Last Tuesday, I attended my second London Bloggers Meetup. The timing was excellent as Spoonfed’s iPhone application had just that day been featured in TechCrunch and I was excited to show off the application (I even got a snazzy iPhone for the night to take along). This past meetup was supported by the charity Fashion Targets Breast Cancer which was setup by Ralph Lauren in 1994 as the fashion industries response to breast cancer. The campaign raises funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, the UK’s leading breast cancer charity and to date has raised over nine million quid!
As always at these sorts of events I had a fantastic time chatting with the other attendees and met some very interesting Londoners. I’ve heard that relatively quickly the London tech scene becomes smaller – that you begin to see the same faces over and over again (to be fair, this is probably true of Silicon Valley as well) but I’m still at the point where each person is a new introduction and I’m happy to keep it that way for a while. Most of the people I spoke with were in marketing or PR – and to be honest they seemed less concerned with chatting about blogging with other bloggers than they did about finding bloggers to write about their companies – but I always enjoy being with a group of tech savvy individuals that shares a common lingo and interest. Looking forward to the next one!
I have suddenly found myself in what is perhaps the most hectic week of my time in the UK thus far. A full recap of my somewhat excessive social life will be coming forthwith however I wanted to share my excitement over the recently released Spoonfed Events Radar Application for iPhones which is now available for free from the iTunes store. Now, anyone in London can discover what’s on near them with their iPhone with our incredibly nifty app that includes both listings and the “radar” which shows what’s on in the vincinity. Take a look at a video demo of the app:
The app has also been featured in TechCrunch UK, in an article that has already sparked some debate. Read the full article about the Spoonfed Events Radar for the iPhone.
About two weeks ago, Google completed an update of their algorithm and listings. While this is something they do every few months (you can see a great recap of when these updates have occurred in the past here: Google PageRank Updates) it still causes a massive shakeup in the SEO world every time. For me, this update was well worth paying attention to for a number of reasons.
1. Learn Page Rank changes
As I have mentioned in the past, the Page Rank that Google assigns to any given web page is often reflective of how important it is to Google and how highly it will rank in Google search results. When Google does one of these big updates, it often modifies the PR of different web sites and pages to reflect changes since the last update. Generally speaking, if you’ve increased traffic, backlinks and content by enough, PR will go up. In my case, I went from a PR3 to a PR2 – this decrease is probably due to the fact that it was not within the last three months, but the three months before that in which I wrote an article that got on the front page of digg, temporarily bringing me a huge increase in traffic and backlinks. I care when Google does an update because I can see how my site’s value has changed in Google’s eyes through change in PR.
2. See if SEO has been working
Search Engine Optimisation is tricky for me as it is often difficult to gauge results. I can optimise my text, no-follow the right links, and build backlinks to The Top Floor Flat, but generally speaking, it takes a few months to see any impact and it’s all but impossible to attribute any change in search engine rankings to any one action or event. When Google does an update, it’s a chance to see where rankings have improved, where they have fallen, and compare that to overall improvements in the site. For example, I’ve seen an increase in my ranking for the term “Reposado restaurant” – the Palo Alto restaurant I reviewed a while back.
3. Gauge competitor’s SEO
Google updates its algorithms across the board, not just for your site so of course you see how things are looking for all web players after the shakeout. Upon doing a search for your key search terms, are you seeing your competitors more often? Perhaps they’ve got a new SEO strategy and you need to make sure that you are staying up to date with your own SEO goals. Have the PRs of your competitors increased? Maybe they are getting more backlinks – take a look at who’s linking to them.
For anyone heavily involved in SEO, it’s difficult to miss a Google update (the Twitter and Blog chatter on the subject during the update was a clear indication of how important a subject it is) but for someone just learning about SEO who might not have seen an update before, as was the case for me, it might be easy to miss, or questionable why an update is so important. For me, seeing a change in page rank, a change in actual search listing results and the changes in my competitor’s SEO is an indication of whether or not I’m on the right track in my own SEO attempts. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled in about three months for Google’s next major update. Want to learn more about Google? Check out this interesting interview with Google employees.
