Facebook Launches Check In Deals in Australia

In its ever growing hunger for advertising dough, Facebook has finally scored with Australian businesses. KFC, 7-Eleven and the Commonwealth Bank have signed up to give people deals for checking in. Here is some Fb propaganda explaining (promoting) how it works:

And here are some of the businesses doing this in Aus:

Start Up Smart and Sydney Morning Herald covered the story.

Start Up Smart

Content

‘Facebook launches check in deals in Australia’

Start Up Smart caters to small businesses, sole traders and entrepreneurs. That’s important to note because it changes the way the story is reported. Have a look at the people interviewed for the article:

1. Paul Borrud, head of Facebook for Australia and New Zealand,

2. James Griffin, of social media intelligence firm SR7

3. Facebook

Interestingly the last third of the article consists of advice Facebook gives to businesses who use the check in function to promote their services. Since Start Up Smart comes from the business point of view it seems the check in deals as an profit opportunity and does not cover the consumer point of view, making the article highly tailored and slightly biased towards supporting the initiative.

Layout

Start Up Smart is pretty self contained in that it doesn’t hyperlink often and when it does the links tend to lead to websites of start up businesses. This article had a random link to commonwealth bank though, which is ….random.

Sydney Morning Herald

Content

‘Check in before checkout to save’

The audience is broader for SMH so there is a more general all encompassing angle to reporting this story. A range of people was interviewed including a research company that is meant to represent the users. But funnily enough no users (a.k.a. general public) were interviewed. That’s one criticism I have. Vox pops would have been sooo appropriate to include in this story. After all, it is about the user experience.

People interviewed:

1. George Patterson Y&R social media strategist Tiphereth Gloria

2. Westfield’s general manager of marketing, John Batistich,

3. James Griffin, partner with social media intelligence firm SR7

4. user experience firm Stamford Interactive director Lisa Wade

As with many tech stories, the hyperlinks are the funnest thing because they make references to other techie stuff. I got a bit over excited about the hyperlink about virtual dressing rooms. Anyway it was fun because I got to go on a complete tangent and see what this online dressing room concept is all about (I actually tried it out here!).

Important Realisation!: Even news stories are becoming a tool of social media because through hyperlinks they connect us to other people, news, places and stories. And the thing is, the author of the story gets to determine where we end up (if we chose to click on the hyperlink). Hmmm one more way to influence opinion and perspective?

Layout

The comment functionality tells the truth…that is all. As I mentioned, SMH didn’t interview the common person but in the end they didn’t have to. I read the comments on the article and they mostly consisted of irritated and bitter grouchiness. People were very cynical about the deals which they thought pretty much sucked.

 

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Blackberry Riots

What can I say, the lootings in London once again demonstrate that social media is penetrating every aspect of our lives. Both Mashable and the Guardian reported this week that looters organised themselves using the Blackberry BBM messaging service. According to both sources rioters chose Blackberry as the weapon of choice because the messaging service is free and used by a wide number of people in the UK.

Here’s a video that sums up Blackberry’s role in the riots.

So how did Mashable and The Guardian report on this?

Mashable

‘London riots: Blackberry Messenger used more than Facebook or Twitter’

I’m very impressed with the layout of the Mashable webpage to the point where its more entertaining than the actual content. So I shall talk about it first!

Layout

I often read Mashable and I’m always very happy with the hyperlinks they provide within the text. It’s very relevant and interesting. The hyperlinks themselves almost tell the story in images. In this article the hyperlinked words/phrases were:

‘Blackberry’, ‘Facebook group quickly sprung up’, ‘particular post on the Facebook page’, ‘BBM’, ‘a recent study’, ‘got its hands on BBM messages directing rioters’, ‘Research in Motion’ and ‘this tweet’.

Interestingly, the ‘Blackberry’, ‘BBM’ and ‘Research in Motion’ hyperlinks lead back to Mashable’s ‘topic’ sections which give you the option to follow them to get the latest updates. I guess this is a good way to self promote with out overt…self promotion.

The social media bar on Mashable slides up and down with you as you scroll through the page meaning its never out of sight and you always have the quick option of sharing on twitter, facebook, tumbler and so on. Page itself has a three column layout where the right hand side column has interactive and static ads.

Now to the actual content:

Mashable tends to regurgitate information it gathers from other news sources which also explains why it has so many hyperlinks.

The Guardian

‘London riots: how Blackberry Messenger played a key role’

A quote from the former deputy mayor of London is kinda evidence that reporters actually got out of the office and went to get an interview. The image supplementing the story is not stock footage (it comes from a photographic press agency) and is quite effective to communicate the action of the story.

London riots: a looted O2 mobile phone store in Tottenham Hale retail park. Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features
The Layout
The page layout is definitely less ‘social’ than the one created by Mashable. The online Guardian seems to be an extension of the print version, I don’t think they’ve gone far enough to engage with the readers the way Mashable has, but Mashable of course is all about digital tech, so its a bad comparison.

