Game or reality?

Take a look at these stunning images. Stunning, you ask? Yes, knowing that only one image is from a real life situation and the other one is a computer generated one from Gran Turismo HD for PS3, I think you can call that stunning. Do you see the difference?

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[Via fosfor gadgets]

links for 2007-05-07

Windows Live Hotmail launches worldwide

It’s on top of the list at Techmeme this morning, the fact that after many months of development and beta testing, the new version of Hotmail has gone public for everyone worldwide. It’s amazing to see how the service has evolved and grown over the now 10-11 years it exists. With 280M active users of which 20+M have been beta testers of the new version, I guess it’s fair to say that Hotmail still remains one of the most popular webmail services around.

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To me it doesn’t seem all that new anymore as I’m on Windows Live Hotmail for many months already, but it has still been an interesting experience to see the service evolve from milestone to milestone, improving speed, features, look&feel, … etc. This has been built from the ground up on a completely new backend and you will see that it doesn’t look at all like the old Hotmail anymore. For now you still have to upgrade to the new version if you want it, but it’s clear that in a couple of months the old Hotmail as we know it will go away completely.

In general people don’t like change and that’s the reason why you’ll get the new Windows Live Hotmail in the classic look when you upgrade from the actual Hotmail. I suggest you change to the new full view in the settings, as the experience will be even better – pretty much like Outlook really. Features I like most: drag&drop, anti-spam and the mobile version of Windows Live Hotmail. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet: http://mail.live.com

links for 2007-05-06

The Blue Monster

Last week in Vegas, Steve Clayton was so kind to give me a signed Blue Monster lithograph and called me out to show that to the world. Other lucky ones were Mike Hall and Jeff Sandquist. Yesterday Steve sold another on Ebay for charity at $300, but I’ll hang on to mine. Now just find the right frame for it.

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Thanks Steve for the lithograph, and thanks Hugh for drawing it in the first place ;) I hope you enjoyed Redmond by the way. And now let’s change the world…

Authority

Yesterday I noticed – like many others I guess – that Technorati updated it’s ranking a little bit. We were used to see ‘x number of links from y number of blogs’ but this is no more, instead we have something new: ‘authority’. I first figured that it probably had some fancy new algorithm to measure this, but no, it’s just the number of blogs linking in. So instead of ‘x links by y blogs’ we just get the ‘by y blogs’ feature but it got a fancier name.

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A few thoughts on this. First of all I’m not sure if this will make things more transparant, I doubt it. The way it was presented initially was pretty clear, which is not the case anymore. Especially for newcomers I don’t think that will help. My second thought was that this is a missed opportunity for Technorati. By developing a new ‘authority’ feature, they could have done some great work in creating a standard for measuring influence, making their service more important again. Now that regular blogsearch engines like Google Blogsearch, Icerocket and others are closing in that would differentiate them again. But no.

Think about how they could have created a measurement of ‘authority’ using blogs linking in using the second degree as well (so also the blogs linking into the blogs that link to you). How they could use the tagging to even measure ‘authority’ per category, they have frequence and most of the information needed to create a real sence of authority and influence. Too bad they didn’t, as said a missed opportunity for Technorati if you ask me.

I also wonder how much of this was asked for by Technorati’s users? Was this what you and I were waiting for? The mobile feature I wrote about earlier is pretty nice, but apart from that do you remember any update that you were waiting for? I don’t. I do remember I sent them an email once, asking why there was no way to merge 2 url’s together on one profile since they both pointed to the same blog. That is many months ago and I’m still waiting on a reply.

New on mobile

Yesterday I discovered two new (or at least recent) mobile sites that I added to my mobile favorites. The first one is Technorati which shows you what’s hot right now on Technorati and allows you to mobile search which I think can be very useful. The other new mobile favorite is for Twitter. I still don’t really get Twitter, but it still feels the best way to follow it is on mobile and getting all updates as a txt message is not really a good idea. The only remark about the mobile Twitter page is that it should show way more updates on one page, for the moment that is definitely not enough.

I’m hooked up on the mobile web for many months (maybe years) now so it’s good to see that finally mobile use of websites seem to come quicker after the release. When travelling a lot like myself, surfing the mobile web is an ideal way to kill time and my new Samsung Blackjack is a good companion for that :)

Looking back at MIX07

I’m currently flying the last hour of a 24-hour trip back from Vegas, and believe me when I say that I’ll be happy to be home. MIX07 has been worth it though, I enjoyed the great demos as much as anyone else and you could just feel the Silverlight buzz hanging around.  I also know what I have got to do the next few days, and that is watching the videos from the breakouts that I couldn’t go to. Most of the videos were already online on http://sessions.visitmix.com right after the sessions, great job from people like Joshua Allen and Jeff Sandquist’s team on the MIX website on the whole by the way!

