Happy media

June 18, 2009

SmartviewcamImprovements in photo taking with smart phones are fueling the newsworld. Uncontrolled, uncensored, irreverent and totally suited for Web and TV publications, these fast growing devices, now often with 3 megapixels, are giving an all new perspective to the notion of free press.

Their success comes from the immediacy and the ease of basic photo manipulation and editing. But the primary key is in their ability to connect seamlessly online, as remote controls, image/sound capture and transmission devices.

Connect, interface, exchange, these are the rules of the game. We do not expect anymore to be served a fancy lunch onboard a plane, nor to carry extra baggage in the belly of it. But one thing is sure, we are demanding to be connected online all the time, all the way. Removing the right to use a smart phone, even for a brief airborne moment, is viewed with great resistance (the adult equivalent of what amounts to a teenage hissy fit).

Perhaps it is altogether only pointing out that anything that works must work with the Internet. Simply put, that is why smart phones are smart. As professional photo capture devices they are, without a doubt, a compromise, but whoever uses them to get the news out is definitely reaching a happy media.

Sunshine on “cloud computing”

May 22, 2009

In his recent article “Going Mobile” in the Financial Post, Paul Barker defined “cloud computing” as a main driver to the “mobile computing” trend. The trend sees smartphones and other portable devices as the next inevitable tool of business. This is rather interesting to us at CleanPix, our total operation is based on “cloud computing” and we just received the go ahead plus grant money from the NRC Research Council to enable CleanPix to develop it’s service to be further extended to mobile devices. Clearly, our clients are savings hundreds of dollars per year as through us they are tapping in to our “cloud computing” knowhow. On this interesting point, Paul Baker focuses our attention on mobile computing and stresses the direct infrastructures saving from a business perspective awaiting its users.

The rise of mobile computing, however, cannot be attributed merely to the arrival of new devices..The main driver, however, has been the development of so – called “cloud computing,”…
With so much functionality increasingly being delivered to smaller, cheaper devices, mobile computing is poised to fundamentally alter our relationship to computing. And the biggest benefits will accrue to business. Paul Barker
The rise of mobile computing, however, cannot be attributed merely to the arrival of new devices..The main driver, however, has been the development of so – called “cloud computing,”…
With so much functionality increasingly being delivered to smaller, cheaper devices, mobile computing is poised to fundamentally alter our relationship to computing. And the biggest benefits will accrue to business. Paul Barker

Is there a definitative digital archive solution?

April 20, 2009

From time to time at CleanPix we get this question, or perhaps it takes the form of: Are the SD flash memory disks that are used with my digital camera a reliable way to keep my photo collection forever? Is there, in fact, a true way to preserve a digital file? The more we dig for a definite answer, the more we get: NO, there is not. Are my files at risk of evaporation… Remember the Alexandria library where the plans of the pyramids were kept? Or do we just assume they were there? YES, digital evaporation or, for that matter, failed retrieval, taking the form of the unfriendly “unreadable data”, is quite possible.

Here are some of the factors at play: File formats change constantly, the software versions that read these formats as well as the hardware and their operating systems seem to thrive on obsolescence. The sheer amount of digital bits, the cataloguing/indexing methods, the need for redundancies of storage and location are all part of the archival equation. And most important is ease of retrieval. (We already know: “Your call is important to us, we are busy serving your competition, please stay in the queue… then push the pound key to listen to this message again.”) Talking about pounds, it comes to mind (not to discourage anyone), that that the human body has more retentive ability to preserve fat than any digital system has for the files it so gluttonously ingests!

Here are some interesting notes:
Although this article was published in 2002, (this article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 10.51 GMT on Sunday 3 March 2002 ) it appears that at least the concept in this article and its relevancy remain preserved to this date.

“Digital Domesday Book lasts 15 years not 1000″
In a bid to rescue the project, Paul Wheatley has begun work on Camileon, a program aimed at recovering the data on the Domesday discs. ‘We have got a couple of rather scratchy pairs of discs, and we are confident we will eventually be able to read all their images, maps and text,’ he said. ‘Unfortunately, we don’t know what we will do after that. We could store the data on desktop computers – but they are likely to become redundant in a few years.’ Source

In further digging on the subject and the science of digital preservation, I retrieved this “touché” webpage that should, if nothing else, poke a serious dent in the illusive notion of digital archiving. (Note, in this case I took a picture of the webpage for fear of imminent evaporation.) Perhaps we should not just yet add “digital archive” (an oxymoron?) to Wikipedia.

