[PT] – “The Promoted Tweet”

As reported here in The Guardian, the latest OFT crackdown wants celebrities to reveal if they’re being paid to tweet about brands and products.




Which is, you know, fair enough I reckon.


And I don’t think people are daft enough to think that in the modern age of celebrity, it hasn’t been going on anyway.


But with only 140 characters to play with, it’s going to be pretty hard for people to add in a full statement along the lines of “This tweet was sponsored by The National Geographic Society”…


…so what I suspect we’ll see is some form of user-created shorthand for ‘promoted or paid-for tweets’, perhaps something like:




It’ll be short, clean and clear enough to be included at the end of a message.


Crucially, it won’t be something controlled centrally by twitter (which would be an unmanageable task), but a common practice that emerges from the PR & social ends of the industry.


What’ll be most interesting, if it happens, is seeing just how many tweets in the stream start to feature [PT] or equivalent… or do celebrities really just tweet about stuff because they like it…?

People want to be brands, brands want to be people

So, I was in the paper today.  I’ve not been in the paper since I was in the Hamilton Advertiser for playing rugby or something.  It was a while ago.  Mum may have a cutting I guess.

Anyhoo, I was in The Observer, chipping in my tuppence-worth about sports people and twitter, after all the Pietersen/Mascarenhas/Rice twitter hiccups of late.  The article’s here if you’re interested (and you aren’t an Observer reader).


Of course, as is always the case whenever you say something, you walk away and think of millions of much smarter, wittier, more insightful things. 

It occured today that, in general, sports stars (and other celebs, of course) have been chasing ‘brand’ status for a while… to have the perfect, replicable, sellable image that will reap millions from sponsorship deal after sponsorship deal.

Twitter (if in the hands of the star themselves, unfiltered and unfettered by advisors, managers or PRs) doesn’t help with that. 

By putting someone so indefatigably human at the heart of a direct communication to millions, it should be no surprise that they act… well, human.  They say the sorts of things that ordinary people say to each other.  It doesn’t get ground through the machine into the worthless, sanatised quotes we expect from today’s sports stars.

The main benefit of this (and I think this is kinda of universally agreed) is that it helps bring sporting stars and sporting fans ‘closer together’.

Which is, at the other end of the spectrum, what ‘brands’ want to do.  Which is why companies and brand teams up and down the land are trying to break apart this ‘perfect brand image’ and become more real, more connected, more… human.

I reckon that, over the next five years, a lot more companies will end up somewhere in between the sports stars and the brands; unique, talented individuals who’re part of that company will be the brand representatives, but with the acceptance that it’s warts ‘n all. 

It’s not just what is being said that’s important, it’s who is saying it.





Photoshop & Tate Modern's Giant Baby installation

I was at Tate Modern this weekend, and was really impressed by their new Giant Baby installation in the turbine hall…



Ha, yeah, fair cop… I was just mucking about with a bit of perspective, and using the TiltShiftGen app on the iPhone.

The app replicates some of the functionality of proper tilt-shift photography, which is most often used to replicate miniature photography…

…for instance this shot below from the Wikipedia page is a great example of a real life scene that’s been made to look like a model village scene.



All very fun, but do I have a point beyond just posting fun family pics?  Well, maybe.

A while back I wrote a post about how phone apps were beginning to replace hardware things

Well, Max (PHD’s resident photography whizz) and I were talking yesterday about the implications of apps for the more professional, heavy duty software like Photoshop.



This is a screengrab of Photoshop Elements, which I’m trialling at the moment; since switching to a Mac, I don’t have a copy of Photoshop anymore, as I was using an ancient version (PS7) on my old Windows laptop.  I do have CS3 at work though.

It costs £80, it’s very much the stripped back version of Photoshop, designed for the home amateur.  To be fair, I’m not found that much I’m missing from the full version, but there’s the odd thing here and there that bugs me when it’s missing. 

I’m not sure I think it’s worth £80 though, and that’s probably because my internal perception for the value of ‘mucking about with images’ is being pulled down by various things.

Firstly, of course, there’s the phone apps. 

QuadCamera, Hipstamatic, CameraBag, TiltShiftGen… they all do a small element of what Photoshop can do, and in comparison they are just one-trick ponies. 

There’s a Photoshop app too, which I’ve got, but only use it infrequently for the cropping tool.



