Some more rambling thoughts…..

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1. PaaS – Platform as a Service. Now, I have become very interested (some may say obsessed) with the idea of the “cloud”. Its so elegant yet so simple. Store everything in the cloud i.e. online. I do this already with gmail, ical, google docs, wikis, Sales Force, book marks.

Its the idea that I don’t need to be at “my computer” to access all my information. I don’t need to carry around a USB stick, I just sent it to my gmail account. I can access my bookmarks via a bookmarking service like Delicious. I can access these bookmarks from any computer in any location. It is the same with google docs – any document that I make on google docs is available online. Google & delicious has become my computer, hence its so attractive.

This has spawned the idea of software as a service (SaaS) – you dont need to install any software on your computer. You just access it online. It’s the whole idea of Mailout, an application I support. You can access this email platform online, upload your database, push out emails from any computer. I use sales force for the same reason – all my business contacts, leads, virtually an entire CRM system is online in the cloud. Accessible when I want.

Now platform as a service I just came across today. I signed up to Force.com, an extension of salesforce.com. Its basically a platform from which I can build apps for my business. I can utilise existing apps, customise existing ones, or just create new ones. Its hard to describe but you can virtually create anything and its 5 times faster building an app on this platform than without one.

I love this idea. It’s like igoogle or even wordpress. The widgets are out there, I just plug them in or I can create them. PaaS and SaaS is just a smart business move. I save on the infrastructure, installation, running and customer service costs. The biggest impediments to these services are:

- Investment into existing infrastructure: If I have already spent several million dollars on servers and software, do i have an incentive to switch to the cloud? These are sunk costs which cannot be recovered.

- Security concerns: CIO’s and management are understandly terrified of having their information in the cloud. it presents a new security risk. Information could be more readily breached by external parties, because it is not restricted to people phyically present in the building.

- Uptime: its hard to put a guarantee on uptime (i.e the amount of time that the service is running and not down).

2. Conversations eventually move to email – where the heck is Wave?

Recently, a friend of mine posted a status update on facebook. Then I responded to her status update. However, I wanted to talk to her privately so I direct messaged her on facebook and we started talking using that format. She then emailed my gmail account. However, since I was at work I wanted to use my work email – it just made it easier to consolidate the conversation in one place and keep it going

This happened with other peopel as well. We start talking over facebook email or twitter direct message, but if we want to maintain the conversation, it has to go to email. It is just more convenient, i can write longer message and I can search and go back. I don’t always want to have public convo’s or perhaps I want to send an attachment.

What I find interesting is that if someone wants to talk to me, the conversation will eventually move to email.

That is why I cannot wait for Google Wave to arrive. Something that allows for me to converge my social networks and email together.

You can also see that Facebook’s strategy is starting to move away from a gated community. Facebook connect is great little login tool for other websites. You don’t need to sign up to another website, you just use your existing login details. But this is a post for another time.

3. Mobile Banking - I can’t wait for this to become mainstream. On Monday, I had dinner with a few people and I paid for someone as they didn’t have enough cash on them. The next day they transferred the money to my bank account. Another situation occured, where I sold a friend an entertainment book but they didn’t have enough money so they transferred the money later that day.

What would have been awesome is some kind of payment system for banking to occur on the spot. This is where mobile banking can come in. If we are at the dinner table and someone owes you money, they could transfer the money over their mobiles. Now mobile banking does exists via apps on iphone or simply logging in to your bank account on your internet enabled phone. However, it is not seen as secure nor is it widely adopted. Its actually been available for around 2 years, but hardly anyone uses it  - only early adopters.

This is better than smart cards with stored value. Having a phone which can transfer money would enable micropayments to be made. Pay your friend $20 for movie ticket, or $5 for buying you a beer, or split the bill and pay them $40 for a meal. A daugher ask her father for $100 to go shopping. Instead of reaching into his wallet for cash he can zap her the money via his mobile.

Studies show that if you lose your wallet, on average it takes around 2 hours for you to realise. If you lose your phone it takes 20mins for you to realise it is lost. And for those that say its not safe to do phone banking – people said the same thing when credit cards and ATM’s were introduced. It just needs wider acceptance and adoption – and this will occur over time. We are living in a cashless society and this will eventually become the norm.

