Category Archives: TV

Being Don Draper

If you’re a fan of Mad Men, who wouldn’t want to be Don, even if just for one wheeling dealing afternoon or rollercoaster nocturnal session? What’s begun to happen with fictional characters on Twitter in 2008/2009 is heading in this, and other equally interesting directions.

Mad Men vs me at a Mad Men party

Mad Men vs me at a Mad Men party - courtesy of Laura Brunow on Flickr

It kind of started when digital planner and strategist Paul Isakson donned the guise of early 1960’s adman Don Draper on Twitter in the summer of 2008,  unbeknownst to Mad Men programme makers AMC. As of writing Don/Isakson now has 8,880 followers. All the other Mad Men characters are on Twitter too (my current fave is Roger Sterling). From what I know, they too are mostly unofficial.

Isakson came clean as to his ownership of the @don_draper account in November and to their credit it seems AMC didn’t demand that Isakson hand it over. Now the chance to be Don (or at least that particular Don, for there are now multiple Dons on Twitter) is up for grabs – and the deadline is today.

Whoever is picked – by a combination of a forthcoming audience vote on the finalists, laced with Paul Isakson’s editorial judgement – will be Don Draper on Twitter for the remainder of Season 3 which began transmitting 16th August in the US. What’s more, if folks don’t rate the new Don’s performance, he can be fired and replaced by the runner-up at any point during the season.

I’m not even going to go into the aptness of all this given Don’s very particular backstory, because if you haven’t yet followed Mad Men that would be a heinous spoiler.

Looking at his blog post today, I’m not sure Isakson got enough entries (I’m guessing some went via the back door of email and the side entrance of tweetbacks). But as an exercise in crowdsourcing an audition, and expanding the kudos Mad Men accrues by layering multiple, more permeable Dons around actor John Hamm’s TV incarnation, it’s a Stars In Their Eyes/X Factor mashup for the transmedia generation.

Of course it’s all somewhat jarring for Mad Men fans not in the USA, but y’all know these transmission lags are a major reason why TV torrents are hugely popular in the UK and why the old school TV distribution model is declining.

Concerns of brandjacking and Twitter-squatting aside – and increasingly these concepts seem hugely over-simplified if not redundant – unofficial is often good if not better. Characters are being liberated, authorship is be re-shaped and unforeseen talents are taking the reins. Simples  🙂

In fact the Twittersphere is now awash with fictional personae. I’ve already been following “Gene Hunt” from the BBC’s Ashes To Ashes for a few months. Daft but bolly good value.

Peep Show is going down the same road, with Mark getting the most interest. All of which feels oddly natural given that a year ago it would have been freakish; and a choice counterpoint to the dreaded real-world insistence that we must “be who we say we are online”, an exhortation that incites me to commit unspeakable acts.

In short, it’s exciting territory and ripe for more quality excursions. To take a very random and subjective sample of arresting characters, imagine if you could have been, or be able to converse with:

John Rebus in Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels

Teddy Hoffman or Richard Cross from Murder One

Renton, Begbie or Spud or from Trainspotting – chapters of which were first published in the groundbreaking Edinburgh-headquartered Rebel Inc magazine.

Henry (“helicopters!”), Karen (“Henrrrry!”), or Tommy (“guns”) from Goodfellas

Pembleton or Munch from Homicide: Life On The Street

Bridget Gregory in The Last Seduction

Caleb Temple in American Gothic

Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

(Rita Hayworth as) Gilda in Gilda

Nick Carraway or Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby.

All so moreish…

Elsewhere this month author Philippa Gregory (working with digital agency Blonde) created a Twitter feed for the main character Elizabeth Woodville in her latest novel The White Queen – all the better, you see, to reinterpret the story through a series of tweets in the week prior to the book’s publication.

For one week only? Hmm, not a lot of time to become really hooked or intrigued you’d think. But no, with very little fanfare she garnered 700+ followers, and the feedback in @ messages was equally potent from numerous viewpoints: the author herself, marketer and publisher intelligence gathering, online PR of course, and practitioners of transmedia generally.

After the first week of this project, we were able to read the tweets in more traditional narrative order on this Flash site. Analysed per-tweet, the quality is variable but from a birds-eye view the concept’s overall execution is quite beguiling.

