Live your life in the cloud with 4G

I’m barely coherent without a coffee in the mornings. So it was fortunate that I nipped over to Teacup on Thomas Street before work for a cup of coffee and a spot of BBC Breakfast with Rory Cellan Jones to talk about today’s 4G launch.

For the uninitiated, 4G (or LTE as it’s sometimes called) is the latest generation of mobile phone technology, allowing significantly faster mobile Internet connectivity. In fact, Rory’s tests this morning showed 19 Mbps and 15 MBps up, which is even better than the UK average broadband speed of 9 Mbps!

Given that more and more of our personal data is being hosted and processed in the cloud, and our increasing reliance on mobile data apps, the advent of 4G cannot come quickly enough. Fast, reliable mobile data will only increase the use of cloud technologies to store and share content. More and more of us will live our lives in the cloud.

However, as with any brand new technology, there is a cost. Users have to invest in a whole new infrastructure, with only a limited number of handsets currently supporting 4G in the UK and the small, current data tariffs don’t reflect the potential of storing your life in the cloud.

Nonetheless, this is just the start. Like 3G, ten years ago, the technology will mature and consumer choice will expand. For cloud providers like us, it’s an exciting time to step-up to the plate and continue to deliver reliable, secure infrastructure for future 4G-based uses.


BBC fail to attribute photo of their own building licensed under Creative Commons

The BBC launched a new site to promote their jobs in the North today. As someone working in the digital communications industry in Manchester, it’s not surprising that I visited the new website, to see what sort of things the BBC were going to be offering when they finally make their move up north.

The website links to a page describing the teams at the BBC’s existing facility in Manchester, New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road. It’s illustrated by a small thumbnail of the building at night, with the BBC sign lit-up. I couldn’t help but think I’d seen that picture before.

Not surprisingly, I had – because I’d taken the photo. Continue reading

Social Media Cafe Manchester – poll update and August meetup

In my last blog about Manchester’s social media cafe, I blogged my thoughts on the venue-swap to the BBC Manchester offices.

Thanks to Tim and Gill for their useful feedback. Their thoughts were that the BBC offered a great opportunity to properly set up sessions in different parts of the space, with presentation facilities and much, much better sound.

I completely agree – this is a big benefit of a space like the BBC, and the advantage is that we can access it without necessarily paying the rates of renting office/conference space in Manchester, which at this stage would make the meetup unviable.

Poll results

However, in a totally unscientific poll on this blog (which received a paltry 17 votes) 82% (14) suggested we reserve the BBC for ‘special events’. 3 votes were cast to try and remain at the Beeb where possible. No-one disliked the BBC as a venue.

I think this is telling. The BBC is obviously a great place to hold events, but perhaps some regular attendees – including myself – may feel that it may not be suited to having regular meetings there. This was the thrust of what I wrote last time.

It certainly has benefits over the slightly awkward layout of The Northern (and bar prices are thankfully cheaper). But, I’d like to see different venues explored – coffee shops or other pubs with function room spaces. Perhaps suggestions can be noted in the comments?

It’s also worth noting that not everyone can access a space that serves alcohol or one that doesn’t have disabled access. Not something we always think about but something we should try and consider, even in informal meetups.

August meetup?

Finally, there’s no planned meetup in August. So how about an informal meetup? I’ve started a discussion thread on the Social Media Manchester Ning network, which complements the wiki. Sign-up to comment and keep networking through the summer, either online or offline.

Social Media Cafe and the Cutting Room Experiment

BBC Manchester, Oxford Road

BBC Manchester, Oxford Road

This month’s social media cafe was another triumph for the community and came with the extra special glow of being held at the BBC in Manchester, complete with Tardis in the foyer. Thanks Ian!

I’ll refer you to Tim’s roundup of the sessions at the cafe (they were good) as he had the opportunity to flit around. I settled in to watch the chaps from Cahoona and events management agency Ear to the Ground discuss the Cutting Room Experiment, a project described in classic hyperbole as the ‘biggest user generated event in the world’.

My thoughts on the Cutting Room Experiment

I have to admit, when I first saw the press release from Manchester City Council, my heart sank. The press release, regrettably, reads a bit like the classic ‘public sector tries to do social media, misses the point’ with a smattering of buzz words: ‘flash mobs’; ‘user generated’; ‘unique event’, complete with manufactured quote from a director. It’s unfortunate that this was the first piece of publicity I saw.

What I saw next, thankfully, was a pretty darn nice website, complete with integrated social media PR campaign that picked up some great coverage online. This was followed up by a ‘blog launch‘ at the Bay Horse, suitably bribing people with the offer of a free pint in exchange for a short (and painless) presentation from the team.

I think this quickly shattered my misconceptions. Though not my misgivings.

In the end, Cutting Room Experiment turned out to be just that, a bold experiment, blessed by the usually control-hungry public bodies that sponsored it and one that achieved its key successes – 400 people there, extensive media coverage, and awareness raised of the location (though these GPS co-ords are not the square).

However, while I’ve already alluded to degree of hyperbole that did surround some of the marketing (‘biggest’ user generated event? ‘world first’?) the presentation was refreshingly honest when it reflected some of the highs and lows of the exercise. In particular, David (Ear to the Ground) pointed out that “It’s hard to turn a devoted online audience into a vibrant offline one”.

And this is a key problem for any online social marketeer. It’s easy to make people sign-up to an event and click through, but will they actually turn up? I ‘counted myself in’ to a couple of events, even posted my own (slightly tongue-in-cheek) event – but I didn’t go. My main aim was to see the alka seltzer rockets, provided by the Manchester Science Festival team but unfortunately I missed the slot.

From my own personal experience, I imagine that a risk of this sort of ‘user generated’ process is that some people just won’t go unless they’ve got one killer event and that might be the event that they themselves organised, or for which they had some personal buy-in (e.g. employee/volunteer). Perhaps the truth is that an online community where ‘buy-in’ is limited to ‘agreeing to the possibility that you might attend’ is a difficult one to convert.

Cutting Room Experiment though, had the benefit of a local community and they did tap in to this with flyers; the killer piece of info that was perhaps missing from the presentation was being able to know how the attendees (who weren’t staff or volunteers) had heard of the event – online, or offline. I suspect it was the former, whereas arguably you needed more of the latter, particularly those who lived locally.

To conclude, it’s hard to criticise something into which a whole lot of people put a lot of hard work, and which produced some stunning results. However, I have to wonder whether this experiment, conducted largely online, needs to have much more of an offline aspect in order to make sure that the numbers for the ‘real world’ event does materialise.

The venue – keeping it social

Finally, the BBC was a great one-off venue and I, like many young (ish) meeja whores, am naturally excited by anything taking place there because of the weight that the BBC as a brand can lend to it. However, the Social Media Cafe, despite being less than a year old, has definitely established itself as a key hub of digital networking and knowledge sharing. Stopping in at the Beeb every so often would be great, but I think the social aspect of the cafe would be better served by sticking with a venue where turning up late without being signed-up (for example) won’t cause any organisational stress for those who’ve worked hard to secure those spaces.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment or vote in this non-scientific poll: