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
December 15, 2010
Foursquare's Dennis Crowley on Managing Their Growth
Foursquare's Dennis Crowley talked to the massive LeWeb audience about Foursquare from its birth to where they are today. He says that many people think they're so much larger than they are, yet they pull off new feature updates and support with only forty employees.
Sadly, my Blackberry didn't seem to want to acknowledge that I was in Paris since every time I did a refresh, a system update and a reboot, Foursquare still had me listed in the Bay Area. I guess all that means in the short term is that I didn't become the mayor of some of the more quaint, boutique bistros and chocolate 'houses' in the less tourist areas of Paris. I am still the mayor of a cafe in Munich a year later so I guess they should get on the bandwagon and start doing promoting themselves to Foursquare users in Germany.
Oh yeah, and I challenged Dennis to a "text bake off" at a dinner - he on his trusty iPhone and me on my Blackberry and let's just say the "man" is FAST without a keyboard and he won, but I might add, only by one small word. I want a re-match :-). Perhaps at SXSW.
As always, I loved his energy and what they're trying to do. Location is hot and Foursquare is primed to take advantage of a very enthusiastic and passionate user-base, which is currently about 60% US-based and 40% international. Below is the video I shot from the front row.
December 15, 2010 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Europe, Events, On Geo-Location, On Mobile & Wireless, On Technology, Social Media, Videos, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
The Top "Internet of Things" for 2010
ReadWriteWeb has a great round-up of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is a term for when everyday ordinary objects are connected to the Internet via microchips. Technologies used include sensors, RFID and smartphone standards like NFC.
Companies ranging from HP and IBM to Nike and Pachube are launching products and apps using these technologies.
IBM's Smarter Planet - IBM's Smarter Planet campaign is about connecting objects to the Internet and applying intelligence and services on top of that. Like HP, IBM uses the central nervous system analogy."
Government Internet of Things: China & EU - The Internet of Things was a strategic interest for both the European Parliament and the Chinese government this year. RRW had a Parliament of Things post which covered the EU's resolution to endorse the development of the sector that is worth reading.
In the middle of the year, China announced a plan that will "fix a clear positioning, development goals, timetable and roadmap of the IoT industry." China plans to strengthen policy support of IoT, including financial and taxation measures.
DASH7 (RFID) - The amount of electricity it takes to power a trillion nodes, or things, that communicate with the Web is significant. Yet battery life and battery production costs have not declined at the same pace as processing power. RFID is well positioned to address this. Thing Magic's 100 uses of RFID campaign was an an effective awareness raising tool in the second half of 2010.
Emergence of the Smart Grid - In 2010 the more practical uses of IoT began to take shape, such as ways to conserve energy - a.k.a. the Smart Grid. For more including a full read on the above listings and the rest of the top ten, check out RRW's extensive round-up.
November 08, 2010
Using Ezetop to Instantly Top Up Mobile Phones
There seemed to be no shortage of new Irish start-ups emerging in Dublin or ideas in the works that were planning to emerge in the next six months to a year. Below are a few I connected with during my recent trip to Ireland for Dublin Web Summit and F.ounders:
Mark Roden with Ezetop explains how the service works over lunch in Dublin recently. It's a fairly straight forward and easy pitch and the aha moment is pretty immediate.
In a world where everything except for cash is growing in popularity as 'currency', why not have air time as something you can give away, offer friends, customers and/or your family if they live far away from you.
Using Ezetop, you can send a top-up instantly to a mobile phone.Think of it as the Western Union of mobile air time. Remember that air time is a currency and it has a value.Imagine the emerging world for a moment: there are more places than not who do not have unlimited calling plans nor do they have salaries that support higher-end mobile options.
For people who are working abroad but still have family in South America, Africa, Asia or other pockets of the world, you could easily and quickly top off air time for family and friends.
An easy way to send support instantly and cost effectively, friends and family can call you back whenever they want at their normal low calling rates.
Their coverage is extensive; currently they support 130 countries and have another 40 on the way. Take a look at the countries supported by their service today. Forbes' Quentin Hardy calls their service Smart Tech for the Working Poor.
October 10, 2010
Join the Land of Bubbalonians: Say What You Want, When You WantBubbalon demoed at the latest VatorSplash in San Francisco. More than just a rating site, you can give a 'score' in real time about people, places and things, as you experience them, including the ability to rate a venue, store, cafe or restaurant as you check into Foursquare.
You can even write a review about something. Bubbalon asks people to share their feelings, and gives them the ability assign an emotion in addition to a 1-100 point score. Bubbalon's “SMART CONNECT” feature is built to recommend "Bubbalonian connections", based upon similarities in ratings and feelings. Listen to the video below and Todd Hamilton and Alex Galkin from Bubbalon will tell you more.
October 02, 2010
The Faces of Mobilize 2010
Joyent's Director of Marketing Nima Bradley
Intuit Dazzled Crowd with Cupcakes
Oliver Starr and Bubbalon's Todd Hamilton and Alex Galkin
The VC Panel
Sweden-based Rebtel comes over for the event
GigaOm's Mobilize: Mobile, The Enterprise & The Suits Meet The Cloud & Big $$
GigaOm's Mobilize was held in San Francisco this past week. On the heals of Techcrunch Disrupt, the vibe couldn't have been more different. A mile away and a day before, Techcrunch Disrupt drew start-up energy which means that the 'culture' of the event was all about entrepreneurship, early stage ideas and investors and product launches.
It also meant that the crowd was a lot younger and a helluva lot more informal. Translation: t-shirts, sneakers, jeans and the occasional segway flying by in the hallways. No dogs on or off leashes or pretzels and pizza laying around, but you get the idea.
Both events enticed "the money"; those interested in investing or learning more about new innovations and trends. And both events had heavy hitters and an incredible line-up; one more focused on consumer and B2B and the other on mobile and the enterprise, even though companies like @phonetell and @tango_me did on-stage splashes at Mobilize, both of which target consumers.
Many attendees at Mobilize actually wore jackets and the press in the audience showed that the panel discussions were about big corporate deals, i.e., Dow Jones, New York Times, Time, Forbes, Barrons and others.
Enter the focus of Mobilize, Om Malik's GigaOm event focused on the convergence of mobile computing and cloud-based services, which is already and will continue to unleash an entire new wave of product and market growth.
The success of touch based tablet devices is likely to see the addition of millions of new subscribers in markets already considered saturated. Then add to that base a new legion of machines as subscribers – your car, your fridge, your TV for example, and you have the makings of a vast new opportunity. What monetization schemes that will succeed short and long term?
Discussion Topics Include:
App vs. Web
What’s a developer to do? Should they go for a native app based approach to their proposition or go for a web based approach? How will Cloud Computing and new wireless speeds affect the balance? The core debate is exciting, important and could dictate the future of the mobile web. Join us!
The Internet of Things
The M2M or “Internet of Things” proposition opens up a vast new array of opportunity for carriers, entrepreneurs and consumer experiences. We look at some of the biggest markets out there – medicine, consumer goods, automotive and more. We ask what needs to be done to catalyze the opportunity and what returns these markets will yield.
Monetizing Location Services
We see a flurry of investments in the location services space. But what will be the business models that provide both a revenue stream and a return on investment? Will it come from the sale of the apps themselves, coupons, advertisements or from the middleware layers that make such services possible? We gather some of the people tasked with the job of making location services pay to talk about what’s working and what’s not.
With growing processor power and faster network speeds, handset virtualization is about to hit it’s stride. New services, user experiences and business models will be enabled by this technology. We examine what what new opportunity is being created from the intersection of higher bandwidth, powerful chips and handset virtualization.
Mobile Payments: Finally here?
Mobile payments have long been promised and indeed the potential is huge. Has its time for mass market success finally come? Are subscribers ready for mobile payments? Can app publishers use these new payment channels for new monetization models?
The VC Panel
Our annual VC panel will ask about 2010 investments and also ask what the 2011 investment plan looks like. Chips? Middleware? Apps? Media? Infrastructure? Find out as we ask 5 of the valleys finest investors where they are putting their money.
4G with 4 Wheels: The Automobile as an App Platform
Take an advanced car and add to it a powerful computer and display. Add fast wireless broadband and what do you have? A huge new rolling opportunity, that’s what! But it comes with an equally large number of questions: What new applications will this new platform support? What sort of consumer demand will it see? How will the market evolve? Who will have the dominant platform? What role will the smartphone play in the ecosystem?
September 28, 2010
Meet Blio: It Transforms e-Reading
Available immediately, Blio features a library of full-color, interactive media content and today’s bestsellers. Apps for iOS, Android and Silverlight platforms are apparently coming soon.
"By providing a full-color, flexible, and interactive experience, Blio redefines the boundaries of the e-book, opening up entirely new categories of multimedia content and, as a result, engaging new groups of readers of e-books," says founder and CEO Ray Kurzweil.
Through its partnership with Baker & Taylor, the world’s largest distributor of print and digital books, Blio will not only offer today’s bestsellers but also interactive rich-media, video, slide-show, and audio enhanced content from more than 100 top publishers, including Random House, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin Group, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster.
Blio offers a library of more than 1 million paid and free titles, and is currently adding new publishers and thousands of new titles weekly. Currently, Blio supports English, French and Spanish, with Italian, German and Asian-language options to follow.
With its ability to reproduce the color, layout and original fonts as in the print version of a book, Blio brings to life a large selection of books that are not available with E Ink devices. Categories such as children’s books and lifestyle books, encompassing travel guides, cookbooks, and textbooks, finally have an e-reader that can deliver the experience to the reader that was intended by the author.
Blio has a host of functions that make it smart, fun and easy to use. Highlights include:
- Blio mimics a book’s printed format like no other e-reader, with files presented in XPS format, which allows digital books to stay true to their original print version. Blio also supports the more limited ePub-formatted books.
- Blio is powered by the most advanced text-to-speech technology, using the Nuance Vocalizer, which allows readers to download two lifelike voices (“Samantha” and “Tom”) for hands-free use. To facilitate reading and learning, Blio provides unique synchronized highlighting of the words being spoken.
- Blio’s full-media functionality allows users to insert notes into digital pages, highlight sections and even look up references on websites, without leaving their e-book.
- Downloaded Blio titles are stored in a personal virtual library, enabling flexible access to content. This library can be accessed easily from numerous devices, allowing users to begin reading their book on a home PC, then pick up where they left off on a netbook or laptop. Future Blio versions will also support tablets and mobile devices and iOS, Android and Silverlight platforms.
September 15, 2010
VoiceBase's New Voice Communications Platform: Search, Share, Store & More
Today, at DEMOfall in Santa Clara, CA, VoiceBase unveils a new search, share and store voice communications platform, which will allow users to easily access and organize meeting and conference content from any web-enabled device.
The goal of their new web-based service is to make voice communication as efficient and effective as e-mail communication. The new service offers storage, search and retrieval, as well as discussion and sharing of voice communications, through any Web-enabled device. Recorded content is uploaded to VoiceBase servers, where a time-synchronized transcription – human or machine – is added to the recording prior to its post to the participant's VoiceBase personal Webpage.
Basic use of the service is free. Content will be stored for one year, after which subscribers can purchase additional storage hours.
Video of their presentation and demo at DEMOfall below: