Friday, 31 July 2009

Pocketsmith's social media advice for startups - iJumpTV 62

Pocketsmith is a bootstrapped software startup from Dunedin. How did they reach a global audience and sign big overseas deals? The founders offer their secrets for building online community, what to blog about, and how they use Twitter.

We spoke to them in May; NBR spoke with them earlier this week!

Pocketsmith's social media advice for startups - iJumpTV 62

Pocketsmith is a bootstrapped software startup from Dunedin. How did they reach a global audience and sign big overseas deals? The founders offer their secrets for building online community, what to blog about, and how they use Twitter.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Behind the scenes of - iJumpTV 61 is a "social reconnection service" launched in New Zealand and featured recently on ReadWriteWeb. We interviewed CEO Duncan Shand about what is, and how it came into being. Inspiration for all new startups!

In a nutshell: social media is essential to launch a new startup cost-effectively, but don't forget a great, simple concept, good design and offline activity.

"We Live in Public" - fascinating. Disturbing. And we got in for free!

Image, which has nothing in particular to do
with this post, via Wikipedia
My mind is just freshly blown by We Live in Public, a film that, if you saw it in the 90s, you'd think it was a dystopian sci-fi flick.

Radio Wammo highly recommended it to Marie and I, as social media geeks, and so we rocked up at the theatre 5 minutes before it started, forgetting that the film festival is not like ordinary movies. It was sold out!

Gutted, we looked to see what other movies we could see, when a woman walked past, asking where the Film Festival was. We said which film? She said "We Live in Public". We said, sorry, it's sold out.

"Great!" she said. "It's my movie. I have comps, come with me!"

Talk about being at the right place at the right time.

So it was a fascinating, disturbing, entertaining, provocative, extremely well-put-together experience. Yes, we had technical problems with the projector, but to me that was all part of the show (I know, I'm more philosophical than most and that's not my reaction when the DVD player doesn't work at home, but meh, I knew someone would fix it - and they did).

Plot summary - late 90s dot-com millionaire does an experiment in shared, surveilled living. It goes a little bit crazy, he loses all his money, then he does the shared, surveilled living thing with his girlfriend. Doesn't go so well. He disappears, reappears, and is now plotting some kind of comeback.

His biggest problem? (well, one of his problems?) Being too far ahead of his time.

Rewind to 1999, and the experiment in shared, surveilled living underground - we have it today online, we call it Facebook (etc.) and we've grown accustomed to living under surveillance.

Great Q&A session afterwards, and Ondi's last answer was very profound - yes, we're living in a self-surveilance society that could easily turn into a nightmare. The only thing we can do - the biggest and best thing we can do - is be aware, be conscious, of how we use the tech.

I think I've always had some kind of awareness (give or take) because I need my alone time. But it's so easy to get caught up in the craziness and let the technology drive us, not the other way around.

Let technology serve you, and don't let go of your values. Don't let ego wash away relationships as the most important thing.

These are my fragmentary thoughts after watching the film. I'm sure more will form in days to come.

See also, Jacques Attali's book A Brief History of the Future, and We Think by Charles Leadbeater. Both very balanced portrayals of the future that acknowledge the dark side as well as the potential of technology.

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Monday, 20 July 2009

Social Media in India with Parmesh Shahani - iJumpTV 60

What's the hottest social network site in India? Are businesses in one of the fastest growing economies embracing social media? And while newspapers and magazines struggle in the West, are emerging economies different? I met author, editor and venture capitalist Parmesh Shahani at the recent XMedia labs event in Auckland, and got his thoughts on social media in his home country.

Monday, 13 July 2009


Sometimes elegance isn't what we think it is.

When I got my Macbook Pro in 2006, I quickly started to get a design sense, so when my rather ordinary laptop bag broke, I decided to go back to the Mac store for my next bag. It's been a good bag - until about 2 months ago.

Somehow, 2 months ago, the doohickey that holds the strap onto the bag just disappeared. The little metal thingie was gone.

It still held up alright when the strap was around my shoulder, but as soon as the strap slackened, it would come off. Quite stressful when your expensive laptop is in the bag!

For the want of a little metal doohickey, I was willing to buy another bag at around $65 (yeah, it was on special!). I asked at the shop about whether they sold parts and they said if I had the receipt they could replace it.

I couldn't find the receipt.

I was seriously considering shelling out $65 on a new bag, until I remember a story about Einstein. (I won't bore you with the story, suffice it to say Einstein was involved with a paper clip).

I chose a matching colour paper clip, twisted it around a bit, and voila. I now have a whole lot less stress carrying my bag around.

Which to me is elegance, even if it is not the traditional Mac way (ie. pay lots for whatever you do).

Friday, 3 July 2009

Scary Washing Machine - behind the scenes! iJumpTV 59

Who bought the famous Scary Washing Machine from auction site Trademe? It was appliance retail chain 100%, and Tango Communication's Zac Pullen tells us how it happened. Here's the original listing on Trademe (check out the comments): And here's Scary's new home online:

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The legal profession needs reinventing

Lawyers and/or geeks, correct me if I'm wrong.

Laws are made (theoretically) by the people for the protection of the people's rights.

Yet a whole industry (okay, profession) has arisen that makes its money by charging people $2000+ for a template agreement.

They're able to do this because of inertia. Simply because that's the way they've always done it.

Isn't it time the legal profession came in for a bit of reinvention?

Here's the geeky part: laws are made for the people, (kind of) by the people. Just like an open source code base.

Others then interpret the code base in order to apply it to particular needs - as we've seen with the hundreds (thousands, even) Twitter apps that use Twitter's open API.

What if we took the same approach to law?

How much of law is just code, and not dependent on interpretations?

My Dream Scenario

I'm a business owner. I want to hire a contractor, or partner with someone on a project.

I want an agreement that is legally binding, but as an entrepreneur who does a lot of partnering, I don't want to need a lawyer on staff to get stuff done. I just want to do stuff.

Wouldn't it be great to go to a website where I and my potential partner in crime can go and fill in dynamic forms that automate the process of lawyering.

Where my partner and I work out the kind of business relationship we want to have, enter the necessary parameters, and then the software would show us areas we need to think about.

Instead of the anxiety of
  1. a trip to a lawyer's office
  2. a conversation where it's highly possible to get the details wrong (after all, you may not have all your paperwork with you)
  3. not knowing what you'll be paying until afterwards
you get
  1. an agreement, that reflects your wishes, that is legally binding.
And if there are any anomalies, you can contact a lawyer through chat on the site. Or send an email.

It's the kind of disruption that's hitting every single industry. Milk the system (music industry, lawyers) and people will live for the day when you will be automated.

Act like a valuable partner, live to serve, and move with the times, and you'll be closer to the original definition of profession.

(Awesome photo from Steve Punter!)