Posts Tagged ‘digital’

Is self-employment falling out of favour?

I’ve been self employed for over 10 years.  When I first started working for myself I was worried about whether or not I would enjoy it.  I was always the kind of person that liked to be surrounded by others at work, for conversation, inspiration and the social side of things.  But sometimes other decisions are more important (young children etc) and so I embarked upon my life as a sole trader.

Mostly I’ve really enjoyed it.  Of course twitter and social networks have made life as a self-employed person so much easier than it used to be.  And the benefits of working for yourself are obvious: flexibility, control, variety.

Recently however I’ve noticed that a quite a few people who have been self-employed for years, have taken positions in companies or agencies.  Stephen Davies, Jonathan Hopkins, Brendan Cooper, all extremely experienced and respected in the industry.  Not sure that you could classify it as a trend as yet but it got me thinking about why it might be.

There are, of course, downsides to working for yourself, at times it can be isolating, there is the feast or famine syndrome which, if you’re not careful, can result in you stretching yourself too thinly and heaping pressure on yourself, and as an ‘outsider’ to a client organisation, it can be difficult to really affect change.

Over the years I’ve been offered a few positions, most of them not really of interest but a couple of them more recently did give me pause for thought as to whether it was worth giving up the benefits of self-employment.  The answer was no, but I admit I was tempted.  I also have the added issue of being a shareholder and director in a business, Pyjama Drama, so it’s not really on the cards for me to ever go back to being an employee (although hopefully I’m not tempting fate with that comment).

But I’d be interested in what others think.  We’re constantly hearing about the move to a more flexible workforce and less of the traditional 9-5 work pattern but I wonder, in the digital industries at least, if the demand for really experienced and skilled individuals and the lure of roles that offer real scope to make a mark, is starting to pull people back into employment?

* You can read the full Storify of the conversation on twitter here. (I haven’t got around to updated WP yet so can’t embed it)

Social Media & Digital Predictions for 2012

Tech and media bloggers fall over each other to herald in the new year with predictions that 2012 will be the ‘Year of….’
I’m adding my voice to that cacophony but with the proviso that I will come back in December, revisit them and we can decide whether I was completely off the mark, somewhere near or, in fact, the leading new oracle.

So my 5 predictions for 2012:

1. From real-time to slowing down. Heard a lot of talk about this at sxsw in 2011 but seeing an increasing number of blog posts about it from tech early adopters and certainly feeling it myself. Have we all gorged ourselves on ‘real-time’ instant communications to such an extent that we are feeling the need for abstinence? Inevitably when these new technologies were created, we all crammed ourselves with them in a feeding frenzy. But frequently now I want to shout “SLOW DOWN”, it’s not a race. Faster isn’t always better.

2. The rise and rise of the storyteller. It’s arguable that storytelling is already the comic sans of the digital world, so much is the term being banded about but there are two sides to this that I want to flag up. Firstly, this is the year that I think more and more organisations will come to understand the importance of storytelling when developing their content for social media content and secondly, the rise of live storytelling in the UK (see The Moth for an idea if you’ve never been to a live storytelling event). The first London Storytelling Festival took place in October 2011 and other small events are popping up all over the UK, like Tales of Whatever, in Manchester. This can only be a good thing. There is nothing and I repeat, nothing that warms the heart as much as a good story.

3. Listening as much as reading. Audio is on the up. Audio stories (see no 2 above and please, if you’ve never done so, go to This American Life this instant and listen to one of the podcasts) and audio for reporting. I know this isn’t new but I think 2012 will be the year that audio in social really explodes.

4. A return to long form. Five years ago, Twitter turned the heads of bloggers and they skipped off into the sunset holding hands, leaving behind a trail of broken and abandoned blogs. This was desperately sad as many brilliant writers went from posting 3 or 4 times a week to once a month if we were lucky. It’s great that so many are returning to those blogs, dusting them off and reacquainting themselves. Yes I know that blogging generally has continued to grow in the last 5 years but I’m talking about the really good, thought-provoking bloggers that you can’t wait to read. There aren’t many of those.

5. The year social media stopped being talked about as a separate ‘thing’. Will 2012 be the year that the overall knowledge level as risen to such an extent that we can stop the echo chamber discussions about whether social media ‘matters’ or how to measure engagement. Personally I’m hoping on this one but realise it’s a long shot.

So they are my wise {sic} predictions. Let’s see how we get on…

*Image: J W Waterhouse’s The Crystal Ball, courtesy oubliette (reproduced under Creative Commons license)

The great and the good – Day 2 at LeWeb

 Delayed flights and thick fog meant a very late arrival home last night and a very addled brain so here are some, not always coherent thoughts, on the second day.

The start of Day 2 was considerably quieter than the first day which undoubtedly had something to do with the official party the night before (I was very boring sensible, opted out and ended up having a lovely dinner with some fantastic people including @vero and @bash).   Jeremiah Owyang's talk was much anticipated but a bit of a let down.  Although he's undoubtedly insightful, articulate and extremely knowledgeable, it did feel a bit like he was preaching to the converted with talk of 'listening' and recruiting brand advocates to help amplify your cause.

The Legend that is Yossi Vardi popped up like a malevolent genie, with a seemingly unending collection of funny photos and videos scraped from YouTube.  As Paul Carr pointed out,"It's like my grandfather has just discovered the Internet."

But whatever you thought of his talk, there's no doubt he was a breath of fresh air in the face of all the earnest talk of how real-time is changing the face of search/the internet/world/universe.  I inadvertently stumbled across him and managed to grab a quick audioboo. And yes it was a slightly bizarre question to ask, don't blame me, I was star-struck, it was all the idea of Mark Rock.

Then the arena become thick with anticipation (and security guards) at the arrival of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah.  She received a rapturous welcome and went out to deliver a surprisingly intrancing speech.  I have to say I was sceptical beforehand but there's no doubt she's intelligent, perceptive and using her incredible power to do some fantastic charity work.

Into the afternoon Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Steve Rubel and others discussed how brands can adapt to real-time WOM.  It was a genuinely interesting discussion, not least because, let's face it, these are the heavyweights of the social meeja world (that's naff but you get my point).  There was a heated debate about the old chesnut how to demonstrate ROI, with some of the panel members suggesting that we shouldn't try, CEOs need to understand that it's not about trying to measure against old metrics etc at which point Brian Solis came out with the quote of the day: "This panel may resonate here but we all have to report to people who don't give a shit".  Quite!

There were more tech gazilionares in the afternoon including Fabrice Grinda (just what was the combined wealth of all the speakers…..) who was refreshingly honest about how great it was to wake up and realise you are worth $40m.  And of course the AWESOME Gary Vee.

It's the first time I went to LeWeb but I truly hope it won't be the last.  Well-organised, fun, inspirational and exciting.  I'll leave the last words to @loic and @geraldine

Coffee, pastries and tech – Day 1 at LeWeb


LeWeb '09 kicked off in style with Loic Le Meur telling the packed conference room that there are over 2000 attendants from over 50 different countries. 
Seeking to capture the zeitgeist of the tech world, Loic called it an historic period in our industry, with real-time changing the face of the web irreversibly.  Combine that with the onward march of mobile, throw in geolocation and connected objects and these are truly exciting times.

So highlights from Day 1

Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, tipped up to talk about his new project Square, a nifty piece of hardware that attaches to a range of mobile devices to enable the user to accept credit card payments.  Despite an inevitable few hitches with the live demo (first rule of conferences, even if you've practiced it 300 times back stage, it will never work live), he eventually managed to show it in action and there's no doubt it's innovative.  He admitted they have a fair few issues to iron out and the issue of fraud protection is a mammoth one.

TechCrunch Europe's start-up competition revealed some gems most notably:

Friendbinder, an aggregator of social networks that allows you to see conversation trends and search just within your friends.  

Tigerlilly, a really neat app that makes it much easier to customise the tabs on a Facebook fan page.  It takes away the requirement for FBML plus it's makes it much easier to change the tabs once set up.  Marketers will love it.

Tasky:ly, a streamlined task manager, that made me think "that's exactly what I've been waiting for".

Sokoz a real-time auction system – think ebay but snappier

In the afternoon YouTube founder Chad Hurley seemed fairly underwhelmed about the idea of real-time (perhaps his new passion for racing cars is occupying his mind).  He did throw out some astounding facts and figures about YouTube though, most notably that 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube EVERY MINUTE; that's a lot of cute cat videos.

Scoble introduced pearltrees , which helps you 'organize the web' and definitely deserves a closer look (if for no other reason that it will make it much easier to find previous links that you've shared on Twitter).

And of course, (my hero) Marissa Mayer showed once again why she's the right hand girl of Larry and Sergey and a worthy winner of woman of the year.  Articulate, knowledgeable and with an inside track on one of the most influential companies in the world, she talked about combining social search with real-time and the algorithm Google are working on to better assess which of the real-time web content is most valuable; effectively sorting through the volume to get to the gems.

Roll on Day 2……