Friday, 23 October 2009

Brrism #3: Who Are You?

The Lowdown

On Wednesday evening, I had the privilege to attend the third #Brrism (“it’s Brrizzle for Social Media”) at Pervasive Media Studio with a bunch of likeminds and social media folk, from various organisations and backgrounds.

Mostly creatives of some sort, the group of about 25 were a colourful collection of writers, bloggers, trainers, designers, social media geeks, photographers and more. Many were just getting started with Twitter and Linkedin, and others had been with “social media” since its conception in the late 90s.

Facilitator Michael Corbett (@KobB) hosted the first Brrism in August this year as a social media meet-up based on a central theme (with a few ideas for breaking the ice and networking) where attendees could then self-organise during the meeting and discuss related topics of interest.

The Hoedown

Wednesday’s meeting was based on the theme of identity and how one presents oneself online, and therefore began with a “Who Are You? Hoedown” designed to break the ice and get everyone talking about what they do. All participants had a name badge complete with organisation and self-appointed tagline, with the idea being that if people could correctly guess your job, then your tagline was therefore an accurate representation of yourself.

I carried “Jack of all trades – master of fun!” – Based more on myself as an individual, than the organisation I work for. (Although that’s pretty fun too).

After this initial icebreaker, we then formed groups to discuss several topics offered by members of the group. My group for example was “Google Wave; is it just a massive timesuck?” Of course, these topics were quickly strayed from, but resulted in equally interesting debates.

The Slowdown

The group then reformed as one, and discussed some of the behind the scenes action of Brrism and where to find information on events.

After a brief tidy-up session (Pervasive Media Studio kindly provides the space to Michael and Brrism for free), the majority decamped to The Watershed and continued discussing the event.

Brrism was an excellent opportunity to meet fellow social media aficionados and discuss everything from post-apocalyptic fiction, to older generations using Twitter (case in point: @ivybean104).

For more info on Brrism, visit the blog or the wiki and follow Michael Corbett on Twitter. You can also follow the #Brrism hashtag on Twitter. And hope to see you at the next one!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

There's an App for that...

Own an iPhone? Then there’s at least a 1 in 2 chance you’ve downloaded a paid app for it.

According to AdMob’s Mobile Metrics, “Nineteen percent of Android users regularly download one or more paid apps a month, compared to 50 percent of iPhone users and 40 percent of iPod touch users.”

The trouble is, we’re being inundated with thousands of applications that aren’t necessarily a step in the right direction, or indeed, useful, including this one covered by Mashable this week:

Viper SmartStart iPhone App

The app combines the Viper SmartStart remote system (a device fitted to some US cars to allow them to be started without a key and remotely) with an iPhone app that can unlock, lock, start and open the trunk of your car from virtually anywhere.

One of the main advantages being touted is that you can start your car in the winter and begin heating it before you leave the house. Great. Unless your iPhone is stolen. (edit: apparently, you still need the key to drive off. Doesn’t this make it even more useless then?)

Or your car whilst unlocked. Brilliant.

The consensus on Mashable, is that it’s just plain lazy. As per peacechicken’s comment below:

Which brings us neatly onto price. The system is $499 if your car isn’t currently equipped, or $299 for the module if your car does currently have SmartStart. The app itself is free.

Now maybe we’re being too harsh on the app itself, when we’ve really got issues with the system. So we’ll let you decide.

What other useless apps are out there? Let us know in the comments.

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Monday, 5 October 2009

Brizzly Beta: Brilliant

We received a beta invitation code to Brizzly last week and thought we’d give it a go. Not just for social media research reasons, but because we felt compelled to, given our location in the South West of England…

Brizzly is a web-based Twitter client similar to Hootsuite (our current Twitter client), but dedicates a lot more screen area to your Twitter Home Feed, and pushes groups (Direct Message Inbox, and Sent Messages etc.) to the left bar, with Trending Topics and pop-up Direct Message events on the right.

Obviously, as it’s still in Beta, there are a few creases to iron out, but on the whole it’s pretty streamlined with some good features.

