Category Archives: society 2.0

Rail Ticket v mobile

A number of people have been urging me to get back on the coffee since my stream-of-consciousness on Autobots.  Apparently they feel that myself and the plot have left the station on two different trains.  Well to all those cynics I should add that many innovations find fame with a purpose other than the one for which they were imagined. 

 As Will pointed out in the pamphlet on Super Users when Bell invented the telephone it’s use bore little resemblence to how it is used today.  It was felt that casual conversation was not worthy for such a scientific tool.  As Will explained:

“In those early years whenever the telephone was demonstrated in public, the process seemed the same.  One end would be set up in front of an audience and the otehr some distance away.  Bell would disappear and then his dismembered voice would be heard normally reciting Shakespeare (Hamlet’s soliloquies a firm favourite).  truth was the telephone was then concieved as a means of conveying news, music and propaganda to the far reaches of the land.”

We tend to forget that both the Internet and mobile are still in their infancy and that for all the talk of conversations the Internet is still being used largely as a medium for downloading or e-mail and the truth is that  mobile is barely new-born as a genuine tool for commercial communication.   Advertising on the back of railway tickets has a similar share of market to mobile advertising.  Indeed as mobile and Internet channels collide nobody really knows who or what model is going to win out.  Will believes that the impact ought to drive more of an opt-in form of communication but how this will happen is really be the rub (Hamlet soliloquy suppressed).   Obviously there is the potential with the mobile Internet to develop an ettiquette that is more inclusive and respectful than much of the Internet marketing to date but at the same time the “if anything sticks it works” school has a powerful call to action.  So I would n’t rule out the Autobot having a say in the digital future.


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Coffee Futures & Autobots

Coffee drinking has been troubled since being hit by the autobot on the dangers of drinking coffee.   I am taking liberties with the phrase, as spambot did quite fit and autobot was the nearest that Bentwood and I could come up to define an automated blog posting. 

There is something spooky about how science fiction ruthlessly predicts our future.  Let’s hope the spider civilisation scenario is the picture of future that get’s it wrong  and not the image of Princess Lea’s side buns.  I am not sure where I came across the sci-fi concept of autobots,  so if anyone can point me in the right direction I would be grateful.   It seems there’s an Arthur C Clarke fusion with a Dr Who character somewhere and I would be keen to get grips with the true nature of autobotdom: good or bad?  

Clearly there is something in the nature of the autobot that is truly authentic, certainly after reading on the horrors of a life on coffee I am more informed, educated and exposed to a higher level of transparency than coffee manufactures would prefer.  I particularly enjoyed knowing that drinking decaff would n’t get me off the hook.  Imagine if this level of transparency had been available from the first days of cigarette marketing?  Certainly it would be harder for so many people to have so blithely shrugged off the health warnings. 

So you can’t question the authenticity and motivation of the anti-coffee point of view presented and importantly it clearly has a purpose: stopping the consumption of coffee.  It strikes me that purpose or empowering everyone with a purpose – good, bad or otherwise – is one of the keys to building society 2.0.  it seems that such a purpose creates the focus for a conversation or at least dialogue within society.  

But it also is true that the why and what of the purpose is extremely important.  What is the back story and how did the communicator arrive at that point of view?  This is important to create the right context.  It is here that the worrying side of the autobotdom raises it’s head as there is no immediate disclaimer or “I believe this because” … granted I could find out but if automated systems are being used to deploy a purposeful point of view it clearly empowers that POV in a way that having to search, analysis and respond manually can’t.  Imagine if this practice became derigour a whole new branch of propaganda could be created that would undermine the idea of 2.0 society.  The biggest autobot wins scenario …


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It’s Highland Spring this afternoon now the true facts about coffee are out.  It seems that opting out is the new black.  Diverse characters from Martina Hingis to Strumpette and TWL are taking their  balls home and making opting out the new Zeitgeist.  Always one to ride a band wagon I am keen to get aboard. 

The problem is it seems a bit mean to end a conversation and as someone who finds it hard to start a conversation in the first place rather sad.   But then again do bloggers or tennis players ever really retire?  Check out the charming prose below and see if you can find a match?  I particularly liked the bit on jigsaws.

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Opting Into …

Starbucks made the world of coffee drinking a festival of choice: good thing or bad thing?While brooding on this intracable question recently over an ageing mug of Seattle’s finest I concluded that this was the end of the beginning.  I mean the beginning of idea that having lots of options was a good thing.  To explain when I first began drinking coffee and eating burgers (one in same thing in those days alas burgers are a rare treat these days) there was one choice, Wimpey.   Then the Big Mac arrived and changed everything.  After this it being the eighties it was clearly  good to have competition so Burger King, Wendy’s and others picked up the ball.  A digression to thank BK for paper cups that killed the polystryene coffee phenomena.  But this was still choice of a broad genre.  The Starbucks coffee options changed everything it was a choice of a singular thing (until they started selling music).   It meant I could be myopic and still choose, a great thing for someone like me who can argue with himself. 

 The options obviously went crazy Costa, Madisons (not my favourite … is it still a going concern?).  So to wend my way to the heart of my thesis, it was this smorgasboard of coffee options was the beginning of the mulitple opt-in society … coffee loyalty cards for bejesus.  So in many ways the genesis of 2.0 can be traced to my favourite pastime.   It was this act of opting in that changed it all for me but can anyone help me opt out or at least manage the terrifying world of coffee loyalty schemes?


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Twitter this … for Pete’s sake

Quommm …. on.   Cold coffee in Berlin was fun and the lasting memory of check point Charlie was not the rush toward freedom but the use of a twitter wall.   The Berlin twitter wall was my first taste of the new transparency as a face-to-face medium and I am not sure if I agree.  In fact the whole phenenoma of closed groups using digtial communications to talk about others amongst themselves is slightly unnerving.   It strikes me that as telecoms and Internet colide that there is a need to reassess some of the rules around digital communications.  Does the personal closed, opt-in world of telecoms over ride the established ideas of Internet?  Certainly in terms of Twitter and how it is being used there seems to be a need for a new Twittiquette.  Any thoughts on what this would look like?  Is it a sounding board or a broadcast mega phone?

Not wanting to ressurect check points


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Conversations and super losers

Cold coffee has been a rare luxury of late with boot camps, Roman holidays but most of all the launch of new thinking around the impact of mobile on the world. So what you yawn? Mobile is clearly something for kids, fads and Koreans.

Well if you believe Will Harris, the mobile dog is about to have its day.

In fact it’s going to be a super day as he believes that there is weird tribal super user behaviour around mobile that has passed us all by and holds the key to building mobile conversations. To check out Will’s view in full, click here to see his White Paper on the rise of the mobile super user

What’s more, this new day is all about the collision between mobile and Internet behaviours that will see more genuine conversations and ‘opt-in cultures’ dominating the sad old push/pull micro community world of the web. The chart below is our view of what might be coming next. The super losers in society 2.0 could well be those who can’t get to grips with the coming mobile culture. Let me know if you’re a user or agree with the super user future? Evolution of Communications

In this first post on the subject of the mobile super user I would like to share some of Will’s thoughts regarding who is a mobile super user:

  • Super Users have re-purposed the phone for their own ends. For them it is not primarily a mechanic for speech any more.
  • Super Users are always connected, and never isolated. They are less planned, and live their lives in a more spontaneous way. They are better informed, and up to date with the world around them. Furthermore, because they are better at multi-tasking, they live very much in real-time. Finally they are less aware of distance, and are regularly in touch with more friends than most.
  • Super Users create Super Societies – societies awash with Super Users are less formal and more direct. They are less tolerant of hierarchies and used to unfettered, uncensored communications. They are open to new ideas and express those ideas with a new degree of intimacy.
  • The Establishment will never use SMS – Will points out the recent uprising in Burma was predominantly communicated via videos and photos from mobile phones.
  • Super Users are the most valuable consumer group – they are more extrovert, more fashionable, more chatty and far more in touch with the world around them – they are the influencers.
  • Top communications tools are IM, Facebook and SMS. They tend to be big users of IM and social networking

I will post again on this subject looking into the two facets of: “Mobile Internet or Internet Mobile” and “Super User in the Digital Age”.

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If there is one thing possibly more sacrosanct than cold coffee it is a Bloody Mary.  So you can imagine a certain degree of angst when I discovered recently the 2.0 bottom-up-bug had started to mess with this important institution.  To be clear I found a place that prided itself on a do-it-yourself Bloody Mary where the everyday punter was expected to pay not only for the ingredients but the privilege of putting the drink itself together. You see in my traditional view any cocktail, let alone one as important as the tomato juice king, needs to be prepared by a highly-qualified professional bar person who is not only able to create the right beverage but also exudes respect for the institution.  This is a question of nuance. A Cosmopolitan should be delivered with a certain panache, a Slow Comfortable Screw with the right degree of irony and cheekiness, and clearly the BM with respect.  The democratisation of the building process clearly drives a train through this conceit  So standing in the special drink-creation section of the bar as I surveyed the smorgasbord of ingredients, I was deeply worried as to the outcome.  Yet just as I was about to enquire into the opportunities of work in Patagonia (surely they still believe in tradition there) a colleague came to the rescue.  This chap,  who shall for ever more be Bob ‘The Mary’ Grove, took the mountain of ingredients and knocked up four drinks that were worthy of serving on the morning after the Annual Vituallers Gala Ball. So a radical thought for Hargreaves  Does bottom-up actually lead to better processes?   Firstly depends who you know I guess. So this brings me back to participation.  For years I have been trying to complete an opus entitled Great Bloody Marys of My Time, a riveting read I am sure except for the fact that actually there are too many great bloody Marys. JFK Airport has a bar with a good one, The Sirenuse Hotel in Positano the best but, more often than not, they disappoint; including at The Ritz I should add. So in the best traditions of the bottom-up, wiki fuelled new world, I would be grateful for any tips that could help me speed up my research and foster my new found democratic fervour.  


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