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Bits and Bytes

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Eurovision unites Europe; McDonald’s Quality Scouts and this week’s bits and bytes

Eurovision unites Europe: Twitter reacts

I watched the Eurovision last night. Accidentally. I’d never planned on doing it. I was at a friend’s place, celebrating his birthday with some fellow Germans (yes, there was much potato salad, see point 24 for why that is) and some Aussies and suddenly the telly was tuned to BBC1.

It is the epitome of car-crash-television and we all had great fun in poking fun at the songs, get-ups and, of course, buxom ladies from Poland seductively churning butter and doing the laundry.

Continue reading “Eurovision unites Europe; McDonald’s Quality Scouts and this week’s bits and bytes”

How to choose the right social media platform; Who won the #TubeStrike and this week’s bits and bytes

Been a while since my last update – holidays and life got in the way, but I did finish the London Marathon. It didn’t go to plan, but I managed to cross the line regardless. An absolutely brilliant day with seemingly all of London out to support the runners.

What social media platform should I use?

In what can only be labelled as shameless self-promotion, I wanted to point out a panel discussion I recently took part in about how to navigate the maze of social media platforms and choose the right one for your needs (there’s also a nifty Storify of some of the Tweets from the discussion if you don’t fancy reading the whole summary).

Hosted by @CorpCommsMag and @PreciseTweets at the London Museum, the panel also featured the significant talents of @AlexPearmain, @thebeaverhousen and @steeleworld

Continue reading “How to choose the right social media platform; Who won the #TubeStrike and this week’s bits and bytes”

Heartbleed explained; Why you should never leave a journo hungry; Twitter’s new profile pages and this week’s bits and bytes

Less than 24 hours to go until the London Marathon – no better way to get my mind off the 26.2 miles that lie in wait than write my weekly bits and bytes.

This week I’m looking at the biggest threat to the Internet since the Y2K bug, how banning a journalist from a media dinner is a recipe for disaster, how Costa Coffee did a great job with engaging bloggers (but then forgot to tie that good work back into their social profiles), and the new Twitter profiles that will be coming to a screen near you.

Continue reading “Heartbleed explained; Why you should never leave a journo hungry; Twitter’s new profile pages and this week’s bits and bytes”

My April Fools’ round-up; thoughts on organic reach; Honey Maid loves the haters and this week’s bits and bytes

Welcome to a slightly tweaked version to my bits and bytes. I realised that my weekly rant – while therapeutic for me – isn’t particularly good for finding things. Ideally, the little segments in here should be posts in and of themselves. But that would mean taking up blogging full time and, well, I love my day job a bit too much to do that. So, from now on, expect a summary at the top of each post and links to the sections in the post below to make it easier to browse.

Continue reading “My April Fools’ round-up; thoughts on organic reach; Honey Maid loves the haters and this week’s bits and bytes”

Why Facebook bought Oculus VR; why Twitter is becoming Facebook; and this week’s bits and bytes

Oculus Facebook: The Zuck got out the chequebook again this week, signing off $2bn for a virtual reality headset called Occulus Rift (for those trying to keep their .com acquisition exchange rate up to date, that’s two Instagrams, but only a 5th of WhatsApp).

Essentially, the Oculus Rift is an IMAX theatre squeezed into giant, blacked out ski-goggles. Particularly popular with gamers, the goggles allow you to immerse yourself fully into a 3D game landscape, where your movements in real-life are mapped to the pile of pixels you’re using to destroy other pixels with.

Continue reading “Why Facebook bought Oculus VR; why Twitter is becoming Facebook; and this week’s bits and bytes”

#SochiProblems, Facebook looks back at 10 years and this week’s bits and bytes

SochiProblems: To say that the Sochi Winter Olympics have a bit of a repetitional problem would probably get you on the podium at the understatement of the year award. Adding to the allegations of corruption and the ridiculous anti LGBT laws, and an Olympic Snowflake that was too afraid to come out, organisers also have to contend with athletes and journalists tweeting bizarre evidence of how ramshackle, unfinished and bonkers Sochi 2014 looks to be for visitors.

