Category Archives: Aggregators

BBC Backstage Xmas bash booking up fast

If you don’t know already, BBC Backstage are holding their Xmas party in collaboration with a lot of other digital media and technology networks…

Including MoMoLondon, London Girl Geek Dinners, Geek Dinners, Swedish Beers, London 2.0, Open Rights Group, London Perlmongers, London Webstandards Group, London Ruby User Group, and London SEO.

It’s on Saturday 9th December at The Cuban.

Bookings opened this morning and as of 8pm this evening there were upwards of 270 registrations already. The limit on numbers is about 400, so it’s bound to be maxed-out soon.

You can get the details and register here, and see who else is going here.

Congrats to Ian Forrester and BBC Backstage for fostering the first real-life aggregation of London’s networks. It’s going to be a great party!


Aggregators and upsetters and what it’s all about

Okay, i feel pretty guilty and inadequate for not having posted about the Beers & Innovation Aggregators & Upsetters event last Tuesday until now.

Oh man, has it really been a week already?! Well, three nights out at events in a row (I also attended Swedish Beers later that same night and then the Paid Content Mixer – they’ve now launched a redesign via which I currently can’t see the comments, but hey – on Wed and and the TechCrunch UK launch party last Thurs) and having to change jobs while trying to sort two future events and a pile of other urgent stuff simultaneously will do that to a person!

So, as per usual, nada time to reflect, but a (very) quick scan of my Bloglines, Technorati and Google has turned up the following really interesting coverage and follow-up discussion of the evening’s topics.

(if I’ve missed anything please feel free to add it in the comments, thanks!)

If there’s one thing I have to respond to criticism-wise, it’s the view from Roger Kondrat that it’s largely the same people coming every time to B&I. First off – I’m so glad Roger was there but he’s only been to the last two B&I’s – we’ve had five and the first three varied widely in who attended depending on the subject matter.

Big brands and agencies in attendance…

Also, I would ask – did Roger talk to any of the brands, or large advertising agencies who were in attendance? If so, that’s great, but they haven’t been coming to every event, and also, a lot of the mainstream /big media types (but not all) don’t hang around afterwards because they’re not yet acculturated to the idea of a social scene around digital innovation. But I’ve had great feedback from them and more keep coming each time.

Another thing to factor in is the fact that it needs to be a relatively small “1st world” event because if we had more than 60 or 70 in the room the intimacy would be lost and you just wouldn’t have such a good discussion.

What’s more, NMK is a small, publicly-funded organisation that doesn’t have a lot of people or resources to promote its events, however much it might want to. This is currently accentuated by a staff exodus. But we are trying our hardest (across multiple channels including 2.0 channels like the fab wiki Jigsaw UK and Upcoming) in the circumstances. And I don’t even work there anymore, since last Friday…

More than your average geek…

In the event’s defense I would also note that it has a much wider audience than many geek / web 2.0 events, and also many more women in attendance.

The former is explained by NMK‘s broad audience, the latter – I don’t know why, but probably something to do with the former and (perhaps) the fact that it’s organised by a woman. Surely neither can be a bad thing? Events need to reflect the users more, and I think we all sorta know the web has a diverse audience!  😉

Finally, I’m not going to complain if a community of regular attendees is growing up around this event. It just makes it more essential that you should keep tabs on it and book early for forthcoming ones – only if you think the discussion is relevant and important to you of course.

The people formerly known as the audience

Thanks to everyone for coming along, speakers and the people formerly known as the audience alike. You are what make it worthwhile  🙂 

The point of it all is to highlight and trigger debates after all, and to try to move things forward, like Tom Coates did in his original post ‘Where are all the UK start-ups?‘ that inspired this whole Beers & Innovation series.

On a connected note, it might be of interest to you that B&I 5 speaker Paul Pod’s TIOTI (Tape It Off The Internet) got covered in the business section of The Guardian yesterday, Monday 23rd October. Was their reporter Katie Allen scanning Technorati, lurking on Upcoming or in disguise in the audience; or is it just a coincidence, who knows..?

Aggregators and upsetters event nearly full

There are just a handful of tickets left for Beers & Innovation next week.

If you want to join the discussion about content aggregation, user-generated content, edge economies and disruptive business models on Tuesday 17th October, book your ticket now.

Umair Haque of Bubblegeneration, Paul Pod of TIOTI (Tape It Off the Internet), Richard Anson of Reevoo and Mike Butcher of mbites will be exploring this issues and reflecting on their experiences in tandem with the equally quizzical audience.  😉

Once the event is full we won’t be operating a waiting list this time, due to the current NMK staff shortage.

Evolutionary scepticism and the bubble

I went to see scientist Richard Dawkins speak at the Institute Of Education last night about his new book The God Delusion after hearing about it on Upcoming.

It was a packed out hall (of about 500 I think) and luckily I got a ticket on the door, after queuing for 40 minutes.

Anyway, I won’t go into the entire contents of the talk and discussion here, although it was very engaging and lively.

You can check out Dawkins resources and coverage elsewhere.

But one woman in the audience mentioned the fact that Dawkins’ Channel 4 series ‘The Root Of All Evil’ (which Dawkins disagreed with as the series title – he thought ‘The Root Of A Lot Of Evil’ more accurate, albeit not such a catchy title…) is available on YouTube! (and also here, and here)

Science of aggregation?

Interestingly, Dawkins voiced no comment on this (what Channel 4 might say is another matter).

Then overnight this breaking story on Google’s aquisition of YouTube first dropped into my inbox via PaidContent.

So perhaps the days of the YouTube copy are numbered… (BTW, does this run counter to the theory that Google is the ultimate aggregator?)

In turn, while I’m fully aware that online has now eclipsed print media in Europe, the soap is still stinging my eyes  😉

[UPDATE: Turns out there’s a God Delusion tour of the UK, USA and Canada with Cambrige, Birmingham and Cheltenham all happening this week and the tour finale in Oxford on 14th November … via Dave, via Tom]

New Directions In Mobile is Pandoras box unleashed

Where to start with New Directions In Mobile, the NMK event held on Tuesday 3rd October at 01ZeroOne in deepest Soho?

It was all in the mix – mobile TV, the mobile web, business models, user-generated content, statistical trends, and brands on mobile. Lordy. Just beam me down now, I’ll feed it all to you over my super-bionic network in a nano-second, and shazzam! Well maybe…

But really, you had to be there. For now, I’ll share a good few highlights.

Stats and factoids

Among the choice trends detailed by m:metrics’ Paul Goode, the news that ringtones are in decline has gained a lot of coverage this week. Paul Walsh of Segala added the caveat that people are downloading less but increasingly creating their own ringtones. In turn, if you think that mobile gaming (a booming sector) is for the boys, smell the coffee – it’s more balanced between genders and 70% of consumption takes place among over 24-year-olds.

Demographics, however, reveal mixed news for the handset manufacturers – Nokia have increased their handset share in 3G services in the UK among older users, while Sony Ericsson lead the younger market.

The UK is a test-bed for 3G services with 10% of the population owning a 3G phone. We lead Europe for mobile video downloads but France has the edge on mobile TV viewing.

Mobile TV disrupts…

Steve Flaherty of mobile innovation consultancy Ketai Culture cut to the chase, and boy did he whet the appetite of students of disruption. Move over YouTube, mobile is gonna upset your business (and creative) production and distribution model, and then some…

Phones themselves won’t be the only terminals for mobile TV – enter the PSP, the Video iPod, and antennas for laptops (via DMB in Britain; DV-BH in Europe). The likely uptake of mobile TV has always been a moot point, but Steve revealed that Vodafone has signed up over 1 million subscribers [Correction: Steve has contacted me to let me know it was rather that Vodafone had delivered a million TV sessions in the first 3 weeks] in the first three weeks of launching their Sky mobile TV service. Could the simplicity of the concept of “Sky on your mobile” plus reliability of the Sky brand be a factor I wonder….

Lookout – brand channels incoming!

