mind it's a shame FriendFeed hasn't taken off because it's a much better interface in my opinion. Had the same interactivity been talking place primarily in FriendFeed it would have been a more useful experience (but of course FriendFeed lacks a mobile client).
  • My work-issue BlackBerry Curve was not up to the task. But, and I suspect I'm not the first person say this, I think an event like this shows social networking is the purpose for which smartphones were actually invented. I was a PDA user since the Palm III and my first smartphone was an O2 Atom back in (I think 2003). Over the years I've succumbed to gadget lust many times and purchased increasingly powerful devices---but I've rarely if ever used all of that power. Take the camera phone for example, sure you can send the images to friends by MMS or email but how many people actually do that regularly? But link that camera phone to an on-line community like Twitter via TwitPic and you start to see how it could give all that smartphone hardware a real purpose. So I'm coining a new term, your former Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) is now a Personal Digital Publicist (PDP).
Music Lessons
Not all lessons I learned yesterday were Web 2.0 related. Being there was great fun too. I've never been much of a concert goer, it takes events like Wave Aid and tragedies like the bushfires to get me off my seat. I learned:
  • There's a singer called Taylor Swift---who's very cool if you're a 12 year old girl.
  • The Presets have an enormous following---it was amazing to see 10,000 people, mostly 10 years younger than us, grooving in the pouring rain to dance music that has actual lyrics and to which they knew all the words! To the uninitiated, The Presets reminded me of the Pet Shop Boys. They put on a great show in which the rain made it all the more fun.
  • John Farnham's Your the Voice is taken as a serious anthem by the under 30s. They were singing it like the words meant something, the way people I grew up with would have sung along to crowded House or Cold Chisel. In this I think Gen Y and the Baby Boomers may have something in common. To this Gen Xer, Your the Voice is as silly a song as its ever been (and I think it showed on Chris Martin's faced that he thought so too).
  • My partner Annette became a Web 2.0 Widow for the day as I made 50 tweets over 10 hours.
And, oh, I managed to celebrate Pi Day by eating lots of it :-)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

PR & New Media Summit Panel

Just back from Frocomm's 2nd Annual PR & New Media Summit where I was on a panel with Steven Noble, Walter Jennings and Nick Hodge talking about how the Web is changing communications for PR practitioners.
An interesting session (wish I'd had time to stay longer) but I'm afraid we didn't get round to talking about some of the questions raised so, since I haven't blogged quiet in a while, I thought I'd give them a go here.
Q: How do I find out what’s being said online?
I find Google News Alerts and Google Blog Alert deliver most of what I need. For Twitter I use Twitter Search. I don't (yet) feel a need to monitorFacebook (happy to be proven wrong there).
What is interesting though is that I find my social networks actually help me keep in touch what's happening. It doesn't take long for friends to pass on any news I might have missed.
Update: Forgot to mention wotnews, formerly Plugger, an excellent aggregrator of Australian on-line news. Thanks for the reminder Stephen!
Q: How do I integrate digital/online into my PR/comms?
I'll answer that from a practical perspective. For me, the Web-site is the platform from which everything else grows and, since RSS is the glue that binds social networks, the first step I took at the law firm was to add RSS feeds to key pages on our Web-site and build from there.
Q: What platforms should I consider?
I'd say try as many as you can but concentrate on as few as you dare. Many, if not all, social networking tools are free, so the opportunity cost involved in testing them out is negligible. Each tool or community is different, some will suit some organisations and not others and the best way to find out is to try it for yourself.
Q: How do I sell online to a cynical CEO?
I'm fortunate, the firm I work for has innovation as one of its core values---has consistently used technology to increase productivity since it was formed in 2000---and prides itself on delivering an 'intelligent alternative' to other large law firms.
But it is important to have champions within the business and we have a strong one in the Sydney Chairman, Nick Abrahams. We took the view early in last year that, if we were going to be talking to clients in relation to Web 2.0 we had to be walking the walk as well as talking the talk.
Q: How do I blog and make podcasts?
There are several low cost off the shelf blogging tools available. As for podcasts, I'd suggest the first thing to do is to be sure that a podcast is the right vehicle for you. I've posted my thoughts on vodcasts earlier.
There were some interesting issues raised on the panel but I might save those for another post.