Category: social media

This is social media

Simon and Telstra (Cass & Lindy) show how it’s done.

Social media is irrelevant

social-media-business“Why would I use social media – I only¬†sell wire cables?”¬†asked a business owner at the PeSA Internet Conference¬†last week.

The audience member paused and then continued.

“My cables can be used on yachts, for fishing, on bridges, … “ detailing¬†half a dozen examples of how his product could be used by customers.

The business owner’s commoditised wire cables came alive through his descriptions of how it would be used in amazingly creative and useful ways by customers.

The business owner had pigeon holed his product as a commodity item.  In reality when it was used by the customer it was not just a wire cable.  His product allowed his customers to sail the seas, catch fish and traverse valleys across the most beautifully scenic landscapes.

My response was short and sweet.

“You just provided me with a start to¬†half a dozen blog posts which describe how your product can be used by customers. ¬†It’s just a question of which social media networks are most relevant to share these stories with your current and future customers.”

The business owner smiled. He’d just taken the first step in creating his social media strategy.

Social media is relevant to all businesses.

First impressions of the Internet

The World Wide Web is 25 years old which got me thinking about my first impressions of the web, the Internet and computers.

Josh Rowe Apple 1984

First impressions of Computers

I have had an interest in computers for a long time. My early exposure to computers included my uncle‚Äės Apple IIe (photo), my friend‚Äės Tandy MC-10 and Apple Macintosh, and the green screen Amstrad¬†word processing computer that my parents owned. I was always drawn to the machines like a moth to a light. Computers were intriguing to my young, fertile mind, because they presented a blank canvas waiting to be brushed from my palate.

At eleven years of age I was programming the classic snake game in BASIC. I was the only grade six student to type up and print out their assignments. My teachers were suitably impressed. Mrs Salt, my grade six teacher, used to always make a point of how messy my hand writing was and  that if I did not get it right I would not be successful in my chosen career. Her prediction proved to be incorrect, thanks to the proliferation of computers and my decision to learn how to touch type in high school.

Through high school my silicon chip fascination continued with more software programming; this time to simulate 20,000 random spins of a roulette wheel to provide additional evidence to my mathematical proof that (a) roulette is an unfair game (on average you will lose $1 out of every $37 you bet) and (b) there is no best bet. I had so many arguments friends at university and work that believed that one type of roulette bet was better than another, that I dug out my year 12 assignment and republished it on my web site.

In year 12 I filled out my likes and dislikes into a career questionnaire. It said I should be a primary school teacher, photographer or civil engineer; I looked up the pay rates and chose the highest ‚Äď engineering. RMIT‚Äės Business Administration and Civil Engineering was the course I enrolled in. ¬†Not surprisingly I enjoyed and excelled at every subject in which I could use a computer. Whether it was AutoCAD to design sophisticated civil engineering designs, word processing software with laser printed reports (when my university friends only managed dot matrix reports at best) or Pascal programming.

First impressions of the Internet

RMIT University was where I first encountered the Internet. In 1992 the¬†Internet and World Wide Web were young. At first the Internet was exciting because I was able to¬†access the university library catalogue from home at any time of the day, while my friends were¬†limited by the physical library‚Äės opening hours and limited number of available electronic¬†terminals.

Archie Search EngineThen I realised that I had access to information that was more than academic. At an odd hour one day in 1992, I traversed the internet using my green screen text-based browser to find out that Kieren Perkins had smashed the 1500m freestyle world record and won a gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics.

I knew the result before everyone else; who had to wait for the delayed telecast. Finding this information was not easy though. ¬†I think I may have used “Archie“, the very first Internet search engine.

My 1996 description of the juvenile Internet:

The Internet is a global network of over three million computers worldwide. The Internet is growing faster than any other communications market, roughly doubling every year since 1989. As many as 30 million people use the Internet with thousands of new subscribers joining every day.

The complexity of the Internet is hidden from view giving the appearance of a seamless web of interconnected resources; you can be downloading music from Finland one moment and viewing  images in Africa the next! One facet of the Internet is the World Wide Web (WWW). The WWW is a software system that makes the Internet user-friendly and links documents across the Internet, through text, graphics and sound. The Web gives marketers global coverage for a relatively low cost.

According to Business Review Weekly, The key to understanding the Net and its importance is that this is a communications revolution, not an information revolution. Distributing masses of information is one aspect of the Net. On-line commerce in the future will be more about building relationships than selling … Businesses will be communicating with people, and they will be communicating with businesses and with each other (James O’Toole BRW, May 8, 1995).

First impressions of the World Wide Web

I created my first web site in 1994.

I coded the web site by hand in Hyper Text Mark-up Language¬†or HTML for short.¬†The web site was titled “Josh‚Äės Sanctum” as a play-on-words; since sanctum¬†means a private place and the Internet was proving to be the exact opposite. The web site address¬†was – which looks pretty long and antiquated now. At the¬†time however I displayed it with pride in my electronic signature on emails and newsgroup¬†postings.

Here’s the announcement of my first web site to an Internet¬†newsgroup. ¬†Newsgroups were the 1990s version of social media.

From: (Joshua Rowe)
Newsgroups: comp.infosystems.www.users
Subject: JOSH'S SANCTUM is online... <---- <---- <---- <----
Date: 2 Feb 1995 01:52:34 GMT

JOSH'S SANCTUM is online....

Let me know what you think of my new web page

If you want me to add your link to my homepage just drop me a line at

|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Joshua Rowe~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|
| Advertise Perception is |
| here Reality |
|______________B.Eng(Civil)/B.Bus RMIT Melbourne, Australia_________________|

My first Internet start up

I started a web site development business “Sanctum Internet Consultants” in 1994. ¬†My fledgling business offered web page packages for small and large businesses. The¬† web site advertised single text-based web sites or multi-page web sites with¬†graphics and your own domain name.

Australia was an early adopter as far as the Internet went. There were more domain names registered under .au than any other country code top-level domain in 1991 ‚Äď a grand total of 29. Some early .au domain name registration statistics¬†suggest that my registration of “” was one of the first 2500 domain names¬†to be registered. This contrasts with over 2.7 million .au domain names registered in 2014.


There are over 2.4 billion people using the Internet globally which is only 34% penetration.

The Internet is becoming a core ingredient in everything we do; social media, wearable devices, Internet of things, etcetera.  However, the opportunities for Internet service innovation and invention is boundless.  The same goes for increased penetration of Internet access around the globe.

Thirsty for more?

Read my 2008 Masters thesis which includes an ethnographic narrative on the evolution of Internet industry and policy in Australia:

Revealed: Super Awesome Micro Project

The #SuperAwesomeMicroProject is a Life Size Lego Car Powered by Air.  Watch it in action:

I had never met Aussie entreprenuer  Steve Sammartino and Romanian whiz kid Raul Oaida before I handed over $500 to become a patron of #SAMP after spotting this tweet from Steve in March 2012.


22 months later Steve and Raul have created a Life Size Lego Car Powered By Air, but that’s only half the story.

The other half of the story is how 40 patrons came together using the power of the Internet to take an idea from a Romanian whiz kid and make it into a reality.

I love the way Steve describes it:

The is why I love working on and with the Internet every day as a business person and end user.

The opportunities are limitless.

Super Awesome Micro Project photo gallery


PeSA 2013: seventh annual conference highlights

Josh RoweWhether you’re a first-time attendee or an old-hand, there’s always great stories and plenty of information to absorb at the PeSA Internet Conference.

Read my full article at PowerRetail for my highlights from the proceedings, including information about: eBay, Deb Sharkey, Australia Post, ClickFrenzy, Ruslan Kogan, Sheridyn Fisher and BuyReply.

Twitter has a spam problem

Over the last 24 hours I have received 50+ mentions from fake Twitter accounts.

These spam tweets use copied tweet content from my real twitter friends.  Darren Rowse reports he has had hundreds of spam tweets and other people in my twitter circle of friends are also groaning at the moras of tweet spam coming their way.





Here’s an example of an orignal tweet from Darren Rowse to me which has been duplicated and tweeted as their own by fake Twitter accounts.

Twitter duplicate tweet spam

Taking a closer look at one of the fake Twitter accounts it bears some interesting traits.  At a quick glance the photo and bio look real.  The duplicate tweet even makes the account appear as though they are tweeting with real people.

