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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Google Android and the Mobile Internet

I consider myself competent when it comes to navigating the internet. But mobile phones and the mobile web are alien to me.

This may soon change.

My current contract expires early next year. Previously, I have been happy with my low-price/basic-handset tariff. But the one-two punch of the iPhone and G1 is winning me over. A near-full browsing experience (excepting Flash on the iPhone) is looking extremely attractive. No more cumbersome WAP connection when I have forgotten to print off directions to my intended destination in advance. I am tempted.

To my untrained eye, there have been several barriers to mobile internet take-up which prevented myself and others from converting earlier. These have now mostly been overcome

  • Size – more features require more components. Fortunately, the miracles in miniaturisation that engineers perform are continuing unabated. It surely won’t be long before I can fit a microwave in my back pocket
  • Speed – wi-fi broadband has sorted this out
  • Cost – paying for each data transfer was a ridiculous barrier to growing this sector. A growing prevalence of all-you-can-eat tariffs is welcome, though limits need to be higher than 1gb if mobile video browsing is going to take off
  • Interest – People are increasingly using the web for entertainment as for particular information needs. Fun activities – Facebook, iPlayer, online gaming – are more compelling propositions than functional
  • Site Design – Sites will still need to be optimised for mobile screens. But this should be a lot easier now, reducing the need for alternative sites such as the text-heavy WAP versions
  • Content – it is surely inevitable that the iPhone will allow Flash. Then the only content restrictions will be licensing e.g. sports rights for Mobile and Web are sold separately. If these rights are combined at the next negotiations, another barrier has been overcome

Will 2009 be the year that the mobile internet finally becomes widespread?

sk

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/misbehave/

Links – 25th September 2008

Blog-related

Fantastic presentation on the music industry embracing the Web (Fistfulayen)

A White Paper outlining a pre-testing model based on prediction markets (Misentropy) – I’ve not yet read this, but it looks fascinating

Can modern brands be built with traditional people, asks Adrian at Zeus Jones? A very nice, thought-provoking presentation

Why the product outweighs the promotion (Make Marketing History) – short and snappy, but straight to the point

Latest Technorati report on the state of the blogosphere – and Read Write Web’s thoughts


Random

Harpers have made all the articles written by David Foster Wallace available online – this will become a well-worn bookmark of mine

10 overused words in writing (Precise Edit) – guilty as charged

The Guardian have a new series entitled How to Write – some good tips in there

10 facts about the Earth (Discovery Magazine) – unlike most trivia lists this is actually very informative

Photographs of London from above at night

Another amazing New York Times graphic – showing the losses caused by to the crash/crunch

http://www.zigabid.com/ – bid for tickets. I hope this doesn’t catch on. Set prices may be inefficient in terms of pricing, but I don’t want to spend ages haggling and scouring the best deals

If the topic is of interest to you, each link is definitely worth reading. But I were to recommend a couple, it would be the first two links in both categories (aside from that, the links are in no order)

sk

We Need to Change: Presentation on Market Research

Helge Tennø has created several visually arresting and thought provoking presentation decks and the latest is no exception.

We Need to Change is – in his words – a loosely structured collection of thoughts and references regarding the mediocre but promising state of market research

(RSS readers may need to click through)

I like the general thrust of the piece but don’t wholeheartedly agree with the conclusion. Ethnography is useful in situations where complex interactions can be synthesized and extrapolated to a wider population, but it is not a fix-all solution.

Saying that, I recognise the intrinsic flaws of rational surveying and am fully supportive of the moves to complement, or even supplant, survey data with observed behavioural information on a mass scale.

sk

Links – 19th September 2008

My unread items in Google Reader has been maxed out at 1000+ for a few days now, but here is a brief list of the stuff I HAVE managed to read in the past week

A fantastic overview on how to have a successful career in advertising (Digicynic). Recommended reading as many of the tips are general enough to be applied to other professions

A lengthy but thought-provoking essay by Bob Garfield on how Facebook can make lots of money. Essentially, it comes down to behavioural tracking and collaborative filtering.

Excellent post by danah boyd on the dangers of technological determinism – creators telling users how they should be consuming their product/service

The Fitbit tracks your actions 24/7. You upload the data and pore over the analysis. A useful tool for the obsessive self-trackers. I’m a reformed self-tracker and hoarder. For years I would obsessively record and collect things. But the task becomes so herculean that there is never any time to actually step back and appreciate what has been collected.

