The grandfather of my fiancé, Antoine Clarke, was a famous French writer known simply as Exbrayat. He invented the genre of the humorous detective novel and wrote more than 100 books (plus several plays and films), on which his first name, Charles, never appeared. You can read more about him here, at the Exbrayat blog that Antoine and I set up yesterday.
We hope the blog will be something very special for Exbrayat’s fans. We will be adding more never before published family photographs, podcasts, and other goodies for fans as time permits. For Antoine’s mother, who has always been very publicity shy and has refused all interview requests, it’s a genuine case of blogging and social media as DIY PR - actually conversing with the public, bypassing the traditional media owned by others in order to speak directly with the people who really count, on a platform owned by the family. The network that nobody owns is a million times more valuable and useful to the family than any other.
May 5th would have been Exbrayat’s 100th birthday, and we’ll all be heading to France soon for the various Exbrayat centenary celebrations in that country. Antoine and I will be taking photos there for the blog, as well as noting the family’s observations on the events in France. And yes, we’ll be doing it in English.
This morning I found an email from Dennis Howlett whom I finally got to meet at Les Blogs 2.0 last month, recommending something called goowy as a new email client. The invitation was to set up an account and then let him know what I think. I like Dennis and know he gets involved in interesting ventures, and the way the invite was worded I thought he was somehow involved in this project. Also, as it was an early morning email-check (having gone to be at 3am the night before), I wasn’t thinking about matters too much and proceeded with setting up the email to test it.
First of all, it’s built in Flash, which is pretty but a bit of an overkill to say the least. But perhaps mainstream users like a graphically designed interface, so be it. Not everybody has to be a fan of gmail style simplicity. I moved on.
Secondly, when you sign up, you get to import all your contacts from your main email client. I use gmail and the import was smooth and effortless. Too effortless in fact, as I was clicking through the steps, there was a line at the bottom of the (visible) screen with a box checked, which only flashed before my eyes, as I was clicking ‘continue’. It said ‘send invitation to goowy to your contacts’ or words to that effect. With horror I watched as responses (mostly out of office replies) started piling in into my new shiny inbox. You may say that I should have been more careful about proceeding to the next stage in the set up but you’d be wrong. I was setting up a simple email client, which is something I do all the time, when testing various new applications coming out of the blogosphere.
This is the real killer and the message is - You. Do. NOT. Check. Anything. Intrusive. By. Default. For. The. User!!! I am now incredibly pissed off at goowy for effectively spamming all my contacts. I did send an unhappy email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I know I’ll be watching the fallout from this with growing unease. David appeared on my IM asking about goowy already as he received invitations from two of his contacts. He commiserated while I was fuming, offering the opinion that they don’t deserve to stay in business… And in true blogosphere fashion, he already blogged about it. I second that and may you burn in spam hell, goowy.
And now, what do I do? Send a link to this post to all my contacts? Groan.
cross-posted from Media Influencer
I have been travelling in the US for the last week or so. It has been an interesting time for me as the experience of talking to people in America about what I do is vastly different from doing the same in the UK. To sum up, in the US people tend to first make an effort to understand what I am talking about, then ask how much? and how would you go about it technically? and what’s next? In the UK, it’s more like, hm, that’s fascinating, but… and start coming up with reasons why it’s not going to work or pointing out (correctly) that it’s going to be difficult to get paid for it.
When I set up the Big Blog Company, with Perry and David, I knew that the UK was way behind but saw it as potentially a lot more sophisticated market. With the experience of the last two years of banging the head against the wall and then going to the US, I expect to fall flat on my face any moment, as there is no wall. Go figure.
Yes, things are moving in the UK but, God, could they have been a lot further, if not for the resistance (relative to the US) to new approaches and lack of willingness to pay for knowledge. The Brits are scroungers when it comes to paying for expertise, they like to get things for free under the guise of deciding whether to buy or not. I wonder whether this is why decision making process takes six times longer than anywhere else in the developed world.
I am writing this in the States, about to get on the plane and by the time I get back, I’ll probably eat my own words. I know that there is much creativity in the UK and interesting things are and will be happening in my area of expertise. And the UK is where I have spent two years trying to get things moving, not only for blogging but for its wider applications. It would be rewarding to start seeing some serious impact.
As you may have read elsewhere, I accepted an offer this week to join Latitude, the world’s largest and most successful search engine marketing company, as their head of marketing.
It is not the case, though, that I left the Big Blog Company for Latitude. In fact, I told Perry and Adriana about a month ago that I felt the time had come for me to move on from our shared mission of teaching companies how to converse with their customers, potential customers, and industry peers. (Actually, we were doing a lot more than just that, but for brevity’s sake, I won’t detail every single way in which we’ve been trying to change the world.)
I have been itching to do something that would let me affect the big picture of which blogging is only one very integral part. I had no idea what that something would be, but I knew I had to try to find it. But it found me, in the form of the offer from Latitude, within a very short time of my decision to leave full-time work with tBBC. (To those who were horrified when I replied, “I don’t know” when you asked me what I was going to do next, and who thought I was insane not to have a ten year plan or whatever other rigid schemes you think people need in order to live well: The way this is working out is a good example of what we at tBBC refer to as the benefits of the emergent.)