The media and internet chatter surrounding Twitter has reached a new height in the last two weeks. This is in large part due to the charity event Twestival, an international party that occurred in almost 200 cities around the world. Twitter users, who found out about, signed up for, and shared the party using social networking tool Twitter, were charged a $5 entry fee for their local event and raised, at last count, over $250,000 for Charity: Water. While this is, as some journalists have been quick to point out, is a far cry below the $1 million organisers had set as a reach target, the unbelievable magnitude of the event, coordinated entirely through short bursts of information no more than 140 characters long and organised in less than one month is a thrilling indication of the power of social media tools to channel a collective consciousness towards good works. I attended the small but enthusiastic group at Twestival Mountain View on 12 February and saw the event in action.
However there are some other Twitter tales that have become part of today’s Twitter talk and these ones aren’t so kindly towards human nature. As with any open communication channel, there is the potential for what should be a private conversation to make its way into the public sphere. What may begin as a misguided attempt at transparency can soon deteriorate into personal attacks viewed by thousands of other Twitter users and eternally cataloged on the net.
A recent and extreme example of this is a conversation between Canadian National Post journalist David George-Cosh and marketing professional April Dunford in which a bad day, a late phone call and a few ill-chosen words led to an expletive-strewn public exchange now being reposted across the web. The Twitter conversation likely will threaten both of their professional lives and has almost certainly disrupted their personal ones. In a slightly less dramatic example, two other professionals received negative attention for what turned into effectively public name calling on the Twitter channels.
Twitter has been extolled for it’s potential professional benefit, particularly when it relates to PR professionals and journalists. It allows instantaneous exchange of information and immediate feedback for ideas, and the opportunity to make or read a pitch short enough to absorb is appealing to many. I’m sure as time goes by I will begin to understand how to interact with other Twitterers in an effective professional capacity but at the moment I find the tool most exciting with regards to online entertainment. I’ve discovered business ideas, new blogs, movie trailers, new software and web apps, heard jokes, found intelligent people sharing their views, and receive updates when my favourite blogs make new posts. As an entertainment tool, Twitter makes it easy for me to learn about and share the web. As a professional tool, I may have to stick to charity events until everyone learns to think before tweeting.
This past weekend I had a chance to see the new Tim Burton film Coraline in theatres. The ticket for the movie, made in the increasingly popular 3D, came along with my very own set of 3D glasses and I must say they were definitely a step from the paper eyewear we had picked up for the Superbowl.
The movie was really fantastic, although what else might you expect from the amazing Tim Burton working in collaboration with one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman who wrote the original novella Coraline. It definitely contained the right amount of creepy to be thoroughly enjoyable but much more fun than your typical run-of-the-mill horror story. Of course it also helped a wimp like me that it was made for kids.
What I find interesting is the new excitement surrounding 3D movies and television programs. The recent NBC Superbowl ad and 3D episode of the TV show Chuck may have introduced a lot more people to 3D entertainment, but the popularity of the medium has been growing for a while. I remember seeing my first 3D film at Disney World almost a decade ago.
And now it’s the ‘it thing.’ After the Superbowl ad and Chuck, there’s Coraline as well as the upcoming Aliens Vs. Monsters by Dreamworks and a new addition to the Ice Age series that will also be released in 3D later this year.
As with all new technology, but especially in entertainment, there will most likely be a ramp up time when the novelty is exciting enough to encourage others to mimic the style but not common enough to know whether or not it will be successful throughout the market. The one major drawback of 3D entertainment is the required glasses – which may be uncomfortable, a poor fit or difficult to use over other eyewear but without which the screen is blurry and the experience is ruined. HD television may have experienced a similar phase, during which television networks attempted to add their own HD programming but only a small portion of the population had HDTV sets. With the new television broadcast laws, HDTV is now the norm rather than the exception but there won’t be any similar breaks for 3D entertainment.
Will the new 3D movies and shows be interesting enough to engage the whole market? Will the novelty hold the public despite the silly glasses? Will we someday carry 3D glasses in our cars and bags for movies out, lose them as easily as the remote in our living rooms and expect to have them provided during teen slumber parties? It seems unlikely but perhaps the beginning of the 3D revolution will bring additional entertainment technology that we can’t even imagine.