Posts Tagged ‘Reflexions’

Reflections on Mobile World Congress: The age of Cyborgs

By Jeroen Gaudissabois (@JGaudiss)

 

Ah, Barcelona! The beautiful city of ramblas, Gaudi, beaches, tapas and sun! Heaven on earth! Unless you go there during winter of course. During winter, Barcelona, like any other European city, is just another grey mass of warmly-dressed  people hurrying to get back inside. Then again, who would be crazy enough to go to Barcelona during winter? Well, I am, and approximately 70.000 journalists from all over the world are too.

The reason we all visited this beautiful city in its least inviting period of the year is that from the 25th to the 28th of February 2013, Barcelona was the host of the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest tradeshow for mobile technology. Because Barcelona has had this honor for several years, the city has earned itself the title of “Mobile Capital of the World”.

Strolling around in this Walhalla of technology, I couldn’t help but think back to my first mobile love: the infamous Nokia 3310. This rock-solid piece of hardware served its purposes, texting and calling, admirably. It’s not surprising that 13 years after its launch, this mobile wayfarer is woefully outdated. Let’s imagine the following, please bear with me:

“A 3310 walks into a bar and sees its contemporary counterparts. It’s immediately obvious that they’re shinier than him, but hey, why couldn’t he socialize with them, right? He grabs a stool near the bar and starts eavesdropping. What are these phones on about? An what about those keyboardless computers, what are they doing here? But look at how easy all these shiny devices are connecting and hooking up!? What could he possibly have to say to all the other phones here? They’re all so smart! It’s almost as if they’re connected to some higher omniscient being! After sulking on his stool for a while, our brave 3310 finally hides himself in the darkest corner of the bar to delete a text message and make room for the next one.”

Ok, let’s snap back to reality. This example might be an exaggeration, but we too often forget the dazzling pace at which technology is evolving.  That by itself is interesting enough, but let’s takes a look at ourselves, shall we? How are these new technologies affecting us? It’s hard to imagine that something didn’t exist once you’ve become accustomed to it.

Tablets, smartphones and mobile internet, they’ve all become extensions of ourselves. With wearable technologies, smartwatches and smart glasses at the threshold of our daily lives, it’s a solid assumption to say that humans are increasingly becoming cyborgs. For better or for worse, we’re all increasingly depending on external technologies to get us through our daily tasks. Need a recipe for cooking? Google it. No idea where you’re going? Turn on the GPS.  Feeling sick? Pick a sensor medical device.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving this evolution! It’s just very easy to take it all for granted if you’ve grown up with it. But when you come to think of how our way of living has changed in the last decade, you’d almost need a storage device connected to your brain to store all your thoughts. Come to think of it, that would be a good idea! If this technological development keeps up the current pace, we might even see Smart Humans in the near future!

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Brilliance: The power of trust, team, respect and mutual sparks

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

 

#canneslions : this is the Mecca of creativity, here the world’s top talented people in advertising and PR meet, compete and interact. A mist of almost holy creativity hangs over the French Riviera city for a full week.

The winners of the first Lions, the prestigious Cannes awards, have been unveiled, and even the very critic peer jury was in awe of the level of brilliance that radiated from the awarded entries. Daring, edgy, entertaining, moving, captivating… it was all there.

The old journalist in me looked as much at the audience, as at the stage. It was fascinating to see how agencies and their clients were sharing these awkward seconds between introduction of a category, and announcement of the winners. Sometimes, client and agency literally await the verdict hand in hand… and every time, winning, close second… or losing was shared by a joined team.

Great brands need great agencies. Great brands and great agencies need great people. Great people in the right environment spark pure brilliance.  None of the winning or shortlisted agencies was working for a client. To even compete at this level, it takes more than working for someone. It means partnering. It implicates blind trust and tremendous respect. To win, you need to think outside the box, deliver above standards, re-invent the path to success, and break down any barriers that might prevent flawless delivery of stellar ideas. Not even a team can chew that off. You need a tribe.

There is no arrogance in successful teams, no politics, no poker faces… to win, every single tribe member needs to break through all that, and become the selfless soldier of a platoon under heavy enemy fire: the confidence that comes when you know you’re covered.

The old French elite Musketeers already knew the key to success: all for one, and one for all… More social than that, it does not get ;-)


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Community is your model, connection your strategy

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

 

Wandering through the old streets of Cannes, the various advertisings and teasers are about online. Digital, you know, and social media.  #canneslions 11 is going to be Social. For sure.

Sipping cooled drinks, awaiting the official start of the event, conversation goes on about the future. The future of advertising, communication, news, influencing. The future of some very influencing industries. And, apparently, between industrial quantities of Pastis and Pernod, it has been decided that that future is going to be digital. And social. For sure.

I, for one, think that this is missing the point entirely. I agree with The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University: the real future of advertising, communication, media buying and news lies exactly where it was in the past: in the ability to deliver a compelling message to a selected audience.

Having insights (metrics, data, intelligence,…)on the communities that harbor your target audience enables you to plot a suitable connection plan, fueled by conversation topics and appealing content.

It does not matter if that community is on or offline. A good strategy is built around the connecting points, encompassing on- and offline, making sure to reach the community in the least intrusive way. Stop bringing the people to the mountain… move the mountain…

If you reach out to communities… do not forget you reach out to people, not to numbers, or dots on a chart… reaching out to people is pretty social in my book, it always was…

The key to success is still the ability to benefit from insights, to have the right empathy to feel the community, and to cleverly select the right mix of influencing channels.

Some old games never change, they just dress differently…

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Talking dust: you cannot harness the power…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

 

Buzz words, and buzzing phrases… it’s intriguing to see how concepts that made perfect sense when they were first used,  gradually erode to the dust of absolute hollow meaninglessness…

The phrase I heard most so far at #canneslions is “harnessing the power of communities”. Seriously, every keynote or seminar I went to, used it: harnessing the power of communities. People on stage trying to make us understand that, regardless if you’re in communications, marketing or media buying, you need to aim at that community. And… harness it’s power. Whatever that means.

What rubs me the wrong way is the directional connotation that the new buzz phrase has. Go harness the power of the community. The community is your target. Go, mighty marketing soldiers… go, and harness its power.

I do not see it work. If a community is your target you will fail, miserably. The secret potion of success lies in understanding the community, finding common grounds and interest points, and creating a partnership that is built upon mutual respect. To make it work, you’ll need engagement… and regardless how well you target the community, and how desperate you want to harness its power… well, you simply cannot. Because engagement and interaction comes from them, the people within the community. They will choose whether or not you’re interesting, funny, nice, intriguing and adorable enough for them to invest some of their energy in you.

See, the power of a community exists. It’s pure magic… but you cannot harness it. The power of a community is a precious gift, and rather than go and conquer it, you’ll have to earn it.

Earning trust and respect, that will lead towards engagement, is a social skill. The social in Social Media was not put there by mistake…

So, stop talking dust…

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The Wooden Cloud: Archiving the internet… on paper…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

 

Stop the press. Seriously. The red button, press it. While everyone at #canneslions is going all mellow on online stuff, and the slow death of classic press is being proclaimed on some over-enthusiast blogs, Internet Archive starts backing up its efforts…. on paper.

Imagine this: “Internet Archive is building a physical archive for the long term preservation of one copy of every book, record, and movie we are able to attract or acquire… The goal is to preserve one copy of every published work,” says Brewster Kahle, from Internet Archive on his blog. So Internet Archive is scanning in all those massive records… but is backing them up on dead trees.

“All our disks, servers and storage means are still objects” says Kahne: “stuff can go wrong with it”.

So for every scanned item in their archive, Internet Archive is now keeping the hard copy as well. Millions of books and publications, on normal paper.  They developed a modular storage system in Oakland California, constructed around one of the most popular storage units in the world: the shipping container –  40.000 books in a container (the equivalent of a standard library), stackable to accommodate the millions of books.

