01/01/15 Tips and Tricks # , , ,

Three Simple Ways To Kickstart Your Social Media New Year Resolutions

Three Simple Ways To Kickstart Your Social Media New Year Resolutions

As the bells chime midnight, many of us kickstart our New Years Resolutions.  Some inspirational, some practical, some lame, some impossible.

Given that social media is so embedded in our lives, many of us will perhaps be thinking about resolutions that aim to curb the amount of time we spend on there, or promise to use it more effectively, or even abstain from it entirely.  I wonder how many people launched into 2015 with the cry “I’m going to delete Facebook from my phone!”.

If that’s you, here’s three ways to get started: Continue reading

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04/12/14 Blerg , Tips and Tricks # , ,

How A Wooden Alarm Clock Helped To Cure My Social Media Addiction

I bought a wooden alarm clock last week.

This might not seem like the most important piece of news that I could have shared with you, or indeed the most helpful fragment of minutiae that you would have hoped for after clicking through to this post.  But I promise you, this news is important.

When I bought my my first smartphone (after a couple of failed attempts at dumbphone cool, such as the LG Chocolate), I remember being over-excited about how much responsibility could be delegated to the device.  It was, of course, an iPhone, and there were, of course, a surplus of apps that would not only change the world on a single tap, but there were fundamentals in there too – the basic apps that would help with those annoying tasks such as finding your way around town or telling the time.  Why use other devices, or God forbid your own memory, when the smartphone could take care of it for you? Continue reading

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08/10/14 Research & Statistics

This Is Your Brain On Social Media – Distracted, Forgetful & Self-Involved

In preparing my Cult Of The Now talk a few months back, I became fascinated with the ways in which social media, and online behaviour in general, was affecting our physiology – particularly the absent-minded way in which we turn to our devices to fill the silences, and, in doing so, often consume the information equivalent of cheap fast food.

There’s are a wealth of studies on these themes, and I’ll be contributing my own thoughts to the discussion as I filter through my notes and structure them into a coherent argument.  In the meantime, let’s allow AsapSCIENCE to introduce us to some of the main ways in which our brains are evolving to compensate with the apparent demands of the modern age. Whilst it may start off pessimistic, there’s a bright spot at the end for anyone who’s found love on eHarmony (or Tinder for that matter). Continue reading

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29/09/14 Case Studies , Media , Trends # , , , , ,

How Thom Yorke and BitTorrent are changing the music business model (again)

How Thom Yorke and BitTorrent are changing the music business model (again)

A few years ago, I watched a keynote from writer and broadcaster Mark Pesce who rightly noted “the net regards censorship as a failure, and routes around it”. Although he was referencing censorship, his ‘Mob Rules’ speech essentially said that the same truth applies to so many aspects of online activity where a hierarchy ostensibly prevents fair and equitable access. Whenever walls are erected, no matter how seemingly well protected they may be, someone somewhere will find their way around them.

Cut to last week, and we find Thom Yorke once again in the news for routing around the music distribution paradigm. His latest album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, was released as a BitTorrent Bundle – a paywall twist on the torrent model (largely used for distributing illegal copies of movies, TV shows and games). The distribution method is the same one that fuelled sites such as The Pirate Bay – the difference here being that BitTorrent have introduced an option for artists to sell torrents to their fans, with added DRM protection. In Yorke’s case, this means the user pays a reasonable $6 for his new album, allowing them to download a protected torrent file that can only be shared with people who have also paid for the file. Continue reading

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28/08/14 Research & Statistics # , , , , , , , ,

Five ways to win the digital vs print debate

Five ways to win the digital vs print debate

I’m often asked how to help people justify expenditure of time and resources on digital marketing to their managers or directors, particularly those who still have a seemingly unshakeable belief in the power of felling trees and attempting to distribute pieces of paper to as many people as possible. It’s always something of a disappointing question, as I live (somewhat blissfully) in a world where we’ve moved far beyond the point where such justification feels necessary. When the world is punching you in the face with an unshakeable argument, how long can anyone reasonably hold out?

Whilst it’s common sense to most Marketing Managers, Co-ordinators and CMOs, it isn’t necessarily a given that it’s common sense to everyone in the higher echelons of a company – particularly those who have lived through a world where the opposite paradigm was the dominant one. As I’m sure many of us can attest, there remain an (albeit decreasing) number of CEOs, MDs or EDs that have worked their way into their position without necessarily rubbing shoulders too closely with their marketing colleagues.

Here’s five ways to attack the  conundrum. (In truth, your own super-duper data analysis should be lighting the way for you, right? But if you’re not spending time and money on such analysis, then consider that bonus advice thrown in for free.)

Continue reading

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26/08/14 Tips and Tricks , Trends # ,

Facebook just changed their algorithm again – and you won’t believe what happened next!

