June 2007

Lectures to go: iTunes U

If you want your marketing to reach its online audience, go & find them. Take your product to where the audience already meets. If your audience is made up of sceptical teenagers, well, you’d need to turn up with a credible brand partner. Universities, Apple & iTunes Apple – Education – iTunes U: there could hardly be a stronger combination.

I love the idea of lectures being podcast (which already happens informally elsewhere) – far better to view a missed lecture online than to read a friend’s notes.

Aside from the convenience for current students, I’m sure that a strong iTunes U presence will be a great ad for the next round of student applications: prospective students are far more likely to choose a university  (all other things being equal, which of course they never are 🙂 that’s using sexy technology to make courses more convenient.

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beyond Pageflakes… drag ‘n’ drop pages

The wise folk at Ericsson have a mantra: “make it easy to buy”.

Pageflakes has a built-in hurdle to making their service easy to buy – not everybody gets RSS. Pages without rss feeds are a pain to add. iGoolge does a great job of simplifying the process, but if a page hasn’t got a feed, it’s not easy to add.

Zude does away with that hurdle, removing any need to understand how the tech works under the hood.

Readers can become editors: imagine, you’re a football fan.
If you like youtube’s tagged coverage of your team, and the fanzine’s blog, and The Sun & Guardian Unlimited’s sports coverage, you’d drag ‘n’ drop them all into one page.

This sets a new standard, and will be the new, newest thing – probably in reaching mass media in 2008. (Widgets are the new, newest thing for 2007)

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wow: a big day for music

June 29, 1888: Handel Oratorio Becomes First Musical Recording

1888: The earliest known musical recording is made. The piece, Georg Friedrich Handel’s Israel in Egypt, is recorded on a paraffin cylinder.

Israel in Egypt, assigned the catalog number HWV 54, is an oratorio, a form in which Handel excelled.

Like his more famous Messiah, Israel in Egypt is composed using biblical passages, mainly from Exodus and the Psalms.

Unlike the Messiah, however, it didn’t enjoy much of a reception when it premiered in 1739. As a result, Handel shortened the work and inserted a few Italian arias to lighten the mood a bit.

Nevertheless, it was selected by Col. George Gourand, Thomas Edison’s foreign sales agent, for the first musical recording. Gourand made his recording in London’s Crystal Palace, using Edison’s yellow paraffin cylinder — candle wax, essentially.

(Source: Stanford University, National Park Service)

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Avatars… sound & brand

I met a man last week: I’ve wanted to meet him for almost 10 years, but didn’t know who he was… more of that anon

Anyway, he’s now working on avatars.

meez avatar

Not this one – which is fun – but another system to help business support their customers. Branding an avatar – and going beyond a smiling wench with a headset – is clearly a smart thing to do. (Q: if your organisation had a brand-friendly avatar, what would he/she look like?)

& while we’re on the subject, what would your organisation sound like?

I had a chance meeting last week with Julian Treasure of The Sound Agency

who add audio branding to physical and digital spaces: his demo of dynamic ambient audio was impressive – visit their site, and try reading it with each of the three different ambient tacks playing – yor attitude to the pages will change, from buzzinly active to calmly exploring, depending on the track.


virtual work tools: what about virtual work culture?

I stumbled into Vyew.com Collaboration and Live Conferencing™
: it’s a nice looking tool.

But though I can see opportunities to use services like this, it’s rare to find that the folk on the other side of the screen are as keen. Maybe they’re just not comfortable with virtual work – or perhaps they feel they’d be at a disadvantage. Certainly, the culture has yet to catch up with the available toolset.

Yesterday’s launch of the Orange Future Foundation report found a number of interesting aspects to virtual working:

“over half of the working population already have some sort of flexible working arrangement, but 23% of workers have no formal agreement with their employer about how they do this”… so business’ formal work practices are behind behavoiur, in the typical development pattern of technology first, then behaviour, then legislation.

‘A key challenge is how notions of effectiveness are being redefined. Being the first or the last in the office can no longer be a measure of an employee’s commitment and productivity and managing a flexible workforce will mean worrying less about how employees work and more about what they produce.’
At last
Bring it on
Death to presenteeism.

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data security, personal privacy

“62% of the participants had been notified by an organization holding their private data that some of their information had been breached. In addition, 84% of that group felt “anxiety” over the data loss”

I picked up Computerworld‘s review of the Ponemon Institute study into personal web security: while the numbers are written for headlines, the numbers are significant – once your personal data is in the wild, it’s probably there for all time. Fortunately data degrades quite quickly.

While governments can legislate business to keep data secure, processes are only as strong as their weakest link. Exhibit A: the IT retailer ‘s account manager who emailed their account holders, cc’ing everybody on the list!

Individuals will have to take responsibility for their own data security: we need a personal “freedom of information” act, to give citizens right of access at no charge to check & correct data held in public & commercial sources. The conundrum is of course that data access should be secure, or there’s no point, and I’m not sure that’s practical, yet. Maybe if I had a biometric ID card that proved I am who I say I am…


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Why wouldn’t stakeholders understand CSR?

BT’s Business game is a useful toy: it outlines the apparent conflicts between a business’ different interest groups… but while  it allows CSR pressure groups to rate your actions as “OK, good that you see the CSR issue, and we’d prefer if you did more”.

So why is it that stakeholders can’t  give the same message? Their response to a medium or strong CSR  position always seems to be “But that’ll cost us profit.”  The game doesn’t appear to take account of the positive PR value of strong CSR actions – and good PR is good for business.

So while doing a good job of raising the issues and compromises that CSR faces, the game unfortunately appears to reinforce stakeholders as unreconstructed capitalists. Which, in my experience, they’re not!

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