July 1, 2008

HMV is live!

It’s live and it’s now an open beta so anyone can join.

The doors were closed as we built the feature set to a sensible point, but now they’re open!

Got to and start to play. If you just want to see what it’s about you can visit the tour here without having to register.

The site is aimed music and film fans who like collecting, who want to broaden their knowledge and deepen their relationship with the things they love. It’s also aimed at aficionados, those that are domain experts, music and film creators and people who just want to be in the know.

HMV - User Profile

For the past year LBi have been working with HMV to conceive, build, seed and launch their new social property It’s a beta, so there is still lots to do, the data and product catalogue that sits behind it needs a little work, but it’s now ready to unleash on the world so that the community can start driving the development, helping add content, improving the tags, data, descriptions etc..

HMV - Connections Tool

I won’t go into the details as to what the site does etc, the tour can do that, but what I will say is this; it’s been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever worked on. Building a community of this type has it’s usual design challenges, not least that you need to build a community and to do that you need content, but you need content from the community!

HMV have been a fantastic client and the LBi team have been awesome. We used an agile development methodology that saw us release features every 2-4 weeks, slowly build a community, user test, evolve, sharpen.

HMV - User DNA

As I say, there is lots to do though not just with the website as the idea behind getcloser translates to many channels; in store, on mobile and others. It will plug into existing social properties, blog tools and the desktop.

The relationship with HMV has been brilliant, long may it continue,

I very much look forward to taking Getcloser forward, but now it’s live it’s ‘hand’s off the steering wheel’ as my colleague Stephen Barber would say, to see how people respond to it. We’ll be making hot fixes and planning a new set of features that aid the tools there already, as well as developing new ones.


April 23, 2008

Unilever Switches Off Dove Forums

Filed under: brand, community, dove, unilever — Tags: , , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 9:18 pm

I had a reply to my last post from Jamie who is the web editor for Greenpeace, saying that ever since Greenpeace launched their campaign the forums on Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ site have been closed.


Engage positively!!!

This is lame and you’re looking like fools.

This smacks of the fake blogging incident by L’Oreal brand Vichy who failed to understand (at first) how to engage with this level of digital subversion. L’Oreal turned it round by positively engaging with the blogging community to create a dialogue.

Unilever have put up their rather un-inspiring, dry, content free retort and are putting their fingers in their ears and saying la la la. I think they might be sitting up there in Unilever Towers looking out the window saying things like “Have they gone yet?” or “Today’s news is tomorrow’s chip wrapping.”

Silly Unilever.

Well done Greenpeace.

It’d be great if you could look at some other ecologically naughty brands / campaigns and entertain us all with some more highlighted irony to deliver important messages.

Beauty? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. What’s inside Dove is ugly.

Unilever’s ‘digital reaction’ to Greenpeace Protest

Filed under: brand, community, dove, unilever, user generated content, video — Tags: , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 12:30 pm

By Warren Hutchinson

The Greenpeace Orang-Utan’s struck Unilever on Monday and within an hour the blogosphere was rampant with rampaging Orang-Utans, videos, images, stories.

As ever ‘Transparency Tyranny‘ is rife and digital is the driving nemesis of corporation x.

What are Unilever doing in response? And how are they going to engage in this digital onslaught, this citizen journalist propagation and ironic spin of ‘real beauty’?

I’m really interested in the strategy behind all of this and how it unfolds. In the inception of the ‘campaign for real beauty’ I wonder if they thought about defensive strategies should stories (which they MUST have suspected) such as this emerge.

On the Unilever site there is a front page news item titled ‘Sustainable Palm Oil’. Click through and you see a video from their SVP of Communications and Sustainability starting with a statement that:

“We have great sympathy with what Greenpeace are trying to achieve, they are drawing attention to a really important issue” – Gavin Neath, SVP Communications and Sustainability

I find the role of SVP ‘Communications’ (Spin) and ‘Sustainability’ incongruous, but that’s another issue.

Unilever's News Page

Unilever are part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO for short, and unsurprisingly they are playing up to this. Unilever claim to be instrumental in setting up the roundtable for sustainable palm and carrying it forward.

The transcript can be found here.

The response is a step, I’d rather see something directly relating and acknowledging the Greenpeace efforts, an alignment of sorts. They are playing it down, but not explicitly responding.

The ‘Dove in the News’ site is even wetter. Dove is all over the news, but it is not showing here.

Cue fingers in the ears – “la la la”:

Dove's News Page

The problem is, in order to hear Unilever’s point of view you have to mobilise yourself to go and see their site, navigate and watch a polished corporate video.

I can’t, yet, find any level of engagement by Unilever with the user-generated, mobilised, chatteriffic sphere of blogs, video sites and social networks. Searches for ‘Greenpeace, Unilever, Palm Oil’ only result in links to sites siding with the Greenpeace effort and not Unilever.

Designing a strategy for organic search traffic is required or else people will simply miss Unilever’s point.

I had a quick scan through the Facebook groups and found lots of Unilever corporate groups for ‘Graduates’ and ‘Management Schemes’ but UNSURPRISINGLY I found the Facebook group ‘Dove: Not so clean’.

Okay – it has 12 members so far.

Corporations are really uncomfortable with this stuff and they continue to ignore dealing with it.

And in closing, the final statement by the interviewer:

“Gavin Neath – thank you very much indeed”

smells horribly corporate and reeks of Aunty (The BBC for non-UK readers).

April 9, 2008

Flickr does video

Filed under: brand, community, flickr, technology, video — Tags: , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 11:59 am

So, Flickr now offers video.

Flickr does video

That’s my ‘Photostream’ kiboshed.

They’re offering Pro users storage for up to 90 seconds of video. Not sure if freebies get video or not.

At first I thought this is a bad move, but now I’m not so sure. I’ve read their blog article and decided that I like the idea of sharing ‘long photos’.

I like the 90 second cap.

It tallies nicely with those short mobile videos I capture of my kids and do nothing with. Now, instead of rotting on my phone I can share them with my family.


Initially I thought 90 seconds is short and will hamper adoption, but actually the shortness keeps the idea of video quite pure. It is about ‘long photos’ and not a repository for pirate film and clips. I’d hate to see it used like YouTube which to me is a bit of a chavvy web brand.

Snuck in at the bottom of the blog post is the news that they are doubling the upload image size for Pro users to 20Mb and 10Mb for free users.

I wonder what the Flickr community will make of it? They can be quite a reactive bunch.


November 6, 2007

Social network backlash because we’ve stopped hugging?

Filed under: behaviours, community, emotion, social networks, social web — Warren Hutchinson @ 10:08 am

Whilst eating some toast this morning I caught a report on BBC 1 suggesting that we’re not hugging enough. We’re not extending human contact in the form of hugging kissing and touching and we are failing to receive our RDHI (Recommended Daily Hugging Intake).

(Sorry I can’t find a story to link to on the BBC website).

Psychologists behind the report suggest that we are relying far too heavily on non-human-touch methods of communication such as texting, email and ‘pokes’. Hugging makes you happy.

I’ve been arguing for a while that humans require real, genuine and tangible value when it comes to their relationships with other humans and that social networks as they currently stand, fail to satisfy our long-term human needs because they are limited to facilitate only synthetic relationships.

Look at your Facebook account. How many ‘friends’ do you have?

Are you one of those people who accepts every invitation through fear of offence? Or are you one that only accepts invitations from people they actually, really and still know?

Do you consider tenuous links with colleagues you are simply ‘aware’ of? Or do you keep it focussed down into people you actually know? People you are actually friends with?

Social networks tap into out latent need to belong, to be part of a community and to be recognised. They provide us with recognition and allow us to say “I am here and I belong”.

It’s a Maslow thing.


But over a long period of time social networks will fail to deliver real value in the form of tangible, off-line and physical benefit unless they evolve into real space. Doing something, actually being there together, in real terms.

A search on the BBC website reveals this:

A hug is, first of all, a form of non-verbal communication. It brings people together in a feeling of mutual love, comfort and safety. Research suggests that everyone needs physical contact to survive, especially infants. Hugging is an act of giving and receiving support, moral and physical, and love

BBC – Guide to Hugging

Loving the ‘Huggers’, ‘Huger’ and ‘Hugee’ references there.

Great digital ‘start-ups’ such as Facebook, MySpace and Last.FM could just be limited by their lack of real physical space and I wonder if this is something they’ll need to evolve in order to survive?

It’s all very well having ‘friends’ on these sites and receiving witty pokes, funwall messages and music recommendations, but I can’t engage with them on a “so how are you doing?” basis. I can’t really and truly care.

I personally have noticed some of my more distant friendships relying on Facebook to stay in touch. We poke, message and send things to each other whereas before we’d phone.

That’s rubbish. I’m changing it. By using Facebook to message each other we’re saying that we don’t really care.

