Friday, July 31, 2009

Changing of the guard for online content recognition

YouTube and Read Write Web have both commented this past day on Jill and Kevin's wedding dance and the subsequent news that Sony has actively profited from the 'improper use' of the Chris Brown song that Jill and Kevin danced to.

The YouTube post discusses how rights holders of content such as music can actively manage their content through YouTube's click-to-buy which has been live for a year or so. YouTube highlight's the direct correlation between the appearance of J&K's wedding dance and the Chris Brown's year-old song rocketing back up the iTunes and Amazon charts.

Read Write Web then goes on to highlight the change in tactic Sony has employed going from restricting use of their content in these User Generated (UGC) videos to identifying themselves as the content owner of the music and adding in a click-to-buy advertisement pointing people to either iTunes or Amazon to purchase the song.

I think it's a great move on Sony's behalf and the proof can be seen in the dollars rolling in. YouTube's ClaimID system that can automatically identify a song and notify a rights holder would really be an ace up their sleeve if all major and independent labels encouraged the method Sony has taken.

Imagine all the machinima creators, vloggers and other creative types out there being encouraged to take their pick of any song they wish instead of a limited amount of home-study productions. I think we'd see a whole new wave of UGC being unleashed onto our screens.

This is a real win for fair-use and share-alike on the web and I only hope it can extend further. If logos such as Facebook and YouTube could have a ClaimID type system attached you would no longer have to fret about whether some big-bad lawyer is going to serve a take-down notice on your site because of the improper use of a logo or content.

I can also see Internet radio having a great time with this. One click to purchase any song playing live online right now.

Maybe for artwork and design too? One click on an image to go to an online shop to purchase the original creator's work.

Text? Could it go too far? Should we all just freely use each other's work and share-alike?

Maybe this new tack from Sony poses more questions than it answers, but the fact that everybody seems to win from the deal makes it such an appealing option.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Livestrong and the STAGES exhibition


I am a big fan of Lance Armstrong. I am a big fan of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Livestrong. If every charitable foundation could have a Lance Armstrong in it we'd all be in a better place.

Here's what's great about the man and the foundation - their both driven; relentless; passionate; positive; creative; loved and loving. Basically they know what they want and they're going to get it.

Forget about the fact Lance is back in the Tour, That's just the dressing on top - the real reason Lance is in Europe is to promote Livestrong. In Paris during and after the race the STAGES art exhibition is on show (the video above describes Shepard Fairey's entry in the exhibition) and in August Lance and Livestrong will be in Dublin for a summit to further promote the foundations good work.

Lance's involvement in sport and in art shows everyone that can get involved in an honest and positive way. Nike's continued involvement with Livestrong and support of STAGES should be seen as a model for corporate partnerships and giving back to the community. The artists eagerness to be involved in this campaign also shows the amount of respect Lance has across industries, interests and cultures. Uniting sport and art has been one of the hallmarks of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It's an odd marriage but through the single focus of fighting cancer Lance has drawn the best out of everyone involved and we're all the better for it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ratings and Reviews to build trust and reputation online

Building engagement online, especially building the engagement of community members from a low involvement level is a challenge. Increased engagement will follow the increase in the trust of members and content and in-turn member reputation will increase with increased positive engagement.

First, however, members need to be given an easily identifiable way of increasing the trust in content they give and take from a community and a fun and rewarding way of building their reputation in an online environment.

One of the most straight forward ways to create engagement online is giving members an option to rate and review content online. This activity which can be either recognised or anonymous allows others to build a scale of trust with the content based on the values of the community.

But wait, you thought it was simple, well, it's not that simple. Here's a list of things to think about if you want to go down the rate and review path:

Rating scales

What scale will you choose for your ratings? The following scales are methods of rating content and events, the list progresses from simple to sophisticated.

Favourite/Digg/Thumbs eg. Eventful, Digg, Marketing Magazine
This is not so much a scale as a popularity rating, here customers can see how many other people rate the event.

Smilies eg. Jango
On a scale of three smilies, a customer can "not like", "like" or "love" a specific song.

Single five star eg. Crikey
Quality is reviewed on a single five-star scale, generally sufficient for items with single measurement, eg news items are rated for quality of content.

Multiple five star
eg. eBay
Quality is rated over multiple criteria, average is generally shown in a summary five star. Used when customer decision is based on multiple criteria.

Classes eg. Wikipedia
Used in Wikipedia to classify the quality of an article, teams of people review articles and agree on a level of quality based on a set of common measurements.

