Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
So, it’s day 6 of one a day and I’ve already run out of inspiration. Well, not exactly. But my previous few posts have been all SUPER SERIOUS STUFF and I want to do something frivolous.
I shall describe the cute stuff on my desk, which – thanks to my ever-increasing Twitter obsession – is more and more resembling a collection of… well… shit. Hang on, I started this project to improve my writing skills so really that sentence calls for a metaphor of some kind, doesn’t it?
…on my desk, which is groaning under the detritus from an autumn’s worth of promotional tat.
It’s not a metaphor, but I guess it’s marginally better than saying a collection of shit. Both are true. However, interspersed among the conference-going tat, unfiled bank statements, redundant stationery (does anyone need 11 pens and 2 rolls of sticky tape on their PC desk? Really?) and things-I-should-be-dealing-with-but-am-not, are some lovely little gems.
My square-headed robot clock, pictured above. He was a leaving present from my last permanent position – the one I was at for two years. Proper solid metal with 5 points of articulation, no less. I love him to bits.
I also have a little pink bear, whom I have named Little Pink Bear. I have a string voodoo pirate with a drawing pin peg leg, whom I have named Pirate Dude* and then I have this.
What is he? My bf picked him up from MCM. Some kind of Japanese yeti, perhaps? Answers below, please. I can’t name him without knowing what he is.
*I also have a polar bear named Frank.
Another one-a-day blogger, Evrim Ersoy, wrote a great response to my post on selling out.
If you want people to take you seriously, take what you write seriously then it’s your journalistic obligation to prove to them that what they’re reading is not just another form of paid for advertisement.
Evirm Ersoy – The Art of Selling Out
Go and read it so you can follow my points below.
The major part I don’t understand is the distinction between a restaurant giving you a free meal and your paying for a meal and then claiming it back on expenses. Either way, the source of the payment isn’t you. The meal tastes just the same, the service is just as good and the wine is just as overpriced.
The other option is for you to pay for the meal yourself. Surely the only way that can go is towards demands for higher writing wages? How is payment coming from your own bank balance any different, except in the writer’s mind? This brings us back to the point in my last post about choice. Subconscious positive feelings through gratitude are a fact of humanity but all critics are well aware of what they’re writing and why. Restaurant reviews include the cost of a meal for 2 plus wine and of course the reviewer considers the opportunity costs for the reader, yes?
Evrim has a great quote from Ebert about gifts. In case anyone missed my sarcasm about mugs and diaries and lunch in the last post, I agree. Gifts bad. Alcohol particularly so. Granted, in the UK’s social culture it’s harder to build professional relationships without it but anything more than accepting a few rounds in a pub is pretty fucking dodgy in my book. Especially if you (the writer) never reciprocate.
[Disclosure: In December Shopping.com gave me a bunch of cocktails, a shared bottle of champagne and a bottle of Prosecco. They were sponsoring a Christmas quiz, I was a +1 with a friend and my site isn't about shopping portals. Relevant or red herring?]
Bringing this to a more personal level – I get the occasional free game. I buy other games. Giving me a free game means I feel obligated to write SOMETHING about your game in particular – I was going to write something about some game anyway, so is it unethical to choose the thing right in front of me over the one still in the shop? Is it morally “better” to choose the one I paid for because I thought it looked fun? Why? My choice to buy for myself was influenced by marketing budgets, after all.
Of course publishing only-positive reviews is doing a disservice to your readers. From what I’ve learned over the past few months (through anecdotes not personal experience, I feel the need to add ;), it will also earn you a reputation as a hack and lose you respect from readers, colleagues and PR people. It’s your choice.
Here, I went to Namco a few months back to preview Enslaved: Odyssey To The West:
The game itself is quite fun. As Monkey, you run around the landscape beating up mechs with the occasional boss thrown in for good measure…
…Combat is… okay. I played on Normal mode and found it fairly pleasant, which probably means that fans of melee action games will find it shocking.
Debbie Timmins (Me!) – Preview – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
I made a conscious effort to ensure the piece reflected the good and bad of my experience. Is it not sufficient to judge a writer on the correlation of their work to the subject matter? How does the adding the knowledge that Namco bought me a pizza and a couple of cans of Coke change the quality of my review? How about the knowledge that it was a horrible gooey sweet chilli pizza that I didn’t enjoy very much?
Personally, I think it’s more important to disclose the fact that I’m not an expert on melee action games – the sort of information that many reviews don’t include, in the name of “objectivity”. Requiring full disclosure on the entire PR experiences sounds to me like a demand to open yourself to circumstantial ad hominem accusations.
Rounding off to Evrim’s statement above: Does the proof that “what I’m writing is not just another form of paid for advertising” not lie in the accuracy of my report as compared to yours and your friends experiences? I cannot be exceptional in choosing to trust reviewers based on how well their opinion of films I’ve already seen meshes with my own, can I?
The questions in this post are not rhetorical. I genuinely want to see more opinions on this. Leave them in the comments or drop me a link to your own post on the subject, please.
I thought I played Aion pretty hardcore but that pales in comparison to my Discworld MUD clocktime.
I clocked up an additional 23 days on my Discworld alt, too. 1656 hours on a single text-based game.
Edit to add Guild Wars clock – another 188 hours…:
So, Startup Weekend London was, hands down, one of the best events I have ever been to. Met a great bunch of new people, spent all weekend working my butt off and came away with a possible new venture for my imminent rat-race retirement!
[Yes, I know this blog is supposed to be about the trials and tribulations of creating OneServing.com but let's be honest; I'm not working that hard on it and the new venture has an actual viable business model. Probably]
For the uninitiated, Startup Weekend is a series of events designed to bring entrepreneurs together. They have a truly horrendous website at the moment but don’t let that put you off. The events are excellent! The logo is super-cute, too :)
Friday evening meet and greet. I actually went to Founder Friday with Women 2.0 beforehand, which was another nice event. 12 women, talking about businesses, eating Dim Sum and drinking cocktails. Very relaxed and a great way to bridge the gap between my day job and event itself. Not that I knew it at the time but I met my (hopefully) future business partner here, Jemima Garthwaite.
Turned up to the meet and greet, met and gret and then settled down for the welcome and the pitches. Oh, and the exceedingly boring IBM promo video. IBM desperately need some better marketing people.
Anyway, I used the opportunity to test out ScribbleLive, an interesting CMS/liveblogging that pulls in Twitter updates and hashtags, Flickr feeds, emails and allows blog posting and comments. It updates in real-time so no need to refresh your browser. Confusingly for me, they decided to roll out a site-wide upgrade between my discovering it last week, and the weekend event. So, I missed pretty much all the intro speeches due to faffing with my laptop.
Then came the pitches. There were 22 in total; it took ages, I and few other people were tweeting on the hashtag, so you can go to the ScribbleLive link above to see what they were. Then came the voting.
Why we were voting, I have no idea because near the end of the voting period, Damien (event organiser) shouted that we should have all formed into teams by now and there was a quick panicky scramble to find someone with an interesting idea. As far as I could tell, the vote tickets didn’t come into it at all.
Once we established our groups and sorted out the indecisive people we got about 45 minutes to get to know each other and brainstorm before being kicked out of the building :P I joined Charity Maps Mashup, with Jemima, Katherine Kern, Pranay Manocha, James Hunt and Tom.
Quick adjourn to the Arch Duke pub and then home
Tom disappeared halfway through Saturday and never came back so I don’t know who he was. Fare thee well, mysterious stranger! (He sent us an email on Sunday, so we know he’s all right).
Day 2, bright and early:
Got up and left the house earlier that I do for my day job >.< Working for an NHS support service may be stressful but at least I have the 10am-to-6 option. Quick McDonalds breakfast and then down to new business!
Day 2 was a lot of brainstorming and research. And post-its. I love post-its. Jemima had a pretty clear vision of how she wanted the site to behave, so we mapped a bunch of stuff out and argued a bit over Facebook Connect until we all came to terms with Open Graph and possibly the fact that I’ve only ever seen dull implementations of one or the other protocol. Did lots of research and basically discovered that the original idea, mash up lots of data feeds around different charity fundraisers, was sorely hindered by the fact that no one seems to actually publish event feeds.
D’oh. Never mind, there are many ways to capture information.
We also has a few moments of insanity where we toyed with the idea of competing with Just Giving and were politely squashed by a couple of mentors, who suggested much better ways to monetise the core concept.
I flittered about with my camera for a bit and drew some crappy concept wireframes on paper to try and figure out what info should go where from the usability perspective. Not my most productive hours for business perspective but I got some nice shots of all the teams I could find, which you can see over in my flickr set.
Day 2 had lots of highs and lows, stumbling on competitors, realising they were crap, refining our concept, changing business models, and generally talking a lot. Oh, and we hooked up Spotify to the conference room’s inbuilt speaker system, which was totally awesome :)
[note to Animoto; make an embeddable version, goddammit. also make your "friends" implementation less shit. videos r awesome, kthxbai]
Day 3, not so early:
Some fantastic art and design work, lots of panicking over data and our coder beavering away at a prototype. This post is definitely too long now, so in summary:
We have a business model.
We have a load of marketing opportunities.
We have a prototype.
We almost have a data source.
The final presentations were scary as shit; not just because we couldn’t get our proper sample data working in time, nor that our lovely developer was coding right up until the last second. Nope, we also discovered that his laptop battery had died and if the power cable came out, the whole thing needed 10 minutes to restart >.<
Also, our supposed 5 min slot + Q&A time got cut to 3 mins INCLUDING Q&A and we got told about that AFTER presentations had started. No time for discussion over what to cut O.O
But, we survived and managed a 6-second proof of concept demo. The judges didn't ask us any questions which was disturbing until Alicia Navarro kindly let me know on Twitter that it was because we had covered everything they wanted to know. Hooray!
Good question. We agreed to go our separate ways and meet up again on Saturday to discuss what we want out of things. We still have our Google Group and are emailing every day so I hope at least 3 of us will stick with it. Out for Startup Weekend Alumni drinks tomorrow. We’ll see next weekend!
Do you support charitable giving in your local community?