Shameless Jonathan Ross still joking about Andrew Sachs messages
The 6million-a-year presenter is on holiday with his family in Florida while he serves a three-month suspension without pay.
But he is keeping his fans updated by writing an internet blog - and showing a startling lack of humility about the debacle.
In one post on the Twitter website he used an expletive to describe BBC executives when discussing the concept of a film about his life, also apparently insulting one of Britain's leading character actors in the process.
He wrote: 'I bet the f***ers would get Timothy Spall to play me.'
In another he made light of the obscene messages he and Russell Brand left on Sachs's answering machine on Brand's Radio 2 show, in which the pair claimed Brand had slept with the Fawlty Towers actor's granddaughter Georgina Baillie.
Ross joked: 'I am very polite in person. I'm just not great with answering machines.'
Blogger Robert Scoble has just wound me up with a message on Twitter claiming he chooses who he subscribes to "wisely" and that doing so makes you smarter. He subscribes to over 20,000 people on Twitter, I'd say that's more blunderbuss than wizardry. You can't tell me that subscribing to that many feeds, churning out hundreds of updates a minute, that Twitter is a precise instrument when he uses it.
I'm curious to hear what you consider a good number of subscriptions / followers to subscribe to (in Twitter or elsewhere) to make information consumption really useful.
Some good stuff, but a lot of these aren't really lifehacks. Some are more resolutions.
My three lifehacks which I've started making headway on already, are:
Kill email as much as possible. I've been working hard on getting my email traffic down in volume through a mixture of rules, unsubscribing to email feeds for information, and encouraging peers and colleagues to ise other ways of contacting me. I still stand by my Email Efail contention from earlier in the month. Doing this means the important emails get dealt with quickly and not lost in a sea of alerts and cc'd 'yes thanks' etc spam.
Use paper for GTD. I have an almost paper-free desk and am going to get rid of what's left - except from my three Moleskines. One for actions in meetings, one small one for personal stuff (it fits in my jeans pocket) and one is my diary (my electronic diary is noisy from shared access and so not as useful as I'd like). For ideas (and geekery) on GTD with Moleskines and other paper and some electronic hacks, check out this Flickr pool.
Small bits of exercise every day. I don't get to do much exercise down to a mixture of family and commute, so my hack is to do as many small bits as possible. We'll see where that gets me - even if my 20min morning walk to my station chips away at the Xmas belly I'll be happy :)
I'm on my way home from the office and saw something worth sharing. Thanks to Rohit Bhagarva for pointing out that Unilever is right now hosting its "Unilever Word of Mouth Conference" in the US. Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter is speaking there, amongst others.
But for PR people that would like to work with TechCrunch, this is worth noting. Next time you're organising an announcement, best not give them notice. I think they would prefer that. Arrington's co-editor Eric Schonfeld is suffering from email overload according to this comment. But they're connected. One might argue a media outlet like TechCrunch could survive without needing to be fed stories.
I'd be interested to hear what Mike Butcher at TechCrunch UK would subscribe to - as I work a lot on UK media campaigns and we sometimes to have stories relevant to TechCrunch.
To be totally honest, as a PR person with a few grey hairs, I would say an embargo is used only for truly major news, when you believe several media outlets would want to cover it the minute the news goes live, so you are giving them advance warning and time to write the story. If they want this, then both sides win. What Mike Arrington is saying is that some of his competitors are breaking embargoes and that too many PR firms are trying to use embargoes to sex up their stories, and so he's ditching them as a bargaining tool. Fair enough. But those spammy PR emails that bloggers should now expect a direct route to the spam folder from Arrington from now on.
Update: An embargoed story is OK if it's an exclusive. Let's just hope exclusives don't get bandied around the same way and suffer a similar fate!
Dell has said something pretty bold this evening - that its use of Twitter has made the company $1m in revenue. From using Twitter as an alerts system.
Here's the story from Venturebeat, which carries the news.
InternetNews has a good rundown of the Twitter/business phenomenon. Buried in it is this gem:
Some businesses have discovered that Twitter is an effective way of communicating with consumers. Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) says Twitter has produced $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half through sale alerts. People who sign up to follow Dell on Twitter receive messages when discounted products are available the company’s Home Outlet Store. They can click over to purchase the product or forward the information to others.
