Friday, July 22, 2011

App Watch

Can't give too much away just yet, but I highly recommend you sign up to get notified about the upcoming launch of Ness, "the first personal search engine based on your unique tastes".

Check out the TechCrunch article here and get involved.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All the young dudes.

Taking a moment away from all the tech talk to get back to my roots with a post on fashion.

When my contemporaries and I were teenagers, we didn't have the Gossip Girls and Willow Smiths of today's world to look up to. In the mid-nineties, tweenage fashion was defined in three key moments: Cher's knee-high socks in Clueless, Ginger Spice's Union Jack dress at the Brit awards and Britney's school uniform in Baby One More Time. The last correlating directly to my parent's decision to send me to boarding school.

But before all that, and before Girl Power with its ghastly Buffalo boots and belly chains, there was one TV show setting the benchmark for post-grunge tween style. Blossom. Blossom was an American series which managed to combine important life lessons with some fashion statements even Carrie Bradshaw couldn't compete with. No other show before or since and been single-handedly responsible for the comeback of hats. Hats baby.

I recently found this interview with the costume designer on Blossom who explains how she mixed ethnic materials with vintage pieces to create a look that defined a generation.

Talking with my friends, its seems we are all in agreement that teenage fashion was not easy to come by in our youth. For those of us not into the pint-sized prostitute look peddled by the likes of Tammy Girl and Miss Selfridge (pre-overhaul), we had no choice but to be creative. Our response to a waif-like Kate Moss on the cover of Dazed & Confused, and the final days of Kurt Cobain manifested itself in Doc Marten's, slouch socks, floral leggings and our Dad's washed out denim shirts. Fashion inspiration didn't just come neatly packaged from celebrities and magazines, it was much more a reflection of our culture, our moods, music, art and movements.

To illustrate my point, I had a quick dig through the family albums. Having a photographer father means that my developing style - for good or bad - has been painstakingly documented. In the shots below - both from the mid-nineties - you'll see my fashion homages to both Nirvana and Pulp Fiction.

However odd us Nineties kids must have looked at times, I'm glad we didn't have our fashion fed to us quite as prescriptively as we seem to now. The grunge-y, ramshackle look not only gave us freedom to express ourselves as we pleased, but also allowed us to remain kids, if only for a couple more years. Covered in baggy tees and stomping around in DM's meant we didn't feel the pressure young girls must experience today of having the "perfect" Nicole Scherzinger body. We weren't about being "so hot you'd melt a popsicle", we came as we were. Fake boobs and botox? Ugh, as if!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Life lesson from lady geek homegirl and Google exec - Marissa Mayer:

"She advises people pursuing careers in the high-tech industry, whether at startups or Fortune 500 firms, to consider four things when choosing between jobs:

"Work with the smartest people you can find, do something you're not ready to do, find an environment in which you're very comfortable so you can find your voice, and work for someone who believes in you -- because when they believe in you, they'll invest in you."

Via Huff Po's new "Women in Tech" section. Click here for full article.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Portability. Mobility. Accesss

Despite the slight awkwardness of the interview, this chat with the Internet's wild child, Sean Parker, makes for interesting viewing. Parker's thoughts on his latest investment - Spotify - are especially insightful. For him, Spotify represents all his hopes and dreams for Napster made real. And, although he had to learn the hard way, time and experience have turned Parker into the ideal spokesperson and mentor for the new way to consume music legally and profitably for all concerned.

"We get the user building playlists… they accumulate a library… they get the song stuck in their head... Portability, mobility and access - that's the point where we monetise it". Lesson learned.

Speaking of Spotify, All Things Digital recently laid its hands on some of Spotify's US-oriented marketing materials. Not that it's going to need much push - the Americans have been salivating over Spotify for as long as us Brits have been pining for Netflix. Swapsies?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Power of Influence -or- What It Really Means To Get A Tweet From Ashton

In a recent article from the New York Times, Joe Fernandez CEO and co-founder of Klout said, “For the first time, we’re all on an even playing field... it’s not just how much money you have or what you look like. It’s what you say and how you say it.” And, for about 24 hours last week, I watched astounded as this came to life in front of me.

My last post reviewed A+ - the Twitter client from Ashton Kutcher and UberMedia. Just as the West Coast turned in for the night, and I jumped on the 67 bus into work, Ashton tweeted his thanks and appreciation for my review. My fellow bus passengers were totally freaked out by my screams of excitement. By the time I arrived at my desk, my blog had received 3,000 hits. At close of play on 22nd June the post had reached an amazing 8,000 views - up 7,900 on my usual daily visitors.

Now, let's calm down and do the math. Ashton has 7,075,316 followers on Twitter. Of those followers, about 0.1% clicked through to my blog. Amongst the 8,000 who read the post, 30 then followed me on Twitter. That's a fair downward slide in engagement - a key indicator of influence. So I got to wondering, just how influential is Ashton and about what, because despite being a key investor and consultant in tech, it seems his audience aren't a geeky lot - they aren't interested in blog posts about desktop apps. And, conversely, the key tech influencers don't appear to view Ashton as a hot source on tech news. In one Silicon Valley workshop I ran earlier this year, I was surprised when the client insisted on putting Ashton on the "We are not" board.

Ultimately, Ashton (and his wife Demi Moore) are known globally for their celebrity. For most of the world, Ashton is the dude from "Dude, Where's My Car" and Punk'd. He has fans - 7 million of whom follow him on Twitter. And, when it comes to his causes and charities, those followers are something powerful to leverage into action. Equally, for the execs behind Two and a Half Men, Ashton has both the star quality and dedicated following to drown out Sheen's incoherent rantings come the new season.

Having witnessed the power of "God-like" influence first-hand, I must agree with the NYT piece, "focus your digital presence on one or two areas of interest. Don’t be a generalist". Ashton's celebrity following prevents him from being a leading influencer in the very area of interest he is attempting to focus on, he is a victim of his own digital presence. All praise to him for starting Katalyst, his own digital media company, but if I were Ashton and really wanted to cultivate influence in tech? I'd start a side stream (@AKTech ??), get down and geeky, and aim to be the first person to get 1 million tech tweeters to take you off the "We are not board" and get on board with Ashton the media mogul.