Just as everyone started to come to grips with the techniques of click baiters, and borrowing some of their tricks for themselves, Facebook has announced two significant measures that will change the way that ‘spammy’ links will be ranked in your News Feed.

You know their ilk – spam- based headlines goading you into clicking on a link, based on a promise that “you’ll never believe what happens next!” or such like. This is primarily the domain of content farms, whose business model is to lure hapless folks like ourselves to pages with little or no real value, in the (desperate) hope that we’ll stick around, look at a few ads, or click on sponsored links.

Needless to say, it’s these few bad apples that are spoiling everyone else’s fun, particularly when marketers are starting to wake up to the fact that it’s content, not hype, that will draw people towards them.

There’s two primary changes to the Facebook rank that we should be aware of, as the recent Facebook Newsroom update points out:

Continue reading

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15/08/14 Influencers , Research & Statistics # , ,

Who’s Your Audience Going To Be In The Future?

Who’s Your Audience Going To Be In The Future?

I’m a big fan of Thomas Cott‘s daily arts newsletter, You’ve Cott Mail, which takes a deep dive into topics such as marketing, fundraising, policy, management and such like, as well as macro trends in the arts industry. He’s recently published a five-part article titled “What’s Next: The Future of Nonprofit Marketing“, taken from his keynote presentation at the American Marketing Association’s 2014 Nonprofit Marketing Conference.

All five parts are well worth a read, but of particular note is Part 4 – WHO’S YOUR AUDIENCE GOING TO BE IN THE FUTURE? Here, Cott examines the demographics and psychographics of Millenials (18-34) and makes the case for more stringent investment and attention being placed in their direction.  He states, without any hesitation, that “Millennials are the ones nonprofits need to cultivate the most.” Continue reading

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11/06/14 Talks & Events , Trends

The Future of Digital Publishing – Ubud Writers Festival

When speaking at last year’s Ubud Writers Festival in Bali, I was interviewed by Shalini Gidoomal from Smart Monkey TV, an African video channel that broadcasts from the crossroads between culture and technology.

In this newly-released clip, I talk about the future of digital publishing from the perspective of an independent publisher, and how the changing nature of distribution  platforms has already led to a fundamental change in the way in which many writers think about narrative.  Naturally, the talk also revolves around The Nest’s digital publishing arm, Branches, and there’s reference to our award-winning app, Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the changing nature of publishing and narrative, I heartily recommend the excellent blogs, The Literary Platform and Digireado.

Photo by Slamet Melda for Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

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12/05/14 Case Studies , Tips and Tricks

Ten things learned from Remix Sydney, and why giant inflatable swans are a thing.

Ten things learned from Remix Sydney, and why giant inflatable swans are a thing.

Last week, Carriageworks played home to the Remix Sydney summit – the inaugural visit down under for the London-based Culture Label event that will also soon be touching down in New York, UAE and Hong Kong.  Investigating the fusion between culture, technology and entrepreneurship, I heard it described as a “TEDx for the arts” – whilst not a wholly accurate representation, it nonetheless gives you an indication of the ambition and the strategy.

There are certainly a number of elements that need to be re-calibrated for the future, but that said, there was still a great deal to takeaway.  This list of dot points isn’t at all comprehensive – rather this simply a few of cited endeavours that I felt were worth bookmarking.

Continue reading

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29/04/14 Tips and Tricks # , , ,

Starting your own design business? Here’s ten ways to avoid total disaster

Starting your own design business?  Here’s ten ways to avoid total disaster

The Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) recently asked me to speak at their event titled “Out On Your Own”, featuring a stand-up collection of diverse minds, woven together by virtue of the fact that they had started their own business in one form or another.  From brand new start-ups via current, solid state agencies to industry veterans (and borderline legends), the attendant crowd of future business owners certainly got their dollars worth of advice and expertise. 

In trying to assemble my own thoughts  into something that could be broadly termed coherent, I followed the tried and tested path of preparing a list of wisdom-nuggets; some obvious, perhaps some less so.  Many were learned from starting up The Nest four years ago, some from being part of the startup crew of Sydney indie media organisation FBi, and a couple from my stint as Executive Producer of the first Creative Sydney festival (now known as Vivid Ideas).

If you’re considering stepping out from behind the PAYG-wall and starting your own design business, hopefully a few of these notes will help you on the path.  I just wish someone had forced me to ask the same questions a long time ago – I might have saved myself a great deal of pain, a truckload of money and probably saved a couple of friendships along the way. Continue reading

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Born in Scotland and now resident in Sydney, I’ve been a digital strategist and evangelist for the web since the early 90s. This blog looks at the intersections between culture, technology and media. It covers a range of topics including practical digital engagement, strategy & theory, trends & research, and case-studies that have inspired me to reshape my thinking.





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