Will OnLive be the decider in Sky TV v Virgin media content battles?

According to this story at the always excellent Kotaku, OnLive is a facility that lets any machine (more or less) play the latest games. The trick here is that our broadband connection does all the work – cloud computer gaming.
Now, imagine such a device squeezed into your Sky or Virgin set-top box.

As the article puts it:

The concept is simple. Your controller input isn’t going from your hand to the controller to the machine in front of you, it’s going from your hand to the controller through the internet to OnLive’s machines then back again as streamed video. Whether you’re using a USB gamepad, Bluetooth wireless controller, or tried and true keyboard and mouse, the processing and output happens on OnLive’s side, then is fed back to your terminal, with the game “perceptually” played locally.
In other words, it’s cloud computed gaming.
Using patented video compression in tandem with algorithms that compensate for lag, jitter and packet loss, OnLive delivers video at up to 720p resolution at frame rates up to 60 frames per second. Of course, the quality of the video feed relies on your connection.
For standard definition television quality, a broadband connection of at least 1.5 megabits per second is required. For HDTV resolution, a connection of at least 5 mbps is needed.

If I was a content provider like Sky or Virgin in the UK, I’d be on the phone to these guys right away as this could be the new football but for kids, teens and solo flat dwellers (actually, it’s for everyone except mums).

Now, if you’re a company with an already decent infrastructure (and it pains me to praise Virgin because their customer service is terrible, but there’s no alternative where I live – damned if I’m paying BT £125 to reconnect me to their network) this is a double winner as it lets you offer more gaming (and more than one set-top box in each house – kids will want one each in their own rooms) and a high-speed web connection.

But what’s in it for the gamemakers? On the one hand you have the loss of console sales – unless the console makers go for this as well (not beyond the realm of possibility) – but for PC games, this could be fecking massive – no distribution or manufacturing charges, harder piracy (if the set-top box is a closed system), but you could have various charges for owning a game for a night, a week, a month, for eternity.

What’s in it for the customer? Tons of games while gaining space from household clutter (no need for a console in the living room) and potentially some cash savings compared to what the house spends now on games.

Someone else who would be onto a winner: any company that managed to sell add-ons for games like a tennis racket, sniper rifle and so on…

Really wild thought: could we see a company with an interest in you staying at home – Domino Pizza for example – meeting the cost of these boxes as part of some promotional activity?

Anyway, as we reach channel saturation with HD and 3D being the things touted at us for TV (most people I know with a HD telly bought it to save space in their living room, not for the content) it may well be that the old chestnut of games is actually what helps decide the content provider wars.

(The story’s on Wired and Ft.com/techblog as well)

Full thoughts on Battlestar Galactica finale: nice ideas, terrible finish

The more I think about the end of Battlestar Galactica, the more I have to applaud Ron Moore and his team for providing an ending, but the more I really want to slap them as well. Rarely has a finale tried so hard to hit all the emotional beats for characters but fail so dismally at plot resolution.
(Tons of spoilers ahead – but my initial thoughts are here)
Continue reading

Memo to Polly Toynbee: insulting the customers doesn’t work

Last thought on the Polly Toynbee/Guardian piece: At the end of it she says:

In the end, it’s up to you. If you always read this on the web, go out and buy a copy, skinflint. Use it or lose it.

How about this? Create the compelling content and people will come to you instead – give them a compelling and unique reason for looking at the print instead of the web. Don’t blame or insult the consumer, that’s never going to increase sales. And find decent ads that they may click on.

It seems to me that insults are rarely going to work. Like many others in the world of media she’s clinging to the old model – buying the paper – instead of looking to see what alternatives there may be.

Polly Toynbee on saving the media: turn back the clock, ask for government help

Polly Toynbee has written a piece over at The Guardian on how the death of local papers is a national emergency. It’s a decent piece going over some familiar ground but there’s a few flaws which I’ll address with Polly’s points in bold.

This jackal financial crisis picks off the weakest, so it’s no surprise newspapers are early fallers.

Newspapers aren’t the profit disasters that many assume them to be. The problem is that the owners are far too used to profits of 20-30% instead of leaner figures that make others happy. The second problem is that so many – especially Trinity Mirror – are beholden to large groups who are only chasing maximum profit and don’t actually have any belief or care in the product. (I was going to add that the likes of The Economist and New Scientist seem to be doing OK but you could argue that they are specialist magazines.)

Comment is free, but serious news journalism is phenomenally expensive – and the web has yet to find a way to generate funds to pay the true price.