A central challenge for The White Queen project lay in matching the quality of the source material, and in the transition of perspective and literary skill from print page to ambient digital flow. A big ask, but sometimes (if not this time) the Twitter offshoot is even better than the original fabrication.

In that vein (to lower the tone for a minute and head over to present-day adland), while I don’t set much store by comparison websites, I’ve lately followed CompareTheMeerkat.  As always with creative marketing, the risk is that we’re merely delighted, and this doesn’t translate to sales. But that’s nothing new, and as part the perennial tug of love between advertising, marketing and branding, largely immaterial to this discussion. What’s compelling is the character and @Alexsandr_orlov is a highly diverting creation.

This particular clutch of character extensions are also textbook transmedia shortcuts. Is it just me, or do you ever get tired just thinking about all those Facebook pages connected to the YouTube channel connected to the SEO strategy connected to the website connected to the email sign-up form connected to the mobile campaign, etc, etc, ad infinitum..? All these rinky dink agencies trying oh-so relentlessly to herd our weary eyeballs round some archetypal loop of media integration. Like it was all orchestrated for some slick presentation designed to wow lazy executives at whatever new media conference, ugh.

Oh no, wait, what we should *really* be doing is aggregating them all in FriendFeed or one of its ilk for a full-fat, 360, planned to the nth degree social media experience. Oh, Facebook just bought Friendfeed, umm, well then just wait for 12-18 months, add semantic web – and bada bing! What, the semantic web thingy will take at least 5 more years you say? No, just stop it. It really doesn’t work like that.

Instead, how about we park the whole 360 shizzle, look at the shortcuts that are working some magic and think about the implications? Being @Don_Draper and its Kaufmanesque cohorts are entry points to the future of storytelling. If fictional prototypes like these are the prelude to a new era of character development and narrative interplay, I can’t wait to see what unfolds over the next decade.

Beers and Innovation 5: Aggregators and Upsetters

True to form, I wrote this up on 30th December to finally clear the decks of 2006’s inaugural Beers & Innovation event series. And I’m only posting it now… Indeed.

And what better way to draw it to a close with what was perhaps my favourite night in the series.

In truth, it’s a probably a dead heat with Beers & Innovation 3: Mash Ups & Web Services. Equally focused on how we’re re-forming and experiencing the web, B&I 5 had the edge in raising more questions than it answered, which is part of what fuels the quest for understanding in the first place I guess…

It also had more explicit “edge” focus. In fact I was originally going to call it ‘Aggregators & The Edge’ or (following on from RSS Frontiers) ‘Edge Frontiers’. But the dual musical and business model reference to “the Upsetters” just felt better, plus I know Mike Butcher likes a pop culture reference to his event titles, so it helped me persuade him to chair the evening 😉

Reevoo CEO Richard Anson started by explaining the nature of Reevoo’s aggregation service – its business model is to provide customer reviews for clients and integrate them into the client-side business.

Trust baseline for sense-checking brands

They publish all reviews positive and negative and they don’t edit them (profanity and libel being the only barred content). Then they also aggregate all the reviews around each product to create an independent basket of reviews for that item that are accessible from the Reevoo site. Clients include Jessops and Orange among others.

Customer involvement backs and reinforces user loyalty. Revoo.com is where people can come and sense-check a brand, he stressed. They also aggregate reviews from blogs using the hReview open standard microformat. Additionally, they aggregate reviews from experts.

Underlying everything is the impartiality they get from consumer reviews. Between 8 and 13% of people that they ask to contribute a review do so.

[Note: As First Capital’s Paul Fisher has since explicated, their key differentiator from other (and especially first generation) consumer-review sites – guaranteed trustworthiness – derives from the fact that the bedrock of their reviews are from people who have actually bought and used the product. First Capital advised Reevoo in successfully garnering $6m investment from Benchmark Capital in December 2006].

Unexpected birth of an aggregator

Paul Pod Of TIOTI (Tape It Off The Internet) explained how the origins of the project arose from his frustration that he couldn’t watch Series 7 of The West Wing when it was first being shown in the US. He put up a webpage taking the piss out of the Web 2.0 phenomenon based around aggregating good TV shows. But his friends all said “this sounds like a really good idea!” So he put up a mock-up, got more good feedback, and started to take it seriously.

