When does Batman sleep? – Part 2

This has been a long time coming…

A few months ago I posted Part One to discuss this question and its relation to the ‘always on’ generation that we seem to live in today. If like many others who find themselves working in this field, you are expected to be on call at every hour of the day…

Well no, let’s stop right there. Is it actually expected?

Or is it the case that you simply feel obliged?
You assume that that the expectation in there, when in fact it isn’t.

See?

I have written at length about the importance of humanity being at the heart of everything you do. The onus being placed on the term ‘being human‘ throughout my work is on purpose people.
The question asked above is not about the duality of Batman’s psyche, moreover about his pig-headedness about asking for help and his lack of self-forgiveness when he gets it wrong.

He is after all only human.
As are we all.

When things got tough the Bat brought in Robin and then soon after that, the Justice League. His skills, unique and awesome on their own, work considerably better when placed into a team of similar, like minded people (sharing an equal goal).

The point is, that developer guy that I mentioned?
He who I quoted way back when:

Sometimes, I find myself stuck in front of the laptop at like 10pm on a Sunday night. The kids are in bed, the wife isn’t far behind and there I am answering customer care questions over Twitter with some guy in Geneva! This isn’t my day job. I’m a developer. My question to you is Sir; when does Batman sleep?

This man, he cared about his company’s brand and (online) reputation so much that he took it upon himself to make things better on his own.

Much like the Caped Crusader, he fixed it himself, working solo and acting independently from his own company’s PR team and, just as Batman did with the Gotham City Police Department (GPD), both sides became infuriated.

However, it is written than the Dark Knight works best when he works with his friend and ‘colleague’, Commissioner Gordon, coordinating strategies that incorporate traditional routes & methods (like the GPD) as well as the new found tools of our erstwhile hero.

More things get done.

When I first started in this job, within weeks I was at loggerheads with the Director of Communications. Our very own Jim Gordon if you will. He wanted to vet every single message and blog post that was to be written and sent out. A stand up argument ensued which ended with me simply saying:

Invent a box of words…
Put in everything I can use and take out everything I can’t.


Then leave the box with me.

It took some time, but we got there in the end.
There are laws and rules as well as traditional ways of enforcing or adhering to them.

However, these days there are ways to play, push up against and generally find new parameters to work within these rules.
Call it operating under the radar if you will.

Batman doesn’t kill.
Something which he is continually pushed on.
He doesn’t go looking for trouble (at least not in the traditional sense of the word), but instead works within rules.
First those he sets himself, then later within those set by others.

It is at this point where our super hero can pause, his allies know his work and can defend it in his absence.
Yes that’s right, his absence.

I started this post with the intention of highlighting the often over-looked ideal of humanity on both sides of the coin.

Corporations can be human but so can consumers.

Yes, it’s great to be on call 24hrs a day, seven days a week, but your customers are not robots. If you don’t get back to them on a Sunday night, they’ll understand.

It’s all well and good being human, but never forget everyone else is too.

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Madrid: Being Human

Sitting on the plane to Spain, listening to Frightened Rabbit, a colleague sleeping to my left and, what can only be described as some kind of Spanish martial arts ninja of the old world, (and yet barely 17) to my right…

I ponder.

See this is another work trip… I’ve been all over the place this year, and now I’m in Madrid to meet with Journalists and Bloggers to discuss the future; Where is blogging going and what Web 2.0 learnings am I able to share with the local geeks etc.

There’s been a massive explosion in Europe within the blogging scene of late with over 2million Spaniards creating blogs, getting online and consuming content etc..

Reading the ‘Briefing Document’ …(all of this is still so new and alien to me y’know, I mean – ‘Briefing Documents’ – What?! Really?! It’s like an actual episode of Mission Impossible)… Anyway, reading the ‘Briefing Document’ just now there was a great quote from a well known Spanish Blogger called ‘Enrique Dans’ that goes as follows:

Companies are basically divided into two types, those that have had a problem with their image as a result of blogs and those that will encounter this problem in the future…

I chuckled when I read this.

It’s pretty much spot on.. for 95% of all companies.

The remaining 5% (and some may argue this number may be larger or smaller with equal vigor) have a presence in this space because they genuinely want to engage with their users and customers in a meaningful way. This doesn’t have to be some kind of ‘preemptive strike’ to head off any untoward conversation/posts that may happen online, it can really manifest itself from a deep yearning to truly understand your consumer.

Zappos are a fantastic a fantastic example of this. Yes, we’re a brand. Yes, we’re a company but also, and ultimately, we’re Human too.
Their strapline being “Powered by Service”… and their Wikipedia entry pointing out their use of ‘Relationship Marketing‘.

I’m a passionate believer in Social Media and all of that which comes along with it (I’ve wrtten about it before) but something that I will always ALWAYS come back to is:

This stuff ain’t rocket science. It’s merely about doing things right.

Recently, when I spoke at Nokia Open Lab, I talked around how the internet (and with that, Social Media), is the great amplifier. So the kind of person that you are, once expressed digitally in the online space, is magnified tenfold, depending on the platform you use and the strength of voice you have/pertain to use..

I think the exact wordage was:

To me, that’s what Social Media does, it amplifies the good things. There are alot of good people in the room and if you’re a nice person and it amplifies, amplifies out onto the internet, you’ll meet other people like yourself, other nice people…

So following that thought through further – but tying it back to the lack of rocket scientists required for this ideology – You could feasibly propose that those who would/will do best in this space are… Good People.

Humans are, by nature, social creatures…

What is Social Media then, if not an extension of this primitive need to connect?

Offline and/or online you’ll always find those who are more social than others; the party people, the polite people the rude people and the rankling people…

S’funny, at this point I’m reminded of an old school friend who, without fail, every Christmas and Birthday would send a thank you note to all that sent her a gift or a card. I’ve never had the patience, time or inclination to place such a high priority on this level of communication, (but I’ll always try and call or something, I’m not that bad).

But that’s not the point.

The point is, this friend, I think she’d be great at implementing Social Media into her place of work. I always thought she was a good person for doing this whole thank you note thing and well…

Social Media isn’t about Technology, it isn’t about being online or offline…

It’s simply about being Human.

….

Published at 17:22 Friday afternoon in Madrid.
Originially written at 10:15 Thursday morning, somewhere over Spain.

24 Comments »

Having a think…

There’s nothing to see here, move along…
Move along :)

It’s Sunday – Blogathon continues… Cheating slightly, but like I said, it’s the weekend.

No major content today, although I am having a good think about the stuff that I’ll post in the week…
Monday is when the fun begins.

That’ll be tomorrow then.

3 Comments »

Social Tool, Tool!

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There I was, on the train, on the way into work this morning and I’m listening to a couple of chaps in the next seat talk about plans for a new online marketing strategy…

Yes. That’s right. ON A TRAIN.

So before we even GET to the whole ‘Social’ thing that I’m about to rant about, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the stupidity… or maybe even the complete lack of joined-up thinking that goes hand-in-hand with talking about this kind of stuff on PUBLIC transport…

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Done that? Goooooooood.
Idiots.

Anyway – so here they were, these two suits fellas, talking about ‘Social Networking’ and how they ‘really need to get involved’ to make this campaign really work.
Well I say ‘they’ it was more like just the older bloke telling the younger bloke, what he needed to get their new campaign off the ground…
The older chap opens:

“Look, I need you to tell me about what you can do with YouTube?”

“I can upload videos…”

“Yes. I’ve seen that. But what can we do with YouTube?”

“Aside from upload the videos, well…er…”

“WE NEED YOUTUBE!”

“We have…er…”

“Listen, we’ve got to hit millions of people! Millions. We won’t do it without YouTube.”

And so the conversation carried on, covering such things like MySpace, Facebook and even Flickr but all the while keeping the same familiar pattern, (I’m actually quite surprised I didn’t hear the classic phrase ‘Right, we need a viral’… I may’ve said something at that point)

Anyway, this whole thing got me thinking. I wrote a post about Mobile Advertising for Mobile Industry Review, (then SMS Text News), a few months back outlining the need for complete alignment when dipping your toe into the mobile ad space.
This one was easy, at least this time round they had some kind of idea as to what they were doing…
These two guys on the 9:53 out of Paddington however? Not a hope.

YouTube, to use the example given, is not something you ‘do’, it’s something you use, (like a tool, see).

The best way for me to illustrate this is with cups.

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If your boss turns to you one day and says “I want to do something with YouTube”, what do you say back?

Well look, you’re clearly happy to put anything into the cup as it were; be it lemonade, orange juice, blackcurrant or whatever – But your boss, or whoever’s running the marketing team needs to tell you what that is. The cup is another way of presenting your content. It will speak to different people in different ways. I would not use a cup for anything other than what it is good for… and that is drinking, nay – consuming!

On top of that you also need to ensure that the same blackcurrant you’re using in your cups is being used in the other dispensers that you have at your disposal. I mean, you have other cups right? Right?!
Yeah you do… The banner ads, the traditional print, the skyscrapers, the tv/radio spots etc…
Them. Yeah. They’re cups too.

So when asked, “…like flickr, like YouTube”…etc, they’re just a variation on the cup.

You can help them hold it, you can help others drink from it but what you can’t do is fill it.
Give people some cool stuff inside the cup, don’t just give them the cup.
On it’s own, the cup is nothing.

With planning, time and effort from all parties – the cup can become an integral part of a much larger picnic.

Social Cups, Hugh would be proud.

11 Comments »

A quick word about my content…

I’m still pulling in all of my posts from my old VOX blog so apologies if you’re getting a load of pings into your RSS reader – still got a couple of pages worth to go – thanks for your patience!

It will all calm down eventually – promise!

:)

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Stupid, Stupid Barclays

or – “A rant about convergence, or lack thereof”

Right, if you’re reading this and you have any idea of the kind of person I am, you know how I feel about my mobile phone. You know I love it, you know I’m never far from it and you know that above all, if I could, I’d use it for just about everything.

This last point is the kicker for me.

To give you a rough idea of what I’m talking about, here are just some of the things I use my phone for:

  • Contacts/Address Book
  • Calendar/Diary
  • Gaming
  • Email
  • Internet
  • MP3/Music Player
  • Camera
  • Video Camera
  • Directions/Maps/GPS
  • TV/Video Player
  • Live-Blogging
  • Micro-Blogging
  • Tube Map
  • Instant Messaging
  • Etc etc…

Because I carry my N95 8GB (pictured above) in my pocket, quite a small device take note, I don’t have to carry an iPod, Nintendo, TV, Camera, TomTom, PC, map… the list goes on.

All of these things (and many others) are no longer clogging up my pockets thanks to this rather awesome little handset.

Why?

Well this is, in part, down to the innovations of the team at Nokia. However it is also owes a lot to my own personal preference; Nokia have enabled me to do all these things and have by doing so have also empowered me to stop carrying all of the other devices.

I don’t like carrying lots of things in my pockets. At best, I will leave the house with my keys, my phone and my bankcard. That’s it. Only those three items.

Right then. Keeping all of the above in mind, let’s direct our attention for a moment to this thing:

- Barclays PIN Sentry -

Could it be…

My First Calculator?
The latest toy from The Early Learning Centre?
Or maybe even a band new phone maybe?

No. No. And No.

That, there, is Barclays ‘PIN Sentry’.

Excusing the ridiculous name for a second, let’s take a look at what it’s actually for.
Any time I want to log into MY internet banking, I have to put my Debit Card into that contraption, enter my PIN number and then, and only then, will my bank allow me to log into MY account.

First up, the whole sodding point of having internet banking, to my mind, is so that I can access my account from anywhere where there is INTERNET.
Until they truly crack mobile internet banking (and trust me – on the basis of this – we’re going to be waiting a long time), then this really is the only option for anyone wanting to access their account anywhere… (short of actually going into a branch, but really, does anyone do that anymore?).

Second, I get the whole security aspect of it all, really I do, but do I actually need this thing as well?!
I already have a unique 12 digit unique ID number, an 8 digit secret password and a five digit passcode.

Do I really NEED more security?

Surely there has to be line drawn between security to entry and barriers to entry? Right?

…sigh…

Next point – it is clear, from the points laid out above, that I like convergence. I want one device to do everything for me…
…Of convergence, I am a fan.