To an extent that’s true for daily press – but for years many magazines survived by having quality journalism at their core – Rolling Stone for example. The problem with daily news is that it is seen as a disposable product and also news quality varies on a day by day basis. Perhaps the problem here was as much to do with news judgements and price competition?

The government talks piously of community engagement – and a newspaper with real journalism is the most vital local forum of all.

Totally agree, but there’s another aspect to this – how much do people actually care about what’s going in their area? I have friends and neighbours who literally use their homes as beds and shower places. They work long hours, get home and sleep. Get up in the morning and repeat. Others, just use their homes as places to change clothes before heading back out.

While I agree that local news is important, is it possible that newspapers have still to catch up with the concept of local not mattering as much as it used to for people – and the only local news that matters is what roads are open/closed and they get that from the radio?

Mention subsidy and the regulation that goes with it, and newspaper groups cry press freedom….Many never bother to cover council meetings, let alone key committees, when pensioner-scaring crime stories are cheap and PR handouts plentiful.

But crime is an important factor to many communities, especially inlight of what the Daily Record had today about the recession forcing crime up, causing a creditcrunch crime wave. And some PR handouts can be informative, I hasten to add.

Polly also has to be fair, most council meetings take place out of hours and when local journalism is as underpaid as it is, would you spend an evening in a council meeting – that even most readers probably won’t care about – or spend time with friends and family? The concept of ‘quality time’ has probably been as much of an impactor on journalism as anything else – after all, after being made redundant, “wanting to see my family” is the most common reason I hear for people leaving the the press. It’s certainly been a strong factor for me when I’ve been invited back to the cut-and-thrust. (that’s not to say I wouldn’t ever go back but the terms would have to be a lot more generous than they were a few years ago).

Polly then goes on to talk about how subsidies, BBC money and other income streams could be used to save the day but then dismisses local councils (who I think should actually lead the way in providing news to residents while Seth Goodin thinks it should be real estate firms) “Then oblige local councils to stop wasting money on their own Pravda sheets,” which seems to be missing the point – surely that’s the perfect place to provide a newspaper? And here’s the contradiction at the heart of Polly’s piece – she wants the Government to intervene but then stand back which basically means making the BBC model apply to press as well (which seems OK. I’ve been wondering if the licence fee should expand to include some printed press as well as everything else the BBC does).

But the question Polly isn’t asking is this: given how much a pain in the butt and pest the press can be in exposing certain activities, is it not more in the interests of some (not all, I stress) politicians at a UK/Westminster (and US/Washington) level to let the press die a death? The less there is reporting, the less they can be exposed for or criticised about (of course some politicans welcome the debate and Scotland over the last few years as been an incredibly open country, but not enough in my opinion).

Britain without the Mail or the Sun would be a happier place, less biliously nihilist, less miserable, angry and afraid. But democracy without the scrutiny of good journalism is unthinkable. In the end, it’s up to you. If you always read this on the web, go out and buy a copy, skinflint. Use it or lose it.

There’s an element of snobbery in this – and it also misses one rather important point: both The Sun and Mail have broken some incredible stories over the years. The profitabilty of The Sun has also probably helped shore up cash losses in other parts of News International’s UK press operations, notably The Times, allowing them to do their thing.

(her comments about what the country would be like also lead to the old argument of ‘do people get the press they want or does the press shape the people, but I’ll leave that for another day)

Her key argument of But democracy without the scrutiny of good journalism is unthinkable is fair enough but you can have that good journalism without print so she’s moved the goalposts a little.

I believe print should survive – to me, there’s still few things better than a well-designed newspaper page with exciting content (though the web is more convenient for me when on the move) – as there are still generations of people aged over 35 who aren’t fans of news by other methods. To that end, I believe the likes of Metro and Business7 at least have a decent chance of survival.

Anyway, go and read her piece – it’s sparked off a fair bit of debate with 155 comments there at the moment.

A look at the newspaper/media of 2028 (from 1998) by Pat Kane

Pat Kane is one of those guys who is never dull. In true Scottish style he often gets the mick ripped out of him for having the temerity to be passionate about more than one field (it’s a deviation on ‘I kent his faither‘).

Anyway, you can agree with him/disagree with him, but he’s normally worth reading and he’s dug up this little gem from 1998 where he speaks about the papers and media of the future, notably what’s going to be the format and content of The Herald in 2028 (no sarky comments please…).

