Broken Guru

Digital Strategist. Lumberjack. Earth Dweller

Twitter IPO RoundUp

I’m just formulating an opinion piece on Twitter’s IPO anouncement. While I’m doing that, here’s a roundup of some of the best resources I’ve found so far to give this some “context density”. Enjoy! -

Twitter’s IPO filing underlines that the JOBS Act wasn’t about jobs

Business Insider - 

Here’s Everything We Know About Twitter’s Impending IPO

Mashable - 

Twitter’s IPO Filing: What It Means

The Verge - 

Twitter will become a public company, files for IPO - 

Twitter fires the starting gun on IPO - 

Why Twitter’s IPO filing was ‘confidential’

Reuters - 

Maybe Twitter should Google its IPO


Seth Godin on The Reason They Call It A Browser

Seth Godin continues to inspire, refresh and invigorate my thinking and approach to the technology and media industry. His blog is an absolute must read - here’s something that caught my eye this morning:

The reason they call it a browser

Over the last ten years, the amount that we buy online has gone up. So have the number of ads we click on every day. We’re all clicking around, browsing and sometimes buying.

But, while these interactions and transactions have been growing, the amount of time we spend online and the number of pages we visit have gone up dramatically faster.

Mobile multiplies this.

Do the math. More time, more pages, not nearly so much more in the way of transaction. A visit from a mobile user is almost certainly less likely to convert into a click, particularly a purchase. Your tweets are seen by ten times as many people, but only twice as likely to get clicked on as they used to be. All the attention we seem to get from the outside world is going up fast, but the amount of interaction it leads to is not.

There’s a whole lot of people spending a lot of time browsing, not taking action. Permission doesn’t scale at the same rate browsing does, which is why permission is worth more than ever before. In fact, the easiest way for a post to not spread is for you to ask someone to actually do something.

Call it attention inflation. More time spent looking, less time spent clicking. We’re being conditioned to sit back and assume that action is the exception, not the rule. Sort of like the difference between the supermarket (where no one browses) and the windows of a fancy store (where everyone does).

"I’m just looking" is the new definition of online behavior.

Years ago, I was lucky enough to get a booth on the route of a political march. I had self-published a book directly related to the issue, and more than 450,000 people walked within twenty feet of my booth. I sold four of the 4,000 copies I brought with me. I lowered my price 90% and sold two more copies. 

It took me a while but then I realized that people had come to march, not to shop.

This thinking explains why good real estate sites are so mobile-friendly (and why mobile is so real-estate-friendly). If you’re sitting in front of a house that’s for sale and take the time to look up the information, you’re exactly the right person in exactly the right place.

When dealing with a community that browses, you’ll need new math:

  • More pageviews to make a transaction is the norm, like it or not
  • Sharing is more important than ever before, because transactions require more views
  • Sponsorships and unclickable banners outperform measurable media (think about the signs on the boards at a hockey game—everyone sees them all night, but no one interacts with them)
  • The price paid for each advertising impression is going to go down

Since the very beginning (I’ve been doing online media since 1991), clicks have been undervalued and measurable media has been at a disadvantage compared to traditional unmeasured ads (how many clicks does a TV ad get?). As the web/mobile gets closer to ubiquity, the behaviors of people consuming media get ever closer to the old model of passivity. Sponsorship and visibility will continue to matter, clicks and interactions will go way up in value and overall pageviews will continue to inflate.

The Age of User Experience Design – Infographic
The growth of the User Experience Design field is breathtaking, but well deserved. Thanks to UX Designers all over the world, the quality of products has increased dramatically. Design really does matter now. It’s a user centric world in which there’s not only Apple on the scene anymore. Samsung gizmos look better than ever. Google has redesigned all of its products. Literally every successful startup looks and works beautifully and popular iOS apps are just gorgeous…
“This is the decade of User Experience Design” – we’ve heard this many times during meetings with inspirational people when together with my team, we’ve visited Silicon Valley to validate our long-term strategy. As you may imagine since we’re UX Designers, this particular declaration made us jump for joy.
This is the right time to take care for UX and we’re here to provide amazing tools.
We did some research on our community and its importance and here’s a wrap up embodied in an infographic (yes, we’re design nerds):

