image I was listening to the radio on the way to work this morning and there was a segment with Sir Robert Winston talking about using robots in medicine.

His basic premise was don’t use them, they are expensive and can never respond like a human doctor could to any given situation. It reminded me of something CJ said in that west wing episode where they all get stuck in the kitchen only to find that there are no apples or peanut butter. It was about how spy satellites and wire taps were all very good but if you want to catch terrorists you have to have real human spies.

Two reasonably disparate examples I know, but there is a common thread. There are some things that are essentially human. Processes which machines and algorithms and, dare i say it, search engines simply cannot replicate.

I remember a debate I had with Simon Collister a couple of years ago about how you could actually use tagging, and one thing we both agreed on was that sites like delicious could eventually become human powered search engines to rival the crawling spider bots of google and its brethren.

It’s a strange twist of fate that, all tied up in this essential humanness, lies both social media’s greatest strength and its biggest weakness. The ability to engage in real conversations with present and potential customers is priceless. But that’s the problem, its price-less, we can’t put a number on it and we can’t measure the inherent value in a conversation.

Moreover, because in needs to be human, it can’t be turned into a system, it can’t be managed and it doesn’t fit into matrices or spreadsheets.

What really strikes me about the companies that refuse to accept this, is that the closer their assimilation of human behaviour gets to being real, the more artificial it looks, and the less effective.

My point is this; to all the people who email me with transparently computer generated messages starting with “Hi Sam…” Stop it. Stop trying to look human and just talk to me.

Been watching betfair, the TV and online coverage and have noted the following:

  • SNP odds dropped from 2.22 to 1.03
  • Labour odds lengthen from 1.5 to 5
  • a single rumor gradually spreading to several normally reputable places
  • Labour campaign manager looking decidedly downbeat on the bbc
  • SNP commentator on the BBC election programme looking chirpier and chirpier
  • Margaret Curran arriving at the poll with a candidates fixed face on

I’m going to put all these together and call the Glasgow East By election for the SNP. (it’s 00:42)

As an aside, involving Dougie Alexander in a debate about his sister was inexcusable. If I’d been in his position on the programme tonight, I’d have been arrested for assault.

The above is John McCain’s new advert mocking the current media love in with Obama. I can’t begin to tell say how stupid it is. All it will serve to do is to remind people that Obama is popular. Worse, it reminds me of Kenneth Williams as Julius Ceasar – “Infamy Infamy, they’ve all got it in for me.”

It’s a shrill complaint that boils down to the fact that nobody is that interested in John McCain. What he was thinking i really don’t know. Can anyone enlighten me?

See this post over on guido’s blog. It’s a hilariously pretentious complaint email from The Times’ Giles Cohen, bollocking his subs for removing a single letter.

Priceless.

Wow, turns out I’m hugely important and influential and a general PR blogging Big Wig. Well, I’m probably none of those things (though I’m sure my mum thinks I’m special.)

This all comes from Matthew Watson’s new list of the top PR blogs in the world. Apparently I’m the 8th best person in the UK and the 46th best person in the whole world.

My new boss, Stuart Bruce, has a slightly more measured reaction over on his blog. Of course his would be more mature etc… what with him being the second best person in the UK and nearly, but not quite one of the top 10 best people of all time ever in the world. (Close but no cigar there.) 

I never used to like blog rankings much, they try to apply algorithms to what is an essentially human process and in doing so they rob it it of the one thing that gives it such puissance. But now I’m actually in one, I think they’re feckin great.

*Wanders of to the kitchen nonchalantly whistling the James Bond version of “nobody does it better”

Update: got strange looks when I got to the “baby you’re the best” bit.

Read this from commentisfree then read this from the Collister boy.

OK, done it?

Isn’t the most immediately apparent thing the risk that this practice exposes the perpetrators to?

Net users have a tendency to get quite angry with people who try to find ways round doing things properly, and using deliberately “wrong” keywords is only going to piss people off. If someone is looking for pictures of BRITNEY NAKED, they aren’t going to be particularly happy with a Guardian article about shoes, so why bother?

Then you get into adwords – they attempt place adverts relevant to the content, do you really want SEX TOY adverts next to your product just because you managed to hook in a few extra visitors, 90% of whom bounced anyway when they realised this wasn’t the content they were looking for.

Journalists – don’t do it.

sorry, rant over.

Saw Sally Whittle’s post last week and have been meaning to disagree with it ever since.  Journalists don’t suck any more than anyone else, you get rude ones, nice ones, honest ones and dishonest ones that’ll tell you anything to get you off the phone, complete space cowboys who probably mean to print your story but then lose it up their own… well you get the point, they come in all shapes and sizes just like PR people and firemen and insurance brokers.

In PR its easy to blame the journo – there will always be stories that don’t make it, but all that means is that your story has to better than the rest. If you don’t want a journalist to be rude to you, don’t send then crap they don’t want. And if you don’t know whether a story is ball park right for the journo in question, then you haven’t done your research.

I’m not saying I’m perfect in this respect, and I’m not defending journalists who are needlessly rude, it’s just that dealing with it is part PR.

Some bullet thoughts

  • When it comes to the current economic problems, newspapers write doom and gloom because it sells newspapers.
  • However, most newspapers make their money from ad sales,
  • not paper sales.
  • Media reporting of d&g has been a major factor in bringing about the forthcoming “R” word
  • and in an “R” word, business has to cut its costs.
  • Every marketeer knows that when it comes to cost cutting, Ad budgets are high on the list
  • so in order to sell their 50p papers the newspapers have decided to lose billions in ad revnue

wierd isn’t it?

This is just a quick post to say that, having spent a great 18 months with the good folk at Waterside, I will be moving to Stuart Bruce’s new agency Wolfstar at the end of the month.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Waterside and learned a great deal from some great people but Stuart’s siren call proved too much to resist. My role will alternate between that of an account manager working on some of Wolfstar’s existing clients, and heading up the newly launched Online Campaigning and Public Affairs Division alongside Stuart.

Despite coming from opposite sides of the political divide, we are both essentially centrists and agree on much more than we disagree on, if that makes sense.

Anyway if the ins and outs of my career fascinates you that much that you’d like to read more about it, this link will take you to the Wolfstar blog where you can read until your eyes go funny. Should be a video up soon as well for those of you too lazy to read. I’ll post a link when it’s done.

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I’m on my way down to London and have just seen here on Iain Dale’s blog, and here, confirmed by the telegraph, that David Davis will be stepping down from the shadow cabinet, resigning as an MP and triggering a by-election in his constituency.

According to the telegraph, Davis will then stand as a Conservative candidate, but on a platform based on his opposition to the 42 day detention limit.

The telegraph is billiing it as a disaster for Cameron. I disagree. Cameron’s biggest flaw (electorally speaking) is his lack of appeal “up north” people up here think he’s a bit of a slick southerner and  seem to have a soft spot for Davis’ hard man persona. Imagine the effect of Cameron whole heartedly supporting his home secretary’s principled stand?

What if the CCHQ line reads something like: “There aren’t enough men of priciple in politics today. David Davis is an examplary public servant and doesn’t feel he can carry on as an MP unless he has his constituents backing to cotinue to oppose this disatrous policy. He has our whole hearted support.”

Then, Cameron gets on a bus and spends three weeks in Hull working his magic. Davis gets re-elected with a hugely increased majority and the labour vote collapses. All of a sudden the DD “is principled” poll question starts to rub off on Cameron and labour’s last line of attack is shut off.

OK, there are alot of “what ifs” there but challenge or opportunity, this is certainly Cameron’s biggest judgement call to date. Interesting times…

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