Future Thinking: Observations vs Predictions
for Entrepreneurs, Startups & NGOs

Future Thinking - One World, One Web (?)

Illustration Above: One World, One Web. Original image created and licensed under creative commons by Paul Downey

Months ago, following the presentation I delivered at The National Student Entreprise Conference, I published a blog post.

The post’s footer contained some of my thinking in regards to likely 2010 Industry Trends, Challenges and Insights – these have been freely available online to the conference attendees and anyone who might have stumbled across them since March.

Given a host of recent announcements from Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Adobe, Google and BumpTop, today (3rd May 2010) I feel compelled to post them separately, in their own right – I hope they might provide food for Social-Web thought ‘-)

My list of Industry Trends:

  1. Crowd sourcing ideas/products (E.g. ChatRoulette’s remove perverts prize, and services like Groupon)
  2. Social Media Policy (E.g. Policy Guidance & PolicyEspresso)
  3. Geo-location & Augmented reality (mapping data in locational context – QR & RFID tags vs Gowalla and Foursquare – earn points/prizes through loyalty interactions)
  4. New scaling/working models: co-working, participation and freelance collaboration
  5. Recommendation Engines and ROI Measurement (collecting, analyzing and measuring data, conversation, networks, purchases etc)
  6. Real-time (including mobile video/content streaming and data search)
  7. Mobile Payment Systems (square, PayPal, Bump and NFC’s N-Mark)
  8. Open Data – government and service APIs

    {*My prediction and tipped field to watch*}
    Multi-dimensional narrative (authenticity, story-telling and play within/across conversation, Facebook Games, Online Marketing and iPad Apps – including new ‘add value’ dimensions to publishing, promotion and engagement – this is where my long-term money is on services like Gowalla over the likes of Foursquare, in my mind they have two very different social narrative values)

My list of Industry/User Challenges:

  1. Up-to-speed Education (online identity, ethics,tools) – Related topics: Chat Roulette, OpenID, OAuth & TwitterAuth to reduce identity phishing scams and spam, services like SocialSentry now offer businesses the ability to track employees via social networks and conversations on twitter/Facebook/etc.
  2. Proprietary/Open-Source, Monetization & Measurement (Subscriptions/Freemium/Advertising/Free)
  3. Accessibility & Compatibility for multiple devices and navigation types (muti-touch vs browser, desktop vs mobile, Surface vs iPad etc. – including the evolution towards gesture based interaction like Jonny Lee’s genius, SeaDragon and technologies like Canesta – expect to see interface evolve towards more physical interactions like BumpTop and SixthSense)
  4. Law & Legislation – Related topics: Digital Economy Bill, Google in China, Social Media Policy and Facebook T&Cs
  5. Understanding transparency vs engagement – we don’t consume, we filter and question (government, business, advertising) – large businesses need to find/develop passionate and inspiring staff, entrepreneurs should be naturals!
  6. Data-legacy & Sustainable Hosting (Eg. dead short-url links, backup and http://deathbook.info)
  7. Data Publishing & Distribution – Related Topics: Publishing Industry vs Apple/Google/Facebook… iPad – Flash vs HTML5 video…

My Summary/Insights:

  1. Traditional marketing is not a ‘social’ activity so don’t apply its mindset to Social Media or Social Networks – Related topics: Top down vs bottom up, one directional vs multi-directional, multi-channel multi-media/um)
  2. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all very different – please recognize/realize this!
  3. If you’re starting a website I suggest ‘self-hosting it for a minimal fee’ and host its content where possible (but make sure its shareable and embeddable elsewhere) and build in measurement tools (I recommend WordPress and Google Analytics – then SEO and Google Adwords can come later – at least build the foundations with a sensible database format like MySQL/XML)
  4. Social Media is the playground of Individuals, agile business’s and entrepreneurs
  5. Social Media’s real strength is in its possibilities, ideas and connections to inspiring minds and challenging opinions
  6. If you choose to use Social Media then be prepared to participate (build identity/trust/respect/transparency/connections through participation in conversations and inspiring/useful/unique content) – listen and learn, apply the 2 ears 1 mouth philosophy of a BarCamp – be prepared for criticism and address it, don’t brush it under the carpet – focus on quality not quantity, long ‘unique’ blog posts are worth much more to your community than short posts of information they can already find elsewhere ‘don’t create noise, create gems!’ – build your content into a story, narrative is often engaging if it has a plot!
  7. Please be aware that 3rd party services can and will change their business models – I personally believe services like Twitter will start charging businesses and providing limited data (API) access to individuals very soon (its likely other services will start advertising in your content feed), don’t put all your eggs in one basket in terms of YouTube for video, check great services like Viddler.com (its equipped with widgets and analytics) and be aware of using short url services (bit.ly is my current preference but even I’ve got a long list of improvements to make to my blog)
  8. Social Media Communication is not a replacement for traditional marketing, attending events or real-world face-to-face meetups or conversations over coffee/beer, it is simply a supporting channel – get out and meet people! put your twitter address on your business card and use #hashtags! > when social online meets social offline true value is realized (both ROI and SROI FTW!) see > Twestival.org, Tuttle.101 and many more!

I recommend investigating the following resources – click the links below:

Do you have a Facebook?
BBCs Virtual Revolution series (you should find all 4 episodes on YouTube)
TED Video on Creative Commons
Online Ethics and Digital Legacy
The UK Digital Economy Bill
Entrepreneurship Advice from the founders of Air B&B (4 episodes in total)
The future of Game & Play
(watch the embeded video!)
Seth Godin’s post entitled ‘The Ubiquity of Competition’
(check all his blog content!)

This is a better introduction to me >my @fellowcreative padawan blog-post<

Brand Philosophy : is Nokia a Starfish or a Spider?

Drafted 18/09/09 – Published 24/09/09.
The thoughts/viewpoints expressed are my own.

IF YOU CUT OFF A SPIDERS HEAD, it dies; but if you cut off a starfish’s leg, it grows a new one, and that leg can grow an entirely new starfish.

Quote from Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom.
Authors of ‘The Starfish and The Spider’.

As some of you may know I was recently invited to Budapest to take part in filming and social media production for the new Nokia Nseries Campaign (currently code-named #budaviral it is perhaps a little presumptuous on behalf of the marketing department) but the invitation to join a select team of mobile geeks and bloggers was an awesome opportunity and too good to turn down.

When I boarded my flight to Hungary I was carrying with me a book entitled ‘The Starfish and The Spider’. I was also very aware that my iPhone was my primary mobile handset – so why had Nokia invited me? and what were they expecting from me?


Photo: Budapest
Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by Me

FellowCreative Sustainability
Before I continue, and for those that may question the sustainability of such a trip (900 mile flight each way) I would like to point out that my focus in this instance was positive ‘social impact’ over ‘environmental change’ (although EasyJet do have a CSR Policy I have to admit I’m not an enthusiastic fan of corporate carbon offsetting, but I was pleased to see only one empty seat on-board my return flight, in comparison to the twenty or so available on my outbound journey).

I firmly believe that social media tools and technologies have the ability to connect, unite, empower and educate communities towards positive change (both social and environmental) – as Nokia themselves are demonstrating with their Responsiveness Campaign (exploring the positive impacts of responsive conversation) supported by TED Fellow Kyra Gaunt.
I myself spend most of my days joining dots between technologies and ideas to empower positive impact – hence SustainableWidget and my client list focused on training & development, education and entrepreneurship, and socially and environmentally positive enterprise.

However, getting back to the Starfish…

Nokia’s invitation in this case had me both intrigued and a little nervous for different reasons… given my design background I’ve been an Apple user (some might say fanboy) for thirteen years and a business contract iPhone user since August 2007. However, I personally think the iPhone camera sucks and I find Apple’s ‘corporate non-transparent ways’ and ‘sometimes suspicious governance’ of its App Store ‘specifically for video-streaming services’ extremely frustrating (and some might say non existent).

With this in mind and given the fact my Digital SLR just isn’t portable 24/7, I do tend to carry a Nokia N96 mobile in my bag, from which I sparingly record video footage, live-stream via Qik.com and take photographs of useful quality (5 mega pixels).

Over recent months I’ve also been carrying an Nokia N97 which is equipped with a slightly better camera lens (Carl Zeiss Tessar 2.8/5.4) and comes pre-installed with Qik.com live-streaming; but if I’m honest I do leave the real social media content creation and mobile geekness to entertaining and talented folk like Christian Payne and James Whatley (I’m more interested in how all this shiny stuff can be used at a global/regional/social/academic/community level to bring people and ideas together for positive change).

I prefer bottom-up, multi-channel ‘community focused’ mindsets (some might say web 2.0 principles) as opposed to those of one-way corporate governance and dictatorship – I choose Starfish over Spiders.

The Starfish and The Spider
With this said, and given my recent experiences of Nokia, I’d like to voice my viewpoint to anyone who’s interested:

Apple design and manufacture solid consumer electronics that deliver intuitive usability to a mass and global market. Apple are undoubtedly best-known for their hardware products (including the Apple Mac, iPod and iPhone) but in my personal opinion the most impressive part about their diverse and ground breaking product range is often overlooked (especially by the mass market).

The combination of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system and iTunes media platform delivers an unparalleled and unrivaled user experience! Lets face it, the reason most people overlook beautiful simplicity is because its so simple they don’t need to (or even require time to) stop and think about it. I only wish Apple made ‘touch-tone call-center systems’ – the world would be a better place and I might actually be able to talk to my bank manager!

Apple’s product quality, intuitive user experience and developer community have made them a world leader. The App Store topped 1.5 Billion Downloads in its first year and with less than 3 years in the mobile industry its supposedly on target to be market leader by 2013.

But remember I personally think the iPhone camera sucks and I find Apple’s ‘corporate non-transparent ways’ and ‘sometimes suspicious governance’ of its App Store ‘specifically for video-streaming services’ extremely frustrating. And more importantly still, I know I’m not alone.

I might be an early adopter in the technology space but I’m confident that those who frequent my circle will agree that being able to upload a video to YouTube is not enough (especially when its sprinkled with targeted advertising later), and its certainly not enough when so much more is easily possible (I’m reluctant to believe its a matter of cost).

It may surprise some of you to hear me say, others will have heard me openly say it already, but compared to the iPhone I actually prefer the look and tactility of the Nokia N97, and I’d even go so far as to say the build quality is better – if only it had an intuitive OS interface and keyboard (?)

It is with the above ‘open mindset’ that I landed in Budapest…

A nagging voice in my head kept telling me that Nokia wouldn’t be able to live up to my Apple expectations. What I found made me re-evaluate.

I found Nokia’s team to be extremely ‘community and socially minded’ in there approach and very open in conversation; not just excited about their products but more interested in what I and those around me thought we could (or wanted to) do with them. They appear to understand why I carry multiple devices and they didn’t appear at all threatened by the presence of a competitors product or a non Ovi Store App (I fail to name another brand that would be so open to this situation – perhaps Google?). Nokia appeared to understand why I prefer the App Store to Nokia Ovi, and they appeared to recognize iPhone OS is more intuitive than Nokia’s current Sybian OS.

The independent bloggers I met all shared their own stories about how the Nokia Marketing Team had actively promoted blog posts that highlighted ‘traditionally negative’ product flaws and drawbacks. Nokia seem to understand that ‘learning through doing is key’ and providing an open platform for constructive criticism and negative consumer feedback is a strength not a weakness in today’s connected ‘bottom-up’ world. Inviting bloggers and Nokia fanboys to see the latest toys is one thing but to boldly invite an opinionated Mac Addict along shows confidence in product.

Nokia N00 (N900)

Photo: My hands on an Nokia N900 Prototype
Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by Me

The very fact that Nokia are developing innovative multi-channel Social-Media tools like Noise Cancellation Headsets and products like the Booklet 3G’s makes me feel they understand a growing audience and mindset; and better still I think they understand their competitor marketplace (especially with Google and HTC now on the playing field). The N97 and specifically the N900 demonstrate to me that Nokia understand that one button clad product doesn’t fit all but making an adaptable touchscreen interface can help. Sure their current standing is in mobile (especially in developing markets) but I’m encouraged by the fact its building upon its impressive audio and camera know-how to develop new legs in other markets like Netbook’s and VOIP.

I left Budapest impressed with a Starfish, and I keep my fingers crossed that Nokia sort out their OS Interface before a competitor releases a decent quality camera and signs-off on a live-streaming App. The fact that they are working in developing markets gives me confidence that not only will a more intuitive and useful user experience emerge on a Nokia device but its sense of social media and global connectivity/transparency will grow.

Nokia, if you are listening, thank you for making me welcome =)
I’ll leave you with three thoughts, imagine what you could do away from Ovi…

YouTube Preview Image
Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Viddler video.
YouTube Preview Image

To read more content from our Budapest adventures here are some relevant links:

#BudaViral: Social Media Adventures in Budapest with Nokia
Nokia Nseries Campaign: A Storyboard of Secrets from Budapest #BudaViral

My Review: Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-905 (Probably the ideal freelancer/co-working headset?