The Age of User Experience Design – Infographic

The growth of the User Experience Design field is breathtaking, but well deserved. Thanks to UX Designers all over the world, the quality of products has increased dramatically. Design really does matter now. It’s a user centric world in which there’s not only Apple on the scene anymore. Samsung gizmos look better than ever. Google has redesigned all of its products. Literally every successful startup looks and works beautifully and popular iOS apps are just gorgeous…

“This is the decade of User Experience Design” – we’ve heard this many times during meetings with inspirational people when together with my team, we’ve visited Silicon Valley to validate our long-term strategy. As you may imagine since we’re UX Designers, this particular declaration made us jump for joy.

This is the right time to take care for UX and we’re here to provide amazing tools.

We did some research on our community and its importance and here’s a wrap up embodied in an infographic (yes, we’re design nerds):

Theory Expands Its Menswear Offering

Really interested to see if Theory gains any traction over here in the UK. Loving the styling both of the line and of the ad campaign for their spring collection.

The contemporary U.S. label  has disclosed its expansion strategy for its men’s offering, with the premium label set to develop its tailored apparel and denim ranges, as well as pushing further into the European market this year. The New York-based brand also has plans to broaden its new diffusion line, Theory 38, which is aimed at tapping the burgeoning sports luxe market.

Established in 1997 by Andrew Rosen, the label currently offers ultra-sleek and inherently modern women’s and men’s collections of RTW and accessories. The brand created a sartorial stir in the fashion media back in 2011 following its first collaborative collection with industry-renowned Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens, who launched the ‘Theyskens’ Theory’ label.

Rosen has said of the latest expansion plans: “(We) believe that the time for contemporary menswear is now. We’ve seen such incredible excitement and enthusiasm from retailers about the contemporary side of menswear in general and what we’re doing in particular”.

The move sees the brand introduce full-canvas suiting for the first time, in response to the return of traditional tailoring methods in recent years. Designs from the full-canvas range will employ the use of premium Italian wool-blend and cashmere fabrics and feature hand stitched seams in a variety of signature fits and cuts.

The head of menswear design at Theory, Ben Stubbington, says of the upgrade to the brand’s tailoring range: “Most (of our existing) suits at our price point are a fused construction. This (new line) is full canvas and it’s loosely basted by hand, so that the suit moulds to the shape of your body. The more you wear it, the better it looks”. Prices for jackets will range from £415 to £435, whilst trousers will start at £158 and run to £170.

Launched this year, the Theory 38 line is a sportswear-inspired collection for urbanites who wish to maintain an active lifestyle without compromising their style credentials. Brand director Rosen says of the line: “There are a lot of performance fabrics and we have sweatpants that are cool in shape and not your traditional baggy sweatpants. It’s great stuff for travelling but you don’t look like a slob, you look hip”.

The current Theory 38 collection consists of a selection of windbreakers, t-shirts, sweat tops, track pants and shorts for the busy on-the-go man. This autumn/winter season sees the introduction of knitwear and puffa jackets, with further range developments expected.

With such a hive of activity in the men’s design department at the brand, 2013 is set to be the label’s most successful year for its menswear offering to date – and with such dynamic developments afoot, we’re all certain to have a bit of Theory in our wardrobes soon.

Mary Portas: Queen of the High Street

Battling with The Apprentice for my eyeballs last night was the first in the series of Mary Portas: Queen of the High Street.

The old girl’s a bit of an inspiration for me, and her approach to the  Roman Road in Bow was full of insight and approach that is very transferrable to the e-commerce space.

I’d love to get an opportunity to sit down with her and get her thoughts on user footprints that cross the digital/physical divide, as while the show managed to reference the digital and technological revolution, there was no mention of integration. Yes, the high street must play a part in the future of British commerce, but just regurgitating empirically proven offline retail best practices has something of the “ostrich in the sand” about it. More emphasis on technological innovation please Mary! Throw your fringe over what I wrote about it here, you worryingly attractive, ginger-bobbed shopping tzar… 

My pimp new wooden glasses from @karmawood via @fab. Just need some sun!

