I've been meaning to post this for a while but have only got round to it. I reckon it could a bit of a vote winner for one of the UK political parties in the run up to the election this year. Some context first…I'll try and keep it short.In France – where I own a property – the government is keen to encourage people to make their houses as energy efficient as possible. It does this by giving you money back when you install specific types of energy efficient or environmentally beneficial stuff. The list is long…from wood-burning stoves to double-glazing to heat-exchangers to solar panels. The cash you get back from the government can be up to 40% of the cost. It's a genuine incentive. To add to this incentive, my French bank, Société Générale, will offer a 10-year, interest-free loan to anyone that can demonstrate that they'll use the cash to do two or more energy efficient things to their property. So, get this. We've been talking to Société Générale about a loan to cover the cost of installing wood-burning stoves and double-glazing. Total cost is about 30,000 euros and it seems the loan's not a problem. So an interest-free loan of 30k spread over 10 years. Not bad. Even better, of course, when you consider that we'll be getting a cheque back from the French government for somewhere around 10,000 euros, which we can obviously use for anything we like (including paying off a chunk of the loan). It's bloody brilliant, and I'm already thinking about what else we might be able to do to make the place a bit more green. Which has got to be a good thing, no? From the bank's perspective it's a great way of deepening a customer relationship and enhancing reputation. It also means that people are adding value to properties many of which will probably also be mortgaged by Société Générale, which must reduce the bank's exposure to negative equity in the future. So, here's my UK vote winner. Why doesn't one of the UK political parties commit to making the Royal Bank of Scotland put aside £1 billion to be made available as 10-year interest-free loans to people making energy efficient improvements to their homes? That would be 50,000 loans of £20k, by my reckoning. This would be good for a number of reasons: 1. It would be a decent thing for RBS to do, given the public owns it
'Social TV' (as I'm sort of talking about it) is currently a two-screen affair (at least). Watching the telly with a laptop on your knees or a mobile in your hand. One of the interesting things for me this year will be to see the impact that Internet-enabled TVs have, effectively allowing more people to integrate social media with their TV watching on the same screen.And then this story pops up from CES: Skype will be available on Panasonic and LG internet-connected TVs. Cool.
More on the live TV debates that will be staged in advance of next year's general election in The Guardian this morning. I think we need a 'Rumble in the Jungle/Thriller in Manila'-type descriptor for them…Belligerence on the Box perhaps?As mentioned before, these should be huge social TV events next year. Whether some level of social media gets integrated into the programme itself will be interesting to see, but there'll surely be loads of chatter about the relative performance of each participant during the debates across the social networks. Such specific focal points for opinion and conversation about the election will also mean a wealth of data to analyse. It'll be interesting to see whether a measure of the buzz around the debates proves a more accurate gauge of public sentiment than the more traditional polls. I also imagine we can expect any number of YouTube mash-ups after the debates. Lovely. Cameron thinks the debates "can enliven our democracy" and I tend to agree (much needed too, I'd say). I also agree with the Labour strategist quoted as saying: "We are not naive. We know that physical appearance, demeanour and how our man looks whilst other candidates talk will be as important to viewers as what he says." Can't wait. @markpinsent
As my old mate James Warren pointed out, there’s nothing new in social TV. Television’s been social since the day the first little goggle box flickered into life. It’s social when you watch it; it’s social when you discuss it with friends, family and relations after watching it. But surely it’s undeniable that in the age of social media, the ‘socialness’ of television is changing?
Let’s face it, Twitter‘s got a huge amount to do with the change. Micro-blogging is the perfect platform for quick comments about whatever it is you’re watching. Twitter’s the ultimate banter app. I think it really became obvious to a lot of people during the recent series of X-Factor (as highlighted by Wadds). Quite often during the show – certainly in the latter stages of the series – five of the top ten trending topics on Twitter related to X-Factor. Twiiter+X-Factor was a whole different ball game. As I tweeted at the time, it was like having yur mates round to watch without having to give them any booze (which some might understandably think is a bit sad).
X-Factor is one massively successful TV show. Twitter’s a hugely positive social media app. But details aside, the fact is this: the ability to easily communicate in realtime with your extended social network while watching the same thing on the box has some significant implications. It has implications for programming, scheduling, revenue generation, advertising, audience engagement. Take this neat little post from Dirk Singer (inspired, I believe, by Anna Hardman). In a world of Sky+ where the relevance of TV scheduling was thought to have completely disappeared, will social TV drive us back to watching everything at the same time? No chance o skip through the ads there…in fact we’re as likely to be tweeting about them as the programme itself (which presents a nice research opportunity for brands and advertising agencies).
