Rugby Tour to Spain and Portugal

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Life | Posted on 26-05-2010


Expect radio silence from (and *gasp* even Twitter) for the next 10 days as I’ll be joining my fellow Village Lions on rugby tour in Spain and Portugal.

We fly to Madrid this afternoon and play a game in Spain this weekend, then make our way to Lisbon, Portugal to take part in a tournament next weekend. There’s also some bullfighting training planned… so assuming I make it back alive I’ll be back in action here in mid-June.

And here’s a great action shot, courtesy of my good mate Christian Averill, of me in the thick of it on last year’s Lions tour of Argentina.

Water in Ethiopia

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Life | Posted on 24-05-2010


Friday morning we were treated to an inspiring meeting at charity: water when the co-chair of our partner A Glimmer of Hope, Philip Berber, came in to the office to share their story & latest news.

Together to date, charity: water and A Glimmer of Hope have provided clean water to over 400,000 people in Ethiopia. There’s still much to be done. You can help. Check out these three videos from A Glimmer of Hope that Phillip shared with us. And if you feel like making a donation to help click through to my fundraising campaign and make a difference.

A view of Burbax, Ethiopia

The Importance of Water

September 2008: Philip Berber & charity: water founder Scott Harrison watching one of the water projects we’ve built together in Ethiopia break ground

Video of the Month: Sept. 2009 from A Glimmer of Hope on Vimeo.

Insipiring stuff right? I hope it inspires you to make a donation – click here right now to do so!

Facebook’s ‘Aha!’ Moment

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 20-05-2010


Picked up this quote from some excerpts of a Facebook TIME cover story in this morning’s Politico Playbook email:

When a newcomer logs in, the experience is designed to generate something Facebook calls the aha! moment. This is an observable emotional connection, gleaned by videotaping the expressions of test users navigating the site for the first time. … Facebook has developed a formula for the precise number of aha! moments a user must have before he or she is hooked. Company officials won’t say exactly what that magic number is, but everything about the site is geared to reach it as quickly as possible. And if you ever try to leave Facebook, you get what I like to call the aha! moment’s nasty sibling, the oh-no! moment, when Facebook tries to guilt-trip you with pictures of your friends who, the site warns, will ‘miss you’ if you deactivate your account.

I’ve long referred to Twitter users having a ‘lightbulb moment’, but I’ve always thought it was a little harder to ‘get’ than Facebook. Very interesting that they put this degree of user testing into their development and continual testing and tweaking.

The Best News I Got Today

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Life | Posted on 19-05-2010


Having just read Manhunt (thanks to my mate Billy Bob Bottinick) I find it even more significant that John Wilkes Booth was almost exactly my age when he tried to shift world history by assassinating Abraham Lincoln.

Twitter Growth By The Numbers

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, charity: water, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 19-05-2010


As a data-driven communicator, one of the very first things I did in my new role with charity: water was to dig deep into our Google Analytics and immerse myself in some numbers.

With Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics 2.0 in one hand and my mouse in the other I first looked over the long-term trends in the data and key referrers to see what stood out. Amongst the many interesting things I found there’s a standout I’d like to share here: The story of Twitter’s emergence, as told through our data.

Now charity: water does Twitter extremely well. We were the first charity to reach one million followers. We were the focus of the first Twestival that raised over $250,000 for water projects. Twitter holds us up as an example for other non-profits. Hugh Jackman donated $50,000 last year after asking his Twitter users to select a charity. Many of our staff tweet – we’ve even got a screen streaming Tweetdeck in the middle of our office!

So without further ado I’d like to share some traffic stats, in the interest of knowledge sharing, to give some background to the highlights above:

May 2008 – May 2009

  • Traffic from Twitter only equates to 1.55% of total traffic
  • Facebook sent 50% more traffic than Twitter
  • August 31 & September 21 2008 were two of our best traffic days of all time – on these dates we had only 1 visitor from twitter (but whoever they were stayed for 17 minutes!)

