What’s Trending in Social Media?–A panel discussion #tdcsocial #tdc12

Photo by Janet E Davis

At this year’s Thinking Digital conference, I had the pleasure of being part of a panel to discuss “What’s trending in social media?”. As you can imagine this not an easy task but fortunately I was in good company. The panel was chaired by Katie Moffat and the rest of the panel featured Christian Payne, Stephen Waddington, Will McInnes and myself.

This session looked at the new ways organisations are using social tools, emerging social platforms and a wider look at where social is heading. I’ve included a Storify feed of the discussion below.

Thinking Digital 2011 – Nancy Duarte


“You have the power to change the world and the most powerful device to change the world is an idea”.

Nancy Duarte’s talk was one of those most engaging this year. She looked at how ideas are most effectively conveyed through storytelling. Nancy spent years researching into why we physically react to a story, but not to a presentation. Through the study of cinema and literature, she looked to find a better way to build presentations.

Stories are essentially made up of a three part structure:

  • A likable hero
  • Who encounters a roadblock
  • And emerges transformed

The TED talk above is essentially the same talk that she delivered at the conference, and looks at how Steve Jobs’ 2007 iPhone launch speech and Martin Luther King’s speech are overlayed to show the attributes of an engaging presentation. 

Thinking Digital 2011 – Erin McKean


Image Credit: Christian Payne

Erin McKean is a lexicographer and CEO of Wordnik and is passionate about words. Her talk discussed about how many of the features of today’s online dictionaries are skeuomorphs. During the transition from print to online, dictionaries have not evolved and still remain largely digital versions of their printed forms. Erin’s business hopes to reinvent the dictionary for the digital age. Wordnik is a site for everyday words and everything that is known about them. Wordnik users can add new words and edit the meaning of existing ones.  The site has become a discovery engine and can answer a variety of text based queries.

Erin is a TED fellow and her recent  talk about Wordnik can be seen below:

Thinking Digital 2011–The Firehose of Inspiration


This week I attended the Thinking Digital conference in Newcastle. The conference is organised by Herb  Kim and the Codeworks team, and brings together an amazing mix of innovation, technology and great speakers. In the next series of blog posts, I reflect back on two days of what I call the “The Firehose of Inspiration”. Thinking Digital is the highlight of my year and each year gets better and better.

Gerd Leonhard kicked off day 1 of the conference with a talk on the rapid flows of information. He discussed how common it has become for new stories to ‘break’ on Twitter, rather than regular broadcast media. Other key points discussed included: The number of connected devices is expected to grow to around 50 billion around the year 2020. Tomorrow’s challenge for brands, is not going to be distribution. Rather it will be a fight attention. Advertising will need to be re-thought to capture the hearts and mind of people. It will need to improve, so it becomes itself as useful content. 

My notes from the talk follow below:

  • By 2020, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet
  • A fight for attention and not distribution” is the next challenge for digital
  • Interactive television is the future, TV will evolve to be social – We are moving from the network (MTV) broadcaster, to networked broadcasting (YouTube etc).
  • Social networks are the broadcasters.
  • Data is the oil of the Internet and the new currency of the digital world (Everything we do generates data).
  • We are people of the cloud – accessing content through Spotify, Instapaper, Flipboard, Netflix, iPlayer etc. When we think media and marketing, we must think ‘Cloud’.
  • We are also people of the screen – digital comes first, objects and physical “stuff” is now coming second
  • Sharing is the default mindset of the digital generation and we consume differently
  • Collaborative consumption, there’s a shift today. The trend is not to OWN but to SHARE” e.g. Netflix, ZipCar, Boris Bikes etc.
  • We need a new public licensing standard – people usage rights
  • Twitter and the web is beating all other form of media
  • http://lastnightapp.com, The world’s first “morning-after” app that can erase your past
  • Locking things down is a death wish. If you don’t allow sharing, you will be toast
  • The future of media is bundling and upselling
  • The internet is a big copying machine so we need to rethink our approach to copyright
  • No longer is the web just about technical innovation, it’s now also about social innovation
  • On the web you can’t force people to buy, you have to attract people to buy
  • Think outside of the ivory tower
  • If copies are free – then need to sell something that can’t be copied – Kevin Kelly
  • Work out how to monetize customers who are living in the cloud