4. Digital Radio is here but not widely adopted

I spoke to Daniel about this a few months ago and it has piqued my interest again as a contact of mine has started selling digital radios. It will be like digital TV. The signal will be clearer than analogue. Ability to go back and replay the broadcast. Essentially you need, a digital radio to be able to get the signal. You can also listen to radio stations overseas. Also, digital radio will have information that is broadcast with the sound – words, pictures, links, etc… Its a more interactive version of radio.

The radio sets aren’t cheap – they retail for about $280+ and none of them look particularly visually appealing. At the moment, its more for early adopters. This stuff is standard in Europe though.

It actually only went live in May 2009, so watch this space.

5. The possible uses of social media on B2B relationships: This is somethign I will explore in another post. TBC.

I’m out like software on your computer,

Matt

MC Hammer is driving incredible traffic to my blog

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mc-hammer-post1

Blog Stats in the last 14 days

What is going on with my blog traffic ? I had 158 hits today and I’m averaging close to 130 hits a day in the last 5 days. And its all coming from the following search terms:

  • mc hammer
  • mc hammer pants
  • m c hammer
  • mc hammer cant touch this
  • balloon pants

Obviously there is something going on with MC Hammer. I normally get like 10 – 50 hits a day, averaging like 30 hits daily. I’ve hit on something which I need to investigate. My most popular blog post is “MC Yammer: can’t touch this” with 500+ hits. It was actually was about Yammer, a software as a service that we use at work. It’s not about MC Hammer, though I saw the marketing connection with the name Yammer/Hammer. I started calling myself MC Yammer at work as a joke. I also posted up a lot of pictures of MC Hammer.

It’s clear to me that a) MC Hammer is a popular search term and b) My blog is getting a lot of traffic from using that keyword tag and c) MC Hammer must be back!!!!!!!!

MC Hammer & Dancejam

If you didn’t know already (Australian readers probably don’t), MC Hammer has a popular social networking site called dancejam. I first heard about it through Tech Crunch, because Michael Arrington the editor is one of the investors and he blogged about it.

Dancejam reminds me of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) meets Youtube. People post up videos about  dancing, lessons, and their latest moves. it’s categorised into different styles for breaking, salsa, etc.. But the coolest feature is the dance off tournament style videos. MC Hammer chooses a style (e.g. popping, a style of breakdancing) and people face off against each other and users vote for the best. Its elimination style, so the winners proceed to the next round and eventually a winner is found.

I have to admit I don’t know any more about this website and will have to look into it. It’s clear to me that dance must also be huge now because of SYTYCD. It’s brought dance back into the mainstream and pique a lot of people’s interest. If you want to know more about the history of dancejam, read this. MC Hammer is also a huge star on twitter and uses it to tweet about latest videos and tournaments. He’s got 144,000 followers on twitter and clearly is one of the most popular tweeters out there. I think only Obama, Stephen Fry, and Chris Brogan have more followers.

I’m out like balloon pants!

Matthew Ho aka MC Yammer

Projections for ’09: A good year?

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After completing the lengthy 2008 post,  I’m going to write briefly about 2009 so far and what I hope to do.

From a professional perspective:

- Work more with websites. I would like to work with Umbraco, Sitecore, Reddot, Fatwire etc.., which are open source content management systems. More like finding out what the client wants, developing a strategy and design, managing the build and overseeing the process.

- Online Display Advertising – I’ve very keen to look at stuff like banner ads, learn about adblaster, open ex ad serving and the like.

- Become involved with social media. I would like to experiment with online marketing campaigns involving social media. I haven’t done any yet, but I am eager to do a viral campaigns using Youtube, social bookmarking, etc….I’m really into social media from a personal perspective because its interesting. However,  it’s hard to see how it can be monetised & the commerical appeal – there’s no real formula.

- I’ve started up a work basketball team @ Alexandria. Unfortunately, I’ve sprained my ankle but hope to be back soon. It’s the first sports team @ Next Digital, Sydney so should be an interesting ride.

- I’m attending a few events in the next month or so:

I would like to attend events,  every now and then to hear industry thoughts, meet people, etc…The event that I really want to attend is Wiki Wednesdays if they ever hold it again. Its for people that are involved in wikipedia’s which leads to……..

