Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The Value Of Unconnected Holidays

If you are a regular reader, you may have noticed that I haven't posted here for a couple of weeks. I've been taking an unconnected break in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. I spent my time visiting family in Wanaka and Queenstown. These alpine resort towns are in the Southern Lakes region of the South Island, and are surrounded by mountains. It's a beautiful place to be at any time of year, and especially when the mountains are capped with snow.
Although these places are by no means devoid of digital technology (far from it in fact), I decided to make it a fairly unconnected holiday this time. I didn't take a computer or an iPod, and I had my mobile device turned off most of the time. The only digital device I used constantly was a digital camera (I'll post some more photos of the trip on my flickr photostream when I get a chance).

I did get withdrawal symptoms for the first couple of days, not being hyper-connected through instant messenger, email and online social networks. I wasn't even able to be tempted by my favourite new media podcasts. After a couple of days I started to relax into the holiday and it became a very refreshing experience. It was actually a very social time, with a lot of family members and friends of family gathering for a surprise birthday event, but it was all face-to-face communication for a change.
The day we were due to fly out of Queenstown, it started snowing heavily. The airport closed just before our flight and the roads connecting the town to the outside world were also closed. It was then that I began to need my mobile phone and web connection again, to be able to reorganise travel plans, but even then I only visited an internet cafe once. It was a three day wait before the airport opened again.
Being snowed-in was an unexpected surprise, but ultimately it was a fun time and I'm glad I had a break from being hyper-connected. I came to the conclusion that it's important to do that from time to time, as it's a great way of recharging the batteries, avoiding digital and social network burnout, and it makes you appreciate it all the more when you come back online.
I'd highly recommend the experience, but now that I'm back, normal communications will resume. Have you taken a non-digital holiday recently - without the crackberry, computer, or whatever your digital addiction is? How did you find it?

Monday, 11 June 2007

The Apple (2G) iPhone Hype

The hype surrounding the Apple iPhone is now in full swing, but apart from the new ads and the information on the Apple site, not many details are currently available. It seems that very few people have actually used one. I'd certainly like to try one out, if only to see what the multi-touch screen and soft keyboard are like. They way the technology is presented in the ads, it all seems easy and seamless, as you would expect in an Apple ad. I must say that I love the idea of having mobile web, iPod and phone is one beautifully designed package. It seems like it's been a long time coming.

I do have some reservations about this first release. According to the tech specs, it's basically a GSM phone with Wi-Fi capability for wireless data. In the U.S. it will support Cingular’s EDGE network. I can understand the business reasons behind this decision but can't help but be disappointed that the first release will not be 3G. I could be wrong about that here in Australia, it'll be interesting to see what the network arrangements are in Australia when the iPhone is eventually released here. This is not going to be until next year I believe. It seems clear that it won't be running on a 3G network, unless Apple releases a different version here.

Considering the capacity of current iPods, it's also a little disappointing that the storage capacity is going to be 4GB and 8GB. Having said that, it's easy to forget that this is still great compared to most other mobile phones on the market – and it is a iPod.

In the interests of full disclosure, I need to say that I currently own a Nokia 7710. Telstra gave this to me in return for testing out a mobile tv service just before they launched their 3G network. I've also worked with Nokia (on some 3G marketing demos) in their FutureLab in Sydney, so I'm pretty attached to Nokia phones, even though their compatibility with Macs has always been a issue.

The crux of the matter for me is that I like Apple products, I've been buying them for years (and years), and I like Nokia phones. I'd love to be able to say I have no reservations about jumping in and buying an iPhone as soon as they are released, but at the moment I'm not so sure. I'd love to have a 3G iphone that syncs seamlessly with my Mac, but it looks like I might have to wait quite some time for that situation.

What are your thoughts on the iPhone?

Friday, 8 June 2007

Tracking Your Online Conversations

coCommentThanks to C.C Chapman I've discovered coComment. I've only just started using it, but so far it seems really useful for keeping track of online conversations on blogs and in other social media.

Being able to centralise online conversations definitely saves time. It also enhances the conversations because you don't lose track of any comments you've made, and it makes it possible to respond quickly to comments if you want to.

As soon as I saw this tool I thought, great, I need to use this, it will help me, and it is.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

The Most Valuable Podcasts

On Twitter today I mentioned that I'd say a few words about some of the great new media, new marketing podcasts I've been listening to lately. I think this is a good time for this post, as Fly-Over Marketing has been conducting a Most Valuable Podcast contest and it's down to the final two in the poll: Inside PR vs American Copywriter.

These are my current favourites (in no particular order). Do give them a listen if you haven't already. They are full of great insights and opinions, and they're all free to subscribe. Just do a search in the iTunes Store or on the web, they are not difficult to find.

  • Six Pixels of Separation
  • Across the Sound
  • Managing the Gray
  • For Immediate Release
  • Inside PR
  • New Comm Road
  • Pr Junction
Can you recommend any great podcasts that are not on my current list. Do you have a podcast you'd like to plug? Please go ahead, I'd be really interested to listen, and I'm sure others would as well.