But having the suite available wherever and whenever has meant that I never do what I used to with snappy phone photography, which is go back to a computer and touch up the best ones in Photoshop.

I have the instant ability to either take more interesting photos, or adjust ones I’ve taken already, right there in my hand.

Then there was Sumo Paint, which Michael drew my attention to yesterday… it’s basically a cloud-based version of Photoshop (and feels very like Photoshop too). 

As long as your connected to the web, you can use it.  If you’re offline a lot, you can buy the download for about £14.  That seems a lot better value than Photoshop Elements…



(Suneil pointed out the irony of something that challenges Photoshop so directly running on Adobe’s other big ‘ting, Flash…)

It’s all made me think that the ‘photo manipulation’ market if fragmenting in much the same way that the print market is.

Imagine Photoshop is the original newspaper; it sells you everything in one big package, you can’t strip out just the parts you want, because originally it couldn’t be served to you that way… and it was just the model they continued with when the interweb came along.

Then something like Sumo Paint is the news website… it gives you most of the content you used to have in a paper you paid for, but for free.  The catch?  You’ve got to be online to use it.  But that actually suits a lot of people, so they stop buying the newspaper…

Finally, the apps are… well, the apps.  They take one specific element of the paper, do it REALLY WELL, and sell it to people for a small fee.

I guess Adobe are heading down The Times paywall approach with photoshop; big fee, small audience. 

Personally, I’d like to see them playing more in the app end of things… let their imagination run wild, and use their excellent tech to make many small, cheap, wondrous things.

But maybe that’s not how big companies work.


The #commutebox playlist principles

While we’re talking about #commutebox

…the playlists are being successful enough (eg lots of people adding lots of songs, which is ace) that I thought I’d post up some principles to shape the playlist: 

So, without further ado…

The commutebox playlist principles.

i) Whatever the playlist theme, think of a connection for the song you add.  You may be tested.

ii) Add a track here and there.  Maybe two or three.  DON’T bulk add, it just looks greedy

iii) If you’re a-twitterin’, then tweet what you’ve added using the #commutebox hashtag

iv) At a randomly designated time, the playlist will be closed, and I will curate…

Eh?  Curate?

Yeah, I know, harsh, when people give up time to add stuff. 

But if a playlist is open to everything, it just gets WAY too long.  Just a big list of songs.  Take your big list elsewhere, sunny-jim. This is commutebox.

Each playlist will be timed, see, to be twice the UK average commute, which some old news item randomly found on t’internet suggests is 45 minutes.  Even my maths tells me that’s an hour and a half of music, put together by your peers.  Nice.

So, what’re you waiting for; see if you can make the cut at on the commutebox summer playlist


#commutebox playlist & spotify; TV next, please?

It’s been a while since a few folks and I started mucking about with the #commutebox hashtag on twitter.  It was a way for friends to share the tracks and albums they were listening to on the way to work. 

That way, you’d find out what else folk were listening to, and might find a few more interesting things yourself.  (I talked about it here, ’twas over a year ago now it seems.  Doesn’t time fly..?)



But of course, twitter’s hardly the most natural home for doing it perfectly.  Like it is for many other things, the simple twitter interface was the inexpensive ‘best’ we could do at little effort at the time.

But most folk didn’t search for #commutebox every day, they probably just saw a tweet here and there suggesting some new music.

What we were probably all waiting for was the social Spotify malarkey. 

Since they launched the social features, we’ve compiled a lovely spring playlist, and we’re halfway through a summer playlist.  It’s really easy just to quickly add tracks whenever the mood takes you.



Then everyone who subscribes to the playlist has it on their desktop, or their phone if they have a premium account.  An instant source of a peer-curated music.

So with that experience, it’s of great interest to see the launch of Spotify TV in Sweden & Finland…



Sure, at the moment it’s just for creating your own playlist of music through the TV remote.

But you’ve got to think they’re just paving the way for the technology to work for TV content, rather than just music.

Which would be great; a TV guide curated by you and your mates, that you can all set up to watch on specific occasions (not unlike when we’re ‘all’ commuting with the music…). 

It’s been talked about before, but please, make it so, Spotify…


Dave Mykopedazzi's Google Pacman downfall

21st May, 2010.  4:00pm

Somewhere in a Google office, Dave Mykopedazzi presses the button to release their first playable doodle, Pacman.  Then mentions it on Google twitter account.  He reclines, and awaits reaction.