Gert’s free books, including Friction is Fiction and Music 2.0 are available to download here: http://gerd.fm/ibXx2G & http://www.musicfutures.com

Gert Leonhard’s presentation from Thinking Digital, can be seen below:

Reflections on Thinking Digital 2010 #TDC10


Picture Credit @kiwanja

Recently I attended my favourite conference of the year – Thinking Digital (#TDC10). Sadly, I was unable to attend last year. However, getting back to Newcastle and the Sage this year was great. I left the conference with my brain a little bigger but also fried (in a good way!) #TDC10 had a great line up of speakers, and it was fantastic to catch up with messers – Steve Clayton, Marc Holmes, Paul Fabretti, Christian Payne and Benjamin Ellis. (Shame about Mark Johnson not being there, I missed him even if some others didn’t 🙂

There is a lot of good stuff in this post. So, I would advise grabbing a cup of coffee, or indulging in some fine wine (depending on the hour) that you are reading this.

P.S. If you are wondering what the Diamond Shreddies reference above is, read on to find out!

Christian Payne

Christian Payne aka @Documentally presented an excellent talk on how mobile technologies have evolved, by getting ever smaller but ever more powerful. His talk focused on his own personal experiences as a journalist and photographer.

Documentally, intersects a perfect Venn diagram of citizen journalist, professional photographer and audio/video podcaster. Learn more about his work at: http://ourmaninside.com

Christian showed the following video in his presentation, and discussed that soon after the video was broadcast over Twitter, he received many calls of help.

Julian Treasure

Julian Treasure is chairman of the The Sound Agency, a company that helps its clients achieve results through the better use of sound – in branding, communication, retail or public spaces, offices and product design. Julian’s talk was an amazing journey into everyday sounds that surround us. From the Nokia ringtone to The Simpsons theme music. Sound plays a very important part of our lives, and yet we take it for granted.

I loved this talk for a number of reasons, Julian’s passion for the subject is obvious. But also his tips on how we can improve our own vocal sounds was invaluable. He was very kind enough to answer my own question on which CDs make the best calming music. I’ve already ordered Bird Song from Amazon!

Here is Julian discussing why “Sound Matters”. Learn more about his work on the Sound Business blog, and if you are inspired, you can read his book too.

If you get the opportunity to see (and hear) Julian speak, you are in for a real treat! A quick taster of Julian’s talk can be seen at a recent Ted Talk below.

Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland is a Vice Chairman of the Ogilvy Group in the UK and presented one of the most entertaining talks of #TDC10. The Ted Talk below, captures the essence. The talk touched on many aspects of Behavioural Economics, if you are a big fan of this subject (as much as I am), you will love the great book recommendations by Rory – Obliquity by John Kay and Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. Rory’s Ted Talk, which covered many of his points at #TDC10 can be seen below.

Now, on to the Diamond Shreddies picture at the start of this post. Watch the video below to discover the context.


Yes, there is even a website: http://www.diamondshreddies.ca

Andy Hobsbawm

Andy is the co-founder of Green Thing (Dothegreenthing.com). Green Thing is a public service that inspires people to lead a greener life. With the help of brilliant videos and inspiring stories from creative people, Green Thing focuses on seven things you can do – and enjoy doing. A flavour of Andy’s #TDC10 talk can be seen below.

Here are some of the videos that Andy showed during his talk.


Mary Anne de Lares Norris

Mary described spatial interfaces and presented the Oblong video below. The g-speak technologies presented here, inspired some of the UI scenes in the film, Minority Report. Mary described the process as “Emancipating Pixels”. I have included some footage from the film as a comparison. I think you will agree this is very cool.



Jer Thorp

Jer is a data visualiser, responsible for creating some of the infographics, (generally known as “infoporn”) sections for Wired magazine. He focused on data mining and using the open source Processing software to create  some amazing data visualisations. He describes his work between a cross section of Art, Science and Design and this is certainly is true.

Jer’s work is inspired by the work of Mark Lombardi, take a look at some of his amazing data visualised presentations here. Also, I recommend downloading and installing “Processing”.

In the video below, he extracted tweets from where people were coming from and going to as defined by their Twitter updates. If you like this video, check out the many others on Jer’s Vimeo site.


Ralf Herbrich


 Ralf Herbrich of Microsoft’s FUSE (Future Social Experience) Labs unveiled a new web application called “Project Emporia”. The app indexes tweets and provides a number of “lenses” which with to interrogate Twitter’s fire hose data (unfiltered tweets).

The goal of Project Emporia is to give the user a personalised search experience over the Twitter fire hose. The lenses allow you to discover “filtered and more relevant data”.

The project is certainly interesting and currently in alpha. I’m keeping a close eye on this one, as it has enormous potential as a Twitter “filtering mechanism”. Another great job from the Microsoft team.

Test drive Project Emporia today.


So there you have it, another Thinking Digital has come to an end. The quality of the speakers gets better each year and already is has become one of my favourite conferences in the UK. From the tweet pie chart above, you can see I wasn’t too far behind the other tweeters at the conference. Incidentally, if you missed the event and are looking for an archived selection of the tweets over the two days. You can find them here and here on my Windows SkyDrive.

Thank you Herb and team and see you again next year!


Freddie Laker of Sapient Nitro at #SMWF


In the last of my posts from the Social Media World Forum, comes a stand out talk from Freddie Laker, Director of Digital Strategy at Sapient Nitro. He kicked off his presentation stating that he was going to talk about “everything else that is social media”. Social Media is everywhere and is being used to:

  • Understand Influence
  • Create “The Digital Outdoor” billboard
  • Develop Product Design
  • Encourage Social Commerce
  • Design Augmented Reality


Today we live in a world of “Social Media Everything”, even TV is going online and becoming social. Brands need to recognise that consumers interact regardless, they don’t care if it is social media, they just interact.

The digital ecosystem is complex. We are now seeing the “digital outdoors”, with billboards being powered by Twitter.

Sites such as Meetup.com, are great sites to discover existing communities for your brand, you don’t always have to create one.

Freddie, discussed that the following brands are the ones to watch for social media:

  • Disney
  • Zappos
  • CocaCola
  • Unilever
  • Pepsi
  • Virgin

He noted, that we are building a massive, “Global Social Brain”. The share of voice is becoming more important than anything else.


P&G has taken a bold move, by allowing its audience to rate their products on the Olay website. Freddie says, “people are always rating you, don’t be afraid, embrace it!”.


Location based apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla have the potential to become huge. Some brands in the US, are already giving people incentives to “check-in”, into frequently visited places. For example, if you check-in regularly, Foursquare will make you a “Mayor” of that place. If the place is a coffee shop, the retailer can offer to give the Mayor a free mug of coffee (loyalty reward).

Getting your legal department on board is crucial before any deployment. Otherwise, they will act as a big barrier to effective social media engagement. Freddie advises that Brands should become “early adopters to reap the benefits”. Geo location is going mainstream. Facebook recently announced that they would be adding geo locations to status updates soon.

What’s the next big thing? It may very well be, “The Semantic Web” and should be something that businesses keep their eyes on for the future – “Beyond Nowness”, as Freddie puts it.


Trevor Johnson of Facebook at #SMWF


Next up was Trevor Johnson, Head of Strategy and Planning at Facebook Europe. His talk was entitled, “Social Changes Everything”. He discussed how a burglar stopped to update his Facebook status during a robbery! He was subsequently caught. “Social” is indeed everywhere and Facebook is a big touch point for so many of us.

Facebook is used by more than 400 million active users. Users spend on average 16 minutes on the homepage, and spend 28 minutes updating their profile during the day. Facebook has now also overtaken Google as the Web’s number one web property. Here are some others stats that Trevor shared:

· #1 property on the internet (time spent)

· 5 billion+ pieces of content uploaded every week

· 6 billion+ minutes spent online every day

· 2 million+ photos per second

· 250+ platform apps with over 1m active users

· 800,000+ websites use Facebook Connect

· 2 billion+ chat messages

· 60 million+ status updates each day

At the heart of Facebook is “Identity”. “Social” is built on 3 pillars (Identity, Sharing and the Facebook Platform). Identity is core, with real people sharing and connecting with their social graphs. Facebook is particularly focussed on the growing importance of identity & authenticity. And, opportunities that are driven by [Facebook] platform and technology. [Jas Note] Interesting, if Facebook wants to become the Identity on the web what comes next, the wallet?


Social gaming has growing significantly, games such as Farmville now have over 80 million users. Companies such as Evian, even have branded “virtual goods” now. Of note, the virtual economy is anticipated to be worth 10 billion this year, Trevor said.

Finally, Trevor showed a great example on how MySpace is using Facebook Connect to connect fans with music artists, using a viral video campaign called “Fan Video”. Take a look at the one I created here. Viral videos are now becoming personalised!

Key Summary Points (Simple steps for Marketers)

1. Make it social, leverage the platform and social graph

2. Keep it simple, get started and iterate

3. Don’t think in campaigns and silos, develop a conversational calendar

4. Think differently – harness new opportunities and experiment

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Katy Howell of Immediate Future at #SMWF


Next up was Katy Howell from Immediate Future (IF) – A Social Media agency. Disclosure: My employer retains the services of Immediate Future.

Katy’s talk did not focus on Social Media strategy, but from actual “real life” experiences from the field, as Katy put it, “Nuggets from Pioneers”.

Katy asked the audience to “think beyond the tools”. A particular IF client lost their Flickr page mid-campaign! She warned that there are hidden costs and content risks when using social tools. (Who actually owns the data?) Popular social media sites may implement a charge model in the future. She urged the audience to “think about the influencer”. Influence is not uniform. The influencer is not a replacement for the word “audience”. Katy stated that there are different types of influencers – Authoritative, Popular and Collaborative.

Her note to Brands, “STOP SHOUTING!” Influencers hate to be shouted at. Real time conversations (Tweets) now appear in Google searches, (Bing too :-). These may be the first touch point to your brand, and if you annoy your influencers their comments will be seen by all.


Katy went on to discuss, that we are reaching to a point of “viral and app fatigue”. She presented the following stats:

Your video on YouTube…

· 3.1% chance of getting over 1,000 views

· 0.3% chance of getting over 10,000 views

· 0.001% of getting over 100,000 views

Your App on Facebook…

· Joins half a million of others

· Is one of 140 loaded daily

Finally, Katy stated that 74% of businesses feel that proving Return Of Investment (ROI) is the greatest challenge for social media today. Transparency is key, laying out KPIs and “showing out your working” is vital for senior management buy-in. Be very clear about your objectives and what you are trying to achieve. Education for senior managers is also important. She gave an example, where a company found a negative comment on a 3rd party Facebook page. The management team’s response was to shut the fan page down and call in the lawyers. This doesn’t work, as it only aggregates the original poster, and moves the conversation to another site.

Reflections from Social Media in the Enterprise Talk


Welcome to Social Media Week! This week, conferences are taking place simultaneously in New York City, Berlin, London, San Francisco, Toronto and São Paulo. The overall goal of Social Media Week is to advance the use and understanding of social media and the impact it has on culture, business communications and society. Also, it is a great opportunity to meet other bloggers, tweeters and thought leaders in the social media space.

I attended a talk entitled “Social Media in the Enterprise” at Cass Business School earlier this week. Each speaker had 10 minutes to present their thoughts to the assembled collective of approximately 40 people. The remainder of this post are the notes I made from listening to each of the speakers. I hope you find it interesting.

Alan Patrick from Broadsight, kicked off the event with the challenges social media faces when looked upon by Enterprise. He looked at three areas where it can present a Return On Investment. These include:

  • Innovation (Crowd sourcing and buzz catching)
  • Operational Value (Sales, and reducing operating costs)
  • Speed to Respond (Business agility, JIT and the speed to react to market changes)
    Alan’s presentation can be seen below:

Umair Haque presented an enlightening talk on how organisations can be improved. He argued that today’s Enterprises are built around an outdated structure of rigid hierarchies – this structure is no longer efficient. Creativity is stunted and thus these organisations can be termed “Peak Organisations.”  A new dynamic structure could be the answer. Today’s social media tools allow the most skilled individuals to lead, not just the the hierarchal manager. Gifted leaders emerge organically. Therefore, do we need leadership at all? Social tools allow us to connect to people with the knowledge to help us make decisions that maximise value

Benjamin Ellis’s talk focused on how people are the key component in business. However, most Enterprises are scared of going social. (They associate social as a term relating to a “lack of control.” They prefer using email, as it is the quickest method to get your point across in the shortest time. He went on to state that businesses also spend a lot of time examining ROI. However, in the businesses that Benjamin has worked with, ROI actually meant Randomly Oriented Integers! :-).   Social Media, (if not used with caution) can cause more problems than solve answers. Knowledge and access to information could be withheld. For social media to succeed, the tools have to be simpler than using email.

Mat Morrison delivered a presentation detailing the research that he has carried out within organisations. An interesting insight from his research showed that, if an organisation grows organically, a few people within the company are actually the most connected to other parts of the organisation. If they are removed, the network fails. Therefore, some level of design planning is required to ensure that everyone within the network is “properly” connected to everyone else. Therefore, if some people are removed, the rest of the network does not suffer. Mat also juxtaposed market norms versus social norms. Employee social capital is good for the business, especially if they tweet about the company and products. However, it is difficult to account for all the positive benefits that it can bring to the balance sheet.

Mat’s presentation can be seen below:

Dr Sue Black described her live case study on how she used social media to raise awareness and funding to save Bletchley Park. Since the war, the historic site has fallen into disrepair. Through an adhoc Twitter campaign, Sue managed to get support from London Twitter users to raise awareness. Twitter also proved to be a disintermediary.  She managed to reach out to Stephen Fry, without the need to go through PR agents or other traditional “blockers”. Fry, visited Bletchley Park and used his public image to further spread the message. Sue’s (part time) campaigning, saw her blog traffic jump to over 8,000 visitors! Her success was due to her passion, and her ability to use Twitter to find and connect with people who were equally likeminded about the cause, and were able to help.


Flickr Credit: Benjamin Ellis  Dr Black and I talk to J G Rae at the event

Adriana Lukas’s talk looked at how social media can act as catalyst for business. However, she pointed out that transforming companies from within is going to be difficult. Not everyone is convinced at how social tools can help the business. Some departments may not understand them and therefore may support the use of them. Thus, she suggested it may be an idea to deploy the use of social media tools secretly and completely independent of the IT department as a “skunkworks” project. Build a successful pilot, before proving the worth of it to others in the business. (This scares me). The idea here is that the creativity and “openess” that social media brings, does  not affect existing business processes.  A classic line from her presentation read “Wave good-bye to business cases, say hello to case studies.” Those who want to change are not the ones building the barricades!”

Finally, David Terrar presented an opposing view to Adriana’s talk. Rather than deploy an “under the radar” approach. David, discussed that the way forward was to get management buy-in, before deploying social tools. His overarching point, social tools MUST work together with existing business processes. Over time, the social tools will help to modify existing business processes as their value is demonstrated. He went on to show examples of how social tools have been successfully applied to large businesses such as Cisco, Swiss Re, and ICAEW. 

Overall, it was a very stimulating evening of discussion surrounding Social Media, and how people view it both internally and externally to the Enterprise.

A big thanks to all of the speakers and especially Alan and Patrick for putting on the event.

Reflections on FOWA 2009


FOWA Highlight Reel 2009

It’s autumn here in London, and this means it is time for the Future Of Web Apps (FOWA) conference! This year’s venue has changed from the Excel Centre to Kensington Town Hall. A smaller venue than the Excel, but much easier to get to. The Carsonified team led by Ryan Carson, put on one of the best conferences in the UK. FOWA is targeted towards Developers, Designers and Decision Makers. Though, many attendees don’t fit into any of these boxes. In this post, I offer my reflections from the event with some details of the stand out talks.

Taking your Site from One to One Million Users – Kevin Rose (Digg)


This year’s event kicked off with Digg’s Kevin Rose, on how to take your website from one to one million users. Kevin offered ten top tips for budding web entrepreneurs on how to stroke your visitor egos, avoid analysis paralysis, attend event parties and woo key influencers and even how to hack the press (my favourite). You can watch Kevin’s keynote talk below.

Taking your Site from One to One Million Users by Kevin Rose


Introducing Atlas: A Visual Development Tool for creating Web Applications – Francisco Tolmasky (280 North) 


The next stand out talk was by Francisco Tolmasky from 280 North. Francisco talk focused on how true web applications can be used with the richness of desktop applications. 280 North has launched Cappuccino, a JavaScript framework inspired by Apple’s Objective C language. Cappuccino uses a visual development tool called Atlas Tolmasky’s featured a demo called 280 slides, a presentation web based application which was amazing. it looked superb. Take a look at 280 Slides here.

Francisco provided an interesting insight. Developers provided feedback that their companies were unwilling to trust pure web based. Therefore his company had to produce a desktop version of Atlas, which allowed the creation of local computer based applications. You can watch Francisco’s presentation below.

Introducing Atlas: A Visual Development Tool for creating Web Applications by Francisco Tolmasky


 The Future of HMTL5 – Bruce Lawson (Opera)

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Bruce Lawson provided a very interesting overview of HTML 5.  In particular, how it would make life easier for developers. He demonstrated some media demos working in HTML 5 and he made two standout points during the talk:

  1. “HTML 5 is in direct competition with other technologies intended for applications deployed over the Web, in particular Flash and Silverlight”.
  2. “The web is too important to place control in the hands of any one vendor”.

Two very important points, with the latter gaining a loud applause from the FOWA audience.

Bruce’s presentation is available to watch below.

The Future of HTML5 by Bruce Lawson


How The Guardian is using APIs, Frameworks & Tools to Build a "Mutalised" Newspaper – Chris Thorpe (The Guardian)

IMG_0890 IMG_0892

The Guardian’s Chris Thorpe delivered an interesting talk on how the Guardian newspaper looks to weave itself into the fabric of the internet, through its open platform. Chris introduced the idea of a ‘mutualised’ newspaper’, a society in which each person has the means to produce content, either individually or collectively. This journalist and the reader work together to tell the story. His presentation is available below.


How People will use the Web in the Future – Aza Raskin (Mozilla)

IMG_0950 IMG_0964[4]

Aza Raskin of Mozilla, delivered a talk on the role of the browser in the future. A fundamental shift is occurring, where the  browser forms a “you-centric” view of the web. A future where the browser understands your interests, and the interests of your friends by tapping directly into your “social graph” . His talk touched also on HTML 5, in particular how tomorrow’s browser could even hold a SQL database! His talk particularly touched upon:

  1. YOU-Centric browsing
  2. How browsers will manage your identity
  3. Browsers with native natural language processing
  4. Built-in payments in browsers

You can watch Aza’s talk below.

You-Centric: The Future of Browsing


The Future of The Cloud – Simon Wardley

     IMG_1029 IMG_1093

Simon’ is an excellent orator and his talk focused on the future of the cloud. He discussed the confusion that surrounds cloud computing. Experts disagree even on the definition of it. Vendors define the cloud, as “their product”. The big surprise to me, was the number of different cloud protocols that currently exist. The situation is similar to networking protocols in the the early 1990’s, IPX/SPX vs TCP/IP. Simon ended his talk with a thought provoking point:

Either the cloud is based on open source or you’ll risk losing internet freedoms".

 Basheera Khan, formerly from TechCrunch Europe caught up with Simon after his talk. She asked him to explain exactly why tech startups need to pay attention to how vendors are shaping cloud computing frameworks and standards, and why open source is the way to go if you don’t want the rug pulled out from under your cloud-based web service. You hear Simon’s comment on the audioboo below.


A modified version of his presentation can be seen below:

Marketing your Web App – The Future of Brands Online – Alex Hunter

Alex Hunter discusses the DOs and DONT’s of developing a powerful and positive brand. Nothing particularly new here for people who are familiar with online brand building.

However, Alex is a great speaker and delivers his talk with passion. His talk is available to watch below.

Branding and Marketing Essentials for Your Web App by Alex Hunter from Carsonified on Vimeo.


The Q & A Keynote with Gary V – Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV)


Watch Gary’s keynote videos below.

Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk


And Finally…

I made a small cameo appearance in a CNET video of FOWA with @natalidelconte. The video has some great interviews with various FOWA speakers including Kevin Rose.