 

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goCatch app controversy

Andrew Campbell and Ned Moorfield

GoCatch is a smartphone app that allows passengers and taxi drivers see each other’s current location on an GPS map. Passengers can request the closest cab by making a booking via the app. The app’s goal is to make the taxi system more efficient by providing passengers with a faster service and taxi drivers with more jobs.

Its developers received funding from the government and have since launched goCatch across several states including Victoria, Queensland and NSW.
Not everyone is happy about that though. NSW Taxi Council is not happy, as reported by the media sources listed above.

Sydney Morning Herald

Digital Media

The article has a well rounded collection of opinions from both sides.

I felt the article was slightly biased against the app, but I didn’t know why. After squinting at individual sentences and picking them apart I came to the conclusion that quotes taken from app developer Mr. Campbell are a good device used to emphasize the angle. Here they are:

“So if someone is not a taxi driver, downloads it and drives around in their old beat-up Commodore or something then when they actually arrive to pick you up as a passenger you’ll see that they’re not a driver and you can immediately report them or whatever.”

and

“So when a taxi arrives, you need to sort of use your own common sense and make sure it is a taxi before you get in it. Don’t get into a taxi if it’s not a taxi I suppose.”

The quotes make the developer appear slightly dismissive of the issue, which I’m sure he’s not, but its a good choice of language to manipulate the reader’s opinion.

Layout:

Hyper-linking: present! SMH hyper-linked the words ‘NSW Taxi Council’, ‘goCatch’ and ‘Collaborative Solutions’ (which is the name of the govt. initiative that supported goCatch)

Reporter’s Twitter link: present!

Comment functionality: absent! How, how, how can the DIGITAL life section of  SMH lack the comment functionality? Ironic, huh

The Telegraph.com.au

This article took an angle that was more sympathetic towards the goCatch app. These quotes from Andrew Campbell highlight a different side of the story to the one told by SMH and Brisbane Times.

“The taxi industry is dominated and some people say monopolised by powerful industry stakeholders.”

“Because it is a largely monopolised, self-regulated industry, there is simply no incentive for improvements in efficiency, customer service, driver conditions, safety and standards in general.”

Layout:

My favourite functionality of the page was the Related Coverage box embedded in the article.

Why? Because it actually contained related coverage.  Stories concerning the taxi industry, taxi drivers and passengers.

On the bottom, a tool bar listing such social media widgets as MySpace, Yahoo and Digg presented itself to readers.

Very useful.

I think covering goCatch is newsworthy because the news is timely (it comes after the Taxi Council’s comments), it has proximity (the app is australian), it is relevant (we all use taxis from time to time), it has conflict (the clash between the new and the old systems of taxi booking) and it has currency (because there are other similar apps and lots of issues both legal and social to explore)

 

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Online and Mobile Media Series

As of this week, I am embarking on a new series of blogs about the digital world, for uni. So for the duration of second semester Digital Navigation can morph into a more restrained and restricted version of itself. I will still be posting stuff on digital technology and social media but instead of highlighting aspects that I think are contentious or interesting I will be doing a critique of how media outlets report on digital technologies and social media.

Just a heads up….

Smell ya later.

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How Education, Drive and Digital Technology Create Entrepreneurs

I have recently had to get past my hermit like, anti-social tendencies to do a feature article. And I’m glad I did because I was able to write about something that really interests me (entrepreneurship) and combine it with something I want to do for a living (digital media).

So in the video below you’ll see me raving on about entrepreneurship and the glory of online start ups.

Note: When I rave, my accent tends to become grotesque and at times incomprehensible, so watch at your own peril.

Here are the links to Start Ups I mentioned in the video:

1. TaskRabbit

2.GoCatch

3. Freelancer.com.au

Voila: This is the article I spent days concocting, cutting and pasting bits and pieces, then frantically undoing the cutting and pasting until I stopped giving a shit and just submitted it.

It’s pretty damn long for a post so I encourage you to skim and just click on links.

Entrepreneurship Education Goes from Niche to Mainstream in Universities

                         

Entrepreneurship students at UNSW

“The whole point of teaching entrepreneurship is to help students avoid some of the obvious mistakes, so they don’t have to fail quite as often or quite as fast” says Dr. Martin Bliemel, the director of the UNSW Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It might seem odd to think that creativity and inventive thinking can be taught but entrepreneurship education in Australia is steadily growing.

Dr. Bliemel’s insight into entrepreneurial education is certainly more reliable than most; after all, he has travelled the rocky road of entrepreneurship himself. Before joining UNSW from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Dr. Bliemel completed an MBA with a venture specialisation in 2002.  He reflects that while he was studying he could tell that “some [students] wanted to get into start ups and entrepreneurship but at that time there was only one course in entrepreneurship in that entire MBA program”. Consequently his desire to “help other people commercialize their cool ideas” propelled him to start a business consulting company that assisted entrepreneurs with business plans, raising capital and financial modeling.  According to Dr. Bliemel “Its only recently we’re starting to see education programs specialising in entrepreneurship”.

UNSW’s Diploma in Innovation Management is one such program designed to filled this new niche in education. The undergraduate Diploma is offered in conjunction with students’ undergraduate degrees and spans three years. Those willing to tackle extra study for the diploma have their chance to learn the secrets of entrepreneurial trade before graduating. Only the extremely brave, dedicated and ambitious take on the challenge but even before being accepted in the course, they are subjected to CIE’s scrutinising eye and judged on the basis of past leadership and entrepreneurial skills, enthusiasm and academic achievement. The end result: a carefully chosen breed of  motivated entrepreneur hopefuls. “The students are a lot more engaged and they learn a lot from each other. They’re not taking [the course] because they have to, they take it because they want to.” Dr. Bliemel says proudly.

According to CIE’s internal statistics 11% of students come from the College of Fine Arts, 14% are from the Faculty of Science, 24% are from the School of Business, 18% come from the Faculty of Social Science and 17% are from the Engineering Faculty. Dr. Bliemel says that there is also interest in the course from students in other universities. “They see that, ‘Oh my God, I wish we had that at our university’”.

What they might not be aware of is that entrepreneurship in education was being picked up as early as in 2004. According to the Journal of Asia Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, out of 39 Australian universities surveyed in 2004, 13 were offering entrepreneurship units in bachelor and masters programs, 8 offered bachelor programs in entrepreneurship with major or minor in entrepreneurship and 11 offered post graduate programs such as graduate certificate, diplomas or masters in entrepreneurship.

And the trend is gathering momentum. The Murdoch university for example, currently offers a specialization in entrepreneurship as part of its undergraduate commerce degree and is not shy to use lines like ‘Love to be your own boss one day?’ and ‘you could be the world’s next Richard Branson!’ to entice students. The University of Adelaide has created an exclusively entrepreneurial undergraduate degree with the grand title ‘Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship’. Taking a leaf from UNSW’s book, UTS had recently created an Entrepreneurship Centre ‘to build an entrepreneurship ecosystem’ and aims to provide highly specialised courses for entrepreneurs.

Sean Marshall plans to give his own suggestions to the centre. After all he is the president of the Australian Collaborative Entrepreneurial Society (ACES) society at UTS and a fierce advocate for improvements in entrepreneurial education. His response to whether Australia is doing enough to assist young entrepreneurs speaks for itself. “Hell NO” he says with passion, “people need to know that entrepreneurship is a valid career path”. Which is just what he’s working on. A serial networker who goes to about four entrepreneurship networking events each week, he also runs The Vanguard, an organisation that helps encourage entrepreneurial skills in students.  “We build a community of students from high school and university who want to be involved in entrepreneurship and  run training events. For example a day work shop on how to build an e-commerce site” he says, before pausing for a moment to give the taxi driver directions. He is in fact on his way back from the ‘Final Pitches’ event at UNSW where entrepreneurship students showcase their innovative business ideas. “There needs to be a shift away from education focused on theory and to education that involves solving a problem in the real world” he concludes adamantly.

However Both Marshall and Bliemel are likely to be disappointed with Oliver Milman’s cynicism about entrepreneurial courses. The editor of Start Up Smart, an online publication for entrepreneurs, is skeptical about the impact of tertiary education on the entrepreneurship sphere. “There is a big debate about whether entrepreneurship should be taught as a course. Rather, it’s possible that its a state of mind.” he comments pensively. “There is a belief that teaching entrepreneurship itself doesn’t really help you out” he continues, “that you can’t teach people to come up with ideas”.

The experience of Sam Sidney, 24 year old owner of online clothing store Twin Cat Vintage seems to support his ‘mind over matter’ rationale. For Sam, who studied journalism at Melbourne University, lack of entrepreneurship education was simply a challenge to be tackled, not an insurmountable barrier.

“I particularly found the actual ‘business’ side of things tough. Being mathematically illiterate also didn’t help matters!” she admits. But  she is far from being resentful about this difficulty. “I think fear is a fantastic motivator and whilst there were always fears and stresses involved, I never lost the motivation to keep trying”.

She describes her love for vintage clothing and the satisfaction of giving people a “special shopping experience” as the reasons she started the business.

“I had an incredible long white 70’s lace dress once, which a girl bought for her wedding dress – that was an amazing sale!”.

When speaking about motivation, Fiona Anson, a serial entrepreneur who’s owned a total of six businesses, has her own philosophy. “Entrepreneurs have an internal drive. They are motivated by doing things better.” she says with conviction.

