April 11, 2011
Call Advertising Market Acquisition: Marchex Buys Jingle Networks (the FREE411 Guys)
Marchex, Inc. (NASDAQ: MCHX) announced the acquisition of Jingle Networks, adding a growing source of mobile distribution to its call advertising network.
The deal is that Marchex plans to pay up to $62.5 million in cash and stock for Jingle Networks, which is a leading providers of mobile voice search performance advertising and technology solutions. Some may know them through their service: 1-800-FREE411.
Jingle Networks’ core business is providing performance advertising solutions to mobile carriers and mobile network operators so that advertising agencies and businesses can leverage in-call advertising, including pay-for-call, to gain new customers over the phone or through the use of mobile applications. Over the last twelve months, Jingle Networks has added numerous mobile distribution partners and grown its mobile partner call volume by more than 200%.
Combining energies, the Marchex Call Advertising Network will now have an annualized reach of more than 500 million phone calls across digital media, including mobile. This new call advertising network empowers both large and small businesses to reach customers when they are ready to buy. As the digital advertising market shifts to incorporate phone calls in a more significant way, the Marchex Call Advertising Network is best positioned to provide solutions to advertising agencies and businesses due to its open platform approach using all digital media platforms and supporting all partner types.
Driven by the rapid adoption of mobile and smart phones, mobile carriers and network operators are seeing a significant rise in the number of consumers leveraging voice search to find businesses. Voice search, however, can be costly for mobile carriers and network operators given the technology and other items necessary to operate the service.
Call advertising helps businesses acquire and up-sell new customers through phone calls, by reaching customers when they are ready to buy. Marchex provides unique phone numbers and analytics tools that are used by advertisers to place, measure and optimize campaigns across all digital media channels, which helps these businesses increase their sales. Call advertising and analytics technologies are more important than ever to track and measure the success of call advertising campaigns in order to help advertisers better optimize their call advertising strategies to increase impact, maximize spend and deliver better sales results for their business.
March 25, 2011
Jensen Grand Prix Insider New Mobile App for What's Hot in the Car Racing World
While I was in Austin for SXSW, I ran across the Jensen Motorsport guys who just happened to have this incredible race car parked on the sidewalk. God bless Texas.
They were part of a promotion for Maple Leaf Digital Lounge and in conjunction with Dynamite Network, they announced the launch of the mobile application Jensen Grand Prix Insider.
Jensen Grand Prix Insider features up to the minute content of what' shot and happening in the car racing world as well as exciting contests and promotions offered by their race team partners.
They handed me a flyer about their promo and the announcement, but it lacked the most important details about the app or the promo. After reading the flyer four times, I finally saw a website link in small font but when I went there, it only gave me a form to enter the contest. I kinda need a reason to guys.
I did manage to find their Facebook page but after several searches, still didn't find much about their new mobile app.
That said, I thought the car was cool and they wooed me into sitting in it and learning more about motorsports in general. And, sitting in the car got me to write this blog post too, but while I'm not the target audience for the mobile app, it would have been great if they included more data up front to make it easy for people who did care about motorsports, to get hooked.
March 21, 2011
Interactivity and You: Which TRIBE do you BELONG to?
The showcase combines documentary storytelling with digital technology. It begs the question: What Tribe Do You Belong to?
Through the eyes of eight style-conscious music fans from My Tribe Is My Life, an interactive web-doc examines their distinctive worlds in a way that allows you the viewer to see the impact of the Internet’s impact on their interpersonal relationships and how they construct their personal identity.
As a player in this interactive experience, you can choose an avatar and find out about the Internet’s impact on you, allowing you to engage in an analysis of virtual networks and to question attitudes about these new social realities.
You will encounter eight diverse characters and have the opportunity to observe them as they go about their day-to-day activities. Through a series of questions, you will be invited to think about the role of the Internet in your own life. When you create an avatar, you can personalize its style, characteristics, accessories, etc., as well as comment on the film and chat with other participants.
The 8 Characters include: Patrick, a Goth loner who lives in his parents’ basement, and has built up a network on a forum dedicated to “vampire” style; Heythem, who organizes reggae parties, and views Facebook as the post-modern address book; Jimmy, a rapper in Abitibi, and a member of Quebec’s hip hop community; Janis (a.k.a. DJ Monochrome), an insurance broker by day and a passionate player in Quebec’s electro music scene by night; Laurianne from Sayabec in the Gaspé, who refines her Goth ethos in daily forum discussions; Sébastien, a Goth dandy/loli and a great admirer of the Japanese Harajuku culture, who regularly uploads photos of himself in his exquisitely constructed clothing ensembles; Pierre-Luc from St-Félicien, a provocateur through his “public private diary,” which has become his Facebook profile; and Shana, an emo teenager from Maliotenam on the North Shore, who derives her sense of identity through her friends, live chat rooms and a penchant for lip-synching videos.
To each his “tribe:” Goth, emo, reggae, rap, vampire. . . . Music is often more than a simple cultural product; it can be a means of constructing identity. Online social networks allow Web users to share music, information, images and feelings; in seeking out their own “kind,” they can discover a tribe that speaks to them. And, in exchange for expressing themselves through sharing and posting, they hope to receive comments, opinions and gestures of approval, all of which serves to validate their identity.
The film trailer can be found here.
March 21, 2011 in America The Free, Arts & Creative Stuff, Conference Highlights, Entertainment/Media, Events, On Mobile & Wireless, On Technology, On the Future, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
March 11, 2011
A Sad But Historical Day: Migrating from my Blackberry to the iPhone
The Apple fan boys get to you - you know, that nagging effect that makes you 'feel' inferior. The innovators snarl at you as if you don't 'get it.'
The early adopters call you a dinosaur and keep asking you when you're going to move into the next century. Your blogger friends make fun of you because you have no cool mobile apps. Your media pals have more than one mobile device and they wonder why you don't too. Your clients keep developing apps that you need to test even if you're not their target market.
It took me long enough to move from a simple phone to a smart phone, one that did what it was supposed to do well - MAKE calls, text and store an insane amount of contacts, a priority for me. The Blackberry was a smart phone compared to my LG, Samsung, Palm and Motorola experiments, yet no one in the industry will likely agree.
It did what I NEEDED it to do really well - text, contacts, email and phone calls, ones that didn't drop several times during a conference call. That said, the Blackberry did NOT have an easy user interface for apps I would likely use abroad, like Skype and Google Maps or ones that I'd use here, such as Yelp, movie sites and local sites like SF Gate when I had a need to look up a restaurant or cafe.
You could look at this blog post as a nostalgic parting of ways post more than anything else. While it hasn't been quite two weeks, everytime I look down at my cool new bright iPhone screen with its purple cover, I can't help but long for my Blackberry. Everytime I have to type a text message or an email (OFTEN), it takes me three times as long. Yes, three, not two.
Apple fan boys and iPhone addicts will say that its only a matter of time and I'll be whizzing along on my new slick device with the mega memory and boat load of apps, yet what I'm realizing is that I simply don't need a boat load of apps.
Sure, I spent a few hours within the first 24 hours downloading cool apps that would make me more productive, such as Errands and 2Do, the latter I even paid for though I can't seem to see the benefit yet even after tinkering with it for a few hours.
I downloaded cool photo apps, the Wifi-Finder which has yet to work for me in 3 different cities, and all the social apps I might possibly use: Bump, Twitter, Plancast, YouTube, Facebook, Tungle, LinkedIn, Seesmic, My6Sense, and Hootsuite. Then again, I used the important ones on that list on my Blackberry with great ease anyway.
I have folders now with tech blogs, media sites, cool travel and resource references, 6 travel maps, and apps that revolve around music, spirituality and finance. I have icons for my favorite conferences and the sure, the DEMO and TED apps were useful recently and no doubt, the SXSW Go app will be useful this week in Austin.
