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Apology for infrequent posts

I must apologise on this blog for it getting somewhat dusty and out-dated. I still continue my search for the Next Big Things.

However, I am extremely busy on delivering things:

Support for Futureheads, the rapidly growing staffing specialist recruiting web/ux architects, web designers and project managers. ww

Repositioning Hoults Yard, Tyneside’s creative hub. h

And starting a cultural programme around Warehouse34 and ThinkTank gallery at HYBY.

I am doing a spot of consultancy in building business plans and raising finance through introductions.

And I have a back-burner startup project to develop a modular media engine that will revolutionise the newspaper and trade press markets globally… if only I could get it off the blocks, of course.

The only enemy is yourself. It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be. Dar-de-Dar-de-Dar…

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Breakthrough companies

There’s me thinking I coined a phrase to consider Breakthrough firms.

When i think about Breakthrough Companies, I’m thinking about founders who have a ‘big picture’ perspective – that’s not regional thinking, it’s international thinking… that’s considering the business foundations, but also a scalable model to become a major player… that’s understanding the competitive framework and taking things to the next level.

So, I was interested to see a US business blog feature an article recently entitled Six Secrets of Breakthrough Companies. Click MyVenturePad here.

I can’t say I’m bowled over by Skip Reardon (author)’s insights… but it goes to show that synchronisity is out there… and there are more than 2 of us probably considering how to break into the big time.

Online magazines, content and big things

I have every admiration for a media publisher that is pioneering its ‘engagement formats’, fully rounded on print, events, online… Perhaps this is an ‘of course’ moment to say that they track the film industry… and therefore are first-hand witness to the transformation of media into digital.

C-21 Media aren’t just innovative with their format, they are absolutely first class with their news angles and content. This is a ‘no mean feat’ thing. So much of blogging tools or self-publishing of music is shockingly bad and just gives the masses the capacity to bore and bug us. Not C-21.

I’ve just been blown away by the line-up of their latest conference on marketing. It ain’t a line-up that is purely film focused, though there’s a slant. It looks like a must-attend event for anyone in digital and media.

Check out the agenda here – http://www.c21media.net/shop/detail.asp?article=55800&area=109:

Dynamite. Well, and here I must declare an interest, it was until I got asked to be a compere to help host the event. But, that aside, the speakers speak for themselves.

Global Web trends

These stats just dropped out of my copy of New Media Age today – it’s about social media uptake.

The US has 92million Facebook users and 80m are uploading photos, 18m write a blog and 11m use Twitter.

The UK has 16m users, almost everyone uploads photos, 5.5m write a blog and 5m use Twitter.

India has 22m users, 20m upload photos, 12m write a blog and 8m use Twitter. So, according to the stats, Indian web users are really active blog and tweeters.

Other stats of note:

Netherlands and Australia – almost nobody uses Twitter

China – almost 20% of the web population use Twitter.

Brazil, Russia India, China – some 60% of internet users are on Facebook, compared to 40+% for US/Britain/Italy and under 40% for other Euros

Happy New Year – Snow forecast

We’re now in our third week of snow under foot. We’ve got fresh supplies of grit and salt. Here’s a lovely photo of the character of the place… with cosmic thoughts for 2010:

Moon over Hoults Yard - 342/365 by Paul J White.

I’m chuffed that Paul J White took three photos of the yard for his 365 study of a photo per day for 2009.

The latest shot, above, is on this link here – and you can see a year’s worth of images there too. Thanks Paul…

Happy New Year to all.

Predictions 2010 – Next big things

What’s gonna be big in 2010?

1. Cross-platform

Convergence has always been a big story – it’s a nirvana like ‘the paperless office’ which has never quite happened, but keeps everyone thinking.

The world of TV, film, games, internet and mobile… there really is a fertile ground now for interplay. It was great to see Oil Productions’ project for Channel 4 and Wellcome Trust, Routes, win an award at the BIMAs. It’s also interesting to see the platforms expand – Playfish, Miniclip, King.com… and games like Eve Online start to pick up again as Massively Multiplayer Online Games really go massive.

Whatever happened to Second Life? It hasn’t made the cross-over from online tool to mobile-internet-digital constant like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Maybe it was too complex. Maybe its time came too early. Maybe it hyped things up, but didn’t have the follow-through?

The noughties internet tools are all massively simple, fast and converged – where Second Life was complex, slow and over-rated. Learn the lessons. Like widgets on the iPhone app… just a feature or two – a quick stab or a prolonged study of simple raw data. More of these in 2010.

Will they be faddish? Will they stick? An experienced gamer tells me that it’s an 8 week cycle for people to get into a game, do it to death, then move on. I suppose, like a swarm of locusts, they don’t always get to the grassy green patch at the same time, so the grazing with each game takes some time to work through the system.

Club Penguin, anyone? I really don’t get it. Prediction: radical remodelling of that particular Disney expensive asset. But, Playfish and Miniclip will go from strength to strength (and multiple million valuations already!)

2. Alternative currencies

One fascinating explosion alongside online identity is the need for micro-payments. Or, the potential for online trading between participants on a platform? Much of this can happen outside the normal currencies that are national constructs 

3. 3D web

Like the paperless office, there are other old ‘chestnuts’ that have come of age… oft talked about, but always the bandwidth has been too slow. The 3-dimensional web is one such environment that’s been heralded as a nav tool. Way back in 1998, Barclays sponsored a shopping mall that replicated the highstreet stores on a website. The 3d folk are still talking up how they can interpret reality and help us model and map it.

I’m a fan moreso of the London Underground Map. It doesn’t follow reality – but it’s a master of information design. It helps you navigate your travel plan without following the topographic reality.