I’ve also observed some friends and family resolving sticky issues via email, text or by writing a message to someone’s Facebook inbox. How sad is that? Complete avoidance of true, emotional disscusion.

What is that doing to society?

I guess in the old days we used to write letters but I don’t consider that the same thing. Letters unlike email/text etc, take time. They take effort and flow from the end of your pen in an emotional, stream of consciousness kind of way.

Email is synthetic, easy and impersonal.

We all know that teenagers don’t use it.

Emoticons were invented to try and bridge this emotionless communication.

🙂 😦 😡 ]:-) :p :s =|

(My blog tool has probably ’emoticonned’ some of those).

I remember back in 1996, when I started using IRC (internet Relay Chat) in the form of Foothills and Resort, we communicated using a telnet window using text only using the ’emote’ command to show emotion.

Warren> Emote is happy.

‘Warren is happy.’

Fundamentally, even though the technology has evolved the need hasn’t changed and the need hasn’t be fulfilled.

When we are born and as babies we learn primitive methods of communication such as touch and hugging. But as we progress to our teenage years the level of non-family touch drops away considerably.

I don’t know about you but on a personal level I’m getting bored of social networks. On a professional level I’m still enjoying the challenges of seeding a community and designing tools for them, but I have to say, I’m not really seeing any great value.

I could talk about Twitter here, but that’s for another day. this post is already too long, if you got this far, well done and thanks.

As I write this post I can’t help but laugh at the fact that next to me on the train into London, there is a couple smooching, kissing ad making lip-smaking noises, cooing and warbling together like teenagers.

They are in their late thirties and it’s irritating the hell out of me!



Image credits: Dina_Mehta

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June 12, 2007

I like! Books social network

Filed under: beta release, community, user experience, user generated content — kipa @ 12:04 am

I guess this has been around for a while, but why nobody told me about aNobii before?

I love this site not just because you can share what you are reading with your friends, find inspiration for new reads, or even trade the books you don’t want to have around anymore; I love it because it is a pleasure to use it and to discover all the small features that the guys who own it have been adding to it. OK, maybe the ‘margin note’ tool is a bit overdoing it, but who knows, other people might find it very useful?

Of course aNobii is still beta, like all respectable webX.0 websites should be!

June 5, 2007

Response to the London 2012 brand

Filed under: community, sport, web — Warren Hutchinson @ 8:32 am



That was the network effect in full, errrm, effect. At the time of writing some 11750 people have signed a petition stating:

We, the undersigned, call on the London Olympic committee to scrap and change the ridiculous logo unveiled for the London 2012 Olympics.

Whilst over on the BBC 606 website there have been some 2799 comments, and very few of them are complementary.

Now, before you carry on reading, I want you to go and watch these 2 videos. It will take a few minutes of your time. 5 max. Then we can carry on.

  1. Video 1 – An animation aimed at depicting the energy of the brand
  2. Video 2 – The ‘brand video’ aimed at depicting the qualities of the brand

Watched them…?

Good. Now we have a little context which most of the petitioners probably have no interest in attaining.

How do you feel?

Put aside the fact that the logo/lock-up/identity is super-crazy-manic and concentrate on how you feel about what you just saw.

Do phrases such as ‘rubbish’, ‘obvious’, ‘disgraceful’ and the like come to mind? Or do you feel a little bit charged, a little bit hopeful?

I’ve been working on this project since December and I’ve been working with the involved agencies and of course the London Organising Committee and I have to say that, for me, this brand works. Or at least it will work once we get past the initial cynacism and reaction. It embodies the energy, the vibrancy and the difference that this Olympic vehicle is hopefully going to be about and I’m writing this post as my way of saying to the teams I’ve worked with ‘Great job’.

It certainly inspired and stimulated a reaction, we’re all participating in this one and thanks to the network effect everyone is included.

The double-edged sword of web 2.0 in full swing.

Brands are not just logos of course, so today’s reaction is to an image. Further, I suspect that most people who have signed the petition or voiced their disapproval haven’t yet explored the story or the videos I’ve linked to and have been harbouring resentment ever since London won the opportunity to host.

It’s true that dissatisfaction and resentment always air more readily than satisfaction and support, but today did surprise me somewhat. I suspected that there would be a body of responses in the vein of ‘I don’t get it’, ‘My 5 year old could do better’, ‘What a waste of money’ etc because these things are always levelled at identities of this nature.

