Wow!

I created a blog icon a few months ago and uploaded it to the web, then sort of forgot about it, but I was looking at the site stats yesterday and noticed that on average 20 people a day download the blog icon artwork… OK not exactly a huge number, but that’s still over 600 random Google searches a month, and I wasn’t expecting that! So maybe the idea is a good one after all.

So if you want to see a universally accepted blog icon (and you happen to like my one), then please download it, use it, spread the word by linking to the Facebook page, the Twitter page or the blog icon website. Plus if you’re using it, drop me an email info@theblogicon.com and I’ll add a link to your blog or website on the site plus the Twitter & Facebook pages.

blog-icon-200

you should follow me on twitter here

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Google said they’d have something interesting to demo at the Google IO Dev Conference, oh boy they weren’t kidding… Hello to Google Waves!

The Video below is 1.5hrs long, but it’s worth a look, as this will change everything. I’ve been harping on for ages about data aggregation & building open platforms without walls, with API’s for developers & third parties to leverage & integrate with (just like our plans for no paper & ID Gator), well Google have just stepped up to the plate with all their might and done just that… it all works in standard HTML5 & it’s all Open Source Code!!!!

Email, wiki’s, instant messaging, realtime inline document collaboration & creation, blogs, image & rich media sharing, polling, mobile and other stuff I’ve forgotten to mention can all be handled & integrated by Waves.

The way you use Twitter, Facebook, MSN, Skype, Blogs etc is about to change forever, no more proprietary software, no having to log into a specific system to access & update your data, connect & interact with colleagues etc Waves passes all that and allows you to do it from whatever system you want.

Want to connect with everyone you know on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, AOL, Google, MSN etc without logging into Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, AOL, Google, MSN etc, with Waves you’ll be able to do that.

Why is this so powerful & something that the likes of Facebook should be concerned about? Well you’ll be able to get all the interation of Facebook & connect to all your friends, without ever logging directly into Facebook again! So you never look at their main revenue stream, their adverts! I was writing a blog a few days ago (didn’t get round to fininshing it), where I was saying that Facebook’s biggest threat isn’t from someone like Myspace, Twitter or Google… it will be from the parasites, the small third parties that feed off & leverage it’s systems, these guys can easily create revenue streams that Facebook can’t (or is missing), Google has just made that job easier with Google Waves.

So why would Facebook (or those like Facebook) integrate Waves? Simply put, they will have no choice, the users will want it (see an old post for what I mean)… already Facebook has opened it’s walled garden with Facebook Connect, if Waves could take hold & it’s protocol become the de facto way to collaborate, they’d have no choice but to open up & integrate it… it will be interesting to see if Google actually push this, or like so many of their ideas, invest loads of time in developing the initial idea, then let it stagnate and die… which is a great shame, as it’s only the likes of a giant like Google that could take on the likes of Facebook… which is something they should be bear in mind in reverse, as Facebook continues to amass it’s user base, it will become a force to be reckoned with in Google’s market space, “Search”, for as Amazon has proven, it’s personal recommendations that lead us in purchasing decisions, if Facebook taps into our friends recommendations and “likes”, then we’ll start our searching in Facebook, not Google. A possible future with a Facebook and Bing alliance could cause Google reasons to be concerned.

more info from
wave.google.com
code.google.com/apis/wave (very techie!)
waveprotocol.org

It’s 5am and the dawn chorus has started in my back garden, but I don’t mind, as it got me thinking (which is sometimes a bad thing), so I’m wide awake now!

The future for social networks is portability, I want the same freedoms online that I have in the real world, I want to be able to meet my friends where I want, I want to keep in touch with them how I choose, If we decide to meet somewhere else for a change there’s no limitations… but what’s all this to do with the dawn chorus?

Think how most social networks operate, locking in users to a closed network is the wrong approach, it’s akin to locking a bird in a cage, you let the bird out of the cage from time to time to meet other birds, but you only let them fly around within your aviary, the birds can’t get away. So the only way you can keep your birds alive & happy is to keep feeding them, making sure they have a nice place to live, and keeping those doors firmly locked! How do you pay for the up keep on the aviary? well you obviously can’t charge the birds, so you charge people to see the birds, you have sponsors that supply seed, you watch how the birds interact with one another and then profit from your research.

