Posts tagged: Digital Britain

First Soma Salon

When Mike Butcher of TechCrunch fame posted the following, my interest was inevitably piqued:

Two visions of the future continue to play out. Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ featured a society under a ‘telescreen’ dictatorship, where ‘Victory Coffee’ was served in cafés to people who yearned for free expression outside of the watchful eye of the state.

It’s a world in which the more extreme elements of the NSA and GCHQ might feel at home. In Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ the drug Soma is served to pacify the population, reminiscent of the ‘dopamine effect’ many privately-owned social networks have on us today. In both cases the new industrial revolution of technology is often empowering the previously powerless, but also aiding and abetting the powers that be.

But what future do we choose? Where should we take our society? Orwell, Marx, Trotsky, Huxley, even Thatcher — all had visions of the future. But where do WE choose to take our technological and scientific revolution? Let’s discuss these and other questions in this new Salon which will range far wider than the ’tech startups’ discussion many of us are used to.

View over the BBC news factory, taken by Mike Butcher

View over the BBC news factory, taken by Mike Butcher

Against the exciting, buzzy backdrop of the BBC (curse the camera on my iphone for being broken – Daleks in Twitter’s offices last week, daleks at the Beeb yesterday – a theme is emerging – Doctor Who fever is upon us!), a fairly random group of people met to see where this discussion took us.

There are challenges to putting a group of strong minded, independent people in a room together, and Bill Thompson did a great job of marshalling us (Mike was detained writing up an important, of sadly familiar, story: European Investor Admits He Pestered Female Entrepreneur For Sex In “Deal” Email. Well done to him for giving it some priority!)

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Where does the line fall for PR people?

BM thrived on the 'crisis' attention

By Claire Thompson, freelance PR and social media consultant, Waves PR

PR company Bell Pottinger is again under the spotlight, along with lobbying, and will probably remain so for a while. (For anyone who hasn’t seen the story, Stuart Bruce pulled together a great Storify timeline yesterday.)

Like Burson Marsteller before it with its Facebook/Google story scandal, Bell Pottinger will be squirming uncomfortably, but, like Burson Marsteller, Bell Pottinger is already taking on difficult, often unethical clients, and this kind of publicity will encourage more of the same kinds of clients.

And like Burson Marsteller, it will probably revel in the publicity for what it’s doing, and even use it to build it’s crisis management practise as its name becomes associated with the word crisis, and all those linking to it inadvertently help push it up the search engine rankings. And it’s certainly flushed out that the company has friends in high places within the establishment, making it attractive to more of the same.

Bell Pottinger’s latest ‘sin’ has been to use Wikipedia (Article in Independent, Thursday December 8, 2011), and some of the things it’s ‘accused’ of doing online leave me uncomfortable. I’m hoping that it might spark a sensible debate here around what is, and what isn’t acceptable. Now I’ll stick my hand up and say I’ve done some cackhanded things online before now, and I’ve been called on them, and I’ve apologised. The spotlight was uncomfortable, and hand on heart I’ve always tried to remain ethical whilst serving my clients the best way I can.

But ethics are a tough subject (see the open v copyright debate), and the Independent’s Wikipedia editing article highlights just that. Bell Pottinger tried to put a comment from a client  The Prostate Centre on a cancer related page. Without seeing the comment, my initial thought was that if I had prostate cancer, I might be pleased to see that information. Adding Professor Roger Kirby as an expert? If he’s a professor and has genuine credentials in his field, I would have thought that was fair.

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White Space communications

Ofcom

Image via Wikipedia

Ofcom has announced today how “white space technology”, the new form of wireless communication,  will work.

An earlier consultation explored the potential of the technology, which could be used for a wide range of applications such as linking up different devices and, vitally to the tech industry and to the people living there,  enhanced broadband access in rural areas.

“White spaces” is the unused spectrum between channels used for TV and wireless signals, and use lower frequencies than have traditionally been reserved for TV – they travel further and more easily through walls, which is music to my ears (living rurally and in a 35 ton steel construction. If I’ve understood correctly, it’s like WiFi – but stronger.

For me this is important on two counts: the first is the potential for better mobile broadband (do I need to add that this means online nd mobile specific communications become even more important) and the second is the potential for innovation.

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Be careful on the way up…

Claire Thompson, Freelance PR Consultant, Waves PR

I recently organized and event where I was impressed by one of the speakers. I had given him a platform to speak to people interested in his specialism, and he seemed to know what he was talking about. I’m fairly certain that he got business from the event. And as his service/product is both exciting and relevant , I thought I’d introduce him to a client. One of my best clients at that.

Very bad move that turned out to be!

He mucked me around several times over dates and times, booking things and changing them, until he finally delivered the ‘sucker punch’. He wanted to charge us his travel and time to come to a sales pitch, unless we guaranteed an order.

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