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This post also appears in Crossmedialab.nl, the readership Crossmedia Business’ digital get-together.

As the academic year has kicked off in all its traditions a particular good custom, that is to write and post blogs, now commences for our readership Crossmedia Business. Of course, writing activity has not been down to a total zero during summer. For instance Dennis Ringersma  took up the role of ‘our man in Africa’ with a number of posts on exotic places like Malawi, South Africa and what have we down there in the south of that hugh continent. And Rogier Brussee and Harry van Vliet also contributed once or twice. But now the members of the readership have committed themselves to a tight publication schedule. And as it happens to be, I am numero uno to respect that schedule.

So, what’s new and relevant to know? Who knows. So much has happened and is happening hat a ‘quer durch’ is not an easy task. I’ll just stick to what I suppose are important issues; stuff that might have an impact on our lives.

We’ll start off with the biggies; the macro stuff.

  1. Steve Jobs has retired; Tim Cook is his apprentice so Apple company lost a couple of billions. Meanwhile, an Apple co-worker has forgotten his proto iPhone 5 in a bar (haven’t we heard that song before). But as it is, the construction of Apple’s new and utopic HQ has started. And to wrap up the news on the world’s most expensive company; roughly a week ago, a Dutch court issued injunction against Samsung Galaxy phones  due to scrupleless copying of Apple artifacts.
  2. Last thirty August, email  celebrated its thirtieth birthday as V. A. Shiva, who copyrighted the name recalls: “When I first heard the word ‘electronic mail,’ I literally felt it was sending electricity through paper. Those two words juxtaposed together in 1978 were absolutely new,” says Shiva. While many claim to have “invented email” the issue isn’t just one of semantics. With electronic messaging systems in place, Shiva is responsible for having transformed what was known as office mail into the very first email system. “That is what I developed, starting in 1978, as a 14-year old, for which in 1981 I was awarded recognition by the Westinghouse Science Awards for innovation, and in 1982 the First US Copyright for EMAIL,” he writes.
  3. Tell me which browser you use and I’ll tell you how stupid you are, as a #3 macro news flash, a study proves that IE users are dumber than those who Opera and Chrome. I’ve got some nice statistics on that right here  if you don’t believe me:

So, be honest. Which browser do you use?

On a meso level, there have been some interesting changes as well. Let’s define meso as your tangible but not intimate ubiquity (ahumm)., i.e. the faculty, public transport, train stations and the shopping centers of towns. It could also been something like Yammer.

  1. Just before summer break a graduate presented a system of face recognition for tailored narrow casting commercials. Kind of spooky but interesting as such. The idea is that you walk by the LCD screen in a shopping mall. Two cameras record your face and based on a number of criteria decide that you are rather more a white Caucasian male than an Ethiopian woman. The computer than selects a beer commercial which is than narrow casted. Of course I then get an instant desire to have a beer. The original software originates from Israel. Makes me wonder.
  2. In the US, Redbox  is successfully testing the use of mobile in their process of renting out DVD’s. For me, this is very interesting as it concerns LBS (Location Based Service). And that’s exactly what I am interested in currently. After seeing thousands of Foursquare check-ins without the benefit of any promotion, Redbox is now testing the geo-social marketing waters. Consumers who check in at one of its 28,700 kiosks in the US to rent a film (on an old fashion medium as DVD is, p-0will receive a discount code for between 10 cents and $1 off their video rental. The discount can be used immediately. I think I will have my students Mobile Business Design have a look into that ball game after we have started (the minor is due for next week. I’ll tell you about it later).
  3. Number 3 on the meso scale is the shopable video. Seriously. Gucci has used a clikable video for its pre-fall campaign. I’m really sorry I can’t embed the film. It needs a Flash player and a data base, I recon. So here is the link straight to Luxury Daily  who reported on this rather nice feature only a couple of weeks ago.

And now the micro level. This is the personal level, the intimate zone as Edward Hall called it already way back in the sixties of the 20th century. A word as closeness would be important. Nearness would fit too. Both word have a zen connotation to it, as far as I’m concerned but not having a proper alternative, I’ll just use them. Stuff on the micro level means that is within your reach, always there (ubiquity). I believe that the mobile phone rather fits in nicely to that definition. And as it happens to be, the use of mobile phone has risen to unprecedented heights. As I will not discuss individual apps, let’s focus on how this all became reality. A particular good way of looking at it are the thoughts of Marco Ahtisaari, currently head of design of Nokia. Already a couple of years ago, he published some writing on his blog called ‘Blogging over Las Vegas’ . So what does he think made the rise – growth – of mobile possible?“ Three features stand out” as Marco writes:

  1. An object with a social function tied to a service. The primary human benefit driving the growth of the mobile industry was that of social interaction, people connecting with each other. Initially this meant calling people – a familiar activity at the time – but with a new twist: the cord had been cut. Over time this began to also mean sending short text messages.
  2. Service providers – mobile operators – subsidizing price. To compete for customers those providing voice and messaging services subsidized – in markets where this was legally possibly – the price of the mobile devices in exchange for a longer term customer relationship. As a result end customers rarely saw the full price of the device and the infrastructure combining both devices and networks was rolled out at unprecedented speed.
  3. The shift from a familiar collective object to a personal object. The last, and often overlooked, feature of the mobile industry is that it was based on a shift from a familiar collective object – the family phone – to a personal object, the mobile phone. The idea of a personal phone simply did not exist in the popular consciousness 20 years ago.”

This then brings me to a crossover in my train of current thoughts and stops at the station of the theory of social object as defined by Jyri Engeström a rather brilliant socialogist from Helsinki (just like his dad). I suggest you read his “Why some social network services work and others don’t — Or: the case for object-centered sociality”  so we can have a constructive discussion.

To wrap it all up, that’s more or less my summer recordings, apart from a lovely time in good’ol Thueringen Germany. But that’s a bit too much of a personal story.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 4, 2011 at 11:46

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