Let’s now think of it in a far more open way… if you put seed on a bird table in your back garden birds will come. After a while you attract more & more, they’re wild birds, they can fly away moment, yet they keep coming back. You don’t need a cage to keep them, as they’ll keep coming back as long as you respect & treat them well and give them what they want.

How do I pay for the seed or make money? the same way as before. With this analogy you could charge people to view your flock of birds, sell photos you’ve taken, you could charge users to feed the birds themselves, you could be sponsored & have grain supplied by a third party, thus promoting their product to your paying visitors, you could give presentations & talks or publish books about your experiences of running the bird sanctuaries, the list goes on.

Now imagine your neighbour does the same, he puts out a bird table, covers it with seed and attracts more birds, of course some of your birds will fly over to his table, but then some of his birds will fly over to yours, there’s no barriers, the birds can do what they want, they can fly back & forth. Then another neighbour does the same and attracts even more birds… until eventually everyone on your street has bird tables that are attracting birds from far & wide to your neighbourhood.

With this model the birds obviously benefit the most (which is great & exactly as it should be, because online, you’re the bird), the neighbourhood benefits as they get to see and study all the birds, not just the ones locked up in their cages. The sponsors benefit as they get to see which of their types of seeds are preferred & consumed the most. I could go on, but I think you’re getting the point.

If the only way you can pay for the upkeep of your caged birds & aviary is through visitors & sponsors donating seed, what happens when the sponsor stops supplying you, because they’ve chosen to supply your neighbours instead, because they have a lot more birds than you. Simple, if you can’t feed your birds, they die in their cages, unless you open the doors and let them out, they may have survived, but you’ve still lost.

You don’t want caged birds, so get rid of the cages, you want wild birds that are free to come & go as they please, if you give them what they want they’re come, and you’ll end up with a far greater result.

As with all businesses, be generous with you offerings & services, be customer focused, treat your customers with respect, give them what they want, because like a free bird they can fly off anytime they want and you’ll probably never see them again.

Shift Happens, Are You Ready?

November 30, 2008

I recently found my notes from a presentation I gave 13 years ago, unfortunately I no longer have the presentation (not that I would have software that could open it now even if I could find it). You need to remember that at the time a 56k modem was considered warpdrive access to that little known thingy-me-jig called the internet. Upon seeing the presentation, everyone I knew thought I was nuts, as the basis of the presentation was simple All music will be available online.” Now that was bad enough, but I also went on to say, “it will be free, or so cheap that it might as well be” as the distributors and artist will make their money in other ways, concerts, t-shirts sales, merchandise etc (ie giving the audience what they want… mmmmmm sounds like tribe building to me, but that’s another discussion!)

OK, look at the music industry in the past 10 years then think about what I said back then, just how crazy was I? although I did say All music not just some of it (that’s still to come, and it will), but prices are hitting rock bottom, the labels tried DRM, it didn’t work (DRM free did), they tried to keep prices high, that didn’t work either, they were too slow to move with the tide. You only have to look at the likes of Jamendo to see my 13 year old predictions coming to fruition, entirely free, good quality, legal music downloads, if you like the music enough you can pay money directly to the artist through the site, but it’s your choice entirely.

The movie industry is doing the same, they think they’re safe due to movie file sizes, but they’re not, data speeds are going up, compression improving, portable players increasing… DVD’s have a 2-3 year life expectancy, HD-DVD & Blu-Ray was undoubtedly the last physical format war, everything will be online & instantly available very very soon!

As they say, “Shift Happens”, at the turn of the century the petroleum motor car replaced the standard mode of transport at the time, the horse & cart, did this end with the demise of the horse, far from it, it gave rise to horses having an improved quality of life, being used for sport & leisure activities only, rather than be flogged everyday to pull a cart. In fact the motor car gave everyone a better quality of life, if the motor car hadn’t been introduced to London it would have ground to a halt, as it was knee deep in horse manure and the stench unbearable. Now it’s the turn of the petrol based motor car, to be replaced by electric or more likely hydrogen based cars completely within the next decade, will this be the demise of the petrol car, not entirely, as enthusiasts will be able to use their treasured “classic” petrol based cars purely for leisure guilt free, in the knowledge that they’ll be using their hydrogen based car for the weekly commute to work.

