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


Marketing with no budget in an uncertain economy

March 25, 2009

feedmeThe experts agree it’s time to get your marketing/pr running full spin and this despite budget cuts and market slow down. These times have happened in the past; the clear winners have emerged in the end from those that have demonstrated leadership by endorsing a simple but winning strategy. This strategy is: raising awareness of their products or destinations with unwavering energy. Showing some panache is not for the faint of heart, but when you think about it, any sign of bright and bushy tail vigor goes a long way when the competition is busy being sorry for itself or is waiting for a handout that is likely not going to happen.

Managers in emerging markets realize that turbulent financial times can be a tremendous opportunity to strengthen competitive position and financial performance — with the right mix of strategy and innovations. – MARTIN S. ROTH and RICHARD ETTENSON

…also watch this video interview. It certainly provides a fresh perspective: a twist on conventional wisdom about retrenching marketing dollars in a downturn.

Having a positive presence out there matters more than ever and is more noticeable than ever. Making the media aware of your story ideas and bringing some fun and entertainment into your postings makes waves and gives value to your offerings like never before. It is not the economists that make the economy, it’s you and me. If the economy is uncertain, it is because we are uncertain.

Why do I know that? In 1983 I started a printing business with some peers at the epicenter of the last downturn. We were so enthusiastic about it that it was infectious to our clientele. Clients shop where they know that their experience is likely to be awesome from start (promotion) to the after-sales servicing. The business did very well and placed itself as a winner locally and was a key player when we saw the marketplace restored. We simply positioned the business to be the leader, ready for the upturn. I have since sold my share in the company. This glorious and successful adventure—I call it my best mistake. This has taught me first hand that, in a downturn, positively engaging your relations with the media, promoting your presence with energy is a win-win proposition and it costs almost nothing, if you are ready to be consistent at it.

This may surprise a few but the Media likes good news.


It’s spring!

March 20, 2009

Finally… and we have updated pressuite.com to emphasize our invitation to writers as well as bloggers to join a pool of hundreds of other active Pressuite guests. The call for action is simple; get creative and busy posting fresh pressbriefs and engage the media. Get your story broadcasted on print as well as on-line and use pressuite.com as your tool. Again, what works best is short, paragraph or two long, briefs with some great pictures to match. Don’t forget to ensure your captions are all in place! To know more on the best ways to brief an eager media blogger or writer you can read these few tips.

The economy is what it is. Like everyone, we worry about our budget constraints. That said, using an affordable service tool to retain the quality of relationships with the public and the media is likely a good remedy to beat the blues. Engaging the media with energy and determination is sound. So let’s “spring into action” and post those great story ideas which can be repurposed in the Social Media arena and truly help sustain your work effort and activities. Create a buzz… start here: Take a few minutes every week to post a short-short-short story (or two), be relentless, this way the media knows you mean business. It’s all about staying connected! Any funky story ideas spring to mind? Post them up!


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).


Making a press release is like serving a fancy dessert

March 4, 2009

Making a press release has a lot in common with pitching a story to a live media person. But there is one bit of confusion we are ready to stamp out. You do not make the news, the journalists do. This means provide the seed and let the media build the story. Understanding how the media goes about their job is a great help in preparing a sound approach.

Rohit Bhargava provides smart insight in these 2 recent postings: What PR People Should Know About Journalists and
What Journalists Should Know About PR People.

“I’ve started to realize many things about the world of public relations that most journalists know and many PR professionals are blissfully unaware of.” – What PR should know…

Here are some ideas for your consideration:

A) The news release or monthly announcement listing, intended as a tool to sell your product/destination to your users or clients, is not a press release to the media. The media do not buy, but they sure can smell a smart angle on how your gismo fits a culture and this at Internet distances (It is naive to think that all journalists live in a newsroom). This is saying: pitch the sizzle not the steak. The qualifiers could be:  the fun, the unusual, the overtly blatant, the emotional, the surprising, the humorous, the untouchable, the stuff you cannot easily describe but that hits a vibe.

B) Never run out of story angles. BE CREATIVE or fire your agency, if they are not! Remember, it is not your product or destination that fails, it is often how you talk about it that needs re-polishing, Easy to say, but how? Try this: brainstorm using the “stickies” method.

“One idea per sticky note (the bonus of using a sharpie is that one idea is about all you can fit on it). Just unleash as many ideas as possible and get them up on the wall.”  – Kris Jordan.

C) The smart pitch: one story, one great angle, one paragraph.
(The journalist writes, RIGHT!) Rethink your role, you have to brief the journalist, not entertain. This is the very reason why the CleanPix pitching tool is named PressBrief. OK, you have more than one story and another angle, big deal… write more briefs. Each story has to stand on its own, they should not all smell like sardines coming from the same can. Think of them more as fancy desserts, served one per plate! Remember, your story may only be used partially, and the journalist may even forget to mention you. I think that is like the proverb: “you may have to slay a few dragons before you meet prince charming” — so never lose your cool over a few bursts of flames. Keep at it relentlessly, free media coverage pays off plenty for your efforts.


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”.

WHEN IT WORKS AND WHY … IT DOES NOT

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


Our Twitter needs a voice

February 19, 2009

We have designed a new logo for our Twitter feed.  It is quite chirpy! It contains its own talk bubble.

Now what are we doing with it?
Literally speaking, this issue is the talk of the industry. “Now that we have a Twitter account and a blog… what do we do with it?” Yes, we can tweet about it on our blog or blog about it on Twitter but then what. Todd Lucier, of Tourism Keys, offers 15 ideas specifically for Travel Associations. In particular:

“3. Use Nearby Tweets to track local tweets within a defined geographic boundary.”

Building on this tip, you can use Nearby Tweets to pick up news stories ideas about your geographic region. These tweets can be used to inspire a new pressbrief post, for example.


Photo Copyrights: the Basic Principles

February 18, 2009

Simply said, copyright laws exist to protect the rights of the creators of information, industrial or cultural works. Not ideas themselves but, rather, the embodiments of these ideas.

What are these rights? They may vary from country to country but, basically, they deal with the right for acknowledgment, compensation and restriction on usage. If you appropriate something that is not of your making (creation) and use it without permission, you are basically profiting from someone else’s property without their knowing. This is a NO-NO. Similarly, if you grab a graphic or a photo on the Internet and modify it a little (or a lot) to become your own, it is simply not OK either. You see, it is like fair play, a huge ethic dimension is involved in copyright.

This is all too heavy, let’s get practical: I bought these photos from a professional photographer they should be mine… should they not?  Yes, you bought the photos but not the right to use them. That is impossible! Then what is the use of these pictures, if I can’t use them? That is exactly the point, you cannot use them, unless you clear up the usage restriction with the photographer and this is what you have to do to make it OK with the copyright of the creator. One basic thing to keep in mind is that a good photographer can only survive if paid, and that is the very reason you can hire this photographer in the first place.

Topics ahead:

• Here is what you can do, if you commission a photo shoot
• The photo credit
• Your copyright rights
• Counterproductive copyright jargon
• A change of attitute toward copyright – avoiding the fiasco of the music industry
• Does Facebook own you?

Read the rest of this entry »


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