Preserving all the books on the internet, backing up this digital Alexandria on paper. The Cloud never felt more heavy…

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The cemetery of world changing inventions

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

 

So I arrived in Cannes, city of plush French Riviera, overpriced terraces, great sunsets, and –especially with the #canneslions – a lot of overzealous marketing people. The old journalist in me still has a knack for spotting interesting conversations around me. When I heard two junior people going all ballistic over Facebook, I could not help smiling.

Facebook will never go away,” the young girl said. “Ever. It’s too game changing. Too many people are touched by it. It’s here to stay.”

How I love youth. How I love the naïve black-and-white painting of a complex society. The lack of long time perspective… how I adore people not yet tainted by the knowledge that what moves up, comes inevitably down… and hard.

I look back on almost half a decade of life-altering inventions that changed humankind forever. VHS. Betamax. The telex. The fax. LED watches. The modem. IRC.  BBS hot tub. MySpace. Yoghurt machines. The number of applications, inventions and conditioned behaviors that simply eroded, ebbed away, and got forgotten is mind boggling. In the best of cases, some of it is now museum shelf material, gathering dust.

In the steam engine era, steam engines were a big deal. Really. It changed life as they knew it. They thought those whistling machines were there forever.  Well, it has been a while since I saw the cloud-spitting Flying Scotsman thundering by.

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr… they are great. They change life as we used to know it. But something tells me, we’re not there yet. There will be the next next thing. One day, we’ll have to explain to a whole new young generation what all the fuss was about.

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Data is gold – 91,000 terabytes of uncharted web: welcome to the dark side

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

So, you use the internet? Congratulations, you have a couple of thousand terabytes of charted web @ your disposal: company websites, twitter streams, the magic Kingdom of Facebook, and the wondrous tentacles of Google land. But all of this mindboggling information is only a tiny percentage of what the internet really is: a gargantuan monster…

Picture this: The World Wide Web is rather huge, really… Google found more than a 1 trillion (that’s 1,000,000,000,000) unique URLs on the web, and is still trying to index all of those ( in 2006, 25 billion sites were fully indexed). However, most experts refer to this “visible” part of the web as the “surface web”.

Surface web is an adequate term, if you currently draw your nets  in the ocean of online info; you’re barely scratching the surface. The Dark Web, or Hidden Web is approximately 540 times bigger than the web you experience daily. Apart from secret military streams, long lost and forgotten early-day-experiments, over machine-to-machine botnets and criminal set-ups, there are whole sections of the web (like freenet for instance) that are concealed from the normal user.

While big players as Google, Bing and Facebook desperately try to chart, map, reach and index this Deep Web or Dark Web, none of them are making remarkable progress: the Dark Web is still uncomfortably dark, and “hidden”.  However, in this Dark Web, people are storing data, having conversations, expressions, opinions… that are now mostly lost for the indexing, tracking and measuring giants.

Michael Bergman is an American academic, specializing in this Deep Web. He found the deep web to be approximately 550 times larger than surface world wide web. His study says that: “The deep web is the fastest growing category of new information on the internet … The value of deep web content is immeasurable … internet searches are searching only 0.03% … of the [total web] pages available.”

Tim Berners-Lee, CERN scientist who stood at the very cradle of the world wide web has a compelling vision: “I have a dream for the web in which computers become capable of analyzing all the data on the web – the content, links, and transactions between people …” His dream of a Semantic, indexed and holistic web is still a distant dreamy thought however… But the key to a better understanding of knowledge, sentiment and vision might be found in the dark web.

Content is Gold. Measuring is knowing. 99% of the web remains unexplored. Leave the charted waters, Go West. Again ;-) .

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If you want to be sheep, get in a flock, if you want to be wolves, form a pack

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Bruce Sterling did not disappoint me at the closing of SxSW. A cynic futurist and gifted speaker, he has a tradition of naming the things exactly as he sees them, without dressing them up. While he usually writes with vinegar, he switches to vitriol in his talks.

The closing speech was a 45 minute ranting, where Sterling gave Exxon Mobile, the Catholic Church, politicians, Berlusconi and Google C-levels a full broadside of his legendary fuming.

Women, cast away all the cowards from your embraces, “ gives a good idea of the tone of voice, but it got even better when Sterling invited the young generation to take over an overheating planet from the generation that let it happen:  “Go away, Boomers! You need to take power, millennials. I’ll vote for ya! Move to Austin, take over the town, and create a global youth movement. Boomers, shut up, your days are gone.  What you should study now is collaborative consumption. Days of rage, baby. Be realistic, demand the impossible!

Sterling was steaming about the fact that, while nuclear power plants are burning, and the planet is heating… the people who can move the needle sit on their coach, playing with their PlayStations and Wii’s. He’s convinced that without a revolution, the necessary efforts to save the planet and invest in clean technologies that will allow us a future will never be made.

Sterling points out that it is the millennials who should grab their future now. And they have the ultimate weapon to enforce things: the power of a social net.

All they need now is rage.


 

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Oil and water… (it’s not them, it’s you!)

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

SxSW is seen by many as the ideal launch platform for social media start-ups. Twitter, over countless others to Foursquare own a great deal of “launch momentum” to the Texas based exhibition. Only, what was the golden start-up this year?

A lot of start-ups come and try to pitch their cause at the blogger lounge, and I heard more than once that the overwhelming presence of bigger brands prevented smaller start-ups from getting a fair share of voice. Gigabrands like Google, Foursquare, Twitter etc. eating up so much attention that they literally smother to death the little beginners?

Excuse me, but I have difficulties buying that. A ton of journalists, bloggers, podcasters, venture capitalists and business angels are sifting through the five days of SxSW to find the little gem that will grow to the next Gowalla. Investors were roaming the floor with dollars in their pockets.  Claiming that you do not get noticed because O’Reilly stole your five minutes of glory is a little bit too Calimero to my taste.

Oil and water. They do not mix, and oil floats on top. Always. So does quality. If no journalist, blogger or investor made you an instant billionaire, you probably only have to blame yourself. Is your product really outstanding? Does it create a unique user experience? Is it unique? Is it compelling? Did you pitch it correctly? To the right people? Were you professional in advance briefing your targets, and in shortlisting face to face meetings? How good was your leave-behind? How professional your deck? Did you present it well: with passion and conviction? Did you identify the right messaging?

Confucius said that 98 percent of luck sits in clever preparation. Who am I to disagree… if you were worth it, you’ll get in the charts. If not: back to the drawing board…

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Pretty please? It’s not about stuff, it is about us…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Everybody needs to make a living, so I respect that everybody sells something. And listening to all the people selling their thing-of-gold @ #SxSW I cooked up a very simple rule-of-thumb to separate the chaff from the wheat.

It’s no rocket science: ignore the people that are talking about applications, software, browsers, plug-ins and tutti-quanti. They will not make it. Selling stuff will get you nowhere in the charts in the social media world. And a quick poll amongst the influent bloggers in the blogger lounge shows a similar view. Selling stuff is an indication that you do not get the game., it proves that you are playing in the wrong league. It proves that you are on a rollercoaster to lonely oblivion…

Because the game is social. And social just does not care a bit about stuff, social is about people, social is about experiencing and social, more than everything, is about us.

And the people selling experiences stand out like traffic lights in the Mobiwashi desert. Because the online consumers do not want to buy, they want to experience. And if good experience goes through a quick tap through their credit card, they do not care.

So, spotting great user experiences, gives you a great roadmap to real successful companies. How do you benefit from location based services? What curation service will get you the most relevant content? What platform will give you the most interaction with your audience, what tool will let you travel without having to worry about keeping track of your important shared documents?

It’s no longer about bits, and bytes, and CPU’s and whether or not it runs on Honeycomb, OS, Win7 or magic stardust. It’s about how and where and why. The web morphed from tech to social, from geeky to ubiquitous, from stuff to us…


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