I take back what I said…

The MySpace community is alive and well.

Under this clip (which really is the ultimate in nerdism)

I spotted this comment:

wow
some one shuld have checked some numbers before making something like this, (un less its was made just for kicks and giggles) beccause from what i know a star destroyer can take on practily the entire fedration fleet at once sence the empire has terrawatt output weapons, need less to say the enterprise can dispurse 3311 GW of energythrough its shields max.
but hey i like star trek and starwars, i watch startrek ever day, but it never compare to star wars greatness

I don’t think I need to say anything else.

My Favourite Company

Specialbike is a company in Brighton that takes old bikes and turns them into new bikes. Kind of like ‘Pimp My Cycle’ (the bike above used to be a knackered old Peugeot racer).

You can tell them exactly what you want your dream bike to be like and give them a budget. Then you can pick the colour and type of finish as well as specifiy individual bits and bobs.

It’s just a really nice idea. You bring life back to an old bike as well as getting something completely and utterly unique. Their site also expresses a really nice tone of voice.

I’m going to go and see them on Saturday. I’m dead excited. I’l let you know how I get on.

Have a look at their work.

Is YouTube Really a Community?

I’ve often argued that one of the things that ‘makes’ YouTube is its community. But I’ve just been looking at the comments around one particular clip and wondering just what kind of community it is.

It’s less like a close-knit rural community with a sense of pride and an annual entry into the ‘Best Kept Village’ competition, and more like a run down inner-city estate where people are happy to drop litter and mainly stand around on corners shouting abuse at people. Where rather than feeling compelled to do the right thing out of a sense of civic responsibility the justice is doled out by deleting comments and banning (the online equivalent of ASBOs).

Here’s my evidence:

Here’s a recut version of a scene from Monty Python with Darth Vader dubbed into it. Add some light sabres and you’re pretty much guaranteed to flick all of the buttons going in geek culture (it’s had 950,000 views so it’s doing something right). Those views have generated just under 800 comments so far.

And here’s a selection of the comments under the clip:

There’s a load of posts trying to get people to spread spam all over YouTube by re-posting a junk message, then tricking suckers into closing down their browser by pressing a certain key-combo:

its not a chain letter! its kinda scary at first but it really works!! paste this message into 3 comments and press ALT F4 and your crushes name will appear on the screen!!! its soo wierd

Here’s a lovely piece of ascii art that two people (or one person with two IDs) have posted in quick succession to show their appreciation for the clip:

Then aside from that the comments are all just banal:

fuckin funny vader voiceovers

Or people just mouthing off using a kind of sub-English language:

wow, i could never have thought of a worse way to destroy two perfectly good series. Good job, freaking idiot.

u destroied the movie u mother fucker

And there’s plenty of people asking how it was done:

i lovwe it so much but how do you make it so realistake with the lightsaber

But the thing is, even when someone is making a semi-serious point or asking a question nothing ever turns into a conversation. It’s all just people lobbing rocks into a bottomless pit. Maybe that is a kind of community. But, given the lack of social interaction that’s going on I wonder how important some of this is for the YouTube experience. Certainly the actions of the wider community in terms of rating, view counts, etc. are important for floating good content to the surface. But does this high noise, low signal, chatter actually help anything?

It’s a tough one. Once the ‘rot’ has set it and the comments are just full or rubbish, it’s difficult to attract quality comments (personally I’d be scared of some 12 year old ripping me apart with his superior spelling and mastery of homophobic slander). But at the same time the ability to comment like this is obviously fulfilling some kind of function for a chunk of the audience.

I don’t hate advertising. I just like digital better.

Well I finally did it. I finished my list of “10 Reasons that Digital is Better than Advertising“. Which is a personal triumph. It’s the longest sustained thought of my blog so far. Even longer than my ranting about Virgin Media!

Even thought it’s a bit of a personal victory to finish this, I feel a bit like I’ve failed. One of the things I actively didn’t want to happen is that people felt I’ve got something against advertising . I don’t. But someone asked me at lunch the other day why I hate advertising so much. Therefore I didn’t make my point properly. I suppose it was an obvious failing in my titling, although I did try to point out in the intro that this was only for effect.

My lunch companion pointed out rightly that we’re all just doing the same kind of stuff. Basically doing things for brands to make people like them more. Which is very true.

So before the top 10 recap, let’s just be clear: I don’t hate advertising. I just prefer working in digital. And here are 10 reasons why:

  1. You don’t have to do advertising
  2. You can just do stuff
  3. Because you can ‘just do it’ a spirit of entrepreneurialism prevails
  4. Egos are marginally smaller
  5. TV isn’t all that good
  6. Maybe there’s less to lose?
  7. You don’t have to work somewhere with 5 old blokes’ names above the door
  8. Online Audiences
  9. I secretly want to be an inventor
  10. Working with a bunch of people who ‘get it’

Amen.

10 Reasons Why Digital is Better Than Advertising – Number 10

Of course there are brilliant people in advertising who ‘get it’ too. And blatantly you don’t have to be a web-obsessed geek to come up with interesting interactive ideas. But naturally it becomes easier to consider this world if you spend some time in it. So, at the very least, you understand a few of its basic rules.

It helps to appreciate what makes a great game. Or be able to feel the difference between a good application and a lousy one. To understand how important online relationships are to people. To have lived a day in Second Life before recommending it as the solution to a problem. To be a user who generates content and not a marketeer who just hypothesises about it. The list goes on…

I read an interesting quote recently, I forget where. But the point was that almost anyone could have a go at coming up with TV advertising ideas – we’ve all sat through so many commercials in our lives the techniques and language of TV ads are part of mainstream culture (I’ve got no doubt at all that they’d be second rate rubbish, but there’s something in the thought).

On the flipside, your average teenager with MySpace/Bebo/Facebook pages is way more qualified to come up with ideas around social networks than most boardrooms full of marketeers.

I think you get the point.

From what I can see, lots of the people who really live and love this stuff have taken refuge in small digital agencies. They wouldn’t survive in a place where their Internet access was subject to WPP Group firewalls (although they’d probably hack a way around it). They need to be allowed to run instant messenger and install applications on their own machines. They’re also more comfortable knowing that they can survive being just a little bit nerdy and their obscure cybercultural references will be understood by most people, not just the IT work experience guy.

Of course this will change, and I’ve got no idea where the talented young creatives who’ve lived their whole lives with this stuff will gravitate towards over the next few years. I’m guessing they’ll head for the places where they feel understood and the places with the best opportunities. Who knows whether these will be the same places?

If you’re excited by the possibilities of digital, there’s nothing like having a team around you who are all connected, online people. People who share an enjoyment of constant change and upheaval instead of fearing it.

Digital is fun.

10 Reasons Why Digital is Better Than Advertising – Number 9

[Sorry I’ve been very rubbish at putting up these last 2 reasons – they were written, but I’ve been suffering from a semi-crippling case of uncertainty…]

If you’re ‘a creative’ you either want to write a novel or make films. If you’re a planner you want to be a writer. At least that’s what a lot of people reckon. Working in advertising (and it’s related functions) is, for most people, a great way to do things that are pretty similar to the things they really want to do (and get paid well for it at the same time). It’s a chance to live the dream of the starving artist but without the starving bit. Exercising and developing our creative brains at someone else’s expense. And always having clients to blame when the work isn’t quite up to scratch is always a handy getout ;-)

That’s not to say that clients don’t get something out of it too, or else they wouldn’t pay for agencies, would they?

Personally I enjoy writing but I’ve got no desire to be a writer. I admire people who can make great films and tell great stories, but I don’t think that’s where my passions or skills lie. I like having interesting thoughts, but writing them down into a well structured and cohesive argument that stretches over pages (let alone chapters) is something that I find incredibly daunting.

If I could be anything in the world I’d be an inventor. And it’s not just getting to work in a really cool inventing shed that appeals (although that is a big part of it).

Working in the digital space gives us the chance to play at inventors. In pretty much every brief we get there’s an opportunity to do something that’s never been done before – and that’s not just about executional technique or new ways of communicating things. It’s genuinely about making technologies or systems that enable people to do, feel and experience something new.

MP3s Out of Stock?

I love Boomkat – it’s a great niche online electronic music store. The content is great. It gives you a real sense that the guys running it are totally in love with the music. Plus the previews of tracks are long enough and they load quickly. And their service is great too.

I was browsing the store at the weekend and thought it was a little odd when I saw the above. If you look closely the MP3 on the right appears to be ‘Out Of Stock’. Can you ever sell out of MP3s? (I’m guessing that there might be a licensing issue or something maybe?!?).

Webby Awards Vote

This is a shameless attempt to sway voting in this year’s Webby Awards. But being as it’s a People’s Voice vote I guess that’s the name of the game. Everyone else seems to be doing the same.

You can vote here.

This year Poke have got 2 things in there. Zopa and American Express RED.

Anyway if you’ve got a mo (you do need to register so it’s not instant) pop over here and cast your vote for stuff you like – especailly the two sites above ;-)

Waitrose Cycle Trailers

When I saw this poster I thought. Wow that’s cool, Waitrose are doing something good.

But then my inner cynic kicked in. I started thinking: “I’m sure not many people ever take them up on the offer”. “I bet they’ve only got one”. “I bet you have to leave a massive deposit”. “It’s just a PR stunt”.

I hate my inner cynic. Does everyone have one? Or have I been soiled by working in the communications industry?