My Review: Nokia Booklet 3G
Ben’s Review: TheReallyMobileProject.com – Nokia Booklet 3G
Stefanos’ Review (in Greek): Pestaola.gr – Nokia Booklet 3G

N97 mini and N900 stuff can be found here: http://thereallymobileproject.com

Social Media adventures in Budapest with Nokia

Drafted on 16/09/09 – Published with images and links on 23/09/09

The temperature is a reported 26 degrees, standing to my right is Director Osmo Walden who’s commanding a RED camera and a forty strong film crew; and I appear to be part of a four-man team of mobile fanboy’s and bloggers (and now padawan acting extra’s) for a set of Nokia Nseries video shoots.

The Team

Photo: Nokia Budapest #budaviral team (sadly too many people to fit into one photo)
Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by Me

The team (pictured above) includes Ben Smith of TheReallyMobileProject (left:1), Nokia fanboy and self proclaimed ‘Tablet Guy’ Jeremiah Anway (2), Tom Hall of Nokia WOMWorld (3), full-time Greek God and blogger Stefanos Kofopoulos (4), and myself (standing behind an N97 taking the photo).

All of whom landed at Budapest Ferihegy International Airport late last night to meet each other over a quick beer, grab approximately four hours sleep, before receiving a 4.45am wake-up call to our first location shoot (a Church found somewhere within the Hungarian capital).

Photo: Nokia N00 prototype (which will become N900)
Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by Me

So how (I hear you ask) did I ‘a self-proclaimed iPhone addict and less than regular blogger’ find myself amongst these respected online folk and surrounded by a host of as yet un-launched (and even un-seen) Nokia devices? in Budapest of all places?

The short answer is I’m not entirely sure, except to say that only a few days ago I became the recipient of a slightly cryptic email from Nokia WOMWorld, stemming from my love of shiny things, my involvement in the social media space, and the fact I gained some networked support from Nokia in 2008 when I designed and hosted a ‘VITAL Event introducing Social-Media to Creative Students and Professionals‘ on behalf of my client University for the Creative Arts.

The email read:

“Nokia will be in Budapest next week shooting a new and exciting Nseries campaign. We wondered if you would be interested in coming along for a couple of days and perhaps take part in some filming?”

PORT 46, River Danube, Budapest.

Photo: Port 46, River Danumbe, Budapest
Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by Me

Never one to miss an opportunity, enticed by the words ‘exciting new Nseries campaign’, and somewhat wary of the words ‘take part in filming’ I now find myself at the second shoot location of the day. I’m on board a boat, moored at Port 46 on the River Danube, with my iPhone and trusty MacBook Pro in clear view of the Nokia staff team. I’m also equipped with a Nokia N96 and N97, and have a prototype Nokia N97 mini, a Nokia CityMan 450 and a prototype handset marked N00 charging from my mac USB port (otherwise known as a prototype N900). In the background I can hear discussions surrounding a DHL delivery of a Nokia Booklet 3G.

Knowing full well that the respected team around me will be providing reliable and technical geekery on the aforementioned hardware (devices and prototypes) I will avoid publishing such content. In addition to tweets, audioboos and Qiks (provided the new SIM starts to work), the content I produce in Budapest will likely focus on Nokia’s philosophy and approach to their Nseries campaign instead of the products themselves.

After all, I’m currently reading ‘The Star Fish and The Spider‘ as recommended to me by Dave Stone, and I’m extremely intrigued to find out why they’ve invited me ‘a primary iPhone user’ over to Budapest – so far the Nokia management have been extremely accepting of my Apple preferences for tweeting and blogging…

To read more content from our Budapest adventures here are some relevant links:

Nokia Nseries Campaign: A Storyboard of Secrets from Budapest #BudaViral
Brand Philosophy: Is Nokia a Starfish or a Spider?

My Review: Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-905 (Probably the ideal freelancer/co-working headset?

My Review: Nokia Booklet 3G
Ben’s Review: TheReallyMobileProject.com – Nokia Booklet 3G
Stefanos’ Review (in Greek): Pestaola.gr – Nokia Booklet 3G

N97 mini and N900 stuff can be found here: http://thereallymobileproject.com

Budapest Location Photos
Nokia Nseries Products