What the blog?!

Love/Hate. That’s the relationship I have with my blog these days. I still ‘write’ plenty of blogposts in my head, just don’t get to writing them down for real when I have the time to do it. And that annoys me a little to be honest. Although the blog is not the only part of my online presence anymore since there are also Posterous, Flickr, Twitter and numerous other initiatives it still is sort of central to all initiatives and I’m not ready to turn it off yet.

I still believe strongly in having a central landing page, for people and for brands, around which all the other initiatives gravitate so to say. I don’t agree with Steve Rubel’s view on the concept of the siteless web for that matter. It’s clear that sole focus on your own website is a bit short-sighted today, so extending one’s web presence in social for instance is crucial. What I don’t want to do is put the center of my presence on a service that gives me only limited control, that I don’t own 100%.  But hey that’s me.

So enough stuff to share, I’ll be making time again to write them down. Cheers.

Bing@TED: awesome!

The maps feature on Microsoft’s search products has always had a bit of an edge over Google maps. It wasn’t all good, but the 3D map view was always more realistic compared to competitors, the Bird’s Eye view still remains unique and if you see what they presented at TED a few hours ago… friggin awesome. The Flickr integration, the … I don’t know where to start. Seriously, check this out.

Oh, and Blaise – I’m a fan since you presented Photosynth at Microsft’s internal MGX event a few years ago. You rock!

More on the Bing TED presentation is here.

Mighty cool!

It’s not the first time I blogged about Photosynth but what can I say, it keeps impressing me over and over. Here’s a new video created by the University of Washington of a Photosynth they’ve created of the old city of Dubrovnik based on pictures of the city found on Flickr. Just take a look and you’ll agree with me, this is mighty cool. New York anyone?

{Hat tip Steve Clayton]

Enhancing search

Just installed WebMynd Firefox extension today, based on the post about it on digital inspiration. I like what it does, when I search now I get some additional search results from other services right there next to the main results – like this:

webmynd

And yes I used a little vanity search as an example, you gotta use something right :). You can easily add other services you want to have in that right column, from the list of services available on top of it. Since you always get the additional WebMynd powered results when you do a search, you don’t have to go to another URL or anything, just using type the query in your browser’s search box and this is what you get. Very nice. Worth giving a try, as is Live Search by the way ;)

Update: There is an IE plugin for WebMynd as well, just open the browser of choice and you’ll get the right download option.

True innovation

There are probably not a lot of words that get misinterpreted so many times as the word innovation. Anybody today who builds a friends list on their site, who releases an API, who created a ‘viral’ ….(you catch my drift) is innovating. Bullshit. Innovation refers to something that wasn’t done before and most of what happens on the web today is a copy of a copy… so hardly true innovation.

Why this statement? A few weeks ago I met for lunch with the founder of an independent financial services company. He and his marketing manager (who’s an ex-colleague) wanted to know more about whole this social media stuff and they knew I was kind of ‘active’ in that area so therefor the lunch. A quick initial check during lunch on what they knew and didn’t know didn’t take long. Flickr? Never heard of. Okay – get it.

To get the right idea of what needed to be done they then started to explain what their business was and how they saw their company move into the future. And to be honest, they explained me the most innovative business approach that I had heard for a while. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what it is but just take it from me that it was. Everything was there. It’s totally different from the typical business approach in that sector, it gave incredible power to their communities, they really let go of control, … Very cool. So what was missing? The right tools, techniques, services, etc to do so.

And then it hit me again. It’s not because people are on Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook and blogs that they’re necessarily innovative. On the contrary. If ever that is what an agency or a social media consultant comes to tell you then run away (fast). Don’t turn away though because someone hasn’t heard about Twitter. They still might be more innovative thinkers than the rest of us and you know what the coolest job of all is? Making sure you work with the right people and use the right toolset to translate that really innovative idea into reality. That’s what me thinks.

Oh and for the record, my friends at the independent financial services company is looking for someone to do exactly that.

Club Social

When brands make that step to be more social and decide to let go of control, we should applaud that. Sometimes we tend not to notice this, and focus just on those brands (still the most) that don’t get it at all.

Club Med is making a first step to engage with the community and in a very nice and smart way if you ask me. Interel – Club Med’s PR agency – worked with Caroline ‘Rolling Talks’ Maerten and Adhese for this first campaign. They asked blogger/photographer Ine if she was interested in going to Chamonix to one of the Club Med Villages. Nothing extraordinary here, but the nicest part of all this is that a special banner (developed by Adhese) is showing the latest updates of this trip tapping into Ine’s Twitter and Flickr stream. These banners are shown on a selection of Belgian’s most important blogs.

Here are 2 screenshots of that banner:

ClubMed1    CludMed2

I don’t know about you but I think that Club Med has made a very smart move here. And the choice of Ine as the blogger to be invited is a very important part of this smart move.

Congrats to Caroline for setting it up with the agency and for Adhese to keep innovating, also within the banner.

Like who?

Every time I go through my RSS feeds there are a few bloggers that keep amazing me with what they do. Somehow they stand out (more) and they are good at something I wanted to be good/better at as well. So here is my list, I wish I was a bit more …

… like Thomas Hawk, because then I would also be able to take these amazing photos like Thomas. Just take a look at his Flickr account, or sign up to his feed if you haven’t done so already. My Flickr account (which I recently start using) is here by the way.

… like Hugh Macleod and not only because I would be able to draw funky cartoons. Hugh is one of the smarter people I know and a natural marketer, it’s in his blood. Just take a look at ‘How to be creative‘, ‘The Hughtrain‘, his work for Stormhoek or his recent thoughts on ‘Social Objects‘ (and his cartoons of course). I’m happy Hugh is a friend though, so at least I can pick his brain once and a while ;)

… like Shel Israel because he’s a nice guy (as everyone knows) and because he has written a book with ‘Naked’ in the title. For the same reason I also add Ine Dehandschutter here. She’s just a really nice lady… although she hasn’t done anything naked yet on a cover, but who knows :) I’m happy I got them introduced to each other once, and I still hope “Global Neighbourhoods” (featuring Ine) will be written one day.

… like David Armano / Alain Thys (his blog) for their creative thinking, and maybe even more important for the ability to present creative thoughts in a very clear, visual way. Make sure you sign up to the Slideshare feeds of these guys as I bet you will use some of it at least once. That is here and here.

Ewan McIntosh, because he has some of the most refreshing views on technology. As a researcher for education, I admire the way how he can look at services such as Twitter (and many more of course) and come up with the most interesting ideas to use these.

Having written all this, it looks like the perfect start for a meme. Now I don’t take part in every single meme that comes around either, but I do hope that the following people would share a few names of bloggers they admire for a certain reason. So here we go (and make it global): Gavin Heaton, Nir Ofir, Marcus Brown (not only your alter egos alright), Valeria Maltoni and Tamara Gielen… would you do that for me? ;)