Our esteemed European CEO and fellow Edel-blogger, David Brain, will be officially launching his new book, Crowdsurfing, next month.

In hot anticipation he has produced a short video about the book with his co-author, Martin Thomas.

Crowdsurfing from David Brain on Vimeo.

If you like what you see you can buy a copy from Amazon.

Technorati tags: David Brain, Crowdsurfing, Martin Thomas

That McCain technology policy

Further to my previous post, I appreciate this is more Weinberger (not in itself a bad thing) but it *is* relevant to the post below about copyright.

Weinberger flags Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s technology policy which, in Weinberger’s words, shows that:

  1. He’s flat against Net neutrality.
  2. He wants to see copyright extended and enforced more vigorously.
  3. He thinks the current infrastructure only needs a couple of tweaks.

So there you have it. Not only are large corporations trying to protect IP through greater enforcement and tighter controls on the Internet, but politicians are now looking to curry with corporations. That’s when we really need to start worrying!

Opening salvo on the battle for commons-based digital rights

As mentioned earlier this week I was catching up with some hard-copy reading during my holiday, including Eben Moglen’s Anarchism Triumphant.

Moglen’s essay explains why it is that “software” resists traditional forms of copyright  both legally and technically and instead embraces new legal paradigms, such as commons-based agreements.

I put software in inverted commas as Moglen extends this concept beyond the explicit programmes which our computers run; instead he suggests that “software” includes the creative ideas and content which produced, shared and adapted by individuals.

Thus, Moglen contends, traditional organisations with an interest in protecting their IP are becoming ever more aggressive and – some would say – desperate to make sure the Brave New World of commons-based digital rights never happens; or more accurately, happens in the way they dictate.

Fascinating stuff. Either way this is a preamble to flag a revelatory post by David Weinberger who blogs about an important federal judge ruling that will hopefully set a legal precedent preventing companies (Viacom in this case) from sending copyright infringement notices automatically in any instance where they pick up key words, e.g. “jon stewart” or "daily show".

Not only does this flouting the ol’ “innocent until proven guilty” line, it is also tantamount to a deliberate policy of heavy-handed copyright protection-as-future-deterrent.

As Weinberger points out, while sending infringement notes from an automatically generated list takes seconds, “the response is analog, and thus hard, time-consuming, and risky”.

I think it’s fair to say these issues affect all of us – as individuals or professionals, whose clients may just be on the receiving end of an infringement action at some point.

Either way, they are definitely not going to go away. I only hope we have a judiciary far-sighted enough in the UK to make and uphold such rulings here.

Technorati tags: Digital Rights, Copyright, Copyleft, David Weinberger, Viacom

More Berocca

Following on from receiving a Berocca blogger stress relief pack last week Rick Lamb and Lolly Borel have more round-ups and analysis of the campaign.

Rick actually manages to identify the people behind the initiative… step forward digital marketing agency i-Level.

I’m presuming it was their social media unit, Jam, who came up with the strategy and execution. I’d recommend them to use a bit more personalisation and transparency in their communications. 😉

Technorati tags: Berocca, i-Level

The Internet is a social condition

I’ve been away (although not actually *away*) on holiday this past week.

In my time off I managed to read Eben Moglen‘s essay Anarchism triumphant: Free Software and the Death of Copyright which contains this exciting passage:

"The Internet is actually a social condition where everyone in the network society is connected directly, without intermediation, to everyone else."

It’s inspiration to begin the process of readjusting to work.

Technorati tags: Eben Moglen, Internet, network society

The Berocca Blogger Relief pack lands

My Berocca goody-bag arrived last night full of cool stuff. For all that I have blogged (which I stand by) I still think this initiative was a great idea – only it could have been better executed.

I also still stand by the fact it has been executed by Bayer‘s marketing team or agency in conjunction with the legal department.

The blogger’s pack contains a letter telling us our email addresses will be used to send us occasional emails about Bayer’s future blogging initiatives, but we can opt out if we want. That’s fair enough.

The letter is as impersonal as the rest of the campaign, beginning ‘Dear Blogger’ and ending ‘The Berocca Team’ which is unsurprising.

And as per the rest of the campaign it takes a very tactical – dare I say narrow-minded – approach to blogging by emphasising the great link love we get from Berocca’s blogger relief page on their website.

All in all I think it has been – and continues to be – a really interesting foray into blogger engagement; certainly different from most.

Likes – the origins of the initiative, the news story about bloggers’ stress levels, was spontaneous and fun and was something Berocca could really piggy-back.

Dislikes – the impersoanl communication with bloggers: generic intros and sign-offs to emails and letters; infrequent communications and periods of radio-silence.

Tips for next time –  "Hey, Berocca, this cool thing called email means it’s really easy to contact people directly, cheaply and quickly. You should try it sometime!"

Technorati tags: blogger outreach, Bayer, marketing

Berocca Blogger Relief Update

After my bitterness tainted whinge/objective critical analysis (delete as applicable) post last week about the Berocca Blogger Relief engagement programme stunt what turned up in my inbox today? Lo and behold an email from Berocca saying I could expect my blogger relief pack some time soon.

Am I satisfied? Not entirely. This is partly because I’m vindictive and hold grudges, but mainly due to some unanswered questions I have about why I am being sent a pack now, at least a month after the first batch was mailed out to recipients.

In particular: why am I being sent a pack now, a week after critiquing Berocca’s campaign? Is it coincidence? If it is in respnse to my post it would be nice to get a personalised email explaining so.

In fact, the email I received appears to be an automatically generated one. In double fact, don’t take my word for it:

Hi Simon Collister
Thanks for your submission; your blog has been accepted!
Look out for your Berocca Blogger Relief Pack that will be on its way to you soon.
The Berocca Team

I could be wrong but I don’t start many emails with ‘Hi Simon Collister’.

While I’m on a roll, my blog has "been accepted"? Um,. Sorry, what? Has been "accepted"? I didn’t know I was undergoing a vetting process. Thank you. I’m deeply grateful.

Maybe I am being overly harsh. Perhaps I may have gone a bit overboard for the sake of some fizzy vitamins and a USB stick. Perhaps.

But I simply think that what was a really good idea to connect with a potentially target audience has turned into an impersonal marketing exercise.

Perhaps that was the aim at the outset. But if it wasn’t, then I really feel Berocca have missed a good opportunity for quality online engagement and the opportunity to build some long-term relationships with their consumers.

Still, I’m not complaining about the fizzy sweets though!

Technorati tags: Berocca, blogger relations, PR fail

Bausola, Benkler and understanding the new digital economy

My Edel-colleague, Jason Mical, recently caught up with creative technologist (and former Head of Insight (Strategy) for Digital Communications at Imagination, David Baesola Bausola. It sounded like a great meet and I was pretty gutted I couldn’t attend.

But reading David’s biog really got me thinking again about some ideas from within the digital economy that I’ve been mulling over in recent months.

David argues (from a specifically creative industries perspective) that:

Data and User-Centric design define the poles between technology and communication. Whereas Data Centric models lean towards ‘Manufacturing’ architectures, User-Centric will lean towards ‘Network’ aesthetics. […] Data is possession driven; collectivity occurs within communities with degrees of ‘openness’."

This sparks off some thoughts linked to what Yochai Benkler has to say about the radically new economic models – specifically nonmarket models – being shaped by the Internet.

In The Wealth of Networks, Benkler discusses rival and nonrival goods:

When economists speak of information, they usually say that it is “nonrival.” We consider a good to be nonrival when its consumption by one person does not make it any less available for consumption by another. Once such a good is produced, no more social resources need be invested in creating more of it to satisfy the next consumer.

Benkler’s perspective is important because it maps nicely to David’s idea of a manufacturing focussed ‘data centric’ model and a network focused ‘user centric’ one.

Rival goods are predominently manufactured commodities that rely on scarcity and – in accordance with David’s observation – possession to drive commercial value. Nonrival goods (in Benkler’s example, information) rely on sharing via open networks as a commercial model.

