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Aspiring Digital Raconteur

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Archive for the ‘Digital’ Category

Impressive new things on the Internet, projects I have been working on and more

Twitter gets the spammer treatment

Posted by guesto on February 2, 2009

Having decided that Twitter is now mainstream, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to have received my first twitter-based spam today. If even mainstream brands and daytime presenters are enjoying the reach of Twitter, it’s inevitable that spammers will rolling up their pikey sleeves and flexing their dirty little fingers too.

It came in the form of a “spammerscum is now following you on Twitter” email. Naturally one clicks through to see who could possibly be interested in my drivvel, only to find a photo of a suspiciously good looking girl and a single tweet offering the chance to earn $2,000 a week working from home. I won’t include a link – lets not give them the publicity they want.

It made me think how they intend to broadcast through twitter. As they are following me, they only get to darken my inbox once if I decide to check who is following me. Thankfully they don’t get into my own updates feed, unless they @message me, which would be very time consuming.

I guess that initial single view of their page and URL is all they want really. And as there is little to stop them registering new profiles, they can just keep doing that as much as they like. Hmm, this could get messy.

Oh spammers, why do you have to go and ruin everything? Does it really ever work? Honestly?

It’ll be interesting to see what twitter do about it. It’s not exactly been built with as much protection as something like Facebook has. So they’ll probably have to start investing in upgrades to put in extra security measures and stop the few spoiling it for the rest.

Looking at that one loser’s profile, it shows that they are following 457 people, and only have 5 followers themselves, presumably them too. Perhaps a watching-to-watched ratio that unbalanced in the watching direction could trigger a spammer alert to Twitter moderation? After all, nobody can read 457 people’s updates.

So is this to be Twitter’s downfall? Is it to be a victim of it’s own success? Or are they deliberately operating a policy of allowing it for as long as possible? It certainly does fuel the success to keep it easy to signup, allow traffic (and PR) to grow.

Posted in Digital, Insights & Opinions, Rantings | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Twitter seems to be going mainstream

Posted by guesto on January 23, 2009

I’ve seen lots of evidence in the last couple of weeks that “Micro blogging” site Twitter may have reached it’s tipping point and is now breaking into mainstream use by “normal” consumers (EG, not just by early adopter internet nerds or kids). It’s been a site of interest for a while of course, but quite easy for a blue-chip client to ignore, or dismiss as not being used by a mainstream audience.

Here is a round-up of some of the key indicators that I’ve noticed recently.

Channel 4 News report on Hudson River plane crash


Writing in the daily “snowmail” email for Channel 4 News on 16th Jan, Alex Thompson writes “Incidentally you may have noticed in recent weeks and months Channel 4 News tweeting away on Twitter and it’s worth noting that one of the first images of the crash appeared on Twitter within minutes of it happening. After similar “news reports” from big stories such as the Mumbai attacks. There’s clearly something going on here that we’ll have to keep our eyes on.”

Take out: The immediacy of being able to “tweet” an event (even faster than blogging) combined with the accessibility with which anyone can do it (as easy as texting) means that citizen journalism on an event can be instantaneous. A news channel like ITN (who provide Channel 4 News) always need reporters “on the ground” so Twitter provides an opportunity not just to find out immediately what is going on where (like an early warning system) but also leverage the content and opinions of those that are tweeting.

The celebs get on board
I’d seen loads of reports on my feeds about mainstream celerities using twitter to connect with their audiences. Jonathan Ross being the one to get the most media buzz about the event. Last week my colleague at AKQA Rick Williams wrote on his own blog a list of just some celebs that are tweeting:

Oh my god – Philip Schofield is on Twitter!

Is it the beginning of the end for Twitter…or is Twitter more than a fad?

Philip Schofield – http://twitter.com/schofe (2,366 followers in a week after that little piece to camera on This Morning)
Jonathan Ross – https://twitter.com/Wossy (13,933 followers)
Stephen Fry – https://twitter.com/stephenfry (51,000 followers)
Alan Carr – https://twitter.com/AlanCarr (4,018 followers)
And Dancing On Ice (wtf?!?!?) – http://twitter.com/dancingonice

Rick’s Takeouts: “Twitter’s got some real legs when it comes to TV in general. or Dr. Who…What if you could follow the Doctor and get his thoughts whenever he’s not in a scene – The thoughts & emotions of the Doctor when he’s not in the scene; after a big argument for example or by adding a quick retort out of ear shot?? You could get the Doctor to ask for advice and get the audience to reference material online that could help him…Good for spin-offs or integrated two-way ARGs. Some fool out there is calling this Transmedia, but essentially it’s just a different way of telling a story….”

Then, there was the mildly significant event that was Obama finally taking over the White House.
Obama already had a Twitter account @barackobama but for the inauguration day his team also set one up at @obamainaugural for people to specifically follow the day.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the inauguration led to an unprecedented spike in people “tweeting” as shown here by a “tweetscan” report for “Obama”.

Mentions of "Obama" on Twitter, Jan 09

Take outs: Twitter is a useful barometer for events of significance, or just for guaging how significant an event is.

Hitwise report a 974% increase in UK traffic to twitter.com
Hitwise UK research director Robin Goad reports on his blog that traffic to Twitter in the UK has increased almost ten fold in the last year.

“UK Internet traffic to the site has increased 10-fold over past last 12 months. For the week ending 17/01/09 http://www.twitter.com ranked as the 291st most visited website in the UK, up from a ranking of 2,953 for the week ending 19/01/08. UK Internet traffic to the website has increased by 974% over this period.”

It is also worth noting his point that this ONLY measures traffic to the website, so does not include all of the interaction from mobile devices, widgets etc where much of the interaction will actually occur.

Blue-chip brands get involved too
Mashable has published a great article showcasing 40 good examples of brands engaging wih consumers in twitter.

One of the simplest examples in the list is Home Depot, who are using it to quickly respond to customers who mention them in their tweets:

And there are plenty more newbies
Even my step brother popped up on the site the other day which I didnt expect. His first tweet?

“Trying Twitter, not too impressed so far so going to cycle home in the cold. “

Genius

Posted in Digital, Insights & Opinions | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

iPhone makes other products redundant

Posted by guesto on November 25, 2008

In his speech about the next 5,000 days of the web, Kevin Kelly made the observation that “what’s amazing, is that we are not amazed” (with the web). Well having owned an iPhone since the first day of release, what amazes me most about it is that more than a year later it still continues to amaze me more and more.

One thing I’ve noticed since the release of the 2.0 software and 3rd party apps, is that my iPhone seems to be making other products that I own redundant.

Chromatic Guitar Tuner

Chromatic Guitar Tuner

I first noticed this with my Guitar Tuner. I have a circa 10-year old analogue tuner that is reliable, but only works for the basic six notes. I was about to buy a new digital tuner, but instead found and downloaded “Guitar Toolkit” from the iPhone app store.

This uses the iPhone’s microphone to listen to the guitar, automatically senses all standard, flat and sharp notes and gives a visual readout that is surprisingly accurate. Not only do I now not need my old tuner, I can now finally do the wierd tuning needed to play Radiohead’s “Jigsaw falling into place” without needing to buy a new tuner.

Of course, the “basic” apps that come pre-installed on the iPhone create quite a bit of redunancy themselves. Who needs a calculator when the iPhone finally brings a decent calculator interface to a phone.

Redundancy too for bigger, more expensive products like GPS/Sat Nav. I don’t drive at the moment, but as a passenger the other day I was easily able to navigate our way to a wedding in a remote location in the English countryside using iPhone’s Maps software.

Until yesterday, my favourite app has been Apple’s iRemote which is making my bedroom and living room stereos – and all my CDs redundant. Now, with both stereos plugged into Apple AirPort Express hubs, I can stream music to either room from the iTunes library on my big PC downstairs. Impressive enough, but with iRemote I can now call up all 85-odd gigs of music from downstairs on my phone, and select to play it out through the speakers in my lounge or bedroom. Perfect for waking up in the morning!

This makes me grin with glee everytime I use it and marvel at the ability to have control over so much music in the palm of my hand, with an easily usable interface too. But yesterday I discovered Simplify Media, which gives me all that – but outside of my house too!