YET....I used to fly through emails and text messages on my Blackberry. While I was sitting on the runway waiting for the plane to take off, I might send 50 emails that saved me time later on. I could check into Foursquare in a heartbeat while somehow on the iPhone, it seems like I need to go through an extra step. As for tweeting, don't get me started.
While on the DEMO floor, I snapped a photo using the very cool Instagram app everyone has been raving about (which I like a lot btw, but after four days of it, the novelty is already wearing off), and it took me 8 minutes to get the tweet out. No, I'm not exaggerating.
I realize the new 'toy' is just that - new. And, I have no doubt that my iPhone and Apple fan boy friends and early adopters who may no longer glare at me, may be right on the learning curve. In a few weeks time, I may very well be fixated with the beauty and zillion apps my Verizon iPhone gives me, but it doesn't mean I'll be any faster at churning out data.
Let's face it, I'm not a gamer or a mobile web surfer. Deep down, I'm a productivity whore. Seriously, I love things that reduce the time I'm tethered to my PC or to a radiation-ridden cell phone, whether its floating through data one screen at a time, listening to music or watching a video on a 5 inch screen. It's just not for me.
While there's no doubt, mobile is exploding and as barriers come down, and bandwidth and battery life improves, we'll be using our devices for more things, more often and in more places.
That said, right now, I need my phone to do 3 things really well: have a strong signal in as many markets as possible so calls aren't dropped and I can get online, churn out messages as text or email as quickly as possible, and have an interface and keyboard that allows me to spit out tweets in seconds, so I can focus on the content before me rather than trying to get the accuracy right using a keyboard that isn't a real keyboard. God help those with large hands and fingers.
Note the consistent need throughout: as quickly as possible. Productivity whores love efficiency and when they don't get it, they get cranky.
Here's the other thing that my Verizon iPhone won't give me that my Verizon Blackberry did. In December, when I went off to Paris, I turned on an unlimited data plan that allowed me to surf, text and do email as often as I wanted in Europe for a mere $3.00 a day. No can do with the blocked iPhone. Pals on that same trip ended up paying $300+ by the time they got back for what cost me just under $30.
Toys might be fun, but productive and inexpensive they are not. For fun, why not get an iPad and forget a phone that simply doesn't work well as a phone? Sorry geeks, early adopters, design freaks and Apple fan boys alike, I just don't get it. I'll report back in a couple of months so we can see how little or much I've evolved on this new slick toy you all love.
March 01, 2011
Bump's Co-Founder Jake Mintz Talks Vision & Takes Questions on #DemoCon StageVentureBeat's Anthony Ha interviews Bump's Co-founder Jake Mintz on the DEMO Spring stage. He talks about early days, their vision and what they're now going to focus on with their $20 million in funding.
JetStreamHD Brings All Digital Content to Your iPad: Taking Orders Starting TodayNuvyyo's CEO Grant Hall and VP of Marketing Bob McCallum on the DEMO Spring stage showing off JetStreamHD, announced yesterday. Today, they're starting to take orders for their new product which streams all of your digital media stored anywhere on a home computer network to the iPad....other mobile devices to be supported soon.
Note: I consult to the company.
Note: I consult to the company.
February 24, 2011
Swerve Connects People to Great Things To Do
At the LAUNCH Conference in San Francisco this past week, I interviewed Swerve's John Magdziarz about their iPhone app. Swerve connects people to great things to do. Serving up thousands of events in cities across the U.S., Swerve is for anyone who wants to get out and do something – a couple planning a date night, a group of friends looking for a club party, or a businessperson attending a conference or networking event.
Swerve offers listings for Music & Nightlife; Food & Drink; Speakers & Networking; Art & Museums; Get-togethers; Deals; and Facebook public events. Swerve also makes it easy to share event details and gather friends through social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter, all while on-the-go from your mobile device. John explains in the video below and shows us a demo on an iPad.
