Its interesting to see on France 24 (French TV’s new 24/7 English language news service) just how many members of the new French cabinet are bloggers and ardent fans of new media as both a means of communications and advocacy. We’re still in the dark age. One of the new cabinet women actually uses a videocam with live stream of her at home doing the dishes! I’m not encouraging more of that but it would be good to see at least some enthusiasm for the media of the future in the Irish establishment. Of course the French politicians are not taking up web tools today - many of them have been actively online for years now and French politics and life is as much online as offline these days. Equally for many of them web tools were part of how they got elected and part of the reason the youth vote got out in France and participation was so high. Its what we keep saying - being online is no longer a nice add-on, its as essential as business cards used to be or even having a telephone number. So put more than a big toe in the water and you may be surprised. it could be fun and it could work for you.
Archive for May, 2007
It all does seem a little pre-historic. Lists of names, rulers, pencils and stamped paper. Dusty schoolrooms and pedantic clerks. And an election which requires us to go somewhere rather than being able to do this online. But in the end its that black pencil mark that counts.
Its the line that connects us back to everyone who has struggled to have the right to vote - particularly women. My eleven year old niece wrote a paper on the value on one vote and how it has and can change history - and how women have to see the shadow of Emily Pankhurst on their shoulder if they ever think it doesn’t matter and its not important to vote. I hope she remembers that when she’s 18 and get the vote. Maybe by then we’ll have overcome our resistence to new technology and have allowed elections to be liberated from dusty old classrooms and rulers and pencils. What’s important though is that line in the box - regardless of whether its pencil or typepad.
Those who think the whole social networking vibe is a temporary thing might just look at the current figures for myspace - over 180 million profiles to date and much of that based in music, bands and singer-songwriters.
Today having a myspace page is as essential as a business card and far more useful. It can promo your work, tell your story, show who you are and allow you to communicate with your audience. One of our 02 Making Waves bands The Chakras has even used it to advertise for music producers and managers - basically selling themselves and interviewing those who show interest. Become a myspace profiled band can make your hits jump by tens of thousands and open a huge international marketplace. Its not that people are necessarily buying your music through social networking sites but they are sampling it, tasting it and some of them may buy or become part of an audience for a live gig or two. In an era of dynamic media music is now the free flow of content which glues it all together. Over 45% of all podcasts downloaded are in music genres and it remains one of the most popular forms of online and mobile content. Music as they say is life and in a digital world it’s the water we’re swimming in.
But what about the economies of trying to make it pay? Increasingly the reality is digital media is making content free and the value chain is the audience or users who take and use the content. In many ways it’s not new - it’s what we did and do in radio all the time. Give them interesting stories and music and sell that audiences to advertisers. The problem has been making advertisement work in an online audio-visual model. But never fear Google is seeking to fill the gap with a version of google adverts which use audio-visual and which can be married to online radio, podcasts and online content. It’s new -it’s still being tested in the US but it could be a way in which content creators and online channels make a living and sustain their web of ideas, sounds and creativity.
And just when this election seems best summed by the YouTube videos hilariously dropping Enda Kenny in Pop Idol and Bertie into Dragon’s Den something real and genuinely historic happens. In the midst of endless spin and counter-spin the footage of Stormont this week served to remind us what a real event looks like without layers of public relations where people actually have something to say and where it might just matter. The best radio of the week was the unedited. overheard chat between Ian Paisley and Tony Blair where Paisley joked about being an incoming political leader at 80 with Tony a mere fiftysomething heading out. For those of us who remember the decades of endless reportage of conflicts, stand-offs and death the picture of Paisley and McGuinness sitting shoulder to shoulder, a hair’s breathe apart, made all the difference. In the end the bitterness and political gulf may remain but the unthinkable has happened - a key has been turned, a mindset altered. Perhaps those of us who often said there was no real politics in the North can now hope that its political rebirth might just inspire our own? We’ll wait and see.
It’s hard not to get somewhat addicted to election outpouring when you’re an ex broadcast editor and journalist. But its been some bank holiday weekend, even for the apathetic voters amongst us. In a cloud of spin, leaks and soundbites the winners may be the ones who said least and came out less often.
For the PDs a weekend of drama and ‘will they won’t they pull the plug’ just served to make them look weak on a media stage and for most of us there is something uncomfortable, even ironic, about this Minister for Justice, and ex AG, basing his judgements on leaked Tribunal documents …via a press journalist! In the end a faltering performance with some double-speak from the PDs was torn apart with gusto by the ‘alternative coalition’ - jackals have shown more table manners.
And in the end we know that the maths will decide it and despite all the protestations now if the figures were right there could still be a Labour-FF government. For FF the line has been to hold back, repeat the mantra and in the end go for a ‘Bertie as victim’ angle. Bertie has created his own platform for an address to the nation and how he plays that may yet decide all. But whether the PDs and FF can ever play ball again after all this last minute ethics is another question. Watch how Sinn Fein has been careful not to jump in and go for the Bertie jugular. They are pragmatically thinking that if the PDs are off the pitch there may just to room for a little old-fashioned republicanism to help keep the FFs in play. And the other Greens? They’d happily make up the numbers - whatever happens.
What is very Irish is that this is an election still being fought with paper posters, door knocking and press conferences. There’s little of the French blogosphere political debate about the place and with electronic voting out the window we may all settle down for an election which will bounce on spin and who can play the best game of mind chess.
Its been a busy start to May with lots of interesting people on our path this week. We did one of our Capital D shoots this week around a North Co Dublin landscape gardener and while you can see all of that mad story (it involves morris minors being cut in two to create a ‘man’s garden’!) on RTE on May 17th, what was even more interesting was the struggle our poor landscape gardener had to do to get broadband just a few kilometers from Swords. Peter Donegan said he couldn’t get broadband except by paying hundreds for a satellite version but that he’d been forced to do so after he lost a major contract because of the lack of broadband. We can talk all we want about innovation and enterprise but until people can move things fast and easily on the Internet its all a bit of a joke. If someone within the Dublin reach can’t even get a broadband fix what hope for really rural regions and businesses there?? So much for decentralisation and regional enterprise.
But after a great day’s shooting our TV video with lots of vintage cars and flowers (you’ll have to tune in to see it!) we were all delighted to see Hot Press picking up on our first year anniversary bash for 02 Making Waves last month which raised funds and awareness for Teenline Ireland. There’s a great shot of Leanne, Shaz and Claire O Dowd in this current edition and all thanks to photographer Julien Behal for some outstanding photographs from the day and night. (They are on the site under the news story about the Teenline gig).
To round the week off I ran into a French business colleague working in Dublin Xavier de Bustos who is an engaging and inspiring visionary about our shared digital future. Xavier is clear that imagination and mindset are the real limits to our use of digital technology and says one of the big problem in business and beyond is the lack of problem solving skills. So when traditional media see the emerging wave of digital transformation they often close down in panic and fear rather than embracing the real opportunities that it brings. Forcing ourselves to think beyond what we know and accept as normal is the only way to generate innovation in how we do things. In the end its that old ‘hitchhikers guide to the galaxy’ advice: Don’t Panic! Fear stops us in our tracks and blinds us - we see only the negative and not the opportunities we can create from change and from the movement from traditional media to digital. The digital transformation is driving massive changes in how we communicate, do business, work, socialise and live. But if we drive the change, use it to benefit our communities and societies it can enhance our lives and be a beginning not an end to things as we know it. (Once we get those connections to Ballyboughil of course!).
Helen at Athena Media