What’s in a name?

September 6, 2011

The main subject of this blog so far is the respons of publishers and media executives to the disruptions and the new shifts in and around the interwebs.

The move to mobile, the rise of apps, the battles for platform domination, the coming of the iPad, and of course all the experiments with trying to get paid for producing quality content.

I have posted 105 times and it has been fun. But not anymore. I will stop writing for publishing and media people about the events happening around them, in the hope they will rethink their business strategy and start acting. 

It’s time to move on, since the world moves on as well. And fast it does.

When I started this blog, I zoomed in on myopia. Why is it we do not see and understand the developments around us? I chose the world of, what one may call, New Media Dynamics. A fast paced world. Especially nowadays.

But myopia is certainly not limited to media. In these extraordinary days it is all around us. Politicians who refuse to think about the future. Bankers who keep acting like they own the place. Shifts in power from the West to the East.  There are a lot of developments far more interesting then the myopia of media people.

There is a pressing question to explore: what’s the connection between the rapid rise of hyperconnectivity and the collapse of the old ways of thinking and planning we can see everywhere?  I need to dive into that matter.

That’s why I changed the name of this blog into (Media) Myopia.

Starting today I will try to blog at least once a week.

From today I will shift my focus to other issues as well. To name just a few:

  • Big Data, as the driver of change.
  • Black Swans, being these things and events we humans can not see and anticipate, it seems.
  • Complexity, of which there is far too much.
  • Simplex sigillum veri (who came up with this one?)

In Real Life I am working with a great team to launch a completely new approach to handle disparate data. We have gone back to the pre PC era and picked up some neat ideas about tackling the issue of information overload.

Time to reflect

August 18, 2011

Two weeks ago I was camping  in the middle of nowhere in La France. An old friend from Holland started the site 15 years ago. His dream was to create a refuge from the modern world. A place without almost anything, except the most basic things like 2 showers and 3 toilets and 1 fridge for all the visitors (mostly around 50 -70 people).

I hadn’t visited the ‘aire naturelle’ for 5 years. The only thing he added in these 5 years were two extra sockets near the fridge. They were all used to recharge iphones and iPads. And there was a waiting list.

I spoke with a man with an iPad, who told me he drove every morning to a nearby village to plug in and check the news and his mail. Screens are everywhere. Access as well. Even in the middle of nowhere (in Europe, that is).

I’m happy to say I did not carry a screen. Even more happier to say I did not read one single newspaper. Instead I read a few books. Very handy mobile media, I must say. I read a novel about the magic of books and Barcelona, finally finished ‘Outliers’ and worked my way through Friedman’s Green Bible.

And I had plenty of time to think. I came to feel, understand and notice the effect of media usage. Instead of browsing and flipping from blogs to posts and tweets, I actually enjoyed the time to reflect.


May 31, 2011

A long time ago, back in 1987, a man called John Sculley, published a book called ‘Odyssey. Pepsi to Apple. A journey of adventure, ideas and the future’. Apple’s ceo at the time explained in his book why Steve Jobs had hired him and why Steve left.

On page 403 John Sculley tried to look into the future:

‘A future-generation Macintosh, which we should have early in the twenty-first century, might well be a wonderful fantasy machine called the Knowledge Navigator, a discoverer of worlds, a tool as galvanizing as the printing press. Individuals could use it to drive through libraries, museums, databases, or institutional archives. This tool wouldn’t just take you to the doorstep of these great resources as sophisticated computers do now; it would invite you deep inside its secrets, interpreting and explaining -converting vast quantities of information into personalized and understandable knowledge.’

Some people at the company came up with a video. They were inspired by the Dynabook concept, created by Alan Kay in 1968. The Knowledge Navigator looked like this:

The video can be found here.

John left and Steve came back.

And now we all have and/or want an ipod, iphone and iPad.

It indeed has been an epic voyage, as the word odyssey came to refer to.

Zoom In, Zoom Out

May 1, 2011

The Digital Revolution recently entered a new phase. The new screens in our hands offer new ways to read, browse, listen, watch and interact with content and with people. As people keep embracing these handheld devices, businesses are trying to catch up. Again.

Let’s look at the three sectors, usually considered to be at the center of these digital waves of change.

The smartphones and tablets are taking over all IT related industries. Computers basicly just left the building and are on the move. Software will turn into a service more rapidly soon, certainly when Office 365 will go out of public beta.

Telco’s are struggling. Landlines are out. Mobile became texting. Who could have imagined people writing on these things, since they were supposed to talk through them. The industry did not see smartphones coming. Their solution was to sell  internet bundles, but their customers started to use these bundles to acces free services. Why pay to call, if you can send a message for free?