Ah, reaction is pretty good.  Lots of OMGing and ZOMGing.  RTs all over the shop.  Lots of people are playing, according to the Google Pacometer they built to monitor the gameplay. 

Some people wouldn’t spend six months and $3.2 million developing something to monitor gameplay on a free game that’ll be up for a day.  But some people aren’t Google; each toilet roll in the lavatories contains an interwoven strand from the Turin Shroud.  Money is no object.

The Pacometer whirrs nicely, as does Twitter.  Dave rises from his Dodo-pelt chair, and strides casually to the kitchen for a cup of tea, the gentle swagger befitting of someone who ‘brought back Pacman’.


After spending a few extra minutes making tea as he engaged in some mild flirting with Pam from Algorithms & Process (that ‘impossible number’ line always works…), Dave returns to his desk…

…and the first thing he notices is the silence… the Pacometer, which gave off a faint, softened ‘click’ every time someone finished a level, is soundless.  Is it broken?  Is PACMAN DOWN..?

Dave checks Twitter…

They HATE it.  The disparaging remarks, the derogatory comments, the cruel taunting.  What HAPPENED?  In the few minutes he was away, it went from being the darling of the digerati to becoming loathed and despised across the globe.  A seething wall of vitriol heads Google’s way…


‘They put Pacman in their logo’ becomes the phrase that supercedes ‘jumping the shark’…

…needed, obviously, as ‘jump the shark’, in a cruel moment of irony, had jumped the shark itself… and no one wants to see a shark jumping itself.

The wikipedia entries for Google, Pacman, TV Shows, Happy Days and ‘things you have to explain to your mum’ are updated to reflect the new age.


Google share prices start to tumble… the fall is unlike anything seen in the history of modern capitalism.  Yes, including even all that bank stuff.


The Channel 4 news, desperate to appear ‘with it’ by heavy-handed use of use modern phrases, refers to the story about Google putting Pacman in their logo as the most famous case to date of a company ‘putting Pacman in their logo’. 

By the end of the bulletin, having been informed by a junior producer who has become the first person in history to open the ‘Stocks’ app on an iPhone, they’ve moved to talking about Google in the past tense…


Distraught at his desk, Dave Mykopedazzi casts a forlorn gaze at the Pacometer, before calmly walking to the nearest window, opening it, and stepping out onto the 7th floor ledge.

“Isn’t it amazing” he thinks, as the ground hurtles towards him “just how quickly people turn on you on Twitter?”


There's a Glitch in the matrix…

There’s a Glitch in the matrix.  Or at the very least, in the pipeline:



I chased this down earlier when Johnny Vulkan tweeted “Manic Miner + Second Life x Sims + Farmville – Tekken = Glitch. Destined to be very big or not. You tell me.”

Glitch themselves describe it as…

“…a massively-multiplayer game, playable in the browser and built in the spirit of the web. It is currently in development and will launch late in 2010. Private alpha is beginning shortly and a public beta period will begin this summer.”

Go sign up.  You know you wanna.


Mucking about with Twitter stats

I’ve just been mucking about with twitter stats, just for something we’re doing for a client. 

I thought I’d share some things I like… just because, well, I’m in a shary mood.

Tweetstats is nice: input a user name, and it’ll break down stats into day, time, frequent replies etc…



…and it even allows you to take all the tweets, and turn ’em into a Wordle



I also like Trendistic (which used to be called Twist, I think… that’s what it’s still called in my bookmarks)…

…which tracks keywords and hashtags by day…



…and finally, the very useful Tweetreach, which not only tells you the number of tweets in the last seven days, but also counts the followers of the individual (and those of any lists) to create a ‘total impressions’ figure

though it’s only the total POSSIBLE impressions, not ACTUAL people who have seen it.




Twitter trend map searchery type thing…

I just came across this, as it started sending traffic to Feeding The Puppy

…it’s called Trendsmap, and it lets you look at Twitter Trends by location on a map of the world.  Oh yes, yes indeedy…



…then if you click on one of the words hovering over the area you’re looking at, it will bring up the box on the left with the most recent tweets from that area on that subject.

Well worth a look, could be useful for a lot of things…