So let’s have a look:


  • Trending Topics (TT’s) - are editable and updateable in real-time, meaning you can click on a TT and change the description yourself, and then watch for updates from others. It works on the “Wikipedia principle” and as a result, remains largely accurate. If Brizzly admin feel it’s getting out of control, then a lock will occasionally appear preventing further editing.

  • Media embedding – when anyone posts an image or video (typically on Twitpic and YouTube), they appear embedded below the Tweet so that visiting the link to see the content is no longer necessary. (Unless of course you want to leave a comment on it.) This is a great feature for us, though sometimes it can be a little tricky if someone has uploaded media NSFW (Not Suitable For Work)...

Image courtesy of @FirstDigg

  • Accessible ReTweeting – For anyone with Hootsuite, or other client, then this is already old-hat, however, if you are still using Twitter, this will be invaluable. Below any Tweet are the options to “Reply”, “Retweet” or “Favourite”, so you don’t have to copy and paste to ReTweet, or write your recipient by hand for a reply.

  • Groups – If you have lots of followers Tweeting about different subjects, you can add them into a group and view them one at a time.

  • Real-time updating – Again, you’ll be impressed if you currently just use Twitter. Brizzly updates whenever you are “idle” i.e. not watching a video, typing a message or browsing Tweets.

  • Multiple accounts – Manage more than one Twitter account from tabs at the top of the Brizzly interface.

  • Link-shortening and lengthening – Brizzly will automatically shorten links from your submit box when posting a Tweet, and will automatically lengthen them in the home feed if there is enough space.

We're impressed with the way these all work together to make a great Twitter experience. It certainly saves us time when Tweeting and makes it easy to read other's Tweets. And we've yet to miss a Tweet thanks to a yellow box that appears around new ones.

In case the Brizzly team are reading, we’d like to suggest a few features that we’d like to see, and no doubt some of these are in the pipeline anyway.


  • A follower list – This is where Hootsuite also falls down for us, as we have to follow-back new followers by opening Twitter itself. It’s not possible to do so in Brizzly or Hootsuite at present. Seeing as this is one of the most important things you’d want to do, we’d expect to see it here.

  • Scheduled Tweets - One of the best things about Hootsuite is that you can schedule a Tweet for a later time and date. We'd like to see the ability to do this in Brizzly.

  • A choice of accounts to ReTweet from. On occasion we find a great Tweet on our home feed, but would prefer it to be Tweeted from another one of our accounts. This can only be done by copying the Tweet in question and memorising their account name, then changing accounts with the avatars and then pasting. Unless your accounts both follow the person in question, and even then, it’s a case of scrolling down and finding their Tweet.
  • Different colour backgrounds for each of your profiles, or the ability to add a custom image background. When you scroll part-way down the page, the avatars are no longer visible and it’s possible to forget which account you are in, and post a Tweet from the wrong one by accident.
  • Fixed end columns – At the moment, the left and right columns only stay in place as you scroll, if there is a DM visible on the right. If you close the DM, the bars then scroll with the Tweets and disappear off the top of the screen. In Firefox 3.5.2 anyway…
  • Instant updating of new DM’s – This works most of the time, as you will see a DM pop-up from time to time. However, sometimes a log-out and re-login is required to see new ones.
  • A list for adding followers to groups – At present, you can add followers to a group by creating a new one, and typing in the follower’s name. Admittedly, a drop-down does appear when you type a letter, but this is slightly flawed, as some followers do not appear. What we’d like to see is a grid of followers in alphabetical order, or a scrollable list in addition to the drop-down box to make choosing followers easier.

As we’ve mentioned, it’s still very much at the Beta stage, so we’re giving it a fair trial for the next few weeks. So far impressions are great, and with some improvements it could well be the Twitter client of choice.

If you’d like an invitation to Brizzly, just follow us on Twitter @sticky_media, and send us a DM with your email address, or leave us a comment below. We’ve got 10 invites to give away.

Brizzly have changed the way codes are given out, and now we can only send invites to an email address rather than provide a link with a code. We hate spam as much as you do, and will never send you anything you don't want.

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