Thursday, July 24, 2014

Time to visit your local library

While to many memories of the library might bring back long arduous hours of University researching and study, the library of today is a world away from the rows and rows of dimly lit books.

Today, libraries are, by necessity, one of the most digitally innovative institutions i know of. And it might seem strange to you, but some of the most digitally innovative people I know are librarians.

We've all heard about the statistics of how much more information is being produced every year and the librarians profession as an organiser and cataloger of information continues, but with ever larger volume, mediums and complexities.

I strongly recommend that you visit your local library or your library's website to browse their inventory of digital subscriptions - you will not be disappointed. After all many of you, through your local Council rates pay for the service of a library so make sure you damn well take advantage of it!

Here are just two services that I use:

Zinio - The World's Largest Newsstand. Most local libraries will subscribe to Zinio which offers the latest edition magazines for digital viewing. My local library subscribes to 70 different titles. I'm a bit of a home reno addict, so having access to Home Beautiful, Vogue Living and Gardening Australia is great. There are also heaps of titles on Photography, Business, Lifestyle and Sports.

PressDisplay / Press Reader. Remember when libraries used to have a few daily newspapers hanging off big wooden poles on a rack? No more, now with Press Display local libraries give you access to thousands (yes, thousands) of daily newspapers every day. I keep tabs on the major city Dailies to see what's hot in each city and have the occasional laugh with the US and UK tabloids.

There's also academic databases, eBooks, eAudio, videos and heaps more. I dare say it is one of the most under-utilised Council services out there.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Maker time: beer bottle washer

I've just finished my latest brew and the time has come to wash my bottles. Boo.

Well, wouldn't you know it, the good old maker community of tinkerers and DIY dads has sorted it all out.

MalFat has made this beauty, washes 30 bottles at a time!

This is going on my to-do list.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Embracing Internet Radio and a world of music

An article in today's Age focused on the pressure Australian bands have to supposedly conform to a sound that the national youth broadcaster, Triple J, will appreciate. With precious little airtime for unsigned bands on commercial radio, Triple J is seen as the only real avenue for bands to be found.

But as a former dedicated Triple J listener (it's still my no.1 Australian music station) my tastes have broadened and nowadays Triple J has less airtime in my house. One of the reasons is the radio you see above.

This is my first Internet radio and it has opened up my house to literally a world of music radio stations. Here is my current list of world radio stations:

  1. BBC Radio 4
  2. BBC Radio 1
  3. BBC World Service
  4. NPR
  5. WWOZ 90.7fm
  6. Calm Radio - Big Band
  7. El Vacilon Musical Radio
  8. Radio Campesina Cubana
I now have news from the UK and USA, jazz from New Orleans, Big Band from Canada and amazing sounds from the Caribbean and Cuba.

Triple J will always be my number one station for Great Australian music, but with the world being such an interconnected place, Australian bands should embrace the fact that Triple J is just one channel in the world of music.

Embrace as many digital channels as possible because there will be people like me on the other side of the world doing the same as me and discovering a world of music via the Internet.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The evolution to Vendor Relationship Management

I won't go into the theory behind Vendor Relationship Management because you can do that at Harvard and on the VRM blog but the basic premise is that the future of the brand/company and customer/consumer relationship will be defined by the consumer and not the company.

Consumers will choose when and how they want to engage with a brand/company and when they don't want to be engaged by a brand/company.

It has been bubbling around in my head ever since I heard about it a couple of years ago, but the thing that reminded me of it was a new feature on Campaign Monitor. Here it is:

In order to maintain good list health and keep the spam filters away Campaign Monitor has always been good at ensuring that permission has been granted by the receiver of email. But this new feature takes it to the next level by adding a second level of confirmation even in the admin interface.

What it shows to me is that be it by increased privacy laws (eg Cookie notifications in the EU) or self-regulation (Campaign Monitor's increased checking) the consumers are slowing building their case against brand/company intrusion.

The 'killer app' has not yet arrived to manage all your advertising interactions, and the dis-integrated nature of media probably means it never will, but I think it does show a path towards a media future where consumers will manage their relationships with brands.

Personally I also think that both the consumer AND the brand will be all the better for it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Simple back-link request

I'm never quite sure about how to approach bloggers or website managers about requesting back links. Someone has just sent me one that I think is concise and polite so I thought I'd share it with you (I've taken out the details):

Dear Sir/Madam, I hope you are well. My name is [NAME] and I am writing on behalf of [Company] with regard to an article on your site [Website URL] featuring [Company] here: [Full URL link] I was wondering if it would be possible to get a link back to the [Company] website from this article for the convenience of your readers, in case readers would like to find out more about the brand? If possible, the URL is: [Company URL] Info page: [Company Info URL] We would really appreciate your help with this, but if it's not possible, I’d still like to take the opportunity to thank you for the mention of [Company]. I understand that you are really busy and I truly appreciate your time. Please let me know if this is something that you could assist with. Many thanks and I look forward to hearing back from you. Kind regards, [Name]

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Having the right perspective

If you take your time to look at things from the right angles and get just the right perspective things become clear. I took these two pictures the other day from Collins Street. You can see so clearly where the architects of the modern Rialto towers took their inspiration - straight from the original Rialto building. But, of course, this would never be clear unless you had the right perspective.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hacking a media monitoring service

Media monitoring isn't cheap. Most services will divide up the media landscape and then charge you a fee for monitoring each one. Print/TV/Radio? $1500-$2000 per month. Online news? $1000 per month. Social? $100 - $1000 per month.

Most small businesses won't get mentioned in the press enough to warrant this monitoring and most large organisations that worry about their name in the media are big enough to afford the cost. But there is also a middle ground of growing businesses that want to monitor their business but can't afford the professional fees.

What's the answer? I've been able to hack together a pretty good media monitoring plan without any fees using as many free monitoring services I can get. Here's the run-down:

Print: My local library has a subscription to which gives me daily print monitoring of hundreds of local and national newspapers.
Online news: I have set-up my Google Reader to receive RSS feeds of the following news aggregators - Google News, Bing News and Yahoo News. I've spread my bets across the field because they all trawl different amounts of news sites. (note: Bing news send through the feed a couple of times a day which gets a bit confusing).
Forums: Grab an RSS feed from BoardReader
Blog and Social Search: Icerocket is a service from the Meltwater Group and a pretty good free option from a comprehensive professional Monitor.
Blog Search: Twingly is another Blog Search tool - as you're sticking these feeds in an RSS reader the more feeds you have the broader your possible monitor.
Social Search: Although it is not in my RSS reader, I use Hootsuite to publish and monitor social streams. One of the big pluses for this is that you can geo-code your search results to narrow down more generic search terms.

The one big omission that I have is TV and Radio. Monitoring these services requires lots of people and many hours of transcribing audio which is why the big Media Monitoring services charge so much. There are services that will do this for you on an ad-hoc basis, but you have to know you're going to be mentioned to know to get the transcript!

My list isn't exhaustive by any means and missing TV and Radio is a big hole, but for growing businesses it is a pretty good starting point for monitoring your brand. If you know of any more services feel free to comments and i'll keep growing the list.

UPDATE: The gods were against me on this one. The day after I write this post, praising RSS and Google Reader, Google announces they are going to kill-off Reader. Boo. Not to worry, I still think RSS is the best way to monitor media for your brand so I'm going to go off and find a better Reader.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Does Google demote itself?

Google must have one of the best online art galleries on the web, yet you've probably never heard of it let alone discovered it from a Google search.

The Google Art Project is a fantastic treasure trove of high resolution photographs of the collections of some of the worlds most famous art galleries. But, when you do a Google search for "art collection", "renaissance art", "renaissance paintings" or "renaissance gallery" the site is no-where to be seen.

It makes me wonder why this would be, after all, you could forgive a company for wanting to promote their own stuff first, right? And, it is a great site.

Has Google just done a poor job SEO-ing their own site? There's no shortage of references to it on the web. says it has awesome domain authority and inbound links. Me not being technical at all might be missing a 'dev' issue as to why it isn't ranking, but it is a real shame this site doesn't pop up more often.

On this note, it's also worth mentioning the Web Gallery of Art - another site that sadly doesn't rank as well as it should. It might not be as sexy as the Google Art Project or have the hi-resolution, but it certainly has indexed many more paintings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Treehouse plans

One of the great things about Google Books is that what it contains is before the time when any random half-cocked idea could be published to the world.

The stuff you get in Google Books was written, edited and published in the true sense - quality stuff.

My current grand plan is a tree house, and so Google Books helps me with some great info. Here are some links to some of the gold that i've found:

Happy building!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Westpac engaging business customers

I often walk past the Westpac branch on the corner of Collins and Swanston. It's a bank branch that offers the regular services you'd expect of a bank, but it has something that makes it unique for banks in the CBD.

This branch has a shop window that is passed by tens of thousands people every day, but there are plenty of banks like that. What's unique about this branch is that its windows are not filled with posters of the latest home loan or term deposit rates, rather its lovingly merchandised with products from one if its business banking customers. Each month a different customer gets a turn.

What a great offer for valued customers, something I'm sure many of these small business customers could never think to afford.

I don't have a business so I'm not really sure what the most important thing a business bank can do to satisfy its customers, but handing over high street window space is a good start.

I wonder if this is one if the factors that makes Westpac have the highest business banking satisfaction of the Big Four.

*disclaimer: I work for Roy Morgan, which is one of the reasons I get thinking about customer satisfaction quite a bit.