The core functionality is already something that I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover. It means that when at work, I can call up the entire 85GB of music on my home PC and browse and play it through iTunes on my laptop. The whole library appears as a shared library in iTunes, exactly as it does when you are on the same network. Today’s test reveals that that streaming performance is pretty good, but I guess some people will be at the mercy of their broadband provider on this one.

Simplify Media Screenshot

Simplify Media Screenshot

But the best bit of all, is that Simplify Media also offers an iPhone app, which means that I can access the entire month’s worth of music on my home PC, from my phone, from anywhere I can get a signal. That includes when walking down the street, waiting at a train station, or plugging into the stereo at a mate’s house. And it even scrobbles everything to last.fm !!!

This practically makes me cry with joy. But I’m wondering if it is also now going to make my old iPod redundant? I previously still carried that around with me as well, because even 16GB of music on the iPhone is not enough to keep me content, I want the full 60GB of choice my old model offers. I’m not about to freecycle it just yet though – let’s see what happens to my electricity bill when I start leaving my home PC permanently on!

Digital and product convergence

The iPhone must surely be the most preeminent example of the convergence of product design and digital design that our industry has long predicted. I wonder how far such leading “converged” products can go in further commoditising and making redundant other less holistic products? I certainly don’t believe that there is much room in consumer’s lives/budgets for multiple super-products that do everything. Perhaps therefore, it is the first product within key categories to acheive this status that will rule the roost for some time thereafter.

Thinking back 8-10 years to when I was a Product Design student in Southampton, I remember that we were not allowed to design “black boxes that did stuff”, we had to design and show how the physical product would perform a function, not just assume that some wizardry would happen on circuit boards within. But what the web has taught us in those last 8-10 years is that by harnessing the wisdom of crowds and encouraging collaboration and contribution from 3rd parties, so much more can be acheived. Who ever’s job it is at Apple to review and approve all these 3rd party apps must be rubbing their hands with glee as they see so many companies and individuals produce work that just makes their product better and better.

What I think the product designers of the iPhone did excellently well was to design key controls – like the microphone, or touchscreen, or accelerometer – that can be accessed by 3rd party apps and used for new purposes. I doubt that the original designers were even completely sure what to do with the accelerometer when they created it, but it doesn’t matter, because they just need to unleash the box of tricks and let everyone else find new and innovative ways to make us smile.

Posted in Digital, Insights & Opinions | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sites that are benefiting from the Credit Crunch

Posted by guesto on October 13, 2008

I’ve been very interested to watch how the economic turmoil of recent weeks is affecting trends of visitors to websites and how this might change the media opportunity for my client. New stats, trends and analysis are being published every day, but here is a quick roundup of a few articles that I have seen recently…

1. Online newspapers
NMA reports that: “Online newspapers enjoyed a month of positive growth throughout August, with many showing jumps in traffic in the latest ABCE figures. Guardian maintained top position with over 23m users up over 12% on July, it was followed by closest competitor The Telegraph, which saw a spike in user numbers of over 17% to over 22m. News International’s Times Online went up over 20% up to 19.6m, while The Sun continued to hover around the 15.9m mark.”

This growth is credited not only to the credit-crunch, but also to the Beijing Olympics and the US presidential race. Post Olympics figures for September will be more representative when released.

It is natural that online newspaper traffic should increase during the credit crisis, as so much happens during the day, that morning or afternoon printed publications become old news before they are even read. Online is not only a faster, more timely medium, but it is also mostly free – allowing consumers to increase consumption while cutting the cost of buying a newspaper.

As I’m not a media buyer myself, I don’t know if news sites like these quickly raise their advertising prices in line with these trends, or if their price reviews take a short while to catch up – but I have a cool idea, which I’ll post about later.

2. Job sites
Hitwise reports an unseasonal boom to their category of “UK Employment and training” in the last month. This is likely to be fuelled by the numbers of unfortunate people being made redundant, or fearing it and preparing it.

Although this sector is booming, it is potentially less accessible a media opportunity for some, because of the cost involved. As the IAB reports, “Recruitment is still the biggest sector category spending online with a 32.9% share of online revenues for the first half of 2008”. This means that the CPM of ad space is likely to be high here, with a visitor intent that is quite specific to one goal only – therefore less receptive to additional messages, perhaps?