Her newest venture HireMeUp, which she started with business partner Allison Baker, is a job search site for finding flexible work and attracts 10000 visitors per month. Like Sam, Fiona is optimistic about business challenges. “You might get a bit disappointed, but you pick yourself up and dust yourself off ” she laughs, “it’s all trial and error at the end of the day.”

Regardless of the role education plays in creating entrepreneurs, there is most certainly a growing demand for entrepreneurial courses in Australian universities. Yet the experiences and mentality of entrepreneurs like Fiona and Sam indicate that the desire to create something is what underpins the success of educational incentives.

“Somebody who’s an entrepreneur gets the thrill out of finding something new to do all the time”, Fiona declares, before adding with a smile “and I love it.”

Fiona (on the right) and her business partner Allison

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Meeting the Entrepreneurs and Hazards of a Busy Life

Before the collapse of my immune system I had managed to do at least some useful things.

As I mentioned at the end of my video (if anyone was patient enough to reach the end) I was asked to write a blog about an event called Meet The Entrepreneur.

Here they are, the wonderful men with the big brains

And here is the blog for the event. As a firm believer in the power of the digital word above the printed word, I was more than happy to write it pro bono.So thanks to the good people of the UNSW Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Actually I had turned up at the event for a completely different purpose. I was writing an article about entrepreneurship education in Australia for uni, and it seemed relevant  (it wasn’t). I remember turning up and  thinking “what the fuck?” when I saw that every person there was casually sporting corporate attire (I was sporting a baby blue sweater and ever so slightly ripped jeans). In other words I stood out like a (blue) beacon.

Anyway I did have fun as the token misfit because that’s the reason I got noticed and asked to contribute. Oh and I got to interview Valerie Khoo who happens to own the Sydney Writers Centre (where, incidentally, I had done a writing course years back).

Did I get anything out of the event for myself? You may ask. Why yes. Yes I did.

I realised that I never want a job that forces me to wear corporate/business clothes. Ever.

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Two Ways Twitter has Changed the Way We Consume Information

The way Osama Bin Laden’s Death broke on Twitter gave rise to new questions about its role  as an informational hub and the role of the audience in generating news. In my opinion,

  1. Twitter has changed the way in which people search for information
  2. It has also provided certain individuals with the power to influence and generate news

The truly innovative aspect of Twitter is that people are able to search for and find news that have not yet been broadcast, written about or published.This was the case with the news about Osama Bin Laden’s death.

According to Fast Company the interest of the public was sparked when the White House announced an urgent presidential address. Amongst this demand for information  Keith Urbahn’s news breaking tweet about Osama Bin Laden’s death was spread freakishly quickly.

Urbahn’s power to create  news came because his information responded to the public demand.

It was only because his tweet coincided with the most talked about topic and the time at which it was delivered that it had such prevalence. This demonstrates is that unlike traditional media that used to ‘push’ news towards the consumer, Twitter provides a place where people can ‘pull’ the right information from their network.

Just want to show you a Twitter visualisation that demonstrates how information networks are created on Twitter. I know the topic has nothing to do with what I’m talking about but I thought it was a good visual example!

It seems that information is trusted when it either comes from a variety of unrelated, unbiased sources or if it is provided by influential and credible individuals.

This guy’s quote, published by Arnnet perfectly describes how info trust is built:

“After first seeing one or two tweets on the subject, I quickly did a hashtag search to verify that what I was reading was being referenced by a large number of people and linked to a reputable news source. After that little process, I felt as though I could trust what I was reading and that I had been informed of the news from many different vantage points, each with independent motivations, backgrounds, national histories. I find that process much more trustworthy than listening to a single TV station.”

The way the news broke also makes it possible to suggest a profile of the twitterer who can successfully act as an influential citizen journalist. The key individuals in the OBL case were Keith Urbahn, the former Chief of Staff in Donald Rumsfeld’s office and Brian Stelter, a digital media reporter for the New York Times, who re-tweeted Urbahn’s tweet.

Both were professionals in their respective fields and both were active on Twitter during the crucial time. Although Urbahn had a relatively small following of 1016 people, according to Social Flow he “had the right combination of influential people reading his tweet and confidence in the accuracy of the information.” This of course included Brian Stelter who was not only a reliable source but also had a huge Twitter following of 57 535 people. When he re-tweeted Urbahn’s tweet it was spread by his following, making the news viral.

Based on this information I am suggesting that the successful citizen journalist on Twitter must be credible and reliable, he or she must be timely in providing information and they must have the right twitter following. This can either be a very large following but most importantly it must contain the right people.In other words the twitterer must have influence.

Here is a list of most influential twitter users.

You can use Twitter Grader to find out how influential a particular twitter user is.

I found this tool really cool too. It lets you search for influential people who are interested in the same things you are.

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