Cul-de-sac

May 2, 2011

In a very interesting interview Seth Godin talked about the publishing industry. He shared his ideas on the question where books might be headed. Seth recently launched a new project, trying to change the way books are sold and distributed. The Domino Project has already produced some successes.

One of the intriguing statements Seth made was about adding multimedia to books.

He called this a cul-de-sac.

In his view it will become a crying game. He compared the days publishers produced cd-roms with Vietnam. He mentioned several publishers going nearly broke.

In Seth’s opinion a book is written by one person and at some point the product is finished.

Multi Media projects are produced by lots of people. Being software projects they are never finished.

I found this quite interesting, even a bit alarming. I had the idea that adding multimedia would change the way we read. Maybe it’s not books as such that need a change, maybe it will be magazine like products. Maybe only textbooks will turn into multimedia.

Anyway: the interview is great. Take the time and listen.


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?


The Price is Right

April 16, 2011

Before iPad was launched I started to think about the sort of ibooks that might form an extra attraction for possible ireaders. As my wife came up with the idea that iPad would become something to put on a table, I thought the old fashioned coffee table books would be a nice starting point. In every home I come, I see nice designed and well published books lying on coffee tables: 1 +1 = 3, right?

So I started touring publishers of books covering the arts, photography, design, architecture, history. I was rather stunned to notice these conversations turned out to be flashbacks.

I reexperienced earlier conversations during the rise of web 1.0 with record company management people.

There was, as we now are used to notice, ‘no real sense of urgency’. Of course it could be explained by the fact that all of these publishers were based in a very small country, called The Netherlands, but one would expect these professionals at least to be familiair with concepts like ‘desintermediation’, ‘e-books’, ‘Google’ or ‘ecommerce’. To my surprise they were not. And if they were, they were convinced that it would take years to develop and mature.

This year I started talks with museums to publish ibooks ourselves, without the publishers, since they were the ones that would be desintermediated. In preparation of making a shortlist for ibooks, I came upon art books, already available on iphone, iPad and iTouch. The price for a neat little handy booklet on Van Gogh was $ 1.99.  At least 50 or so well known painters were published as well for the same price.

This brings me to my point. As The Daily set the price for a daily on the iPad, this publisher set the price for nice, neat, little ibooks on painters.

Publishers and for that matter museums will have a very, very hard time to beat this price.

But for consumers, all over the world, the price sure is right.


Big Data

October 28, 2010

Jeff Jonas is a very impressive thinker and doer. Today he serves as chief scientist of the IBM Entity Analytics group and he is an IBM Distinguised Engineer. Yesterday I came across an interview with him by Andrew Keen. They talk on the subject of Big Data.

Some highlights:

  • Data are observations.
  • The more data we have, the more ignorant we become.
  • Organisations make sense of only about 7% of all the relevant data (in their enterprise and in cyberspace)
  • This gap between the amount of data and the making sense of it is widening.
  • GOOG is an enormous pixel sorter. It does not provide intelligence and/or awareness.

Watch the interview here.


The King is dead, long live the New King

October 26, 2010

Last week I concentrated on examining the popularity of services created to help me find interesting info, like tagging, digging, sharing and adding. Some of them work, but most of these services don’t deliver in the end. They come up, they grow, and then they seem to bump into some kind of obstacle. Why is this? I tried to analyze these services from the points of view on and theories of the diffusion of innovation. Most of these new services never move from innovators to early adopters. Not one is more widely used by the people formerly known as the the early majority.

Looking at Gartner’s Hype Cycle 2010, I again noticed that, however great their work, it’s only about technology and emerging technologies. Combining trends and hypes in the rise and fall of new emerging technologies with observations on the way real people actually behave is in my view far more interesting.

Take Search. Almost everyone starts at the homepage of a search engine, right? Use of this ‘technology’ is almost 100%. According to Gartner Search would be at The Plateau of Productivity and (their words) ‘…a sharp uptick in adoption begins, and penetration accelerates rapidly as a result of proven useful value….’

OK, one must agree. But let us examine the usefulness and the value more closely.

Most people use only one word in their search. Far too many search results are presented in less than a second.  About half of the people only click on the first result. The third result is used by just 10 %. And when people finally jump to a website, they are gone before you can count them.

I don’t know, but it seems to me that this is a perfect example of Filter Failure. Search has indeed been a critical solution to bringing audience to the web, but that’s about it. People don’t want to search, they want to find.

Sharing, adding, tagging and digging were launched because finding is not searching. Web 2.0 lead to more and more content. Content is King no more. I think time has come for a new king.


Hype or Myopia?

October 11, 2010

Last week Gartner published the 2010 version of it’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.  Hypes are hypes, I agree. The acceptance of emerging technologies however can not be judged on technology alone. User behaviour, and even more important these days, consumer confidence is in the driver’s seat.

In my country a new government unveiled an uninspiring vision.

It certainly was a good week for myopia.  Let’s close the curtains, lock the door and wait until this storm is over. Which storm?  How about this one?

Can myopia be a hype?


Metropolis Now

September 30, 2010

Change and coping with it, is one of the central themes of this blog. Although the digital (r)evolution is an enormous driving force behind many of the changes we witness today, in the real world things move even faster. One of the biggest trends is the powershift from West to East.

Today more than half of the world’s population lives in an urban location and half of these metropolises are in The East.