The newspaper & journal industry is on it’s last legs, they appear to have forgotten what they’re really about, which is delivering “News” not paper, paper is merely the delivery mechanism, but it’s days are numbered, newspapers & books are a dying breed, being referred to as the “souvenir dead tree format”, there will be those that cling on to the printed page, just like those that still listen to vinyl (but they’re a tiny number, even iTunes alone, downloads more songs now than CD sales worldwide!). I know people argue that they like the tactile feel of real books & have a bond with them that they could never have with an electronic version, and I have to agree with them to a degree, but you have to face up to the tide of change. Plus this is only true when it comes to story books or novels, when it comes to manuals, reference books, cooks books, self help etc who has this same bond? Let’s face it, no one… are you really telling me you’re going to get attached to “Dreamweaver For Dummies”, no you’re not, plus you’d probably prefer an electronic version anyway, one that you can bookmark & search through instantly, plus contains electronic versions of code & examples.

So there’s a mindset shift that needs to happen with those that like to read paper now, but the next generation won’t have the same limitations, they’ll simply want whatever is most convenient and most up to date, no paper is the future. Another limiting factor currently is the hardware, reading on a computer screen or an iPhone isn’t great, eReaders that use e-Ink like the Kindle are so like reading paper, you hardly notice you’re not, plus they have numerous advantages. Some argue that because paper books are real tangible objects, they’re more permanent than their electronic counterparts, but actually the reverse is true, paper rots, it gets dirty, you can tear it etc. Corrupt an electronic file? simply re-load a new file and it’s as good as new, in fact it’s probably been updated with new content. I’m not dead set against paper, it has it’s place, but it’s time for the publishing houses worldwide to wake up, accept the sea of change, and prepare for it, otherwise they better be ready to move over when the flood happens & the new ePublishing houses appear on the scene giving the audience what they want (now where have I heard that before?)

So will eBooks, replace paper books? absolutely… but at the end of the day, does it really matter which prevails, as long as more people are reading & writing, who cares how it’s delivered, we’ll all be winners!

Just Give Me The Darn Thing!

November 28, 2008

If you’ve got something worthwhile of my time then let me read it, but don’t make me jumps through hoops to get it. Why do I have to register with your site first to get it?

ask yourself the following:

If I don’t register with you…
I’ll never know how great what you’ve written is, you had your chance but you lost it, I won’t be back.

If I register with you…
but it’s not up to scratch, sending me emails isn’t going to make any difference, your emails are just annoying me and have been relegated to my spam folder, I won’t be back.

If it’s just sitting there in the open and if it’s good!
I’ll pass it on to others and recommend they do the same, so in turn spreading the word about you.

If it’s good & I’m interested…
you don’t have to email me to remind me, I’ll be back anyway, as I want to hear more, plus I’ll probably want you to have my contact details.

So, say something worthwhile & I’ll make the decision to listen & contact you, not you.

Marketing or Publicity?

October 2, 2008

Well, basically it depends how much you want to spend… simply put you pay for marketing, while publicity is free! well free as far as you don’t give anyone any money, but of course it doesn’t just happen on it’s own, you’ve got to invest the time & effort, but it’s probably more fruitful than blanket marketing & advertising.

Invest your time building a dialogue with your audience, leverage social media sites & the web 2.0 revolution, find out what it is they want and give it to them. Don’t waste you time developing products then spend the rest of your time looking for an audience, invest your time in building your audience base, build a rapport with them, then develop products and services they want, stuff they will wax lyrical about to everyone else, thus in turn increasing your market share and exposure.

These early adopters become your publicity channel, continue creating products they want and they will continue spreading the message, focus on them, not the wider market, as they’re do your marketing for you, for free!