It’s well worth a read and worth pointing out that some people were thinking about this stuff before the recent bandwagon of ‘Oh noes! the press and print are doomed! DOOMED!’

Guardian boss: PRs need to learn to pitch by Twitter

Like many journalists, The Guardian’s tech editor Charles Arthur deals with a lot of enquiries and press releases coming from PR operators – some of them relevant, many of them not. But in an effort to try and make PRs be more concise with him, he’s decided to take it to Twitter. He’s removed his email address from Gorkana and wants pitched by tweet alone.

For Charles, it’s a chance to free his inbox from some clutter and perhaps free up a chunk of his time as well. For me, it’s completely fascinating on a number of levels:

It forces PRs to play catch-up and be Twitter-savvy

It changes the rules of interaction between PRs and press

Firstly, making PRs change their method of contact is quite interesting. I’ve often argued that even if they do nothing else, PRs should be monitoring Twitter to see what is said about their clients, but now they have to learn how to use it if they want to appeal to the UK’s top mainstream technology supplement. It’s not the only bit of education involved as Charles also hopes it means people will start to be more relevant in what they send to him.

Secondly, making the PR and journalism interaction take place out in the open is a significant game-changer (and how long before some organisations insist on it for all comms involving publicly funded bodies?). A phone call or email are limited to those involved, but a tweet can be seen by anyone.

So by theoretically tweeting a pitch to Charles – and remember you can’t direct mail unless Charles follows you – everyone knows that you’ve pitched to him and knows what you are offering. So if Charles rejects it, you can’t then go to someone else and say ‘I’m offering you first bite…’ which then gives you the quandry of going to reporters one at a time or all at once. (But Charles himself is quite accepting of this, saying “I’d understand it was non-exclusive. That’s OK – exclusives last about three minutes online.”

At the other end, it’s a lot harder for a person to ignore a @reply than an email – and takes less time to reply to as well.

There’s also the possibility that this might increase PR tweetspam because if PR A sees that PR B has sent Charles a tweet about a product and A has something similar, then they are also going to get in touch with him.

(of course, some are also wondering if this will lead to people phoning up to see if someone received a tweet, just as some currently call to see if an email was of interest/received)

It’s going to be interesting to watch because if Charles – who is one of the more polite and patient senior newspaper staffers when dealing with PRs – does stick to his guns, does it mean he runs the risk of missing a good tale by email? What implications are there for PRs who don’t/won’t use Twitter? Will other reporters follow suit? Will PRs return the favour by saying ‘reach us only via Twitter?’ (Which would crazy, but that’s another post.)

But I wanted to ask Charles a couple of questions about it and he graciously took the time to answer them for me.

What do you expect to gain from this?
Less spam in my inbox. Seriously: there’s no reflection given to the stuff people spew at me. How many separate technology sections are there in Fleet Street? One. How many technology correspondents are there on Fleet Street? About five…If you can’t tailor your email output to a group that select, you simply shouldn’t be in the business.

How many pitches a day do you get?
Oh, God, twenty? Thirty? People to meet: average two a day. Twitter is starting to build up; I tell people to pitch the idea in 140 chars.
(Note: for a comparison to what Charles is saying, see Chris Anderson from Wired’s now legendary post on PR people)

Anyway, Charles continues…
(Or try to DM me, but I’m not following them so it’s lost.) Then there’s just all the other part-ideas. The thing though is that almost all PR stuff is announcements.

And then, he had the decency to point out something that’s probably obvious to those who have worked in editorial departments and PR but perhaps not to all…

I have a sedimentary concept of news. At the bottom you have all the debris: announcements. Almost all press releases are announcements. Above those are “issues” – topics that have people energised about something, but with no particular timeliness. (Eg parking near your house being discussed for charging by the council. Grinds on for months. It’s an issue.)

Then there’s news – when an announcement plus some issue comes together and makes news. That’s the top level, where I work. Why bombard me with sediment? I’m working at the news level. I need issues, not announcements.

And here’s possibly the most salient point from his email when talking about sending out a press release via email to a lot of reporters: I realise it’s the client who pays the bills, so they want the press release put in front of as many people as possible. But I’m afraid that model is officially broken, and has been for about five years – possibly ten or more.”

Now that’s an opinion I’m coming back to tomorrow…(what? a blog can’t do cliffhangers? It’s how you get readers coming back. Works for Jack Bauer every week)

(As an aside Anna Svenson also pointed out that Dan Martin of www.BusinessZone.co.uk has done the same – pitches via Twitter – and hopefully Dan will drop us a note to let us know how he got on with it. And thanks again to Charles for taking the time for this.)

