Kindled Meme

– exploring the purpose of connection


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The rebirth of social connection – fixing ‘voice’

There was a great programme on Radio One tonight. In amongst the nobbery of Scott Mills – there was a feature about life in Camp Bastion on the life of people in the forces.

It was DJ’ed by Greg James – he did a really good job – he was interested in what they were up to and gave them a platform to share their passion and dedication – it was quite moving. No one wants those guys there – we all want them home – but they are professionals and they are committed.

Most of the interview was with medics – I’m in awe of them – since having kids I’ve become queasy at the sight of blood but more than that, I was moved by their professional passion. I’m always touched when I meet people who have a true vocation and am in total admiration for these guys.

I could hear their drive in their words but also feel it in their voice – it was full BBC broadcast quality and so you could sense the energy in their words.

It got me thinking about a conversation I’d had last week with Rob – about how Apple iPhone5 now supports High-definition voice calls – but would we get to use it?

We take ‘voice’ and call quality for granted – at best its reliable and ‘as expected’ – and at worst its clipped, compressed and dehumanized. In truth we have become more tolerance of poorer quality.  Its official – we accept crap voice experience – especially on mobile calls. Could the Apple feature make a difference?

We asked Fran how she would feel about having Hi-Def voice calls with Mum. Mum is in New Zealand – wouldn’t it be a more connective experience?

“What do you mean? Its mum – I know who it is?”

In truth we don’t even know what we are missing – conversation is meant to be distant, separating and sketchy over the phone.

But does it really?

I had a shocking ‘voice’ experience earlier this week too. I settled in to watch a Jive webinar – I like Jive – I like their story and the info they share on collaborative working can be the basis of enriching corporate culture – what they do matters.

But the quality of the voice on the webinar is robotic at best – I listened to the first 15 seconds and thought:

“My God, how long does this last!”

They wanted to share this dreadful experience with me for over an hour! Thankfully the content was compelling enough that I stuck it out.

The Webinar is a horrendous format – not just from the Jive guys but from everyone posting a god-awful webinar. We all accept this poor UX – both the publishers and the consumers.

This is the link to the webinar – do you agree it’s awful?

Seriously if someone downloaded an audio book and it sounded like this, would you accept it? Do you really think this is the best gift you can offer to reward your customer’s attention?

We are all so distracted by our digital voices right now and yet we have embedded fail at the fundamental human connection experience. Can’t we at least enable people to talk with meaning, emotion, warmth and compassion?

Does it really have to be this bad for much longer?

Thankfully some tech companies will see this fail – there is still room for a ‘wow experience’ on simple vice communication – all it will take is a few more ‘bps’ in a hyper-connected universe. It’s not rocket science – we just need someone to take the time to speak up.

“Sort it out!”

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Blip me – Im real!

BlippAR is indeed something significant and engaging – it’s Augmented Reality and it connecting with content via your Smartphone camera.

QR codes also do this ‘camera-connecting behaviour’ but they inevitably lead you to a webpage, and in that ‘web lifespace’ we have already established a number of beliefs, preferences and prejudices as individuals that define how open we are  to engaging with web-content. You can take me there but Im not necessarily engaged.

The Blippar approach completely bypasses this mental-map and ‘digital fatigue’ – thats why its so exciting. Have a peep at this:

There was a talk held at Oxford Brookes earlier this year  with Mark Schaefer – his “Level 5” on engagement is around AR. Six months ago this was interesting but very intangible to me. Today BlippAR makes this do-able.

I like it.

Not everyone has a smartphone or the great wifi access that is needed for a responsive UX but the thought-leaders and early adopters do – these are the people that influence change and will grab this.

Its a very credible way forward – and its exciting.

But the big question has to be how will this scale – as a service and as an ecoSystem – pulling in wider creatives to make things happen? This is not so easy…

Speaking with ZDNet UK, Dave Black of BlippAR  said:

“We don’t want SDKs, because we don’t want people developing bad experiences for brands,” he said. “We don’t want brands to be able to hijack other people’s creatives. There are other companies here with open SDKs. Essentially, if you are Adidas you can go to a Nike poster and put your advert on that poster.”

I can see the reasoning but in truth maybe good ideas spread faster when they get co-created and the voice is amplified by a many linchpins and advocates. Personally I would not be concerned about brand hijacking – not only will the lawyers find a ‘fix’ for this – but also consumers can spot grubby behaviour a mile off -no one wins from bad behaviour today.

Its a visual ‘land grab’ – lets see who enables it.

Blip on!


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Millennial Permission

Last week Blackberry reported its quaterly earnings and it made for painful reading – revenue in Q4 of $4.2 bn, down 25 per cent from $5.6 bn in the same quarter of  2011 – and market share is now 9%, down from its peak of 21% back in 3Q 2009.

As my twitter friend @andrewarmour commented:

“Number: 1000. Approximately how many business days took for RIM’s share price to fall from its 2008 high of $140 – to today’s $14.”

Grim, but its not all bad news – the annual UK Superbrand ratings have just come out – Blackberry are still up there at number 23 in the Business brands – but clearly there is a gap between perceptions behind the brand and the actions and choices people are taking in buying the offering.

No one ‘owns’ their market but the Blackberry diversion from greatness is spectacular. That said, Nokia must be grateful to them from the diversion from their own plight as the sands shift for some handset makers.

We live in interesting times.

Lessons from the Hoff

A few years ago Reid Hoffman – the builder of LinkedIn and Paypal gave some great advice to new business grads at a talk at Stanford: Go and get yourself a job at a failing company. The lack competition for the flop business unit means you get into a position that gives you the experience you need as a leader and manager – hiring, P&L management, planning software distribution – all the experience you need.

Hoffman got his first break at Apple in the eWorld product group but later went to Fujitsu, knowing the programme he lead was screwed. Whilst the business failed Hoffman got his strips in General Management, and so could evidence to the VC’s he was safe hands for their money. Very smart move by the big guy.

Disrupt yourself before we do it to you

With Blackberrys fall from grace and dead – or aged – wood being culled, the CV’s from future leaders should be flying through the doors. Its a smart and strategic move to work there – not many other folks would want to be in a sinking ship – job competition is low – Blackberry is a great place to look for a break right now.

Anyone fancy a challenge? Would you buy a stamp – and stick your CV in the post?

Anyone fancy ignoring Blackberry’s focus on its laggard corporate sector and start flirting with the complex world of consumers whims – and potentially the huge growth in serving a youth segment. Leveraging the mass adoption of Blackberry Messenger by GenY, the millennial generation, the digital natives and call upon the loyalty and permission these users have granted you to serve the next generation of social communicators?

I would say that everyone should want what Blackberry has – but persistently fails to understand – the next wave of loyalty and more than a lifeline.

Sure you have to discount handsets – your disrupting your own business model – but isn’t thats what innovation is?

Sounds fun to me.