Read the story, get the T-shirt

Chris Kerns writes on the Zaaz blog about a funky new cross-promotional trend he noticed on – on stories with “out there” sort of headlines, you can order a T-shirt with that headline. “Bikini-clad baristas shock customers” is the example quoted in his posting. Kerns says it freaks him out and makes him wonder about what they’re doing to the CNN brand. Personally, I think it’s a great idea. Maybe it’s because I once worked as a sub-editor (my goal in life at one time was to be a headline writer for the Daily Telegraph), but I love quirky headlines and would consider buying shirts with my favourites emblazoned on them. There’s of course, the classics such as “Man bites dog” and “Headless body in topless bar”, and others such as one from today’s paper: “Drink too much and you might feel ruff-ruff” (for a story about a beer for dogs). What headlines would you put on a T-shirt? I might give a bottle of a classic dry white from a remainder sale to the best one submitted.


Web 1.0 still rules

With all the development of flashy new technologies to connect and do business over the past five years, the most popular online tool is – wait for it – email. eMarketer reports that a survey conducted last month for email management company Habeas revealed that 75% of adult email users said they used it every day. Nearly 70% prefer email for communicating with businesses, and the same amount said they expected to still prefer email five years from now.

OK, OK, so this report was commissioned by a company that has a vested interest in email marketing. But common sense still dictates that something as simple and effective as email is going to continue to have a crucial role in online communication, especially since the alternatives are getting increasingly sophisticated and complicated. While a few specialised people will live on the bleeding edge and undertake the work required to stay that way, many people will just go for the simple option.

Getting digital wrong

Lee Huang has written an article for the ClickZ Network which does a good job of outlining the barriers to companies going digital. He writes:

“An organization is a living, breathing, dynamic ecosystem comprised of people with different roles, compensation plans, career goals, motivations, work ethics, and tolerance levels for change. It has many levels of business processes, decision-making, and bureaucracy. Although companies won’t admit it, there are always competing and conflicting business goals within the same company between different business units, divisions, and personnel.

“When a company injects ‘digital’ into an established corporate structure, major organizational changes must take place within the company. The companies that do digital well understand and implement changes to their corporate structure so they can fully embrace digital. Planning and implementing these changes are incredibly difficult because they affect every part of an organization’s ecosystem. To succeed and to stay in business, you’ve got to do it.

“Here are the key mistakes that companies make.

  • Don’t have the right people, skills, positions, and compensation plans.
  • Don’t have the right organizational structure in place to effectively leverage digital and to integrate it with existing business units.
  • Have the wrong people making digital/interactive decisions.
  • Haven’t updated existing business processes or created necessary new ones.
  • Don’t have any change management initiatives.
  • Don’t have executive support.

“This results in:

  • Poorly designed, watered-down digital products that have no compelling, differentiating value proposition due to not having the right skills and having the wrong people make decisions.
  • Being late to market due to bureaucracy and inability to move at digital speed.
  • Lost customers.
  • Missed revenue opportunities and revenue loss.
  • Loss of market leadership and/or market share.
  • Confusion and low morale across organization.
  • Frustration and conflicts between colleagues.
  • Staff defections. “

I look forward to reading his next column in this series and see his views on how to get it right.

Life on the small screen

Following on from yesterday’s piece on citizen journalism via YouTube, comScore reports that the number of online videos viewed in the US jumped 13% in March to 11.5 billion, fuelled largely by a surge in the use of YouTube which helped lift Google’s share to 38 percent. accounted for 98% of all videos viewed at Google Sites, while Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 477 million videos (4.2%). Nearly 140 million US Internet users watched an average of 83 videos per viewer in March. That’s nearly three videos a day, seven days a week.

How many online videos are you watching per day? It would be great to get some Australian figures, even if they are not scientific. Are you trolling mindlessly through YouTube daily watching drivel (guilty as charged, on occasion).

Some other interesting facts from the March stats:

  • 73.7 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
  • 84.8 million viewers watched 4.3 billion videos on (50.4 videos per viewer).
  • 47.7 million viewers watched 400 million videos on (8.4 videos per viewer).
  • The average online video duration was 2.8 minutes.
  • The average online video viewer watched 235 minutes of video.
  • The ultimate in citizen journalism?

    Last week I wrote about the need for journalists to adapt to the rise of new media. Here’s another very big reason why: YouTube has announced it’s setting up a citizen journalism channel, where anyone and everyone with a video camera can upload their own ‘news stories’. When CNN launched its iReport service earlier this year, it set up a filtering system where an editing team vets all material before publishing, but YouTube doesn’t appear to be doing this – like its normal videos, it’s a free-for-all. As a trained journalist, I don’t know whether to laugh or shake in my boots – probably both! I think it will further dilute the power of major media companies, but at the same time people will seek out trusted, quality writing if they want the full story on something (a study recently released by the Annenberg School for the Digitial Future at USC showed that the number of people who think only a small portion of material posted on the Internet by individuals can be trusted jumped from 33% to 45% in 2007). But one thing is for sure – this is going to change the dynamics of news-gathering and publishing.

    More on the budget

    David More’s Australian Health Information Technology blog has published a comprehensive e-health budget analysis, looking at the breakdown of spending in this year’s Federal Budget on e-health initiatives. The analysis is provided by ICT analyst Richard Dixon Hughes. Highlights include:

    • One of the major cost saving measures was the abolition of the Access Card project (being managed within the Human Services portfolio) leading to an all up reduction of $1.2 billion over 5 years.
    • Previous ICT incentives for General Practice are being abolished and a new incentive payment of $6.50 per patient introduced in their place – however the net result is planned to be a saving of $110.7 million over the next 4 years.
    • Cuts to the previous e-health implementation program totalled $10.5 million over three years and were part of a basket of cuts, though it is not clear what the extent and nature of the specific reductions within the e‑Health Implementation Program have been

    If the government can’t do it, maybe Google (or Microsoft) can

    So now Google has entered the market for electronic health records, six months after Microsoft announced it was doing the same thing. Google has supposedly developed an impenetrably secure computer platform that would allow people to keep their medical records online, so that they can be shared by doctors other than your local GP (particularly useful if you end up in the emergency room out of hours).

    Like most of these things, both Google Health and Microsoft’s Health Vault have only been launched in the US so far, although a Google Australia spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald today that while there was a strong recognition in Australia of the significant benefits to patients of this type of service, there was “no current timetable” on a rollout of the service for local users.

    Message to Kevin Rudd and Nicola Roxon – take a look at both of these services; maybe money should be spent developing these universal tools, rather than the tens of millions of dollars that have been thrown at HealthConnect and the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), so far to no result.

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