MP3s of 3×50 cover versions to celebrate 50 years of Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince

Foodproof have a list of 100 things that you should eat before you die

New Scientist on the Future of Photography

Flickr Bikes is an awesome idea

Copy Paste Character – for when you can’t remember the alt-code

sk

When did we start trusting strangers?

Following on from their (very useful) Social Media tracker, Universal McCann have released some follow up research entitled When did we start trusting strangers?

(RSS Readers – you may have to click through to see the slideshare presentation)

It explores the influence that we wield online, and how consumer generated content – whether blogs, reviews or comments – affect our purchase behaviour.

It is well worth checking out, and I completely agree with their conclusions.

Everyone matters and brands have to embrace these new forms of communication to reach out and interact (openly and transparently) with their current and potential customers.

The word conversation is horrendously overused but there is a huge amount of chatter out there. It is far better to be a part of it than it is to look in from the outside or – worse – ignore it.

sk

The internet lasts forever*

* Well, unless the Internet Archive and the mirror at the Library of Alexandria both melt down.

I’ve been crazy busy the last week, hence the lack of real updates. So, a quick observation and a couple of jumbled thoughts to keep things ticking over here (as you may tell from my archive, I fall more into the “post often” than “post well” category – my blog is a work in progress collection of unedited thoughts and observations, rather than the finished article (so to speak)).

My observation is thus:

In the month of July, according to Comscore, the 95th most popular domain in the UK – with almost 2m unique users and 10m page impressions – was… Geocities.

My first thought was – huh? Geocities is still going?

After visiting the site, I can see that it still functions. Barely. But it has seen better days.

Yet it is still there. And still collecting more traffic than asda.co.uk, travelsupermarket.com and hmv.co.uk – the 3 sites directly below it in the July rankings.

Site owners rarely pull the plug online – though hosting companies might. What we publish online lasts forever. From Google Cache to the Wayback Machine via tools I am not savvy enough to know about, we will always have a digital footprint.

And that footprint will soon become footprints. I must have created a hundred site profiles over the years using a variety of pseudonyms. Most of those are collecting dust in various corners of the Internet. Ghost-towns are alive and well. But only in terms of users – not necessarily visitors.

But one day. whether it is through Open ID, Friendfeed or whatever interoperability that Google decide to bless us with, we will eventually become joined up.

Do I want that link to the past? Things I publish under the curiouslypersistent name (or derivatives thereof) form part of a coherent persona. Do I want that to be linked to things I have forgotten about and things I would rather forget from my past that are completely contrary to who I am now?

I notice that some of the newer sites allow you to change your username. This can allow one to align their personal brand by porting over to a new name and removing certain content. But just because it no longer exists in the current doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. And if a prospective employer decided to carry out a thorough online sweep of an interviewee?

Can there truly be a separation from work and life? Business and pleasure? Church and state?

The Internet is always on. And there is no escape.

sk

NB: As a sidenote, I am planning to redesign this blog. When I finally get around to it, I will be incorporating feeds to my other online footprints.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deia/

Links – 12th September 2008

Part 2 of my overdue link update:

Blog-related:

Media history through Gartner Hype Cycle graphs – an ingenious way of tracking trends over time (Adverlab)

This interesting conversation looks at the importance of being aware and how “supernoticing” improves user research (AIGA)

The six degrees of Kevin Bacon has been condensed to three degrees of Wikipedia

A study indicates that irrelevant neuroscience will make more people believe a spurious argument (Language Log)

Green marketing won’t work because of our inherent self-interest (Neuroscience marketing)

A list of things that are used to inspire Adaptive Path in the analogue world

A huge list of social media marketing examples (Peter Kim)

A Read Write Web discussion on the future of online music

Random:

David Simon of the Wire looks at urban decay across America (Guardian) – the Wire has my vote as the greatest TV show of all time

A proposal for a sex tax (Freakonomics)

The five scientific experimentations most likely to end the world (Cracked)

Odd geographic facts (Listverse)

An estimation of what the American English language will look like in 3000 AD (Xibalba)

Kevin Kelly has created a robot out of all the styrofoam packaging that has been delivered to his house over the past 5 years

My recommendations are Media history through Gartner Hype Cycle graphs, interesting conversation on supernoticing, why green marketing won’t work and social media marketing examples

sk

Links – September 11th 2008

I ended up missing the link update last week, so I’ll split the two weeks up into two manageable (hopefully) chunks

Blog-related

An article in the New York Times argues that there is not yet a formula of success for online TV series (Will there ever be? It’s not like all broadcast shows are hits). While Claire Beale takes a closer look at Sony’s Coma. That was featured in the twelve web series I recommended, which can be found here

Excellent overview of Mortimer J. Adler’s “How to Read a Book”. According to this theory, there are four type of reading – elementary, inspectional, analytical and synoptical. Well worth having a proper read of (Copyblogger).