3. LinkedIn
Also connected to actual and potential redundancies, the professional social networking and CV/Resume site LinkedIn is experiencing a boom, as people visit to tart-up their profiles in prep for looking for a new job. As The Guardian reports: “The number of users from the investment banking industry have doubled in the past 7 weeks, as have the number of users who listed themselves in the financial sector.”

There are a few ad spaces such as MPUs on LinkedIn, but as it is not their primary revenue source (that’ll be paid subscriptions) they don’t offer advertisers that much to choose from. An advertiser would also again need to consider the cost of competing with recruiters for inventory and the sensitivity of the subject too. “Half price sofas at DFS” might not resonate too well with someone that is worried about losing their job!

4. Google docs
As part of the afore-mentioned article from HitWise, they describe how they discovered that Google Docs is the site receiving the most traffic from the search term “CV”. This reveals Google’s innovative strategy to promote their product by ensuring they are found under terms that people could use their product for. EG: Writing a “CV” or drafting a “Letter”. They can then also promote that their alternative to Microsoft Office is “Free” – which will also appeal to cash-strapped business and individuals.

5. Voucher sites
And of course, sites offering vouchers, discounts, deals or just money saving advice continue to boom. So too seem to be the numbers of emails circulating for Pizza Express, GBK, Strada and more offering 2-for-1 vouchers you can print and take to the restaurant. I think that by now everyone knows that these are very deliberate and not leaked at all. But who cares? Consumer gets a bargain and restaurant gets a customer. I consider that a win-win, and a very cost effective one too!

Posted in Digital | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Setanta score own-goal over England v Croatia Highlights

Posted by guesto on September 12, 2008

Before this week, I was warm to the idea of Setanta. Little guy takes on the near-monopolistic beast that is Sky in an bid to add some competition to the market. Good on you for having a go. But now I find myself incredulous over how they have screwed-up over the England V Croatia highlights, missing a massive opportunity to boost their business, and pissing-off England fans right across the country.

I’ll assume you know the story – Setanta buys exclusive rights to air England v Croatia match, big whup – nobody that bothered, game poves to be an absolute belter, with Arsenal’s Theo Walcott scoring a hatrick and England winning 4-1, Setanta get all greedy over selling the highlights to other channels, so people like me that can’t watch Setanta (not even the pubs in Kentish Town have it) don’t get to see the game at all, even after the event. Everyone let down.

This is annoying enough, but what really winds me up is this statement on their website:

“Setanta always wanted as many football fans as possible to be able to watch tonight’s Croatia v England World Cup qualifying match. We always intended to make highlights available, and were disappointed that we were unable to reach agreement with any of the terrestrial broadcasters. This was not due to any lack of willingness on our part: we have been able to strike highlights deals in Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, none of the terrestrial broadcasters who expressed an interest in the England game offered us a fair market price.

“We are delighted that we have been able to find a solution to this problem with our own free-to-air highlights programmes. A lot of people had to move quickly to make this happen and I would like to thank them for their efforts. We hope football fans enjoy tonight’s games.”

I mean, don’t kick me in the balls and call it a blow-job. Don’t try and tell me that you have the interests of England fans at heart here, and definately don’t think that you have taken the moral high-ground there.

THIS is how I as a consumer read and understand your statement:

“We wanted to make us much money as possible from England’s success, and we tried as hard as we could to get as much money as we can. When the terrestial channels didn’t fall for our ploy, we decided to blatantly disregard the people of England by not selling it at all, cutting off our noses and spiting our own faces in the process.

We are ignorant enough to think that showing highlights once, for free on our still-niche channel is an acceptable gesture to the fans, and we are disorganised enough to do it in a way that nobody will have the chance to know that it is available or watch it. We hope that everyone appreciates our complete lack of understanding of the media landscape in 2008.”

Yes I’m ranting, but I am aggravated not just as a consumer, but also as a marketer that is flabbergasted at how badly they have missed an open-goal of an opportunity that could have made their season. Here is what I think they should have done:

  1. Decline to sell the rights to the highlights to other channels, I agree with that.
  2. Put the goals free-to-view streaming in high quality on the Setanta.com website as the only place to watch them. Make it a good experience, make the quality excellent and allow users to watch it as many times as they like and send to their friends
  3. Put clickable pre-roll and post-roll adverts on the clips that promote Setanta subscription packages and allow the customer to click-through and order if they want to buy
  4. Mobilise your media sales team to contact all your best sponsors and sell banner-advert space on the web page at an extreme premium, as the best and only place that the 60m residents of England can watch the clip. The revenue would be more that than you have ever made from a webpage
  5. PR-the-arse off the fact that you are declining rights-sales and making the content free for fans. What nice guys you are.

That’s a win-win: Fans get their football, Setanta get increased brand equity, subscriptions and immediate revenue from online advertising. I think that strategy would be especially successful in the long run, because England fans being England fans will now get all over-excited about our prospects and be keen to watch the next matches. Warmed to your brand by your giving away the highlights free when we wanted them, we might then sign-up for your subscription package – in massive numbers.

Instead, I feel even more dismayed that you have obviously invested extra effort in monitoring YouTube and other sites to get clips taken down that fans have shared. Its as if you just stubbornly don’t want anyone to watch it and you don’t care what that says about you as a brand. I found them anyway, of course – you can’t stop these things – but I had to watch them in crap quality on some awful Korean (or something) website covered in abbrassive ads and pop-ups. I now hate Setanta for making me do that.

Everyone hates Setanta

Everyone hates Setanta

I would have thought that Setanta would have been a bit more sensitive about this issue, after all, everyone is well-aware that you are an Irish company, and many die-hard football fans don’t think you should be allowed to show our football at all. That’s not my opinion, but this sort of behaviour will probably have some questioning whether Setanta are doing all this just as some gay Irish plan to spite the English?

Posted in Digital, Rantings | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Google Street View: Coming soon to a street near…Me!

Posted by guesto on July 29, 2008

Guess what I saw driving down the road as I exited Kentish Town Tube after work on Monday night? A black Vauxhall Astra with a six foot pole protruding from it’s roof, above which was a collection of cameras pointing in all directions. “That must be a Google Street View camera” I thought, and the small logo on the door confirmed my suspicions.

I tried to take a quick photo with my phone, but unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the street and another car got in the way, so it is not very good I’m afriad. Here it is anyway though, with Google-Cam highlighted.

Google street view car driving in Kentish Town

Google street view car driving in Kentish Town

There have been rumours for a while that is due to be rolled-out across Europe starting with London, but many have speculated that European privacy laws being tougher than US laws will prevent it. It looks like Google are very much going for it anyway, so get ready for much-publicised news stories about adulterers and skyvers being caught red-handed by Google Cam. Plus a photo of me waving with one hand and taking a photo with the other.

Posted in Digital | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Last.fm set to overtake MySpace

Posted by guesto on June 26, 2007

No, that’s nothing statistical I’m afraid, its just that I feel strangely compelled to stick my neck out and state my opinion that by the end of 2007 Last.fm will be bigger than MySpace – at least within the UK, if not the rest of the music-loving world.

So if I am to pit Last.fm in a head-to-head battle with MySpace, I first need to explain what I think is wrong with MySpace.

The MySpace backlash

If it hasn’t started already, the backlash against MySpace is on its way. MySpace deserves a lot of credit for what it has achieved, but it is a victim of its own success. Spamming is rife, you can’t find a decent band amongst all the billions of YAMSBs and users are fed up with the crime against web design that almost every page on MySpace has become. In essence the very things that made it successful – the freedom of presentation, the P2P functionality – are now the worst things about it.

A typical dog's dinner of a MySpace page

MySpace is function-poor

Have you ever noticed that MySpace blogs aren’t actually blogs? Not in a technical sense anyway – they are just bulletins to which you subscribe by email update, not RSS. Indeed you can’t RSS subscribe to anything on MySpace – in fact MySpace offers virtually no inbound or outbound syndication at all. The many facets of pages, groups and events seem wholly disconnected, with the best examples of contextual linking being the Google AdSense ads on every single page.

So while “Tom” is sending a bulletin to all 186 kazillion MySpace members apologising that “all our efforts are concentrated on eliminating the spammers“, Last.fm are marching on by “Putting all our efforts into building the best functionality possible“. And I think they may have achieved it.

Last.fm is completely End-to-end

The thing that makes iPod and iTunes so successful in my opinion is that they have considered the entire user experience, from where you buy your music, to how you store it and how you listen to it. But Last.fm may have taken it another step further by addressing how you discover what music you like. And while Pandora and others may be able to suggest music based on what you do and don’t like on their website, Last.fm allows you to scrobble what you listen to on your PC or even on your iPod on the move. The resulting profile it builds of your music taste permeates not only into your recommended artists, but also into which other users like the same music as you (neighbours), which are your favourite bands and even which gigs you should go to.

Last.fm Profile Page

A push, a pull and even a destination

Most of the social sites of the Web2.0 boom either give you a networkable page onto which you can place widgets and content, or they are the tools that create the widgets. Last.fm is possibly the only site that performs both these roles, providing function-rich profile pages for networking between friends and neighbours’, as well as cutting edge widgets that can be easily placed on pages at MySpace or Facebook.

In fact, Last.fm has practically every feature and function you can imagine a Web2.0 site might have – all perfectly networked together. The profile pages, the players, the forum and the (proper) blog all integrate together into a single “dashboard” from where a user can keep tabs with their musical world.

The purest form of social networking

Of course, they have chosen the best possible subject matter around which to build their network, as music is undoubtedly the most emotive of all passion-centres that drive online interaction. But while MySpace enables a clumsy connection between fans and bands, or Facebook provides a cursory opportunity for members to say “I Like” to a few equally rated bands, Last.fm provides the ultimate proof of your tastes, based on what music you actually listen to. This throws up some interesting results, in both the proud validation of how much you listen to your rare Bloc Party b-sides, and also the shame of how much you indulge your guilty Avril Lavigne pleasures.

In fact Last.fm probably does indulge every whim of the proper muso – from the curiosity of discovering your new favourite band, to the pride of referring it to your friends, to the excitement of discovering that they are gigging at your local venue, to the vanity of saying you were there and sharing your photos to prove it.

Last.fm Events page

What’s more is that with its new events functionality Last.fm has the opportunity to be the first site to really put the “social” in to “social networking”. Real social interaction doesn’t happen in front of an ad-ridden computer screen, it happens on the beer-swamped floors of venues across the nation where real people actually meet, drink, chat and snog. And with last.fm’s “I’m going” addition to the events calendar it has the ability to bring real people together.

The ultimate in Web2.0

Finally, and for the sake of longevity perhaps most importantly, Last.fm seems to have been architected on every key Web2.0 principle and has established RSS feeds for every cluster of information possible, seeding out into the programmable web hand-in-hand with syndication giants such as Flickr and Upcoming.org

A prophecy for profit

At the end of the day though, Last.fm is a business, so it must survive as a business. CBS’s recent multi-million pound acquisition of Last.fm certainly suggests that some believe they can do so, but what are the opportunities for it to do so?

The very first user-visible monetisation of Last.fm was the affiliate modelled offering of links from which users can buy the tracks they have been listening to. I’m not sure how much volume this generates (I’ve only done it once) but one must assume with such an uncommonly highly qualified lead, the conversation ratio at the end commerce site must be higher than normal, which creates compelling opportunities for CPA based commercial partnerships.

With the addition of the events functionality we can see this model extended to affiliate referral of ticket sales, which again must be very well qualified traffic. From here Last.fm have the opportunity to move into peer-to-peer ticket exchanging, or even 2nd-level p2p sales operating on a Betfair-like model of supply and demand.

Then of course comes the opportunity for selling of advertising space to 3rd party advertising space – the first examples of which are just starting to be seen on-site now. With such a function-rich service being provided for free users are unlikely to rebel against the intrusion of advertising, while advertisers can enjoy the ability to accurately target ads to extensively profiled users that generally fit the spec of most big brands’ strategic audience.

With increased penetration of advertising comes increased disillusionment on the part of the user. But while increased advertising on most social networks will lead to increased user attrition, Last.fm is one of a very few sites that could feasibly convert its’ most engaged users into a subscription payment in return for an ad-free experience. Because after scrobbling several thousand tracks since joining, Last.fm now seems to know my music taste better than I know it myself – and that is worth something to me. It’s difficult to say how much exactly, but would I pay a few pounds a month to keep evolving that profile and be pushed artists and gigs that may become my next favourite? Yeah I think I would.

Bigger?

Last.fm is possibly the ultimate implementation of the fundamental Web2.0 principles of platform, the value of data, the wisdom of crowds and the device independent service. And from here the opportunities to diversify seem huge. With such a highly developed infrastructure Last.fm could quite easily replace its “.fm” with “.tv”, the music with videos and offer a video service to blow YouTube out of the water. Or why not use the revenue generated to branch into DAB radio and explore a way to deliver a number of stations where user groups, not DJs choose the music that is played to them on their drive home.

But what do I mean by “bigger”? Well if Last.fm manages to keep the spammers at bay they won’t have the member counts to rival MySpace, and if they stay true to RSS instead of email they won’t rival Facebook on outbound communications. Where they can win is on length and depth of interaction of users with the site. And as advertisers increasingly become aware of the value of quality over quantity of interaction, coupled with the various other revenue streams available – Last.fm could become the biggest money spinner of them all!

       

Posted in Digital, Music | 4 Comments »

Converting RSS feed content into HTML pages

Posted by guesto on May 30, 2007

My big plan for Guesto.com has been to find a way to keep it fresh and frequently updated, but as low-maintenance as possible. So for posting new content I figured the easiest way would be to use a blog – much like this one – for entering new content and then find a way to get the posts syndicated into my HTML pages.

Initial research on the Web suggested that I would need to install some PHP or CGI scripts onto my webspace, but as it is hosted on a free Pipex package I didn’t want to do that. Initial coffee machine chats with the techies at work suggested that I should build my pages in XSLT and use that to import and format how the feed content is displayed. That probably is indeed the most professional solution, but being as I am of limited time and technical knowledge, I was hoping it would be easier.

Luckily, I then stumbled upon this free javascript generator from an educational site that uses just a couple of form fields to generate feed content from the feed address and few parameters that you give it. Then you just need to play with the CSS on the destination HTML page to make it look as you want. Could hardly be easier.

Feed 2 JS converts RSS feeds into HTML

But how do you ensure that it only displays the posts relevant to the destination, rather than everything? This is exactly what I wanted to do on my Net page on Guesto.com – to only display the posts that I tagged as “Net” when I blogged them.

Well there are a few options I have found so far.

There is the simple to use FeedRinse, to which you give an RSS address and a list of what parameters you do or don’t want to allow posts for. FeedRinse then spits aout a “cleaned” version of the feed as one new RSS file, which you can then subscribe to or syndicate into somewhere else.

FeedRinse - Click to open in a new window

There is also the much more feature rich, but also much more complicated Yahoo! Pipes. This gives anyone the ability to completely remix feeds by combining multiple feeds into 1, de-duplicating, searching or just filtering like FeedRinse does. As it happens, this is exactly how the feed into the Net page on my Guesto.com site is working.

More news on cool stuff from Yahoo! Pipes later….

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New Guesto.com

Posted by guesto on May 20, 2007

Since finding that the wordpress.com platform doesn’t allow me to play with widgets and embeds etc as much as I’d like to, I thought I’d go back to good old HTML and recreate guesto.com

So after a few hours playing, the new guesto.com is live and full of (theoretically) frequently updated features on music, social stuff, internet stuff and more.

Screenshot of Chris Guest's homepage at http://www.guesto.com

From now on, this blog will just be used for updating content that will hopefully syndicate into the main guesto.com.

So if you know me (Chris Guest) and you were checking up on what music I’m into at the moment, where I’ve been, where I’m going and how much of an Net geek I’ve become, visit www.guesto.com and check it out.

 
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Embedded Google Video

Posted by guesto on February 22, 2007

Phoenix Reach Presentation

A test for embedding a google video. Needs to work in the same way as YouTube videos in that WordPress provides its own markup instead of allowing embed or javascript tags.

Although here is an interesting learning – it only works if google URL is at google.com. Mine was video.google.co.uk and nothing displayed at all. I just changed the tld in the embed url and it worked. Still found its way to the right video too. Net

This video is a presentation video for Ant’s horse “Phoenix Reach” – the triple group 1 winning stallion that has now retired to stud. I built him a little website at www.phoenixreach.com if horses are your thing….

   

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