My pimp new wooden glasses from @karmawood via @fab. Just need some sun!

It’s all bit a bit tech and a bit text heavy on here recently…

So here’s a couple of shots that have caught my eye today. The weather’s been terrible again after a glorious Sunday so heavy wools and scarfs here, with a couple of Summer transition pieces.

Digital Thatcherism

Blooming hell. I didn’t know quite what a challenge I had set myself when I committed to doing an analysis piece on Thatcherism in the Digital Age the other day, but the key word here is commitment, and as such I’ve spent two days pouring over the interwebby stuffing my eyeholes with as much information about liberalism, libertarianism, Toryism, Thatcherism and their “neo” strands and then attempting to pull some sort of thread of a piece together linking all that to the current “state of play” in the digital sphere. My brain already hurts, and I’ve barely begun writing.

However, as with nearly all such challenges, I have come out the other side absolutely thrilled to have been exposed to so much new information, hopefully a little more enlightened on what was a pivotal period in British political history, and generally a little more savvy on economic philosophy than I was. I can only cross my fingers at this point that the ensuing clattering of keys results in something that makes an iota of sense. Although crossing my fingers and typing could demand a little more dextrousness than I am capable of.

Margaret Thatcher has bizarrely been somewhat an ever-constant presence in my life, akin to the opening tenet of a jingle that you can’t shake from your mind, a tune that plays on loop somewhere just between your sub-conscious and conscious proper. For some, it may have been the cheery polemic of the Coco Pops monkey, informing you that he’d rather have a bowl of his own cereal than that of a competitor (in my mind always an obvious choice for the simian spokesperson of any brand - why on Earth would he endorse competition and risk his, presumably lucrative, contract?), playing on repeat as you go about daily tasks. For me, however, it was the shadowy spectre of an angular faced school teacher-figure, spouting something about a lack of fondness for “turning” (whatever that meant), and something about the death of society. Or it’s total non-existence, I was never sure.      

While I was only 4 when she tearfully stepped outwards across the threshold of 10 Downing Street, as the child of a family of “boy-done-good” types, in retrospect it comes as little surprise that Thatcher should have made such a lasting impression on my tiny little mind, such was, and continues to be, the hero-worship of the Iron Lady from Grantham. It came as some initial shock that Thatcher often finds her most fervent support in the county of Essex, the home of Towie and of fake tan. But in reality the empowerment and freedom to achieve that her policies allowed those with a working class genealogy have ensured her popularity in the spiritual heartland of the self-made man. And of vajazzles.

As such, her death last week not only represented a historic and divisive moment in British history, but also a point of near-existential mourning within my close and extended family. 

However, this is not a piece on the political alignement of my family, nor on my infant memory of Britain’s first female prime minister. If your looking for that, I cannot recommend Russel Brand’s piece in The Guardian highly enough. Through all my research, it stands out as the most craft-fully written, philosophically divergent and pathos filled pieces on Thatcher I came across. I may not agree with his politics or viewpoint, but the boy can certainly write. 

What I’m looking to ascertain is whether her passing at the age of 87 represents the idealogical death of Thatcherism, or whether her politics and worldview continue to live on in the Digital Age of Mobile First Design, Open Source Social Media and the steady technological revolution cycle enabled by Moore’s Law. Whether her absolute belief and faith in the autonomy of the free market and the individual is verified in the astronomical valuation of platforms like Facebook, applications like Instagram, WhatsApp and Summly and their relatively rapid creation-to-sale cycle and the empowered, always connected mobile user, or whether her Neo-liberal philosophy is in fact defeated by the “globally-connected society”, where people have the power to bring brands crashing to the ground in 140 characters. Surely, the ideology of a woman who famously said “There is no such thing as society” is moot in an age dominated by a phenomenon called “Social media”?