February 24, 2011 in America The Free, Arts & Creative Stuff, Entertainment/Media, Europe, Events, On Mobile & Wireless, Social Media, Travel, Videos, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
December 31, 2010
2010: The Year of Multiple Digital Personas
This past year was one of my busiest years, largely because of 4 factors: I re-launched two sites, started shooting more (note: Canon 7D purchase), I seemed to be on the road non-stop and clients expected more than ever and yet they want to pay less for results.
Let's start by looking at some of the technology trends and mindshifts in 2010 which led to such a chaotic schedule.
Social media tools exploded. Living in Silicon Valley, you get hit with more beta trials than anywhere else in the world and testing new shit out is what I do among other things, so it's no surprise that I was hit with more than one person could possibly digest. Yet, some of those tools started to go mainstream, so suddenly things that were on my back burner couldn't go unnoticed anymore. For one, location-based services started to get a lot of attention.
Last January, I found myself in a hotel room in Munich desperate to connect and "check in" before heading out for a stroll in the fresh fallen snow.
How F-Ked up is that? Foursquare doesn't seem to want to acknowledge that I'm in another country when I am, regardless of how decent "connectivity" is, yet I can't seem to give in to technology controlling my environment even when it doesn't work. What's wrong with acknowledging that I'm not an engineer, don't try to fix this.....just let things/it be?"
Later in the year, I went through something similar in Paris. Refer to my blog post: When in Paris, BE in Paris, Disconnect.
That brings me to Part B of this story. Technology DID in fact control my environment more than any year in my life.
I relaunched We Blog the World this year because of its organic growth and growing interest from bloggers around the globe who wanted to contribute.
Launching a site isn't what it used to be because of the fact that a site isn't just a site anymore - it's connected to multiple digital personas on the web.
With the site had to be a Facebook "fan" page or whatever they now call it, a Twitter update to match the look-and-feel of the revamped site, as well as photo and video online personas to go with the rest of it.
Then there's maps, mobile optimization, geo-location, custom RSS feeds, online newsletters and editing to ensure the world sees what you want them to see rather than poorly curated clutter on the web. (see Linda Stone/continuous partial attention -- not new to 2010 but still highly relevant).
Enter the growing focus on curation. We're long overdue for attention on intellectual and relevant curation of content that matters to us most.
Since tools can't curate content automatically in a way that is useful to us yet, human curation needs to be part of the process and for anyone who has spent time curating and tagging content on the web knows, it's bloody time consuming. Pearltrees, a curation tool, was a big part of my life this year and I spent time alerting content creators in various vertical markets about the aspect and value of human curation as an integral part of their workflow.
I switched to Chrome this year as my main browser, suddenly I ended up with three phones, one of which was a Google phone that simplified my local calls and texting when in Europe, and I was nearly tempted to buy an iPad so I could carry around yet another device with me to ensure I was connected 24/7 just in case the three phones and two laptops were not enough.
What's important to note is how the 'always on' part of my life which used to largely happen in my office and to and from meetings during my work day migrated into every aspect of my life.
Not only were my digital personas growing in numbers, but so was my attention to them. Suddenly I had a flash page (see about.me, currently still in beta), 3 new sites, 3 new Facebook pages, 4 new Twitter personas, Foursquare and a growing number of international connections to "manage."
By summer, I was seriously feeling the effect of The Shallows (see Nicholas Carr's book: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains). In synthesizing recent cognitive research, he shares his own experiences, something that I could personally relate to. Carr writes "I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something has been tinkering iwth my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn't going -- so far as I can tell -- but it's changing."
By late July, I found that I couldn't sit still when I was out without a device and moreso, my attention span had shortened dramatically. The same thing was happening to others around me. We couldn't concentrate for long without new digital stimuli, even if that be a simple text message. My reading moved from reading whole books to skimming them, the rest left for online editorial only.