Of course everything is beautifully curated by spoof accounts on Twitter, with @SochiProblems the clear winner, by far eclipsing the official @Sochi2014 account. Meanwhile, @SochiGamesPR provides the spin in an attempt to deflect attention. Make sure you keep an eye on the #SochiProblems hashtag. Gold.

https://twitter.com/SochiProblems/status/431171207933591552

The Chive has pulled together a more comprehensive summary of the #SochiProblems.

And yes, you can also get your t-shirt

Facebook is 10: Happy 10th birthday to the social network that in the last decade made it socially acceptable to poke a complete stranger. It brought us the like button and an avalanche of baby photos from people that you didn’t speak to or care about in high school, but don’t have the heart to decline their friend request. Brands jumped in, some doing great work to help create a place for a community to come together around their products, many others providing fodder for the Condescending Brand Page.

How to celebrate their 10th birthday?

A clever viral (yes, this was actually viral) film based on the personal history of each and every Facebook user. Accessible via the click of a button, Facebook pulls together a collection of your early posts, popular posts and top photos starting from when you joined the network, right up to the present day, and assembles a version of your life on top of some twee twinkly folky music, images popping up in time with the saccharine tune.

Called ‘A Look Back‘, @stangreenan probably summed it up best: “it’s so lovely, it makes me wonder what parts of my soul Zuckerberg stole to give it to me”.

So we learn that if you want something to go viral, you make it about the person who is sharing it.

But there is another, equally powerful motivator for something to be shared: the spoof look back film. As many were generating the Facebook version of their personal history, the Internet got to work to create spoofs of the look back film from the perspective of Prince Harry, the Bible, and, of course, President Putin.

My favourite has to be the Breaking Bad version (warning: spoilers)

Bits and bytes

Videos of the week

GoPro released their beyond epic film of Felix Baumgartner Spacejump from 2012. Watch this on full screen HD if you know what’s good for you.

Jerry Seinfeld’s reunion with George was TiVo’s most re-watched Super Bowl commercial – and it’s actually quite funny.

And finally‘Tainted Love’ played by floppy disk drives.

Rock solid win for UsVSTh3m, ‘Spineless’ Yahoo! and this week’s bits and bytes

Fast flooding cement: The Victoria Line was suspended this week because, somehow, a control room was flooded with cement. Twitter reacted how it always reacts, with a barrage of quick drying puns, visual gags and other silliness. And as we know, Twitter frickin LOVES a good pun.

@tomparker81 pointed out this beautiful flowchart from @TimeOutLondon on how the engineers were most likely dealing with the situation…

… while @a_little_wine sent me this brilliant response from @JobSiteUK, who not only had the time to think up a pun, but also put up a promoted Tweet for engineering jobs on their platform.

What struck me most about the story though was that it (technically) wasn’t the traditional media that broke the news, but up-and-coming, do-it-for-the-LOLz site @UsVSTh3m (an experiment funded by Trinity Mirror).

UsVSTh3m got their hands on a number of images of the cement-covered control room and (by using their  ‘old school media’ connections?) those photos were then not only used, but also credited on The Telegraph, The Evening Standard, The Metro, HuffPo, Mail Online and The BBC to name a few.

A big win for the experiment, and if you haven’t read @MartinBelam‘s take on the who, why and what behind UsVSTh3m, I recommend you do so immediately as it provides a clever and informative take on how traditional media can adapt to t’Interwebs and why it’s so important that the UsVSTh3m team can “write for the web, use Photoshop like a boss, and code”.

Big win?

Still, you’ll be glad to know that the Victoria Line is working again. The fix? Sugar, bizarrely. And while I’d like to think it was Fairtrade sugar from Sainsbury’s that sorted out the signalling room, I cannot confirm that.

Grow a spine, Yahoo!: Gmail was down for about 20 minutes on Friday, enough time for brands and organisations to jump in with some real-time marketing.

From the cheeky

to the worthy

to the own goal (is this the only time you’d watch an episode of NCIS?)

But then there was Yahoo!, who (I thought) simply tweeted the fact that Gmail was ‘temporarily unavailable’, quoting the Error 500 page. No further judgement or commentary – just a screenshot (although I imagine, behind the scenes, the Yahoo! Mail team was high-fiving and wooping).

The Tweet was quickly deleted and replaced by a confusing, two-tweet apology. It referred to @Yahoo being used by the editorial team to inform about news and events and that the Tweet “reflected bad judgment” (I guess you think twice about dissing your CEO’s ex-employer).

But if you see yourself as a news organisation, should you then not report on the news? There wasn’t any Nelson-esque “HaHa” (albeit implicit), they were simply stating fact. I wonder if they’d have gotten away with the @YahooNews account tweeting it.

As ValleyWag puts it: “Grow a spine, Yahoo!” – a sentiment that many people share, going by the responses to the apology.

Those cheeky chaps at Paddy Power are at it again: After Man Utd lost to Chelsea, the Paddy Power deposited a life-sized wax figure of Sir Alex Ferguson inside a glass box outside Old Trafford. The instructions are simple: “In case of emergency, break glass“. I have a feeling that after the hilariously pathetic penalty shoot-out against equally inept Sunderland this week, the glass might have been shattered. Perhaps by the same distressed fan who was so dismayed by the nightmare at the Theatre of Dreams, he dialled 999, demanding to speak to Ferguson.

Bits and bytes

Videos of the week: “You have elbows and you have knees. So touch them. VERY NICE.” Arnold Schwarzenegger visits Gold’s Gym in a dodgy disguise to support after-school sports. I doubt anybody was fooled as to whom they were talking to, but Ahnuld is just one charming dude.

What if Google was just some dude behind a desk (HT @TillieSeymour).

And two wonderfully cheese public service videos from The White House this week. Making the ‘Big Block of Cheese Day’ a virtual reality. And who better to do the promo than The West Wing’s Josh Lyman and Will Bailey!

And then there’s FLOTUS dunking on Lebron James. Oh yeah.

And finally: Physics paper Rick-Roll.

Fish puns, ask Jelly and you shall receive, social news with the NYTimes and this week’s bits and bytes

Fishy goodness: If it’s one thing I’ve learnt during my time in the UK, it’s that Brits love a pun.

Yesterday, @TeaAndCopy tweeted @SainsburysI tried to buy some battered fish from @sainsburys but it didn’t have a bar cod!

David Smith from our social Careline team was quick to respond with this triple whammy: @TeaAndCopy Were there no other packs in the plaice, or was that the sole one on the shelf? Floundering for an explanation! David.

The resulting ‘punversation‘ is a joy to behold and quickly spread via Twitter and onto the HuffPo.

Also, it reminded me of this wonderful ‘Little Story‘ about Sainsbury’s sustainably sourced prawns.

Have a question? Take a photo: If you have a question, somebody out there likely has an answer. Combine that with the fact that most of us have an Internet connected camera in our pocket and you’ve got the premise of the new visual question and answer app Jelly. Jelly allows you to ask and respond to image based questions.

Here’s co-founder and CEO of Jelly, Biz Stone (yup, same dude that helped give us Twitter) who explains it far better than I could. If that’s not enough, there’s more info on Jelly’s blog.

Quick thoughts:

  • The app (at least for iPhone) is still a bit wonky. For example, the only way to switch between Twitter handles at the moment seems to be to delete and re-install the app. Also, it murders your battery life – I suspect this might have to do with the high number of push notifications from the app alerting me to friends in need of answers
  • Jelly works by tapping into your existing connections on Twitter and Facebook – and your connections’ connections – but it keeps all interactions contained within its walls. While they’re likely to open this up in future, it plays to the trend of a) mobile first and worry about the desktop experience later and b) it’s not about getting mass reach or fame, but to help each other out in small-scale yet meaningful interactions
  • Swiping through questions is fun and simple and the wide variety of different questions is astonishing but also confusing. There isn’t a search or sort function and once you’ve dismissed a question, you can’t go back to it
  • There doesn’t seem to be a way to block other Jelly users from asking or responding to questions, nor does the app respect Twitter blocks. Interesting to see how they deal with the inevitable abuse cases and ‘less welcome’ content

Finally, can those social comms bods, please agree to not go for the obvious ‘Would you prefer product a, b or c?’ questions?

Social media news: The team that runs the New York Times’ Twitter feed analysed some of their most successful tweets in 2013 (in terms of click-throughs and retweets), and looked at how they used Twitter to encourage a variety of types of reader engagement with their journalism. @michaelroston, staff editor for social media, sums up their findings and I strongly suggest you give the results your full attention.

For those of the TL;DR mindset (I doubt you’ll have gotten this far, but hey), here’s my take:

  • Managing breaking news is about sharing approved and verified sources. To ensure accuracy, @nytimes will retweet journalists who are directly involvement in events instead of relying un unverified, third party sources
  • They let their journalists break ‘news situations’ – even without links to the NYT: Letting our trusted reporters deliver some news first helps them connect directly with an interested audience, and delivers news in a timely manner without sacrificing our commitment to accuracy 
  • Using social for call-outs for sources
  • Automated tweets are OK (automated in the sense that a new article that’s published to the site is tweeted automatically), but Tweets send via @nytimes performed better when they were written by editors: Twitter is a platform that helps extend The Times’s journalism to an audience that is not always the same as the one that visits our website directly. When we fit our storytelling to the medium, we do the best possible job of connecting with that audience
  • Clearly stated tweets describing the gist of the stories work better than clever headlines

Minimal goodness: A lovely collection of minimal ads that make your brain work just that little bit more to get the point and provide that brief Eureka moment when you get the point. Sent to me by @stangreenan remarking that his favourite was the one for Haribo. I’d have to agree:

Bits and bytes

  • On Vine? Make sure you have your web profile sorted as the six second video app makes the leap from mobile to desktop
  • Don’t know where to go on your next holiday? You could use Sightsmap, a nifty heat map of popular places around the world
  • Why is no-one is outraged about the New York Times redesign (despite the horribly intrusive related story pop-up functionality)? A playful post, but one that will leave anyone who’s ever worked on redesigning a website smiling. Also, you’ll learn what a hamburger is in terms of web design speak (HT @alexcole71)
  • The San Francisco Chronicle will put all its reporters through social media boot camp in an attempt to to arrest circulation decline and remain relevant in the digital age. The two month (!) programme is all about introducing digital metrics and measurement tools. Let’s hope they’re also addressing the required mental shift from print to digital
  • The reason why Netflix walked away from personalisation? The novelty factor: the new and unexpected is what delights customers, not a similar version of what they watched yesterday
  • XKCD provides a brilliant comeback to the question: “Why can’t you just enjoy the view rather than always take photos”

    Source: XKCD

Videos of the week: A case study from Kirby Ferguson, on the back of his excellent 4-part series Everything is a Remix about how creativity resembles remixing. He looks at how when it was launched, the iPhone borrowed from conventions and ideas outside of the smart phone realm to when the recent update of iOS6 was released, it borrowed from ideas within the smart phone realm.

It’s worth taking a look back at the entire series, the first and second films make the point that not only is everything today a remix, creation actually requires influence and that it doesn’t take any expensive tools or even skills to do so (anymore). The third film looks at how innovations truly happen and the fourth finishes on how our system of law doesn’t acknowledge the derivative nature of creativity.

If you fancy a quicker summary of all that goodness, I’d recommend Kirby Ferguson’s TED talk that brings this all together – without the excellent films and animations mind you.

And finally: Movie Code, images of the computer code appearing in TV and films and what they really are.

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