- Working on a wiki using Confluence. Its my pride and joy at the moment, and I’m currently the residential expert. I hope to evangelise a wiki culture into our business and show others how to use it. It was my suggestion back in October when I posted about it on my internal work blog, and it slowly coming to fruition.

- continue to find out more about folksonomies, search engines, cloud computing (my favourite topic area at the moment), and RSS.

- I currently have an allocation of work time to study search engines and I will be going for the Google Advertising Professional Exam.

- I hope to find a mentor at work or outside of work.

From a personal perspective

- I would like to do some travelling this year around Australia. I’ve seen so much of the world (Europe, states, Asia, etc.) but I’ve never seen Ayers Rock, WA, Great Barrier Reef, etc… This year I will tick one of them off my list.

- International travel – if not this year then the next. I just had a look at tickets to South America, maybe somewhere like Brazil or Peru would be cool.

- Get my own car & move out!! These two things have long been overdue. They both will be done (or a least one!) by the end of the year.

- I would like to sign up for this local mentoring service. I saw a notice at the library asking for mentors, and I feel like I could help someone. I also believe that I should do some volunteer work if I can find the time (there always is time, I just can’t find it :P)

- Fix up this website and get a proper website. It’s ok having a stock standard blog, but I would like to upgrade the website.

- Sign up for a gym – something I’ve also been meaning to do. I have the form on my desk and was about to complete it, but then my ankle injury hit.

I’m out like moving out,

Matt

Guy Kawasaki on Twitter

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One of the social media guru’s on Twitter – saw it on the Brightkit blog.

Also, are you looking at starting up a blog? Or already have one and re-evaluating your blogging platform? Check out this guide from problogger.

And this is the craziest thing I have seen all day, wait…. for a while. Geeks getting tatts of Mac’s, RSS, Zelda and HTML Code.

I’m out like getting a tattoo of HTML code,

Matthew Ho.

Seven Commerical Uses of Twitter

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I’ve been on Twitter for more than a minute now. I signed up around May 08, but didn’t use it much. I posted up a few updates and couldn’t see the value of it. However, I decided to give it another try this week and I’ve been hooked.

I posted previously about Twitter and how my company uses Yammer, a Twitter spin-off. Basically, Twitter allows you to text 140 characters about what you are doing. To be honest with you, when I found this out I thought it had really little value.

However, in the past week I’ve used it for different purposes and this is where I see Twitter as having value:

1. News Service

I decided to follow a couple of news services just to try it out. So I followed @Digg_2000 for stories with more than 2000 diggs and @NYTimes, so I’m getting constant updates about the major news stories. There’s also a couple of other social media gurus out there, like @guykawasaki, @joywayng (Jeremiah Wang of Forrester research & author of Groundswell).  I get to hear their constant thoughts, articles they want to share interesting people & companies that they are meeting (more on this later).

Another pertinent example was highlighted this week. By now, you’ve heard about the plane crash in the Hudson River caused by flock of birds. The first place this was reported was Twitter & the pics were on Twitpic.  Janis Krums, who was on a ferry going to the rescue of the plane wrote:

There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy“.

Twitter was updating furiously with news like this about the Hudson plane crash. I went to the Twitter search engine and looked up “plane crash” and every few seconds someone was saying something about it. It  gives you an ear to the ground.

Due to the availability of the internet on phones, people can immediately micro-blog on their phones and post to the internet via applications like Twitter and post the pics. Twitter allows citizen journalism, for ordinary people to report on stuff straight away and for it to be spread like a viral message.

2. Customer Service

Telecomms

I noticed from reading a couple of blogs, that @Comcastcares was using Twitter to respond to customer complaints. Twitter can be used as a public forum, and if you use it to complain about service or product, and if you have enough followers, you could be quite damaging to their brand.

So in a wise move, companies like @Comcast, @BigPondTeam, etc… are using it to get in touch with people that are bitching about their service. They get in touch with you and DM (direct message) you, to find out how they can help.

Atlassian – Confluence Wiki

I have experienced this from a different angle by praising a product. I posted the following:

inspiredworlds is building a wiki on confluence (Atlassian product). It’s so easy to use!

Then two people posted a response. One of them was @mattnhodges, in their customer service or marketing team, who previously has sent me an autoresponse email about the Wiki when I was evaluating the product and after I purchased it. Through Twitter, I’ve been able to ask questions and get responses and useful links. Another person associated with Atlassian, also posted a response and when they wrote a response to another customer about a sharepoint extender, and I got some useful info there as well.

