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Get Digital Breakfast: Next Digital & Google


LOCATION – 199 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

VENUE – The Four Seasons Hotel, Winten/Teale/Buchanan Room

DATE – Thursday, 12 March 2009.

TIME – 7:30am – 9:00am

Next Digital is hosting a series of events throughout 2009 providing insights into everything digital. These events will be held in Sydney and in Melbourne. This event features Google. The last event featured Atlassian talking about collaboration in the workplace.

Host: Stephen Lord, General Manager Sydney office, Next Digital.

Guest Speaker: Yuri Narciss, Head of Technology Industry Sales, Google

This session will provide various insights into how marketers can use Google to maximise their effectiveness. Yuri will also touch upon the latest innovations and developments from Google, including Google Maps and Streetview, Google Gadgets, Mobile applications and Universal Search. Don’t miss out on this special opportunity to hear from one of the world’s leading brands and innovators.

For more info, please go to our website.

Which way2go?

Last Thursday, I attended the launch of NRMA’s new magazine and website, myway2go. The new mag focuses on stories and pics submitted by readers. Essentially its UGC – user generated content. Stuff that doesn’t make the mag gets put on their website. Think of it as a reader’s digest for travel stories. The website has a social networking element to it, as readers submit the content and you can comment on them. They’ve also got editorials, videos and picture, forum sections. It’s built upon the idea that people want to tell their own stories – how many of us are dying to tell our travel when we are travelling and especially when we get back to our friends. I think what they are trying to do is keep that subjective, personal, emotional element to it.

I was a bit skeptical at first but I got to give them props for doing this. I can’t think of any other Australian organisation building their own social networking site. Next Digital got invited because a colleague of mine, James Duthie @onlinemarketingbanter interviewed NRMA’s general manager of corporate comms Shane McClelland. I was actually the only one that rocked up from Next, so I was forced to mingle and meet some new people. I met a lot of interesting folk, including the editor,Sandy, other writers, photographer and their digital people.


Oh, and did I mention the gnocci was fantastic? Handmade @ Ristorante Mezzaluna! I had about 3 plates of that stuff! They also roasted a pig but it was only half eaten 😦 It was pretty chilled, and a great view of the circular quay city skyline. I read the magazine the other day and its pretty easy to read because its not like full on travel writing that you expect from other travel mags – its like ordinary people’s story. I’ve been told that there is a bit of ghostwriting as expert writers do polish up some of the story for editorial quality, but that’s to be expected when people submit stories. Some of the stories are actually written by writers and that is disclosed. It must be because its the first issue, and they didn’t have enough stories from non-writers. I’m sure this will decrease over time as more people submit their content.

It has a pricetag of $5.95, so its a reasonable price but I don’t think I will buy this magazine. I’d def check out the website in future though and I’m really keen on submitting a few stories. I kept a travel journal and have lots of stories backed up. I’m not big-upping myself or anything, but I think my writing quality is better than some of those writers. When I really put my mind to it, I can churn out pretty good writing so I’ve got a good chance of winning some of those prizes 🙂

And you know what – I think they will have issues with the domain. I’m not sure why they chose that name but the domain belongs to some German travel website. They actually have I also get confused if its supposed to be “myway2go” or just “way2go”. Personally, I wouldn’t have chosen that name. I would have picked something really unique, especially if the website is going to be an integral part of it. “way2go” doesn’t really sound exciting to me or have that personal storytelling element behind it. You also need to have a really unique domain as well and I always prefer “.com” over “”.

I’m out like handmade gnocci,


Reflections on 2008

This is something I’ve been meaning to write for a while but haven’t got around to it. I just need some time to think!

2008 was a weird year for me. I started the first two months still on the road, traveling from Guatemala to Belize to Mexico and then back to New York. I actually didn’t write that much in 2008 when I was travelling, I started pumping out less travel notes (but higher quality of course :P)

Highlights of 2008

1. Watching the NY Giants v Green Bay Packers in New York

Then celebrating the win by running riot in Times Square. We were one of the first people to get there because we literally ran there after the game finished. Who could believe that New York would win? Not even the most diehard NY Giants fan. I was interviewed by two different cameras about the win, and I knew nothing about NFL!!!

