You'd have had to have been living in a cave somewhere deep into the forest of nowhere with nothing but a Nokia phone running Symbian to have missed the sharing of the Kony2012 campaign and the backlash that has since followed.
It's a strange phenomenon, that when a subject spreads rapidly and reaches mass consumption, opinions get divided and bring with it such strong and opposing views. It's the "cool" thing to do, you're not a sheep after all and you want to show the world that you have not been fooled, and that you have taken the time to read an article somewhere presenting a view in which you hadn't expected.
But isn't it a little, well, shortsighted? Lets assume for the sake of this post that you're aware the Kony campaign and some of the criticism it has received. Whilst much of the arguments against Invisible Children (the organisation behind the campaign) are based on fact, most fail to take in to consideration the perspective of the organisation and the purpose of their seemingly limited spend on the "actual cause".
One hot point for critical bloggers is that according to the organisations publicly available accounts, a mere 31% of the monies received by the organisation actually went on "charity work", with the remaining 69% splashed out on creating fancy promo videos, employee salaries and campaign merchandise. I have to say this is somewhat of an invalid argument. That 69% that didn't to go toward actual charity work has resulted in a worldwide movement, just yesterday morning few had even heard of Kony, now he's a household name. That is after all, what the campaign set out to do.
With a rapid explosion of awareness comes an overwhelming wave of support; support that will buy campaign merchandise, merchandise that will bring revenues of a monumental scale. Revenues that will for the most part go toward "actual charity work", because they've achieved their strategic objectives; making us aware.
One argument that many bloggers present is that this campaign will only result in more bloodshed. Kony's army is made up of children, children that have been trained to defend Kony and their own existence. There are going to be casualties, that's an inevitable, and truly saddening consequence of this, but it's a consequence that unfortunately has to happen so that these crimes can be brought to an end. We simply cannot allow these actions to continue. For the sake of the children and families not only in Uganda, but anywhere Kony operates, this needs to come to an end now.
So whilst you may feel there's merit in taking a critical view of the campaign, I would urge you to take a step back and put it all into perspective. Then, when you're sure of your view, make a decision: Do you want to support this cause and utilise the options available to help put an end to this? Or, do you want to just sit back and watch on as the world starts to forget and these terrible crimes continue?
I'm sure that if you're reading this, you're already aware of SOPA and GoDaddy's original stance on the act. What with the huge backclash from the online community, GoDaddy quickly rescinded their support of SOPA and now officially oppose it.
But was it enough to deter furious GoDaddy customers from transferring their domains away? For some yes, but I still wanted to transfer my domains anyway. I've just short of 20 held at GoDaddy and so I looked for somewhere that would allow me to easily port them over.
Say hello to Namecheap. Now Namecheap are a trusted brand, everyone in the web space has heard of them, and of course they weren't in support of SOPA. Realising GoDaddy's mistake, Namecheap threw up an offer to GoDaddy customers that was hard to refuse:
"Transfer all your com/net/org/info/biz domain names from anywhere to us for $6.99 using coupon code SOPAsucks. You’ll get one year free whois privacy with every domain and you’ll also get one year added to the end of each registration." Read the Namecheap coupons page.
Ok, so it does sound a little too good to be true, but I thought that considering recent events, Namecheap were just looking to capitalise on acquiring new customers, so thought nothing more of it and proceeded anyway. Having prepped all my domains, I made a start on the transfer process - Only, I had a few complications.
To cut a long (and rather boring) story short, a half an hour conversation with a Namecheap representative resulted in the cause of my problems. The first was that I was trying to import too many domains, they capped this at 10. The second was that it wasn't actually $6.99 for ALL domains as I had read, it was in fact $6.99 for each domain. The conversation was frustrating to say the least and out of principal I told Namecheap that I was disappointment at their customer service and no longer have an interest in transferring my domains to their platform. Way to go Namecheap.
Interestingly, I received an email the very next day from a Namecheap General Manager apologising for the confusion and for the way my support conversation was handled by their representative, she went on to explain in detail what the deal was and that she could understand how I might have interpreted this differently. In short, I was very impressed and pleased to receive this email as it restored some of my faith in the company.
That said, I still won't be transferring my domains to them. My conversation with the support representative was enough to deter me from wanting to use their platform.
Online advertising in its traditional form just doesn't work. Fact. Thousands can be thrown into campaigns offering little in return, some might argue that they generate traffic and increase brand exposure but what really does that mean for a company? I'll hazard a guess - Very little.
In today's online world we've become so accustomed to ads stalking us wherever we may be that we've trained our eye to skip over them, not doing much for brand exposure there huh?.
So that's where social ads come in, and Facebook is king. Using your data to serve ads most relevant to you, and not only that, most relevant to your well chosen, not-at-all random, group of friends.
But whilst Facebook now turns over a rather handsome profit, it's taken them 800 million users to do so. So what does this prove? Well, it proves that ads endorsed by friends, and customised for who you are, work. But how far really can social ads go?
The reason I ask is that many ads appearing on my Facebook profile in recent months have featured a poll, pretty nifty stuff, doesn't really feel like an ad. It doesn't really act like an ad too, nor does it have the impact of an ad. In fact, I must have read and submitted not far shy of dozen poll ads and I can't remember one, not a single one (Well accept the one in the screenshot below of course) ! These ads are interactive and often entertaining, which is cool right, and when you submit your answer, your friends get to see your name by that very same ad. Interactive. Social.
But one question I find myself asking is where exactly is the value? I mean, okay I've interacted and participated in an ad, that's quite an achievement in itself. And yes, my friends can relate with it too, but aside from that I've come away with nothing, not remembering the brand, not being directed through to a company website where they may run the possibility of gaining a few pennies from my pocket. And, more often than not, no call to action.
So what exactly is it doing?
A little over a month ago news broke of Justin Timberlake and Specific Media acquiring Murdoch's catastrophically failing MySpace, $35Million a seemingly good price considering Murdoch was to loose over $500Million in the deal.
Naturally the acquisition sparked a lot of conversation on the interwebs, with the vast majority criticising Timberlake for thinking that he was in fact Sean Parker. The talk has now receded into the archives and we're yet to hear of how the new owners plan to revitalise the network.
Why? Because they're working on something BIG, or at least they better be. With the amount of media this will receive in the coming years this is one big bubble of risk. MySpace without a shadow of a doubt has what it takes to be successful again, its focus has shifted to what it's good at; Music. What goes to MySpace' advantage, is that it has had time to learn a few tips and tricks from the new big boys in town, Facebook, Twitter and this here G+.
I expect we'll see the platform turn into more of a web app, and by that I mean less constricted then its current nature, friends will be out of the window and following will become the norm, whilst sharing music goes without saying. In all honesty the way that the site functions doesn't need all that much of an overhaul, its UX however, does. I'd like to see general users go behind the wall, with only band and artist profiles open to the public, this isn't a social network. With their profiles behind the wall, users could create a real hub for their favourite bands and artists, feeds displaying the latest news, releases, and gigs of their most loved performers.
The platform will do well to become the place again for up and coming bands and artists to get themselves out there, heard and recognised for their talent. Perhaps this is where it should focus most of it's efforts? After all, mainstream isn't 'cool'.
I played with similar technology at the inspire conference and it is definitely very cool. One of them enabled you to scan a luxury watch ad and then it would let you put your arm under your camera and show you a complete 360 degrees view of how the watch would look on arm while you rotate your arm... Very cool. Could be opportunities in using the technology in niche areas. like focusing on watch websites etc.
There's always that one guy that has this cool new idea he's working on, he seems so passionate about it and is excited to get it out there. 6, 7, 8 (let's just say many) months later, all has gone quiet. And the conversation goes a little like this...
"So what's happening with that cool new project you were working on?"
"You know, the one where you were going to..."
"Oh that, yeah I didn't really do much with that. I'm working on something much cooler now, it's gonna blow your freakin' mind!"
And yet in six months time, you'll be having the same conversation.
Well, as much as it pains me to say this, I'm that person. I've had so many "projects" over the past few years I've lost count. Has any one of them seen the light of day? Well yes, but that failed miserably. The point is, it's all too easy to get distracted and move onto something else, perhaps it's that hurdle where you're just not sure what to do next or how to do it, so instead of finding a way to tackle it head on, you take the easy way out and start something new.
