Monthly Archives: August 2008

On inspiring a watercolour

It turns out that Kelly spent some of the Labor Day weekend puttering, doodling and painting… and one of her works of art was inspired by one of my photos (from a recent trip to the White Horse at Uffington, which you can see more of on Flickr)! Very cool. Thanks, Kelly.

Photo:

On the Uffington Horse

Watercolour:

on the uffington horse

When Love and Hate Collide: MySpace

Remember MySpace? I guess it was one of the first really mainstream social networking sites… remember, it was all big and fluffy and exciting a couple of years back, everyone who was anyone was flocking there. And then along came Facebook, and Twitter, and a whole range of other sites, and suddenly MySpace was “like, so last year”, and lots of people stopped caring.

Myspace
Myspace” by moyix.

The benefits

I’m still on MySpace, but I can’t say that I’m an active participant. My page essentially acts as a placeholder, provides a link over here to my primary blog, and acts as a way of keeping in touch with a small group of folks who I know over there. If someone searches for me on MySpace, they’ll find at least one way to contact me, and hopefully find my “main” web presences.

I also find that MySpace, along with Last.FM, is one of my key “music networks”. I have discovered a number of new artists through MySpace – particularly Alex Cornish who is increasingly beginning to break through into the mainstream in the UK (looking forward to his London gig in a couple of weeks’ time). I’ve also connected with smaller bands and found more obscure (to the UK) artists I’ve been following for a while. I believe that MySpace is an interesting way for artists to release music, get themselves known, and interact with fans.

The way the music thing has generally worked is that I’ve found and “friended” an artist, and then explored their connections and sampled their music on the site. In a couple of cases other musicians have introduced themselves to me as “friends of xxx” artist that I like, and again I’ve usually at least visited their page to check them out. I’ve bought at least 2 albums by unsigned or minor artists that way, but conversely in other cases I’ve also decided that no, I still really don’t like hip-hop and not bothered with the musician that has tried to friend me.

There’s an iPhone application now, and I guess that has helped me to keep up with the status of folks on there and what they are doing, too. It has rekindled my interest a little.

The annoyances

A couple of things really are not great, though.

First, there’s a the perennial make-your-eyes-bleed-its-so-horrible design of MySpace pages. They really are awful, and although the refreshed header and button design introduced this year makes it a little cleaner, the majority of MySpace pages still look as though a 5 year old has plastered the most gaudy advert they can find onto a computer screen and then scribbled on it with crayon. There’s also the language and slang used by the majority of regular users WHO FINK THAT SHOUTING MAKES U KULER LOL (you get the point).

Today I received 3 emails from a guy who was trying to promote his MySpace profile and music. There were a few annoyances here… firstly he was using some automated mailing list thing to spam me, not using MySpace at all… secondly he sent me THREE of the darned emails, one of which contained the HTML code for a Flash player of his music, which I assume he thought would play directly in my mail… and again, there was that lack of grammar or spelling that characterises certain MySpace users.

Reader, on receipt of the third email, I took a look at the guy’s site.

Not my kind of music, to be perfectly honest. So I sent him a mail on MySpace asking him not to spam, and explaining that although I’m sure he’s a great guy, sending me repeated messages about himself was not going to encourage me to either listen, or tell others to listen – quite the opposite in fact.

The response?

not spam if ya aint sellin nothing, Sry Your pissed off over email, try Being born in poverty and haveing to become somthing with no help, if you got that many that just means im doing my job

*sigh* Well that’s another MySpace user blocked, then…

IBM and the Twittersphere

This was one of those comments you start to write on someone else’s blog entry, which morphed into a post all of its own.

As an IBMer who Twitters, I’m pretty astonished that the company hit this list of “brands that suck on Twitter”… in common with Adam, Ed and Ryan’s comments on the post (which Ed follows up in a post of his own).

I’ve spoken about the organisation’s engagement with social media of all kinds before. Looking at my own Twitter usage, I would guess that of my current ~500 followers/followees, a fair percentage of them are folks from across the company I want to keep in touch with, or people that share common technology interests that I want to learn from or that are watching and listening to me. I have search feeds set up for topics of interest (products, brand names, etc.) in my feedreader and make an effort to check what people are saying about our stuff – where necessary I highlight those comments to people internally, or try to talk to the original commenter. I’ve observed IBMers using Twitter to build communities and connections across the company, and with both customers and others outside it too.