2. Watching the David Letterman show live

3. Saying goodbye to my Mexican host family in Playa Del Carmen

I promised to send them pictures but still haven’t – I will one day!!

4. Visiting Washington DC

A very profound place where I wrote something really deep about what I saw – the monuments, the poverty, the history.

5. Playing competitive basketball again

I actually hadn’t played any form of basketball in a long long time since April 2007, when someone tripped me over and landed awkardly on both my knees.

I started playing two nights a week, Mondays at Bankstown and Tuesday at Hurstville.  To be honest, I hadn’t played comp basketball since university finished save the odd game (mixed basketball doesn’t really count). I also started playing more frequently at my old high school, once or twice on the weekend in addition to twice during the week.

I really do feel like now I’m a much better player, more confident having played a lot more and with and against better players.  I must give some credit to playing with Adam Labbad and Bardya for teaching some of the finer nuances of the game.  Sometimes, at Bankstown I would stay back after the game and shoot around and once I went there when we didn’t have a game and practiced myself. The highlight must be of course scoring like 14 successive shots in a pick up game at Kingsgrove high school against Chuck & co (which I’ll never hear the end of and probably will never be repeated).

As you can see basketball is a big part of my life and always will be.

6. Seeing my family again after my trip and being able to sleep in my own bed & having home cooked food: this really should rank higher on my list.

7. Deciding to start a new career

I made a big decision to try something new. I wanted to do something I could be passionate about, was challenging and that had some creativity around it. For someone that was trained in accounting and law (two relative conservative fields), having a really good job I could go back to and great colleagues, it didn’t make the decision easy. But I was on momentum thing when I came back and it was kinda like now or never. I was 26, and if there was a time to make a change, it was now.

I had a really supportive workplace. Even though I wanted to make a change and I wasn’t really sure what, my old workplace tried to facilitate that. People gave me tips about what to do and my old boss, Matt Turner was really understanding and helped me get my mind right in terms of what steps I needed to take. And I thank him for that.

I decided to look elsewhere and decided to work at a place called Next Digital, where I work on a bunch of different things. That was one of the reason I chose to work at this place, because they did everything from websites, email marketing, search engine marketing, SMS, etc…So far it’s been pretty good as I’m very into the internet so it’s been a good fit.

8. Going to advertising school

As I was thinking about embarking on a new career, I needed some fresh knowledge and I had a lot of time since I was unemployed. So I enrolled in AFA Advertising School.  I decided to do one subject to test it out “Media Buying & Planning”. I really wanted to do “Account Management”, but this was the only course that was available. It ended up being pretty interesting and I made some new friends.  Plus I got a distinction – I aced the final exam!!!!

9.  Melbourne (twice)

Before I started my job, I booked a trip with my two best friends Tim & Ashby to Melbourne. It was a good trip and we stayed at some dodgy hostel. We checked out this place called Nightcat club, the GameOn exhibition, met up with Tim’s Melbourne friends,  saw DJ Roc Raida and had a pretty good time.

I also went to Melbourne for my company’s end of year Xmas bash. That was cool because the company paid for it, and I stayed a couple of extra nights. Also, I had a bunch of mates Limo & Christian that were also there and we hit up da clubs!!!

Oh yes, I also went to my favourite kebab place Stacalities twice in a year! How good was that.

10. Being a part of RICEFest & seeing Mark Driscoll speak

I’m not very big on attending Christian events, but last year I actually made a conscious effort to do more. I helped run two events for high school kids as part of the RICE Festival. It’s kinda like an outreach ministry event at Homebush and the Entertainment Centre in August. So that kept me busy.

11.  Concerts – Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg/Ice Cube/Bone Thugs

I love live music and I got to see some of my favourite artists. It wasn’t cheap (except for the Snoop one which I got in for free – thanks Dan!).

12. Starting a new blog focused on digital media –


If you have highlights in a year, you must have lowlights as well. For me there were a couple, and I think one of them was being unemployed for 2 months. When your making a career change, its never easy especially when you have no relevant experience that people can see nor studies in that area. Also, bumping into someone from my past unexpectedly was not good. And I’ll leave my lowlights at that because the highlights have far outweighed that.

I don’t feel like I did that much in 2008, but after typing all this out, I feel like I’ve had a pretty big year.  One of personal & professional growth, lots of travelling & trying new things, but also getting back into the swing of things. I feel like I have to continue trying new things in 2009 as I have regressed back into doing the “same old”. I always wanted to try a salsa class, submit some writing to a magazine ( I thought about it a lot and enquired with two magazines) but never made that extra step, and travel around Australia more.

I’m out like 2008,


I heard there’s a new President?

Apparently Twitter is going nuts with Obama updates. It reached 5 times the amount of normal tweets. Hitwise also reported that Twitter has overtaken Digg now due to the Hudson plane crash and Obama Inauguration.

As you can see/hear/read/youtube today, it’s all about Obama. It just an incredible day, in terms of the public’s response and also the promise that he brings. I believe Obama is very aspirational and a dreamer. To be honest with you, I’d be surprised if he even delivers 10% of what he promises. A lot of people believe in him.

I haven’t watched the whole speech, only the first half and I saw the walk down Pennsylvania Ave. But man, wasn’t Washington packed today? I’ve actually been there, and the Washington monument is really really far from the other landmarks. When the cameras started close up to the crowds, I thought that’s a lot of people!  Then it started panning out, and I was like wow….there’s millions of people there.

I don’t need to say that much more as its been written everywhere. It could be the start of something great in the Obama Administration era. And I can say to my kids, that I lived through that time. He’s got a lot of work to do – the economy is in the worst shape its ever been, US troops are still in Iraq and the perception is not great at the moment. Are people treating Obama like he’s some kind of superstar politician / demi god? I don’t mean to be a cynic, but I need to see change before I believe it.

However, the future does look bright. He gives hope to a lot of people that anything is possible. People of colour and different races, they’ve had that glass ceiling lowered or blown away. We will to wait and see – what will Obama’s legacy be?

I’m out like Bush,

Matthew Ho.

Google on Public Policy

I read about 5 – 6 different Google Blogs such as the Official Google Blog, Adwords Agency Blog, Adsense and the Gmail Blog. It’s necessary for me to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of Google. The great thing about Google is that they have a lot of different departments blogging and keeping the dialogue open with the general community at large. They’ve got 100’s of blogs and I think it’s great. As soon as something new happens, these guys blog about it and it’s really setting the standard for other organisations.

One of the more interesting blogs I have come across is the Google Public Policy Blog. It’s probably not as well read as the other blogs but I would argue that its just as important. An indicator of how popular a blog is the feedburner counter (i.e. how many people subscribe). It’s only at 5,475 compared with 529,000 on the official Google Blog.

Its important to hear about Google’s views on public policy and government. As an organisation, it has really become monolothic and huge like almost overnight – its only really a decade old. Compare this with other other organisations of similar size which probably took decades to build  i.e. 30 – 100 years . It is a very influential organisation which interacts with millions of people on a daily basis through search, email, video, RSS, advertising, maps and so on.

Google is so dominant in the field of search it is without peer. Hence, when they tried to do a business deal with Yahoo to display ads, people were jumping up and down like mad. It has to deal with a lot of issues such as its monopolistic practices, anti-trust,  influence on the U.S government through lobbying on access to more bandwidth access for the community, net neutrality, green energy, etc..

The blog could be no more than a mouthpiece for Google’s lobbying efforts to Washington. But from what I have read, it has a lot of interesting information on its views and thought policies. I probably find this more interesting than most people as well, since I’m a qualified lawyer who now works in digital marketing.

On a related note, the interaction between law and the internet continues to evolve. One of the big issues at the moment are the legal issues around user generated content (UGC). I’m probably in a unique position because I’m one of the few people that subscribe and regularly read the Law Society and other legal publications and also marketing publications such as B&T. I can see that its attracting a lot of attention because the talk is heating up in these magazines and on the web. UGC is stuff that users of social media generate, e.g. facebook and youtube videos, flickr photos, etc… The legal issues are around ownership, copyright, defamation, privacy and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

I’m out like a decade,

Matthew Ho.

Will Ferrell / Jackie Moon Bud Light Commercial – For Superbowl

One of the funniest ads I’ve seen in a while. In fact, anything with Will Ferrell in it is incredibly funny!!