Reading and re-reading books have always brought a sense of calm to my otherwise chaotic world and yet, I had stopped reading novels for awhile. Instead, my reading time was filled with learning how social media was changing our lives and the impact it was having and will continue to have on business and the world. I read about new tools, solutions and trends. Of course, none of it had heart and soul but it was great insight for what to adopt early on.
Carr asserts that "every technology is an expression of human will. Through our tools, we seek to expand our power and control over our circumstances -- over nature, over time and distance, over one another."
And so, with this growing tension between feeling and fearing that my brain was actually changing chemically and the need to be "always" be connected to some device at any given time, I decided to leave the country in August without a device.
Off to South America I went with a friend who brought a Blackberry with her and I, a netbook, largely to be used for checking email once every couple of days, but moreso to offload photos from camera to hard drive. So, while technology wasn't off limits for me, having a device in my hands so I could be reachable and in turn reach out whenever and wherever, was not an option.
When you have close to ten online digital personas you are 'managing' at any given time, not being connected for a few weeks is highly uncomfortable. As I was boarding a plane from Miami to Guyaquil, I noticed how many people fidgeted when the pilot told them to turn their electronic devices off.
Some people stared down at their devices as if they would give them something stimulating even though the screen was blank. A few picked up magazines but flipped through as if bored without the energy of their device, their "adult" pacifier.
I found myself going through the same awkwardness, yet because the device was "home" and not an option when we landed, I was forced to find both my energy and my calm from a static page of a book or an old fashioned notebook which I brought to record thoughts using an actual physical pen.
Since I was with someone who had not made the same choice, I was somewhat forced into the digital world by watching her fiddle with her Blackberry, nose down into its addictive energy while we were driving past the Amazon jungle. It was astonishing that she could get a connection up there and because she 'could,' she did.
There was a moment where I felt like asking her for "it" to check into the Amazon on Foursquare for the world to see, as somewhat of a novelty. There was a moment where I felt like asking her for "it" to tweet out to the world that the Amazon was in trouble and attach a photo of chain saws on the side of the road with piles of timber lined up in rows a couple hundred miles away from the nearest big town.
I had to refocus my energy away from the device and her fingers upon it and onto the lush green wildness out my right window and as soon as I did, slowly but surely, my center found calm. It found presence. It found wonder. It found marvel. It found gratitude. It found wow. It found real physical life that was breathing its beauty into me as I decided to participate IN IT rather than watch or engage with it on a screen.
I didn't blog about my experience that week since we were camping in the middle of the jungle, but I also decided not to blog about it as soon as we were connected in another town. I waited until I returned to the states, and for multiple reasons, it was the right thing to do. Reflections followed - here, here and here. I also wrote about my detaching experience called Hey Digital Maven, How Okay Are You With Silence?
Being present and recalling that presence later on because I had time to reflect on gratitude was key. Being constantly connected doesn't give us the time or more importantly, the 'space' to reflect and go deeper. Our ability to go deeper is limited because of what this constant digital stimuli is doing to our brains, and in turn, our behavior.
As Carr reflects from the discovery he made through his research, "while we know that our brain is an exquisitely sensitive monitor of experience, we want to believe that it lies beyond the influence of experience.
We want to believe that the impressions our brain records as sensations and stores as memories leave no physical imprint on its own structure. To believe otherwise would, we feel, call into question the integrity of the self."
Having a break from managing digital personas for a few weeks reminded me of the essential need for balance -- not just life/play and work balance but digital balance.
While I found that others were going through the same thing, the addictive quality of the lifestyle shift is gradual, and people often find it hard to talk about or perhaps explain.
When I first picked up the iPad and browsed through my blog using Flipboard, a wave of excitement flew through me as the pictures I created in the real world came to life on the screen. A beautiful screen.