While there are similarities to TV, Steve noted, it’s in the differences that the opportunities and challenges of mobile TV reside: limited or no EPG; short programme formats; streamed rather than broadcast (for now); non-TV brands making an impact; channels dedicated to single programmes. And the last two factors open a Pandora’s box…

They have the power to re-cast our relationship with TV, just as the web has; and massively extend the opportunity for non-TV brands (which reminded me of the hugely successful Hallmark channel – a card company scores as a TV company – who’d have predicted that?); yet the value of mobile video on demand is still being hamstrung by network operators’ business models and high data charges to the consumer. But for a glimpse of the converged, multiplatform future, reflect for a minute on this: the most popular TV channel on Orange is FHM TV.

If shareholder certainties are uppermost in your mind, you’re in for some sleepless nights folks, as the roles of broadcasters, mobile operators and aggregators are still to be defined, Steve stressed. But as the entire market enters a transitionary period, who can afford not to innovate?

Clock ticking for walled gardens

Alfie Dennen of Moblog UK underlined the imperative for network operators (not just start-ups and brands) to innovate. They’ve created a system that has built-in obsolescence, so they should have the foresight to experiment and adapt services and business models to secure their future existence. They’re waking up to the fact that they need to start behaving more like mobile ISPs.

Paul Walsh of Segala raised the interesting point that the end-result of stripping stuff out of websites to make them work and easy to navigate on mobile can often be perceived as damaging to brands ie. removing graphics, advertising, logos and other so-called funky stuff. While at the minute WAP is a far superior experience to the mobile [open] web, he added, the issue is that you have no freedom on WAP, it’s yet another walled garden.

Accessibility vs. snack-mode culture

He championed following the W3C accessibility guidelines, which override the need to create your website twice (once for web, and again for mobile), because a by-product of the W3C guidelines is that your site will work well on mobile too. Plus the web will detect what device the user is using and the device capability, and tailor delivery of the website to fit that phone [cool, but apparently it slows down the browsing experience]. But this seemed to side-step the issue of content suited to the mobile device and the user’s context.

A whole new vista was then opened to me by one of Paul’s remarks. While we are obsessed with content-on-the-go, mobile snacking and mobisodes, we seem to forget that the way most people in the world will access the internet is via mobile.

So while affluent Westerners wired with broadband at home might lap up tailored content on their handset, people in India and Africa might be happy to get the full episodes, the full essay, the whole motherlode of information on the web on their phone, as in the main they have no alternative. Don’t factor that in at you peril and don’t assume that you know what your users want!

Collaborate with your community

Listening to the users was at the very heart of Alfie’s perspective, and he opened with a superlative rant on the part of the consumer that Ewan has published here.

With MoblogUK they canvassed users right from the outset and let them submit in competition their own designs for re-skinning Moblog pages. While responses may have been limited to people with design skills (but 80 submitted designs was great feedback for a start-up barely off the blocks!), it was a fantastic way of garnering feedback and understanding of the market from the get-go.

It’s so easy for anyone to use a wiki or a forum to collect further feedback. But who else even thinks of asking the question, Alfie remarked.

Consumers know what’s good for them…

Uptake of disruptive services is steadily creeping upwards as better and more innovative alternatives are launched and developed. Shozu and Juvino were two that Alfie rated highly. Enabling the freeflow of content between your digital spaces was another feature Moblog embraced with send to “my Blogger”, “my Delicious”, “email this” and “Digg this” buttons recently added to the Moblog user toolset. Creative Commons licencing is also offered.

Richard Hurring from Marvellous noted that the permanent world of mobile presence is coming to brands and he explained why the mobile channel is so important for brands: it allows for impulse interaction and purchase as it’s anytime, any place and anywhere; it gives people and brands the power to interact; it drives control for users; and it’s an active (not passive) medium.

As the number of people with 3G phones is now equal to the number of households with broadband, more people will connect, Richard added, and he cited Peugeot (who have launched three cars with Marvellous) and Carling’s London barfinder (downloadable via WAP) as instances where thought-through mobile branding has really come to life.

Advertising forecasts and marketing response rates

A salient point from Beep Marketing’s Helen Keegan was that consumers, as ever, seem to be two steps ahead of businesses and brands when it comes to mobile. She cited research from Jupiter (released September 2006) that said mobile advertising spend will reach £2 billion pounds in the UK by 2010.