I guess that the original post bases the assessment on the @IBM account alone, and reaches the conclusions it does… but look at all the ways in which we use social media and you might arrive at a different endpoint. I’d say we’re listening, engaging, talking, and take these communities seriously.

Adam Christensen sums it up neatly in his comment on the original post, also re-quoted by Ed Brill:

IBM is nothing more than a collection of a gazillion individual IBMers. Really smart ones for the most part, I think. And thousands of those folks are on Twitter. So rather than have a centralized – yet generic – IBM account, we’ve opted for a decentralized approach and let those many individuals be the IBM face to the Twitter world.

Actually that has been our approach with social networks from the outset. If there was a single @IBM account that tweeted about everything that the company touches it would be pretty noisy – our business is diverse. Instead, you can choose to engage with individuals and what their individual voices offer. I think it’s a nice way of working, and I like that my company trusts us to be out there.

The Eightbar gang


Eightbar

Originally uploaded by ZekiZeki

As Ian wryly observed earlier, today [08/08/08] is a good day for one of my other blogs, eightbar 🙂

Whilst I was away I noticed that Rob had changed his Twitter avatar… it turns out he’s done sketches of a whole group of us. Thanks Rob – very cool work! Check out the bigger sizes on Flickr, too.

Time to make a change

It’s time to move on. Maybe there’s something in the air, since Roo left recently, and Dale has just written about his switch to new things.

A seven-year itch?

Almost exactly seven years ago, I was offered my current job with IBM. I left what used to be the Post Office IT Services, took a month off (during which I was supposed to visit New York and Washington… never happened, sadly), and then started consulting on WebSphere for what used to be IBM Software Group’s London Solutions Practice. When I joined the group I was young, single, and figured I could “do the consulting thing”. Looking back, I was a good techie but fairly green as a consultant… I think I’ve matured and improved! 🙂

I’m still in the same role today. Working in IBM Software Services for WebSphere (ISSW) has been an absolute blast. I’ve had the opportunity to develop my industry experience across a whole range of sectors: finance, media, manufacturing, retail, public sector; deepened and broadened my technical skills; mentored newcomers to our team; and watched the group – and indeed, IBM’s WebSphere brand and Software Group – develop and grow.

I’ve also had the pleasure and privilege of working with the most talented individuals I’ve ever come across. IBM Software Services is a truly great group. Some of the ideas that my colleagues have come up with have been completely mind-blowing (hint: the simple ones are always the best), and influence software architectures I’m seeing everywhere today. Maybe it isn’t all rocket science, but several people in my team actually could be rocket scientists, and in my opinion are simply geniuses. Thank you, everyone – it’s been an honour.

I’ve spent a total of eight or nine years learning IBM’s messaging products (particularly WebSphere MQ and Message Broker) in detail and they really are fantastic pieces of technology. I’m not going to be leaving those alone any time soon.

If you follow my blog or other online presences at all you’ll know that my interests go way beyond WebSphere, connectivity, transactions, integration and messaging systems – essentially, I’m into that stuff, but my passion extends out to the bleeding edge of technology, the frontiers of the enterprise and more fundamentally, how those in the real world – users – want to use and interact with technology and new concepts.

What’s next?

So, to borrow a phrase from Roo, what’s next? Well, I have a new role – still at IBM, and starting full-time next month.

I’ve built up a lot of experience in how our products are used, and I now have the opportunity to take that back to our Development labs. I’ll be providing a direct link between product development and customers… feeding back what is out there, what our customers want, and influencing future products. Refining product usability based on real experiences, and acting as a “customer champion”. It’s a role with worldwide scope, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it.

One thing I don’t expect to change is my wider interests – Web 2.0, virtual worlds, and communities. I’ll still be engaging with folks in all kinds of places – part of what I do as a “social bridgebuilder” (props yet again to James Governor for that description). It’s in my online DNA, I guess.

I’m not going far from my roots, but this is a significant change for me.