The internet says I like to dress as a pigtailed sporty teen girl…

Thanks to Stuart Bruce, I found Typealyzer which looks at your blog or web address and says what kind of person you are. Now Stuart is apparently a scientist – intellectually curious and daring, but might be physically hesitant to try new things – so I thought I’d have a go and see what it said about me. Certainly didn’t expect this pic:

But it turns out that I am an ESTP – a doer – which involves: The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

And apparently that means my brain looks like this:

I’ll let others judge for themselves how accurate that is, but feel free to have a go and post your result below…

Watchmen creator Dave Gibbons on Doctor Who

Managed to catch up with the always-sociable and chatty Dave Gibbons, co-creator of Watchmen at the weekend and spoke about the book, the film and his other work, including Doctor Who.

It was a nice chance to say hi – I first met Dave a few years ago at the outrageously funny Hypotheticals panel co-run by Dave and Lee ‘Budgie’ Barnett – as Dave was in Borders Glasgow to promote Watchmen and his Watchmen book ‘How to get paid for drawing a 50-foot blue penis‘ (OK, it’s actually called Watching the Watchmen but how often do you get the chance to write blue penis unless talking about naked eskimos?)

I mentioned the fact that Dave was in town to the online editor of the Daily Record Iain Hepburn and he thought it might be a nice interview. When he mentioned he planned to record it using the Flip Mino camera, I asked if I could come along as it’s a bit of kit I’m interested in (especially after seeing it used for reporting in Afghanistan), though I’ve had my doubts about how it would compare to a ‘proper’ video camera.

Now, Iain’s going to put the full interview up at the Daily Record soon, but he’s posted a little teaser where Dave talks about his work on Doctor Who – and some scripts that were written by other comic legends like Pat Mills. Have a watch if that’s your thing and after the box, I’ll talk about what I thought about the Mino.

It’s hard to judge the colours and so on because the codecs involved in getting it onto YouTube may have stripped some detail (Dave’s shirt was definitely more colourful than the video suggests), but it looks as good as any other YouTube video I would say.

The sound on the other hand is a little bit different. Iain was asking the questions and even though he was about a foot to my left hand side, he’s hard to hear. Dave comes across perfectly fine though.

In use, it seems fairly simple – though I don’t know if I would trust the digital zoom on it – and we did have a heart attack at the end when I tried to stop recording by pressing the big red button and it frooze. Iain had a heart attack that the video would be lost. Fortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case.

I’m still not convinced that the original footage would be good enough for TV, but Iain’s going to pass on the footage so I can judge for myself (he claims it is), but for web events/web-only video I would certainly say this is a decent piece of kit. Sadly I never got the chance to compare it the N95 (T in the Park footage here) but I think they would seem similar.

The sound is the only thing, but having a slot for an external mike would defeat the purpose of this being an all-in-one/point and shoot camera. I’d say papers and PRs should be picking these up at the earliest opportunity because they are cheap and easy to use. It’s certainly easier to lug about than a full ‘proper’ camera kit.

Of course, with video, shooting’s only half the battle. You still need it edited…

The Wire comes to BBC – good news and awful news

David Simon’s excellent TV show The Wire (no link there as every one I could find leads to potential spoilers) has been picked up by the BBC according to reports and I’m happy but sad too as this show has some rabid fans.

It is good news – it is an incredible piece of TV and well worth seeking out (especially if the BBC are running the 60 episodes on a nightly basis – that will be fantastic for keeping up with the narrative).

But there’s a downside to this: The Wire has a following in parts that makes Apple fanbois look like civilised members of society. It has an effette group of followers who seem to routinely dismiss those who say it’s not for them or that it’s too slow or that it’s too unusual for them compared to normal cop shows.

And those are all valid points: it’s not meant to be a normal cop show – far from it. Go watch The Shield for that, it isn’t too everyone’s tastes and for some it’s not worth the struggle or time investment to ‘get it’.

But that won’t be good enough for some of the Wireistas, who will pollute print and online pontificating and that’s a shame because it may actually put people off a TV show that has some genuinely valid social commentary issues to make.

Of course it may well be that pontificating about the show is a lot easier than looking outside, seeing the same issues affect us in the UK and then going and doing something about it.

(and for those wondering, the ranking for the actual seasons are 2, 4, 3, 1, 5 with 2 as the best and 5 as the worst and I’ll elaborate about this in a later post)

So yay that The Wire is getting a bigger and better shot at exposure. Boo for some of the people who follow it.