But as I have written previously, I wouldn’t have the expertise to do what I’ll be doing at Latitude if I had not spent the last year soaking in tBBC. Most businesses pay lip service to ‘company values,’ but it’s no exaggeration to say that the values I cultivated thanks to Adriana and Perry (and our good friends like Alan Moore at SMLXL) are ones over which I’ve become obsessive in my wish to honour. Engagement not interruption. Pull not push. Individuals not ‘consumers’. Value for value. The benefit of the emergent. Your behaviour is your brand. Sneer at the Cluetrain purity of it all, but don’t doubt our sincerity. All of us from tBBC, and the people we gravitate to (and who gravitate to us), are individuals who do not like to be pushed around, who reject attempts to control our behaviour, and who resent few things more than a company that thinks it can get money out of us by pushing us around and attempting to control our behaviour.
Those are the values I’m taking to Latitude, and which will be core to my efforts there. The opportunity to bring those values to an established, highly successful company that is surrounded by the stalwarts of traditional, intrusive, push marketing is very exciting to me. Just as tBBC has been instrumental in me landing such a great gig, I hope to be instrumental in making the mentality of marketing in the UK (and beyond - if that’s not too much to hope for) one that is much more receptive to the values I learned with tBBC.
And when I say tBBC, I mean Adriana and Perry, the two people with whom I have been immersed in this stuff for at least three thousand hours over the past year. After logging that kind of time, there’s no way I can completely extract myself from what they are trying to do. Plus, we’re still friends and I still talk to Adriana on pretty much a daily basis. So you’ll probably continue to spot the occasional post from me on this blog.
So thanks, Adriana and Perry, for changing my life. Not only do I now know exactly what I want to accomplish in life, but I also have a finer appreciation for the humble hippo than I did before I met you. I could not pay you a higher compliment if I tried.
On January 4th 2005, BT installed wiring inside our house to accommodate a new line that will only cart ADSL directly from EasyNet’s gear at the Guildford exchange. Since easynet is providing everything on this line, BT is only responsible for the actual copper connection from the exchange to our house.
To date, the wiring terminates at the curb, waiting for the wires to be connected (via underground cabling) to the new wiring at the house. A distance of no more than 15 meters.
This is where everything has broken down. For whatever reason, the paperwork after the inside wiring was completed, didn’t make it to the next step, which is a ‘surveyor’ who would connect the last 15 meters. The job was closed in error and no one knows how to get BT to complete this final step, which is clearly their mistake and every BT engineer who has come to the house admits this freely.
As someone who lives and does business online, I have total sympathy for Adam and if anyone reading this has any ideas or suggestions, feel free to make them. The commenters on Adam’s blog suggest taking the complaint as high as possible making lives of the BT and/or Easynet people a misery until they sort it out. There is an edge of desperation in these words and I hope the matter will get sorted soon.
The entire service, copper wires and all, is a business installation, and I am paying business prices. I put both British Telecom and EasyNet at fault for this clusterfuck. It is damaging my business and I won’t stand for it any longer.
I am at my wits end, and will accept anyone’s help, even if it literally means busting open the wiring box at the curb to complete the last connection myself.
Good luck and show’em!
Update: Hm, he is planning to do just that: ...now I’m recording all calls and will be airing them in the Source Code, starting today.
Last night I arrived in Los Angeles. Yes, I am here because of blogs and blogs will be the flavour of the day. It is a quick visit - I am leaving on Thursday - but I hope to meet some interesting people. Will keep you posted. The only hint is that the journalist bootcamp scheduled for tomorrow in London is not the only one the Big Blog Company will be doing that day. Oops, gave it away, didn’t I?
To all those who read our blog and to all those whose news readers we clutter:
A few years ago, I worked as the website editor for a company whose customers were HR departments and their expat employees. One of the value-added aspects of our offering was regularly updated, relevant news on the issues that mattered to HR professionals and to globally mobile workers.
In order to get hold of this news, our company had a monthly subscription to Lexis-Nexis. We started off with a discounted rate of £1200 per month, and after a year we were paying £2000 a month.
Now, Lexis-Nexis is a great resource for many companies - if you can take advantage of enough of its offering to justify the cost. All we were after was the latest news that was relevant to our target audiences; we had no use for the years of newspaper archives or the public records access or any of that. The management consultancy and marketing ‘experts’ who were calling the shots thought that this was good value for money.
I’ll leave that discussion for another time, but last night it struck me just how much money we would have saved if the blogosphere had been thriving back then. I would have been spoilt for choice when it came to news for either of those audiences. Is Lexis-Nexis happy about the proliferation of blogs and the boom in that vast network of free news and other resources, or are they taking a music industry-style If the world is allowed to change, we might also be forced to change with it - and that we cannot have approach? I don’t know, but if enough companies have caught on to the fact that there are better uses for their budgets than buying news from Lexis-Nexis, I will be watching the evolution of their business very closely over the coming years. (Yes, years: They offer enough value that I think they’re in for the long haul. But I anticipate some kind of business model alteration in response to recent developments.)