Apart from the sessions about Expression Studio, Silverlight and a whole bunch of new Windows Live API’s we had a great free time as well in Vegas. You already read about the baseball, which was good fun, but also the official MIX party at Pure (Ceasar’s Palace) and and the European party at Revolution (Mirage) were pretty cool. I also did bet few dollars on the slot machine and it must have been my lucky day because $5 turned into $150. Last but not least, as part of the European delegation I also received a Samsung Blackjack. Exactly what I wanted, as you can read in a post I wrote many months ago plus it seemed like the perfect place to give a phone with that name.

So, MIX was good. I’ll do another follow up post next week highlighting the must see sessions of MIX, but first I want to head home (quickly post this) and take a nap. I can use the energy for a little rant I want to write about  getting selected in the US… You’ll see ;)

Everyone is a customer

A couple of months ago, while I was ‘researching’ for http://iblogmustang.com I came across one of the most compelling examples of brand engagement in social media so far. I still use the case a lot as a great example of what brands should  be doing today. ‘Everyone is a customer’ was the title of a presentation that I created for the IAB Netcafé a while ago. What is it about?

Let me ask you a question. How many of you believe they will buy an Aston Martin anytime soon? Not many indeed… still, that is not the real importance and Aston understood that really well. The philosophy of Aston apparently is: everyone is a customer. Whether I’m buying an Aston or not, I’m a customer. Not only am I a customer, I’m a potential sales person – a potential evangelist for their brand. Something that Mike Stopforth experienced in the fall of last year exactly, when he got an Astin for a day after writing about it on his blog.

In my presentation ‘Everyone is a customer’ I wanted to show how getting into social media is not only about setting up a blog, that there are many (sometimes easy) ways to be part of that. I also wanted to point out that taking part in the conversation is not something that only the marketing or PR manager should do. This is we’re we can all step in, no exceptions.

Below are a few key highlights that I think cannot be repeated enough, things people should really start considering for their brands fast.

Read. Read. Read.
If you want to be involved in social media you got to read and if you can’t bring up the effort to do so, don’t even bother to start. In a conversation people listen to each other at the same level so why should that be any different when some new piece of technology is involved? It shouldn’t.

By reading you will also discover the influencers for your community in the most qualitative way. Now it’s not always possible to follow a complete large community this way and that’s why you can make use of tracking services that will find out for you. Remember though that tracking the conversation should not only be about getting a great graph for your next monthly review, this is meant to see where the action is so you can step in.

Comment. Where it makes sense.
Everyone can do this. You see a blogpost, a video on youtube, … online that holds wrong information (stay factual though) or that calls out for support: don’t wait until the marketing manager notices that, step in. Correct where you can, answer & help out if possible even if it’s only that you send it to the right person internally. That’s the beauty about a conversation, we can all take part. Never kill a blogpost though that’s bad towards your company & don’t start a fight, there’s nothing to win that way.

Track your comments.
There are a few tools out there like
http://co.mments.com and http://www.cocomment.com that can help you in that. Why is that so important? Because you can’t just comment and then leave it like that.

Listen… and then ask questions.
I was reading a presentation from the last WOMBAT conference that said: “Ask questions and LISTEN!” I believe they had it wrong, brands should first listen and then ask questions to come to even better understanding.

Write your own (company) blog.
There’s already more than enough you can find on how to set up a great blog, but there’s two key things I still want to highlight.

People write blogs, companies don’t: Think about finding the right people that show very good understanding of company values, inspire and are willing to engage with a large audience. Think of how 4.500 bloggers at Microsoft help at building a different perception of Microsoft as a company.

Think twice before you start: A blog needs personality, reality, continuity, … real added value basically. You need to be aware that you will be talking to many people who in the best case like to interact with you which will demand a lot of your time… but it’s worth every penny, believe me. A blog is not a new medium to push out press releases, nor will you have any results when you’re just repeating what others are saying, think of the great ‘echo chamber’ cartoon of Hugh to illustrate this.

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Join the meetings.
It’s a bit like the first point again, do you only want bloggers to come to meetings that you set up (which you obviously can do) or are you willing to join their meetings as well? I encourage you to take a look at meetings like Barcamp, Photowalking, Geek Dinners, … and tune in to the community in a very interesting way.

And whatever you do, remember this nice little piece of ethical advice that WOMMA has prepared. Whether you want to set up a blog, comment on a YouTube video, … this is a very good guideline to help you figure out what you can and can’t do – Honesty ROI

  • Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
  • Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
  • Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity

Enjoy the conversation!