The more granular findings underlying that bold forecast highlighted the shift in consumer mindsets. Almost half of 16 to 25 year-olds said they were happy to accept adverts in return for free content, and 30% said they would be likely to respond to marketing messages (though the medium for the call to action – posters, TV ads, print, mobile itself – was not stated). A further 25% said they’d respond to mobile marketing specifically, and this was equally split between the sexes.

Bountiful options…

Helen went on to outline the opportunities and trends in ad-funded content, mobile advertising, sponsored SMS, selling your list (not-so-good), branded content, sponsored content, off-the-page promotion, subscription models, user-generated content and wholesale. Phew, so many options! It was a rich summary of the business landscape where you can make money now. But still, many brands’ mobile activities are poor, spam-like, or non-existent.

There were loads of other nuggets, case studies and interesting debates, but like I said, you had to be there. One Irish mobile marketing start-up even sent two delegates over from Dublin to attend. As Helen recently said, mobile isn’t going away any time soon. And the whole sector is ripe for transformation.

So next time there’s a mobile event anywhere of this calibre folks, get yourself along! 🙂 Mobile Mondays are recommended and hopefully we’ll have a B&I soon that goes deeper into this area.

In the meantime, if disruption, content aggregation and new business models more generally float your boat, there’s still a few places left for Beers & Innovation 5 on 17th October.

[UPDATE: I’ve removed the apostrophe from Pandora’s in the title as it makes the URL kinda crazy, so the URL has changed. As for the new punctuation, am expecting a call from Lynne Truss any minute… paranoia induced by journalism background etc. Use of etc induced by too much GapingVoid etc]

Aggregators and upsetters centre-stage

I once thought of calling the next Beers & Innovation event on 17th October ‘Here Come The Aggregators’ (any excuse to slip in an oblique James Joyce reference you see…).

But I did some research and found that Mr Mashable (aka Pete Cashmore) had beat me to it, with an extra dimension to his thinking of course.

In Here Come The Edge Aggregators Pete explained that:

“an edge aggregator is a service that aggregates content from blogs and RSS feeds – Edgeio aggregates classified listings from blog posts, for instance.”

“But it isn’t going to be plain sailing for the edge aggregators. The low barrier to entry means that all these services will face defensibility issues – what’s to stop a barrage of newcomers aggregating exactly the same content?”

…the edge is a real source of value creation, but can any of these startups harness that value for themselves?”

Disruptive innovation on a larger scale
Aggregation is also part of the larger picture of disruptive innovation that is challenging and dismantling (among other things) patterns of media production, distribution and consumption, from Skype to YouTube, from Zopa to Digg.

But if the issues for aggregators are many, what are the issues, opportunities and milestones emerging around disruptive business models? And is the internet now, as home to the upsetters, finally reshaping business and markets more profoundly?

The view from London

Speaking at the event will be: Reevoo CEO Richard Anson, TIOTI (Tape It Off The Internet) co-founder Paul Pod, and Umair Haque of Bubblegeneration. Mike Butcher of and will be chairing.

We’ve got a new venue too: Albannach bar & restaurant on Trafalgar Square. You can get more details on the speakers and book your tickets here.

[PS. I meant to post on this yesterday, but the NMK site was experiencing some problems and I didn’t relish the idea of readers wanting to book arriving at a 404 error page].

“Inventor of the internet” billed for RSS soiree

We’ve confirmed our third speaker for Beers & Innovation 4: RSS Frontiers – for which there are only 8 tickets left, so don’t say I didn’t remind you! 😉

Ivan Pope is taking the free hotseat. He started his internet career as publisher of The World Wide Web Newsletter in 1993. He sold this to Future Publishing and became the consultant editor for the launch of .net magazine in 1994…

You can read more about Ivan and book your tickets here.

Fast-forwarding to now, Ivan is CEO of start-up Snipperoo and would like it to be known that:

“Snipperoo is a widget management product that holds out the promise of a Universal Widget. Within five years, we will be living in a widgetised world.”

He recently posted some interesting remarks on social networks and the restrictions on Flash based widgets linking outside of MySpace: Will MySpace eat its young?

Cool to have him talking widgets etc at the UK’s first broad-based RSS event and the first Beers & Innovation solely featuring start-ups. A step towards answering Tom’s original question from July 2005 – where are all the start-ups? Sure looks like it.