Nicholas Carr on the Omnigoogle – he is quickly becoming my favourite technology writer

User experience is the new account planning – another insightful and thoughtful post from Adrian Ho at Zeus Jones

A fascinating insight into how minute Google’s tinkering in its search results has become – yet the results from these tiny changes can be big (Googleblog)

Tom Fishburne has uploaded his brilliant Brand Camp cartoons to Flickr

Rhodri Marsden has written an excellent essay/speech on the futility of flogging music (Music Thinktank)

Websites

Help a Reporter – sign up to a mailing list, and contact the reporters looking for expert sources

Stitsh takes photos of people on the street, and links to where you can buy the clothes from

Youtube comment snob – remove those illiterate and offensive comments

Random

danah boyd explains why, as a woman, she is offended by Sarah Palin’s nomination

Google results for <x> girls <y> cup (xkcd)

An extract of the News of the World’s Mahzer Mahmood’s Confessions of a Fake Sheikh. In it, he defends his subterfuge and set-ups (Greenslade)

An interesting look at Japan’s hi-tech toilets, featuring heating and spraying. There is a big debate over the best angle to spray at. (Telegraph)

What would Friendfeed look like in a zombie attack? – I only know the reputation of a few of the people featured, but it is pretty funny nonetheless (Inquistr)

Recommendations for the week day are the overview of Mortimer J. Adler’s “How to Read a Book”, Nicholas Carr on the Omnigoogle, User experience is the new account planning and Brand Camp cartoons

sk

REM remind me that good presentation improves good content

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hidden_shine/

This time last year I had never been to a stadium. In the last two months I have been to three. Shea and Wembley for sport, and Twickenham for music.

Each experience has been very different. At Shea, I was the tourist absorbing myself into a strange, foreign game. At Wembley I was the grateful recipient of corporate hospitality. And at Twickenham I was finally seeing a band who I had been listening to for over 15 years.

Three very different days but with a common observation. Stadiums can put on a show. I was fortunate that all three events were of a high quality, but my enjoyment was amplified by the overall experience.

REM’s stage show was fantastic. I had an excellent view reasonably close to the stage. Yet I was continually drawn to the seven screens and the assortment of directorial flourishes (filter effects, quick cuts and so forth) executed in time with the songs. The concept was similar to that of the Radiohead shows at Victoria Park, but the level of accomplishment was on another plane.

Jim Stogdill had a similar experience with the Nine Inch Nails show.

This brought home to me that while content is key (and REM were on form), the way that content is presented can make or break. If the initial iterations of the iPod had featured the functions but not the form (I concede that these aren’t necessarily separable), would it have been as successful? Arguably not.

Moving from visual to verbal presentation, Albert Mehrabian posited that only 7% of someone’s attitude towards a speaker is derived from what they actually say. Non-verbal cues (tone of voice and face) account for the remaining 93%

Which of these look the most exciting?

Vista - The Wow Starts Now

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathoov/

My point in this slightly rambling post is that presentation shouldn’t be overlooked. It is a crucial driver of success. People such as David Taylor rightly point out that presentation is nothing without a decent product underpinning it (I certainly wouldn’t be waxing lyrical about REM’s stage show if the musical performance was terrible). But good content can flounder unless it is delivered in a clear and compelling manner.

At the moment, I am creating a large presentation and this lesson is something I am trying to keep at the forefront of my mind. I wouldn’t even refer to myself as Larusso in relation to Garr Reynolds‘ Miyagi, but through his excellent website and liberal use of Flickr, Inmagine and the Stock Xchng, I believe I am getting somewhere.

sk

Winners of the 2008 Slideshare Presentation Contest

To combat the cynicism of my previous post on bad research, let me congratulate the authors of the three fantastic presentations below.

They show that irrespective of whether the message is serious or whimsical, it is possible to truly engage an audience via PowerPoint/Keynote through thoughtful and creative design.

For additional category winners and honourable mentions, go to the results page here.

sk