Rating AND Commenting/Reviewing

As well as varying scales from which to rate, there is question of arbitrary ratings or subjective comments and reviews. Some websites link the two together while other keep the two separate, examples being:

Rate and comment/review separate: YouTube, Crikey

Rate and comment/review together: Amazon, JS-Kit Review applet

Who can rate?

This, again is a variable in many different rating schemes. Roughly following the same lines as scales, the more technical the content becomes the more selective the list of reviewers/raters become.

Anyone - Generally occurs in blogs and some news sites and generally on the favourite/thumbs scale. This level of interaction encourages high volume rating of non-technical items.

Registered members - Highly used in communities such as YouTube, raters are required to sign-in to rate therefore encouraging continued community membership and higher engagement.

Purchasers only - Used in many online e-commerce stores such as Amazon and eBay, this method is particularly relevant for events, whereby many of the rating criteria can only be completed by those that attended.

Team/Editor Review - Not as authoritative as peer reviewed, the team/editor review is a rating given by an assigned professional reviewing the content. Examples include's author pick.

Peer Reviewed
- Articles are reviewed by an agreed group of peers. Knowledge and consensus combine to ensure an article is given an agreed rating by experts in the field.

So that's a start! Who would have thought such a simple thing as rating and reviewing could have so many variables?

Remember that this is just one side of the coin. This post looks at building trust and reputation in the content. This is based on the general assumption that you trust the community members that provide the ratings and reviews.

To get more of an understanding on the flip-side of the coin, building trust and reputation in community members, have a read of my post on rewarding community members online. This will help you understand ways you can allow community members to build up their status within a community.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The growing world of Augmented Reality

Disclaimer: I'm writing this blog post with no, repeat NO, technical understanding about how AR works, so keep that in mind.

Augmented Reality (or just AR) is picking up steam, largely i think off the back of new powerful mobile devices a la iPhone and the likes.

New AR applications are being released almost every week. They seem to be falling into two camps at the moment: Practical tools or gimiky advertising.

The gimiky advertising use of AR has built up steam and while some in advertising might lament the over-use of AR and the questionable tangible benefits, it is had to go past the "we're doing it because it's cool" arguement, because frankly, it is cool.

Here's a few examples of advertising uses of AR:

On the practical side of things, there are plenty more tangible benefits. By watching the clips below you'll see that assisting technical operations and overlaying information on points of interest are just some of the great ways AR can help bring real-time information to real world situations.

Here's a few examples of practical uses of AR:

The rumor mill has it that Apple will bring out AR support for the iPhone later this year - it'd be a hard one for Apple to pass by with the amount of applications possible.

You may be in the 'why isn't one reality enough?' camp or you might be in the 'bring it on' camp but the short of it is that mobile devices and demand for real-time information mean that reality and virtual reality are on a collision course and AR is how it is playing out.

Oh, and i'll leave the last word to a comment posted by mihaiviteazu5 on YouTube,":D idiot proof , the way of the future".

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rewarding community involvement online

Community involvement in an online space can take many different forms. From forum communities to blogging communities; social networks; wikis and IRC. The commonality amongst many of the online communities is that people that associate themselves with the community can place themselves and others in an order within the community based on subjective or objective scales.

Subjectively, people might rank themselves or others within a community based on the number of followers or friends they might have. Others might place themselves on a scale based on the number of contributions they have given. Others still might rank people on a value scale whereby it is not the amount of content given to the community rather the quality of the content they provide.

Objectively, a community might decide to craft the behaviour of its users by providing rewards for users that undertake specific actions. These rewards are clearly defined and people can associate themselves with other reward holders within a community objectively. Community members can also clearly identify eachother and their relative position within a community based on the objective rewards or status symbols received by eachother.

To best understand the variety of rewards and recognition available to members of online communities I have divided the rewards into four distinct categories as illustrated below.

You can see in the chart that the scales of subjective versus objective relate to "who" provides the reward: is it the community owners/moderators (eg reviewer of the month) or the community members themselves (eg Barnstars). To better define the rewards for the community it is probably wise to outline how rewards, if subjective, are chosen.

The periodic versus perpetual scale can benefit community owners in defining how and how often members engage in the community. YouTube, a community that can be somewhat fickle and transient, uses periodic/objective rewards to encourage YouTube-ers to continue to engage consistently weekly and monthly. Likewise, Amazon and eBay encourage consistent participation with their periodic ranking of the most proliferent reviewers. Again, like above, if you rank members over a periodic time-frame it is best to outline how this ranking is conducted and over what timeframes.

This scale has come from researching online and trying to understand the millions of inherent behaviours we all share. I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to define and measure rewards and recognition in online communities. Post me a comment and let me know any other great examples of rewarding communities online.