Monday, September 27, 2010

Embedding Location Into Everything, Everywhere

I was asked today whether I thought geo-location social media activities will catch on - would everyone really be checking into everywhere they go during the day. I thought about for less then a second and said, without doubt, yes. To be clear though, I don't think this will mean that you'll walk around 'checking in' on your phone as you might do now.

Think back to when Flickr introduced the functionality to view photos on a map. This was done using EXIF data but it quickly grew in popularity and use and soon digital cameras and image devices began including positioning chips to embed geo-tags directly into photos. As people began moving from photo-hosting sites such as Flickr to Social Networks, for their photo storage, even the most basic of images started having location metadata included manually.

The next step in all of this was the explosion of Social Networks like Foursquare and Gowalla. These platforms have created a market for location check-ins and the uptake of many businesses use of location-based promotions. With the emergence of Facebook Places geo-location has now very much opened up to a mainstream audience. This doesn't even take into account that Twitter has been allowing location metadata for some time.

Beyond all of this, however, the holy grail of location=based functionality will very much be pre-emptive alerts for users about things or people nearby that may be of interest. This will be based on not having to check-in to a place to see if your friends are nearby or if there are any interesting offers. This will all happen via automatic location monitoring and users allowing their friends to see where they are whenever they choose.

Exciting times!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Uniqlo Lucky Machine

The Japanese fashion folk Uniqlo have relaunched in the UK with yet another example of web brilliance, the Lucky Machine. This pinball game offers UK customers have the chance to win a £1,000 cash prize, as well as instant online discount vouchers from £5 up to £100.

With three stages of play each customer is given three balls but with the option to get more balls by inviting their friends to play the game via Facebook or Twitter. So the more friends you invite the more chances you have at winning! As with all the Uniqlo promotions and activities to date, this is a breath of fresh air both from a mechanic and a design point of view. Hat tip to chaps involved, very nice work. Check out this video, it pretty much explains all...

Monday, September 20, 2010

The So Coal Network

I posted previously about the upcoming Facebook / Mark Zuckerberg movie, The Social Network. As I said then, and as I would still say now, I reckon it looks pretty good - I can't wait to see it. However, Greenpeace have just launched a campaign playing on that upcoming release that I think everyone should consider.

Greenpeace are calling on everyone to consider Mark's current relationship. They point out that while his Facebook profile doesn’t list him as being in a relationship,
"it might say 'in a relationship with coal'". You see Greenpeace's campaign is all about the relationship that they say Facebook has with fossil fuel. Specifically this is to do with Mark's January announcement that Facebook would be building a new datacentre in Prineville, Oregon, that would be powered by coal. He then subsequently announced that the size of the storage facility would be doubling, also therefore its dependence on coal would also double.

Greenpeace say that it was Mark’s decision to go with with coal instead of one of the renewable options open to Facebook has driven them to create this campaign. In an open letter to Mark on the 1st September, Greenpeace’s Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo, said:

"No global business leader, particularly not one who reaches so many people daily, could deny that in this time it is both a threat to a company’s reputation and financial health risk to ignore their company’s environmental impacts."

The following video was created by Greenpeace for this campaign:

Friday, September 17, 2010

The World`s First "Intelligent Stamp" for Royal Mail

I've mentioned this to a few people recently and found that a lot of folks missed the story. I'll admit that this is probably news that boarders precariously between nerdy and geeky but nonetheless I'm happy to say I thought it was pretty cool and worth a mention.

With the launch of the Royal Mail`s new Great British Railway Special Stamp collection, they decided to do something a little bit different and a little bit exciting. The Royal Mail teamed up with Junaio to create a Royal Mail channel on their platform and to provide online content via smartphones and augmented reality.

By simply pointing your smartphone`s camera onto the stamp when in the junaio application, the online content on the stamp`s theme, which below is a reciting of the "Night Mail" poem by Bernard Cribbins, will automatically launch. RBIT Limited, working with m2end and junaio, has provided a whole new way of interacting with the world of stamps on mobile phones. Following other recent work around smart packaging and the talking magazine, the intelligent stamp is another cool use of the junaio platform to "glue" digital (3D or multimedia) information onto real-world objects.

Philip Parker, Head of Stamp Strategy, Royal Mail, said: "This is the first time a national postal service has used this kind of technology on their stamps and we`re very excited to be bringing intelligent stamps to the nation`s post". He added: "Through Intelligent Stamp technology, our stamps will open up to a whole new world of information, interest and fun to collectors and the millions of people who will receive them on letters in the coming months alike."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Smirnoff 'Be There' - Nightlife Exchange Project

With everything from a Wedding Night to a Masquerade Ball to a trip to Rio Carnival, the last year has seen Smirnoff doing some of the most original and exciting events that I think Dublin has ever seen. The question is, where do you go from there? Topping these and bringing something similarly new, unique and exciting to Irish nightlife isn't going to be an easy task. Perhaps unsurprisingly though, it looks like Smirnoff have done just that.

Smirnoff's latest 'Be There' endeavour, the Nightlife Exchange Project, is a serious international undertaking that looks to continue those previous glories but also taking the whole 'Be there' concept to a new level, and introducing us to an international night out while giving another country all that is brilliant about a night out in Ireland. The Smirnoff 'Nightlife Exchange Project’ sees the public of 14 countries given the opportunity to nominate what they think are the best bits of their country's nightlife. These ideas will then be captured by a suitable person who lives and works at the heart of their country's nightlife. Finally, all the best bits of each country's nightlife will be packed-up in a crate and transformed into exciting event experiences. Each country will be sistered with another and on the 27th November, the world will swap nights. The 14 countries, coming from 6 continents, who will take part in the project are: USA, UK, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Lebanon, Poland, South Africa, Thailand and Venezuela.

Smirnoff Ireland Brand Manager Carol McHugh said, “Smirnoff Ireland is delighted to be part of this exciting initiative, showcasing the best of Irish nightlife to a global audience. The Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project is the most exciting example of creating a 'Be There' moment yet”.

From an Irish perspective the project is being driven via Facebook. To do this the existing Smirnoff Ireland Facebook page has been upgraded to host a specially created hub through which consumers are invited to add their suggestions for what represents the best of Irish nightlife. This might be a specific type of music, a locally-conceived cocktail or a fashion trend unique to a particular part of the world. Once the suggestions are in, it will be up to a local expert Curator in each country to decide what will represent the very best of each country’s nightlife in the exchange. However, you can also follow the project through the project twitter profile using #SmirnoffXChangeirl for your updates.

Siobhan O’Dowd and I at the launch of the Smirnoff 'Nightlife Exchange Project’

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the project and got to meet Ireland's Nightlife Exchange Project curator, Siobhan O’Dowd. Siobhan is Director of Marketing at POD and a former Entertainment Officer at Trinity College Dublin. Siobhan is also one of the driving forces behind Electric Picnic. There's no doubt that Siobhan is perfectly suited to help shape and direct what Ireland crate will eventually look like. I was lucky enough to be able to grab 15min with Siobhan and ask her a couple of questions about what all of this meant to her.

What attracted you to the project?
I love the idea of working on a global project. I love the idea of showcasing the best of Irish nightlife internationally, as currently Dublin is way behind other European cities like Barcelona, Paris, London in terms of perception and that needs to change. I love the concept of tapping into what constitutes an amazing night out for people, from both an event promoter perspective, and from a more personal loving-finding-out-what-makes-people-tick one. I love the idea of getting as much interaction as possible from people on this via the Smirnoff Ireland Facebook page, as this crate is not about me, it’s about all of us...

When you were told the concept, what immediately sprung into your own mind as things that would go into the crate?
I think I did a mental flick through of my Facebook photographs to catalogue the best moments I've had in the past few months, and came up with some of my hit-list that way – that would be the Irish BBQ (where you end up cooking it in the oven), fancy-dress parties, brunch – it’s amazing how much of mine would revolve around food actually... The Ulster fry, Guinness Stew, jelly & ice-cream, they’d definitely have to feature! For music it would be my Saturday Pod residents – David DeValera for house & techno, Rob Linnane, Eoin Long and Matt Quigley for their smooth & soulful Chocolate Bar sounds, Cue Cuts as the newest electro trio to emerge on the local resident scene of late, and bands such as Miracle Bell for some serious music or Attention Bebe for some fun. It would be a mix of fun, and good contemporary cutting edge talent basically – a three dimensional package that would give another country a true insight into what a good night out in Ireland actually involves shattering any preconceptions about leprechuns and colleens. In fact, my problem would be like all my holiday packing endeavours and knowing what I can’t fit in the suitcase...

Electric Picnic is certainly a unique concept within the Irish market, do you think that the Smirnoff 'Be There' events have the same originality to them?
It’s difficult to parallel the two – I'm all on for originality in all of it’s guises and think creativity is to be encouraged as much as possible!

And do you think it's the success of Electric Picnic that has made you the perfect person to curate Ireland's crate?
I think being a part of Electric Picnic is probably the most high profile of the events that I have worked on, but having a love of lots of different aspects of music, arts and culture probably broadens the scope of what I’ll be looking for, and that will hopefully lead to a truer reflection of Irish culture. My Undergraduate degree in Drama & Theatre Studies, my year as Entertainments Officer in Trinity, and nine years working with Pod on every music genre under the sun from techno to country will all hopefully lend themselves to helping curate various aspects of the feedback and ideas that are generated through the Facebook integration.
What are you looking forward to most about the whole project?
It’s hard to say – on one hand it’s getting involved with people this end and finding out as much as possible about what constitutes their best night out, on another it’s going to be receiving the crate from our sister country to work out what bits translate and what bits don’t, so that we have an amazing event that Irish people “get”, while still reflecting the culture of our sister city.

If the country we are paired with was up to you, who would be top of your list?
I’d have to say Australia, Argentina or Brazil as I’ve never been to any of those places and I’d love to get to know them better. I’d like least to be paired with a country with a similar culture, as it would be much more difficult to make the event really different, stand-out & essentially, special.

Finally, what's a perfect Irish night out for you?
It would start with a get-ready with some of the girls & guys over for food (token effort healthy bits that always get left at the end, lashings of evil carbs and greasy party stuff), cocktails, and leaving the house looking like a clothes & make-up-bomb has gone off. It would continue to somewhere like the No-Name bar or anywhere on Camden St, and mood dependently continue to a spot for tunes such as Pygmalion or Pod, or maybe to Odessa for more chats than dancing, or if it was one of *those* nights to anywhere that permits throwing shapes around a handbag. Then to Ricks Burgers on the corner of Georges Street, then all back to ours for one more tune... The night out would also have to include the brunch the next day for a full on fry-up! It would be interesting to see what the other Curators might make of that one I guess...

Being completely truthful, I'm totally looking forward to seeing what we decide is Ireland's best bits of a night out and I have no doubt that Siobhan will do a bang up job - this is definitely a really great idea. For now though it's all about submitting ideas, before the results are revealed to the public on October 22nd. Stay tuned anyway and as soon as I hear anything new I'll post an update.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Samsung Galaxy

I was sent on this really cool video by The Viral Factory. It's their latest creation for Samsung, to promote their new Galaxy mobile phone.

What I like most about this video is that it's not a Flash Mob. That might sound odd but it'd be very easy to take something like the Galaxy, which has a serious good camera, and to do a Flash Mob. Instead the guys have gone in a different direction. Plus, let's face it, that's one very adorable little kid.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kinetic Typography of Human Rights

Some eye-candy for a grey Wednesday evening. I love Kinetic Typography and this is one of my favourite examples.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Carphone warehouse Campaign To Highlight Cyber-Bullying

Yesterday the Carphone Warehouse, partnering with Professor Mona O’Moore of the Anti-bullying Centre in Trinity College, launched a campaign to highlight the risks posed by cyber-bullying. The campaign offers tips to parents to prevent and deal with the different ways that children might suffer from cyber-bullying.

Cyber-bullying is when a person or group makes use of electronic communication devices, particularly mobile phones and the Internet to deliberately harass, intimidate or humiliate another individual. According to The Handbook of Aggressive Behaviour Research, one in four girls (24%) and one in six boys (16%) in Ireland have been involved in cyber-bullying either as a victim, bully or both. These incidents ranged from threats, insulting and embarrassing or humiliating messages, to pictures or video clips. The bullying itself can be prejudice based, expressing racist, sexist, homophobic and other forms of discrimination. Text messaging is the most common form of cyber-bullying among both boys and girls in Ireland with over 57% of all cyber-bullying incidents originating from mobile phones. Nearly one third of girls (31.4%) and over one fifth of boys (22%) in Ireland reported receiving nasty text messages in and out of school.

The campaign features an information leaflet that is available in the 76 Carphone Warehouse stores nationwide and a special offer on the Bully Stop application. Now retailing at just €5 (RRP €20) this application is downloaded to a child’s phone allowing parents to control who calls or sends them text messages. Parents can view the content of any blocked text or call and ensure that their child will not be bullied via their mobile phone.

Professor O’Moore commented on the launch of the campaign, saying “Cyber-bullying must not be treated lightly as it can destroy a child or teen’s emotional and social life as well as causing them to dislike school and to underperform academically. Parents can make a difference by looking out for the signs of cyber-bullying such as a child becoming withdrawn, moody or depressed, and taking action when they suspect that their child or teen is targeted or indeed, is getting at someone else in an abusive and intimidating manner. Talk to your child or teen about cyber-bullying. Do not wait till it happens. Inform yourself about how you can help to prevent or counter it. Make use of blocking devices. Most importantly reassure your child and teen that you are there for them as there is no shame in being bullied. The problem lies with the bully. It is critical that your child or teen knows that it is wrong to bully and equally what steps they need to take should they ever experience cyber-bullying.”