MSN.GR Meetup

I have to say, if I got to name what I like to do most in my job at Microsoft then it is stuff like this. Yesterday we had a meetup at the Microsoft office in Athens to with Greek bloggers to talk about the upcoming release of MSN.GR. Typically we will talk a bit about what it is that we have been working on over the last few weeks and months to then open it up the a discussion about what people think about it, what they like, what they don’t like or what might be missing in their opinion etc.

MSN.GR

And I can hear you say ‘portals are dead’ and ‘why do we need another portal’ but I genuinely believe there is a place and an audience for sites like this, and I also believe that with this concept of the more ‘social portal’ that we try to build (where there is a deep integration between the MSN content and the Windows Live sharing and communication services) we have a product that differentiates from the competition as well.

Valia, Giorgos & Thodoris

Obviously the part that interests me most of all is the discussion piece after showing the product. I quite enjoyed the discussion and I think some valid points were raised, all making for a pretty engaging conversation.

If there’s one thing that I didn’t like about this then it is the fact that I took quite a bit more photos than I uploaded to the Flickr set, but let’s just say my already poor photographic skills seemed to have let me down a bit yesterday ;) Oh and yeah, both Stefanos and myself tried to arrange for a Tweetup later that night but we didn’t get to eventually. Nevertheless, great time in Athens, hope I can be back soon. Thanks all for joining us – to be continued.

Awesome!

If I have one problem with SxSW it would be the noise this event generates. From weeks to months in advance people start chatting it up on where to go, what to do, how to survive, … and by the team SxSW is on there is so much live coverage it is hard to find the good stuff.

That is until you stumble on coverage like this. Forget about live blogging, live twittering… here is Mike Rohde live sketchnoting the festival. In a time where speed and quantity seem to drive the online conversation, in a time where it seems to matter more to say a lot and to say it before anyone else… this is just the break you need. Thanks Mike!

SXSWi 2009: Sketchnotes: Anderson/Kawasaki Spread

Check out the full set right here: SxSW Interactive 2009 – sketchnotes

What I got out of Twitter – Part II

About a year ago I wrote my first (and probably only) post about Twitter so far, it was based around what I had learned from using the service up to the time of writing. During a conversation I had last week I thought about this post again and decided to look it up again… only to notice that much of it hasn’t changed at all.

It still are the Twitter users that make the service better both in adding features, applications and services. Think about features such as hashtags, RT, … mostly incorporated into most clients now. Some of you will be using Tweetdeck, I still hang on to Twhirl (that new search ‘activate’ feature is a killer!) but there are many many others. And finally things like Twitter Remote or Mr. Tweet are really powerful services. The last service is also good proof it really is the community that makes things better here, have you ever taken a look at Twitter’s own Suggested Users Feature?

People still focus too much on quantity vs. quality with constant chatter about number of followers, number of tweets, … and I still believe like I said back then that you don’t make better conversations by following everybody back. It’s just not true… and it’s therefore not all that suprising to see that people like Loic are actually cutting back on that.

Has nothing changed then? Sure it has. We’ve started to re-tweet aka RT, something I like and then again not. Sometimes a RT is expanding the network on a good topic which is good, sometimes it feels like the sender just wants you to know they’ve seen ‘it’ as well. And often it feels like the Retweeter’s reasoning is more to make sure the sender of the initial message notices you versus you actually trying to share interesting stuff to your audience. Like an alternative to an @reply almost.

Another personal change is that I’ve now (via the Live Writer add-on) linked my blog feed to my Twitter account, something I said a year ago is not done. I guess I was wrong, although it’s mainly the notion that people start putting something like {blogpost} in front of such tweets that got me convinced there’s a right way in doing this.

What else has changed? We got spam, auto-DM’s and a lot more tricks that try and build audiences by following and immediate unfollowing etc. Not sure who thinks that stuff really works but just like many other popular services there are some annoyances that we’ll just have to deal with.

Still very much hooked, so that hasn’t changed at all ;)

I’m listening…

But do you care? Did you really want to have a conversation to begin with? Well maybe not you you, but consumers in general? With all the talks about companies and their need to be part of the conversation etc… I get all that, I’m a believer and everything. But what about the consumer? Does he really want to have that conversation? Sometimes I believe they don’t, or at least not everyone does. Sometimes people just want to shout out, make a statement, … without expecting, hoping or even wishing for an answer.

Kris Hoet
Photo by Joi Ito – taken at the SIME08 Blogger Meetup

It was the Facebook discussion during the Kinepolis blogger meetup that got me thinking about this again, but it’s something I experienced on quite a few occasions myself. Someone calls out for support, feedback, … or complains about something on their blog, Twitter, etc and you reach out to see how you can help. I would say that in +50% of all cases you never get an answer back.

Therefore my question. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pessimistic about ‘the conversation’ and believe companies should do a better job at listening, I’m just saying that sometimes consumers also just want to talk to/about companies and that they’re not always interested in listening to what those companies have to say in return.

