Friday, 30 April 2010

The expanding concept of an interactive project

In our book, we begin by defining the types of iMedia project that you can come across. This drilled down to projects within projects, and invited you to do an analysis of your organisations' projects over the past year by type and revenue.
The interactive landscape has changed allowing a proliferation of types of project. They can all be subject to the general principles of project management, but it is good to stand back now and then to read the changing landscape. How do we do this?

Well, there are several indicators. Job roles expand to define the diverse skills that are needed for the growing number of projects. There's a snapshot at which is a site that aims to find you a freelancer based on skills that you need. It's a shame that web design and all related web-type roles fall under other, but on the other hand, the sheer number and categories should stimulate some serious thinking.

It's good to get hold of some statistics about the industry to look at some forecasts. This has always proved problematic because the UK doesn't really support good stats about it - iMedia isn't seen as a cohesive industry yet. However, there is a prediction from the US about interactive graphic designers and the projected increase in numbers of them needed by 2018 – an increase of 13% from 2008! See

At least this article by Meagan Van Beest (now there’s a name) categorises iMedia designers as Flash Designers, Game Designers, Information Systems Designers, Interactive TV Designers or Web Designers.

Finally, to wake you up with lateral thinking, those off-the-wall projects happening now may well shape whole sections of the interactive market in the not too distant future. There's a great toe-dipping experience at Goldsmith's College London explained at Creative Choices UK about the use of smart interactive technologies affecting theatre, medicine, and textile sectors.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Customer Relationship Management going social?

It could be argued that CRM (Customer Relationship Management) lifted the lid on the potential of all this social networking. Well, if we just imagine how influenced teens are by their peer group, it's not rocket science to extend this idea of strong influence to friends and family. So CRM, which bonded people by brand association and/or buying habits, is not that far from companies trying to influence people bonded by friendship or family ties to buy similar things.

This seems to be a successful advertising formula improving recall by 30% if friends' names are linked to buying a brand. See the article from

You’d imagine that the links between CRM and Social Networking are a bit obvious if I make the link as a non-marketeer! But it is not, it seems. Although Facebook and Twitter have passed the fad stage, traditional CRMers have not bought in to them - as cited in another MyCustomer article.

Watch this space because the social networking sites are still growing more rapidly than any other communication media. But again if we try to learn from the past, the social sites grew for other reasons and may react badly to adverse influence. It has to be handled carefully. Where's the solid research?

Talking of research, Forrester looks at the trends of CRM 2010. They see this year as one where the hype about social media and CRM leads to some pilot projects. Take a look at a summary of other CRM trends at Forrester.

Perhaps you can do your own bit here. Would you be happy to see ads with your friends and family names and faces linked to them? Would it influence you positively?

Friday, 16 April 2010

Speeding your way to SEO

Google has announced that it is now including site speed in the metrics it uses to calculate page ranking. There is a story on the BBC web site which links to the page on the Google webmaster blog.

Basically what Google are saying is that users like web pages that load quickly. I personally prefer pages that start to load quickly as well; ones that show some signs of life.

The comments on the Google blog post are interesting. One blog-commenter points out that Google analytics can itself slow a page down as the JavaScript it uses loads from an external site. In fact many pages build in material from numerous sources, especially now that so much content is dynamically generated using Ajax and the like. We have come a long way from simple HTML where only one web server (plus the DNS to find the domain name) was involved in a transaction.

A web site is already very asynchronous, meaning that the various parts of it will be loaded simultaneously rather than queuing and waiting for each other to finish loading, even if all the component parts are coming off a single server. But there is more that could be done, especially in back-end coding. Think about the way your code works ... can any parts of it be forked off independently? Does your environment allow you to do this? What are the risks if some of those forks don't finish for some reason?

And if you are involved in SEO, what new factors should you take into account?

Friday, 9 April 2010

UK Digital Economy Bill April 2010

This bill has caused uproar in many circles as it was pushed through with seemingly little debate last night in what's known as the wash up period as Parliament moves to dissolution in the build-up to the election.

Andy raised a few issues about this bill in another posting recently and perhaps it is interesting that the clause that directly concerned many photographers was deleted. But with many aspects to cover across diverse developers and users of digital communication/business, there were many hats to be thrown into the ring of debate. Too late now! This was voted on and passed late last night with a seeming deal between Labour and Conservatives.

To see what issues might affect you take a look at a summary of the clauses at The Quick Guide to all 45 measures and a shorter summary at

The strength of reaction can be tangibly measured in Ben Camm-Jones' comments on Web User where he casts shame on all MPs for the bill and shame on the very few MPs who even bothered to vote despite voiced concerns by over 20,000 people to their respective MPs.

Gary Marshall too makes his feelings very clear at Tech Radar where he states that digital democracy clearly doesn't work!

Will the bill affect you or your business?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Moral Imperative

Last week, wearing a Royal Photographic Society hat, I went along to a seminar on moral rights. This was organised by the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (SABIP) and aimed to discuss the international perspective on the subject.

Now as I'm sure you remember, moral rights are an adjunct to the economic right of copyright. Rather than your right to control and earn money from your creations, moral rights protect your artistic integrity. They are relatively new to UK law but long-standing in countries like France.

The seminar was interesting and often too technical to go into in detail here but I wanted to flag a couple of things.

The first thing is the subject of attribution. I argued that all other rights stem from this; if you are not known as the author/creator then how are you going to exploit your work or protect its (and your) integrity (another important moral right). UK law does convey a right of attribution but it has to be asserted ... you have to say you assert your right to be identified as the creator of your work. You can, by 'agreement' waive your right of attribution in contract (it doesn't apply to things you do in the course of employment) and there is a big exception for reporting news and current affairs. This latter point is seen by some as something the newspaper and web publishers take advantage of regularly.

In some countries you can't waive your moral rights ... they are yours and you are not allowed to give them up. I hope that the questions and discussions at the seminar made the point that authors need attribution ... you are only as good as your last credit, as they say in TV. Some publishers argue that their business model relies on no individual contributor being credited but, as someone else pointed out, countries like France still have newspapers and web sites. The days of stories being simply credited to 'our reporter' are long gone surely? (Mind you, I once knew a man who edited a girls magazine for a while in the 1960s and the editor was always called Pete Lennon, no matter who he really was ... that was the image.)

My second point is something that only occurred to me after the event, when I looked through the attendance list. There was no one representing software authors and programmers. (Someone was there from Microsoft but I don't count them.) There was no one from BIMA or the BCS or even the games industry.

There is an exception in UK moral rights for computer programs. The argument was that 'computer programs are always written by teams'. Well that is patently untrue and I suspect you only believe that if you have an old-fashioned view of programs and programmers. Personally I think programmers are as creative as the rest of us and deserve their moral rights ... a point I shall be raising with SABIP.

Any thoughts?