Augmenting the cloud

Augmenting the cloud

I finally did it; wrote a book. Better yet I got it published. After 44 years, 9 months and 28 days on this planet I achieved pretty much the only goal I can ever remember having had. If you believe the growing number of 5-star reviews on Amazon it’s pretty good too (although admittedly one of those is by my mother). But these days it’s not enough just to be a good writer with the drive to make your dream happen. As I tell my multimedia journalism students all the time, you have to be able to sell yourself too. 

My book, Working the Cloud, is about using the internet and all the technological bell-and-whistles it offers to help grow your small business or entrepreneurial venture, so of course I had to make full use of all the tricks I was recommending to help spread my own marketing message.

One of those was ‘augmented reality’. This technology allows you to place digital content ‘attached’ to real world objects, so in this case we used my book cover as a marker. Readers download the free Aurasma smartphone app on Android and iPhone. When they fire it up and point it at the cover of Working the Cloud a video sequence starts up where I pop out of the cover, breaking it all apart as I do, talking about why people should buy the book. Think of it like a mini commercial that can be viewed anywhere the app and the cover design are brought together.

The project was a collaboration between the augmented reality developers, Aurasma, and myself, with my publisher Crimson boldly going along with what must have sounded like a pretty far-fetched scheme when I suggested it: “Hey Jon, I have this great idea to augment a digital miniature me onto the cover of my book!” It still sounds and looks very sci-fi to most people and has definitely helped to cause a stir when it comes to drumming up publicity. 

Of course I had to make apps for iPhone and Android too, which deliver bonus video content and a feed from the companion website I have set up at and will eventually be used to host live chats and business clinics. On launch day itself I hosted the first ever ‘virtual book signing’ on Google Hangouts—another one of the marketing and communication tools I recommended in the book (of course).

By putting these, and many more of the 300-odd tools and tips recommended in Working the Cloud to use I hope it offers a practical extension of the words in the book so people are inspired and have the confidence to go out there and try them for themselves.

It’s aimed at anyone in business, but especially those who don’t actually think the internet is relevant to their business! Having spent nearly 10 years reporting on the web for the BBC and other broadcasters, radio shows and print publications, I’ve come to see that the web is not only relevant, but essential for ALL businesses to embrace. The financial crisis of 2008 left over a million Britons jobless and since then there has been a big push from the government to encourage a start-up culture to help get the country back on its feet. The internet is a huge part of that and as 50% of all new businesses don’t survive the first year of trading you’d better be ready to use every asset you can get your hands on if you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of that statistic.