Kinepolis meetup

My old friends at Kinepolis invited me over for a blogger meetup 2 weeks ago, something they had set up together with Proximity BBDO (represented by the one and only ‘Druppels’) and Adhese. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but given the fact I worked at Kinepolis myself for some 7 years I had more than enough reasons to go check it out.

I don’t really want to cover the content of the meeting (as others have done that already) but I was mostly interested in the approach of the company towards the community. And the commentary after.

Kinepolis
Photo by Dipfico

I once wrote a post called ‘not for sale’ and featured it in my side navigation since then. And then people started asking me why I don’t like advertising on my blog… I tell them to read it again, it’s not what I’m saying. The whole social media approach, the whole thing about being more consumer friendly, about engaging in a conversation, … is something that needs to be in your soul so to speak. A lot of companies get some recognition because ‘they get it’ whereas they just started using social media technologies to do one way communications. Sigh. I like genuine innovation, genuine openness… and yes even when you could argue about why it didn’t come any sooner.

Kinepolis is a company that gets it, maybe late but they showed me they do. Why? Because of the genuine openness and honesty of the conversation we had with the Kinepolis management during the meetup, including their CEO. The 20-some bloggers present at the event will probably agree, when was the last time you had such an open conversation with the CEO of a company the size of Kinepolis? Very curious to see how this will evolve, I guess that’s where I still can go wrong. At least the goodwill is there…

Looking at the commentary after the event I realized even more people don’t seem to make the distinction between ‘I approve how they did this’ and ‘I will now believe whatever they say without thinking’. Did I buy everything they said at that event? Did I think they are now all saints? No. But they did show in a very honest way what their plans are and how they want to have this conversation. I liked that a lot. And for the naysayers, if you really care about this just tell Adhese about it and there’s no reason why you couldn’t be part of this.

There were only 2 things I missed really, one being some more food and the other one a demo of the big screen gaming they do because I always loved that. There’s really nothing that beats playing COD or other on a 24 meters wide screen in full THX Dolby Surround sound ;)

Business card v.2

I still have to order new business cards after I changed jobs early October. I didn’t just want the corporate default though so instead I waited until this week to add some gapingvoid magic to it. The front of the card will still be the classic Microsoft design but on the back I will have this (see below) from now on. It sort of says the same as on the front but just in another language :) Can’t wait to get these printed.

hughcard_small

And in case you wonder where the ‘geek marketer’ comes from, read this.

Live Mesh blogger meetup

Not long after we organized our blogger meetup in the Coach and Horses to chat about the new release of Windows Live there’s yet another blogger meetup organized by Microsoft at the same location – this time for Live Mesh and cloud computing. Here are the details:

Where: The Coach and Horses pub, 29 Greek Street, Soho, London W1V 5LL
When: 11th December from 6pm to 8pm (and onwards for anyone that fancies it)
Who’d enjoy this? Anyone who’s interested in discussing cloud computing with two of the leaders from Microsoft

These 2 leaders are Angus Logan (Sr Technical Product Manager on Live Services) and Jeff Hansen (GM for Live Mesh) will be present to discuss about cloud computing and Live Mesh for all that are interested. Steve Clayton and Steve Lamb have all the information on his blog and here’s the link to the wiki for signup in case you would like to join.

I won’t be there myself unfortunately but if you are interested in cloud computing and you’re in London that evening I would think this is a good meetup to go to.

Blue Monster in Paris

Next week we’re heading to Paris again for what is probably one of the most exiting tech/web events in Europe: LeWeb. This year Microsoft is the main sponsor and so make sure you come and check us out. And while you’re at it, bring your business cards as Hugh Macleod will be a regular guest and he might just end up drawing a cartoon on the back of it ;)

blue-monster-spritzed-thumb

We’re also going to bring some Blue Monster Sauvignon Blanc with us but more on that later. For those that would like to get a chance to get one of those right now already, I’m actually going to give away 6 bottles right here, right now. (that is 1 bottle per winner to be clear). All you have to do is let me know in the comments why you should win it. By the start of LeWeb next week I will pick the winners (with the help of Hugh) out of the hopefully numerous comments ;) Make it original. Oh and just so you know, these bottles aren’t for sale.

Come and say hi if you’re going to be at LeWeb. Go here if you’re interested in finding out more about the Blue Monster.

What’s in a grade?

So there I am, ranked 3.075th with a grade of 99.4 which puts me on 2nd spot for Belgium (and sometimes on 1st or 3rd… or 7th, whatever). But I’m also a But I’m also on the 1042nd spot with 90% with a high average social capital! All better than 24.984th with 164 though, although locally I’m on 4th with a stunning 19 (just like the next 20 behind me or so but still). Unfortunately I just dropped 481 points to 4594th, which probably explains why I’m only 188th in a top150. But 674.343th is probably worst of all…. or actually it’s not: 1.013.152nd is the worst. Yeah 4th does sound better than that. Still all of this comes with a $85.245,54 value. Etc etc.

NUMBERS

So what’s in a grade? Not much really, especially when looked at without context like I did right here. So before anyone else sets up some ranking algorithm, think first about giving it some context first and please don’t make it a black box algorithm that just spills out a meaningless number. Thanks.