In order to contextualise my thought process on this, it’s best to delve a little into what Thatcherism actually is. Which is bloody tricky as, from what I’ve learnt over the last couple of days Maggie’s political and philosophical standpoint sits somewhere between Neo-liberalism, libertarianism and a traditional Conservative stance on morality. For my one American reader, Thatcherism most closely resembles what is termed Reaganism in the US, and indeed Thatcher and Ronald Reagen where seen as idealogical allies during their coinciding terms as Prime Minister and President.

Without wanting to turn this into a philosophy lecture, because that would be a) boring and b) somewhat presumptuous on my part in my own ability to understand all this, at all, and then regurgitate this to others, libertarianism places emphasis on the primacy of the individual and political freedom, and as such advocates a vastly reduced state or no state at all. Neo-liberalism is a more economic viewpoint that advocates economic liberalisation, free trade and open markets, deregulation, privatisation and decreasing the size of the public sector, while Thatcherism is, somewhat conversely to the key tenet of libertarianism,  closely linked to more Conservative views on morality, although interestingly Thatcher actually voted in favour of homosexuality and in support of legal abortion.

All pretty bloody high level stuff, but how does it relate to the current and future state-of-play in the Digital Arena? I’m going to try my darndest to keep this as top line as possible, as this is already showing the potential of turning into a dissertation length piece…

Neo-liberalism is often extremely closely linked to the theory of Globalisation. In conventional parlance, the current era in history is generally characterised as one of globalization, technological revolution, and democratisation  In all three of these areas media and communication play a central, perhaps even a defining, role. Economic and cultural globalisation arguably would be impossible without a global commercial media system to promote global markets and to encourage consumer values. As such, the near ubiquity of platforms like Facebook and Twitter underpin the very essence of the technological revolution and the radical development in digital communication and technology.

Indeed, even within the relatively brief history of technological revolution, we have seen a massive shift during what has been called the Web 2.0 era. Originally, the web was indexed by the relationship between websites, and “users” really only existed as a figure, either as impressions or visitors. As such, search engines like Google positioned themselves as the “Gatekeepers to the Web”, and quickly established models around SEO, PPC and display reach advertising to move these faceless, impressions around the web. The Internet was, and continues to be, the property not of any one country of territory, but the first truly global market. Governments struggled, and continue to struggle, to regulate such a vast and constantly growing network. However, some forward thinking brands and corporations saw the potential in a new, global marketplace and saw an opportunity to peddle their wares. In a neat embodiment of neo-liberalism, they looked to capitalise on the global web and push their monopolies beyond not just the confines of territory but also of analog and digital. Those that got it right made, and continue to make a lot of money.

Indeed, in the Web 1.0 era, some argued that Google was in fact surreptitiously eroding our very human rights. As John Cayley notes:

We hand over our culture to Google in exchange for unprecedented and free access to that culture. We do this all but unconscious of the fact that it will be Google that defines what “unprecedented” and “free” ultimately imply. As yet, we hardly seem to acknowledge the fact that this agreement means that it is Google that reflects our culture back to us. They design the mirror, the device, the dispositive, as the French would put it. They offer a promise of “free” access in many senses of that word including zero cost to the end-using inquirer and close to zero cost to the institutions that supply the inscribed material culture that Google swallows and digests. But Google does not (some might here add “any longer”) conceal the fact that this free access does come at a cost, another type of cost, one that is also a culture-(in)forming cost: Google will process all (or nearly all) this data in order to sell a “highly-cultivated” positioning of advertisements (Cayley, “Writing to be Found”).