I do not want to be carrying that stupid, stupid piece of plastic around with me everywhere I go just in case I might want to log in to my internet banking. Idiots. Really.

Just no joined-up thinking whatsoever.

Finally… This post has been a long time coming; Barclays started introducing this towards the end of last year, (as did a few other banks, so I’ve been told), so I apologise if it seems a bit late in the day as it were… But yes, the final point -

I’ve actually spoken to Barclays about this and I’ve outlined my point of view. As a result, I have now been opted-out of this new system and my PIN Sentry is happily gathering dust in a draw somewhere in my room.

WOO!

If you’re a Barclays customer and you find this idea as absurd as I do then I would strongly urge you to do the same.
Call your bank, tell them they’re idiots and get yourself opted out. The opportunity cost of this, just so you know, means that you will be unable to set up any ‘new payees’ via your online banking. I’m happy to live with this. I don’t often pay new people and if and when the situation does arise I can simply call the bank and get them to do it for me.

Here endeth the rant.

……..

On a lighter note – have been working my backside off lately, (super exciting new project for SpinVox), so next weekend I’m going to head off down to Pilton to a little music festival you may’ve heard of…

Next weekend I’m headed back to Glastonbury.

And I can’t WAIT!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Read about my Glastonbury Mobile Geek plans over on SMS Text News and yes, you guessed it, just like last year, I’ll be blogging the whole thing from my mobile phone, (although I doubt very much I’ll be doing any internet banking).

;)

2 Comments »

So Jaiku went down…

…for like 24hrs!

To my knowledge, the longest ‘unscheduled’ downtime to date.

So what happened? Well.. on the Jaiku ‘back-end’ side of things, two servers died – See pic ———>

And it was all hands on pumps until she got back up and running again.

On the user side of things the loyal, and some may say fanatical, Jaiku-ers de-camped themselves off to Twitter for the day. Much to the amusement of the Twitterati; here were all these Jaiku-folk trying to emulate their Jaiku conversations over the Twitterverse.

It was hard going – but we needed to go somewhere…! For those of you that don’t know there is a, shall we say, friendly rivalry that goes between Twitter and Jaiku, I’ve blogged before how the two can co-exist but, in this instance, that argument is irrelevant. Yes of course they can co-exist. It’s the users themselves that poke fun at one another…

This is of course, by definition, a bit of fun. There are benefits to both of these micro-blogging platforms, I have always been a Jaiku person at heart but recently have found myself more and more on Twitter contributing to farther reaching conversations as the audience/scope is so much larger. Again, there is no problem in this whatsoever. The problem lies in the Jaiku user base not really knowing what the owners (since being bought by Google) intend to do with it.

All of my thoughts on that I’ll save for another post – I sense a few more Jaiku-themed posts in the future you see… However, if you can’t wait for that then you could do lot worse than read this post by Jonathan Mulholland, fellow Jaiku evangelist and all round intelligent fellow.

Going back to the ‘de-camping’ as I refer to it.. This resulted in a lot things. Twitter’s ‘landscape’ changed for a short while and that in itself resulted in this post, (again – a bit of fun), by a dear friend of mine, Vero Pepperrell – aka thatcanadiangirl.

Vero is cool. I like her. She’s got her head screwed on…

However in her post (I’ll re-publish, save you clicking through) she says:

This evening, looking at the activity on Twitter, I was fascinated to see how quickly the usual Jaiku crowd had migrated. For those who havent noticed, Jaiku was showing a big fat 502 Bad Gateway error for a number of hours before it was replaced by the Jaiku birdie telling us that busted hard drives were to blame for the downtime.

Now, Twitter is notoriously flaky and known for going up and down more than a kids see-saw in a busy park in midsummer. Yet, everyone flocked over as the default alternative to Jaiku. If it wasnt Twitter, it would have been something else. Pownce? Facebook? Seesmic?

In a magpie-like fashion, the web 2.0 crowd will look for the next shiny thing. I know. Im one of them, and I sure as hell am guilty for chronically creating accounts on every new service, just to promptly ditch it and move on.

So what makes a service people come back to? A site that makes it past the 12-18 months best before date? Or are all new web 2.0?ish services destined to peak quickly then die just as fast? Lots more thoughts to add on this, but first, Im interested to see what everyone else thinks.