Fake Twitter account

The fake Twitter account is following real accounts which all have a high follower ratios.

Twitter accounts with high follower ratios

Is it possible that these fake accounts are simply being set up to sell real looking followers to folks who buy Twitter followers?

Here’s what can you do to slow down the Twitter duplicate tweet spam problem:

  1. Report every single one of these fake Twitter accounts as spam
  2. Tweet Twitter @support that this is a problem
  3. Tweet your local Twitter country rep that this is a problem, for Australia that is @TwitterAU

The more data Twitter is able to collect on these spammers then the more likely that Twitter will be able to build automated systems to slow the Twitter spammers down in the future.

Sponsor my 40 hour famine of food, social media and more!

UPDATE: Target met & exceeded! $1415 in donations received so far – keep them coming!

** New bounties & targets added – see below **

I’m doing the World Vision 40 Hour Famine in August.

I am going without food for 40 hours to raise money to help kids around the world who are suffering from chronic hunger.

My goal is to raise $1000

Could you please support me, and them, by making a donation?

Donate online here:¬†– ¬†it’s tax¬†deductible¬†!

To make things even more challenging I am willing to forego the following things during my 40 hour famine if the donation targets are met.

For example if a total of $200 is donated, then I will forgo food, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Google+ for the 40 hour famine.

Cumulative Total, Bounty : Item – Sponsor(s)

$0, $0: No food
$50, ¬†$50: No Facebook –¬†sponsor:¬†@thehoneybar
$100, $50: No Twitter Рsponsor: @thehoneybar
$150, $50: No Foursquare – sponsor: @simonlazenby
$200, $50: No Google+ – sponsor @MarkRCameron
$250, $50: No LinkedIn –¬†sponsor¬†@MarkRCameron
$300, $50: No Instagram –¬†sponsor¬†@MarkRCameron
$350, $50: No Email –¬†sponsor¬†@MarkRCameron
$400, $50: No Angry Birds Рsponsors @minuzp, @smili72 & @zidwa
$500, $100: No iPhone (except for phone calls) Рsponsors @mattymcg & @jeffo_smith & @mercman350
$600, $100: No Internet Access Рsponsors @mercman350, @cbaldwin50 & @andysteele
$700, $100: No MacBook Рsponsors @andysteele, @edizb & @grahamjohnson
$800,  $100: No TV Рsponsors @grahamjohnson, Jack H & @William_Simmons
$900, $100: No Cinemas Рsponsors Kate C, Dan C, @kensh1, Alex M & @Michael_Muscat
$1000, $100: No Football (including the Richmond v Melbourne game on Sunday 21/8) – sponsor @Michael_Muscat

New targets & bounties just added:

$1200, $200: Prepare & cook all meals for family (wife & 3 kids) – sponsors Cam S, Brett M, Michael G & Lyn T
$1500, $300: Personal butler for wife Рsponsors Lyn T, Nick A, @johnskenyon, @danmccredden, & Brendan P & more sponsors needed

The 40 Hour Famine weekend officially runs from 8pm on Friday 19 August to noon on Sunday 21 August.

Donate online here:

Melbourne Zoo apologises for bloody uncooked chicken

Melbourne Zoo together with the Melbourne Zoo Bistro’s caterer, Liberty Catering Concepts, have apologised for serving bloody uncooked chicken to my four year old child. ¬†I accept their apologies and hope that a mistake like this does not occur again.

Here’s what happened today. ¬†Following my lodgement of a formal complaint with the City of Melbourne 2 days ago, a food inspector visited the Melbourne Zoo Bistro and inspected their facilities and audited their food handling processes. ¬†The City of Melbourne have been very impressive with their handling of my complaint, taking the issue of food safety very seriously and keeping me updated through out the inspection process.

Putting aside the health issues, from a social media perspective it took the Melbourne Zoo two whole business days to respond to a serious customer complaint made through Facebook & Twitter – is that ok in this day and age?

This morning Zoos Victoria posted this message on the Melbourne Zoo Facebook page:

Zoos Victoria¬†¬†Hi Josh, we‚Äôre really sorry to hear about your experience at the Melbourne Zoo bistro ‚Äď thank you for alerting us to this issue.

We want all our visitors to have a great day at the zoo and this of course includes the experience at our catering outlets. If you would like to chat about this to one of the directors of the catering company we would be happy to arrange this. Our official facebook page is or you can get in touch by emailing
and this tweet from the Melbourne Zoo Twitter account:

@MelbourneZoo Melbourne Zoo @joshrowe Hi Josh, so sorry to hear about your experience. Someone will be in touch with you this afternoon.

and this letter (PDF) from Liberty Catering Concepts sent via email:

Libery Catering Concepts
PO Box 74
Elliot Avenue
Parkville VIC 3052

T (03) 9285 9440
F (03) 9285 9244
Mr Josh Rowe

Via email

Re: Liberty Catering Concepts poor food experience at Melbourne Zoo

Dear Mr Rowe,

I am writing to you in response to your visit on Tuesday 5th July to the Lakeside Bistro at
Melbourne Zoo. I am extremely disappointed that we served your child undercooked chicken on that occasion in the form of the Drummet dish. I have been furnished with the photo that you
took on the day and can agree entirely with your reaction to this incident.

Whilst we have been the caterer at Melbourne Zoo for a year now this is the first time that we have performed so poorly in both food service and the appropriate management response in
dealing with what was a serious food issue during your visit. For this I sincerely apologise and can assure you of my complete attention and my investigation and rectification of the incident.

I have reviewed the complete preparation and cooking process with the Head Chef and have formed the opinion that a step was not completed on the day of your visit which caused the
undercooked product to be served. This indicates poor supervision on the day and a flaw in the following of procedures by a team member. I have taken steps to ensure that this will never occur

I can assure you that all our food served at Melbourne Zoo is purchased locally, prepared on site and served with care. In this instance we have let you down and for this I am embarrassed and
upset that it has occurred. Again I apologise and welcome you back whenever you please at my expense so we may offer you a positive experience.

Please feel welcome to give me a call to discuss further on 0417 552 569 or via return email.

Yours sincerely

Justin Forrester Director


Melbourne Zoo bistro complaint letter (2011 version)

Today, the Melbourne Zoo Bistro served my 4 year old son uncooked bloody chicken and only apologised when asked to do so.  This blog post together with this Tweet, this Facebook post, this Foursquare tip and my online formal complaint to the City of Melbourne are my 2011 version of a complaint letter to the Melbourne Zoo.

I wonder how or if the Melbourne Zoo will respond?

Melbourne Zoo bistro bloody uncooked chicken

On Tuesday 5 July 2011, I visited the Melbourne Zoo and attended the Melbourne Zoo Bistro where I ordered some food for myself, 4 year old and 2 year old kids at approximately 1pm.

At about 1:30pm the food was delivered to my table in the bistro. I ate my food whilst my children ate theirs’.

My 4 year old was eating his “chicken drummets and chips”, which were basically chicken drumsticks fried in bread crumbs.

After my 4 year old had already taken a few bites of the chicken, I noticed some pinkness on the chicken & used my knife to cut in deeper and found bloody uncooked chicken.

I sought and received a refund for the meal (I was offered a replacement meal which I declined).

I spoke with the manager, David, who looked at me blankly and silently as he refunded the cash for the meal.

I asked if he would apologise for the error and he nonchalantly said sorry.

I am concerned about these two issues:

1. poor food preparation leading to potential food poisoning which risks the health of my children and others, and
2. a non-customer focused attitude by the manager (i.e. having to be asked to apologise) which may be the reason why the first issue occurred in the first place.

I have lodged a formal complaint with the City of Melbourne to investigate the issue of food safety and potential food poisoning of my 4 year old child so that it does not occur again.

It would be disappointing if the Melbourne Zoo’s great reputation was damaged by broader attention to issues like this one.

Google imitates Facebook Like button with +1 button


Google’s new¬†“+1 button” looks like a version of the Facebook Like button. ¬†They announced it¬†back in March, but I have just started seeing it appear in my Google search results today.

Is this Google finally starting to make the most of their massive customer database to kick start their own social network?

+1 doesn’t have the same ring to it as Like.

Here’s Google’s marketing video about it, plus they have a whole stack of other Google +1 button information.