What’s all the buzz about Blippy

When Blippy launched last fall, it was the first site to introduce the idea of publishing personal credit card and other purchases.  My initial reaction; “who would do that?!?!”

…Apparently a lot of people.  Last month the site attracted about 125,000 visitors and closed an investment round of $11 million from VCs, according to an article in the New York Times earlier this week.  Maybe I’m just more cautious of my personal information after working with IT security companies for the past several years.

Ironically, news broke earlier this week that because of Blippy, people’s credit card numbers are now available on Google.  All you do is enter a simple query, “site:blippy.com +”from card”,” and voila, you get credit card numbers of Blippy users.  ReadWriteWeb has a good screen grab:

Blippy describes itself as a “fun and easy way to see and discuss what everyone is buying.”  Users enter their credit card information, and then Blippy automatically sends out short, public “blips” of information about their purchases — including the prices of the items and where they were bought.  In the lead up to his interview with Blippy co-founder Phillip Kaplan, CNN reporter John Sutter explains the site as the “financial version of Twitter.”

Blippy is just a string of Web start ups to launch within the past couple of years that allows people to share personal information about themselves.  There’s Foursquare to alert people of your precise location, TripIt to share travel information, Skimble to track and share all of your sports activities, etc.  Whatever the reason, they’re all – including Blippy – designed to make people feel and be better “connected.”

It’s interesting to think about how and in what ways the Web’s openness will continue to evolve.  One thing’s for sure though – such privacy issues are not going away any time soon in the consumer or enterprise space.

What are your thoughts?  Would you use Blippy?  And if you use any of the other sites I’ve mentioned, what are your experiences?

This post was first published By Juliana Allen on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

E-mail does not work anymore

You remember: with e-mail everything should become better. With the new communication channel, it had become possible to appeal to people in person with relatively little effort and within a short time. The addressees were no longer – as the telephone – forced to react immediately. E-mail virtually united the positive attributes of a letter, fax and telephone.

Is the path now back again? At least that is our current impression when communicating with journalists. The editorial offices are shrinking and so a journalist is now bombarded with hundreds of e-mails per day – much of it not relevant for him. The downside: Relevant e-mails go lost as well. Thus, a standard response that we currently have on the phone: „Oh yes, sounds interesting. Have you sent me an e-mail?? Oh, you have. I didn’t see it, so good that you call me.“

If you call, however, at first, it usually means: „Please send me an e-mail.“

A colleague recently said in despair, maybe you have to email and call parallely as to the motto „I send you an invitation to the press briefing you surely want to participate just in that moment. I just called because you probably do not see the mail otherwise.“

Great, Black List, I’m coming!

This is also a great answer: „Oh, you sent me a mail on my normal email address – this is the public folder in which I rarely take a look.“

However, it is also off limits to use private e-mail of the editors, even if one has it.

Calls is unfortunately no general solution, because even in this channel are the journalists bombarded so much that many have their calls entirely intercepted by the assistant who then has the great advice: „Please send an e-mail.“

One or the other editor is now well reachable by Twitter, Facebook or via other communities, or pops up on Skype. So for each contact one entry in the database, on which channel the journalist is best to reach and how – if at all – he handles his e-mails?

Perhaps we will soon be landing at the Japanese model, where the PR consultant contacts the journalists face-to-face in every issue. No wonder that the agencies normally have like 200 people there.

In this sense – Sayonara! Btw: Constructive feedback is very welcome: How do you manage your contacts with journalists?

Jessica Schmidt and Wibke Sonderkamp

PR 2.0 – GlobalCom employees in the blogosphere

Today we report here on our own account: Jessica, Account Manager in the Munich Office and consulting the microstock agency Shutterstock amongst others, was interviewed by Robert Stoegmann, the operator of blogger-antworten.com, about her collaboration with bloggers. Robert in his blog asks other bloggers about their concept and about all questions around blogging – with growing success.

In the opinion of Jessica and many of her colleagues more and more bloggers will become equal opinion leaders in addition to journalists. Bloggers are usually experts in a field and sometimes better informed than a journalist. Moreover, information flows can now much less be controlled or managed. Hence, companies must build up and maintain relationships to bloggers.

A good example of a successful public relations work with bloggers is Shutterstock: for the microstock agency, we maintain close ties to bloggers, as well as journalists. Therefore we bring bloggers, equal with journalists, in touch with the management. Questions and concerns of bloggers will be answered as quickly and reliably as concerns of journalists. „A blogger told me once on the phone that this is not granted. For other photo agencies his e-mails – the preferred communication channel of bloggers, with some I have never spoken directly – are not even answered. Calls to the Public Relations Department are not put through,“says Jessica. It is therefore time that even more companies see the public weight of bloggers and learn to deal with it.

Read the full interview in German.

Ralf Hartmann

Green Search – Search Engine Ecosia saves the Rain Forest

Following the „Green Computing“ trend topics, „Green Internet” have become a new area of interest.  Christian Kroll  was one of the early visionaries of this concept and developed the search engine „Forestle“  in August 2008. Forestle donates almost 90% of their  advertising revenue, which is generated by clicking sponsored links, to „Adopt an Acre“. This project gains the protection of the rain forest.  On average, every query protects 0,1 square meters of rain forest. The Forestle Search, once cooperating with Google, is now working with Yahoo.

In December 2009, the successor of Forestle called Ecosia went live. Ecosia is cooperating with Yahoo, Bing and the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), and is also developed to protect the rain forest. Ecosia donates approximately 80% of their total revenue to the WWF. Every Search protects 2 square meters of rain forest in average. The goal of Ecosia is to protect an area as big as the country Swiss.

Experts  assume that every query  with a common search engine emits 7 grams of CO2. But not Ecosia. All servers are operating with green electricity. Forestle  has a slightly different concept: it measures and captures the CO2-emissions of servers, network infrastructures and personal computers  produced by using the search engine and  balances this emissions  with the purchase of certificates for renewable energies.

 Znout is the third search engine by Christian Kroll and works with the same principle: The purchase of certificates balances CO2 emissions.

 What a nice idea.  Unfortunately,  the question is if such individual concepts can find enough followers and users. Google is still  No. 1 among the search engines with a revenues of 24 billion US-Dollars  in 2009 . Experts estimate that 95% of the total revenue is generated by advertising.  Wouldn’t it be great if the smaller green search projects would inspire Google to donate a substantial proportion of their advertising revenue to protect the rain forest or support other green projects?

Stefanie Nunberger

Quora

Does this ever happen to you?  Get a notification that someone has started following your updates on a social network or site that you forgot you were on?  This just recently happened to me with Quora and I was reminded why I signed up in the first place.

Quora is a collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The goal is to have each section become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question. The creators’ vision is to have Quora become a database of knowledge that will grow and grow until almost everything that anyone wants to know is available on the site.  Any information shared on Quora stays there forever for anyone in the future who is interested in a similar topic or who may have the same question.

What’s also good about Quora is that the same questions do not get posted over and over again.  There is only one version of each question, which helps all the information and material be gathered in one place.

As of now, I’ve signed up to follow two topics – social media and public relations.  However, as you can see from my profile page below, Quora helpfully suggests other topics they think you’ll like and lets you search for specific interests.

More information about Quora can be found here, but they do note that “almost any public space on Quora can be edited by anyone who knows how to improve it. This includes the text of questions and the details around them, what topics are attached to which questions, and the summaries of answers. Quora relies on the good faith of everyone using it to make it a high quality resource.”

What I especially found interesting was this idea of “inverse blogging,” which is when you follow topics, as I have with social media and PR, so the system shows you questions about what you’re interested in and know about. This is a way to create an audience of experts for anyone who wants to answer a question. It’s a way to monitor areas where you can show your expertise.

So maybe now that I’ve been reminded I’m signed up for this, I’ll start exploring a bit more as it seems like a pretty useful database!  …I wonder what other networks or sites I’ve signed up for in the past that I’ve forgotten about.  If you see me inactive on one, let me know!

This post was first published by MEREDITH L. EATON on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

Twittering from a different angle – early bird communication problems

While Twitter might change our communication habits today the original „twitterers“ are facing a completely different communication problem. The Dutch University of Leiden published survey results confirming how the growing noise level in cities is causing communication problems among the bird population.

Bird species relying on their twittering for courtship are trying desperately to compete against the background noise. TheDutch ornithologists determined an unusual high-pitched twittering of city based birds such as the great tit. The scientists now assume the development of completely new bird languages or accents, which might make communication between city and country birds nearly impossible in the future.

Bird1 “Yaouw cor understan‘ anythen yaouw soy eya, cos it’s so loud.”
Bird 2 ““Beg you pardon? I’m not from around here“

Wibke Sonderkamp

Net Neutrality: Not So Neutral Anymore

The future fate of the Internet took a giant step forward today when the federal appeals court ruled in favor of Comcast Corporation that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the authority “to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks” (Source: www.nytimes.com).

A full two-and-a-half-years after Comcast was accused of illegally “throttling” certain types of Internet traffic amongst its users, the ruling issued today has major implications for the entire global communications industry and, really, just about any company relying on the Internet to differentiate itself in the marketplace.

The appeals court’s ruling will affect the FCC’s proposed national broadband plan that it is currently mulling over. Some believe it will prompt them to declare that all regulation of broadband companies falls under Title 2 (rather than 1), which would give them broader authority to impose net neutrality regulations over service providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.

Whichever path the FCC decides to take forward for its net neutrality plans, it is looking like any further regulatory activity by the FCC over the country’s providers will need more support from Congress, which could complicate and slow things even further.

The ruling itself is of course a victory for Comcast and other broadband providers like it who don’t like the idea that they can’t control and manage their networks the way they need to to stay competitive.

On the flip side, though, the means for remaining the provider-of-choice in the eyes of consumers these days hangs more heavily than ever on showing customers that their broadband access won’t be restricted or curtailed without a good reason. A combination of Comcast’s net neutrality battle bringing the issue in to the public sphere of consciousness, AT&T’s well-documented network congestion problems and their impetus on an industry-wide move to tiered pricing plans for mobile broadband, and the FCC’s bold new statement of intent with its national broadband plan have made customers drastically more savvy about the broadband services they consume. Providers will need to be open with their customers about their traffic management policies to keep them coming back.

Ultimately, today’s ruling means a continuation of the status quo for the broadband industry for the time being.  It does also have huge implications for the FCC’s net neutrality intentions, and may perhaps even derail them entirely. But it certainly won’t keep the FCC from trying.

Nate Hubbell

Pay any „wurst“ by Credit Card and get a coffee for free

A lot of people here in Germany are suffering from the so called „Denglish“ – a language mixture of German and English words. This is not only a conflict between the older and the younger generation, but also a conflict between traditionalists trying to save the German language and new technologies or terms, which might cause comprehension conflicts, if you try to translate them.  This development, accelerated by new markets and their terminology as well as by Globalization, does not only concern German-speaking nations.  Google actually shows that many other nations have to cope with the „anglisising“ of their language, too .

But, obviously, we Germans can`t take a joke concerning influencing our language, so vengeance called down immediately. This was the beginning of “Engman”. “Engman” is my neologism for a new language using German words in the English language. These are several examples for this movement:  “to abseil”, “the angst”, “the autobahn”, “the wunderkind” and “the bratwurst”. My favorite is this very last example.  To prove the existence of this word in the English language web, please visit the website of Kurz & Lang Bratwurst Company.

The diner and take-away selling German sausages in the center of London serves every kind of sausages like  „Käsewurst “ – wurst  with cheese,  „Krakauer “ –  smoked  wurst ,  „Frankfurter “ – boiled wurst, the famous German Bratwurst or Germany`s most famous fast-food-dish:  “ Currywurst “ . Sauerkraut, Brezen (soft bread pretzels) and German Beer are completing the offer of the Bratwurst Company. Special offers like “Pay any “wursts” with your American Express Card and get a coffee of your choice for free” are supposed to attract people from all over the world. And as the Britons are known for their politeness, you can hear “Guten Appetit” (Enjoy your meal) all day long at the Bratwurst company.

Have you ever read a text in English with your mother-tongue popping up every second word? This is really funny…

Steffi Nunberger

The Dangers of Social Networking

At lunch time, I like to catch up on news reports from Boston and Amsterdam. I was curious about the development of the war against cyber criminals and found something that caught my attention.

I came across an article that warned us social media users about what kind of information you are sharing on the internet. A survey from a British based insurance company came up with some interesting results. It seems that 40 percent Read more

Job interview per Avatar

Watching the film Avatar reminded me of a New York Times article I read least year. The editor reported about several companies including HP, Microsoft, Verizon Communications, Bain & Company who started doing job interviews in virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Hmmmm – advantages would definitely include time and travel cost savings AND job applicants wouldn’t have to fear bad hair days any longer. But can you really form an opinion about a potential future employee by talking to his/her avatar?

 Read more