Docstoc v Slideshare

During the week, I have been evaluating two websites for sharing documents. So I posted a general question: “Docstoc v SlideShare, which is better?“.

To my amazement, the next day when I logged in, @Serena from Docstoc had responded with “docstoc of course. DM me if you want tips about how to optimise your use”. That’s incredible customer service. Admittedly, I decided to go with Slideshare, even though it crashed a few times during the week, but at least I had that option and it made me more curious to check out Docstoc.

Monitoring how brands use it

To monitor this customer service usage, I have decided to follow a number of other brands to see how they will use it, and will post about that experience. I imagine its easier now for customer service, because they are not that many people on Twitter. But imagine if the whole Facebook crowd decided to join twitter, how much noise, clutter and compliants will be on Twitter?

However, I believe that Twitter does attract a certain type of person – someone that wants to be heard, slightly ahead of the adoption curve, tech – savvy, that can influence others. So that is why companies are providing quick responses on Twitter.

3. Brand building / Marketing

A lot of brands are on Twitter. I like that, because I get to follow my favourite brands and apps and find out what’s happening. For example, I’m a huge Chicago bulls fan, and @chicagobulls will post updates during the games and their thoughts:

Duncan is clogging the middle but the Bulls are hitting shots. Hanging in 36-33 in the second.”

I’ve also signed up to hear updates from @Wordpress, @Googlereader, @shareaholic, @yammer_team, @blogger. I like these products and brands, and I want to hear from them. In a sense, I’m giving them permission to enter my world. I don’t just follow anyone, I’m quite picky because otherwise you get too much clutter.

These brands have reciprocated by adding me as their “friend” by following me. So they are interested in what I have to say – perhaps to provide better customer service (as noted above). For example, during the week I posted how “It’s official, I’m a shareaholic“, and in response @shareaholic posted on their tweets:

@inspiredworlds Welcome!

Consequently, I’ve posted in reply that they should add Yammer as one of their new features. And then the @Yammer_team added me. How cool is that? Obviously, these guys are paying attention to what is been said about them.

I believe this is an area where brands can use twitter – to hear what customers are saying about them and to also build up the brand and stay in constant contact with their customers. How cool is that when a brand mentions you in their tweets? Admittedly, the novelty factor does wear off. It’s allowing me to be closer to my favourite brands.

One problem is “twitter squatting”. Some cunning people have snatched up some valuable online real estate. For example @jetstar is not jetstar. I don’t even know if @chicagobulls is even the real thing. So there’s no way to know, just have to look at the page, check their links, number of followers, and make an assessment.

4. Professional Networking

I’m relatively new in digital marketing with only 8 months experience in the industry. So it’s important for me to network with people and meet the who’s who of the industry. I can go through people’s lists and add anyone I would like to know and generally they reciprocate and add me. It’s not as intimate as facebook where they get to see all your personal info and pics. All you are getting in twitter is 140 character updates.

So I’ve added in a couple of the big names in the industry overseas, as well as people locally that I meet.  People also have “tweetups”, where they have real meetings with people in twitter. I mean, even speakers from the Future of Digital forum I attended, I’ve added them in Twitter. You can add someone in twitter and when you meet them, you can say “I know you from twitter!”.

5. Find out trends & buzz

I’ve covered this off above. If you want to hear what people are thinking about, just use twitter search. You will get live updates about what people think about brands, what’s being discussed out there.

6. Thought Leadership

As mentioned above, I’ve tapped into some of the key minds in the industry. And they also share a lot of useful links, which I’ve then read and commented on. They also talk about people they have met in the industry, company meetings they are going to, trends they can see and so on.

7. Microblogging

Twitter is so easy to use and update. This post I am writing now, has taken at least an hour. In between finding the links, going back through my emails and twitter updates. Microblogging is blogging in small lines of text, perhaps one or two lines. You  don’t have to think too much when you twitter because you are concentrating on writing just one line. And you can update it again a few seconds or minutes later.

It could possibly over take blogging. Evhead, the CEO of twitter who previously sold Blogger to Google wrote about it on his blog. Twitter gives you smaller bite sized pieces to snack on and feeds our voracious hunger for constant updates.

