22nd September 2006
Prompt Communications Newsletter
Communicating technolgy

Dear Reader,


This week we learn that the founders of Google are following in Bill Gates' footsteps and forming a philanthropic organisation to use some of their wealth and expertise to tackle serious global problems. It's great to see the tech business showing that it wants to make a real difference to the world. Our industry contains some of the smartest, creative and most determined people in the world, it's going to be fascinating to see how they can apply themselves to solving some of humanity's greatest difficulties.

For any feedback on our newsletter, or to discuss how we can help you with your technology PR, marketing, copywriting or surveys, please call me on 0208 996 1653 or email me at hbutters@prompt-communications.com. We are always delighted to hear from you.

Best regards,

Hazel Butters
Prompt Communications

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Technology Update

By Sean McManus and Lance Concannon

Up, snap and away

Students from Cambridge University sent a camera 20 miles into the air using a helium balloon, the BBC reports. When the balloon burst, the camera parachuted down to safety and photographs showing the earth's curvature were recovered. New Scientist says the students plan to send a rocket-propelled craft to the edge of space for £1000 - about the price of a door handle on the shuttle.

Wikipedia spawns moderated encyclopaedia

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is to launch a new encyclopaedia moderated by experts. Citizendium will begin by taking Wikipedia's content and building on it. Experts who have been put off from contributing to Wikipedia by the fact that everyone else has equal rights could be attracted to lead the new project. Last week, Wikipedia spokesman Wayne Saewyc warned students: "Wikipedia isn't authoritative, but it's a good place to start. Don't try to cite any encyclopaedia if you want to get a good grade."

Google goes philanthropic

With surprisingly little fanfare this week Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page announced the launch of Google's new philanthropic arm, Google.org. Details are sketchy at the moment, other than the organisation will make use of Google's vast technical and financial resources to tackle problems such as world poverty and environmental issues. Google.org will be run as a kind of profit making charity - ZDNet has some interesting analysis on what this actually means for the organisation.

...and finally

A self-styled software jedi is using his powers to create 30 applications in 30 days. Visitors to the An App a Day blog can suggest programs for him to write and download the results, which so far include an RSS alerter, a prank that makes computers moo and a screen broadcaster. With Windows Vista and the Playstation 3 both over-running their development schedules, it's good to see that someone's still knuckling down to a bit of coding.

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Marketing Update

By Sally Forge and Elissa Fry

Microsoft tests YouTube rival

This week Microsoft opened up the beta version of its new online video-sharing service, designed to compete with YouTube. The service, called SoapBox, will include categorisation features to help users tag and keep track of their personal and favourite videos. At the moment the trial is by invitation only or by submission to a waiting list and PC World reports that Microsoft expects the service to be supported by advertising.

Meanwhile, the American government is taking advantage of the popularity and influence of YouTube and has uploaded anti-drugs videos on the site that CNN describes as a "trendy Internet service that already features clips of wacky, drug-induced behaviour and step-by-step instructions for growing marijuana plants."

Philips sponsors CNN's media news services

Electronics firm Philips will be sponsoring CNN's media news delivery services. The deal was arranged by media agency Carat/Isobar who, according to Brand Republic, illustrated Philips' commitment to provide easy-to-use technology in an engaging manner to sponsor CNN's services, which include newsletters, video streaming, RSS alerts and mobile news. Philips is also set to sponsor the launch of a new CNN microsite that will use a magazine format with international daily news summaries. In return Philips will have exclusive banners and branding rights across the board.

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Web 2.0 Watch

By Fiona Blamey

The Psychology of Social Networking

Last week's New Scientist offered a lot of food for thought about the way social networking via sites like MySpace, Friendster, BeBo and Facebook is changing the way people think, feel and behave.

For anyone fed up with inadequate real-world analogies - "blogging is like journalism", "social networking is like having a conversation", etc. - the New Scientist's clutch of articles offers some interesting new perspectives on what might really be going on in the world of the 'participatory Web'.

Psychologist Sherry Turkle, for example, claims that we are increasingly unable to feel emotions on our own - we now have to plug into the internet to have our feelings confirmed by our social network.

A researcher into online and offline behaviour suggests that employers who today might sack employees for indiscreet blogging may come to accept the blogosphere's culture of openness, ushering in a new culture of tolerance in the workspace.