May 2009 – May 2010

  • Visitors from Twitter increased to 7% of site total (8 times as many visits as the year before)
  • Twitter becomes the top referring site, with more than double the visitors than Facebook
  • November 2 2009: Helen’s Story, a beautiful piece by my fiercely smart colleague Becky Straw, goes viral on Twitter and recieves over 5,000 visits on this day alone
  • March 22 2010: charity: water marks World Water Day by launching the Unshaken campaign for Haiti. We have our second best traffic day of all time and 20% of visitors come from Twitter

Just a few interesting tidbits for now – I’ll aim to share more data and insights moving forward. And here is where the ask comes in: I’m looking for a true Google Analytics guru who would be interested in volunteering some time to work with me and my team to deepen, extend and amplify our Analytics backend to ensure we’ve got a measurement backbone on par with the smartest data-driven organizations out there. Rewarding work for a great cause – if you know someone (or even better ARE someone) that fits the bill please give me an introduction!

Facebook Knows Who You’re Keen On

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 17-05-2010


Facebook can predict your secret crush.

I’ve long thought you could easily make this type of inference based on the data from Facebook’s back end. Just pull data based on when two young single things start spending a large amount of time peering at each others photos (this must be mutual or they’d fall in the ‘stalking’ category). Even better, there’s probably a ‘magic number’ of minutes spent on each others Facebook page that pushes your likelihood of romance up to the 90th percentile.

All Facebook:

It’s an inside half-truth that many friends of Mark Zuckerberg have told me over the years: Facebook knows when a relationship is about to end. My response was to always ask more questions as it actually sounded like a legitimate possibility. In David Kirkpatrick’s soon to be released book, “The Facebook Effect“, Kirkpatrick confirms that relationship patterns were something that Mark Zuckerberg often toyed with.

In the book, Kirkpatrick writes:

As the service’s engineers built more and more tools that could uncover such insights, Zuckerberg sometimes amused himself by conducting experiments. For instance, he concluded that by examining friend relationships and communications patterns he could determine with about 33 percent accuracy who a user was going to be in a relationship with a week from now. To deduce this he studied who was looking which profiles, who your friends were friends with, and who was newly single, among other indicators.

It’s deeply interesting to think what’s possible on the back of Facebook’s huge database of intentions… but it’s also pretty darn scary.

Video Friday charity: water Edition

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Life | Posted on 14-05-2010


I like throwing up a video post every now and then on a Friday arvo as I’m guessing so few of you are working ;).

In honor of my new gig, this week I thought I’d throw up a few great charity: water videos. Enjoy – and if you’re moved, click here to make a donation in my name.

2009 September Campaign Video: The Story of charity: water

The story of charity: water – The 2009 September Campaign Trailer from charity: water on Vimeo.

Promo Video Featuring ‘Time Bomb’ by Beck

charity: water promo featuring “Time Bomb” by Beck from charity: water on Vimeo.

Haiti Unshaken Campaign Video

Unshaken – charity: water’s campaign for Haiti from charity: water on Vimeo.

And remember: you can help. $20 gives one person clean water for 20 years. Make a donation to my campaign right now!

ITP Spring Show 2010

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 11-05-2010


Sunday afternoon saw me venture over to the NYU campus to visit the Spring Show from their acclaimed Interactive Telephony Program.

It didn’t disappoint. I found a wacky, wild and deeply creative mix of ingenious projects that linked digital, art, gaming and engineering. In a word: inventive.

ITP Spring Show: Picasso Project

Most interesting for me was a project (pictured above) where two users wear helmets with webcams and then play with dials to ‘merge’ a graphed image combining the visual feed of their two faces. The creator explained he was inspired by Picasso’s Cubism. Wild, right?

Other standouts included Zoobursts super-cool Augmented Reality interactive pop-up books for kids, built by Craig Kapp. And coming from a world of Conversation Mining at Converseon ; Zoe Fraade-Blanar’s Current news project showing a data visualization of Google Hot Trends linked to Google News really intrigued me (and I’ve blogged on Google Hot Trends before). There is a great review, with detailed screenshots, of her project over at Brain Pickings.

ITP Spring Show 'Raven Experience'

All in all, while I’m not surprised that the program led by Clay Shirky is so deeply inventive – I was still completely blown away by the smarts on display.

(And a big PS: If you’re involved with the NYU ITP program, or know someone who is, please let me know: I’d love to talk with them about how my new employer charity: water might be able to draw on the brilliance of the students there.)