The display was magical and an actual device was re-sorting or curating if you like, the content....my content. It was telling my story in its own way and the stories of other bloggers I knew and respected. I thought about how "cool" it would be to have this experience with me at all times, so wherever I was, I could have that dynamic engaging experience rather than a much blander web page.
Yet, when all I sometimes need is the information on the web, having that extra visual pleasure brings me into the web experience more than it does my physical surroundings. When I choose "it" more often than the people around me in the physical world, I'm losing something valuable as well am I not?
Digital addicts will argue not of course since for them, the additional dimension of what these devices bring to their online life (where they spend 90% of their time) is so much greater that they would argue making another choice is 'halting a change' that is not only inevitable but critical.
Inevitable as it is, it doesn't mean we can't be more aware on the impact it is having on our daily lives and decide with our human brains during this explosive evolution and revolution, that human interaction without a digital pacifier at our side, does still hold tremendous value.
Being present without anything in our hands or a list of "online to dos" on our mind makes us so much more aware of a friend's breath across the table as they listen to our words and the intensity in their eyes as they dance with a story they're sharing.
As more and more moves online and away from physical paper and objects, we're reminded of privacy concerns and location-based services knowing our every move and offering products to us as soon as we walk into a store or cafe.
We're reminded that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was a runner-up for Time’s most important Person of the Year regardless of whether you see him as a hero or a villain.
We're reminded that the world has changed as we know it and there's no moving back in time.
While I'm certainly not proposing that we fight the inevitable, or stop technological progress and advancement, I'd like to offer some suggestions as a way to have more physical experiences in our lives amidst the growth of all things digital:
1. Pick a Day a Week to Disconnect from the Digital World: Remember we're talking about only one day a week. Use that day to engage with the physical world - trust me, it still exists. Choose something you're passionate about that is physical and doesn't have a digital extension to it, i.e., skiing down a mountain, cycling through a forest without your cell in your pocket, playing with a child on the beach, or discussing philosophy over dinner at the table with a friend without your iPad or iPhone in a bag by your feet.
2. Practice Using Your Brain Not Just Your Digital Pacifier: When you're tempted to rely on something digital to get you through an experience, choose a time when you don't need to rely on it and use your brain instead. A great example is your car navigation system.
The time to do this is obviously when you're not in a hurry to get from A to B. It's an interesting exercise for those who have relied on a nav system for awhile now. Male friends have commented that they have lost their acute directional sense since they put that part of their brain to rest for awhile. It's not unlike what happened with the introduction of calculators and over time, discovering how hard it was to do math on the fly.
3. Automate some of your Digital Life: While it's important to have a presence on the web if you run a company or work for one, and as part of it, engage, engage, engage, some of it can be automated. Focus on the voices and conversations that matter to you most and automate the rest.
The more scattered your presence, the less you can truly engage and prioritize on the people and passions you most identify with. It's not just about numbers. Quality matters and quality takes time, concerted time and effort.
4. Become the Artist you're Designed to be and Backburner the Rest: Create don't react. Remember that you don't have to respond to everything and everyone all the time. When we're constantly responding to things on our screen, the "lizard brain" is taking over, not the genius inside us. When we're reacting to online chatter, there's less time to "create our true art," which is our gift to the planet while we're alive to share it. In other words, our purpose.
As Seth Godin writes in Linchpins, one of my favorite books this year, "the Lizard Brain often sabotages the progress we have made and stops us from creating our best work." Refer to a great post Seth wrote on 'quieting the lizard brain.'
In my opinion, albeit one of the most useful things to hit this decade, social media has given us so many distractions, that it's difficult to take a step back and realize that we don't have to choose and use it all.
Make the time to create the art you're designed to create and the life you want to have.
Once we realize that we have a choice to pick and choose what's most useful for us and leave the rest, we'll create an opening to create our best art. Let's remember that our digital personas are not the whole picture of our lives, just a piece of it.
As a wise Nepalese elderly man once said to me on my way up a long Annapurna trail many years ago, Patience on your journey grasshopper, patience.