There are, in fact, serious efforts and new conceptual approaches to solve the dilemma, but first, I think, we have to really look beyond IT and it’s terabyte devices to the professional librarians who, from Alexandria to now, have been in the business of dealing with archives. One thing that particularly struck me conceptually is that it appears that digital is better at being live than archived. So why not give it life? Here is one librarian, Brewster Kahle, revealing that the secret to the organization’s success is in keeping it simple in a vision opting to give access to the world of knowledge freely to the world. In his words: “We are allergic to secret sauce.”

Thinking about it, I have written on this WordPress blog platform now for several months. Did anyone at CleanPix make a copy of all this stuff, anywhere but on WordPress? … oops!

The latest digital archiving solution has a problem of its very age
Making alternate copies is likely core to any 101 classes on digital archiving. I must say that when I did my graduate studies at R.I.T. in photography, the museum practice course did not include “digital” anything in the subjects…yet. In the mid 1980s, the Encyclopedia Britannica was in its heyday in its printed voluminous form. Now it exists in its entirety in a complex configuration of zeros and ones. But the core archiving methodology learned then remains still valid: to date, not enough time has elapsed to definitely validate any digital archiving practices. This simply means that the latest digital archiving solution has a problem of its very age. This is the nature of new evolving digital technologies.

At CleanPix we are prone to say, in the context of a “green environment’”, that “dealing with digital files digitally is the only way to go” (using the internet as opposed to flash drives and CD burning etc.). This slogan may turn up to be more true on more levels than we first thought. For the shear pleasure of it, if we interpolate from the famous E=mc2 equation where mass contains all its energy, we could derive a parallel where digital is energy, and when stored as mass (mechanical) it becomes “heavier” to deal with.  I knew that sooner-than-later I will find a twist to insert Einstein in this blog and perhaps share with you this awesome NOVA video that put relativity, relatively understandable and certainly entertaining. Here is an abstract of the video: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/preview/q_3213.html

Goodbye Press Corps… Hello Web Corps

March 26, 2009

That was today’s headline for The Huffington Post at around 8:30 MST this morning. The headline changed over every 5 minutes to create, I guess, an entertainment appeal to the story. This headline linked to a web video interview with Obama that happened solely on the web as opposed to simultaneously directed to traditional newsprint/TV media. Under the headline, a collage of traditional forms of media (still shots of TV casts and newspaper front pages) frames a YouTube video screenshot. I think that was the point of that headline… A sort of virtual Harakiri directed to traditional media. In reality, this is all more about the vehicle of news rather than the Media itself and it is certainty not about the content of the news. Of course, the surrounding advertisements are the same, cars cars, cars and expensive gadgets destined to lure our CEOs from their cherished bonuses (Sorry, I digress).

Basically nothing has changed… yet! In reality, TV has been engaged in its teenager years, decades ago, denouncing newspapers as a lesser way to portray the news. Now the web journals are basically boosting (bullying) the same discourse about TV and newsprint. But when you look at the content posted with a bit of scrutiny, there is no doubt that the core news, in large, originates from journalists working for paper and TV (see the BBC, CNN, Heralds etc. links after links.) Perhaps it is too narrow to say that a web journal’s primary virtue resides as repurposing worldly news?  Web-Corps provide great entertainment but we should give thanks to journalists and writers out there who bring us a take and opinion based on knowledge–beyond mere swirling headlines, hot flash videos and titillating abstracts.

Concluding on a more earthy level, I can certainty attest that this is a news-worthy world and all unequivocally agree that it pays to be out there. Getting your stories out is “in”. Media is media and what makes the “media corps” is the journalists, not the vehicle. Oops! The Huffington Post changed their headline yet again. What was that article?