UPDATE: The Current news project I mentioned above got a great write up in ReadWriteWeb today, worth a look.

I’m Joining charity: water

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, Internet, Life, Marketing | Posted on 10-05-2010


Two years ago I gave up my September birthday to a new-to-me non-profit named charity: water, little did I know this would eventually turn out to be a life-changing event.

Through this process I learned the full extent of the shocking truth of the world’s water crisis. I learned that close to one billion people lack access to clean water. I learned that unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation caused 80% of diseases and killed more people each year than all forms of violence (including war). And I learned that via charity: water and their 100% model (with every dollar heading directly to water projects) that $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years.

And today, I’ll make this mission the purpose of my work life as I join charity: water’s executive team as Director of Digital Engagement and Fundraising.

There’s a host of reasons I’m ecstatic to join the charity: water team, and not the least the amazing people I’ll be working with, led by our Founder Scott Harrison.

If I had to narrow my motivation down to 3 key items though, it would be the following:

1. The Cause: 1 in 8 people in the world lack access to clean water. It’s a problem that can be solved with the right mix of ingenuity, hard work and cold hard cash. It’s a gigantic task, but there’s few out there more worthy of taking on – the gift of water can truly transform lives.

2. The Model: Every single cent donated to charity: water is used to fund water projects. No waste. Administrative costs are covered by other donors: everything from our team’s wages to the ink in the office printer. No confusion. It’s a new approach to charity.

3. Proven Digital Innovation: A website that looks better than nearly any corporate. Every well that is built is marked on Google Maps. 1.3 million people follow them on Twitter, they were the focus of the first Twestival and they’re even held up as an example by Twitter for other causes. In short, this non-profit is a true digital organization.

Paull Young charity: water from Paull Young on Vimeo.

And the best part of all of this? YOU can help. I want your money, your sweat, your voice and your brain… or any of the above :)

Your Money - Make a Donation

The most important element for the millions without water is access to your money. As I said, as little as $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years. The first thing I’ve done as a charity: water employee is to ‘eat my own dogfood‘ and launch my own fundraising campaign – so if you were going to say congratulations remember there’s no better way to do so than by contributing $20 in my name! (and please do report back on the donation process – there’s nothing like feedback).

Your Sweat – Run a Fundraising Campaign

There’s only one thing I’ll love more than our donors in my new role, and that’s our fundraisers. There’s many ways you can raise money for the cause, you could give up your birthday for the cause just like Alyssa Milano, you could climb a mountain, heck, it’s so simple an 8 year old can do it! The only bounds are your creativity, and if you plan to fundraise for us do be sure to let me know!

Your Voice – Follow us Online and Spread the Word

Even if you can’t donate or fundraise right now there are a range of other things you can do to support us – importantly you can help spread the word and introduce us to your network. Please check out the links below and stay connected:

Your Brain – Share your ideas, your connections, your organizations

Please feel free to reach out to me with any of your ideas or thoughts on how you can help. I’ll always have time for you and every piece of support is valuable.

I know many of you are marketers or corporate folk – I’d love to find ways to get the support of your clients, your employers and your coworkers. Likewise I know I’d like to draw on your professional expertise no matter what your background and skill set.

So if you’re interested in lending your professional support now or down the track please leave a comment or drop me an email, at least then I’ll know I can reach out to you in future without fear of being needy.

I’ll be trying to blog regularly here and share insights on how we continue to develop charity: water’s digital program. I hope you can all subscribe and come along for the ride!


My mate Joe Ciarallo over at PR Newser covered the move, and my former CEO Rob Key wrote a nice post bidding me farewell over at the Converseon blog.

I Found Heaven: The Lost World NYC

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Humour | Posted on 08-05-2010


I’m still not sure if this really happened or if it was simply a dream, but today in New York’s West Village I stumbled across a little piece of heaven: the Lost World – a Big Lebowski themed Tshirt shop.

The Dude Abides

The best part about it? The owner hanging out in a purple bathrobe – a true to life version of The Dude.

Mark it Zero

The dude abides. Oh, and if you ain’t seen the Big Lebowski do yourself a favour and hire it… but this 2 minute version will give you the gist:

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