I'm quick to blame my failings on the lack of capital, that I "need" to get my projects off the ground. And that justifies my avoidance. Of course, it doesn't, far from it. But I just don't know how to push through, not right now any way.
So here I am, I've been working on a project for about four months or so, and I'm stuck. I've hit a road block where I don't have the expertise to overcome my problem, nor do I have the cashflow to bring in someone that does. And instead of trying to find a way around it, or learning the necessary skills, I sit back and mope about it. The lack of motivation ever increasing.
Obviously, I need to overcome this, and I need to do it now. My question is, how?
(Disclaimer: I realise that this post could potentially harm any future applications I may submit to tech incubators and / or seed rounds, however I feel being open about this will help me to overcome this problem, and will make a better founder of me in doing so).
She has brought relief to many scanners by explaining that although in current society it is seen as failure if you don't complete, she suggests that your boundless enthusiasm and inquisitiveness can be very valuable, as long as there are also "plodders" on the team to tie up all the loose ends after your focus has moved on.
The title of her book for scanners has changed a few times but the best one to use to check it out at Amazon is:
Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams
Although I prefer the older title: What can I do when I want to do everything?
It contains some interesting simple ways to learn to love the way you are, including opening a box file every time you get interested in a new thing and throw all your papers in there.
So although all the projects are unfinished, you do have a wall full of variously coloured box files to admire, containing all your notes, as your accomplishment.
There are even scanner groups, like Scanners Night at screwworkletsplay dot com which also features a book too.
On January sixth 2010, my grandad passed away having suffered a major heart attack.
And I’m angry with myself because It all feels so unfinished, there was so much we still had to do, so many moments we still had to share. If I had gotten round to actually doing them when I intended, when I said I would, then maybe things would be different. Now he’s gone I feel like we left off with him not knowing all that I wanted for him, for me, and not understanding the way I do things and why I do them that way. I thought the world of my grandad, I looked up to him. And probably saw him as more of a dad to me, because I never knew my own, nor did I want to, I had no need. He was there for me.
I remember how when I was a child I’d look forward to every weekend, because that meant I was headed to my grandparents whilst my mum went off to work. My grandad would always greet me with a packet of sweets, Wine gums usually, because they were our favourite. I would always have to give him a red or a black one, and if there was only one black one, we’d fight over it, though he’d always let me win. We’d go on bike rides, occasionally stopping at the pub on the way back where he treated me to a glass of coke while he sipped a pint.
Of all the people in the world, it was my grandad I wanted to make most proud. He showed me the real meaning of work ethic, working hard, putting in the hours to achieve what he set out to achieve. Providing for his family. Over the past year or two my grandad and I haven’t been able to connect quite as well as we once had, perhaps it’s because I started to grow further independent from my family, determined to take on the world my own way. He didn’t seem to understand some of the things I did and why I did them, I’d try and explain but could never get my view across, we frustrated each other because we both wanted so much for the other to see our viewpoint.
I’d tell him of my ambitions, my hopes, my dreams. He’d listen but was always able to present me with some kind of challenge as to why it wouldn’t work. And I know now that it was all out of love, not wanting to see me fall after having thrown myself into each one. This is where we differed, he believed in creating security, in starting off small and working your way up throughout your career, not going at it alone, not taking on so much potential risk and not really knowing if it was ever going to take off. But I needed him to see this in me, to believe that I could do it. To know that while things may seem a little uncertain now, a few years down the line I’d have proved to him the possibilities.
And that’s exactly what I promise to do, I promise to do all that I can to make him proud. I promise to show him that his attitude to hard work and putting in the time necessary to achieve all that I set out for has rubbed off on me. Has guided the way that I think, assisting me with the day to day decisions in my life. I’m determined to make something of myself, and if I do, I want him to know that it’s through him that I have managed it.
I think it's safe to say I cannot welcome the new year more! 2011 hasn't been the best of years for me, what with the many challenges and struggles it brought; the split with Emma, the worry of the health of members of my family, problems and frustrations with the beginnings of my career.
It has been a difficult one. That said, this has perhaps been the most definitive year of my life. I have learnt so much, and am most likely a far better person for it. The year has helped shape my perspective on the world and I'm now happy with what I want and where I'm going. My priorities have changed.
It's been tough, not being in a relationship, after having someone there by your side for so long. But it couldn't have come at a better time, my relationship with Emma ended in such a way that it has allowed us to stay close friends, probably for the rest of our time here. Had we lasted any longer, it perhaps would be a different story.
I've built up some great friendships over the year also, and hope to continue to do so in the coming year - with many more day trips to France, DVD marathons and festivals.
So although 2011 has brought its troubles, and I'll be glad to see it pass, it has also seen many times I will never forget.
Here's to the new year, see ya'll in 2012.
But I have this one problem.
More often than not I find myself wanting to post some of my deepest thoughts, or even meaningful sayings or lyrics. The trouble is, with the web being so open, I run the risk of hurting some of those close to me, the people that know me well enough to read beyond what is written and find the true meaning behind it. Unintentionally of course, but when you start to reveal what's really on your mind, how you really feel, that's when you need to stop and think what effect those few words may have.
So what do I do? I want to keep a journal, not so much daily, whenever I feel like it. But I'm not so good at opening up a diary and adding an entry, that's just not me. Everything I do is on the web, so why shouldn't this be? I want to post a status that, given the courage, I'd shout from the roof tops. I want to post song lyrics and sayings that reflect what I'm thinking or feeling at that time. But there's nowhere, nowhere that lets you get away with it. There are hundreds of social networks out there, but that's just it, however 'Private' they may be, they're still social.
I'd like to see a service that allows you to sign up without revealing who you may be, without receiving umpteen friend requests or followers. Without the private messaging or sharing of content. Somewhere truly private, a space that's yours to just let it all out.
We're now on the fourth consecutive day of rioting here in London, and Blackerry have announced that they will be working closely with the Metropolitan Police to crack down on youths most responsible for organising and encouraging Violence and looting on London streets.
Fortunately, the law requires social networks and similar services such as Blackberry's Private Messenger to give full disclosure of user accounts as and when requested by the Police. The downside however is that this has to be done on a case-by-case basis. Every account under investigation has to be individually requested.
Doesn't this all seem a little backward?
There are so many rules and regulations surrounding personal data that obtaining such information when it is needed just isn't a straight forward process. Somewhat ironic considering these communications are technically in the public domain. Understandably, the vast majority of users on social networks do not want the government knowing their each and every move, but then if you've nothing to hide why feel so strongly about keeping it private?
Surely in such instances as these certain restrictions should be relinquished, with user profiles and messages being scanned for keywords indicating any kind of involvement, gloating or encouragement - leading to further investigation of those that prove to be suspicious.
Such availability to the Police will mean they are able to prepare and react quickly to potential threats, dispersing gangs before destruction levels reach anything like we've seen in the past few days.
It has become clear that Social Networks and Private Messaging services have facilitated these sporadic events and as such should be the medium used to prevent and bring prosecution.
Sadly though, this just won't be case. Not unless drastic and undeniably necessary changes are made to the law surrounding personal data.
This brings me back to a concept I thought up a short while ago, essentialy it was a platform creating an easy way for people with no real design or technical skill, without time and money, to invent creative and effective ways to get themselves noticed by potential employers. I quickly snapped up the domain thehiremecampaign.com but shelved the project to keep my focus on other things.
Perhaps it's time to wipe off the dust and give it some life, there's just this one stumbling block... The vast majority of people looking for jobs right now are unemployed and flat out bloke (a generalisation I know but not far from the truth I'm sure) and that begs the question, "How will the site make money?".
First off Ads are out of the question, I mean could you imagine being an employer, sent a link to a fancy website by an interviewee only to watch Barclays talk about Squirrels before moving on to an online resume? I don't think that will go down too well.
Then again, that itself could be just the key to monetization; Offer a free plan with somewhat annoying ads, or a premium plan that throws out such malarky. For fear of ruining their chances further, people may just find themselves searching the backs of their sofa's for a small setup fee.
- Daniel MeadeFreelance Web Designer, 2012 - present
- MetricMag.comCo-founder, 2012 - present
- Smarta.comProduct Manager, 2010 - 2012
- University of PortsmouthMarketing, 2008 - 2011
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