December 31, 2010 in America The Free, Books, Entertainment/Media, Europe, On Blogging, On Branding, On Geo-Location, On Mobile & Wireless, On People & Life, On RSS, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Reflections, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
December 19, 2010
When in Paris, BE in Paris: Disconnect
When I go to Europe, I try to disconnect as much as I can. As long as I can get online for several hours in the morning and late at night, I can still be productive AND take in what the destination has to offer.
This past trip, I really couldn't be disconnected at all -- day or night -- largely because not only do I have multiple projects in the air at any given time, but I need to be available for discussions and Skype meetings at odd hours of the day -- and night. I was also organizing a large luncheon and dinner so being reachable was a priority.
And so, I opted in for Verizon's international service, which they assured me included unlimited data and email for an extra buck and change a day, all of which could be pro-rated for the time you're gone.
Mind you, I also had a Google phone with a local SIM card so bloggers, media, and entrepreneurs could reach me on a Paris-based number AND I could dial out without it costing a fortune. This was also useful for local texting although I still had the Blackberry for international texting which costs about 50 cents a pop. Thank god for always-on email. (or not....)
What I found with Blackberry at my fingertips with always-on coverage that actually worked, was that I was NEVER disconnected. If Vodafone didn't give me a signal, then Orange did or some other obscure carrier. The other odd thing that was sometimes useful and sometimes outright ridiculous, was the fact that I was getting coverage in the Metro WHILE THE TRAIN WAS MOVING! (yes, underground).
While my nose was buried into work attempting to be productive every minute of the day, I noticed that other noses were buried in their devices too. Since it was Paris and not Silicon Valley however, they were not tweeting, checking in or responding to every comment on Facebook like the obsessive lot on America's west coast do, but they WERE playing games and texting. I spent days observing this and nearly always, they were busy doing one or the other.
Here's the other thing that I not only noticed but downright annoyed me....because people were nose deep in their phones -- even on the street -- people were bumping into me and I them, frequently. People were so distracted with the digital emptiness, the digital void....that digital addiction that keeps them tethered to their moving, breathing, brightly lit, purring mobile device.
And sadly, I was one of the robotic mice moving through the maze.....not pushing back but surrendering to the one thing that ensures we stay distracted and not present to the here and now.
Digital addicts who are proud and thrilled to be one, will argue that they are in fact present in the here and now, all the time, but it's just the here and now that is happening on their phones. They will also argue that the here and now involves intimate relationships with people because the chatter is happening in real-time on their mobile phones nearly every minute of the day.
That said, when in Paris, the here and now is most definitely not answering emails, text messages, direct tweets, comments on Facebook, LinkedIn, shouts on Foursquare or Gowalla or threads on Posterous, Digg and Storify, while you're walking down the street.
There's so much to miss in Paris when you're not present, or any decadent-rich city for that matter, ones that really know how to tap into your senses. Mobile devices do not tap into my senses even if the screen tries to with enticing offers on food, wine, games, men and song.
Paris' here and now is fresh cafe with hot milk, crepes with ham, cheese and mushrooms made before your eyes, and picking an individual dark chocolate with pistachio or rasberry and watching them wrap it in a brightly colored foil with a beautifully tied ribbon.
Paris' here and now is walking around the corner late at night and suddenly being greeted by the astonishing sight of Notre Dame, so breathtaking you could shed a tear of joy. It is seeing a stream of pigeons surrounded by flickering colored lights around a bush covered in the latest December snow or marveling in the hazy blue mist that comes across the winter sky as you walk along the Seine after dark.
Paris' here and now is being present enough to be notice the energy shift as you cross from the Marais to Bastille's borders and then back again. Present enough to find the gems in the tourist clutter of all your favorite neighborhoods. Present enough to find the delight in the walled graffiti as well as the wind, rain and dampness that comes with a cold Christmas season day.
Present enough to discover that you're surrounded by accents and languages from every pocket of the world, watching what makes them laugh, what they decided to wear that day and what they're carrying from A to B on the RER heading north.
Present enough to look over your arm on the bus to see what he or she is reading and present enough to listen hard enough to catch what artist is playing through the headphones of the 20 year old Algerian who just whizzed past you.
Thanks (or shall I say no thanks) to technology, my mobile device (s) and the digital addiction that is rapidly moving through the world, I forgot to pick up foie gras at the airport, nor did I buy chocolate on this trip (and I only ate one piece of chocolate compared to the 22 chocolate experiences I had on the last trip which was roughly the same duration).
I also missed out on the two morning markets I had on my list, and had to skip a local Parisian holiday party with a bunch of artists who I was told by the host, wouldn't pick up a mobile device all night and if he was wrong, my favorite bottle of wine was on him.
What I gained was more digital connections and keeping up on the pulse of the world at large, the world outside Paris, the world who was not there to share experiences with me in real-time, in the flesh, over a glass of wine or coq au vin dinner. Next time Paris, next time.....
December 16, 2010
My Recap of LeWeb 2010
2,500 entrepreneurs, leaders, investors, bloggers, journalists gathered together for 2 days in Paris on December 8-9, 2010 for an annual event those in the technology industry now know well - LeWeb.
The leading event in Europe for all things Web 2.0 and digital was held at a venue called The Docks, which is an area with more of a campus feel to it than anything else. Combine campus feel with urban and warehouse layout and you have 3 separate halls and tents that sponsors, vendors and speakers called "home" for two snowy days last week.
LeWeb brings together the most influential audience in the Internet ecosystem largely from Europe although I met entrepreneurs from Israel, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, Canada and the states during the event itself as well as the after networking gatherings and private dinners, my more notable experiences from the event.
Some of the speakers from this year included Carlos Ghosn, Marissa Mayer, Dennis Crowley, Alexander Tamas, Sebastien de Halleux, and Michael Arrington to name a few. The format on the main stage was not unlike last year - it combined Q&As, panel discussions and keynotes.
Take a look at my posts and videos on Gary Vaynerchuck, Foursquare's Dennis Crowley, the Joe Green interview from Causes, Robert Scoble's interview with Mitchell Baker, and the two-part video clip on the start-up competition which includes winners Waze from Israel (traffic), Paper.ly (publishing) from Switzerland and Super Marmite from France (food). Here's a link to my interview with Azeem Azhar from PeerIndex.
Also take a look at the Pearltrees recap video that Tom Foremski took -- Patrice Lamothe and his team launched TEAM at LeWeb this year and their booth was by far, the most creative, interesting and compelling booth at the conference. (and yes, while I DO -- disclosure -- consult for them, it simply was the best. Enuf said).
Robert Scoble also interviewed Patrice Lamothe on TEAM's capabilities which you can read here including a video clip. Additional pieces worth reading are Alastair Goldfisher's piece on PE Hub, the ZDNET piece by Sam Diaz and Alexia Tsotsis post on TechCrunch.
Below is a Pearltree for the best of what happened at LeWeb and it includes video, blog posts, speakers, the schedule and more.
Below are some random shots I took on site with some contributions in the collection by Rodrigo as noted.
Mozilla's Mitchell Baker
Foursquare's Dennis Crowley, Renee Blodgett, Robin Wauters from Techcrunch Europe (yes, it snowed) -- taken on Ben Parr's iPhone
Yves Eudes from Le Monde too busy covering WikiLeaks and Julian Assange to attend LeWeb
Mike Butcher (photo taken by Rodrigo)
Below taken by Rodrigo
Thomson Crampton over from Hong Kong (taken by Rodrigo)
Disclosure Note: I am a consultant for Pearltrees.
December 16, 2010 in Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Conference Highlights, Europe, Events, On France, On Mobile & Wireless, On Search, On Technology, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack