Claire Robinson, Digital Development Director
Google+ is now four months old and has been heralded as both a Facebook-killer and as a failed experiment in which users flocked to see what was going on, then left their new profiles untouched. Four days into the long-awaited launch of brand pages on Google+, what’s the consensus on the best and worst features?
+ Circles provide a better customer service/management platform for businesses than Facebook, as customers can be segmented into different circles and dialogue can occur accordingly. Brands can follow key people as well as people following the brand (so a bit more like Twitter than Facebook); important for brands that have identified their online influencers and seek to set up relationships with them.
+ Brand pages integrate with search through ‘direct connect’, so you can follow a brand directly from a search results page – this will be a great benefit for lots of businesses. I’m guessing the next step here will be to monetise these links further by including advertising on brand pages.
+ Google Hangouts, which used to be limited to just 9 people in a video conference, has now been developed to include an unlimited spectators feature, ‘Hangouts on Air’, this will be great for broadcasting/publishing businesses like radio stations that want to share live events and get immediate feedback from the chat feature.
- But you can’t run promotions or competitions on business pages, you must link to external sites. This is a double-edged sword; keeping activity on platforms where you can keep the data sounds good, but consumers are not easily tempted away from the platform they’re already on, so I’d assume there’ll be significantly lower engagement levels in these types of competition/promotion than on Facebook.
- As yet, brand pages have no secure validation procedure, as pointed out by 1000 heads on their blog earlier this week, which will lead to a fair amount of cyber-squatting (reminiscent of Twitter’s early days).
Now the Google+ user base stands at around 40m, it’s a bit more reflective of the population at large (in the initial few weeks of launch, 87% of Google+ users were male), however the key publishers on the platform are still very much representative of the tech community. With digitally-savvy brands like 02, Burberry, Angry Birds, Mumsnet and Chelsea Football Club leading the charge with their brand pages, it’ll be interesting to see how these ‘early adopters’ push the evolution of Google+ to accommodate the ‘early majority’.
One thing is for sure, in the race to find social platforms for business and brands to engage with their consumers, Google+ shouldn’t be ignored.
Leah Kayles, Social Media Editor
Recently I’ve noticed a fair bit of noise on the internet about trolling. In particular, a supposed increase in the level of misogynistic comments that female bloggers are experiencing at the hands of internet trolls.
For the unfamiliar, trolls are those who seek to enflame, offend, and generally cause trouble on internet forums and blogs (and on almost any video ever posted on YouTube ever – check out the comments under any random selection of videos now to see what I’m on about) by posting offensive or inflammatory comments. And because this is the internet, they can do all this under the cloak of anonymity.
A lot of the discussion taking place at the moment is focusing on whether this trolling is getting out of hand and whether it could, or indeed should, be clamped down upon. Many female writers have revealed that much of the trolling they experience is misogynistic in nature, with threats of sexual violence not unusual. You can read more details over on The Guardian.
So what do you think?
When does freedom of speech simply become an excuse for bullying? Is this something that affects both male and female alike or does it highlight an underbelly of sexism and misogyny on the internet and society in general? Or are we simply talking about lonely boys hiding behind their computer screens who should just be ignored?
James Wheatley, Head of Technical and Scoping
It seems that everywhere I look, people are doing amazing things with 3D printing at the moment. This technology is really coming of age. I read in last month’s Wired that a man named Markus Kayser has created the Solar-Sinter, a light-powered 3D printer that uses solar power to produce objects from sand! I love the simple genius of this idea. He is currently living in the Egyption desert making bowls but with refinement the possibilities are huge – not keen on that sand dune? With the Solar-Sinter you can turn it into a 50ft statue of Bruce Forsyth! (Other TV celebrities are available.)
Brave New World with Stephen Hawking also had a brilliant feature on the other week (catch it on 4OD – Episode 3 – 2nd quarter of the show). In it they showed great footage of 3D printing in action, creating objects from the ground up to be better, stronger, lighter, more efficient and less wasteful. Designer Max Lamb says the manufacturing world is being taken by storm – he even thinks one day you will be able to go to your neighbourhood 3D print shop and print a spare part for your washing machine – a-maze-ing.
