My Blog Mentioned at Vancouver ChangeCamp

June 20, 2009

Though I don’t always tend to this space as much lately–mostly thanks to Twitter, which has stolen away most of the precious few moments that I devote to this sort of thing–it was a nice surprise to hear that at today’s Vancouver ChangeCamp a post from my blog was referenced during one of the sessions. Very cool.

The post was one about the BC Government’s new Spark! collaboration site.

Sounds like it was a good day in Vancouver. Would have been great to be there, but instead I followed along via–what else?–Twitter. The hashtags #vcc09 and #vanchangecamp kept me informed and up-to-date.


Three Social Media eBooks Worth Reading

June 20, 2009

I tweeted this yesterday, but I wanted to mention here that Amy Mengel at Mengel Musings has a good post linking to three social media ebooks. My favourite so far–though I’m not yet done them all–is Brink. They all are valuable, and Amy provides a useful quick rundown on each of the books. Well worth a look.

YouTube Remixed Thru You

March 5, 2009

Yesterday on Twitter I received a tweet from crushlovely saying that they were “Enjoying the mix at” Well, Thru You is the most fantastic and talented example of remixing I’ve come across online. The artist, Kutiman, has taken a variety of YouTube video clips and pieced them together to create original music that is, frankly, incredible. Now, the style might not suit everyone–I personally love it–but the effort and talent is unmistakable.

What’s wonderful about this effort is how it illustrates what’s possible today. The web becomes this massive repository of user-generated content–which is itself a huge shift from previous modes of mass communication–and then artists take this a step further, remixing and reinventing, along the way creating original content that, in this case in particular, far exceeds the quality of any one individual piece.

Thru You is inspiring. I can’t remember that last time I was so blown away by something I experienced online, so taken aback that I could feel my pulse quicken and excitement and wonder flow throughout my being. This is creativity, vision and execution perfected. Riveting. Beautiful. Genius.

Do yourself a favour: Check it out.

Talking Twitter at TED

February 28, 2009

Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, was on the TED stage talking up his booming business. He’s a little nervous, but overall the presentation is decent and informative–not exactly one of those stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks TED talks, but interesting nonetheless. I really liked how he used great visuals to support sample tweets; would make Garr Reynolds proud.

Using Twitter As a Tool

December 16, 2008

Guy Kawasaki has a great post on the power of Twitter. It’s full of good advice on using Twitter for more than your typical friend updates, complete with useful links.

This post comes at a valuable time for me as I get more seriously into Twitter myself. I’ve been following Twitter’s development since its inception, and have had an account for some time, but I never really took advantage of it. At first I saw it as one more way to communicate inane comments about day-to-day trivia. Incidentally, in his post, Guy talks about this exact use of Twitter, saying:

If the concept of using Twitter in a commercial manner interests you, keep reading. If it doesn’t, then you can continue to send and receive tweets about how cats are rolling over and the line at Starbucks.

But as the use of Twitter’s matured–along with social media in general–it’s real power as a tool is becoming clearer.

Just yesterday there was a post on VentureBeat about how Twitter has made Dell $1million. And I managed to come across this story because of a person I follow on Twitter–Ann Handley of the fantastic MarketingProfs.

Internal communications I think is one area where Twitter–or perhaps better yet,  a corporate Twitter-like tool like Yammer–would really shine. Even small organizations typically suffer from internal communications challenges, and integrating a tool like this has the potential to really break down barriers.

BC Government Tries to Ignite a Spark with Staff

December 8, 2008
Hompage of Spark

Homepage of Spark

The BC Government launched a new social media Intranet site last week called Spark. The site is meant as a place for staff to share ideas with colleagues which can then be voted on by other users of the site. Of course comments are enabled, allowing for some development of a particular idea within the context of its post.

While I’m actively participating in the site I’m left wondering how effective it will be in the long term. It’s being pitched as a Web 2.0 site for government employees, and it’s an encouraging step in that direction. But in my use so far, I’m not sure there’s enough there to get users coming back and continually participating. Possibly out of pure curiosity staff might return to check in on what ideas are being posted. But it’s lacking a mechanism for building community.