As I said, head screwed on. Knows her stuff etc… But… I can only agree in part.

Yes, us early adopters are always looking out for the next new shiny thing to try. Of course we are. That’s what defines us as early adopters. And yet I cannot see the correlation between this and Jaiku’s downtime resulting in Twitter’s ‘uptime’.

The response I put to Vero was as follows:

Dude,

Were not fickle. Weve just become accustomed to having our own Micro-blogging service to hand. Fickle we are not. In deed of a quick messaging community we are. If Jaiku, the service of (my) choice, is down. Then of course to Twitter I will head.

Not magpie like, not in search of new shiny things just trying to find a replacement implement that will serve for now while the social tool I prefer is down and out of action

If this was Jaiku, Id just post this as a reply. THE FULL POST.

I cant even reply to your tweet, so Im forced to reply to this post. I cant share this response nor can I fit it within 140 characters.

Jaiku is a comfy sofa where the odd spring has sprung. Were only sitting on the bench of Twitter because we need somewhere to sit. When the sofas sorted, well be out of your way.

Each to their own you see. It’s not about chasing shiny things, not when you have something you use every day.
If this was the case then none of us would be using Google… Heaven forbid that would ever go down.. But I’m pretty sure if it did we’d all bugger off to Yahoo pronto.

Anywhoo – my point is – Jaiku went down, so the userbase went to Twitter. Jaiku came up, the userbase went back.

I just wonder how many were left behind…

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Balls to it! (a Whatley rant-a-thon) Part 4: The thing about Facebook

It’s a Social TOOL – not a SOCIAL NETWORK!

As I’ve previously stated, I’m a huge fan of Jyri Engelstrom, creator of not only Jaiku but also the dude to first come up with the theory of Social Objects. I could explain what they are – but Hugh MacLeod, he of Gaping Void fame (read his website – it will change your life) has already nailed it to the wall better than I ever could. So go.
Read. Read some more. And get yourself an education.

EDIT – someone else who gets it: Russell Beattie

So yeah – facebook is a social TOOL. People throw objectives like: “We need to make money out of these social networks…”

To the point actually where recently I was unfortunate enough to be invited along to the Telecommunications Executive Network evening (a ‘TEN’ event) which was subtitled:

“Social Networking: What’s Telcoms got to do with it?”

And it was all tally ho and where’s the money and ad-sales this and monetization that… but everyone just seemed to miss the effing point.

To the point where I raised it as a question:

“Good evening. James Whatley, SpinVox… There’s a school of thought that the money is not in fact in Social Networks but in fact Social Objects. Here we are in this room and I know maybeeee… one or two people here. They aren’t in my social network and I doubt very much that I am in theirs. But here we all are gathered here tonight around
this Social Object. The network builds itself around it. The money, therefore… is in the object. Not the network. If you build it they will come. Your comments please?”

Well – that went down a treat!
(especially as the last question of the evening!)

The following exchange:

The guy from Ogilvy: “Is that yours? I’m stealing it…”
Me: “Er no. Actually it’s Jyri Engelstrom’s. Co-founder of Jaiku…”
Ogilvy: “Ah.. see! Another Aggregation site!”

AN AGGREGATION SITE?! AAAAAAAAARGH!

That. Says. It. All.

*sigh*

Ahem – anywhoo – that was a lovely evening.. :)

I was clearly the youngest person in the room and yet I felt completely out of my depth.
And in this instance being OUT of my depth meant swimming around in the shallows…

But hey – let’s not bitch moan – it was a very good evening… and I was known at the canapés afterwards as ‘The Social Object Guy’ which was quite amusing…

But yeah – Social Objects. They are what form the foundations of Social Networks. Plant the seed of a network with a Social Gesture from your Social Object.

Again – as Hugh Macloed rightly points out – it ain’t Rocket Science.
I seem to have gone off on a tangent… Where were we? Oh yeah – things that are annoying me online…
Err… I’ve had my Mobile Web Rant elsewhere… and I’ve raged about facebook to the nth degree…
What else…

Hmm.

No. I think that’s it.

I’m done.
For now anyway…

6 Comments »