(Here’s hoping the viewing figures are good though – it may even lead to the equally excellent The Corner and Generation Kill being picked up – again more good news, though The Corner is tough watching and reading.)

It’s social media – so why aren’t more bloggers social? (and forgetting the basics?)

Something that’s bothered me for a while on a lot of blog sites (and other sites) is the lack of that most basic function: a contact button. Now I know that many people realise they can leave a comment and the odds are that the blog owner will spot it as part of an approval process – but that doesn’t cover all blogs. Also, many people coming to the web now (yes, there are still newbies out there) aren’t familiar with how blogs work.

Sometimes, people do want to provide some comments in private and not for all to see.

So, this is a little plea for site owners and content managers out there: why don’t you check to see if your site has a contact sign or button. It’s a social media after all, so let’s be social.

(Notice I’m not suggesting putting your email address up as that can lead to a spam hike – but there are other solutions.)

(Pic on the homepage provided by Jase n tonic and was taken at the Feb 2009 launch of BrewDog new lager Zeitgeist, which was organised by BrewDog, DADA and Tipped.)

The Register nails it with Cyburbia Interview

A great read over at The Register is Andrew Orlowski‘s interview with James Harkin, who has brought out a new book called Cyburbia (website for book here). It’s a refreshing and sober look at not only web2.0 but the people behind it.

The interview is full of great quotes – and there’s a piece of the book adapted here – but the one salient point that stuck out for me was this:

Large media companies are laying off good, seasoned journalists at the same time as they’re paying these internet gurus huge sums of money to talk rubbish about the medium.
It would be a shame if we abandoned seasoned journalists who are capable of researching and breaking stories, and capable of doing more than just simply going on Google, in favour of people who are simply obsessed with the medium. That’s the danger.

I know I can be as guilty as anyone for overhyping web2.0 – and I stand by my claim that if a large gathering of people is using a digital form then PR and marketing people have to be using it too – but this book looks to be a fantastic read – and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it, if for no other reason than something a lot of the tech crowd forgets – only by challenging your assumptions and beliefs can you actually improve your arguments and reasoning.

At least one Scottish newspaper is still hiring but you would never guess which one…

Check this out. The Digger, a little-known paper outside the Scottish West Coast (here’s the wiki). It covers courts, reveals a lot of crime stories – and more often than not, it’s a damn good read. Never dull.

And now it’s hiring and it’s not a bad salary – up to £26,000, which is a really decent wage for Scottish journalism. Of course, crime reporting always comes with extra risks, but I’m really (pleasantly) surprised at the salary with that positions. Shows you how well at least one publication is doing, providing unique and original content.

Digger on YouTube

Reporters v PR row hits Twitter and #journchat

The incredibly popular journalism/PR/other meedja types #journchat has had a suggestion put forward to it by a moderator-wannabe. Journalism student Ethan Klapper is proposing that #journchat kicks out the PR types and becomes reporter only.

Now, it’s a sweet idea, but there’s a few flaws in it: he misses the point that #journchat was set up to encourage dialogue between journalists and PRs, to be a place where they could learn from each other, so to suddenly exclude one side of the conversation seems distinctly anti-social in an age of social media.

Also – and I know he’s speaking from an American perspective where the unemployment shit in journalism has really yet to hit the fan – he’s very dismissive of what PRs do and offer (in other words: he should be listening more, instead of dismissing) and is actually burning bridges with people he may need to be nice to in years to come because as the cuts hit badly, US reporters will discover what already know: sometimes you just have to deal with PRs.

He also moans about the chat going so fast that he couldn’t keep up, to which I can only say: welcome to your future. Yes, the chat goes quick, but the challenge to you then is to have content – something to say or tweet in this case – that’s so compelling, everyone else has to stop their chat to talk with you. That’s the same in any field of journalism – what you write or say has to be the best, has to be better than what everyone else is writing about . No one enjoys the amount of stuff they have to juggle these days, but you have to try. And you always have to shout loudest and have the best lines in the competitive crowd.

Ethan’s comments remind me of someone who spent more than 15 years in what is regarded as one of the most competitive markets in the world before moving over to PR (helluva good looking guy too). Ethan has a lot of energy about him, I hope he learns how to channel it, he could make a hell of a journalist – which would be good for him and the PR industry.