For example, I posted an idea about trying to get similar-minded communications and web workers in government to

Spark post page

Spark post page

come together to share ideas, best practices, etc. My idea was “voted” a few times and garnered a few comments. Okay, not bad. Then today I noticed that my idea had been given the status of “Run with it,” which, in the scheme of the Spark site means the administrators have looked at my idea and have given me the go-ahead to move forward since it doesn’t technically require any input or immediate support from them for me to make it a reality (it’s not like I’m suggesting government change a financial policy or something).

But now I feel suddenly alone. There’s no mechanism–at least from what I’ve been able to discover–for me to use the Spark site, or even the broader government intranet site in general, to move forward with my idea. If I’m interested in pursuing things, I need to go back to more traditional means, like email, to setup a connection with the people who commented on my idea. This seems like a big flaw in the system.

If an idea gets the go-ahead, it would be great to suddenly be given a space within the Spark site to collaborate. Possibly a wiki tool, for example, so that interested parties can begin sharing ideas in a centralized collaborative space. This is especially important given the government’s broad user base. Users could be anywhere in the province of British Columbia! I’m assuming those who commented on my idea are in Victoria, but they may not necessarily be here. And even if they are, my physical office is located out at the relatively remote Selkirk Waterfront, far enough from the hub of downtown Victoria to make quick meetings impractical.

So extending the purely idea-based structure of Spark into a place where the ideas themselves can begin to take form would make it much more useful, and give it more of the Web 2.0 credibility I think the site creators might have been shooting for.

However, I’m encouraged by this development, and will continue to follow it to see just how far one good idea can go.

Pension Plan Video A Big Hit

October 26, 2007

Some catching up here, but the video project I produced debuted a couple of weeks ago and was a big hit. As part of the Municipal Pension Plan‘s annual general meeting, my team and I created three short, commercial-style videos for the pension plan’s board of trustees. The videos are meant to inform members of the pension plan about its value. Each video takes on a different angle and audience and in 2.5 minutes–and with simple, plain language–explains why being a member of the Municipal Pension Plan is a good thing.

Anyway, as I say, the videos are a big hit, and not just for our clients. They were recently showcased as part of a presentation given at a pensions conference in eastern Canada and the feedback was extremely positive. We’ve had requests for DVD copies and people wondering when they’ll be posted to our website.

It’s no wonder to me that these videos are popular. They are unique and completely atypical for the industry. This is pensions we’re talking about. To get people to watch–much less click away having absorbed some key messages–we couldn’t just produce the usual talking-head piece. And believe me, in our research, other pension administrators have posted classic talking-head videos that run up to 45 minutes! People simply won’t spend long stretches at their monitor squinting at another boring video about a topic that, unless they are in their fifties, they likely don’t spend much time thinking about anyway.

We wanted our videos to move, to by dynamic and engaging, keeping our primary delivery method–the web–in mind as we planned and shot. We kept our shots tight, the language simple and quick and the scenery changing. We also took into account the various visual cues that would help support our message. For example, we used, as much as possible, real locations. We wanted to reinforce through our choice of background that these were authentic Municipal Pension Plan locations. Our goal was that when pension plan members watched they would intuitively recognize the locations as “belonging” to them, thereby strengthening the video’s value message since they not only hear the actor’s words but also see their own world reflected back. Another small, but meaningful, touch was with the use of colour. The plan’s official colour is green (the actual Pantone number escapes me), so we made sure that our actor wore a green blouse beneath her sweater. Not a big deal, but often it’s the details that make something truly stand out.

It’s also been gratifying to watch the videos catch on throughout our organization. They are being requested for branch staff meetings and as supporting material for meetings with employers who are considering joining the plan. They are beginning to have a life of their own, which is exactly what we had planned for. It’s exciting to see others begin to recognize the possibilities of this medium.

The videos are not yet online, but will be soon. When they are I’ll be sure to link to them.