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Shel Israel & Rick Segal in Brussels

The Belgian Microsoft crowd (especially Kris) was once again so nice to bring together a number of bloggers, this time to meet Shel Israel (together with Robert Scoble author of "Naked Conversations") and Rick Segal (a blogging VC from Canada). I suggest you go buy and read the book yourself, it's a pleasant read and full of useful information.

Here are some highlights/quotes I noted:

- Get ready for Shel's next book: "Global Neighbourhoods", it's got to do with politics I think.

- "In the blogosphere you get passionate response, because it are the passionate people that blog."

- Second Life:
Rick sees "Second Life" mainly as an entertainment platform where people can escape from the real world and enjoy games, sex, gambling, etc. I'd like to add music and video to that list. Interesting to note is Starwood's initiative to build a virtual hotel in Second Life. The commercial rationale is simple: soon every hotel site will have link to it's Second Life version for you to choose the room you want. However, in general Rick does not see much of a long term advertising effect from Second Life. One more notable initiative he talked about was somebody using Second Life as a therapy for kids with autism.

- Blogs, sites, forums:
Very relevant quotes from Shel about tools: "The revolution is in the conversation, not in the tool." and "It's not about what we use, but about what we say."
... much clearer is difficult :)

- Mainstream media (MSN) versus blogs:
Traditional mainstream media can not cater to the individual interests of people. Every individual has a passion he or she wants to talk about and people want to be emotionally attached to news. So the conclusion is obvious ...

- Companies afraid to allow blogging:
Microsoft has proved that it can survive blogs without a formal policy, even better, they gained a lot from it. But most (all) companies are afraid to let their employees blog. What rules do we need? Companies are responsible for their values, products, offering, ethics, etc. Simply askbloggers to user their common sense, and if you make up some rules, have them made by people already blogging. DON'T LET THE LEGAL GUYS IN THE ROOM!

- Should all companies start a blog?
Blogging is not always the right channel, think before you start. Don't just do blogs, but ask yourself (or your customer) the right questions first: "What do you want to do?", "What is your objective", "Are you prepared to listen", etc. Then decide how to join the conversation. It could be a blog, it could be that you just listen and respond through comments when relevant.

But remember ... The conversations are already going on, so you'd better join it!

Evert-Jan from Duval-Guillaume taped the whole conversation, if we get it on line somewhere I'll post a link to it later.



Ideas, conferences, podcasts ... life's great

I just came back from a very interresting meeting in London with our collegues worldwide. A lot of great strategic thinking there, nothing I can talk about but ... keep an eye on us :-)

This morning I listened to Joseph Jaffe's last podcast show, and hurray! I'm in it. The subject we launched (how to measure engagement generated through interactive media) is one to persue on longer term. So please react, give your opinion, etc. If we as a community can come up with some answers I promise I'll put it in a whitepaper. Let's do some open-source-style collaboration in developing the communications trade here.

Got some speaking opportunities coming up too. Tomorrow I'm talking about some of the award-winning work we did for Eurostar in a highschool in Ghent. It seems students need to be motivated to choose for interactive marketing as opposed to traditional advertising. The appeal of a making a TV-spot still appears to be higher then building compelling interactive experiences. I find that very strange, so looking forward to chat with these youngsters and motivate them for the marketing of the future.

Lastly, I'm also in a panel at the "customer first" event, talking about blogs. I'm proud to be in the panel with some cool likeminded bloggers: Kris Hoet, Clo Willaert and Jean Paul Declercq. The discussion is moderated by Marco Derksen from Looking forward to that too.


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Blogger upgrade

The blogger software was updated recently, and today I upgraded to the new 'template'. I had to re-integrate most of the stuff on in the right column, but at least you can do that in an organised way now (rather then fiddling around in the HTML). You can now simply add 'blocks' with HTML or javascript, and also choose from a number of predefined blocks (e.g. archive, profile, etc.).

It was a bit disappointing however that there a no blocks for:
- RSS feeds
- Technorati integration (is that competition for Google?)
- Google adwords (imagine that!)
- Any other cool tools
In fact, they just offer the basics. I hope new features will be added soon.

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