Archive for the ‘trends’ Category

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Is a Change in Social Capital/Currency Afoot?

14 January, 2009

I am not a daily reader of the stars, but I do think astrology often has interesting things to say. I’ve had too many coincidental things happen (and too many scarily accurate astroligical readings) to not pay some mind to this. Let’s add two personal facts to this: I am a Sagittarian,  and the first group I ever joined on Facebook was “When I was your age, Pluto was a planet” (a real testimonial if ever there was one). So of course, I am talking about the transition of Pluto from Sagittarius to Capricorn.

The short paragraph on the astrology side:
Pluto in Sagittarius was about (amongst other things) excess, consumerism and adventure. Pluto in Capricorn is about reality, value and the real worth of things. Very simplistically, the whole Global Financial Crisis is really about the end of the Sagittarian excess and we are all expecting that we’ll get a dose of (financial) realism, expectation of honest value and maybe a little less excess in our corporate greed.

Ok, regardless of astrology, the whole GFC is also altering our mindset in many ways. I know a lot of people who are questioning values and what they stand for and invest in. People are increasingly interested in local food (locavore); organics, real value and tangible good.

One of the things that I think this might affect is a classic GenC interest – celebrity.

If we look for real value, we are unlikely to look for it in the more vacuous famous faces; the YouTube 15-minutes-of-fame types; or the excessive party-boy with no redeeming features. GenC is still likely to be looking for role model images (every generation prior has also done that) but I think we might see a shift in them looking for real value in these images – real talent, real skills and real quality, rather than just the sheen of celebrity.

And, that makes me wonder if we will, as a result, see a slight shift in the role of social networks and media. If we are after real value, then social currency might start to lose some of the gloss. Tangible assets such as communication, quality of response, thoughtfulness and responsivness are likely to come to the fore are critical components of creating social capital. Not that they aren’t important now, just that other things (such as numbers of friends, looks, sarcasm and ability to waste time and/or money) seem to have as much importance. Add to this that it is generally well understood that a key value in social networks is the presentation of the image we want to show (whether real of not) and I think we might be ready for a little reality collision.

Whether you think it is the stars, the GFC, or just a maturing of the social environment – I am betting that we will be seeing less of the “celebrity in her own lunchtime” stars, and more of those with real value (and likely more positive values). And that this may, just might, start to change the way in which we use social networks, what we say and what images we portray of ourselves.

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Anyone want to buy a (slightly) used iPhone?

10 September, 2008

This is being written on an iPhone. I have a relationship with my iPhone which is starting to change my relationshipo with my Internet-connected laptop. But it has also slightly changed my mobile phone behaviour – and in ways that I can feel I am starting to rail against.

Love the interface? Yes, but…
Love the interconnection between apps? Yes, but….
Love the large display? Yes, but….

I recently asked a group of about 60 GenC’s whether they wanted an iPhone or not. About nine of them did – a respectable 15%, not bad. I was curious as to how the rest felt, and asked who had no interest or intention of getting an iPhone. I confess, i expected similar numbers, but I was wrong.

40% of them did not want an iPhone. In a couple of cases, it was anti-Apple sentiment, but even ignoring that… Some had tried it and rejected it. One had received and iPhone and gave it away after a week, one had gone into the Apple Store to try it out with the intention of buying it – but ended up walking away and is still looking for a new handset. For almost all of the 40 of didn’t want it – they saw the iPhone as a neat little browsing device, but a substandard mobile phone.

Why? They didn’t like the soft keypad – they preferred the numeric keypad for text entry as they could type without looking at the keys.

They wanted MMS so they could share photos. They wanted flash, they felt cheated by a far less than fully-featured GPS. And most of them already had a music player they loved (often an iPod), so they didn’t need a duplicate for this.

But close behind the (in)ability to text at 60 words a minute blindfold, and send and receive photos, was the lack of decent Bluetooth support – how are they meant to share with their friends without it?

I remember my frustration with journalists who never understood what MySpace was, get all frenzied over FaceBook. At the time, and still, I think this is in part because they never gotMySpace (it was for a younger, less structured and more creative demographic) whereas the more formal structure of FaceBook and the slightly elitists sense of community they found there appealed to them – so we had a year of journalists talking up FaceBook and heralding the death of MySpace. I have a feeling we’re seeing a bit of this now – Apple has always been a phenomenal marketing company (even if not a great technology company) and their concentration on user interface and experience cannot be denied. So now we’ve got a raft of journalists who suddenly getthe mobile internet – because they’ve got a real internet device in their pocket, even if it is not a great mobile phone.

For the mobile Internet (and the Internet will go everywhere) – the iPhone can’t be beat. But as a really mobile connection device – there are some pretty fundamental flaws. I might be fine about the changes to my internet behaviour, but I’m not happy about the loss of some really mobile tools I was used to. And certainly, according to one random sample of GenC – the iPhone just doesn’t cut it as The Most Desirable Device (which admittedly, most of them are still waiting for).

Apple’s Kool Aid sure tastes great, but maybe we need to slow down our drinking.

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Seeing some light

14 April, 2008

Two recent things have happened that make me feel as though we really are on the cusp of some exciting new stuff in the mobile application world.

 I’ve talked about how raving over the mobile internet is really just raving over the current major communication form on the brand new medium (radio with pictures). This shouldn’t be taken to mean that I don’t think the mobile internet is a good thing – I think it is great, long over due, and I am really looking forward to seeing more smart sites being built. I just mean that the mobile internet isn’t the end game.

In the last week, I’ve seen some serious and beautiful work done around a mobile social networking that includes location, presence, awareness and groups (and profiles, and chat and dating). It’s gorgeous – but sadly only for iPhone users.  There is a good Techcrunch article on it.

I understand, but don’t necessarily agree with the elite angle this socnet is aimed at. It really is for the ‘already well connected’. But it does show that thought is going that way. I doubt we’ll see social networks limited to any other handset as none of them (yet) has the social cache of iPhone.

But I do think we’ll start to see more use of groups. I designed a mobile social network called ‘tribz’ some three years ago (a little head of its time) and I still believe that the world, socially, comes in different sizes for us. Not all friends are made alike and we need to be able to manage them, as groups, in different ways.

Stirred enough to be determined to finish the business plan this week. Interested in being part of this?

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Mobile Engagement

26 February, 2008

Just done a presentation on Mobile Engagement at the Laboratory for Advanced Media Production (LAMP), which is a cross-media lab project from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS). I’ve done a few LAMP projects now – they are immersive residentials where we spend a week expanding a variety of projects (this week, seven), making them consider immersion, Second Life, narrative, social networks, interactive TV, engagement and, of course, mobile.

I usually talk about Social Networking (and touch on mobile and Gen C) but this week Laurel Papworth is the social networking guru, so I’ve concentrated on mobile and some Gen C stuff. As a result, I’ve redone my presentation on Mobile Engagement for a (even if I say so) pretty good 30 min preso that really covers my thoughts in this area.

 Of course, I lean all over the ‘radio with picture’ frustration with mobile internet, and start to think about what the next steps might be. Here is the slide that I showed for this:

Mobile Engagement

Following on from this (and the whole presentation can be yours if you ask), I’ve come across a whole bunch of blogs that talk about mobile social networks (one dedicated to that elite community of iPhone owners – Fon11), the use of bluetooth (oh, if only the handset manufacturers would implement it fully within the USERS control!!) and, this morning, one on how the mobile application is now dead(long live the mobile internet).

I do believe in the mobile internet – I just don’t think it is everything. I also continue to believe in mobile applications, but not the humongous, complex ones. If we are going to engage with consumers – we’re going to do it through good experiences, not just clever devices. So anything that helps make a better experience (that personal aesthetic) has got to be part of the equation.

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The New Natives

6 December, 2007

Rupert Murdoch certainly created a common term when he referred to himself as a ‘digital immigrant’. The term ‘ditigal native’ has become common enought that I received a chart today with a generational breakdown showing where groups ar natives, immigrants or aliens.

I think the same thing is happening in mobile, and that it has happened with every paradigm shift device.

When television first arrived, we called it ‘radio with pictures’ – and that’s exactly what we did with it. We also treated it like theater and had static camera with actors moving about. Eventually we realised it was a new phenomena and TV as we know it took off.

With the internet – this started the same way. We took the existing forms of media – TV, magazines and newspapers – and put them on the internet. Even now, a huge number of internet sites remain digital version of legacy media.

But that changed when the natives, who had grown up with the internet, reached the age of invention. Suddenly we got internet sites (and services) which could exist only on the internet. Amazon, eBay, Google for starters. More recently we’ve seen tagging, sharing and social networking sites join them.

On the mobile, what we’ve got now is really the same thing. The previous media (in this case the internet) on the new medium (the mobile phone). Mobile natives, those who grew up with the mobile as a integral part of their life, are only just coming of age.

I don’t think we’ve seen even the first wave of native application for mobile, and I think most of us are so steeping in other media/mediums that we can’t even conceived of what these might be. Sure, they are likely to include location, bluetooth and integrated uses for the camera and phone – but I’m not even going to start imagining what they will be.

And, like all good innovations – once we see them, they will be so obvious that we’ll wonder why we didn’t come up with them first.

Anyone who says they know the future of mobile, mobile services, mobile applications – is more than likely only a mobile immigrant. The future will be with the natives.

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Social Media meets Mobile

18 October, 2007

We all talk about how consumption of media is changing, but don’t often look exactly what this means for the consumer. Specifically, there are two key influences happening right now which are leading to about ten other things.

The two key influences are the rise of social networking and the extension of then mobile phone from communications into other areas.

By social networking, I include social media, being media which we can interact with in some form (by commenting, blogging, creating, sharing or mashing up with other things); social networking, being the ability to define groups of friends and communicate in a more public manner with them, either by actively communicating or by referential communication, activities we (publicly) undertake; and the wider concept pf social graph, defined as “the network of connections that exist through which people communicate and share information.” (Dave Morin, Facebook) which underpins social sharing sites like Flickr, youTube, Twitter, FriendFeed etc.

The change in the mobile phone reflects that which happened with the internet. Email was a killer app for the internet – suddenly we could communicate with people easily. Yes, there was content, but it was difficult to find outside of our walled gardens (like CompuServe and AOL), search wasn’t very sophisticated and it seemed huge (in reality, a fraction of the size it is now). Mobile phones are starting to be not the primary device for content and media, but definitely an option to a growing section of the community. That, coupled with their uniquely exclusive relationship with an individual, makes them a critical device.

So, together, we find that our networks and the people we know are becoming more and more central to what we do; what we buy; what we read and what interests us. Not so much ‘herd’ mentality as ‘tribal’ interests. Conversations between people relate either to the imparting of new information, or the discussing of shared information – so knowing what our friends are doing, reading and saying will influence what we are also likely to do, read or say. And as the whole idea of ‘life caching’ means that the mobile will move into being a part of the way we capture and consume the stories that are our day.

In order to facilitate this, we need to ensure that our relationship with our consumers takes into account the fact that their networks and social graph are far more important that we are (the mere deliverers of content) and that recognising their primary relationships (social) also means ensure that we continue to know who they are (and what they’ve done) regardless of the device through which our relationship with them is mediated – thus ensuring that our knowledge of what will drive them encompasses all those elements of their life. (The zero, one, two, three rule.)