Personally I’m intrigued by what this will mean for the office Christmas party. I can just imagine scores of drunken employees 3D printing their favourite body parts to decorate the workplace. I mean what employer would not be chuffed with an exact replica of the HR manager’s left buttock?
Paul Mallett, Managing Partner
I’ve just come back from a holiday to India that was absolutely brilliant.
Both my wife and I were feeling really smug as we packed our Kindles into our hand luggage and looked in awe at the amount of space we had saved by not taking 10 books on holiday.
On the first day on the beach in Kerrala, I got out of the ocean, tossing the crystal clear water from my sun-kissed locks, and collapsed on my sun lounger – CRACK.
Fact 1 – Kindles are not robust – one broken screen – no more holiday books for Paul…
Needless to say I was devastated – I ran into the lobby and found the ‘bookcase’, you know the one, where people from all over the world leave books behind that they really don’t want to lend to anyone when they get home. 8 copies of Steig Larson, 2 Katie Prices and an Italian translation of Chaucer. I went with the Price (which I could sit on to my heart’s content).
My wife, who treats electronic devices with respect still had her iPad and Kindle intact.
Fact 2 – Kindles have FREE 3G internet access EVERYWHERE – iPads don’t.
For the rest of our trip, as well as being incredibly well read, my wife became the source of all restaurant reviews, maps, trip advice, currency conversion, menu translation – all thanks to the always on, always working, month-long battery life Kindle. Add to this the ability to download guidebooks anytime, anywhere and the Kindle becomes an essential travelling companion.
The moral of this tale? Someone needs to invent a Kindle that doubles as a cushion.
Craig Goode, Digital Designer
What is 4k?
4K is an emerging standard for resolution in digital fim and computer graphics. The name comes from its approximately 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution. The resolution of Full Aperture 4k is 4096 × 3112, compared to 1080p HD which is 1980 x 1080.
This is a big leap in the amount of image data recorded and makes cinema-quality filming available for cheaper than ever before.
Examples of 4K digital recording devices are the Dalsa Origin (announced in 2003 and released in 2006 as the first commercially available 4K digital cinema camera), the Red One (announced in 2006 and released in 2007), the Red Epic (released in early 2011), and the Sony CineAlta F65 (announced in April 2011). The Dalsa Origin system records images at a resolution of 4096 × 2048 and the Red One records images at 4096 × 2304.
The Red Epic cameras are being used on the filming of the latest Hobbit film by Peter Jackson, who is actually filming in 5k and using two red Epic cameras at a time to film in 3D.
Canon and Red have both released new 4k cameras to try and claim dominance over the 4k market.
The RED Scarlet-X is the first 4k camera under $10k. Well that will get you the main ‘brain’ of the camera anyway. For a fully functional camera it’ll still be about $13k.
Canon are releasing the Canon C300 in 2012 and it was revealed this week at Paramount Studios; it comes in two models: an EF or a PL mount and both will cost $20k. The video below shows the Canon camera in action.
In July 2010, YouTube began streaming certain videos at 4096 × 2304 pixels (in the 16:9 aspect ratio) to 4096 x 3072 (4:3)
My first reaction to 4k video formats was that it was going to cause film-making to become inassecible to most people again.
DSLR cameras have made independent film making an easy and fairly inexpensive creative area to try, where in the past there has always been a cost barrier for most people to get involved.
However, I think DSLR’s like the Canon 5D MKII can still be used to film really high quality HD footage which will for a long time be fine for TV and digital work.
These cameras don’t cut it for film production to be shown at the cinema though and what these 4k camera do is make cinema quality filming much cheaper and the quality much higher. I don’t look forward to the day I have to try and make my computer render at 4k resolution but the idea that cinema quality production is available for £15k instead of $100k a few years ago is an exciting prospect.