I wonder why people feel the need to expunge such vitriol when in doing so they are dismanteling the need for an emblem of hope, of change of being the best you can be, of being Olympic. It’s not about what it looks like, it’s about what it stands for and that’s what I think hasn’t yet been understood.

Over the next 5 years we’ll see exactly what this means, we’ll feel the experience of London 2012 and we’ll see change happen.

I’m hopeful. I’m confident. I’ve seen the people at London 2012 at work and I for one believe in their passion to do things differently.

But then, that is just my opinion and I’m just throwing my hat into the ring of network effect.

The company I work for didn’t develop the identity, we delivered the range of London 2012 websitea. But I say this not because I want to distance myself from the furor surrounding the identity but because actually I’m quite jealous that were not more closely aligned with this controversy. Our team have done a fantastic job in taking an incredibly challenging brand world and rolling it out as an accessible website given the logo, colour palette, typography and I think it achieves almost everything we wanted to.

It’s clear, legible, bright, energetic and engaging.

But I have to hold my hat off to the team at Wolf Olins and to Locog for trying something so daring, something so brave. Particularly given that in many sense as a design challenge developing Olympic brands is pretty much a poison chalice as everyone seems to love berating it, whatever has been done.

This is brave work particularly given how precious the Olympics is to people and particularly to Londoners at this present time.

Compare it to other Olympic marks of the past. They are dull, meaningless, formulaic and uninsprational, inunispiring, non-inclusive and not particularly stimulating.


Click here to see them close-up.

Beijing is the next host city and their identity is about celebrating China and about Chinese culture. A statement on their websites says:

Every emblem of the Olympics tells a story. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games emblem “Chinese Seal, Dancing Beijing” is filled with Beijing’s hospitality and hopes, and carries the city’s commitment to the world.

It’s all about Beijing and that kind of inward looking presentation wouldn’t befit London. Largely because London is a city of cultural diversity and is overtly outward facing but also beacuse London sees itself as a world stage. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very appropriate for Beijing. I like it, particularly the Fuva who are there to carry a message of friendship and peace — and good wishes from China — to children all over the world.

Argue the toss about whether or not this brand delivers that, but I say it delivers a statment of intent – that this is going to be different and that this is about taking part. You can say one thing, this has not been designed to sit smartly on a polo shirt or coffee mug. In the context of Olympic branding history it screams change.

Right on.

The brand story is about passion, inspiration, participation and stimulation.

I watch those videos and I feel that. I watched them with my wife and she felt that too. Idon’t mind saying that I felt emotional in a good way. It was lump in the throat stuff and I’m proud to be part of it.

By the time the Games arrives, everyone should fel proud because everyone will have the chance to join in.

I hope that everyone feels something when they see those videos and that they start to consider that this is an emblem for something and that bashing it is like bashing that person riding the bike, the granny and her karate, the kid and the horse.

Let the discussion continue.

June 4, 2007

Response to the London 2012 brand

Filed under: brand, community, sport, web — Warren Hutchinson @ 11:21 pm



That was the network effect in full, errrm, effect. At the time of writing some 11750 people have signed a petition stating:

We, the undersigned, call on the London Olympic committee to scrap and change the ridiculous logo unveiled for the London 2012 Olympics.

Whilst over on the BBC 606 website there have been some 2799 comments, and very few of them are complementary.

Read my full reaction to the reaction over on my personal blog Tailwind.

June 2, 2007

Street Level Features on Google Maps & Panaramio Purchase

Filed under: community, Google, innovation, photo, user generated content, web — Warren Hutchinson @ 9:16 am

Quick one this morning as I’m just about to leave the house to buy my sister a birthday present (too much information).

Two things, firstly Google is planning to buy Panaramio the geo-tagging photo service that you often see in Google Earth. It’s curious to me that they’re planning to buy Panaramio rather than build geo-tagging functionality into Picasa.

Very strange.

Also, check out the Street Level features now available in major US cities on Google Maps.

You can now zoom down to street level and drag/pan/zoom your way along the street and see building fronts all the way. Zoom in and you can even read signs.

This is cool and it’s interesting to think where this might go when you consider the Panaramio purchase. These pictures in Street Level are obviously bespoke, geo-tagged shots commissioned by Google. But Panaramio opens the doors to user generated content filling the gaps.

I can’t see Google paying for the shots in my home town, so maybe UGC via Panaramio will will that gap.

the gap between online mapping services and 3D virtual globes continues to fuzz.

[xposted: Tailwind]

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