I suppose what I am doing here is little more than articulating my own understanding of Benkler’s hard economic theory through the prism of David’s perspectives on the emerging business and economic model of the creative industries, and trying to catalyse thoughts about the spaces where we can bring traditionallt data centric industries mroe towards networked production and equally how we can help encourage user centric industries to look to the digitally connected networks arpiund their organisation, its brand and products to improve their offering in contemporary nd future society.

Perhaps, these thoughts and ideas illuminate the (perhaps obvious?) notion that there is no one-size fits all model to help busiensses adapt to a digital market (or nonmarket) place. It definitely helps us begin to chart the routes down which we – as digital strategists – can help take our clients.

For what it’s worth, these ideas – the changes taking place in the contemporary business and organizational landscape and how we deal with them – seem to be occupying more and more time in my thoughts at the moment.

I suppose it makes sense. The logical next step from understanding how organizations communicate in a digitally empowered environment is seeking to understand how businesses need to think and what they need to do in a digital world.

Technorati tags: David Bausola; Yochai Benkler, digital strategy; creative industries; manufacturing

Tweet My Blog! LOLs for Hols


I’m on my hols visiting family in the Isle of  Man for a few days, so tweeting will be light and blogging lighter.

But this site caught my eye, made mehave a bit of sick in mouth and then laugh loudly. The sad thing is ….. stuff like this still works!

Via @badgergravling

Technorati tags: Isle of Man, Twitter, Spam

Is Knol *really* the great Wikipedia-killler?

Doc Searls is the first to echo some of my initial (private) scepticism about Google’s Wikipedia rival, Knol.

Knol "aims to include user-written articles on a range of topics".or as Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan calls it, "Wikipedia with moderation."

Knol permits anyone to author a page about a particular topic. While each article or ‘knol’ defaults to a ‘moderated’ setting, this can be changed to closed, preventing anyone else from authoring it.

This struck me as odd from the outset. I personally wouldn’t place too much trust in anything that was authored, put online then closed to revisions or third party intervention. That’s simply advertorial.

The power of Wikipedia, as David Weinberger has pointed out previously, is not necessarily the articles themselves – it is the social knowledge that is embedded in both the article and its discussion page. Wikipedia is trustworthy because it isn’t authoried by an authority rather, by many conflicting authorities.

But I presume Google knows this already as Knol is a shrewd business move. How smart a move remains to be seen.

Edelman Digital’s Steve Rubel circulated an internal memo which highlighted some of the ‘operating rules’ for Knol. These include:

  • Each article can list its “Affiliation” – a move intended to flag conflicts  of interest.
  • There is a significant emphasis on authors and their authority. For example authors are asked verify their name using mobile phone or credit card details
  • Google (apparently) has a team in place watching for spam, while links are no-follow in an attempt to prevent SEO spam.

But despite these worthy measures, it already looks as if the spammers are setting to work.

Going back to Doc Searl’s initial foray into the Knol-iverse, he writes that that a big chunk of the search results search for ‘hair’ were, in his words, “commercial gaming”.

More specifically he highlighted a clear example where Knol’s guidelines were being (or at least appeared to be being breached):

“The top result is for this article on hair loss, by Rob E. Angelino, Founder Hairlab center for hair restoration. Or so it says at the top. At the bottom it says "Copyright © 2005-2007 United Global Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved".

Not sure how that squares with Knol’s defaulted Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, but it’s significant that Mr. Angelino also has collaboration closed on the document. You can do that with Knol. It also says here that Mr. Angelino is "Founder and CEO of United Global Media Group Inc." and "currently the CEO of The Beauty TV Network". Mr. Angelino has a total of six knols, including one each for the Beauty Channel, BeautyTV and The Beauty Network.”

And there’s my concern made real. I just don’t get the point of Knol. It is just one quick and easy algorithm away from a spammers’ paradise. But even despite Google’s best attempts to keep Knol spam free. I still don’t see the point. And perhaps that’s because there isn’t one.

The big hype around Knol has been that it is Google’s Wikipedia-killer. But, as Doc points out, Knol isn’t a rival to Wikipedia at all. It doesn’t come close or even compare.

And maybe Google knows that which is why they (or someone) has positioned it as such.

Technorati tags: Knol, Doc Searls, Wikipedia, Spam