Venturing is the new social

I had this slide in a presentation to a client about six months ago.

They’d asked me to come in and tell them what social media might mean for their business.

I introduced the presentation with some basic creds, how I’ve been doing this ‘digital’ thing since 1995, and how the question has rarely changed since then:

90s – What might the web mean for our business?
00s – What might mobile mean for our business?
2007 – What might digital mean for our business?
2009 – What might social mean for our business?
2010 – What might apps mean for our business?
2011 – What might social mean for our business?
2012 – What might …

and here’s my punt, What might venturing mean for our business?

(Excuse the order and timestamps, its just to illustrate a point).

By venturing, I mean creating new businesses, new products and new services, or investing in the process which allows them to be created.

Rapid product and brand creation. Applying startup and incubator models to agencies, and seeing what happens.

In its poorest form, it looks like agencies setting up hack days and not paying its developers, using the results and saying ‘look what we made’.

Slightly higher (or lower) on the scale is networks pouring cash into incubators like Wayra.

Above that are agency models like PIE and DE-DE, and shifting propositions from companies like R/GA.

And of course, at the very top are businesses like Frog, Ideo, Fluxx and Sidekick.

Venturing is the new new. That comes with bad and good, but will undoubtedly be interesting to see what is created/coerced.

Update: Just stumbled across this link which explains some of the problems with venturing and generally issues with working in startup modes. When campaigns fail, no-one dies. When businesses/products/ventures fail, jobs and people’s careers can be on the line.

Do Not Disturb


I had this idea about three years ago, but only just got around to building it.

My twitter avatar now reflects the current size of my inbox.

Using a combination of Google Scripts to read my gmail account, and a custom PHP script to send data to the Twitter API, the script reads my inbox status every two hours or so, and updates the image accordingly.

I want to extend this to something more visual in my office, something physical, well crafted, nice to look at, and providing ambient information.

But for now, you can tell how likely I am to tweet based upon my twitter avatar.

Update: Some people mentioned that its confusing not having a single avatar to recognise me by, which is a very fair and valid point. When I get some time, I’ll develop another icon set which primarily has my face, and then some numbers too, not dissimilar to twibbon I guess, or perhaps just standard type with changing colour backgrounds (although I’m red/green colour blind, so wouldn’t be much use for me!). For now, though, I like the simplicity of the type and colour.

Update 2: I’ve written a tutorial on how to replicate this functionality, which has been posted on .net magazine.

Obsolesce is more.

Google by Michael Mandiberg
Google by Michael Mandiberg, used under CC License

I’ve been thinking recently about obsolescence, and whether we sometimes throw the baby out with the bathwater when jumping from one platform to another.

The Yellow Pages, for instance, has been practically destroyed and made irrelevant by Google, yet Google doesn’t allow you to browse in categories, as the Yellow Pages did, nor see an unrated/unfiltered/uneditorialised list of everyone in your local area – just those who have good page rank (and how many plumbers do you know that understand the importance of semantically structured content?).

The newspaper, although far from dead, is a snapshot of moment in time, and not just a single article but a massive slice through a single day, curating news, opinion, advertising, economics, literary style, design influence, and many other socially and culturally interesting aspects beyond just a specific piece of copy. Yes, the Wayback Machine exists, but it gives you little context.

Are there unique elements we lose, which still have value, as we progress to the next stage of an object or medium? How can they be amplified and either pivoted around or reborn to maintain relevance, rather than simply nostalgia?

Perhaps looking backwards is a good way of spotting valuable things we’ve lost and deserve to be remembered, or at the very least explored.

Child’s i Foundation Winner of Winners at Technology 4 Good Awards

A couple of weeks ago, Child’s i Foundation were honoured with two awards from the Technology 4 Good Awards, organised by Abilitynet.

I was dragged on to camera to talk about how technology helps our charity, and why the award is actually recognition for all of the community who put the effort in.

You can find out more about Child’s i Foundation here, and the awards themselves here.