Leveraging the wisdom of the crowd

Late on Saturday night TV I caught a live performance from Pet Shop Boys, who were headlining one of the stages at Glastonbury. Not only did they go down incredibly well – for the impartial listener, at least – but they ended up trending on Twitter, which must have been a first. Reading the public reaction to their set reminded me of a conversation Laura and I had the other week.

While I was talking about mobile phones, innovation and FrontlineSMS to an audience at National Geographic (who were largely new to the subject), our UK-based team were helping out at a mobile event in London, primarily with a crowd who knew a whole lot more about what it was and what it did.

Pet Shop Boys always put on a great show, but what was striking about Saturday was that this wasn’t their usual crowd. These were people who would unlikely ever go to a Pet Shop Boys concert. It was a smart move – and a brave one – to take their electronic theatrical stage show to a totally new audience at a cult summer festival dominated by rock bands.

Taking the social mobile message outside of our own tight-knit community is something I’ve always been keen on, which is why I enjoyed writing for PC World. For me, this is where the real potential lies – with people who have never considered using mobile, let alone attend a mobile conference. Infinitely more grassroots non-profits have little sense of what the technology can do for them than do.

Most don’t even know they should be looking. And that needs to be fixed.

The Sodom & Gamorrah Show

We all have our favourite bands. Most come and go, replaced by others as musical trends – and our tastes – change over time. I’ve lost count of the number I’ve stumbled across, only for them to break up or vanish from the face of the planet after a second or, if lucky, third album. It’s rare to be able to say that you’ve grown up with a band. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones who can say I have…

Those who know me might be surprised that it’s taken this long to give a mention to the Pet Shop Boys on my Blog, a pop duo who emerged in the mid-80’s who, in the words of one of their own songs, have “both made such a little go a very long way”.

There’s a Pet Shop Boys song representing almost every phase of my teenage life (well, late teens, anyway) up to the present. I’ve played them on every one of my numerous Sony Walkman’s, portable CD players and more recently iPod in every African country I’ve had the fortune to visit. The recent release of their highly acclaimed ‘Fundamental‘ album has thrust them back into the public eye, and the BBC’s use of their ‘Numb’ track to summarise the disappointment of England’s recent exit from the football World Cup gave the track a surprising iTunes chart hit.

The recent revamp of their website (pictured) has been long overdue. Best of all, however, has to be the ‘Jukebox’ where you get a random stream of classic PSB tunes, and the ‘Product’ section where tracks from all twenty-eight albums can be played online, in full. This includes the fantastic Battleship Potemkin, a soundtrack to the 1925 silent Russian revolutionary film of the same name. Give the site a visit, and check out ‘Fundamental’.

Like an old friend, it’s hard to imagine the musical world without our Neil and Chris. For now, I’ll try not to.

“I want to to be numb…”