Publishers are starting to realize they can no longer wait to change. Publishers have been neglecting All Things Digital too long. Change was something others would have to undertake, after the publishers themselves retired. A book is a book, you know. Yeah, and a newspaper a newspaper, right? A few years ago publishers had worries and money. Now it’s panic while they are almost broke.

In the midst of all these waves of change it is easy to focus too much on details. We tend to zoom in. But we need to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture in the world of business still is the simple fact that all links in the chain that do not add value, will disappear. Vanish. Evaporate. Fade out.

The middleman is under attack.

Take a look at your market. Zoom in on the chains. Which chain is only an intermediary?

Zoom out on the basic needs of customers. What is it they want?

Zoom in, zoom out!

Which Exit?

April 18, 2011

Myopia is all about forgetting the frames in our minds. We see what we want to see. We don’t see, what’s blocked out. We tend to think about ourselves and the things we think are important. We look from the inside out and we forget we have to look from the outside in.

Even when we are convinced of the existence of this phenomenon, we keep forgetting we suffer from myopia ourselves.

In trying to point my clients towards the rapid changes and shifts in the digital media landscape, I also forget to look at other changes. And these changes might be even more fundamental.

Let’s look at a few very recent ones:

  • In Finland a new party popped up this weekend and one of their main goals is to stop support of troubled countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal.
  • The German Landesbanken have been lending enormous amounts of euros to these troubled countries.
  • If these already troubled countries fail, the Landesbanken will have quite a problem.
  • After Iceland, Greece, Ireland and Portugal, who will be next?

As always it is not technology itself, that will determine what will happen. It is what people want and people do. How will these crises affect the minds, ideas and plans of our clients, bosses, business partners?

As the picture tells us, we are already well on our way to the future.

But where is this road we’re on leading us?

What is our direction?

And if we don’t like that, which exit do we have to take?

Time and timing

January 5, 2011

It has been a while.

The reason I didn’t post that much, besides enjoying a short holiday, is the same excuse many bloggers use: Twitter. Microblogging that is. I enjoy Twitter enormously, it’s big fun and very handy when it comes to pulling in information that’s actually interesting to me.  It’s combination of blogging, sharing, finding and curating works very well.

Of course there is a downside as well. I’m not fond of tweets of personal nature. I can’t imagine that someone out there wants to know what I watch, do or do not. And likewise, I’m not interested in messages of this nature from others.

But the upside is simple and elegant. I use it as a very personal filter. I follow people who know interesting stuff and have interesting thoughts and opinions. What they tweet must be interesting enough for me to consume and sometimes interesting for those people spending time following me.

Lately I have been working with a couple of friends on a concept we came up with 12 years ago. At that time GOOG did not exist. The idea was to save bookmarks and share these bookmarks with friends and likeminded people in order to create a subset of interesting webcontent. Everything stored in what we now call The Cloud and of course ranked. I recieve bookmarks from other people in my group, I rank them and the results of all these rankers is a human curated subset, the result of something we now call wisdom of crowds. We were putting together a bunch of people to test the algos, but then came word from GOOG and we stopped.

Let us jump in time and move to now.

The exact same problem as 15 – 12 years ago is becoming urgent again right now. I wrote many times about it. There is too much data out there. There is filter failure. Infobesitas, some people like to call it. How do we cope with all this data and turn it into information? RSS of course made following websites and blogs more easy, but RSS never became a tool for the masses.

Can we therefore claim that RSS really is dead?

Not at all!

Time will tell what tools and services will provide the best results.

Timing for Twitter looks pretty cool though.

I wish all of you a wonderful 2011.

For my part I will try to make more time to post more often, as 2011 will be far more interesting than 2010. The iPad has changed the stage, publishers have received plenty of wake up calls, paid content models will be tried more often, social media are on the rise, mobile has gained speed and the web is still very alive and kicking.

The New Monopolists

December 7, 2010

GOOG today unveiled the Nexus S and released a new version of the Android operating system. 

Yesterday GOOG opened the long anticipated online bookstore

Amazon responded today by launching Kindle for Web.

In the meantime Amazon still is investing enormous amounts of effort and money in services for the cloud. Even wikileaks used to use it.

Facebook is working hard on its big deal with Bing and in my humble opinion still trying to catch up with Twitter’s Real Time approach, while Apple is launching apps for magazines by the dozen.

What does it all mean?

I don’t know, time will tell. But two things are sure.

One: the pace of innovation has accelerated again.

Two: we are in the grip of New Monopolists.