2010 has the potential to be a huge year in social TV. From a programming perspective there’ll be loads on that will provide the necessary polarisation of views that helps drive tha chat. Think UK general election (the live TV debates announced today will be fantastic social TV events) and World Cup for starters. The adoption of social media will become more and more pervasive. And we’ll start to see the ‘single-screen’ combination of TV programmes and social media applications (like this). It’ll also be something that people simply enjoy, adding to the traditional TV experience.
There are a million different angles to the potential and implicatons of social TV. I’ve been thinking about them over the past few weeks, and have come across a number of people who are also really interested. There’s Wadds, Dirk and Anna, as mentioned, but also Stephen Davies and Ben Ayers at ITV (who’s immersed in this stuff for a living). We might even get Warren involved. I’m hoping that they’ll all contribute to the discussion here. We won’t have all the answers. Hell, we don’t know what all the questions are yet. But we’ll have some thoughts that we’ll throw out there and enjoy getting into the conversation. Do join in. I’m also keen that it isn’t a conversation that only happens in the ether, so we may well meet up for a chat over dinner at some point (if we can drag ourselves away from the telly of course). Let me know if you fancy getting involved.
Here's what's caught my eye in the reader this morning…I'm quite excited by the London bike hire scheme, due to launch next summer (not least because they're proposing to put a docking station very near the flat I use in London). The pricing's been announced and it looks quite reasonable, though the penalties for late return, damage and loss are pretty severe! And why they haven't integrated it with the Oyster card system I'll never know. A couple of F1 links from the BBC. First, there's a new scoring system proposed for next year…I think it'll make it harder to win the championship without also winning a good number of races, which is a good thing. I'm presuming it also applies to the constructor's championship as well, which means that a team with a race-winning car and two decent drivers (umm…McLaren?) could romp away with the constructor's prize early on in the season. Less of a good thing. Also, good to see that Renault will continue as a team in 2010…even after the race-fixing scandal last season. Perhaps there's hope for Tiger yet! Bobbie Johnson's started a look back at the last 10 years of technology. Should be interesting…his look at 2000 jogs some memories, but no mention of the hugely anti-climatic (thankfully) Millennium Bug. Wired always delivers a couple of pieces of interest. There's a review of my dream camera (Santa: "Not a chance, pal") and there's a funny little piece about the "recurring-joke-as-a-theme" website. Includes a couple of personal favourites – Fu*k You, Penguin and FAIL blog – but oddly doesn't include links to them all. Finally, Rouleur – home of fantastic cycling photography (such as the pic here) and words – has a new look website. I'm gutted I'm missing its print sale…
I've decided to start doing a round-up of stuff that catches my eye in my Google Reader feeds. It'll probably be irregular and may even die a death, but let's see. It'll also be an eclectic mix of content as I have an eclectic mix of feeds.So, today there's a handy guide to sharpening a cook's knife from Wired. I do a fair bit of cooking, and a really sharp knife is a delight. Sadly, I don't sharpen mine as often as I should and have never really mastered the technique. Tim Brown, boss of brilliant design company IDEO, discusses applying the concept of 'design thinking' across all business sectors. I love it. Exports of Scotch whisky have held up well during the recession. Hey, we drink in good times, we drink in bad. A Colman's advert entirely made from meat deconstructed by a butcher (Colman's English mustard is one of life's great pleasures). From The Guardian, a look at Personas, which takes your online identity and creates a beautiful barcode from it. It's lovely. The brilliant vintage bike people at Tour de Ville (where the pic above comes from) point to the work on Bonavia Cycles, one of London's custom bike frame builders. It's an ambition of mine to have a custom-built frame made. One day. Certainly rather that than this £22,000 monstrosity, available only from Harrods… Finally, it's great to see Edelman UK's Andy 'Robbo' Robertson enter the blogging fray on The Naked Pheasant. Andy runs the internet and regularly hangs out with Sir Tim (honest). Phew.
I heard a great quote today. Actually, I didn't hear it, I saw it retweeted. By more than one person too, so it obviously grabbed them as it did me. Amelia (who's on Twitter here and blog here) was speaking at the Battle of Big Thinking event and said:"We need more social ideas, not social media ideas." Isn't that great? Doesn't it get right to the nub of things? It's not about the socialness of the medium, it's about the socialness of the idea. Don't think about the application, the platform, the tool; think about an idea which is going to encourage people to get involved, to chat, to share, to start a conversation. It's lovely. I'm going to use it.