If Twitter has made Dell $1 million in revenue, imagine how much it’s making for all of the companies it helps promote. While a million dollars may not be much to a company like Dell, for some smaller companies that are also using Twitter as a sales/promotional tool, it is no doubt invaluable.
Last week the web 2.0 conference Le Web took place in Paris. Many go there to network in what has become the gathering of the world's top web gurus (almost 2,000 of them too). Another reason people attend is to listen in an auditorium to some of these bright sparks speak. In attendance this year were the likes of Hugh Macleod, Robert Scoble, Marissa Mayer, Amit Kapur, Steve Gillmor, Paulo Coelho and JP Rangaswami. I didn't go to Le Web this year, although I did last year. It's a big gig.
Michael Arrington, editor of TechCrunch, was also there and spoke at more than one session and his talks, demeanour and post-event blogging have not gone down well with the 'Europeans' (I use speech marks because of his definition of the term). In short, Michael takes a hefty pop at the European working culture. He doesn't go quite so far as to call us lazy, but he does say that we have a lazy culture which leads 'good people' to get sucked into it thinking laziness 'is the way to go'.
Arrington's generalisations about a sweeping European culture have ensured that he has failed to communicate well with any one country in Europe, and so any points he has made that do make sense have been lost. Hence why he might be asked not to return next year (see bottom of this post for more on that).
I'm knocked back by Michael Arrington's post. His sweeping statements on what Europeans are like seem truly bizarre. Michael says that our focus on the 'joy of life' is great, "but all these two hour lunches over a bottle or two of great wine and general unwillingness to do whatever it takes to compete and win is the reason why all the big public Internet companies are U.S. based."
Us Europeans huh!
Anyone who's experienced UK's compulsory two hour lunches over wine would of course agree (in case you weren't sure, we often don't take lunch breaks in the UK). Or maybe opposite - Swedish Fika and the country's summer downtime (I used to work for a Swedish firm). Or the enormous entrepreneurial Spanish SMB sector. Or the recession in Berlin. Or the diversity of the new European countries who people like Mike Butcher of TechCrunch UK have far more experience of than I do. Butcher is very sharp makes a solid point to underline Europe's diversity in business, technology and entrepreneurialism.
My concern is that TechCrunch with its large readership is perpetuating the notion that Europe, especially to some countries outside of Europe, is all the same. I've spent the last 10 years managing and being managed in European teams that span every country, some of which I do business with daily, some only once every few years. So saying the kind of things like Arrington did winds me up a little.
Forgetting about the generalisations though, there's an interesting point raised in Michael Arrington's post about how Europeans work fewer hours than Americans, and how he thinks this is a bad thing. Michael says that working 8hrs a day, five days a week is part time. 12hrs a day is just "getting started". One of the commenters under his post though points out that to some in Europe, the Arrington culture of work longer, do better (here's an article on that), comes across as horrifically inefficient. It's called the Pareto Principle - where 80% of your results are achieved in 20% of the time. The majority of your time is inefficient, and the skill is in honing your efficiency and not overworking, as it doesn't pay. There are a few quite intellectual responses on this basis to Arrington's post, and I find the dialogue there really interesting.
In a profile of Arrington in Wired magazine, his working day is described as 12 hours of work, followed by more analytical blogging after 10/11pm. So maybe minimum of 14 hour days? And that's apparently less than he used to work. He said: "In the beginning, I got up every day and worked until I passed out." His sacrifice? He talks a little about that in the interview.
So to round this all off, the organisers of Le Web have set up a poll to ask if they would like to see Michael Arrington at Le Web next year. Two thirds have said no! Arrington calls this censorship. He says he "expected more from the European community" and that maybe The Guardian should also be ejected for saying the conference was boring or complaining at the lack of wifi or heat. I think the difference would be the sweeping generalisations, versus the opinions, and let's not confuse the two.
Whether Le Web is called boring, cold, connected or not, if I had been subsidised to go then made the statements that Mr Arrington did, I'd anticipate not being asked back in '09.
Quote from the blog of Forrester web strategist Jeremiah Owyang, April 2007
Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a lunch with Robin Goad of Hitwise and a number of the UK's brand name PR and comms chiefs. We talked a bit about the impact of social media on comms.
One of our guests laid out her vision of how the currency of communication governs electronic interaction and the attention economy. Explaining her vision, she told how if you give someone a 9/10, you'll read their emails, messages, etc and give them your attention when they ask it. Give them a 1/10, and it's probably going to be a person who always CCs you but never for a good reason. You pay attention to a person when you give a good value to their currency. And this theory got me thinking.
Later that day my company's MD and I talked a little about email culture and its effects on us in the business. Heavy email traffic is certainly a challenge to deal with. But it's very efficient in other ways.
So it got me thinking about some of the articles JP Rangaswami has written over recent months about how organisations could use social sites more than email for business communications. And about how my department's use of Twitter and IM is helping change things a bit already.
The real issue I am struggling to deal with is that, day by day, email traffic is getting a lot heavier. And whilst the currency of communication theory that I was talked through makes good sense, how on earth can you tell if someone you value has even tried approaching you if you can't see the wood from the trees in your inbox?
Put another way, I get about 300 emails* a day, and if I step away from my inbox for too long it's almost impossible to see the ones I would place a high value on from the rest. I get:
150 company and client-generated emails
20 press releases from PR people trying to get coverage on my blog / twitter
50 Google Alerts
50 media feature alerts
A pinch of spam
5 diary requests
A small number of random ones
And that's not counting my spam filter which catches a lot of rubbish
*update - then there's RSS feeds. I use a fairly straightforward but evolved way of managing my additional 597 RSS feeds which uses 30 folders (with currently 47,116 messages unread)
I know this isn't unique in my industry. Coleagues and clients tell me they're in the same boat.
The way I deal with it is look for the people I know I value, and that's usually clients, close colleagues and of course family. Then I miss some good stuff sometimes.
But what I'm getting at is that I believe that email is broken as a universal business comms tool. I appreciate that it's convenient in business comms to issue instructions to colleagues, clients, suppliers, whatever by emailing them a message. And I think there will be a role for email long into the future in business. But partly due to the way a growing generation communicates (it ain't by email) and partly due to the fact that humans don't scale, email will give way to comms technologies like IM, threaded conversations (like walls, portals or discussion rooms) and social Twitter-like things.
I'm really keen to find out what that new way is, and no, I'm not content with just persuading everyone I come into contact with that they must use Twitter :)
I have over the last few years put in place a few hacks that help deal with heavy email traffic. Here are a few. I'll update this over time:
Use a fast mobile email device. I use a BlackBerry Bold which is very fast when you're working on email. I've used BlackBerry for only about four years [RIM is a Hotwire client I should add, but I've been a fan far longer than I've been here] and the Bold is the quickest. I have found all other devices I've used slower. Like this famous webby, I'm speed sensitive with everything in my life. Slowness makes me fume.
Turn off the light and batch it. I have turned the blinking red light on my BlackBerry that tells you when you have mail OFF. Try it. It reduces twitchiness and lets you focus on non-email jobs when you have to without distracting you. This plays to the batching theory of email management.
Folders. I read a book called GTD a few years ago and one thing I put in place straight from the book was a two-folder system of Inbox (to-do) and Actioned (done). Once I know an email doesn't have an action on it any more, whether that action is to read the mail or do a job off the back of it, I move it to my 2nd folder.
Rules. I have a lot of rules set up in my inbox to archive emails I need to read but that are not urgent.
Today I read a post by the venerable "David Brain at Edelman who posted an article" about an event he was at. His summary of what a group of business commentators said when they laid out their predictions on 2009 makes interesting reading.
But reading it earlier made me want to track down an opinion piece by David on his blog from much earlier in the year, about how a PR firm should be dealing with the worsening economic climate. The article, "Hope for the best, plan for the worst" I feel makes fascintaing reading still, months after he wrote it. Especially the bit about the shootings.