Who invented the web journal? Take note
I seriously think it can be precisely sourced to the Harry Potter fantasy series as the live newspaper quaintly named “The Daily Prophet” (circa 1990) for its virtual animated viewings. What is worth noticing is how it is described in Wikipedia:

The Daily Prophet is the most widely-read daily newspaper in Britain’s wizard community. The articles include moving pictures. Unfortunately, its journalistic integrity is somewhat lacking; it has been known to be more concerned about sales than about factual accuracy and is often a mouthpiece for the Ministry of Magic, as described by Rita Skeeter “The Prophet exists to sell itself!”

My opinion is that J. K. Rowling invented the web journal (no it was not IT after all). Yes, a creative person… with a story to tell!  As a medium, The Daily Prophet is conceptually what a web journal is now.

Bypassing traditional media altogether!

March 17, 2009

Back from a conference in San Francisco dedicated to Social Media where, I must say, I learned a few things, or perhaps, I learned new questions? Here was a group of 200 or so participants that for the most part remained wired to their laptops as they followed the guest speakers. Many were blogging or twittering (tweeting) live at the conference proceedings. Twittering during a presentation is a good thing.

…an audience twittering or typing away as you talk is generally a good thing. It means you’re saying something that people want to share.
– Matt Eliot Sorry but I might just twitter during your presentation

Between sessions, you guessed it, many were networking, not with present peers but, rather, with those “elsewhere”, via their Berrys or smart-phones. The question that comes to mind is: Since the networking seems to operate mostly online, is there a reason why such a conference is not simply set up as a webinar? Funny enough, participants did set online meetings with one another, and during coffee breaks exchange a few words person to person…cool! So there was a reason the event took place in San Francisco and many of us flew a 1000+ miles to “see and to be seen”.

And yes, as an exhibitor at the event, we did speak to participants and also to travel writers, who took a minute to register themselves on pressuite.com. One blogger journalist said: “Wow you mean that I can go there and find news ideas and a lot of photos to match, and it’s free? Can I repurpose it on my web post?” The answer is yes, this is what it is all about.

The Role of Traditional Media

This brings us to the the big question. Are journalists, traditional media journalists, active in Social Media? Squeezing a second of attention between 2 twitter lines, I put the question to a few panelists and attendees. Here are the two types answers I got: A) “Journalist are looking for leads. Many stories we see in main stream publications like Times, CNN, etc., originate from there.” B) “We do not have the time or money to interact with conventional media journalists, they are too slow on the uptake.” Of course this was a Social Media conference, what was I to expect! Reality is that many players in traditional media are also operating on the web and already for quite some time. That said, being present on web should not be construed as a measure of their Social Media engagement. Engaging in these terms requires a cultural shift that perhaps translates as anarchy to the conventional corporate wisdom of ROI. There is, too, the fear of loss of control in communication protocols resulting from the speed of engagement inherent to Social Media.

Monetizing Social Media

One of the fundamental aspects of monetizing Social Media appears to find its appeal in bypassing altogether the traditional broadcasting stream of paid advertising or, for that matter, the need to be noticed at all by traditional media (TV or print). Publicizing might as well operate totally online and bank on free (for now) Social Media applications and their users. Conscientious feedback from the conference spells out the rules: Get bloggers to talk about you, forget the press! (Don’t dare say that!) Get posts started by your own clients, publish them at no cost, get your fans to publicize you and credit them for it, start your own virtual fan club. The buzzwords are “aggregate” and “engage”. These apply equally well to online tools and tactics as to your own virtual fan club.

In brief, go directly to your clients, and make them not customers but, rather, treat them as guests of your enterprise (a “vocabulary” tip from WestJet’s Catherine Dyer on corporate culture). Here are some travel/tourism enterprises working the space: Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, Uptake, Yelp, Mobissimo, etc., and, yes, the traditional ink-on-paper media are also going Social, but a step behind.

Experiment or not, but familiarize yourself first

Should you be experimenting or not in Social Media? Is it true that the first to move in will have more of the pie? Let’s ask the experts? But according to Jeff Hanson (Regional Director of Marketing & eCommerce – Western Region, Marriott International), “…there is no expert!“. That said, everyone in the panels agreed that, before taking the plunge, it is best to learn the about the waters first.

Here’s a start:

Social Media Introduction for the Travel & Tourism Industry by Evo Terra. Evo goes over some of the basic questions many people have about how to get started with Social Media (flash presentation).

What is the real value of photo copyright?

February 26, 2009

Here is an actual case that just made the news and offers a lot of good insights. We’ve talked about photo copyright before. In fact, it is one of our most read stories. In an article by the National Post on Thursday, February 26, 2009, there is a story about a famous photographer, Annie Leibovitz, has pawned the copyright and ownership of her photos for around $16 million US to an art-based lender.

Her photographs are seen frequently in Vogue and Vanity Fair and throughout the public space.  In this digital age it would be easy to find a copy of one her pictures and put it up on a website. Some would see it as petty theft, but the copyright and ownership of those images are worth a great deal and are not for the taking. This event illustrates unequivocally the value of copyright, without the need of legal jargon.

Marketing with connectivity (part 4)

February 23, 2009

For the next several weeks, the CEO of CleanPix, Nelson Vigneault, will be sharing his thoughts on “Marketing with connectivity”.


For the journalist, pressuite.com provides a platform to discover, pick up content, or elect to receive RSS feeds that meet their specific interests. For our clients, the posting of several, short stories per week creates a momentum that works best. A very good example of use is by Space Coast CVB, where twice a week a new “landing” on pressuite.com of a newsbrief creates sparks of interest from the media. In this manner, stories are picked up and transferred from one Social Media news stream to another. We have also noted some cases where, after a few fervent initial weeks of positive results, clients suddenly slow down their posting activity. Almost immediately the stats register proportional slowdowns on their success score. Again, presence and consistency appear to be key … the “seeds” need nurturing. When asked, “Why did you stop?” The most common answers boil down to: “I ran out of ideas!” or, “I did not believe I needed to keep at it!” Hey!  It’s called s o c i a l  media … you have to keep interacting with it for it to work. Secondly, truer then ever, marketing on the Internet is the business of IDEAS. For success in marketing with connectivity you absolutely have to keep coming up with new and fresh ideas. This means finding new angles, new avenues to tell the story by reviewing and questioning upside down your knowledge about your product, destination or event. A sort of revisiting of your campaign and your product from a Web culture perspective, a perspective where the audience defines how they connect with you and dictates what they are looking for.

Because Social Media is a LIVE medium, its architecture is as digital as it is volatile. It appears that everywhere you look, speed of action is paramount — interaction must be prompt. The need to actualize content (i.e. make the news responsive, attuned to world events, trends and new emerging contexts) puts writing for Web at a premium even if the final destination may very well be print media (i.e. how you write for the Web differs from how you write for traditional media). One must constantly create fresh content.

Check back again soon for part 5 of this series.

Check out part 1 of this series
Check out part 2 of this series
Check out part 3 of this series

How to spam a journalist?

February 6, 2009

The secrets most PR wont tell you.

The art of getting any press—bad press or good press—is hard to master and time intensive anyway you slice it. The usual tips look like:

- Refrain from………
– Pitch in points….
– Do not try to match……..
– Stick to……….
– Consider this…..
– Create brief word sequences to……..
– Thank profusely……
– Do not send email attac……….
– Support material has to……

It takes two for a pitch.

883,000 “creative marketing” entries on Google. It can be frustrating trying to find relevant information to demonstrate how today’s PR/Marketing success is, by far, the result of nothing less than an enhanced relationship with the Media through the social web. Although one needs the proper tools to make the bridge, I insist it is not about technology but rather about a concerted drive to commit serious elbow grease and tons of consistency to learn how the message links with the medium.

This is no longer news: The medium is… THE WEB!  What is not so obvious is that:  the web is media, message, and medium in one. This cluster—cemented with the birth of Social Media—is, I believe, the fundamental shift we are witnessing and has permuted forever our perception of community and everything about it, inclusive of global behavioral laws. For example, with regards to MEDIA PR, the person to person relationship (me and the journalist) is more than ever valuable. This relation begs for a renewed model of “social media” polishing. Media PR spamming is the biggest mischief.

