Damian recently launched Sydney Cyclist – a place where those of us who ride and Sydney can get together and chat. I’ve joined (though not been as active as I’d like due to work and life commitments this week). But I’ll hopefully get some time to play on the weekend…

(For the techies: it’s built using Ning and Damian seems to be enjoying the process so far.)

Mention in Next

Seems I got a mention in today’s Next insert (in the SMH and Age): It’s web take 2.0. I had a few words to say on page 2 regarding WWF’s use of social media tools like blogs (and blogs) and YouTube and Flickr and MySpace and wikis (used internally).

(Just a quick note – the interview was done a few weeks ago while I was still working at WWF).

I haven’t seen the print edition yet, but they came and took my photo too. Not sure if it made the cut though… Yep – they used the photo. Big one too… Feels weird…

MySpace and CD sales

Scott Andrew posts about one band’s experience with being a featured artist on MySpace. [via 37signals]

Being in a band who is about to record, I was really interested in learning more. The short of it, despite significant exposure and friends signing up, not one CD sold. But a big jump in mailing list sign-ups.

Most of the commenters on the posts focus on “well perhaps the band sucked” argument (which is kinda valid). But what about usability? How hard was it to buy the CD? How well promoted was the CD on the MySpace profile? Scott alludes to this in his post, but unless the band in question is known, so we can check out the profile and see what the experience was like for the punter, we have no idea whether other factors were responsible for low sales. The other telling thing is there’s no indication of iTunes sales, yet.

Perhaps out of those 1200 people, a number bought downloads. Perhaps a few attempted to purchase the CD, but failed (which is more common than it should be). Perhaps it was just the demographic. Perhaps Scott’s analysis is spot on – and he does make some good points, especially suggesting additional promotions that may have tipped sales.

So unfortunately we only know a little bit more about marketing bands through MySpace. But still interesting nonetheless.

Open system innovation

Check out this Engadget video profile of the Sansa Connect MP3 player.

This is the type of innovation that can occur with the use and support of open systems. The Sansa uses Mono, an open source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET to implement some features, that on the surface at least, look pretty amazing.

Things like – sharing music between Sansa’s using wifi, internet radio integration and more.

Contrast this approach with Apple’s closed systems on the iPod and iPhone. Apple claims to be innovative – and they are. But if they opened the system others could innovate on their platform, increasing the value for the platform, and ultimately their customers.

Social media

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working with the comms and fundraising teams at work to develop our plan for the next 12 months. Obviously I can’t go into the details too much (nor would you probably be interested), but one of the things that I’ve been focussed on is how social media (aka “participant media”, “social networking”, “web two point oh”) might play a role. Or, to flip that around, how WWF can become part of that community.

I’ve presented twice now on the various types of social media out there, and by and large the response has been positive. When we’ve explored how we might be able to engage with sites, and their attendant communities, like flickr, YouTube, myspace and the response has been on the whole positive and enthusiastic.

However, when the topic of weblogs comes up, the response has been missed. Although most of the people I’ve had dialogue with have seen the tremendous opportunity, many can also see the “dark side” of blogs – specifically how a seemingly innocent post could cause a storm (political or otherwise), how trolls might become a time sink etc…

The process, and the pushback, has been invaluable in learning how to present weblogs to an audience that is risk-aware, and more specifically how reputation can be so easily tarred.

However, I think, in the end, the opportunities outweigh the risk, and the more I work with the team at work, the more I’m learning about how to manage the risks, and cover off the valid concerns that are raised.

And hopefully this means good things in the year to come 🙂

Update: I was actually just thinking how cool it is that the ideas that have been brewing since as far back as 2003 (and probably before) are starting to come to fruition. Very exciting!