Other thoughts on Twitter

I believe that the use of Twitter will continue to grow as it offers a differnet purpose to facebook and has commercial value as noted above.

With the advent of aggregator services like Shareaholic, Fring, Xummi, Friendfeed, it allows you to manage multiple social network services at the same time like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Digg, Delicious. So belonging to multiple networks is possible and will grow in popularity.

Their are also a couple of innovations out there like Brightkit, which allow multiple people to “tweet” under one account, manage multiple accounts and to time your updates. I thought there was no way @guykawasaki could be pumping out so many updates throughout the day, but they must prerecord them and have several people tweeting all the time. Brightkit is free now to manage one account, but charges for multiple accounts.

I’ve also come across Ginx, which Pierre Omidyar the ebay founder has started. It allows you to share links, and then share comments about it, with the twitter page taking up the top part of the page. It’s eerily similar to sharing facebook comments about a shared link, where the option to comment is just above the page or even like Digg.

One of the biggest problems I have with social networking is the multiple logins and passwords you have to remember. Concepts like OpenID (having one identification) for all websites will allow one login for all.

Twitter will not replace Facebook, but it takes one of its most popular features the status updates and builds on that. Status updates combined with tiny URL’s, will allows for greater sharing and social bookmarking. Along with the popularity of internet on mobiles, instant messaging, the time is ripe for Twitter.

I’m out like the era before Twitter,

Matthew Ho.

[Updated: Dave from BrightKit - Thanks very much for including BrighKit in your article.  One thing.  We don't charge for multiple accounts.  BrightKit is entirely free right now while it's in public beta.  If you wouldn't mind changing that, we'd greatly appreciate it.  Thanks!]

Slideshare test

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I’m testing docstoc v slideshare at the moment, and whether they can be posted to blogs.

Both these applications are social media platforms for sharing documents. Basically, like Youtube for documents. Docstoc is geared more towards professionals, whereas slideshare is more towards general powerpoint slide sharing. Docstoc contains legal precedents, business agreements, presentations. Slideshare contains slides on just about anything. Both platforms allow you to post up .ppt, .pdf, word, etc..

So here goes my test for embedding slideshare:

Update: It works. So you can embed, you just have to do it slightly differently. Follow these instructions and click on the words “customize” to get a special wordpress HTML code.

Docstoc looks like a different beast. I’ll have to figure out how to embed that. This guy could do it. I think its a security issue, that’s why you can’t embed stuff and you need special wordpress code.

My first customised digg result: Building a blog cheatsheet

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I mentioned previously that I had subscribed to the Digg’s RSS feeds. I now get updates on my twitter account by the minute and also in my Google reader account. The other interesting RSS feed i subscribed to was a customised search on “social media”. The purpose was to find out what people were “digging” or recommending as interesting social media websites.

Initially I was quite disappointed, because nothing came in over several days. I kept checking back into my Google reader account and there was nothing. However, this result came in and its a beauty. It’s about how to find the top blogs and the top posts within those blogs. Then on a systematic basis, you only subscribe to those top posts. Basically, it a social media cheat sheet.

It’s looks incredibly useful. I probably do some of the steps in trawling for new blogs and adding the feeds, but this directs you to the top posts within those blogs. I also probably haven’t fully exploited the usage of social bookmarking and readers.

I’m out like blog cheat sheets,

Matthew Ho.

It’s Official – I’m a shareaholic

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You’ve probably seen that I’ve been sharing a lot of stuff lately over Facebook. I’ve also been sharing items through Twitter, Delicious and Google reader. The problem I had was that these were all separate accounts located on different websites, so you had to log in everytime. I was looking for a Delicious plugin for my browser, but I discovered something much greater…..

There’s a firefox plugin called “Shareaholic“, which has made sharing a whole lot easier. It gives you this little green icon on your browser, and from the drop down menu you can select which sources you want to share it on (like twitter, facebook, etc…).

Shareaholic

Shareaholic

Its an ingenious application, which is only made possible through Mozilla open source for firefox, the various API’s (application programming interface), and the hardwork of developers. So I’m giving something back to these guys by giving them a shoutout!

Great work! Try it out here.

I’m out like Shareaholics,

Matthew Ho.

www.inspiredworlds.wordpress.com