(and yes, I know, still haven’t got #mediachat running this side of the Atlantic…)

How iPods – and the users – change vol.1

I’ve just had to turf recorded songs off my iPod to make way for podcasts and downloadable, fresh, content. It’s strange to be realising that I’m throwing out the familiar (and normally more than welcome) for a bunch of stuff which – despite the fact it should be good as I picked it – is an unknown quantity.

Never thought I’d see the day, but I suppose it comes back to what we are always saying when it comes to updates websites, blogs and so on: people want fresh content and regularly.

Of course you could argue that by not listening to Podcasts quickly enough I’m hardly doing the regularly part 🙂

Why Twitter matters in PR and marketing – and we all get to be like Superman

Twitter’s a quicker way of doing it Supes

The Register has a piece about why Twitter is fairly useless – and I’m a fan of El Reg but also a fan of the tweet – so who’s right?

Actually both. Twitter has many flaws – you won’t learn information unless hooked up to the right people, signal to noise ratio can be high at times – but it is also incredibly fun. It’s a great quick way of sending info and is a quick way of sending info out there (you then just have to hope that others retweet it far and wide – and tht’s hoping people see your tweet in the first place)

I like it though. Ever seen that moment in Superman Returns where Supes is above the atmosphere and just absorbing everything, filtering the sounds, spectrums and wavelengths? That’s what Twitter lets you do – except without the superpowers sadly.

But there’s one sector that it matter to: the PR and marketing sectors and for once it’s not because PRs and marketeers like to drone on about things covered in the press, it’s for something that many of them don’t like – it’s raw public opinion being sent out across the globe.

Under Twitter it’s easy enough for someone to post “Mmmm. Brewdog Paradox Smokehead. An imperial stout that’s been matured in Islay whisky casks. Smoky whisky taste complements the beer nicely” or “Been playing with the Blackberry Storm. Shockingly bad. I mean embarrassingly awful. Such a disappointment. Rushed out unfinished. What a pity”

And that makes a lot of PRs/marketeers edgy because there’s no way of controlling the message/making it all look positive. I love it because I think the honesty is the way to go on it and you can deal with comments and issues as they appear – of course that’s if you start from the sensible consensus that not everyone will love your product.

So why does it matter to the PRs/marketeers? Quite simply this: wherever there is a gathering of opinion – online or via smoke signals – then they have to monitor it to see what people are saying about clients or products. If they aren’t monitoring it while it’s used by a large subsection of the population, then they aren’t doing their job properly.

Miss Scotland sends a Valentine – to a dead man?

PR is a rather surreal game at times. There I was in the DADA offices yesterday, when current Miss Scotland Stephanie Willemse shouts out to me “Craig, how does this look” and opens her coat to reveal an interesting (and incredibly sexy) outfit

Steph was doing a job for the National Trust for Scotland to promote the fundraising for the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (the same one we were fundraising for via Twitter in Jan 2009). Anyway Steph got into the spirit of things – aided and abetted by DADA’s talented Breea McGinness and the Trust’s Amy Gunn – and put on a I Heart Burns t-shirt and minikilt. What can I say, I thought it was a perfect outfit, but judge for yourself and click for larger versions)…

And say what you want, but Robert Burns must have had some pulling power to be getting Valentine’s Day card from Miss Scotland – more than 200 years after he died.

Stephanie Willemse

It’s Twestival Time!

It’s time for Twitterers to show what a social and good natured bunch they are tonight with the Twestivals taking place across the globe, with the noble aim of raising funds for Charity:Water, helping to provide drinking water to those who need it most.

Anyway, I’m absolutely delighted that companies I work with have been so keen to get involved with it. Whyte and Mackay stepped right up and have offered the Edinburgh Twestival two tickets for the F1 Grandstand at Silverstone later this year – worth around £500 each (nice one Rob Bruce!)- while BrewDog have put forward beer and beer discounts for the Edinburgh and London events and Twitter’s very own Robert Burns @ayrshirebard has offered to send someone a free Burns email valentine.

No doubt the whole world + dog is sick of people pontificating about social media and how incredible Twitter is at the moment (Bobbie Johnson nailed that one) so all that’s left to say is that I hope it’s a blazing success, glad to see the All Tweet Journal covered it and all going well, I should be along at the Edinburgh bash tonight, so hopefully see some people there. (and if the weather’s terrible, I’ll head over to the Glasgow one instead)

In the meantime, Edinburgh host for tonight Ewan Spence has been grabbing people to do a ‘pass the water round the world’ style video, so I thought I’d get into the spirit of things with a little Burns…and you can see via Ewan’s plea here.