Equally, the internet provided a fertile platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Companies could be set up in minutes without the nagging overheads of rent and business rates, and a global audience meant that product and service suddenly had reach far beyond what had ever before been possible, and it’s interesting that the pre-bubble Internet Boom should come so soon after the end of Maggie’s tenure. If you had a the drive and the technological knowhow, your opportunity to make loadsa cash in a short amount of time was unrivalled. Yes, the bubble burst as the century drew to a close, but that was largely down to unsolicited valuations, not down to flawed philosophical thinking. Indeed, we one more find ourselves in a spot in technological history where valuations are astronomical, even if your actual product struggles to break even, let alone turn a profit. The primacy of the individual appears to be absolute in the digital age, the market is as free as it could possibly be, and there is no such thing as the digital “public sector”. That’s not to say that the public sector does not exist online, it’s just that there is no notable “global public sector” that operates across the entire Web in the same way that a Facebook or a Spotify does. But watch carefully, as as soon as an individuals primacy reaches terminal velocity online, there is every chance that they can then transition from the primacy that is evoked by libertarianism into the capitalistic habits of neo-liberalism

With the advent of Web 2.0 (I hate that term but it’s pretty standard to use it to describe the dawn of social media) “users” began to create profiles from themselves across a variety of platforms online. This then gave the faceless impressions a voice, to begin with within the confines of these “Social Media” platforms. They began to communicate and re-shape the web from a traditional vertical communications model to something far more horizontal, if not even inverse. The digital consumer suddenly had a voice, and in a traditional libertarian sense found perhaps the greatest expression of the primacy of the individual in a purely philosophical sense.

Of course at this point the neo-liberal corporations wanted to shape the “conversations” taking place within this digital micro-communities. “There’s some sort of sociological evolution taking place, let’s try and make some money from it”. Of course, each of these individual occurrences deserves an entire blog post of its own, but as promised, this is top line. Simultaneously, the counter neo-liberalism, anti-capitalistic movements had also found a platform for digital expression, as they will in any newly formed territory or culture. Indeed, today’s hackers and groups like “Anonymous” explicitly align their actions with anti-capitalistic motivations.

However, they represent only a tiny fraction of the billions of the world’s population who are active digitally. Now, with Open Social ensuring that branded strategies are far more subtle than “owning the conversation”, more rooted in action-orientated service recommendation, users will find themselves becoming ever more complicit in the spread of neo-liberalism.

Indeed, I might even argue that Margaret Thatcher herself would not have looked out of place on the board of Facebook. Of course the shoulder pads would have to go, and II’m not sure how she would have fared with the obligatory hoodie and jeans. But in terms of spreading the capitalist ideology, unfettered by the constraints of the state, and with licence to apply any rules it sees fit and to control user experience in order to maximise profitability, well I think that’s something that Maggie woud have bought into whole-heartedly 


A wonkish look at bitcoin economics


Great post by Robert David Graham explaining the recent surge in bitcoin popularity.

Bitcoin is an increasingly popular electronic currency, used both for legitimate and illegal transactions. Economists haven’t taken a serious look at bitcoin yet, so I thought I’d take a stab at it. In particular, I’m going to look at the “intrinsic value” of bitcoin, answering the question whether the recent rapid rise in price (to $240 at the time of writing this) is justified.

Bitcoin vs. Money

There have been many un-serious looks at BitCoin. Take, for example, this 2011 blogpost by Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman, where he compares bitcoin to the gold standard. He’s completely wrong.

The mistake economists make is assuming that bitcoin works like real money. It doesn’t. While bitcoin is designed as a “medium of exchange”, it doesn’t serve the other traditional functions of money, such as a “store of value”, “unit of account”, or “measure of value”.

In recent months, the price of bitcoins has skyrocketed. In classic economics, this means that the bitcoin economy has experienced massive “deflation”. Likewise, when the bitcoin bubble bursts and the price goes down, the bitcoin economy will experience hyper “inflation”.

But this inflation/deflation has no effect. Prices aren’t denominated in bitcoins, but in some hard currency like dollars or euros. Buyers exchange their dollars for bitcoins, give the bitcoins to the seller, who then immediately changes them back to euros. The entire process takes about 30 minutes. The only requirement is that the exchange rate for bitcoins not fluctuate wildly during this half-hour window. When analyzing bitcoin, we have to toss out this idea that it is a “measure of value” and the related ideas of inflation/deflation.

Full post

Super insightful post on bitcoins…