Monthly Archive for October, 2007

Richard Branson’s ‘Virgin Americans’

Virgin Airlines have turned some of the most well-known and subscribed to bloggers into cartoon characters for a series of cartoons entitled ‘Virgin Americans’.

Cartoon illustrating the features of flying Virgin Airlines.
Virgin Americans Flickr gallery

A blog review from David Winer.
Another blog review.
BoingBoing review

All 3 are powerful word-of-mouth recommendations.

BoingBoing have signed an exclusive deal to supply Virgin Airlines with their content. Nice fit.

All good stuff and does what it set out to. Domestic air travel in the US is now in a huge fare war as a result.

This has been a really well executed digital PR strategy from Virgin America.

Also similar in strategy is O2 Cocoon’s blog – Very interesting to see where O2 chose to install the blog – within O2 Blueroom and on its own domain – rather than on the domain. This way I guess they enable the bloggers and guest writers the ability to write opinionated reviews and comments which spark conversation rather than just decimating other news in a bland way. Talk radio DJs are opinionated on purpose in order to get people to pick up the phone, the same is true online.

What will be interesting to see will be the way in which O2 Cocoon’s blog sows ‘seeds of conversation’ that dovetail in with other campaign activity over the coming months. It’s also a little surprising that there’s no Facebook group, sponsored or otherwise, which would drive people to the blog.

Update: O2 now have a Facebook group, either I missed it (very likely given the numbers it’s generated!) or it’s one of the fastest growing groups on Facebook! Love the scoreboard.

MSNBC buy Newsvine

MSNBC has bought Newsvine, the citizen journalist site, bringing Social Media to the news channel.

Intel release a digg for software

This is a great idea launched by Intel and shows how Social Media is taking hold – It’s techy, but that’ll change.

Teen adult panel insights

Guy Kawasaki hosted a panel discussion with some teenage adults which bore some interesting insights. You can view the whole discussion here. This is a US panel, but the information is still insightful.

  1. In this panel of 6 people 2 of them (girls) send over 4000 text messages a month.
  2. Very few of them watched more than a couple of hours of TV a week and all of it was tivo’d so all ads were skipped.
  3. Almost all of them subscribed to or at least read wired.
  4. Almost all of them are on Verizon.
  5. When asked what gadget or service they would want they almost all wanted a converged mobile device that held everything all their content, music, video, and acted as a billing device so they could buy stuff.
  6. All of them were on myspace or facebook (no surprise there).
  7. None of them knew what RSS was.
  8. None of them wrote a blog but most read them.
  9. Only one of them knew what a wiki was but they all used wikipedia.

I think it’s interesting that only one of them knew what a wiki was, but they had all used Wikipedia. I also think it’s interesting that they all read blogs but didn’t know what an RSS feed was.

With Google Reader’s new search functionality, just adding feeds and mining them for data, as and when you need that info, is very powerful. I’ve been doing that with GMail for years now on developer mailing lists and it’s incredibly useful.

youtube as a teaching tool

YouTube is now an important teaching tool at UC Berkeley.

The school announced on Wednesday that it has begun posting entire course lectures on the Web’s No.1 video-sharing site.

Berkeley officials claimed in a statement that the university is the first to make full course lectures available on YouTube. The school said that over 300 hours of videotaped courses will be available at

Berkeley said it will continue to expand the offering. The topics of study found on YouTube included chemistry, physics, biology and even a lecture on search-engine technology given in 2005 by Google cofounder Sergey Brin.

“UC Berkeley on YouTube will provide a public window into university life, academics, events and athletics, which will build on our rich tradition of open educational content for the larger community,” said Christina Maslach, UC Berkeley’s vice provost for undergraduate education in a statement.

What struck me when I visited the YouTube UC Berkeley page was how difficult it was to navigate and browse the 201 lectures that have been uploaded…It’s all well and good having a google search box, but go ahead and click ‘view all’ and you’re presented with 20 video thumbnails per page over 10 pages, with nothing chapterizing the content.

Whilst I think UC Berkeley have done something brilliant by offering this free learning, it just goes to show that YouTube is often not the best solution out there. Yes, it’s got eyeballs but that’s not so important when your content is this valuable. People will search for it and it’s the functionlaity of the player which will add value to the experience. To get an idea of what I mean consider this example.

What I find most interesting in comparing Veotag with Youtube is that the main difference is in the length of the content being played. YouTube is ideally suited to sub 10min viral content, whilst Veotag is much more suited to long form content – more than 30mins – which can be dipped in to.

Project Aviary

Given the announcements at MAX this morning, this is very interesting.


Aviary is a suite of rich internet applications geared for artists of all genres. From image editing to typography to music to 3D to video, we have a tool for everything. At Worth1000, we are creating a complex ecosystem for artists and providing the world with free, capable collaborative tools and an approach to collaboration and rights management that will turn the marketplace for online art on its head.

“All of our tools are based right in your browser or as downloadable AIR applications. Our tools all communicate and relate to each other. To illustrate an example: You can import a swatch from Toucan into Phoenix, while doing complex bitmap processing of a 3D object developed in Hummingbird. Finally, you can take your finished artwork and lay it out in Owl as the DVD artwork for a music CD you and your friends put together in Roc and Myna and offer it for sale in our marketplace, Hawk.”

From the screenshots on their blog, it would seem as if all these applications are built in Flex or AIR.

Woodpecker – their smart image resizing app – was demoed at Techcrunch40 the other week and incorporates Seam Carving, the process of smart image resizing first pioneered by the brilliant Dr. Ariel Shamir, and can be seen working at MAX if you email the guys at aviary( a )

The full suite of applications which sit in the Aviary are:

Phoenix – Image editor
Toucan – Color swatches and palettes creator.
Peacock – Computer algorhythm-based pattern generator.
Raven – Vector editor
Hummingbird – 3D Modeller and skinner
Myna – Audio editor
Roc – Music generator
Starling – Video editor
Owl – Desktop publishing layout editor
Penguin – Word processing software geared towards creative writers.
Pigeon – Painting simulator
Tern – Terrain generator. This is a mini tool.
Horus – Font editor
Woodpecker – Smart image resizer (seam carving). This is a mini-tool.
Rookery – A free, unlimited distributed file system network that anyone can connect to and store data in. It also powers our search engine.
Hawk – Digital content marketplace
Eagle – A smart online application that can identify complex data about an image based on the pixel patterns (i.e. which specific camera an image originally came from).
Crane – Custom image product creator, that can integrate with other websites.

A complete list of tools that are being created can be found here.

Buzzword, the online word processor Adobe announced purchasing this morning would seem to fit into the ‘Penguin’ category…I’ll be watching this space avidly since they seem to have covered off pretty much every aspect of digital design.

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