Most interesting of all is the notion of the blurring of boundaries between the 'online' and 'offline' worlds. Several commentators predict that the multiple identities that people operate in the real and virtual worlds will shortly cohere. We will be the same person, with the same attributes, whether we're delivering a presentation in a business meeting or battling with orcs in World of Warcraft. Those of us who enjoy experimenting with fragmented identities may just find that prediction a little depressing.

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Best of the 'Net

By Lance Concannon

Better Fonts

You know what would make your fourth quarter sales report look really professional? If you used the font from the Iron Maiden logo for all of your page headings, that would totally rock your MD's face off in the meeting. Probably. If you're getting bored with Times New Roman and Arial, take a look at Better Fonts, where you'll find over 10,000 free fonts (including the Iron Maiden one) to download. Best of all, the site is a shining example of great usability - browsing through the fonts is easy and intuitive, so finding the font you want is a piece of cake.

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UK Media Report

By Annie Kasmai

UK The Guardian Guide has a new editor, Malik Meer.

Paul Trotter has been appointed as editor of IDG Communication's PC Advisor. Trotter joins after previously working as news and features editor at PC Pro. Ben Camm-Jones, the news editor at PC Advisor is leaving to join IPC Media's Web User. Camm-Jones is set to leave the publication on 9th October.

Emap is set to launch a new technology/gadget magazine which will rival Haymarket's Stuff and Future's T3. The publication will be called Digital Living and will include features on consumer electronics such as: MP3 players, TVs and cameras. Digital Living will go on sale at £3.99 on 5 October. Meanwhile, Future has launched a spin-off to T3, called T3 Home which is published quarterly and covers consumer technology.

Future Publishing is planning to launch a film magazine rather than launch its magazine for female gamblers. Aubrey Ganguly has been appointed as editor-in-chief of Future's film and TV titles. Ganguly will be working on launching this new film focused publication.

Sarah Crawley-Boevey has been appointed as senior reporter for Haymarket's Media Week. Crawley-Boevey joins after previously working as senior reporter at the Maidenhead Advertiser.


US Media Report

By Heather Lynch

US The Washington Business Journal has named John McCalla as the new editor. McCalla will be responsible for the weekly newspaper and its online news site. McCalla replaces Beth Hunt who will take an editorial management role at the Business Journal's parent company, American City Business Journals, which publishes 41 journals across the United States.

Josh Tyrangiel has been named the editor of Time.com as well an assistant managing editor at TIME integrating the online site with the magazine. At TIME, Tyrangiel has written and edited cover stories and been the magazine's music critic for five years. Before that, Josh worked at Vibe and Rolling Stone magazines, and produced the news at MTV.

Time Inc. is selling its smaller niche publications in order to focus on print and online versions of its main titles, Time, People and Sports Illustrated. Popular Science is among the 18 to be sold, as CEO Ann Moore intends to develop the main titles "into the biggest brands online." Parent company Time Warner Inc., also owner of Warner Bros., AOL, CNN and HBO, has felt the same pinch as other magazines recently, with more readers and advertising going to the internet.

Investor's Business Daily's assistant technology editor Nick Turner is leaving, after editing the magazine's Computers Made Plain feature. The feature provides computer technical advice for the daily national newspaper. Investor's Business Daily is written for senior executives, professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors, with stories focusing on global and domestic economies, corporate trends, profiles and management concepts.


Future Proof #10

By Lance Concannon

Crystal Ball

There's no denying that technology has led us towards increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Back in the fifties the average human being would have spent all day chasing woolly mammoths up mountains and fighting off dinosaurs, but these days we spend our time sitting around watching TV, playing video games or downloading pictures of monkeys wearing funny hats off the internet.

This change in lifestyle has had a damaging effect on our own health, and even worse has led to significantly higher levels of teenage obesity amongst dinosaurs. It may already be too late for them, but at least we can do something to improve our own health: bicycle powered internet terminals. Want to check your email? Start pedalling. The speed of the web connection could be directly linked to how fast you pedal, thus providing an incentive to get fit - the longer you stay out of shape, the longer you'll be stuck with dial-up speeds.

Tech Toon


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