Pandora’s Neocracy #4, mobile conventions and education
Originally poste at www.crossmedialab.nl on 1 April 2010.
VPRO (Dutch public broadcasting member) wishes to position itself as a taste community, interacting, participating, broad- and narrowcasting both DIY and prescribed content through any given media. Ergo, it positions itself as a full Monty crossmedia media brand that will incorporate any given media as log as it reaches its target audiences and – this is rather important – those audiences reach each other as well. Rising star on its firmament is mobile. During the VPRO’s presentation at the Mobile Convention in Amsterdam today, VPRO’s Erik van Heeswijk, editor in chief of the digital department, gave a stunning example. I am really sorry I haven’t got the film yet about the crossmediality of the particular example of ‘Beagle’, VPRO’s contribution to the Darwin year. This is a true crossmedia concept with blogs, a mobile site, 1050 minutes of quality TV, radio, print (both specific publications and their TV guide), etc. They also make use of third party media like Youtube, Hyves and LinkedIn. This production must have cost quite an amount. But fortunately, Van Heeswijk replied my question whether he is obliged to share their gained knowledge and expertise with the society – as VPRO is doing this great work with public money, say tax money – with a full YES. In fact, he added, he would like to encourage this. (I’ll give him a ring next week.) Mobile, as he mentioned will become a key devices through which people will look, listen, interact and participate in his community of taste. That’s one way of looking at will is going on and what will happen in the future regarding mobile.
The convention nearly exploded with near future examples, experiments and existing services now available for any given OS. I wasn’t really amazed by the fact that iPhone users, representing approx 6% of the shipment rate, generate 43% of the mobile Internet share whilst Nokia with its 49% shipment rate only does 15%. Android is the runner up with respective 8% generating 11%; not doing badly at all. At least, according to Sanoma Digital’s enlightened Menno Bieslot. Sanoma should know. They do 68 million page views per months with their mobile site nu.nl alone. Even more interesting is the moment of consumption during the arch of a day. Guess what, mobile content consumption of nu.nl peaks as soon as 6 AM when people start waking up than goes down and peaks again towards the wee hours as of 10 PM. Sanoma is obviously preparing for a shift in media choice of consumers as they are bringing out entire magazine title aps for iPad (such as their blockbuster Autoweek, what an ap!) and, again similar devices from different brands with different OS’s (HP, Microsoft, they are all preparing t attack Apple with its new goodie).
So that’s one side of what the world is made ready for. All is marketing. Who would need all these novelties? As usual, it is a matter of creating demand and that’s what we’re good at. That is what Blutarsky & Muzar showed us in their workshop on how to use AR (augmented reality) to introduce the new Splinter Cell game for the Xbox 360. As of April 15, one can walk around Amsterdam and augment their world with location-based fantasy by means of a layer and some QR’s. Participants are challenged to play the game in a semi-real environment; A real treat for gamers (personally I dislike shooters, guess I’m too much of a VPRO-taste community node to like to play war games).
And than there was Yuri van Geest. Sorry, he was the one I started out with in the first morning session. He’s with MobileMonday and quoted – my day was made already at that moment – Paul Saffo who is with IFTF, Institute For The Future. It’s not just Saffo who inspires me, it’s Van Geest as well. Way too short was his presentation. Talked about singularity and what the Singularity University, an initiative of NASA and Google, are cooking up regarding what mobility will really be about in the (not so distant) future. His vision is that of the merge of DIY (do it yourself) DNA and mobile communication systems. To some this may sound scary. To me it sounds like something that is still a bit far away but most likely ‘coming soon in this theatre’.
So, where’s the neocracy? Don’t know! Van Geest quoted Saffo, saying that new technology such as the convergence of biology and technology takes its time in the beginning. Then it depends on, God knows what, acceleration complexities and turn into a tipping point, as Gladwell calls it. Pfffff.
Central theme as I see it in our world today is the convergence of mobile and social networking. Russell Buckley and Andrew Grill talked about it as well in their keynote speeches. This convergence is the first major new step in our Darwinist society in which action leads to reaction.
Now, how does this all translate to what one of the research group obligations is; education? One essential part of the training of bachelors is that they apply to a so-called minor. During the period of a half-year, they than either deepen a specific topic or broaden their perspective. It is their choice. So, last March 25, our university organized, as usual, a minor market. Three hundred minors were literarily marketed during a two and a half hours market floorshow that has something of the ant-like atmosphere of the Damascus souk and the crowdedness Albert Cuypmarkt during a gentle summer Saturday afternoon. Strange things occur. Some minors are frantically bombarded with interest of our brave youngsters; some minors may only experience an utter glimpse of disinterest. Well, I guess it is pretty much like the real thing and as my motto goes, all is marketing.
One may argue about what marketing actually is and whether the offering of education should be ‘soled’. Fact remains that it is usance to sell individual minors in a market setting one afternoon per year at one location in an overheated hall of a faculty at our campus. I recon this is food for thought for policy makers and visionaries in our fine academic community.
So, I went to sell our new minor Mobile Business Design. As the initiator of this completely new educational wonder I, quite obviously, evangelized my baby as probably the best thing rising star communication experts need to join with only one restriction; we only accept thirty students to participate in this introduction to what will happen tomorrow and is being instigated today. Ahum.
Education is a strange phenomenon these days. Of course the offer is massive and it might well be very difficult to choose the right education. One other thing really struck me when scrolling through the aisles of plenty in our market place. Apart from an occasional minor offer that serves the ongoing development of our society and digital life in particular, hardly any minor pamphlet spoke of where (what) we are heading for. Ergo, there is apparent anticipation on the shifting paradigms in society by teachers and students. I find that strange. No minor futurology, no minor on tomorrow’s usage and acceptance of technology, hardly a word on the changing communication behavior of people, collective organization through Twitter of revolting people or the implications of mobile games, played on a smart phone. (Hardly) nothing of the sort.
There is another issue that struck me (at least a bit), digging into the concaves education and modern media as I wearily returned to our faculty hat day. Neither teachers nor students step into the lobby and open their mobile to synchronize the information provision given by our faculty bureau. There are two ways of looking at this. One, our teachers and students don’t want to have relevant information on their mobiles, two, the faculty does not disseminate relevant faculty information to mobiles. Regarding those two options I would say that neither is applicable (don’t read me wrong, there is the third option – that of no relevant information – which is, of course, not true). I’d say that the desire to have relevant information on one’s phone is not relevant yet because there is no offering yet, hence, no desire. Fortunately we now have our university’s first mobile site online: m.voorlichting.hu.nl. At least that is a start.
Now let our minor students cook up something of a killer app or a way of getting people to accept all these novelties and embrace them as signs of progress. No, better, let them cook up glorious ideas to enrich our lives through crossmedial and predominantly mobile enablers.