Same, for me, goes for the 3D web. I don’t want to replicate the Tyneside river bank. I want a tool that is swift to travel, interesting to travel… but mostly I want to get at the data.

I’ve been converted to 3D by my kids on Wii. They travel Ben10’s lairs and levels without a map. Why can’t I find interesting data by browsing this kind of environment.

My wish for Christmas? Online 3D user manuals… how to fix my Toyota? How to fill the windscreen wash? Give me a wiki about antifreeze. I have always loved B2B applications. And, I love a self-help, self-service approach to complex data. I think 3D renders of parts, DIY projects, bus maps… with all the relevant data attached… that’s heaven.

4. Widgetty tools

Mailchimp, eventbrite, tweetdeck… we don’t want complex programmes any more. We want to get in. Do the job. Get out again. Move on. And, if it conforms to this model, we aren’t worried about paying our share.

App Store… that’s the Top of the Pops for the 2010s.

5. More mobile

I recently had my iPhone repaired and went back to a Nokia with no address book, email or web access. I couldn’t even hook up photos of my kid nativity play! Nokia makes phone handsets, not mobile PDA devices. I was bereft of my fully functioning all-connected life. 

Mobile devices are like crack. Addictive. More than that – they are essential to modern life and live/work efficiency. Mobile devices are like air. And, with that hold over us, inventors are going to make ever-more-useful interventions with tools that help make that life richer, more thrilling and busier.

Widgetty mobile thingies. Bigger.

6. E-commerce

If online shopping is big, what is the future of shops? A struggle. Or, is it? I love Re:, it’s a massive shop behind a petrol station in my local village. The founders are big hitters with PR – they get everywhere in the homewares sections of the nationals and the interiors mags. They even featured in Sunday Times Style supplement with their house in the woods this week. I’m loving this – and it’s edited by my new best friend Alex Proud’s wife!

7. Richard Florida theory

Florida made a mint by talking up Cluster Theory for the future of regeneration. He got hired by all the councils in the english speaking world and probably a bunch of Euro’s too. Except, clusters are tough to build as unique selling points if every small city in every corner of the world wants one too… how can everyone be a world leader in biotech, renewable energy and digital? They can’t. And, many cities with under 500,000 inhabitants just ain’t going to compete with the pulling power of the SuperCities. They don’t get to critical mass, tipping point la-la. But, do they stagnate?

If the facts present themselves, then switch your theory. Richard Florida has looked at this. The mobile, web2.0 world means that we are connected wherever we are. So, it’s about the social network – or the social capital that can be created by ‘nodes’ on the network. You don’t need a world-beating cluster… but if you have some world-beating iconic professionals in your village, town, city… then, there’s a hook.

For Tyneside celebs, read Cheryl Cole, Alan Shearer, Ant & Dec, Sting… Geordieland punches above its weight. In business, less corporately so. But, despite this, there are hooks to hang on… there are some pretty impressive folk dotted and spotted about – and the ‘village vibe’ is of such manageable scale that all these guys meet, cross-pollinate and fertilise. In a way that’s more enriching than in mono-culture London. Which is just too busy for folk to kick back, cook dinner and share a bottle of wine with the neighbours. Florida’s latest book talks all about place. http://creativeclass.com/whos_your_city/excerpt/


Next bit thing: media roll-up in the legal world

I’ve build my own various media empires – whether at Uni with Sophie Raworth, or journo college with Mark Simpson, Robert Nesbitt and Oliver Holt, or afterwards with Joel Harrison or Simon Waldman. These have been magazines, events, exhibitions, club nights, newsletters, databases…

I’ve explored media issues with the likes of Tony Elliott (man, I think the internet could be big for you – 1994) and Bob Geldof (Dictionary of Man, 2007 – I think you shouldn’t try to build your own social media platform, go with Facebook). Oh, and I once had a chat with Rupert Hesletine at a family business event.

Christmas is a time for a bit of name dropping – do you read me on Google alerts, guys?

I have a vision of a full functioning cross-media platform. I’ve loved WordPress for 18 months and now I’m integrating it with Twitter, Eventbrite, MailChimp and Tweetdeck. But, this is only using disjointed building blocks. Where’s my own classified advertising platform? Where’s my analytics? What about multiple accounts integrating?

I keep meeting people who want to build media empires too. They often have far too wide a vision… they want to be ‘The Google of 3d web’ or ‘The Google of the fashion industry’. I say… that’s called Google. No point trying to rival it. If someone wants something, they start at Google, not at your aggregator site, which won’t be as comprehensive or freeform or have an interface that’s familiar.

And, for me, media is online/offline. I ran a £2.6m government programme at the start of Web1/2 called Beyond Bricks – we had 14,000 people in chatrooms. We also had 27 events in UK core cities where we linked with universities, networking groups, entrepreneurs and councils.

But, I also love networking events, big events, small events, targeting. I love 1 Alfred Place. That’s a media enterprise – it’s a club where you can connect. Because media is about brokerage. Brokering information. Brokering connections – don’t you love Oli Barrett? But, what does Futureheads do – recruitment is brokering. Then, there’s corporate finance and investment banking – that’s brokering connections for mergers or acquisitions.

One can get very cosmic about visions for these industries to elide. But, it’s best to look at brilliant examples. Of getting the news across. Of tone of voice. Of smile in the mind.

My nomination for year end fun and cleverness goes to this business. You won’t believe what it is after clicking thru… the name is brilliantly innocuous. But, it’s now an industry must-read:

http://www.rollonfriday.com/

Anyway, I thought I’d flag


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