Social consciousness is a pitch

The language is brutal. The methods are new. The shift in attitude is definitive. The risks are real, so are the fears. The risk that the “info-snippets flux” obliterates the need for knowledge based consciousness, is such a fear. Here is what that looks like: Since all info-bits on everything are available for access, the need to juxtapose, compare, analyze, cohort, fuse and confuse may vanish lazily. In consequence, the regression of this human process to consciousness pins the erosion of creativity, that is the fear. Thinking creative!

Ok, here is an interesting take and a creative Robert Proctor word: Agnotology. Or we could call it: The lost civilization nightmare… “For God’s sake what were they thinking?”  But do not worry, looking outside my window I think the loss of civility is more likely to become the disease. The effervescence of Connectivity via the web over vast distances seems to have adversely deteriorated human conduct in close proximity: “Can’t you tell I am twittering on my cellphone… you twit?” We all agree, Social media is in need a of a self-administrated dose of ethical vaccination. It is coming. Vaccination or not, one thing is sure, it is time to roll-up the web sleeves. It is hard work, but smart work, it is time.

So I won’t pitch you any further on Media PR as we have found a few smart authors and entire websites that shed practical light beyond the course of info-snippits. From time to time we will point you toward sites of interest that address squarely the shift in PR/marketing behavior of today’s times. We urge you to share with us some of your best finds.

Further reading:

Marketing with connectivity (part 3)

January 30, 2009

For the next several weeks, the CEO of CleanPix, Nelson Vigneault, will be sharing his thoughts on “Marketing with connectivity”.


Typically with these clients, we have noted a business organizational shift from compartmental divisions between PR/marketing/communications toward a business model, where communication is more integrated and concerted. These shifts do not come from IT but, rather, through executive decisions addressing directly the purpose of marketing. Simply said, marketing in Social Media is not about computer networks, it is about people networks. In these models, for example, a photo collection is no longer the domain of a gate keeper, but is instead viewed as a live asset that can be pooled and tailored instantly to meet the demands of communicator teams, whether PR , marketing or media relationists.  We note that the BEST RESULTS, in posting news, come from quite brief (single focused) and targeted stories/headlines. One journalist user said it best when she said, “we want the seeds not the tree” — meaning: not several pages or even a page-long newsletter, but a news brief consisting of a few lines of text with pertinent and press-ready photos.

Check out part 1 of this series
Check out part 2 of this series
Check out part 4 of this series

Marketing with Connectivity (part 2)

January 22, 2009

For the next several weeks, the CEO of CleanPix, Nelson Vigneault, will be sharing his thoughts on “Marketing with connectivity”.


Long-established newspapers find it hard to attract advertisers. Is the automotive industry, amongst the largest players and supporters of this medium, also rethinking its effectiveness in reaching targeted audiences? The new reality is that a large sector of the audience gets its news neither from the papers nor even from TV, but from the Internet instead. TV anchors advise, “To find out more, go online”. Obama placed advertising in Xbox  games, courting an important sector of his audience right where they are located. Some say, “traditional advertising is dead” and it may well be. But one thing is for sure: journalism is thriving in the Social Media arena. It is a question of attitude, a definite shift in culture. Creating feeds is the new art and it comes with a magical twist: In Social Media, the audience is now also author — users control the content through full “LIVE” interaction with the information. In turn, this also implies that the traditional 4 Ps of marketing need revisiting (PRODUCT, PRICE, PLACE, PROMOTION) and consequently so do the tools and methods for reaching an audience, or rather I should say “participating with” the audience.


Despite the fact that having a solid asset management service was paramount for our clients, the CleanPix team soon discovered that using it simply as a tool for photo management was not sufficient. The need to act as a seamless visual support for getting our clients’ news out, in a concerted effort to foster media relations, was why the asset management service was created initially. Subsequently, what was critical was the creation of tools to enable our clients to tap into the Social Media space and they needed to do this while making rich media files available on demand.

We did it. Pressuite.com is effectively a bridge to Social Media. Clients who use pressuite.com in that fashion get unprecedented results, for a fraction of the cost of conventional means.

Check out part 1 of this series
Check out part 3 of this series
Check out part 4 of this series


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