Now TIOTI is aggregating information about TV shows – episode guides, show guides, first broadcast dates, ratings, and then all the downloads available (at first the latter was all “naughty BitTorrent” downloads; now they aggregate Amazon and iTunes).

They’ve architected the site to pull in and aggregate all this content, have 700 people on active private Beta testing, and are going to launch in public Beta with 11,000 testers this week (starting 13 October 2006). [Note – the site launched publicly on Thursday 11 January 2007]

To Mike Butcher’s enquiry as to what he was most excited about, Paul said on the copyright front, they are talking to people in the TV guide side of things, as well as people on the Wikipedia side.

So a mix of legit content, grey stuff and user-generated content is propelling them forward.

Looking for value in all the wrong places?

Umair Haque began by comparing MySpace and Friendster. In many ways Friendster was the perfect model but the fact it crashed and burned begins to disprove that mere aggregation is the answer. Where was the network effect with Friendster?

Aggregation is a dirty word, he insisted. It stops people thinking. This room is an aggregator. A training course, parliament, the Senate, a nightclub – these are all aggregation. What MySpace got right was facilitating the kind of dynamics that happen in a nightclub. All the actions there are productive. But not all the actions of aggregation are productive.

The latest craze in the Valley is widgets, Umair observed. But once we atomise the content, what’s the value? We should be able to remix and hack things. Ecademy CTO Julian Bond remarked that Umair’s description of an aggregator wasn’t the same as his. Technorati was Julian’s idea of an aggregator.

To which Umair asked – how does Technorati collect value from what it does? The value comes from… [at this point I missed a bit as I had to skate over to the bar to ask someone to stop talking. Who was it? Well, he’s involved with a thingamy, ya know… “project”]

When aggregators go bad…

What’s the difference between Friendster and MySpace? On Friendster I’m limited to 100 characters of text. With MySpace I can do anything I want, Umair noted.

Wasn’t it just more of a business and technology failure on Friendster’s part, rather than being a larger social problem, commented George Nimeh. It certainly wasn’t technology that failed Friendster, Umair countered, as MySpace is built on [substandard] Cold Fusion technology.

Alan Patrick interjected that social networks seem to be subject to generational effects too [echoing Danah Boyd’s point that when Friendster lost favour, its twenty and thirtysomething inhabitants went back to email, IM and SMS; whereas most MySpacers are digital natives and will migrate to other digital social networks if they tire of MySpace].

Business built on shifting sands?

Mike Butcher asked the panel “will the edge aggregation effect work or are you going to be screwed by someone else” (ie. a better resourced company re-aggregating the same content)? And will aggregation be made easier by Microformats?

Paul said he didn’t know the answer to that. Richard Anson said their partners are shops and customers, but they try to do what feels right. Will you have user ratings of reviews on Reevoo, Mike asked, to which Richard replied: no, but they will have trust-based relationships. Digging further into this issue, Mike asked can people share their Reevoo reviews – can they be shared and widgetised? In terms of sharing, they already distribute Reevoo reviews to all their partners Richard explained.

Umair brought the discussion back to the question of value with his characterisation of Yahoo Answers as “just a collection and aggregation of Q&A’s. It’s a dumb aggregator.”

Squaring the social value circle

James Cherkoff wondered how we put social value on the balance sheet. A phenomenal question, Umair commented. It’s impossible for the bean counters to get beyond the basics; so how do you represent social value? Possibly brand equity, but that’s also impossible as the value that’s created is much more valuable than what you can represent though “brand equity”.

There’s a new kind of asset emerging, he continued, “knowledge value” that is both plastic and liquid [for more on this check some of the longer downloadable essays and presentations on Bubblegeneration]. For example, Reevoo reviews *can* be ranked, Umair insisted, but the challenge is huge. Take Google – where is Page Rank on the balance sheet?

Paul Pod remarked that TIOTI relies on old media still being centralised and doing their thing. For now, we rely on sources, but over time we may *become* a source, we may even become a new kind of TV station.

Pinpointing the aggregator mojo

Reevoo CTO Ben Griffith asked what is that the aggregator adds that gives it extra value? Richard reckoned that what they at Reevoo add is that they create a truly independent and trustworthy basket of reviews. In turn, it’s about adding and extending the ability for recommendation – not just through blog but via a number of different sources.

If you rely too much as a business on stuff that doesn’t belong to you, as many aggregators do, aren’t you going to have problems, Mike wondered. The word aggregation itself is a bastardisation, Umair countered. It’s about aggregating peoples’ preferences, but it’s just a pseudo business.

John Baker of Ogilvy One London noted that there’s been quite a few aggregators who have come through, most notably Google – where’s it going to be in 10 years? Paul Pod reckoned Google would be in managed decline, so it will funnel out into new properties that they own.

Isn’t aggregation purely about convenience, commented Philip Wilkinson of Crowdstorm. Richard Anson of Reevoo agreed and Paul Pod added that the value is in filtering the information out in a convenient way or in giving it a flavour that no-one else has.

Maintaining aggregator impartiality

Sophie Coudray of Antersite expressed concern as to how, as an aggregator, you remain impartial. Richard replied that Reevoo *is* impartial – the reviews are ordered only by date. Paul explained that TIOTI has a four-track revenue scheme that will allow them to remain impartial: advertising (they plan to use the site as an Advertising 2.0 laboratory); white-labelling the service; sponsorships; and ratings/download trend reports.

Umair observed that the people in the States who are really revolutionary are creating a new “currency”, but what do you need to support that in the real world? However, the real world is not necessarily the source, he noted. Interactions in the Habbo world and Second Life are what power some of those businesses.

Will you pay people for the user-generated content that they give you, asked Sam Sethi. Paul said no. Whilst agreeing information has a value, he argued that the public don’t care if they aren’t paid and that’s fine. George Nimeh cited the Pareto rule wherein 99% watch and 1% re-use and contribute. Given that user views are formed post-purchase, how will that affect this balance?

Unless you pay people, they won’t come back to you, Sam insisted. But Umair took this reasoning to task. If we pay them, does the stuff that we get back from them then improve? If you look at economic research you’ll see that people have a strong tendency towards reciprocity.

Aggregate or interact?

Rob McKinnon asked – referencing back to Tom from The Economist’s point [which I missed!] – what about sites like ChicagoCrime? These sorts of aggregators can have major implications *in* the social world because they are *about* the social world. So what’s the next big thing in this regard?

Paul Pod reckoned the environment was the upcoming social issue ripe for aggregation. He’d like to know, he said by way of a mainstream example, about what the differential health impact is between living one metre and three metres from the road. As for the legal side of things, Paul said “if we upset some people along the way, we’re probably doing the right thing!”

Richard Anson remarked that if you as a business aren’t pushing the boundaries, then you’re not going to grow as a business. Umair said we need to stop thinking about aggregation and start thinking about interaction. Closing with a flourish, Mike Butcher floated the idea of the first user-generated-content trade union.

—————-

BTW, a podcast of this event, as well as the ‘RSS Frontiers‘ and ‘Social By Design’ nights may be available in the future. From it, any flaws in my reports will be made transparent 😉

All three events were recorded for purposes of podcasting but we didn’t have the time or resources to magic it into MP3 goodness. New NMK editor Ian Delaney will soon have a better idea of when it might happen.

In the meantime you can watch a video of the ‘RSS Frontiers’ talks and some of the discussion here, thanks to the industrious Ian Forrester of BBC Backstage.

SXSW notes: Danah Boyd Current TV interview

I’d spotted Ms Boyd whilst flitting about the various night-time happenings in the city of Austin over my five-day sojourn at SXSW Interactive 2006…

It was equally by chance that I caught her interview at the Current TV booth while wandering around the busy expo hall on the last day of the conference, Tues 14th March.

Posing the questions was Daniel Terdiman, affable to a tee, though Danah hardly needed much prompting. Currently a PhD candidate at the School of Information (SIMS) at the University of California, Berkeley and a Fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for Communications, Danah also blogs at Zephoria and posts lots of longer, insightful essays and copies of her conference talks at Danah.org – a must-read for social media investigators 😉

MySpace and the history of moral panics

Asked about MySpace, Danah explained that it started 3 years ago and now [March 2006 that is] has 58 million users. Parents are afraid to even go there with the messy pages and bouncing animated graphics. Half of the users are “youth” ie. 12-24 years old.

The panic now about kids on MySpace, she observed, is like the Victorian panic about girls reading books, and the panic about sewing machines which feared what would happen to their minds and morality if girls spent all day rubbing their legs together.

From her extensive interviews, she said, teens *know* when they get messages from predators – and they just delete them.

Digital social networks – the new public space?

Teens have always used public spaces to express and assert their identity, Danah explained. In the eighties they had malls and parks etcetera, but now teens are becoming restricted from or tightly controlled in these spaces.

Now MySpace is their space and it seems natural to hang out and see what’s happening with their friends. They’re connecting to everyone and anyone because it’s the contemporary way to be seen and see others. They’re patently *not* becoming friends with all these people. They have a culture that makes sense to them so let them take what they want from it, she argued.

Culturejamming and the total SXSW experience

Danah explained that 2006 was her third year at SXSW, and she said there was a similarity and affinity between SXSW and the Burning Man Festival. The context is what brings people together and what they’re all passionate about, but the social side is equally important.

Culturejamming was the attraction for her to events. Flashmobs were her favourites: SMS driven gatherings, costume flashmobs, pillow fights in San Francisco. They disrupt our culture and have a positive energy, she enthused.

In closing Daniel invited Danah to sign-off after inhaling some helium, which she duly partook of and made her high-pitched farewells.

[Oddly, I can’t find the interview via search on the Current TV site itself, but I found another TV interview she did on O’Reilly Factor that’s been YouTubed…]

All SXSW Interactive 2006 panels:
http://2006.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/

My other SXSW Interactive 2006 session write ups:

What’s In A Title?
https://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/03/15/whats-in-a-title-sxswi-notes/

Beyond Folksonomies – Knitting Tag Clouds For Grandma
https://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/03/22/sxsw-notes-beyond-folksonomies-knitting-tag-clouds-for-grandma/

Book Digitisation & The Revenge Of The Librarians
https://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/03/23/sxsw-notes-book-digitisation-and-the-revenge-of-the-librarians/

James Surowiecki on The Wisdom Of Crowds
https://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/04/07/sxsw-surowiecki-on-the-wisdom-of-crowds/

Running Your New Media Business
https://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/11/07/sxsw-notes-running-your-new-media-business/

The Perfect Pitch
https://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/11/09/sxsw-notes-the-perfect-pitch/

What People Are Really Doing On The Web
https://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/12/18/sxsw-notes-what-people-are-really-doing-on-the-web/

Commons Based Business Models
https://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2007/01/08/sxsw-notes-commons-based-business-models/

Want more? Check out the SXSW 2007 website…
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/

What happened at Beers and Innovation Social By Design

Tuesday night at NMK’s Beers & Innovation 6 was great craic*.

The diverse backgrounds of the speakers worked a treat in terms of covering-off both the analytical and practical aspects of social media, and the perspectives, strategies and lessons learnt from marketing, entrepreneurship and large portals (or “super networks”).

And although Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel was in London on Tuesday for a keynote at the IAB Engage conference, sadly he didn’t make along  😉

Tim Morgan (spookily, a fellow former alumnus of Ernst & Young, where I was international Web Editor in 98/99) gave an interesting summation of what has happened in the first 10 weeks since Mint Digital had launched the Islandoo social network for Channel 4’s ‘Shipwrecked’ series.

He expressed genuine surprise at how the network had grown and taken on a life of its own (22,000 profiles created since it launched, but more than that, over 2 million comments generated), with online parties, the development of a regular Wednesday game, and people even finding love through the network (well okay, if not love, at least something more “tangible”, to put it delicately, than a wave hello).

Communities take control

This was all community-initiated activity. In turn, people didn’t leave the site once they’d been eliminated from the TV selection competition, which embodied how the network has taken on a life beyond the narrow, selection-oriented goal of its creation.

In fact, being selected has become pretty much secondary to hanging out on the site, meeting people and just having fun. Islandoo is also developing its own social norms. At first people would sometimes get comments from others along the lines of “fan me and I’ll fan you.” Tim explained that to “fan” someone was a verb Mint coined (heh) as part of the larger framework of ratings and popularity that is simple to use and lends meaning and status to people on the site.

Brands and letting go

The funny thing was, after a few weeks, people turned against these solicitations, and the community rejected such behaviour. The level of community-driven activities and the rapid emergence of norms synched with a comment made by AOL’s Meg Pickard toward the close of the discussion, which is that there’s a deep-seated problem with brands trying to own the conversation on communities they create.

Why? Because they only create the infrastructure, I guess (‘tis the people that create the community and the “content” ya see), and brands need to relinquish the controlling mindset that has defined the brand mentality since the emergence of mass communication because they’re no longer broadcasting. With networks like Islandoo they are just facilitating engagement and the people are serving and entertaining themselves.

Mash-up of an identity and topic-based network?

As such Islandoo is perhaps a hybrid example of what Meg termed an ‘identity-based’ social network and a ‘topic-based’ social network. Getting selected for Shipwrecked (topic) was the founding pretext for creating and (initially at least) joining the site. But now it’s mutated into something else: a place to hang out and talk about stuff, upload your videos, blog, and generally meet and shoot the breeze / get up to stuff with other fun-loving, “Alpha” (ie, confident, extrovert) people; an identity space. The DNA and relevance of the community has changed.  

Other people who attended – notably Alan Patrick – have noted Meg’s stress on context over content – “now context is king” she said). But what struck me was Meg’s closing observation that the challenge is how do you design for people that don’t think they’re taking part in a network and who don’t realise their activities will have collective and unselfish consequences? (Second spooky aside – Meg went to the same sixth-form college as my little brother!)

Sociable design – deeper than glossy surfaces

A flurry of debate surfaced when George Nimeh queried the design strengths of many social networks sites, notably MySpace. Tom Coates nailed it on the head when he said calling the event ‘Social By Design’ had never referred to the graphical design and art direction of a site.

Rather, “by design” referred to its purpose, with the importance residing in the sociability of its architecture, its usability, the degrees of personalisation offered and innovative seeding and marketing techniques, plus what speaker Philip Wilkinson of social-shopping site Crowdstorm termed the “social capital” of a site (echoing Umair Haque’s argument at Beers & Innovation 5) required to make it successful in what Philip amply demonstrated is now a very crowded space.

The number of “me-too” offerings in every category of social media that Philip listed, from to-do-lists to social bookmarking sites, has now multiplied far beyond sustainable limits.

Philip himself synched with Meg’s view on brands attempting to own the conversation in his number one tip for success in this space: don’t try to control your users’ behaviour.

His Top Five Tips list continued:

(2) Focus on product usability
(3) Stand out and get yourself seen because…
(4) …there’s never enough time
(5) Every user is important

To save you from over-long post fatigue I’ll cover other parts of the event in my next post.

For now, check out these posts so far from speakers and delegates (please add any other posts on the event in the comments or mail to deirdre.molloy (AT) chinwag (DOT) com as even WordPress, Bloglines and Technorati combined don’t capture everything, thanks):

Alan Patrick (Broadstuff) – November 15 2006
http://broadstuff.com/archives/57-Social-Networks,-Innovation…….and-the-Unifying-Principle-of-Beer.html

Sue Thomas (De Montfort University) – November 15 2006
http://www.hum.dmu.ac.uk/blogs/wdl/2006/11/social_by_design.html

Rob McKinnon (London Ruby User Group) – November 15 2006
http://fleetingideas.com/2006/11/15/social-by-design-catalyzing-change

Meg Pickard (AOL / meish) – November 15 2006
http://meish.org/2006/11/15/on-speaking-at-social-by-design/

Tom Coates (Yahoo! / Plasticbag) – November 15 2006
http://www.plasticbag.org/archives/2006/11/thoughts_around_socia/

Andrew Whitehouse – November 16 2006
http://andrewwhitehouse.wordpress.com/2006/11/16/social-by-design/

[* the lowdown on craic will be given in my next post – I know, so dreadful of me to keep you in suspenders 😉 ].

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.

http://www.bubblegeneration.com/2006/10/beers-innovation.cfm

http://www.bubblegeneration.com/2006/10/research-note-peer-value-of-money.cfm

http://prof.rogerkondrat.com/2006/10/19/beers-innovation-aggregators-and-upsetters/

http://www.asymmetry.co.uk/wordpress/2006/10/18/nmk-new-media-knowledge-beers-and-innovation/

http://www.broadstuff.com/archives/29-The-Disaggregation-of-Aggregators.html

http://www.theequitykicker.com/2006/10/18/vc-model-changing-but-not-broken/

(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]